Current Affairs

UPSC Daily Current Affairs | Prelims and Mains Exam 16th March 2020

Tara Tarini Hill Shrine

  • The annual Chaitra Jatra festival at Odisha’s Tara Tarini hill shrine has been cancelled as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 infection.
  • The festival is held on each Tuesday in the month of Chaitra, which falls in March-April as per the English calendar.
  • Tara Tarini hill shrine, located at a hilltop on banks of the Rushikulya river, is a major center of Shakti worship in Odisha.
  • The twin goddesses Tara and Tarini represent one Shakti and are the main deity of Ganjam district (Odisha).
  • Tara is an important deity of Mahayana Buddhist Sect.
  • This temple had been built as per traditional Rekha style of Odia temple architecture, as per which famous Jagannath temple of Puri and Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar have been built.
  • Unlike other temples, it wasn’t built under the patronage of a King or a Noble, the temple was set up by a Brahmin named Basu Praharaj as per popular legend.
  • Since its inception it has been an established seat of Tantrism.
  • Indian Navy’s sailboat INSV Tarini was named after Tara Tarini hill shrine.
  • The first Indian all-woman crew had circumnavigated the globe in INSV Tarini.

India Renewable Idea Exchange (IRIX) Portal

  • India Renewable Idea Exchange IRiX is a real-time idea exchange platform for the Global RE community.
  • It empowers to ideate, innovate and incubate in the renewable energy sector.
  • It is launched by Ministry of New and Renewable Resources.

Mission 175

  • Mission 175 is a global platform to explore strategies for development and deployment of renewables.
  • It is hosted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the event showcases India’s renewable energy potential and the Government’s efforts to scale up capacity to meet the national energy requirement in a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable manner.
  • In the year 2015, the Government of India announced a target for 175 GW cumulative renewable power installed capacity by the year 2022.
  • Ahead of COP 21, India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC, outlining the country’s post-2020 climate actions.
  • India’s INDC builds on its goal of installing 175 Gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity by 2022 by setting a new target to increase the country’s share of non-fossil based installed electric capacity to 40 percent by 2030.


  • I-Cube is a multi-stakeholder collaborative platform to catalyze ideas on renewable energy, works under IRIX Portal.
  • It represents an out-of-the-box process that triggers ideas, encourages innovation and enables incubation.
  • I-Cube framework follows a multi-pronged approach from concept to reality implementation of an idea that contributes to the sustainable development of the renewable energy eco-system, helping reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • This platform aims to bring together industry experts, relevant members of the Global RE community, relevant entrepreneurs and policymakers to drive exponential adoption of innovation in the renewable energy space

Akshay Urja Portal

  • Akshay Urja Portal is launched by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
  • The energy such as Solar Energy, Wind energy, hydroelectrical power are few example of Akshay Urja.
  • The portal aims to develop ways to use akshay urja or renewable energy more efficiently.
  • It promotes innovation to adopt renewable energy sources to produce power for the electricity grid and for several standalone applications and decentralized power production.

KUSUM Scheme

  • KUSUM stands for Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan.
  • It’s objective is to provide financial and water security to farmers through harnessing solar energy capacities of 25,750 MW by 2022.
  • The scheme consists of three components:
  1. Installation of ground mounted grid connected renewable power plants in the rural areas.
  2. Installation of standalone solar powered agriculture pumps.
  3. Solarisation of grid-connected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also enable them to sell surplus solar power generated to DISCOM.
  • The benefits of the scheme are
  1. Stable and continuous source of income to the rural landowners.
  2. Availability of sufficient local solar/other renewable energy based power for feeding rural load centres and agriculture pump-set loads.
  3. Reducing transmission losses.
  4. Save the expenditure incurred on diesel for running diesel pumps.
  5. Substantial environmental impact in terms of savings of CO2 emissions.


  • The Ministry of Shipping has launched a roll on-roll off cum passenger ferry service, called ‘ROPAX’, between Mumbai and Mandwa (Maharashtra).
  • ROPAX service is a water transport service project under Eastern Waterfront Development.
  • The road distance from Mumbai to Mandwa is about 110 kilometres, and it takes three to four hours, whereas by waterway the distance is about 18 kilometres and a journey of just an hour.
  • ROPAX Vessel M2M -1 was built in Greece in September 2019. This Vessel has a speed of 14 knots and can carry 200 cars and 1000 passengers at a time.
  • It is capable of operating even in a monsoon season.
  • The benefits of this service include reduction in the travel time, vehicular emission and traffic on the road.

Eastern Waterfront Development

  • The Eastern Waterfront is the Mumbai Port Trust’s (MbPT’s) plan to develop the port lands across Mumbai’s eastern coast stretching from Sassoon Dock to Wadala.
  • MbPT is an autonomous Body of the Government of India under the Ministry of Shipping.
  • Some of the major proposals under the project include a 93- hectare park near Haji Bunder, around 17 hectares for tourism-related projects such as themed streets and affordable housing.
  • The project also has a focus on a water transport by making a provision for water taxis, international and domestic cruises and ro-pax (roll on/roll off passengers) services.

Circuit Breakers

  • Circuit breakers are triggered to prevent markets from crashing, which happens when market participants start to panic induced by fears that their stocks are overvalued and decide to sell their stocks.
  • This index-based market-wide circuit breaker system applies at three stages of the index movement, at 10, 15 and 20 per cent.
  • In June 2001, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) implemented index-based market-wide circuit breakers.
  • When triggered, these circuit breakers bring about a coordinated trading halt in all equity and equity derivative markets nationwide.
  • For instance, if the S&P BSE Sensex were to fall more than 10 per cent before 1 pm on a given day, circuit breakers would be triggered for a period of 45 minutes; in case it fell more than 15 per cent on or after 2 pm, circuit breakers would be triggered for the remainder of the day and in case it fell more than 20 per cent at any time of the day, the trading would be halted for the remainder of the day.
  • Since the indexes plunged more than 10 per cent each day earlier, a circuit breaker was triggered for the first time since 2009 halting trading for 45 minutes.
  • Recently Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) experienced the second biggest single-day fall in its history as it fell by 8.2 per cent, slightly lower than the 11 per cent fall it saw during the 2008 financial crisis.
  • This fall began in January, when China started reporting a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Olympic Flame

  • The Olympic Flame for the 2020 Tokyo Games has been lit in Olympia in Greece, where the Ancient Olympic Games used to take place.
  • The ceremony is held in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera, and the flame is lit by actresses who play the part of the priestesses.
  • It is lit in the traditional method of using the sun’s rays reflected on a parabolic mirror.
  • A flame is lit during a rehearsal ceremony, in case it turns out there is no sun on the day of the official event, this flame is used to light the Olympic Fire.
  • The Olympic Flame emphasizes the link between the Ancient and Modern Games, and is usually carried by runners on foot from Olympia to its final destination (Japan, this year).
  • During the relay, the torch must never go out.
  • However, other modes of transportation may also be used, by air for instance, in which case the flame is sheltered in a security lamp and at night time kept in a special cauldron.
  • It is carried to the host city usually by celebrities or athletes.
  • Among the thousands of torch-bearers who carry the flame from Olympia to the host country, the first and the last torchbearers are particularly important.
  • The last torchbearer is responsible for lighting the cauldron in the stadium during the opening ceremony of the Games.
  • The flame is kept lit for the duration of the Games and is extinguished only at the closing ceremony.

Study on Earth’s Orbit  

  • Recently, a study on Earth’s spin was published in the American Geophysical Union’s journal Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology.
  • The study came after scientists studied a 70 million years old mollusc fossil from Oman.
  • The study states that Earth spun 372 times a year 70 million years ago, compared to the current 365 times. This means the day was 23½ hours long, compared to 24 hours today.
  • It is important to note that the period of Earth’s orbit has remained the same. In other words, one year 70 million years ago was as long as one year today.
  • Today, Earth’s orbit is not exactly 365 days, but 365 days and a fraction, which is why our calendars have leap years, as a correction.
  • It has long been known that Earth’s spin has slowed over time.
  • The study states friction from ocean tides, caused by the Moon’s gravity, slows Earth’s rotation and leads to longer days.
  • And as Earth’s spin slows, the Moon moves farther away.
  • The study states that the Moon’s rate of retreat has changed over time.

Spanish Flu

  • As COVID-19 declared a global health crisis, parallels are being drawn with the Spanish influenza of 1918-19, which is considered the most devastating pandemic in recent history.
  • Spanish flu was caused by an H1N1 influenza virus.
  • There is no universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, It is believed that World War I was partly responsible for it’s spread.
  • Spain was one of the earliest countries where the epidemic was identified, but historians believe this was likely a result of wartime censorship.
  • Spain was a neutral nation during the war and did not enforce strict censorship of its press, which freely published early accounts of the illness.
  • As a result, people falsely believed the illness was specific to Spain, and the name “Spanish flu” stuck.

H1N1 Flu

  • H1N1 influenza virus causes Swine Flu.
  • Swine Flu is an infection of the respiratory tract characterized by the usual symptoms of flu — cough, nasal secretions, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, and headache.
  • It is called swine flu because it was known in the past to occur in people who had been in the vicinity of pigs.
  • The virus is transmitted by short-distance airborne transmission, particularly in crowded enclosed spaces. Hand contamination and direct contact are other possible sources of transmission.

National Biopharma Mission

  • The National Biopharma Mission (NBM) is an industry-academia collaborative mission for accelerating biopharmaceutical development in the country.
  • It was launched in 2017 at a total cost of Rs 1500 crore and is 50% co-funded by World Bank loan.
  • It is being implemented by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).
  • BIRAC is a Public Sector Enterprise, set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • Under this Mission, the Government has launched Innovate in India (i3) programme to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the biopharma sector.
  • It has a focus on following four verticals:
  1. Development of product leads for Vaccines , Biosimilars and Medical Devices that are relevant to the public health need by focusing on managed partnerships.
  2. Upgradation of shared infrastructure facilities and establishing them as centers of product discovery/discovery validations and manufacturing.
  3. Developing human capital by providing specific training.
  4. Developing technology transfer offices to help enhance industry academia inter-linkages.
  • The oversight to the mission activities is provided by the inter-ministerial Steering Committee chaired by the Secretary-DBT (Ministry of Science & Technology).
  • The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) chaired by an eminent scientist provides scientific leadership to the mission drawing upon global expertise.

Source: PIB, Indian Express

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