Flash Card

LAKSHYA-75 [Day-25] Current Flash Cards for IAS Prelims 2020

Location of Lake Chad; James Webb Telescope; WWF’s One Planet City Challenge (OPCC); Minimum Support Price (MSP); Badakhshan Province; Location of El Salvador; Location of Syria; Tigris River; Arctic Council; Functions of NITI Aayog; Special Category Status (SCS);
By IASToppers
April 02, 2020

In 1969, fifth Finance Commission had given the status of Special Category States to which three states based on Gadgil Formula?

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  • Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland

Enrich Your Learning:

Special Category States

  • Special Category Status (SCS) is a classification given by Centre to assist in the developmentof those states that face geographical and socio-economic disadvantages.

What are the criteria for SCS?

  • Hilly and difficult terrain
  • Low population density or sizeable share of tribal population
  • Strategic location along borders with neighboring countries
  • Economic and infrastructural backwardness
  • Non-viable nature of state finances

Benefits under the SCS:

  • The central government bears90 per cent of the state expenditure on all centrally-sponsored schemes and external aid while rest 10 per cent is given as loan to state at zero per cent rate of interest.
  • The 30 per cent of the Centre’s grossbudget also goes to special category states.
  • States are exempted from customs duty, corporate tax, income tax and other taxes to attract investment.
  • Preferential treatment in getting central funds.
  • States can avail the benefit of debt-swapping and debt relief schemes.


  • In the year 1969, the fifth Finance Commission(Chairman Mahavir Tyagi) had given the status of Special Category States to three states (Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland) based on Gadgil Formula.

Who granted special status to states in the past?

  • The decision to grant special category status lies with the National Development Council, a Planning commission body.

What are the main functions of NITI Aayog?

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Answer & Enrich Your Learning:

Functions of NITI Aayog

  • To adopt a bottom-up approachto development by evolving mechanisms which assist in formulating credible plans at the village level which can be progressively aggregated at higher levels of government. Such plans are to be consolidated to evolve a national level mission strategy and vision statement.
  • To involve the experts at the national and international level in creating a knowledge, innovation, and entrepreneurial support system. The Knowledge and Innovation Hub of the Aayog is tasked with this function.
  • To monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies, schemes, and programmes and stressing on capacity building and technology upgradation across all the levels of government.
  • The Team India Hub, one of the two hubs under NITI Aayog, interfaces with the states to ensure the spirit of cooperative federalism.

Who are the members of the Arctic Council?

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  • Canada,the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.

Enrich Your Learning:

Arctic Council

  • The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forumpromoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues.
  • The Ottawa Declarationannounced the establishment of the Arctic Council in 1996.
  • It particularly focuses on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
  • Arctic Council Secretariat formally became operational in 2013 in Tromso, Norway.


  • To provide administrative capacity, institutional memory, enhanced communication and outreach and general support to the activities of the Arctic Council.


  • The Ottawa Declarationlists the following 8 countries as Members of the Arctic Council: Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States.
  • Six organizationsrepresenting Arctic indigenous peoples have status as Permanent Participants.
  • Observer statusin the Arctic Council is open to non-Arctic states, along with inter-governmental, inter-parliamentary, global, regional and non-governmental organizations.

Six Working Groups:

  • The work of the Council is primarily carried out in six Working Groups.
    • Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP)
    • Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP)
    • Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF)
    • Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPPR)
    • Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group
    • Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)
  • The council establish Task Forces or Expert Groups to carry out specific work. The Task Forces operating during the Chairmanship of Finland (2017-2019) are:
    • Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation (TFAMC)
    • Task Force on Improved Connectivity in the Arctic (TFICA)

Give the brief information on: (a) Location of Syria and (b) Tigris River.

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  • Syriaand Tigris River are both located in Western Africa.

Enrich Your Learning:

Location of Syria

  • The Syrian Arab Republicis a country in Western Asia.
  • Syria lies between latitudes 32° and 38° N, and longitudes 35° and 43° E.

  • It is bordered by:
    • Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west,
    • Turkey to the north,
    • Iraq to the east,
    • Jordan to the south, and
    • Israel to the southwest.
  • Syria’s capital and largest city is Damascus.

Other facts:

  • Syria is a country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts.
  • It consists mostly of arid plateau, although the northwest part of the country bordering the Mediterranean is fairly green.
  • Its land straddles the northwest of the Arabian plate.
  • It is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks.
  • Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Ismail’s, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews.
  • Sunnimake up the largest religious group in Syria.

Tigris River

  • Surrounded by four countries (Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria), the Tigris River is the second largest river in western Asia.
  • The Tigris River, which borders Mesopotamia in the Fertile Crescent, has been a key source of irrigation, power, and travel that dates back to the earliest known civilizations.
  • The Tigris River is one of the most important waterways in the Fertile Crescent, and has supported cities like Hasankeyf, Turkey, for centuries.
  • With the Euphrates, it makes up a river system that borders Mesopotamiain the area known as the Fertile Crescent.
  • Originating in Lake Hazer in Turkey– a region characterized by high mountains – the river flows parallel with the Euphrates River.
  • The two eventually join, emptying into the Persian Gulf in the lowlandsin an area known as the Shatt Al-Arab.
  • More than half of the Tigris can be found in Iraq. 
  • The Tigris is 1,750 km long.
  • Some of its tributariesare Garzan, Anbarcayi, Batman, and the Great and the Little Zab.

El Salvador is boarded by which three countries?

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  • It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala,and

Enrich Your Learning:

Location of El Salvador

Why in News?

  • In June 2019, the Central American country has lost about 85 per centof its native forests since the 1960s.
  • The pronouncement was made on World Environment Day, which is celebrated on June 5 every year,by the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador.

Location of El Salvador:

  • It is in the continent of Central America.
  • It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala,and
  • It is the most densely populated country in Latin America.

Key facts on El Salvador:

  • It is known as the Land of Volcanoes due to frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.
  • It is the smallest country in Central America.
  • It was part of the Spain till 1821.
  • Also, it is the only country in Central America that does not have a coastline on the Caribbean Sea.
  • Coffee cultivated in the western part of the country is famous all over the world.
  • The indigenous language spoken in El Salvador is called Nawat or Pipil.

Where is Badakhshan Province located?

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  • It is located inthe farthest north eastern part of the country between Tajikistan and Northern Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region. 

Enrich Your Learning:

Badakhshan Province

Why in News?

  • In January 2019, the collapse occurred in the Kohistan districtof Badakhshan province.
  • At least 30 people were killedwhen a gold mine collapsed in north eastern Afghanistan in the latest tragedy to strike the war-torn country.

About Badakhshan Province:

  • Badakhshan Province is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
  • It is located inthe farthest north eastern part of the country between Tajikistan and Northern Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region. 
  • It shares a 5-mile (91 km) border with China.
  • It is part of a broader historical Badakhshan region.
  • The province contains 22 to 28 districts,over 1,200 villages and approximately 904,700 people.
  • Feyzabad serves as the provincial capital.
  • The impoverished region is prone to landslides, particularly in the colder months when heavy snow blankets the province.
  • Illegal mining is common in resource-rich Afghanistan, with the Taliban relying on the sector for much of its revenue.

Who recommends Minimum Support Price (MSP)?

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  • The prices are decided by CCEA on the basis of recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Enrich Your Learning:

Minimum Support Price (MSP)

  • MSP is form of agricultural market intervention undertaken by Central Governmentin order to insure agricultural producers are protected against any sharp fall in farm prices.
  • It is announced for certain crops by Government prior to the sowing season.
  • Its purpose is to incentivize cultivators to adopt modern technology and raise productivity and overall production in line with the emerging demand patterns in the country.

Objectives of MSP:

  • The major objectives are to support the farmers from distress sales and to procure food grains for public distribution.

Determination of Minimum Support Price (MSP):

  • Cost of production
  • Changes in input prices
  • Input-output price parity
  • Trends in market prices
  • Demand and supply
  • Inter-crop price parity
  • Effect on industrial cost structure
  • Effect on cost of living
  • Effect on general price level
  • International price situation
  • Parity between prices paid and prices received by the farmers
  • Effect on issue prices and implications for subsidy

Minimum Support Price for 2019-20:

  • The Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP)payable by sugar mills for 2019-20 sugar season has been fixed at 275 per quintal for a basic recovery rate of 10%; providing a premium of Rs. 2.75/qtl for each 0.1 % increase in recovery over and above 10%.
  • The cost of production of sugarcane for the sugar season is 155per quintal.
  • The FRP so approved shall be applicable for purchase of sugarcane from the farmers in the sugar season 2019-20 by the sugar mills.

The One Planet City Challenge (OPCC) works in collaboration with which city networks?

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  • The OPCC works in collaboration with city networkssuch as the Global Covenant of Mayors, ICLEI, C40 and CDP.

Enrich Your Learning:

WWF’s One Planet City Challenge (OPCC)

  • It is a friendly competition to mobilize cities to deliver on theParis Agreement.
  • We aim to support and celebrate 100 cities with action plans for keeping global average rise in temperature to below 1.5 °C.
  • More than 400 citieson 5 continents have participated with at least one goal to reduce carbon emissions and increase climate resiliency.
  • Participants have already raised ambitions in global reporting initiatives by reporting more than 5,700 actions with a total of 3.9Gt GHG emissions reduction potential by 2050.
  • The OPCC’snew, unique, and expert-verified methodology for verifying emissions reductions let’s participating cities report emissions, goals and targets on standardized reporting platforms.
  • Participants’ data is then assessed and compared to the emission reduction trajectoriesrecommended for their type of city in order to limit global warming to 1.5 °C or below.
  • Ultimately the goal isfor cities to develop best practice and to be more strategic, efficient and effective in their climate mitigation and adaptation plans.
  • The OPCC works in collaboration with city networkssuch as the Global Covenant of Mayors, ICLEI, C40 and CDP.

James Webb Space Telescope will not actually orbit the Earth – instead it will sit at the Earth-Sun L1 Lagrange point, 1.5 million km away. True OR False?

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Answer: False

Correct Answer:

  • James Webb will not actually orbit the Earth – instead it will sit at the Earth-SunL2 Lagrange point, 1.5 million km away.

Enrich Your Learning:

James Webb Telescope

  • The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) will be a large infrared telescopewith a 5-meter primary mirror. 
  • The telescope will be launched onan Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in
  • It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
  • It was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope”(NGST).
  • It was renamed in Sept. 2002after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.
  • It is an international collaborationbetween NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
  • The NASAGoddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. 
  • The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman;the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate Webb after launch.

Innovative Technologies:

  • These include a primary mirrormade of 18 separate segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch.
  • The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium.
  • Its biggest feature is a tennis court sized five-layer sunshieldthat attenuates heat from the Sun more than a million times.
  • The telescope’s four instruments – cameras and spectrometers – have detectors that are able to record extremely faint signals.
  • One instrument (NIRSpec)has programmable micro shutters, which enable observation up to 100 objects simultaneously.
  • It also has a cry coolerfor cooling the mid-infrared detectors of another instrument (MIRI) to a very cold 7 K so they can work.

Webb vs. Hubble Telescope:


James Webb

The Hubble Space Telescope orbits around the Earth at an altitude of 570 km above it.

James Webb will not actually orbit the Earth – instead it will sit at the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point, 1.5 million km away.

Hubble’s main focus is on visible and ultraviolet light.

James Webb has been designed to focus on the infrared part of the spectrum from 0.6 (red light) to 28 microns (infrared). 

Hubble is 13.2 meters (43.5 ft.) long and its maximum diameter is 4.2 meters (14 ft.) 

James Webb’s sunshield is about 22 meters by 12 meters (69.5 ft x 46.5 ft).

Lake Chad is located in (a) Asia OR (Africa)?

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  • Lake Chad is located in
  • It is located mainly in thefar west of Chad, bordering on north-eastern Nigeria. 

Enrich Your Learning:

Location of Lake Chad

  • Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow,endorheic lake in Africa, which has varied in size over the centuries.
  • Lake Chad is economically important,providing water to more than 30 million people living in the four countries surrounding it on the central part of the Sahel.
  • It is the largest lakein the Chad Basin.
  • It is located mainly in the far west of Chad, bordering on north-eastern Nigeria.
  • It is located in the interior basinwhich used to be occupied by a much larger ancient sea sometimes called Mega Chad. 
  • The lake is historically ranked as one of the largest lakes in Africa.
  • According to the Global Resource Information Databaseof the United Nations Environment Programme, it shrank by as much as 95% from about 1963 to 1998, but “the 2007 (satellite) image shows significant improvement over previous years.

Daily Current Flash Cards 2020 Prelims 2020

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