General Awareness Paper 1 NTA UGC NET

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Access to “SWAYAM”, National Online Education Platform has tripled

On March 28, 2020, the Ministry of HRD (Human Resources Department) announced that the access to the National Online Education Platform called the SWAYAM has tripled since Lock Down.

SWAYAM is Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds. It was launched in 2014. 

The main aim of the online platform is to provide best quality education to around 3 crore students in the country. 

The SWAYAM MOOCs aims to address the needs of school level students studying 9th to 12th and to the post graduate students. There are nine national coordinators operating SWAYAM. They are AICTE, UGC, NCERT, NPTEL, CEC, IGNOU, NIOS, NITTTR and IIMB. The platform provides self-assessment tests as well.

UGC has already issued the UGC (Credit Framework for online learning courses through SWAYAM) Regulation 2016 advising the Universities to identify courses where credits can be transferred on to the academic record of the students for courses done on SWAYAM. 

AICTE has also put out gazette notification in 2016 and subsequently for adoption of these courses for credit transfer.

The current SWAYAM platform is developed by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and NPTEL, IIT Madras with the help of Google Inc. and Persistent Systems Ltd.

Nine National Coordinators have been appointed. They are:



  •   AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) for self-paced and international courses


  •   NPTEL (National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning) for Engineering


  •   UGC (University Grants Commission) for non technical post-graduation education
  •   CEC (Consortium for Educational Communication) for under-graduate education
  •   NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) for school education
  •   NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) for school education
  •   IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) for out-of-school students
  •   IIMB (Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore) for management studies
  •   NITTTR (National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research) for Teacher Training programme




India is to provide 107.01 million Nepali rupees for construction of schools in Nepal

On March 16, 2020, India signed Memorandum of Understanding with Nepal for construction of new schools in the country. Under the MoU, India is to provide 107.01 million Nepali rupees.

India as an initial step of the agreement handed over a cheque of 8 lakh rupees (INR). The India-Nepal Development Partnership Programme is to construct the schools. The Kapilavastu District Coordination Committee will also help in the construction.

The Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019 introduced

On March 2, 2020, the HRD Minister introduced the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha. It was introduced in Lok Sabha in December

The bill aims to convert deemed Sanskrit universities to central Sanskrit universities. They are 


  • Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, 


  • Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati and 


  • Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi. 





The Universities will work towards promoting the knowledge of Sanskrit, train manpower in preservation of Sanskrit and other allied subjects and also make provisions for integrated cour

Happiness Curriculum in Government Schools attended by Melania Trump

On February 25, 2020, the first lady of the United States Melania Trump attended Happiness Classes at the Delhi Government Schools. She accompanied President Trump in their visit to India.



The Happiness Classes are one of the flagship programmes of the Delhi Government. The programme launched in 2018 had received recommendations from different parts of the world. It focuses on arts-based, cognition, numeracy and literacy-based teachings. It is completely different from the from the traditional marks-oriented teachings.



The Happiness Curriculum aims to develop citizens who are awakened, aware, mindful, empathetic and above all firmly rooted to their identity. The programme also aims to mold children to cater the needs of today’s society.


Output of the Curriculum 

The Curriculum develops self-awareness among the students. It inculcates inquiry skills and critical thinking. The programme also imbibes effective communication skills in students. It enables them to use their skills towards problem solving mode during conflicting situation. It also reduces depression, anxiety and intolerance among students.

The Cabinet approved the amalgamation of the 10 public sector banks (PSB) into 4 PSBs that was announced on August 30, 2019. The merger would come into effect from April 1, 2020.



  • Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India into Punjab National Bank;


  • Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank into Union Bank of India;


  • Syndicate Bank into Canara Bank; and
  • Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank




According to the government, the merger of the 10 banks will lead to the creation of stronger establishments that will be able to meet the challenge of a $ 5 trillion economy. The number of branches of the banks will compound, giving existing customers more than 3,000 stations to do their banking from.

The investment in technology-enabled smart banking will lead to improvements such as paperless tab-banking, faster loan processing, banking from home, and customer-need driven credit offers.


“Businesses and industry will benefit through increased lending capacity, with the regulatory ceiling for lending individual borrowers increasing by over Rs 1,500 crores to Rs 3,000 crores,” the government release said.

This merger would follow in the example of the amalgamation of 

Bank of Baroda, Vijaya Bank, and Dena Bank on April 1, 2019

As a result of this amalgamation, the number of PSBs will get consolidated from 27 banks in 2017 to 12 banks in 2020. The amalgamation of the two banks into Bank of Baroda was extremely successful, according to the government.

Bank of Baroda, after the merger, had posted strong financial results as compared to results before the merger with the operating profit up by 11.4% (Rs. 1,487 crore), deposits increasing by 8.8%, capital ratio increasing by 171 basis points, and retail lending growing by 15.3%.

Committees in this regard:

  1. Narasimham committee (1991 and 1998) suggested merger of strong banks both in public sector and even with the developmental financial institutions and NBFCs.
  2. Khan committee in 1997 stressed the need for harmonization of roles of commercial banks and the financial institutions.
  3. Verma committee pointed out that consolidation will lead to pooling of strengths and lead to overall reduction in cost of operations.


Merge of 10 public sector banks into four. 

This would take the number of  Government banks in the country from 27 in 2017 to 12 


  • 7 Largest banks at Nation level and


  • 5 small banks on 1st April 2020.



List of PSU Banks After Merger 2020


Anchor Bank

Banks to be Merged with Anchor Bank

Combined Domestic Branches

Punjab National Bank

Oriental Bank of Commerce + United Bank


Canara Bank

Syndicate Bank


Allahabad Bank

Indian Bank

Bank Of Baroda

Dena Bank +Vijaya Bank


Union Bank

Andhra Bank + Corporation Bank


State Bank of India (SBI)

State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ) + State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH) + State Bank of Mysore (SBM) + State Bank of Patiala (SBP) + State Bank of Travancore (SBT) + Bharatiya Mahila Bank

24,000 branches (approx)

Impact of PSU Bank Mergers


Merits of Merger


  • A large capital base would help the acquirer banks to offer a large loan amount


  • Service delivery can get improved
  • Recapitalization need from the government to reduce
  • Customers will have a wide array of products like mutual funds and insurance to choose from, in additional to the traditional loans and deposits
  • Technological upgradation on the cards




Demerits of Merger


  • It would be tough to manage issues pertaining to human resource


  • Few large inter-linked banks can expose the broader economy to enhanced financial risks
  • The local identity of small banks won’t be that prominent



For government:


  • The burden on the central government to recapitalize the public sector banks again and again will come down substantially.


  • This will also help in meeting more stringent norms under BASEL III, especially capital adequacy ratio.
  • From regulatory perspective, monitoring and control of less number of banks will be easier after mergers.



For Banks:


  • Small banks can gear up to international standards with innovative products and services with the accepted level of efficiency.
  • PSBs, which are geographically concentrated, can expand their coverage beyond their outreach.
  • A better and optimum size of the organization would help PSBs offer more and more products and services and help in integrated growth of the sector.
  • Consolidation also helps in improving the professional standards.
  • This will also end the unhealthy and intense competition going on even among public sector banks as of now.
  • In the global market, the Indian banks will gain greater recognition and higher rating.
  • The volume of inter-bank transactions will come down, resulting in saving of considerable time in clearing and reconciliation of accounts.
  • This will also reduce unnecessary interference by board members in day to day affairs of the banks.
  • After mergers, bargaining strength of bank staff will become more and visible.
  • Bank staff may look forward to better wages and service conditions in future.
  • The wide disparities between the staff of various banks in their service conditions and monetary benefits will narrow down.

For economy:


  • Reduction in the cost of doing business.
  • Technical inefficiency reduces.
  • The size of each business entity after merger is expected to add strength to the Indian Banking System in general and Public Sector Banks in particular.
  • After merger, Indian Banks can manage their liquidity 


– short term as well as long term

– position comfortably.


  • Synergy of operations and scale of economy in the new entity will result in savings and higher profits.
  • A great number of posts of CMD, ED, GM and Zonal Managers will be abolished, resulting in savings of crores of Rupee.
  • Customers will have access to fewer banks offering them wider range of products at a lower cost.
  • Mergers can diversify risk management.



7.8 magnitude earthquake strikes near Russia’s Kuril islands; no casualties reported

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) said that hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 1,000 km of the earthquake’s epicentre


A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck off Russia’s Kuril Islands on 25 march 2020, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The earthquake hit at a depth of 56.7 km, nearly 1,400 km north-east of the Sapporo, Japan, added USGS. There were no reports of casualties.


The authorities also prompted a tsunami warning, which was later cancelled.

रूस के कुरील द्वीपों के पास 7.8 तीव्रता का भूकंप; किसी के हताहत होने की सूचना नहीं है

प्रशांत सुनामी चेतावनी केंद्र (PTWC) ने कहा कि भूकंप के भूकंप के केंद्र में 1,000 किमी के भीतर खतरनाक सुनामी लहरें संभव थीं


अमेरिकी भूवैज्ञानिक सर्वेक्षण (यूएसजीएस) के अनुसार, बुधवार को रूस के कुरील द्वीप समूह में 7.5 तीव्रता का भूकंप आया। जापान के साप्पोरो से लगभग 1,400 किमी उत्तर-पूर्व में 56.7 किमी की गहराई पर आए भूकंप ने USGS को जोड़ा। किसी के हताहत होने की सूचना नहीं थी।

Earthquakes in 2020

As per Death



Death toll



MMI Modified Mercalli intensity scale

Depth (km)





 Turkey, Elazığ

IX (Violent)


January 24




 Iran, West Azerbaijan

VII (Very strong)


February 23


As per Magnitude




Death toll



Depth (km)





 Jamaica, Hanover offshore

VI (Strong)


January 28




 Russia, Kuril Islands offshore

IV (Light)


March 25




 Russia, Kuril Islands offshore

VI (Strong)


February 13

The Modified Mercalli intensity scale (MM or MMI), descended from Giuseppe Mercalli’s Mercalli intensity scale of 1902, is a seismic intensity scale used for measuring the intensity of shaking produced by an earthquake.




Magnitude / intensity comparison











7.0 and higher

VIII or higher

What is coronavirus?

The coronavirus is a family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses in humans including common cold and more severe forms like SARS and MERS which are life-threatening. The virus is named after its shape which takes the form of a crown with protrusions around it and hence is known as coronavirus.

Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus MERS, or EMC/2012, is a species of coronavirus which infects humans, bats, and camels. The infecting virus is an enveloped, positive-sense, single-stranded RNA virus which enters its host cell by binding to the DPP4 receptor

The recent outbreak of coronavirus is believed to have occurred in a market for illegal wildlife in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Chinese health authorities and the WHO are investigating the outbreak of the recent coronavirus.

कोरोनोवायरस वायरस का एक परिवार है जो मनुष्यों में बीमारियों की एक श्रृंखला पैदा कर सकता है जिसमें आम सर्दी और सार्स और मर्स जैसे गंभीर रूप हैं जो जीवन के लिए खतरा हैं। वायरस को इसके आकार के नाम पर रखा गया है, जो इसके चारों ओर प्रोट्रूशियंस के साथ एक मुकुट का रूप लेता है और इसलिए इसे कोरोनावायरस के रूप में जाना जाता है।

माना जाता है कि कोरोनवायरस का हालिया प्रकोप मध्य चीनी शहर वुहान में अवैध वन्यजीवों के लिए एक बाजार में हुआ है। चीनी स्वास्थ्य अधिकारी और डब्ल्यूएचओ हाल के कोरोनावायरस के प्रकोप की जांच कर रहे हैं।


Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause disease in both animals and humans. The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus strain known as SARS-CoV is an example of a coronavirus. SARS spread rapidly in 2002–2003.

The new strain of coronavirus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus causes coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19).

The new coronavirus has spread rapidly in many parts of the world. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. A pandemic occurs when a disease that people are not immune to spreads across large regions.


कोरोनाविरस वायरस का एक समूह है जो जानवरों और मनुष्यों दोनों में बीमारी का कारण बन सकता है। SARS-CoV के रूप में जाना जाने वाला गंभीर तीव्र श्वसन सिंड्रोम (SARS) वायरस तनाव कोरोनावायरस का एक उदाहरण है। एसएआरएस 2002-2003 में तेजी से फैल गया।


कोरोनोवायरस के नए तनाव को गंभीर तीव्र श्वसन सिंड्रोम कोरोनावायरस 2 (SARS-CoV-2) कहा जाता है। वायरस कोरोनावायरस रोग 19 (COVID-19) का कारण बनता है।


नया कोरोनोवायरस दुनिया के कई हिस्सों में तेजी से फैल गया है। 11 मार्च, 2020 को, विश्व स्वास्थ्य संगठन (WHO) ने COVID-19 को महामारी घोषित किया। एक महामारी तब होती है जब एक बीमारी जो लोगों को बड़े क्षेत्रों में फैलने के लिए प्रतिरक्षा नहीं होती है।


RNA is Ribonucleic Acid. 


RNA is one of the major biological macromolecules that is essential for all living beings or known forms of life. 


RNA performs various important biological roles related to protein synthesis such as decoding, transcription, regulation and expression of genes. It is a single-stranded molecule composed of Ribonucleotides. 


Like DNA, It has three components: a Nitrogenous Base: It can be adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) or uracil (U), a Five-Carbon Sugar: It is ribose and a Phosphate Group: It is attached to the third position of one ribose and fifth position of the next ribose. The nucleotides of Ribonucleic Acid are joined to one another through covalent bonds that exist between the phosphate of one molecule and sugar of another molecule. 

Global Recycling Day

Every year, March 18 is celebrated as Global Recycling Day. The Recyclables are called the “Seventh Resource”.


They help to save 700 million tonnes of Carbon-Dioxide every year according to the United Nations. The Global Recycling Day is being organized by Global Recycling Foundation. 

This year, it operates under the theme

Theme 2020 : Recycling Heroes

World Water Day

Every year since 1993, World Water Day is being celebrated on March 22.

Theme 2020: Water and Climate Change Significance

The main purpose of World Water Day is to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6. 

This includes Water and Sanitation for all by 2030.

By 2050, more than 5.7 billion people are to live in areas where is to go scarce. The water demand all over the world is to increase by 50% by 2040. Therefore, it is important to mark more such events that aims at conserving water.

UN Report: “Peatland” protection will help attain climate goals


The Food and Agriculture Organization operating under United Nations released a report recently on Peatlands.


The report says that though Peatlands cover only 3% of the earth’s surface, they trigger the carbon that were locked in a few decades.

The report says that peatlands consists of 30% of world soil carbon. When they are released, they emit greenhouse gases. They have the potential to release up to one giga tonne of carbon.

Peatlands in India In India, peatlands occupy 320 square kilo metres to 1,000 square kilo metres area.

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