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HC bans homework for Class I & II students


  1. The Madras High Court has directed the Centre to instruct the State governments and Union territories to ban the homework for students of Classes I & II.

Important Facts:

2. Madras HC order is based on NCERT recommendations.

3. Important highlight of order are

  • ban will be applicable to all school irrespective of the educational board.
  • schools can give homework only in language and mathematics in Classes I and II.
  • For class Classes III-V only environmental science should be an additional subject.
  • center should formulate a policy to reduce the burden of books carried by children on the lines of the Children School Bags (Limitation on Weight) Bill, 2006

4. The High court has directed the centre to ensure compliance with the directions.


Bengal’s Chau mask acquires GI fame


  1. Geographical Indication Registry and Intellectual Property India has granted Geographical indication to five rural crafts of west Bengal

Important Facts

2. Five rural crafts are

  • The Chau mask of Purulia,
  • the wooden mask of Kushmandi,
  • the Patachitra,
  • the Dokras of Bengal, and
  • Madhurkathi (a kind of mat)

3. Benefits

  • help the artisans create their own brand
  • provide legal protection to artisans practising the crafts against duplication in other regions.
  • Improve job opportunities.

4. About GI

  • GI tags are given on the basis of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
  • GI tag secures the quality and authenticity of a the product to a particular geographical origin
  • It provides legal protection from duplication
  •  The first product to get GI tag was Darjeeling Tea.
  • In the year 2017-18, 25 GI tags were awarded of which 9 were from West Bengal.



India, U.K. to talk amid rows


1.Indian officials are trying to get Mr Mallya deported to India.

Important Facts:

2.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj revealed the contents of a conversation between Indian and British PM related to the extradition of Vijay Mallya and immigration.

3.Home Affairs dialogue was held for the first time in May 2017. Due to recent changes in the British Home Office, the meeting ran into some trouble.

4.Agenda for Home Affairs Dialogue to be held in Delhi:

  • Indian officials are planning to put forth their case to deport Mallya but there is nothing these officers can do as it is now in the hands of the court.
  • Enquire about the progress of the extradition request of  IPL owner Lalit Modi and diamond merchant Nirav Modi and others.
  • Status of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) cases, which includes information related to Khalistani groups including the Babbar Khalsa operating in the U.K.
  • Safe return of undocumented Indian immigrants staying in UK.

5.An agreement was signed earlier between India and UK

  • But the cabinet shelved that agreement in order to review its terms.
  • Indian officials feel that the provision that provides for the return of undocumented immigrants  in 70 days is unrealistic and unachievable.

6.The main concern of UK is the poor condition of Indian Jails. The Indian PM pointed out that it is the same jails that the Britishers put Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and other leaders during their rule.

7.The case for Mallya’s extradition is pending in the courts. The Crown Prosecution Service has put up a strong case for his extradition.


A Maritime Stretch: Modi in Southeast Asia

1.  Harsh V. Pant, Professor of International Relations at King’s College London has analyse India’s maritime opportunities in the South East Asian Region.

Important Facts:

  1. Indonesia is geo-politically positioned at the centre of the Indo-Pacific and is of a great asset to India.
  2. India’s “Act East” policy and Indonesia’s “Global Maritime Fulcrum” both hope to increase maritime collaboration in Southeast Asia. Both the countries need to complement and align one another’s vision of a regional order.
  3. Both and India and Indonesia are concerned about increasing Chinese presence in the eastern Indian Ocean.
  4. China is increasingly taking an aggressive stand on the South China Sea issue. Indonesia wants to balance this by strengthening strategic partnership with India.
  5. Natuna Sea is an area of contention between China and Indonesia.
  6. Indonesian government has offered India to help in the development of its Sabang port and an economic zone.
  7. Sabang port:
  • It is located at the mouth of Strait of Malacca and is 100 nautical miles from the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • It is strategically located. It would help Indian Navy to be at the forefront and supervise movements in the Straits of Malacca.
  • It could provide an alternative to China’s BRI initiative.
  • A cruise tourism circuit has been proposed between the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Sabang.

8. Also Straits of Malacca, Lombok and Sunda are other strategic point where India’s interests lie to protect its Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs).

9. At present, ties between both the countries are limited to

  • Anti-piracy patrols
  • Search and rescue exercises
  • Joint hydrographic exploration.

10. During PM visit both the countries are expected to sign a Comprehensive Defence Cooperation Agreement which is similar to the one India signed with France. The benefits of this include:

  • Stronger maritime security partnership.
  • give India access to naval bases in Lampung on the Sunda Strait, and Denpasar and Banyuwangi on the Lombok Strait.
  • It would help expand the Indian Navy’s operations in the eastern Indian Ocean.

11. India could also push for becoming a part of the Malacca Strait Patrols Programme. It would offer the following benefits to India:

  • Strengthen India’s maritime knowledge of the region.
  • The eyes-in-the-sky component would give an opportunity for India to use its maritime surveillance aircraft to jointly patrol the region.
  • India can monitor Chinese naval movement in these regions.
  • India would get access to the Jayapura naval base in West Papua. It would complement India’s access to French naval bases in French Polynesia and New Caledonia in the Southern Pacific.

12. Indonesia is expected to negotiate and delimit the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) shared by both countries in the Andaman Sea.

13. According to author, India and Indonesia could consider cooperating in the following areas:

  • Partnership in tracking commercial cargo ships at strategic choke points.
  • Economic cooperation
  • Collaboration in defence industries and maritime training and education
  1. Closer logistics partnership with Singapore, Australia and Indonesia would enhance India’s position as a regional net security provider.



Great Barrier Reef facing its toughest test ever – Coral Bleaching


  1. Scientists are concerned about the ability of Great Barrier Reef to survive the current environmental crisis.

Important facts:

  1. The Great Barrier Reef of Australia is facing the challenges due to rising sea temperature
  2. It has survived 30,000 years.
  3. In the past the reefs shifted along the sea floor (seaward or landward) to adapt with the changes in the environment
  4. It was able to migrate between 20cm and 1.5 metres per year.
  5. At present, concerns are raised about the increase in SST (Sea Surface Temperature) and coral bleaching and the current rate of migration is not enough to withstand the environmental challenges.


In 2016, 5/20 norm was replaced with 0/20


  1. Government eases norms for airlines having no domestic experience to fly aboard

Important Facts:

  1. In 20o4, government brought 5/20 norm to allow Indian private carrier to fly overseas.
  2. Faeture of 5/20 norms
    • Norm is for airline based in india only
    • for overseas flight airline need to have at least five years of experience of flying within the country and
    • Airline must have atleast 20 aircraft in  its fleet
  3. In 2014, 49% FDI is allowed in aviation sector. This led to entry of new player like ethihad and Air Asia.
  4. The new entrant demanded relaxation in the norms
  5. In 2016, government brought the National Civil Aviation Policy which replaces5/20 rule with 0/20 rules.
  • It allows  airlines to launch international operations with no domestic experience.
  • To get international operations, airlines must have at least 20 aircraft (or 20% of its entire fleet size whichever is higher) for domestic operations.


Policy on Biofuels: Green Push?


1.The Cabinet approved the National policy on Biofuels earlier this month.

Important Facts:

2.The policy aims to encourage the production and use of biofuels like ethanol.

3.This policy aims to rectify supply side issues in the production of biofuel

4.Important Provisions:

  • In addition to sugarcane, the policy approves the use of sugar beet, sugar beet, corn, damaged food grain, potatoes, even municipal solid waste.
  • Around Rs 5,000 crore investment for building bio-refineries and other infrastructure.


(i) It would reduce the cost of production thus improving economic accessibility.

(ii) Farmers could gain from selling their agricultural wastes to the industries.

(iii) Sugar industries would divert the by products to alcohol industries as the prices offered by oil companies were not attractive. Now the oil companies have alternatives like agricultural waste, municipal waste etc.

(iv)Ethanol supply of around 150 crore litres in 2017-18 could save foreign exchange worth over ₹4,000 crore due to less dependence on oil import.

(v)Would reduce pollution as it incentivises farmers to sell agricultural wastes instead of burning them.

(vi)Would provide cheaper alternatives to consumers who are burdened by the rising fuel prices.


(i)lack of technology to use biofuel efficiently

(ii)Right pricing to encourage the use of alternate inputs.

(iii)Farmers could be tempted to sell their surplus food grains for ethanol production. This might result in inflation of prices of foodgrains.

(iv)The supply chain infrastructure to take the biofuels to end consumers is inadequate.


Bacteria-coated broccoli sent to space


  1. Scientist have experimented a possible way to grow vegetables in micro-gravity conditions of the space station.

Important facts:

  1. Six broccoli seeds were sent to space for the astronauts at the International Space Station.
  2. Three seeds are sent as it is and three seeds are coated with two different bacteria.
  3. These coated seeds can live inside crop plants and improve their growth in extreme low gravity environments and where nutrients or water could be lack.
  4. The initial stage of the experiment is successful as the broccoli grew healthy.
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