24th March | UPSC Current Affairs
24th March Current Affairs MCQs
World happiness report
Relevance: Reports and Indices
Context: World Happiness Report 2021 published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
World Happiness Day
- About: It is celebrated every year on 20th March to highlight the importance of happiness in the diurnal lives of people.
- The United Nations started to celebrate the International Day of Happiness in 2013 but a resolution for the same was passed in July 2012.
- This resolution was first initiated by Bhutan which emphasized the importance of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s, thereby adopting the Gross National Happiness (GNH) over Gross National Product (GNP).
- Gross National Happiness: The phrase ‘gross national happiness was first coined by the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972.
- The concept implies that sustainable development should take a holistic approach towards notions of progress and give equal importance to non-economic aspects of wellbeing.
- The theme of 2021: “Happiness for All, Forever”. This year it focuses on the effects of Covid-19 and how people all over the world have fared.
- Top Performers: Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for the fourth consecutive year. Followed by Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, and Norway.
- Worst Performers: Afghanistan (149) is the most unhappy country. Followed by Zimbabwe (148), Rwanda (147), Botswana (146), and Lesotho (145).
- India has been ranked 139, out of 149 countries evaluated. In 2020, India was ranked 144 out of 156 countries surveyed
- World’s first-ever volcano bonds
Context: First-ever volcano bond was released by Danish Red Cross
- A bond sponsored by the Danish Red Cross is the first to offer dedicated insurance against volcanic eruptions.
- The project’s partners aim to raise as much as $3 million.
- The bond will cover 10 volcanoes, including Mexico’s Popocatepetl and Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia.
- Catastrophe bonds typically insure against damage from natural disasters like earthquakes and storms, with some already including volcanic eruptions in baskets of covered perils.
- They tend to offer high yields to investors who run the risk of losing some or all of their investment if a disaster happens.
- The deal adds a new variant to a market that attracted mainstream attention last year with the World Bank’s pandemic bonds.
- The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021
Context: The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was introduced by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Lok Sabha.
The Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
- The amendments seek to promote “harmonious relations between the legislature and the executive” and provide for rules made by the Legislative Assembly of Delhi to be “consistent with the rules of the House of the People” or the Lok Sabha.
- The amendments also propose to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is “necessarily granted an opportunity” to exercise powers entrusted to him under proviso to Clause (4) of Article 239AA of the Constitution.
SPECIAL PROVISIONS FOR DELHI
- The 69th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1991 provided a special status to the Union Territory of Delhi, and redesignated it the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and designated the administrator of Delhi as the lieutenant (lt.) governor.
- It created a legislative assembly and a council of ministers for Delhi. Previously, Delhi had a metropolitan council and an executive council. The strength of the assembly is fixed at 70 members, directly elected by the people.
- The elections are conducted by the election commission of India. The assembly can make laws on all the matters of the State List and the Concurrent List except the three matters of the State List, that is, public order, police, and land.
- But, the laws of Parliament prevail over those made by the Assembly. The strength of the council of ministers is fixed at ten percent of the total strength of the assembly.
- The chief minister is appointed by the President (not by the lt. governor). The other ministers are appointed by the president on the advice of the chief minister.
- The council of ministers headed by the chief minister’s aid and advise the Lt. Governor in the exercise of his functions except in so far as he is required to act at his discretion.
- In brief, in case of failure of constitutional machinery, the president can impose his rule in the territory. This can be done on the report of the lt. governor or otherwise. This provision resembles Article 356 which deals with the imposition of the President’s Rule in the states.
- The lt. governor is empowered to promulgate ordinances during recess of the assembly
- But he cannot promulgate an ordinance when the assembly is dissolved or suspended. Further, no such ordinance can be promulgated or withdrawn without the prior permission of the President.
- Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991
Context: The Supreme Court asked the Centre to respond to a petition that challenges the constitutional validity of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 199
Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991.
- The law was enacted to freeze the status of all places of worship in the country as of August 15, 1947.
- The Act was passed in September 1991, over a year before the demolition of the Babri Masjid (1992).
- Purpose: Section 3 of the Act bans the conversion of a place of worship or even a section of it into a place of worship of a different religious denomination or a different segment of the same religious denomination.
- The Act also imposes a positive obligation on the State to maintain the religious character of every place of worship as it existed at the time of Independence.
- This legislative obligation on the State to preserve and protect the equality of all faiths is an essential secular feature and one of the basic features of the Indian Constitution.
- Exemption: The disputed site at Ayodhya is exempted from the Act. Due to this exemption, the trial in the Ayodhya case proceeded even after the enforcement of this law.
- The Act also does not apply to any place of worship which is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
- Penalty: Section 6 of the Act prescribes a punishment of a maximum of three-years imprisonment along with a fine for contravening the provisions of the Act.
- Gandhi peace prize
Relevance: Important Awards
Context: The Gandhi Peace Prize is an annual award instituted by the Government of India since 1995, the 125th birth anniversary commemoration year of Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi peace prize
- The International Gandhi Peace Prize, named after Mahatma Gandhi, is awarded annually by the Ministry of culture.
- This is an annual award given to individuals and institutions for their contributions towards social, economic, and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods.
- The award carries ₹1 crore (US$140,000) in cash, convertible in any currency in the world, a plaque, and a citation. It is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, creed, or gender.
- Selection board: The Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and one other eminent person decides the awardee each year.
- The Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2020 is being conferred on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
- The prestigious prize for the year 2019 is being conferred on late Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman in recognition of his vision to strengthen relations with India, and his efforts to promote peace and non-violence in the Gulf region.
- This is the first time since its inception in 1995 (the 125th birth anniversary commemoration year of Mahatma Gandhi) that the prizes are being awarded posthumously.
- Ken-Betwa interlinking work
Context: Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have signed an agreement that nudges forward a long-stalled multi-crore, a controversial project to link the Ken and the Betwa.
- Aim: The project aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand.
- Conceived as a two-part project, this is the country’s first river interlinking project.
- Ken and Betwa rivers originate in MP and are the tributaries of Yamuna.
- Ken meets with Yamuna in the Banda district of UP and with Betwa in the Hamirpur district of UP. Rajghat, Paricha and Matatila dams are over the Betwa river.
- Ken River passes through the Panna tiger reserve.
- Interlinking of rivers involves joining rivers by the network of canals and reservoirs that solves twin problems of drought and flood by maintaining a water balance between the water deficit and surplus areas.
- The construction of one of the barrages inside the Ken Gharial Sanctuary will adversely affect the sustainability of the sanctuary.
Relevance: International Relations
Context: Turkey withdraws from the Istanbul Convention.
What is the Istanbul Convention?
- It seeks to prevent violence against women, including domestic violence.
- The 2011 agreement, commonly referred to as the Istanbul Convention, was drafted by the Council of Europe in the Turkish city in 2011.
- It is a legal framework seeking to protect women and promote gender equality through legislation, education, and spreading awareness.
- The convention was signed by 45 European countries, plus the EU as an institution.
Relevance: Culture and Festival
Context: Karnataka’s Famers has organized the Kambala Festival.
- Kambalais an annual buffalo race that is a tradition in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts’ farming community.
- The festival is purely dedicated to Kadri’s God Manjunatha, who was an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
- It is believed that the celebrations happen to please the Gods for a good harvest.
- It is a form of sports for the farmer’s community and also another belief is that it is considered as the sports of the royal family.
National Talent Search Portal (NTSP)
Relevance: Government Schemes and Initiatives
Context: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has informed Rajya Sabha about the status of the National Talent Search Portal.
National Talent Search Portal (NTSP):
- The Portal was launched in
- The portal has been implemented by the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
- The NTSP allows access to talented sportspersons from any part of the country to upload their online applications in their desired sports discipline for admission in Sports Centres run by SAI under its various sport’s promotional schemes.
Pradhan Mantri Street Vendors Atma Nirbhar Nidhi Scheme (PM SVANidhi)
Relevance: Government Schemes and Initiatives
Context: Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has informed that 23.24 lakh loans have been sanctioned and 18.54 lakh loans have been disbursed to the beneficiaries under the PM SVANidhi scheme.
About PM SVANidhi Scheme:
- The scheme has been launched in June 2020 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
- Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)is the implementing agency of the scheme.
- Objective: To facilitate collateral-free working capital loan up to 10,000 of one year tenure, to about 50 lakh street vendors across the country whose businesses had been adversely affected due to lockdown.
- The scheme also provides for incentives in the form of interest subsidy at 7% per annum on regular repayment of loan and cash-back reward up to 100 per month on undertaking prescribed digital transactions.
- The scheme further provides for Socio-economic profiling of beneficiaries and their families to determine their eligibility for various central Government welfare Schemes and link them to these schemes.
- The Scheme also aims to facilitate beneficiary Street Food Vendors to on-board e-commerce platforms for food delivery.
- The vendors can avail the facility of escalation of the credit limit on timely/ early repayment of the loan. The duration of the scheme is until March 2022.
Atal Pension Yojana
Relevance: Government Schemes and Initiatives
Context: Ministry of Finance has informed that Rs 57,078.22 lakh disbursed under the Atal Pension Yojana.
About Atal Pension Yojana:
- The scheme has been launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Finance.
- The scheme is administered by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority
- This scheme replaces the Swavalamban Yojana / NPS Life scheme.
- Eligibility: It is open to all citizens of India between 18-40 years of age, having a savings bank account in a bank or post office.
- Objective: It addresses the old age income security of the working poor and the longevity risks among the workers in the unorganized sector.
- It encourages the workers in the unorganized sector to voluntarily save for their retirement.
- Benefits: The benefits of the scheme will arise to the subscribers attaining the age of 60 years. The Five pension plan slabs are available under the scheme namely, Rs 1000, Rs 2000, Rs 3000, Rs 4000, and Rs 5000 guaranteed by the Government of India to the subscriber at the age of 60 years.
- The same pension is payable to Spouse after the death of the Subscriber.
- Return of full pension corpus to the nominee in the event of the death of both subscriber and the spouse.
- If the actual returns during the accumulation phase are higher than the assumed returns for minimum guaranteed pension, such excess will be passed to the subscribers.
- The Central Government co-contributes 50% of the total contribution or 1000 per annum, whichever is lower, for those subscribers who have joined the scheme during the period 1st June 2015 to 31st March 2016, and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme and who are not income taxpayers.
- Contributions to the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) are eligible for tax benefits similar to the National Pension System (NPS). The tax benefits include the additional deduction of Rs 50,000 under section 80CCD (1).
- Khelo India scheme
Relevance: Government Schemes and Initiatives
Context: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has decided to extend the Khelo India scheme from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
About the Khelo India scheme:
- The scheme has been launched in 2017 by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for three years.
- The Khelo India program has been introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-roots level by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country and establish India as a great sporting nation.
- Under the scheme, talented players identified in priority sports disciplines at various levels by the High-Powered Committee.
- These identified sportspersons will be provided annual financial assistance of INR 5 lakh per annum for 8 years.
Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia
Context: Prime Minister has paid tributes to Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia on his birth anniversary.
About Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia:
- Lohia was an activist in the Indian independence movement and a socialist political leader.
- During the last phase of British rule in India, he worked with Congress Radio which was broadcast secretly from various places in Bombay until 1942.
- Lohia was one of the founders of the Congress Socialist Party (CSP) and editor of its mouthpiece Congress Socialist.
- In 1936, he was selected by Jawaharlal Nehru as the secretary of the Foreign Department of the All India Congress Committee (A.I.C.C), the highest body of the Congress Party.
- By the time he quit that responsibility in 1938, Lohia started to develop his political standpoint by critically examining positions held by the Gandhian leadership of the Congress and the Communists who had poured into the CSP.
- He opposed the participation of Indians on the side of Britain in World War II and was arrested for anti-British statements in 1939 and 1940.
- In 1948, Dr. Lohia and other prominent CSP members left the
- He remained a member of the Socialist Party when it fused in 1952 with the Kisan Majdoor Praja Party to form the Praja Socialist Party.
- He served as general secretary for a brief period. Later, he resigned from the Party in 1955.
- He then established a new Socialist Party, for which he became chairman as well as the editor of its journal,
- He advocated for various socio-political reformsin his capacity as party leader, including the abolition of the caste system, the adoption of Hindi as India’s national language, and stronger protection of civil liberties.
- Important Literary works: Marx, Gandhi and Socialism, Guilty Men of India’s Partition,
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