Goaltide Daily Current Affairs

Dec 29, 2019

Current Affair 1:
SDG India Index Report 2019

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It’s a 180 Page report. But we need only few things. Read them now.

NITI Aayog today released the second edition (remember this also, not first) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index, which comprehensively documents the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards achieving the 2030 SDG targets.

The SDG India Index—which has been developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, United Nations in India, and Global Green Growth Institute.

The SDG India Index 2019 is more robust than the first edition on account of wider coverage of goals, targets, and indicators with greater alignment with the NIF. The Index spans 16 out of 17 SDGs, marks an improvement over the 2018 Index, which covered only 13 goals.

Based on the goal score, the States/UTs were classified into four categories under each goal. Achiever: when the Index score equals 100; Front Runner: when the Index score is between 65 and 99, including both; Performer: when the Index score is between 50 and 64, including both; Aspirant: when the Index score is less than 50.

Kerala achieved the first rank in the composite SDG Index with a score of 70, followed by Himachal Pradesh at 69.

Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu ranked at the third position with the score of 67. The biggest improvers since 2018 are UP (which has moved from the 29th position to the 23rd), Orissa (23rd to 15th), and Sikkim (15th to 7th).

While Bihar improved its score from 48 in 2018 to 50 in 2019, it still has a long way to go in achieving the targets.

Current Affair 2:
RBI buys Rs. 10,000 crore worth government securities via Open Market Operations

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RBI conducted the 2nd round of open market operation under its version of Operation Twist. In the second round RBI has bought Rs. 10,000 crores of long-term government securities (10-year bonds-GS 2029) and sold Rs. 8,500 crores of three short-term bonds (1-year bonds –GS-2020).

We will learn here two important things:

  1. Operation Twist
  2. Open Market Operations (OMO)

What is OMO?

OMOs are the market operations conducted by the RBI by way of sale/ purchase of G-Secs to/ from the market with an objective to adjust the rupee liquidity conditions in the market on a durable basis. When the RBI feels that there is excess liquidity in the market, it resorts to sale of securities thereby sucking out the rupee liquidity. Similarly, when the liquidity conditions are tight, RBI may buy securities from the market, thereby releasing liquidity into the market.

Operation Twist

Operation Twist is a move in which a central bank decides to simultaneously buy long-dated securities while selling short-term securities. The objective behind such an operation is management of the yield curve. Other central banks, including the US Federal Reserve, have used similar measures. This is the first time RBI has undertaken such an unconventional policy measure with the aim of flattening the yield curve by lowering longer rates to boost lending and growth. Recently, RBI undertook its second round of open market operations (OMOs), the first round of which was undertaken on 23 October.

Current Affair 3:
Forest Survey Report 2019

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Understand important concepts and facts.

Small introduction:

Every two years, Forest Survey of India (FSI) undertakes assessment of country’s forest resources, the results of which are presented as the ‘India State of Forest Report (ISFR)’. Since 1987, 15 such assessments have been completed and the current assessment is the 16th in the series.

Based on the regular nation-wide mapping of forest cover, sample plots based national forest inventory and the specific studies conducted at the national level, the information presented in the ISFR 2019 is primary information on different parameters of the forest resources of the country.

Forest cover reported in ISFR includes all lands having trees more than one hectare in area with tree canopy density of more than 10%, irrespective of ownership, legal status of the land and species composition of trees.

Key Findings of ISFR 2019

As compared to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover of the country. Out of this, the increase in the forest cover has been observed as 3,976 sq. km and that in tree cover is 1,212 sq. km;

 States ranking (Area-wise):

 Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover in the country followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Maharashtra.

States ranking (Forest cover as percentage of total geographical area):

Of the top five States are Mizoram (85.41%), Arunachal Pradesh (79.63%), Meghalaya (76.33%), Manipur (75.46%) and Nagaland (75.31%).

See below in the image:

Mangroves Report 2019.

The current assessment shows that mangrove cover in the country is 4,975 sq. km, which is 0.15% of the country’s total geographical area. There has been a net increase of 54 sq. km in the mangrove cover of the country as compared to 2017 assessment.

Bamboo Report 2019

Bamboos are one of the fastest growing perennial plants in the world. They belong to the family Poaceae (Graminae) and are found in the in the tropical, sub-tropical and mild temperate regions of the world. In India, bamboo grows naturally almost throughout the country except in Kashmir region.

The Government of India, in a landmark initiative, has promulgated the Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 to exempt bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the definition of tree, by amending the Section 2 (7) of the Indian Forest Act 1927 and thereby dispensing with the requirement of felling/ transit permit for its transport and economic use.

The extent of bamboo bearing area of the country has been estimated 16.00 million hectares. There is an increase of 0.32 million hectare in bamboo bearing area as compared to the last assessment of ISFR 2017. The total estimated green weight of bamboo culms is 278 million tonnes, slowly an increase of 88 million tonnes as compared to ISFR 2017.

Carbon stock

Under the current assessment the total carbon stock in country’s forest is estimated 7,124.6 million tonnes and there an increase of 42.6 million tonnes in the carbon stock of country as compared to the last assessment of 2017.

The annual increase in the carbon stock is 21.3 million tonnes, which is 78.2 million tonnes CO2 eq.

Arunachal Pradesh has maximum carbon stock of 1,051.32 million tonnes followed by Madhya Pradesh (588.73 million tonnes), Chhattisgarh (480.25 million tonnes) and Maharashtra (440.51 million tonnes)

Wetlands within forests

Wetlands within forest areas form important ecosystems and add richness to the biodiversity in forest areas, both of faunal and floral species. Due to importance of wetlands, FSI has carried out an exercise at the national level to identify wetlands of more than 1 ha within Recorded Forest Area.

Current Affair 4:
Bharat Bond ETF

What was in news?

 Bharat Bond ETF has made its maiden debut in the secondary market as the first corporate Bond ETF in the country.

Earlier the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved for the establishment of Bharat Bond Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to create an additional source of funding for Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), Central Public Financial Institutions (CPFIs) and other Government organizations.

Features of Bharat Bond ETF:

  1.  ETF will be a basket of bonds issued by CPSE/CPSU/CPFI/any other Government organization Bonds which are tradable on secondary market.
  2. Small unit size Rs 1,000 to attract retail investors.
  3. The ETF will invest only in AAA-rated bonds of public sector companies and will have target maturity structures.
  4. Each ETF will have a fixed maturity date with 2 maturity series 3 and 10 years

Benefits of Bharat Bond ETF to investors

  1. Safety as they are investing in government bonds
  2. Liquidity as they are tradable on exchange
  3.  Since unit value is only Rs. 1000 it provides for easy and low-cost access to bond markets thereby increasing the participation of retail investors who are currently not participating in bond markets due to liquidity and accessibility constraints.

Benefits for CPSEs

  1. Additional source of meeting their borrowing requirements apart from bank financing.
  2. It will expand their investor base through retail participation which can increase demand for their bonds.
  3. With increase in demand for their bonds, these issuers may be able to borrow at reduced cost thereby reducing their cost of borrowing over a period of time.

Overall impact on Bond Markets

This is expected to eventually increase the size of bond ETFs in India leading to achieving key objectives at a larger scale - deepening bond markets, enhancing retail participation and reducing borrowing costs.

What are ETFs?

ETF is a fund that is created by pooling together assets and then dividing this cumulated asset into individual units that are traded on the stock exchange.

The value of the ETF comes from the value of the underlying assets (shares of stock, bonds, foreign currency, etc.). These ETFs are listed in the stock exchanges are similar to like shares and can be traded like ordinary shares. In nature, the ETFs are index funds because they comprise of shares of different companies.

ETF vs Mutual Funds

  1. ETF is similar to Mutual fund in that a unit of both ETF and MF comprise of equities of different companies.
  2. However, they differ with respect to the tradability on the stock exchange.
  3. While buying and selling of mutual fund means you are transacting directly with the fund, the ETF is basically traded on a secondary market just like shares.
  4.  Besides while Mutual Fund is managed by a fund managers and ETF is managed by the investor himself.
  5.  While mutual fund is bought and sold at the price of shares at the close of the day, shares of ETF are traded throughout the day meaning which ETFs have more liquidity and marketability.

Current Affair 5:
Detention Centres.

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What is detention centres?

The Centre has the power to deport foreign nationals staying illegally in the country under Section 3(2)(c) of The Foreigners Act, 1946. State governments have also been entrusted under Article 258(1) of the Constitution to take similar steps.

Article 258 basically gave the power to the Union Government to confer or grant the powers, etc., on States in certain cases.

Detention centres in states

As of now Delhi, Goa, Rajasthan have a detention centre each. Besides Karnataka, Maharashtra and Punjab have identified locations for detention centres.

West Bengal had identified two locations but now the state government has declared that it will not allow any such centre in the State. Kerala, which was also in the process of identifying a location, has also put it on hold.

Recently in January 2019, a detailed manual on “model detention centres” was circulated to make a distinction between “jails and detention centres”.

Now after the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed there are fears that those excluded from NPR-NRC will be sent to detention centres.

Current Affair 6:
Chief of Defence Staff

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Announcing this big decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Our forces are India's pride. To further sharpen coordination between the forces, I want to announce a major decision from the Red Fort: India will have a Chief of Defence Staff- CDS. This is going to make the forces even more effective."


To put it in simple terms, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) is a post that will act as the single-point advisor to the Government of India. The officer concerned will be in a position to advise on matters related to all the three services -- Army, Navy and Air Force -- thus making India's armed forces integrated.

The Chief of Defence Staff will be a 'first among equals', a fourth four-star officer who will be senior to the three other service chiefs.

A Department of Military Affairs (DMA) has been created in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and it will be headed by the incoming Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat.

The DMA will be the fifth department in the MoD. The existing ones are the Department of Defence, the Department of Defence Production, the Department of Defence Research and Development and the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare.

The Chief of Defence Staff, apart from being the head of the Department of Military Affairs, will also be the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee.

He will act as the Principal Military Adviser to Raksha Mantri on all tri-Services matters. The three Chiefs will continue to advise RM on matters exclusively concerning their respective Services.


The creation of a CDS to act as a single-point military adviser to the Prime Minister on strategic issues was one of the in-direct recommendations of the Kargil Review Committee on higher military reforms after the 1999 conflict.

Creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was recommended by Group of Ministers in 2001. A decision in this regard was to be taken after consultation with political parties. Subsequently, Naresh Chandra Task Force on National Security recommended creation of the post of Permanent Chairman Chief of Staff Committee in 2012.

D.B. Shekatkar Committee also recommended the formation of CDS.

Current Affair 7:
Mahadayi river dispute

States of Goa and Karnataka are embroiled in a dispute on sharing of the Mahadayi river water. Related to Mahadayi river dispute, Goa has intensified its opposition to the Kalsa- Bhanduri project as the Centre in a written reply to Karnataka government has stated that environment clearance (EC) is not required for its Kalsa-Bhanduri drinking water project on the river. As of now the matter is pending in Supreme Court of India.

About Mahadayi River

Mahadayi river rises in the Western Ghats, from the Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka’s Belagavi district. A number of streams join the flow of the river to form the Mandovi which is one of two major rivers that flow through Goa. It joins the Arabian Sea at Panaji.

Understanding Water Tribunals constituted under Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956:

Article 262 of Indian Constitution provides for adjudication of disputes relating to waters of inter-state rivers or river valleys. Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, in any inter-State river or river valley.

Parliament may, by  law, provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint.

Accordingly, Parliament has enacted The Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956 under Article 262. An Inter-State Water Tribunal can be formed under the Act to solve the disputes of river water sharing between two or more states.

 Water is included in Entry 17 of State List under Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. It can be subject to the Centre’s arbitration if, and only if, it involves a clear case of conflict or dispute as mentioned under Entry 56 of Union List.

As per Entry 17 of the State List, States have competence over water supplies, irrigation and canals, drainage and embankments, water storage and water- power subject to the provisions of entry 56 of Union List of the Constitution.

Whereas Entry 56 of Union List relates to regulation and development of Inter-state rivers and river valleys to the extent to which such regulation and development under the control of the Union is declared by Parliament by law to be expedient in the public interest.

Current Affair 8:
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

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What was the news?

After July 2019, the number of jobs generated under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) has gone down compared to 2018.

We will see few important things:

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), also known as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) is Indian legislation enacted on August 25, 2005.

Now, question will come in Prelims that budget allocation for MGNREGA consistently increased for last three years, you will say yes. See image below.


Current Affair 9:
SnowEx Campaign

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Recently, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched a seasonal campaign to understand how much water is contained in each winter’s snowfall and how much will be available when it melts in the spring.

This campaign is part of a five-year programme called SnowEx which was initiated in 2016-17.

NASA’s overall target is optimal strategies for mapping global snow water equivalent (SWE) with remote sensing and models leading to “Earth System Explorer” mission. NASA currently has no global satellite mission to track and study SWE.

Snow is a vital source of water for drinking, agriculture and electrical power in the western United States and other locations around the world. To know how much water will be available the following spring, water resource managers and hydrologists need to know where snow has fallen, how much there is and how do characteristics change as it melts.

Current Affair 10:
Locust Invasion in Gujarat

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The migratory insect - locust has swarmed the northern parts of Gujarat, causing significant damage to agriculture.

The locusts, known as tiddis locally, destroyed standing crops of castor, cumin, jatropha, cotton, and potato, and fodder grass in around 20 talukas. Gujarat has not witnessed such an invasion of locusts since 1993-94.

The locusts emerged in February 2019 from Sudan and Eritrea in Africa's Red Sea Coast and travelled through Saudi Arabia and Iran to enter Pakistan, where they invaded the Sindh province and from there they moved into Rajasthan and Gujarat, where south western monsoon had prolonged this time.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had issued an alert of a massive locust attack in South Asia covering Pakistan and India.

The Locust Warning Organization (LWO) in Jodhpur also noticed the swarms and predicted their trajectory across the international border.

What is this Locust?

A locust is a large, mainly tropical grasshopper with strong powers of flight. They differ from ordinary grasshoppers in their ability to change behaviour (gregarize) and form swarms that can migrate over large distances.

Current Affair 11:
First evidence found of tool use by seabirds

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Three researchers from the University of Oxford and the South Iceland Nature Research Centre have found evidence of tool use by puffinsthe first evidence of tool use by any seabird. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe their evidence of puffins using sticks to scratch a part of their body.

Over the past several decades, researchers have found many examples of non-human primates using tools—several types of passerine birds have been found to use tools, as well. Crows have been observed using sticks for many purposes, and parrots have been seen breaking seashells with rocks. But until now, no instances of tool use by seabirds have been observed. Because of their relatively small brains, many in the field believed they simply did not have the capacity to make use of a tool. But the researchers in this new effort have disproven these beliefs.

Current Affair 12:
Biggest bloom: 'world's largest' flower spotted in Indonesia

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Indonesian conservationists spotted the biggest specimen ever of what's already been billed as one of the world's largest flowers.

The giant Rafflesia tuan-mudae—a fleshy red flower with white blister-like spots on its enormous petals—came in at a whopping 111 centimetres (3.6 foot) in diameter.

That's bigger than the previous record of 107 centimetres on a bloom also found in the jungles of West Sumatra several years ago.

Current Affair 13:
Scientists find evidence that Venus has active volcanoes

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New research led by Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and published today in Science Advances shows that lava flows on Venus may be only a few years old, suggesting that Venus could be volcanically active today—making it the only planet in our solar system, other than Earth, with recent eruptions.

Barren Islands volcano is India's only active volcano.

Current Affair 14:
Annual Flamingo Festival at Pulicat Lake

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The annual Flamingo Festival is to be held in January at Pulicat lake.

The Pulicat lake supports rich biodiversity and high biomass of fishes and planktons which is utilized as food resources by visiting birds. Thus about 75 aquatic and terrestrial bird species visit the sanctuary every year. The number of birds is much higher than usual due to abundant rains in 2019.

Pulicat Lake

It is the second-largest brackish water ecosystem in the country after the Chilika Lake (Odisha). It is located on the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. It lies majorly in Andhra Pradesh.

The large varieties of birds like grey pelicans, painted storks, visit the site annually.

Grey Pelican and Painted Stork both are near-threatened species under IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Current Affair 15:
Andhra Pradesh Government will be hosting the Belum Caves festival in January 2020 to popularize the Belum caves

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Belum Caves, also known as Belum Guhalu in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh is the second-longest cave in the Indian subcontinent open to the public. The longest natural cave in the Indian subcontinent is Krem Liat Prah caves in Meghalaya.

Not more than this is required.

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