2nd Oct, 2020

Promotion of Buddhist Sites under Swadesh Darshan & PRASHAD

Development of tourism related infrastructure and facilities at various Buddhist Sites in India under flagship schemes of Swadesh Darshan & PRASHAD has been undertaken.

Ministry: Ministry of Tourism

Swadesh Darshan Scheme has included Buddhist circuit and Spiritual circuit among its 13 thematic circuits.

30 projects for development of infrastructure have also been undertaken under the PRASHAD Scheme.

Buddhist Sites at Bodhgaya, Ajanta & Ellora have been identified to be developed as Iconic Tourist Sites.

Buddhist Conclave is organised every alternate year with the objective of promoting India as a Buddhist Destination.

Signages have been installed in Chinese language at buddhist monuments in Uttar Pradesh and in Sinhala language at Sanchi monuments in Madhya Pradesh.


The ‘National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive’ (PRASAD).

Launched by: Ministry of Tourism (2014-15).

It was changed from PRASAD to “National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual,

Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD)” in October 2017.


  1. Holistic development of identified pilgrimage destinations;
  2. Rejuvenation and spiritual augmentation of important pilgrimage and heritage sites;
  3. Follow community-based development and create awareness among the local communities; (4) Strengthen the mechanism for bridging the infrastructural gaps.

Swadesh Darshan Scheme

It is a Central Sector Scheme launched in 2014 -15.


  1. Integrated development of theme based tourist circuits in the country;
  2. To position the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation

The Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) for infrastructure development of circuits.

Graphene Mask Inactivates Coronaviruses

Recently, the researchers from the City University of Hong Kong have produced a laser-induced form of graphene masks that inactivate the coronavirus species.

The researchers are also planning to test this mask on the Covid-19 (SARS-Cov-2) virus.

All carbon-containing materials, such as cellulose or paper, can be converted into graphene. 

The researchers described the production of laser-induced graphene as a “green technique.”


(1) It is reusable;

(2) Can also be produced at low cost



It is a single layer (monolayer) of carbon atoms. 

It is the building-block of Graphite.

It is the strongest known material.

Other Properties:

(1) High thermal stability;

(2) High elasticity;

(3) High electrical conductivity; etc.

Uses: It can be used in miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices like computers, solar panels, etc.

Diamond, graphite and fullerenes are the important allotropes of pure carbon.

Allotropy: Property of some chemical elements to exist in two or more different forms, in the same physical state.

Graphene is also known for antibacterial properties.

Study on biogenic methane hydrate in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) Basin conducted

Recently, a study on biogenic methane hydrate in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) Basin was conducted by the researchers at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI).

They have identified the methanogens that produced the biogenic methane trapped as methane hydrate.

Methane hydrate can be a significant source of energy.

This study revealed maximum methanogenic diversity in the KG basin in comparison to the Andaman and Mahanadi basins.

Methane Hydrate

Methane hydrate is a crystalline solid that consists of a methane molecule surrounded by a cage of interlocking water molecules.

It only occurs naturally as ‘ice’ in subsurface deposits where temperature and pressure conditions are favourable for its formation.

It becomes unstable if the ice is removed from its environment.

Other names: Methane clathrate, methane ice, fire ice, natural gas hydrate, and gas hydrate.

Most methane hydrate deposits also contain small amounts of other hydrocarbon hydrates.

Krishna-Godavari Basin

It is an extensive deltaic plain formed by two large east coast rivers, Krishna and Godavari 

Location: Andhra Pradesh and the adjoining areas of Bay of Bengal.

The site is known for the D-6 block with the biggest natural gas reserves in India. 

The first gas discovery was made in 1983 by ONGC.

The basin is home to the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (IUCN Status: Vulnerable).

Biogenic Methane is the methane produced from the metabolic activities of living organisms. 

Methane is a clean and economical fuel.

Even the lowest estimate of methane present in the methane hydrates in the KG Basin is twice that of all fossil fuel reserves available worldwide.

USA Sanctions against ICC Officials

The USA had announced sanctions, including asset freezes and visa bans, against two officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their investigation into alleged war crimes by the USA

forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Afghanistan since 2003.

International Criminal Court

It is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal.

Headquarter: The Hague, Netherlands.

It is a criminal court.

Jurisdiction: Prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

When a state’s legal system collapses or when a government is a perpetrator of heinous crimes, the ICC can exercise jurisdiction. 

India is not a party to ICC.

Green Strategic Partnership between India and Denmark launched

India and the Kingdom of Denmark have launched the Green Strategic Partnership for delivering sustainable solutions to India.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Intellectual Property (IP) Cooperation with Denmark.

Green Strategic Partnership

The Partnership will focus on expanding economic ties, green growth, and cooperation on global challenges such as climate change.

Danish companies with niche technologies and expertise have offered to help India in meeting its air pollution control targets, Covid-19 pandemic and cooperation in water efficiency and water loss.

The creation of India-Denmark energy parks in areas with large numbers of Danish firms and an India-Denmark skill institute to train Indian manpower has been proposed.

Intellectual Property Cooperation

The MoU aims at increasing IP co-operation between the two countries through exchange of information and best practices on processes for disposal of applications for patents, trademarks,

Geographical Indications, and cooperation in the field of protection of Traditional Knowledge.

It will be a landmark step forward in India’s journey towards becoming a major player in global innovation and further the objectives of the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy, 2016

Green growth is a term to describe a path of economic growth that uses natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Congo Fever Alert in Maharashtra raised

There might be a possible spread of the Congo fever in the Maharashtra districtof Palghar.

Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF)

Cause: It is caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus) of the Bunyaviridae family.

Transmission: It is transmitted through bite of Hyalomma tick, an external parasite, living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds etc.

Human-to-human transmission: Close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.

Virus can lead to epidemics, with a high case fatality ratio (10-40%).

CCHF is endemic in all of Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East and in Asia.

Symptoms: Fever, bodyache, dizziness, sore eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light).


(1) The antiviral drug ribavirin has been used to treat CCHF infection with apparent benefit;

(2) There are no vaccines widely available for human or animal use.

EPFO’s New Facility on UMANG App started

Recently, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has started a facility on

the Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) App which enables members of the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) 1995 to apply online for Scheme Certificates.

Scheme Certificate is issued to members who withdraw their Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) contribution but wish to retain their membership with EPFO, to avail pension benefits on the attainment of retirement age.

Members become eligible for pension only if they have been, cumulatively, a member of the EPS, 1995 for at least 10 years.

Upon joining a new job, Scheme Certificate ensures that previous pensionable service is added to pensionable service rendered with the new employer 

It is also useful for family members to avail family pension


It is a unified, secure, multi-channel, multi-platform, multi-lingual, multi-service mobile app.

Developed by: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD) 

Objective: To drive mobile governance under Digital India.

Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

It is a government organisation that manages the provident fund and pension accounts for the workforce engaged in the organized sector in India.

It implements the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.

Administered by: Ministry of Labor and Employment.

EPS is a social security scheme that was launched in 1995 and is provided by EPFO.

It makes provisions for pensions for the employees in the organised sector after the retirement at the age of 58 years.

RAISE 2020 to be organised

Global Virtual Summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI), RAISE 2020- ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020,’ shall be held from October 5-9, 2020. 

Organised by: The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and NITI Aayog

Inaugurated by: Indian Prime Minister

It is a first of its-kind, global meeting of minds on Artificial Intelligence to drive India’s vision for social transformation through responsible AI.

Global industry leaders, key opinion makers, Government representatives and academia shall participate in the event.

Industry analysts predict that AI could add up to USD 957 billion to India’s economy by 2035.

ASCON Phase IV Network launched

The Cabinet Committee on Security had approved the proposal for establishment of Army Static Switched Communication Network, ASCON Phase IV Network.

Implemented by: M/s ITI, a Public Sector Undertaking

Implementation schedule: 36 months from the date of signing of the contract.

It is a strategic and theatre area communication network.

It will upgrade the existing Asynchronous Transfer Mode Technology to Internet Protocol, Multi-Protocol Label Switching Technology.

Optical Fibre Cable, Microwave Radio and Satellite will be used as communication media.

It will provide better survivability, responsiveness and high bandwidth in any operational scenario and enhance the communication coverage of the network closer to International Border, Line of Control and Line of Actual Control.

Ambedkar Social Innovation & Incubation Mission launched

The Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission under Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes (SCs) was recently launched.

Ministry: Ministry of Social Justice 

Objective: To promote innovation and enterprise among SC students studying in higher educational institutions.

Under the initiative, 1,000 SC youth will be identified in the next four years with start-up ideas through the Technology Business Incubators in various higher educational institutions.

They will be funded 30 lakh rupees in three years as equity funding to translate their start-up ideas into commercial ventures.

Successful ventures would further qualify for venture funding of up to five Crore rupees from the Venture Capital Fund for SCs.

Venture Capital Fund for SCs:

Launched by: The Social Justice Ministry 

Year: 2014-15 

Aim: To develop entrepreneurship amongst the SC and Divyang youth and to enable them to become job-givers.

Objective: To provide concessional finance to the entities of the SC entrepreneurs.

Under this fund, 117 companies promoted by SC entrepreneurs have been sanctioned financial assistance to set up business ventures.

Bharati Script

Bharati is a simple and unified script which can be used to write most major Indian languages.

It is designed using simplest shapes, often borrowing simple characters from various Indian languages/scripts and English.

Scripts supported are: Hindi/Marathi (Devanagari), Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi (Gurmukhi), Bengali, Oriya, Kannada and Malayalam.

Developed By: Srinivasa Chakravathy’s team at IIT Madras.

Documents can be read in Bharati script using a multi-lingual Optical Character Recognition (OCR) scheme.

Finger-spelling Method can be used to generate a sign language for hearing-impaired persons.

It is in line with ‘One Nation, One Script’.

It is an ideal script for languages like Konkani or Tulu that don’t have their own script.

It can serve as a writing system for the innumerable tribal languages of India, and languages of the NorthEast.

Pakur Honey launched

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs will launch Pakur Honey on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

Pakur Honey is 100% natural honey which is Multi Floral and Forest Fresh.

It is gathered by Santhal  Tribals and Vulnerable Pahadhiya tribes from Pakur, Jharkhand.

Natural Multiflora honey is a good source of antioxidants and antiseptic vitamins, nutrients, enzymes and other herbal properties that no other super-food can provide.