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Current Affairs 20 October 2023


  1. Digital Crop Survey System
  2. India’s first Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)
  3. A Recent Breakthrough in Cancer Research
  4. Contempt of Court
  5. Appointment of Odhuvars in Chennai Region’s Shaivite Temples
  6. TV-D1 Mission
  7. Niemann-Pick Disease
  8. Rafah Crossing

Digital Crop Survey System


Highlighting that the present system of estimation of crop area and production is completely manual, the Centre has asked states and Union Territories (UTs) to digitise the process by adopting the Digital Crop Survey System from July next year.


GS III: Agriculture

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Need for the Digital Crop Survey
  2. Guidelines for the Digital Crop Survey
  3. Digital Crop Survey Parameters

Need for the Digital Crop Survey:

  • Manual Collection and Compilation: Currently, the collection and compilation of crop statistics in India is largely manual, except in a few states. This manual process leads to delays and is prone to manual errors.
  • Limited Digital Systems: Only a few states, such as Karnataka, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh, have established digital data collection systems using GPS-enabled mobile applications. These systems are used for collecting crop area and CCEs (Crop Cutting Experiments) data directly from the field. In other states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, digital systems are in place for crop area recording.
  • Reliability of Agricultural Production Estimates: India faces challenges due to the lack of reliable agricultural production estimates. There is a need for real-time assessment estimates of crops to make informed decisions in the agricultural sector.
  • Technological Intervention: Given these challenges, there is a need to reform the existing production estimation system by leveraging technological intervention.

Guidelines for the Digital Crop Survey:

  • The Economics, Statistics and Evaluation Division (ESED) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoA&FW) has finalized guidelines for the Digital Crop Survey.
  • According to these guidelines, all states and Union Territories (UTs) are required to automate and digitize the process of area enumeration/girdawari of crops at the field level. This process, referred to as the Digital Crop Survey, is mandated to begin from the 2024-25 Agricultural Year.
  • In India, the agricultural year starts in July and ends in June of the following year.
  • As per the guidelines, states and UTs are expected to use GPS-enabled mobile applications to collect data on crop sowing for each plot during each season. This data is then to be shared at the village level, aggregated, and provided to the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DA&FW) through API (Application Programming Interface).

Digital Crop Survey Parameters:

As part of the Digital Crop Survey, states are required to collect data on essential parameters, which include:

  • Village Information: This encompasses details like village name, year, season, farmer ID, and farm ID.
  • Crop Data: For each farm plot, data must be gathered on the crop name, crop variety, crop sown area, and geotags of crop photos.
  • Farm Details: This section covers geotags of the farm boundary where the crop is sown, sowing/planting dates at the farm plot level, irrigation types at the farm plot level, and irrigation sources at the farm plot level.
Survey Initiation:
  • The central government initiated a pilot Digital Crop Survey in several states earlier this year, which laid the groundwork for this nationwide effort.
Revised Estimate Release Timeline:
  • In a separate development, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoA&FW) has revised the timelines for releasing agricultural estimates.
  • Under the previous system, the ministry used to release estimates in five phases. However, the fourth phase, typically released in August, has been discontinued.
  • Instead, the ministry will now release the final estimates that encompass all states and all seasons (kharif, rabi, summer) in September-October.
  • This marks a significant departure from the previous practice, where final estimates were released in the following February.

-Source: Indian Express

India’s first Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)


PM Modi will inaugurate the first leg of the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS), India’s first mass rapid system dedicated to regional connectivity. Trains on the first section will eventually cut the journey time between Delhi and Meerut to less than an hour.


GS III: Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)
  2. Namo Bharat trains

Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)

  • RRTS is an integrated, mass transit network with semi-high-speed rail connectivity at its core.
  • Its purpose is to promote balanced and sustainable urban development by improving connectivity and accessibility across the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • The concept of RRTS emerged from an Indian Railways study conducted in 1998-99.
  • This study highlighted the potential for an RRTS network connecting various NCR locations through rapid commuter trains.
  • In 2006, the proposal gained traction as Delhi Metro lines expanded to NCR towns like Gurgaon, Noida, and Ghaziabad.
  • The National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) adopted the concept as it developed the Functional Plan on Transport for NCR-2032.
  • NCRPB identified and recommended eight RRTS corridors to connect NCR towns through high-speed rail-based commuter transit services.
  • The RRTS aims to unleash the NCR’s full potential and enhance multi-modal connectivity at transportation hubs.
  • It encourages public transportation use to reduce road and metro/rail congestion.
  • The project aims to stimulate employment generation and create new commercial hubs in the NCR.
  • Shorter travel times are expected to boost the region’s economic productivity.
  • RRTS trains are faster than metro trains, with speeds of 160 km/hour (up to 180 km/hour).
  • The RRTS model is based on systems like Paris’ RER, Germany and Austria’s Regional-Express trains, and the U.S.’ SEPTA Regional Rail, among others.
Differences from Existing Systems:
  • RRTS is faster than metros.
  • Compared to Indian Railways, RRTS covers shorter distances but offers higher frequency and more comfort.

Namo Bharat Trains

  • “Namo Bharat” is the name of India’s first regional rapid train operating between Delhi and Meerut.
  • The Prime Minister is scheduled to inaugurate the priority section of the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) corridor and flag off the “RapidX train” connecting Sahibabad and Duhai Depot.
  • The RRTS, also known as “Namo Bharat,” has been constructed by the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).
  • NCRTC is a joint venture between the Central government and the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and is responsible for implementing the RRTS project across the National Capital Region.

-Source: Indian Express

A Recent Breakthrough in Cancer Research


A recent breakthrough in cancer research, published in Cell Reports by researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, sheds light on why some cancer cells are resistant to the anti-cancer drug Taxol. This discovery offers the potential to enhance cancer treatment by devising strategies to overcome this resistance, providing hope for patients grappling with this formidable disease.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the Study on Chemotherapy Resistance
  2. Chemotherapy

Key Highlights of the Study on Chemotherapy Resistance:

The Challenge of Chemotherapy:

  • Chemotherapy is a fundamental cancer treatment targeting rapidly dividing cancer cells.
  • However, it affects non-cancerous cells, leading to side effects like oral inflammation, nausea, and hair loss.

Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs):

  • ADCs offer a more targeted approach by delivering drugs directly to cancer cells.
  • This minimizes collateral damage to healthy cells, improving treatment outcomes.

Understanding Chemotherapy Resistance:

  • Some cancer cells can resist chemotherapy, increasing the risk of cancer recurrence.
  • The study focuses on resistance to Taxol, a commonly used chemotherapeutic agent.

Role of the ABCB1 Gene:

  • Taxol resistance is linked to the ABCB1 gene’s location within the cell’s nucleus.
  • Resistant cells exhibit unique ABCB1 gene locations, leading to increased resistance.

The P-gp Efflux Pump:

  • Increased ABCB1 gene expression results in the production of the P-gp efflux pump.
  • This pump removes Taxol and other toxins from cells, allowing cancer cells to persist.

Identifying the Lamin B Receptor (LBR):

  • LBR is a crucial protein anchoring the ABCB1 gene to the nuclear envelope in sensitive cells.
  • LBR absence allows cells to activate the ABCB1 gene in response to Taxol.

Variability in Cancer Cell Responses:

  • Different cancer cells respond variably to the absence of LBR.
  • Variations depend on the specific cancer type, influencing Taxol resistance levels.


  • Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that employs potent anti-cancer drugs to target fast-growing cells in the body.
  • Cancer cells proliferate more rapidly than most cells in the body.
  • Chemotherapy can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other therapies like surgery, radiation, or hormone therapy.
  • Cancer is a complex term encompassing a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body.
  • These anomalous cells, referred to as cancer cells, possess the capability to invade and damage healthy tissues and organs.
  • In a healthy body, cells follow a regulated cycle of growth, division, and death, facilitating the normal functioning of tissues and organs.
  • In cases of cancer, specific genetic mutations or abnormalities disrupt this regular cell cycle, leading to uncontrolled cell division and growth.
  • These cells can amass into a mass of tissue known as a tumor.

-Source: Indian Express

Contempt of Court


Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has started Contempt of Court Proceedings against two members of the NCLAT (National Company Law Appellate Tribunal).


GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is contempt of court?
  2. What is the statutory basis for contempt of court?
  3. What are the kinds of contempt of court?
  4. What is not contempt of court?

What is Contempt of court?

Contempt of court, as a concept that seeks to protect judicial institutions from motivated attacks and unwarranted criticism, and as a legal mechanism to punish those who lower its authority, is back in the news in India.

How did the concept of contempt come into being?

  • The concept of contempt of court is several centuries old.
  • In England, it is a common law principle that seeks to protect the judicial power of the king, initially exercised by himself, and later by a panel of judges who acted in his name.
  • Violation of the judges’ orders was considered an affront to the king himself.

What is the statutory basis for contempt of court?

  • There were pre-Independence laws of contempt in India.
  • When the Constitution was adopted, contempt of court was made one of the restrictions on freedom of speech and expression.
  • Article 129 of the Constitution conferred on the Supreme Court the power to punish contempt of itself.
  • Article 215 conferred a corresponding power on the High Courts.
  • The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, gives statutory backing to the idea.

What are the kinds of contempt of court?

  • The law codifying contempt classifies it as civil and criminal.
  • Civil Contempt – when someone wilfully disobeys a court order, or wilfully breaches an undertaking given to court.
  • Criminal Contempt – consists of three forms:
    • words, written or spoken, signs and actions that “scandalise” or “tend to scandalise” or “lower” or “tends to lower” the authority of any court
    • prejudices or interferes with any judicial proceeding and
    • interferes with or obstructs the administration of justice.
  • Making allegations against the judiciary or individual judges, attributing motives to judgments and judicial functioning and any scurrilous attack on the conduct of judges are normally considered matters that scandalise the judiciary.
  • The rationale for this provision is that courts must be protected from tendentious attacks that lower its authority, defame its public image and make the public lose faith in its impartiality.
  • The punishment for contempt of court is simple imprisonment for a term up to six months and/or a fine of up to RS. 2,000.

What is not contempt of court?

  • Fair and accurate reporting of judicial proceedings will not amount to contempt of court.
  • Nor is any fair criticism on the merits of a judicial order after a case is heard and disposed of.
  • Truth as a defence against a contempt charge: For many years, truth was seldom considered a defence against a charge of contempt. There was an impression that the judiciary tended to hide any misconduct among its individual members in the name of protecting the image of the institution. The Act was amended in 2006 to introduce truth as a valid defence, if it was in public interest and was invoked in a bona fide manner.

-Source: Indian Express

Appointment of Odhuvars in Chennai Region’s Shaivite Temples


The Tamil Nadu Government appointed 15 Odhuvars, including five women, to serve the deities by singing hymns and praises in Shaivite temples across the Chennai region.


GS I: Ancient Indian History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Who are Odhuvars?
  2. Significance in the Present
  3. Challenges and Issues Faced by Odhuvars in Tamil Nadu

Who are Odhuvars?

  • Odhuvars are individuals who sing devotional hymns in Tamil Nadu’s Hindu temples.
  • They serve the deity Lord Shiva by singing praises from Thirumurai in Saivite temples.
  • Odhuvars sing devotional hymns but do not enter the sanctum sanctorum.
Historical Origin:
  • The tradition of Odhuvars dates back to ancient times and has deep roots in the Bhakti movement, flourishing between the 6th and 9th centuries in Tamil Nadu.
  • During this period, saint-poets, known as Alwars and Nayanars, composed devotional hymns in praise of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, respectively.
  • Odhuvars emerged as the custodians of this rich musical and devotional heritage.

Significance in the Present:

  • Odhuvars continue to play a pivotal role in the daily and festive rituals of Tamil Nadu temples.
  • They are responsible for reciting Thevaram and Thiruvasagam, ancient Tamil texts containing hymns and praises for Lord Shiva.
  • Many Odhuvars come from marginalized communities, and their temple roles provide economic opportunities while fostering community unity.
  • Odhuvars contribute to the preservation of the Tamil language, ensuring that ancient texts are understood by future generations.
  • Their performances create a devotional atmosphere in temples, inspiring a sense of piety and spiritual connection among worshippers.

Challenges and Issues Faced by Odhuvars in Tamil Nadu

Economic Vulnerability:

  • Many Odhuvar families struggle financially because their income is heavily dependent on temple donations and offerings.
  • This economic instability poses a significant threat to the sustainability of the Odhuvar tradition.

Lack of Recognition:

  • The contributions of Odhuvars to temple rituals and the preservation of Tamil culture often go unnoticed.
  • Limited recognition and acknowledgment can be demotivating for Odhuvars.

Generational Interest:

  • Younger generations may not be inclined to continue the tradition due to financial instability and limited social prestige.
  • This raises concerns about the continuity of the Odhuvar tradition.

Competition with Modern Media:

  • The rise of recorded music and modernization has changed the way people engage with religious and devotional content.
  • Odhuvars may struggle to compete with digital media and contemporary musical forms.

Government Support:

  • Recognized government institutions, such as the Sangeet Natak Academy, have not been actively addressing the concerns of Odhuvars.
  • The expertise and competence of Odhuvars in their field can help alleviate the challenges faced by the community.

-Source: The Hindu

TV-D1 Mission


Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to launch its first-ever test flight, TV-D1, for the Gaganyaan mission, marking a pivotal moment in India’s pursuit of human spaceflight.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. TV-D1 Mission
  2. Objective of the Test

TV-D1 Mission

  • Mission Name: Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1)
  • Purpose: Evaluate the readiness of the crew module for the Gaganyaan mission.
  • Rocket Type: Single-stage liquid rocket designed specifically for this abort mission.
  • Payloads: Crew Module (CM) and Crew Escape Systems (CES) with fast-acting solid motors, CM fairing (CMF), and Interface Adapters.
  • Simulated Condition: This flight simulates the abort condition during the ascent trajectory corresponding to a Mach number of 1.2, as encountered in the Gaganyaan mission.

Objective of the Test:

  • The test evaluates the abort and crew escape system, which functions similarly to an ejection seat in fighter jets, aiming to ensure the safety of crew members in case of in-flight anomalies.
  • The Crew Escape System can automatically operate at various altitudes if the onboard computer detects malfunctions.
  • This test simulates an abort condition during the ascent trajectory, ensuring the safety of Indian astronauts in the initial phase of the launch.
  • During the test, the CES with CM is separated from the Test Vehicle at an altitude of approximately 17 km.
  • Following the separation, the abort sequence is autonomously executed, involving the separation of CES, deployment of parachutes, and ultimately leading to the safe landing of CM in the sea, around 10 km from the coast of Sriharikota.

-Source: The Hindu

Niemann-Pick Disease


Recently, parents of children suffering from Niemann-Pick disease have urged the Union government to notify the ailment under the National Policy for Rare Diseases.


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Niemann-Pick Disease Overview
  2. Causes
  3. Symptoms
  4. Classification
  5. Treatment

Niemann-Pick Disease Overview:

  • Niemann-Pick Disease is a rare genetic disorder characterized by the accumulation of sphingomyelin in lysosomes within cells, which results in dysfunctional metabolism of sphingolipids.
  • The disease encompasses three primary recognized forms: Niemann-Pick Types A, B, and C.
  • Affected areas of the body include the brain, nerves, liver, spleen, bone marrow, and, in severe cases, lungs.
  • Symptoms are related to the progressive loss of nerve and brain function, impacting various organs.
  • While it can occur at any age, it mainly affects children.


  • Niemann-Pick Disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, meaning that both copies of the gene must be defective to cause the disease.
  • In most cases, parents of an affected child are carriers, having one copy of the altered gene but not displaying symptoms due to the presence of a functional copy.
  • If both parents are carriers, each pregnancy has a 25% chance of producing an affected child.


  • Common symptoms include enlargement of the liver and spleen (Hepatosplenomegaly), low blood platelet levels (Thrombocytopenia), slurred speech (dysarthria), difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia), abnormal posturing of limbs, trunk, and face (dystonia), voluntary rapid eye movements (supranuclear gaze palsy), and a gradual loss of intellectual abilities, leading to dementia and seizures.


  • Types A and B: These are caused by mutations in the SMPD1 Gene, resulting in a deficiency of the lysosomal enzyme acid sphingomyelinase, which normally breaks down the lipid sphingomyelin.
  • Type C: Niemann-Pick disease, type C (NPC), is caused by mutations in NPC1 or NPC2 genes, impacting proteins used to transport lipids. It is further classified into C1 (95% of type C cases) and C2.


  • There is no specific treatment known for Niemann-Pick Types A and B. However, the focus is on managing symptoms to improve the quality of life for affected individuals.

-Source: Times of India

Rafah Crossing


Recently, the area of the Rafah Border Crossing has been reportedly hit by a military strike.


Places in News

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Rafah Crossing Overview
  2. Key Facts about Sinai Peninsula

Rafah Crossing Overview:

  • Rafah Crossing is located at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, a narrow territory housing approximately 2.3 million people.
  • It is situated between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • This crossing is under the control of Egypt.
  • Rafah Crossing represents a crucial and often the sole humanitarian route for aid to enter the Gaza Strip from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
  • There are only two other border crossings in the Gaza region: Erez, a border crossing with Israel in northern Gaza, and Kerem Shalom, a commercial crossing connecting Israel and southern Gaza.

Key Facts about Sinai Peninsula:

  • The Sinai Peninsula is a triangular landmass in northeastern Egypt.
  • It serves as a land bridge, connecting the continents of Asia and Africa.
  • Boundaries:
    • To the north, it is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea.
    • To the east, it shares borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip.
    • The Sinai’s western boundary is defined by the Suez Canal, separating it from the African part of Egypt.
    • The Gulf of Suez lies to the southwest.
    • To the immediate south, it is bordered by the Red Sea.
    • The Gulf of Aqaba defines its southeastern boundary.
  • Egypt has maritime boundaries in the Sinai region, sharing them with Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023