Prelims 2020

18th August 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

International Solar Alliance; First World Solar Technology Summit; Fly ash; Bhadbhut project; Narmada River; Bioethanol blending in Petrol; Ethanol Blending; 1G biofuel plant; 2G biofuel plant; Pandit Jasraj; Mewat gharana; Marthoman Jacobite Syrian Cathedral Church; Genetic affinities of Gujjars and Ladakhis; ALEKH; IIMC celebrates its 56th Foundation Day; Paryushan Parva; etc.
By IASToppers
August 18, 2020


Government Schemes & Policies

  • First World Solar Technology Summit

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • NTPC’s fly ash transfer from its Rihand plant
  • Conflict over Bhadbhut project in Gujarat
  • Bioethanol blending in Petrol

Art & Culture

  • Pandit Jasraj
  • Marthoman Jacobite Syrian Cathedral Church

Also in News

  • Genetic affinities of Gujjars and Ladakhis

Key Facts for Prelims

  • IIMC celebrates its 56th Foundation Day
  • Paryushan Parva

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Government Schemes & Policies

First World Solar Technology Summit

The First World Solar Technology Summit will be organized by International Solar Alliance virtually on September 08, 2020.


  • To bring spotlight on state-of-the-art technologies and next-generation technologies to provide impetus to harness solar energy more efficiently.

International Solar Alliance:

  • ISA is an initiative jointly launched by India and France in 2015 at Paris on the sidelines of COP21 UN Climate Change Conference.
  • It is a treaty-based international organization and an alliance of 121 solar resource-rich countries.
  • Presently 83 countries have signed ISA framework agreement and 58 countries have ratified the ISA agreement.
  • Headquarters: National Institute of Solar Energy(NISE), Gurugram, Haryana.


  • To undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and cost of technology.
  • To facilitate deployment of over 1,000 GW of solar energy and mobilize more than USD 1,000 billion into solar power by 2030 in Member countries.


  • Till date, ISA has aggregated a pipeline of solar projects worth USD 5.5 Billion and working to facilitate financing of solar projects in member countries.
  • The World Bank and French Development Agency are developing a Solar Risk Mitigation Facility for this purpose.
  • Presently there are 6 Programmes of ISA to develop Solar capacities in Member Countries which include Agricultural Pumps, Mini grids, Rooftop Solar, Large Scale Grid connected Projects etc.

Who can join International Solar Alliance?

  • Must be a Solar resource-rich state which lies fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • Must be a member of the United Nations.

Funding from India:

  • India will contribute Rs. 160 crores to the ISA over 5-year duration from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
  • India will release additional Rs. 15 crores in the year 2020-21.

Key facts:

  • At the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to increase renewable energy capacity to 175 GW by 2022 and committed to further increasing it to 450 GW.
  • Presently India stands among the top five countries of the world in terms of solar energy capacity and total renewable energy capacity.
[Ref: PIB]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

NTPC’s fly ash transfer from its Rihand plant

Power giant National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. has planned to transfer fly ash from its 3,000-megawatt Rihand Super Thermal Power Station to Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra Cement plants.

  • The development is in line with NTPC’s commitment towards 100% utilisation of fly ash from power plants.

Fly Ash:

  • Fly ash or pulverised fuel ash is a by-product of burning pulverized coal in coal based thermal power plants.
  • It is normally produced from burning anthracite or bituminous coal.
  • Depending upon source and composition of coal being burned, components of fly ash vary considerably.
  • But all fly ash includes substantial amounts of Silicon dioxide (SiO2), Aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and calcium oxide (CaO).
  • It is also a valuable resource of important plant nutrients – Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Boron, Iron, Copper and Zinc.


  • Fly ash is a proven resource material for construction industries.
  • It is currently being utilized in manufacturing of Portland Cement, bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment construction and low lying area development.
  • Its most relevant characteristics for use in concrete are loss of ignition, fineness, chemical composition and uniformity.
  • Utilization of fly ash in replacing cement in concrete mixture decreases both energy and CO2 emitted during production.
  • It increases the life of concrete roads and structures by improving concrete durability.
  • At present (2018 data), 67% of fly ash is being utilised in India.

Environmental benefits:

  • Net reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas when fly ash is used to replace or displace manufactured cement.
  • Reduction in amount of coal combustion products that must be disposed in landfills.
  • Conservation of other natural resources and materials.
  • Addition of 2%–5% of fly ash to calcareous soils results in better plant growth compared to normal soils.
  • However, when the application exceeds 5%, crop growth is significantly reduced.


  • Air pollution and groundwater contamination, due to leaching of metals from ashes, especially accumulation of very fine particles of fly ash.
  • Uncontrolled land disposal of coal fly ash causes unnecessary transformation in soil conditions, contaminating the soil.
  • Contains heavy metals like arsenic, lead, mercury & these toxicants that can cause cancer and nervous system impacts such as cognitive deficits, developmental delays and behavioural problems.
  • Destruction of mangroves, drastic reduction in crop yields, and the pollution of groundwater from the ash sludge of adjoining Coal power plants accounted in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.
  • Health problems- heart damage, lung disease, respiratory distress, kidney disease, reproductive problems, gastrointestinal illness, birth defects, and impaired bone growth in children.
[Ref: PIB; DownToEarth]

Conflict over Bhadbhut project in Gujarat

The Gujarat government announced the construction of the Bhadbhut project whose foundation stone was laid in 2017.

  • The Rs 4,167-crore Bhadbhut project in Bharuch, Gujarat aims to solve freshwater problems in this region of Gujarat.

Bhadbhut project:

  • It is planned to be a 1.7-km causeway-cum-weir barrage across river Narmada.
  • It is constructed at a place 25 km from mouth of the river, where it flows into the Gulf of Khambhat (Cambay).
  • The barrage will stop most of excess water flowing out of Sardar Sarovar Dam from reaching the sea.
  • It will thus create a sweet water lake of 600 mcm (million cubic metres) on the river.
  • It also aims to prevent flooding in years when rainfall is higher than normal.
  • The project has faced protests from local fishermen for its likely impact on fishing patterns, notably of hilsa fish.

Need of the project:

  • The main purpose of project is to prevent salinity ingress (the process of salt water invading areas which previously contained only fresh water).
  • An estimated 16.30 million acre feet (MAF) of water used to be released from the Sardar Sarovar dam.
  • By 2017, when height of the dam rose, flow into the Narmada river reduced to 4.7 MAF.
  • Due to reduced flow of fresh water, saline seawater gushes into Narmada estuary during high tide, thus increasing salinity along the banks.
  • The project is part of larger Kalpasar Project (which entails construction of a 30-km dam across Gulf of Khambhat between Bharuch and Bhavnagar districts, meant to tap waters of the Narmada, Mahisagar and Sabarmati.)

Why are fishermen upset?

  • The barrage is expected to interfere with the migration and breeding cycle of hilsa.
  • Hilsa is a marine fish that migrates upstream and arrives in the brackish water of Narmada estuary near Bharuch for spawning usually during monsoon (July and August) and continue doing so till November.
  • Once the barrage is built, it is expected to block their natural entry.
  • The fish production from Narmada estuary has fallen from 15,889 tonnes in 2006-07 to just 1,618 tonnes in 2014-15.
  • The reduced outflow of water from the dam, industrial effluents flowing into the river and salinity ingress are believed to be the major causes of this decline.
  • Part of Aliya Bet, and island in delta of Narmada, known for shrimp farming, is likely to get submerged due to the accumulation of water in Bhadbhut reservoir.

Narmada River:

  • It is a major river in peninsular India which flows in east-west direction, along with two other rivers Tapti and Mahi.
  • The Narmada or Reva originates in the Amarkantak hills in Madhya Pradesh.
  • It is the fifth largest river in the country, largest west flowing river and largest river in Gujarat.
  • It flows towards the west in a rift valley between Satpura range in the South and the Vindhyan range in the North formed due to faulting.
  • It is known as life Line of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
  • After flowing a distance of about 1,312 km, it meets Arabian sea south of Bharuch, Gujarat forming a broad 27 km long estuary.
  • Four important tributaries: Hallon, Banjar, Tawa and Barna.
  • This river traverses through Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
  • Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) is social movement spearheaded by native tribals, farmers, environmentalists and human rights activists against a number of large dam projects across river Narmada, particularly Sardar Sarovar Project.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Bioethanol blending in Petrol

The government has set targets of 10% bioethanol blending of petrol by 2022 and to raise it to 20% by 2030 under the ethanol blending programme.

  • 1G and 2G bioethanol plants will play a key role in making bio-ethanol available for blending.


  • To curb carbon emissions and reduce India’s dependence on imported crude oil.

What is Ethanol Blending?

  • Ethanol blending is the practice of blending petrol with ethanol.
  • The process is adopted to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions.
  • It also reduces import burden on account of crude petroleum from which petrol is produced.

What are 1G and 2G biofuel plants?

  • 1G bioethanol plants utilise sugarcane juice and molasses, byproducts in production of sugar, as raw material to produce bioethanol.
  • 2G plants utilise surplus biomass and agricultural waste to produce bioethanol.
  • Domestic production of bioethanol at present, is not sufficient to meet demand for bio-ethanol for blending with petrol at Indian Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs).
  • Sugar mills- the key domestic suppliers of bio-ethanol to OMCs, were only able to supply 1.9 billion litres of bio-ethanol to OMCs.
  • This equated to 57.6% of the total demand of 3.3 billion litres.

Reasons demand is not met:

  • Many sugar mills do not have the financial stability to invest in biofuel plants.
  • There are also concerns among investors on the uncertainty of price of bio-ethanol in future.
  • Further, the sugar sector has its own balance sheet issues.
  • The sugar mills pay high prices for sugarcane set by the government.
  • The prices of both sugarcane and bio-ethanol are set by the central government.
  • The price of obtaining agricultural waste required for production of bio-ethanol at 2G plants was currently too high for it to be viable for private investors in the country.

Way Forward:

  • The state governments need to set up depots where farmers could drop their agricultural waste.
  • The Central government should fix a price for agricultural waste to make investments in 2G bioethanol production an attractive proposition.


  • 2G ethanol is a clean source of energy.
  • It helps to provide greater income to farmers.
  • Prevent them from burning agricultural waste (major source of air pollution).
[Ref: Indian Express]

Art & Culture

Pandit Jasraj

Pandit Jasraj Ji, a noted Hindustani classical vocalist passed away recently.

About Pandit Jasraj:

  • Pandit Jasraj was a doyen of Hindustani classical music and belonged to Mewat gharana.
  • Born in a village in Hisar district of Haryana, he started as a tabla player.
  • He learnt from his father Pandit Motiram and elder brother Pandit Maniram but drew inspiration from various sources, including Begum Akhtar.
  • He moved away from Dhrupad and brought an element of devotional singing to Khayal by employing harkats and murkis associated with light classical music.
  • He had a mastery over Sanskrit stotras and Shuddha madhyam notes.
  • He could play with Durga, Jog and Abeer Todi with equal felicity.
  • His association with his spiritual guru Maharana Jaywant Singh of erstwhile princely state of Sanand in Gujarat, made him believe in the miracles of bhakti.
  • He was awarded with Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri awards during his lifetime.

Mewati style of singing:

  • The Mewati gharana or Jaipur-Mewati gharana is a musical apprenticeship tribe of Hindustani classical music.
  • Known for being Pandit Jasraj’s musical lineage, the gharana was founded by brothers Utd. Ghagge Nazir Khan and Utd. Wahid Khan of Indore, M.P. in late 19th century.
  • With its own distinct aesthetics, stylings, practices, and repertoire, the gharana emerged as an offshoot of the Gwalior and Qawwal Bacchon (Delhi) musical traditions.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Marthoman Jacobite Syrian Cathedral Church

The Kerala government took control of Marthoman Jacobite Syrian Cathedral Church at Mulanthuruthy in Ernakulam district.

  • It has been in focus of a dispute between Jacobite and Orthodox factions of Malankara Church, a prominent non-Catholic Christian community.

Mulanthuruthy church:

  • Established in 1200 A.D., the Marthoman Jacobite Syrian Cathedral Church at Mulanthuruthy is one of the ancient Churches in Kerala.
  • The church is a fine example of Gothic architecture (European style of architecture).
  • The carvings, sculptures, symbolic icons and wall paintings, are a blend of Indian, West-Asian and European architecture.
  • Most of the parishioners (regular churchgoers) belong to the Jacobite faction.

Take over triggered by SC verdict:

  • The Church has been managed by Jacobite faction, but as per a Supreme Court verdict of July 3, 2017, its ownership should go to the rival Orthodox Church.
  • The Supreme Court upheld validity of 1934 constitution of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and gave a clear upper hand for the Orthodox faction.

The split in Malankara Church:

  • The Malankara Church first split in 1912, into the Jacobite and Orthodox groups.
  • The two Churches reunified in 1959, but the truce lasted only until 1972-73.
  • Since then, the two factions have been engaged in battle over ownership of churches and their wealth.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Also in News

Genetic affinities of Gujjars and Ladakhis

A research paper ‘The genetic affinities of Gujjar and Ladakhi populations of India’ throws light on genetic relatedness of Gujjars and Ladakhis.


  • The UTs of J&K and Ladakh in North India, with their wide variety of landscape, are a congruence of several languages and cultural practices.
  • The region is believed to have served as a corridor for ancient human migrations between the Indian subcontinent and North-East Asia, Eurasia and Africa.

What is the study about?

  • The scientists at Department of Biotechnology’s Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (DBT-CDFD) have sought to decipher genetic diversity encompassed by Gujjars from Jammu region of J&K and Ladakhi populations.


  • The analysis based on autosomal DNA markers indicated Gujjars and Ladakhis were genetically distant to each other as well as to other reference populations of India.
  • Genetic affinity of Gujjars in Jammu region to Pashtuns in Baghlans and Kunduz provinces of Afghanistan & Pashtuns and Sindhis in Pakistan indicated their past genetic relatedness and a common ancestry.
  • The Ladakhis were found to be genetically close to Chinese (Uighurs and Han) and Nepalese (Magar) populations.
  • The mitochondrial DNA analysis supported that Gujjars are less genetically diverse as compared to Ladakhis, which may be due to endogamous cultural practices in this group (where they marry within a specific community or caste or group).
  • There was a higher genetic differentiation among males than females in Gujjars indicating patrilocality (social system in which a married couple resides with or near the husband’s parents).

 [Ref: DownToEarth]

Key Facts for Prelims


  • It is a quarterly e-newsletter of Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It emphasizes commitment of the Ministry to improve health and wellbeing of Tribal communities.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs looks after affairs of the Tribal communities in India.
  • It was set up in 1999 after bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to have more focused approach on integrated socio-economic development of Scheduled Tribes.

IIMC celebrates its 56th Foundation Day

  • Indian Institute of Mass Communication celebrated its 56th Foundation Day on 18 August 2020.
  • IIMC is an Indian media centre of learning and an autonomous society under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • It teaches a variety of disciplines including print journalism, photo journalism, radio journalism, television journalism, development communication, communication research, advertising and public relations.

Paryushan Parva

  • Paryushan Parva is a major festival of Jains which lasts for seven days culminating in Samvatsari Parvi (forgiveness day).
  • It is usually celebrated in August or September in Hindi calendar Bhadrapad Month’s Shukla Paksha.
  • On this day, Jains greet by saying Michhami Dukkadam and observe a whole-day fast.
  • Michhami Dukkadam is an ancient phrase from Prakrit language, to seek forgiveness for any ill-will or bad deeds and offering a renewal of relationship.
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