Important Study Notes for IAS Prelims 2019

  1. 150th anniversary of the organisation of the periodic table, UNESCO has launched the International Year of the Periodic Table. The International Union of Pure Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) is responsible for maintaining the periodic table. IUPAC is an international federation of National Adhering Organizations that represents chemists in individual countries. It is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Headquarters of IUPAC is in Zürich, Switzerland.
  • Corruption Perception Index 2018 has been released

The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople. The Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index makes the observations: Denmark is the world least corrupt country scoring 88 out of 100 points. Denmark is followed by New Zealand and Finland.

  • Somalia has been ranked last with a score of 10 behind South Sudan and Syria.
  • More than two-thirds of evaluated countries scored below 50 points, while the average score remained at last year’s level of only 43 points.
  • For the first time the United States dropped out of the top 20 and it was ranked at 22nd rank.
  • Along with Brazil, US were placed in the watch list by Transparency International.

   3. The Future of Rail Report has been released by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It examines how the role of rail in global transport might be elevated as a means to reduce the energy use and environmental impacts associated with transport.

About IEA:

  • Established in 1974 as per framework of the OECD.
  • The IEA works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 30 member countries and beyond. Our mission is guided by four main areas of focus: energy security, economic development, environmental awareness and engagement worldwide.
  • Headquarters (Secretariat): Paris, France

 4. The Africa Centre for Climate and Sustainable Development was inaugurated by the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at Rome.

  • The centre has been opened by the Italian government in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

5. Punit Goenka is the new chairman of BARC.

BARC: It is a collaborative Industry Company founded in 2010 by stakeholder bodies that represent Broadcasters, Advertisers, and Advertising and Media Agencies.

BARC India was set up as per guidelines of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India.

Promoters of BARC India are Indian Broadcasting Foundation, Indian Society of Advertisers and Advertising Agencies Association of India.

6. The central banks of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia have launched a common digital currency called ‘Aber’, which will be used in financial settlements between the two countries through Block chains and Distributed Ledgers technologies.

The use of the currency will be restricted to a limited number of banks in each state. In case that no technical obstacles are encountered, economic and legal requirements for future uses will be considered.

7. Vote- on- account, Full budget and Interim Budget: A vote on account essentially means that the government seeks the approval of Parliament for meeting expenditure — paying salaries, ongoing programmes in various sectors etc — with no changes in the taxation structure, until a new government takes over and presents a full Budget that is revised for the full fiscal.

Full Budget deals with both expenditure and revenue side but Vote-on-account deals only with the expenditure side of the government’s budget.

Interim Budget: An Interim Budget is not the same as a ‘Vote on Account’. While a ‘Vote on Account’ deals only with the expenditure side of the government’s budget, an Interim Budget is a complete set of accounts, including both expenditure and receipts. An Interim Budget gives the complete financial statement, very similar to a full Budget.

8. National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP)

The ICAR has recently launched Rs 1100 crore ambitious National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP).

  • To attract talent and strengthen higher agricultural education in the country.
  • Funded by the World Bank and the Indian Government on a 50:50 basis
  • The Main objective of the NAHEP for India is to support participating agricultural universities and ICAR in providing more relevant and higher quality education to Agricultural University students. In addition, a four year degree in Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries and Forestry has been declared a professional degree.

9. Ganga Expressway: The government of Uttar Pradesh has approved the construction of the Ganga Expressway.

  • The 600km long expressway would be the longest expressway in the world.
  • The expressway will provide for better connectivity of the Prayagraj (Allahabad) to Western Pradesh.

10. Golden langur breeding project in Assam:

    Assam has announced the success of the Golden Langur Conservation Breeding Programme in the State. The golden langur conservation project was undertaken at the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati during the 2011-12 fiscal.

  • The golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) is currently endangered.
  • Apart from a 60 square mile area in north-western Assam, small populations are found in Bhutan and Tripura.

11. PISA 2021

The Union Human Resources Development Ministry has signed an agreement with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for India’s Participation in Programme for International Student Assessment- PISA 2021.

The students will be selected by PISA through random sampling. The schools run by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and schools in the UT of Chandigarh would be participating.

 India’s participation in PISA- 2021 would lead to recognition and acceptability of Indian students and prepare them for the global economy in the 21st century.

India had taken part in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009 and bagged the 72nd rank among 74 participating countries. Then UPA government had boycotted PISA, blaming “out of context” questions for India’s dismal performance.

Later, the HRD Ministry, under the NDA-II government, revisited this decision in 2016 and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) had set up a committee to review the matter and submitted its report in December 2016. The report recommended for participation in test in 2018. However, India missed the application deadline for the 2018 cycle.

12. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) — mainly cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and cancer — continue to be the top killers in the South-East Asia Region, claiming 8.5 million lives each year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Containing the NCDs has been listed by the WHO as its health goal for this year along with reducing mortality related to air pollution and climate change, global influenza pandemic etc.

13. New Delhi Superbug Gene Reaches the Arctic

In a significant find in the global spread of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria, scientists have found a “superbug” gene — first detected in over a decade back — in one of the last “pristine” places on Earth that is some 12,870 km away.

Soil samples taken in Svalbard — a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole — have now confirmed the spread of blaNDM-1 (New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1) into the High Arctic. Carried in the gut of animals and people, blaNDM-1 and other ARGs were found in Arctic soils that were likely spread through the faecal matter of birds, other wildlife and human visitors to the area.

A superbug, also called multi-resistant, is a bacterium that carries several resistance genes. These are resistant to multiple antibiotics and are able to survive even after exposure to one or more antibiotics.

14. Delhi to Introduce MSP based on Swaminathan Commission Report: The Delhi government has decided to introduce Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers based on the report of the MS Swaminathan Commission.

A three-member committee was formed in December to study the MS Swaminathan Commission’s report. The committee has submitted its report. The report will be put before experts for suggestions. Once the MSP is finalised, the government will hold meetings with farmers, seeking their views and thereafter it will be sent to the Cabinet.

The National Commission on Farmers (NCF), with MS Swaminathan as its chairman, was formed in 2004.

Aim: To come up with a system for sustainability in farming system and make it more profitable and cost competitive in farm commodities.

To also recommend measures for credit and other marketing steps

The commission submitted five reports between December 2004 and October 2006. The fifth and final report is considered the most crucial as it contains suggestions for the agriculture sector as a whole.

15. Niti Aayog 2.0: In a paper titled ‘Towards India’s New Fiscal Federalism’, former Finance Commission chairman Vijay Kelkar has pitched for setting up of a ‘new Niti Aayog’ and giving it responsibility for allocating capital and revenue grants to the states.

Replacing the Planning Commission, which was promoting regionally balanced growth in India, by the Niti Aayog, a think tank, has reduced the government’s policy reach. Therefore, the need has arisen for an institution to do the job at hand related to the structural issues including removal of regional imbalances in the economy.


16. Indus Waters Treaty: Pak delegation has arrived in Delhi for Chenab under Indus Waters Treaty project inspection.

This tour is an obligation imposed on both the countries by the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 between India and Pakistan. Under the treaty, both the commissioners are mandated to inspect sites and works on both the sides of Indus basin in a block of five years. Since signing of the treaty, a total of 118 such tours on both the sides have been undertaken by the commission.

Signed in 1960 by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistan President Ayub Khan, the treaty allocates 80% of water from the six-river Indus water system to Pakistan.

Under the treaty, control over six north Indian rivers was divided between the two countries. India got control over the rivers Beas, Ravi and Sutlej whereas Pakistan got control over Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

This is a unique treaty involving a third party. It was brokered by the World Bank.

A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.

The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.

17. Indian Railways’ fastest Train 18 named Vande Bharat Express: India’s first indigenously built engineless semi-high speed train, Train 18, has been named Vande Bharat Express.

  • The train is set to run between Delhi and Varanasi at a maximum speed of 160 kmph.
  • Train 18 is a flagship train set; the first prototype has been built by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, in a record time of 20 months.
  • The train is a 100% ‘Make in India’ project and is claimed to be built at half the cost of a similar train set that is imported.
  • T-18 is a self-propelled engine-less train (similar to the Metro trains) and is energy-efficient as its coaches will be fitted with LED lights. Coaches will have automatic doors and retractable footsteps.
  • It will be inter-connected with fully sealed gangways along with a GPS-based Passenger Information System. It is provided with of Bio toilets.

18. Atal Setu of Goa: “Atal Setu” on the Mandovi River in Goa has been inaugurated.

Features of the bridge: It is 5.1-km long cable-stayed bridge connecting state capital Panaji with north Goa. The bridge is constructed by the GIDC (Goa Infrastructure Development Corporation) in collaboration with construction major Larsen and Toubro.

Mahadayi, also known as the Mandovi River, is known as a lifeline in the northern parts of Karnataka. The river originates and flows for 28 kilometer in Karnataka and goes through Maharashtra and Goa before meeting the Arabian Sea.

19. Report on ‘e-waste’ by UN: To highlight the rising challenge posed by mountains of discarded electronics worldwide, seven UN entities have come together to launch the report- “A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot”- at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in a bid to offer some solutions to a behemoth-sized problem that is making the world sicker and adding to environmental degradation.

The joint report calls for a new vision for e-waste based on the “circular economy” concept, whereby a regenerative system can minimize waste and energy leakage.

E-waste export, though, is regulated under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which has been ratified by 188 nations.

20. Bharat Ratna:

Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India. The provision of Bharat Ratna was introduced in 1954.

Eligibility: Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for these awards.

There is no written provision that Bharat Ratna should be awarded to Indian citizens only.

It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. The award was originally limited to achievements in the arts, literature, science and public services but the government expanded the criteria to include “any field of human endeavour” in December 2011.

In terms of Article 18 (1) of the Constitution, the award cannot be used as a prefix or suffix to the recipient’s name. However, should an award winner consider it necessary, he/she may use the expression in their biodata/letterhead/visiting card etc. to indicate that he/she is a recipient of the award.

21. Padma Awards

Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. They were instituted in the year 1954. The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz. – art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.

22. Padma Vibhushan- is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service ;( it is a second degree honour).

Padma Bhushan is awarded for distinguished service of high order. (It is a third degree honour).

Padma Shri is awarded for distinguished service in any field. (It is a fourth degree honour).

The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.

The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, say within a period of one year preceding the Republic Day on which it is proposed to announce the award.

23. Nitrogen pollution: A major international research programme is being carried out to tackle the challenge that nitrogen pollution poses for environment, food security, human health and the economy in South Asia. The research programme will be carried out by South Asian Nitrogen Hub.

24. Jaipur Literature Festival: The historic Diggi Palace is hosting the five-day Jaipur Literature Festival.

The Jaipur Literature Festival is an annual literary festival which takes place in the Indian city of Jaipur each January.

It was founded in 2006, and from 2008 has been produced by Teamwork Arts.

The Festival’s core values are to serve as a democratic, non-aligned platform offering free and fair access.

25. ISRO’s first mission of 2019

India has successfully launched Microsat-R, a military satellite and KalamSat onboard its Polar rocket PSLV C44, in the first mission for the ISRO in 2019.

Microsat-R is meant for military use.

KalamSat is a communication satellite with a life span of two months. The nanosatellite is a 10cm cube weighing 1.2 kg. It was the first to use the rocket’s fourth stage as an orbital platform. It is the world’s lightest and first ever 3D-printed satellite.

26. Crocodylus Palustris

The mugger crocodile, also called marsh crocodile or broad-snouted crocodile, has come to the centre of renewed attention in Gujarat, where the Forest Department has started evacuating muggers from two ponds on the Sardar Sarovar Dam premises on the Narmada, to facilitate a seaplane service at the Statue of Unity.

  • Already extinct in Bhutan and Myanmar
  • Listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1982
  • In India, it is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

27. National Girl Child Day (NGCD): National Girl Child Day (NGCD) was observed on 24th January with objectives of generating awareness on the issue of declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and creates a positive environment around valuing the girl child. The programme also observed anniversary of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme. National Girl Child Day was first initiated in 2008.

Theme:Empowering Girls for a Brighter Tomorrow”.

  • To increase the consciousness of the people and offer new opportunities to the girl child in the society.
  • To remove all the inequalities faced by the girl child.
  • To ensure that the girl child should get all their human rights, respect and value in the country.
  • To work regarding gender discrimination, to educate people.

28. W.H.O’s list of 10 Global health threats

The World Health Organisation (WHO) list of 10 global health threats which demand immediate attention from W.H.O and health partners in 2019 has been released. According to the WHO, unless steps are taken to address these threats millions of lives are at risk.

Here are the 10 health issues that demand urgent attention from WHO and partners in 2019.

  • Air pollution and climate change
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Global influenza pandemic
  • Fragile and vulnerable settings: More than 22% of the world population lives in places where protracted crisis (through a combination of challenges such as drought, famine, conflict and population displacement) and weak health services leave people without access to basic care
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Ebola and other high-threat pathogens
  • Weak primary health care
  • Vaccine hesitancy: Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease, however, the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines, threatens to reverse progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases
  • Dengue
  • HIV

  29. Pravasi Teerth Darshan Yojana: Under the scheme, a group of Indian diaspora will be taken on a government-sponsored tour of religious places in India twice a year.

The group will be taken to the religious places of all major religions in India.

The tour would be completely government sponsored.

Under the eligibility criteria, all people of Indian-origin, aged between 45 and 65 can apply and a group will be selected out of them.

The first preference will be given to people from ‘Girmitiya countries’ such as Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

30. Girmityas: Girmityas or Jahajis are descendants of indentured Indian labourers brought to Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, East Africa, the Malay Peninsula, Caribbean and South America (Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname) to work on sugarcane plantations for the prosperity of the European settlers and save the Fijians from having to work on these plantations and thus to preserve their culture.

  • The term Girmitiya was coined by Mahatma Gandhi who referred to himself as first Girmitiya.
  • The countries where these indentured Indian labourers settled are known as Girmitiya countries.

31. CRZ Regulations: The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change have notified the 2019 Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms, replacing the existing CRZ norms of 2011.

  • The new CRZ norms have been issued under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  • The new CRZ norms aim to promote sustainable development based on scientific principles.
  • To promote sustainable development based on scientific principles taking into account the natural hazards such as increasing sea levels due to global warming.
  • To conserve and protect the environment of coastal stretches and marine areas, besides livelihood security to the fisher communities and other local communities in the coastal area

32. Sea Vigil: It is the first coastal defence Exercise, conducted by the Navy and Coast Guard, in close coordination with State Governments and Union Territories. It was the largest such exercise the country had ever witnessed in recent times and saw participation by more than 100 ships, aircraft and patrol boats manned and operated by various security agencies.

To comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since ’26/11′

33. Mekedatu project: The Karnataka Government has submitted a detailed project report (DPR) of the Mekedatu project to the Central Water Commission (CWC). As per the DPR, the total project cost will be the Rs 5,900 crore.

Now, the DPR will be placed before the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and after its approval, will be brought before the Advisory Committee of the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

The DPR will be examined in specialised directorates of CWC including the Inter-State Matters Directorate, and if found acceptable, will be submitted to the Advisory Committee of Irrigation and Multipurpose Projects of the Ministry of Water Resources, for acceptance.

On the basis of the note prepared by CWC and deliberations during the meeting of the Advisory Committee, a decision on acceptance of the project will be taken.

34. ‘Size India’ project

The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) will work with the Union Ministry of Textiles in the “Size India” project, which is expected to be launched next month.

  • CMAI will conduct a study across India to arrive at standard sizes.
  • The ‘Size India’ project will help creates an India-specific size chart for the textiles and garment industry.
  • To arrive at standard Indian sizes for apparels
  • The project will reduce overall prices and the consumers will stand to benefit from it.
  • Under the project, anthropometric data will be collected from 25,000 sample (with men and women in equal numbers) population in age group 15 to 65 years across six major cities.
  • It will create database of measurements that will result in standardized size chart which is representative of Indian population and can be adopted by apparel industry.

35. Arrow 3 interceptor system

  • Arrow 3 interceptor system was recently successfully tested.
  • Arrow 3 is intended to serve as Israel’s highest-altitude missile interception system.
  • It is jointly funded, developed and produced by Israel and the United States.
  • The system is designed to shoot down missiles above the atmosphere.
  • Israel’s Arrow system, partly financed by the United States, was developed and produced by Israeli Aerospace Industries in partnership with Boeing.
  • Arrow 3 may serve as an anti-satellite weapon, which would make Israel one of the world’s few countries capable of shooting down satellites.

 36. Global Talent Competitive Index 2019

  • Global Talent Competitive Index (GTCI) for 2019 has been released.
  • GTCI, launched in 2013, is an annual benchmarking report that measures the ability of countries to compete for talent.
  • It is released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Tata Communications and Adecco Group.
  • The report measures levels of Global Talent Competitiveness by looking at 68 variables such as ease of hiring, gender earnings gap, and prevalence of training in firms.

37. Groundwater ‘time bomb’ is ticking

Future generations face an environmental “time bomb” as the world’s groundwater systems take decades to respond to the present day impact of climate change, scientists have warned.

As per the findings by an international team of researchers, groundwater reserves are already under pressure as the global population explodes and crop production rises in lockstep. But the extreme weather events such as drought and record rainfall — both made worse by our heating planet — could have another long-lasting impact on how quickly reserves replenish.

38. Pravasi Bhartiya Divas 2019: The 15th annual Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) is being held in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Usually celebrated on or around 9th January, the grand scale of arrangements that went behind this year’s celebrations pushed the event to January 21-23.

Chief Guest: The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth.

Theme: “Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India”.

The first chapter of Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was held in 2003 to recognise the contributions of NRIs in academic and professional fields across the world.

The reason 9th January is usually set aside for celebrating Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is that Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa on this day in 1915.

These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and Indian communities in India for mutually beneficial activities. These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.

39.  Flamingo Festival at Pulicat Lake

Flamingo Festival is held every year to promote tourism in Pulicat and Nellapattu. Flamingo Festival is being organised for the past 12 years.

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary: It is considered one of the biggest habitats for some hundreds of pelicans and other birds. Located about 20 km north of the Pulicat Lake on the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border, the sanctuary is spread in about 459 hectares.

About Pulicat Lake: It is the second largest brackish water lake or lagoon in India, after Chilika Lake. It straddles the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states with over 96% of it in Andhra Pradesh. The lake encompasses the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary. The barrier island of Sriharikota separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal and is home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Two rivers which feed the lagoon are the Arani River at the southern tip and the Kalangi River from the northwest, in addition to some smaller streams. The Buckingham Canal, a navigation channel, is part of the lagoon on its western side.

40. Smart Food Executive Council: Associations including the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) together have formed the Smart Food Executive Council.

41. Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW)

42. Global Economy Watch report has been released by London based multinational professional services network- PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

43. ISRO’s Young Scientist programme

44. ‘Operation Kabaddi’

45. 120 long years, researchers in Sikkim have rediscovered the Small Wood brown butterfly species from Bakhim in Khangchendzonga National Park.

46. Two new species of moss rose discovered in south India

47. Devadasi system

48. The Odisha government is planning to move its district mineral foundations (DMF) to its steel and mines department from the planning and convergence department. The plan to move the DMFs aims to improve implementation and use of funds.

49. Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana (PMKKKY)

50. Bihar’s heath department has imposed a blanket ban for 15 days on sale of fish from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal in capital Patna after samples were found to be contaminated with formalin. The ban includes storage and transportation of fish from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.

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