The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, “countries of particular concern” (CPC) in its 2020 report
- The report, released in Washington by the federal government commission that functions as an advisory body, placed India alongside countries, including China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. India was categorised as a “Tier 2 country” in last year’s listing.
- This is the first time since 2004 that India has been placed in this category.
- According to the report, India took a sharp downward turn in 2019, which included specific concerns about the Citizenship Amendment Act, the proposed National Register for Citizens, anti-conversion laws and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Government of India reacted sharply to the USCIRF report on Tuesday, terming it “biased and tendentious” and rejected its observations.
Source : The Hindu (Social Issues)
A study on face masks has identified a combination of two fabrics as possibly the best: either cotton plus natural silk, or cotton plus chiffon. If the fit is good, such homemade masks can effectively keep out aerosol particles
- An aerosol is a suspension of particles or droplets in the air. The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets, particularly when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) defines two size ranges for droplets through which respiratory infections can be transmitted — 5-10 microns in diameter (respiratory droplets) and less than 5 microns in diameter (droplet nuclei). One micron is a millionth part of a metre.
- It is respiratory droplets (the larger size range) that are thought to be the primary route of COVID-19 infection. Airborne transmission, which is through droplet nuclei (the smaller size range), was not reported in a large study in China, the WHO notes.
Source : Indian Express (Health)
Union Minister of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj issued guidelines regarding the SVAMITVA scheme, a new initiative of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj
- SVAMITVA scheme is a collaborative effort of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, State Panchayati Raj Departments, State Revenue Departments and Survey of India.
- The program is currently being implemented in six states – Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
- It aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India, engaging the latest Drone Surveying technology, for demarcating the inhabitant land in rural areas. Under this, mapping of rural housing land can be done using the latest survey methods and drones.
- This scheme will help in streamlining planning and revenue collection in rural areas and ensuring clarity on property rights. This will also help in resolving property related disputes. The scheme will enable creation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs), leveraging the maps created under this programme.
Source : PIB (Polity & Goverance)
April 29 is the birth anniversary of the famed Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906), remembered for giving Indians their western, classical representations of Hindu gods and goddesses
- Raja Ravi Varma (1848 – 1906) is considered among the greatest painters in the history of Indian art. Varma was patronised by Ayilyam Thirunal, the next Maharaja of Travancore and began formal training thereafter.
- A prolific artist, Varma is believed to have made around 7,000 paintings before his death at the age of 58. His most famous works include Damayanti Talking to a Swan, Shakuntala Looking for Dushyanta, Nair Lady Adorning Her Hair, and Shantanu and Matsyagandha.
Key highlights of his work
- His works are held to be among the best examples of the fusion of European techniques with a purely Indian sensibility.
- Through his printing press, Varma’s humanised depiction of Hindu pantheon travelled beyond the surfaces of costly canvases, and into the prayer and living rooms of working-class homes.
- He was notable for making affordable lithographs of his paintings available to the public, which greatly enhanced his reach and influence as a painter and public figure.
- His depictions of Hindu deities and episodes from the epics and Puranas have received profound acceptance from the public and are found, often as objects of worship, across the length and breadth of India.
Important Info :
- In 1904, Viceroy Lord Curzon, on behalf of the British King Emperor, bestowed upon Varma the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal.
- In 2013, the crater Varma on Mercury was named in his honor.
- Government of Kerala has instituted an award called Raja Ravi Varma Puraskaram, which is awarded every year to people who show excellence in the field of art and culture.
Source : Indian Express (Culture)
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a Swedish think tank, released its annual report titled ‘Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019
- The global military expenditure rose to $1917 billion in 2019, an increase of 3.6% from 2018.
- In 2019, the top five largest spenders — U.S. ($732 bn), China ($261 billion), India ($71.1 billion), Russia ($65.1 bn) and Saudi Arabia ($61.9 bn) — accounted for 62% of the global expenditure.
- India and China emerged among the top three spenders. India was at the fourth position in 2018 with Saudi Arabia at the third.
- The $71.1 billion spent by India on defence in 2019 was 2.4% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). India’s expenditure in 2019 was 6.8% more than that in 2018.
- India’s military expenditure grew 259% over a 30-year period between 1990 and 2019 and by 37% over the decade of 2010–19. However, its military burden fell from 2.7% of GDP in 2010 to 2.4% in 2019.”
Source : Times of India (Defense & Security)
Union Minister for Environment, Prakash Javadekar represented India in the first virtual Petersberg Climate Dialogue
- The first virtual Climate Dialogue, was the eleventh session of Petersberg Climate Dialogue.
- It has been hosted by Germany since 2010 to provide a forum for informal high-level political discussions, focusing both on international climate negotiations and the advancement of climate action.
- The dialogue saw participation from Ministers and representatives of about 30 countries.
Source : All India Radio (Environment)
Government has announced around 11 % increase in annual central allocation of cooking cost under Mid-day meal scheme to 8,100 crore rupees in view of situation arising out of COVID-19
- With a view to enhancing enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improving nutritional levels among children, the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NP-NSPE) was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in 1995. In 2001 MDMS became a cooked Mid Day Meal Scheme.
- The Mid-Day Meal Scheme covers children of classes I-VIII studying in government, government-aided schools, special training centres (STC) and madarsas/ maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). It is the largest school feeding programme in the world.
- The Midday Meal Scheme is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013.
Source : All India Radio (Education)