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Current Affairs 20th December 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam

Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS)

Context: 11 States and two UTs have been named as ‘Achievers’ in the LEADS (Logistics Ease Across Different States) 2023 report released by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoC&I).

About Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS)

  • Inspired by: The World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI)
  • Introduced in: 2018
  • Established by: the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoC&I).
  • About: It’s an annual ranking exercise providing insights into the improvement of logistics performance at the State/UT level.
  • Parameters: Logistics Infrastructure,
    • Logistics Services and
    • Operating and Regulatory Environment.

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Swadesh Darshan scheme

Context: Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced a Rs 72-crore project for the rapid redevelopment of Punourdham in Sitamarhi, the believed birthplace of Sita, aiming to enhance its appeal to devotees.

About Swadesh Darshan Scheme

Aspect Details
Implementing Ministry Ministry of Tourism
Scheme Type Central Sector Scheme
Launch Year 2014-15
Aim To leverage tourism as a key economic driver, integrate it with initiatives like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Make in India, and foster job creation, economic growth, and sectoral synergy.
Circuits 15 identified circuits for development: Himalayan Circuit, North East Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Tirthankar Circuit, Sufi Circuit.
Swadesh Darshan Scheme 2.0 It encompasses tourism and allied infrastructure, services, human capital development, destination management, promotion, and policy and institutional reforms.
Major Themes Identified themes for tourism development under the scheme include Culture and Heritage, Adventure Tourism, Eco-Tourism, Wellness Tourism, MICE Tourism, Rural Tourism, Beach Tourism, and Cruises (Ocean & Inland).

Places of Worship Act, 1991

Context: The Allahabad High Court approved a survey of the Shahi Idgah mosque, located next to Mathura’s Krishna Janmabhoomi temple.

About Places Of Worship Act, 1991

Aspect of the Act Description
Nature of Place of Worship The Act maintains that the religious character of a place of worship should remain as it was at the time of Indian Independence (15th August 1947).
No Alteration (Section 3) Prohibits any change in the religious denomination of a place of worship, either in whole or in part. This includes conversion to a different denomination or segment within the same religion.
Specific Date (Section 4(1)) Establishes 15th August 1947, as the cutoff date to preserve the status quo of any place of worship.
Nullifies Suit or Appeal (Section 4(2)) Any legal proceedings or suits regarding the conversion of a place of worship existing on 15th August 1947, pending in court, shall be discontinued. No new suits or legal proceedings can be initiated post the Act.
Exception (Section 5) Excludes from its purview: ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958; cases already settled or disposed of; and disputes settled by parties before the Act commenced. Also, it does not apply to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case in Ayodhya.

Customised mRNA

Context: The World Health Organization’s Science Council recently issued a report analysing mRNA vaccine technology’s potential benefits and limitations.

About mRNA

  • Nature: mRNA is single-stranded RNA crucial in protein synthesis.
  • Formation: Produced from DNA during the transcription process.
  • Function: Carries genetic codes for synthesising proteins, known as transcripts.
  • Applications:
    • Precisional Drugs: Effective in treating complex diseases, like propionic acidaemia, by supplementing deficient liver proteins.
    • Customization: Easily editable to tailor to specific proteins for targeted drug delivery.
    • Cancer Therapeutics: Utilised in creating cancer vaccines and immunotherapies, encoding tumour antigens and tumour suppressors.

India launches first winter mission to Arctic

Context: The team from Raman Research Institute(RRI) was chosen to conduct various experiments in India’s first winter expedition to arctic region.

About the Expedition

  • Funded by: The Earth Sciences Ministry.
  • Nodal Agency: The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research in Goa.
  • Objective:
    • Analysis of radio frequencies in Norway’s Arctic Svalbard for potential astronomical observations.
    • It aims to maintain India’s continuous presence throughout the year at Himadri station.
Research initiatives of India in the Arctic are Himadari and IndARC.

  • Cosmic dawn: It signifies the era when the first stars and galaxies emerged in the universe.

Number of CAG audits on Union govt. tabled in Parliament hits a low

Context: Only 18 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit reports on the Union government’s accounts are tabled in parliament.

Trends Of Report

Aspect Details
Data Source Analysis of over 400 CAG audit reports between 2010-2023.
Report Decline Reports decreased from 40 (2014-2018) to 22 (2019-2023).
Railways Department Reports reduced from 27 to 14 in the last five years.
Civil Department Reports declined from 42 to 34 in the last five years.
Defense Department Latest report available is from 2017.
Workforce Shortage in IA&AD Staff strength decreased from 48,253 (2013-14) to 41,675 (2021-22).
Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IA&AS) Officers Officer count dropped to 553 in 2021-22 from 789 in 2014-15.
Sanctioned Strength Stability Employee count as a share of sanctioned posts remained mostly stagnant.
Budget Allocation Decline Indian Audit and Accounts Department (IA&AD) budget allocation as a percentage of the Union Budget fell from 0.19% (FY17) to 0.13% (FY24).


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