UPSC IAS Prelims 2021: Monthly Current Affairs & GK Topics for Preparation | January’21

Read about DRDO’s Akash Missile, India's first Pollinator Park, National Atomic Timescale, and other important current affairs of the month of January 2021. Questions based on any of these topics can be asked in the UPSC IAS Prelims 2021 exam.

Sakshi Saroha
Mar 18, 2021, 10:35 IST
UPSC IAS Prelims Monthly Current Affairs & GK Topics for Preparation January 2021
UPSC IAS Prelims Monthly Current Affairs & GK Topics for Preparation January 2021

UPSC IAS 2021: UPSC will conduct the IAS Civil Services Prelims 2021 exam on 27th June 2021 for the recruitment of candidates in the Civil Services of India. In IAS Prelims Paper 1 General Studies, questions are asked from Current Affairs and events, General Science, History, Geography, Polity, Economy and Environment. As per UPSC IAS Previous Years' Paper of past few years, the current affairs section forms the major part of General Studies Paper 1. Going by this trend, it is highly expected that this year as well, questions might be asked on current events of past one year. Considering this, we have compiled below the important current affairs for the month of January 2021. 

Science & Technology

Topic 1: Banana Grit

The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Pappanamcode have developed a new product, Banana Grit or Granules. It is developed from Nendran bananas which are raw in nature.

It has been produced after years of research on the Nendran variety of Banana helping it to open up a new segment of application for banana rich in starch. The concept is to utilize the resistant starch of the banana to its maximum strength. Read More

Topic 2: Akash Missile

To increase the defence export, the Central Government has given its nod to the export of Akash missile which is indigenous defence artillery that is Made in India. This would help India to achieve the target of $5 billion in defence exports. It would also help in improving strategic relations with friendly countries. Read more

Topic 3: National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NMQTA)

Last year the finance minister had set aside 8000 crore Indian Rupees to support the development of a National Mission on Quantum Technology. Quantum Technologies & Applications is one of the 9 missions of national importance, under Prime Minister’s Science and Technology Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC). It runs through the Principal Scientific Advisor’s office to contribute to scientific research for India’s sustainable development. Read more

Topic 4: India's first Remote Monitoring System for Oil Refineries

A remote monitoring centre has been established for Indian Oil Corporation in Hyderabad. Indian Oil Corporation happens to be the country's largest fuel retailer. It recently launched India's first remote monitoring system for oil refineries' turbines. It would be managing and analysing the operational data from 27 gas turbines at 8 Indian Oil Corporation refineries in India. This technology generally referred to as Proactive Predictive Analytics-based Automated Anomaly Detection would only allow monitoring of the Gas Turbine Operational Data that flew in digitally from 27 turbines of the eight Indian Oil refineries round-the-clock in Hyderabad. Read more

Topic 5: National Atomic Timescale

On 4 January 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated and dedicated the National Atomic Timescale and Bhartiya Nirdeshak Dravya Pranali to the Nation and laid the Foundation Stone of National Environmental Standards Laboratory at the National Meteorology Conclave through a video conference. 

With the inauguration of National Atomic Timescale, India became Atma Nirbhar or self-reliant in measuring the time within the range of a nanosecond with an accuracy level of 2.8 Nanosecond. Now, Indian Standard Time matches the International Standard Time with the accuracy range of fewer than 3 nanoseconds. Read more

Topic 6: Vanadium Discovered in Arunachal Pradesh

Geological Survey of India, GSI has found reserves of Vanadium in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a very rare, hard, silvery grey element with ductile and malleable properties and good structural strength.

About Vanadium:

  1. It is found in more than 60 different minerals/ores that include vanadinite, carnotite, roscoelite and patronite. 
  2. It was discovered by Spanish mineralogist Andreas Manuel del Rio. 
  3. He named it Erythronium but thought that it was just an impure version of chromium. 
  4. In the periodic table, it is symbolised as V
  5. The colour of the element is silver and it has great structural strength.
  6. It is listed as a transition metal which means it is a very good conductor of heat and electricity. 

Topic 7: Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Control Centre launched by ISRO

ISRO SSA Control Centre was formally inaugurated on December 14, 2020, by Dr K Sivan who is the Chairman, ISRO/Secretary, DOS. It was established due to the need to set up a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to SSA activities on par with international agencies.


  1. The dedicated control centre is for the SSA's work is being done under project NETRA, called Network for space object Tracking and Analysis.  
  2. ISRO has been conducting many space situational analysis works for past many decades. This is why SSA was needed. 
  3. Space is being crowded with many old satellites, debris etc, which is why project NETRA was started.

Environment & Ecology

Topic 1: India's first Pollinator Park 

In a bid to conserve pollinators, India's first 'Pollinator Park' opened in Uttarakhand's Haldwani (Nanital district) on 29 December 2020 and is spread over 4 acres of land. Uttarakhand Forest Department dedicated the newly built Pollinator Park to the Public. The endemic species of honeybee 'Apiscerana Indica' have also been reared in the park. Read more

Topic 2: Flue Gas Desulphurisation

Desulphurization is the removal of Sulphur Dioxide. The flue gas desulphurisation plants remove sulphur dioxides from the flue gas which is produced by boilers, furnaces, and other sources. Power Ministry of India has proposed to dismiss or push back the deadlines for adoption of new emission norms by coal-fired power plants, saying "an unworkable time schedule" that would burden utilities and lead to an increase in power tariffs. Read more

Topic 3: 'Green Tax' on vehicles in India

In a bid to curb the pollution in the country, the Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has approved a proposal to levy a 'Green Tax' on old vehicles on 25 January 2021. 


1- Transport vehicles older than eight years to be charged at the rate of 10-25% of Road Tax at the time of renewal of 'Fitness Certificate'. 

2- Personal vehicles to be charged at the time of renewal of 'Registration Certification' after 15 years.

3- Public transport vehicles such as city buses to be charged lower Green Tax. 

4- The vehicles registered in highly polluted cities to be charged higher Green Tax (50% of the Road Tax). 

5- The Green Tax will be differential and will depend on fuel such as petrol, diesel and type of vehicle. 

Read more


History & Indian Heritage

Topic 1: New Anubhava Mantapa

The Chief Minister of Karnataka laid the foundation of the New Anubhava Mantapa in Basavakalyan recently. It is the place where 12th-century poet-philosopher, Basaveshwara lived his whole life. New Anubhava Mantapa, would be a six-floor structure on 7.5-acre plot and represents various principles of Basaveshwara. Read more about the temple features here

Topic 2: Sulawesi Cave Painting

Animal Painting found on the wall of Leang Bulu'Sipong 4 cave in the south of Sulawesi in Indonesia is at least 44,000 years old and is claimed to be the world's oldest story. The painting depicts a buffalo being hunted by part-human, part-animal creatures holding spears and ropes and wild pigs. 

As per researchers, the scene could be the world's oldest-recorded story. The findings were presented in the journal Nature by archaeologists from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Read more



Topic 1: Khazan Farming System

This type of farming is practiced in estuarine parts of a geographical area. In India, it is practiced in Goa’s estuarine system. The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary happens to be Goa’s smallest protected area. It, like many low-lying floodplains of Goa, is used as an estuarine agricultural system called Khazan farming. The system is now under a state of decay. Read more

Topic 2: Bodhghat Hydro Power Project

Bodhghat Project is a multipurpose hydro project in Chhattisgarh to which the centre has given its consent.  In May 2020, the central government provided its consent to begin the first phase of this project which is the survey. It is being undertaken by the state government of Chhattisgarh. It had been in the pipeline since last 40 years. 

Topic 3: Longitudinal Ageing Study of India (LASI)

Minister of Health & Family Welfare has released the Longitudinal Ageing Study of India also called LASI Wave-1 Report recently. This is a national survey of scientific investigation of health, consequences, economic and social determinants related to the ageing of the population of India. The data collected on health and biomarkers together with information family and social network, income, assets and consumption. Read more details


Polity & International News

Topic 1:  India's 'Double Fish Hook' Strategy

'Double Fish Hook' strategy is a speculated maritime strategy of India, along with 'Necklace of Diamonds' strategy to counter China's 'String of Pearls' strategy. 

India's 'Double Fish Hook' strategy is expected to complement the fish hook strategy undertaken by the United States and its allies in the Pacific Ocean. Also, India is looking forward to upgrading the facilities in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to project its power in the Bay of Bengal and nearby Malacca Straits. Read more

Topic 2: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Gulf leaders signed a “solidarity and stability” agreement which would lead to ending the diplomatic rift with Qatar. This deal was signed in the GCC Summit held in Saudi Arabia.

This accord emphasizes Gulf, Arab and Islamic solidarity as well as stability. It speaks for the enhancement fo friendly ties between countries and people. All members of GCC had signed a deal to remove the sanctions over Qatar and re-open their land sea and airline borders to Qatar. Read more

Topic 3: Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) Project

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a gravity dam on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia and is under construction since 2011. On 3 January 2020, Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed to resume their yearslong negotiations over the controversial building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam hydropower project. This comes six weeks after Sudan boycotted last round of discussions. Read more

Topic 4: India's first Social Impact Bond (SIB)

In a maiden innovative move on civic terrain, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) in Maharashtra's Pune district signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India to co-create India’s first Social Impact Bond (SIB).

As part of this unique investment tool, the PCMC administration will only have to bear the costs of a public welfare project associated with the bond, if the pre-defined project targets are fulfilled.


Government Schemes

Topic 1: Entrepreneurship Skill Development Programme (ESDP)

It is an entrepreneurship scheme that nurtures the talent of youth by enlightening them on several aspects of industrial or commercial activity that are required for setting up MSEs. 

Objective: The main objective behind the scheme is to motivate youth representing various sections of the society like SC/ST/Women, differently-abled, Ex-servicemen, and BPL persons to consider self-employment or entrepreneurship as one of the career options. Read more

Topic 2: Rooftop Solar Scheme

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has recently released an advisory of the rooftop solar scheme. The major objective is to generate solar power through the installation of solar panels on the roof of the houses. Also, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has announced the implementation of Phase 2 of the grid-connected Rooftop Solar Scheme. The aim of the scheme is to achieve the final capacity of 40,000 MW from Rooftop Solar Projects by 2022. Read more

We sincerely hope that the given topics would have helped you in your Prelims preparation. You can also check the below link to keep yourself updated on the latest GK quiz and events. 

GK Quiz on Daily Static and Current Events

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