Daily Current Affairs – 16-08-2023



    Syllabus: GS1/Geography


    • In Himachal Pradesh following heavy rains and landslides, reports of cloudbursts have emerged.

    What is a cloudburst?

    • A cloudburst is a localized event with intense rainfall activity. The phenomenon is most common in hilly regions.However it can occur in plains also.
    • The rainfall of 10 cm or more in an hour over a roughly 10 km x 10 km area is classified as a cloudburst event.Also 5 cm of rainfall in a half-hour period over the same area would also be categorized as a cloudburst.
    • Cloudbursts occur particularly during the monsoon months. Most of these happen in the Himalayan states where the local topology, wind systems, and temperature gradients between the lower and upper atmosphere facilitate the occurrence of such events.

    Impacts of Cloudbursts

    • Death or Serious Injury:The very nature of flash floods makes them fast and very difficult to predict.Thus people can be seriously injured or killed by these natural disasters.
    • Immediate Property Damage:In addition to the force of the water, flash floods can carry large debris such as boulders. This combination can cause heavy structural damage to homes making them uninhabitable and can carry away large pieces of property such as vehicles.
    • Loss of Critical Infrastructure:Large debris and flood waters can cause structural damage to bridges and roadways, making travel impossible.
      • Power, telephone, and cable lines can be taken out by flash floods as well.
      • Flood waters can disrupt or contaminate groundwater, making tap water unfit for consumption.
    • Deposited Sediment & Silt:Floods can leave behind large amounts of silt and other debris that can make travel difficult and can be costly to remove. 
    • Economic Losses:Depending on the damage caused, it may prevent local businesses from opening or keep customers from getting to those businesses.

    Initiatives taken

    • Flash Flood Guidance Services:It is a robust system designed by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to provide the necessary products in real-time to support the development of warnings for flash floods about 6-12 hours in advance at the watershed level for the flash flood-prone South Asian countries viz. India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
    • South Asian Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS):The India Meteorological Department (IMD) launched the South Asian FFGS and aimed at helping disaster management teams.


    Schemes Announced on 77th Independence Day 

    Syllabus :GS 2/Polity and Governance 

    In News

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of the 77th Independence Day announced a host of schemes for skilled workers, women self-help groups and the urban poor among others.

    More In News

    • The Prime Minister started his Independence Day speech by highlighting India’s position as the largest democracy globally.
      • He talked about the sacrifices made by freedom fighters such as Mahatma Gandhi, Aurobindo Ghosh, and their compatriots.
      • He highlighted that  the policies of the government are providing support to the youth of the country and their strength has helped India become the third largest startup ecosystem in the world.

    About the Schemes 

    • ‘Vishwakarma Yojana’: It will be  launched on  occasion of Vishwakarma Jayanti,benefiting individuals skilled in traditional craftsmanship, particularly from the OBC community. 
      • Weavers, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, laundry workers, barbers, and such families will be empowered through the ‘Vishwakarma Yojana’, which will begin with an allocation of around 13-15 thousand crore rupees.
    • Lakhpati Didi:The government is planning skill development training for two crore women under the ‘Lakhpati Didi’ scheme that aims to encourage them to start micro-enterprises
      • Under it,skill training will be provided to women so that they can earn at least Rs 1 lakh annually.
        • 15,000 women’s SHGs would be given loan and training for operating and repairing drones.
        • The government will provide drones to thousands of such women SHGs.
        • Drone services will be available for agricultural work. 
      • It is likely to speed up adoption of drone technology in the field of agriculture and will lead to substantial employment generation and agribusiness opportunities in rural areas.”
    • Housing Scheme :  Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a new scheme to help urban poor build houses in cities. 
      • Under this programme, they would receive relief in interest rates and loans taken from banks to construct their houses.
      • It will benefit those families that live in cities but are living in rented houses, or slums, or chawls and unauthorised colonies.”
        • If this section wants to build their own houses, the government will assist them with a relief in interest rates and loans from banks that will help them save lakhs of rupees.

    Do you know ?

    • The government already has a scheme to address the housing shortage for the urban poor called the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban (PMAY-U) .
    • It is a flagship mission of the government which is implemented by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
    • It was launched in June 2015 to provide an all-weather dwelling unit to eligible beneficiaries across all urban areas. 
      • All houses built or acquired or purchased under the Mission have basic amenities like kitchen, water supply, electricity and toilet. 
    • The Mission has been extended up to 31st December 2024
    • Uttar Pradesh had the largest number of houses completed 
    • The scheme is implemented through four verticals i.e., Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC), Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP), In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) based on eligibility criteria as per scheme guideline
    • The Mission promotes women empowerment by providing the ownership of houses in the name of female members or in joint name. 

    Source: IE

    Deemed Forest

    Syllabus: GS3/Environmental Conservation


    • Odisha has no ‘deemed forest’ as per the amended Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.


    • The Odisha government, since 1996, had with the help of expert committees at the district level identified nearly 66 lakh acres as ‘deemed forest’ but many of them were not officially notified as such in government records.
      • This would be about 40-50% of Odisha’s total forest land, adding that the government’s interpretation of the Forest Act would end up accelerating the razing of forests.
      • The Odisha government’s order likely conflicts with the Environment Ministry’s assurances to a parliamentary committee that “deemed forests” would continue to be protected.
    • Protection under the Forest Act means that land cannot be diverted without the consent of the Centre as well as gram panchayats.
    • The amendments brought by the Ministry of Environment and Forest said the changes to the Act of 1980 were necessary to remove ambiguities and bring clarity to where forest laws could be applied.
    • As per the amendments, if notified forest land was legally diverted between 1980 and 1996, for non-forest use, the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 would not apply.

    Formation of Expert Committees:

    • The States were expected to form expert committees and identify plots of land that were encapsulated under the new definition of forest.
      • However not all States submitted these reports, leaving considerable leeway to States to define, or leave out large parcels of land from the definition of forest.

    What are deemed forests?

    • The concept of deemed forests has not been clearly defined in any law including the Forest Conservation Act of 1980.
    • The Supreme Court in the case of T N Godavarman Thirumalpad (1996) accepted a wide definition of forests under the Act.
      • “The word ‘forest’ must be understood according to its dictionary meaning, which covers all statutorily recognised forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise for the purpose of Section 2 (1) of the Forest Conservation Act.
      • The term ‘forest land’ occurring in Section 2 will be any areas recorded as forest in the government record irrespective of the ownership.
    • The provisions enacted in the Forest Conservation Act 1980 for the conservation of forest and the matters connected therewith must apply clearly to all forest so understood irrespective of the ownership or classification thereof.

    About the amendment of the Forest Act, 1980

    • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 amended to make it applicable to certain types of land that include land notified as a forest under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 or in government records after the 1980 Act came into effect.
    • The Act will not be applicable for land converted to non-forest use before December 12, 1996.
    • It also exempts certain types of land from the purview of the Act. These include land within 100 km of India’s border needed for national security projects, small roadside amenities, and public roads leading to a habitation.
    • It is now renamed as the Van (Sanrakshan Evam Samvardhan) Adhiniyam — translated as Forest Conservation and Augmentation.
    • It only accords protection to a forest that has been declared so in accordance with the provisions of the Forest Act, 1927 and also land that has been specifically notified as forest on or after October 25, 1980.
    • The 1996 Godavarman verdict by the Supreme Court enjoined States to bring in such unrecorded land that conformed to the ‘dictionary’ meaning of forest.
      • ‘Deemed forest’ is forest land that has not been notified as such by the Centre or States.
    • Preservation of forest areas in India under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 has been continuously monitored by the Supreme Court since the Godavarman case judgement in 1996.
    • The state government must obtain clearances from the Supreme Court for effecting changes to land classified as deemed forests since the verdict.


    Aditya-L1 mission

    Syllabus:GS3/Science and Technology


    • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released images of the Aditya-L1 mission.

    What is the Aditya-L1 mission?

    • Aditya-L1 is the first space-based Indian observatory to study the Sun.It will be launched by the PSLV-C57.
    • The solar mission will not see the spacecraft actually go to the sun, it will instead create a space observatory at a point from which the sun can be observed even during an eclipse.
    • The spacecraft is planned to be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1), around 1.5 million km from the Earth, of the Sun-Earth system.
    • It is equipped with seven payloads (instruments) on board with four of them carrying out remote sensing of the Sun and three of them carrying in-situ observation.

    What are the seven payloads?

    • The Visible Emission Line Coronagraph (VELC) will study the Corona, imaging and spectroscopy, and Coronal mass ejections.
    • The Solar Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (SUIT) will focus upon the Photosphere and Chromosphere imaging- narrow and broadband. It will also measure the solar irradiance variations. 
    • The Solar Low Energy X-ray Spectrometer (SoLEXS) and High Energy L1 Orbiting X-ray Spectrometer (HEL1OS) will study the soft and hard X-ray flares from the Sun over a wide X-ray energy range.
    • The Aditya Solar wind Particle Experiment (ASPEX) and Plasma Analyser Package For Aditya (PAPA) will analyze the electrons and protons in the Solar wind or particles. It will also study the energetic ions.
    • The Advanced Tri-axial High Resolution Digital Magnetometers will study the interplanetary magnetic field at L1 point.

    Why is studying the Sun important?

    • To understand space weather: Every planet, including Earth and the exoplanets beyond the Solar System, evolves and this evolution is governed by its parent star. The solar weather and environment affect the weather of the entire system. Variations in this weather can change the orbits of satellites or shorten their lives, interfere with or damage onboard electronics, and cause power blackouts and other disturbances on Earth.
    • To learn about and track Earth-directed storms:Continuous solar observations are needed to predict the impact of these storms as every storm that emerges from the Sun and heads towards Earth passes through L1.

    Major objectives of the mission

    • The mission will focus on study of the Solar upper atmospheric (chromosphere and corona) dynamics. It will also study the chromospheric and coronal heating, physics of the partially ionized plasma, initiation of the coronal mass ejections, and flares.
    • The mission will identify the chronology of processes that take place in the Sun’s multiple layers — chromosphere, base and extended corona — which often eventually leads to solar eruptive events.In the solar corona, the mission aims to find out the magnetic field topology and measurements.
    • It will also identify what drives space weather, along with the origin, composition and dynamics of the solar wind.

    Other missions to Sun

    • NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, launched in 2018, has already gone far closer — but it will be looking away from the Sun. 
    • Helios 2 solar probe, a joint venture between NASA and the space agency of erstwhile West Germany,was launched to investigate solar processes of the Sun’s surface in 1976.

    What is a Lagrange Point?

    • Lagrange points are positions in space where objects sent there tend to stay put. At Lagrange points, the gravitational pull of two large masses precisely equals the centripetal force required for a small object to move with them. 
    • Lagrange points are named in honor of Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange.
    • There are five Lagrange points, three are unstable and two are stable. The unstable Lagrange points are labeled L1, L2 and L3. The stable Lagrange points are labeled L4 and L5.
    • The L1 point of the Earth-Sun system affords an uninterrupted view of the sun and is currently home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite SOHO.
    • These points in space can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position.



    Graphene-Aurora Program

    Syllabus: GS-3/Science and Technology


    • Recently, the Graphene-Aurora Program was launched at Maker’s Village, Kochi (Kerala). 

    Graphene-Aurora Program

    • About:
      • This program is being implemented by Digital University Kerala with joint funding from the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India.
    • Aim:
      • By encouraging research and fostering commercialization, the program puts emphasis on cutting-edge graphene technology to assist India in establishing a strong presence in the global new materials market.
      • The proposed project aimed at boosting the production of valuable allotrope of carbon would mark a new chapter of innovation in the country’s technological field.
    •  India Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (I-GEIC):
      • A nonprofit organization called ‘India Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (I-GEIC)’ shall be set up to cater the needs of the project. 

    About Graphene

    • Graphene is often referred to as a wonder material for its extraordinary electrical and electronic properties.
    • It was discovered in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics for this in 2010. 
    • It is stronger than steel, very stretchable and can be used as a flexible conductor. 
    • Its thermal conductivity is much higher than that of silver. 
    • Graphene has a number of properties which makes it interesting for several different applications. 
    • It is an ultimately thin, mechanically very strong, transparent and flexible conductor. It can be used in applications such as touch screens, light panels and solar cells.

    Applications of Graphene

    • Biomedical: Improved brain penetration, DIY health testing kits, targeted drug delivery, “smart” implants, and DIY health testing.
    • Composites and Coatings: Combining graphene with already-existing products to create so-called composite materials is one of the simplest and most efficient methods to utilize the promise of graphene.
    • Electronics: Graphene has the potential to develop the electronics of the future, which are now only found in science fiction. Improved semiconductors, foldable phones, and other electronics with faster transistors.
    • Battery: Graphene has the potential to significantly extend the life of a conventional lithium-ion battery, allowing for faster charging and longer-lasting electronics.
    • Graphene Membranes: When it comes to gases and liquids, graphene oxide membranes can create an impeccably tight seal. They are exceptionally good at removing water from a gas mixture and effectively separating organic solvent from water.
    • Sensors: Extremely sensitive graphene sensors could find tiny harmful particles, protecting potentially hazardous surroundings.
    • Other Applications: It includes anti-corrosion paints and coatings, accurate and quick sensors, quick and efficient electronics, flexible displays, quick DNA sequencing, medicine delivery, and more.

    Source: PIB

    Select metrics of India @76

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In News

    • The analysis measures India’s relative performance in the past 76 years compared to other countries across four parameters — GDP per capita, Human Development Index (HDI), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and women’s participation in Parliament.


    • India is compared with these countries: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa), G-7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States), emerging economies (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates) and the Indian subcontinent (Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).
    • GDP per capita (in $): India’s GDP per capita ranking of 24 out of 26 nations analysed remained unchanged between the 1960s and 2022. 
      • While Indonesia and Nepal were lagging behind India in the 1960s, Pakistan and Nepal were lagging behind in 2022.
    • Infant Mortality Rate: Between 1960 and 1975, India had the seventh-worst IMR among 32 nations. 
      • In 2021, India regressed four spots and became the third-worst. Of the six countries which were behind India in 1960-75, five (Turkey, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Egypt and Nepal) surpassed India by 2021. However, South Africa regressed.

    • Human Development Index: Between 1950 and 2021, India’s HDI increased by 0.11 points in 1950 to 0.633 in 2021. However, India’s ranking slipped from 26 in 1950 to 29 by 2021. 
      • Of the five countries which lagged behind India in 1950, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Bangladesh—moved ahead by 2021.
    • Share of women in Parliament: Women’s participation in India increased from 7% in 1997-98 to 14.9% in 2022. Over 10 countries were behind India in this indicator in 1997-98. In 2022, only five remain below India.

    • Access to Electricity: Between 1993 and 2000, only 50% of India’s population had access to electricity. By 2020, this increased to 99% of its population. 
      • A majority of the 32 countries considered providing electricity to over 99% of their population by 2020, except for Pakistan, South Africa and Nepal where the share remains below 90%. 
    • Access to Internet: In 1990, almost no country considered, except for the U.S., had any access to the Internet. 
      • But by 2020, India has managed to provide internet access to 43% of its population. While India lags behind 27 countries in this indicator, Bhutan (53.5%) is the only country in the subcontinent that is ranked above India.
    • Most Populous: In 1960, with a population of 45.05 crore people, India had the second-highest population behind China (66.7 crore). 
      • By the end of 2022, India’s population stood at 1.417 billion, surpassing China’s 1.412 billion, making India the most populous country in the world, according to the World Population Review.

    Source: TH

    Facts In News

    Windfall tax on Crude Oil Hiked

    Syllabus: GS3/ Economy

    In News

    • The government has hiked the windfall profit tax on crude oil produced in the country and on export of diesel.
      • Crude oil pumped out of the ground and from below the seabed is refined and converted into fuels such as petrol, diesel and aviation turbine fuel (ATF).

    Windfall Tax

    • The term “Windfall” describes a sudden and significant increase in profits.
    • A higher tax imposed by the government on specific industries when they experience unexpected and above-average profits is known as a Windfall Tax.
    • It is the one-time tax imposed on businesses that are thought to have made excessively high profits, typically due to unusually favourable market conditions. 
    • Example: Energy firm profits have soared in recent years, initially due to rising demand after Covid restrictions were lifted, and then because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raised energy prices.
    • It aimed at increasing local supplies and boosting its revenues.


    • Boost government revenues.
    • Provide public services and other benefits to the citizens.

    Source: LM

    Talwar-class Stealth Frigates

    Syllabus :GS 3/Defence 

    In News

    • Two Krivak- or Talwar-class stealth frigates are now expected to be delivered by May and October in 2024.
      • The ship is in the final stages of development; in two months time, it will go for sea trials.

    About Talwar-class stealth frigates

    • The Talwar class of frigates of the Indian Navy have been built in Russia under an Indo-Russian joint production. 
    • The Talwar class guided missile frigates are modified Krivak III class frigates from Russia. 
      • In October 2016, India and Russia signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement for four stealth frigates, after which a $1-billion deal was signed for direct purchase. 
    • The Talwar Class has a displacement of 4,000 tons and speed of 30 knots and is capable of accomplishing a wide variety of naval missions, primarily, finding and eliminating enemy submarines and large surface ships. 
    • Due to the use of stealth technologies and a special hull design, the resulting frigate features reduced radar cross section (RCS) as well as electromagnetic, acoustic and infrared signatures.

    Source: TH

    Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH)

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In News

    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced the development of a Public Tech Platform for ‘frictionless credit’ by the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH).

    About Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH)

    • It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) set-up to promote and facilitate an environment that accelerates innovation across the financial sector.
    • RBIH will provide the platform to anchor a shared vision among all financial ecosystem stakeholders and aid them in crafting forward-looking innovation strategies while addressing the most pressing issues in the Indian financial sector.
    • It will identify challenges in the Indian financial system by building applied research and extensive stakeholder consultation.

    Frictionless Credit

    • Currently, data needed for credit appraisal are available with different entities such as central and State governments, banks, credit information companies, etc.
    • This has created hindrance in the frictionless delivery of loans
    • The Public Tech Platform would enable delivery of frictionless credit by facilitating seamless flow of required digital information to lenders.
    • The platform would be rolled out as a pilot project in August 2023 in a calibrated fashion and it would bring about efficiency in the lending process,.

    Source: TH

    Centre Approves Two Inter-State Routes for Helicopter Services

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In News

    • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has granted permission to operate inter-state helicopter services, under the existing 75 percent Helicopter Subsidy Scheme for two new routes.


    • The two newly approved inter-state helicopter routes are set to connect Churachandpur in Manipur with Aizawl, Mizoram, and Kangpokpi/Senapati in Manipur with Dimapur, Nagaland. 
    • These routes are projected to enhance accessibility and connectivity to these regions, which have often grappled with infrastructural limitations.
    • The new routes were added for operation under the existing subsidy scheme, which requires passengers to pay a charge of ₹2,000, with the State and Central governments bearing the rest of the fare. 
    • Approval had also been granted for extra flying hours in light of the new routes being added.

    Helicopter Services In North Eastern States

    • In order to provide connectivity to remote areas of NER, Helicopter subsidy scheme is being administered by MHA in the NE States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur. 
    • It further aims to provide affordable passenger transport in NER, evacuation during natural calamities and for urgent medical evacuation etc. 
    • MHA bears expenditure of 75% of total cost of operation after deducting passenger recovery or flat 20% of actual operation cost, whichever is more. 
    • For the purpose of restricting subsidy, annual ceiling of flying hours has been fixed for the helicopter service operating in these States.

    Source: TH

    IFFCO Nano DAP (Liquid) Plant in Gujarat

    Syllabus: GS3/Economy

    In News

    • The Union Home Minister laid the  foundation stone of Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative (IFFCO) Nano DAP (Liquid) Plant at Gandhidham, Gujarat.

    About IFFCO Nano DAP

    • It is an efficient source of available nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P2O5) for all the crops and helps in correcting the Nitrogen & Phosphorus deficiencies in standing crops. 
    • Nano DAP formulation contains Nitrogen (8.0% N w/v) and Phosphorus (16.0 % P2O5 w/v).
    • Nano DAP (Liquid) has an advantage in terms of surface area to volume as its particle size is less than 100 Nanometre (nm). 
      • This unique property enables it to enter easily inside the seed surface or through stomata and other plant openings. 
      • Better spread ability and assimilation of Nano DAP inside the plant system leads to higher seed vigour, more chlorophyll, photosynthetic efficiency, better quality and increase in crop yields. 
      • Apart from this, Nano DAP through precision and targeted application fulfills the nutritional requirement of crops without harming the environment.


    • IFFCO DAP (liquid) does not go inside the ground, but remains on the top of the crop, due to which not only the benefits of DAP become available to the crop, but the land is also preserved.
    • Spraying of Nano DAP (liquid) will not pollute the land, which will further ease the natural farming, increase soil fertility along agricultural production and will promote land conservation.
    • DAP (Liquid) will not pollute water, increase production, keep price affordable, reduce government subsidy burden and reduce imports to make India self-sufficient in the field of urea and DAP. 

    About IFFCO

    • It is a multi-state cooperative society that is involved in the manufacturing and marketing of fertilizers at a large scale.
    • It was founded in 1967 and has now become one of the biggest co-op in the country.
    • As part of varied service vertices it aims to revolutionize the agricultural world with technology while uplifting farmers with services like mobile advisory, IFFCO Kisan Agriculture App, and Kisan call centre. 

    Source: PIB

    Murmansk Port


    Syllabus: Places in News


    • India accounts for 35% of cargo handled by Russia’s Arctic Murmansk port, the main northern gateway of Russia and a transshipment hub in the first half of 2023.


    • India’s engagement with Russia’s Arctic region has been strengthening with India-bound goods constituting the maximum share of cargo handled this year by Murmansk, located about 2,000 km northwest of Moscow.

    Murmansk Port

    • It is one of the largest ports in Russia. , located on the Kola peninsula at the coast of Barents Sea. 
    • It is the main centre of Russia’s icebreaker fleet and is of increasing importance for oil-and gas transport from North-West Russian Arctic fields.
    • Moreover, 3 road handling terminals (Lavna, Belokamenka, Mokhnatkin) are a part of the Murmansk port as well as an open road near Kolguev Island (the eastern part of the Barents Sea).
    • Beyond Kola Bay the port owns several terminals designated for anchorage and repair of vessels, like settlements of Teriberka, Ura-Guba and Liinakhamari.

    Northern Sea Route (NSR)

    • It is the shortest shipping route connecting the western part of Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific region.
      • India is also getting involved in the Northern Sea Route (NSR).
    • There are challenges in navigating the 5,600-km-long NSR. The route includes the seas of the Arctic Ocean [Kara, Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi] which remain icebound during most parts of the year.
      • Ice-breaking therefore assumes importance, a task performed by FSUE Atomflot, a unit of Rosatom and the fleet operator of nuclear-powered icebreakers.

    Alternative to Suez Canal

    • NSR is being promoted as an alternative to the Suez Canal that would reduce the gap between Europe and countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
    • For instance, the NSR across the Arctic Ocean from Murmansk to Yokohama in Japan is about 6,000 nautical miles (NM). Alternatively, the distance via the southern shipping routes is about 13,000 NM.


    Bindeshwar Pathak

    Syllabus:GS1/Society, Miscellaneous/Person in News


    • Renowned social activist Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak passed away on 15 August 2023.


    • He was the founder of Sulabh International, an India-based social service organization which works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, waste management and reforms through education.
    • He also served as the ambassador for the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission.

    Sulabh International

    • Founded:1970.
    • Sulabh International introduced a scavenging-free two-pit pour flush toilet (Sulabh Shauchalaya) and the public toilet system in India, which contributed significantly to reducing open-defecation.
    • Sulabh International also contributed to eradication of manual scavenging and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.

    Awards and Honors

    • He was conferred with Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award in 1991.
    • He was conferred with the 2009, Stockholm Water Prize.
    • Sulabh International was given the Gandhi Peace Prize for 2016, jointly with the Akshaya Patra Foundation.
    • He was presented with the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academics and Management for the year 2017.