9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 7th, 2020

In Maharashtra, linking land records to PM Fasal Bima saves time, plugs leaks

News:Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to integrate its land records with the web portal of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana(PMFBY).


  • The integration of land records with the PMFBY has helped in saving of time and plugging leakages as the land records will be available online.
  • It also does away with the need for village revenue officer’s signature which will guard against crop insurance fraud.
  • Maharashtra is also among the top five states in the country in terms of payment of claims under the PMFBY.

About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana(PMFBY):

  • The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) was launched in 2016.
  • The scheme has replaced the two schemes namely the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme(NAIS) as well as the Modified NAIS.
  • The scheme is administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

Objectives of the scheme:

  • Providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events.
  • Stabilizing the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
  • Encouraging farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
  • Ensuring flow of credit to the agriculture sector which contributes to food security, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of the agriculture sector besides protecting farmers from production risks.

Features of the scheme:

  • The scheme envisages a uniform premium of 2% to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops and 1.5% for Rabi crops.The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops will be 5%.
  • The scheme is mandatory for farmers who have taken institutional loans from banks. It’s optional for farmers who have not taken institutional credit.
  • The scheme is open to all food and oilseeds crops and annual commercial horticultural crops for which past yield data is available and for which the requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments are conducted as part of the General Crop Estimation Survey(GCES).
  • The scheme is implemented by empanelled general insurance companies.The selection of the Implementing Agency (IA) is done by the concerned State Government through bidding.

Iran will no longer abide by nuclear deal limits

News:Iran has completely withdrawn from JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) nuclear deal.This announcement came after the US troops had killed General Qassem Soleimani.


About Iran Nuclear Deal:

  • The Iran nuclear deal also called as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed between Iran and the P5 plus Germany and the EU in 2015.
  • P5 is the five permanent members of the UNSC (US, China, France, Russia, and UK).
  • The deal restricts Iran’s nuclear programme,in return for lifting most economic sanctions against it.
  • Under the deal (a)most of Iran’s enriched uranium was shipped out of the country (b)a heavy water facility was rendered inoperable and (c)operational nuclear facilities were brought under international inspection.

What has Iran decided now?

  • Iran has been gradually rolling back its commitments under the Iran Nuclear agreement after United States had unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and renewed sanctions on Iran.
  • However,Iran has now announced to completely withdraw from the Iran Nuclear deal after U.S. targeted strike killed the country’s Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani.
  • This means that Iran will no longer observe any limits on the number of centrifuges it can install to enrich uranium or the level to which it enriches it.

Implications for India:

  • Oil Prices:India is the world’s third-biggest oil consumer.It meets more than 80% of its crude oil requirements and around 40% of its natural gas needs through imports.Hence,turmoil in the Gulf region could have an impact on the Oil Prices.
  • Diaspora:There are around 8 million Indians living and working in West Asia.The conflict would put them all in danger as it did at the start of the 1990s when the US went to war with Iraq.
  • Trade:The tensions between Iran and the US could impact India’s trade with the region that stands at $ 78 billion with the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries namely Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
  • Chabahar Port:The tensions between US-Iran could also impact the Chabahar port.

State can regulate minority institutions, says Supreme Court

News:The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act 2008 observing that there is no absolute and unqualified right of appointment for minority educational institutions.



  • The West Bengal Assembly had passed an act called West Bengal Madrasah Service Commission Act of 2008.
  • The Act mandated that the process of appointment of teachers in aided madrasahs, recognised as minority institutions would be done by a Commission whose decision would be binding.
  • The act was challenged in the apex court on the basis that the act violates Article 30 of the Constitution which deals with the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.

About the Supreme Court Judgement:

  • The Court held that the State is well within its rights to introduce a regulatory regime in the national interest to provide minority educational institutions with well-qualified teachers in order for them to achieve excellence in education.
  • The court also applied the principles laid down in the decision in TMA Pai Foundation case.It observed that the provisions of the Act are not transgressing the rights of the minority institutions.
  • Further,the court also said that the managements of minority institutions cannot ignore a legal regime by saying that it is their fundamental right under Article 30 of the Constitution to establish and administer their educational institutions according to their choice.

Additional information:

About Minority Institutions:

  • Article 30(1) recognizes the linguistic and religious minorities but not those based on race, ethnicity.It provides religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
  • A majority community can also establish and administer educational institution but they will not enjoy special rights under Article 30(1)(a).

Special Rights enjoyed by Minority institutions:

  • Under the Art 30(1)(a), a minority institution enjoy the right to education as a Fundamental Right.But,in case the property is taken over by the state,due compensation to be provided to establish institutions elsewhere.
  • In P.A. Inamdar  Vs. State of Maharashtra case,the court had said that (a)policy of reservation in admission cannot be made applicable to a minority institution and (b)policy of reservation in employment cannot be made applicable to a minority institution.
  • Further,a minority educational institution covered under Article 30(1) of the Constitution including a Madarsa is exempted from the purview of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.
  • In St Stephens’s vs. Delhi University case,1992, the SC has ruled that the minority institution can have approximately 50% of seats reserved for the minorities.
  • In TMA Pai & others vs. State of Karnataka & others 2002 case, the SC ruled that minority institution can have separate admission process which is fair, transparent and merit-based.

Royal Navy of Oman ships arrive in Goa for naval exercise Naseem Al Bahr

News:Recently,Oman ships has arrived in Goa to participate in Naseem Al Bahr the Indo-Oman bilateral naval exercise.


About Exercise Naseem Al Bahr:

  • TheExercise Naseem-Al-Bahr(sea breeze) is a naval exercise between the Indian Navy and Oman.The exercise is being conducted since 1993.
  • The exercise will have two phases namely the harbour phase in Goa followed by sea phase off the Goa coast.
  • During the harbour phase,the countries will conduct subject matter expert exchanges on professional topics.On the other hand,sea phase will have reciprocal receptions and planning conferences.

Additional information:

Other exercises between India and Oman:

  • Exercise Al-Najah:It is an army exercise conducted between the India and Oman.
  • Exercise Eastern Bridge:It is an Air Force exercise that is held between India and Oman.

NSE launches AI-powered learning platform NSE Knowledge Hub

News:Union Commerce minister has inaugurated the NSE Knowledge Hub.


About NSE Knowledge Hub:

  • The ‘NSE Knowledge Hub’ is an Artificial Intelligence(AI) powered learning ecosystem.
  • The platform has been developed by NSE Academy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Stock Exchange(NSE).
  • This platform seeks to assist the banking, financial, securities and insurance (BFSI) sector in enhancing skills for their employees.
  • It also aims to help the academic institutions in preparing future-ready talent skilled for the financial services industry.
  • The platform will also be available on mobile and will attempt to bring together world-class content and learners through this state- of-the-art and future-ready platform.

Additional information:

About Artificial intelligence:

  • Artificial intelligence is a constellation of technologies that enable machines to act with higher levels of intelligence and emulate the human capabilities of sense, comprehend and act.
  • According to a research agency Itihaasa,India ranks third in Artificial Intelligence.China stands first with on AI followed by US.
  • These rankings were provided by the agency based on research publications in the field.

About NSE:

  • The National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE) is the leading stock exchange of India,located in Mumbai.
  • The NSE was established in 1992 as the first demutualized electronic exchange in the country.

Over 1 million migratory birds to flock to Chilika this year too

News:The Chilika Development Authority(CDA) has said that it expects over 1 million migratory birds to flock to Chilika lake in 2020.


About Chilika lake:

  • Chilika lake is the Asia’s largest brackish water lake.It is located at the Daya River flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
  • The lake is also the second largest coastal lagoon in the world after the New Caledonian barrier reef in New Caledonia.
  • Chilika lake was also designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1981.
  • The lake is also home to the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian subcontinent.These birds travel great distances to reach Chilika Lake.
  • The Irrawaddy dolphin(IUCN Red List –Endangered) is the flagship species of Chilika Lake.

About Chilika  Development Authority:

  • Chilika  Development  Authority  has  been  created  under  Forest  & Environment Department of Government of Odisha in the year 1991.
  • It was formed with an objective for the conservation of ecology of Chilika lagoon and to bring an all-round development in and around the lagoon which calls for multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary development activities.

Marble domes of Aurangabad’s Bibi Ka Maqbara to get new glow

News:The Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) will undertake scientific conservation of Bibi Ka Maqbara located in Aurangabad,Maharashtra.


About Bibi Ka Maqbara:

  • Bibi ka Maqbara is a famous 17th century Mughal-era monument in the city of Aurangabad,Maharashtra.
  • The maqbara was commissioned in 1660 by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the memory of his first and chief wife Dilras Banu Begum.
  • The structure is known as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’ because of its striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal.
  • The domes, minarets and the marble screens inside the Maqbara are built in marble.
  • The Maqbara has four gardens based on Charbagh design like most of the Mughal gardens.It is divided into four equal parts with the main mausoleum at the centre.

Additional information:

About Archaeological Survey of India(ASI):

  • Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) is the premier organization for the archaeological research, scientific analysis, excavation of archaeological sites, conservation and preservation of protected monuments.
  • It is an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Culture.
  • It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who was the first Director-General of ASI.

Al-Shabaab attacks US-Kenya military base in Lamu Region

News:Recently, Al-Shabaab has attacked a military base used by the United States of America(USA) and Kenyan forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region.


About Lamu Region:

  • Lamu Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.It is situated in the Indian Ocean in the East of Kenya.
  • Lamu was a trading post for the sultanate of Oman and was once one of the most important locations in East Africa for the slave, ivory and gold trades.
  • Currently,it is one of the longest established and best preserved remaining settlements of the Swahili tradition.The name Swahili is derived from Arabic word which means coasts.
  • The region is built on coral stone and mangrove timber and is characterized by structural forms such as inner courtyards, verandas and elaborately carved wooden doors.

About Al-Shabab:

  • Al-Shabab means The Youth in Arabic.It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts.
  • It advocates the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam while most Somalis are Sufis.
  • It has imposed a strict version of Sharia in areas under its control, including stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves.

Pune to host fifth edition of global Drosophila conference

News:The fifth edition of the Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference (APDRC5) is being held at Pune,Maharashtra.


About the Conference:

  • The Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference is a biennial conference.
  • It is being organised in India for the first time by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research(IISER).
  • The conference aims to promote the interaction of Drosophila researchers in the Asia-Pacific region with their peers in the rest of the world.
  • It brings together scientists from all over the world who use the fruit fly, Drosophila, as a model organism to address basic and applied questions.

About Drosophila:

  • Drosophila are commonly known as fruit flies.
  • It is derived from the Greek word drósos which means dew loving.
  • They belong to the Droso–philidae family.
  • The main distinguishing character of Drosophila is that they stay on fruits which are rotten.
  • Drosophila is also one of the most widely-used and preferred model organisms in biological research across the world for the last 100 years.

Additional information:

About IISER:

  • Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research(IISERs) are a group of premier public research institutions in India.
  • They were established on the recommendation of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister who recommended the creation of new institutions devoted to science research and education.
  • Six such Institutes have been established in Bhopal, Kolkata, Mohali, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram and Tirupati.

Mizoram govt to organise Zo Kutpui to unify Mizo tribes

News:The Mizoram government is organising Zo Kutpui (festival) in at least 10 states across India and countries such as US, Myanmar and Bangladesh.


About Zo Kutpui Festival:

  • The Zo Kutpui festival aims to unify and strengthen the brotherhood among various Mizo tribes living in different parts of the world.
  • The first edition of the festival will start in Tripura and then move to other states which have significant Mizo population.
  • The festival will witness various cultural programmes by different Mizo tribes.

Additional information:

About Mizo Tribe:

  • The Mizos are tribal people that are spread between Myanmar in the east to Bangladesh in the west.In India,the Mizo population is mainly found in Manipur,Tripura and Mizoram.
  • There are 12 major Mizo clans identified.It includes Lusei people, Lushai hills people, Chin people, Pawi-Lusei, Tlau, Khiangte, Hualngo among others.

A case for including Tulu in the Eighth Schedule

News:Recently,activists have demanded to include Tulu in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.


About Tulu Language:

  • Tulu is a Dravidian language whose speakers are concentrated in two coastal districts of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala.
  • Kasaragod district is called as the ‘Sapta bhasha Samgama Bhumi (the confluence of seven languages)’ and Tulu is one among the seven.

Why Should Tulu be included in Eight Schedule?

  • According to 2011 Census,there are around 18 lakh native speakers of Tulu in India.This is more in number than speakers of Manipuri and Sanskrit which have the Eighth Schedule status.
  • Article 29 of the Constitution provides that a section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same
  • Robert Caldwell (1814-1891), in his book, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages has called Tulu as one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family.
  • Yuelu Proclamation which was adopted by UNESCO at Changsha,The People’s Republic of China in 2018 provides for the protection and promotion of linguistic diversity.

Advantages of including Tulu in the Eighth Schedule:

  • If included in the Eighth Schedule, Tulu would get recognition from the Sahitya Akademi.
  • Tulu books would be translated into other recognised Indian languages.
  • Members of Parliament and MLAs could speak Tulu in Parliament and State Assemblies, respectively.
  • Candidates could write all-India competitive examinations like the Civil Services exam in Tulu.

Additional information:

About Eighth Schedule:

  • The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India lists the official languages of the Republic of India.
  • It consists of the following 22 languages:-(1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7) Konkani, (8) Malayalam, (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali, (12) Oriya, (13) Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit, (15) Sindhi, (16) Tamil, (17) Telugu, (18) Urdu (19) Bodo, (20) Santhali, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri.
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