Daily Current Affairs : 22nd, 23rd and 24th December

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. National Population Register
  2. National Company Law Tribunal
  3. Carbon Dots
  4. Labeling of Fast Foods
  5. Srinivasa Ramanujan
  6. Features of National Pension Scheme
  7. Chabahar Port
  8. UDAY Scheme
  9. Mental Disorder Report
  10. FTA with Eurasian Economic Union
  11. Bar headed Goose
  12. Facts for Prelim

1 . National Population Register


What is the National Population Register (NPR)?

  • The NPR is a database containing a list of all usual residents of the country. Its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of people residing in the country. 
  • It is generated through house­ to­ house enumeration during the “house­listing” phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years.
  • A usual resident for the purposes of NPR is a person who has resided in a place for six months or more, and intends to reside there for another six months or more

Difference between Census & NPR

  • The census involves a detailed questionnaire — there were 29 items to be filled up in the 2011 census — aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation, birthplace, mother tongue, religion, disability and whether they belonged to any Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe. 
  • NPR collects basic demographic data and biometric particulars. Once the basic details of the head of the family are taken by the enumerator, an acknowledgement slip will be issued. This slip may be required for enrolment in NPR, whenever that process begins. And, once the details are recorded in every local (village or ward), sub­district (tehsil or taluk), district and State level, there will be a population register at each of these levels. Together, they constitute the National Population Register.
  • The census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948 while the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Conflict between NPR & Aadhaar

  • There is a possibility of conflict as both involves gathering of personal particulars, including biometric data. So,it was agreed that the databases of NPR & UIDAI will exist with different objectives, and that each will use the other’s biometric data. 
  • Those already enrolled for Aadhaar need not give their biometric details again during NPR. At the same time, data captured for NPR would be sent to UIDAI for de­duplication.
  • In case of discrepancy between Aadhaar and NPR data, the latter would prevail. 

Legal basis for the NPR

  • While the census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948, the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • Section 14A was inserted in the Citizenship Act, 1955, in 2004, providing for the compulsory registration of every citizen of India and the issue of a “national identity card” to him or her. It also said the Central government may maintain a “National Register of Indian Citizens”.
  • The Registrar General India shall act as the “National Registration Authority” (and will function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration). Incidentally, the Registrar General is also the country’s Census Commissioner.

What will happen after the NPR is compiled?

  • Government proposes to create a database of citizens of India out of the NPR. Thus, the National Register of Indian Citizens(NRIC) is a sub­set of the NPR. 
  • The NRIC will be prepared at the local, sub­district, district and State levels after verifying the citizenship status of the residents.
  • The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 spells out the rules for operationalising the idea of registering all citizens and issuing national identity cards to them. However, so far, there has been no decision on introducing a national identity card.
  • The rules say the particulars of every family and individual found in the Population Register “shall be verified and scrutinized by the Local Registra
  • In the process, details of those “whose citizenship is doubtful” will be entered with a comment suggesting further inquiry. The family or individual will be informed about it and given an opportunity of being heard by the Sub-district or Taluk Registrar of Citizen Registration before a final decision is made on excluding them from the NRIC. The decision should be made within 90 days.
  • A draft of the Local Register of Indian Citizens shall be published to invite objections or claims for inclusion or corrections.
  • Any objection or request for inclusion must be made within 30 days of the publication of the draft. The sub-district or taluk registrar shall summarily dispose of the objections within 90 days. Thereafter, the entries in the Local Register will be transferred to the National Registrar.
  • Any person aggrieved by an exclusion order can appeal to the District Registrar within 30 days, and the appeal should be disposed of within 90 days. In case, the appeal succeeds, the names of those concerned would be added to the NRIC.

Can states refuse to implement NRIC

  • In practical terms, it may not be possible for the process to be undertaken without the State government’s cooperation at the local level.
  • House to­ house enumeration is a part of the Census operation, it is unlikely that the NPR process can go ahead without State governments agreeing to deploy their staff for the purpose. 
  • The legal position [Section 4A of the Census Act & Rule 5 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003] is that while the Centre is in charge of the census, the State governments are expected to provide staff whenever required.
  • Rule 5 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, lays down that “Every official of the Central Government, State Government, local bodies or their undertakings shall assist the Registrar General of Citizen Registration or any person authorized by him in this behalf, in preparation of the database relating to each family and every person, and in implementing the provisions of these rules.”
  • In any case, it is compulsory on the part of every citizen to assist in the preparation of the National Register of Citizens, the rules say.

2 . National Company Law Appellate Tribunal


What is NCLAT?

  • NCLAT was constituted for hearing appeals against the orders of the National Company Law Tribunal(NCLT) , which, in turn, simultaneously replaced the erstwhile Company Law Board. 
  • Constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013, the appellate tribunal was conceived as the dedicated appeals forum for resolving corporate law disputes and speeding up the resolution by taking over the role hitherto played by over burdened High Courts in adjudicating such appeals.

Other areas of Jurisdiction

  • Besides deciding on pleas against the NCLT’s rulings, including in matters relating to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), the NCLAT also serves as the appellate body for those aggrieved by decisions made by the Competition Commission of India or orders passed by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India.

Composition

The NCLAT initially comprised five members: 

  • A Chairperson & two members each on the judicial and technical sides.
  • The chairperson must have been a judge of the Supreme Court of India or a Chief Justice of a High Court.
  • A member ( Judicial) of the NCLAT has to have been a judge of a High Court or a judicial member of the NCLT for fi ve years, 
  • A technical member ought to possess proven ability and standing with domain knowledge and experience of not less than 25 years in areas such as law, industrial fi nance, industrial management, investment, accountancy, labour matters or corporate restructuring.
  • The government has also decided to set up a bench of the appellate tribunal at Chennai.

3 . Carbon Dots


Context:- In an extraordinary waste-to-wealth feat, researchers from Assam have used the commonly found invasive plant water hyacinth to produce carbon nanoparticles. These extremely tiny (less than 10 nanometre) particles can be used for detecting a commonly used herbicide — pretilachlor. The nanoparticles were found to be selective and sensitive for the detection of the herbicide.

About Carbon Dots

  • Carbon dots are nano particles of nanometer size (less than 10 nm but can be as small as 1 nm) which have been first discovered as a by-product of single-walled carbon nanotubes and these can be derived from various carbon materials such as fullerenes, graphite, carbon nanotubes, and graphene.
  • The discovery of fluorescent carbon dots (CDs), also known as carbon quantum dots (CQDs), has attracted tremendous interest from many researchers because of their versatile applications in optoelectronics, biomedical applications, and chemical biosensors.
  • Compared to other fluorescent raw materials, CDs are synthesized from inexpensive carbon sources that are abundant in nature and are, thus, bio-friendly.

About the Research

  • In an extraordinary waste­ to­ wealth feat, researchers from As­sam have used the commonly found invasive plant water hya­cinth to produce carbon nano­ particles.These extremely tiny (less than 10 nanometre) parti­cles can be used for detecting a commonly used herbicide — pre­tilachlor. 
  • The nanoparticles were found to be selective and sensi­tive for the detection of the herbicide.
  • The team harvested water hya­cinth leaves, removed the chloro­phyll, dried and powdered it. The sieved powder underwent several treatments including heating at 150 degree Celsius to convert it to carbon dots.Carbon dots were able to give a green fluorescence under UV light. The extremely small ox­ygen functional groups on the surface of the dot are responsible for the fluorescence.
  • The herbicide pretilachlor is mixed with water and carbon dots, and studied using special equipment. The fluorescence intensity increases in the presence of the herbicide. The team also tested using different pesticides and other compounds having similar chemical structure and found that the carbon dot was extremely sensitive to pretilachlor and could detect even very small quantity of the herbicide.
  • Benefits : This will be a commercially viable option when compared with the sensors currently available in the market, as the raw material for the construction of the sensor — the water hyacinth — is readily available and is practically a waste material. 

4 . Labeling of Fast Food


Context : The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) unveiled a new study this week which showed that salt and fat in an array of “junk food” was well above proposed regulatory thresholds. The findings are significant as the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is yet to make into law draft regulations on setting limits, and publicising information, about nutrients in fast and packaged foods.

How did the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) conduct the study ?

  • Its Environment Monitoring Laboratory tested salts, fat, trans-fat and carbohydrates in 33 foods using 14 samples of chips, savouries, instant noodles and instant soup. There were also 19 samples of burger, fries, fried chicken, pizza, sandwiches and wraps, sourced from grocery stores and fast food outlets in New Delhi.
  • The pizza, burgers, chips and snacks to be tested were stored in laboratory conditions and ground to a powder or paste. Then they were chemically analysed to determine the salt, fat, trans-fat and carbohydrate levels.
  • The aim was to find out the levels of these products in actual servings/packets of the foods.

How was it established that these nutrients were above thresholds?

  • To calculate this, the organisation relied on the concept of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), a daily ceiling on the amount of salt, fat, carbohydrate and trans-fat.
  • The RDA is based on scientific consensus and has been agreed upon by expert bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad (in India).
  • It says that, ideally, an adult should consume no more than 5g of salt, 60g of fat, 300g carbohydrate and 2.2 g of transfat every day.
  • Further, the RDA from breakfast, lunch and dinner should not be more than 25% and that from snacks (assumed to be those munched between meals), must be no more than 10%. Thus, a snack should ideally have no more than 0.5g of salt and 6g of fat.

What is the law on disclosing nutritional components?

  • Current Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations, 2011 only require companies to disclose energy (kilo calories), protein, carbohydrates, total fat, trans-fat and saturated fat contained per 100g or per millilitre or per serve.
  • It is not intuitively easy, without some mental math, to figure out how much is actually contained in your serving. There are also no disclosures on high salt content and added sugar, and no compulsion on companies to disclose nutritional information on the front of the pack.
  • In 2013, the FSSAI, the apex food regulator under the Union Health Ministry, set up a committee to regulate packaged snacks. This committee, which consisted of doctors, nutrition experts, public policy activists and the CSE itself, recommended in 2014 that information on calories, sugar, fat, saturated fat and salt be displayed upfront.
  • In 2018, the FSSAI came up with a draft law, the Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2018. The draft recommended that a packet should have clear information on how much each nutrient, such as salt, sugar, contributed to the RDA. The draft said salt must be declared as sodium chloride for instance, and that those ingredients which breached the RDA should be marked in ‘red’.

B. Sesikeran Committee

  • Food companies had reservations mainly because they felt ‘red’ signified danger, fearing that this would give consumers the impression that they were consuming toxic food.
  • The draft regulations never became law. Instead, a third committee was formed, headed by B. Sesikeran, a former director of the NIN.
  • Based on this committee’s recommendations, a new draft (Draft Food Safety and Standards (Labelling and Display) Regulations, 2019) was prepared. This replaced sodium chloride with salt, total fat with saturated fat and total sugar with added sugar, which CSE says, dilutes information on the health harm posed by packaged foods.
  • The new draft also exempts beverages less than 80kcal. In theory, a beverage can breach “added sugar” RDA without informing consumers as long as it is within the energy requirement.
  • The proposed law allows companies three years to adjust to the new laws. However, the contribution of each individual nutrient to the RDA and whether it is breaching safe limits will have to be displayed on the front of the package.
  • Though the draft regulations have been out in the public domain since July, it is yet to become law. The CSE’s calculations are based on recommended nutritional values in the draft versions of these laws.

Why is industry opposed to the proposed laws?

  • Other than the red labels, the industry says the norms are unscientific and that packaged food is made to cater to the “taste” of people.
  • Moreover, the packaged industry argues, immense quantities of junk food — think samosas or fried food sold on unregulated pushcarts — are consumed in the country with no check on their nutritional status and there is an inherent unfairness in regulating one section alone.
  • Because nutritional information only guides consumers on how to regulate their intake, the industry feels people should be advised on what makes a healthy diet, the role of exercise and consuming appropriate amounts of food. They claim the current regulations only contribute to fear-mongering.

Why has not the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) moved on the draft?

  • To brand packaged food in different colours sends out the message that they are unsafe or “toxic”; this would be counterproductive to the larger aim of having a regulated but viable packaged food industry and people being educated about their food choices.

What is the practice internationally?

  • The CSE says that the proposed labelling regulations publish too many numbers and an assortment of colour codes.
  • This could potentially confuse people particularly because India has a vast non-English speaking population.
  • Chile, for instance, has a system where a black hexagon in a white border appears on the front of a package. In the hexagon is a phrase that says a product is “high in salt” or “high in trans-fat.” The more the hexagons the less desirable the product becomes for the consumer; surveys suggest that even children are becoming more conscious about the health impact of their favourite snacks and often influencing parents’ buying choices.
  • Surveys undertaken by the WHO show that a vast majority of European countries have some form of front-of-pack labelling, but fewer countries have interpretive systems which explain the health factor of foods.

5 . Srinivasa Ramanujan


Context : December 22 is celebrated as National Mathematics Day in the honour of late mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

About Srinivasa Ramanujan

  • Ramanujan made extraordinary contribution in number theory, infinite series, mathematical analysis and making formulas and equations.
  • The mathematical genius compiled more than 3,900 mathematical results and equations.
  • His Ramanujam Prime and Ramanujam theta discoveries had also inspired further research on the subject.
  • He is also know for the Hardy-Ramanujan number- ‘1729’, which is the smallest number which can be represented as sum of two different cubes in two different ways. He discovered the number along with British Mathematician G.H. Hardy.
  • His mathematics, done over a hundred years ago, finds applications today in areas other than pure mathe­matics, which were not even established during his time. Two among these are signal processing and black hole physics.

Signal processing

  • Signal processing is an electrical engineering subfield that focuses on analysing, modifying and synthesizing signals such as sound, images and biological measurements.
  • Examples of signals that are processed digitally include obvious ones like speech and music and more research-oriented ones such as DNA and protein sequences. All these have certain patterns that repeat over and over again and are called periodic patterns. For example, a DNA molecule is made up of a 4 bases (Adenine Guanine, Thymine and Cytosine). So, in signal processing, one thing we are interested in is extracting and identifying such periodic information.

Ramanujan and Signal Processing

  • A mathematical operation akin to a sieve is used to separate out the periodic regions in the signal.
  • Some of the best-known methods to extract periodic components in signals involve Fourier analysis.
  • Using Ramanujan Sums for this process is much less known. “A Ramanujan Sum is a sequence like c(1), c(2), c(3) … This sequence itself repeats periodically…
  • It is useful in identifying periodic components in signals, much the same as sines and cosines are used in Fourier analysis

Partitions of a number

  • Ramanujan’s interest in the number of ways one can partition an integer (a whole number) is famous. For instance, the integer 3 can be written as 1+1+1 or 2+1. Thus, there are two ways of partitioning the integer 3.
  • As the integer to be partitioned gets larger and larger, it becomes difficult to compute the number of ways to partition it.
  • The seemingly simple mathematical calculation is related to a very sophisticated method to reveal the properties of black holes, as has been established by physicist Atish Dabholkar,
  • Ramanujan related this counting problem to some special functions called “modular forms”. A modular form is symmetric, in the sense that it does not change, under a set of mathematical operations called “modular symmetry”. “A geometric analogy for such a function would be a circle which does not change its shape under rotations [circular symmetry]. “Using this symmetry, Ramanujan and G.H. Hardy found a beautiful formula to compute the number of partitions of any integer.”

Nearly modular forms

  • In his famous letter to Hardy in 1919, Ramanujan introduced the “mock theta functions” and observed that they were “almost modular”. “A geometric analogy would be a ‘mock circle’ that is nearly circular but with a small blip,
  • Following the work of mathematician Sanders P. Zwegers in 2002, in which he introduced “mock modular forms,” giving a precise definition of what “almost modular” means, Prof Dabholkar’s paper with Sameer Murthy and Don Zagier made the connection between mock modular forms and Black Hole physics.

Black Hole entropy

  • A separate concept in physics, entropy, explains why heat flows from a hot body to a cold body and not the other way around. The results of Ramanujan and Hardy on partitions and the former’s subsequent work on what are called mock theta functions have come to play an important role in understanding the very quantum structure of spacetime – in particular the quantum entropy of a type of Black Hole in string theory
  • Stephen Hawking showed that when you take into account quantum effects, a Black Hole is not quite black, it is rather like a hot piece of metal that is slowly emitting Hawking radiation. Thus, one can associate thermodynamic quantities like temperature and entropy to a Black Hole.

6 . Features of National Pension System


Tier 1 and Tier II Account

  • Tier I is the retirement account while Tier II account is a voluntary investment vehicle where you can put in and withdraw money at any time.
  • It is only under the Tier I account that your contributions earn tax breaks of up to ₹1.5 lakh a year under section 80C and the additional exemption of ₹50,000 a year under section 80CCD (1B). Tier II contributions do not earn any tax breaks. While the NPS Tier II does offer advantages such as flexibility and low fees, there are alternative products such as mutual funds that you can consider too, for such voluntary investments.

Pension Fund manager

  • The NPS lets you choose who will manage your money.
  • The scheme currently has 7 pension fund managers (PFMs) on its menu – Birla Sun Life Pension Management, HDFC Pension Management Company, ICICI Prudential Pension Management Company, Kotak Mahindra Pension Fund, LIC Pension Fund, SBI Pension Funds and UTI Retirement Solutions.
  • One of the most investor-friendly features of NPS is that it allows you to change your choice of PFMs and asset allocations once a year, without any costs or tax implications

Asset classes

  • The NPS allocates your accumulated contributions into four asset classes – Equity (E), Corporate bonds (C), Government Bonds (G) and Alternative Investment Funds such as private equity funds, REITs, Invits (A). Your allocation among these is critical to your final returns.

Auto or Active choice

  • To implement an asset allocation, the NPS presents you with two possibilities — an Auto choice and an Active choice. The Auto choice helps you put your allocation in self-driving mode. The Active choice lets you to control how your contributions will be divided.

7 . Chabahar Port


Context : US provided a rare exemption to India from sanctions on the Chabahar port in Iran as Washington

About Chabahar port

  • The port of Chabahar is located in southeastern Iran in the Gulf of Oman. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean
  • Chabahar is jointly developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan.
  • Chabahar” literally means a place where all four seasons of the year are like spring
  • The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast and India can bypass Pakistan with the Chabahar port becoming functional.

About the development Pact

  • India will develop and operate the Chabahar port. India Ports Global,a port project investment arm of the shipping ministry and a joint venture between the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and the Kandla port, will invest $85 million in developing two container berths with a length of 640 metres and three multi-cargo berths.
  • The contract is for 10 years and extendable. It will take 18 months to complete phase one of the port construction. The first two years of the construction. The first two years of the contract are grace period which means India doesn’t have to guarantee any cargo for the port.
  • From the third year, India will facilitate 30,000 TEUs (Twenty Foot Equivalent) of cargo at the port. The quantum will rise to 2,50,000 TEUs by the 10th year.
  • State run railway body IRCON International will set up a railway line at Chabahar to move goods right up to Afghanistan. The 500-km rail link between Chabahar and Zahedan will link Delhi to the rest of Iran’s railway network.
  • Also, part of the agreement is a free trade zone where a total investment of Rs 1 lakh crore is envisaged. Indian companies would set up a range of industries from aluminium smelter to urea plants in the region. State-owned NALCO will set up an aluminium smelter while private and co-operative fertiliser firms are keen to build urea plants.
  • India will also supply $400 million of steel rails to Tehran. There are plans of a fertilizer plant through a joint venture with the Iran government. Securing hydrocarbon sources is a priority for India as Delhi and Tehran would look to expand the basket in the coming years.

Chabahar connection for Al Biruni and Alexander the Great

  • In his 11th century AD book, titled Kitab Tarikh Al-Hind (‘A History of India’), Al Biruni, the Persian scholar and polymath who travelled to India in 1017, stated that coastal India began from a town named ‘Tis’ (it was renamed from ‘Tiz’). Legend has it that Alexander the Great also crossed Tiz, a fishing village at the time, as his troops marched towards India in 326 BC. Modern Chabahar, which houses Tis, came into being in the 1970s.
  • Legend has it that Alexander the Great also crossed Tiz, a fishing village at the time, as his troops marched towards India in 326 BC.

Location of Chabahar port

Importance of Chabahar Port for India

  • First and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  • Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
  • With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
  • With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline.
  • Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This is will, in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
  • From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.
  • The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan – Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Reasons for Exemption

  • Chabahar potentially plays an important role as a lifeline to Afghanistan in terms for India to be able to export humanitarian supplies and potentially helping Afghanistan diversify its export opportunities.

Conditions for exempting India from sanctions

  • US provided a narrow exemption (to India) for the development of Chabahar that allows for the construction of the port and the rail line that allows for the export of refined oil products to Afghanistan
  • US would extend the exemption so long as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) do not participate in the port project.
  • All of this is contingent on there not being any IRGC involvement in the economic activity or IRGC-related entities being involved in those activities

8 . UDAY Scheme


Objectives of UDAY Scheme

  • Financial Turnaround
  • Operational improvement
  • Reduction of cost of generation of power
  • Development of Renewable Energy
  • Energy efficiency & conservation

Features of the Scheme

  • States will take over 75% of the DISCOM debt as on Sept 30, 2015 – 50% in FY 2015-16 and 25% in FY 2016-17.
  • Balance 25% of debt to remain with the DISCOMs in the following manner:
    1. Issued as State-backed DISCOM bonds; or
    2. Re-priced by Banks/FIs at interest rate not more than bank base rate + 0.10%
  • States to take over future losses of DISCOMs as per trajectory in a graded manner.
    [0% of loss of 14-15 & 15-16; 5% of 16-17; 10% of 17-18; 25% of 18-19 & 50% of 2019-20]
  • Balance losses to be financed through State bonds or DISCOM bonds backed by State Govt guarantee, to the extent of loss trajectory finalised with MoP.
  • Jharkhand and J&K given special dispensation for take over of outstanding CPSU dues
  • States to issue non-SLR including SDL bonds, to take over debt and transfer the proceeds to DISCOMs in a mix of grant, loan, equity.
  • Maturity period of bonds – 10-15 years.
  • Moratorium period – up to 5 years.
  • Borrowing not to be included for calculating fiscal deficit of the State.

9 . Mental Disorder Report


Context :-India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative has released the first report on disease burden attributable to mental health from 1990.

Details of the report

  • The study finds that roughly one in seven Indians or 197 million people suffered from mental disorders of varying severity in 2017.Among these,depression and anxiety disorders are the commonest mental disorders in India.
  • The contribution of mental disorders to the total disease burden in India in terms of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) increased from 2.5% in 1990 to 4.7% in 2017.One DALY is at least one lost year of ‘healthy’ life.
  • The prevalence of mental disorders is increasing and is relatively higher in the southern states and in females.
  • The Southern states namely Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh accounted for a higher prevalence of mental disorders.

State wise Report

  • In its State-wise analysis,the study divides different States into three categories on the basis of their socio-demographic index(SDI) namely low, medium and high SDI States. 
  • The SDI is a composite measure of per-capita income, mean education, and fertility rate in women younger than 25 years and is calculated on a scale of one.
  • The prevalence of depressive disorders was highest in Tamil Nadu (loss of 836 years per 1 lakh population ) in the high SDI State group and Andhra Pradesh (loss of 793 years) in the middle SDI State group.
  • Anxiety disorders were found to be more common in Kerala (loss of 383 years per 1 lakh population) in the high SDI State group and Andhra Pradesh (loss of 328 years) in the middle SDI State group.

Mental Healthcare Act,2017

  • The Mental Health Care Act,2017 seeks to ensure the rights of the person with mental illness to receive care and to live a life with dignity.
  • The act says that every person shall have a right to access mental health care and treatment from mental health services run or funded by the appropriate government.
  • It also assures free treatment to those who are homeless or below the poverty line
  • The Act empowers people with mental illness to make an advance directive that states how he/she wants to be treated for the illness and who his/her nominated representative shall be.
  • It envisages the establishment of Central Mental Health Authority and State Mental Health Authority.
  • Further,the Act says that mentally ill person shall not be subjected to electro-convulsive therapy without the use of muscle relaxants and anaesthesia.Further, electroconvulsive therapy cannot be used on minors.
  • The act also decriminalizes Section 309 for suicide.It states that whoever attempts suicide will be presumed to be under severe stress and shall not be punished for it.

10 . Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union


Context:-Russia is hopeful of India concluding a new Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union(EAEU).

About Eurasian Economic Union(EAEU)

  • The Eurasian Economic Union is an international organization for regional economic integration. It has international legal personality and is established by the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union.
  • The EAEU provides for free movement of goods, services, capital and labor, pursues coordinated, harmonized and single policy in the sectors determined by the Treaty and international agreements within the Union.
  • The Member-States of the Eurasian Economic Union are the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Russian Federation.
  • The Union is being created to comprehensively upgrade, raise the competitiveness of and cooperation between the national economies, and to promote stable development in order to raise the living standards of the nations of the Member-States.

Structure & Governance of EAEU

  • Supreme Eurasian Economic Council : The Supreme Council, which is composed by the heads of state of the member states, makes important decisions for the union. It approves the budget and the distribution of the contribution of the Member States.
  • Eurasian Economic Commission : The Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) is the permanent regulatory body of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). It started work on February 2, 2012. The main purpose of the Eurasian Economic Commission is ensuring the functioning and development of the EAEU, and developing proposals for the further development of integration. The most important feature of the Commission lies in the fact that all decisions are based on a collegial basis. The Eurasian Economic Commission consists of two bodies: the Council and the Board.
    • Council : The council is composed of the Vice Prime Ministers of the member states. The council of the Commission oversees the integration processes in the Union, and is responsible for the overall management of the Eurasian Commission.
    • Board :  The Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission consists of 10 members (2 Members (Minister) from each Member State), one of whom is the Chairman of the Commission Board.
  • Court of the Eurasian Economic Union : The Court of the Eurasian Economic Union replaced the Court of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC Court) in 2015. It is in charge of dispute resolution and the interpretation of the legal order within the Eurasian Economic Union. Its headquarters is in Minsk

11 . Bar-Headed Goose 


Context :-Bar-headed goose,a rare goose species was sighted in the wetlands of Karingali Puncha in Kerala.

About Bar-headed goose

  • IUCN conservation status: Least Concern
  • Bar-headed goose (Anser Indicus) is found in central China and Mongolia and they breed there.
  • They start migration to the Indian sub-continent during the winter and stay here till the end of the season.
  • They return to their homes by crossing the Himalayan ranges.
  • Their migration has been a fascination for birders as they cross the Himalayas on one of the most high-altitude migrations in the world.

12 . Facts for Prelims


Why Banks cannot cut deposit rates beyond a threshold

  • Banks cannot go beyond a threshold to bring down interest rates on deposits as India lacks social security schemes and likewise cannot lend at lower rates to corporates as the risk of default is too high.

Hard Soft and Medium Schools

  • Arunachal Pradesh will soon have schools marked ‘hard’, ‘soft’ and ‘medium’. Geography, lack of infrastructure and reluctance of teachers to work beyond their comfort zones are the reasons for this categorisation
  • The Education Department has been facing difficulties in posting 16,594 regular teachers in remote areas where schools have adequate students, but hardly anyone to teach them.
  • Under the new policy, all government schools will be divided into three categories — hard, medium and soft — based on topography, accessibility and degrees of difficulty in staying at the place of posting. “All new recruits will be given a hard posting for a mandatory three years, inclusive of their probation period. The next five years will be in schools with levels of medium difficulty, followed by posting in soft schools

Chillai Kalan

  • The traditional 40-day period of harshest winter in Kashmir known in the local parlance as ‘Chillai-Kalan
  • Chillai-Kalan is followed by  a 20-day-long period called ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) that occurs between January 31 and February 19 and a 10-day-long period ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold) which is from February 20 to March 2.

National Farmers Day

  • National Farmers Day is celebrated on 23rd December to commemorate the birth anniversary of the 5th Prime Minister of India, Choudhary Charan Singh. 
  • Choudhary Charan Singh was the chief architect of land reforms in U.P.; he took a leading part in formulation and finalisation of the Dept. Redemption Bill 1939, which brought great relief to rural debtors. It was also at his initiative that the salaries and other privileges enjoyed by Ministers in U.P. were drastically reduced.
  • As Chief Minister of UP he was instrumental in bringing about the Land Holding Act 1960 which was aimed at lowering the ceiling on land holdings to make it uniform throughout the State.
  • The NABARD-National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development was established during his term.
  • He was the author of several books and pamphlets, including ‘Abolition of Zamindari’, ‘Co-operative Farming X-rayed’, ‘India’s Poverty and its Solution’, ‘Peasant Proprietorship or Land to the Workers’ and ‘Prevention of Division of Holdings Below a Certain Minimum’.

Space Force

  • Following concerns that China and Russia are challenging its position in space, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act on Friday — which created a new branch of the U.S. military.
  • The Space Force will be the sixth formal force of the U.S. military, after the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.
  • It will be comprised of about 16,000 air force and civilian personnel, some already taking part in the Space Command, according to Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett.

Sarvatra Kavach 

  • It is a bulletproof jacket that can provide protection against various ammunition including that of sniper rifles. It provides protection from neck to ankle and upper arms.
  • An Indian Army Major has been awarded Design Bureau Excellence Award by the Army Chief for indigenously developing Sarvatra bulletproof jacket.

Modernization of Railways

  • Ministry of Railways announced that Indian Railways is set to receive modern signaling systems.
  • The project improves safety, line capacity allowing trains to run at higher speeds.
  • The modernisation of the signalling system will include implementation of technologies such as the automatic train protection (ATP) system that helps in adhering to permissible speed limits without driver intervention and 4G-based mobile train radio communication system (MTRC) which will can be used for emergency communications.
  • The implementation of these new systems will improve safety, reduce congestion, increase line capacity and improve punctuality
  • Besides a centralised traffic control system similar to the air traffic control system, a remote diagnostic and predictive maintenance system will be implemented.
  • RailTel will be the nodal agency to implement the project on behalf of Indian Railways.
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