Current Affairs Analysis

24th July 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Bal Gangadhar Tilak; Chandra Shekhar Azad; spike protein; Cryogenic electron microscopy; Glycans; National Report on Safe and Secure School Environment; National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR); Maharashtra Village Panchayat (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020; Panchayati Raj System; Gram Panchayat; Gram Sabha; Information Technology Act, 2000; Section 79 (3)(b) of the IT Act; Section 66 of the IT Act; Creamy layer; Bru Refugees; Reserve Bank of India; Digital transactions forecast; Global Fintech Fest; Indian Bullfrog; Permanent commission; Short Service Commission; Madhubani Paintings; Gold Nanoparticles; Chirality; Tianwen-1;etc
By IASToppers
July 24, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Appoint govt. servants as gram panchayat administrator: HC
  • Information Technology Act, 2000
  • Creamy layer

Issues related to Health & Education

  • How spike of the coronavirus changes into a hairpin shape
  • NCPCR report on assessing the status of Schools

Social Issues

  • Bru Refugees

Economy

  • Digital transactions forecasts

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Indian Bullfrog

Defence & Security Issues

  • Permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army

Indian History

  • VP Pays tributes to Tilak and Azad on their birth anniversaries

Art & Culture

  • Madhubani Paintings

Science & Technology

  • Study of Gold Nanoparticles
  • Tianwen-1

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Polity & Governance

Appoint govt. servants as gram panchayat administrator: HC

The Bombay High Court passed an interim order directing that a government servant or officer of the local authority be appointed as an administrator for nearly 15,000 gram panchayats where the terms of these officers have ended or would be ending.

Background

  • Bombay High Court passed an interim order after two petitions were filed on the Maharashtra Village Panchayat (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, and the government resolutions (GRs) issued by the State Rural Development Department.
  • These empowered Zila parishad’s (District Council) chief executive officer (CEOs) to appoint a suitable person as administrator for each gram panchayat in consultation with each district’s guardian minister.
  • A group of petitions also challenged an ordinance, which amended Section 151 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayats Act by allowing appointment of administrators in case the State Election Commission (SEC) could not hold elections due to a natural calamity, pandemic emergency, financial emergency or administrative emergency.

High Court Order

  • High court asked the state government to prefer appointment of government servant or the officer from the local authority.
    • It also acknowledged the fact because of the pandemic, elections are not being held. If an administrator is not appointed, the working of the gram panchayat will be affected.
  • Appointments of private administrators is not warranted in law and such mass appointments will have a lasting adverse impact on the local governance.
  • It said that “If government officials are not available and the appointment of a private individual is to be made, then each such order shall record the reasons in writing setting out circumstances in which such officer was not available to function as an administrator.

State government’s arguments

  • There is pressing need to appoint administrator for gram panchayats as Maharashtra elections have not been held due to the Covid-19 situation.
  • There are large number of gram panchayats in the State and the government servants are overburdened so they should not be appointed as administrators.

Panchayati Raj System

  • The Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) functions as a system of governance in which gram panchayats are the basic units of local administration.
  • The system has three levels: Gram Panchayat (village level), Mandal Parishad or Block Samiti or Panchayat Samiti (block level), and Zila Parishad (district level).
  • It was formalized in 1992 by the 73rd amendment to the Indian Constitution.
    • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has been celebrating the National Panchayati Raj Day (NPRD) on 24 April since 2010, as on this day, the 73rd amendment came into force.

Gram Panchayat

  • Gram panchayat is a village level administrative body, with a Sarpanch as its elected head.
  • The members of the gram panchayat are elected for a period of 5 years by the members of Gram Sabha.
  • Gram Panchayat consists of a village or a group of villages divided into smaller units called “Wards”. Each ward selects a representative who is known as the Panch or ward member through a direct election. The Sarpanch is elected by the ward members as per the State Act.

Gram Sabha

  • The term Gram Sabha is defined in the Constitution of India under Article 243(b).
  • Gram Sabha is the primary and permanent body of the Panchayati Raj system and by far the largest.
  • Gram Sabha is the Sabha of the electorate. Thus, it is the only institution of direct democracy in the country.
    • All other institutions of the Panchayati Raj like the Gram Panchayat, Block Panchayat and Zilla Parishad are constituted by elected representatives.
  • The decisions taken by the Gram Sabha cannot be annulled by any other body. The power to annul a decision of the Gram Sabha rests with the Gram Sabha only.
  • Functions of Gram Sabha are elaborated in the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.
  • According to the State Panchayat Raj Acts, the Gram Sabha must meet at least two to four times in a year.

Key functions of Gram Sabha

  • To help implementation of the development programmes and schemes of the Panchayat.
  • To identify beneficiaries for different programmes and schemes.
  • To solicit support from the public for community welfare programmes.
  • To promote unity and harmony among all sections of the society in the village.
  • To seek clarification from the Mukhiya, Up-Mukhiya and other members of the Gram Panchayat about any particular activity, scheme, income and expenditure.
  • To discuss and recommend appropriate action with regard to reports of the Vigilance Committee.
  • To consider levy of taxes, rates, rents & fees & enhancement of rates thereof.

Who are the members of Gram Sabha?

  • Above 18 years of age
  • Living in the village
  • Whose names are included in the electoral rolls for the Panchayat at the village level.

 [Ref: The Hindu]

Information Technology Act, 2000

Recently, the Delhi Police had withdrawn a notice sent to an Internet service provider (ISP), in which it had cited the stringent anti-terrorism law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), to ask the company to block a website critical of a draft notification issued by the Union Environment Ministry.

The police had issued a notice to Fridays For Future India under Section 79(3)(b) of the Information Technology Act, 2000.  It was later withdrawn, and a fresh notice was sent to the group under Section 66 of the IT Act.

About Information Technology Act:

Implemented w.e.f 17th October 2000 to give a boost to the growth and usage of computers, internet and software in the country as well as to provide a legal framework for the promotion of e-commerce and e-transactions in the country.

The salient features of the Information Technology Act, 2000 are as follows: —

  • Extends to the whole of India (Section 1)
  • Authentication of electronic records (Section 3)
  • Legal Framework for affixing Digital signature by uses of asymmetric crypto system and hash function (Section 3)
  • Legal recognition of electronic records (Section 4)
  • Legal recognition of digital signatures (Section 5)
  • Retention of electronic record (Section 7)
  • Publication of Official Gazette in electronic form (Section 8)
  • Security procedure for electronic records and digital signature (Section 14, 15, 16)
  • Licensing and Regulation of Certifying authorities for Issuing digital signature certificates (Section 17-42)
  • Functions of Controller (Section 18)
  • Appointment of Certifying Authorities and Controller of Certifying Authorities, including recognition of foreign Certifying Authorities (Section 19)
  • Controller to act as repository of all digital signature certificates (Section 20)
  • Data Protection (Section 43 & 66)
  • Various types of computer crimes defined and stringent penalties provided under the Act (Section 43 and Section 66, 67, 72)
  • Appointment of Adjudicating officer for holding inquiries under the Act (Section 46 & 47)
  • Establishment of Cyber Appellate Tribunal under the Act (Section 48-56)
  • Appeal from order of Adjudicating Officer to Cyber Appellate Tribunal and not to any Civil Court (Section 57)
  • Appeal from order of Cyber Appellate Tribunal to High Court (Section 62)
  • Interception of information from computer to computer (Section 69)
  • Protection System (Section 70)
  • Act to apply for offences or contraventions committed outside India (Section 75)
  • Network service providers not to be liable in certain cases (Section 79)
  • Power of police officers and other officers to enter into any public place and search and arrest without warrant (Section 80)
  • Offences by the Companies (Section 85)
  • Constitution of Cyber Regulations Advisory Committee who will advice the Central Government and Controller (Section 88)

Section 79 (3)(b) of the IT Act:

  • Section 79 (3)(b) of the IT Act refers to being notified by the government or government agency of any data or communication link being used to commit an unlawful act.

Section 66 of the IT Act:

  • Pertains to criminalizing sending of offensive messages through a computer or other communication devices.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Creamy layer

The Ministry for Social Justice & Empowerment seeks to change the concept of creamy layer.

What is Creamy Layer?

  • The creamy layer is determined using the income criterion and is periodically revised.  In 2013, it was revised from Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh. In 2017 it was revised to Rs 8 lakh. Meaning any family in the Other Backward Sections (OBCs) whose gross annual income is over Rs 8 lakh cannot avail of reservations in higher educational institutions and public sector employment.

Background:

  • The Creamy Layer was introduced by the Supreme Court in 1993 through the judgement it delivered in the Indira Sawhney case.
  • The judgment had upheld the government’s move, based on the Mandal Commission report, to give 27% reservation to Other Backward Classes. But it held that the creamy layer must be excluded from backward classes.
  • The term creamy layer and the non-creamy layer was also used in the recommendation of the Sattanathan Commission in 1971. The Sattanathan commission came to a conclusion that creamy layer candidates of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) should not get any benefits from the central government pointing towards the reservation or quota in the government jobs.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Issues related to Health & Education

How spike of the coronavirus changes into a hairpin shape

Researchers have found that the spike protein of COVID-19 changes its form after it attaches itself to a human cell, folding in on itself and assuming a rigid hairpin shape.

What is the spike protein?

  • It is a protein that protrudes from the surface of a coronavirus, like the spikes of a crown or corona — hence the name ‘coronavirus’.
  • In the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, it is the spike protein that initiates the process of infection in a human cell. It attaches itself to a human enzyme, called the ACE2 receptor, before going on to enter the cell and make multiple copies of itself.

What has the new research found?

  • Using the technique of cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM), researchers have found that the spike protein changed its shape to the hairpin shape after the spike protein binds with the ACE2 receptor.
    • Cryo-electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) is a type of electron microscopy that allows for the specimen of interest to be viewed at extremely low (cryogenic) temperatures.
  • In fact, the researchers found that the postfusion (hairpin) shape can also show itself before binding to a cell at all. The spike can go into its alternative form prematurely.

What does that signify?

  • The hairpin shape prevents SARS-CoV-2 from breaking down.
  • In other words, the rigid hairpin shape could be ther reason why virus remains viable on various surfaces for various periods of time.
  • More significantly, the researchers speculate that the postfusion form may also protect SARS-CoV-2 from our immune system.
    • The postfusion shape could provoke antibodies that do not neutralise the SARS-CoV-2 virus. (i.e., Due to the postfusion shape, the human body generate different kinds of antibodies than what is required to kill SARS-CoV-2. In this way, it misguides the immune system).
    • In effect, the spikes in this form may act as decoys that distract the immune system.
    • Antibodies specifically targeting the postfusion state would not be able to block SARS-CoV-2 since it would be too late in the process. This is well established in the field of other viruses, such as HIV.

Do the two forms share any similarities?

  • Both the before and after forms have sugar molecules, called glycans, at evenly spaced locations on their surface.
  • Glycans are another feature that helps the virus avoid immune detection.

How is the knowledge about the alternative shape useful?

  • The researchers believe the findings have implications for vaccine development.
  • Many vaccines that are currently in development use the spike protein to stimulate the immune system. But these may have varying mixes of the prefusion and postfusion forms. And that may limit their protective efficacy.
    • For vaccine development, it is necessary to mimic what a real infection would look like to human bodies in lab environment. For this, currently, different scientists are using various spike protein shape (mixes of the prefusion and postfusion forms) to create a coronavirus condition in lab and check whether the vaccine they are making is effective against this virus.
  • Hence, there is need for stabilising the spike protein in its prefusion structure in order to block the shape changes that lead to the postfusion state. If the protein is not stable, antibodies could be creating in human body, but they will be less effective in terms of blocking the virus.
  • Using this study’s prefusion structure as a guide, scienteists can do better to mimic the prefusion state.
[Ref: Indian Express]

NCPCR report on assessing the status of Schools

“National Report on Safe and Secure School Environment” was recently released by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

  • The school survey was based across 12 states to examine the safety and security of children in schools in terms different indicators.

Report Highlights

Infrastructure

  • 22 % of schools are operating from old or dilapidated buildings.
  • 31 % schools reported cracks in structures.
  • 19% of the schools were located near rail tracks, whereas only 1% has speed breakers with zebra crossing sign for safety and security of children.
  • Only 74 % schools have in-built water facilities in toilets and in the rest students have to carry water from outside. This is an alarming situation. It puts student’s health and physical safety at risk.

Electricity & Fire safety 

  • Out of the total schools with electricity, 77 % had a proper working electrical fitment in classrooms
  • One of the safety concerns emerged from the survey is in 22 % schools, high voltage wires/transformers within or adjacent to the school premises pose a safety challenge.
  • On fire safety in schools, 63 % schools have fire extinguisher and 43 % have emergency steps in place in the school to meet any fire emergency. This shows that the preparedness of schools against fire safety is weak and needs to be worked on.

Cyber Safety

  • Of the 55 % of schools where they have computer rooms, only 44 % schools have security systems in place to restrict internet and 42 % have blocked access to social media use by students.

Bullying & Child abuse

  • Discouragement and prohibition of all kinds of bullying was being observed at 90 % schools.
  • Only 60 % schools have platform for children to discuss and share their concerns related to safety and protection.
  • 68 % schools said that they have to make a clearly laid out procedure in case of child abuse.

Transportation

  • Transportation facility is available in 28 % schools, 30 % of them are government schools and 70 % are private schools.
  • On safety of a child when the child is in the transport bus, only 18 % have any teacher and attendant with students on buses.

Mid-day meals

  • Only 57 % of children are satisfied with the quality of food.
  • As per U-DISE data, 81 % of the schools in the states covered in this report provide mid-day meals. However, only 56 % of those 81 % is providing food as per the prescribed menu (less nutritious food).
    • U-DISE (Unified District Information System for Education) is a database about schools in India. It was developed at the Department of School Education, MHRD. It records information such as the level of dropouts and the condition of school toilets.
  • Only 57 % of children are satisfied with the quality of food. There have been cases where the food was not even fit for consumption and children have been sick. They are not even being provided food in the required quantity.

Disabled friendly provisions

  • Only 49 % schools have disabled-friendly toilets.
  • 40 % schools had facilities like classrooms, play areas, toilets accessible by wheelchair.
  • 61% of schools have obstruction free corridors and staircases. This could impose a serious threat to safety of children in rest of the schools.
  • Only 32 % of schools have provision for blind students.

About National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  • It was set up in 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.
  • It is a statutory body under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.
  • The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes etc. are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
    • The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years’ age group.
  • Members: Chairperson and Six members, out of which at least two are woman appointed by the Central Government from amongst person of eminence, ability and experience.

Functions and powers of the NCPCR

  • Inquire into violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in such cases.
  • Examine all factors that inhibit the enjoyment of rights of children affected by terrorism, communal violence, riots, natural disaster, domestic violence etc.
  • Look into the matters relating to the children in need of special care and protection including children in distress, marginalized and disadvantaged children etc.
  • Under the RTE Act, 2009, NCPCR can inquire into complaints about violation of the law and can summon an individual, demand evidence, seek a magisterial enquiry as well as file a writ petition in the High Court/Supreme Court. It can also approach the government concerned for the prosecution of the offender and recommend interim relief to those affected.
[Ref: Times of India, Hindustan Times]

Social Issues

Bru Refugees

Non-Brus of Tripura have proposed six places for settling the displaced Brus from Mizoram and set a limit for the number of families to be accommodated in two subdivisions that have borne the brunt of the 23-year-old refugee crisis.

About Bru refugees:

  • The Brus also referred to as the Reangs, are spread across the northeastern states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur, and Mizoram. They are ethnically different from the Mizos, with their distinct language and dialect.
  • Ethnic violence forced thousands of people from the Bru tribe to leave their homes in Mizoram. In 1997, the murder of a Mizo forest guard at the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram allegedly by Bru militants led to a violent backlash against the community, forcing several thousand people to flee to neighbouring Tripura.
  • The displaced Bru people from Mizoram have been living in various camps in Tripura since 1997.

[Ref: The Hindu, IASToppers.com]

Economy

Digital Transactions forecasts

  • According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) estimates, payments through digital modes are expected to jump to 1.5 billion transactions, worth Rs 15 trillion a day in five years.
  • Digital payments include transactions done through credit and debit cards, apart from various mobile payment modes like Unified Payment Systems (UPI).
  • Currently, the average of the daily transactions is about 100 million for a volume of Rs 5 trillion. However, just before the COVID outbreak, the daily transactions were averaging around 125 million a day.
  • The data was revealed at the Global Fintech Fest, organised by Fintech Convergence Council (FCC) and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • In India, digital transactions have the potential to reach 30-40 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Measures by RBI:

  • Supporting innovation labs who are experimenting with mobile payments that don’t require good data connectivity, or even through basic phones and even without phones. These are expected to run by 2024.
  • Setting up of Acceptance Development Fund (ADF) to develop the infrastructure for greater cards acceptance. Along with RBI and payments services providers are also supporting this initiative.

Issues:

  • Restriction of merchant discount rates (MDR) affecting the profitability of fintech and payments services providers

Way Forward:

  • RBI should not discriminate between banks and non-banks.
  • Fintechs should be allowed to do more business, including acquiring customers, issue credit cards etc.
[Ref: Business Standard]

Amendment of the General Financial Rules (GFR) 2017

  • The Government of India amended the General Financial Rules (GFR) 2017 to enable the imposition of restrictions on bidders from countries which share a land border with India on grounds of defence of India or matters directly or indirectly related thereto including national security.
  • GFR laws regulate all matters related to public finance.

About the Rules:

  • The order is applicable of all public sector companies, autonomous bodies and public-private partnership (PPP) projects receiving financial support from the government. Seeks to block the supply of stationery, turbines and telecom equipment as well as an award of road and power contracts to companies that have a link with China.
  • Bidders from countries that are barred could bid in any procurement whether of goods, services, including consultancy services only if the bidder is registered with the Competent Authority.
  • The Competent Authority for registration will be the Registration Committee constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Political and security clearance from the Ministries of External and Home Affairs respectively will be mandatory.
  • For State Government procurement, the Competent Authority will be constituted by the states, but political and security clearance will remain necessary.
  • Countries to which India extends lines of credit or provides development assistance have been exempted from the requirement of prior registration
  • The new provisions will apply to all new tenders.
  • Does not apply to private sector procurement
  • Relaxation has been provided in certain limited cases, including for the procurement of medical supplies for Covid-19 till December 31, 2020.
[Ref: Times of India]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Indian Bullfrog

  • The Indian bullfrog or Indus Valley bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) is the largest frog found in the Indian Subcontinent.
  • It is found in the wetlands of South and South East Asia. It is found in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka. They also found in Maldives and Madagascar
  • It inhabits holes and bushes near permanent bodies of water.
  • They prefer freshwater wetlands and aquatic habitats.
  • Nocturnal and ambush predator. And feeds on both vertebrates and invertebrates like insects, worms, snakes, rodents, fish etc.
  • Also engages in cannibalism– even tadpoles-feed on smaller individuals of their kind.
  • The frog is an important prey-base in the food web.
  • It is the most hunted frog across the country.
  • It is currently an invasive species in the Andaman archipelago in the Bay of Bengal.

Conservation:

  • Protected under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act of India, 1972
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern
[Ref: The Hindu, IASToppers.com]

Defence & Security Issues

Permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army

  • Based on the Supreme Court verdict, the Ministry of Defence has issued the formal government sanction letter for grant of Permanent Commission (PC) to Women Officers in the Indian Army.
  • Grants permanent commission to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) Women Officers in all ten streams of the Indian Army i.e Army Air Defence (AAD), Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Army Service Corps (ASC), Army Ordnance Corps (AOC), and Intelligence Corps, Judge and Advocate General (JAG) and Army Educational Corps (AEC).

Permanent Commission:

  • A Permanent Commission means a career in the Armed forces till retirement.
  • Training provided at National Defence Academy, Pune or Indian Military Academy, Dehradun or Officers Training Academy, Gaya.
  • Compulsorily serve for 20 years (if one has to avail pension), and then up to the age of superannuation.
  • An officer who joined with Permanent Commission has no option to switch over to Short Service Commission. 

Short Service Commission:

  • A Short Service Commission means a career in the Armed forces as a Commissioned Officer for 10/14 years.
  • Training provided at Officers Training Academy, Chennai.
  • After the end of 10 years, one can opt for Permanent Commission or opt-out or have the option of 4 years extension. They can resign at any time during this period of 4 yrs extension.
  • No entitlement for facilities like Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme, pension etc.
[Ref: The Hindu, Livemint]

Indian History

VP Pays tributes to Tilak and Azad on their birth anniversaries

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920)

  • Born in Maharashtra, his original name was Keshav Gangadhar Tilak.
  • He was a freedom fighter, philosopher and teacher, who had played an important role in India’s freedom movement.
  • He was a supporter of Swarajya during the freedom movement.
  • He was called ‘The Father of the Indian Unrest’ by the British people.

Timeline:

  • 1884: Founded the Deccan Education Society to teach nationalist ideas to youth.
  • After resigning from the society, he started Kesari– a Marathi language weekly and Mahratta– an English weekly.
    • Through those newspapers, he became widely known for his bitter criticisms of British rule and of those moderate nationalists who advocated social reforms along Western lines.
  • 1890: Joined the Indian National Congress Party.
  • 1897: Tilak’s article inspired the Chapekar brothers to assassinate British Commissioner Rand who employed extremely rigorous measures to contain bubonic plague breakout. Tilak was jailed for this act, earning him the title Lokamanya (“Beloved Leader of the People”).
  • 1905: When Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal in 1905, he supported annulment of the partition and advocated a boycott of British goods.
    • However, his methods raised bitter controversies within the Indian National Congress (INC). Hence, Tilak and his supporters came to be known as the extremist wing of INC. Tilak was supported by fellow nationalists Bipin Chandra Pal of Bengal and Lala Lajpat Rai of Punjab. The trio came to be popularly referred to as the Lal-Bal-Pal.
  • 1907: A trouble broke out between the moderate and extremist of INC, leading to split in Congress creating – Extremists and Moderates.
  • 1908 – 1914: Arrested on charges of sedition. Spent 6 years in Mandalay Jail, Burma. While in jail, he supported Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki’s efforts to assassinate Chief Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford.
  • 1916: Founded and served as president of the Indian Home Rule League (1916-1918) with the slogan “Swarajya is my birthright and I will have it.” (Activist Annie Besant also established an organization with the same name at about that time.)
  • 1916: Rejoined the Indian National Congress during the Lucknow pact, 1916.
  • 1919: Oppose Gandhi’s policy of boycotting the elections to the legislative councils. Instead, he advised for certain degree of Indian participation in regional government.
  • 1920: He died. In tributes, Gandhi called him “the Maker of Modern India,” and Jawaharlal Nehru described him as “Father of the Indian Revolution.”

Social Reforms

  • He advocated the cause of women education and women empowerment.
  • He proposed Grand celebrations on ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ and ‘Shivaji Jayanti’. He envisioned these celebrations inciting a sense of unity and inspiring nationalist sentiment among Indians.

Books written by Bal Gangadhar Tilak:

  • The Arctic Home in the Vedas: He proposed a new way to determine the exact time of the Vedas. He argued that the Vedas were composed in the Arctics, and the Aryan people brought them south after the onset of the last ice age.
  • The Orion: Calculate the time of Vedas by using the position of different Nakshatras.
  • Shrimadh Bhagvad Gita Rahasya: The analysis of ‘Karma Yoga’ in the Bhagavad Gita. Wrote during his jail time in Mandalay Jail, Burma.

Chandra Shekhar Azad

  • 1906: Born in Alirajpur district of Madhya Pradesh with name Chandrashekhar Tiwari.
  • 1919: Emotionally influenced by the Jalliawallah Bagh Massacre.
  • 1921: Join the Non-Cooperation Movement at age of 15 years. Later, arrested for joining the movement. When Azad was produced before a judge, he gave his name as “Azad”, and his father’s name as “Swatantrata”. He took the name Azad because his vowed of being never capture alive by police.
  • 1922: After Gandhiji suspended the non-cooperation movement, he joined the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), a revolutionary organisation formed by Ram Prasad Bismil, Sachindra Nath Sanyal and others.
  • 1925: Took charge of HRA after leaders of HRA were sentenced to death in the Kakori train robbery case. He would use the name ‘Balraj’ when signing statements as the commander in chief of the HSRA.
  • 1928: After the capture of the main leaders of the HRA, Azad and Bhagat Singh secretly reorganised the HRA as the HSRA (Hindustan Socialist Republic Army).
  • 1928: Lala Lajpat Rai died due to injuries he suffered from superintendent of police James A Scott. Members of the HSRA vowed to avenge his death. But due to a case of mistaken identity, Assistant Superintendent of Police John P Saunders was killed in Lahore.
  • 1931: Virbhadra Tiwari, an old companion of Azad who later turned traitor, informed the police of Azad’s whereabouts. Azad was besieged by the British police. Seeing no other way to escape, he shot himself at Alfred park (now Azad Park) in Allahabad.
[Ref: PIB]

Art & Culture

Madhubani Paintings

  • Madhubani painting also referred to as Mithila Art (practised in Mithila region of Bihar and also in Nepal).
  • Traditionally done by the women, today men are also involved.
  • Characterized by complex geometrical patterns, these paintings are known for representing ritual content for particular occasions, including festivals, religious rituals, etc. Floral, animal and bird motifs, geometrical designs are used to fill up all the gaps.
  • Colours are derived from plants and other natural sources.
  • Initially practised by different sects of people and were categorized into five different styles, such as Tantrik, Kohbar, Bharni, Godna, Katchni. Today, these five different styles have been merged by contemporary artists.
  • Sita Devi, Ganga Devi are some of the notable artists.
[Ref: culturalnetindia.com, IASToppers.com]

Science & Technology

Study of Gold Nanoparticles

  • The scientists from the University of Bath, United Kingdom studied the structure of gold and other materials at the nanoscale. It led to the accurate measurement and characterisation of a single, twisted nanoparticle (Chirality) in a laboratory for the first time.
  • They used a technique called the hyper-Rayleigh scattering optical activity.

What is Chirality?

  • Chirality is one of the most fundamental properties of nature. It means twists within a material. The direction in which a molecule twists determines some of its properties.
  • It exists in sub-atomic particles, in molecules (DNA, proteins), in organs (the heart, the brain), in biomaterials (such as seashells), in storm clouds (tornadoes) and among others.

Expected Benefits:

  • It is critical for several industries, including the pharma sector, food additives, perfumes and pesticides.
  • Allows to produce and blend medicines on a microscopic scale.
[Ref: Down To Earth]

Tianwen-1

China launches Tianwen-1 Mars rover mission.

About Tianwen-1:

  • Launched using the Long March 5 rocket from Hainan Island.
  • Tianwen-1 consists of an orbiter and a lander/rover.
  • It will arrive at the Utopia Planitia, a large plain in the Northern Hemisphere of Mars in February 2021.

Objectives of Tianwen-1:

  • To map the morphology and geological structure.
  • To investigate the surface soil characteristics and water-ice distribution.
  • To analyze the surface material composition.
  • To measure the ionosphere and the characteristics of the Martian climate and environment at the surface.
  • To perceive the physical fields (electromagnetic, gravitational) and the internal structure of Mars.

Other Missions to Mars:

  • The United Arab Emirates`s Hope Orbiter.
  • NASA (United States of America) `s Perseverance.
[Ref: The Hindu]

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