22nd November 2020

Chhath Puja or Chhath Parva – Celebration

  • Several parts of India are all set to celebrate Chhath Puja or Chhath Parva.
  • It is a four-day festival mostly celebrated by people from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar. 
  • This festival starts with Kartik Shukla Chaturthi and ends with Kartik Shukla Saptami.
  • This year, the main celebration will take place on the third day, November 20, where when devotees will offer “argha” to the Sun God at sunset and offer prasad.
  • On the fourth and last day, devotees pray before sunrise and end their fast by eating special prasad and delicacies.
  • Chhath Puja is celebrated on the sixth day of the Kartik month of the Hindu calendar, which also happens to be the fourth day after Diwali. 
  • The puja for Chhath this year will be performed on Friday, November 20.
  • As per the Hindu tradition, devotees worship the Sun God to express gratitude and seek their blessings. 
  • Along with the Sun God, people also make offerings to Chhath Maiya, commonly known as Usha, the wife of the Sun God. 
  • According to Vedic astrology, Chhathi Maiya or Chhathi Mata protects the offspring and provides longevity to them. 
  • Many people observe the ritualistic Chhath fast -they consume only one whole vegetarian meal in the day. 
  • In the last few years, Chhath Puja has got a special significance as a folk festival. 
  • This is the reason why the festival is celebrated with great pomp and show.


A personal vehicle on a public road cannot be said to be a private zone

  • The Delhi government has told the Delhi High Court that a personal vehicle on a public road cannot be said to be a private zone — rather, it is a public space.
  • The argument was given to defend its decision of making it compulsory for people to wear masks when they are traveling.
  • India sees the largest number of road fatalities in the world. 
  • More than 1.5 lakh people lost their lives in road crashes in the country in 2018, according to government data.
  • The Supreme Court in one of its ruling has defined a “public place” to mean any place to which the public has access, whether as a matter of right or not — and includes all places visited by the general public, and also includes any open space.
  • The keywords are “any place to which the public have access”, which phrase is further qualified by the phrase “whether as a matter of right or not”, the court noted.
  • When a private vehicle is passing through a public road it cannot be accepted that the public has no access.
  • It is true that the public may not have access to a private vehicle as a matter of right but definitely, the public has the opportunity to approach the private vehicle while it is on the public road, said the court.


Param Siddhi

Param Siddhi, the high-performance computing-artificial intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer established under National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) at C-DAC has achieved a global ranking of 63 in TOP 500 most powerful non-distributed computer systems in the world released.

  • The AI system will strengthen application development of packages in areas such as advanced materials, computational chemistry & astrophysics, and several packages being developed under the mission on the platform for drug design and preventive health care system, flood forecasting package for flood-prone metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Patna and Guwahati. 
  • This will accelerate R&D in war against COVID-19 through faster simulations, medical imaging, genome sequencing and forecasting and is a boon for Indian masses and for start-Ups and MSMEs in particular.
  • It is a boon for application developers and will help testing of weather forecasting packages by NCMRWF & IITM, geo-exploration packages for oil and gas recovery; packages for aero-design studies; computational physics and mathematical applications and even online courses for education.
  • The supercomputer with Rpeak of 5.267 Petaflops and 4.6 Petaflops Rmax (Sustained) was conceived by C-DAC and developed jointly with support of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) under NSM.
  • Param Siddhi Supercomputer is built on theNVIDIA DGX SuperPOD reference architecture networking along with C-DAC’s indigenously developed HPC-AI engine, software frameworks and cloud platform and will help deep learning, visual computing, virtual reality, accelerated computing, as well as graphics virtualization.


Global Prevention Coalition (GPC) for HIV Prevention

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare digitally addressed the Ministerial meeting of the Global Prevention Coalition (GPC) for HIV Prevention, through Video Conference.

  • Hosted by UNAIDS and UNFPA on behalf of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition (GPC),the conference this year holds significance in achieving the 2016 UNGA commitment to end AIDS by 2030. 
  • Member States of GPC had agreed to reduce new adult HIV infections by 75% at the end of 2020 from 2010 levels.
  • Acknowledging that Global AIDS response has shown remarkable success in reducing new infections, improving access to prevention services for key population and treatment services for People living with HIV (PLHIV), reducing AIDS related mortality, enabling reduction in mother to child transmission of HIV and creating an enabling environment, Dr. Harsh Vardhan noted that the organization “has shown to the world a model where multiple stakeholders can come together and work cohesively towards a common goal.”
  • India’s unique HIV prevention model which is centered around the concept of ‘Social Contracting’ through which the Targeted Interventions (TI) programme is implemented.
  • With support from Non-Government Organizations, the programme is aimed at providing outreach, service delivery, counselling & testing and ensuring linkages to HIV care. India’s prevention model can be adopted and scaled up in many countries by tailoring the intervention as per local settings. 
  • It can also be replicated in other prevention and disease control programmes.


GIS-based One District One Product (ODOP) digital map of India

  • Recently, the Union Minister for Food Processing Industries has launched the GIS-based One District One Product (ODOP) digital map of India.
  • The digital ODOP map provides detailed information about ODOP products to all stakeholders.
  • It provides details of ODOP products of all the states and facilitates the stakeholders.
  • The digital map also has indicators for tribal, SC, ST, and aspirational districts.
  • The ODOP Digital Map of India will enable stakeholders to make concerted efforts for its value chain development.

One District One Product (ODOP) Scheme

  • The Uttar Pradesh government’s One District, One Product Programme aims to encourage indigenous and specialized products and crafts.
  • The scheme aims to create product-specific traditional industrial hubs across 75 districts of UP.
  • The central government will soon launch a ‘One District One Product’ programme for every district in the country to expand the outreach of their ‘special’ product not just in India but across the world.
  • The objective is to convert each district of the country into an export hub by identifying products with export potential in the district.



  • Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Narendra Singh Tomar has virtually inaugurated the capacity building component of the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro food processing Enterprises scheme (PM-FME Scheme). 
  • PM-FME Scheme has been launched with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore for a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25. 
  • He also launched the GIS One District One Product (ODOP) digital map of India.
  • It provides details of ODOP products of all the states and facilitates the stakeholders to make concerted efforts for its value chain development. 
  • The digital map also has indicators for tribal, Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and aspirational districts.


  • The component envisages imparting training to food processing entrepreneurs, various groups, viz., self-help groups (SHGs), Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), Co-operatives, workers, and other stakeholders associated with the implementation of the PM-FME scheme.
  • Training would be given to the master trainers through online mode, classroom lecture and demonstration, and self-paced online learning material.
  • The master trainers will then train the district-level trainers, who will eventually train the beneficiaries.


“Microwave Weapons”

  • The Indian Army has rejected “fake” a report which claimed that the Chinese army had used “microwave weapons” to drive Indian soldiers away from their positions in eastern Ladakh.
  • Microwave Weapons are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
  • China had first put on display its “microwave weapon”, called Poly WB-1, at an air show in 2014. 
  • The United States has also developed a prototype microwave-style weapon, which it calls the “Active Denial System”.
  • The US apparently deployed such a weapon in Afghanistan, but withdrew it without ever using it against human targets.
  • Microwave Weapons use beams of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation to heat the water in a human target’s skin, causing pain and discomfort.
  • A number of countries are thought to have developed these weapons to target both humans and electronic systems.
  • Concerns have been raised on whether they can damage the eyes, or have a carcinogenic impact in the long term.


LNG fuelling stations

  • Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel, Dharmendra Pradhan, laid the foundation stone for the first 50 LNG fuelling stations across the golden quadrilateral and major National Highways.
  • All LNG stations were connected through video conference during the event with the minister.
  • According to an official release, this is part of a slew of initiatives of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in realizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of transforming India into a Gas based economy.
  • These 50 LNG stations will be set up and commissioned in partnership by the country’s Oil and Gas majors such as IOCL, BPCL, HPCL, GAIL, PLL, Gujarat Gas and their Joint Venture Companies and subsidiaries.
  • Out of these 50 LNG stations, IOCL will set up 20 LNG stations, while BPCL and HPCL will set up 11 each LNG station. 
  • Rest LNG fuel stations are being put up by Gujarat Gas and Joint Venture companies of GAIL and OMCs. 
  • These 50 LNG stations are being put up at the nation’s Golden quadrilateral and major National highways where LNG is to be made available for heavy vehicles and buses.
  • Natural gas is already in consumption by vehicles as CNG, but when used as LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), its benefits increase multifold.
  • Long-haul trucks and buses favour LNG because of its higher energy density than CNG and the ability to travel up to 600 Km to 800 Km in a single fill. 
  • LNG as a fuel is revolutionary for the transport segment and switching to LNG will not only reduce the cost of operations but also make a drastic reduction in carbon emission and enhance energy security because of substitution of crude oil with LNG.
  • It has envisaged the commission of about 1000 LNG stations along all major highways and industrial centers in the coming three years with an investment potential of about 10,000 crores. 
  • It has also been envisaged to convert about 10 per cent of long-haul heavy-duty vehicles from alternated fuel to LNG.


Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System Project

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, National Capital Region Transport Corporation Limited (NCRTC) and the New Development Bank (NDB) signed a loan agreement for lending 500 million dollars for the ‘Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System Project’.

  • The Rapid Transit System will provide a fast, reliable, safe, and comfortable public transport system in the National Capital Region.
  • Due to the lack of efficient public transport options, the number of private vehicles in NCR has increased. 
  • It can take about 3 to 4 hours to travel between Delhi and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh by road during peak hours. 
  • Rapid growth in vehicular traffic has made NCR one of the most polluted regions in the world.
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