Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims | Mar 9, 2021

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“Index of Economic Freedom” 2021 released

What is the News?

The Heritage Foundation releases The Index of Economic Freedom 2021.

Key Findings of  Index of Economic Freedom 2021

  • India ranked 121st in the index with a score of 56.5 points under the category of ‘mostly unfree’.
  • In Asia-Pacific, India ranked 26th among the 40 countries.

Other Key Findings

  • Singapore tops the index followed by New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, and Ireland.
  • Hong Kong was left out of the 2021 index calculation for the first time. It is because of China’s increasing control over the city’s economic policies. Hong Kong topped the index for 25 out of 26 years except for 2020.

About Index of Economic Freedom

  • It is an annual index.  This index created in 1995 by think-tank The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.
  • Purpose: It measures the degree of economic freedom in countries across the world.
  • Coverage: The Index covered economic freedoms in 184 countries.

Parameters: The index measures 12 indicators grouped into four broad categories of economic freedom:

  • Rule of Law (property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness)
  • Government Size (government spending, tax burden, fiscal health)
  • Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom)
  • Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).

Each of these twelve economic freedoms within these categories is graded on a scale of 0 to 100. Score 0 is the least economic freedom and score 100 is the highest economic freedom.

Source: Business Standard

Functions of “NSIL | New Space India Limited”

What is the news?

The government clarified the mandate of the New Space India Limited(NSIL) to the Rajya Sabha. It was in response to a query by the Standing Committee on Science and Technology on whether NSIL would replace ISRO.

What will be the role of ISRO?

  • ISRO would be in charge of projects linked to “national security and advanced technology” — like the forthcoming Chandrayaan 2 mission and the Gaganyaan mission that plans to send Indian cosmonauts into space.
  • However, the bulk of commercial activities would increasingly be handled by New Space India Limited (NSIL).

About New Space India Limited(NSIL):

NSIL was established in 2019. It is a completely Govt. owned  Undertaking / CPSE. It is under the administrative control of the Department of Space (DOS).

  • Objective: To commercially exploit the research and development work of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • Mandate:
    • Owning satellites for Earth Observation and Communication applications and providing space-based services
    • Building satellites and launching them as per demand
    • Providing Launch Services for satellite belonging to the customer
    • Building launch vehicles through Indian Industry and launch as per satellite customer requirement
    • Space based Services related to Earth Observation and Communication satellites on a commercial basis
    • Satellite building through Indian Industry
    • Technology Transfer to Indian Industry

Source: The Hindu

PM to inaugurate ‘Maitri Setu’ Bridge

What is the News?

The Prime Minister will inaugurate the ‘Maitri Setu’ bridge between India and Bangladesh.

About Maitri Setu:

  • Constructed by: National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.
  • Maitri Setu is a bridge between India and Bangladesh. It is a 1.9 km long bridge over the Feni River. This bridge will connect Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
  • The name ‘Maitri Setu’ symbolizes growing bilateral relations and friendly ties between India and Bangladesh.
  • Significance: With the inauguration of this bridge, Tripura will become the ‘Gateway of North East’. It will have access to Chittagong Port of Bangladesh which is just 80 km from the Sabroom.

About Feni River:

  • Feni River is a river in southeastern Bangladesh. It is a trans-boundary river with an ongoing dispute about water rights.
  • Origin: The Feni River originates in South Tripura district and flows through Sabroom town and then enters Bangladesh.

Source: TOI

Tap Water Shortage in Schools despite “100-day special campaign”

What is the News?

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources provided information that only half of the government schools and anganwadis have a tap water supply. It is despite a 100-day special campaign by the Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Centre’s 100-day Special Campaign:

  • Launched by: On 2nd October 2020, the Ministry of Jal Shakti had launched the 100-day Special Campaign.
  • Aim: It aims to provide a 100% potable piped water supply for drinking and cooking purposes. And tap water for washing hands and in toilets in every school, Anganwadi and ashram shala, or residential tribal school.
  • Why was the campaign launched? The campaign was launched as children are more susceptible to water-borne diseases. Moreover, there is also a need for repeated washing of hands as a precautionary measure during the pandemic.
  • Duration: The campaign was to end on January 10, 2021. However, it has been extended till March 31, 2021, as some States/ UTs have asked for more time to complete the task.

What has been achieved so far?

  • Seven States — Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Punjab have achieved 100% coverage.
  • Around 1.82 lakh greywater management structures and 1.42 lakh rainwater harvesting structures were also constructed in schools and anganwadi centres.

What more needs to be done?

  • Tap water supply in schools and Anganwadis: Only half of the government schools(53.3%) and anganwadis(48.5%) have a tap water supply.
  • Tap Water Supply in States: Tap water supply is only available in less than 8% of schools in Uttar Pradesh, 11% in West Bengal, and 2-6% of anganwadis in Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Bengal.

Source: The Hindu

El Salvador becomes “Malaria-free Country”

What is the news?

El Salvador becomes the first Malaria-free country in Central America and the third in America.  It received a Malaria-free certificate from the World Health Organization (WHO).

About Malaria:

  • Malaria is a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasites. It is transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • Types: There are five kinds of malarial parasites — Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax (the commonest ones), Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium knowlesi.

How Malaria Free Country Status is granted?

Certification of malaria elimination is the official recognition of Malaria free status by WHO. It depends upon the following conditions:

  • When it is proved that the local transmission chain of the disease is disrupted nationwide for at least three consecutive years.
  • After that, A fully functional surveillance and response system to prevent re-establishment transmission shall be in place.

In the last decade, 9 countries across the world were declared malaria-free by WHO. The countries are Algeria; Argentina; Morocco; Turkmenistan; Armenia; Maldives; Sri Lanka; Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Malaria Cases:

  • Average Malaria Cases Every Year: Over 200 million cases of malaria are reported across the world every year. More than 400,000 people die of this disease.
  • Malaria cases in 2019: In 2019, 229 million cases of malaria and over 4 lakh deaths from the were recorded across the world. An astounding 94% of these cases and deaths were in African Region.
  • India: In India, malaria infections fell by 14.4 million between 2000 and 2019, the largest reduction in South-East Asia. However, in 2019, the country accounted for about 86% of all malaria deaths in the region.


  • E-2020 Initiative: It was launched by WHO. Under this initiative, WHO is working with 21 countries to scale up efforts to achieve elimination within the next few years. The countries were identified by WHO in 2016 as having the potential to become malaria-free by 2020.
  • Malaria Elimination Research Alliance-India (MERA-India): It was launched by the Indian Council of Medical Research(ICMR). It is a conglomeration of partners working on malaria control. The aim is to harness and reinforce research in a coordinated way in order to achieve a tangible impact on malaria elimination.
  • High Burden to High Impact (HBHI): It was launched by WHO in 11 high malaria burden countries including India. The initiative has four key response elements: (i) Political will to reduce malaria deaths (ii) Strategic information to drive impact (iii) Better guidance, policies, and strategies, and (iv) A coordinated national malaria response.
    • In India, the Implementation of the HBHI initiative started in four states i.e. West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh in July 2019.

Source: Down To Earth

What are “Sattras”? 

What is the news?

In Assam, the campaigns of political parties often include going to different Sattras to seek blessings or to glorify the teachings of Sankardeva.

What are Sattras?

  • Sattras are monastic institutions in Assam. They were created as part of the 16th century Neo-Vaishnavite reformist movement. Movements started by the Vaishnavite saint-reformer Srimanta Sankaradeva(1449-1596).
  • Why were they established? They were established to spread the Sankardeva’s unique “worship through art” approach. They are doing it presently with music (borgeet), dance (sattriya), and theatre (bhauna).
  • Features:
    • Each Satra has a naamghar (worship hall) as its nucleus and is headed by an influential “Satradhikar”.
    • Monks known as bhakats are inducted into Sattras at a young age. They may or may not be celibate depending on the kind of Sattra they are inducted into.
  • Satras in Assam: There are about 900 Sattras across Assam, but the main centers are Bordowa (Nagaon), Majuli and Barpeta. These institutions are of paramount importance and lie at the heart of Assamese culture.

What is Sankardeva’s philosophy?

  • Srimanta Sankardev (1449–1568) was a 15th–16th century Assamese saint, scholar, poet, and social-religious reformer.
  • He propagated a form of Bhakti philosophy called Eka Sarana naam Dharma. The philosophy had an influence on two medieval kingdoms—Koch and the Ahom kingdoms.Key Features of the Philosophy:
    • Components: The four important components of the philosophy were deva (god), naam (prayers), bhakats (devotees), and guru (teacher).
    • Society: The philosophy espoused a society based on equality and fraternity, free from caste differences, orthodox Brahmanical rituals, and sacrifices.
    • Teachings: The teachings of the philosophy rejected idol worship and focused on devotion (bhakti) to Krishna. Devotion would be in the form of congregational listening and singing his name and deeds (Kirtan) and (sravan).

Source: Indian Express

Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Environment Ministry

What is the news?

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment, Forests and Climate Change chaired by a Rajya Sabha member has tabled its report. The report demands more grants to the Environment ministry.

What were the key highlights of the report?

On Budget allocation for Environment Ministry:

  • In Budget 2020-21, Government has reduced the revised budgetary estimates for the Environment Ministry by 35% due to adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has resulted in the non-release of funds for the proposed schemes.
  • Moreover, the budget estimates for the Environment Ministry are the lowest in the last three years. The ministry requires additional funds of Rs 900 crore to carry out its programs.

On Measures needed to Control Air Pollution:

  • Central Mechanism: The control of pollution projects is carried out by different agencies at the Centre and by state governments. Hence, a central mechanism should be set up to monitor all central and state agencies.
  • Capacity Building exercises should be undertaken at the municipal level to ensure proper implementation of the National Clean Air Programme(NCAP).
  • The government should allocate grants based on the recommendation of the 15th Finance Commission. It recommended for the installations of air quality monitoring systems in smaller cities and towns.
  • Invest in Infrastructure: Government should invest in setting up infrastructure for pollution abatement measures. It includes installing superchargers for electric vehicles, establishing effective microorganism bio-digester units for waste treatment and biogas production in urban areas.

Other Key Findings and suggestions:

  • Man Animal Conflict: Ministry of Environment should take measures to minimise man-animal conflicts.
  • Low Expenditure on Conservation and Development: The committee has expressed concern over low expenditure on R&D in Conservation and Development. The ministry has spent 16.3%, 35.8%, and 23.5% of its allocated amount in the last three years.

Source: Indian Express


9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – March 9, 2021

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