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Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. Garbage-free star rating for the cities.

2. Hotter oceans spawn super cyclones.

GS Paper 2:

1. Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme (VAP).

GS Paper 3:

1. Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojana.

2. What is ‘Solar Minimum’ and why is it happening now?

3. Long-term monitoring of tigers, co-predators and prey species in TATR.

Facts for Prelims:

1. Revised criteria for medium units.

2. National Test Abhyas.


GS Paper  : 1


Topics Covered: developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Garbage-free star rating for the cities

What to study?

For Prelims: Rankings of various cities, methodology used for ranking.

For Mains: Significance of the rankings, relevance, challenges ahead, ways to address them.

Context: Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has announced the results of garbage-free star rating for the cities.

Key highlights:

  1. A total of 141 cities have been rated — six of them 5-star, 65 of three-star, 70 one-star.
  2. Around 6 cities were given 5-star rating. This includes Ambikapur, Surat, Rajkot, Mysuru, Indore and Navi Mumbai.
  3. Karnal, New Delhi, Tirupati, Vijayawada, Chandigarh, Bhilai Nagar, Ahmedabad are among ‘three-star garbage free rating while Delhi Cantonment, Vadodara, Rohtak are among one-star garbage free cities.

About the star rating initiative:

The star rating protocol was launched by the central government in January 2018 to institutionalize a mechanism for cities to achieve garbage free status leading to a higher degrees of cleanliness.

The protocol includes components such as cleanliness of drains & water bodies, plastic waste management, managing construction & demolition waste which are critical drivers for achieving garbage free cities.

It is one of the various initiatives which intends to make Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) as a successful project.

How cities are give ratings?

  • The Star Rating is supported by self-assessment and self-verification for achieving a certain star rating.
  • It also ensures the involvement of citizen groups for a transparent system of self-declaration.
  • The self-declaration is further verified through an independent third party agency appointed by MoHUA.


The performance of cities under the Star Rating Protocol is crucial as it carries significant weightage for their final assessment in Swachh Survekshan.

It also ensures certain minimum standards of sanitation through a set of prerequisites defined in the framework.

Since the rating is conducted at a city level, it makes the process easier to implement and helps the cities incrementally improve their overall cleanliness.


Prelims Link:

  1. What is swachh survekshan survey? Who conducts it?
  2. SBM urban vs rural.
  3. Cities with 5- star rating?
  4. Objectives Of SBM Rural.
  5. Methodology used for rating of cities.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Swachh Bharat Mission.


Sources: pib.


Topics Covered: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.

Hotter oceans spawn super cyclones

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Tropical Cyclones- formation, factors responsible, why eastern coast is more vulnerable and related information.

Context: Super cyclone Amphan that is barrelling towards West Bengal is the strongest storm to have formed in the BoB since the Super Cyclone of 1999 that ravaged Paradip in Odisha.

Cyclone Amphan intensified from a category-1 cyclone to category-5 in 18 hours, an unusually quick evolution.

Factors responsible for the intensification of cyclones in BoB:

Higher than normal temperatures in the Bay of Bengal (BoB) may be whetting ‘super cyclones’ and the lockdown, indirectly, may have played a role.

  1. Cyclones gain their energy from the heat and moisture generated from warm ocean surfaces. This year, the BoB has posted record summer temperatures a fall-out, as researchers have warned, of global warming from fossil fuel emissions that has been heating up oceans.
  2. Lockdown impact: Reduced particulate matter emissions during the lockdown meant fewer aerosols, such as black carbon, that are known to reflect sunlight and heat away from the surface.

General factors responsible for the origin of Cyclones in Bay of Bengal region are:

  1. Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27° C.
  2. Presence of the Coriolis force enough to create a cyclonic vortex.
  3. Small variations in the vertical wind speed.
  4. A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation.
  5. Upper divergence above the sea level system.

Arabian Sea is comparatively less prone to cyclonic storms than Bay of Bengal:

Temperature: BOB is hotter than Arabian sea. Hot water temperature is the basic criteria for the development & intensification of cyclones.

Salinity: Arabian sea has higher salinity than BOB. It’s easier to heat & simultaneously evaporate water having lower salinity.

Location: The typhoons originating in the Pacific Ocean too influences the cyclones in BOB, not the case in Arabian Sea.

Movement: According to IMD cyclones originating in Arabian Sea are believed to move northwest. So they actually move away from Indian mainland.

The Bay receives higher rainfall and constant inflow of fresh water from the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers. This means that the Bay’s surface water keeps getting refreshed, making it impossible for the warm water to mix with the cooler water below, making it ideal for a depression.


Prelims Link:

  1. Factors responsible for the genesis of cyclones.
  2. Naming of cyclones in various regions of the world.
  3. Why more cyclones in Eastern coast of India?
  4. What is coriolis force?
  5. What is latent heat of condensation?

Mains Link:

Discuss the factors responsible for the formation of tropical cyclones.

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  : 2


Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme (VAP)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the programme.

Context: In the context of the current pandemic, India and US under the Vaccine Action Programme (VAP) are planning to collaborate on the development and testing of vaccine candidates and diagnostics for Covid-19.


The U.S has already announced a donation of 200 ventilators to India. The ventilators, which will be paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), are part of the $5.9 million in funding announced till date for India.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said it would separately fund the Government of India $3.6 million to support prevention, preparedness, and response activities in India, in collaboration with and concurrence from the GoI.

About Vaccine Action Programme (VAP):

The VAP is an Indo-US bilateral program, which supports a broad spectrum of activities relating to new and improved vaccines.

Focus: The programme was designed to encompass laboratory-based research, evaluation of candidate vaccines, testing for clinical development, vaccine quality control, delivery of vaccines and so on.

The programme is under implementation since July, 1987 under the Gandhi-Reagan Science & Technology Agreement.


Major projects were initiated under VAP in the areas of rotaviral diarrhoea, dengue, viral hepatitis, acute respiratory infections, tuberculosis, malaria, typhoid, E. coli, leishmaniasis, pneumococcal, HIV/AIDS, etc.

With completion of 25 years of its implementation, DBT celebrated the silver jubilee function of VAP in September 2012.


Prelims Link:

  1. Difference between Vaccination and Immunisation?
  2. About GAVI Alliance.
  3. What is USAID?
  4. What are antigens and antibodies?

Mains Link:

Write a note on Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme (VAP).

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojana

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the scheme.

For Mains: Significance of the scheme.

Context: Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojana will be launched by Chhattisgarh government to ensure “minimum income availability” to farmers of the state through direct bank transfer.

The scheme will formally be launched in the state on May 21, the death anniversary of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

 Benefits under the scheme:

  • Based on registered area and area under cultivation during Kharif crop season 2019, Rs 10,000 per acre will be deposited in the bank accounts of farmers as agriculture assistance grant for sowing crops such as paddy, maize and sugarcane.
  • At least 19 lakh farmers will benefit from the scheme, for which the state government had allocated Rs 5,756 crore in the budget 2020-21.
  • Similarly, for sugarcane crop, payment of FRP amount of Rs 261 per quintal and incentive and input support, amounting to Rs 93.75 per quintal, i.e. maximum Rs 355 per quintal, will be made depending on the quantity of sugarcane purchased by the cooperative mill in the crushing year 2019-20.
  • Under this, 34,637 farmers of the state will get Rs 73 crore 55 lakh in four instalments and the first instalment of this amount, Rs 18,43 crore will be transferred on May 21.
  • The government is also going to provide incentive money (outstanding bonus) at the rate of Rs 50 per quintal based on the quantity of sugarcane purchased through cooperative sugar factories in the year 2018-19.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

What is ‘Solar Minimum’ and why is it happening now?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Meaning, features and reasons behind, relevance and implications.

Context: The sun is said to have gone into a state called the ‘solar minimum’ and is about to enter the deepest period of ‘sunshine recession’ as sunspots are virtually not visibly at all.

Some reports suggest that it has been almost 100 days this year when the sun has shown zero sunspots.


What is solar minimum and why is it happening now?

Sun has a cycle that lasts on average 11 years, and right now we are at the peak of that cycle.

Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm. This is called the solar minimum. And it’s a regular part of the sunspot cycle.


While intense activity such as sunspots and solar flares subside during solar minimum, that doesn’t mean the sun becomes dull. Solar activity simply changes form. For instance, during solar minimum we can see the development of long-lived coronal holes.

But, this may cause health risks to astronauts travelling through space as “the sun’s magnetic field weakens and provides less shielding from these cosmic rays.”


Prelims Link:

  1. What are solar flares?
  2. What are sunspots?
  3. How solar flares affect earth’s magnetic field?
  4. What is sun’s 11 year cycle?

Sources: times now.


Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Long-term monitoring of tigers, co-predators and prey species in TATR

What to study?

For Prelims: Tadoba Andhari tiger Reserve- location, significance and threats.

For Mains: Need for Conservation of biodiversity, challenges and ways to address them.

Context: A new prey and predator estimation in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district has found the presence of 115 tigers and 151 leopards inside the 1,727 sq km of the core and buffer areas of the reserve in 2019.

The estimation was done as part of the ‘Long-term monitoring of tigers, co-predators and prey species in TATR’.

Key findings:

Although the tiger numbers appear to be up as compared to 2018, the population density shows a decline from 5.51 to 5.23 per 100 sq km. This is because of coverage of more area this year.

The overall tiger count in Chandrapur district alone is more than 200, which is about two-third of the total number of tigers in the state.

About TATR:

It is Maharashtra’s oldest and largest national park.

Created in 1995, the Reserve includes the Tadoba National Park and the Andhari Wildlife Sanctuary.

Tadoba” is taken from the name of the god “Tadoba” or “Taru”, worshipped by the tribes who live in the dense forests of the Tadoba and Andhari region, while “Andhari” refers to the Andhari river that meanders through the forest.

Tadoba reserve covers the Chimur Hills, and the Andhari sanctuary covers the Moharli and Kolsa ranges.

Sources: Indian Express.


Facts for Prelims

Govt to revise criteria for medium units:

Days after changing the definition of MSMEs, the government has decided to further revise the criteria for medium units by enhancing the investment and turnover limits to up to Rs 50 crore and Rs 200 crore respectively.

According to the revised definition:

  • Any firm with investment up to Rs 1 crore and turnover under Rs 5 crore will be classified as “micro”.
  • A company with investment up to Rs 10 crore and turnover up to Rs 50 crore will be classified as “small”.

National Test Abhyas:

The AI-powered mobile App has been developed by National Testing Agency (NTA) to enable candidates to take mock tests for upcoming exams such as JEE Main, NEET under the NTA’s purview.

Launched by Human Resources Development Ministry recently.


Insights Current Affairs Analysis (ICAN) by IAS Topper