Essential Facts (Prelims): 18 January, 2019

Rupee pact with Iran

  • The Indian pharma industry now has an opportunity to increase exports to Iran, following a rupee payment mechanism agreed upon recently by India and the Persian Gulf nation.
  • Under the agreement, Indian refiners make payments in rupee for oil imports from Iran, to designated accounts maintained with UCO Bank.
  • A portion thus received is to be used by Iran to pay for imports from India, including pharmaceuticals.
  • The rupee payment agreement came within weeks of the sanctions to cover oil imports from Iran.
  • While imposing the sanctions again, the U.S. provided a time window of exemption under which India and a few other countries could continue to import oil for some time, but of relatively less quantity.
  • Constituting mostly APIs (bulk drugs), Indian pharma exports to Iran have been declining in recent years.

Young Scientists Programme

  • For the first time, ISRO has announced the ‘Young Scientists Programme’ to encourage the scientific talent and increase scientific pool in the country.
  • Under this programme 3 students from each state and UT will be selected for ISRO programme for one month during which they will visit ISRO centres, interact with senior scientists and will have access to Research and Development facilities.

Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY)

  • Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY), the flagship scheme of the Central Government for employment generation has crossed the milestone of one crore beneficiaries.
  • PMRPY was announced in 2016 and is being implemented by Ministry of Labour and Employment through the Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).
  • Under the scheme, Government is paying full employers’ contribution of 12% (towards Employees’ Provident Fund and Employees’ Pension Scheme both), for a period of 3 years in respect of new employees who have been registered with the EPFO on or after 1st April 2016, with salary up to Rs. 15,000 per month.
  • The entire system is online and AADHAR based with no human interface in the implementation of the scheme.


  • India to train experts from 45 countries India will train 45 countries in nano-satellite making through a new capacity building programme.
  • The programme is named Unispace Nanosatellite Assembly and Training(UNNATI).


ISRO has initiated ‘Samvad with students’ programme where ISRO chairman meets the students during his outstation visits and address their queries and quench the scientific thrust.


The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed Volkswagen India to deposit ₹100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Essential Facts (Prelims): 16 and 17 January, 2019

Essential Facts for Prelims – CSE 2019. Daily Compilation of Important Factual Information from Relevant News Sources for Civil Services Prelims Exam (UPSC)


  • Around 35,000 Bru refugees living in relief camps in Tripura.
  • Thousands of Bru refugees from Mizoram had fled to Tripura during ethnic violence in 1997.

Police Chiefs

  • The Supreme Court rejected the pleas made by five States to implement their own local laws for selection and appointment of their State police chiefs.
  • .In July 2018, the Supreme Court restrained State governments from appointing DGPs without first consulting the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
  • The State government concerned has to send UPSC the names of the probables three months before the incumbent DGP is to retire.
  • The UPSC will prepare a panel of three officers fit to be DGP and send it back.
  • The State shall “immediately” appoint one of the persons shortlisted by the UPSC.


The National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA) scheme has been given an additional allocation of ₹6,084 crore to tide over the next three months. This lifts the total allocation to MGNREGA for 2018-19 to ₹61,084 crore, which is the highest ever allocation.


  • In a bid to improve ease of doing business, the Reserve Bank of India has decided to liberalise external commercial borrowing (ECB) norms, allowing all companies that are eligible for receiving foreign direct investment, to raise funds through the ECB route.
  • The RBI has decided to keep the minimum average maturity period at 3 years for all ECBs, irrespective of the amount of borrowing. Earlier, the minimum average maturity period was five years.
  • The ceiling for borrowing remains at $750 million.
  • RBI had capped funds raised via ECBs at 6.5% of GDP, at current market prices.

Exim Bank

  • The Cabinet o approved an infusion of ₹6,000 crore of capital in the Exim Bank of India.
  • The Cabinet also approved an increase in the authorised capital of Exim Bank from ₹10,000 crore to ₹20,000 crore.
  • The capital infusion would enable the bank to augment its capital adequacy and support Indian exports.

e commerce

  • The rules mandate that no entity in which an e-commerce company has stake can sell its wares on that e-commerce company’s portal.
  • Any vendor who receives 25% or more of its inputs from an e-commerce group company cannot sell on that e-commerce portal.

Gandhi Peace Prize

  • After a gap of four years, the Centre announced the awardees for the prestigious Gandhi Peace Prize for 2015 to 2018.
  • The Gandhi Peace Prize, which is given to individuals and institutions for their contribution towards social, economic and political transformation through non-violence and other Gandhian methods, was last conferred upon the Indian Space Research Organisation in 2014.
  • This is the first time that the awardees of four years have been announced together ever since the award was instituted in 1995.
  • As per the code of procedure on the Ministry of Culture’s website, the award should ideally be announced on Gandhi Jayanti, October 2, each year.
  • The award carries a cash prize of Rs 1 crore, a citation and a handicraft item.
  • The International Gandhi Peace Prize was instituted by the government on the 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and is open to people of all nationalities.


  • Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is a composite indicator that measures changes in the volume of production of a basket of industrial products over a period of time, with respect to a chosen base period.
  • It is compiled and published monthly by the CSO with a time lag of six weeks from the reference month.
  • The all-India IIP provides a single representative figure to measure the general level of industrial activity in the economy on a monthly basis.
  • On the whole, the new series had 809 items from the manufacturing sector as against 620 from the old 2004-05 series.
  • ASI is the main source of long term industrial statistics while the IIP is a monthly indicator based on items and factories selected from ASI.
  • IIP is based on a fixed set of items and factories chosen in the base period whereas the ASI is a record-based survey of establishments registered under the Factories Act, 1948 in which the sampling frame and the sampled establishments undergo significant changes.
  • ASI captures information of new items and factories whereas the IIP does not.
  • Also, the IIP is based on a much smaller sample of factories as compared to that of ASI.
  • Growth rates in IIP are based on volume of production whereas growth rates in ASI are derived on the basis of Value Added (Output – Input).
  • Further, establishments selected in IIP are generally larger in size whereas ASI establishments cover both large and smaller units. So, the growth rates in IIP are lower as the smaller units that have a thinner base and hence show higher growth


  • The Odisha government has come up with a support scheme whose primary targets are small farmers, cultivators and landless agricultural labourers.
  • Called KALIA, the scheme involves payments to encourage cultivation and associated activities.


  • A small green shoot is growing on the moon in an out-of-this-world first after cotton seed germinated on board a Chinese lunar lander.
  • This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface.


‘Saksham’, an annual high intensity one-month long people-centric mega campaign of Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been launched.


  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, has given its approval to the project for capacity expansion of Numaligarh Refinery in Assam from 3 MMTPA (Million Metric Tonne Per Annum) to 9 MMTPA.
  • It involves setting up of crude oil pipeline from Paradip to Numaligarh and product pipeline from Numaligarh to Siliguri.


Daily Current Affairs – IAS Prelims ( 17th – 18th April 2018 )



17 – 18th Apr’18




The country is likely to see “normal” monsoon rains, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its forecast.

India is likely to get 97% rainfall, defined as between 96% and 104% of the Long Period Average (LPA) of 89 cm it typically gets between June and September.

The IMD bases its optimism of a normal monsoon this year on the absence of an El Nino, a relative warming of the surface-temperatures in the Central Pacific, and associated with a weak monsoon.

The converse phenomenon, of a La Nina and cooling of these waters, generally brings good rains. Currently La Nina conditions prevail and weather models suggest a slight warming or so-called “neutral” conditions to prevail around August.

Historically a transition from La Nina to neutral conditions has generally meant normal monsoons.

Another worry lurks closer home. A positive temperature gradient in the West and Eastern Indian oceans, called a ‘positive Indian Ocean dipole’, is associated with neutering warm-water hostilities from the Pacific. Such a positive dipole is unlikely this year.

Relevance : Prelims



The World Bank signed a $48 million loan agreement for revitalising natural resources in Meghalaya through a community-led landscape approach.

The project is expected to benefit 1,00,000 people in rural Meghalaya besides building the capacity of some 30,000 youth through access to technology.

The Meghalaya Community-led Landscapes Management Project is designed to support the State’s three tribal communities – Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia – in managing its forests and natural resources through customary laws.

Meghalaya’s woods are designated as ‘unclassified forests’ in the State records and for the most part do not receive technical or financial support from State institutions. Besides, there are no institutions or legal frameworks for water management in the State.

Water bodies, rivers, and springs are considered common property like forests and are managed by traditional tribal institutions. But some of them are being polluted due to unscientific coal and limestone mining.

The project will help manage these depleting resources by strengthening communities and traditional institutions. Restoration of degraded and highly degraded landscapes under the project will increase water for local communities and improve soil productivity.

The project will prioritise around 400 villages located in ‘very critical’ and ‘critical’ landscapes over a period of five years.

Relevance : Prelims, GS 2



In another instance of modern technology coming to the aid of medieval heritage, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) to map the contours of the area around the Bagh-e-Naya Qila excavated garden in the Golconda Fort.

This medieval garden in Hyderabad is the only one of its kind still intact. The others — built during the Qutb Shahi rule (1518-1687) — have either been built over or have disappeared.

The Naya Qila garden inside Golconda Fort was built by rulers of the Deccan and is one of the few symmetrical gardens extant. In 2014, when the ASI excavated the area after diverting the water flow, it discovered water channels, settlement tanks, walkways, fountains, gravity pumps, and other garden relics.

Relevance : Prelims



This year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is likely to issue fortnightly forecasts of the monsoon’s arrival in States, once it begins its onset over Kerala.

Typically, the IMD only forecasts the monsoon’s arrival over Kerala — around mid-May — and then gives a three or five-day heads-up as it journeys northwards.

This year, it will tweak one of its models to generate a 15-day lead time.

The IMD is an organisation under the MoES.

Relevance : Prelims



An eleventh-hour technical glitch prompted SpaceX to postpone its planned launch of a new NASA space telescope designed to detect worlds beyond our solar system.

The two-year, TESS mission is designed to build on the work of its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope, which has discovered the bulk of some 3,700 exoplanets documented during the past 20 years and is running out of fuel.

Roughly the size of a refrigerator with solar-panel wings and equipped with four special cameras, TESS will take about 60 days to reach a highly elliptical, first-of-a-kind orbit looping it between the earth and the moon every two and a half weeks.

Like Kepler, TESS will use a detection method called transit photometry, which looks for periodic, repetitive dips in the visible light from stars caused by planets passing, or transiting, in front of them.

Relevance : Prelims



With insurgency-related incidents in the northeast region down by 85% from the levels recorded at the peak of militancy two decades ago, the Centre has withdrawn the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) totally from Meghalaya as well as from eight out of 16 police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, with effect from March 31, 2018.

AFSPA, which gives special powers and immunity to the armed forces deployed in areas declared “disturbed” under the Act, had been in force in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh for almost 27 years.

Areas of the two states bordering Assam were declared “disturbed” in 1991 to avoid a spillover effect of insurgency by Assam-based outfits like the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa).

In 2015, the Tripura government had lifted AFSPA from the state after 18 years.

Until September 30, 2017, all areas falling within a 20-km belt in Meghalaya bordering Assam were notified as “disturbed” areas. Effective from October 1, 2017, this was reduced to a 10-km belt. However, on March 31, 2018, it was decided that given the improved situation, AFSPA need no longer be in force even in this 10-km stretch.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act will now be in force in the whole of Assam and Nagaland, all of Manipur (except Imphal municipal area) and in three districts and eight police station areas of Arunachal Pradesh. Nagaland has been under AFSPA for almost six decades.

Other than the northeast, AFSPA is applicable in J&K.

With insurgency levels in Assam too at a record low, the state government is expected to decide soon on withdrawal of AFSPA from some districts.

While the review for Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland is still handled by the Centre, Assam and Manipur governments have been notifying ‘disturbed’ areas — a prerequisite for imposing the law — on their own since last year.

A decline in insurgency is visible across the northeast with. The year 2017 recording the lowest insurgency incidents and casualties since 1997.

Relevance : Prelims, GS 3


Insurgency in North East




With a view to achieve total digitisation of postal operations in the country, under the IT Modernisation Plan, Department of Posts has launched DIGITAL ADVANCEMENT OF RURAL POST OFFICE FOR A NEW INDIA (DARPAN) Project, which aims to connect all 1.29 lakh Rural Branch Post Offices in the country, to enable them to do online Postal and Financial Transactions.

Relevance : Prelims


 South Asian Climate Outlook Forum

South Asian nations, supported by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), have been conducting the South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) since 2010.

SASCOFs prepare consensus seasonal climate information on a regional scale that provide a consistent basis for preparing national level outlooks.

Such forums also serve to interface with user sectors to understand and enhance the use of climate information as orchestrated and supported by the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

Recognizing the fact that significant amount of rainfall, of crucial importance to agriculture, is also received in South Asia during the months from October to February; winter SASCOF sessions were initiated since 2015.


The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is the next step in the search for planets outside of our solar system, including those that could support life.

The mission will find exoplanets that periodically block part of the light from their host stars, events called transits.

TESS will survey 200,000 of the brightest stars near the sun to search for transiting exoplanets.

The transit method of detecting exoplanets looks for dips in the visible light of stars, and requires that planets cross in front of stars along our line of sight to them. Repetitive, periodic dips can reveal a planet or planets orbiting a star.

Transit photometry, which looks at how much light an object puts out at any given time, can tell researchers a lot about a planet.

Based on how much of a dip in light a planet causes in its star, we can determine that planet’s size. Looking at how long it takes a planet to orbit its star, scientists are able to determine the shape of the planet’s orbit and how long it takes the planet to circle its sun.

Relevance : Prelims