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15th Feb Current Affairs


In News:

The Myanmar military grabbed power in a recent coup – the third time in the nation’s history since its independence from British rule in 1948.

After the last such takeover in 1988, the armed forces went on to make a decision that would remain controversial for decades: changing the country’s name.

How Burma became Myanmar?

When British imperialists annexed what is today’s Myanmar during the 19th century, they called it Burma after the dominant Burman (Bamar) ethnic group, and administered it as a province of colonial India.

This arrangement continued until 1937, when Burma was separated from British India and made a separate colony.

Even after the country became independent in 1948, it retained the same name, becoming the ‘Union of Burma’.

In 1962, the military took over from a civilian government for the first time, and amended the official name in 1974 to the ‘Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma’.

Then in 1988, armed forces again took power in the country, after suppressing a popular uprising and reversed the official name to ‘Union of Burma’.

But a year later, the junta adopted a law that replaced Burma with Myanmar, making the country the ‘Union of Myanmar’.

Rationale behind the move and its implications:

While changing the country’s name, the military said that it was looking for a way to leave behind a name inherited from the colonial past, and adopt a new one which could unify all of its 135 officially recognised ethnic groups, and not just the Burman people.

However, critics decried the move, arguing that Myanmar and Burma mean the same thing in the Burmese language, only that the ‘Myanmar’ is a more formal way of saying ‘Burma’– a word used colloquially.

Lithium deposits in Mandya district of Karnataka

In News:

Preliminary surveys on surface and limited subsurface by Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) have shown presence of Lithium resources of 1,600 tonnes in the pegmatites of Marlagalla – Allapatna area, Mandya district, Karnataka.

About Lithium:

It is a soft, silvery-white metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.

It is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in mineral oil. It is an alkali metal and a rare metal.

Key Characteristics and Properties:

It has the highest specific heat capacity of any solid element.

Lithium’s single balance electron allows it to be a good conductor of electricity.

It is flammable and can even explode when exposed to air and water.


Lithium is a key element for new technologies and finds its use in ceramics, glass, telecommunication and aerospace industries.

The well-known uses of Lithium are in Lithium ion batteries, lubricating grease, high energy additive to rocket propellants, optical modulators for mobile phones and as convertor to tritium used as a raw material for thermonuclear reactions i.e. fusion.

Prescribed substance:

The thermonuclear application makes Lithium as “Prescribed substance” under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 which permits AMD for exploration of Lithium in various geological domains of the country.

Under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, “Prescribed Substance” means any substance including any mineral which the Central Government may, by notification, prescribe, being a substance which in its opinion is or may be used for the production or use of atomic energy or research into matters connected therewith and includes uranium, plutonium, thorium, beryllium, deuterium or any of their respective derivatives or compounds or any other materials containing any of the aforesaid substances.

National Rail Plan (NRP)

In News:

The Government has issued the Draft Final Report of the National Rail Plan.

The Plan aims at providing a long term perspective planning for augmenting the Railway Network.

Objectives of the plan:

  • To create capacity ahead of demand by 2030, which in turn would cater to growth in demand right up to 2050.
  • To increase the modal share of Railways from 27% currently to 45% in freight by 2030 as part of a national commitment to reduce Carbon emission and to continue to sustain it.
  • To assess the actual demand in freight and passenger sectors, a yearlong survey was conducted over hundred representative locations by survey teams spread all over the country.

Forecast growth of traffic in both freight and passenger year on year up to 2030 and on a decadal basis up to 2050.

Formulate strategies based on both operational capacities and commercial policy initiatives to increase modal share of the Railways in freight to 45% by 2030.

Reduce transit time of freight substantially by increasing average speed of freight trains from present 22Kmph to 50Kmph.

Reduce overall cost of Rail transportation by nearly 30% and pass on the benefits to the customers.

As part of the National Rail Plan, Vision 2024 has been launched for accelerated implementation of certain critical projects by 2024 such as:

  • 100% electrification.
  • Multitracking of congested routes.
  • Upgradation of speed to 160 kmph on Delhi-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai routes.
  • Upgradation of speed to 130kmph on all other Golden Quadrilateral-Golden Diagonal (GQ/GD) routes.
  • Elimination of all Level Crossings on all GQ/GD route.

Ethanol as an alternate fuel

In News:

Government has been promoting use of ethanol as a blend stock with main automotive fuel like petrol in line with the National Policy on Biofuels (NBP) -2018 under the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme.

This policy envisages an indicative target of blending 20% ethanol in petrol by 2030.

Efforts by the Government in this regard:

Government has allowed production of ethanol from sugarcane and food grain based raw-materials.

The Government has fixed the ex-mill price of ethanol from sugarcane based raw-materials.

Remunerative prices of ethanol produced from different feedstock has been fixed.

The government has notified interest subvention schemes for setting up of molasses and grain based new distilleries or expansion of existing distilleries.


Ethanol can be produced from sugarcane, maize, wheat, etc which are having high starch content.

In India, ethanol is mainly produced from sugarcane molasses by fermentation process.

Ethanol can be mixed with gasoline to form different blends.

As the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine to more completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions and thereby reducing the occurrence of environmental pollution.

Since ethanol is produced from plants that harness the power of the sun, ethanol is also considered as renewable fuel.