Daily Current Affairs: 10th December 2021

Topics covered

  1. Places of Worship Act
  2. Blackbox
  3. Question hour and Zero hour
  4. Facts for Prelims
  5. Places in News

1. Places of Worship Act

Context: Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election in early 2022, Harnath Singh Yadav, BJP MP, called for the repeal of the Places of Worship Act to construct a Krishna temple in Mathura. He is the second BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh to make this demand in the winter session of Parliament.

What is the law about?

  • Passed in 1991 by the P V Narasimha Rao-led Congress government, the law seeks to maintain the “religious character” of places of worship as it was in 1947 — except in the case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, which was already in court.


  • When the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute was at its height, in the early 1990s, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other Hindu organisations also laid claim to two other mosques — the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and the Shahi Idgah in Mathura.
  • Although the radicals in the Hindu camp often spoke of reclaiming 3,000 mosques across the country, they threatened to start agitations only in respect to these two places of worship.
  • In this backdrop, the P.V. Narasimha Rao government enacted, in September 1991, a special law to freeze the status of places of worship as they were on August 15, 1947.
  • The law kept the disputed structure at Ayodhya out of its purview, mainly because it was the subject of prolonged litigation.
  • It was also aimed at providing scope for a possible negotiated settlement.

Objective of the Act

  • The aim of the Act was to freeze the status of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947.
  • It was also to provide for the maintenance of the religious character of such a place of worship as on that day.
  • It was intended to pre-empt new claims by any group about the past status of any place of worship and attempts to reclaim the structures or the land on which they stood.
  • It was hoped that the legislation would help the preservation of communal harmony in the long run.

Main features

  • The Act declares that the religious character of a place of worship shall continue to be the same as it was on August 15, 1947.
  • It says no person shall convert any place of worship of any religious denomination into one of a different denomination or section.
  • It declares that all suits, appeals or any other proceedings regarding converting the character of a place of worship, which are pending before any court or authority on August 15, 1947, will abate as soon as the law comes into force. No further legal proceedings can be instituted.
  • However, there is an exception to the bar on instituting fresh proceedings with regard to suits that related to conversion of status that happened after August 15, 1947. This saves legal proceedings, suits and appeals regarding chance of status that took place after the cut-off date.
  • These provisions will not apply to ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains that are covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958; a suit that has been finally settled or disposed of; and any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.
  • The Act does not apply to the place of worship commonly referred to as Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. 

Penal provision in the Act

  • Anyone who defies the bar on conversion of the status of a place of worship is liable to be prosecuted.
  • The Act provides for imprisonment up to three years and a fine for anyone contravening the prohibition.
  • Those abetting or participating in a criminal conspiracy to commit this offence will also be punished to the same extent, even if the offence is not committed in consequence of such abetment or as part of the conspiracy.

What does it say about Ayodhya, and what else is exempted?

  • Section 5 says: “Act not to apply to Ram Janma Bhumi Babri Masjid. Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the place or place of worship commonly known as Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid situated in Ayodhya in the State of Uttar Pradesh and to any suit, appeal or other proceeding relating to the said place or place of worship.”
  • Besides the Ayodhya dispute, the Act also exempted:
    • any place of worship that is an ancient and historical monument or an archaeological site, or is covered by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958;
    • a suit that has been finally settled or disposed of;
    • any dispute that has been settled by the parties or conversion of any place that took place by acquiescence before the Act commenced.

Why is the law under challenge?

  • The law has been challenged on the ground that violates secularism.
  • It is also argued that the cut-off date of August 15, 1947 is “arbitrary, irrational and retrospective” and prohibits Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs from approaching courts to “re-claim” their places of worship which were “invaded” and “encroached” upon by “fundamentalist barbaric invaders”.
  • The BJP had opposed the law even when it was introduced, arguing that the Centre has no power to legislate on “pilgrimages” or “burial grounds” which is under the state list. However, the government had said it could make use of its residuary power under Entry 97 of the Union List to enact this law.
  • Entry 97 confers residuary powers to the Centre to legislate on subjects that are not enumerated in any of the three lists.
  • Another criticism against the law is that the cut-off is the date of Independence, which means that status quo determined by a colonial power is considered final.

2 . Blackbox

Context : The Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder of the IAF chopper that crashed with CDS Gen. Bipin Rawat and others were recovered on Thursday. page 8

What are black boxes?

  • The black boxes, which are actually two orange metallic boxes containing the recorders, date back to the early 1950s, when, following plane crashes, investigators were unable to arrive a conclusive cause for the accidents and deemed it necessary to install the said recorders on aircraft. In the initial days of the black box, the information was recorded on to a metal strip, which was then upgraded to magnetic drives succeeded by solid state memory chips

Why are black boxes important to an air crash investigation?

  • Most aircraft are required to be equipped with two black boxes — the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) — that record the information about a flight and help reconstruct the events leading to an aircraft accident.
  • While the CVR records radio transmissions and other sounds in the cockpit such as conversations between the pilots and engine noises, the flight data recorder records more than 80 different types of information such as altitude, airspeed, flight heading, vertical acceleration, pitch, roll, autopilot status etc.

How do the black boxes survive the crash?

  • The recording devices are stored inside a unit that is generally made out of strong substances such as steel or titanium and are also insulated from factors such as extreme heat, cold or wetness. To protect these black boxes, they are equipped towards the tail end of the aircraft – where usually the impact of a crash is the least.
  • There have been cases where planes have crashed into water bodies. To make black boxes discoverable in situations where they are under water, they are equipped with a beacon that sends out ultrasound signals for 30 days. However, in certain cases – like the Malaysian Airlines MH370 flight – the recorders aren’t found despite all the redundancies.

How soon will the analysis from the black boxes be available?

  • It usually takes at least 10-15 days to analyse the data recovered from the black boxes. Meanwhile the investigators will be looking for other clues such as taking accounts from air traffic control personnel and recordings of the conversation between ATC and the pilots moments before the crash. This will help the investigation team understand if pilots were aware that they were in a situation that was headed to such an eventuality and if so, whether they had reported any problems regarding controlling the aircraft.
  • Additionally, the investigators will also be looking at various data recorders at the airport, which would tell them about the precise point of touchdown on the runway and the speed at which the aircraft touched down

3 . Question Hour & Zero Hour

What is Question Hour, and what is its significance?

  • Question Hour is the liveliest hour in Parliament. It is during this one hour that Members of Parliament ask questions of ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries. The questions that MPs ask are designed to elicit information and trigger suitable action by ministries.
  • Over the last 70 years, MPs have successfully used this parliamentary device to shine a light on government functioning. Their questions have exposed financial irregularities and brought data and information regarding government functioning to the public domain. With the broadcasting of Question Hour since 1991, Question Hour has become one the most visible aspects of parliamentary functioning.
  • Asking questions of the government has a long history in our legislative bodies. Prior to Independence, the first question asked of government was in 1893. It was on the burden cast on village shopkeepers who had to provide supplies to touring government officers. 

And what is Zero Hour?

  • While Question Hour is strictly regulated, Zero Hour is an Indian parliamentary innovation. The phrase does not find mention in the rules of procedure.
  • The concept of Zero Hour started organically in the first decade of Indian Parliament, when MPs felt the need for raising important constituency and national issues.
  • During the initial days, Parliament used to break for lunch at 1 pm. Therefore, the opportunity for MPs to raise national issues without an advance notice became available at 12 pm and could last for an hour until the House adjourned for lunch. This led to the hour being popularly referred to as Zero Hour and the issues being raised during this time as Zero Hour submissions.
  • Over the years, presiding officers of both Houses have given directions to streamline the working of Zero Hour to make it even more effective. Its importance can be gauged from the support it receives from citizens, media, MPs and presiding officers despite not being part of the rulebook.

4. Facts for Prelims

Bird flu

  • Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans. 
  • Also called: H5N1, avian influenza
  • This type of flu is most often contracted by contact with sick birds.
  • It can also be passed from person to person.
  • Symptoms begin within two to eight days and can seem like the common flu.
  • Cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache and shortness of breath may occur.
  • The disease can carry a high mortality in humans. Some antiviral drugs, if taken within two days of symptoms, may help.


  • COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by the GAVI vaccine alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations(CEPI), and the World Health Organization(WHO) alongside key delivery partner UNICEF. .
  • Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

Algo training

  • Algo trading is also known as  Algorithmic trading, is a method of executing orders using automated pre-programmed trading instructions accounting for variables such as time, price, and volume.
  • Algorithmic trading(automated trading, black-box trading, or simply algo trading)  is the process of using computers programmed to follow a defined set of instructions for placing a trade in order to generate profits at a speed and frequency that is impossible for a human trader.
  • While you can build your own algorithm and deploy it to generate buy or sell signals, Manual intervention is needed for placing orders as full automation is not permitted for retail traders.
  • Capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) floated a consultation paper on regulatory framework for algorithmic trading (algo trading) by retail investors to make such trading safe and prevent market manipulations.

5 . Places in News

Chamundi Hills

  • The Chamundi Hills are located 13 km east of Mysore, Karnataka, India.
  • The name comes from the Chamundeshwari Temple at the peak.
  • The average elevation is 1,060 metres (3,480 ft).
  • The Chamundeshwari Temple is located atop the Chamundi Hills. Patronised for centuries by Mysore rulers, it was renovated during the time of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1827).

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