1. National Recruitment Agency


The Union Cabinet (chaired by the Prime Minister) has decided to set up a National Recruitment Agency (NRA) to conduct a common preliminary examination for various recruitments in the central government.

Main Points

  • The NRA will conduct the Common Eligibility Test (CET) for recruitment to nongazetted posts in government and public sector banks.
  • Approximately 1.25 lakh government jobs are advertised every year for which 2.5 crore aspirants appear in various examinations.
  • This test aims to replace multiple examinations conducted by different recruiting agencies for selection to government jobs advertised each year, with a single online
  • The Government also plans to provide outreach and awareness facilities to assist candidates in rural and far flung areas to familiarize them with the online examination system.
  • A 24×7 helpline will be set up for answering queries, complaints and queries. The present recruitment agencies– Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS)— will remain in place.
  • Based on the preliminary screening done at the CET score level, final selection for recruitment shall be made through separate specialised Tiers (II, III, etc.) of examination which shall be conducted by the respective recruitment agencies.

Features of CET:

  • The Common Eligibility Test will be held twice a year.
  • There will be different CETs for graduate level, 12 Pass level and 10 pass level to facilitate recruitment to vacancies at various levels.
  • The curriculum for CET would be
  • The CET will be conducted in 12 major Indian languages. This is a major change, as hitherto examinations for recruitment to Central Government jobs were held only in English and Hindi.
  • Initially, CET will cover recruitments made by three agencies : viz. SSC, RRB and IBPS at Group B and C (non -technical) This will be expanded in a phased manner.
  • CET will be held in 1,000 centres across India in a bid to remove the currently prevalent urban bias. There will be an examination centre in every district of the country. There will be a special thrust on creating examination infrastructure in the 117 aspirational
  • CET will be a first level test to shortlist candidates and the score will be valid for three years.
  • There shall be no restriction on the number of attempts to be taken by a candidate to appear in the CET subject to the upper age limit.
  • Age relaxation for SC/ST and OBC candidates as per existing rules will apply.

About NRA:

  • National Recruitment Agency will be a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act,1860.
  • It will be headed by a Chairman of the rank of the Secretary to the Government of India. It will have representatives of the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance/Department of Financial Services, the SSC, RRB & IBPS.
  • The Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 1517.57 crore for the National Recruitment Agency (NRA).
  • The expenditure will be undertaken over a period of three years. It is envisioned that the NRA would be a specialist body bringing the state-of-the-art technology and best practices to the field of Central Government recruitment.

The current scenario:

  • At present, candidates seeking government jobs have to appear for separate examinations conducted by multiple recruiting agencies for various posts.
  • Candidates have to pay fees to multiple recruiting agencies and also have to travel long distances for appearing in various exams.
  • Women candidates especially from rural areas face constraints in appearing in multiple examinations as they have to arrange for transportation and places to stay in places that are far away.

Advantages for Students:

  • Removes the hassle of appearing in multiple examinations. Single examination fee would reduce the financial burden that multiple exams imposed.
  • Since exams will be held in every district, it would substantially save travel and lodging cost for the candidates. Examination in their own district would encourage more and more women candidates also to apply for government jobs.
  • Applicants are required to register on a single Registration portal. It will also prevent the issue of clashing examination dates.

Advantages for Institutions:

  • Removes the hassle of conducting preliminary/screening tests of candidates. Drastically reduces the time of recruitment cycle.
  • Brings standardization in examination pattern.
  • Reduces costs for different recruiting agencies. Rs 600 crore savings

Staff Selection Commission

  • It has its headquarters in New Delhi.
  • The Staff Selection Commission is an attached office of the Department of Personnel and Training under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • It makes recruitment to various Group “B” and Group “C” posts in the various Ministries/Departments of the Government of India and in Subordinate Offices.

Institute of Banking Personnel Selection

  • It has its headquarters in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • IBPS is an autonomous body formed in 1984.
  • It is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and also a Public Trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950.
  • It was created to render assistance to organisations in the areas of personnel such as recruitment, selection, placement, etc.


  1. Plastic Marine Pollution


 ‘Nature Communications’  has published a study and has estimated the amount of microplastic pollution in the Atlantic Ocean to be around 11.6-21.1 million tonnes.

Main Points

Estimated Pollution:

  • Measurements of the top 200 meters of the Atlantic found 11.6 – 21.1 million tonnes of microscopic particles.
  • Scientists studied pollution of the Atlantic Ocean caused by three types of plastics -polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene – which were suspended in the top 200 metres of the ocean.
  • These three types of plastic are most commonly used for packaging.
  • Based on plastic waste generation trends from 1950-2015 and considering that the Atlantic Ocean has received 0.3-0.8% of the global plastic waste for 65 years, the Atlantic waters could hold 17-47 million tonnes of plastic waste.


  • Smaller plastic particles are a hazard, as it is easier for them to sink to greater ocean depths and some marine species such as zooplanktons show preferential ingestion of smaller particles, making them easier to enter the food chain.
  • Considering that plastics of other sizes and polymer types will be found in the deeper ocean and in the sediments, the study indicates that both inputs and stocks of ocean plastics are much higher than determined.
  • It is thus critical to assess across all size categories and polymer groups to determine the fate and danger of plastic contamination.

Plastic Pollution

  • Plastic is a synthetic organic polymer made from petroleum with properties ideally suited for a wide variety of applications, including packaging, building and construction, household and sports equipment, vehicles, electronics and agriculture. Plastic is cheap, lightweight, strong and malleable.
  • Over 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, half of which is used to design single-use items such as shopping bags, cups and straws.
  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at least 8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year.


Sources of Marine Plastic:

  • The main sources of marine plastic are land-based, from urban and storm runoff, sewer overflows, beach visitors, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, construction and illegal dumping.
  • Ocean-based plastic originates mainly from the fishing industry, nautical activities and aquaculture.
  • Under the influence of solar UV radiation, wind, currents and other natural factors, plastic fragments into small particles, termed microplastics (particles smaller than 5 mm) or nanoplastics (particles smaller than 100 nm).
  • In addition, microbeads, a type of microplastic, are very tiny pieces of manufactured polyethylene plastic that are added as exfoliants in health and beauty products, such as cleansers and toothpastes.
  • These tiny particles easily pass through water filtration systems and end up in the ocean and lakes.

Impact of Plastic Pollution:

  • Plastic can take hundreds to thousands of years to decompose depending on the type of plastic and where it has been dumped.

Marine Environment:

  • The most visible and disturbing impacts of marine plastics are the ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species.
  • Floating plastics also contribute to the spread of invasive marine organisms and bacteria, which disrupt ecosystems.

On Food and Health:

  • Toxic contaminants accumulate on the surface of plastic materials as a result of prolonged exposure to seawater.
  • When marine organisms ingest plastic debris, these contaminants enter their digestive systems, and overtime accumulate in the food web.
  • The transfer of contaminants between marine species and humans through consumption of seafood has been identified as a health hazard, but has not yet been adequately researched.

Impact on Climate Change:

  • Plastic, which is a petroleum product, also contributes to global warming. If plastic waste is incinerated, it releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions.

Impacts on Tourism:

  • Plastic waste damages the aesthetic value of tourist destinations, leading to decreased tourism-related incomes and major economic costs related to the cleaning and maintenance of the sites.

India’s Plastic Waste Crisis

  • Single-use plastics or disposable plastics, are commonly used for packaging. Nearly half of the plastics produced in India are single use plastics.
  • Most cities and towns have not implemented the provisions of the Plastic Waste Management

Rules of 2016 or PWR.

  • According to PWR, plastic manufacturers and retail establishments that use plastics are legally bound to collect back plastic waste. This is referred to as ‘extended producers responsibility’.
  • The rules also mandate the responsibilities of local bodies, gram panchayats, waste generators and retailers to manage waste.
  • This includes collecting and segregating recyclable plastic, non-recyclable plastic and other waste separately for processing.
  • But most cities and towns have not implemented these provisions due to the lack of a disciplined system of segregation and recycling.
  • India banned imports of solid plastic waste only in 2019.
  • The government has set an ambitious target of eliminating single-use plastics by 2022.


  • Existing international instruments should be further explored to address plastic pollution. The most important are:
  • The 1972 Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping
  • Wastes and Other Matter (or the London Convention).
  • The 1996 Protocol to the London Convention (the London Protocol).
  • The 1978 Protocol to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
  • Recycling and reuse of plastic materials are the most effective actions available to reduce the environmental impacts of open landfills and open-air burning that are often practiced to manage domestic waste.
  • Governments, research institutions and industries also need to work collaboratively redesigning products, and rethink their usage and disposal, in order to reduce microplastics waste from pellets, synthetic textiles and tyres.



  1. Revamping of Lingaraj Temple: Odisha


The Odisha government has decided to revamp  the 11 century Lingaraj Temple, akin to its pre-350-year structural status.

Main Points

  • The goal is to create a spiritual and ecological ambience in and around the Lingaraj Temple.
  • The redevelopment plan of the peripheral area of the temple, known as ‘Ekamravan Kshetra’, in Bhubaneswar, has been approved.
  • the government is planning a barrier-free access between the Temple and Bindusagar lake.
  • After the Lingaraj Temple, the Bindusagar (a sprawling pond) is the second major attraction for devotees. The pond has a religious relationship with the main temple.
  • Historical records suggest that about 350 years ago, there was nothing between the Temple and the Lake except some temples.
  • Bindhyabasini, Bhabani Shankar, Shukasari and Mohini temples will be part of the redevelopment plan.
  • This is a part of the Lingaraj Temple Heritage Development Project under Ekamra plan.
  • Through Ekmara plan, it is expected that heritage redevelopment will enhance the attraction of Bhubaneswar as a tourist site and claim for a UNESCO heritage site will be stronger.

Lingaraj Temple

  • Built in 11 century AD, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered as the largest temple of the city
  • It is believed to have been built by the Somvanshi King Yayati I. The main tower of this temple measures 180-feet in height.
  • It is built in red stone and is a classic example of Kalinga style of architecture. The temple is divided into four sections―Garbh Griha (sanctum sanctorum), Yajna Shala (the hall for prayers), Bhoga Mandap (the hall of offering) and the Natya Shala (hall of dance).
  • The sprawling temple complex has one hundred and fifty subsidiary shrines. Lingaraj is referred to as ‘Swayambhu” – self-originated Shivling.
  • Another important aspect of the temple is that it signifies the syncretisation of Shaivism and Vaishnavism sects in Odisha.
  • Perhaps the rising cult of Lord Jagannath (considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) which coincided with the completion of the Lingaraja Temple had a role to play.
  • The presiding deity in the Temple is known as Hari-Hara; Hari denotes Lord Vishnu and Hara meaning Lord Shiva.
  • The temple is out of bounds for non-Hindus. The other attraction of the temple is the Bindusagar Lake, located in the north side of the
  • On the western banks of Bindusagar, lies the garden of Ekamra Van named after the Hindu mythological texts where Bhubaneswar the capital city of Odisha was referred as Ekamra Van or a forest of a single mango tree. Other imp. Monuments in oddhisa

Konark sun temple(UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE ITE), jagannath temple, tara tarini tempe, udhaygiri and khandagiri caves.


  1. Black Box on Aircraft


The black boxes of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft which recently crashed in Kozhikode (Kerala) have been found.

  • These boxes will help investigators gather information about the crucial events that led to the crash.

Main Points

  • A black box, technically known as an Electronic Flight Data Recorder, is an orange coloured , heavily protected recording device placed in a flight.
  • It is used to investigate the details of the events immediately preceding an accident.
  • Black Boxes are compulsory on any commercial flight or corporate jet where they are usually kept in the tail of an aircraft, where they are more likely to survive a crash.
  • It usually takes at least 10-15 days to analyse the data recovered from the black boxes. Black boxes are also used in vehicles other than planes like railways, cars


  • The “black box” is made up of two separate pieces of equipment: the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR).
  • FDR records things like airspeed, altitude, vertical acceleration and fuel flow. CVR records the conversations in the cockpit.


  • Older black boxes used magnetic tape, a technology that was first introduced in the 1960s. Magnetic tape works like any tape recorder.
  • These days, black boxes use solid-state memory boards, which came along in the 1990s. Solid state memory boards use stacked arrays of memory chips, and are stronger.
  • The FDR contains Crash-Survivable Memory Units (CSMUs) which are engineered to withstand extreme heat, jarring crashes and tons of pressure.
  • To make black boxes discoverable in situations where they are under water, they are equipped with a Beacon that sends out ultrasound signals for 30 days.

Other Methods to Investigate an Aircrash

  • Accounts from Air Traffic Control (ATC) personnel. Recordings of the conversation between ATC and the pilots moments before the crash.
  • Various data recorders at the airport, which would tell about the precise point and speed of touchdown on the runway.


  • In certain cases – like the Malaysian Airlines MH370 flight, they are not found. They still lack video recording capabilities.


  • It is being tried to stream all of their essential data directly to a ground based station in realtime which would eliminate the desperate search for a box that may have been destroyed in a crash, and will be more dependable.

Aircraft Security

  • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a UN specialized agency, established in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention).
  • The Chicago Convention was signed on 7 December, 1944 in Chicago (USA) by 52 signatory states including
  • It coordinates international air travel, establishes rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety, security, and sustainability, and details the rights of the signatories in relation to air travel.
  • The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) It is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India.
  • The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) is a division of the Ministry of Civil Aviation which investigates aircraft accidents and incidents in India.
  • Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which seeks to amend the Aircraft Act, 1934.


  1. Parkash Purab


The Prime Minister of India greeted the people on the occasion of the Parkash Purab Utsav of the holy book Guru Granth Sahib (19 August 2020).

Main Points

  • The first Prakash Purab Utsav marked the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden temple, in
  • Granth Sahib is the sacred scripture of Sikhism (religion). It is a collection of nearly 6,000 hymns of the Sikh Gurus (religious leaders) and various early and medieval saints of different religions and castes.
  • It is the central object of worship in all gurdwaras and is accorded the reverence paid to a living Guru.
  • The first version of the book was compiled by the 5 Sikh Guru Arjan at Amritsar in 1604 CE. He included his own hymns and those of his predecessors, the Gurus Nanak, Angad, Amar Das, and Ram Das, and a selection of devotional songs of both Hindu and Islamic saints (notably the poet Kabīr).
  • In 1704 CE the 10 and last Guru, Gobind Singh, added the hymns of his predecessor, Guru Tegh Bahadur (the 6 – Hargobind, 7 – Har Rai, and 8 – Hari Krishen- Gurus did not write hymns), and enjoined that after his own death the Granth would take the place of the Guru.
  • The language is mostly Punjabi or Hindi, interspersed with Marathi, Persian, and Arabic words.
  • After the death of Guru Gobind Singh, his hymns and other writings were compiled into a book known as the Dasam Granth.


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