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Thursday, May 06, 2021

GS SCORE Geography Map Based Questions PDF

20:25

GS SCORE Geography Map Based Questions PDF

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Daily Current Affairs, 06th May 2021

20:12

 


1)  International No Diet Day: 06 May

•International No Diet Day is observed on May 6, and its symbol is a light blue ribbon. It is an annual celebration of body acceptance, including fat acceptance and body shape diversity. It means recognising that your body is beautiful exactly as it is and worry less about your weight, body shape and more about being healthy and active.


•The day is dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle with a focus on health at any size and in raising awareness of the potential dangers of dieting and the unlikelihood of success.


2)  Odisha announces Gopabandhu Sambadika Swasthya Bima Yojana

•Odisha government has announced Gopabandhu Sambadika Swasthya Bima Yojana for journalists. Odisha has declared the journalists as frontline Covid warriors. It will benet more than 6500 journalists of the state.


•Under the Gopabandhu Sambadika Swasthya Bima Yojana, a health insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh will be provided to each Journalist. Under the scheme, financial assistance of Rs 15 lakh will be provided to the families of journalists who died from COVID-19 while performing duty.


3)  India, UK unveil 10 year roadmap for Bilateral Trade Partnership

•The Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson held a virtual Summit meeting. During the Summit meeting, both the leaders unveiled an ambitious 10-year road map to elevate the India-UK bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership. The UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced a new India-UK trade investment worth £1 billion.


4)  Nation’s first ‘Drive in Vaccination Center’ unveiled in Mumbai

•The Nation’s first ‘Drive in Vaccination Center’ was inaugurated by MP Rahul Shewale in Mumbai. This center has been set up in the parking lot of Kohinoor Square Tower at Dadar. This first of its kind ‘Drive-in Vaccination Center’ facility has been made available to the citizens at a time when people with disabilities are facing difficulties in getting to the vaccination center.


•The center also provides transportation facilities to the citizens who do not have their own vehicles. The vaccination has been started and the facility is available for all sections of society. MP Rahul Shewale informed that this facility will be provided in other multi-parking lots in the city, after assessing the success of this first project.


5)  The World’s Longest Pedestrian Bridge Opens in Portugal

•The world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge named “Arouca” was opened in Portugal, according to a press release by UNESCO’s Arouca World Geopark. The Arouca Bridge offers a half-kilometre (almost 1,700-foot) walk across its span, along a metal walkway suspended from cables. Some 175 meters (574 feet) below, the Paiva River flows through a waterfall.


•The bridge hangs on steel cables strung between V-shaped concrete towers and connects the banks of the Paiva River. The record-breaking bridge took several years to build and was designed by Portuguese studio Itecons. It was constructed by Conduril and cost about $2.8 million (2.3 million euros).


6)  RBI Announces Term Liquidity Facility of Rs. 50,000 Crore For Healthcare

•The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das has announced a Covid-19 healthcare package of Rs 50,000 crore, for lending to entities such as vaccine makers, medical equipment suppliers, hospitals and related sectors, besides the patients in need of funds for treatment.


7)  S&P Revises India’s GDP Growth Forecast to 9.8% for FY22

•The US-based S&P Global Ratings has lowered the GDP growth forecast of the Indian economy to 9.8 per cent for the financial year 2021-22 (FY22). The US-based rating agency in March had an 11 per cent GDP growth forecast for India for April 2021-March 2022 fiscal. on account of a fast economic reopening and fiscal stimulus.


8)  AICF launches Checkmate Covid Initiative

•The All India Chess Federation has launched the ‘Checkmate Covid Initiative’ to help the chess community affected by the pandemic. The initiative was launched at an online event in the presence of FIDE (World Chess Federation) president Arkady Dvorkovich, five-time world champion Viswanathan Anand, World Rapid Chess Champion Koneru Humpy, AICF president Sanjay Kapoor and secretary Bharat Singh Chauhan.


•The idea is to not just help the chess community affected by COVID through financial aid, but also have a team of doctors that works round-the-clock to provide the right assistance.


9)  RM Sundaram appointed as Director of Indian Institute of Rice Research

•Raman Meenakshi Sundaram has been appointed as Director of the Indian Institute of Rice Research (IIRR), an arm of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Prior to this elevation, he was working as Principal Scientist (Biotechnology) at the institute crop Improvement Section.


•He is a scientist of global repute working in the area of rice biotechnology, molecular breeding, and genomics and has over 160 research papers in national and international journals of repute and has published several books, book chapters and popular articles.


•Sundaram’s research accomplishments include the development of one of the first biotechnology products in rice, Improved Samba Mahsuri, which is high yielding, is of fine-grain type, has a low glycaemic index and is highly resistant to bacterial blight, it said.


10)  Vijay Goel takes over as CMD of THDCIL

•THDC India Ltd has announced that Vijay Goel assumed as chairman and managing director. His appointment will come into effect from May 1, 2021. He joined the company in 1990 as a senior personnel officer (SPO) from NHPC Ltd. He has more than 35 years of varied experience in the field of human resource management.


•During his tenure as general manager, he was also in charge of corporate communications, law and arbitration functions. His key areas of interventions are policy formation, manpower planning, establishment and estate functions, employee relations, compliance of labour laws and overall formulation and implementation of policies. He played a vital role in putting in place initial HR systems immediately after the establishment of the THDCIL.

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The HINDU Notes – 06th May 2021

19:56

 


๐Ÿ“ฐ Supreme Court declares Maratha quota law unconstitutional

A separate reservation for the Maratha community violates Articles 14 (right to equality) 21 (due process of law), says the top court.

•A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously declared a Maharashtra law which provides reservation benefits to the Maratha community, taking the quota limit in the State in excess of 50%, as unconstitutional. 

•The Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan found there was no “exceptional circumstances” or “extraordinary situation” in Maharashtra which required the Maharashtra government to break the 50% ceiling limit to bestow quota benefits on the Maratha community.

•The Supreme Court struck down the findings of the Justice N.G. Gaikwad Commission which led to the enactment of Maratha quota law and set aside the Bombay High Court judgment which validated the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018.  

•The High Court had, in June 2019, reduced the quantum of reservation for Marathas from the 16% recommended by the Gaikwad Commission to 12% in education and 13% in employment. The Supreme Court concluded that even the reduced percentages of reservation granted by the High Court were ultra vires. 

•In fact the Supreme Court held that a separate reservation for the Maratha community violates Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (due process of law). 

•Most importantly, the Supreme Court declined to re-visit the its 1992 Indira Sawhney judgment, which fixed the reservation limit at 50%.

•"We don't find any substance to revisit the Indira Sawhney judgment or referring it to a larger bench. The judgment has been upheld by at least four Constitution Benches," Justice Ashok Bhushan read from his lead opinion on the question of validity of the Maratha quota law. 

•In 1992, a nine-judge Bench of the court had drawn the "Lakshman rekha" for reservation in jobs and education at 50%, except in "extraordinary circumstances". However, over the years, several States like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have crossed the rubicon and passed laws which allows reservation shooting over 60%. The five-judge Bench had decided not to confine the question of reservation spilling over 50% limit to just Maharashtra. The Bench had expanded the ambit of the case by making other States party and inviting them to make their stand clear on the question of whether reservation should continue to remain within the 50% boundary or not.

•The Indira Sawhney judgment had categorically said "50% shall be the rule, only in certain exceptional and extraordinary situations for bringing far-flung and remote areas population into mainstream said 50% rule can be relaxed". 

•Justice Bhushan said that appointments made under the Maratha quota following the Bombay HC judgment endorsing the State law would hold, but they would get no further benefits. Students already admitted under the Maratha quota law would continue. Students admitted to postgraduate courses would not be affected since they were not given reservation. 

•In the second part of the judgment on the validity of the 102nd Constitution Amendment, Justice S. Ravindra Bhat held a “different view” from the one held by Justices Bhushan and S. Abdul Nazeer. 

•The Bench had looked into the question whether the Constitution (One Hundred Second Amendment) Act of 2018, which introduced the National Commission for Backward Classes, interfered with the authority of State Legislatures to provide benefit to the social and educationally backward communities in their own jurisdiction. 

•The Constitution Amendment Act had introduced Articles 338B and 342A in the Constitution. Article 338B deals with the newly established National Commission for Backward Classes. Article 342A empowers the President to specify the socially and educationally backward communities in a State. It says that it is for the Parliament to include a community in the Central List for socially and backward classes for grant of reservation benefits. The court had delved into whether Article 342A stripped State Legislatures of their discretionary power to include their backward communities in the State Lists.

•Justice Bhat agreed that only the President could make changes to the Central List of socially and backward classes based on data given from various sources, including the National Commission for Backward Classes. The States could only make “suggestions”. The “final exercise” of including castes and communities was done by the President alone. 

•Justices Bhushan and Nazeer however concluded that the Parliament did not intend to take away from the States its power to identify their backward classes. But they nevertheless upheld the validity of the Amendment Act.

๐Ÿ“ฐ Average monthly income for workers fell by 17%

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THE HINDU NEWSPAPER IMPORTANT ARTICLES 06.05.2021

07:39
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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Daily Current Affairs, 05th May 2021

18:35

 


1)  World Hand Hygiene Day: 05 May

•Every year, the World Hand Hygiene Day is observed on May 5. The day is organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise awareness among people across the globe about the importance of hand hygiene in warding off many serious infections.


•The theme for 2021 is ‘Seconds Save Lives: Clean Your Hands’. The day recognizes hand washing as one of the most effective actions that can be taken to avoid a huge range of infections including the COVID-19 virus.


2)  International Day of the Midwife: 05 May

•International Day of the Midwife is observed globally on 5 May every year since 1992. This day is celebrated to recognise the work of midwives and raise awareness about the status of midwives for the essential care they provide to mothers and their newborns.


•The theme for 2021 International Day of the Midwife is “Follow the Data: Invest in Midwives.”


3)  Mamata Banerjee takes oath as West Bengal CM for the 3rd consecutive time

•Mamata Banerjee was sworn as West Bengal Chief Minister for the third time in the shadow of Covid and post-poll violence in parts of the state. The oath ceremony took place with Covid protocols in place at the “Throne Room” at the Raj Bhavan. The rest of the cabinet and the council of ministers will be sworn in on May 9, the birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.


•Mamata Banerjee won a landslide victory in the Bengal election to secure a third straight term. The Trinamool won 213 of 292 seats while its strongest rival, BJP, finished second with 77 seats. Mamata Banerjee will head to her office Nabanna, where she will be given a guard of honour by the Kolkata Police.


4)  Indian Army Launches First Solar Plant in North Sikkim

•The Indian Army recently launched the first Green Solar Energy harnessing plant in Sikkim. It was launched to benefit the troops of the Indian army. The plant uses Vanadium based battery technology. It was built at an altitude of 16,000 feet. The capacity of the plant is 56 KVA. It was completed in collaboration with IIT Mumbai.


5)  Maria Ressa conferred UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize 2021

•Maria Ressa has been named as the 2021 laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The $25,000 prize “recognizes outstanding contributions to the defence or promotion of press freedom especially in the face of danger,” according to UNESCO. The prize was named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, the Colombian journalist.


•UNESCO cited Ressa’s more than a 3-decade career as a journalist, including her work as CNN’s lead investigative reporter for Asia and as news chief of Philippine broadcast giant ABS-CBN. Recently, her citation added, Ressa “has been the target of online attacks and judicial processes” for her investigative work and her position as CEO of Rappler.


6)  World’s largest aeroplane by Stratolaunch completes test flight

•The world’s largest aeroplane, designed to transport hypersonic vehicles and facilitate easy access to space, soared into clear skies over California’s Mojave Desert. The company Stratolaunch designed it to transport hypersonic vehicles and facilitate easy access to space.


•The aircraft named ‘Roc’ features a twin-fuselage design and the longest wingspan ever flown, at 385 feet (117 m), surpassing the Hughes H-4 Hercules flying boat of 321 feet (98 m). The Stratolaunch is intended to carry a 550,000-pound payload and will be able to launch rockets from high altitude.


7)  Goldman Sachs lowers GDP growth forecast for India in FY22 to 11.1%

•Wall Street brokerage, Goldman Sachs has cut the GDP growth rate estimate for the Indian economy to 11.1 per cent in fiscal year FY22 (April 01, 2021, to March 31, 2022), due to increasing intensities of lockdowns by states to check the spread of coronavirus infections. Goldman Sachs has also revised the 2021 Calendar Year growth forecast to 9.7 per cent, from the previous estimate of 10.5 per cent.


8)  Armed Forces Launches Op “CO-JEET” for Mental Health Of COVID Patients

•The armed forces have launched operation “CO-JEET” to aid anti-COVID-19 efforts, like strengthening the medical system in India and oxygen supply chains. Along with these, CO-JEET also take measures to ensure the mental wellbeing of people. Apart from medical therapy, patients necessitate the assurance that “they will be fine” and at times that is all they need to gain back self-confidence and courage.


•Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Medical) Kanitkar is the third woman to become a three-star general in the armed forces. Vice Admiral Dr. Punita Arora & Air Marshal Padmavathy Bandopadhyay are the 1st & 2nd.


•Under the CO-JEET plan, personnel of the three wings of the armed forces have been pressed into service to help restore oxygen supply chains, set up COVID beds and provide help to the civilian administration in its fight to control the outspread of the virus. The operation also attempts to provide additional beds across the country for mixed COVID-19 management.


9)  Mark Selby becomes World Snooker Champion

•In Snooker, English professional player Mark Selby has become the World Snooker Champion for the fourth time. He won the Championship title after defeating fellow mate Shaun Murphy by 18-15 victory at a professional snooker tournament, that took place from 17 April to 3 May 2021 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. Prior to this, Selby won the Championship title in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021.

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Shankar IAS Monthly Mainstorming April 2021 PDF

15:19

Shankar IAS Monthly Mainstorming April 2021 PDF

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The HINDU Notes – 05th May 2021

15:09

 


๐Ÿ“ฐ Scientists see flaws in govt-backed model's approach to forecast pandemic

A parameter that was inaccurate and calibration errors may have led to predictions that did not signal the catastrophic second wave.

•With close to 4,00,000 cases being added every day, questions are being raised by many scientists on whether a government-backed model, called SUTRA, to forecast the rise and ebb of the COVID-19 pandemic, may have had an outsized role in creating the perception that a catastrophic second wave was unlikely in India.

•An official connected with the COVID-19 management exercise said, on condition of anonymity, that the SUTRA model input was “an important one, but not unique or determining”.

•The SUTRA group had presented its views to Dr. V.K. Paul, who chaired a committee that got inputs from several modellers and sources. “The worst case predictions from this ensemble were used by the National Empowered Group on Vaccines and the groups headed by Dr. Paul to take measures. However, the surge was several times what any of the modellers had predicted,” the official said.

•On May 2, the SUTRA group put out a statement, carried by the Press Information Bureau, that the government had solicited its inputs where it said a “second wave” would peak by the third week of April and stay around 1 lakh cases. “Clearly the model predictions in this instance were incorrect,” the group noted.

Past its peak

•SUTRA (Susceptible, Undetected, Tested (positive), and Removed Approach) first came into public attention when one of its expert members announced in October that India was “past its peak”. After new cases reached 97,000 a day in September, there was a steady decline and one of the scientists associated with the model development, M. Vidyasagar, said at a press conference then that the model showed the COVID burden was expected to be capped at 10.6 million symptomatic infections by early 2021, with less than 50,000 active cases from December. In October, at that time, there were 7.4 million confirmed cases of which about 7,80,000 were active infections.

•Computational biologist Mukund Thattai, of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, in a Twitter thread summarised instances of the SUTRA forecasts being far out of bounds of the actual case load. “The so-called Covid ‘supermodel’ commissioned by the Govt of India is fundamentally flawed,” he tweeted. “Based on Prof. Agrawal’s [Manindra Agrawal of IIT-Kanpur] own posts, it was quite clear that the predictions of the SUTRA model were too variable to guide government policy. Many models got things wrong but the question is why the government continued to rely on this model, than consult epidemiologists and public health experts,” he told The Hindu.

•Mr. Agrawal was one of the scientists involved in developing the model. In an email to The Hindu, Mr. Agrawal admitted that the model, which had multiple purposes, didn’t work well on a metric of “predicting the future under different scenarios”.

•He said unlike many epidemiological models that extrapolated cases based on the existing number of cases, the behaviour of the virus and manner of spread, the SUTRA model chose a “data centric approach”. The equation that gave out estimates of what the number of future infections might be and the likelihood of when a peak might occur, needed certain ‘constants’. These numbers kept changing and their values relied on the number of infections being reported at various intervals. However, the equation couldn’t tell when a constant changed. A rapid acceleration of cases couldn’t be predicted in advance.

Too many parameters

•Rahul Siddharthan, a computational biologist at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, in an email said no model, without external input from real-world data, could have predicted the second wave. However, the SUTRA model was problematic as it relied on too many parameters, and recalibrated those parameters whenever its predictions “broke down”. “The more parameters you have, the more you are in danger of ‘overfitting’. You can fit any curve over a short time window with 3 or 4 parameters. If you keep resetting those parameters, you can literally fit anything,” Mr. Siddharthan said.

•According to Mr. Agrawal, one of the main reasons for the model not gauging an impending, exponential rise was that a constant indicating contact between people and populations went wrong. “We assumed it can at best go up to pre-lockdown value. However, it went well above that due to new strains of virus,” he said.

•Further the model was ‘calibrated’ incorrectly. The model relied on a serosurvey conducted by the ICMR in May that said 0.73% of India’s population may have been infected at that time. “ I have strong reasons to believe now that the results of the first survey were not correct (actual infected population was much lower than reported). This calibration led our model to the conclusion that more than 50% population was immune by January. In addition, there is also the possibility that a good percentage of immune population lost immunity with time,” Mr. Agrawal said.

•In the SUTRA approach, the factor by which reported cases differ from actual ones is a parameter in the model that could be estimated from just reported data, (covid19india.org), according to Mr. Agrawal. “I understand it may appear a bit mysterious, but the math shows how. This, in fact, is one of our central contributions,” he told The Hindu. This has been described in a preprint research paper that has been available online since January.

•The modelling study called the “COVID-19 India National Supermodel” was the result of analysis by an expert committee consisting of mathematicians and epidemiologists — though in a research paper explaining how the model worked, there are three authors: Mr. Agrawal, M. Vidyasagar, a professor of electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad and Madhuri Kanitkar, paediatric nephrologist and Deputy Chief, Integrated Defence Staff (Medical) in the Army.

•While many groups of epidemiologists, disease experts and groups of mathematicians had developed several kinds of models to predict the outcome of the pandemic, this group was facilitated by the Department of Science and Technology and was the only one among several forecast groups, whose numbers were relayed using the government’s publicity channels.

•Until February, the model seemed more or less right, the curve was declining and as of mid-February while 10,000-12,000 new cases were added daily, the overall numbers were close to 10 million.

Overall caseload

•In an interview with this newspaper published on February 27, Mr. Agrawal asserted that a “second wave was unlikely” though a slight pick-up — to about 15,000 cases a day — had begun. India’s overall caseload wouldn’t extend beyond mid-March and only 3,00,000-5,00,000 new confirmed infections over the next 10 weeks were expected which would bring the overall load to 11.3 or 11.5 million infections by April 2021. This was premised partly on 60% of the population having been exposed to the virus.

•On April 2, he told the Press Trust of India that the new cases would “peak” by April 15-20 — in line with the SUTRA team’s public statement.

•On April 23, he again reported a new peak at May 11-15 with 3.3-3.5 million total ‘active’ cases and a decline by the end of May. India is currently at about 3.4 million active cases.

•Gautam Menon, a modeller and Professor, Ashoka University, Sonepat, Haryana, who also worked on estimating the spread of COVID-19 disagreed with the approach, on the grounds that it was “somewhat simplistic and insufficiently informed by epidemiological data and expertise”.

•At best, the SUTRA model could be used along with an ‘ensemble’ — where results from various scenarios were grouped. “The use of machine learning to forecast epidemic spread is a relatively recent advance. Some of those models do quite well. But the problems with those methods is that you can’t really figure out what they are doing and how sensitive they are to simply bad data. I would use those models, if we had them, along with an ensemble of other models, but would not repose utter faith in them.”

•The SUTRA model’s omission of the importance of the behaviour of the virus; the fact that some people were bigger transmitters of the virus than others (say a barber or a receptionist more than someone who worked from home); a lack of accounting for social or geographic heterogeneity and not stratifying the population by age as it didn’t account for contacts between different age groups also undermined its validity.

New variants

•Mr. Agrawal — who now regularly tweets on the evolution of the pandemic in States and districts — responded that new variants showed up in the SUTRA model as increase in value of parameter called ‘beta’ (that estimated contact rate). “As far as the model is concerned, it is observing changes in parameter values. It does not care about what is the reason behind the change. And computing new beta value is good enough for the model to predict the new trajectory well.”

•He conceded that a combination of good epidemiologists, data-centric modelling like SUTRA and time-series models worked best. “Time-series based predictions are good at detecting changes in data patterns. So they can flag, early on, phase changes. SUTRA-type data-centric models can explain the past very well [and in studying what was the effect of policy actions, leading to a better knowledge base for the future]. They are also very good at predicting future trajectory assuming phase does not change.”

•In 2002, Mr. Agrawal and two of his students developed a mathematical test called AKS primality that could efficiently determine if one could tell a big number was prime that won them global accolades. He used a computer science approach to solve a problem of pure math. “This is the second time I am entering a domain as a complete outsider. First was when I proved primality theorem. Mathematicians all over the world welcomed a computer scientist in their fold, and in fact went out of their way to celebrate it. Our paper was not written in standard math style, however, experts quickly shut down anyone who questioned the presentation or minor errors in the paper. In contrast, I am experiencing a hostile reaction from epidemiologists, at least in India,” he said.

๐Ÿ“ฐ G7 seeks common front on China

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Revenues from GST

07:26

 Why in news?

Recently revenues from the GST hit an all-time high, surpassing the previous month’s record.

Why the revenue was high?

  • In April 2020, GST collections had dipped to a mere Rs. 32,172 crore due to national wide lockdown which affected all the economic activity.
  • In October 2020, GST revenues was around Rs. 1.05 lakh crore and since then there was a steady increase with hopes of a sustained recovery.
  • In April 2021, revenues from the GST was Rs. 1,41,384 crore surpassing the previous month’s record of about Rs. 1.24 lakh crore.
  • This is essentially driven by the transactions in previous month, due to heightened economic activity.
  • The rising COVID-19 cases and the fear of an impending lockdown could have driven people to make advance purchases in anticipation.
  • Moreover, firms in the process of closing annual accounts may have remitted higher GST based on audit advice.
  •  Also gradual tightening of the compliance regime, pro-active co-ordinated probes against taxpayers using fake bills to evade liabilities has also played a significant role.

What are the future prospects?

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Clean Energy Vision and Natural Gas

07:22

 What is the issue?

  • Global powers are fixated on the concept of “net zero carbon emissions” and the appropriate target year for achieving it.
  • While securing a global consensus around this target is important, the immediate priority should be to lay out the stepping stones; here is why natural gas is crucial in this regard.

What is the need now and how does natural gas help?

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YOJANA Magazine April 2021 English PDF

07:17

 YOJANA Magazine April 2021 English PDF

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