News: India has expressed its keen interest in joining the COVAX alliance.
- COVAX Alliance: It is a facility that aims to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every country in the world.
- Bodies Involved: It is co-led by Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations(GAVI), Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations(CEPI) and WHO.
- The alliance also forms a key part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools(ACT) Accelerator.
- ACT Accelerator: It is a Global Collaboration led by WHO to speed up the development, production of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines and ensure equal access to treatments for rich and poor.
- GAVI: It is a global Vaccine Alliance created in 2000 by bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.
- CEPI: It is a global partnership between public, private, philanthropic and civil society organisations launched in Davos in 2017 to develop vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable equitable access to these vaccines for people during outbreaks.
News: Government of India has amended the General Financial Rules 2017 to enable imposition of restrictions on bidders from countries which share a land border with India on grounds of defence and national security.
- What does the order say? The order says that any bidder from countries sharing a land border with India will be eligible to bid in any procurement whether of goods, services or works only if the bidder is registered with the Competent Authority.
- Who is the competent authority? The Competent Authority for registration will be the Registration Committee constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade(DPIIT).
- They will also be required to take mandatory political and security clearance from the Ministries of External Affairs and Home.
- Coverage: The order covers public sector banks and financial institutions, Autonomous Bodies, Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs)and Public Private Partnership projects receiving financial support from the Government or its undertakings.
- Exception: The countries to which the Government of India extends lines of credit or provides development assistance have been exempted from the requirement of prior registration.
- General Financial Rules(GFRs): These are a compilation of rules and orders of Government of India to be followed by all while dealing with matters involving public finances.
- These rules and orders were issued for the first time in 1947 and are treated as executive instructions to be observed by all Departments under the Government except otherwise provided for in these Rules.
News: The Madhubani art is coming alive after artists are using the art for making masks.
- Madhubani painting is also referred as Mithila Art as it originated in the Mithila region of Bihar.
- Characteristics: The painting is done using fingers, twigs, brushes and nib-pens, wherein sketches are made with folk motifs of Mithila.It is also characterised by its eye-catching geometrical patterns.
- Significance: This style of painting has been traditionally done by the women of the region, though today men are also involved to meet the demand.
- Colours: The colours used in paintings comprise natural extracts from plants and other natural sources. E.g.: Black colour is obtained by mixing soot with cow dung; blue from indigo among others.
- Themes: Figures from nature & mythology are adapted to suit their style. The themes & designs widely painted are of Hindu deities such as Krishna, Rama, Saraswati, wedding scenes among others.
News: According to the Agharkar Research Institute, the colour of Lonar lake water turned pink due to a large presence of ‘Haloarchaea’ microbes.
- Haloarchaea or Halophilic archaea: It is a bacteria culture which produces pink pigment and is found in water saturated with salt.
- However,the colour of the lake is returning to original as the rainy season has started allowing dilution of the water.
- Lonar Lake: It is a notified National Geo Heritage Monument located at Lonar, Maharashtra.
- Formation: The lake is believed to have been formed when a meteorite crashed into Earth around 50,000 years ago.
- The lake sits inside the Deccan Plateau—a massive plain of volcanic basalt rock created by eruptions some 65 million years ago.
News: China has successfully launched a Mars mission called Tianwen-1.
- Tianwen-1 mission: It is China’s first Mars exploration mission.The name comes from the long poem “Tianwen,” meaning Questions to Heaven.
- Objectives: The mission was launched to fulfil three objectives:
- To orbit the red planet for comprehensive observation.
- To land on Martian soil and send a rover to roam around the landing site.
- To conduct investigations into geological structure, atmosphere, environment, soil and water of Mars.
News: Ministry of Defence has issued a formal sanction letter to grant permanent commission to women officers in the Indian Army.
- What was the issue? Earlier, the male Short Service Commission (SSC) officers could opt for permanent commission at the end of 10 years of service, this option was not available to women officers.
- Thus, they were kept out of any command appointment and could not qualify for government pension which starts only after 20 years of service as an officer.
- Supreme Court’s Verdict: In February,2020 Supreme Court ordered the Centre to grant Permanent commission to women as they cannot be denied the right to equal opportunity entitled under the Constitution on specious grounds such as physiology, motherhood and physical attributes.
- Implications: The Government has now granted permanent commission to Short Service Commissioned (SSC) Women Officers in all ten streams of the Indian Army.
- This decision will allow women officers to be eligible to occupy all the command appointments at par with male officers which would allow promotions to higher ranks and also grants pension benefits.
- However, the women will not be allowed to join main combat arms like infantry, mechanized infantry, artillery and armoured corps in the Army.
- Note: A permanent commission allows officers to serve in the army till they retire, unlike the Short Service Commission(SSC) which is for a specific period of 10 or 14 years.
News: Ministry of Human Resource Development(HRD) has conducted the first ever Indian Scholastic Assessment(Ind-SAT) Test 2020 under its ‘Study in India’ programme.
- Ind-SAT: It is an exam conducted for grant of scholarships and admissions to foreign students for studying in select Indian universities under the Study in India programme.
- Study in India Programme: It is an initiative launched by the Ministry of HRD in 2018 that aims to make India a preferred education hub for students all across the globe by elevating its position in the global educational landscape.
- Implementation: It is implemented by EdCIL (Educational Consultants of India), a Central Public Sector Enterprises(CPSE) under the Ministry of Human Resource Development(MHRD).