January 15, 2020 – UPSC Current Affairs: Key Prelims News Topics

Fuel Upgradation for Indian Navy

  • The Indian Navy announced a new fuel upgradation with revised technical specifications to reduce its carbon footprint.
  • The introduction of High Flash High Speed Diesel (HFHSD) is a significant move towards sustainable and efficient naval operations.

Retail Inflation in India

  • India’s retail inflation reached a 5-year high of 7.35% in December 2019, driven mainly by a sharp rise in food prices.
  • This increase poses challenges for economic policy and the Reserve Bank of India’s inflation-targeting framework.

MoU between Indian Railways and SBI for Doorstep Banking

  • Indian Railways and the State Bank of India signed an MoU to implement doorstep banking at various railway stations, aiming to streamline financial transactions and enhance operational efficiency.

Indian Railways’ Content on Demand Services

  • Indian Railways launched content on demand services in trains to generate non-fare revenue.
  • This initiative will provide entertainment and educational content to passengers, enhancing their travel experience.

Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu National Award

  • Prof M S Swaminathan, renowned for his contributions to the Green Revolution, was awarded the ‘Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu’ National award, recognizing his significant impact on agriculture and food security.

IMD Foundation Day

  • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) celebrated its 145th Foundation Day, reflecting on its achievements in weather forecasting and meteorological services.
  • This occasion highlights the crucial role of IMD in disaster management and climate monitoring.

Taanaji Malusare and the Battle of Singhagad

  • Taanaji Malusare, a celebrated Maratha military leader and close aide of Chhatrapati Shivaji, is remembered for his pivotal role in the Battle of Singhagad in 1670.
  • He bravely fought against Udaybhan Rathore, a formidable Rajput warrior, to reclaim Fort Kandhana for the Marathas.
  • Despite being outnumbered and fatally wounded, Malusare’s leadership inspired his troops to victory.
  • The fort was subsequently renamed Singhagad (lion’s fort) by Shivaji in honor of Taanaji’s valiant efforts and sacrifice.

Private Property as a Human Right: Supreme Court Ruling

  • The Supreme Court of India recently upheld the right to own private property as a fundamental human right.
  • In a case involving land acquisition by the Himachal Pradesh government without compensation, the Court observed that the state cannot claim ownership of private land through ‘adverse possession’.
  • This landmark judgment reiterates that property rights are not just constitutional or statutory rights but also human rights, necessitating due legal procedures for any state acquisition.

Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019

  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, aims to end discrimination against transgender individuals in various sectors and ensure their welfare.
  • The Act, which has been critiqued for certain limitations like the absence of reservation and inadequate protection against sexual offenses, defines transgender persons inclusively and mandates a certificate of identity from the District Magistrate for recognition.
  • Despite its shortcomings, the Act marks a significant step towards transgender rights in India.

National Youth Day and Swami Vivekananda

  • National Youth Day is celebrated on January 12th, commemorating the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.
  • This day is dedicated to encouraging rational thinking among the youth, considered the future of the nation.
  • Swami Vivekananda, a key figure in the revival of Hinduism and a proponent of national integration, is renowned for his contributions to bringing Hindu philosophies to the West and his inspirational speeches, notably at the 1893 Chicago World’s Parliament of Religions.

H9N2 – Avian Influenza Virus

  • H9N2, a subtype of the influenza A virus, has recently been detected in India, marking the country’s first case of this variant.
  • H9N2, known to cause bird flu, poses a risk for potential pandemics.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of sporadic human cases due to exposure to infected poultry or environments, emphasizing the need for vigilance and preventive measures against this subtype.

Artemis Mission – NASA’s Lunar Exploration

  • NASA’s Artemis Mission aims to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.
  • The mission, which will use the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft, seeks to explore the lunar surface more extensively and establish sustainable exploration by 2028.
  • Artemis represents a significant step in space exploration, building on previous lunar missions and setting the stage for future manned missions to Mars.

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules

  • The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules regulate human and industrial activities near the coastline to protect fragile ecosystems.
  • These rules, revised over the years, define the CRZ as the area up to 500m from the high-tide line and impose restrictions based on the area’s population, ecological sensitivity, and other factors.
  • The Supreme Court’s backing of CRZ norms in demolishing villas on a Kerala island highlights the importance of enforcing these regulations to preserve coastal environments.

Kolkata Port Renamed

  • The Kolkata Port Trust, a significant historical and economic landmark, has been renamed after Dr.
  • Syama Prasad Mookerjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
  • The port, the only riverine port in India, has played a pivotal role in the nation’s maritime and colonial history and continues to be a crucial hub for trade and commerce.

Mission Purvodaya

  • Mission Purvodaya, initiated by the Indian government, aims to transform the eastern region into an integrated steel hub.
  • This mission is expected to significantly contribute to India’s National Steel Policy by leveraging the region’s resources and potential, thereby enhancing industrial growth, employment opportunities, and socio-economic development in eastern India.

National Draft Policy on Rare Diseases

  • The National Draft Policy on Rare Diseases, released by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, proposes a one-time fund of Rs 15 lakhs for treating rare diseases under Ayushman Bharat.
  • Key features include certifying select medical institutes as Centres of Excellence and creating a digital platform for donations and corporate funding for expensive treatments.
  • The policy also calls for an inter-ministerial committee and a patient registry under ICMR.
  • However, challenges remain due to the vast number of rare diseases, limited available therapies, and lack of comprehensive data on affected individuals in India.

RTI Act Enforcement in Jammu and Kashmir

  • Jammu and Kashmir will soon implement the Right To Information (RTI) Act, as announced by Dr.
  • Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State.
  • This move aligns the Union Territory with other regions of India in terms of transparency and accountability.
  • Under this Act, the procedures for disposing of RTI applications by Public Information Officers and First Appellate Authority remain unchanged, and cases will fall under the jurisdiction of the Central Information Commission (CIC).

Indian Meteorological Department’s 145th Foundation Day

  • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) celebrated its 145th Foundation Day on January 15, 2020.
  • The IMD, established in 1875, has made significant advancements in meteorological observations, weather forecasting, and seismology.
  • Improvements include enhanced cyclonic warning services, accurate and timely tsunami warnings, and effective heatwave alerts.
  • Additionally, the department has improved real-time seismic activity monitoring and air quality forecasting.

India-Bangladesh Agreements in Information & Broadcasting

  • India and Bangladesh signed key agreements in the Information and Broadcasting sector, strengthening their cultural and diplomatic ties.
  • A notable agreement includes the co-production of a biopic on Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bangladesh’s first President.
  • The film aims to commemorate his birth centenary year.
  • Additionally, an airtime exchange program was launched between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Radio Betar, enhancing content sharing between the two countries.

MoU between SCR and SBI for Doorstep Banking

  • The South Central Railways (SCR) and State Bank of India (SBI) signed an MoU to implement doorstep banking across 585 railway stations in the SCR zone.
  • This initiative aims to streamline the collection of traffic earnings and enhance financial management.
  • The MoU will ensure uniform cash remittance mechanisms, better supervision, and reduced accumulation of cash at stations, thereby facilitating smoother financial operations.

Content on Demand Service by Indian Railways

  • Indian Railways, in a bid to generate non-fare revenue, will introduce Content on Demand (CoD) services through RailTel Corporation.
  • Zee Entertainment’s subsidiary, Margo Network, will provide a range of preloaded content, including movies and music videos, on trains and stations.
  • Set for completion by 2022, this service aims to enhance passenger experience by offering entertainment and e-commerce solutions on personal devices during train journeys.

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