Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 05-03-2021


Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 05-03-2021


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  1. Agriculture - 17% of annual food produced globally wasted - A U.N. report estimated that 17% of the food produced globally each year was wasted, which amounted to 931 million metric tons of food. Most of the waste (61%) happens in households, while food services account for 26% and retailers account for 13% of wastage. The food discarded in homes alone was 74 kg per person each year on an average. The Food Waste Index Report by UNEP aims at supporting the goals of SDG 12.3, by presenting the most comprehensive food waste data collection, analysis and modelling to date. The saddest part is that substantial amounts of food are produced but not eaten by humans has substantial negative impacts: environmentally, socially and economically. Estimates suggest that 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed! For India, UNEP estimated that 50 kg food was wasted each year, per person, in Indian households.
  2. Science and Technology - SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites marking 20th successful mission - Elon Musk-led space agency SpaceX on 04-03-2021 launched another 60 Starlink satellites into Earth's low orbit (LEO), marking its 20th successful Starlink mission. The satellites were launched atop SpaceX's reusable Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is targetting to launch its satellite internet in India in 2022 and has begun accepting pre-orders for the same at a deposit of $99 (about ? 7,300). It will be interesting to see how India, with one of the highest no. of internet shutdowns globally, will regulate "space internet" in years to come. There are other 'space internet' offerings coming from competing firms too.
  3. Governance and Institutions - UN declares 2023 as International Year of Millets - The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the India-sponsored resolution and has declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets. India’s Permanent Representative to UN Ambassador, TS Tirumurti shared the news. The resolution invites all member states and organisations to raise awareness regarding the benefits of millets. Millets are coarse grains and a repository of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They include jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet), korra (foxtail millet), arke (kodo millet), sama (little millet), bajra (pearl millet), chena/barr (proso millet) and sanwa (barnyard millet). The most popular Indian millet is Pearl millet (Bajra) and the second most widely grown in India is foxtail millet (Kangni or Kakum). Biologically speaking, millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food.
  4. Social Issues - Freedom in the World 2021 Report - India down - The "Freedom in the World 2021 report" has downgraded India’s status from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free’, in a major downward revision and embarassment for the country. Pointing to a decline in global democracy over the last 15 years, the report said that nearly 75% of the world’s population lived in a country that faced deterioration over the last year (2020). The most free countries in the world, with a score of 100, are Finland, Norway and Sweden, while the least free with a score of 1 are Tibet and Syria. USA based human rights watchdog Freedom House, which is largely funded through USA government grants, has been tracking the course of democracy since 1941. It found the most precipitous decline in freedom in the largest democracy of the world - India.
  5. Foreign Affairs - West Container Terminal offer to India-Japan - Sri Lanka has decided to offer the West Container Terminal (WCT) to Indian and Japanese companies. The decision comes a month after the Sri Lanka government ejected the two partners from a 2019 tripartite agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT), citing resistance to “foreign involvement”. Sri Lanka has approved the proposal to develop the WCT on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis for a period of 35 years as a public-private partnership with India’s Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited and its local representative in Sri Lanka. Japan is yet to name an investor. Chinese involvement in Sri Lankan infrastructural projects has been a cause of concern for India's government over the years.
  6. Social Issues - First World Report on Hearing: WHO - The 'First World Report on Hearing' was released by the World Health Organization (WHO), a day ahead of World Hearing Day on 3rd March. The Report underlines the need to rapidly step up efforts to prevent and address hearing loss by investing and expanding access to ear and hearing care services. Nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide - or 1 in 4 people - will be living with some degree of hearing loss by 2050. At least 700 million of these people will require access to ear and hearing care and other rehabilitation services unless action is taken. Hearing loss is caused by dysfunction of the inner ear, the cochlea, auditory nerve, or brain damage. This kind of hearing loss is normally due to damaged hair cells in the cochlea. As humans grow older, hair cells lose some of their function, and hearing deteriorates.
  7. World Economy - World Bank scheme for India's solar rooftop projects - The World Bank plans to introduce a $100-million credit guarantee scheme to boost India’s rooftop solar programme, which has not gained enough traction. The scheme will allow micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to avail concessional debt financing for setting up rooftop solar units.The World Bank scheme, along with the State Bank of India (SBI) and the MSME ministry to accelerate the adoption of rooftop solar units, will help MSMEs access credit of around $1 billion. The arrangement will be beneficial for the firms that often do not meet the lending criteria of banks and other financial institutions, with their financial woes been exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic. Rooftop solar is the most under-developed segment in renewables with only 3.4GW capacity (MNRE, as of 30th November, 2020) installed against a target of 40GW by 2022 and more than 70% of the distributed generation/ rooftop capacity in India has been contributed by C&I customers. The households who generate such power are "prosumers" - producers and consumers rolled into one. But many practical issues have made this scheme a flop-show. Smart meters and 'time of the day' tariff is one solution possible.
  8. People and Personalities - Elon Musk Tops Hurun Global Rich List 2021 - The 10th Edition of Hurun Global Rich List 2021 was released, which ranked 3228 billionaires from 2,402 companies and 68 countries. The report showed that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the world added 8 billionaires every week in 2020 and 421 in a year, taking their total number to a record 3,288. The total wealth of all billionaires across the globe surged 32 per cent, an addition of $3.5 trillion, to take their total wealth to $14.7 trillion, during the period under review. The wealth calculations taken into account is as of January 15, 2021. Wealth and income inequalities in the world have risen sharply over the years, with many reports indicating a steady deterioration for majority of the populations across countries, even as billionaires rose in stature.
  9. Governance and Institutions - Right to Repair: European Union - Companies that sell refrigerators, washers, hair dryers or tele-visions in the European Union (EU) will need to ensure that those appliances can be repaired for up to 10 years. The “Right to Repair,” as it is sometimes called, came into force across the 27-nation from March 2021. The Right to Repair electronics refers to government legislation that is intended to allow consumers the ability to repair and modify their own consumer electronic devices, where otherwise the manufacturer of such devices require the consumer to use only their offered services. Idea of Right to Repair originally originated from the USA where the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act 2012, required the manufacturers to provide the necessary documents and information to allow anyone to repair their vehicles.
  10. Indian Economy - India-USA Bilateral Trade - According to annual reports of US Trade Representative (USTR), India's recent emphasis on import substitution through the 'Make in India' campaign is one the several challenges facing the bilateral trade relationship. In 2019-20, the bilateral trade between the USA and India stood at USD 88.75 billion. The USA is one of the few countries with which India has a trade surplus. India’s trade surplus with the USA increased to USD 17.42 billion in 2019-20 from USD 16.86 billion in 2018-19. For the USA, India was the sixth largest supplier of services imports. India's large market, economic growth, and progress towards development make it an essential market for USA exporters.
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    • 1. ECONOMY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper)
NHAI raises Rs. 600 crore more than reserve price in TOT 
  • NHAI: The National Highways Authority of India has raised around Rs. 630 crore more than the base price for it’s fifth round of TOT auctions. Adani and DP Jain Infra, who quoted the highest price in the 5A-1 and 5A-2 packages in Feb 2021, are now set to bag the respective bids. NHAI at it’s board meeting on Thursday disclosed the reserve price for TOT-5. The authority received bids worths Rs. 2,252 crore, against a reserve price of Rs. 1,621 crore.
  • TOT model: Under the Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) model, publicly-funded operational highway projects are given on long-term lease basis to domestic and foreign 'patient capital' investors. Successful bidders are required to pay the lease amount upfront and recoup investments & returns by collecting toll over the lease tenure, between 15 and 30 years. The government was planning to offer smaller bundles of road projects under the toll-operate-transfer (TOT) model as part of its asset monetisation plan in a bid to attract multiple investors.
  • Prices: NHAI disclosed the reserve price for TOT-5. The authority received bids worths Rs. 2,252 crore, against a reserve price of Rs. 1,621 crore. Adani Enterprises and DP Jain & Co Infrastructure emerged as the highest bidders for the fifth round of TOT auctions in February. The bundle was divided into two parts - 5A-1 and 5A-2 – and both companies quoted the highest prices, respectively. The reserve price of 5A-1 was Rs. 800 crore, while that for 5A-2 was Rs. 821 crore. Indian Highways Concessions Trust, PATH, IRB and Cube Highways were the other bidders for the TOT bundles. Three companies, including Indian Highways Concessions Trust, Adani and DP Jain infra had quoted higher than the reserve price. Adani Enterprises placed the highest bid at Rs 1,011 crore for 5A-1, while Nagpur-based DP Jain & Co bid Rs 1,251 crore for the second part of the bundle.
  • Starting the process: NHAI had in September 2020 invited bids for the fifth TOT bundle package, its smallest ever tender for asset monetisation, without a base price, as it looked to discover better price bids for its operating assets. Separate bids had been invited for the two bundles, each consisting of one National Highway stretch in Gujarat. The total length of the bundles is around 160 kilometres. NHAI has had a successful TOT round after multiple attempts.
  • Summary: TOT Bundle-I consisting of nine projects totalling 681 km of highways was awarded in 2018. While TOT-2 and TOT-4 were eventually cancelled, TOT-3 was awarded to Cube Highways for a price of ?5,011 crore last year.
  • Knowledge centre:
  1. BOT - The BOT scheme refers to the initial licence (concession) by a public entity (central, local government) to a private firm to both build and operate an infrastructure project. After a predefined period, normally two or three decades, control over the project is returned to the public sector.
  2. BOT and BOOT - The distinction between Build Operate Transfer (BOT) and Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) is that BOT projects are usually those financed and operated by a government institution, while those financed by the private sector are called BOOT.
  3. PPP - PPP is short for “Private Participation in Infrastructure Projects”. It allows the private sector to build and operate infrastructure, which was implemented by the government in the past. The commonly known BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) is one of them.
CRCL recognized as 'Regional Customs Laboratory'
  • Recognised: The Central Revenues Control Laboratory (CRCL), New Delhi, under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs has been recognized as a Regional Customs Laboratory (RCL) of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) for Asia-Pacific Region. With its recognition as RCL, CRCL joins a select group of Customs Laboratories in the region like those in Japan & Korea.
  • Points to learn:
  1. About CRCL - It was established in 1939. With the introduction of instrument based testing, Revenue Laboratories are facilitating faster clearances, without compromising on law enforcement, and thereby playing a vital role in trade facilitation.
  2. Regional Customs Laboratory - Their traditional work is the chemical analysis to determine tariff classification and the level of duties and other taxes. The role has evolved over time with changes in trade patterns and technical evolution. Modern customs laboratories now play an important part in environmental protection (e.g., controlling the trade of ozone depleting substances), endangered species protection, control of dangerous goods such as pesticides, persistent organic pollutants, chemical weapons, as well as narcotics and drug precursors, etc.
  3. World Customs Organisation - The World Customs Organization (WCO), established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. At present, it represents 183 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade. India had become the vice-chair (regional head) of the Asia Pacific region of the WCO for a period of two years to June, 2020. It is the only international organization with competence in Customs matters and which can rightly call itself the voice of the international Customs community. It has its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Important Conventions/Mechanism under WCO:
  1. The SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade
  2. The International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Convention)
  3. The International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs procedures (revised Kyoto Convention or RKC)

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    • 2. ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper
Keeping oceans healthy key to blue economy 
  • Oceans as the focus for SDG 14: With the race to 2030 underway, the thrust to look at the health of oceans has increased, both in international and national policies. The next decade is crucial to achieving the Agenda 2030 of sustainable development goals (SDGs). It is also crucial in accelerating progress in sustainable development of the oceans. As reported by the Sustainable Development Report 2019, India still has significant challenges to overcome with respect to Sustainable Development Goals SDG 14 - Life under Water and ranks 115 out of 162 countries in the overall SDG Index. With many countries gearing to deploy blue economy framework within the growth trajectory, the need to overlay blue economy with Agenda 2030 is imperative for the success of both.
  • Blue economy: The significance of oceans for the global economy is immense and the progress of blue economy will depend on the achievement of sustainable development. There are various definitions of blue economy. What underpins every definition is the core comprised of economic growth, social development, security, and sustainable development. These core issues of blue economy are prioritised based on the needs and the strategic focus of every country's macroeconomic and socio-political framework.
  • Talking of oceans: These cover 72% of the earth's surface and nearly 40% of the world's population lives within 100 km of coastline. Shipping is responsible for more than 90% of the trade between countries and is very important for the economic growth of various countries. The shipping sector is also vital for energy and food security, with a majority of exports and imports of conventional fuels and bulk commodities travelling through Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC).
  1. The global oceans based economy is estimated at $US3 trillion a year, which is around 5% of global gross domestic product (GDP).
  2. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that blue economy industries provide for the livelihoods of over 820 million people globally in diverse fields including maritime shipping, transport, energy generation, mining, construction, trade, tourism, research, and ecosystem services.
  • Global economy depends on oceans: The significance of oceans for the global economy is immense and the progress of blue economy will depend on the achievement of sustainable development. A good example of this symbiotic relationship is the fisheries sector, wherein, 85% of the global population involved in fisheries and aquaculture, and 75% of the global fishing vessels are from Asia.
  • Food security management: Increasing ocean acidification, temporal changes and unsustainable fishing pose high risks for the fisheries sector and in turn for food security. According to a paper on the High Level Panel on Sustainable Blue Ocean Economy focusing on the 'Future of food from the sea', the ocean is a major food source and is projected to become an essential component in the global food palate. With rising population and income, the demand for ocean-derived food is set to grow. The paper states that certain estimates highlight "that nearly 500 million metric tons (mmt) of animal meat will be required to feed the global population in 2050 (FAO 2018, 2009) — food from the sea has a large potential to meet this need".
  • Ocean health and climate change: Oceans are the world's heat and carbon sinks and rapid and devastating changes to their ecosystem will lead to irreparable damages to ocean ecology. This will in turn lead to significant economic and social losses both for global and national economies.
  1. The coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is a visible example of altering marine ecosystems due to climatic changes.
  2. It is estimated that unabated climate change could cause revenue losses of over 90% to coral reef tourism. In addition, some West African countries are forecasted to see fish stocks decline by 85%.
  3. Report show that oceans have absorbed 93% of the extra energy from the enhanced greenhouse effect, with warming now being observed at depths of 1,000 m. As a consequence, this has led to increased ocean stratification (prevention of water mixing due to different properties of water masses), changes in ocean current regimes, and expansion of depleted oxygen zones. Many marine species are on the verge of entering the endangered and extinction lists.
  • The jellyfish: One marine species, the jellyfish, is thriving in the warm and polluted waters across the globe. In the past decade, massive jellyfish colonies and groupings have appeared out of nowhere, creating significant problems at coastlines and ports. These sightings are becoming more prominent with rising temperatures, which has led to an influx of jellyfish blooms. Huge annual jellyfish blooms have been cropping up not just across the Mediterranean, but also the Black Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Yellow and Japan Seas. Power plants in Scotland, Japan, Israel and Florida, and also a desalination plant in Israel, were forced to shut down because jellyfish were clogging the water inlets. The most extraordinary blooms have been those occurring in waters off Japan since 2002, costing the country's fish industry billions in economic losses.
  • How they bloom: The minimal to almost no requirement for oxygen ensures jellyfish's expansion even in polluted waters. This has also led to researchers looking for ways to combat marine pollution by studying the genetic makeup of these creatures. The jellyfish phenomenon also raises concerns on how the cyclic impact of warming oceans could impact coastal infrastructure, leading to significant economic losses and also raising the risk of accidents in critical economic infrastructure that in turn may lead to loss of lives.
  • Summary: The time left to act is short and the goal is immense. SDG 14 - Life under water - provides a mechanism to balance economic development within the the sustainability context. The IPCC 2019 report estimated that climate-induced declines in ocean health will cost the global economy $428 billion per year by 2050 and $1.98 trillion per year by 2100. The magnitude and inequity of these losses are highly sensitive to future greenhouse gas emissions across sectors of the ocean economy. There is thus an urgent need to restore and repair ocean health.

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

ICC investigations into Israel-Palestine war crimes
  1. A big story: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched investigatations into the war crimes in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel (West Bank and the Gaza Strip).
  2. Points to learn: The decision for investigation is taken after a recent ruling that the court’s jurisdiction extends to territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-day Arab- Israeli war. In this war, Israeli forces seized the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank & East Jerusalem from Jordan and Sinai Peninsula & Gaza strip from Egypt. The investigation will cover the 2014 Gaza war, the 2018 Gaza border clashes and Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank. The inquiry will also look at whether rocket fire by Hamas and other groups from Gaza amounts to war crimes.
  3. About ICC: Governed by an international treaty called 'The Rome Statute', the ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court. It is headquartered at The Hague, Netherlands. It investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. Through international criminal justice, ICC aims to hold those responsible for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.
  4. Indian case: India is not a party to Rome Statute along with the USA and China.
  5. Golan Heights: The Golan Heights is a rocky plateau with an area of 1,800km² on the border between Israel and Syria in south-western Syria. It's a strategic location that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 war. Israel effectively annexed the territory in 1981. The USA has officially recognized Jerusalem and Golan Heights as a part of Israel.

Sri Lanka offer West Container Terminal to India-Japan
  1. Reversal in position: Sri Lanka has finally decided to offer the West Container Terminal (WCT) to Indian and Japanese companies. The decision comes a month after the Sri Lanka government ejected the two partners from a 2019 tripartite agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT), citing resistance to “foreign involvement”.
  2. Points to learn: Sri Lanka has approved the proposal to develop the WCT on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis for a period of 35 years as a public-private partnership with India’s Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited and its local representative in Sri Lanka. Japan is yet to name an investor.
  3. Stakes: In the ECT project agreed upon earlier, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) was to hold a majority 51% stake, but in the WCT proposal, India and Japan will be accorded 85% stake. This is similar to the terms set for the Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), where China Merchants Port Holdings Company Limited holds 85% stake.
  4. Importance: The WCT is adjacent to the China-run CICT and just a couple of kilometres away from the China-backed Port City being built on reclaimed land, making it a strategically desirable spot for India, whose concerns over China's presence in Sri Lanka are well known. It will support India in accomplishment of its strategic vision (SAGAR) for the Indian Ocean, ‘Neighbourhood First policy’, and in countering China’s String of Pearls strategy. Colombo’s alternative comes at a time when Sri Lanka is seeking support at the ongoing UN Human Right Council session, where a resolution on the country's rights record will soon be put to vote.
  5. India - Sri Lanka: The relationship is more than 2,500 years old and both sides have built upon a legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic intercourse. During the course of the civil war, India supported the right of the Government of Sri Lanka to act against terrorist forces. The Indian Housing Project is Government of India’s flagship project of developmental assistance to Sri Lanka. Its initial commitment is to build 50,000 houses for those affected by the civil war as well as for the estate workers in the plantation areas. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had signed an agreement for extending a USD 400 million currency swap facility to Sri Lanka to boost the foreign reserves and ensure financial stability of the country, which was badly hit by Covid 19 pandemic. Recently, India has also supplied Covid-19 Vaccines to Sri Lanka. India and Sri Lanka conduct joint Military (Mitra Shakti) and Naval exercise (SLINEX). Sri Lanka is also a member of groupings like BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and SAARC in which India plays a leading role.

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

India enters a new phase of speech regulation - 2021 IT rules
  • An iron curtain: The central government has recently released the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The guidelines apparently aim to "regulate social media, digital news media, and over-the-top (OTT) content providers".
  • Why made: They were released following the instructions from the Supreme Court and the concerns raised in Parliament about social media abuse. Interestingly, in a hearing on similar matter on 05-03-2021, a SC judge further said that the guidelines weren't tough enough and govt. ought to tighten it by adding prosecution provisions! (this surprised experts who said that the SC had already closed any challenge to constitutionality of the said provisions by asking for tougher ones)
  • What rules seek: They intend to "empower the ordinary users of digital platforms to seek redressal for their grievances", and "command accountability in case of infringement of users’ rights". The guidelines related to social media will be administered by the Ministry of Electronics and IT. The Digital Media Ethics Code relating to Digital Media and OTT Platforms will be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • Why now: The government had been working on these guidelines for over 3 years, and the immediate push came in the form of the violent incidents at the Red Fort on January 26, 2021. Following this, the government and Twitter had disagreements over the removal of certain accounts from the social media platform.
  • Key provisions on social media: Social media intermediaries are platforms that host user-generated content, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp. The rules create two Categories of Social Media Intermediaries - (i) social media intermediaries, and (ii) significant social media intermediaries.
  1. This is to encourage innovations and enable growth of new social media intermediaries without subjecting smaller platforms to significant compliance requirement.
  2. The distinction is based on the number of users on the social media platform.
  3. Government is empowered to notify the threshold of user base for these categories.
  4. The Rules require the ‘significant social media intermediaries’ to follow certain additional due diligence.
  • Due diligence: The Section 79 of the IT Act provides a “safe harbour” to social media intermediaries. It exempts them from liability for the actions of users if they adhere to government-prescribed guidelines. The new guidelines prescribe an element of due diligence to be followed by the intermediary. Failing this would mean that their safe harbour provisions would cease to apply.
  • Grievance redressal: The Rules mandates that the intermediaries, including social media platforms, should establish a mechanism for receiving and resolving complaints from users.
  1. These platforms will need to appoint a grievance officer to deal with such complaints. The officer must acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours, and resolve it within 15 days of receipt. In addition to a grievance officer, social media platforms will have to appoint a chief compliance officer resident in India.
  2. The chief compliance officer will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules. The platforms will also be required to appoint a nodal contact person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
  3. Further, the platforms will need to publish a monthly compliance report. This should have details of (i) complaints received and action taken on the complaints, (ii) contents removed proactively by the significant social media intermediary, etc.
  4. The due diligence requirements will come into effect after 3 months from the notification of the rules.
  • Removal of content: The rules lay down 10 categories of content that the social media platform should not host. These include content that threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, threatens friendly relations with foreign States, or public order causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence, prevents investigation of any offence, insults any foreign State, is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy, including bodily privacy insults or harasses on the basis of gender, is libellous, racially or ethnically objectionable, is relating to or encouraging money laundering or gambling, is otherwise inconsistent with or contrary to the laws of India, etc.
  • Action taken: Court or the appropriate government agency may intimate the platform of hosting prohibited content. Upon receipt of such information, the platform should remove the said content within 36 hours.
  1. Penalties for violation - In case an intermediary fails to observe the rules, it would lose the safe harbour, and will be liable for punishment. This will be “under any law for the time being in force including the provisions of the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code”.
  2. The offences under the IT Act include, among others, - tampering with documents, hacking into computer systems, online misrepresentation, breach of confidentiality and privacy, publication of content for fraudulent purposes, etc.
  3. The penal provisions vary from imprisonment for 3 years to a maximum of 7 years, with fines starting from Rs 2 lakh.
  • Key provisions on Digital Media and OTT Platforms: The Digital Media Ethics Code prescribes the guidelines to be followed by OTT platforms and online news and digital media entities.
  1. OTT services - For OTT service providers, the government has prescribed self-classification of content into five categories based on age suitability.
  2. U - Online curated content that is suitable for children and for people of all ages
  3. U/A 7+ - Content that is suitable for persons aged 7 years and above, and which can be viewed by a person under the age of 7 years with parental guidance
  4. U/A 13+ - Content that is suitable for persons aged 13 years and above, and can be viewed by a person under the age of 13 years with parental guidance
  5. U/A 16+ - Content which is suitable for persons aged 16 years and above, and can be viewed by a person under the age of 16 years with parental guidance
  6. A - Online curated content which is restricted to adults
  7. Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher. There also has to be reliable age verification mechanisms for content that is classified as “A”.
  8. News platforms - The publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe - Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India, and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.
  • Summary: The Rules thereby provide a level playing field between the offline (Print, TV) and digital media.
  1. Grievance redressal mechanism - A three-level grievance redressal mechanism has been established with different levels of self-regulation.
  2. Level-I: Self-regulation by the publishers
  3. Level-II: Self-regulation by the self-regulating bodies of the publishers
  4. Level-III: Oversight mechanism
  • Self-regulation by the Publisher - The publisher shall appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India. The officer shall take decision on every grievance received within 15 days. Self-Regulatory Body: There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers. Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court/High Court or an independent eminent person. 
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    • 5. POLITY AND CONSTITUTION (Prelims, GS Paper 2, GS Paper 3)
Labour law issues - The violence at Apple - Wistron factory
  1. Labour violence: Global software and hardware conglomerate Apple recently placed all fresh production orders on hold for one of its vendors, Wistron. This came after violence broke out at one of its manufacturing unit following workers' protest against non-payment of their dues.
  2. Wistron’s Narasapura facility: Like the other contract manufacturers of Apple, Wistron is also involved in production of its flagship iPhones and other gadgets. The factory in Narasapura is a new unit, which was opened in July 2020. It employs about 2,000 regular employees and some 7000 contractual employees. The other unit in Bengaluru is in the Peenya locality, employing about 3,500 people on a permanent basis. The flagship iPhones produced at the Narasapura and Peenya unit are also exported to other countries across the world.
  3. What happened at Narasapura: Temporary workers employed at Wistron’s Narasapura facility in Bengaluru were protesting against non-payment of regular and overtime dues by the company. They raised slogans and vandalised vehicles parked inside the factory premises. The event is one of the biggest expressions of industrial unrest in India in recent years. State government arrested some of the workers, and Wistron said it had followed all laws and was supporting the authorities in their investigation. Apple immediately launched a detailed investigation.
  4. Company response: After initial investigations, both Wistron and Apple have acknowledged the “lapses” in payment and work schedules. Even the state government agreed that contractual workers at the plant had not been paid regular and overtime dues over the past 3-4 months. Wistron also said that it had fired its vice-president who was overseeing the business in India. It agreed that some of the processes in place to manage labour agencies and payments needed to be strengthened and upgraded. Apple said that they had placed Wistron on probation. Wistron would not receive any new business from Apple before they complete corrective actions.
  5. Similar labour issues in China: Outside of the US, China has until remained one of the largest workplaces for Apple. Three of its biggest vendors are Pegatron, Foxconn and Wistron. These three have huge factories dedicated exclusively to the manufacturing and assembly of iPhones, iPad, iWacthes and a range of other Apple products in China. As early as 2010, there have been allegations of serious labour law violations against Apple’s suppliers and vendors. In 2011, an explosion at Foxconn’s Chengdu unit had left 4 workers dead and injured about 18 others. In the same year, another explosion at one of the units of Pegatron left 59 workers injured. China Labour Watch, an independent not-for-profit organisation, has since 2010 tracked Apple and its vendors’ labour laws and the alleged violations. Workers at Pegatron were “working long overtime hours to turn out a scaled-back, less expensive version of the iPhone”. The income here was less than half the average local monthly income and far below the basic living wage necessary to live in Shanghai, one of the costliest cities in China. Six years later, China Labour Watch came up with another report that alleged that Foxconn violated labour laws in its factories.
  6. Apple’s response in China: Apple did nothing to stop the Foxconn labour law violations in China. Workers are paid wages that are close to or equivalent to the local minimum wage. It was difficult for workers to sustain their livelihood on the minimum wage, as noted by China Labour Watch report. Apple denied all the allegations.
  7. Centre's stance: The Centre asked the B.S. Yediyurappa administration for an expeditious inquiry to identify the culprits. It has been asked to ensure that investor sentiment was not affected due to the ‘one-off incident’. That may take a while now given that Apple’s own probe has found glaring lapses in Wistron’s treatment of its staffers.
  8. Way forward: Enforcement of labour laws for employees’ benefit will make India an even more attractive and contrasting alternative to China where labour exploitation is rife. Global firms are under pressure to exhibit higher standards in environmental, social and corporate governance. India also needs to strengthen enforcing compliance with the laws of the land and treating labour-employer disputes in an even-handed manner. India is moving in to a new labour law regime being marketed as a business-friendly regimen. Misgivings about their provisions or unresponsive systems for employees’ grievances may only increase such industrial unrest.

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    • 6. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Prelims, Various GS Papers)
ISRO launches communication satellite CMS-01 
  • A new satellite: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the country’s 42nd communication satellite named CMS-01. This is the second satellite launched by ISRO during the pandemic.
  • CMS-01: It's a communications satellite envisaged for providing services in extended C Band of the frequency spectrum and its coverage will include the Indian mainland and the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands, the ISRO. It is expected to have a life of over seven years. It was injected precisely into its pre-defined sub- geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). CMS-01 is considered to be a replacement of the aged satellite GSAT-12. It provides services like tele-education, tele-medicine, disaster management support and Satellite Internet access. The satellite will be the first in a new series of communication satellites by India after the GSAT and INSAT series.
  • Earlier: The last satellite launched by ISRO was called Earth Observation Satellite (EOS) 01. The new satellite is to function as a replacement for the GSAT-12, which was launched in 2011, and is in orbit still.
  • Knowledge centre:
  1. Geosynchronous orbit - A geosynchronous orbit (GEO) is a prograde, low inclination orbit about Earth having a period of 23 hours 56 minutes 4 seconds. A spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit appears to remain above Earth at a constant longitude, although it may seem to wander north and south.
  2. Geostationary orbit - A special case of geosynchronous orbit is the geostationary orbit – a circular geosynchronous orbit directly above the Earth's equator.  Geostationary satellites take 24 hours to orbit the Earth, so the satellite appears to remain in the same part of the sky when viewed from the ground. (Another type of geosynchronous orbit used by satellites is the Tundra elliptical orbit)
  3. Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) - A geosynchronous transfer orbit or geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) is a type of geocentric orbit. Satellites which are destined for geosynchronous (GSO) or geostationary orbit (GEO) are (almost) always put into a GTO as an intermediate step for reaching their final orbit. A GTO is highly elliptic. Its perigee (closest point to Earth) is typically as high as low Earth orbit (LEO), while its apogee (furthest point from Earth) is as high as geostationary (or equally, a geosynchronous) orbit.
  4. Communication Satellites - The Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems in Asia-Pacific region with nine operational communication satellites placed in Geo-stationary orbit. Established in 1983 with commissioning of INSAT-1B, it initiated a major revolution in India’s communications sector and sustained the same later. The GSAT-17 joins the constellation of INSAT System consisting 15 operational satellites, namely – INSAT-3A, 3C, 4A, 4B, 4CR and GSAT-6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 18.
  5. INSAT - The INSAT system with more than 200 transponders in the C, Extended C and Ku-bands provides services for telecommunications, television broadcasting, satellite newsgathering, societal applications, weather forecasting, disaster warning and Search and Rescue operations.

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    • 7. SOCIAL ISSUES (Prelims, GS Paper 2)
"Freedom in the World 2021" Report 
  • Sad news: The "Freedom in the World 2021" report has downgraded India’s status from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free’. Pointing to a decline in global democracy over the last 15 years, the report said that nearly 75% of the world’s population lived in a country that faced deterioration over the last year.
  • Best ones: The most free countries in the world, with a score of 100, are Finland, Norway and Sweden, while the least free with a score of 1 are Tibet and Syria.
  • About the Report:
  1. Published by - USA-based human rights watchdog Freedom House, which is largely funded through USA government grants, has been tracking the course of democracy since 1941.
  2. Scores based on - Political rights indicators such as the electoral process, political pluralism and participation and government functioning. Civil liberties indicators related to freedom of expression and belief, associational and organisational rights, the rule of law and personal autonomy and individual rights.
  3. Countries are declared as “free”, “partly free” or “not free”.
  • India’s Score: India’s score was 67, a drop from 71/100 from last year (reflecting 2019 data) downgrading it from the free category last year (i.e., based on 2020 data).
  • Reasons for India’s fall:
  1. Freedom of Media - Attacks on press freedom have escalated dramatically, and reporting has become significantly less ambitious in recent years, citing the use of security, defamation, sedition and contempt of court laws to quiet critical media voices.
  2. Elevation of Hindu nationalist interests - India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all.
  3. Internet freedom - In a year when social media censorship has been hotly seated, while the government shut down Internet connectivity in Kashmir as well as on Delhi’s borders, India’s Internet freedom score dropped to just 51.
  4. Covid response - Response to Covid-19 included a hamfisted lockdown that resulted in the dangerous and unplanned displacement of millions of internal migrant workers. It added that Muslims were disproportionately blamed for the spread of the virus and faced attacks by vigilante mobs.
  5. Crackdown on protesters - The government intensified its crackdown on protesters opposed to a discriminatory citizenship law and arrested dozens of journalists who aired criticism of the official pandemic response.
  6. Laws - Uttar Pradesh’s law prohibiting forced religious conversion through interfaith marriage was also listed as a concern.
  • Impact: This report has been criticised by many in Indian government and media, claiming bias. However, this global report has a strong audience, and credibility, and may deeply affect how the world perceives India. In today's world, soft power depends on how the world perceives what a country is doing to its weaker sections. India must remember that many such rankings and reports will eventually start having a material impact.

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

Simlipal forest fire
  • What happened: The Simlipal Tiger Reserves in Odisha underwent the massive fires recently. The wildfires broke in the biosphere reserve situated in the Mayurbhanj district of Assam.
  • Similipal Tiger Reserve: It is a tiger reserve situated in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha in the northern part. The reserve derives its name from Simul tree (silk cotton tree).it comprises of an area of 5,569 sq km. The reserve was declared a biosphere reserve in June 1994 by the Government of India. The reserve is home to 94 species of orchids and around 3,000 species of plants. The species of fauna include 29 species of reptiles, 12 species of amphibians, 42 species of mammals and 264 species of birds. All these species significantly highlight the biodiversity richness of the reserve. The dominant tree of the reserve is Sal tree.
  • Concerns: The Simlipal forest reserve area witnesses the forest fires so often in the dry weather conditions. As per the Regional Conservator of Forest, there are 399 identified fire points along the fringe areas bordering the forest. All these points remain vulnerable to the wildfire as and when summers arrives. The wild fire is a recurrent annual disaster. However, with the government’s efforts, the calamity has been bought under control.
  • Reasons: The forest officials and activists highlight that, there are several man-made factors as well the natural causes that led to the wildfires. The natural causes include lighting, even soaring temperatures, dry conditions, lesser rainfall etc. further, during the summer season, the leaves get dry so much so that even a spark could lead to the raging fire. In the forest areas, the poachers and hunters set fire in the small areas to divert the wild animals which often lead to the widespread wildfires.
Tsunami warnings issued in New Zealand
  • What happened: The National Emergency Management Agency highlighted that New Zealand has issued a Tsunami warning in the coastal areas on March 4, 2021 following an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 in the north-eastern coast of the country in the Kermadec Islands region.
  • Highlights: This was the third earthquake that struck the north-eastern area of the country, following a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in the same region. The country also witnessed a 7.2 magnitude earthquake which was about 900 kilometres away towards east of North Island. Following the tsunami warnings, people near the East Coast of the North Island, from the Matata to Tolaga Bay, Whakatane & Opotiki, from Bay of Islands to Whangarei and the Great Barrier Island have been asked to move immediately to high ground. This, the tsunami prone zones have been evacuated.
  • Threat Level: National Emergency Management Agency in the latest update mentioned that, the GNS Science has reported that the largest waves have now passed. Thus, the threat level has now downgraded to the Beach and Marine threat for all areas that were under Land and Marine threat.
  • Great Barrier Island: The island is situated in the outer Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. It is located at a distance of 100 kilometres from the north-east of central Auckland. It has an area of 285 square kilometres. The island is the sixth-largest island of New Zealand. The highest point on the island is Mount Hobson. It is 627 metres above sea level.
Assam’s Red rice export to U.S.
  • Red rice: The first consignment of ‘red rice’ was flagged off on March 4, 2021 to the United States. This adds on to the India’s rice exports potential. The rice was sourced by leading rice exporter called ‘LT Foods’.
  • Highlights: The ceremony of the flagging-off of the export consignments was carried out by APEDA Chairman Dr. M. Angamuthu in Haryana. The APEDA is involved in promoting rice exports with the help of several stakeholders along the value chain. The government had also set up a “Rice Export Promotion Forum (REPF)” under the parent head of APEDA.
  • About Red Rice: The red rice is rich in Iron and is grown in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam. It is grown without using any chemical fertilisers. This variety of rice is called as the ‘Bao-dhaan’, which is an integral part of foods in Assam.
  • APEDA: The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is an apex Export Trade Promotion Active government body. The body was set up by the “Ministry of Commerce and Industry”, under the APEDA Act, December 1985.
India’s performance in QS World University Rankings
  • Latest: The eleventh edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject was released on March 4, 2021. The report was compiled by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). The ranking provided the independent comparative analysis regarding the performance of 14,435 individual university programme. As per the report, India’s private institutes have improved their performance in the latest report.
  • Key points:
  1. The QS World University Ranking highlights that the public ‘Institutions of Eminence’ were better-represented in the rankings as compared to the private ones.
  2. Out of the ten private universities which are selected as the Institutions of Eminence, six universities were finds place in the subject rankings.
  3. The OP Jindal Global University is the only private Institute of Eminence which finds place in top-100.
  4. The top performing Indian institutes include Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. The university was ranked at the 30th position for its petroleum engineering programme. IIT Bombay was ranked at 41st for mineral engineering while IIT Kharagpur was ranked at 44th position for mining engineering. The University of Delhi was ranked 50th for the Development Studies.
  • Challenges faced by India: The report highlights that the biggest challenge faced by India is educational – providing high-quality tertiary education with respect to increasing demand. This was recognised by the National Education Policy 2020, which set the target of 50 per cent gross enrolment ratio by 2035.
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 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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 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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 - 05-03-2021
Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 05-03-2021
Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 05-03-2021
PT's IAS Academy
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