24th March Current Affairs
March 24, 2021
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25th March Current Affairs

Index Monitoring Cell

In News:

Index Monitoring Cell (IMC) recently submitted its report to the centre.

Key recommendations:

Decriminalise defamation.

Consent of the Press Council of India should be made a prerequisite before filing an FIR against the media or a publication.

About the Index Monitoring Cell:

Set up by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in 2020.

Its task is to improve India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index and to evolve an objective yardstick to gauge media freedom.

The group will also put in place a mechanism for States to come up with their own rankings of press freedom.

Composition of the IMC:

It will include the director-general of the Press Information Bureau, officials from the Registrar of newspapers of India, Bureau of outreach and communication, and from the press facilitation unit, apart from the secretary of the Press Council of India and Niti Aayog.

About Press Freedom Index:

Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), or Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organisation that works to document attacks on journalists around the world, ranked India 142 out of 180 countries in its annual Press Freedom Index report published on April 22, 2020.

The parameters that are evaluated for these rankings, include pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legal framework, transparency among others.

Quad leaders for ‘open, free’ Indo-Pacific

In News:

First-ever leadership summit of the quad grouping was held virtually.

India, Japan, U.S. and Australia participated.

Outcomes of the meet:

The Quad members agreed to ensure “equitable” access to vaccines.

They also observed that the Indo-Pacific region should be governed in accordance with human rights.

The leaders also discussed the challenge posed by China.

What is Quad grouping?

The quadrilateral security dialogue includes Japan, India, United States and Australia.

All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.


The grouping traces its genesis to 2004 when the four countries came together to coordinate relief operations in the aftermath of the tsunami.

It then met for the first time in 2007 on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

The intention was to enhance maritime cooperation between the four nations.

Significance of the grouping:

Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest.

Members share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.

It is one of the many avenues for interaction among India, Australia, Japan and the US and should not be seen in an exclusive context.

What are China’s views on the Quad?

There is a general understanding that the Quad would not take on a military dimension against any country. The strategic community in China, nevertheless, had branded it an emerging “Asian NATO”.

Notably, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of Two Seas” address to the Indian Parliament gave a fresh impetus to the Quad concept. This recognised the economic rise of India.

Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM)

In News:

Nearly five months after its setup, the central government’s “Commission for Air Quality Management” or CAQM in National Capital Region and its Adjoining Areas has been shut down due to lapsing of the ordinance.


The Centre dissolved it after five months as the ordinance lapsed after failing to become an act.

The erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, or EPCA had been dissolved to make way for the Commission.

About the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM):

The Commission for Air Quality Management was formed by an ordinance in October 2020, the “Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020”.


Chairperson: To be chaired by a government official of the rank of Secretary or Chief Secretary.

The Commission will be a statutory authority.

The Commission will supersede bodies such as the central and state pollution control boards of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, UP and Rajasthan.

It will have the powers to issue directions to these state governments on issues pertaining to air pollution.


Exclusive jurisdiction over the NCR, including areas in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, in matters of air pollution, and will be working along with CPCB and ISRO, apart from the respective state governments.

Will this new body also have penal powers?

Yes, the Commission will have some teeth. If its directions are contravened, through say, the setting up of an industrial unit in a restricted area, the Commission will have the power to impose a fine of up to Rs 1 crore and imprisonment of up to 5 years.

Panel on mythical Sarasvati river

In News:

The Centre has reconstituted an advisory committee to chalk out a plan for studying the mythical Sarasvati river for the next two years, after the earlier panel’s term ended in 2019.

The ASI had first set up the committee on December 28, 2017 for a period of two years.

Composition of the committee:

The committee would be chaired by the Culture Minister and include officials from the Culture, Tourism, Water Resources, Environment and Forest, Housing and Urban Affairs Ministries; representatives of the Indian Space Research Organisation; officials from the governments of Gujarat, Haryana and Rajasthan; and an ASI official.

About Saraswati:

The river, which had originated from Kapal tirith in the Himalayas in the west of Kailash, was flowing southward to Mansarovar and then taking a turn towards west.

The river flowed through Haryana, Rajasthan and North Gujarat. It also flowed through Pakistan before meeting Western Sea through Rann of Kutch and was approximately 4,000 km in length.

The river had two branches: western and eastern. The Himalayan-born Satluj “of the PAST”, which flowed through the channels of present-day Ghaggar-Patialiwali rivulets, represents the western branch of the ancient river.

On the other hand, Markanda and Sarsuti represented the western branch of Saraswati, known as Tons-Yamuna.

The confluence of the branches was near Shatrana, 25 km south of Patiala. And suddenly, it flows crossing the dessert (Rann of Kutch) and meet gulf of western sea.

Historical evidence:

The Sarasvati River is one of the main Rigvedic rivers mentioned in the scripture Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts.

Book 6 of the Rig Veda includes a hymn called the ‘Nadistuti Sukta’, which sings praises of the Saraswati as being “perfect mother, unsurpassed river, supreme goddess”.

For 2000 years, between 6000 and 4000 B.C., the Saraswati flowed as a great river.