Daily Current Affairs : 12th and 13th July

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. National Intelligence Grid
  2. China – Iran Agreement
  3. Direct Seeding Technique
  4. Forest fires and their effect on carbon emissions
  5. Hagia Sophia
  6. Forest fires and their effect on carbon emissions
  7. COVID 19 specific Memory T-Cells
  8. Facts for Prelims

1 . National Intelligence Grid

Context: The National Intelligence Grid has signed an MoU with the National Crime Records Bureau to access the centralised online database on FIRs and stolen vehicles.

Details of the MoU

  • The MoU, signed in March, will give NATGRID access to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems database, a platform that links around 14,000 police stations.
  • The MoU will enable the NATGRID get information about details of a suspect as mentioned in the FIR such as his/her father’s name, telephone number and other details.
  • The MoU does not violate any legal provisions as FIRs are shared with all the police station


  • NATGRID is an integrated intelligence grid which will connect databases of core security agencies
  • It is an ambitious counter terrorism programme, which will utilise technologies like Big Data and analytics to study and analyse the huge amounts of data from various intelligence and enforcement agencies to help track suspected terrorists and prevent terrorist attacks.
  • It was first conceptualised in 2009 in the wake of 2008 Mumbai attacks. The project aims to go live by December 31, 2020.
  • It is formed with an aim to collect comprehensive patterns of intelligence that can be readily accessed by intelligence agencies. It will be a medium for at least 10 Central agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) to access data on a secured platform.
  • State police will not be part of NATGRID and they could directly contact the airlines or railways for information
  • The data will be procured by NATGRID from 21 providing organisations such as the telecom, tax records, bank, immigration etc.
  • It will be an automated system and the request will land directly with the concerned department. No two agencies would know about the request generated by the other.


  • NATGRID aims to mitigate a vital deficiency — lack of real time information, which was considered to be one of the major hurdles in detecting US terror suspect David Headley’s movement across the country during his multiple visits between 2006 and 2009. Without NATGRID police rely on harsh and coercive means to extract information
  • Entire history of the suspect will be available before agency. For instance, the identification of mobile number, his current status, bank balance, his travel destination will be known by click of the button
  • As per the present arrangement, the security agencies directly contact an airline or a telephone company if they are on a suspect’s trail. The data is shared through international servers such as Google etc. The NATGRID will ensure that such information is shared through a secure platform, safeguarding it from leaks. Once NATGRID is operational, all agencies will have to route their requests through the secured platform

About Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS)

  • Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) is a plan scheme conceived in the light of experience of a non-plan scheme namely – Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA).
  • CCTNS is a Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) of Govt. of India.
  • CCTNS aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing through adopting of principle of e-Governance and creation of a nationwide networking infrastructure for evolution of IT-enabled-state-of-the-art tracking system around ‘Investigation of crime and detection of criminals’.
  • The objectives of the Scheme can broadly be listed as follows:
    • Make the Police functioning citizen friendly and more transparent by automating the functioning of Police Stations.
    • Improve delivery of citizen-centric services through effective usage of ICT.
    • Provide the Investigating Officers of the Civil Police with tools, technology and information to facilitate investigation of crime and detection of criminals.
    • Improve Police functioning in various other areas such as Law and Order, Traffic Management etc.
    • Facilitate Interaction and sharing of Information among Police Stations, Districts, State/UT headquarters and other Police Agencies.
    • Assist senior Police Officers in better management of Police Force
    • Keep track of the progress of Cases, including in Courts
    • Reduce manual and redundant Records keeping

Benefits of CCTNS

  •  Benefits to Police Department
    • Enhanced tools for investigation.
    • Centralized crime and criminal information repository along with the criminal images and fingerprints with advanced search capabilities.
    • Enhanced ability to analyze crime patterns and/ or modus operandi
    • Enhanced ability to analyze road incidents and other accidents.
    • Faster turnaround time for the analysis results (criminal and traffic) to reach the officers on the field.
    • Reduced workload for the police stations back-office activities such as preparation of regular and ad-hoc reports and station records management.
    • A collaborative knowledge-oriented environment where knowledge is shared across different regions and units.
    • Better co-ordination and communication with external stakeholders through implementation of electronic information exchange systems.
  • Benefits to Ministry of Home Affairs (NCRB)
    • Standardized means of capturing the crime and criminal data across the police stations in the country.
    • Faster and easier access to crime and criminal information across the country in a manner amenable for trend and pattern analysis.
    • Enhanced ability to detect crime patterns through modus operandi across the States/UTs and communicate to the state police departments for aiding in crime prevention.
    • The ability to respond faster and with greater accuracy to inquiries from the parliament, citizens and citizens groups; and to RTI queries.
    • Easy and low-cost scalability of crime and criminal systems in the future.
  • Benefits to Citizens
    • Multiple channels to access services from police.
    • Simplified process for registering petitions.
    • Simplified process for accessing general services such as requests for certificates, verifications, and permissions.
    • Simplified process and accurate means of tracking the progress of the case during trials.
    • Simplified and accurate access to view/report unclaimed/recovered vehicles and property.
    • Simplified process and channel for grievance registration.
    • Improved relationship management for victims and witnesses.
    • Faster and assured response from police to any emergency calls for assistance.
  • Benefits to external departments
    • Seamless integration with police systems for better citizen service delivery and improved law enforcement.
    • Quick exchange of accurate information with the police department.

2 . China – Iran Agreement

Context: Iran and China have drafted a sweeping economic and security partnership which would undercut U.S. efforts to isolate the Tehran government

About the news

  • The partnership was first proposed by China’s leader, Xi Jinping, during a visit to Iran in 2016 and was approved by President Hassan Rouhani’s Cabinet in June.
  • Economic and security partnership would clear the way for billions of dollars of Chinese investments in energy and other sectors
  • It vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects. In exchange, China would receive a regular — and, according to an Iranian official and an oil trader, heavily discounted — supply of Iranian oil over the next 25 years.
  • The document also describes deepening military cooperation, potentially giving China a foothold in a region that has been a strategic preoccupation of the United States for decades. It calls for joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development and intelligence sharing — all to fight “the lopsided battle with terrorism, drug and human trafficking and cross-border crimes.

Implication for India

  • China has also stepped up military cooperation with Iran. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has visited and participated in military exercises at least three times, beginning in 2014. If Iran gives access to the Chinese in the Chabahar port region, it does not bode well for India, as it will clearly hamstrings India’s regional ambitions as well as access to Afghanistan, India has been using the port to circumvent Pakistan and establish a secure trade route.  
  • The Iran deal for China is of great significance in the post-US Taliban deal. The scenario in Afghanistan is fluid and it cannot be ascertained as to in which direction its relationship with India is going to be impacted. India had not been part of the talks between the Taliban and the stakeholders in Afghanistan despite having sizable investments in post-war Afghanistan. This has made India vulnerable to the changing power dynamics within the country, and with the China factor in play, it may appear that may lose influence in another neighborhood country to its Asian rival.  
  • China in the past had competed with India for a foothold on the Chabahar project, but now it seems they will prevail as Indian response to the project has been lackluster and India’s own relations with the US has had its fallout on the India-Iran relations and lately, it has been a cause of concern in the bilateral relationship. The silence of Iran in the ongoing border dispute between India and China also point out the changing dynamics between the two countries.

3 . Direct seeding of rice (DSR) technique

Context : Labour shortage following an exodus of migrant labourers amid the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown forced farmers to plant paddy using direct seeding of rice (DSR) technique this summer (kharif season), moving away from the traditional ‘transplanting’ practice

About Transplanting Seedlings

  • In normal transplanting farmers prepare nurseries where the paddy seeds are first sown and raised into young plants.
  • These seedlings are then uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main “puddled” field by 3-4 labourers. In the first 3-4 weeks after transplanting, the plants have to be irrigated almost daily (if there are no rains) to ensure water depth of 4-5 cm.
  • Even for the next 4-5 weeks, when the crop is in the tillering (stem development) stage, farmers continue to irrigate every 2-3 days.
  • Water prevents the growth of weeds by denying them oxygen in the submerged stage. Water, in other words, acts as an herbicide for paddy.

About Direct Seeding of Rice Technique

  • DSR refers to the process of establishing a rice crop from seeds sown in the field rather than by transplanting seedlings from the nursery.In DSR, there is no nursery preparation or transplantation.
  • Paddy seeds are, instead, directly drilled into the field by a tractor-powered machine.
  • In DSR, water is replaced by real chemical herbicides and it does not need flood irrigation, and the first irrigation is done 21 days after sowing, leading to huge water saving.
  • Direct seeding can be done by sowing of pre-germinated seed into a puddled soil (wet seeding) or standing water (water seeding) or prepared seedbed (dry seeding).
  • DSR is recommended in medium to heavy textured soil, like sandy loam, clay loam, silt loam, and loam, and Punjab has 87 per cent such soil type.

Advantages of DSR

  • Direct seeded crops require less labor and tend to mature faster than transplanted crops.
  • In this method, plants are not subjected to stresses such as being pulled from the soil and re-establishing fine rootlets. However, they have more competition from weeds.
  • Saves irrigation water
  • Reduces emission of greenhouse-gases.
  • Direct seeding helps to improve the soil structure which otherwise gets destroyed by continous puddling and thus provides congenial environment for succeeding crops.
  • Farmers and agricultural experts say that large scale use of DSR to plant paddy could solve the staggering problem of stubble burning, a key cause of air pollution across the northern region as crops. The DSR crop gets mature 7-10 days faster than with transplantation. It will provide more time to prepare the field to sow the next winter crop. With sufficient time between harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat, there would be no need for farmers to set the stubble on fire.

4 . Forest fires and their effect on carbon emissions

Context: A recent study published in Science of the Total Environment used remote sensing-based models to measure the primary productivity over an area and also looked at burn indices.

Forest Fires Definition

  • Forest Fires-Forest fire may be defined as an unclosed and freely spreading combustion that consumes the natural fuels. When a fire burns out of control it is known as Wild Fire


Forest fires in India

  • During 2003–2017, a total of 5,20,861 active forest fire events were detected in India.
  • According to a report of the Forest Survey of India, over 54% of the forest cover in India is exposed to occasional fire.

Key Findings of the study

  • According to the study the States of northeast India, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand are the most fire­prone in India.
  • Previous studies using forecasting models and in-situ observations in western Himalaya had shown a sharp increase of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and ozone during high fire activity periods.
  • The current study showed very high to high carbon emissions in the eastern Himalayan states, western desert region, and lower Himalayan region.
  • Occurrence of high fire intensity at the low altitude Himalayan hilly region may be due to the plant species (pine trees) in the area and proximity to villages. Also, villages make them more susceptible to anthropogenic activities like forest cover clearance, grazing, and so on.
  • Causes of increased episodes of forest fires in most Asian countries is attributed to the sharp increase in average and maximum air temperature, decline in precipitation, change in land use patterns.

What is normalized burn ratio?

  • The normalized burn ratio is an effective burn index commonly used to identify burnt regions in large fire zones.
  • In normal conditions in a forest, healthy vegetation exhibits a very high reflectance in the near ­infrared spectral region and considerably low reflectance in the shortwave infrared spectral region.
  • These conditions get dismantled and reversed if a fire occurs.

What is the use of burn indices?

  • Burn indices help to demarcate the forest fire burn scars using satellite imagery. This can be a promising tool for land resource managers and fire officials
  • The spectral differences between healthy vegetation and burnt forest areas can easily be identified and highlighted by remote sensing burn indices.

5 . Hagia Sophia

Context : Turkey’s highest court this week convened to decide whether Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia museum can be turned into a mosque. The court’s ruling is likely in two weeks.

About Hagia Sophia

  • Hagia Sophia is a 1,500-year-old monument important both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires.
  • It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in the year 1985.

Construction of Hagia Sophia?

  • The construction of this iconic structure in Istanbul started in 532 AD during the reign of Justinian I, the ruler of the Byzantine Empire, when the city was known as Constantinople.
  • The structure was originally built to become the seat of the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church and remained so for approximately 900 years.
  • In 1453, when Constantinople fell to Sultan Mehmet II’s Ottoman forces, the Hagia Sophia was ransacked by the invading forces and turned into a mosque shortly after.
  • The structure of the monument was then subjected to several interior and exterior changes where Orthodox symbols were removed or plastered upon and minarets were added to the exterior of the structure. For a long time, the Hagia Sophia was Istanbul’s most important mosque.
  • In 1934, Atartuk ordered that the Hagia Sophia be converted into a museum. It opened to the public in 1935.

Why is Greece objecting to the conversion of Hagia Sophia?

  • The controversy surrounding the Hagia Sophia comes at a time when there have been diplomatic tensions between Turkey and Greece over other issues. In May this year, Greece objected to the reading of passages from the Quran inside the Hagia Sophia on the 567th anniversary of the Ottoman invasion of the former Byzantine capital, another instance of disagreement between the two countries regarding the conversion of the Hagia Sophia.
  • Greece’s Foreign Ministry had issued a statement saying this move was a violation of UNESCO’s ‘Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’. Greece had said the Hagia Sophia had “been designated a museum of world cultural heritage and is currently being used to promote other purposes”. Turkey responded by saying that Greece’s objections to the reading of passages from the Quran were indicative of its “intolerant psychology”.
  • According to observers, the view among some within Turkey’s political circles is that the status of the Hagia Sophia is a domestic matter where the interference of “international players” is not welcome.

6 . Churachandpur Mao Fault and the Mat Fault

Context : Mizoram’s zone of “scary” earthquakes is caught between two subterranean faults, a geologist assigned to make a preliminary study on the frequent tremors said.

About the News

  • Mizoram experienced at least eight moderate earthquakes between June 21 and July 9. The tremors ranged from 4.2 to 5.5 on the Richter scale.
  • The epicentre of most of these quakes was beneath Champhai district bordering Myanmar, including the last one of magnitude 4.3 and about 10 kilometres deep. A few were beneath the adjoining Saitual and Serchhip districts.
  • Mizoram’s zone of “scary” earthquakes is caught between two subterranean faults.
  • Earthquakes have happened and will happen in this part of Mizoram because it is caught between two geological faults- Churachandpur Mao Fault and the Mat Fault.


  • Faults are discontinuities or cracks that are the result of differential motion within the earth’s crust. Vertical or lateral slippage of the crust along the faults causes an earthquake.

Churachandpur Mao Fault & Mat fault

  • The Churachandpur Mao Fault is named after two places in Manipur and runs north-south into Myanmar along the border of Champhai.
  • The Mat Fault runs northwest-southeast across Mizoram, beneath river Mat near Serchhip.
  • There are also several shallower transverse or minor faults in between these two major faults that are deeper. The earthquakes are believed to have been caused by these minor faults.

7 . COVID-19-specific memory T cells

Context:  Unexposed people may have COVID-19-specific memory T cells

About Memory T-cells

  • T lymphocytes play a central role in protecting human beings against intracellular pathogens or tumor antigens that requires T-cell mediated immune responses.
  • T cells, in particular CD8+ T cells, can be activated to kill cancer cells or infected cells after recognizing antigens.
  • CD8+ T cells are composed of 3 major subsets including naïve, effector and memory T cells.
    • Naïve T cells are the primary T cells that haven’t encountered pathogen before.
    • Effector T cells are developed from naïve T cells when exposed to antigens. Most effector cells will be removed through apoptosis after pathogen elimination to maintain immune balance.
    • However, a small portion of long-lived T cells still remains for rapid response upon pathogen re-exposure. This kind of cells is called memory T cells. Because memory T cells have been trained to recognize specific antigens, they will trigger a faster and stronger immune response after encountering the same antigen. This is how vaccines work to protect us against infection.

About the news

  • At least five studies have shown that people unexposed to and not infected with novel coronavirus may still exhibit T cell responses specific to this virus.
  • The studies found 20-50% of healthy people display novel coronavirus-specific memory T cells.
  • But whether the presence of pre-existing immunity from memory T cells offers clinical relevance — to protect or even harm people — when exposed to novel coronavirus is not known.

Reasons for Pre-existing T Cell immunity

  • An overwhelming percentage of adults are exposed to four different coronaviruses that cause common cold.
  • It is thought that SARS-CoV-2-specific T cell responses seen in healthy people might arise from memory T cells derived from exposure to ‘common cold’ coronaviruses.


  • “Pre-existing T cell immunity to SARS-CoV-2 could be relevant because it could influence COVID-19 disease severity.
  • It is plausible that people with a high level of pre-existing memory CD4+ T cells that recognize novel coronavirus could mount a faster and stronger immune response upon exposure to the virus and thereby limit disease severity
  • T cells could “potentially facilitate an increased and more rapid neutralizing antibody response” against the virus.

Drawbacks of preexisting immunity

  • There is a possibility that pre-existing T cell memory might influence vaccination outcomes. Pre-existing immunity could help elicit better immune responses against novel coronavirus, and these responses can manifest faster. Meanwhile, pre-existing immunity could be mistaken as enhanced efficacy of the vaccine in eliciting immune responses.
  • This could be particularly confusing in Phase-1 trials where the vaccine is tested on a small group of healthy participants. “This could be avoided by considering pre-existing immunity as a variable in trial design.
  • The pre-existing immunity can also reduce the immune responses that the vaccine causes through a mechanism called the “original antigenic sin”.
  • It can also lead to antibody-mediated disease enhancement, where antibodies present at sub-neutralising concentrations can actually augment virus infection and cause more severe disease.

8 . Facts for Prelims

Ranjit Sub-1 and Bahadur Sub-1

  • Ranjit Sub-1 and Bahadur Sub-1 are rice varieties developed to get better yields under submerged conditions ie they are flood resistant

India’s tiger census of 2018 sets a Guinness world record

  • India’s tiger census of 2018 has set a Guinness record for being the world’s largest camera-trap wildlife survey.
  • The fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation 2018 counted 2,967 tigers, which is about 75% of the global tiger population.
  • It was the most comprehensive to date, in terms of both resource and data amassed
  • Camera traps (outdoor photographic devices fitted with motion sensors that start recording when an animal passes by) were placed in 26,838 locations across 141 different sites and surveyed an effective area of 1,21,337 sq.km.
  • From the photographs captured, 2,461 individual tigers (excluding cubs) were identified using stripe-pattern-recognition software

Psoriasis & Itolizumab

  • Psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes skin cells to multiply up to 10 times faster than normal. This makes the skin build up into bumpy red patches covered with white scales. They can grow anywhere, but most appear on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back
  • Biocon Biologics has received an emergency use authorisation (EUA) for its monoclonal antibody Itoliuzumab from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to treat cytokine storms – one of the leading causes of death among patients with severe covid-19. Itolizumab was launched in 2013 to treat moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis.
  • Cytokines are signalling substances, such as interferon, interleukin, and others, which are released by the immune system in response to a viral activity. It has been observed that the novel coronavirus infection, in certain cases, causes an overproduction of cytokines, which can lead to excessive inflammation, organ failure and eventually death.

Assam keelback

  • The Assam keelback snake has been sighted by a team from the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, for the first time since 1869. Assam keelback snake was spotted in 2018 by zoologist Abhijit Das in the Assam region.
  • It was first known as Hebius pealii but was later named after Edward Peal, a British tea planter who first collected two specimens of this snake from upper Assam, 129 years ago.
  • The Assam keelback is so far known only to inhabit Sivasagar in Upper Assam and Poba in Assam-Arunachal border.
  • It is an endemic snake of Upper Assam.
  • This snake belongs to the genus Herpetoreas, which has only three other known members, and not Hebius.
  • The male and female may differ in morphological characters.

Disabled are entitled to same benefits of SC/ST quota

  • The decision by the Justice Nariman Bench came on a petition filed by Aryan Raj, a special needs person represented by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, and advocate Rajan Mani, against the Government College of Arts, Chandigarh.
  • The college denied Mr. Raj relaxation in minimum qualifying marks in the Painting and Applied Art course. The college insisted that disabled persons too need to meet the general qualifying standard of 40% in the aptitude test, whereas SC/ST candidates were given a relaxation to 35%.
  • Setting aside the college decision, the Supreme Court noted that Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates require 35% to pass in the aptitude test, the same shall apply so far as the disabled are concerned in future.”
  • SC has upheld the HC order stating that persons with disabilities are also socially backward and entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates in public employment and education

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