Article 143 in The Constitution Of India 1949:
- Power of President to consult Supreme Court ( 1 ) If at any time it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen, or is likely to arise, which is of such a nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court upon it, he may refer the question to that Court for consideration and the Court may, after such hearing as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion thereon.
- The President may, notwithstanding anything in the proviso to Article 131, refer a dispute of the kind mentioned in the said proviso to the Supreme Court for opinion and the Supreme Court shall, after such hearing as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion thereon.
Annual Status of Education Report:
- Established in 2008, ASER Centre is Pratham’s autonomous research and assessment unit.
- ASER Centre’s flagship activity is the Annual Status of Education Report (commonly known as the ASER report), a household-based survey that collects information on children’s schooling status and basic learning outcomes in almost every rural district in the country.
- Estimates of children’s schooling and learning status are generated at district, state and national levels.
- ASER is the only annual source of data on children’s learning outcomes available in India today, and is often credited with changing the focus of discussions on education in India from inputs to outcomes.
- The ASER model has been adapted for use by thirteen other countries across three continents (North America, Africa and Asia). These countries came together organically to form the People’s Action for Learning (PAL) Network, with a secretariat housed in Nairobi.
- In addition, ASER Centre implements large- and small-scale research studies addressing a variety of domains both in education and in other social sectors such as health, nutrition, water and sanitation.
- Also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between several North American and European states based on the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949.
- NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
- Three NATO members (the United States, France and the United Kingdom) are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and are officially nuclear-weapon states. NATO Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.
- NATO is an alliance that consists of 29 independent member countries across North America and Europe.
- An additional 21 countries participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total.
- NATO has added new members seven times since its founding in 1949, and since 2017 NATO has had 29 members.
- Twelve countries were part of the founding of NATO: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1952, Greece and Turkey became members of the Alliance, joined later by West Germany (in 1955) and Spain (in 1982). In 1990, with the reunification of Germany, NATO grew to include the former country of East Germany.
- Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, including the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. In 1997, three former Warsaw Pact countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO. After this fourth enlargement in 1999, the Vilnius group of The Baltics and seven East European countries formed in May 2000 to cooperate and lobby for further NATO membership. Seven of these countries joined in the fifth enlargement in 2004.
- The Adriatic States Albania and Croatia joined in the sixth enlargement in 2009, Montenegro in 2017.
European Economic Community:
- a regional organisation which aimed to bring about economic integration among its member states. It was created by the Treaty of Rome of 1957.
- Upon the formation of the European Union (EU) in 1993, the EEC was incorporated and renamed as the European Community (EC). In 2009 the EC’s institutions were absorbed into the EU’s wider framework and the community ceased to exist.
- The Community’s initial aim was to bring about economic integration, including a common market and customs union, among its six founding members: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. It gained a common set of institutionsalong with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) as one of the European Communities under the 1965 Merger Treaty (Treaty of Brussels). In 1993, a complete single market was achieved, known as the internal market, which allowed for the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people within the EEC. In 1994, the internal market was formalised by the EEA agreement.
- This agreement also extended the internal market to include most of the member states of the European Free Trade Association, forming the European Economic Area covering 15 countries.
- Upon the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty in 1993, the EEC was renamed the European Community to reflect that it covered a wider range than economic policy. This was also when the three European Communities, including the EC, were collectively made to constitute the first of the three pillars of the European Union, which the treaty also founded.
- The EC existed in this form until it was abolished by the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon, which incorporated the EC’s institutions into the EU’s wider framework and provided that the EU would “replace and succeed the European Community”.
- The EEC was also known as the Common Market in the English-speaking countries and sometimes referred to as the European Community even before it was officially renamed as such in 1993.
- King Harsha is widely believed to be the author of three Sanskrit plays Ratnavali, Nagananda and Priyadarsika.
The tallest figure in the sphere of epic poetry is Kalidasa (between A.D. 380-A.D. 415).
- Kalidasa is the most distinguished dramatist and his treatment of the rasa of love in all its possible manifestations in the three plays Abhijnanashakuntala (“The Recognition of Shakuntala”), Vikramorvashi (“Urvashi Won by Valour”), and Malavikagnimitra (“Malavika and Agnimitra”) is unparalleled;
- He authored two great epics – the poems Raghuvamsha (“Dynasty of Raghu”) and Kumarasambhava (“Birth of the War God”); and
- He also authored the narrative lyric poem Meghaduta (“Cloud Messenger”).
Election in NE States:
‘Honour killings’ or ‘Honour crimes’:
- The Hindu Marriage Act (1955) does not prohibit sagotra or inter-caste marriages.
- The so-called ‘honour killings’ or ‘honour crimes’ are not peculiar to our country.
- It is an evil which haunts many other societies also. The belief that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or the community is the root cause of such violent crimes. Such violent crimes are directed especially against women.
- Men also become targets of attack by members of family of a woman with whom they are perceived to have an ‘inappropriate relationship’.
- The Prevention of Crimes in the Name of ‘Honour’ and Tradition Bill, 2010 was an outcome of the “spate of murders and dishonourable crimes in the name of ‘honour’”.
- The NCW recommended that the anyone who kills or hurts an adult couple who chose to marry of their own free will should be punished for murder or any offence under the Indian Penal Code.
- The government agreed to the Supreme Court’s suggestion to frame guidelines recognising honour killing as a separate offence.
- The report of the Special Rapporteur to U.N. of the year 2002 concerning cultural practices in the family that are violent towards women indicated that honour killings had been reported in Jordon, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, United Arab Republic, Turkey, Yemen and other Persian Gulf countries and that they had also taken place in western countries such as France, Germany and U.K. mostly within migrant communities. According to the UN Commission on Human Rights, there are honour killings in the nations of Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, India, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Sweden, Turkey and Uganda. The practice of honour killing “goes across cultures and across religions”.
Border India shares with – Border guarding force:
- Bangladesh and Pakistan borders – BSF;
- China border – ITBP;
- Myanmar border – Assam Rifles;
- Nepal and Bhutan borders – Sashastra Seema Bal;
- Besides, Indian army guards land borders along the LOC on Pakistan border and LAC on China border.
- The Indian Navy and Coast Guard are vested with the responsibility of coastal borders, where the State (Marine) Police act as the second line of defence.
- India recently successfully conducted the “first pre-induction trial” of its over 5,000-km range Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile, which brings the whole of Asia and China as well parts of Europe and Africa within its nuclear strike envelope.
- The over 50-tonne Agni-V is designed to carry a 5-tonne nuclear warhead.
- This was the fifth test of the missile and the third consecutive one from a canister (deliverable configuration) on a road mobile launcher. All the five missions have been successful.
- The canister-launch version makes it deadlier because it gives the armed forces the requisite operational flexibility to swiftly transport and fire the missile from anywhere they want. “Since the missile is already mated with its nuclear warhead before being sealed in the canister, it drastically cuts down the response or reaction time for a retaliatory strike…only the authorized electronic codes have to be fed to unlock and prime it for launch,” said a source.
- Under international Freedom of Navigation laws, aircraft carriers and other warships are recognized as sovereign territories in almost all of the ocean. As long as a ship doesn’t get too close to any nation’s coast, the crew can carry on just like they’re back home.
- Bombers, fighters and other aircraft can fly a variety of missions into enemy territory, and then return to the relatively safe home base of the carrier group. In most cases, the Navy can continually replenish (resupply) the carrier group, allowing it to maintain its position indefinitely.
India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier IAC-I Vikrant is named after India’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant – purchased from the UK (and which was decommissioned in 1997). It is being built by Cochin Shipyard.
- India currently operates INS Vikramaditya procured from Russia.
- Like INS Vikramaditya, Vikrant too would employ the STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) mechanism with a ski-jump and arrestor cables to launch and recover aircraft.
- Drake Passage is a deep waterway 1,000 km wide, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans between Cape Horn (the southernmost point of South America) and the South Shetland Islands, situated about 100 miles (160 km) north of the Antarctic Peninsula.
- The Drake Passage defines the zone of climatic transition separating the cool, humid, subpolar conditions of Tierra del Fuego (an archipelago at the southern extremity of South America) and the frigid, polar regions of Antarctica.
- Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini crossed Cape Horn, its designated point, following which its all-woman crew hoisted the tricolour to mark their accomplishment.
Multilateral Export Control Regimes:
The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, is one of four multilateral export control regimes in which the United States participates. The Arrangement’s purpose is to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use (i.e. those having civil and military uses) goods and technologies to prevent destabilizing accumulations of those items. The Wassenaar Arrangement establishes lists of items for which member countries are to apply export controls. Member governments implement these controls to ensure that transfers of the controlled items do not contribute to the development or enhancement of military capabilities that undermine the goals of the Arrangement, and are not diverted to support such capabilities. In addition, the Wassenaar Arrangement imposes some reporting requirements on its member governments.
Nuclear Suppliers Group
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is a group of 48 member countries established in 1992 and focused on stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The formation of the Australia Group (AG) in 1985 was prompted by Iraq’s use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Australia, concerned with Iraq’s development of chemical weapons, recommended harmonization of international export controls on chemical weapons precursor chemicals. As the AG membership grew, it expanded its focus to include chemical production equipment and technologies and measures to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons. Today the AG is composed of 42 member countries.
Missile Technology Control Regime
The United States has been a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) since the regime’s inception in 1987. The focus of the MTCR is to limit the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. Initially, the MTCR consisted of only seven members. The MTCR has grown to include 35 member countries that have agreed to coordinate their national export controls to stem missile proliferation.
City Liveability Index:
- The Ministry of Urban Development (now Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs) has launched the City Liveability Index.
- The index will be used to measure 116 cities, which include smart cities, state capitals, and cities with a population of above one million.
- The index will be a common minimum reference framework that will help cities know where they stand in terms of quality of life.
- It would also help cities to understand the interventions required to improve these standards.
- The cities will be assessed on a set of 79 parameters which would capture the extent and quality of infrastructure.
- These include availability of roads, mobility, education and health care, employment opportunities, emergency responses, mechanisms for grievance redressal, level of pollution, and availability of open spaces.
Automated ocean pollution observation system:
- Union government has planned to setup an automated ocean pollution observation system.
- These systems will be installed in coastal areas of West Bengal, Goa, Mumbai, Kochi, Vishakhapatnam and Chennai.
- It will help keep a tab on ocean pollution levels apart and provides insights on how the marine system is changing.
- It is an initiative under National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
Cyber Surakshit Bharat:
- Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), announced the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative.
- It aims to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and frontline IT staff across all government departments.
- Cyber Surakshit Bharat is the first public-private partnership of its kind and will leverage the expertise of the IT industry in cybersecurity.
- Cyber Surakshit Bharat aims to conduct a series of training programs for departments in State and Union governments,Public Sector Banks, and technical arms of the Air Force, Army and Navy.
UN Environment Management Group:
- The EMG is a UN system-wide coordination body on environment and human settlements.
- Its members include the secretariats of the multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and other specialized agencies, programmes and organs of the UN.
- Representatives of intergovernmental bodies, civil society and international non-governmental organizations can be invited to contribute.
- The EMG works through technical meetings, Issue Management Groups and task forces.
- The Sholas are a mosaic of mountane evergreen forests and grasslands.
- They are found only in high altitude (>1500 metres above sea level) regions within the tropics, and are limited to the southern part of the Western Ghats.
- They are characterised by undulating grassland patches, interspersed with thickets of stunted evergreen tree species.
- Recent study has indicated that timber plantations, , expanding agriculture and the spread of invasive species reduced two thirds of the shoals in palani hill ranges of Western Ghats.
- There is a marked 67% decline in grassland area compared to 1973 level.
- The natural march of invasive species such as prolific-seed-producer, acacia and the policy push for plantations in 1990s seems to be the main cause for decline.
- Fragmented grasslands also displaced endemic species Nilgiri Pipit.
- Nilgiri Pipit (Anthus nilghiriensis) is a bird endemic to the Western Ghats of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, southern India.
- It occurs on grassy upland slopes interspersed with bushes and trees, mainly above 1,500 m, and is commonest over 2,000 m.
- It is listed as “Vulnerable” in IUCN red list category.
- It feeds mostly on creeping grass in valleys, but nests in marshy grasslands with slightly taller grasses and sedges, particularly near streams.
- It has been recorded consuming the seeds of grasses and herb.
- Its grassland habitat is gradually being converted to plantations of tea, eucalyptus and silver wattle Acacia dealbata.
- IPrism is an Intellectual Property (IP) competition, organized by the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
- CIPAM collaborated with ASSOCHAM and ERICSSON India for this event.
- This competition invites students to submit films on piracy & counterfeiting which causes significant loss to the industry and pose serious safety threats to the consumers.
- The competition aims to foster a culture of innovation and creativity in the younger generation.
Global Forum for Food and Agriculture:
- The 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) on the subject “Shaping the Future of Livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently” is being held in Berlin.
- The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) is an international conference that focuses on central questions concerning the future of the global agri-food industry. It gives representatives from the worlds of politics, business, science and civil society an opportunity to share ideas and enhance understanding on a selected topic of current agricultural policy.
- Theme of this year’s event is “Shaping the future of livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently”.
Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan:
Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) has crossed one crore mark in antenatal check-ups.
- All States/ UTs have made significant efforts to reach out to pregnant women, Maharashtra has reported the largest number of check-ups among the Non-Empowered Action Group (EAG) States and Rajasthan has reported the largest number of check-ups among the Empowered Action Group States.
- The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan has been launched by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India.
- The program aims to provide assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care, free of cost, universally to all pregnant women on the 9thof every month. PMSMA guarantees a minimum package of antenatal care services to women in their 2nd/3rd trimesters of pregnancy at designated government health facilities.
- The programme follows a systematic approach for engagement with private sector which includes motivating private practitioners to volunteer for the campaign; developing strategies for generating awareness and appealing to the private sector to participate in the Abhiyan at government health facilities.
- It is an asteroid larger than the tallest building on Earth, Burj Khalifa. As per reports, the asteroid will pass Earth on February 4, missing our planet by 2.6 million miles. It has been classified as a “near-Earth object” and “potentially hazardous” by US space agency NASA.
Financial System Stability Assessment (FSSA) and Financial Sector Assessment (FSA):
- The two main Reports of the 2017 India Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) – the Financial System Stability Assessment (FSSA) and Financial Sector Assessment (FSA), were recently released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Last FSAP for India was conducted in 2011-12.
- The Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP), established in 1999, is a comprehensive and in-depth assessment of a country’s financial sector. It is a joint program of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
- FSAPs analyze the resilience of the financial sector, the quality of the regulatory and supervisory framework, and the capacity to manage and resolve financial crises. Based on its findings, FSAPs produce recommendations of a micro- and macro-prudential nature, tailored to country-specific circumstances.
The Kilopower project:
- NASA has announced new tests are underway for the Kilopower project, a program designed to create small nuclear power sources to fuel further space exploration.
- A prototype, which was created by NASA and the Department of Energy, has completed non-nuclear tests and is now running with a real reactor core at a facility in Nevada.
- The Kilopower project is a near-term technology effort to develop preliminary concepts and technologies that could be used for an affordable fission nuclear power system to enable long-duration stays on planetary surfaces.
- The principal goal of the project is to sufficiently develop and test nuclear power system technologies by 2018 so fission power can be a viable option for NASA decision makers to consider when making their informed selection of exploration surface systems.
SBIRS GEO Flight 4 satellite:
- Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) Flight-4 satellite is the latest satellite to join the US Air Force’s orbiting missile warning constellation equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors.
- The sensors collect data for use by the U.S. military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense, expand technical intelligence gathering and bolster situational awareness on the battlefield.
- The satellite also completes the initial constellation and allows SBIRS to provide global coverage. It was launched recently onboard Atlas V rocket.