Daily Current Affairs for 17th February 2020

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PM flags off Kashi Mahakal Express

Paper: II

For Prelims: Swadesh Darshan Scheme.

For Mains: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Context of News:

  • The Kashi Mahakal Express that links three Jyotirlingas in two States, flagged off by Prime Minister recently from Varanasi, had a seat reserved for Lord Shiva.
  • This train will connect three Jyotirlingas — Omkareshwar near Indore, Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain and Kashi Vishwanath in Varanasi.

Railway push for religious tourism:

  • In India, Railways play a vital role in the socio-economic life of the country. Today, the number of domestic as well as international travelers is increasing with an increase in the disposable income of Indians. To support the increasing traffic of travelers even Indian Railways have come out with few plans over last 10-15 years. They are trying to build their tourism wing to develop tourism led socio-economic development of various regions.
  • Along with theme based circuit tourism, railway can also increase the tourism for village exploration as railway is still considered to be last mile connectivity in many far flung areas.

Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • Swadesh Darshan, a Central Sector Scheme, was launched in 2014 -15 for integrated development of theme based tourist circuits in the country.
  • Under the scheme, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for infrastructure development of circuits.
  • This scheme is envisioned to synergise with other schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Skill India, Make in India etc. with the idea of positioning the tourism sector as a major engine for job creation, driving force for economic growth, building synergy with various sectors to enable tourism to realise its potential.
  • Theme Based Circuit Tourism:
  • India’s rich cultural, historical, religious and natural heritage provides a huge potential for development of tourism and job creation in the country. There is a great scope and need to develop tourist circuits on specific themes to attract the tourists having special interest in visiting such places. This can be achieved only through an integrated approach by providing engaging experiences for distinct categories of tourists i.e. Domestic and International.
  1. North East India Circuit
  2. Buddhist Circuit
  3. Himalayan Circuit
  4. Coastal Circuit
  5. Krishna Circuit
  6. Desert Circuit
  7. Tribal Circuit
  8. Eco Circuit
  9. Rural Circuit
  10. Spiritual Circuit
  11. Ramayana Circuit
  12. Heritage Circuit
  13. Wildlife Circuit
  14. Tirthankar Circuit
  15. Sufi Circuit.


  • India is a huge land with a variety of different flora and fauna. Each place has something new to offer. It has covered by Himalaya’s hilly region on one side and sea on the other sides. Tourism in India is one of the largest service industries. As India is a vast country so there are thousands of destinations and each destination is a tourist spot in itself. By connecting various tourist spots through railway, it will not only lead to surge in tourism but it will also generate huge revenue for railways.
  • Along with rapid globalization, what tourism need is Sustainable tourism, which aims to reach a balance between the three factors mentioned above i.e. Social, Environmental and Economic factors without affecting the tourist’s expectations from their travel. Sustainable tourism requires involving local community as well while developing any tourism plan as they are the people who will get affected by any kind of development in their area.

New species of urban lizard found in Guwahati

GS Paper III

Topic: Environment and biodiversity

Prelims: reason behind rich diversity of Assam

What’s the News?

  • Guwahati, the largest city in the Northeast, has yielded a new species of lizard – the urban bent-toed gecko.

The urban bent-toed gecko: Cyrtodactylus urbanus

  • It was also the 12th recorded gecko from the Northeast.
  • The bent-toed gecko, named Cyrtodactylus urbanus, was earlier thought to be same as the Khasi Hills lizard.
  • Cyrtodactylus urbanus is markedly different in molecular structure, blotch and colour from the Cyrtodactylus guwahatiensis, or the Guwahati bent-toed gecko, that was discovered two years ago.

Difference urban bent-toed gecko & Guwahati bent-toed gecko:

Though the urban bent-toed gecko falls within the khasiensis group, it differs from other members of this group in mitochondrial sequence data as well as aspects of morphology such as the number and arrangement of certain pores in males, the number of mid-ventral scales and colour pattern

Lizards and Geckos:

  • Lizards are reptiles of the order Squamata, normally possessing four legs, external ear openings and movable eyelids.
  • Geckos are small to average sized lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae which are found in warm climates throughout the world.

Reason behind rich diversity of Assam:

  • Guwahati is home to 26 species of amphibians, 57 species of reptiles, 214 species of birds and 36 species of mammals.
  • The city provides that edge for urban biodiversity to thrive because it encompasses 18 hills, eight reserve forests, two wildlife sanctuaries and a Ramsar site (wetland) besides the Brahmaputra river.

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