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Daily Current Affairs : 3-Jan-2020

Major Topics Covered :













Part of GS-3Economy

Why in news?

  • The Cabinet recently approved trimming of the Railway Board, the powerful body that governs the Indian Railways. From nine, the Board will now have only five Members.


  • The Cabinet also decided to merge all central service cadres of Railways officers into a single Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS).

  • Now, any eligible officer could occupy any post, including Board Member posts, irrespective of training and specialisation, since they will all belong to IRMS.

  • The five members of the Board, other than a Chairman-cum-CEO, will now be the Members Infrastructure, Finance, Rolling Stock, Track, and Operations and Business Development.

  • The Board will also have independent Members, who will be industry experts with at least 30 years of experience, but in non-executive roles, only attending Board meetings.

  • The move has led to protests from serving civil servants, prompting the Railway Board to reach out to them to allay their concerns.

What is the present system like?

  • The Indian Railways is governed by a pool of officers, among whom engineers are recruited after the Indian Engineering Service Examination, and civil servants through the Civil Services Examination.

  • The civil servants are in the Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS), Indian Railway Accounts Service (IRAS) and Indian Railway Personnel Service (IRPS).

  • The engineers are in five technical service cadres — Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE), Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME), Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE), Indian Railway Service of Signal Engineers (IRSSE) and the Indian Railway Stores Service (IRSS).

  • Until the 1950s, the Railways system was run by officers from just three main streams: Traffic, Civil Engineering, and Mechanical.

  • The other streams emerged as separate services over time.

Why was the reform needed?

  • The government wants to end inter-departmental rivalries, which it says have been hindering growth for decades.

  • Several committees including the Bibek Debroy committee in 2015 have noted that “departmentalism” is a major problem in the system.

  • Most committees have said merger of the services in some form would be a solution.

Source: Indian express



Part of GS-1 Geography

Why in news?

  • The IMD says India has just finished a satisfactory northeast monsoon. The northeast, or winter, monsoon has ended on a high, with an overall surplus rainfall being recorded for the season.


  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) recognises October to December as the time for the northeast monsoon.

  • The year that just went by witnessed the rare meteorological coincidence of the northeast (winter) monsoon making its onset on the same day as the southwest monsoon withdrew officially. The two events rarely happen simultaneously.

  • The northeast monsoon does not have anything to do with India’s Northeast, even though a part of the system does originate from the area above it.

  • Rather, it derives its name from the direction in which it travels — from the northeast to the southwest.

  • The northeast monsoon brings rain to just five of the 36 meteorological divisions in the country — Tamil Nadu (which includes Puducherry), Kerala, Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and South Interior Karnataka.

  • This season contributes only 11 per cent to India’s annual rainfall of 1,187 mm, compared to about 75 per cent in the summer monsoon season (the remaining rain comes in other non-monsoon months).

Source : Indian Express



Part of GS-1History

Why in news?

  • West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar drew widespread condemnation over his tweet referring to a table, apparently used by Lord Curzon to sign papers pertaining to the Partition of Bengal in 1905, as “iconic”.


  • Lord Curzon, India’s Viceroy between 1899 and 1905, was one of the most controversial and consequential holders of that post.

  • Born in 1859 into British nobility, Curzon was educated at the elite Eton College school and attended Oxford.

  • In 1891, he became Under-Secretary of State for India (the deputy minister in the British cabinet responsible for India).

  • He became the youngest Viceroy of India in 1899 at age 39, and remained in office until his resignation in 1905.

  • The partition of the undivided Bengal Presidency in 1905 was one of Curzon’s most criticised moves, which triggered widespread opposition not only in Bengal but across India, and gave impetus to the freedom movement.

  • Curzon, in 1901, had famously said, “As long as we rule India we are the greatest power in the world. If we lose it, we shall drop straightaway to a third-rate power.”

Source : Indian Express



Part of GS-3Economy

Why in news?

  • Indian Railway announces one integrated Helpline number “139” for any help, enquiry and grievances redressal during travel


  • To overcome the inconvenience over multiple helpline numbers for grievances and enquiry during railway travel, Indian Railway has integrated railway helplines into single number 139 for the passengers for quick grievance redressal and enquiry during their journey.

  • As the new helpline number 139 will take over all the existing helpline numbers (except 182), it will be easy for the passengers to remember this number and connect with Railways for all their needs during the travel.

Following Railway grievances helplines are being discontinued:

  • 138 (for general complaints)

  • 1072 (for accidents and safety)

  • 9717630982 (for SMS complaints)

  • 58888 / 138 (for clean my coach)

  • 152210 (for vigilance)

  • 1800111321 (for catering services)

  • The Helpline 139 will be available in twelve languages. It will be based on IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System). There is no need of a smart phone to call on 139, thus, providing easy access to all mobile users.

Menu of 139 Helpline (IVRS) is as under:

  • For security & medical assistance, passenger has to press 1, which connects immediately to a call center executive

  • For enquiry, passenger has to press 2 and in the sub menu, information regarding pnr status, arrival/departure of the train, accommodation, fare enquiry, ticket booking, system ticket cancellation, wake up alarm facility/destination alert, wheel chair booking, meal booking can be obtained.

  • For catering complaints, passenger has to press 3

  • For general complaints, passenger has to press 4

  • For vigilance related complaints, passenger has to press 5

  • For queries during accident, passenger has to press 6

  • For status of complaints, passenger has to press 9

Source: PIB



Part of GS-Award

Why in news?

  • Celebrity chef Marc Veyrat who in September 2019 sued the Michelin Guide after it stripped his restaurant, La Maison des Bois in Manigod, France, of one of its Michelin stars, has lost the lawsuit.


  • A court in France on Tuesday (December 31) ruled that there was no proof that any material damage was suffered on account of the Michelin star downgrade. The restaurant previously had three Michelin stars.

  • Through the lawsuit, Veyrat wanted the restaurant guide to provide the reasons for stripping the restaurant of its third star.

  • He also demanded $1 in symbolic damages for the depression that followed the verdict.

  • Michelin’s lawyers denounced Veyrat as a “narcissistic diva”, and the lawsuit as an abuse of the legal system. They argued the case was about freedom of opinion and criticism, and demanded 30,000 euros in compensation.

  • The court ordered Veyrat to pay costs to Michelin.

  • In order for a restaurant to be reviewed by the Michelin Guide, it has to be located in a territory or country for which a Michelin Guide already exists. In Asia, Michelin Guides exist for Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, and Seoul. There is no Michelin Guide for India yet.

Source: Indian Express



Part of GS-Education

Why in news?

  • Pariksha pe Charcha, the programme in which Prime Minister interacts with the cross section of Students and Teachers from India and abroad to beat exam stress has been rescheduled to 20th January this year.


  • The programme was earlier scheduled for 16th of January.

  • It has been rescheduled in view of festivals of Pongal, Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Onam across the country.

  • Human Resource Development Ministry said, a lot of excitement and enthusiasm is being seen among the students, teachers and parents to not only participate in the unique event but also to receive valuable tips from the Prime Minister.

Source: AIR



Part of GS-3Environment

Why in news?

  • The Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden and Aaranyak has jointly attained a landmark achievement by successfully hatching a pair of Greater Adjutant chicks in an artificial platform within the zoo enclosure, in the first ever experiment of its kind.


  • This rarest of storks, the Hargila is currently on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss stemming from indiscriminate felling of big trees and dwindling wetlands. Biologist Dr. Purnima Devi Barman, who leads the Greater Adjutant Conservation Project of Aaranyak informed, “In 2017, Aaranyak started collaborating with Assam State Zoo with a new idea of creating assisted breeding platforms for the captive Greater Adjutant Storks. The birds nested since 2017 but had failed to hatch so far.

  • The Endangered Greater Adjutant stork (Leptoptilosdubius) is one of the rarest species of Storks out of twenty species of Storks in the world.

  • In India, eight species of residential storks are found, out of which Greater Adjutant is one of them. Once abundantly distributed in Southeast Asia, this stork is now restricted to a few isolated pockets in Assam and Bihar in India and PrekToal in Cambodia.

  • This colonial birds breeds in traditional nesting colonies within thickly populated villages in Assam and breeds in tall trees species including Anthocephaluscadamba(Kadam), Artocarpusleukochuwa (Dewa), Pithecellobiummonadephum, BombaxCeiba (Simul), Tamarindusindica (Teteli), Trewianudifera (Bhelkol), Gmelinaarborea (Gomari).

  • Habitat loss, poaching and poisoning are the major threats to the species.

  • Cutting down of nesting trees by the tree owners and infrastructural construction has resulted into a breeding failure of the species and many historical breeding colonies have gone missing in its historical distribution range.

  • Cathy King ,a long legged water bird specialist and chair of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and Ciconiifomes and Phoenicoptericormes Taxon Advisor Group through a what app message congratulated the team and said “Although Greater Adjutant storks have been kept in zoos throughout the world, they have not successfully bred until now. The captive breeding of this species at Guwahati Zoo is a great contribution to the conservation of this endangered species. This breeding could only occur if the birds have a suitable environment and good care”.

  • Dr. Barman informed how two bamboo platforms of ten feet were constructed within the enclosure. The platform made for the nest was one meter in breadth echoing the natural size of Hargila nests.

  • Nesting materials used by these birds in natural ecosystem were closely studied from available literature and direct observation which were collected inside the zoo.

  • The nesting material was supplied on the onset of breeding season during August. Once the birds started gathering nesting materials in September, fresh nesting materials were supplied every week initially and later on every alternate day.

  • Food supply was increased by four times by weight consulting with experts on Ciconidae group.

  • Since the birds were not in the wild, much care was needed for egg nesting material collection, foods supplies etc.

Source: AIR



Part of GS- Environment

Why in news?

  • According to data from the Ministry of Environment, for the first time in the past three years, the number of tiger deaths in a year in the country has been less than 100.


  • There were 84 cases of tiger deaths in the country and 11 cases of seizures (in which a tiger is presumed dead on the basis of body parts seized by authorities).

  • Both put together, the number of tiger deaths in 2019 was 95.

  • The last tiger census report, released in July 2019, had placed the number of tigers in India at 2,967, up by a third when compared with the numbers reported in 2014.

  • Madhya Pradesh, which has the highest number of tigers in the country (526, as per the last census), recorded the most number of cases (31) of tiger deaths. This was followed by Maharashtra, which reported 18 deaths.

  • The data for 2019 on tiger mortality also confirmed 22 cases of poaching and one case of tiger poisoning across the country.

  • In 2018, the number of tiger deaths recorded was 100.

  • The number was 115 in 2017, and 122 in 2016.

Source : The Hindu



Part of GS-3Science & Tech

Why in news?

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the '107th Indian Science Congress', which is being held from January 3 to 7, 2020.


  • It is a premier scientific organisation of India having a membership of more than 30,000 scientists.

  • Headquarters: Kolkata, West Bengal.

  • The association started in the year 1914 at the initiative of two British chemists, namely, Professor J. L. Simonsen and Professor P. S. MacMahon.

  • It meets annually, generally in the first week of January.

The Association was formed with the following objectives –

  • To advance and promote the cause of science in India.

  • To hold an annual congress at a suitable place in India.

  • To publish such proceedings, journals, transactions and other publications as may be considered desirable.

  • To secure and manage funds and endowments for the promotion of Science.

  • 107th session of ISC:

  • The Theme of ISC: ‘Science & Technology: Rural Development’.

  • University of Agricultural Sciences (UASB), GKVK Campus, Bangalore, Karnataka.

  • A Farmers Science Congress is being held for the first time in the history of Indian Science Congress.

  • It will be attended by agricultural experts and farmers whose innovative approaches have led to

  • Vigyan Sancharak Sammelan (Science Communicators Meet) is an initiative for Science communicators' for professional growth.

  • The Women’s Science Congress aims to provide single platform for women working in different arena of science and technology to showcase their achievements and experiences.

  • Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelan (Children’s Science Congress) will be held to provide a unique opportunity for children to view selected projects and interact with eminent scientists and Nobel Laureates.

  • Pride Of India ISC Expo is a Mega Science Exhibition which is a unique platform for organizations from government, private and public sector to showcase their achievements in the field of science and technology.

Source : Business Standard



Part of GS- Awards

Why in news?

  • Swarna Jayanti Fellowships for 2018-19 have been awarded to 14 Scientists associated with projects containing innovative research idea and with potential of making impact on R&D in the respective disciplines.


  • The Swarna Jayanti Fellowships scheme was instituted by Government of India to commemorate India's fiftieth year of independence.

  • The awardees are supported by Department of Science & Technology, for fellowship and research.

  • This will cover all the requirements for performing the research and include a fellowship of Rs 25,000/- per month as well as a research grant of 5 lakh Rupees for 5 years in addition to their salary.

Source : The Hindu


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