1. Special Frontier Force: Vikas Battalion


The Special Frontier Force (SFF) unit, referred to as Vikas Battalion, had been said to be instrumental in preventing Chinese occupation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

Main Points

  • History: SFF was established on 14 November 1962 in the immediate aftermath of the 1962 Sino-India war.
  • After the 1962 war, the Central Intelligence agency (CIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) decided to train a 5,000-strong force of Tibetans for possible missions against China.
  • The CIA had been involved in a covert programme to train Tibetan guerrillas to fight the Chinese forces in Tibet since the 1950s.
  • The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States of America.
  • During the 1950s, CIA and IB established Mustang Base in Mustang in Nepal, which trained Tibetans in guerilla warfare. The Mustang rebels brought the 14 Dalai Lama to India during the 1959 Tibetan
  • The recruits initially consisted of Tibetan refugees hailing from the Khampa community (now it has a mixture of Tibetans and Gorkhas).
  • It was previously named Establishment-22 as it was raised by Major General Sujan Singh Uban, an Artillery officer who had commanded 22 Mountain Regiment.

About SFF:

  • SFF falls under the purview of the Cabinet Secretariat where it is headed by an Inspector General who is an Army officer of the rank of Major General. The units that comprise the SFF are known as Vikas battalions.
  • They are highly trained special forces personnel who can undertake a variety of tasks which would normally be performed by any special forces unit.
  • Women soldiers, too, form a part of SFF units and perform specialised tasks. Link with Army: The SFF units are not part of the Army but they function under operational control of the Army.
  • The units have their own rank structures which have equivalent status with Army ranks.
  • They have their own training establishment where the recruits to SFF are imparted special forces training.

Major Operations:

  • Operation Eagle (1971 war with Pakistan), Operation Bluestar (clearing Amritsar’s Golden Temple in 1984), Operation Meghdoot (securing the Siachen glacier in 1984) and Operation Vijay (war with Pakistan at Kargil in 1999) and many counter-insurgency operations in the country.
  • Operation Eagle: In 1971, the SFF operated in the Chittagong hill tracts in East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) to neutralise Pakistan Army positions and help the Indian Army advance ahead.


  • Special Frontier Force was involved in a joint operation with the CIA in 1965 to place a nuclear-powered device on Mount Nanda Devi (Uttarakhand) to monitor China’s nuclear weapons tests. However, the mission had to be abandoned and the nuclear-powered device was lost on the
  • The loss of the nuclear-powered sensor was reported by Indian media outlets in 1978, prompting a response from the then Prime Minister on Indian involvement in the mission.


  1. Early Migration of Butterflies


The annual migration of butterflies from the hill ranges of the Eastern Ghats

towards the Western Ghats has been observed earlier in 2020, being witnessed in the months of July and August.

  • Usually, these butterflies breed during the southwest monsoon season on the eastern areas of South India and their progeny migrate back to the western ghats in October- November.

Main Points

Early Migration:

  • The migration started early after a gap of eight years. The Eastern Ghats complex of the Yercaud hills (Shevaroy hills), Pachamalai, Kolli hills, Kalvarayan are major originating places for the migrating
  • The movement was observed towards the western ghats hill ranges, Nilgiris, the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, and Palani hills in Tamil Nadu and Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in
  • Four species of milkweed butterflies belonging to the Danainae subfamily are mainly involved in the migration — the Dark Blue Tiger, Blue Tiger, Common Crow and the Double-branded (commonly known as tigers and crows).

Possible Reasons for Early Migration:

  • Change in rainfall pattern, a considerable increase in the number of sunny days and a population outburst of butterflies.

Project to Study Migration:

  • The Ferns Nature Conservation Society (FNCS) initiated a citizen science project in 2018 to study the migration ecology of milkweed butterflies in south India, with the support of the Forest and Wildlife


  • Butterflies are insects from the order Lepidoptera of phylum Arthropoda which also includes moths.
  • Adult butterflies have large, often brightly coloured wings, and conspicuous, fluttering flight.


  • Rich Biodiversity: Abundance of butterflies in any area represents the rich biodiversity.
  • Indicator Species: The butterfly acts as an indicator species. An indicator species provides information on the overall condition of the ecosystem and of other species in that ecosystem. They reflect the quality and changes in environmental conditions as well as aspects of community composition.
  • Pollinator: It acts as a pollinator by helping in pollination and conserving several species of plants.


Parambikulam Tiger Reserve

  • Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is a well protected ecological portion in the Nelliampathy – Anamalai landscape of the Southern Western Ghats in India.
  • It is located in the Palakkad District of Kerala.
  • It was declared as Tiger Reserve during 2008-09.
  • The reserve is credited with the first scientifically managed teak plantation in the world which was later merged with the forest land.
  • It has the world’s largest and oldest teak tree. Named “Kannimara” (corrupt version of Irish name Connemara), the tree is believed to be 350 years old and has a height of 40m and girth of 6.4m.
  • Fauna includes Tigers, Grey-headed Fishing Eagle, the Peninsular Bay Owl, the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, the Black-capped Kingfisher, the Great Black Woodpecker and the Lesser Grey-headed Fish Eagle.


  1. Spot Robot


Recently, researchers from Boston Dynamics, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT – USA) have developed a robot, called ‘Spot’.

They have planned to use it for patients with Covid-19 symptoms.

Main Points


  • The robot is controlled by a handheld device.
  • It can walk on four legs, similarly to a dog, climbs stairs and can traverse rough terrain with ease and small enough to be used indoors.
  • It can measure skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in healthy patients, from 2 metres away. It has four cameras — one infrared, three monochrome.


  • Body Temperature: The infrared camera measures skin temperature on the face.
  • An algorithm then correlates the facial skin temperature with core body temperature.
  • Breathing Rate: When a patient wearing a mask breathes, their breath changes the temperature of the mask.
  • The infrared camera measures this temperature change, enabling researchers to calculate the breathing rate.
  • Pulse Rate & Oxygen Level: When haemoglobin binds to oxygen and flows through blood vessels, it results in slight changes in colour.
  • These changes are measured with the help of the three monochrome cameras, which filter lights of three different wavelengths.
  • Using these measurements, the algorithm calculates pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation.


  • The robot can be deployed in areas where suspected cases of Covid-19 assemble. Healthcare workers can avoid exposing themselves to risk, by manoeuvring the robot to wherever patients are sitting.
  • The robot can also carry a tablet that allows doctors to ask patients about their symptoms without being in the same room.


  1. Indra 2020 to be held in Andaman Sea


  • India and Russia are scheduled to hold Indra 2020 in the Andaman Sea, close to the Strait of Malacca instead of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • The Strait of Malacca connects Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and is 900 km in length and is also a prominent trade route between East Asia and West Asia-Europe.
  • IOR is under high operational alert by the Indian Navy due to the ongoing standoff with China in Ladakh.

Main Points

  • The Indra series of exercises began in 2003 and was conducted as a bilateral naval exercise alternately between the two countries.
  • However, the first joint Tri-Services Exercise was conducted in 2017. Indra 2020 will be the first bilateral naval exercise since all such engagements were suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Its timing coincides with Indian Defence Minister’s visit to Russia for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers Meet.
  • Andaman Sea was also the location where frontline warships of the Indian Navy conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the USA Navy’s USS Nimitz carrier strike group in July this year.

China Factor:

  • Recently, India has withdrawn from the Kavkaz-2020 multinational exercise in Russia due to the restrictions posed by the pandemic. However, the participation of Chinese troops in the same exercise is apparently the main reason.
  • Indian Navy is keeping a close watch on the movement of Chinese Naval ships in the IOR because their presence in the IOR has gone up considerably over the years in the name of Anti-Piracy patrols.
  • In 2017, China opened its first overseas military base in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa.
  • Given its strategic location, India has embarked on a major infrastructure expansion plan on the Andaman and Nicobar island chain.


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