National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 25th January 2019

India, South Africa to revise 22-year-old Strategic Partnership


Topic: International Relations

IN NEWS: India and South Africa will update their Strategic Partnership by agreeing on a comprehensive “roadmap” on the way ahead, as well as relaxing visa restrictions, when South African President Cyril Ramaphosa meets with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Republic day.

More on the Topic:

  • The Strategic Partnership between India and South Africa, called the Red Fort Declaration, was signed in March 1997 by the then South African President Nelson Mandela and former PM H.D. Deve Gowda.
  • All aspects of the partnership would be reviewed and updated with a three-year plan of action on security cooperation, trade and investment, tourism, harnessing the ‘blue economy’, maritime cooperation, agriculture, science and technology projects.
  • The two sides are also expected to explore new defence deals in the backdrop of the lifting of a 13-year old ban on South African defence firm Denel that was barred from doing business in India since 2005.

About India South Africa Relations:

  • The bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Republic of South Africa have grown strong since the end of apartheid in South Africa in 1994. Both countries have since developed close strategic, cultural and economic ties. Both are former British colonies and full member states of the Commonwealth of Nations as Commonwealth republics.
  • India and South Africa also share an extensive energy partnership. Ties with further solidified with South Africa’s 2011 acceptance into the BRICS group.




Topic: Science and Technology

IN NEWS: ISRO’s PSLV C-44 broke the silence over a brimming Pulicat lake as it lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, to successfully place into orbit a military satellite, Microsat-R.

More on the Topic:

  • The mission with the modified PSLV with just two strap-on motors, dubbed the PSLV-DL (dual strap-ons), marked another first for ISRO as it provided an alternative to its normal six strap-on motors. This will enable it to carry slightly higher payloads than its Core-Alone version.
  • Microsat-R, placed into orbit 13 and a half minutes after lift-off, is a defence application satellite. It is the first time an Indian satellite was being placed by ISRO in a low orbit at an altitude of 274 km.
  • ISRO also used this launch as an opportunity to demonstrate the usability of the fourth stage of the rocket after the satellites are ejected into orbit.
  • Till this launch the fourth stage used to just become yet another piece of space debris. However, ISRO has found a way to make use of this stage with a student satellite, Kalamsat, made by Space Kidz India, weighing just 1.26kg, attached to it.
  • This would enable any agency that wants to conducts experiments in space to use the fourth stage till it disintegrates naturally. The fourth stage of the rocket may be orbiting in space for six months to a year. ISRO is aiming to use this time-frame to enable agencies to run short time experiments.

Source:The Hindu

Roshni app

Topic: Science and Technology

In news: In a bid to assist visually impaired people to easily determine denomination of currency notes, the Indian Institute of Technology at Ropar in Punjab has developed an Android App “Roshni”, using image processing and analytics.

 More on the Topic:

  • This App utilises an adaptable deep learning framework, which further uses the patterns and features embedded on the notes to differentiate and determine the currency denomination
  • The user has to bring the currency note in front of phone camera and the App would provide audio notification intimating the currency note denomination to the user

Source: The Hindu

Nitrogen Pollution


Topic: Environment and Ecology

In news:  Eighteen research institutions in India are among a group of 50 institutions — called the South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH) — in the United Kingdom and South Asia that have secured £20 million (about Rs. 200 crore) from the U.K. government to assess and study the quantum and impact of “nitrogen pollution” in South Asia.

More on the Topic:

  • While nitrogen is the dominant gas in the atmosphere, it is inert and doesn’t react. However, when it is released as part of compounds from agriculture, sewage and biological waste, nitrogen is considered “reactive”, and it may be polluting and even exert a potent greenhouse gas (heat trapping) effect.
  • So far, we have focussed on carbon dioxide and its impact on global warming. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide but isn’t as prevalent in the atmosphere. However, this is poised to grow.
  • In the future, reactive nitrogen pollution will be a matter of significant global discussion and, unlike carbon, India and South Asia cannot wake up at the last minute, realising that it has no updated, scientific assessment of its inventory.
  • NOx emissions grew at 52% from 1991 to 2001 and 69% from 2001 to 2011. The SANH will study the impacts of the different forms of pollution to form a “coherent picture” of the nitrogen cycle. In particular, it will look at nitrogen in agriculture in eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives.


Kaziranga and Manas National Park


Topic: Environment And Ecology

In news: 2 rhinos raised at Kaziranga find a new home at Manas.

 More on the Topic:

  • Since 2002, when CWRC started, more than 50 calves stranded in the wild at Kaziranga National Park for various reasons, in most cases due to floods, have been rescued.
  • Out of these, 16 were translocated to Manas. A few gave birth to calves, thus augmenting the number of rhinos at the Manas National Park by around 20
  • The augmentation of Rhinos were part of the initiative “Bring Back Manas’, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

About Kaziranga National Park

  • Kaziranga National Park is a national park the state of Assam
  • The sanctuary, which hosts two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses, is a World Heritage Site.
  • In 2006 Kaziranga was also declared as a Tiger Reserve.
  • The park area is circumscribed by the Brahmaputra River, which forms the northern and eastern boundaries, and the Mora Diphlu, which forms the southern boundary. Other notable rivers within the park are the Diphlu and Mora Dhansiri.
  • Kaziranga has flat expanses of fertile, alluvial soil, formed by erosion and silt deposition by the River Brahmaputra.

About Manas National Park

  • Manas National Park is a national park, UNESCO Natural World Heritage site, a  Tiger reserve under Project Tiger, an elephant reserve and a biosphere reserve in Assam
  • The park is known for its rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam roofed turtle, hispid hare, golden langur and pygmy hog. Manas is famous for its population of the wild water buffalo
  • The Manas river is a major tributary of Brahmaputra River, which passes through the heart of the national park.
  • In 1992, UNESCO declared it as a world heritage site in danger due to heavy poaching and terrorist activities. In 2011, it was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger and was commended for its efforts in preservation.


Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI)


Topic: Economy

In news: It is a report released by INSEAD business school in partnership with Tata Communications and Adecco Group.

More on the Topic:

  • It is an annual benchmark measuring how countries and cities grow, attract and retain talent, providing a unique resource for decision makers to understand the global talent competitiveness picture and develop strategies for boosting their competitiveness.
  • It looks at 68 variables such as ease of ease of hiring, gender earnings gap, and prevalence of training in firms.
  • GTCI 2019 addresses the topic of entrepreneurial talent and global competitiveness.
  • According to the report, Switzerland followed by Singapore, the US, Norway and Denmark were the top five on the list of countries.
  • China emerged as the best performer among the BRICS countries, with an overall position of 45th.
  • India has moved up one position to 80th rank.
  • According to the report, India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to attract and retain talent.
  • However, India performed better than its lower-income peers when it comes to growing talent and access to growth opportunities.

Model Mains Question: India’s biggest challenge is to improve its ability to attract and retain talent.Comment


Kurumba Painting


Topic: Art and Culture

In news:   Pictorial mention in the Hindu

More on the Topic:

  • Kurumbas are the tribe who live in the mid-ranges of the Nilgiris or “blue-mountains”.
  • The Kurumba art is traditionally practiced by only either by the male members of the temple caretakers, or priest to the Kurumba village.
  • The women of the family contribute to the decorations at home in the form of borders around the door and windows and kolams on the floor.
  • The art are primarily ritualistic, describing various facets of tribal life.
  • Often it is painted on the outer wall of the temple and the house.
  • Eluthu paarai is an ancient 3000-year-old rock-painting site of Kurumbas in the Kothagiri region of the Nilgiris.
  • The rock art depictions in this site come under the category of ‘petrographs’ means “rock art”.


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