Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding
Ratapani Tiger Reserve:
1. This tiger reserve is located in the state
of Uttar Pradesh.
2. Rare migratory birds from Tibet, Nepal,
Russia and Siberia visit this reserve.
3. The reserve mainly comprises of a teak
Which of the above statements are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 1 and 3 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding
“Goldschmidtite” which was seen recently in
1. It is a new mineral discovered inside a
diamond unearthed from a mine in South
2. It has high concentrations of niobium,
potassium and the rare earth elements
lanthanum and cerium.
Select the correct option using the code given
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding
1. It is a vibrant festival of Karnataka.
2. Bathukamma is a beautiful flower stack,
arranged with different unique seasonal
flowers most of them with medicinal
values, in seven concentric layers in the
shape of temple gopuram.
Select the correct option using the code given
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
NATIONAL POPULATION REGISTER
The patriarch of key BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Union Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, on Tuesday said the government may consider the widespread demand to remove the questions on date and place of birth of a respondent’s parents from the National Population Register.
“Even I don’t know the date of birth of my parents, forget about producing documents proving the dates,” Mr. Paswan told The Hindu.
He said the government would consider acceding to the demand and had repeatedly clarified that the production of documents would not be mandatory.
About National Population Register
- It is a list of “usual residents of the country”.
- A “usual resident of the country” is one who has been residing in a local area for at least the last six months, or intends to stay in a particular location for the next six months.
- Legal Provisions:
- The NPR is being prepared under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
- It is mandatory for every “usual resident of India” to register in the NPR.
- The data for the NPR was first collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of Census 2011.
- In 2015, this data was further updated by conducting a door-to-door survey.
ANTI CITIZENSHIP ACT PROTESTS
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) would not be withdrawn despite the on-going protests against it.
Addressing a rally here in support of the Act, Mr. Shah said, “Today I have come to Lucknow to say it aloud that whoever wants to protest can protest, but the CAA won’t be taken back.”
CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT ACT
WHAT DOES THE ACT CONTAINS?
The ACT seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by seeking to grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India on or before December 31, 2014.
The ACT says the six non-Muslim communities “shall not be treated as illegal migrant” for violating provisions under Passport Act, 1920 or the Foreigners Act, 1946 that pertains to foreigners entering and staying in India illegally.
The ACT shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the sixth schedule of the Constitution and States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP).
ACT has reduce the time period required for naturalization from 11 years to 5 years for members of these communities.
As six deaths were reported in China due to the Novel Coronavirus, Dr. Roderico Ofrin, Regional Emergency Director, World Health Organisation (WHO) South-East Asia Region, has said much remains to be understood about the virus.
The death toll from the virus in China climbed to six on Tuesday as new cases surged beyond 300. Thailand has reported two cases and South Korea one, all involving Chinese travellers from Wuhan. Japan and Taiwan also confirmed one case each.
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
A Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
An animal source seems the most likely primary source of this outbreak, with limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts.
WHO’s guidance to countries and individuals includes the possibility of the disease spreading through contact with animals, contaminated food, and/or person to person
India, a partner in the construction of one of the largest telescopes in the world, has said it wants the project to be moved out of the proposed site at Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii.
The TMT or Thirty Metre Telescope, as it is called, is a joint venture (JV) involving five countries, but the $2 billion project has been marred by protests for over a decade.
The proposed site is considered sacred to indigenous Hawaiians, and also has too many observatories for one more such massive establishment to come up, say groups that have contested the site.
Protests at the site last year saw scientists unable to access other telescope facilities in Mauna Kea. The project has been delayed by nearly five years and should have begun operations by 2025.
India has committed $200 million, which is about a tenth of the proposed cost. The telescope needs 492 precisely polished mirrors and India is to contribute 83 of them. The project delay has meant that these manufacturing contracts have also been delayed.
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT).
It is an international project being funded by scientific organisations of Canada, China, India, Japan and USA.
Planned location: Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in the US state of Hawaii.
The TMT is designed for near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared observations, featuring adaptive optics to assist in correcting image blur.
TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the Universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the Universe.
It will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars.
FIRST EDITORIAL: APPOINTMENT OF J P NADDA AS BJP CHIEF
WHY IN NEWS?
J P Nadda has been appointed as 11th President of BJP.
J.P. Nadda’s election as president is unlikely to cause any discontinuity or transformation in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
There is no other political party in India which has many of its former presidents around: L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Amit Shah and M. Venkaiah Naidu.
Unlike most other parties in India which are controlled by families that pass on the baton from one generation to the next, the BJP has continuously elected fresh faces as its leaders.
This openness, demonstrated through repeated instances of average workers rising to high positions, has been a critical strength of the BJP and the party has been vocal about it.
The internal dynamism and potential mobility of its workers have aided the party’s dramatic growth.
REASON’S FOR NADDA’S RISE TO TOP
Mr. Nadda’s rise has a lot to do with his unassuming and low-profile persona that poses no threat to the leadership role of the duo.
He could symbolically claim influence among his Brahmin brethren, but he has no other political sphere under his command. All these benign attributes helped him up the ladder.
The BJP will remain firmly under the command of the Shah-Modi duo, regardless of the president, as it used be during the A.B. Vajpayee-L.K. Advani era. Mr. Nadda will have the task of rolling out their plans, and nothing more. But he might also be called upon to be the fall guy in failures.
LEAD ARTICLE: ISSUE OF KASHMIRI PANDITS
Author highlights that after three decades of exile, the promise and possibility of the dignified return of the Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley seems as elusive today as it was in 1990.
HARDLY ANY JOY FOR PANDITS
Much has happened since those cataclysmic days of the 1990s, including the restructuring of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the dilution of Article 370, and the repeal of Article 35-A; and yet other than schadenfreude, the events have brought little joy to the Pandits or indeed increased the possibility of them returning home.
ABOUT KASHMIRI PANDITS
Kashmiri Pandits are individually members of arguably the most successful ethnic minority in the country; collectively, however, they are confronted with a loss that is painfully difficult to fathom or describe to those who do not share that sense of anomie.
Returning home then is not just about atavistic roots of longing, but as much about reclaiming an intellectual space of belonging. In this sense, both personal triumph and collective tragedy face them in almost equal measure, with no signs of an actionable plan for their return.
FORGOTTEN BY LIBERALS
Sadly, for most liberal political analysts and thinkers, the Kashmiri Pandit exodus became part of the larger tragedy of the Kashmiri issue and was forgotten or marginalised. Meanwhile, the Kashmiri Pandits struggled, adapted, built new lives, in the midst of adversity, in India and abroad, and succeeded.
Apart from those who live in camps or makeshift accommodation, they are today a model of material success. But in many ways, the continuing displacement of the Kashmiri Pandits represents not just the continuous failure of successive governments, but is also a stark shortsightedness of the failures of the liberal Indian state.
Is there a prospect of reconciliation with the past and returning back to the Valley? In the Manichaean worlds that Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims inhabit today, their narratives are almost diametrically opposite. While most Pandits view their departure as part of a systematic “ethnic cleansing” by a section of the Kashmiri Muslims, most Muslims see in the departure of the Kashmiri Pandits a deliberate conspiracy of the Indian state with two objectives; to give them a bad name and simultaneously give a free repressive hand to the security forces.
This divide shows few signs of being bridged. Under these circumstances, the prospects of reconciliation seem bleak unless there is a common project like a new Sharada Peeth University that could bring them together, and recreate the bonds of interdependence that had held them in good stead over much of history.
SECOND ARTICLE: CHANGING PAKISTAN
“Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is now jobless and withering away. It’s so starved of funds that it is trying to retrench its operatives by finding livelihood opportunities for them in mainstream society. Terrorist organisations in Pakistan have never felt so squeezed by the authorities as they do now.
Author highlights that Pakistan is changing in significant ways, both for its own good and for the good of its neighbours.
Not just the civil society, not only the political parties, but even its military establishment has come to favour peaceful and cooperative relations with India. Figuratively speaking, both Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s two centres of power, are now on the same page in seeking “honourable peace” with New Delhi on the basis of “sovereign equality”.
There is now broad recognition in most sections of Pakistani society and polity that their country has paid a very heavy price by supporting the forces of Islamist extremism and terrorism, and by using these for achieving mistaken foreign policy ends in Afghanistan and India.
BEST CONDITIONS NOW
Pakistan has the best conditions now to support a fruitful dialogue with India. Domestically, there is consensus among all the stakeholders on this issue. Even our media is not as hostile towards India, unlike the jingoistic Indian media that routinely paints Pakistan as an enemy nation.
WHY SUCH A CHANGE?
Four factors have influenced the welcome winds of change in Pakistan.
First, there is across-the-board realisation that Pakistan has suffered a lot, both domestically and in terms of damage to its global image, by supporting religious extremism and terrorism. Terrorists have killed a shockingly large number of civilians — certainly far many more than in India. Several thousand soldiers have lost their lives in the army’s “war on terror” — more than the number of casualties in all the wars with India. Furthermore, Islamabad is under relentless pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to act decisively and irreversibly against terrorist organisations.
Second, the ideological influence of religious radicalisation on Pakistan’s civil society is clearly on the wane, at a time when militant majoritarianism is on the rise in India.
The third factor is China, which has emerged as Pakistan’s most important economic and security partner. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has begun to modernise the country’s infrastructure spectacularly. China has urged Pakistan’s ruling establishment to take firm steps to curb the activities of Islamist groups, because they can easily foment trouble in China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.
Lastly Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, who has got a three-year extension in office — is now fully convinced of the need for normalisation of India-Pakistan relations. The opening of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, perhaps the greatest confidence-building measure between the two countries since 1947, is almost entirely due to Gen. Bajwa’s personal commitment to the project
SECOND EDITORIAL: ELECTORAL BOND SCHEME
WHY IN NEWS?
SC has declined to stay the operation of the Electoral Bonds Scheme (EBS), citing the fact that the plea for stay had been heard and refused last year itself.
In an order in April 2019, a Bench of the Supreme Court headed by the then Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, had asked political parties to disclose to the Election Commission of India (ECI), in sealed covers, details of the donations they had received through the anonymous bonds.
It is quite disappointing to note that nine months on, the court remains unmoved by submissions that a fresh window for purchase of bonds is set to be opened soon, coinciding with the Delhi Assembly election and that the scheme itself was being frequently opened so that the ruling party would stand to benefit.
Fresh revelations suggest that the Reserve Bank of India and the ECI had voiced their reservations about the scheme, which was enabled by provisions of the Finance Act, 2017, and introduced in 2018.
The Association for Democratic Reforms, the petitioner, has disclosed that an overwhelming majority of the donations made through electoral bonds had gone to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Further, the ECI has already made clear its strong opposition to the various amendments to the law on contributions to political parties.
In particular, the ECI, in its response filed in the court, said the provisions would enable the creation of shell companies for the sole purpose of making political donations and no other business, that the abolition of the clause that says firms must declare political contributions in their profit and loss accounts would compromise transparency, and the amendments to the law on foreign contributions would mean that there would be unchecked foreign funding of political parties, leading to foreign influence on India’s policy-making.
Overall, it had recorded its unequivocal position that the EBS would help the use of black money for political funding.
There are indeed strong grounds for putting an end to the system of anonymous bearer bonds being used to fund parties. Such anonymity gives a clear and unfair advantage to the ruling party of the day. It must be remembered that the failure to have an early hearing has already led to the scheme being opened ahead of every major election.
FIRST ARTICLE: RIGHT TO PROTEST
WHY IN NEWS?
We are witnessing unprecedented public protests in India. Thousands continue to assemble on the streets to demand that the government rethink the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens.
WHAT DO THESE PROTEST SIGNIFY?
Such public protests are the hallmark of a free, democratic society, whose logic demands that the voice of the people be heard by those in power and decisions be reached after proper discussion and consultation.
Any arbitrary restraint on the exercise of such rights — for instance, imposing Section 144 — shows the inability of the government to tolerate dissent. It shows not the propensity of people to riot but rather the incapacity of the government to discuss, deliberate or listen.
An unreasonable limitation on protest is an affront to the very people in whose name a government is allowed to temporarily govern.
Two interpretations of right of free speech and expression
On the first, these are exercised largely by people for private purposes, free from government interference, in a classically liberal, non-political public space.
On the second, rights are strongly associational, exercised to influence or gain power, and are therefore fundamentally political rights basic to a democratic society.
Watchdogs of the government
This cluster of inter-related political rights (expression, association, assembly, petition and protest) is meant to ensure that even when the government works in our interests, we don’t sit back and allow it to conduct business as usual. We act as watchdogs and constantly monitor its acts, for even such governments can falter and then it is up to us, through consultation, meetings and discussion, to recognise and rectify its mistakes.
IMPORTANT FOR DEMOCRACY
Democracies everywhere are founded on two core political rights. The first, the right of every citizen to freely elect their government and when dissatisfied with its performance, to vote it out of power in a legitimately held election (Article 326). This remains the only proper constitutional procedure to get rid of a government and rightly so.
But short of displacing it, and as long as it is done peacefully, any form of public action to challenge the government’s proposals or decisions is also constitutionally legitimate, forming the second core political right: to politically participate not only during but between elections.
The right to protest, to publicly question and force the government to answer, is a fundamental political right of the people that flows directly from a democratic reading of Article 19.
DEFENCE ACQUISTION COUNCIL
NEWS: The meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday cleared Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) as the Indian partners in the Navy’s tender for six advanced submarines under Project-75I worth over ₹45,000 crore.
ABOUT DEFENCE ACQUISITION COUNCIL
- The DAC is Defence Ministry’s highest decision making body for capital acquisition proposals forwarded by the Indian armed forces.
- It is headed by the Defence Minister.
- It was set up in 2001as part of the post-Kargil reforms in defence sector
- It approves the long-term integrated perspective plan for the forces, accords acceptance of necessity (AON) to begin acquisition proposals, and grant’s its approval to all major deals through all their important phases.
- It also has the power to approve any deviations in an acquisition, and recommends all big capital defence purchases for approval of the Cabinet committee on security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister.
INDIA BRAZIL RELATIONS
India and Brazil will upgrade their strategic partnership with an “action plan” and sign a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visits as the chief guest of the Republic Day celebrations from January 24 to 27.
According to officials involved in the planning of the visit, the two countries hope to take their partnership to “the next level” and build on the relationship between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Bolsonaro, who met twice in 2019.
According to the officials, the Strategic Partnership action plan will serve as an “umbrella agreement”, for plans between the two countries to increase defence cooperation, technology sharing and a logistics agreement.
The bilateral investment treaty (BIT) will be one of the first that the Modi government will sign since 2015, when it decided to scrap all existing treaties with 83 countries, and brought in a new “Model BIT”.
Brazil and India will also exchange a Social Security Agreement (SSA), first signed in March 2017, to allow investments in each other’s pension funds, to help business processes and encourage the flow of investment.
In 2018, Indian investments in Brazil were around $6 billion and Brazilian investments in India are estimated at $1 billion, the Ministry said, adding that bilateral trade stands at about $8 billion.
POWER OF SPEAKERS
The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Parliament to amend the Constitution to strip Legislative Assembly Speakers of their exclusive power to decide whether legislators should be disqualified under the anti-defection law.
An independent tribunal ought to be appointed instead to determine the fate of an MP or an MLA who has switched sides for money and power, the court said.
This is the second time in as many months that the court has highlighted the issue of taking away the disqualification power under the Tenth Schedule from Speakers.
On Tuesday, in a 31-page judgment, a three-judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman questioned why a Speaker, who is a member of a particular political party and an insider in the House, should be the “sole and final arbiter” in the disqualification of a political defector.
Speaker of the Lok Sabha
- The Lok Sabha, which is the highest legislative body in the country, chooses its Speaker who presides over the day to day functioning of the House.
- Electing the Speaker of the House is one of the first acts of newly constituted House.
- The office of the Speaker is a Constitutional Office. The Speaker is guided by the constitutional provisions and the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
- The Speaker is placed very high in the Warrant of Precedence in the country i.e. at rank 6.
- Adequate Powers are vested in the office of the Speaker to help her/him in the smooth conduct of parliamentary proceedings.
- The constitution provides that the Speaker’s salary and allowances are not to be voted by the Parliament and are to be charged on the Consolidated Fund of India.
- In the Lok Sabha chamber, the Speaker’s chair is distinctively placed to enable a commanding view of the entire House.
- The Speaker is assisted by the Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha and senior officers of the Secretariat on parliamentary activities, practice and procedure.
- In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker discharges the functions. A member from the Panel of Chairmen presides over the House in the absence of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
The Maharashtra government has made compulsory recitation of the Preamble to the Constitution by students in all schools starting January 26.
A government resolution issued on Tuesday said the objective was to instil in students the values such as justice, freedom and equality enshrined in the Constitution. A similar resolution was issued in 2013 by the then Congress-NCP government.
The preamble-page, along with other pages of the original Constitution of India, was designed and decorated solely by renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha of Jabalpur.
Supreme Court of India has, in the Kesavananda case, recognised that the preamble may be used to interpret ambiguous areas of the constitution where differing interpretations present themselves.
As originally enacted the preamble described the state as a “sovereign democratic republic”. In 1976 the Forty-second Amendment changed this by adding words socialist and secular to read “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic”.
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
U.S. President Donald Trump took aim on Tuesday at the “perennial prophets of doom” on the environment, telling the annual Davos forum that warnings of climate crisis were “foolish”.
In a keynote speech to the 50th World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort, Mr. Trump touted fossil fuels, deregulation and a booming U.S. economy — a message in stark contrast to the dire warnings delivered by teenage campaigner Greta Thunberg and others.
Mr. Trump said the U.S. was joining a new international initiative called the “one trillion trees” project and he said he wanted to conserve “the majesty of God’s creation and the natural beauty of our world.”
Ms. Thunberg said planting trees was not enough to address climate change.
“Our house is still on fire,” she said, repeating her remarks at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum a year ago.
“Your inaction is fuelling the flames,” the teenage activist added, in the latest to-and-fro with the 73-year-old President.
ABOUT WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
WEF is based in Geneva Switzerland is not for profit institution set up in 1971.
The mission of the forum is to improve the state of world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of the society to shape, global regional and and industry agendas.
Important Reports Released by World Economic Forum
- Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report
- Global Gender Gap Report
- Global Competitiveness Index
- Human Capital Report
- Global Information Technology Report
TRUMP IMPEACHMENT TRIAL
While U.S. President Donald Trump is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Republicans and Democrats are gearing up for a clash on the rules and procedures of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial at the Senate, which began in earnest on Tuesday.
Democrats have taken issue with a resolution introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell containing rules around the timelines for the two sides to lay out their cases as well as the inclusion of evidence and testimony from witnesses not considered during the House of Representatives impeachment inquiry.
The President was impeached by the House on December 18 for abuse of office (by conditioning a crucial White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine on the Ukrainians announcing investigations into Mr. Trump’s rivals). He was also charged with obstruction of Congress.
The two sides have also differed on the proposed treatment of new evidence and witnesses. While evidence from the House inquiry would be passed out to Senators, it would not be entered as evidence unless voted on, on a case by cases, by Senators. New witnesses, as per the proposed rules, would first be deposed by the Senate; Senators would then vote on whether or not to allow them to testify.
INSURANCE REGULATORY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF INDIA
NEWS: Moody’s Investors Service said that the country’s slowing economy will weigh on insurance premium growth over the next 2-3 years while the supportive measures put in place by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) will help counterbalance the deteriorating economic environment.
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India or the IRDAI is the apex body responsible for regulating and developing the insurance industry in India.
It is an autonomous body.
It was established by an act of Parliament known as the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999.
IRDAI is headquartered in Hyderabad in Telangana. Prior to 2001, it was headquartered in New Delhi.
The organization fought for an increase in the FDI limit in the insurance sector to 49% from the previous 26%. The FDI cap was hiked to 49% in July of 2014.
Its primary purpose is to protect the rights of the policyholders in India.
It gives the registration certificate to insurance companies in the country.
It also engages in the renewal, modification, cancellation, etc. of this registration.
It also creates regulations to protect policyholders’ interests in India.
FAST MOVING CONSUMER GOODS
After two years of clocking double-digit growth, the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) segment slowed down to single digit growth in 2019 even as the last quarter of the previous calendar year indicated that the slowdown is showing signs of abating.
Nielsen said FMCG grew at 9.7% in 2019, much lower than the previous year’s growth of 13.5%. Further, the growth trend was dampened by a drop in volume growth — down to 5.8% from 10.5% in 2018 — while price-led growth sustained at 3.4%.
Going ahead, the growth in the first quarter of 2020 is expected to be in the range of 8% to 9% — the lowest first quarter growth in three years. Nielsen expects the full year growth to be between 9% and 10%.
Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively low cost. Examples include non-durable household goods such as packaged foods, beverages, toiletries, over-the-counter drugs, and other consumables.
FMCG or CPG (consumer packaged goods) as it is known in the Americas are terms used interchangeably depending where you are in the world.
From the consumer perspective
Low engagement (little or no effort to choose the item)
Short shelf life
Price Comparison over online purchase by customer.
From the marketer perspective
Low contribution margins
High inventory turnover