Daily Current Affairs : 13th and 14th September

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. K2-18B
  3. Jan Soochna Portal-2019
  4. Uniform Civil Code
  5. Faceless Income Tax Assessment Scheme
  6. Odd – Even Scheme
  7. Facts for Prelims : Pangong Lake, Salmonella, Tejas, Small finance Banks

1 . K2 18B

Context : Astronomers have for the first time discovered water in the atmosphere of an exoplanet with Earth-like temperatures that could support life as we know it.

About K2-18B

  • About 110 light years from Earth, an exoplanet eight times the mass of Earth orbits a star. Called K2-18b, it was discovered in 2015 by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.
  • It resides in a habitable zone — the region around a star in which liquid water could potentially pool on the surface of a rocky planet.

About recent Discovery

  • Now, scientists have found signatures of water vapour in the atmosphere of K2-18b. That makes it the only planet orbiting a star outside the Solar System that is known to have both water and temperatures that could support life.
  • The discovery of water vapour is not the final word on the possibility of life. For one thing, K2-18b’s size and surface gravity are much larger than Earth’s. Its radiation environment, too, maybe hostile.
  • K2-18b is not ‘Earth 2.0’ as it is significantly heavier and has a different atmospheric composition.
  • The researchers used 2016-17 data from the Hubble Space Telescope and developed algorithms to analyse the starlight filtered through K2-18b’s atmosphere. The results revealed the molecular signature of water vapour, also indicating the presence of hydrogen and helium in the planet’s atmosphere


Context : The ambitious National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) project wants to link social media accounts to the huge database of records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details among others.


  • NATGRID 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.
  • In other words NATGRID is an integrated intelligence grid which will connect databases of core security agencies
  • NATGRID’s data sources include records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and financial transactions and telecommunications.
  • NATGRID, which was formed with an aim to collect comprehensive patterns of intelligence that can be readily accessed by intelligence agencies, will link 10 user agencies with certain databases that would be procured from 21 organisations.
  • The agencies concerned include the Intelligence Bureau, local police and revenue and customs departments.
  • 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


  • 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


  • Main allegation is that the whole process invades the privacy of citizens
  • The NATGRID project had earlier faced opposition from intelligence agencies as they felt it would impinge on their territory and possibly result in leaks on the leads they were working on to other agencies.
  • The efficiency of the project was questioned as no state agency or police force has access to its database.

3 . Jan Soochna Portal-2019

Context : Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot launched a “Jan Soochna Portal” aimed at easing the access to information for the beneficiaries of welfare schemes. 


  • The portal has been created by the Department of Information Technology and Communication(DoIT&C) in collaboration with civil society.
  • It realises the true intent behind Section 4(2) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005. In essence, this section requires public authorities to proactively — that is, suo moto — disclose information so that beneficiaries do not have to run from pillar to post trying to figure out what went wrong and how to set it right.

About the Portal

  • At present, the portal has information about 23 government schemes and services from 13 departments which the public can access with just one click on their computers, mobiles or kiosks installed in villages.
  • The portal aims to create a streamlined system for public information to prevent anomalies and corruption.
  • Information about several schemes such as Ayushman Bharat Mahatma Gandhi Rajasthan Swasthya Bima Yojana, which provides free health insurance to beneficiaries has been uploaded to ensure that there is no mismatch between the amount listed as an expense by a hospital while treating a patient and the money it actually charges.
  • The launch of the portal is likely to result in centralising information about government schemes on one website and prove beneficial to the public by obviating the need to go through a tedious RTI application process to know more.


  • The state currently has a network of around 68,500 e-mitra kiosks in villages that connect villagers to a number of state-run beneficiary schemes.
  • The government has announced that it is also developing a mobile app and will install self-service portals in villages so that people can access the Jan Soochna Portal easily and get the information they require.

4 . Uniform Civil Code

Context : The Supreme Court said the nation has still not endeavoured to secure for its citizens a Uniform Civil Code. The government has till date taken no action, a Bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose observed in a judgment delivered.


  • The Lex Loci Report of October 1840- It stressed the importance and necessity of uniformity in the codification of Indian law, relating to crimes, evidence and contract. But, it also recommended that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims should be kept outside such codification.
  • The Queen’s 1859 Proclamation- It promised absolute non-interference in religious matters.
  • So while criminal laws were codified and became common for the whole country, personal laws continue to be governed by separate codes for different communities.
  • Post independence UCC was included under Directive Principle of State Policy

About Uniform Civil Code

  • It is the idea that all citizens, irrespective of faith, should be governed by the same set of laws in ‘personal’ affairs such as marriage, divorce, succession and inheritance, and adoption. Currently, each religion has its own set of personal laws.
  • Article 44 of the Constitution says, “The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.” It is a Directive Principle of State Policy, not mandatory, but a directive towards a desirable end.
  • Personal Laws include : Marriage,Divorce, Adoption, Inheritance, Succession & Maintenance

Argument for Uniform Civil Code

  • The inconsistency in personal laws has been challenged on the touchstone of Article 14, which ensures the right to equality. Litigants have contended that their right to equality is endangered by personal laws that put them at a disadvantage.
  • A uniform civil code will help in integrating India more than it has ever been since independence. A lot of the animosity is caused by preferential treatment by the law of certain religious communities and this can be avoided by a uniform civil code.
  • A uniform civil code means that all citizens of India have to follow the same laws whether they are Hindus or Muslims or Christians or Sikhs this will promote secularism
  • It can also reduce vote bank politics
  • It would address the discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise diverse cultural practices.
  • A uniform civil code will also help in improving the condition of women in India. 

Challenges in implementation

  • A move against Secularism : Secular character of India has been identified as part of the basic structure of the Constitution, and Article 25 guarantees the freedom to practise, profess and propagate any religion and UCC is seen as invasion into the secular character
  • Infringement of personal religious laws : A strong argument which goes against the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code is, the very idea of assimilating all the personal laws into a uniform code will infringe the constituents of personal laws of most of the minority religion. 
  • Authority to decide : How will the government decide what laws need to be reformed and what laws are good. It is necessary that govt formulate a code that is acceptable to all the communities.

Case Laws

  • The first prominent case founded was Shah Bano (1985) in this case husband gave an irrevocable talaq (divorce) to her which was his prerogative under Islamic law and took up the defence that since Shah Bano had ceased to be his wife and therefore he was under no obligation to provide maintenance for her as except prescribed under the Islamic law which was in total Rs. 5400. In this case Supreme Court ruled that a Muslim woman was entitled to alimony under the general provisions of the CrPC, like anybody else.
  • Following protests from Muslim leaders, Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1986 got the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act passed in Parliament, which nullified the ruling. The Act allowed maintenance to a divorced woman only during the period of iddat, or for 90 days after divorce, according to provisions of Islamic law, but in stark contrast to general provisions under the CrPC.
  • In Daniel Latifi vs Union of India (2001), the Supreme Court upheld the Act in so far as it confined the time period of maintenance to the iddat period, but held that the quantum of maintenance must be “reasonable and fair”, and therefore, last her a lifetime. In effect, the verdict did a balancing act between the Shah Bano judgment and the 1986 law.
  • In Githa Hariharan vs RBI (1999), the top court adjudicated upon the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 and the Guardian Constitution and Wards Act, on a petition claiming they violated Articles 14 by treating the father as the natural guardian of a child under all circumstances. The court held that the interest of the child was paramount, and that the letter of law would not override this aspect. It ushered in the principle of equality in matters of guardianship for Hindus, making the child’s welfare the prime consideration.
  • The Supreme Court examined the aspect uniformity again in two cases in 2015. The first pertained to seeking the court’s recognition to the Ecclesiastical Court, which operates under the Canon Law for Catholic Christians and not under India’s civil laws. The apex court was upset — wondering angrily whether India would remain secular in the present circumstances, and calling for stamping out religions from civil laws. This case remains pending.
  • In the second case, the court dealt with the issue of guardianship of a Christian unwed mother without the consent of the child’s father. While ruling in the woman’s favour, it said: “It would be apposite for us to underscore that our Directive Principles envision the existence of a uniform civil code, but this remains an unaddressed constitutional expectation.”

Goa’s Civil Code

  • Recently Supreme Court hailed the State of Goa as a “shining example” where “uniform civil code applicable to all, regardless of religion except while protecting certain limited rights”.
  • Under this Code practised in Goa, a Muslim man whose marriage is registered in the State cannot practice polygamy, a married couple share property equally, pre-nuptial agreements are the order of the day and assets are divided equally between the man and woman on divorce. A married person cannot sell the property without the consent of his/her spouse. The parents cannot disinherit their children entirely. At least half of their property has to be passed on to the children compulsorily. This inherited property must be shared equally among the children.

5 . Faceless Income Tax Assessment Scheme

Context : Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has notified the ‘e-assessment scheme’ to facilitate faceless assessment of income-tax returns through completely electronic communication between tax officials and taxpayers.

About the Scheme

  • Under the scheme, it is proposed that an “automated allocation system” will use an algorithm for randomised allocation of cases by using technological tools, including artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • The scheme has proposed creation of a national e-assessment centre, which will serve notices to assessees specifying issues for selection of their case for assessment and after a response is received from them within 15 days, the centre will allocate the case to an assessing officer using an automated system.
  • A person shall not be required to appear either personally or through authorised representative in connection with any proceedings under this scheme (e-assessment) before the income-tax authority at the National e-assessment Centre or Regional e-assessment Centre or any unit set up under this scheme
  • The scheme states that all communications between the National e-assessment Centre and the assessee, or his authorised representative, shall be exchanged exclusively by electronic mode; and even all the internal communications between the National e-assessment Centre, Regional e-assessment Centres and various units shall be exchanged exclusively by electronic mode.

Procedure for e-assessment in brief

The assessment under this Scheme shall be made as per the following procedure:

  • The National e-Assessment Centre shall serve a notice on the assessee under sub-section (2) of section 143, specifying the issues for selection of his case for assessment;
  • The assessee may, within fifteen days from the date of receipt of notice file his response to the National e-assessment Centre ;
  • The National e-assessment Centre shall assign the case selected for the purposes of e-assessment under this Scheme to a specific assessment unit in any one Regional e-assessment Centre through an automated allocation system;
  • The assessment unit shall, while making draft assessment order, provide details of the penalty proceedings to be initiated therein, if any;
  • The National e-assessment Centre shall examine the draft assessment order in accordance with the risk management strategy specified by the Board.

6 . Odd- Even Scheme

About Odd Even Scheme

  • Delhi rolled out a pollution control policy which adopted the odd-even rationing — a method in which access to some resources is restricted to half the population on any given day
  • In the odd-even scheme, vehicles whose registration number ends on even digits are allowed to ply on even dates like 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and so on. Similarly, vehicles having their registration numbers ending on odd digits, are allowed to ply on odd dates such as 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and so on.
  • Only odd-numbered cars were allowed on the roads between 8 am and 8 pm on odd days, whereas even-numbered cars were allowed in the same time on even days. The people who violated the rule were fined Rs. 2,000. Special arrangements like extra buses, a bike taxi service and increase in the metro frequency were made to make the plan successful. The road rationing system did not function on weekends.
  • In the previous two phases of the Odd-Even scheme, two-wheelers, women-only vehicles, CNG, hybrid and electric vehicles, emergency vehicles and VIPs were exempted from the scheme. Apart from the VIPs, politicians, Supreme Court judges and defence vehicles, single women drivers and women drivers with children below the age of 12 were also exempted. However, in the third phase which begins from November 13, only emergency vehicles will be exempted.


  •  A study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and Harvard University had found reductions in pollutants in the afternoon hours in Delhi from January 1 to 15. According to the study, PM 2.5 declined by 13 per cent on an average during the odd-even period.
  • A study “Evaluation of the effects of the 15-day odd-even scheme in Delhi: A preliminary report”, by researchers at Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme (TRIPP), IIT Delhi found vehicle speeds increasing from 11 am during the first phase of the scheme, maximum increase recorded was 9 per cent. Although average speed dipped marginally in some locations between 6am and 11am, the study also found high compliance with the rule.
  • A CPCB report told the NGT on April 21, while the second-phase of the scheme was ongoing, that “prime facie there is no data to suggest that odd-even scheme has any impact on decrease in vehicular pollution…the fluctuations in PM10 and PM2.5 is due to weather and change in wind patterns.
  • A study by Poverty Action Lab South Asia and supported by the International Growth Centre (IGC) comparing the two versions of the scheme found consistent impacts over both rounds: high compliance, decrease in congestion.

7 . Facts for Prelims

Pangong Lake

  • Pangon lake or Pangong Tso, is a salt water lake located in the Himalayas
  • It is an endorheic lake, it means the it has a limited drainage basin that normally retains water and allows no outflow to other external bodies of water, such as rivers or oceans, but converges instead into lakes or swamps, permanent or seasonal, that equilibrate through evaporation.
  • It is not a part of the Indus river basin area and geographically a separate landlocked river basin
  • It is a salt water lake.
  • Lake stretches out from India to China. One-third of water body, its 45 km stretch, is in Indian control while the rest of the 90 km is under Chinese control. The Line of Actual Control passes through the lake


  • Salmonella infection or salmonellosis is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. 
  • Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces.
  • Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food.
  • Salmonella bacteria are widely distributed in domestic and wild animals. They are prevalent in food animals such as poultry, pigs, and cattle, as well as in pets, including cats, dogs, birds, and turtles.
  • Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after contracting the infection.

Small Finance Bank

  • The Small Finance Bank (SFB) is a private financial institution intended to further the objective of financial inclusion by primarily undertaking basic banking activities of acceptance of deposits and lending to un-served and underserved sections including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganised sector entities, but without any restriction in the area of operations, unlike Regional Rural Banks or Local Area Banks.
  • Concept of small finance banks was also one of the recommendations in the 2009 Report – A Hundred Small Steps – of the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms headed by Dr. Raghu Ram Rajan.
  • Resident individuals/professionals with 10 years of experience in banking and finance and companies and societies owned and controlled by residents will be eligible to set up small finance banks. Existing Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), and Local Area Banks (LABs) that are owned and controlled by residents can also opt for conversion into small finance banks.
  • The minimum capital for SFBs is prescribed at Rs. 200 crore. Promoter should hold a minimum of 40% of the paid-up voting equity capital for five years. If the initial promoter shareholding is above 40%, it should be brought down to 40% within a period of five years, 30% within 10 years, and 15% in 15 years.
  • After the small finance bank reaches the net worth of Rs.500 crore, listing of its shares on a stock exchange will be mandatory within three years of reaching that net worth.
  • SFBs are full fledged banks in contrast to payments banks created around the same time. Hence, they are subject to all prudential norms and regulations of RBI as applicable to existing commercial banks like maintenance of Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) and Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR).
  • The target group of SFBs are similar to that of Local Area Banks. They are required to extend 75 per cent of its Adjusted Net Bank Credit (ANBC) to the sectors eligible for classification as priority sector lending (PSL) by the Reserve Bank. At least 50 per cent of its loan portfolio should constitute loans and advances of upto Rs. 25 lakh.


  • Tejas-Indian Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) together with its variants, is the smallest and lightest Multi-Role Supersonic Fighter Aircraft of its class.
  • This single engine, Compound-Delta-Wing, Tailless Aircraft is designed and developed by ADA with HAL as the principal partner along with DRDO, CSIR, BEL, DGAQA, IAF & IN to meet diverse needs of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy (IN).

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