Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Feb 26, 2021

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State of Environment Report, 2021

What is the News?

Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) has released the State of Environment Report, 2021.

About the State of Environment Report, 2021:

  • It is an annual publication by the Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) along with Down To Earth.
  • It covers aspects such as forests, wildlife, agriculture, rural development, water and sanitation, and climate change. This publication is regarded as the most credible and complete annual survey of India’s environment.

Key Findings:

Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic:

  • Pandemic Generation: The country is all set to host a ‘pandemic generation’. 375 million children (from newborn to 14-year-olds) have a long-lasting impact ranging from being underweight, stunting, and increased child mortality.
  • Hidden Victims of Pandemic: The pandemic has its hidden victims. Out of the 500 million children forced out of school globally, India accounts for more than 50%.
  • Increase in Poverty: Covid-19 has also turned the world’s poor into poorer. 115 million additional people might get pushed into extreme poverty and most of them live in South Asia.

Industrial Pollution:

  • India’s air, water, and land have become more polluted between 2009 and 2018.
  • Tarapur in Maharashtra has emerged as the most polluted cluster.

On Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs)

  • India ranks 117 among 192 nations in terms of sustainable development. It is behind all South Asian nations except Pakistan.
  • Five best performing states in achieving SDGs: Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana
  • Five worst-performing states in achieving SDGs: Bihar, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Uttar Pradesh.

On air pollution

  • In 2019, 67 million Indians died due to air pollution. Its economic cost was over US $36,000 million, which is equivalent to 1.36 percent of India’s GDP.

On Water:

  • Since 2014-15, an average of 34% of MGNREGA funds has been spent on water-related works. It led to the creation of almost 11 million assets in half a million villages.

On biodiversity and forests

  • Environmental crime cases are increasing and disposal of the cases is slow. In 2019, 34,671 crimes were registered and 49,877 cases are pending trial. To clear the backlog in a year, courts need to dispose of 137 cases a day.
  • Forestland diversion is continuing consistently. In 2019, over 11,000 hectares were diverted in 22 states. Eight coal projects were granted clearance in ‘No-Go’ areas. These projects diverted around 19,614 ha of forestland and evicted over 10,000 families.

Source: The Hindu

Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launches “City Innovation Exchange(CiX)”

What is the News?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launches the City Innovation exchange(CiX) platform.

About City Innovation exchange(CiX) Platform:

  • The platform aims to connect cities to innovators. It will help to design innovative solutions for pressing urban challenges.
  • The platform is built on the philosophy of ‘everyone is an innovator’.
  • The Smart Cities Mission will partner and effectively collaborate with Startup India, Atal Innovation Mission, AGNIi, and other initiatives in the Indian Innovation ecosystem.
  • Currently, the platform has more than 400 start-ups, 100 smart cities, more than 150 challenges statements, and over 215 solutions.

Significance of the platform:

  • The platform brings together Citizens-Organisations -Academic Businesses-Government to co-create solutions for the future of Urban India.
  • The platform will help cities in adopting solutions that will enhance the quality of life for their residents. Moreover, it will significantly improve the Ease of Doing Business.
  • It will also be a significant addition to the growing innovation ecosystem of India as it focuses on fostering innovative practices in cities.

AGNIi – Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations

  • Nodal Agency: It is a program of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India and a Mission under the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council(PM-STIAC).
  • Purpose: It helps commercialize Indian technological innovations. It supports technology initiatives by connecting owners of innovative and new solutions with the market.
  • Implementation: It is executed at Invest India, India’s National Investment Promotion Agency.

Source: PIB

24th “India-USA Executive Steering Group (ESG) Meeting”

What is the News?

The 24th edition of the India-USA Executive Steering Group(ESG) meeting was held in New Delhi.

About India-USA Executive Steering Group (ESG):

  • What is it? India-USA Executive Steering Group(ESG) is an Army to Army engagement. This engagement takes place every year alternately in India and USA.
  • Aim: It aims to discuss Army to Army cooperation on issues of mutual interests.
  • Significance: For the first time the meeting was held both in person and through virtual mode due to restrictions of COVID-19.

Source: PIB

India and Pakistan agrees to observe “2003 Ceasefire agreement”

What is the news?

India and Pakistan have issued a joint statement to strictly observe the 2003 Ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control(LoC).

About India-Pakistan 2003 Ceasefire agreement:

  • The 2003 ceasefire was a landmark agreement between India and Pakistan.
  • The agreement came soon after both the countries had almost gone to war following the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament.
  • The 2003 ceasefire agreement resulted in 3 years of peace till 2006 on the border.
  • The ceasefire facilitated the opening of the routes between India and Pakistan. It paved the way for bus and truck services linking Kashmir regions for the first time in six decades. Moreover, it encouraged cross-LoC contacts, exchanges, travel, and trade.
  • The ceasefire also enabled India to complete the construction of a fence near the LoC. This project began a couple of decades earlier but had to suspend due to Pakistan’s artillery fire.

Source: The Hindu

INCOIS to go for bathymetric study of Andaman and Lakshadweep

What is the News?

Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services(INCOIS) will conduct a bathymetric study of Andaman and Lakshadweep. INCOIS will take the help of the National Remote Sensing Centre(NRSC) for airline mapping of the ocean floor around islands.

What is the need for this study?

  • The study is needed in view of the recent tsunamis near the Indonesian coasts. The damage was more due to High tides by underwater landslides compared to the earthquake.
  • These landslides caused sudden wave surges leading to much damage without giving sufficient time to alert people.
  • By this study, INCOIS will map the landslide vulnerable areas on the ocean floors.

Why has INCOIS planned to take help from NRSC for this study?

  • NRSC has already conducted a similar high-resolution topographic Airborne Laser Terrain Mapping (ALTM) for entire coastal areas of the country.


  • Ministry: It is an autonomous organization. It was established in 1999 under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES).
  • It is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization(ESSO).
  • Mandate: Its mandate is to provide the best possible ocean information and advisory services to society, industry, government agencies and the scientific community.
  • Location: Hyderabad, Telangana

Other studies by INCOIS:

Tide Gauges for Monitoring of Sea level:

  • INCOIS has installed tide gauges for better monitoring of the sea level and more accurate prediction of disasters like cyclones. It has already installed 36 tidal gauges in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Further, it has identified ‘gaps’ across the coast of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha for the installation of more tidal gauges.

Flux Buoy:

  • INCOIS had deployed a Flux Buoy in the Bay of Bengal in 2019.
  • The buoy was deployed into the sea to monitor the temperatures, pressures, salinity, radiation and geochemical changes at various depths.


  • It is one of the primary centres of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO),Department of Space(DOS).
  • Functions: It is responsible for remote sensing satellite data acquisition and processing, data dissemination, aerial remote sensing, and decision support for disaster management.
  • Location: Hyderabad, Telangana

Source: The Hindu

“Swachh Iconic Places”-12 sites to be transformed into ‘Swachh Tourist Destinations’

What is the News?

The Ministry of Jal Shakti has announced 12 iconic sites. Sites will be covered under Phase IV of the Swachh Iconic Places(SIP) Initiative.

Swachh Iconic Places(SIP) Initiative:

  • It is an initiative of the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), Ministry of Jal Shakti under Swachh Bharat Mission(Grameen).
  • Aim:
    • It aims to improve the sanitation and cleanliness standards at and around the sites. The initiative will ensure a distinctly higher level of Sanitation/Cleanliness at these places, especially on the peripheries and in the approach area.
  • Ministries Involved: The initiative is being coordinated by the Ministry of Jal Shakti in association with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, and the concerned State/UT governments.

Places covered under Phase IV: The 12 sites covered under Phase IV are:

  • Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
  • Kumbhalgarh Fort, Rajasthan
  • Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan
  • Ramdevra, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
  • Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, Telangana
  • Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
  • Rock Garden, Chandigarh
  • Dal Lake, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
  • Banke Bihari Temple, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
  • Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh
  • Kalighat Temple, West Bengal

Click Here to know about the Places covered under other Phases

 Source: PIB

Govt announces new social media rules to curb its misuse

What is the news?

The Government of India has released the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. It aims to regulate social media, digital news media and over-the-top (OTT) content providers.

Key Provisions of the Rules:

Social media companies and redressal: The government wants social media companies to have a mechanism to address complaints from users. It wants social media intermediaries to appoint the following officers:

  1. Chief Compliance Officer, who shall be responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act and Rules.
  2. Nodal Contact Person for 24×7 coordination with law enforcement agencies.
  3. Resident Grievance Officer: He will receive and resolve complaints from users. The officer must acknowledge the complaint within 24 hours, and resolve it within 15 days of receipt.

All these officers have to be residents of India.

Categories of Content that should not be posted: The rules lay down categories of content that the social media platform should not host. It includes content that

  • Threatens the unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states or public order
  • Causes incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or
  • Prevents investigation of any offence or is insulting any foreign States
  • Content is defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, invasive of another’s privacy,
  • Related to encouraging money laundering or gambling or is inconsistent with or contrary to the laws of India.

Removal of these contents: The rules stipulate that the platforms should remove the content within 36 hours. Duration will count from the receipt of information from a court or the appropriate government agency about the platform hosting prohibited content.

Monthly Compliance Report:

  • The platforms will need to publish a monthly compliance report. It should have the details of complaints received and action taken on the complaints.

Track Originator of Message:

  • The social media platforms need to disclose the first originator of the objectionable tweet or message if asked either by a court or a government authority.
  • This will be required in matters related to the security and sovereignty of India, public order, or with regard to rape or any other sexually explicit material.

 Self-Classification of Content:

  • The Over the Top(OTT) platforms would classify the content into five age-based categories- U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).
  • Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher.  A reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A” should be placed.

Publishing News on Digital Media:

  • Publishers of news on digital media will be required to observe norms of journalistic conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.

Penalties for Non-Compliance of Rules:

  • In case an intermediary fails to observe the rules, it will be liable for punishment under any law for the time being in force including the provisions of the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code.
  • The penal provisions vary from imprisonment for three years to a maximum of seven years, with fines starting from Rs 2 lakh.

Source: Indian Express

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – February 26, 2021


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