Current Affairs Analysis

16th October 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

IMF's World Economic Outlook (WEO); National Medical Commission (NMC); Lithium-ion battery; Global Hunger Index 2019; Nobel Economic Award 2019; Randomised controlled trial; Microbial fuel cells; “One Nation One FASTag” scheme; FASTag; RFID tagging; Booker prize; International Booker Prize; National Blindness & Visual Impairment Survey India 2015-2019; World Food Day 2019; Flora Fountain; Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue; Our Lady of Glory Church; UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme; Development of minor ports; Maritime States Development Council (MSDC); India-Netherland relations; Location of Netherlands; Third India Energy Forum; National Security Guard (NSG); etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
October 16, 2019


Polity & Governance

  • Government selects 25 members of National Medical Commission

Issues related to Health & Education

  • India slips to 102nd rank in Global Hunger Report 2019
  • World Food Day 2019: Date, Theme, History and Significance
  • Telling Numbers: Blindness and visual impairment in India, district by district


  • Economics Nobel for India-Born Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer
  • Despite slowdown, India retains tag of fastest growing economy alongside China: IMF
  • Govt to form committee for development of minor ports
  • One Nation One FASTag: Govt’s RFID solution for digital payment of highway toll

Bilateral & International Relations

  • President Hosts King and Queen of Netherlands

Defence & Security Issues

  • Union Home Minister presides over the 35th Raising Day Ceremony of NSG

Science & Technology

  • Pioneers of lithium-ion battery win 2019 Nobel chemistry prize
  • Meet Pete the fern, the world’s first entirely plant-powered photographer

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Third India Energy Forum by CERAWeek
  • Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo joint winners of Booker Prize
  • 3 Mumbai landmarks get UNESCO award

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

Government selects 25 members of National Medical Commission

The Union health ministry finalized 25 members of the recently constituted National Medical Commission (NMC).


  • The members include 10 Vice-Chancellors (VCs) from different states, nine members from the State Medical Councils (SMCs) and four part-time members from the autonomous boards.

About National Medical Commission (NMC)


  • The National medical commission Act 2019 sets up the National Medical Commission (NMC) by replacing the Medical Council of India (MCI).
  • The NMC is a 33-member body with a chairperson, ten ex officio members, and twenty-two part-time members.
  • The ex officio members will include the presidents of the undergraduate and postgraduate medical education boards, the director general of Indian Council of Medical Research, and a director of one of the AIIMS, among others.
  • Part-time members, on the other hand, will include experts from the field of management, law, medical ethics, etc. and nominees of states and union territories.

Functions of the NMC include:

  • Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals.
  • Assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure.
  • Framing guidelines for determination of fees for up to 50% of the seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities which are regulated under the Bill.

Why MCI was replaced with IMC?

  • Medical Council of India has contributed in development of medical education in India, but the member of this body were elected and not chosen by the government.
  • In 1995, government did not have enough funds to invest in medical education and profession, hence, it called for the private investments in medical sector. This phenomenon changed the various constraints of IMC with which, it failed to deal with overtime.

Constraints faced by IMCs: 

  • Private medical colleges feel that there should be separate exam for them.
  • The high level excellence colleges like AIIMS feels that there should be separate exam mechanism for them.
  • Various constrains from the state level regulatory boards controlling their medial regulatory mechanism.
  • Inability to reach the ‘Doctor population ratio’ of 1:1000 due to lack of investment capacities.

To know more about National Medical Commission Act, 2019, refer IASTopper’s Video summary:

[Ref: Livemint, Indian Express]


Issues related to Health & Education

India slips to 102nd rank in Global Hunger Report 2019

India has slipped to 102 position in the Global Hunger Index 2019 of 117 countries, slipping from its 2018 position of 95 and behind its neighbours Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh.


Highlights of Global Hunger Index 2019

Highlights of Global Hunger Index 2019

First Rank: 17 countries including Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba and Kuwait.

Last rank: Central African Republic


  • Neighbouring countries like Nepal (73), Sri Lanka (66), Bangladesh (88), Myanmar (69) and Pakistan (94) are also in the ‘serious’ hunger category, but are ahead than India.
  • China (25) has moved to a ‘low’ severity category and Sri Lanka (66) is in the ‘moderate’ severity category.
  • Wasting is most prevalent in Yemen, Djibouti, and India, ranging from 17 to 20%.
  • Among the 117 countries, 43 have serious levels of hunger. The Central African Republic is in the extremely alarming level in the hunger index while Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia were in the alarming level.

India specific highlights


  • India has been ranked at the 102nd place. In 2000, India was ranked 83rd.
  • The share of wasting among children in India rose from 16.5 % in the 2008-2012 to 20.8 per cent in 2014-2018. This child wasting rate of India is the highest for any country in the Global Hunger Report.
  • Only 9.6 % of all children between 6 and 23 months of age are fed a minimum acceptable diet.
  • However, India has shown improvement in other indicators such as the under-5 mortality rate, prevalence of stunting among children (from 42% in 2010 to 38% in 2019) and prevalence of undernourishment owing to inadequate food.

About the Global Hunger Report 2019 report:

The report is prepared jointly by Irish aid agency ‘Concern Worldwide’ and German organisation ‘Welt Hunger Hilfe’.


  • The indicators included in the GHI reflect caloric deficiencies as well as poor nutrition.
  • The Global Hunger Index score is calculated on four indicators:
  1. Undernourishment
  2. Child wasting (the share of children under five years who have a low weight for their age)
  3. Child stunting (the share of children under five years who have a low height for their age)
  4. Child mortality


Prioritize resilience and adaptation among the most vulnerable groups and regions

  • Governments and donors must invest in vulnerable communities, such as small-scale farmers.
  • Actions can include diversifying agricultural production; improving farmers’ access to extension services and markets; and creating non-agricultural jobs in rural areas.
  • Governments must facilitate public participation in climate decision making and policy making.

Better prepare for and respond to disasters

  • Governments must increase investments in disaster prevention and disaster risk reduction, especially in vulnerable regions prone to extreme weather events.
  • This includes investing in early warning and response systems, forecast-based financing mechanisms, and adapted infrastructure.

Transform food systems and address global inequalities

  • Governments must promote sustainable production systems, consumption of nutritious foods, and reduction of food loss and waste.
  • Measures to reduce poverty and existing inequalities are key to building resilience to the effects of climate change among the most vulnerable people. Therefore, governments must significantly increase investments in rural development, social protection, health services, and education.
  • As climate change increases competition for natural resources, governments must secure the land and water rights of indigenous peoples and rural communities.
  • Governments must enact regulatory frameworks to ensure that production of globally traded agricultural commodities does not impede the right to food or infringe on land rights in areas where those commodities are produced.

Commit to fair financing

  • Governments must increase their financial support to the most vulnerable people and regions, for example through existing mechanisms and funds.

Nutritional rehabilitation centre

  • Nutritional rehabilitation centre can help in taking care of the institutional needs of the children who are already malnourished.
  • However, to prevent it from happening, mothers need to be educated about child feeding and care practices by proactive front-line workers (ASHAs and anganwadi workers), access to clean drinking water and sanitation, immunization and deworming of children has to be ensured, and livelihood security is needed.

Nutritional formulation needs to be made available at community level

  • The government can utilise the existing network of public distribution system (PDS) to distribute nutrient rich traditional cereals, have the self help groups engaged in distribution of locally packaged, nutritional formulations using locally available biodiverse indigenous foods to be fed to the malnourished children without medical complications.

Difference between various malnourishment

Difference between various malnourishment

[Ref: The Hindu, Down To Earth]


World Food Day 2019: Date, Theme, History and Significance

About the World Food Day


  • World Food Day is celebrated on October 16 every year, in honour of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945.
  • The idea of celebrating this day was suggested by Hungarian Minister of Agriculture and Food.
  • The main focus of World Food Day is that food is a basic and fundamental human right.

World Food Day 2019


  • The World Food Day 2019’s theme is ‘Our Actions Are Our Future’, calls for action to make healthy and sustainable diets available and affordable to everyone.
[Ref: News18]


Telling Numbers: Blindness and visual impairment in India, district by district

The National Blindness & Visual Impairment Survey India 2015-2019, released recently, looks at district-wise prevalence of blindness and visual impairment. The survey randomly identified 31 districts with a sample size of about 93,000, among whom 18,000 were less than 50 years of age.


Highlights of National Blindness & Visual Impairment Survey India 2015-2019


Among those aged 50 and above,

Lowest prevalence of blindness: Thrissur district of Kerala (1.08%)

Highest prevalence of blindness: Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh (3.67%)

Lowest prevalence of visual impairment: Thoubal in Manipur (7.3%).

Highest prevalence of visual impairment: Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh (21.8%).

  • In low prevalence of blindness, Thrissur is followed by North Goa, Khera (Punjab) and Virudhunagar (Tamil Nadu).
  • Prevalence of blindness is highest among those who are at least 80 years old.
  • Untreated cataract is the main cause of blindness (in 66% cases) and also the foremost cause of severe visual impairment (in 80 % cases).
  • Corneal opacity, cataract surgical complications and some posterior segment disorders are some of the other causes of blindness.
  • As per the survey, prevalence of blindness has reduced (by 47 %) compared to the baseline levels of 2010.
[Ref: Indian Express]



Economics Nobel for India-Born Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Michael Kremer

Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer have been awarded Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.


About the Nobel Economic Award 2019

  • The Nobel Economic Award 2019 was given for the experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.
  • They used randomised controlled trials to test the effectiveness of various policy interventions to alleviate poverty. This approach involves dividing the issue into smaller, more manageable questions.

What is a randomised controlled trial?

randomised controlled trial

  • A randomised controlled trial is an experiment that is designed to isolate the influence that a certain intervention or variable has on an outcome or event.
  • For example, a social science researcher who wants to find the effect that employing more teachers in schools has on children’s learning outcomes can conduct a randomised controlled trial to find the answer.
  • The use of randomised controlled trials as a research tool was largely limited to fields such as biomedical sciences where the effectiveness of various drugs was gauged using this technique.
  • However, the 2019 Nobel laureates applied RCT to the field of economics beginning in the 1990s. Mr. Kremer first used the technique to study the impact of free meals and books on learning in Kenyan schools. Mr. Banerjee and Ms. Duflo later conducted similar experiments in India and further popularised RCTs.

Why is randomised controlled trial so popular?

  • RCTs allow economists and other social science researchers to isolate the individual impact that a certain factor alone has on the overall event.
  • For instance, to measure the impact that hiring more teachers can have on children’s learning, researchers must control for the effect of other factors such as intelligence, nutrition, climate, economic and social status etc., which may also influence learning outcomes. Randomised controlled trials overcomes this problem through the use of randomly picked samples.
  • Since all random samples are subject to the same common factors, they are essentially identical to one another. Using these random samples, researchers can conduct experiments by carefully varying appropriate variables to find out the impact of these individual variables on the final event.
  • Many development economists believe that RCTs can help governments to find the most potent policy measures that could help end poverty rapidly. 

Significance of this approach

  • As a direct result of this approach, more than five million Indian children have benefitted from effective programmes of remedial tutoring in schools.
  • It was also successfully implemented in introducing heavy subsidies for preventive healthcare in many countries.

Criticisms of randomised controlled trials

  • As per economist Angus Deaton, who won the economics Nobel Prize in 2015, “Understanding and misunderstanding randomised control trials” that simply choosing samples for an RCT experiment in a random manner does not really make these samples identical. While two randomly chosen samples might turn out to be similar in some cases, there are greater chances that most samples are not really similar to each other.
  • Randomised controlled trials should be used for research in the physical sciences where it may be easier to carry out controlled experiments. However, in social science research, including development economics, this method should not be used for such controlled research since it may be impossible to control for multiple factors that may influence social events.

 [Ref: The Hindu]


Despite slowdown, India retains tag of fastest growing economy alongside China: IMF

As per the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest report named World Economic Outlook (WEO), the Indian economy is expected to pick up at 7% in 2020, the IMF has projected in its latest report.


Highlights of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (WEO)

Growth of Indian Economy

  • India retains its rank as the world’s fastest-growing major economy with a projected growth rate of 1 % for the 2019 fiscal year. It projected that India’s economy will grow by 7 per cent in the 2020 fiscal year.
  • However, in July 2019, the WEO projected that India’s growth rate will be 7%. It cut the growth rate to 6.1% because of sector-specific weaknesses in the automobile sector and real estate as well as uncertainty about the health of non-bank financial companies (NBFCs).


  • However, in the medium term, the IMF expects India’s growth to stabilise at about 7.3 %, based on continued implementation of structural reforms.

Reasons for the cut in growth projection for India:

  • India’s economy decelerated further in the second quarter, held back by sector-specific weaknesses in the automobile sector and real estate as well as lingering uncertainty about the health of non-bank financial companies.
  • “Corporate and environmental regulatory uncertainty” are other factors that weighed on demand.
  • The reduction in India’s growth projection for this year “reflects a weaker-than-expected outlook for domestic demand”.


  • The IMF suggested that India should use monetary policy and broad-based structural reforms to address cyclical weakness.
  • A credible fiscal consolidation path is needed to bring down India’s elevated public debt over the medium term. This should be supported by subsidy-spending and tax-base enhancing measures.
  • Other measures it suggested included reducing the public sector’s role in the financial system, reforming the hiring and dismissal regulations that would help incentivise job creation and land reforms to expedite infrastructure development.

Growth of World Economy

  • The world economy is projected to grow only 3 per cent in 2019, which is the slowest growth since the global financial crisis (in 2007-08). It also projected that world economy will grow at 3.4 per cent in 2020.
  • It projected China’s economic growth to slow down to 5.8 % in 2020. In the Europe, growth is projected to be only 1.2 % in 2019 and 1.4 % in 2020.
  • The global slowdown is due to rising trade barriers, uncertainty surrounding trade and geopolitics, and structural factors, such as low productivity growth and an aging population in developed countries.
  • The two main reasons for the decline of the auto sector worldwide were the removal of tax breaks in China and the rollout of new carbon emission tests in Europe.

Key Facts

  • The auto industry parts are the world’s fifth largest export product, accounting for about 8 percent of global goods exports in 2018.
[Ref: The Hindu, Livemint, Economic Times]


Govt to form committee for development of minor ports

While addressing the media after the 17th Meeting of Maritime States Development Council (MSDC), the shipping Mister announced that the Ministry of Shipping is working on a plan to develop a National Grid for Ports based on synergy between the Major and Minor ports in the country.


Development of minor ports

  • Of the 204 minor ports in India, only 44 are functional. Hence, a new committee, devised by the shipping ministry, will assess the potential of each minor port, their downstream industry, agricultural potential, and will then suggest a plan to states for their comprehensive development.
  • The Committee will consist of representatives from shipping ministry, maritime states, Indian private ports and terminals association (IPPTA), and chaired by Additional Secretary, shipping ministry.
  • National grid for ports will be made which will connect major ports to minor ones.
  • Because the shipping rules are different across various states, inter-state movement of barges becomes an issue. Hence, government have decided to issue common rules and guidelines for all states to implement.
  • Government is also planning to improve the share of coastal cargo movement from 6% at present to around 12% in the next five years.
  • The move will help increase India’s export-import (EXIM) cargo.

Key Facts

India has 12 major ports:


  • Kandla Port (Gujarat)
  • Paradip Port (Odisha)
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Port (Maharashtra)
  • Mumbai Port Trust
  • Visakhapatnam Port (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Port of Kolkata
  • Chennai Port
  • New Mangalore Port (Karnataka)
  • Tuticorin Port Trust (Tamil Nadu)
  • Ennore Port (Chennai)
  • Cochin Port (Kerala)
  • Mormugao Port Trust (Goa)

About Maritime States Development Council (MSDC)


  • MSDC is an apex advisory body for the development of the Maritime sector and aims to ensure integrated development of Major and non-Major Ports.
  • The MSDC was constituted in 1997.


  • To assess the future development of existing and new Minor Ports by the respective Maritime States either directly or through captive users and private participation.
  • To monitors the development of minor ports, captive ports and private ports in the Maritime States to ensure their integrated development with Major Ports.
  • To assess the requirements of other infrastructure requirements and make suitable recommendations.
[Ref: PIB, Economic Times]


One Nation One FASTag: Govt’s RFID solution for digital payment of highway toll

Minister of Road Transport and Highways inaugurated the “One Nation One FASTag” scheme at the Indian Mobile Congress in New Delhi.


About the “One Nation One FASTag” scheme


  • It is a scheme of Minister of Road Transport and Highways.
  • It aims to integrate the collection of toll digitally and ensure seamless mobility of vehicles across India.
  • This scheme can be availed upon activation by new cars having Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on national and state highways throughout the country.
  • The scheme will be implemented from December 1, 2019. This mean that from December 1, all national highway toll plazas will accept tolls only through FASTags.

What is ‘FASTag’?

is ‘FASTag’

  • FASTags are stickers that are affixed to the windscreen of vehicles and use RFID technology to enable digital, contactless payment of tolls without having to stop at toll gates.
  • The tags are linked to bank accounts and other payment methods. As a car crosses a toll plaza, the amount is automatically deducted, and a notification is sent to the registered mobile phone number.
  • A FASTag is valid for five years and needs to be recharged only as per requirement.
  • At present, 60 lakh vehicles in India have FASTags.

Benefits of FASTag:

  • Use of FASTag will increase user convenience from payments without stops at toll plazas thus saving on time, money and fuel.
  • The online payments will improve transparency of toll transactions and reduce revenue leakages, thus, improving overall efficiency and commercial competitiveness.

What is RFID tagging?

RFID tagging

  • RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification devices for identification and tracking purposes.
  • It uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects.
  • An RFID tagging system includes the tag itself, a read/write device, and a host system application for data collection, processing, and transmission.
  • RFID tags that contain their own power source are known as active tags. Those without a power source are known as passive tags. A passive tag is briefly activated by the radio frequency (RF) scan of the reader.
[Ref: Indian Express, Financial Express]


Bilateral & International Relations

President Hosts King and Queen of Netherlands

The President of India received King and Queen of Netherlands at Rashtrapati Bhavan.


India-Netherland relations

  • The Netherlands is India’s 4th largest trading partner in the European Union. Netherlands is also among the leading investors in India.


  • Netherlands supported for India`s membership to the different Export Control Regimes and in permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
  • The Netherlands today is home to the largest Indian community on mainland Europe.

Location of Netherlands

Location of Netherlands

Location of Netherlands 1

  • It is located in northwestern Europe and bordered by the countries of Belgium and Germany, and the North Sea.
  • Netherland is also known as Holland.
[Ref: PIB]


Defence & Security Issues

Union Home Minister presides over the 35th Raising Day Ceremony of NSG

Union Minister for Home Affairs over as Chief Guest on the 35th Raising Day Ceremony of National Security Guard (NSG), at NSG HQ in Manesar, Gurugram.


Who are the National Security Guard (NSG)?


  • The NSG (Black Cat commando) was founded as a special commando unit for surgical strikes against organised terrorist attacks within the country.
  • It was envisaged in the wake of high casualties and damage during Operation Blue Star in 1984.
  • It is a “Federal Contingency World Class Zero Error Force” to deal with terrorism.
  • It a force specially trained to deal with specific situations and used only in exceptional circumstances to thwart serious acts of terrorism.
  • NSG has two groups of personnel and officers: Special Action Group (SAG) and Special Ranger Group (SRG). SAG is drawn from the Army and focuses on counter-terror training and actionwhile SRG is used for VIP security.
[Ref: PIB]


Science & Technology

Pioneers of lithium-ion battery win 2019 Nobel chemistry prize

Scientists John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the development of lithium-ion batteries, an important technology in enabling the world to move away from fossil fuels.


What is Li-Ion battery?

  • Lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is type of rechargeable battery that contains several cells.

Li-Ion battery

  • Each cell consists of cathode, anode and electrolyte, a separator between electrodes and current collectors.
  • In it, lithium ions move from negative electrode to positive electrode during discharge and back when charging.
  • Li-ion battery use intercalated lithium compound as one electrode material.

Advantages of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery:

Advantages of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery

  • The lithium-ion battery is light weighted and is one-third the weight of lead acid batteries.
  • It is nearly 100% efficient in both charging and discharging as compared to lead battery which has 70% efficiency.
  • It completely discharges i.e. 100% as compared to 80% for lead acid.
  • The rechargeable lithium-ion battery has life cycle of 5000 times or more compared to just 400-500 cycles in lead acid.
  • It also maintains constant voltage throughout the entire discharge cycle whereas voltage in lead acid battery drops consistently throughout its discharge cycle.
  • It is much cleaner technology and is safer for environment as it does not have environmental impact as lead acid battery.
  • Li-ion batteries find wide application in electronic gadgets, telecommunication and industrial applications as well as in aerospace.

Limitations of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery:

  • It is fragile and requires a protection circuit to maintain safe operation.
  • Aging is a concern with most lithium-ion batteries.
  • Some capacity deterioration is noticeable after one year, whether the battery is in use or not.
  • Expensive to manufacture – about 40 percent higher in cost than nickel-cadmium.
  • Not fully mature – metals and chemicals are changing on a continuing basis.

Lithium-ion cell technology in India:

  • The Lithium-ion cell technology has been developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).
  • After the successful deployment of indigenous lithium-ion batteries in various missions of ISRO, the VSSC will now transfer the technology to the industries to establish production facilities for producing lithium-ion cells to cover the entire spectrum of power storage requirements of the country.
  • The progress in Li-ion battery technology research has made it the favourite power source for electric and hybrid electric vehicles owing to its high voltage, high energy density, long life cycle and high storage characteristics.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]


Meet Pete the fern, the world’s first entirely plant-powered photographer

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) scientists had laid the groundwork for the feat earlier this year, with the ultimate aim of using plants to power camera traps and sensors in the wild. This they achieved by installing microbial fuel cells in Pete, a maidenhair fern.


What are Microbial fuel cells?

Microbial fuel cells

  • Microbial fuel cells are devices that use bacteria as the catalysts to oxidise organic and inorganic matter and generate electricity.
  • Plants naturally deposit biomatter as they grow, which in turn feeds the natural bacteria present in the soil.
  • These bacteria can be used by fuel cells and used to power a wide range of vital conservation tools remotely, including sensors, monitoring platforms and camera traps.
  • Under sunlight, plants produce sugars and oxygen from water and CO2 (photosynthesis).
  • These sugars do not remain in the leaves, but are transported throughout the plant to the stem and roots.
  • Some of these sugars are excreted by the roots as a waste product from the plant.
  • Soil micro-organisms break this down further, releasing energy.
  • This energy is captured using an anode (minus) and a cathode (plus) and charge a super capacitor.
  • When the super capacitor is full, the power is discharged and a photo is taken.


  • Among conventional power sources, batteries must be replaced while solar panels rely on a source of sunlight. On the other hand, plants can survive in the shade, naturally moving into position to maximise the potential of absorbing sunlight.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Key Facts for Prelims

Third India Energy Forum by CERAWeek

At the third India Ministerial Dialogue held at third India Energy Forum by CERAWeek, minister of petroleum said that India is making concerted efforts and taking all necessary steps to make achieve $5 trillion-dollar economy goal.


Highlight of the India Ministerial Dialogue

  • The share of renewables in electricity capacity has significantly gone up to 22% from around 10% in 2014-15.
  • The ethanol blending percentage has risen from 0.67% in 2012-13 to now close to 6%.
  • More than 95% households now have access to LPG, making their kitchens smoke free.
  • Indian Railways is aiming to be 100% electrified by 2023.
[Ref: PIB]


Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo joint winners of Booker Prize

The prestigious Booker Prize for Fiction was jointly awarded to Canadian author Margaret Atwood for “The Testaments” and Anglo-Nigerian author Bernardine Evaristo for “Girl, Woman, Other”.


  • It is important to note that this year’s award was an exception as the rules do not allow for the award to be either split or withheld.


About the Booker prize

  • Launched in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is the world’s most prestigious English-language literary award.
  • It was presented by the Man Group.
  • The award aims at promoting the finest literary work in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written in English and published in the United Kingdom.
  • It carries cash prize of 50,000 pounds.

Is this the first time the Booker has been shared?

  • No, the prize has been shared in the past. The first time this happened was in 1974 when Nadine Gordimer and Stanley Middleton won its together.
  • The second time was in 1992 when Michael Ondaatje and Barry Unsworth won it together. However, since then the rules were tweaked to ensure there are no joint winners.

About the International Booker Prize

  • It is annual award given for a single book for translating book into English and published in the UK or Ireland.
[Ref: Times of India, Indian Express]


3 Mumbai landmarks get UNESCO award

In a major recognition to Mumbai’s heritage conservation movement, three city landmarks — Flora Fountain, Gloria Church at Byculla and Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue at Kala Godha — have won this year’s UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.


Flora Fountain


  • Flora Fountain is a sculpted architectural heritage monument located in Mumbai. The UNESCO award was given for the restoration of this monument under the category ‘Honourable Mention’.

Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue


  • The ‘Award of Merit’ were given for the restoration work of the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue, which is an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Mumbai. A synagogue is a Jewish house of worship.

Our Lady of Glory Church


  • The “Award of Merit” were given for the restoration of Gloria Church, Mumbai.

The Vikram Sarabhai Library, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad also received the ‘Award of Distinction’ for its restoration.

About the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme


  • The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme recognises the efforts of private individuals and organizations that have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.
  • This award is given annually since 2000, which was conceived in Penang, Malaysia, during UNESCO’s landmark “Economics of Heritage” regional conference in 1999.

 Asia-Pacific Heritage 20/20 and UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award

  • In celebration of the 20th anniversary of this award, UNESCO co-organized the Asia-Pacific Heritage 20/20 Forum and 2019 Asia-Pacific Award Ceremony.
  • The 20/20 Forum provides an opportunity for industry practitioners to reflect upon how heritage conservation has evolved over the past 20 years, as well as to set a vision for linking heritage with sustainable development defined by UNESCO Agenda 2030 in the next 20 years.
[Ref: Times of India]


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