Goaltide Daily Current Affairs

Sep 29, 2019

Current Affair 1:
World Rhino Day


World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22 every year. We chose this topic to understand few important things, no, not few, almost everything important for our UPSC exam.

There are majorly five species of Rhino- Black, White, One-horned (Indian), Javan and Sumatran.

The Indian Rhinoceros is an herbivorous grazer and is one of the three species of Rhinos native to Asia- other two Javan an Sumatran. The Indian rhinoceros lives primarily in northern India and Nepal.

Assam has the largest number of Indian one horn Rhino in the world where the Rhino census is conducted in every three years. As per the 2018 Census, Kaziranga has total of 2413 Rhinos.

What is India Rhino Vision 2020?

Launched in 2005, Indian Rhino Vision 2020 is an ambitious effort to attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.

It was launched by the Assam Forest Department, in partnership with the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) and WWF-India.

One more thing, we will learn here about Rhino is Rhinoceros DNA Index System (RhODIS). Not in news recently. But just for information you read. May be later, it might appear.

RhODIS (Rhino DNA Index System) is a project that was initiated by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory of the University of Pretoria in order to help with the plight of the rhinos. The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory is collecting DNA samples of rhinos across the country to create a database using the unique DNA profile of individual rhinos. The goal is for all rhinos to be on the system. This will deter poachers and assist in forensic prosecutions.

In 2016, RhODIS India was launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in partnership with Wildlife Institute of India.

The progress of RhODIS implementation is reviewed by the Ministry on an annual basis.

Nothing more will be important for RhODIS. If you remember 2017 Prelims Paper, they asked about M-STrIPES. Similarly, RhODIS may appear. So, remember this. Not difficult.

UPSC will never ask that which cricketer has recently launched Rhino Conservation Plan (he is Rohit Sharma).

Rhinos were also in news in the recently held CITIES Convention, COP 14 in Geneva (we have covered already in our previous current Affairs). A report tabled at CoP18 titled Conservation of and trade in African and Asian rhinoceroses reported an increase of more than 28 per cent in population across all rhinoceros species, with only the Sumatran rhinoceros not showing any increase in numbers.

Also, a proposal by Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) to reopen legal international trade in white rhino horn was rejected at the ongoing 18th Conference of Parties (CoP) to the Convention on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Geneva on August 25, 2019.

Current Affair 2:
New species of frog discovered in Arunachal (Namdapha Tiger Reserve of the state)

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A team of scientists from the University of Delhi and Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) discovered a new species of frog in Arunachal Pradesh and named it Microhyla eos.

Microhyla are a group of narrow-mouthed frogs that is primarily and widely distributed in Asia. Commonly known as 'Rice Frogs' or 'Chorus Frogs', the genus currently comprises of 49 recognised species.

The new frog was discovered from riparian habitats in a primary evergreen forest in the Namdapha Tiger Reserve of the state, which is also the eastern-most protected area in the country.

Since Arunachal Pradesh is popularly known as ‘the land of rising sun’ or ‘the land of dawn-lit mountains’, the new species has been named as eos, after the mythological Greek goddess of dawn.

Current Affair 3:
US Agency for International Development (USAID) and India's Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) officially launched Forest-PLUS 2.0

Before discussing 2.0, let us understand Forest 1.0. Then it will be easy for you to connect.

Understand the background

One in four people in India depend directly on forests for sustenance. However, more than 40 percent of India’s forests are degraded, and this impacts the flow of forest goods and services that are critical for inclusive economic growth. Despite the importance of these ecosystems, India's forests are still managed primarily for timber.

USAID, in partnership with India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and civil society organizations, is improving the management of forests and other landscapes to strengthen their ecological health and, improve the livelihoods of forest-dependent populations. How they are improving? Forest-PLUS 1.0 and Forest-PLUS 2.0 is the answer.

Forest-PLUS 1.0 (The Partnership for Land Use Science) was in force between 2012-2017.

Implemented from July 2012 to November 2017, Forest-PLUS 1.0 focused on:

  1. Developing tools, techniques and methods through scientific exchange and technical collaboration between the United States and India
  2. Testing and deployment of tools and approaches in four pilot landscapes in India

Its good to see second phase started very soon. Forest-PLUS 2.0 is a five-year programme initiated in December 2018 (formally launched on 25th September 2019) that focuses on developing tools and techniques to bolster ecosystem management and harnessing ecosystem services in forest landscape management.

What is the difference between Forest-PLUS 1.0 and Forest-PLUS 2.0?

The programme’s first set (Forest-PLUS 1.0) focused on capacity building to help India participate in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). It included four pilot projects in Sikkim, Rampur, Shivamogga and Hoshangabad.

Forest-PLUS 2.0 comprises pilot project in three landscapes — Gaya in Bihar, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Medak in Telangana. The choice of these sites was driven by the contrast in their landscapes – Bihar is a forest deficit area; Telangana is a relatively drier area where there is ample scope for community livelihood enhancement and Kerala is rich in biodiversity.

Current Affair 4:
National Water Mission Awards Conferred

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We should have no interest in these awards. What is important for us is National Water Mission. It is one of the mission under National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC).

How this National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) came into existence?

In 2007, IPCC published its fourth assessment report that warned of a dangerous increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, especially in tropical and sub-tropical countries.  In response to these developments and the increasing extreme weather events faced domestically, the Indian government in 2007 established the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change (PMCCC). The Council, in coordination with other government departments, published the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008, within which eight missions were described.

These 8 missions were:

  1. National Solar mission,
  2. National mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency,
  3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat,
  4. National Water Mission,
  5. National mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem,
  6.  National mission for Green India,
  7. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem and
  8. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change

Now we will see a bit about National Water Mission:

Objective: To ensure integrated water resource management, conserve water, minimize wastage and ensure equitable distribution of water within states.

Recently, Government has announced that it will soon come up with updated version of National Water policy to effect key changes in Water Governance structure, Regulatory Framework, besides setting up of a National Bureau of Water Use Efficiency. Wait for updates. We will notify you. Don’t worry.

Current Affair 5:
Prehistoric baby bottles found in Bronze and Iron Age sites in Germany

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Prehistoric ceramic vessels were most likely used as baby bottles to feed infants animal milk. As per the archaeologists it is one of the first examples ever discovered of how prehistoric people fed infants.

The objects, some of which were shaped into animal forms, were unearthed from infant burial grounds dating back to the Bronze and Iron Age located in modern-day Bavaria in southeast Germany.

The study, which was published in the scientific journal Nature, found "evidence of the foodstuffs that were used to either feed or wean prehistoric infants," which "confirm the importance of milk from domesticated animals" for prehistoric groups of humans.

It has provided us the first direct evidence of what foods babies were eating or being weaned on to in prehistory. This shows us the love and care these prehistoric people had for their babies.

Current Affair 6:
India rises 4 places to 44th rank in world digital competitiveness rankings

India has climbed to the 44th position on the 2019 International Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Digital Competitiveness Rankings, an improvement of four places over last year.

The US was ranked as the world's most digitally competitive economy

The index is measured on three parameters- Knowledge, Technology and Future Readiness.

We will now provide images of all three factors- Knowledge, Technology and Future Readiness. Just see the indicators where India performed well. They won’t ask in prelims which indicators India performed well, it’s just you see the indicators where it performed well, specially Telecommunications Investments where India has ranked 1 (see second image below).

Nothing more is important in this report.

Current Affair 7:
Govt launches new framework to sustain India’s ‘100% ODF status’

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Read the below statement by our Union Minister. You will understand what’s the news about.

“This (ODF) is only the first milestone,” Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, said. “The work does not end here. We need to sustain this. We will take a small pause on October 2 and then move forward into the ODF plus journey. In that journey, the first step is sustaining ODF. We don't want any slip-backs,”.

The new framework, to be in place from 2019 to 2029, will ensure that people sustain their usage of toilets. It will also focus on proper implementation of solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) — plastic waste, organic waste, grey water, and faecal sludge — in rural areas.

The new framework includes:

  1.  the retrofitting of single pit toilets to twin pits or making provisions to empty pits every five years, repair of defunct ones, and construction of soak pits for septic tanks wherever not already present.
  2. A district-level training management unit (TMU) will be set up to provide oversight and support to gram panchayats (GPs) so that they ensure the operation and maintenance of sanitation infrastructure.
  3. The gram panchayats (GPs) are also supposed to conduct rapid assessment of water and sanitation gaps.
  4. Alternative funding: The government funding is the primary source of financing in the sanitation sector. Alternative self-financing by gradual leveraging of community resources in the form of tariffs for ODF plus activities is also suggested.
  5. It will follow the same 60:40 financing model as being followed till now in Swachh Bharat. It will be finalized after the cabinet’s approval.
  6. The framework also talks about state-specific strategies on menstrual hygiene management, including menstrual waste management, which may be supported under the ODF plus strategy.

Ok, now we will connect few important things with this topic.

In October 2014, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was instituted to achieve the vision of ‘clean India’ and eliminate the practice of open defecation by October 2, 2019. Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will declare the country open defecation-free on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2 and then news steps will be taken to sustain that ODF status.

What is this ODF status?

Though the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was launched in October 2014, until June 2015, there was no uniform definition of ODF. Every city, village, state had their own understanding of what qualified as ODF. To set a uniform parameter, on June 9, 2015, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) defined ODF as:

ODF is the termination of faecal oral transmission, defined by:

  1. No visible faeces found in the environment/village; and
  2.  every household as well as public/community institutions using safe technology option for disposal of faeces.

Safe technology option means disposal of sewage without contaminating surface soil, ground water or surface water; excreta inaccessible to flies or animals; no handling of fresh excreta; and freedom from odour and unsightly condition.

Current Affair 8:
Right of minority institutions not absolute

The Supreme Court ruled that “the right of minority institutions is not absolute and is amenable to regulation”. The protection granted to minority educational institutions to admit students of their choice is subject to reasonable restrictions, said a bench of Justices Indu Malhotra and Sanjiv Khanna.

What was the issue?


Andhra Pradesh government framed rules making SSC/Transfer Certificate the basis for a candidate’s claim of minority status for admission to BEd courses and requiring minority institutions to allot vacant seats under management quota to non-minority students on merit. Some students didn’t like it. So, they made an appeal to Supreme Court.

Why State Government took this step?

According to State Government, baptism certificates were being obtained by students from other communities to obtain admission under the management quota. A large number of admissions were made on the basis of conversion certificates” and that “in most of these cases, the candidates declared themselves to be Christians subsequent to the date of submitting their applications for the Entrance Test. This was a complete misuse.

As per the apex court, this decision will safeguard the interest of genuine minority students.

Ok we will add here two important things.

Whenever you get any question anywhere, you will mention the 15- point Programmes of Prime Minister for welfare of Minority communities. The objective of this Programme was:

We will also learn about National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions.

  1. The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI) was set up in 2004. The NCMEI Act was notified in January 2005. It is a statutory body.
  2. This Commission is a quasi-judicial body and has been endowed with the powers of a Civil Court.  It is to be headed by a Chairman who has been a Judge of the High Court and three members are to be nominated by Central Government.

  1. The Commission can make recommendations to the Central Government and the State Governments regarding any matter which directly or indirectly deprives the minority community of their educational rights enshrined in Article 30.
  2. The Commission is mandated to look into specific complaints regarding deprivation or violation of rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
  3.  Protection of rights of minorities are enshrined in Article 30 of the Constitution which states that “all minorities, whether based on religion or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice”.
  4. Thus, the Commission can look into any complaints relating to violation and deprivation of rights of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

Current Affair 9:
PM Economic Advisory Council re-constituted

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Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) is an independent body constituted to give advice on economic and related issues to the Government of India, specifically to the Prime Minister. It is not a statutory body.

The Terms of Reference of EAC-PM include analyzing any issue, economic or otherwise, referred to it by the Prime Minister and advising him thereon, addressing issues of macroeconomic importance and presenting views thereon to the Prime Minister. These could be either suo-moto or on reference from the Prime Minister or anyone else.

Government of India has reconstituted the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister

(EAC-PM) for a period of two years with effect from 26th September 2019.

  1. Dr. Bibek Debroy and Shri Ratan P. Watal will continue to be the Chairman and Member Secretary respectively of the reconstituted EAC-PM. Prime Minister is not the chairman of Council. Remember this.
  2.  Apart from these two Full-Time Members, the EAC-PM will have two Part-Time Members.


  1. While Dr. Ashima Goel continues to be one of the Part-Time Members, Dr. Sajjid Chinoy has been made as another Part-time Member.

Current Affair 10:
Google wins ‘right-to-be forgotten’ fight with France

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What is Right to be Forgotten?

The right to be forgotten, the right to erasure, is an important principle that was enshrined into EU law as part of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The right to be forgotten ruling was based on the EU's 1995 Data Protection Directive, which stated in Article 12 that people can ask for their personal data to be deleted once it's no longer necessary.

Also know about General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies automatically to all 28 member states of the European Union, unlike a directive, which demands member states draft their own domestic laws to enforce its rules. It aims to harmonize data flows between all member states and bolster the rights that EU citizens have over their data held and processed by organizations.

What was the issue?

As per the GDPR rules, Google introduced a geo-blocking feature which stopped European users from being able to see delisted links (which was removed on request under Right to be forgotten). However, it resisted censoring search results for people in other parts of the world.

It simply means, right to be forgotten will apply only in European bloc, not outside the bloc.

The case originated in a dispute between Google and the French privacy regulator CNIL, which called for the firm to “globally” (outside European bloc also) remove links to pages containing damaging or false information about a person.

The court ruled that the “right to be forgotten” online does not extend beyond the borders of the European Union. As per the ruling of court, search engine operators faced no obligation to remove information outside the 28-country zone.

Current Affair 11:
First Indigenous High Temperature Fuel Cell System developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

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High Temperature Fuel Cell System developed by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in partnership with Indian industries under India’s flagship program named New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI).

The 5.0 kW fuel cell system generates power in a green manner using methanol / bio-methane, with heat and water as bi-products for further use; amounting to greater than 70% efficiency, which otherwise may not be possible by other energy sources.

The Fuel Cells developed are based on High Temperature Proton Exchange Membrane (HTPEM) Technology. The development is most suitable for distributed stationary power applications like; for small offices, commercial units, data centers etc.; where highly reliable power is essential with simultaneous requirement for air-conditioning. This system will also meet the requirement of efficient, clean and reliable backup power generator for telecom towers, remote locations and strategic applications as well. This development would replace Diesel Generating (DG) sets and help reduce India’s dependence on crude oil.

The developed technology is world class and the development has placed India in the league of developed nations which are in possession of such a knowledgebase.

The development of fuel cell technology is indigenous and carries immense national importance in terms of non-grid energy security.

Now learn about The New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI)

The New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) is the largest public-private-partnership effort within the R&D domain in the country.

NMITLI seeks to catalyze innovation centered scientific and technological developments as a vehicle to attain for Indian industry a global leadership position, in selected niche areas in a true ‘Team India’ spirit, by synergizing the best competencies of publicly funded R&D institutions, academia and private industry.

Nothing more is needed.

Current Affair 12:
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

World Tourism Day commemorated each year on 27 September. India being selected as the host country for celebration of World Tourism Day 2019 by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Here we will study about World Tourism Organizations.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

India is a member of UNWTO.

The General Assembly is the principal gathering of the World Tourism Organization. It ‎meets every two years to approve the budget and programme of work and to debate ‎topics of vital importance to the tourism sector.

Recently, 23rd Session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization (9 - 13 September 2019) was held at St Petersburg, Russia. In another major step forward and bringing UNWTO in line with the wider United Nations system, Member States unanimously agreed the adoption of the first ever Global Convention on Tourism Ethics. The Convention will be open for signature by member states from 16th October 2019. So, wait and see Whether India signs it or not. We will notify you. Don’t worry.

We will here also learn about Accessible Tourism Destinations (ATD) initiative. Why? Wait.

The international “Accessible Tourism Destination” recognition is a joint commitment of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the ONCE Foundation to recognize and promote tourism destinations that are making laudable efforts so that they can be enjoyed by all tourists, regardless of their physical, sensory or cognitive abilities.

For 2019, Portugal was named the most accessible tourist destinations, with the cities of Barcelona and Thrissur in India were also recognised for steps taken to welcome tourists of every ability.

We have already mentioned in por previous series, India had been placed at 34th position out of 140 economies, in the World Economic Forum’s ‘World Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Rank’ in 2019. So, remember this. Nothing more is left for now to study about UNWTO.

Current Affair 13:
National Service Scheme Awards Conferred

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Important for us here is National Service Scheme.

The National Service Scheme (NSS) is a Central Sector Scheme of Government of India, Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports. It provides opportunity to the student youth of 11th & 12th Class of schools at +2 Board level and student youth of Technical Institution, Graduate & Post Graduate at colleges and University level of India to take part in various government led community service activities & programmes. The sole aim of the NSS is to provide hands on experience to young students in delivering community service.

The NSS Scheme was launched on 24th September 1969. This year is the Golden Jubilee year of NSS. Nothing more than this is required.

Current Affair 14:
Gujarat pilots world’s first emissions trading project in Surat to tackle industrial air pollution

Source Link

Launched in Surat, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is a regulatory tool that is aimed at reducing the pollution load in an area and at the same time minimizing the cost of compliance for the industry. ETS is a market in which the traded commodity is particulate matter emissions.

The Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) sets a cap on the total emission load from all industries. Various industries can buy and sell the ability to emit particulate matter, by trading permits (in kilograms) under this cap. For this reason, ETS is also called a cap-and-trade market.

How it will be traded?

  1. Under the trading scheme, the regulator will initially allocate each plant a fixed number of permits that would earmark the quantum of emissions the plant is permitted.
  2. Since the total number of permits is fixed, the total volume of polluting emissions is also fixed. This is being done to ensure that the quality of air is maintained, and peoples’ health is protected.
  3. Once the industrial units are given an initial allocation, they have the freedom to buy or sell these permits. This means that those industries that can reduce emissions to below their permissible limits can sell their excess permits to other factories.
  4. Likewise, plants that find it very expensive to reduce emissions can choose to buy these permits. However, their emission levels are recorded in real-time using continuous emissions monitoring systems and at the end of the specified period industries must have enough permits in hand to cover their costs.
  5. Not doing so would invite environmental damage-compensation-charges, which will be more expensive than it would have been to buy the necessary permits during the compliance period.

As this topic was very small, we will also here learn about The National Clean Air Programme.

The National Clean Air Programme proposed in 2018-’19 seeks to address the air quality information gap in 102 cities by expanding the monitoring programme to urban and rural areas, building an emissions inventory and apportioning the contribution of various sources, to establish an actionable plan to reduce air pollution levels by 20% to

Current Affair 15:

Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny bits of silica, a mineral that is part of sand, rock, and mineral ores such as quartz. It mostly affects workers exposed to silica dust in occupations such mining, glass manufacturing, and foundry work.

Exposure to large amounts of free silica may not be noticed because silica is odourless, non-irritant and does not cause any immediate health effects, but long-term exposure to crystalline silica-containing dust is associated with pneumoconiosis, and progressive massive fibrosis of the lung (PMF), lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, and other lung diseases and airways diseases. In India, more than 10 million workers are at risk of silicosis.

Silicosis in India:

In India silicosis is prevalent in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Pondicherry, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal among the workers of construction and mining.

Silicosis is an incurable condition with its potential to cause permanent physical disability. As there is no effective specific treatment of silicosis, the only way to protect workers’ health is control of exposure to silica-containing dusts and to detect cases early through monitoring of currently and formerly exposed workers along with proper management to reduce disability.

Current Affair 16:
Crude oil imports from US jump 72%, Iraq is top supplier

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According to report published by the Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Iraq has become India’s top crude oil supplier for the second year in a row.

  1.  According to the recent report, the top crude oil suppliers to India are Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
  2.  Saudi Arabia has traditionally been India’s top oil source, but it was for the first time dethroned by Iraq in 2017-18 financial year. Presently, Iraq meets around 25% of our crude oil requirements.
  3.  Iran was India’s second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 2010-11, but sanctions by USA has substantially reduced the oil imports from Iran.
  4. The report also highlights that USA, which began selling crude oil to India in 2017, is fast becoming a major source. Supplies from the US jumped more than four-fold in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Learn about Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics

The Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S), Kolkata, under the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, is the official organization for collection, compilation and dissemination of India’s Trade Statistics and Commercial Information.

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