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InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.

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Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

1. How Election Commission decides on party symbols?

2. Centre allows additional borrowing by 20 States.

3. Tech For Tribals.


GS Paper 3:

1. Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN).

2. Gujarat Disturbed Areas Act.

3. Fly Ash.


Facts for Prelims:

1. Single SBI branch for all FCRA accounts: govt.

2. Places in News- Chushul.

3. Earthshot Prize.

4. What are ‘murder hornets’ and ‘furry puss caterpillars’?

5. Aquaponics.


GS Paper  : 2


Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.

How Election Commission decides on party symbols?

Why in News?

Bihar Assembly Election 2020: Voters can expect to see a myriad of symbols like chapatti roller, dolli, bangles, capsicum on the ballots.

What is the need for election symbols?

The symbols help the several unrecognised parties and independent candidates differentiate themselves from one another and help voters identify the party of their choice.

How many types of symbols are there?

As per the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) (Amendment) Order, 2017, party symbols are either:

  1. Reserved: Eight national parties and 64 state parties across the country have “reserved” symbols.
  2. Free: The Election Commission also has a pool of nearly 200 “free” symbols that are allotted to the thousands of unrecognised regional parties that pop up before elections.

How are symbols allotted to political parties?

As per the guidelines, to get a symbol allotted:

  1. A party/candidate has to provide a list of three symbols from the EC’s free symbols list at the time of filing nomination papers.
  2. Among them, one symbol is allotted to the party/candidate on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  3. When a recognised political party splits, the Election Commission takes the decision on assigning the symbol.

Powers of Election Commission:

The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968 empowers the EC to recognise political parties and allot symbols.

  • Under Paragraph 15 of the Order, it can decide disputes among rival groups or sections of a recognised political party staking claim to its name and symbol.
  • The EC is also the only authority to decide issues on a dispute or a merger. The Supreme Court upheld its validity in Sadiq Ali and another vs. ECI in 1971.


Prelims Link:

  1. Recognition of political parties.
  2. What are state parties and national parties?
  3. Benefits for recognized parties.
  4. Who assigns party symbols? What are the types?
  5. Who decides on issues related to merger of political parties?

Mains Link:

Discuss how are symbols allotted to political parties?

Sources: Indian Express.


Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Centre allows additional borrowing by 20 States:


The Finance Ministry has permitted 20 States  to raise ₹68,825 crore through open market borrowings.


These 20 States, the expenditure department said, had conveyed their acceptance of the first borrowing option offered by the Centre to meet GST compensation shortfalls.

  • Under this, States could borrow ₹1.1 lakh crore from the market with principal and interest payments to be paid out of GST cess collections whose levy has been extended beyond 2022.

Why states need centre’s permission while borrowing? Is it mandatory for all states?

Article 293(3) of the Constitution requires states to obtain the Centre’s consent in order to borrow in case the state is indebted to the Centre over a previous loan.

  • This consent can also be granted subject to certain conditions by virtue of Article 293(4).
  • In practice, the Centre has been exercising this power in accordance with the recommendations of the Finance Commission.

Every single state is currently indebted to the Centre and thus, all of them require the Centre’s consent in order to borrow.

Does the Centre have unfettered power to impose conditions under this provision?

Neither does the provision itself offer any guidance on this, nor is there any judicial precedent that one could rely on.

  • Interestingly, even though this question formed part of the terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, it was not addressed in its interim report.

So, when can the centre impose conditions?

The Centre can impose conditions only when it gives consent for state borrowing, and it can only give such consent when the state is indebted to the Centre.

Why are such restrictions necessary?

  • One possible purpose behind conferring this power upon the Centre was to protect its interests in the capacity of a creditor.
  • A broader purpose of ensuring macroeconomic stability is also discernible, since state indebtedness negatively affects the fiscal health of the nation as a whole.


Prelims Link:

  1. Article 293 is related to?
  2. Do states need Centre’s permission to Borrow from markets?
  3. Finance Commission- composition.
  4. Functions of the Finance Commission.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Tech For Tribals launched:

TRIFED, IIT Kanpur and Chhattisgarh MFP Federation E-Launch “Tech for Tribals” Initiative.

What is it?

It is a programme by TRIFED, in collaboration with the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) under the Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Programme (ESDP) programme.

  • It aims at the holistic development of tribals with a focus on entrepreneurship development, soft skills, IT, and business development through SHGs operating through Van Dhan Vikas Kendras (VDVKs).

What are Van Dhan Kendras?

TRIFED under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is establishing 1,200 “Van Dhan Vikas Kendra (VDVK)”, across 28 States engaging 3.6 Lakhs Tribal Forest Produce gatherers.

  • One typical VDVK comprises of 15 Self Help Groups, each consisting of 20 Tribal gatherers.

About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative:

  • The initiative aims to promote MFPs-centric livelihood development of tribal gatherers and artisans.
  • It mainstreams the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level.
  • Significance: Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from the present 20% to around 60%.


Prelims Link:

  1. Van Dhan Kendras- objectives, composition and functions.
  2. TRIFED- functions.
  3. What are classified as MFPs?
  4. Institutes of National Importance (INIs)- recognition and benefits.

Mains Link:

Write a note on Pradhan Mantri VanDhan Yojana (PMVDY).

Sources: PIB.


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN):


The eVIN network is being repurposed for the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

About eVIN:

The eVIN is an innovative technological solution aimed at strengthening immunization supply chain systems across the country.

This is being implemented under the National Health Mission (NHM) by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

  • It aims to provide real-time information on vaccine stocks and flows, and storage temperatures across all cold chain points in the country.

Benefits of eVIN:

  • It has helped create a big data architecture that generates actionable analytics encouraging data-driven decision-making and consumption-based planning.
  • It helps in maintaining optimum stocks of vaccines leading to cost savings. Vaccine availability at all times has increased to 99% in most health centres in India.
  • While instances of stock-outs have reduced by 80%, the time taken to replenish stocks has also decreased by more than half, on an average.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.

Gujarat Disturbed Areas Act:

Why in News?

President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the amended Disturbed Areas Act passed by the Gujarat Legislative Assembly last year.


The bill was brought last year to amend the ”The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act”, 1991, commonly referred to as the Disturbed Areas Act.

  • The government had added some stringent provisions amid complaints from people that the current act was unable to curb the illegal sale or transfer of their properties in such notified disturbed areas.

What is the Disturbed Areas Act?

Under the Disturbed Areas Act, a district Collector can notify a particular area of a city or town as a “disturbed area”. This notification is generally done based on the history of communal riots in the area.

  • Following this notification, the transfer of immovable property in the disturbed area can take place only after the Collector expressly signs off on an application made by the buyer and the seller of the property.
  • In the application, the seller has to attach an affidavit stating that she/he has sold the property of her/his free volition, and that she/he has got a fair market price.

Latest Amendments:

  1. The amended law would stop polarisation and keep a check on attempts to cause any “demographic imbalance”.
  2. The Act bans sale of property by members of one religious community to those from another community without the prior approval of the district collector in areas declared as “disturbed areas”.
  3. To stop people from acquiring properties in disturbed areas through illegal means, the act proposes imprisonment between three to five years along with a fine of Rs 1 lakh or 10 per cent of value of property, whichever is higher.
  4. The word “transfer” now includes sale, gift, exchange, lease or taking possession of the property by way of power of attorney.
  5. The act also empowers the state government to form a “monitoring and advisory committee” to keep a check on the demographic structure in the disturbed areas.
  6. The government can form a special investigation team (SIT) to assist the state government in forming opinion before declaring any area to be a disturbed one.

Role of Collector:

  • The collector can now check if there is any “likelihood of polarisation”, “disturbance in demographic equilibrium” or any “likelihood of improper clustering of persons of a community” if the transfer takes place.
  • The collector can reject the application of transfer after making assessment on these grounds. The aggrieved person can now file an appeal with the state government against the collector”s order.


Prelims Link:

  1. Key Provisions of the act.
  2. Power of Governor to reserve state bills for President’s consideration.
  3. Articles 175 and 200.


Sources: Indian Express.


Topics Covered: Pollution related issues.

Fly Ash:


NTPC Ltd. under Ministry of Power, has started to collaborate with cement manufacturers across the country to supply fly ash as part of its endeavour to achieve 100% utilisation of the by-product produced during power generation.

What is Fly Ash?

Popularly known as Flue ash or pulverised fuel ash, it is a coal combustion product.


Composed of the particulates that are driven out of coal-fired boilers together with the flue gases.

  • Depending upon the source and composition of the coal being burned, the components of fly ash vary considerably, but all fly ash includes substantial amounts of silicon dioxide (SiO2), aluminium oxide (Al2O3) and calcium oxide (CaO), the main mineral compounds in coal-bearing rock strata.
  • Minor constituents include: arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with very small concentrations of dioxins and PAH compounds. It also has unburnt carbon.

Health and environmental hazards:

Toxic heavy metals present: All the heavy metals found in fly ash nickel, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, lead, etc—are toxic in nature. They are minute, poisonous particles accumulate in the respiratory tract, and cause gradual poisoning.

Radiation: For an equal amount of electricity generated, fly ash contains a hundred times more radiation than nuclear waste secured via dry cask or water storage.

Water pollution: The breaching of ash dykes and consequent ash spills occur frequently in India, polluting a large number of water bodies.

Effects on environment: The destruction of mangroves, drastic reduction in crop yields, and the pollution of groundwater in the Rann of Kutch from the ash sludge of adjoining Coal power plants has been well documented.

However, fly ash can be used in the following ways:

  1. Concrete production, as a substitute material for Portland cement, sand.
  2. Fly-ash pellets which can replace normal aggregate in concrete mixture.
  3. Embankments and other structural fills.
  4. Cement clinker production – (as a substitute material for clay).
  5. Stabilization of soft soils.
  6. Road subbase construction.
  7. As aggregate substitute material (e.g. for brick production).
  8. Agricultural uses: soil amendment, fertilizer, cattle feeders, soil stabilization in stock feed yards, and agricultural stakes.
  9. Loose application on rivers to melt ice.
  10. Loose application on roads and parking lots for ice control.


Prelims Link:

  1. What is fly ash?
  2. Sources.
  3. Pollutants.
  4. Potential applications.

Mains Link:

What is fly ash? What are its effects on human health and environment?


Sources: PIB.


Facts for Prelims

Single SBI branch for all FCRA accounts: govt:

The Union Home Ministry has asked all NGOs seeking foreign donations to open a designated FCRA account at the State Bank of India’s New Delhi branch by March 31, 2021.

NGOs registered under FCRA shall not receive any foreign donations in any other bank account from April 1, 2021.

As of now there are 22,434 such NGOs and associations active under the FCRA.

  • Background: In September, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2020 was amended by Parliament and a new provision that makes it mandatory for all non-government organisations and associations to receive foreign funds in a designated bank account at SBI’s New Delhi branch was inserted.

Places in News- Chushul:

It is a village in Leh, Ladakh, India.

It is located in the Durbuk tehsil, in the area known as “Chushul valley”.

  • It is close to Rezang La and Panggong Lake at a height of 4,360 metres.
  • Chushul is one of the five officially agreed Border Personnel Meeting points between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies to improve relations.
  • This place is famous for the Indian Army who fought to the ‘last man, last round’ at Rezang La (Chushul) on November 18, 1962. Without this crucial victory, the territory might have been captured by China.


Earthshot Prize:

Launched by PRINCE William and and The Royal Foundation.

It offers £50m (US$65m) in funding for solutions to the environmental and climate crises.


  • To provide an incentive to find solutions to repair the planet over the next decade.
  • To improve living standards globally and find environmental solutions that work on every level through new ways of thinking, new technologies, systems, and policies.

The prize is centred around five Earthshot challenges:

  1. Protect and restore nature.
  2. Clean our air.
  3. Revive our oceans.
  4. Build a waste-free world.
  5. Fix our climate.

The prize is open to anyone – individuals or teams – which could comprise engineers, activists, schools, economists, governments, banks, businesses, and regions.  The prize money will be used to support the projects to help scale the work.

What are ‘murder hornets’ and ‘furry puss caterpillars’?

Furry puss caterpillar:

  • Named after the far less vicious house cat.
  • It is essentially a southern flannel moth in its larva stage.
  • After metamorphosis, the insect no longer poses a threat.
  • The caterpillar is widely regarded as one of the most poisonous of its kind in the United States.

Murder hornet:

  • Native to East Asia and Japan, these predators are infamous for ruthlessly ripping apart honeybees and decimating their hives.
  • However, they also pose a threat to human beings. Their potent stingers deliver venom.

Why these species are in news?

Rise in the population of both insects in the United States.


  • Aquaponics is an emerging technique in which both fishes as well as the plants are grown in an integrated manner.
  • The fish waste provides fertilizer for growing plants. The plants absorb nutrients and filter the water. This filtered water is used to replenish the fish tank. This is an environment friendly technique.


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