1. Scientists find ‘life harbouring’ gas on Venus

The issue in news

Scientists have found that the atmosphere of Venus contains traces of phosphine gas.

Main points:

  • A team of experts used telescopes in Hawaii and Chile’s Atacama Desert to observe Venus’ upper cloud deck, around 60 km from the surface.
  • They detected traces of phosphine. The latest finding is a fresh insight into conditions on planet Venus.
  • Conditions on Venus are often described as hellish with daytime temperatures hot enough to melt lead and an atmosphere comprised almost entirely of carbon dioxide.
  • However, the team has stressed that the presence of phosphine alone did not prove the presence of life on Venus.


Phosphine gas

  • Phosphine is a chemical that belongs to the group of organo-phosphorus compounds.
  • It is a colourless and highly poisonous gas.
  • Phosphine gas is associated with living organisms.
  • It is a flammable gas that on Earth occurs from the breakdown of organic matter.
  • It is released by microbes in oxygen-starved environments, such as lake sediments and animals’ innards.


Conditions on Venus:

  • For 2 billion years, Venus was temperate and harboured an ocean.
  • At present, a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere blankets a near-waterless surface where temperatures top 450 degrees C.
  • The clouds in the sky are hardly inviting, containing droplets of 90% sulphuric acid.
  • The conditions on Venus are so deeply unpleasant that many scientists believe the planet is dead.
  • Rather than coming from floating Venusians, they suspect phosphine arises from more mundane processes.
  • The discovery raises the possibility that life gained a foothold on Venus and remnants floated on as the planet suffered an out of control global warming that made the planet hellish.
  • Venus is so close and of such similar size to Earth that some experts believe it serves as a warning of the dangers of an out of control climate change.


  1. Defence manufacturing

The issue in news

 information was given by the Minister of State for Defence in the Rajya Sabha.


Main points

  • The following initiatives have been taken by the government to promote ‘Make in India’ in defence.
  • Defence Ministry has prepared a ‘Negative List’ of 101 items for which there would be an embargo on the import beyond the timeline indicated against them.
  • This is expected to help the domestic industry fill the gaps in the sector for the Indian armed forces.
  • A new category of capital procurement ‘Buy {Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)}’ has been introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)-2016 to promote indigenous design and development of defence equipment.


  • The ‘Make’ Procedure of capital procurement has been simplified. There is a provision for funding of 90% of the development cost by the Government to the Indian industry under Make-I category.


  • In addition, there are specific reservations for MSMEs under the ‘Make’ procedure.


  • Separate procedure for ‘Make-II’ category (industry-funded) has been notified under DPP to encourage indigenous development and manufacture of defence equipment.


  • An innovation ecosystem for Defence titled Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) has been launched in April 2018. Read more on iDEX at PIB dated Nov 10, 2019.


  • In 2019, the government had decided to set up two defence industrial corridors in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh respectively to serve as an engine of economic development and growth of defence industrial base in the country.


  • An indigenization portal namely SRIJAN DEFENCE was launched in August 2020. Read more on SRIJAN portal in PIB dated Aug 14, 2020.


  • Defence EXIM portal has been created for enhancing the ease of doing business and to streamline Export authorisation procedures.


  • The ‘Strategic Partnership (SP)’ Model was notified in 2017 which envisages the establishment of long-term strategic partnerships with Indian entities through a transparent and competitive process, wherein they would tie-up with global Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to seek technology transfers to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains.


  • India signed an agreement with Russia in September 2019 by which the after-sales support and operational availability of Russian origin equipment currently in service in the Indian Armed Forces would be enhanced by organizing the production of spares and components in the territory of India by Indian Industry by way of creation of Joint Ventures/Partnership with Russian Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) under the framework of the “Make in India” initiative.


  • Under the revised FDI policy of 2016, FDI in defence is allowed under automatic route up to 49% and beyond 49% through Government route.


  • Defence Products list requiring Industrial Licences has been rationalised and the manufacture of most of the parts or components does not require Industrial License.



  1. Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal

The issue in news

Status of Mahanadi Tribunal.

Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal:

  • The Mahanadi Tribunal was formed in 2018 to settle the inter-state water dispute between Odisha and Chhattisgarh with respect to sharing of the waters of the Mahanadi River.


Main points

  • The dispute between the two states over the Mahanadi originated when Odisha claimed that Chhattisgarh had “illegally” constructed several barrages across the river and its tributaries, which had seriously affected inflow into the Hirakud reservoir in Odisha, particularly in the non-monsoon seasons.
  • What triggered the dispute was Odisha’s allegation of reduced flow of water into the Hirakud : The location of the dam is problematic since although it is situated in Odisha, most of its catchment area (about 90%) lies in Chhattisgarh.
  • The reservoir’s main role is to moderate floods in the Mahanadi and hence, it has to remain empty for most of the monsoon season to be ready to accommodate excess water in times of need.
  • Apart from that, it also has an objective of ensuring flow in the Mahanadi to meet drinking water, ecological and other needs.
  • The dam has a large direct irrigation command in the western parts of Odisha and a big indirect irrigation command in the deltaic areas in eastern parts of the state. It is one of the important generators of hydro-power in Odisha and a large supplier of water to industrial and urban demands.

About the Mahanadi River:

  • It is a major river in East-Central India.
  • It flows through the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.
  • It forms a delta before flowing into the Bay of Bengal.
  • The chief tributaries of Mahanadi are Seonath, Jonk, Hasdo, Mand, Ib, Ong, Tel, etc.


About the Hirakud Dam:

  • Built across the Mahanadi, it is one of the first major multipurpose river valley projects started after India’s independence.
  • It was opened in 1957 and is one of the longest earthen dams in the world.
  • It is located about 15 km from Sambalpur in Odisha.
  • Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary is situated near the Hirakud Dam. It is notified as an Eco-Sensitive Zone by the Environment Ministry.


  1. Supplementary Demands for Grants

The issue in news

The Centre has put forth a supplementary grant demand for a gross additional expenditure of 2.35 lakh crore for 2020-21 for Parliamentary  approval.

Main  Points

  • Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the supplementary demand of this year comprises of:
  • Relief measures as a segment the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana in March, 2020.
  • Aatmanirbhar Bharat stimulus package .
  • Grants-in-aid for the State Disaster Response Funds
  • Grants for bank recapitalisation


  • Since the money is being raised through government securities.The allocation will not involve cash outgo


  • The fund crush has also affected Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

Supplementary Grants

  • It is granted if the amount authorized by the parliament through the appropriation act to be expended for a particular service for the current financial year is found to be insufficient for the purpose of that year.

Other Grants:

  • Additional Grant:It is granted when a need has arisen during the current financial year for supplementary or additional expenditure upon some new service not contemplated in the Budget for that year.
  • Excess Grant: It is granted when money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amount granted for that year. 
  • The demands for excess grants are made after the expenditure has actually been incurred and after the financial year to which it relates, has expired. 
  • All cases involving such excesses are brought to the notice of parliament by the Comptroller and Auditor General through his report on the appropriation accounts.
  • The excesses are then examined by the Public Accounts Committee which makes recommendations regarding their regularisation in its report to the House.
  • Vote of Credit: It is granted for meeting an unexpected demand upon the resources of India when on account of the magnitude or the indefinite character of the service the demand cannot be stand with the details ordinarily given in an annual financial statement.
  • Exceptional Grants:It is granted for an exceptional purpose which forms no part of the current service of any financial year
  • Token Grant:It is granted when funds to meet proposed expenditure on a new service can be made available by re-appropriation, a demand for the grant of a token sum may be submitted to the vote of the House and, if the House assents to the demand, funds may be so made available.
  • Supplementary, additional, excess and exceptional grants and vote of credit follows the same procedure as the enactment of the budget.

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