Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 25-03-2021


Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 25-03-2021


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  1. Healthcare and Medicine - New 'double mutant' variant of coronavirus in India - A new "double mutant" coronavirus variant has been found in India, the government informed. It is a combination of E484Q and L452R variants. It is capable of "immune escape", where the virus beats the immune system of human body. This double mutant was found by INSACOG (Indian SARS Cov-2 Consortium on Genomics) which is a group of 10 national labs. Though variants of concerns (VOCs - the UK, Brazilian and S.African strains) and the new double mutant variant have been found in India, these have not been detected in numbers sufficient to either establish or direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states. This new mutant causes increased infectivity, and as of now, in Maharashtra there were 200 recorded cases. A reason for pan-India surge in cases is the lowering of guard by people, who already were susceptible.
  2. Indian Politics - Covid Update - India reports 47,262 new COVID-19 cases, 275 deaths; both highest in 2021 - India has reported 47,262 new COVID-19 cases and 275 deaths in the last 24 hours (Wednesday-Thursday, 24-03-2021), as per the Union Health Ministry. This is the most number of cases and deaths reported due to COVID-19 in a day this year. The total active COVID-19 cases in the country stand at 3,68,457, while the death toll has gone up to 1,60,441. Stock markets have been hit hard due to rising concerns about Covid, worldwide. The worsening situation in Maharashtra, which contributes 13% of India's GDP and 20% of its industrial production, has spooked markets. The multiple lockdowns across Europe are worrying too. If cases continue to rise, then the first quarter GDP growth for FY22 will be hit.
  3. Governance and Institutions - Finance Bill, 2021 passed in Parliament - The Finance Bill, 2021 has been passed by the Parliament of India. The bill aims at bringing to affect the financial proposals of the Union government for the FY 2021-22. After the bill was passed by Lok Sabha, it was presented in Rajya Sabha, which then returned the bill without any form of consideration. The Finance Minister cited low inflation, higher GDP growth, record foreign investment and lower fiscal deficit to defend her government's handling of the economy. She attacked the Congress-led UPA government for leaving a "mess" and mismanaging the economy which the Modi administration set right. The measures taken in response to the 2008 global financial crisis by the UPA led to high inflation and 'taper tantrums'. She congratulated her government for managing average GDP growth between 2014 to 2019, consumer price inflation, and fiscal deficit much better. Meanwhile, independent report indicate India is experiencing a massive reduction in labour force particiation, crores from middle classes dropping below the poverty line, and malnutrition at a historic high.
  4. World Politics - Sanctions imposed on China for Uighur abuse - The European Union, USA, Britain, and Canada imposed sanctions on Chinese officials and entities, for human rights abuses against Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province. The sanctions from EU, UK and Canada include travel bans and freezing of assets. It is significant that the Western powers moved together. This is the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on China since an arms embargo after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown (That embargo is still in place). EU sanctions show a hardening of stance against its largest trading partner. China has consistently denied all reports of atrocities against Uighurs, maintaining it is only “deradicalizing” elements of its population in the interests of security. Over the past few decades, more and more Han Chinese have settled in Xinjinag, which saw violent clashes between them and the Uighurs. Survivors and human rights organisations have alleged physical, psychological and sexual torture. People can be sent to the camps for showing any signs of “extremism” — sporting beards, fasting during Ramzan, dressing differently from the majority, sending Eid greetings, praying “too often” etc.
  5. Indian Economy - Skill Certification made mandatory - The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has asked all government departments to ensure that workers executing government contracts must have official certification for their skills. Initially, up to 10% of the strength of workers utilized in 2021-22 can be certified. This can be progressively increased to 100% by 2026-27. Only 2.4% of India’s workforce is formally trained as per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of 2018-19. India’s skill regulator, the National Council for Vocational Education and Training, has standardised skill certification systems for 4,000-odd job roles, as part of an effort to change the labour market structure from a largely unskilled one to a predominantly formally skilled workforce. Government contractors prefer to rely on informal workers with low salaries for meeting their labour needs. This is paradoxical, as the government is trying to promote skilling in the workforce without insisting on the use of skilled manpower for its own project.
  6. World Politics - Sri Lanka faces the UNHRC vote - India abstained from a crucial vote on Sri Lanka’s rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. The resolution on ‘Promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka’ was, however, adopted after 22 states of the 47-member Council voted in its favour. Sri Lanka, which had earlier deemed the resolution “politically motivated”, was quick to reject the UN move to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes in the country, committed by the armed forces and the LTTE. The Sri Lanka resolution was the first to be voted on using the extraordinary e-voting procedures established for the UNHRC 46th Session, which has been held virtually. Why did India abstain? The Tamil question in Sri Lanka has posed an almost intractable dilemma for Indian foreign policy for decades. During the three-decade long civil war between Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), India moved from covert support to Tamil militants in the early 1980s to sending a peacekeeping force in the late 1980s to taking a strong position against LTTE in the 1990s after it assassinated former PM Rajiv Gandhi. It finally, quietly, supported Mahinda Rajapaksa’s final offensive against LTTE in 2009. India did not want to alienate the Indian Tamils, but this support was based on the expectation that once it defeated terrorism, Sri Lanka would be more sensitive to both Tamil aspirations and India’s strategic interests. It didn't happen.
  7. Governance and Institutions - Permanent Indus Commission - After a gap of more than two and half years Indian and Pakistani delegations began the 116th Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission. The Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) is a bilateral commission consisting of officials from India and Pakistan. It was created to implement and manage the goals and objectives and outlines of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) which was signed in September 1960 with World Bank standing guarantee for any dispute resolution. The last meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission was held on August 29, 2018. The meeting which coincided with the National Day of Pakistan is being viewed as part of the broader process of normalisation of bilateral ties between the two neighbours. The two-day meeting of the Commission is being led on the Indian side by Indus Water Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Saxena. The Pakistani delegation is led by Pakistan's Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Mohammad Mehr Ali Shah.
  8. Constitution and Law - The Sixth Schedule - The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha that “presently, there is no proposal to implement panchayat system in Sixth Schedule areas of Assam”. The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution protects tribal populations and provides autonomy to the communities through creation of autonomous development councils that can frame laws on land, public health, agriculture and others. As of now, 10 autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The specified tribal areas are the North Cachar Hills, Karbi Anglong and the Bodoland Territorial Area in Assam, Khasi Hills, Jaintiya Hills and Garo Hills in Meghalaya, Tribal Areas in Tripura, and Chakma, Mara and Lai districts in Mizoram.  
  9. Indian Politics - States versus Centre - In various instance, the state governments in non-BJP ruled states are feeling the heat, and responding likewise. In Maharashtra, ruling MVA's Shiv Sena said that the central government is determined to "rule non-BJP states" via the office of the Governor. It was referring to the Parliament's passing of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. BJP's former ally said that the "forcefully passed" NCT bill has left the elected government in Delhi "powerless". In West Bengal, the CM Mamata Banerjee said that she wouldn't let NRC, NPR be implemented in Bengal if re-elected. "The National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is not helpful, as the PM Narendra Modi excluded the names of 14 lakh Bengalis in Assam and he will exclude your name from Bengal," Banerjee added. In Delhi, the CM Arvind Kejriwal said that it was a "sad day for democracy" as Parliament passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021, seeking to give primacy to Delhi's Lieutenant Governor over the elected government and the Assembly.
  10. Constitution and Law - Complaint against incoming CJI dismissed - The Supreme Court dismissed Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy's complaint against Justice NV Ramana. In October 2020, CM Reddy had written a letter to Chief Justice SA Bobde alleging that Justice Ramana had been influencing the functioning of the Andhra Pradesh High Court to act in favour of the opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP). In a note uploaded to the website, the Supreme Court said, “A complaint dated 6 October, 2020 sent by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh to the Supreme Court was dealt with under the In House Procedure and the same, on due consideration, stands dismissed." The notice added, "It be noted that all the matters dealt with under the In-House Procedure being strictly confidential in nature, are not liable to be made public." This opaque procedures of Supreme Court have been questioned by many lawyers and activists, saying that the Court must first establish high standards in transparent ethical conduct, before expecting it from citizens.
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    • 1. ECONOMY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper)
Market Infrastructure Institutions & SEBI's expectations
  1. No more ignoring the vitals: The Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has asked Market Infrastructure Institutions (MIIs) to begin operations from disaster recovery sites within 45 minutes of a disruption to critical systems, including trading. The directive comes against the backdrop of a technical glitch at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) on 24th February, 2021, that halted trading for nearly four hours. (there were murmers in media of this possibly being a Chinese cyber-attack related incident, but nothing was confirmed)
  2. What SEBI wants: It has come out with a new framework for Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and Disaster Recovery (DR) of Market Infrastructure Institutions (MIIs) - stock exchanges, clearing corporations and depositories. The Business Continuity (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR) are closely related practices that support an organization's ability to remain operational after an adverse event.
  3. Guidelines: In the event of disruption of any one or more of the 'critical systems', the MII would, within 30 minutes of the incident, declare that incident as 'disaster'. Critical systems for an exchange or clearing corporation would include trading, risk management, collateral management, clearing and settlement and index computation. 'Critical systems' for a depository shall include systems supporting settlement process and inter-depository transfer systems. MIIs have been directed to move to disaster recovery sites within 45 minutes of declaring an incident a ‘disaster’.
  4. What it is: A disaster recovery site is a place that a company can temporarily relocate to following a security breach or natural disaster. It ensures that a company can continue operations until it becomes safe to resume work at its usual location or a new permanent location. Mobile- and cloud-based disaster recovery sites are becoming increasingly popular. The new guidelines should be implemented within 90 days.
  5. Market Infrastructure Institutions (MIIs): Stock exchanges, depositories and clearing corporations are collectively referred to as securities Market Infrastructure Institutions (MIIs). According to the Bimal Jalan Committee (2010), these institutions are systemically important for the country’s financial development and serve as the infrastructure necessary for the securities market. The stock exchange in India serves as a market where financial instruments like stocks, bonds and commodities are traded. Depositories may be organizations, banks, or institutions that hold securities and assist in the trading of securities. A clearing corporation is an organisation/entity affiliated with a stock exchange whose primary objective is to oversee the handling of confirmation, settlement, and delivery of transactions.
  6. SEBI: The Securities and Exchange Board of India was established on 12th April, 1992 in accordance with the provisions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992. Its key job is to protect the interests of investors in securities, and regulate the securities market. The National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE) is India's largest financial market. Incorporated in 1992, the NSE has developed into a sophisticated, electronic market, which ranked fourth in the world by equity trading volume. Th NSE was the first exchange in India to provide modern, fully automated electronic trading. 
India out of Kearney’s 25-country 2021 FDI Confidence Index, US tops
  1. Kearney FDI Confidence Index: India continued to stay out of the Kearney FDI Confidence Index for the second year in a row, a report by the global consultancy firm. Only three developing economies - China, the UAE, and Brazil - made it in the top 25. Kearney's 2021 FDI Confidence Index reveals high level of risk aversion. It is an annual survey of global business executives that ranks the markets likely to attract the most investment in the next three years.
  2. Observations: Investors are “likely monitoring closely” India’s data privacy bill with implications for data rules, it said. India was ranked 16th in the 2019 list, while it occupied 11th spot the year prior. In 2017, India made the top ten and was ranked eighth. India has been deliberating a data privacy bill with implications for data rules that investors are likely monitoring closely.
  3. Cost of data privacy rules: As per the report, investors in Asia are particularly concerned about data protection regulations, with 43 % citing high costs associated with data privacy rules versus 41 % of investors in the Americas and 38 % in Europe. Kearney's 2021 FDI Confidence Index reveals high level of risk aversion. It is an annual survey of global business executives that ranks the markets likely to attract the most investment in the next three years.
  4. US at top: The US retained its top position for investment attractiveness and was followed by Canada, Germany, the UK and Japan. This year's rankings point to continued apprehension and uncertainty about how quickly the global economy will recover post-Covid. In addition to the fall in confidence about the economy, most of the overall scores for the top-25 countries have fallen compared with previous years. Only 57 % of investors are optimistic about the three-year global economic outlook, which is much lower than the corresponding figure last year of 72 % (prior to and at the onset of the pandemic). 


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    • 2. ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY (Prelims, GS Paper 3, Essay paper
Biofuel - The lessons from Brazil
  • Blended reality: Indian government announced an ambitious plan to roll out vehicles running on 20% ethanol blended petrol by 2025, against the current level of blending of 5-6%. Achieving this target needs a paradigm shift in production and distribution of ethanol, the lessons for which could be taken from Brazil.
  • Brazil made it big: Brazil has successfully integrated biofuels into its fuel economy. It has efficiently leveraged its traditions and dominance in sugarcane production into a biofuel economy without compromising food security. Biofuels are also central to Brazil’s low carbon emission strategy.
  • Secret sauce: To mitigate high dependence on oil imports, Brazil turned to its traditional sugarcane to revolutionise its fuel economy. Brazil aimed for a higher productivity and sugar-ethanol balance. This led Brazil to revolutionise its biomass production for ethanol and develop a new variety of sugarcane.
  1. This is popularly known as ‘energy cane’, which is low on sucrose but high on biomass. With productivity up to 350 tonnes of biomass per ha, against 80 tonnes per ha of traditional sugarcane, it offered a perfect balance.
  2. Brazil thus took up ethanol production without compromising sugar production. This enabled it to gradually augment its production and blend. With a mandatory blending of 27% ethanol with gasoline, in 2019 alone Brazil saved about 0.5 million barrels per day of gasoline with a savings of $13 billion in imports.
  3. 78% of Brazilian automobiles today run on 27% of ethanol blend. High biomass productivity of energy-cane is the biological factor that contributes to the high positive lifecycle energy balance of ethanol produced from it. It thus comes with a resultant positive balance of greenhouse gases emission.
  4. The residual cane-waste (Bagasse) also become commercially valuable for power generation and other commercial uses. So, it has been possible to transform energy-cane production into a multiproduct enterprise in Brazil.
  • Significance: Energy cane is promising on drier and lower fertility soils, not suitable for conventional cultivation. Initially, economic, and strategic security reasons drove Brazil’s ethanol production from sugarcane. But later it was realised that Brazil’s was the most successful renewable energy programme from biomass. This especially came with the opening of the debate on the planet’s environmental sustainability. Use of fossil fuels is one of the major sources of Co2 and other GHG emission globally. Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is designated as an ‘advanced biofuel’ due to its 61% reduction of total life cycle GHG emissions.
  • Emissions reduction: Fossil fuels consumed world-over produce an estimated 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2 annually. But only a fraction of it is replenished to the earth in fossil-carbon cycle. However, CO2 is a non-toxic gaseous fertiliser. If its production and consumption can be rebalanced, it can be beneficially used in the carbon cycle to produce non-toxic biofuel.
  1. Plant based biofuel seems to have an edge over all other sources of biofuels. This is because plants consume CO2 from the atmosphere and give back oxygen to the atmosphere. Plant based biofuel thus works as a CO2-O2 pump or a Co2 battery in liquid form through carbon fixation.
  2. Specific crops grown in large areas consume CO2 from the atmosphere and the crop can be used to produce low CO2 emitting biofuels. This is even better than the electric vehicles which do not reduce GHG but only geographically displaces the emission, unless using renewable energy.
  3. Experience from Brazil shows that GHG emission is the lowest from hybrid ethanol. With this, Brazil has proved that harmonious coexistence between biofuels and traditional fuels is possible to mitigate the factors that harm the environment.
  • Steps India took: Apart from the environmental issues, India’s import dependence for fuel economy is alarming. To note, 85% of India’s crude oil requirement is imported. To address these twin problems, some serious attempts have been made in the last few years to scale up biofuel production and blending. The National Biofuel Policy, 2018 has brought in certain revolutionary changes in the biofuel production philosophy of the country. It envisages augmentation of ethanol production through the traditional sugarcane route. Also, it has allowed production of alcohol from certain other sugary feedstock. These include sugar beet, sweet sorghum, and starchy feedstock like corn, cassava, damaged food grains, rotten potatoes, etc.
  • The road ahead: Achieving the objectives requires a paradigm shift and mainstreaming biofuel policy and implementation. It is also time to utilise the experiences from Brazil. India can thus seriously consider the mass production of high yielding feedstock such as energy cane using modern agri-technologies. It can create a new bioeconomy for the country, while addressing the environmental concerns. High volume of bio-residue, i.e. bagasse, press mud, agri-feedstock produced in this process can supplement the 2G ethanol and Compressed Biogas programmes.


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

India-Taiwan relationship
  • Twenty Five years: India and Taiwan are celebrating 25 years of their partnership. The year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of respective representations in New Delhi and Taipei.
  • Existing areas of cooperation: Both have deepened the mutual respect which is underpinned by openness, democracy. They recognise diversity as the key principles for collective growth and share faith in freedom, human rights, justice and rule of law. India and Taiwan already collaborate in the area of traditional medicine. India’s has been in the forefront in fighting against COVID-19 and Taiwan’s handling of the pandemic and its support to other countries underlines the need to deepen cooperation in healthcare.
  • How Taiwan may support India: Indian government is facing the huge challenge of maintaining air quality and stubble burning is an important reason for this. Taiwan could be a valuable partner in dealing with this challenge through its bio-friendly technologies. Such technologies can convert agricultural waste into value-added and environmentally beneficial renewable energy or biochemicals. This will help in dealing with air pollution and also enhances farmers’ income. Further, they can undertake joint research and development initiatives in the field of organic farming.
  • Other areas: Cultural exchange is the cornerstone of any civilisation exchange and India and Taiwan can deepen people-to-people connection. This will appreciate another culture and helps in overcoming prejudices and cultural misunderstanding. Tourism is another key tool in civilisation exchange and there are small numbers of Taiwanese tourists arriving to India. To accelerate the flow of Taiwanese tourists, connectivity in Buddhist pilgrimage can be strengthened in addition to showcasing India’s incredible diversity. Taiwan Tourism Bureau partnership with Mumbai Metro can raise awareness about Taiwan and increase the inflow of Indian tourists.
  • Economic ties deepening: In 2018, both the countries signed a bilateral trade agreement in which was an important milestone in trade relations. India has a huge market which provides Taiwan a huge investment opportunity. Taiwan’s is the world leader in semiconductor and electronics which can complement India’s leadership in ITES (Information Technology-Enabled Services).
  1. There are around 200 Taiwanese companies in the field of electronics, construction, petrochemicals, machine, ICT and auto parts operating in India. Despite the huge potential, Taiwan investments have been meagre in India due to dismaying regulatory and labour regime.
  2. But India’s recent strides in the ease of business ranking will provide Taiwan with lucrative business opportunities and mitigate its over-dependence on one country for investment opportunities. Policymakers can coordinate with the business community to help them in navigating the regulatory landscape for better ties. To make this relationship more meaningful, both sides can create a group of empowered persons to chart out a road map in a given time frame.
  • Knowledge centre:
  1. One China Policy - This is a diplomatic acknowledgement of China's position that there is only one Chinese government. Under the policy, the US recognises and has formal ties with China rather than the island of Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland one day. The One China policy is a fundamental bedrock of Chinese policy-making and diplomacy. It is distinct from the One China principle, whereby China insists Taiwan is an inalienable part of one China to be reunified one day. Although Taiwan's government claims it is an independent country officially called the "Republic of China", any country that wants diplomatic relations with mainland China must break official ties with Taipei. This has resulted in Taiwan's diplomatic isolation from the international community.
  2. Taiwan's semiconductor industry - Taiwan, which China regards as a province, is being courted by many nations now for its capacity to make leading-edge computer chips. The leading firm is TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.), the world’s largest foundry and go-to producer of chips for Apple Inc. smartphones, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing. Taiwan’s role in the world economy largely existed below the radar, until it came to recent prominence as the auto industry suffered shortfalls in chips used for everything from parking sensors to reducing emissions. With carmakers including Germany’s Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Co. of the U.S. and Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. forced to halt production and idle plants, Taiwan’s importance has suddenly become too big to ignore.
  3. Foxconn - The Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., trading as Foxconn Technology Group, is a Taiwanese multinational electronics contract manufacturer. It is one of the world's largest provider of electronics manufacturing services a huge private employer in Taiwan. Terry Gou is the company's founder and former chairman. Foxconn has 12 factories in nine Chinese cities—more than in any other country, with the largest located in Longhua Town, Shenzhen, where lakhs of workers produce the bulk of Apple's iPhone line.


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

Maharaja Anangpal II Memorial Committee
  1. The story: The government has recently formed the Maharaja Anangpal II Memorial Committee to popularize the legacy of 11th-century Tomar king, Anangpal II. The committee is on a vision to enlighten Indians with the "right version" of history. The present committee aims at crediting Tomar king, Anangpal II with giving Delhi its present name and also repopulating it.
  2. Who was Anangpal II: He was popularly known as Anangpal Tomar, and belonged to the Tomar dynasty that ruled parts of the present-day Delhi and Haryana between the 8th and 12th centuries. The capital of Tomars changed many times, from Anangpur (near Faridabad) during the reign of Anangpal I (who founded the Tomar dynasty in the 8th century) to Dhillikapuri (Delhi) during the reign of Anangpal II. The Tomar rule over the region is attested by multiple inscriptions and coins. Their ancestry can be traced to the Pandavas (of the Mahabharata). The excavations between 1992 and 1995 at Lal Kot and Anang Tal (in south Delhi), supposed to be built by Anangpal II, reveal the above. Anangpal Tomar II was succeeded by his grandson Prithviraj Chauhan. Chauhan was defeated by the Ghurid forces in the Battle of Tarain (present-day Haryana) after which the Delhi Sultanate was established in 1192.
  3. Connection with Delhi: Anangpal II is credited to have established and populated Delhi during his reign in the 11th century. He was instrumental in populating Indraprastha and giving it its present name, Delhi. The region was in ruins when he ascended the throne in the 11th century. It was Anangpal II who built Lal Kot fort and Anangtal Baoli. It was discovered recently that Anangpal II was the founder of Dhillikapuri, which eventually became Delhi. Tomars and their Delhi link find mention in some modern-day literature as well. Noted medieval historian Professor KA Nizami’s Urdu book named Ehd-e-Wusta ki Dilli mentions this. It looks at Delhi across six centuries (from 1300 to 1800), tracing the antecedents of Delhi.
  4. Committee’s mandate:  The aim of the ‘Maharaja Anangpal II Memorial Committee’ is to establish Anangpal II as the founder of Delhi. Its proposals seminar include building a statue of Anangpal II at the Delhi airport and building a museum dedicated to his legacy in Delhi. An exhibition comprising coins, inscriptions and literature held on the sidelines of the seminar will be taken abroad through the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).
  5. National Monument Authority (NMA): The National Monuments Authority (NMA) functions under the Ministry of Culture. It has been setup under The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010. NMA works for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites through management of the prohibited and regulated area around the centrally protected monuments. One among the responsibilities is to consider grant of permissions to applicants for construction related activity in the prohibited and regulated area.
  6. ASI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) functions under the Ministry of Culture. It is the premier organization for archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. It regulates all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.


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    • 5. POLITY AND CONSTITUTION (Prelims, GS Paper 2, GS Paper 3)
Union vs. Delhi Government
  • Crushing the Delhi model: The Centre government proposed a Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the parliament. The bill sought to amend the law relating to the running of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and give effect to the interpretation given by the Supreme Court judgments on Delhi’s governance structure. It was passed.
  • What experts feel: Many constitutional experts feel that the proposed bill is the very antithesis of what the Court has said. They held that the Bill, if it became law, would wholly undermine the Court’s efforts to strengthen the elected government vis-à-vis the appointed Lieutenant Governor. The bill indeed became law.
  • Major amendments enacted:
  1.  Change in definition of government: It defines the term “government” in the context of laws made by the legislative assembly to be the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Delhi, not the elected government.
  2. Expanding Powers of L-G: It expands L-G’s powers by requiring the elected government to seek L-G’s opinion on specific matters. Furter, it is left to L-G to define these “matters” through a general or specific order.
  3. Weakens Legislative Assembly: It weakens the powers of the assembly by prohibiting it from making rules for its committees on day-to-day administration.
  • Supreme Court on Delhi Governance Structure: The 69th amendment to the Constitution of India inserted Article 239AA, which declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be administered by a L-G who works on ‘aid and advice of elected legislative assembly.But the ‘aid and advice’ clause pertains only to matters on which the elected Assembly has powers under the State and Concurrent Lists, but with the exception of public order, police, and land.
  1. Further, the Article 239AA also notes that L-G has to either act on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, or he is bound to implement the decision taken by the President on a reference being made by him.
  2. Also, Article 239AA, empowers the L-G to refer a difference of opinion on ‘any matter’ with the Council of Ministers to the President. Thus, this dual control between L-G and the elected government leads to power tussle, which was referred to the Supreme Court in 2018.
  • Supreme Court Judgement: The Constitution Bench verdict of July 4, 2018, held that the L-G has not been entrusted with any independent decision-making power. The Court clarified that the power to refer “any matter” to the President did not mean that “every matter” . The LG cannot refer any matter to the President; he has to employ “constitutional objectivity” and exercise this power in the rarest of rare situations for sound and valid reasons. Thus, his concurrence is not needed in every matter, and he can refer matters to the President only in exceptional situations and not in a “routine or mechanical manner”.
  1. Justice Chandrachud in NCT vs UOI case, 2018 mentioned the term “constitutional objectivity” as the key to checks and balances between the legislature and executive.
  2. Constitutional objectivity ensures that the two operate within their allotted spheres since “legitimate constitutional trust” is based on distribution and separation of powers with denial of absolute power to anyone functionary being the ultimate goal.
  • Arguments against the Bill: Against the Spirit of Supreme Court Judgement: The Bill seeks to declare that in the context of legislation passed by the Delhi Assembly, all references to the ‘government’ would mean the “Lieutenant Governor”. The guiding principle behind the judgment was that the elected government should not be undermined by the unelected administrator. The Bill takes away almost all the powers of elected representatives. So the bill contradicts the 2018 judgment, which unambiguously clarifies that the council of ministers with the chief minister at its helm is the executive head of the government of Delhi.
  • Rollback of Representative Government: By conflating the government of Delhi with L-G, the bill blurs the distinction between the elected government and L-G. By requiring L-G’s opinion before the elected government can take executive action, it effectively renders the elected government powerless. Moreover, the clause that declares void any rule that empowers the Assembly or its Committees to discuss any matter of day-to-day administration or conduct enquiries amounts to a rollback of representative government.
  • Centralising India’s Federal Polity: Recently, the central government has taken several steps that undermines the spirit of federalism (Three Farmers’ laws, Revocation of Article 370, etc.). The bill represents yet another step toward centralizing India’s federal polity. A recent report held that such bills could strengthen the international perception of India becoming an electoral autocracy.
  • Summary: The apex court had rightly concluded that the scheme set out in the Constitution and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 envisages a collaborative structure that can be worked only through constitutional trust. Thus, the Bill should be referred to a select committee and not passed in haste like the Farm Bills. But it wasn't. Evolving consensus in such matters would be consistent both with federalism as well as the high principles laid down by the Supreme Court.


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    • 6. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (Prelims, Various GS Papers)
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) - Hype and Reality
  • The story: When a digital artwork sold at a Christie’s auction for an eye-popping $69 million, the winning bidder did not receive anything tangible—not a sculpture, no painting, not even a print. Instead, he got a unique digital token known as a non-fungible token (NFT).
  • What is NFT: The ‘non-fungible’ in NFT implies that no two tokens are interchangeable; each token is unique, unlike money, of which any two ₹100 notes are fungible and of the same value. Even common cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are fungible tokens. If you send somebody a Bitcoin, and s/he returns it, it needn’t be the same token. On the contrary, each NFT has unique properties, and so it cannot be interchanged with another. NFTs are ‘one-of-a-kind’ assets in the digital world that are bought and sold like any other.
  • Why needed: NFTs are needed because in the digital world, everything is a copy and copiable. If you forward an image to 10 people,you retain the original while 10 new copies get created. Blockchain technology doesn’t allow you to duplicate a crypto and spend the same coin twice, but is still fungible.
  • Why such hype: As human screen time increases, much of our life has gone digital. For decades, we have had unique in-game tokens, swords and other collectables. Uniquely tagged, these turn into NFTs. This concept has been around for many years, but the crypto boom and news of high-value sales of digital art via NFTs has led to an explosion in interest, lately.
  • Examples: High-profile investors like Mark Cuban have been talking about them; the US National Basketball Association uses NFTs for its Top Shot site. This February, a one-of-a-kind digital rendition of the famed Nyan Cat meme was sold for 300 Ethereum (or about $590,000). Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has promoted an NFT of the first-ever tweet, with bids reaching as high as $2.5 million. Any unique digital ‘asset’ may get an NFT tag and often an instantly large valuation. Such assets may range from Kings of Leon albums to cartoons of cats (in the name of digital art), and much else in between.
  • Are NFTs useful: NFTs do solve some of the problems that exist on the internet today. As everything becomes more digital, there’s a need to replicate the properties of physical items, like scarcity, uniqueness and proof of ownership. In the Netflix sci-fi series Black Mirror, even human consciousness is eventually uploaded online. NFTs serve relatively modest goals of unique digitization.
  1. Every NFT has an owner, which is on the public record and easy for anyone to verify. Artists and other creators can not only access a global market, they can retain ownership rights over their work and claim resale royalties directly. There could be other benefits. Maybe in the future, you could use an NFT as collateral for a decentralized loan.
  2. NFT valuations go through classic hype and bubble cycles. This was admitted even by Mike Winklemann, the digital artist ‘Beeple’ whose art was sold $69 million, in a BBC interview. A Brooklyn-based film director mocked and made money off the NFT craze by selling an audio recording of his flatulence.
  3. An NFT is just a unique tag for an asset, and its value should not go up just because it has a tag. Courier services have unique barcodes for all packages, but that makes no difference to their value. In essence, NFTs are no different; they are like barcodes, but decentralized and blockchain-based.
  • Dark side: In 2016 and 2017, we had a bumper harvest of ‘initial coin offerings’. In 2018-19, we saw a boom in securitised token offerings. In 2019-20, decentralized finance was the buzzword. And now we have NFTs. A charge against NFTs is that they’ve formed a market with artificial scarcity, as there’s no limit to how many NFTs you can create. Unlike NFTs, real-world art is not zero cost. However, once zero-cost NFTs eventually flood the market, as more and more creators try to cash in on this craze, supply will overwhelm demand, and NFT prices may subsequently crash. While the true value of an NFT is its certificate of authenticity, nothing at the moment stops people from creating an NFT of an asset that they did not create. If its original owner never created a tag, there is no online way of verifying who owns it.
  • GHG emissions: Crypto and NFT transactions are unsustainable from an energy-use perspective. A Bitcoin transaction can consume as much energy as 700,000 credit card swipes. Ethereum gas transactions are slow and expensive. NFTs are allegedly worse. A single NFT involves multiple digital processes, from creation and buying to selling and reselling. These all require energy. The average NFT is said to take up around 340 kWh, which implies a carbon footprint of 211 kg.
  • Summary: A key uncertainty around the value of NFTs is that they can, in practice, be separated from the digital goods they tag, undermining their worth. A creator can change an image even after its sale, and all ‘unique NFTs’ can still have copies at virtually no cost. Investors beware!


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    • 7. SOCIAL ISSUES (Prelims, GS Paper 2)
Reservation quota limit of States
  • Recent development: In March 2021, the Indian Supreme Court began hearing the issue of 50% limit on reservations. It asked for states' opinion on certain technical issues. Tamil Nadu told the Supreme Court that the percentage of reservation should be left to the “subjective satisfaction” of individual States. A nine-judge bench in the Indra Sawhney case (famously known as the Mandal Commission case) imposed the ceiling of 50% on total reservation, in 1992.
  • What is that: Subjective satisfaction refers to the State’s discretion to identify its socially and educationally backward classes and fix the percentage of reservation for them in State government jobs and educational admissions.
  • Indra Sawhney case: In Indira Sawhney & Others vs Union of India, 1992, the Supreme Court while upholding the 27% quota for backward classes, struck down the government notification reserving 10% government jobs for economically backward classes among the higher castes. The SC in the same case also upheld the principle that the combined reservation beneficiaries should not exceed 50% of India’s population. The concept of ‘creamy layer’ also gained currency through this judgment and provision that reservation for backward classes should be confined to initial appointments only and not extend to promotions.
  • Breach of the limit by the States: Notwithstanding the judgement passed by the Supreme Court, since Indira Sawhney judgment 1992, many states have passed laws breaching the limit of 50% such as Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Tamil Nadu Reservation Act, 1993 provides 69% reservation in State government jobs and educational institutions.
  1. In January 2000, the Governor of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh declared 100% reservation to Scheduled Tribes (ST) candidates in posts of school teachers in Scheduled Areas. However, it was ruled as unconstitutional by the apex court.
  2. The Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018, which provides 12% to 13% quota benefits for the Maratha community, takes the reservation percentage in the State across the 50% mark, was enacted.
  • States’ concern: Tamil Nadu and Karnataka agreed with Maharashtra that the 50% ceiling limit on reservation introduced in the Indira Sawhney judgment was not “cast in stone (Permanently fixed or firmly established)”. The Indira Sawhney judgment required a re-look. The ground situation had changed a lot since that judgment in 1992. Also, there is contention regarding the Constitution (One Hundred and Second Amendment) Act of 2018, which introduces the National Commission for Backward Classes, that it interferes with the authority of State Legislatures to provide benefit to the social and educationally backward communities (SEBCs) in their own jurisdiction. However, in an affidavit, the Ministry of Social justice and Empowerment has said the power to identify SEBCs lies with Parliament only with reference to the central list and states can have a separate list of SEBCs for reservation.
  • Constitution and reservations:
  1. The 77th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1995 - The Indra Sawhney verdict had held there would be reservation only in initial appointments and not promotions. However, addition of the article 16(4A) to the Constitution, empowered the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees, if the state feels they are not adequately represented.
  2. 81st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000 - It introduced Article 16(4B), which says unfilled SC/ST quota of a particular year, when carried forward to the next year, will be treated separately and not clubbed with the regular vacancies of that year.
  3. 85th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2001 - It provided for the reservation in promotion can be applied with ‘consequential seniority’ for the government servants belonging to the SCs and STs with retrospective effect from June 1995.
  4. 103rd amendment to the Constitution (2019) - 10% reservation for EWS (Economically Weaker Section).
  5. Article 335 - It says that the claims of SCs and STs shall be taken into consideration constituently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.
  • Summary: The Supreme Court should definitely review the 50% reservation quota limit need and issues arising out of that. While deciding the reservation issue, it is also important to take into account whether the states providing reservations to different communities are maintaining the federal structure of the government or destroying it.


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

Asia’s largest Tulip Garden in Srinagar
  1. The story: Asia’s largest Tulip Garden in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, is scheduled to be opened for general public and tourists from March 25, 2021.
  2. Key points: Tulip Garden is a spectrum of colours which features lakhs of tulips. Flowers have blossomed in the lap of Zabarwan Hills along the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar city. Around 15 lakh flowers of more than 64 varieties are in full bloom nowadays in the garden.
  3. Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden: The garden was previously known as Model Floriculture Center. It is the largest tulip garden in Asia spread over an area of 74 acres. It is situated on the foothills of Zabarwan Range in Dal Lake of Srinagar. Tulip garden was inaugurated in 2007 with the aim of boosting floriculture and tourism in Kashmir Valley. It is built on a sloping ground in terraced fashion comprising of seven terraces.
  4. Tulip festival: It is an annual celebration that showcase the range of flowers in tulip garden as a part of tourism efforts by the state Government. Festival is organized on the onset of spring season in Kashmir valley. Tulips are a genus of spring-blooming perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes. Tulips are generally large, showy and brightly coloured. They have a different coloured blotch at the base of their tepals internally. The flower is a member of lily family called Liliaceae.


Taiwan to ration water for 1 million households
  1. The story: According to Economy Minister of Taiwan, Wang Mei-hua, Taiwan will ration water from April, 2021 for more than one million households residing in centre of the island.
  2. Points to note: Taiwan is a sub-tropical country and is experiencing its worst drought in half a century because the rain-soaking typhoons failed to make landfall in the country in 2020. Shortage of water is most severe across the swathe of western Taiwan, where most of the people live. Thus, from April 2021, water supplies in parts of Taichung and Miaoli would be cut for two days in a week and government will sent out water tankers to supply residents when required. Government said that Hsinchu province, home to companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), will not be affected by this drought. Reservoirs of Hsinchu are low but supplies are being topped up by carrying water from Taipei city and by desalination.
  3. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC): It is a multinational semiconductor contract manufacturing and design company, the largest in Taiwan and most valuable semiconductor company across the world. It is also the largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry in the world. 


US-India Homeland Security Dialogue to be re-established
  1. The story: Joe Biden administration has decided to re-establish “Homeland Security Dialogue” with India. This dialogue was discontinued by former President of United States Donald Trump.
  2. Points to note: This decision was taken after the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas hold talks with Ambassador of India to US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu on March 22, 2021. Security Secretary of Homeland extended his support to further strengthen the partnership between both the sides.
  3. About India-US meeting: Sandhu and Mayorkas have agreed to re-establish Homeland Security Dialogue between India and United States. Both the ministers also highlighted the positive engagement which took place during Joe Biden administration like Quad. They also addressed major commitments to cooperate on Covid-19 and climate actions. Both sides also recognised significant contributions of entrepreneurs and students which have made both the countries stronger.
  4. History: The Homeland Security Dialogue was the initiative of Barack Obama’s administration. First Homeland Security Dialogue was held in May 2011 between Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Home Minister of India P Chidambaram. The second security dialogue was held in Washington DC in 2013 between Indian Home Minister, Sushil Kumar and homeland secretary, Ms Napolitano.


Fitch Ratings revises India’s growth estimate to 12.8%
  1. The story: American credit rating agency, Fitch, has published its ‘Global Economic Outlook (GEO)’. Fitch has revised GDP growth estimate of India to 12.8% for the fiscal year 2021-2022 from the previous 11%. Ratings were revised in the backdrop of loose fiscal stance, stronger carryover effect, and better virus containment.
  2. Points to note: Ratings agency finds that level of India’s GDP will remain well below its pre-pandemic forecast trajectory. It also projects that GDP growth will ease to 5.8% in Fiscal Year 2023. In its report, fitch also highlights that India’s recovery from “lockdown-induced recession” in second quarter of 2020 has been swifter than expected. GDP has surpassed its pre-pandemic level in fourth quarter of the fiscal 2020-2021.
  3. Details: As per the report, High-frequency indicators point for a strong start to 2021. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index PMI remained elevated in February, 2021. Report also highlights that, pickup in mobility and a rise in services PMI point to further gains in the services sector. Fitch also notes that, it doesn’t expect Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to cut its policy rate now because of brighter short-term growth outlook and limited decline in inflation.


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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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 - 25-03-2021
Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 25-03-2021
Useful compilation of Civil Services oriented - Daily Current Affairs - Civil Services - 25-03-2021
PT's IAS Academy
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