Current Affairs 28th January, 2019


Topics Covered

1. Women Empowerment

2. Issues and Management in the Human Resource Management Sector

North Eastern States lag in toilets for School Girls

What to read?

Prelims – ASER

Mains – Highlights of the Study and steps to be taken for women

An average of 34.96% schools in the eight northeastern States had usable toilets for girls in 2018 compared to 36.66% in 2016, data analysed from the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018 report revealed.

Annual Status of Education Report

ASER stands for Annual Status of Education Report. This is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable annual estimates of children’s schooling status and basic learning levels for each state and rural district in India. ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in almost all rural districts of India.

ASER is the largest citizen-led survey in India. It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India today surveyed by NGO Pratham.

Where is ASER conducted? Who is surveyed?

Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey. This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.

In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. In each village, 20 randomly selected households are surveyed. This process generates a total of 600 households per district, or about 300,000 households for the country as a whole.

Highlights of the Study

Nationally, about 66.4% schools provide girls with toilets.

According to the report, 2018 completed eight years of compulsory schooling for the first cohort of students to benefit from Right to Education Act 2010.

Poor performance by 7 NE states other than Sikkim

  • With 75.7% schools – a marginal increase from 75% in 2016 – having usable toilets for girls, Sikkim performed better than the national average of 66.4% last year. But the State’s show was overshadowed by the less-than-satisfactory performance by seven other States in the region.

  • The other five states performed poorly, the steepest drop for Assam being 38.3% from 54.2% in 2016. Manipur had 9.1% schools having fewer usable toilets for girls, followed by Meghalaya (8.6%), Arunachal Pradesh (7.6%) and Tripura (7.3%).

Jammu and Kashmir also a victim

  • In Jammu and Kashmir, 48.2% schools had toilets for girls last year, up from 46.7% in 2014 (data for J&K for 2016 was not available). The State provided drinking water in 54.6% schools in 2018, better than the average 44.4% schools in the north-eastern states.

National average hides regional disparities

  • The national averages hide major variations across the states, with deficiencies particularly marked in Jammu and Kashmir apart from most of the north-eastern states, the ASER report, prepared by NGO Pratham.

  • Nationally, substantial improvements are visible over this eight-year period in the availability of many school facilities mandated by RTE.

  • The fraction of schools with usable girls' toilets doubled, reaching 66.4% in 2018.

  • The percentage of schools with books, other than textbooks, available rose from 62.6% to 74.2% between 2016-18.


Topics Covered

1. Indian History – Medieval India

Sufi and Bhakti Movement Vs Wahabi movement

What to read?

Prelims – Sufi and Bhakti Movement, Wahabi Movement

Mains – How these religious movements contributed to Indian Culture

Sufism and the Bhakti movement have had an impact on the beliefs and thoughts of Muslims since the medieval period, the experts on Muslim Culture said.


Image result for sufi movement upsc

  • The 10th century A.D marks the important changes in the realm of ideas and beliefs in the Islamic religion - the rise of the Sufi mystic orders.

  • The core concept of Sufi Movement is Darikh-i-Duniya / Wahad-ul-wahjud, meaning “Universal Brotherhood”. It outwardly rejected the religion and emphasized love and devotion to God and compassion towards all fellow human beings.

  • Mystics, who are called Sufis, were persons of deep devotion who were disgusted by the display of wealth and degeneration of morals following the establishment of the Islamic empire.

  • The Sufis were organized in 12 orders or Silsilahs. A Silsilah was generally led by a prominent mystic who lived in a Khanqah or hospice along with his disciples.

  • The Sufi orders are broadly divided into two: Ba-shara – Those who followed the Islamic Law and Be-shara – Those who were not bound by the Islamic Law.

  • The Sufi saints made themselves popular by adopting musical recitations called “Sama”, to create a mood of nearness to God.

  • Qawwali is the form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia and Ghazal is a form of Qawwali.

What are the major Silsilahs followed in India?

  • The four main Sufi orders – Chisti, Qadiriyya, Suhrawardiyya and Naqshbandi order were practiced in India.

Bhakthi Movement

Image result for bhakti movement upsc

• In the ninth century Sankara started a Hindu revivalist movement giving a new orientation to Hinduism.

• His doctrine of Advaita or Monism was too abstract to appeal to the common man.

• Moreover, there was a reaction against the Advaita concept of Nirgunabrahman (God without attributes) with the emergence of the idea of Sagunabrahman (God with attributes).

• In the twelfth century, Ramanuja, who was born at Sriperumbudur near modern Chennai, preached Visishtadvaita.

• According to Ramanuja God is Sagunabrahman. The creative process and all the objects in creation are real but not illusory as was held by Sankaracharya. Therefore, God, soul, matter are real. But God is inner substance and the rest are his attributes. He also advocated prabattimarga or path of self-surrender to God. He invited the downtrodden to Vaishnavism.

• In the thirteenth century, Madhava from Kannada region propagated Dvaita or dualism of Jivatma and Paramatma. According to his philosophy, the world is not an illusion but a reality. God, soul, matter are unique in nature.

Nimbarka and Vallabhacharya were also other preachers of Vaishnavite Bhakti in the Telangana region.

Wahabi Movement

Image result for wahabi movement founder

  • The Wahabi movement, as it started out during the Imperial rule, was meant to protect and preserve Islam in the wake of the British autocracy.

  • It was meant to be a cultural revivalism of sorts.

  • However, over time, the extremist elements crept into the system and started preaching the importance of Jihad and use of violence as a tool of opposition.

  • The Wahabi Movement (Pan-Islamic Movement) was suppressed by Lord Elgin-I who was the Viceroy of India from 1862-63.


Topics Covered

1. Conservation of Environment

Chilika Lake

What to read?

Prelims – Chilika Lake , Mangalajodi Ecotourism

Mains – Ramsar Convention and its Importance

Image result for chilika lake birds and dolphin

  • It is Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon.

  • It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest coastal lagoon in the world

  • It lies in Odisha state on the eastern coast of India, at the mouth of the Daya River flowing into the Bay of Bengal.

  • Because of its rich bio-diversity and socio-economic importance, Chilika was designated as a Ramsar site in 1981 to afford better protection.

  • It was first waterbody in India to be designated as wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub- continent.

  • It was put under Montreux Record (record for such sites where there has been or likely to be adverse ecological change due to manmade activities), but was later removed from it due to conservation efforts.

  • Rambha sector in the Chilika Lake is the ideal sector for dolphins to play, flock and mate because of the stillness of the water in the bay area.

  • Chilika, known for its exquisite natural beauty, attracts many tourists because of its dolphin population.

Importance of Ramsar sites

A wetland is a place where the land is covered by water. Marshes, ponds, the edge of a lake/ocean, the delta at the mouth of a river, low-lying areas that frequently flood — all of these are wetlands. Wetlands of international importance are also known as Ramsar sites.

Why wetlands are called ‘Ramsar sites’?

Ramsar is a city in Iran. In 1971, an international treaty for conservation and sustainable use of wetlands was signed at Ramsar. The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

More than 2200 wetlands of international importance

  • Today, the Ramsar List is the world’s largest network of protected areas.

  • There are currently over 2,200 Ramsar Sites around the world. They cover over 2.1 million square kilometres, an area larger than Mexico.

  • The world’s first Site was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia, designated in 1974.

  • The largest Sites are Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Queen Maud Gulf in Canada; these Sites each cover over 60,000 square kilometres.

  • The countries with the most Sites are the United Kingdom with 170 and Mexico with 142.

  • Bolivia has the largest area with 148,000 km2 under Ramsar protection.

Image result for ramsar sites in India

National Wetland Conservation Programme

Government of India opertionalized National Wetland Conservation Programme(NWCP) in closed collaboration with concerned State Government during the year 1985/86. Under the programme 115 wetlands (Table 1) have been identified till now by the Ministry which requires urgent conservation and management initiatives.

Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust

  • Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust is community owned and managed venture on banks of Chilika Lake in Odisha.

  • It has won prestigious United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Award for Innovation in Tourism Enterprise.

  • The villagers of Mangalajodi were once associated with poaching of birds near Chilika Lake but now they stand as true defenders of wildlife in the region.


Topics Covered

1. Infrastructure

Vanda Bharat Express

Image result for vande bharat express

What to read?

Prelims – About Train 18

Mains – Its Significance and Features

Acknowledging the Made-in-India status, the Indian Railways has named the indigenously manufactured Train 18 as Vande Bharat Express

Train 18

India’s first engine-less semi-high speed train named “Train 18” was rolled out recently by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF). It will eventually replace the Shatabdi Express


  • This is the first long-distance train without separate locomotive (engine) and thus self-propelled.

  • The 16-coach semi-high speed ‘train set’ built at a cost of Rs 100 crore per rake.

  • About 80% of the design, technology and manufacture of Train 18, a predecessor to ‘Train 20’, is Indian.

  • It has been designed for a maximum operating speed of 160 kmph.

  • The new train comes fitted with amenities on a par with the best in the world as on-board Wi-Fi to GPS-based passenger information system, ‘touch-free’ bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting etc.

  • It also has a climate control system that would adjust the temperature according to occupancy and the weather.


  • Every alternative coach is motorized, to ensure even distribution of power and faster acceleration/deceleration, thereby consuming much less energy.

  • The coaches in the fully air-conditioned train are linked with advanced integrated bridge plates, leaving the train free of the shaky gangways Indian train travellers are used to.

  • It has two driving trailer coaches with aerodynamic driver’s cab (nose cone) on both the ends which will enable quicker turn-around time at destinations.

Comparison with Shatabdi:

  • It will cut journey time by 15 per cent compared to the 30-year old Shatabdi.

Shatabdi: The Shatabdi trains were introduced in 1988 and is presently running on over 20 routes connecting metros with other important cities.

Train-20: With Train 18 already set to go for trials, the railways will now turn its focus on another project, Train 20 – the next generation aluminium-bodied sleeper class trains that will replace the Rajdhani Express trains on the network and is expected to be rolled out by 2020.