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UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 22-July-2020

Topic Covered :

  1. Govt plans to reduce number of PSU banks to just five: Report

  2. HOG Technology

  3. Soil health is degraded in most regions of India

  4. Manodarpan

  5. Government Advertisement and CCRGA

  6. P-8I Crafts

  7. Key Accomplishments and Action Plan of Sustainable Growth Pillar under India–US Strategic Energy Partnership

  8. US House of Representatives passes amendment slamming Chinese aggression against India



Why in news?

  • India is looking to privatise more than half of its state-owned banks to reduce the number of government-owned lenders to just five as part of an overhaul of the banking industry, government and banking sources said.


  • The first part of the plan would be to sell majority stakes in Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, UCO Bank, Bank of Maharashtra and Punjab & Sind Bank, leading to an effective privatisation of these state-owned lenders, a government official said.

  • "The idea is to have 4-5 government owned banks," said one senior government official. At present, India has 12 state-owned banks.

  • The government official said that such a plan would be laid out in a new privatisation proposal the government is currently formulating, and this would be put before the cabinet for approval.

  • The government is working on a privatisation plan to help to raise money by selling assets in non-core companies and sectors when the country is strapped for funds due to lack of economic growth caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Several government committees and the Reserve Bank of India have recommended that India should have not more than five state-owned banks.

  • The government has already said that there will be no more mergers (between state-owned banks) so the only option for them is to divest stakes

  • Last year, the government had merged ten state-owned banks into four, creating a handful of larger banks in the process.

Source : Livemint ( )



Why in new?

  • Indian Railways' NFR zone to operate two of its trains with HOG technology, will save on energy bill


  • The new technology HOG will be available at  ₹6 per unit as compared to end EOG system, in which cost of power is  ₹22 per unit.

  • The new technology will not only help to reduce the power costs for running trains but will also help provide a cleaner environment for our future generations to come.

  • The diesel fuel saving in these two trains on this account is expected to be around 1132 Kilo Litre per annum, thereby saving diesel fuel cost of approx. Rs. 7.16 crore per annum.

  • The system runs the train’s ‘hotel load’ (the load of air conditioning, lights, fans, and pantry, etc.) by drawing electricity from the overhead electric lines through the pantograph.

  • Indian Ministry of Railways has decided to adopt Head on Generation (HOG) technology on all Linke Hofmann Busch (LHB) coaches trains to reduce power costs.

  • Another advantage of the HOG system is zero emissions of CO2 and NOx.

Source : Livemint ( )



Why in news?

  • Extractive farm practices such as higher use of chemicals and burning of crop residues are degrading Indian soil and jeopardizing the health of its citizens, says Rattan Lal, soil scientist, and winner of the 2020 World Food Prize. 


  • According to Lal, who is currently the director of Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University, India needs to formulate a national soil protection policy and pay farmers for ecosystem services.

  • Practices that farmers need to follow to restore soil health :

  • Do’s : The dos are residue mulching, no-till farming, growing a cover crop or forage, managed grazing, using compost and bio-fertilizers , drip sub-fertigation, agro-forestry, integration of crops with trees and livestock, recycling of all bio-waste on land, and observing the Law of Return, that is, replace everything one way or another what is removed from land.

  • Don’ts : The don'ts are no burning of residues, no removal of top soil for brick making, no flood irrigation, no excessive or imbalanced use of chemicals, no puddling and flooding of rice fields.

  • Farmers must be compensated through payments for ecosystem services, which could be around  ₹1200 per acre per year. We must also have a national soil protection policy.

  • There must be Rights-of-Soil or Rights-of-Nature.

Source : Livemint ( )



Why in news?

  • Union HRD Minister to launch Manodarpan, an initiative under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, to provide psychosocial support to students for their Mental Health and Well-being


  • During the COVID pandemic, the HRD Ministry felt the need to focus on continuing education on the academic front and the mental well-being of the students.

  • The Ministry has, therefore, taken up an initiative, named, ‘MANODARPAN’ covering a wide range of activities to provide Psychosocial Support to students for their Mental Health & Well-being during the COVID outbreak and beyond.

  • The ‘Manodarpan’ initiative has been included in the ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT ABHIYAN, as a part of strengthening human capital and increasing productivity and efficient reform and initiatives for the Education sector.

Source : PIB ( )



Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court mandated Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) has today issued a notice to Government of NCT of Delhi on an advertisement of the Delhi Government which had appeared in newspapers on the 16th July, 2020.  


  • The Committee had taken suo-moto cognizance of the points raised in the social media on the Delhi Government advertisement - questions had been raised on  the necessity of Delhi Government to issue  advertisements in Mumbai newspapers and had pointed that the purpose of the ad was only for political messaging.

  • Under the Supreme Court guidelines dated 13th May, 2015 -  “the content of government advertisements should be relevant to the governments’ constitutional and legal obligations as well as the citizens’ rights and entitlements”.

  • As per the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court on 13th May, 2015, the Government of India on 6th April, 2016 had set up a Three Member Body consisting of “persons with unimpeachable neutrality and impartiality and who have excelled in their respective fields” to look into Content Regulation of Government funded advertisements in all media platforms. 

  • The Committee is empowered to address complaints from the general public on violation of the Supreme Court guidelines and make suitable recommendations. 

  • The Committee can also take suo-moto cognizance of any violation/ deviation of the Supreme  Court guidelines and recommend corrective actions.

Source : PIB ( )



Why in news?

  • India’s long-range anti-submarine, reconnaissance, surveillance and electronic jamming capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region are going to get a further boost with the induction of four more P-8I multi-mission aircraft from the US next year. 


  • The Indian Navy variant of the P-8A Poseidon - P-8I where I stands for India - is essentially designed for maritime patrol.

  • Integrated with the Harpoon Block II air launched missiles and lightweight torpedoes, the reconnaissance craft - it can carry 129 sonobuoys to locate subs - turns into a deadly submarine killer that can also launch anti-ship missiles.

  • The aircraft is designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

  • The military had relied on the reconnaissance aircraft for surveillance during the ongoing Ladakh standoff with China as well as the 2017 Doklam standoff.

  • India also inched closer to formalising the anti-China QUAD - Quadrilateral Security Dialogue - strategic grouping. The United States, Japan and Australia are the other members.

Source : Hindustan Times ( )

Key Accomplishments and Action Plan of Sustainable Growth Pillar under India–US Strategic Energy Partnership

Why in news?

  • India and the US have a long-standing energy collaboration. In June 2017, Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump reinforced the strategic importance of bilateral energy cooperation, through the announcement of a new US–India Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP). 


  1. The first ministerial meeting was held in April 2018.

  2. The India–US Strategic Energy Partnership has four pillars:

  3. Oil and Gas,

  4. Power and Energy Efficiency,

  5. Renewable and

  6. Sustainable Growth.

  7. The Sustainable Growth pillar is being co-chaired by NITI Aayog and USAID.

  8. Progress:

  9. Energy data management: An India Energy Dashboard, which was launched in 2015, has been revamped with the provisioning of data input online and through API integration. To enrich the exercise, NITI Aayog created eight sub-groups on energy demand and supply sectors. India and US agencies will cooperate to build a robust energy dashboard.

  10. Energy modelling:

  11. Two exercises carried out on energy-water nexus and decarburization of transportation sector have highlighted key issues and provided policy advice.

  12. NITI Aayog and USAID jointly launched India Energy Modeling Forum on 2 July 2020.

  13. The forum will engage US and Indian researchers, knowledge partners, think tanks, both national and international, and government agencies and departments for modeling and long-term energy planning exercise.

  14. Low carbon technologies: Both sides agreed to engage through concerned Government, related agencies, and private players for the promotion of low carbon technologies in India.

Source : PIB ( )


Why in news?

  • The US House of Representatives has unanimously passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), slamming China's aggression against India in the Galwan Valley and its growing territorial assertiveness in and around disputed areas like the South China Sea. 


  • The NDAA amendment said that India and China should work towards de-escalating the situation along the Line of Actual Control. 

  • The troops of India and China are locked in a standoff in several areas along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh since May 5. 

  • Passed unanimously by the House of Representatives along with scores of other amendments, it said that the expansion and aggression of the People's Republic of China in and around disputed territories, such as the Line of Actual Control, the South China Sea, the Senkaku Islands, is of significant concern. 

  •  China has used the distraction of the coronavirus to attempt to seize territory belonging to India, as well as to press its territorial claims in the South China Sea, it said. 

Source : TOI ( )

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