Daily Current Affairs: 19th and 20th December

Topics covered

  1. Central Asia dialogue
  2. Raising marriage age  
  3. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)
  4. Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) 
  5. Thar desert
  6. Facts for Prelims
  7. Places in News

1. Central Asia dialogue

Context: India and Central Asian nations share a “broad regional consensus” on Afghanistan, said a regional conference of Foreign Ministers in Delhi on Sunday that proposed the use of the India-run terminal at the Chabahar port in Iran as a route for trade.

About Central Asian Dialogue

  • India – Central Asian Dialogue is a ministerial level dialogue between India and Central Asian Countries
  • This years dialogue was attended by Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
  • This time Afghanistan has not been invited as India like the rest of the world has not yet recognised the Taliban government.

Past Dialogues

  • The first India-Central Asia dialogue was held in Samarkand in Uzbekistan on January 2019. The aim of the dialogue was to strengthen political, economic and cultural ties with the region.
  • The second India-Central Asia Dialogue was held virtually on 28 October 2020. The effort again was to promote business, more so to get the private sectors to get into action. The second edition of the dialogue also had the Afghan foreign minister attend.

Key issues Discussed in the meet


  • India  and five Asian countries batted for restoration of peace in Afghanistan. They underlined the need for respecting the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the war-torn country
  • Ministers reaffirmed the importance of UNSC Resolution 2593 (2021), which demands that Afghan territory not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing terrorist acts. 
  • It also talked about the UN’s role in Afghanistan as well as the need for providing immediate humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people besides preserving the rights of women, children and other national ethnic groups.

Engagement with Central Asian Region

  • The dialogue showed support for gradual restoration of the people-to-people contacts, tourism and business ties as they called on for early mutual recognition of Covid vaccine certification
  • The ministers emphasized that the establishment of long-term relations between Central Asia and India is aimed at enhancing regional peace, security, stability, sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the region
  • They stressed on the importance of making concerted efforts to achieve the full potential for trade, especially in sectors like pharmaceuticals, information technology, agriculture, energy, textiles, gems and jewellery etc
  • The ministers also expressed interest in strengthening mutual cooperation in the field of Science, Technology and Innovation by enhancing direct cooperation between government organizations, research institutes, innovation centres and technological enterprises of these countries
  • The Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan stressed on the importance of the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) gas pipeline project
  • The sides also expressed their desire to deepen cooperation in the health-care sector, including medical tourism. Increasing tourist arrivals, including in the segments of pilgrimage and historical and cultural tourism, creating tourism trails across the region, encouraging investment in tourism infrastructure were emphasized

Terrorism and Security related issues

  • The countries noted that defence- and security-related interactions were an important element of India-Central Asia cooperation, and stressed on the importance of holding regular consultations among the National Security Councils of India and the Central Asian countries in the fight against terrorism and other emerging challenges in the region.
  • The ministers condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reiterated that providing safe haven, using terrorist proxies for cross-border terrorism, terror financing, arms and drugs trafficking, dissemination of a radical ideology, and abuse of cyber space to spread disinformation and incite violence goes against the basic principles of humanity and international relations.

India and Central Asia Relations

  • After the breakup of the Soviet Union and the formation of the independent republics in Central Asia, India reset its ties with the strategically critical region. India provided financial aid to the region and established diplomatic relations.
  • New Delhi signed the Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPA) with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to stimulate defence cooperation and deepen trade relations.
  • In 2012, New Delhi’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy aimed at furthering India’s political, economic, historical and cultural connections with the region. India had been buying uranium for his nuclear power plants from Kazakhstan.
  • Turkmenistan’s foreign minister pushed for the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline, which has long been discussed. However, India’s efforts were stonewalled by Pakistan’s lack of willingness to allow India passage through its territory.
  • China took advantage of the situation and unveiled the much-hyped BRI in Kazakhstan. The growing geostrategic and security concerns regarding the BRI’s China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its violation of India’s sovereignty forced New Delhi to fix its lethargic strategy.

Recent Engagements

  • In Kyrgyzstan – Extended a credit line of $200 million for the support of development projects and signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) on High-Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP). 
  • In Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur Sultan, Minister of External Affairs attended 6th Foreign Ministers’ Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA). Admonishing China’s methods in promoting the BRI, he said while greater connectivity was essential for the promotion of regional stability, it must not be pursued for parochial interests. He also confronted Pakistan for its support towards cross-border terrorism.
  • India-Armenia ties : Mr. Jaishankar has become the first Indian External Affairs Minister to visit Armenia. Countries agreed to enhance trade and cultural exchanges to boost bilateral relations. India also supported efforts for a peaceful solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk group.
  • Ashgabat Agreement allowed access to connectivity networks to facilitate trade and commercial interactions with both Central Asia and Eurasia, and also access the natural resources of the region for India. India is also pushing for the Central Asian countries to make use of the Chabahar port in Iran, with its connecting network to Afghanistan for trade with Central Asia. However, with the Taliban now in Kabul that route is also closed for the time being.

2 . Raising marriage age

Context: The Government has listed its proposal to raise the age of marriage for women to 21 for legislative business in Parliament in the coming week. The move comes within days of the Union Cabinet approving the proposal which is based on the recommendations of a task force constituted last year.

What do marriage laws in India say?

  • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872, prescribe the age of 18 years for the bride and 21 years for the groom.
  • The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, allows marriage if the boy and the girl have attained puberty.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954, which governs inter-faith marriages also lays down 18 years for women and 21 years for men as the age of marriage.
  • There is also the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which prohibits marriage below 18 years for women and 21 years for men.

What is the purpose of raising the age of marriage?

  • In her 2020 Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the Government would set up a task force to look into the “age of a girl entering motherhood” with the aim to lower maternal mortality rates, improve nutrition levels as well as to ensure opportunities for women to pursue higher education and careers.
  • These were also the terms of references for a 10-member panel headed by former Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitly when it was constituted on June 6, 2020. The panel submitted its report to the PMO and Ministry of Women and Child Development in December 2020 but it has not yet been made public.
  • According to Ms. Jaitly raising the age of marriage is one of its many recommendations, which include a strong campaign to reform patriarchal mindsets, improving access to education by providing girls safe transport to schools and ensuring toilets and sanitary napkins so girls don’t drop out, providing sex education, as well as vocational training and livelihood options.

Other arguments Regarding Raising the age

  • While children born to adolescent mothers have higher prevalence of stunting and low weight, experts argue that the underlying cause is poverty.
  • There is also a need to improve access to education, skill training and employment opportunities which are some of the barriers for girls in pursuing higher education.
  • It is also important to ensure a safe environment free from the constant threat of rape and sexual assault which is why girls are married off early.
  • Steps must also be taken to address early pregnancies instead of focusing on age of marriage by extending family planning and reproductive health support which focus on preparation for pregnancy and delaying the first birth.

Will the new proposal make women more vulnerable?

  • According to National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-2021), 23.3% of women aged 20-24 years married before the age of 18, which shows that the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006, has not been successful in preventing child marriages and increasing the legal age at marriage for girls will expand the number of persons deemed underage and render them without legal protection.
  • According to an analysis of NFHS-4 (2015-2016) data 56% girls were married below the age of 21 and this figure was as high as 75% among the poorest category of population. This is also worrisome when one looks at evidence on how PCMA is used largely by parents to punish their daughters who marry against their wishes or elope to evade forced marriages, domestic abuse and housework– a study by Partners for Law in Development showed.

3 . National Disaster Response Force (NDRF)

Context: Stressing the need for better coordination between the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Forces (SDRF) in individual States, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that unless the two outfits worked in closer affinity, problems could arise in rescue efforts during major calamities.


  • The mid nineties and the subsequent decade saw much international debate & discussion around Disaster Response & Preparedness.
  • Some of the notable and more impactful ones were the Yokohama Strategy Plan (1994) & the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005), adopted by the UN.
  • During the same period India faced some of its most severe natural calamities like Orissa Super Cyclone (1999), Gujarat Earthquake (2001) and Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004).
  • This succession of events and the International environment brought to fore, the need of comprehensive disaster management plan.
  • This led to the enactment of the Disaster Management Act on December 26th , 2005.

About NDRF

  • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was constituted to lay down the policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management.
  • The Prime Minister of India is the Chairman of the NDMA.
  • The Disaster Management Act has statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.
  • Accordingly, in 2006 NDRF was constituted with 8 Battalions. At present, NDRF has a strength of 12 Battalions with each Battalion consisting of 1149 personnel.
  • All the 12 battalions are located in Assam, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. These battalions have been trained and equipped to response to all man-made and natural disasters. 
  • In the beginning, the personnel of NDRF were deployed for routine law and order duties also but later through NDRF Rules in 2008 made NDRF a dedicated force for disaster response related duties, under the unified command of DG NDRF.


  • In the federal system of governance found in India, the responsibility of disaster management lies with the State Government.
  • Ministry of Home affairs is the nodal ministry in the central government for managing natural disasters.
  • When the country faces some severe calamity, the central government has the responsibility to provide the necessary assistance and aid to the affected state.
  • This will also include the deployment of Armed Forces, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Central Paramilitary Forces, and the communication, air and other assets that are required and available.

About SDRF

  • As per National Policy on Disaster Management 2009, the State Governments are required to raise their own SDRF for quickly responding to disasters.
  • These SDRF are placed strategically at suitable locations well connected to the airport, rail heads and roads for their immediate deployment at the disaster sites.
  • The SDRF are also be used for Community Capacity Building and Awareness Generation programmes within the State.
  • During these programmes, SDRF can familiarize themselves with terrain, critical buildings and other existing infrastructure for prompt responses at the time of disasters and simultaneously work with the community, including school children, village volunteers and other stakeholders on what to do during disasters.

4 . Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

Context: Islamic countries scrambled to find ways to help Afghanistan avert an imminent economic collapse they say would have a “horrendous” global impact. The hastily called meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad ended with a promise to set up a fund to provide humanitarian aid through the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which would provide a cover for countries to donate without dealing directly with the country’s Taliban rulers.

Outcome of the Submit

  • The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has pledged to set up a humanitarian trust fund for Afghanistan as millions face hunger and poverty.
  • An OIC resolution released after the meeting said the Islamic Development Bank would lead the effort to free up assistance by the first quarter of 2022.
  • It also urged Afghanistan’s rulers to abide by “obligations under international human rights covenants, especially with regards to the rights of women, children, youth, elderly and people with special needs”.
  • The OIC meeting did not give the new Taliban government any formal international recognition and Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi was excluded from the official photograph taken during the event.

About OIC

  • The OIC — formerly Organisation of the Islamic Conference — is the world’s second largest inter-governmental organisation after the UN, with a membership of 57 states.
  • The OIC’s stated objective is “to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world”.
  • OIC has reserved membership for Muslim-majority countries.
  • Russia, Thailand, and a couple of other small countries have Observer status.

What is India’s relationship with OIC as an organisation?

  • At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in 2018, Bangladesh, the host, suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status, but Pakistan opposed the proposal.
  • In 1969, India was dis-invited from the Conference of Islamic Countries in Rabat, Morocco at Pakistan’s behest. Then Agriculture Minister Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was dis-invited upon arrival in Morocco after Pakistan President Yahya Khan lobbied against Indian participation.
  • In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting, as a “guest of honour”. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the Inaugural Plenary in Abu Dhabi on March 1 2019, after having been invited by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister. The Ministry of External Affairs said then that the invitation was a “welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world”.
  • This first-time invitation was seen as a diplomatic victory for New Delhi, especially at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama attack. Pakistan had opposed the invitation to Swaraj, and its Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi boycotted the plenary after the UAE turned down his demand to rescind the invitation. 

5 . Thar Desert 

Context: Thar desert in western Rajasthan is expanding fast because of migration of people, changes in the rainfall pattern, spread of sand dunes and unscientific plantation drives. The degradation of land is posing a threat to the desert ecology, while the climate change has contributed to the spread of arid region.

Details of the study

  • The findings are based on a study on desertification of Thar region conducted by the Central University of Rajasthan
  • Study has predicted that the sandstorms from the desert will travel as far as the National Capital Region (NCR) in the years to come. The sandstorms will become intense with the erosion of Aravali hills, which act as a ‘natural green wall’ between the desert and the plains.
  • The study was undertaken as part of an assessment of the environmentally sensitive areas within the framework of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). The scientists associated with the project studied the climate and vegetation in Thar, which is the word’s ninth largest hot subtropical desert, to understand the desertification process.

Details of the Study

  • The loss of Aravali hills because of unchecked mining activities would result in the sandstorms travelling to NCR and Delhi. “The suspended particles from the arid region are contributing to air pollution in NCR. The sandstorms will hit this area because of the desert expanding in the eastern direction
  • Since no mechanism has evolved so far to control the spread of sand dunes, the desertification will make an impact on the Aravali ranges’ northern part as an ecotonal area, acting as transition zone between the ecological systems.
  • Over-exploitation of resources had led to reduction in vegetation cover in the areas adjacent to the Thar desert, contributing to its expansion beyond four districts in western Rajasthan.
  • The study, which focused on Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jodhpur districts covering more than 50% of Thar desert, found that Jodhpur, situated near the Aravali hills, had witnessed a slow speed of desertification. It also found that the vegetation cover and waterbodies had increased in the area in the last 46 years and the complex sand region had decreased by 4.98%.

About Thar Desert

  • Thar Desert, also called Great Indian Desert, arid region of rolling sand hills on the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is located partly in Rajasthan state, northwestern India, and partly in Punjab and Sindh (Sind) provinces, eastern Pakistan.
  • The Thar Desert covers some 77,000 square miles (200,000 square km) of territory.
  • It is bordered by the irrigated Indus River plain to the west, the Punjab Plain to the north and northeast, the Aravalli Range to the southeast, and the Rann of Kachchh to the south.
  • The subtropical desert climate there results from persistent high pressure and subsidence at that latitude.
  • The prevailing southwest monsoon winds that bring rain to much of the subcontinent in summer tend to bypass the Thar to the east.
  • The name Thar is derived from thul, the general term for the region’s sand ridges.

Aravalli Ranges

  • Aravalli Range is a hill system of northern India, running northeasterly for 350 miles (560 km) through Rajasthan state. Isolated rocky offshoots continue to just south of Delhi.
  • The Aravalli range are the oldest block mountains in India.
  • The series of peaks and ridges, with breadths varying from 6 to 60 miles (10 to 100 km), are generally between 1,000 and 3,000 feet (300 and 900 metres) in elevation.
  • The system is divided into two sections:
    • the Sambhar-Sirohi ranges, taller and including Guru Peak on Mount Abu, the highest peak in the Aravalli Range (5,650 feet [1,722 metres]);
    • the Sambhar-Khetri ranges, consisting of three ridges that are discontinuous.
  • The Aravalli Range is rich in natural resources (including minerals) and serves as a check to the growth of the western desert.
  • It gives rise to several rivers, including the Banas, Luni, Sakhi, and Sabarmati.
  • Though heavily forested in the south, it is generally bare and thinly populated, consisting of large areas of sand and stone and of masses of rose-coloured quartzite.

About Desertification

  • Desertification is defined by the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification as land degradation in arid, semiarid and dry subhumid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities.
  • Land degradation is in turn defined as the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity of drylands.

Causes of Desertification

  • Desertification occurs as a result of a long-term failure to balance human demand for ecosystem services and the amount the ecosystem can supply.
  • Desertification occurs when:
    • The tree and plant cover that binds the soil is removed. It occurs when trees and bushes are stripped away for fuelwood and timber, or to clear land for cultivation.
    • Animals eat away grasses and erode topsoil with their hooves.
    • Intensive farming depletes the nutrients in the soil.
  • Wind and water erosion aggravate the damage, carrying away topsoil and leaving behind a highly infertile mix of dust and sand. It is the combination of these factors that transforms degraded land into desert.

Consequences of Desertification

  • Drylands cover about half of the earth’s ice-free land surface and many of them belong to the world’s poorest countries, which exacerbates the consequences:
    • Loss of biodiversity by worsening the living conditions of many species.
    • Food insecurity due to crop failure or reduced yields.
    • The loss of vegetation cover and therefore of food for livestock and humans.
    • Increased risk of zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19.
    • Loss of forest cover, with a corresponding shortage of wood resources
    • The decrease in drinking water reserves due to the loss of aquifers.
  • According to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the lives of 250 million people are already affected by desertification and up to 135 million could be displaced (climate migrations) by desertification by 2045, making it one of the most serious environmental problems facing humanity.

How to avoid Desertification

  • Among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN is SDG 15 (Life of terrestrial ecosystems) aims to protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, stop and reverse land degradation, combat desertification and stop biodiversity loss.
  • The solution at the local level to curb desertification is sustainable management of natural resources, especially the conservation of fertile soils and water resources.  Some of the initiatives that can help to avoid desertification are:
    • Promote coordinated land-use planning, including the management of water resources, livestock and agricultural activities.
    • Preserve vegetation cover, which plays a key role in protecting the soil from wind and water erosion, by building barriers and stabilising dunes.
    • Promote climate change education to raise awareness, in particular by showing the consequences of desertification and ways to prevent it.
    • Focus on organic farming and sustainable practices, such as cover crops or rotational crops, which prevent soil erosion and drought.
    • Commit to reforestation to regenerate vegetation cover, reactivate moisture circulation and generate biodiversity.
    • Encourage rotational grazing, which limits pressure to a particular area while others regenerate, through co-existence with crops that allow more efficient nutrient cycling.

Bonn Challenge

  • The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
  • At the UNFCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India also joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge pledge to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.

6. Facts for Prelims

Agni-P missile 

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully tested the new-generation nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni Prime from APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the coast of Odisha.
  • This is the second time the surface-to-surface missile was tested this year after June.
  • The Agni P, or Prime, missile is described by the Defence Ministry as a “new generation nuclear capable ballistic Missile”.
  • Agni P belongs to the Agni family that constitutes the mainstay of India’s stable of short- (SRBM), medium- (MRBM), intermediate range (IRBM), and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM)
  • Agni P is a two-stage canisterised solid propellant missile. Canisterised means the missile is capable of launch at short notice through improvements in its storage and handling features.
  • Reports said that Agni P is the smallest and lightest of the Agni missiles and weighs less than half as much as the Agni-3 missile.
  • Agni P has a range of between 1,000-2,000 km.

Carbon sink

  • Carbon sink is a process or mechanism that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 
  • The main natural carbon sinks are plants, the ocean and soil.
  • Plants grab carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to use in photosynthesis; some of this carbon is transferred to soil as plants die and decompose.
  • The oceans are a major carbon storage system for carbon dioxide.
  • Marine animals also take up the gas for photosynthesis, while some carbon dioxide simply dissolves in the seawater.
  • Combined, the Earth’s land and ocean sinks absorb about half of all carbon dioxide emissions from human activities.

Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)

  • Gharials are a type of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts. Male gharials sport a large growth on their snout called a ghara, the Hindi word for “pot.
  • Gharials do not stalk and lunge at prey like other crocodilians—their snouts contain sensory cells that can detect vibrations in the water.
  • Historically, gharial were found in the river system of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and southern part of Bhutan and Nepal. Today they survive only in the waters of India and Nepal.
  • The surviving population can be found within the tributaries of the Ganges river system: Girwa (Uttar Pradesh), Son (Madhya Pradesh), Ramganga (Uttarakhand), Gandak (Bihar), Chambal (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan) and Mahanadi (Orissa).
  • Odisha is the only State in India having all three species — gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodile. The State forest department began conservation of these crocodile species in 1975 by establishing three rearing centres — Tikarpada for gharials in Angul district, Ramatirtha for muggers in Mayurbhanj and Bhitarkanika for saltwater crocodiles in Kendrapara district.
  • IUCN Red list Status : Critically Endangered
  • Conservation programmes initiated in India and Nepal focused on reintroducing captive-bred gharials since the early 1980s.
  • Loss of habitat because of sand mining and conversion to agriculture, depletion of fish resources and detrimental fishing methods continue to threaten the population.

Indian Desert Cat

  • An Indian Desert Cat has been spotted for the first time in Madhya Pradesh’s Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR)
  • As the name suggests, this cat is found in deserts and can survive without water.
  • It is usually a creature of the Thar desert in Rajasthan, and inhabits scrub desert areas,
  • The toes of the species have cushion like hair which help it balance the fluctuating desert temperatures.
  • Earlier, the presence of a desert cat was recorded in the state’s Nauradehi sanctuary.

Liberation of Goa

  • Goa Liberation Day is observed on December 19 every year in India and it marks the day Indian armed forces freed Goa in 1961 following 450 years of Portuguese rule.
  • The Portuguese colonised several parts of India in 1510 but by the end of the 19th-century Portuguese colonies in India were limited to Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra, Nagar Haveli and Anjediva Island. The Goa liberation movement, which sought to end Portuguese colonial rule in Goa, started off with small scale revolts.
  • On August 15, 1947, when India gained its Independence, Goa was still under the Portuguese rule. The Portuguese refused to give up their hold over Goa and other Indian territories.
  • Following a myriad of unsuccessful negotiations and diplomatic efforts with the Portuguese, the former prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, decided that military intervention was the only option.
  • The 36-hour military operation, conducted from December 18, 1961, was code-named ‘Operation Vijay’ meaning ‘Operation Victory,’ and involved attacks by the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and Indian Army.
  • According to the Indian Navy website, Indian troops reclaimed the Goan territory on December 19 with little resistance and the deposed governor general Manuel António Vassalo e Silva signed the certificate of surrender thus bringing Portuguese rule in the region to an end.

7. Places in News

Faroe Islands 

  • The Faroe Islands is a self-governing archipelago, part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
  • It comprises 18 rocky, volcanic islands between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean, connected by road tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridge.
  • Historically, the North Atlantic archipelago was part of the Viking world and its inhabitants speak a language derived from Old Norse.
  • People from Britain or Ireland may have reached the remote Faroe Islands before the Vikings, according to new evidence.

Malacca Strait

  • Strait of Malacca, waterway connecting the Andaman Sea (Indian Ocean) and the South China Sea (Pacific Ocean).
  • It runs between the Indonesian island of Sumatra to the west and peninsular (West) Malaysia and extreme southern Thailand to the east and has an area of about 25,000 square miles (65,000 square km).
  • The strait is 500 miles (800 km) long and is funnel-shaped, with a width of only 40 miles (65 km) in the south that broadens northward to some 155 miles (250 km) between We Island off Sumatra and the Isthmus of Kra on the mainland. 

Panna Tiger Reserve

  • Panna Tiger Reserve is a critical tiger habitat located in Vindhya Hill in northern Madhya Pradesh and fragile through dynamic dry deciduous forest.
  • It is also the land of the Ken River, which lends it unparalleled beauty.
  • This land is sounded by natural boundaries like in north, it is surrounded by teak forest & in easte, it is surrounded by Teak-Kardhai mixed forest.
  • The NE-SW running Vindhya Hill ranges links the eastern and western population of wild animals.
  • Tiger roams freely in this secure, though a bit small habitat along with leopard , wild dog , wolf , hyaena and smaller cats. Sloth bear has his most favourite home in the rock escarpments and undisturbed vales. The wooded areas are dotted with sambar the largest of Indian deers, chital and chowsingha . Blue Bull and chinkara can be seen in most open areas in the grasslands, specially on the periphery.
  • The avifauna comprises more than 200 species including a host of migratory birds. White necked stork, Barheaded goose, Honey Buuzzard, Blossom headed Parakeet, Paradise flycatcher, Slaty headed Scimitar babbler including 5 species of Vultures can be seen here.
  • Dry and hot climate, in union with shallow Vindhyan soils has given rise to dry Teak and dry mixed forest.
  • The dominating vegetation type is Miscellaneous Dry Deciduous forest interspread with grassland areas. 

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