25th November 2020

India International Cherry Blossom Festival

India International Cherry Blossom Festival, the calendar event of Meghalaya which attracts record number of tourists annually in Shillong, has been cancelled this year in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The capital, Shillong hosts the only Cherry Blossoms festival in India.

  • These beautiful flowers can be spotted across Meghalaya during this time of the year.

  • It is expected that the flowers will continue to bloom till the end of November.

  • But people of Meghalaya celebrate festivals through virtual mode.

  • The beautiful hill station Shillong in Meghalaya has turned pink with blooming cherry blossoms.

  • Every year, the Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong hosts a plethora of events like fitness art, fashion show, rock concerts and much more.

  • This time, the pomp and fervour of the festival will be missed.

  • Due to the COVID -19 pandemic, the Cherry Blossom Festival held annually in Shillong has been cancelled this year.

  • But, the wispy pink-and-white blooms that adorn the town’s trees around this time of the year have kept their promise, bringing cheer to the people.

  • Local tourist is happy to see blooming cherry flowers and they are sharing the latest pictures and videos about cherry blossom on a social media platform for friends and relatives.

  • Everyone hopes if everything will be normal that they will celebrate the cherry blossom festival next year.

People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD)

Ever since the Congress party initiated talks with the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) for the November-December District Development Council (DDC) elections, the BJP has been on a tirade against the leaders of what it calls the “Gupkar Gang”.

  • People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) was formerly known as Gupkar Declaration.

  • It is a political alliance between the multiple mainstream regional political parties of Jammu and Kashmir aimed at safeguarding and restoring special status along with Article 35A of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

  • The Declaration signed on 4 August 2019 stated that modification or abrogation of Article 35A or Article 370 would be aggression against the people of J&K. 

  • The venue was the Gupkar Residence in Srinagar and thus it became known as the Gupkar Declaration.

  • Gupkar Declaration II, signed on 22 August 2020 by the six political parties asserted that the signatories were bound by August 4, 2019 Gupkar declaration and parties would strive for restoration of Article 370 and Article 35a.

All India Presiding Officers’ Conference at Kevadiya, Gujarat

  • President Ram Nath Kovind will inaugurate the two-day 80th All India Presiding Officers’ Conference at Kevadiya, Gujarat.

  • The conference, organised on the theme ‘Harmonious coordination between Legislature, Executive and Judiciary — Key to a vibrant democracy’, and will see discussions on ways to ensure constitutional accountability of the legislature and the executive to the people. 

  • It will also take up issues related to working of the state legislatures in a disciplined and orderly fashion. 

  • The event, also known as the Speakers’ Conference, will end on the Constitution Day (November 26) with a virtual address by Prime Minister.

  • Birla is also the chairperson of the conference, which is in its centenary year now.

  • Theme of this year’s conference is Harmonious Coordination of Legislative, Executive and Judiciary- Key to a Vibrant Democracy.

  • Various sessions will be organised in which presiding officers will exchange their views and shared best practices. discussions will also be held on ways to make the proceedings of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies more productive.

  • On 26th November which is celebrated as Constitution Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the valedictory session of the conference.

Neutralising Antibodies

  • A new study in Pune has revealed that nearly 85% of the people who had been found infected with novel coronavirus in a serosurvey, conducted earlier, had developed neutralising antibodies. 

  • In other words, these people had developed immunity against the disease.

  • It is sometimes thought that everyone who is infected with a disease-causing virus, and recovers, becomes immune to the disease, because they build antibodies against it. But that is not the case. 

  • While the creation of antibodies is necessary for the recovery process, it does not guarantee immunity against a future attack from the same virus.

  • Immunity comes from what are known as “neutralising” or “protective” antibodies.

  • Neutralising antibodies, like other antibodies that are created to fight the disease, are nothing but proteins. 

  • These are a small subset of the disease-specific antibodies that are generated once an infection has occurred. 

  • The neutralising antibodies become special because they have the ability to thwart the entry of the same virus inside human bodies in the future.

  • The other antibodies help in fighting off the virus once the infection has already happened.

  • Serosurveys, like the ones that have been conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and other cities, only look for the presence of antibodies in people. 

  • Their purpose is to find out whether a person has been infected with the virus or not, and through random testing of people, estimate the extent of spread of the disease, or prevalence, in a population group. 

  • Detection of disease-specific antibodies confirms that the person had been infected with the virus in the past.

  • But a further test needs to be carried out to detect the presence of neutralising antibodies. 

  • This is what has happened in the case of Pune. So far, this is the only study that has looked for neutralising antibodies.

15th G-20 Summit

Terming the COVID-19 pandemic an important turning point in history of humanity and the biggest challenge the world is facing since World War II, Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 summit called for a new global index based on talent, technology, transparency and trusteeship towards the planet in the post-corona world.

  • Modi also said that “Work from Anywhere” is a new normal in the post-COVID world and suggested creation of a virtual G20 secretariat as a follow up and documentation repository.

  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman opened the Group of 20 Summit as the coronavirus pandemic overshadowed this year’s gathering of heads of state that is being held in the virtual format.

  • Multi-skilling and re-skilling to build a talent pool will enhance dignity and resilience of workers, he said, adding that the value of new technologies should be measured by their benefit to humanity.

  • “Transparency in our processes helps in inspiring our societies to fight crisis collectively and with confidence. Spirit of trusteeship towards planet Earth will inspire us for a healthy and holistic lifestyle,” he said in a series of tweets.

  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a statement on Modi’s participation in the G20, said the prime minister termed the COVID-19 pandemic as an important turning point in history of humanity and the biggest challenge the world is facing since World War II.

Creation and Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities- CEFPPC

  • The Central government has approved 28 Food Processing Projects worth over 320 crore rupees, said the Ministry of Food Processing Industries. 

  • The projects are spread over 10 states and are likely to generate employment for nearly 10,000 people.

  • The  Ministry of Food Processing Industries has supported the projects with a grant of over 107 crore rupees. 

  • They were approved under the Scheme for Creation and Expansion of Food Processing and Preservation Capacities- CEFPPC in the Inter-Ministerial Approval Committee (IMAC) meeting. 

  • Union Minister of Food Processing Industries  Narendra Singh Tomar chaired the IMAC meeting through video conference to review the projects under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY) for necessary Grants-in-aid. Junior minister Rameswar Teli was also present in the meeting.

  • These 28 projects will create a processing capacity of 1,237 Metric Tonnes every day across the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Assam, and Manipur.

Jal Jeevan Mission

A multi-disciplinary Technical Committee in the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti has recommended five technologies in Drinking Water and Sanitation to provide Field Level Solutions to the States.

The Ministry of Jal Shakti gives primacy to the infusion and deployment of innovative technological solutions to realize the ambitious objective of the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide Functional Household Tap Connection to every rural home by 2024.

  • The first of the five technologies that have been recommended is Grundfos AQpure, a solar energy based water treatment plant based on ultra-filtration.

  • The Second is Janajal Water on Wheel, an IoT based electric vehicle based on GPS location to enable delivery of safe water to the doorstep of households.

  • Another technology is Presto Online Chlorinator, a non-electricity dependent online chlorinator for disinfection of water for removal of bacterial contamination.

  • Johkasou technology recommended is an inbuilt sewage and Kitchen and bath water treatment system having advanced anaerobic-aerobic configuration that can be installed underground.

  • The last innovative technology is FBTec®, a site assembled in a decentralised sewage treatment system using fixed filter media.

SITMEX

Indian Navy (IN) Ships including indigenously built ASW corvette Kamorta and missile corvette Karmuk participated in the 2nd edition of India, Singapore and Thailand Trilateral Maritime Exercise SITMEX-20, from in Andaman Sea.

  • The first edition of SITMEX, hosted by Indian Navy, was conducted off Port Blair in September 2019.

  • The SITMEX series of exercises are conducted to enhance mutual inter-operability and imbibing best practices between IN, Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and Royal Thai Navy (RTN).

  • The 2020 edition of the exercise is being hosted by RSN.

Chandigarh as a Union Territory?

  • Earlier this month, Haryana Deputy Chief Minister said it would be better if both Haryana and Punjab agreed on Chandigarh as a Union Territory and make their independent capitals and Benches of High Courts. 

  • On November 1, Haryana was celebrating 54 years of its formation as a separate state after it was carved out of undivided Punjab in 1966. 

  • The statement once again brought into focus the long-simmering dispute between the two states over one of India’s most modern cities. But Punjab has always refuted Haryana’s claims over Chandigarh. 

  • Chandigarh was planned to replace Lahore, the capital of erstwhile Punjab, which became part of Pakistan during the Partition. 

  • In March 1948, the Government of (India’s) Punjab, in consultation with the Centre, approved the area of the foothills of the Shivaliks as the site for the new capital. 

  • From 1952 to 1966 (till Haryana was carved out of Punjab), Chandigarh remained the capital of Punjab.

  • At the time of reorganisation of Punjab in 1966, the city assumed the unique distinction of being the capital of both Punjab and Haryana, even as it was declared a union territory and was placed under the direct control of the Centre. 

  • The properties in Chandigarh were to be divided in 60:40 ratio in favour of Punjab.  

  • The-then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had announced that Haryana, in due course, would have its own capital and Chandigarh would go to Punjab. 

  • As per documents submitted in the Lok Sabha, the Centre had even issued a formal communication is this regard on January 29, 1970, almost three years after Haryana came into being. 

  • “After very carefully weighing the claims of the two states, the capital project area of Chandigarh should, as a whole, go to Punjab,” says the note. 

  • Again, in 1985, under the Rajiv-Longowal accord, Chandigarh was to be handed over to Punjab on January 26, 1986, but the Rajiv Gandhi government withdrew at the last minute.

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