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19th November Current Affairs


  1. Geo-heritage sites of Visakhapatnam
  2. Who won the war over Nagorno-Karabakh?
  3. XV-FC on ramping up health infrastructure
  4. MGNREGS: Getting wages harder than the labour


Focus: GS-I Geography

Introduction and Important Pointers

  • The term geological heritage is used for natural geological or geo-morphological features that have aesthetic, intrinsic or scientific and educational value, that provide unique insight into geological processes affecting the formation or evolution of Earth.
  • Geological sites are a record of important geological phenomenon that are a key to trace the evolutionary history of earth and its changing processes.
  • Culturally significant geo heritage sites are places in which geologic features or landscapes played a role in cultural or historical events.
  • Aesthetically significant geo heritage sites are landscapes that have a visual appeal because of their geologic features or processes.
  • Geological Survey of India (GSI) declares geo-heritage sites for protection and maintenance.
  • While there are 147 UNESCO Global geo parks spread across 41 countries, India does NOT have one of its own yet.
  • The scope in India is immense — Visakhapatnam alone is replete with many unique sites.

What is a UNESCO Global Geopark?

  • UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.
  • A UNESCO Global Geopark uses its geological heritage, in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, to enhance awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as using our earth’s resources sustainably, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing natural disasters-related risks.
  • By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area.
  • The creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs and high-quality training courses is stimulated as new sources of revenue are generated through geotourism, while the geological resources of the area are protected.
  • Cooperating with the local people (bottom-up approach) living in the geopark area and with other UNESCO Global Geoparks through the Global Geoparks Network (GGN).
  • UNESCO Global Geopark status does NOT imply restrictions on any economic activity inside a UNESCO Global Geopark where that activity complies with indigenous, local, regional and/or national legislation.

Important Sites in Visakhapatnam

Erra Matti Dibbalu

  • Erra Matti Dibbalu is dissected and stabilized coastal red sediment mounds, located between Visakhapatnam and Bheemunipatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Such sand deposits have only been reported from two other low latitude tropical regions in South Asia — the Teri Sands of Tamil Nadu and Red Coastal Sands of Sri Lanka.
  • It is among the 34 notified National Geological Heritage Monument Sites of India by the Geological Survey of India (GSI).

Natural Rock Formations (Eastern Ghats) at Mangamaripeta

  • There are various Rock formations like a “natural arch” formed opposite to the Thotlakonda Buddhist Site at Mangamaripeta beach.
  • It is likely to date back to the period after the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago and is similar to the natural rock arch of Silathoranam in the Tirumala Hills.

Borra Caves

  • The Borra Caves were discovered by William King George of the GSI (Geological Survey of India) and these one-million-year-old caves attract a huge number of tourists.
  • These caves are located at an elevation of 1400 m above sea level.
  • These caves are known for stalactite and stalagmite formations such as Shiva-Parvathi, Rishi’s Beard, Mother-Child, Crocodile, Human Brain, Tiger and Cows udder.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

After six weeks of fierce fighting, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to end military operations in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in a ceasefire brokered by Russian President.

What led to the war?

  • In 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, the newly independent Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been an autonomous region within Azerbaijan during the Soviet years.
  • Armenians have made historical claims over the enclave, which is largely populated by ethnic Armenians.
  • By the time the all-out war came to an end in 1994, Armenia had captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts from Azeri forces, which amounted to some 13% of Azerbaijan’s territory.
  • In September, Azerbaijan President Aliyev launched the offensive vowing to take back Nagorno-Karabakh and other Armenian-occupied districts.
  • In six weeks of fighting, Azeri forces, backed by Turkey-supplied armed drones and other equipment, cut through Armenian defences and retook territories, including some 40% of Nagorno-Karabakh itself.

Terms of the Ceasefire

  • According to the ceasefire, Armenia agreed to withdraw its troops from much of the territories around Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • The core of the enclave with ethnic Armenians and Stepanakert as its capital would remain outside the control of Azerbaijan.
  • In sum, Azerbaijan gained territories, but not the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Armenia lost territories it controlled since the 1990s but avoided a total defeat as much of Nagorno-Karabakh would remain independent of Azeri control.
  • And Russia gained a bigger foothold in the region with its troops being deployed within Azerbaijan – as Russia would send some 2,000 peacekeepers to the region.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The Fifteenth Finance Commission (XV-FC) has mooted a greater role for public-private partnerships to ramp up the health infrastructure and scale up public spending on health from 0.95% of GDP to 2.5% by 2024.


  • Chairperson of the XV-FC recommended substantial improvements in the working conditions for doctors in government hospitals, many of whom are hired on a contract basis by States, and the creation of an Indian Medical Service cadre as envisaged in the Civil Services Act of 1951.
  • The total spending of around 0.95% of GDP is not adequate both in relation to our peer groups, and in relation to the commitments under the National Healthy Policy of 2017.
  • There is no doubt that public spending, both by the Centre and the States, need to go up very significantly. And the endeavor must be to raise public spending from 0.95% of GDP to 2.5% of GDP by 2024.
  • While India doesn’t have adequate health infrastructure, the picture is “exceedingly skewed” among States with the poorest States having the worst health infrastructure.
  • The Commission was amazed to learn that doctors in many States are engaged on a contract basis and underlined the need to improve their working conditions.
  • To achieve better healthcare parameters, public-private partnerships must be considered “in a holistic way” instead of the current situation where the government only turns to the private sector in times of emergency.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

According to a study many rural workers dependent on the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) are forced to make multiple trips to the bank, adding travel costs and income losses, and face repeated rejections of payment, biometric errors and wrong information, just to get their hands on their wages.

Details of perils

  • The study found that almost 40% of the workers must make multiple trips to the bank branch to withdraw their money.
  • The study found that only one in 10 workers get an SMS message that their wages have been credited.
  • A third of workers must visit the bank branch just to find out whether their wages have been credited.
  • Another quarter of respondents said despite being informed that their wages had been credited, they found that the money was not in the accounts.
  • At the bank, 42% of respondents from Jharkhand and 38% from Rajasthan had to spend over four hours to access their wages.
  • Only 2% of Andhra Pradesh workers faced such a long delay.
  • Overall, 45% of respondents had to make multiple visits.
  • Almost 13% of workers had rejected payments, which are transactions that are stuck due to technical errors of the payment system, bank account problems or data entry errors.
  • About 77% of them had no idea why their payments had been rejected, which means that rectification is not possible and all future MGNREGS payments to these individuals will also be rejected.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, MGNREGA, is an Indian labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee the ‘right to work’. This act was passed in September 2005.
  • It aims to enhance livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • It covers all districts of India except the ones with 100% urban population.
  • MGNREGA is to be implemented mainly by gram panchayats (GPs). The involvement of contractors is banned.
  • Apart from providing economic security and creating rural assets, NREGA can help in protecting the environment, empowering rural women, reducing rural-urban migration and fostering social equity, among others.

How MGNREGA came to be?

In 1991, the P.V Narashima Rao government proposed a pilot scheme for generating employment in rural areas with the following goals:

  1. Employment Generation for agricultural labour during the lean season.
  2. Infrastructure Development
  3. Enhanced Food Security
  4. This scheme was called the Employment Assurance Scheme which later evolved into the MGNREGA after the merger with the Food for Work Programme in the early 2000s.

Features of MGNREGA

  1. It gives a significant amount of control to the Gram Panchayats for managing public works, strengthening Panchayati Raj Institutions.
  2. Gram Sabhas are free to accept or reject recommendations from Intermediate and District Panchayats.
  3. It incorporates accountability in its operational guidelines and ensures compliance and transparency at all levels.

Objectives of MGNREGA

  1. Provide 100 days of guaranteed wage employment to rural unskilled labour
  2. Increase economic security
  3. Decrease migration of labour from rural to urban areas

-Source: The Hindu

July 2024