Flash Card

LAKSHYA-75 [Day-9] Current Flash Cards for IAS Prelims 2020

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe; ‘Happiness Curriculum’; Behdienkhlam Festival; ‘Four-corner agreement’; Bru community; National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC); Geographical Indication (GI); Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal; Kalasa-Banduri Nala project; Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS); Horizon 2020; Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP);
By IASToppers
March 14, 2020



Where do you find Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP)?

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  • The “garbage patch” is a popular name for concentrations of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean.

Enrich Your Learning:

Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP)

  • Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific trash vortex, spans waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan.
  • The patch is actually comprised of the Western Garbage Patch, located near Japan, and the Eastern Garbage Patch, located between the U.S. states of Hawaii and California.
  • These areas of spinning debris are linked together by the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, located a few hundred kilometres north of Hawaii.
  • This convergence zone is where warm water from the South Pacific meets up with cooler water from the Arctic.
  • The zone acts like a highway that moves debris from one patch to another.
  • The entire Great Pacific Garbage Patch is bounded by the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.
  • The amount of debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch accumulates because much of it is not biodegradable.
  • Many plastics, for instance, do not wear down; they simply break into tinier and tinier pieces.
  • These patches are almost entirely made up of tiny bits of plastic, called micro plastics.
  • The seafloor beneath the Great Pacific Garbage Patch may also be an underwater trash heap.
  • Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70% of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean.



Under the Horizon 2020, the European Union (EU) and India’s Department of Biotechnology are working in partnership to develop which vaccine?

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  • Under the Horizon 2020, the European Union (EU) and India’s Department of Biotechnology are working in partnership to develop a Next Generation Influenza Vaccine to Protect Citizens Worldwide.

Enrich Your Learning:

What is Horizon 2020?

Horizon 2020 is the EU’s funding programme for research and innovation for the period 2014-2020 with a budget of almost €80 billion for the entire period. It funds research in all areas of science and innovation through three pillars:

  • Excellent Science;
  • Competitive Industries, and
  • Tackling Global Societal Challenges.

Other details of Horizon 2020:

  • Its goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
  • Horizon 2020 is open to everyone, with a simple structure that reduces red tape and time so participants can focus on what is really important.

India and Horizon 2020:

  • In August 2018, the European Union (EU) and India announced that they will engage together on research and innovation to develop a Next Generation Influenza Vaccine to Protect Citizens Worldwide.
  • Both the EU and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, have committed EUR 15 million each to fund this joint call. The EU is funding this call under its programmer for research and innovation ‘Horizon 2020’ (2014-2020).



Concessional Financing Scheme (CFS) is being operated through which bank?

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The Scheme is presently being operated through the Export-Import Bank of India, which raises resources from the market to provide concessional finance.

  • Under the CFS, the Govt. of India has been supporting Indian Entities bidding for strategically important infrastructure projects abroad since 2015-16.

Implementation strategy and targets:

  • Under the Scheme, MEA selects the specific projects keeping in view strategic interest of India and sends the same to Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).
  • The strategic importance of a project to deserve financing under this Scheme, is decided, on a case to case basis, by a Committee chaired by Secretary, DEA.
  • Once approved by the Committee, DEA issues a formal letter to EXIM Bank conveying approval for financing of the project under CFS.
  • Government of India (GoI) provides counter guarantee and interest equalization support of 2% to the EXIM Bank.
  • Under the Scheme, EXIM Bank extends credit at a rate not exceeding LIBOR (avg. of six months) + 100 bps. The repayment of the loan is guaranteed by the foreign govt.

Major Impact:

  • Prior to the introduction of CFS, Indian entities were not able to bid for large projects abroad since the cost of financing was very high for them and bidders from other countries such as China, Japan, Europe and US were able to provide credit at superior terms, i.e., lower interest rate and longer tenures which works to the advantage of bidders from those countries.
  • Also, by having projects of strategic interest to India executed by Indian entities, the CFS enables India to generate substantial backward linkage induced jobs, demand for material and machinery in India and also a lot of goodwill for India.



Which three states are involved in Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal?

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The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal has been hearing the tussle over sharing of the Mahadayi or Mandovi river between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

About Mahadayi river:

  • The Mahadayi River also known as Mandovi or Mhadei river, is described as the lifeline of the Indian state of Goa.
  • The river has a length of 77 km, 29 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa.
  • It originates from a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in the Belgaum district of Karnataka.
  • Mahadayi (Mandovi) is a water deficit basin and water diversion could impact the environment.

What is the dispute?

  • The three states are locked in a protracted dispute over sharing its water for the last 30 years. Attempts at negotiations among the states were initiated by the central government way back in 1985.
  • In order to divert 7.56 tmcft of water to the Malaprabha river basin, Karnataka government proposed to build canals to link Kalasa and Banduri, the tributaries of Mahadayi.
  • However, objecting the move, Goa government argued that if Karnataka implemented the Kalasa- Banduri project, it would prove disastrous for the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats as the proposed project was deep inside the forest.
  • Karnataka had petitioned the tribunal seeking release of 7.56 tmcft of water for Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
  • The tribunal, which gave its interim order after hearing arguments from both Karnataka and Goa, had rejected the state’s plea citing various grounds including ecological damage that the project may cause.

 What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?

  • The Kalasa-Banduri Nala is a canal project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to divert water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha.
  • The project aimed to improve drinking water supply to the Districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.
  • It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert 7.56 TMC of water to the Malaprabha river, which supplies the drinking water needs of the said 3 districts, i.e., Dharwad, Belagavi and Gadag.
  • The region is part of Karnataka’s arid area, which is second only to Rajasthan in water scarcity.

The project has been delayed for over a decade during which the state has seen two of the worst droughts in 40 years.



What is a Geographical Indication (GI)? What kind of protections this GI confers on?

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What is a Geographical Indication?

  • A ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a place name used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products.

GI registration confers:

  • Legal protection to the products.
  • Prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others.
  • Helps consumers get quality products of desired traits.
  • Promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets.

Why is it important?

  • Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement says unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the agreement for other countries to extend reciprocal protection.
  • Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
  • Products sold with the GI tag get premium pricing also.

GIs and international conventions:

GI registration is essential to get protection in other countries.

  • Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPR
  • They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the agreements concluded at the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
  • India, as member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 that came into force from September 15, 2003.

Some popular registered GIs in India:

  • Some of the popular registered GIs in India are Mysore Silk, Mysore Agarbathi, Kancheepuram Silk, Orissa Ikat, Channapatna Toys & Dolls, and Coimbatore Wet Grinder, Mysore Pak (sweet), Tanjavur Veena, Pusa Basmati 1 (a high-yielding variety of scented Basmati rice) etc.



Which constitutional amendment provides for National Commission for Backward Classes to be a constitutional body?

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  • The 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill provides for a National Commission for Backward Classes as a constitutional body.

Enrich Your Learning:

About National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC):

  • Set up in 1993, the NCBC was entrusted with examining requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and advice central government on the matter.

Highlights of the Bill:

Constitutional status to NCBC:

  • The bill provides for the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

Powers of the President:

  • It states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories. He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.

Functions of NCBC:

  • The duties of the NCBC include investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of rights.


  • The NCBC will be required to present annual reports to the President on working of the safeguards for backward classes. These reports will be tabled in Parliament, and in the state legislative assemblies of the concerned states.

Powers of a civil court:

  • Under the Constitution Amendment Bill, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints. These powers include: (i) summoning people and examining them on oath, (ii) requiring production of any document or public record, and (iii) receiving evidence.


  • The Supreme Court, in its final verdict in the Indira Sawhney (Mandal Commission) case, had directed the establishment of the NCBC as a statutory body. Based on this, a law was passed in 1993 to set up the commission.



‘Four-corner agreement’ was signed between Government of India and which state governments?

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The agreement was signed between Government of India, Governments of Mizoram and Tripura and Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF) in July 2018.

Provisions of agreement:

  • Under the agreement, the central government will provide financial assistance for rehabilitation of Bru community members in Mizoram and address their issues of security, education, livelihood, etc. in consultation with the governments of Mizoram and Tripura.
  • According to the agreement, the Mizoram government would ensure security for all repatriated refugees who were identified and verified as per the 1997 electoral rolls of Mizoram.
  • These families who moved to Mizoram from Tripura will be given one-time financial assistance of Rs 4 lakh to be kept as fixed deposit in name of head of family. This cash assistance will be to be provided only after three years of uninterrupted stay in Mizoram.
  • The agreement also provides for free ration for two years and a monthly assistance of Rs 5,000 for each family.
  • The agreement covers 5,407 Bru families (32876 persons) presently staying in temporary camps in Tripura to repatriate them to Mizoram before September 30, 2018.
  • Moreover, house building assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh will be also disbursed to these families in three instalments.
  • Identity documents such as ration cards and Aadhaar will be issued by Tripura government

About the Bru community:

  • The Brus, also referred to as the Reangs, are spread across the northeastern states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur, and Mizoram.


  • A bout of ethnic violence forced thousands of people from the Bru tribe to leave their homes in Mizoram. As many as 32,876 people belonging to 5,407 families are living in the refugee camps in the Jampui Hills of Tripura.
  • The displaced Bru people from Mizoram have been living in various camps in Tripura since 1997. In 1997, the murder of a Mizo forest guard at the Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram’s Mamit district allegedly by Bru militants led to a violent backlash against the community, forcing several thousand people to flee to neighbouring Tripura.
  • The Bru militancy was a reactionary movement against Mizo nationalist groups who had demanded in the mid-1990s that the Brus be left out of the state’s electoral rolls, contending that the tribe was not indigenous to Mizoram.



What are the objectives of NASA’s Parker Solar Probe?

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will be the first-ever mission to “touch” the sun.


  • To trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and
  • To explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.


  • Determine structure and dynamics of magnetic fields at sources of solar wind.
  • Trace flow of energy that heats corona and accelerates solar wind.
  • Determine what mechanisms accelerate and transport energetic particles.
  • Explore dusty plasma near Sun and its influence on solar wind and energetic particle formation.

Key facts about the probe:

  • The spacecraft, about the size of a small car, will travel directly into the sun’s atmosphere about 6.2 million miles from our star’s surface.
  • It is scheduled for launch in 2018 to explore the Sun’s outer atmosphere.
  • The probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the Sun.
  • The Parker Solar Probe will perform its scientific investigations in a hazardous region of intense heat and solar radiation.
  • The primary power for mission is dual system of solar panels (photovoltaic array). Secondary source consists of much smaller secondary array power that uses pumped-fluid cooling to maintain operating temperature



Where is the Behdienkhlam Festival celebrated in India?

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  • Behdienkhlam, one of the most colourful festivals of the State, was celebrated in the Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya.
  • The Behdienkhlam literally means driving away the plague as “Khlam” means ‘Plague’ and “Beh Dein” means to drive away the plague.
  • The non-Christian ‘Pnar’ people who believe either in the traditional faith of ‘Niamtre’ or Hinduism observe this festival.
  • It is the ritualistic expression of the relentless struggle of mankind to overcome the destructive forces of nature, including diseases, since the dawn of civilization.
  • This festival is also an invocation to God seeking blessings for a good harvest. Women offer sacrificial food to the spirits of the ancestors.
  • Most popular festival of the Jaintia tribe, Behdienkhlam is celebrated in the month of July for good health, property and bumper harvest.
  • The festival witnessed a colourful display of 12 rots or ‘rath’ at the sacred pool ‘Aitnar’.
  • The festival ends with a final salutation to the divine powers when the women of the tribe offer sacrificial food to their almighty. The festival is also known as the festival for chasing away the Demon of Cholera.
  • The festival is celebrated around the same time “Rath Yatra” is celebrated in other parts of eastern India.



‘Happiness Curriculum’ is a curriculum for students of nursery to Class 8 in government schools. It was launched by which state government?

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The Delhi government launched ‘Happiness Curriculum’ for students of nursery to Class 8 in government schools.

What is ‘Happiness Curriculum’?

  • The Happiness Curriculum focuses on holistic education by including meditation, value education, and mental exercises in conventional education curriculum.
  • It involves ‘Happiness’ period of 45 minutes for all students studying in nursery up to class VIII at all Delhi government schools. Each class will begin with 5 minute meditation practice.
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