Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 09-02-2021


Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 09-02-2021


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  1. Environment and Ecology - U'khand glacial burst death toll rises as 26 bodies recovered; over 170 still missing - As many as 26 dead bodies were recovered in Uttarakhand on Monday (08-02-2021) after a glacial burst on Sundayled to flash floods in the state. Uttarakhand Police said that many were still missing, of which some were stranded in a tunnel where rescue operations were ongoing. It is now emerging that the erstwhile Ganga Rejuvenation Ministry had objected in 2016 on the new Tapovan Power Plant,but the Ministry of Environment (MoEFCC) pushed ahead. Repeated danger signals were ignored, and finally two power projects were washed away on 07-02-2021. Reports suggest massive degradation of forest land in Uttarakhand over the past few decades, due to rampant project building across Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers, etc. The districts most affected are Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Pithoragarh, and these saw the destruction in 2013 floods also.
  2. Healthcare and Medicine - India reports 11,831 new COVID-19 cases, 84 deaths in 24 hours - India has reported 11,831 new COVID-19 cases and 84 more deaths as per the Union Health Ministry. With this, the total number of cases increased to 1,08,38,194 and the death toll stood at 1,55,080. Meanwhile, 11,904 patients were discharged on 07-02-2021, taking the total recoveries to 1,05,34,505. India's active cases stand at 1,48,609. The world is wondering at the sharp crushing of the Covid curve in India, attributing it to a mix of various reasons like - (a) half the population being less than 25 years of age, (b) general lack of hygiene over the years, imparting greater immunity to Indians, and (c) government's proactive lockdown in April 2020. The threat of new variants looms, though. In the meantime, Europe and USA are struggling to bring the pandemic under control.
  3. Science and Technology - HAL to develop first high altitude pseudo satellite - The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to develop the first-of-its-kind high altitude pseudo satellite with the help of a start-up company.  The announcement was made by the HAL on February 4, 2021. This pseudo satellite will be solar energised, and become a big asset flying unmanned around 70,000 ft for 2-3 months and taking information. The HAL will be teaming up unmanned aircraft and vehicles with manned jets similar to the US project of skybrog. The project will strengthen the country's military strike capabilities. So finally, the manned aircraft will operate within the boundary and the unmanned aircraft will enter the enemy zone to carry out strikes deep inside the enemy territory. The system will have a mother-ship carrying components like Hunter and Alpha, where the mother ship can be LCA or Jaguar or other combat manned aircraft. The technology is named Combined Air Teaming System (CATS), and will be able to stealthily enter 700 kilometres inside enemy territory. It can straightway hit the target at a distance of 700 kilometres or can go to 350 kilometres and come back.
  4. World Politics - US President Joe Biden refuses to lift sanctions on Iran - President Biden informed on February 7, 2021 that he will not lift sanctions on Iran to re-engage Tehran in negotiations over the 2015 nuclear deal. Biden said that he would only lift sanctions if Iran stops enriching uranium beyond the limits of the nuclear deal. Earlier in the day, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had reiterated during a speech that the US itself must lift sanctions and if they want Iran to return to its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commitments. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union in 2015 to remove international sanctions from Iran in exchange for it scaling down its nuclear program. Iran's economy has been ravaged due to sanctions, and then the pandemic that hit it badly in 2020.
  5. Healthcare and Medicine - Andaman & Nicobar Islands became first UT to be COVID-19 free - The Andaman and Nicobar Islands became the first Union Territory to be free from the COVID-19. The UT reported no active cases of the novel Coronavirus and the last four infected people tested negative. The information was shared by the Union Health Ministry on February 2, 2021. On the other hand, Kerala has the highest number of active COVID cases.
  6. Science and Technology - Russia to launch around 40 satellites from 18 countries in March 2021 - Around 40 satellites from over a dozen different countries all over the world will be launched using the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket. A space industry source in November 2020 had informed that a Soyuz-2.1, a carrier rocket with the Fregat booster will blast off with the South Korean CAS500-1 (Compact Advanced Satellite 500) space vehicle from the Baikonur space centre on March 20, 2021. Apart from South Korea’s CAS500-1, other payloads from around 18 countries have also been planned to be delivered into orbit as part of Russia’s mission. However, the list of the satellites that have to be launched is not yet final and is also subject to review depending on the readiness of the satellites. Historically speaking, Yuri Gagarin (Soviet Air Forces pilot and cosmonaut) had become the first human to journey into outer space, with capsule, Vostok 1, completing one orbit of Earth on 12 April 1961.
  7. World Politics - Myanmar military declares martial law in cities amid protests - The military regime in Myanmar has declared martial law in parts of Yangon and Mandalay amid growing anti-coup protests across the country. The measure bans the gathering of over five people and imposes a curfew from 8 pm until 4 am, an official statement said. The orders are being issued in response to people carrying out unlawful actions. The military seized power in Feb 2021, and declared a year-long state of emergency in Myanmar, with power handed over to Gen Min Aung Hlaing. Ms Suu Kyi and senior leaders of her National League for Democracy Party (NLD), including President Win Myint, were put under house arrest. Gen Min Aung Hlaing's has said the electoral commission had failed to investigate irregularities over voter lists in the November election and had not allowed fair campaigning. The commission said there was no evidence to support claims of widespread fraud. People have taken to banging pots and pans to protest!
  8. World Politics - Nguyen Phu Trong re-elected as Vietnam’s leader for third term - Nguyen Phu Trong, the Chief of ruling Communist Party of Vietnam, was re-elected as the leader of country for the third term. The 76 years old has become the longest-serving leaders of Vietnam for decades. The development was reported by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on January 31, 2021. Vietnam is a socialist republic with a one-party system, led by the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV). It follows Marxism–Leninism and "Hồ Chí Minh Thought", the thoughts of the late Hồ Chí Minh (a Vietnamese revolutionary and politician who served as PM of North Vietnam from 1945 to 1955 and President from 1945 to 1969). Vietnam became a unified country once more in 1975 when the armed forces of the Communist north seized the south. The US-led forces suffered huge defeatin the Vietnam war. Today, it has a booming economy, plugged into global supply chains, and has contained Covid-19 well.
  9. Governance and Institutions - Central University to be set up in Leh - Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2021 proposed to set up a central university in Leh to pave way for accessible higher education in Ladakh. The Finance Minister announced this while presenting Union Budget 2021-22. The Minister shared that 100 new Sainik schools will be set up in partnership with NGOs, private schools, and states. The government would also be introducing legislation to implement the setting-up of the Higher Education Commission of India.
  10. Governance and Institutions - Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana to be launched - The centrally sponsored scheme PM Aatmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PMASBY) will be launched in 2021-22 to boost 11,024 Urban and 17,788 rural health and wellness centres. The scheme will be implemented for 6 years with an allocation of Rs. 64,180 crores. However, it was not clear whether money has been allotted for 2021-22 itself, or not. Meanwhile, 'Aatmanirbharta', which means self-reliance, has been named as Hindi word of the year 2020 by the Oxford Languages. The word came into limelight after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's clarion call to make India a self-reliant or 'Atmanirbhar' nation.
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    • 1. ECONOMY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper)
Elon Musk takes Bitcoin mainstream, shocks world
  1. A boost to BTC: The world's most valuable cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) hit a fresh record above $47,000 on 08-02-201 the moment Elon Musk's Tesla announced a $1.5 billion investment in it. Investors worldwide saw it a stamp of confidence and 'mainstreaming' and poured money into it. Tesla also said it would begin accepting the digital token as a form of payment for its electric cars. That gave people the much-needed confidence in BTC's ability to be a mainstream payment method soon.
  2. It was Musk magic: Experts say that any other firm or celebrity deciding to put part of their balance sheet in Bitcoin would not have been taken seriously. But when the richest man (Musk) with a proven streak of innovative disruption does it, it's different. It is likely now that, one by one, corporations will add Bitcoin to their balance sheets. So people are imagining if 100 companies start putting even 1% into Bitcoin, the demand and supply would be so mismatched that prices could only rise. There is a finite no. of BTC to be mined (21 million max).
  3. Short term or long term: The crypto craze at the moment seems driven by short-term speculative momentum. Not many are able to explain how BTC will be used in everyday life. But the moment Elon Musk announced his move, the number of users on an Indian crypto exchange ZebPay more than doubled! Offiers there said it was a sign to other companies that bitcoin is a solid reserve asset for any balance sheet.
  4. India may ban BTC: The government of India had planned to bring a new crypto related legislation in the Budget session 2021, and there were rumours that an outright ban was being contemplated. Exchanges said they hoped central banks would join in the crypto boom, and not ban bitcoin and let every Indian participate in investing in crypto assets.
  5. Evolving story: The argument for bitcoin is evolving. It used to be negative (reasons to buy), but suddenly there are positive reasons, and that's why you see bitcoin at (new highs). If this becomes a trend in corporate treasuries the downside of staying on the sidelines will only become costlier over time. So many may jump ship right now. Tesla's move to put some of its corporate reserves in bitcoin may be a signal that it expects the cryptocurrency will emerge as another store of long-term value alongside the dollar and gold. Companies are very careful when it comes down to their reserves. This doesn't appear to be a flash in the pan. It appears to be something that may be a fundamental change.
  6. Digital gold in expansionary timmes: In an expansionary, monetary environment, you want scarce assets. The scarcest asset in the world is Bitcoin. It’s digital gold. Gold will lose out to Bitcoin in reallocations. If we bought gold instead of Bitcoin, we would be down $2 billion. It would have been a disaster. Once people start thinking about what they want, which is a non-sovereign, safe-haven store of value, they’re going to realize that Bitcoin does the job of gold better, and you’re seeing all of the institutional flows move out of gold into Bitcoin.
  7. GameStop mania and Tesla's bad news: The January 2021 Gamestop mania (run by investors on a Reddit group WSB) was a wake-up call, but now the capital markets have truly reached dangerous levels. At a market value of about $800 billion, Tesla trades at about 6.5 times the combined value of Ford and General Motors, despite controlling a small fraction of the global auto market. And Tesla lately has been losing market share in Western Europe to competitors including Volkswagen, which has begun to compete aggressively in the electric category. The news of Tesla’s bitcoin investment eclipsed a negative headline for the company about quality issues identified in the important Chinese market.
  8. Can it all go wrong: While digital assets are relatively new, a tour of financial history suggests similar speculative use of an industrial company’s funds aren’t—and they have ended badly. About a century ago, General Motors required a bailout due to the stock speculation activities of founder William Durant. In the 1980s, widespread corporate speculation on Japanese land prices helped drive a stock bubble that eventually collapsed. Those cautionary tales aren’t likely to concern investors who are enjoying a giant stock-market party. But Tesla’s monetary experiment, coupled with the individual-investor-driven stock-market madness of recent weeks, should have investors concerned that the consequences of staying at the party too late will be worse than leaving early.

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    • 2. ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper
Global warming and vanishing glaciers: Uttarakhand disaster revies
  • A scientific warning: The February disaster in Uttarakhand's Chamoli has again turned the spotlight on climate change and its impact on ecology. On February 7, a portion of Nanda Devi glacier broke off, leading to severe floods which washed away villages and damaged power plants. Hundred of people were missing, and many of them were feared dead. Though the actual cause of the glacier burst is being probed, scientists for long had warned that glaciers are disappearing from the Earth and global warming, especially in the last three decades, is a major reason behind it. As the world is getting hotter, ice caps on mountains are melting rapidly.
  • The future: Experts have warned that at this rate, the Himalayas might lose one-third of its glaciers by the end of this century. This is bound to be catastrophic for two billion people residing in and around the mountain range in India and neighbouring countries. To be sure, there have been contrary voices too, that have claimed this is all exaggerated.
  • Recent warnings: In July 2020, experts had warned about melting of glaciers in the Nanda Devi region. A study by IIT Kanpur and Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology shows nearly 26 square kilometres of the glaciated area of Nanda Devi region was lost in 37 years. The study revealed that the glaciers of the valley lost 26 km² (10%) of the glaciated area between 1980 and 2017. The total glacierized area in 2017 is 217 km², which is 26% of the total area. However, during the same periods (1980-2017) the Equilibrium Line Altitude (ELA) of the glaciers fluctuated between 5200 and 5700 m asl (metres above sea level). The present study suggests that the glaciers in the region have responded to deprived precipitation conditions since 1980.
  • A Himalaya of lakes: As the Himalayan glaciers rapidly melt, where will all the water—more than a quadrillion gallons of it, go? The answer is that the Himalaya, long defined by its glaciers, is rapidly becoming a mountain range defined by lakes. Studies found that from 1990 to 2010, more than 900 new glacier-fed lakes were formed across Asia’s high mountain ranges. To understand how these lakes form, think of a glacier as an ice bulldozer slowly plowing down the side of a mountain, scraping through the earth, and leaving a ridge of debris on either side as it pushes forward. These ridges are called moraines, and as glaciers melt and retreat, water fills the gouge that remains, and the moraines serve as natural dams. They start as a series of meltwater ponds and coalesce to form a single pond, then a larger lake. And year by year they get larger and larger, until you have a lake with millions of cubic meters of water. As the lake fills up, it can overspill the moraines holding it in place or, in the worst-case scenario, the moraines can give way. Scientists call such an event a glacial lake outburst flood, or GLOF. There’s also a Sherpa word for it: chhu-gyumha, a catastrophic flood.
  • Worldwide impact: Climate change is driving temperatures up dramatically in India and the world. India has witnessed more than half degree Celsius rise in average temperature in the last 10 years, while global temperature reported anomalies of about one degree Celsius. Data shows almost all major cities are witnessing a rise in average temperature. The global mean temperature in 2020 is estimated to have been 1.27 °C (2.29 °F) above the average temperature of the late 19th century," Berekeley Earth, a climate research institute, said in its global report of 2020.
  • Recent years: The last six years stand out in terms of temperature rise in 200 years. The rising temperature has put global ice caps and glaciers at higher risk. However, scientists are divided on whether global warming is responsible for such disaster as witnessed in Uttarakhand. Preliminary investigations show that the event in Uttarakhand is caused by a landslide. It would require more research on this to conclude if it was a man-made disaster. A similar event had happened in the region around 2016 (probably with lesser impact) which indicates that this is a very sensitive region.
  • Causality debated: Even though the causality of the event is debated, the effects of the disaster are because of human interventions. The deaths would not have happened if we avoid building such massive infrastructure projects in sensitive areas. But there are tends of hydropower projects under construction across the region. Some experts also say that there is a chance of formation of a glacial lake, which got ruptured somehow and a flash flood occurred.
  • Details of rivers: The Alaknanda river is a Himalayan river in Uttarakhand, one of the two headstreams of River Ganga. The other is the Bhagirathi. River Alaknanda is also called as the source stream of the Ganges because of its greater length and discharge. But in Hindu mythology and culture, Bhagirathi is called as the source stream of Ganga. There are five main tributaries of Alaknanda in order namely the River Dhauliganga, River Nandakini, River Pindar, River Mandakini and River Bhagirathi. All of them rise in the northern mountainous regions of Uttarakhand. It is one of the best river for river rafting in the world because of its high rafting grade. At Vishnuprayag, Dhauliganga River meets Alaknanda river. At Nandaprayag, Nandakini River meets Alaknanda. At Karnaprayag, Pindar River meets Alaknanda. At Rudraprayag, Mandakini River meets Alaknanda. At Devprayag, Bhagirathi River meets alaknanda and it officially becomes River Ganges. Dhauliganga is among the six source streams of the River Ganges river. The river meets the river Alaknanda at Vishnuprayag in Joshimath.

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    • 3. FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper)

India-EU Trade Pact - Taking its own time
  1. India's willingness: India indicated plans to restart negotiations on investment and trade agreements with the European Union (EU). Earlier discussions were held on a comprehensive free trade agreement in 2007. It was aborted in 2013 due to differences on movement of professionals, labour, human rights, environmental issues, India’s high tariffs, inconsistent tax regime and non-payment of arbitral awards. In January 2021, the EU signed a quick investment deal with China, before Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the USA!
  2. EU's own problems: Now EU finds itself in an unusual turbulent situation which makes the trade pact elusive. The EU nations are struggling with COVID-19, Brexit and international tensions caused by former U.S. President Trump that aggravated internal conflicts in EU. It faces obstacles from adherence to the rule of law to a strategy for dealing with China, Russia, Turkey and Iran.
  3. Covid package: After months of tortuous negotiation, member States finally agreed on a long-term budget and a COVID-19 recovery package of $2 trillion.   Hungary and Poland opposed anti-COVID-19 support being linked to good governance, in particular, accusations of suppression of human rights and lack of independence in the judiciary.
  4. Euro scepticism: The EU’s attempt to condition its budget on the rule of law sharpened the emphasis on the veto power to which every Member State is entitled. It was not only Britain that started the populist movement of leaving EU but   many Euro sceptic parties now focus on preventing closer unity.    Euro zone crisis, migration crises, implementing COVID-19 lockdowns, & upcoming elections in many EU States which have strong Euro sceptic movements reflects lack of unity. This fear of Euroscepticm forces mainstream politicians to adopt populist rhetoric & many top leaders are criticising Islam and anti-secular immigrants which is repeated in other EU countries.
  5. EU unity: Common security and defence policy is causing division among the nations. France wants Europe to have greater control on its security, but Germany, Netherlands, Portugal and others are uncomfortable with this view. They are satisfied with security being supported by NATO and the U.S. & wants to engage in profitable business with China and Russia. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to riots in the Netherlands, resignation of Italian PM & introduced divisive vaccine nationalism in the Union. Initially some members closed their borders & restricted the exports of personal protective equipment.
  6. Vaccination programme: EU’s vaccine procurement programme is affected because the manufactures say that vaccines cannot be delivered as scheduled due to production problems despite advance payment. The German government which is a strong advocate of European solidarity negotiated a separate vaccine contract with Pfizer. Enormous political will and adroit skill is required to solve these issues & trade agreements with India will be the least priority for EU.
  7. Trade facts: The EU is India's largest trading partner, accounting for €80 billion worth of trade in goods in 2019 or 11.1% of total Indian trade, on par with the USA and ahead of China (10.7%). The EU is the second-largest destination for Indian exports (over 14% of the total) after the USA. India is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 1.9% of EU total trade in goods in 2019, well behind the USA (15.2%), China (13.8%) and the UK (12.6%). Trade in goods between the EU and India increased by 72% in the last decade. Trade in services between the EU and India increased rapidly from €22.3 billion in 2015 to €29.6 billion in 2018. EU foreign direct investment stocks in India amounted to €68 billion in 2018, which is significant but way below EU foreign investment stocks in China (€175 billion) or Brazil (€312 billion). Some 6,000 European companies are present in India, providing directly 1.7 million jobs and indirectly 5 million jobs in a broad range of sectors.
  8. What EU says: Currently, India’s trade regime and regulatory environment remains relatively restrictive. Technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures, deviation from international standards and agreements, as well as discrimination based on legislative or administrative measures by India, affect a wide range of sectors, including goods, services, investment and public procurement.

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    • 4. GOVERNMENT SCHEMES (Prelims, GS Paper 2, Essay paper)

The MITRA Scheme: Mega Investment Textiles Parks
  1. A new fabric: The Finance minister in Budget 2021-22 proposed the MITRA Scheme - Mega Investment Textiles Parks (MITRA) for Textile sector. This gave hope to the aspirations of quick job creation in India. Over the years, India has lagged behind in textiles and apparels manufacturing and exports, and others like Bangladesh have raced ahead.
  2. Key details: The scheme will enable the textile industry to become globally competitive, and may also attract large investments, boost employment generation and exports. It aims to create world class infrastructure with plug and play facilities to enable create global champions in exports. MITRA will be launched in addition to the Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI). Government also announced uniform deduction of the BCD rates on caprolactam, nylon chips and nylon fiber and yarn to 5 per cent.
  3. Bangladesh versus India: How did Bangladesh become competitive? A key reason for it was cheaper production of goods in Bangladesh, than in India. The unit labour cost of producing a cotton shirt in the United States is around $7, in India around 50 cents, and in Bangladesh only 22 cents. This gives Bangladesh a competitive advantage over the rest of the nations, including India. Bangladesh has more than 80% of market value of exports by large enterprises, while India has 80% by small enterprises. Readymade garment exporters in Bangladesh, therefore, have economies of scale. Also, Bangladesh’s exports to the European Union and Canada are largely duty-free. In order to increase exports of readymade garments, Indian firms will have to grow bigger. And if there are more jobs in the garments sector, women will benefit. Bangladesh also has an FTA with EU, thereby attracting low or nil import duties. India has no such FTA.
  4. About PLIS: In order to boost domestic manufacturing and cut down on import bills, the central government in March this year introduced a scheme that aims to give companies incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units. Apart from inviting foreign companies to set shop in India, the scheme also aims to encourage local companies to set up or expand existing manufacturing units. By Feb 2021, the scheme had been rolled out for mobile and allied equipment as well as pharmaceutical ingredients and medical devices manufacturing. These sectors are labour intensive and are likely, and the hope is that they would create new jobs for the ballooning employable workforce of India.
  5. Ten sectors: The government aims to expand the ambit of the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to include as many as ten more sectors such as food processing and textiles other than the already included mobile phones, allied equipment, pharmaceutical ingredients and medical devices.
  6. Why needed: The idea of PLI is important as the government cannot continue making investments in these capital intensive sectors as they need longer times for start giving the returns. Electronics and pharmaceuticals themselves are large sectors, so, at this point, if the government can focus on labour intensive sectors like garments and leather, it would be really helpful.
  7. Sectors currently with PLI: As a part of the PLI scheme for mobile and electronic equipment manufacturing, an incentive of 4-6 per cent is planned for electronics companies which manufacture mobile phones and other electronic components such as transistors, diodes, thyristors, resistors, capacitors and nano-electronic components such as micro electromechanical systems.

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    • 5. POLITY AND CONSTITUTION (Prelims, GS Paper 2, GS Paper 3)
ADR informs increase in no. of "Registered unrecognised political parties"
  • The ADR (Association for Democratic Reforms) has informed that the number of registered unrecognised political parties has increased two-fold from 2010 to 2019. ADR is an Indian non-governmental organization established in 1999 situated in New Delhi.
  • Highlights:
  1. Registered Unrecognised Political Parties - Either newly registered parties or those which have not secured enough percentage of votes in the assembly or general elections to become a state party, or those which have never contested elections since being registered are considered unrecognised parties. Such parties don’t enjoy all the benefits extended to the recognised parties.
  2. Recognised Political Party - A recognised political party shall either be a National party or a State party if it meets certain laid down conditions. To become a recognised political party either at the state or national level, a party has to secure a certain minimum percentage of polled valid votes or certain number of seats in the state legislative assembly or the Lok Sabha during the last election. The recognition granted by the Commission to the parties determines their right to certain privileges like allocation of the party symbols, provision of time for political broadcasts on the state-owned television and radio stations and access to electoral rolls.
  3. Election Commission’s Guidelines - The Election Commission of India issued guidelines on 'Transparency and Accountability in party funds and election expenditure – submission of reports by unrecognised political parties' which were applicable to all political parties w.e.f 1st October, 2014. As per these guidelines, all unrecognised parties are required to submit their requisite reports in the office of the respective state Chief Election Officers (CEOs).  Scanned copies of annual audited accounts, contribution reports and statements of election expenditure shall be uploaded on the websites of CEOs of the respective states, within three days of receipt of the same for viewing by the public.
  • Findings:
  1. Increased Number: There are 2,360 political parties registered with the Election Commission of India and 97.50% of them are unrecognised. From 1,112 registered unrecognised parties in 2010, the number has increased to 2,301 in 2019.
  2. Donation to these Parties: The contribution reports of only 78 or 3.39% of the total 2,301 registered unrecognised parties are available in the public domain for Financial Year (FY) 2018-19. Political donations in India have anyway turned opaque after the launch of 'electoral bonds' in 2017, when the identity of the donors cannot be gleaned from any record whatsoever. The challenge to this is pending in Supreme Court since long.
  • Recommendations of ADR: 255 parties were delisted in 2016 from the list of registered unrecognised parties as they were no longer in existence or functioning. This exercise should continue so as to weed out all political parties which do not contest in any election for more than 5 years and also as a means to strengthen the registration process. Regulation of registration of political parties is crucial to avoid money laundering, corrupt electoral practices and abuse of money power. Thus, the ECI should impose strict norms for the registration of an association of persons as a political party apart from taking the stringent step of de-listing those parties which fail to adhere to the rules. I.T. scrutiny of unrecognised parties should be taken up, especially of those which do not contest in elections but declare receipt of voluntary contributions.

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    • 6. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Prelims, Various GS Papers)
The enigmatic 'Time Capsules'
  1. What's the story: It was reported that the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust denied reports about placing of a time capsule under the ground at Ram Temple construction site in Ayodhya. That's when it hit headlines.
  2. Time Capsules: It is a container of any size or shape, which accommodates documents, photos and artefacts typical of the current era and is buried underground, for future generations to unearth. The time capsule requires special engineering so that the contents don’t decay, even if pulled out after a century. Material such as aluminium and stainless steel are used for the encasing, and documents are often reproduced on acid-free paper.
  3. Old examples: While the term “time capsule” was coined in the 20th century, among the earliest examples of one dates back to 1777, found by historians inside the statue of Jesus Christ in Spain during its restoration. The International Time Capsule Society (ITCS), based in the US and formed in 1990, is now defunct but continues estimating the number of time capsules in the world. As per its database, there are “10,000-15,000 times capsules worldwide”.
  4. In India: There are some in India. Indian PM Indira Gandhi had buried a time capsule outside one of the gate of Red Fort complex, named "Kalpaatra", containing post-independence history of India, on 15 August 1972 amid political opposition. It was scheduled to be opened after 1000 years. The next Janata government unearthed it in 1977 but its contents were never made public and were lost. A time capsule was buried in the presence of the President of India near the auditorium of IIT Kanpur on 6 March 2010. Alexandra Girls' English Institution, a school in Fort, South Mumbai buried a time capsule in 2014, scheduling it to be opened on 1 September 2062, on the bi-centennial anniversary of the school. On 26th January 2021, 1.5 tonne time capsule encapsulating the history of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) history spanning over a century was buried 30 feet deep in the park opposite Victoria Gate during Republic Day celebrations.

The Havana Syndrome
  1. Story: Nearly four years after a mysterious neurological illness started to affect American diplomats in Cuba, China, and other countries, a report has found “directed” microwave radiation to be its “plausible” cause.
  2. Research: The researchers have examined four possibilities to explain the symptoms — infection, chemicals, psychological factors and microwave energy. Experts examined the symptoms of about 40 government employees, and concluded that directed pulsed RF (radio frequency) energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered.
  3. Microwave weapons: These are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target. People exposed to high-intensity microwave pulses have reported a clicking or buzzing sound, as if seeming to be coming from within your head. It can have both acute and long-term effects — without leaving signs of physical damage.
  4. The ‘Havana syndrome’: In late 2016, US diplomats in Havana reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes. The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”. Cuba had denied any knowledge of the illnesses even though the US had accused it of carrying out “sonic attacks”, leading to an increase in tensions.
  5. China issue: Similar complaints were received in recent years from US diplomats working in China.

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    • 7. SOCIAL ISSUES (Prelims, GS Paper 2)
Uniform age for marriage
  • SC to examine: The Supreme Court (SC) decided to examine a plea to transfer to itself cases pending in the Delhi and Rajasthan High Courts to declare a “uniform minimum age” for marriage. The Union government has also set up a committee to reconsider the minimum age of marriage for women, which is currently 18.
  • Highlights: A Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) issued notice to the government on a plea, which was filed to “secure gender justice, gender equality, and dignity of women”. The plea had sought a direction to the Union government to remove the anomalies in the minimum age of marriage and make it ‘gender-neutral, religion-neutral and uniform for all citizens’. Various laws state that the minimum age to get married should be 18 for women and 21 for men.
  • Argument: It has been argued that the different ages for marriage violated the fundamental rights of equality (Article 14), protection against discrimination (Article 15), and dignity of life (Article 21) of citizens and went against India’s commitment under the convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW).
  • Current Laws: For Hindus, The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, sets 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom. However, child marriages are not illegal even though they can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage. In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid. The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.
  • Pros of increasing marriageable age for girls:
  1. Socio-economic fronts: Increasing the legal age for the marriage of women has benefits on social and economic fronts including lowering the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), improvement of nutrition levels and so on.
  2. Financial front: Opportunities will be opened up for women to pursue higher education and careers and become financially empowered, thus resulting in a more egalitarian society.
  3. More female labour force participation: Increasing the marriage age will push the mean marriage age higher and will lead to more females doing graduation and hence improving the female labour force participation ratio. The percentage of females doing graduation will increase by at least 5-7 percentage points from the current level of 9.8%.
  • Cons: Minimum age of marriage does not mean mandatory age. It only signifies that below that age there could be criminal prosecution under the child marriage law. Increasing the age of marriage to 21 years would mean that girls will have no say in their personal matters until they are 21. The elementary right that the Convention of the Right of Children of the United Nation bestows upon minors — the right to be heard, the right for their views to be considered — will be denied to girls right up till 21, beyond adulthood. The child marriage law has been used by parents against eloping daughters. It has become a tool for parental control and for punishment of boys or men whom girls choose as their husbands. Most cases that are taken to court are self-arranged marriages. And only one-third of the cases relate to arranged marriages, which are sometimes brought by parents or husbands to dissolve or to nullify marriages that have broken down because of domestic violence, dowry or compatibility issues.
  • Summary: Any change will happen when the psyche of people will alter. No law is effective if change does not occur from within. Increasing the legal age for marriage may help change the stereotype mindset that women are more mature than men of the same age and therefore can be allowed to marry sooner.

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    • 8. MISCELLANEOUS (Prelims, GS Paper 1, GS Paper 2)

World Sustainable Development Summit 2021
  1. PM Modi will inaugurate the World Sustainable Development Summit 2021 on 10th of February through video conferencing. The World sustainable development summit will be organised under the theme- ‘Redefining Our Common Future: Safe and Secure Environment for All’.
  2. Highlights: The year will mark the 20th edition of summit. It will be held in between 10th to 12th February 2021. The summit is organised by the Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI). It will be organised with the aim to bring together a wide number of governments, academicians, business leaders, climate scientists, civil society and youth to fight against climate change. Topics will range from climate finance, circular economy, energy & industry transition, to adaptation & resilience, nature-based solutions, clean oceans and air pollution. The key partners of the summit are Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change and the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  3. World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS): It is the annual flagship event that is organised by the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). The summit is organised with the aim of providing the long-term solutions to benefit the global community. It seeks to benefit by assembling various stakeholders on a single platform to initiate a step for the constructive action to combat the issues of the future of humanity. The summit is organised in accordance with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.
  4. Sustainable Development Summit in Delhi: Energy and Resources Institute annually organises the Sustainable Development Summit in Delhi since 2001. It is an international platform that facilitate the exchange of knowledge covering the aspects of sustainable development.

Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF)
  1. The Uttarakhand disaster: A massive glacier burst occurred in Feb 2021 at Chamoli in Uttarakhand. The exact reason for the burst was not immediately known. But the incident brought focus again to the dangers of climate change.  This incident is also being seen as the Glacial Lake Outburst flood.
  2. Glacial Lake Outburst Flood: It is a type of the outburst flood which occurs when the dam containing a glacial lake fails. Dam failure can happen because of water pressure, erosion, earthquake, avalanche in rock or heavy snow or volcanic eruptions under the ice. It can also occur because of the huge displacement of water in a glacial lake because of collapse of any glacier into it. Other reasons for the glacial burst include construction activities, anthropological activities and climate change.
  3. Subglacial Lake: It is a lake found under a glacier, usually formed beneath an ice cap or ice sheet. It is formed at the boundary between ice and the underlying bedrock. At this boundary, the gravitational pressure decreases the pressure melting point of ice.
  4. Proglacial Lakes: These are lakes formed at the tips of the glacial as a result of the retreating glaciers. They are often bound by sediments and boulders In the Himalayas, majority of the glaciers are known to be receding. So, there are several proglacial lakes in the regions.
  5. Problems: Breach in the boundaries of the proglacial lakes can lead to large amounts of water to rush down to nearby streams and rivers. The water gains the momentum on its way by coming in contact with the sediments, rocks and other materials. This causes flooding downstream.
  6. Avalanche: The falling masses of snow and ice for which the speed increases as they move down the slope are called 'Avalanche'.

Russia to launch 40 satellites in March 2021
  1. Russian space programme: The space industry of Russia announced that the country is going to launch 40 satellites into orbit from 18 different countries of the world in March 2021.
  2. Highlights: The satellites will be launched using the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket. Soyuz 2.1 is a carrier rocket with the Fregat booster. It will blast off with the South Korean Compact Advanced Satellite 500 space vehicle called CAS500-1. Payloads from 18 countries will also be launched into orbit along with Soyuz 2.1 and CAS500-1. Satellites from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Japan,South Korea, UAE, Israel, Thailand, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Hungary, Argentina, Netherland, Slovakia, Spain, Tunisia and the United Kingdom will be launced.
  3. Soyuz-2: It is the advanced version of the Russian Soyuz rocket. The basis version of the rocket is a three-stage launch vehicle that is used to place the payloads into low Earth orbit (LEO). The first-stage of the rocket boosters and two core stages feature the uprated engines along with the improved injection systems. The rocket system also comprises of the Digital flight control and telemetry systems. It allows the rocket launching from a fixed launch platform. The rocket flown with an upper stage. The upper stage allows the rocket to lift the payloads into higher orbits. It is usually equipped with the independent flight control and telemetry systems.
  4. Soyuz: It is a family of Soviet expendable launch systems. It was developed by OKB-1 while the Progress Rocket Space Centre have manufactured it in Samara, Russia. It launched its first satellite in 1966. Till date it has launched over 1,700 flights and is the most frequently used launch vehicle across the world.

Anganwadi beneficiaries dropped by 2 crores in 7 years
  1. Sad story: As per data submitted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in the Parliament, the number of beneficiaries under the government’s Anganwadi programme has declined in the number of by nearly two crores.
  2. Highlights: There were some 10.45 crore pregnant women, lactating mothers and children aged six months to six years who were enrolled at nearly 14 lakh Anganwadi centres during 2014-2015. This number has declined and dropped to 8.55 crore by March, 2020. The number of children has also declined from 8.49 crore in 2014-2015 to 6.86 crore in March 2020. The number of pregnant women and lactating mothers declined from 1.95 crore in 2014-15 to 1.68 crore in March 2020. No reasons were given.
  3. Why number of enrolled children declined: Though the actual reasons for the declines in the number of children is unknown, some of the possible reasons for the decline could be (a) those children who were unable to submit Aadhaar might have been knocked out as ‘fake’; (b) the genuine fakes could have been identified with the help of Aadhaar; (c) Census 2011 shows that the absolute population in the younger age groups was declining in States with a low fertility rate. So, the number might have declined because of changing demographics.
  4. Anganwadi: It is a type of rural child care centre, started by the Indian government in the year 1975. The centres were established under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program to combat the child hunger and malnutrition.
  5. Integrated Child Development Scheme: This ICDS scheme was launched in the year 1975. Though in 1978 Morarji Desai government had discontinued it but in the Tenth Five Year Plan it was relaunched. The scheme comprises a package of six services which are administered at various Anganwadi centres. The services include the immunisation, supplementary nutrition, pre-school non-formal education, health check-up, health education, and referral services.
9.1 Today's best editorials to read
  • We offer you 7 excellent editorials from across 10 newspapers we have scanned. 

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    • SECTION 3 - MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions)

Solve the online quiz given, right now. Check scores, and relative performance!



01-01-2020,1,04-08-2021,1,05-08-2021,1,06-08-2021,1,28-06-2021,1,Abrahamic religions,6,Afganistan,1,Afghanistan,35,Afghanitan,1,Afghansitan,1,Africa,2,Agri tech,2,Agriculture,150,Ancient and Medieval History,51,Ancient History,4,Ancient sciences,1,April 2020,25,April 2021,22,Architecture and Literature of India,11,Armed forces,1,Art Culture and Literature,1,Art Culture Entertainment,2,Art Culture Languages,3,Art Culture Literature,10,Art Literature Entertainment,1,Artforms and Artists,1,Article 370,1,Arts,11,Athletes and Sportspersons,2,August 2020,24,August 2021,239,August-2021,3,Authorities and Commissions,4,Aviation,3,Awards and Honours,26,Awards and HonoursHuman Rights,1,Banking,1,Banking credit finance,13,Banking-credit-finance,19,Basic of Comprehension,2,Best Editorials,4,Biodiversity,46,Biotechnology,47,Biotechology,1,Centre State relations,19,CentreState relations,1,China,81,Citizenship and immigration,24,Civils Tapasya - English,92,Climage Change,3,Climate and weather,44,Climate change,60,Climate Chantge,1,Colonialism and imperialism,3,Commission and Authorities,1,Commissions and Authorities,27,Constitution and Law,467,Constitution and laws,1,Constitutional and statutory roles,19,Constitutional issues,128,Constitutonal Issues,1,Cooperative,1,Cooperative Federalism,10,Coronavirus variants,7,Corporates,3,Corporates Infrastructure,1,Corporations,1,Corruption and transparency,16,Costitutional issues,1,Covid,104,Covid Pandemic,1,COVID VIRUS NEW STRAIN DEC 2020,1,Crimes against women,15,Crops,10,Cryptocurrencies,2,Cryptocurrency,7,Crytocurrency,1,Currencies,5,Daily Current Affairs,453,Daily MCQ,32,Daily MCQ Practice,573,Daily MCQ Practice - 01-01-2022,1,Daily MCQ Practice - 17-03-2020,1,DCA-CS,286,December 2020,26,Decision Making,2,Defence and Militar,2,Defence and Military,281,Defence forces,9,Demography and Prosperity,36,Demonetisation,2,Destitution and poverty,7,Discoveries and Inventions,8,Discovery and Inventions,1,Disoveries and Inventions,1,Eastern religions,2,Economic & Social Development,2,Economic Bodies,1,Economic treaties,5,Ecosystems,3,Education,119,Education and employment,5,Educational institutions,3,Elections,37,Elections in India,16,Energy,134,Energy laws,3,English Comprehension,3,Entertainment Games and Sport,1,Entertainment Games and Sports,33,Entertainment Games and Sports – Athletes and sportspersons,1,Entrepreneurship and startups,1,Entrepreneurships and startups,1,Enviroment and Ecology,2,Environment and Ecology,228,Environment destruction,1,Environment Ecology and Climage Change,1,Environment Ecology and Climate Change,458,Environment Ecology Climate Change,5,Environment protection,12,Environmental protection,1,Essay paper,643,Ethics and Values,26,EU,27,Europe,1,Europeans in India and important personalities,6,Evolution,4,Facts and Charts,4,Facts and numbers,1,Features of Indian economy,31,February 2020,25,February 2021,23,Federalism,2,Flora and fauna,6,Foreign affairs,507,Foreign exchange,9,Formal and informal economy,13,Fossil fuels,14,Fundamentals of the Indian Economy,10,Games SportsEntertainment,1,GDP GNP PPP etc,12,GDP-GNP PPP etc,1,GDP-GNP-PPP etc,20,Gender inequality,9,Geography,10,Geography and Geology,2,Global trade,22,Global treaties,2,Global warming,146,Goverment decisions,4,Governance and Institution,2,Governance and Institutions,773,Governance and Schemes,221,Governane and Institutions,1,Government decisions,226,Government Finances,2,Government Politics,1,Government schemes,358,GS I,93,GS II,66,GS III,38,GS IV,23,GST,8,Habitat destruction,5,Headlines,22,Health and medicine,1,Health and medicine,56,Healtha and Medicine,1,Healthcare,1,Healthcare and Medicine,98,Higher education,12,Hindu individual editorials,54,Hinduism,9,History,216,Honours and Awards,1,Human rights,249,IMF-WB-WTO-WHO-UNSC etc,2,Immigration,6,Immigration and citizenship,1,Important Concepts,68,Important Concepts.UPSC Mains GS III,3,Important Dates,1,Important Days,35,Important exam concepts,11,Inda,1,India,29,India Agriculture and related issues,1,India Economy,1,India's Constitution,14,India's independence struggle,19,India's international relations,4,India’s international relations,7,Indian Agriculture and related issues,9,Indian and world media,5,Indian Economy,1248,Indian Economy – Banking credit finance,1,Indian Economy – Corporates,1,Indian Economy.GDP-GNP-PPP etc,1,Indian Geography,1,Indian history,33,Indian judiciary,119,Indian Politcs,1,Indian Politics,637,Indian Politics – Post-independence India,1,Indian Polity,1,Indian Polity and Governance,2,Indian Society,1,Indias,1,Indias international affairs,1,Indias international relations,30,Indices and Statistics,98,Indices and Statstics,1,Industries and services,32,Industry and services,1,Inequalities,2,Inequality,103,Inflation,33,Infra projects and financing,6,Infrastructure,252,Infrastruture,1,Institutions,1,Institutions and bodies,267,Institutions and bodies Panchayati Raj,1,Institutionsandbodies,1,Instiutions and Bodies,1,Intelligence and security,1,International Institutions,10,international relations,2,Internet,11,Inventions and discoveries,10,Irrigation Agriculture Crops,1,Issues on Environmental Ecology,3,IT and Computers,23,Italy,1,January 2020,26,January 2021,25,July 2020,5,July 2021,207,June,1,June 2020,45,June 2021,369,June-2021,1,Juridprudence,2,Jurisprudence,91,Jurisprudence Governance and Institutions,1,Land reforms and productivity,15,Latest Current Affairs,1136,Law and order,45,Legislature,1,Logical Reasoning,9,Major events in World History,16,March 2020,24,March 2021,23,Markets,182,Maths Theory Booklet,14,May 2020,24,May 2021,25,Meetings and Summits,27,Mercantilism,1,Military and defence alliances,5,Military technology,8,Miscellaneous,454,Modern History,15,Modern historym,1,Modern technologies,42,Monetary and financial policies,20,monsoon and climate change,1,Myanmar,1,Nanotechnology,2,Nationalism and protectionism,17,Natural disasters,13,New Laws and amendments,57,News media,3,November 2020,22,Nuclear technology,11,Nuclear techology,1,Nuclear weapons,10,October 2020,24,Oil economies,1,Organisations and treaties,1,Organizations and treaties,2,Pakistan,2,Panchayati Raj,1,Pandemic,137,Parks reserves sanctuaries,1,Parliament and Assemblies,18,People and Persoalities,1,People and Persoanalities,2,People and Personalites,1,People and Personalities,189,Personalities,46,Persons and achievements,1,Pillars of science,1,Planning and management,1,Political bodies,2,Political parties and leaders,26,Political philosophies,23,Political treaties,3,Polity,485,Pollution,62,Post independence India,21,Post-Governance in India,17,post-Independence India,46,Post-independent India,1,Poverty,46,Poverty and hunger,1,Prelims,2054,Prelims CSAT,30,Prelims GS I,7,Prelims Paper I,189,Primary and middle education,10,Private bodies,1,Products and innovations,7,Professional sports,1,Protectionism and Nationalism,26,Racism,1,Rainfall,1,Rainfall and Monsoon,5,RBI,73,Reformers,3,Regional conflicts,1,Regional Conflicts,79,Regional Economy,16,Regional leaders,43,Regional leaders.UPSC Mains GS II,1,Regional Politics,149,Regional Politics – Regional leaders,1,Regionalism and nationalism,1,Regulator bodies,1,Regulatory bodies,63,Religion,44,Religion – Hinduism,1,Renewable energy,4,Reports,102,Reports and Rankings,119,Reservations and affirmative,1,Reservations and affirmative action,42,Revolutionaries,1,Rights and duties,12,Roads and Railways,5,Russia,3,schemes,1,Science and Techmology,1,Science and Technlogy,1,Science and Technology,819,Science and Tehcnology,1,Sciene and Technology,1,Scientists and thinkers,1,Separatism and insurgencies,2,September 2020,26,September 2021,444,SociaI Issues,1,Social Issue,2,Social issues,1308,Social media,3,South Asia,10,Space technology,70,Startups and entrepreneurship,1,Statistics,7,Study material,280,Super powers,7,Super-powers,24,TAP 2020-21 Sessions,3,Taxation,39,Taxation and revenues,23,Technology and environmental issues in India,16,Telecom,3,Terroris,1,Terrorism,103,Terrorist organisations and leaders,1,Terrorist acts,10,Terrorist acts and leaders,1,Terrorist organisations and leaders,14,Terrorist organizations and leaders,1,The Hindu editorials analysis,58,Tournaments,1,Tournaments and competitions,5,Trade barriers,3,Trade blocs,2,Treaties and Alliances,1,Treaties and Protocols,43,Trivia and Miscalleneous,1,Trivia and miscellaneous,43,UK,1,UN,114,Union budget,20,United Nations,6,UPSC Mains GS I,584,UPSC Mains GS II,3969,UPSC Mains GS III,3071,UPSC Mains GS IV,191,US,63,USA,3,Warfare,20,World and Indian Geography,24,World Economy,404,World figures,39,World Geography,23,World History,21,World Poilitics,1,World Politics,612,World Politics.UPSC Mains GS II,1,WTO,1,WTO and regional pacts,4,अंतर्राष्ट्रीय संस्थाएं,10,गणित सिद्धान्त पुस्तिका,13,तार्किक कौशल,10,निर्णय क्षमता,2,नैतिकता और मौलिकता,24,प्रौद्योगिकी पर्यावरण मुद्दे,15,बोधगम्यता के मूल तत्व,2,भारत का प्राचीन एवं मध्यकालीन इतिहास,47,भारत का स्वतंत्रता संघर्ष,19,भारत में कला वास्तुकला एवं साहित्य,11,भारत में शासन,18,भारतीय कृषि एवं संबंधित मुद्दें,10,भारतीय संविधान,14,महत्वपूर्ण हस्तियां,6,यूपीएससी मुख्य परीक्षा,91,यूपीएससी मुख्य परीक्षा जीएस,117,यूरोपीय,6,विश्व इतिहास की मुख्य घटनाएं,16,विश्व एवं भारतीय भूगोल,24,स्टडी मटेरियल,266,स्वतंत्रता-पश्चात् भारत,15,
PT's IAS Academy: Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 09-02-2021
Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 09-02-2021
Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 09-02-2021
PT's IAS Academy
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