Daily Current Affairs : 16th and 17th August 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Report on chemical industry’s infrastructure shortcomings
  2. Key announcements made by Prime Minister on the occasion of 74th Independence Day
  3. Minimum age of marriage for women
  4. National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)
  5. Blackhole
  6. Study on role of T cell immunity in preventing recurrent severe COVID-19 disease
  7. HELIX (Hypothermia for Encephalopathy in Low and middle-income countries)
  8. Suo-motu contempt power of Supreme Court
  9. 6th Schedule status for Arunachal Pradesh
  10. Official Languages Act
  11. Saliva Test
  12. PM-CARES fund & RTI
  13. Facts for Prelims

1 . Report on chemical industry’s infrastructure shortcomings

Context: Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) has released a report on chemical industry’s infrastructure shortcomings

About Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC)

  • As per the recommendation of Technology Policy Implementation Committee (TPIC) in 1985, Cabinet approved the formation of TIFAC in mid 1986 and TIFAC was formed as a registered Society in February, 1988 under the Department of Science and Technology as an autonomous body.
  • It was mandated to assess the state-of-art of technology and set directions for future technological development in India in important socio-economic sectors. 
  • As a unique knowledge network institution in India, TIFAC activities encompass a wide array of technology areas and fill a critical gap in the overall S&T system of India.
  • The organization has carried out technology foresight exercise, facilitated and supported technology development; prepared technology linked business opportunity reports and implemented mission-mode programmes.
  • Mandate
    • To obtain from appropriate sources and project the estimates of the nature and quantum of the likely demands of goods and services in various sectors of the economy against 10 and 25 years’ time-frames on the basis of a) ‘normative’, and (b) ‘exploratory’ approaches and to suggest the direction and extent of technological changes that might be considered necessary in order to fulfill these demands in the light of the existing or anticipated resource base of the country. 
    • To prepare Technology Impact Statements, with a view to uncovering the likely implications and consequences, both desirable and undesirable, of the existing as well as newly emerging technologies upon society, indicating to decision-makers, through generation of future-oriented scenarios, their short-term and long-term implications. 
    • Based on the T.I.F. & A. Studies and with a view to – (a) ensuring timely availability of requisite technologies relevant to the needs of the country on futuristic basis and minimizing the time gap between the development of new technologies and their utilization and (b) establishing a purposeful linkage between technology development and technology import policies, to identify priority areas of research in relation to the socio-economic, environmental and security needs of the country; to evolve and suggest strategies for technological developments based on such priorities; and to draw up programmes of purposeful research in various sectors.
    • In order to fulfill the above objectives, to devise and set up suitable Information Collection, Analysis and Programming groups.

About the Report

  • The report was commissioned in March, around the time the pandemic had started to accelerate in the country.
  • The report underlined that India had nearly stopped manufacturing several key active pharmaceutical ingredients (API).

Findings of the Report

  • According to the report, the lack of infrastructure in the chemical industry in the country is a barrier to competing with China.
  • The report states that India does not have the technology, plants and infrastructure to manufacture (key) chemicals in a cost effective and less polluting manner
  • In India, the manufacturers are unable to meet the price at which they are produced by China. Solvent and chemicals manufacturing costs in India are over 15% more than China.
  • India is almost “entirely dependent” on China for chloroquine and hydroxycholoroquine (HCQ).
  • TIFAC study also stated that the share of Indian bulk drugs and intermediates in the total pharmaceutical export mix reduced to 20% in 2018 from 42% in 2008.
  • India has given up the manufacturing of APIs for ascorbic acid, aspartame and antibiotics like rifampicin, doxycycline, tazobactam acid and even steroids.
  • Production of intermediates such as atorvastatin, chloroquine, gabapentin, ciproflocaxin, cephalosporins, immunosuppressants have also been stopped.
  • India depends on China for 67% of chemical intermediates and API that it needs to manufacture drugs and export.
  • The United States and Italy are the other countries that India depends on for API.

What is an API? 

  • It is a chemical compound that is the most important raw material to produce a finished medicine.
  • In medicine, API produces the intended effects to cure the disease. For instance, Paracetamol is the API for Crocin and it is the API paracetamol that gives relief from body ache and fever.
  • Every medicine is made up of two main ingredients — the chemically active APIs and chemically inactive, excipients, which is a substance that delivers the effect of APIs to one’s system.
  • Fixed-dose combination drugs use multiple APIs, while single-dose drugs like Crocin use just one API.

How an API is manufactured? 

  • API is not made by only one reaction from the raw materials but rather it becomes an API via several chemical compounds. The chemical compound which is in the process of becoming an API from raw material is called an intermediate.
  • There are some APIs that pass through over ten kinds of intermediates in a process when it changes from being a raw material into an API. The long manufacturing process is continued until it is purified and reaches a very high degree of purity.
  • An API manufacturer first develops the chemical compound in a laboratory. Later, the production department manufactures high quantity of APIs using large reactors. It is then checked for purity before selling it to drug-makers.
  • If an API is not ultra-pure, medicine cannot meet the strict quality criteria. So the quality of an API plays a very important role

How India lost its API market to China?

  • During the early 90s, India was self-reliant in manufacturing APIs. However, with the rise of China as a producer of API, it captured the Indian market with cheaper products and it eventually led to high economies of scale for China.
  • When China entered the market, it started selling APIs, which were 40 per cent cheaper than Indian APIs. But with an increase in the cost of labour in China, Chinese APIs are now cheaper by 20 per cent than Indian APIs.
  • The industry was backed by the low cost of capital followed by aggressive government funding models, tax incentives. Their cost of operation is one-fourth of India’s cost. Even the cost of finance in China is 6-7 per cent against India’s 13-14 per cent
  • So, due to low-profit margins and non-lucrative industry, Indian pharma companies over the years stopped manufacturing APIs.
  • Hence Indian firms started importing APIs, which was a cheaper option, and increased profit margins on drugs.
  • Not just APIs, India even stopped producing materials used to manufacture APIs, which are called intermediates.

Will problem solve if India starts producing its own APIs? 

  • We cannot increase the production of APIs to an extent where we end up matching the economies of scale generated by Chinese units. Our cost of production for API will be higher, which in turn would hamper the export competitiveness of the products
  • We need to match the prices offered by Chinese firms. For this, we need to invest phenomenally high in API manufacturing so that the buyers of Chinese APIs move towards India
  • The other alternatives for buying APIs, when China is unable to supply, are the US, Singapore, Italy and Hong Kong.

2 . Key announcements made by Prime Minister on the occasion of 74th Independence Day

Coronavirus Vaccine

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that there were three vaccine candidates against the COVID-19 at various stages of trial in India and whenever any of these become viable for use, the government will ensure its production and distribution in the shortest possible time.

Menstrual Health

  • The Prime Minister talked of menstrual health and said 5 crore sanitary pads priced at ₹1 had been distributed through 6,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras spread across the country.

Optical Fibre Connectivity

  • Optical fibre connectivity for all villages in India will be done in the next 1,000 days as education and other services had gone digital during the pandemic.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the expansion of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) across the border areas of the country.
  • This move will not only aid those areas with a trained manpower during troubles, but will also help the youth build a career in the armed forces.
  • India will prepare approximately one lakh NCC cadets across 173 border and coastal districts, a third of which would be women.
  • “Border areas’ cadets will be trained by the Army, cadets in coastal areas will be trained by the Navy and where there are air bases, cadets there will be trained by the Air Force.

“Make in India” but to also “Make for the World”.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday urged Indians to work towards a ‘Atmanirbhar’ Bharat or self-reliant India, and said that the country should strive towards bringing down its import bill and consume more locally manufactured products.
  • Reiterated the call for India to ‘Make for the world’

3 . Minimum age of marriage for women

Context : Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the central government has set up a committee to reconsider the minimum age of marriage for women .


  • Currently, the law prescribes that the minimum age of marriage as 21 years and 18 years for men and women respectively.
  • The minimum age of marriage is distinct from the age of majority which is gender-neutral. An individual attains the age of majority at 18 as per the Indian Majority Act, 1875.

About the committee

  • On June 2, the Union Ministry for Women and Child Development set up a task force to examine matters pertaining to age of motherhood, imperatives of lowering Maternal Mortality Ratio and the improvement of nutritional levels among women.
  • The task force will examine the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood with health, medical well-being, and nutritional status of the mother and neonate, infant or child, during pregnancy, birth and thereafter.
  • It will also look at key parameters like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Total Fertility Rate (TFR), Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) and Child Sex Ratio (CSR), and will examine the possibility of increasing the age of marriage for women from the present 18 years to 21 years

Why is there a minimum age for marriage?

  • The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevent the abuse of minors. Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
  • For Hindus, Section 5(iii) of The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom. However, child marriages are not illegal — even though they can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage.
  • In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.
  • Additionally, sexual intercourse with a minor is rape, and the ‘consent’ of a minor is regarded as invalid since she is deemed incapable of giving consent at that age.

How did the law evolve?

  • The Indian Penal Code enacted in 1860 criminalised sexual intercourse with a girl below the age of 10.
  • The provision of rape was amended in 1927 through The Age of Consent Bill, 1927, which declared that marriage with a girl under 12 would be invalid. The law faced opposition from conservative leaders of the Indian National Movement, who saw the British intervention as an attack on Hindu customs.
  • A legal framework for the age of consent for marriage in India only began in the 1880s.
  • In 1929, The Child Marriage Restraint Act set 16 and 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for girls and boys respectively. The law, popularly known as the Sarda Act after its sponsor Harbilas Sarda, a judge and a member of Arya Samaj, was eventually amended in 1978 to prescribe 18 and 21 years as the age of marriage for a woman and a man respectively.

Why is the legal age of marriage different for men and women?

  • There is no reasoning in the law for having different legal standards of age for men and women to marry. The laws are a codification of custom and religious practices. The Law Commission consultation paper has argued that having different legal standards “contributes to the stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands”.
  • Women’s rights activists have argued that the law also perpetuates the stereotype that women are more mature than men of the same age and, therefore, can be allowed to marry sooner.
  • The international treaty Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also calls for the abolition of laws that assume women have a different physical or intellectual rate of growth than men.
  • The Commission recommended that the minimum age of marriage for both genders must be set at 18. “The difference in age for husband and wife has no basis in law as spouses entering into a marriage are by all means equals and their partnership must also be of that between equals,” the commission noted.

Why is the law being relooked at?

  • From bringing in gender-neutrality to reduce the risks of early pregnancy among women, there are many arguments in favour of increasing the minimum age of marriage of women. Early pregnancy is associated with increased child mortality rates and affects the health of the mother.
  • Despite laws mandating minimum age and criminalising sexual intercourse with a minor, child marriages are very prevalent in the country.
  • Last year, the Delhi High Court also sought the central government’s response in a plea that sought a uniform age for marriage for men and women. The public interest litigation was filed by advocate and Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya.

What are the grounds on which the law was challenged?

  • Upadhyaya, the petitioner in this case, had challenged the law on the grounds of discrimination. He argued that Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to equality and the right to live with dignity, were violated by having different legal ages for men and women to marry.
  • Two significant Supreme Court rulings can act as precedents to support the petitioner’s claim.
    • In 2014, in the ‘National Legal Services Authority of India v Union of India’ case, the Supreme Court, while recognising transgenders as the third gender, said that justice is delivered with the “assumption that humans have equal value and should, therefore, be treated as equal, as well as by equal laws”.
    • In 2019, in ‘Joseph Shine v Union of India’, the Supreme Court decriminalised adultery, and said that “a law that treats women differently based on gender stereotypes is an affront to women’s dignity”.

How common are child marriages in India?

  • A report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on July 2 said that while child marriages were almost universally banned, “yet they happen 33,000 times a day, every day, all around the world”.
  • An estimated 650 million girls and women alive today were married as children, and by 2030, another 150 million girls under the age of 18 will be married. Although advances in India have contributed to a 50 per cent decline in child marriage in South Asia—to 30 per cent in 2018, the region still accounts for the largest number of child marriages each year, estimated at 4.1 million in 2017, the report said.
  • In India, an analysis of child marriage data show that among girls married by age 18, 46 per cent were also in the lowest income bracket.
  • UNICEF estimates suggest that each year, at least 1.5 million girls under the age of 18 are married in India, which makes the country home to the largest number of child brides in the world — accounting for a third of the global total. Nearly 16 per cent adolescent girls aged 15-19 are currently married.

4 . National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

Context : As part of his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that “a new campaign” would begin called the NDHM.

About NDHM

  • The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) aims at “liberating” citizens from the challenges of finding the right doctors, seeking appointment, paying consultation fee and making several rounds of hospitals for prescription sheets.
  • Under this, every Indian will get a Health ID card.
  • The National Health Authority (NHA), the attached office of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare which runs the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, would “design, build, roll-out and implement the NDHM”.
  • The NDHM would be a voluntary programme to reduce the gap among stakeholders, such as doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers, by connecting them in an integrated digital health infrastructure.
  • The core building blocks of NDHM such as Health ID, Digi-Doctor and Health Facility Registry shall be owned, operated and maintained by the Government of India. The core activities and verifications, for example, generation of Health ID or approval of a doctor/facility shall remain with the government.”
  • Private stakeholders will have an equal opportunity to integrate with these building blocks and create their own products.

What is a digital health ID?

  • A 14-digit serial number will be generated for each individual. The card will store immunisation details, surgeries, laboratory tests, hospitals visited, pharmacies, medical purchases, etc.
  • The card will be accessible through an app or a website. It will be password-protected and would need the permission of the individual for a “one-time” limited-period access by doctors.
  • It is like a digi-locker for all medical and healthcare-related details of an individual, right from birth.

Access to data

  • The data will be automatically stored in a government cloud-based access system.
  • However, officials have said that access to medical records will be restricted to individuals and even the government will not have access to this data. Ownership of the data shall lie only with the person, the Centre seems to suggest.

Pilot project

  • In its first phase, the mission will begin in Union territories such as Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Ladakh and Puducherry.

5 . Fifty years ago, when the black hole whispers were first plotted

Context: In August 1970, in a paper in Nature, relativist C. V. Vishveshwara first published a calculation and plot of the signal that would be given out by a single perturbed back hole.

About the news

  • The signal was the disturbance, or gravitational wave, that would emerge from a black hole when it was hit by a bunch of radiation.
  • It implied that when a black hole is struck, it gives off a sound like a wooden bell.

What is Quasi-normal mode?

  • The signal generated from the back hole when it is hit by a bunch of radiation is known as the quasi-normal mode.
  • In contrast with a normal mode, which can be a sine wave, which consists of a train of waves of the same amplitude (or height), this wave form looks like a wave of high amplitude followed by a series of waves with diminishing amplitude.

How is a solitary black hole observed?

  •  A solitary black hole can be observed through scattering of radiation, provided the black hole left its finger print on the scattered wave.

6 . Study on role of T cell immunity in preventing recurrent severe COVID-19 disease

Context: Natural exposure or infection with the novel coronavirus may “prevent recurrent episodes of severe COVID-19”, a paper published in Cell says. This is because, once infected with SARS-CoV-2, the immune system elicits “robust, broad and highly functional memory T cell responses”.

About the Research

  • The study was published by a team led by Marcus Bugger from Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Findings of the study

  • Study found SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells even in family members who have been exposed to the virus but have tested negative on antibody blood tests.
  • SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells were also seen in convalescent individuals with a history of asymptomatic infection and mild COVID-19 disease.
  • The study found that all categories of people whether recovered from moderate or severe COVID-19 disease, or in the convalescent phase after mild or severe disease or exposed family members or healthy people exhibited “robust memory T cell responses months after infection, even in the absence of detectable circulating antibodies specific for SARS-CoV-2.
  • Similar memory T cell responses were detected which was directed against the internal and surface proteins (membrane and/or spike) of the virus in some people in whom SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies could not be detected. This indicates a previously unanticipated degree of population-level immunity against COVID-19. This also implies that seroprevalence as an indicator may underestimate the extent of immunity in the population
  • The phenotype of the memory T cells during the acute phase of infection was different from the convalescent phase SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells, which were “polyfunctional and displayed a stem-like memory”.
  • The SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells also acquired an early differentiated memory phenotype in the convalescent phase, which gives the T cells stem-like properties characterised by extensive proliferation and polyfunctionality.
  • Even as antibodies wane with time, robust T cell memory formed after SARS-CoV-2 infection suggests that “potent adaptive immunity is maintained to provide protection against severe re-infection
  • Team also  too found pre-existing cross-reactive memory T cell against spike or membrane proteins in 28% of the unexposed healthy blood donors. The pre-existing cross-reactive memory T cells are from previous exposures to common cold coronaviruses, and the biological relevance remains unclear. “But it is tempting to speculate that such responses may provide at least partial protection against SARS-CoV-2, and different disease severity

Limitations of the study

  • As it is a small study with limited clinical follow-up, it is not known if robust memory T cell responses, when circulating antibodies can be detected, can indeed lead to protection against severe COVID-19 disease.
  • However, both 2002 SARS and MERS have been able to induce potent memory T cell responses that persist even when antibody responses wane.

7 . HELIX (Hypothermia for Encephalopathy in Low and middle-income countries).

Context : A new blood test has been designed to identify if a newborn baby deprived of oxygen at birth is at risk of developing neurological disabilities later.

About the Research

  • An international team that has designed a new blood test to identify if a newborn baby deprived of oxygen at birth is at risk of developing neurological disabilities later. Such babies are known to have trouble in learning and hearing, low IQ, and even develop cerebral palsy.
  • Study was part of a trial called HELIX (Hypothermia for Encephalopathy in Low and middle-income countries). The study is being carried out in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, where the researchers examine the use of whole-body cooling in oxygen-deprived babies.

Details of the Research

  • The team collected blood samples soon after birth from 47 babies in India who experienced this oxygen deprivation and studied their gene activity.
  • They identified 855 genes that were “switched on or off” at the time of birth in the babies who had neurological disability later, compared to those who did not. They point out two genes named RGS1 and SMC4 which were the most significant.
  • By identifying babies that have a different gene activity soon after birth, we can track down [those]who will have adverse outcomes and need specific care.
  • This is a preliminary study and tests on larger cohorts are essential. The results suggest that such blood profiling may be a promising rapid and cheap tool in developing and underdeveloped countries,

Therapeutic hypothermia or cooling

  • In India, after prematurity and infection, lack of oxygen to the brain is the cause of neonatal mortality or death within 28 days of birth. In Western countries, this therapeutic hypothermia or cooling is well documented and is even the standard care for such babies
  • “Newborn babies’ body temperature is usually at 36.5 to 37.5 degrees Celsius. But in this treatment, they are wrapped in a small blanket of 33.5 degrees Celsius for 72 hours and gradually rewarmed. We are still studying if this method will work in our country and can help reduce mortality and neurological damage. The results are yet to be published,

8 . Suo Motu Contempt Power of Supreme Court

Context : The prior consent of the Attorney General (AG) of India is not required to suo motu initiate the inherent contempt powers of the Supreme Court.

About the the Judgement

  • A three-judge Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra held that the suo motu contempt powers of the top court is drawn from Article 129 of the Constitution, which says the Supreme Court, as a court of record, has the power to punish for contempt of itself.
  • The Contempt of Court Act of 1971 cannot limit this power of the court. The statute only provides the procedure in which such contempt is to be initiated.
  • As far as the suo motu petitions are concerned, there is no requirement for taking consent of anybody, including the Attorney General because the court is exercising its inherent powers to issue notice for contempt. It is equally well settled, that once the court takes cognisance, the matter is purely between the court and the contemnor
  • It said the only requirement is that the procedure followed is required to be just and fair and in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

9 . 6th Schedule status for Arunachal Pradesh

Context: The Arunachal Pradesh government on Friday formed a nine-member committee to discuss and arrive at a possible solution to the touchy issue of creation of two autonomous councils in the State. The political groups of Arunachal Pradesh are calling for bringing the entire Arunachal Pradesh under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule or Article 371 (A) of the Constitution.

About the Panel

  • The panel headed by Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein has seven Cabinet colleagues, including Home Minister Bamang Felix and Tribal Affairs Minister Alo Libang, as members. The ninth member is Home Commissioner Kaling Tayeng.
  • The committee, an official order said, has been tasked with consulting all the community-based organisations “on the issues related to constitutional safeguards for the indigenous people of the State” and submit a report.

About the issue

  • Larger ethnic groups such as the Nyishi and Galo inhabiting the central parts of Arunachal Pradesh expressed concern over the bid to revive the demands for Mon Autonomous Region (MAR) and Patkai Autonomous Council (PAC).
  • MAR envisages autonomy for the western part of Arunachal Pradesh comprising Tawang, West Kameng and parts of East Kameng districts.
  • PAC encompasses three eastern districts – Tirap, Changlang and Longding – where various factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) are active.
  • The 60-member Arunachal Pradesh Assembly had in 2004 adopted a resolution for the creation of MAR and PAC that anti-autonomy groups say are being backed by external forces.
  • While MAR is seen as an “encouragement for China” to be more vocal about claims over Arunachal Pradesh, the Isak-Muivah faction of NSCN is believed to be fuelling the PAC movement to eventually make it a part of Greater Nagalim or the sovereign Naga homeland.

Why 6th Schedule demand

  • Arunachal Pradesh is placed under the Fifth Schedule that does not provide special rights for the indigenous communities unlike the Sixth Schedule.
  • Inclusion of the state under the Sixth Schedule would enable the state to own the legitimate ownership rights over its own natural resources and make it self sufficient without having to depend too much on central grants
  • Arunachal Pradesh is placed under Article 371H which other than giving overriding powers to the governor of the state is silent on various issues like the rights of the indigenous people over their land, water and forest
  • The Sixth Schedule currently includes 10 autonomous district councils in four northeastern States Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.

The Sixth Schedule

  • The Sixth Schedule consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution. 
  • Passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, it seeks to safeguard the rights of tribal population through the formation of Autonomous District Councils (ADC).
  • ADCs are bodies representing a district to which the Constitution has given varying degrees of autonomy within the state legislature.   
  • Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
  • The governors of these states are empowered to reorganise boundaries of the tribal areas. In simpler terms, she or he can choose to include or exclude any area, increase or decrease the boundaries and unite two or more autonomous districts into one. They can also alter or change the names of autonomous regions without a separate legislation.  
  • The ADCs are empowered with civil and judicial powers.

Autonomous District Council

  • 243M (1) of the Indian constitution made special provision that nothing in the part IX of the constitutions (provisions for creating Panchayat) shall apply to the Scheduled Areas referred to in clause (1) (5th Schedule), and the tribal areas referred to in clause (2), of the Article 244 (6th Schedule)
  • The Sixth Schedule makes provision that these tribal areas will be autonomous districts and be governed by Autonomous District Councils
  • Tribal areas in state of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura & Mizoram have been constituted as autonomous districts (i.e. falls under the executive authority of state concerned)
  • There shall be a District Council consists of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage. 
  • The elected members of the District Council shall hold office for a term of five years from the date appointed for the first meeting of the Council after the general elections to the Council, unless the District Council is sooner dissolved under paragraph 16 and a nominated member shall hold office at the pleasure of the Governor:

Powers of the Governor with regard to District Councils

  • If there are different Scheduled Tribes in an autonomous district, the Governor may, by public notification, divide the area or areas inhabited by them into autonomous regions
  •  The Governor may by public notification :
    • Include any area in any of the Parts of the table in schedule
    • exclude any area in any of the parts of the table in schedule
    • create a new autonomous district
    • increase the area of any autonomous district
    • diminish the area of any autonomous district
    • alter the name of any autonomous district,
    • define the boundaries of any autonomous district
  • The Governor shall make rules for the first constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils in consultation with the existing tribal Councils or other representative tribal organisations within the autonomous districts or regions concerned, and such rules shall provide for :
    • the composition of the District Councils and Regional Councils and the allocation of seats therein;
    • the delimitation of territorial constituencies for the purpose of elections to those Councils;
    • the qualifications for voting at such elections and the preparation of electoral rolls therefor;
    • the qualifications for being elected at such elections as members of such Councils;
    • the term of office of members of Regional Councils
    • any other matter relating to or connected with elections or nominations to such Councils;
    • the procedure and the conduct of business (including the power to act notwithstanding any vacancy) in the District and Regional Councils;
    • the appointment of officers and staff of the District and Regional Councils

Functions of ADCs as defined in schedule 6

The District and the Regional Councils have the power to make laws with respect to :

  • the allotment, occupation or use, or the setting a part of land. other than land under a reserved forest, for the purpose of agriculture, or grazing, or for residential or other non-agricultural purpose or any other purpose likely to promote the interests of the inhabitantof any village or town;
  • Management of unclassed state forests;
  • The use of any canal, or water course for the purpose of agriculture
  • The regulation of the practice of jhum or other forms of shifting cultivation;
  • The establishment of village or town committees or councils and determination of their powers;
  • Any other matter relating to town or village administration including town or village police, and public health and sanitation;
  • The appointment or succession of chiefs or headmen;
  • The inheritance of property;
  • Marriage and divorce,
  • Social customs
  • All laws shall be submitted forthwith to the Governor and, until assented to by him, shall have no effect.
  • The district council also have power to make regulation with regard to :
    • Regulation and control of trade and money lending by non-tribe within the limits of administrative
    • Regulation and control of primary education, dispensaries, markets, cattle pounds, ferries, fisheries, roads, road transport & water ways within their jurisdiction
    • For the levy and collection of any of the taxes entrusted to them

Act of State Legislature and District Council

  • The legislative power of the district council assume wider importance by the fact that in respect of subjects specifically entrusted to the district councils, no act of the state legislature apply to the autonomous districts unless otherwise directed by the district council concerned and with such exception and modification as the latter may determine.
  • Meghalaya : This privilege is however denied to district council of Meghalaya where the law passed by the State legislature have a precedence over law passed by the district council. Paragraph 12A after being substituted by the North Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971 provides that if any law or regulation made by the District or Regional Council under paragraph 3, 8 or 10 is repugnant to the law made by the Meghalaya Legislature, then the law or regulation made by the District or Regional Council, to the extent of repugnancy be void and the law made by the State Legislature shall prevail. With respect to Acts of Parliament, the power of President to issue notification directing that the any Act will not apply to Meghalaya was retained.
  • Governor has the power to notify whether an act of state legislature applies or not to a district council.
  • The President may, with respect to any Act of Parliament, by notification, direct that it shall not apply to the autonomous district or an autonomous region in the State, or shall apply to such district or region or any part thereof, subject to such exceptions or modifications as he may specify in the notification and any such direction may be given so as to have retrospective effect

Main Revenue Sources of ADCs

  • taxes on professions, trades, callings and employment
  • taxes on animal, vehicles and boats
  • taxes on the entry of goods into a market and sale therein, and tolls on passenger and goods carried on ferries
  • taxes for the maintenance of school, dispensaries or roads.

10 . Official Languages Act

Context: Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde has said that the government should consider amending the Official Languages Act of 1963 to include more vernacular languages in governance, and not just confine it to Hindi and English.

About the news

  • The Delhi HC in a previous order of June 30 had asked the central government to translate the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) notification of 2020 into all 22 vernacular languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Union of India challenging the legality of a Delhi High Court judgment.

Constitutional issues in the case

  • As per the petitioner high court had not taken into consideration, including that the Constitution did not provide for official communications to be sent out in 22 vernacular languages.
  • The Union could use English and Hindi for official purposes. These two languages were used for communication between States and between the Centre and the States.
  • The Official Languages Act and its Rules of 1973 also required English and Hindi for press communiqués, government orders, Rules, etc.

What will be the impact of amending the Official languages Act of 1963?

  • By amending the Official Languages Act and including more vernacular languages the rural population of the country will be made a part of the governance.
  • It will ensure maximum public participation in the governance process.

Constitutional provisions

  • The Official Languages Act and its Rules of 1973 also required English and Hindi for press communiqués, government orders, Rules, etc.
  • Part XVII of the Indian constitution deals with the official languages in Articles 343 to 351.
  • Article 343 (1) of the Constitution of India states “The Official Language of the Union government shall be Hindi in Devanagari script”.
  • Article 343(2) also provided for continuing the use of English in official work of the Union for a period of 15 years (i.e., up to 25 January 1965) from the date of commencement of the Constitution
  • Article 343(3) empowered the parliament to provide by law for continued use of English for official purposes even after 25 January 1965.
  • Article 344(1) provides for the constitution of a Commission by the President on expiration of five years from the commencement of the Constitution.
  • Article 351 provides for the spread of the Hindi language to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.
  • The Official Languages Act, 1963: An Act to provide for the languages which may be used for the official purpose of the Union, for transaction of business in Parliament, for Central and State Acts and for certain purposes in High Courts.

The 8th Schedule to the Constitution consists of the following 22 languages

  • The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India lists the official languages of the Republic of India. As per Articles 344(1) and 351 of the Indian Constitution, the eighth schedule includes the recognition of the following 22 languages
  • Of these languages, 14 – Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani,  Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit – were initially included in the Constitution.
  • Sindhi language was added by the 21st Amendment Act of 1967.
  • Konkani, Manipuri, and Nepali were included by the 71st Amendment Act of 1992.
  • Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali were added by the 92nd Amendment Act of 2003.

11 . Saliva test

Context: A new rapid diagnostic test- Saliva Direct for the novel coronavirus that uses saliva samples was granted an emergency use authorisation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

About Saliva Direct

  • Test uses Saliva as samples, as opposed to the more invasive nasopharyngeal swabs.
  • It was developed by a team from the Yale School of Public Health who partnered with the National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association.

Significance of the test

  • It will be an inexpensive test costing between $1.29-4.37 per sample
  • It has high sensitivity and can detect the virus even when the number of virus copies in the saliva sample is as low as 6-12 copies per microlitre. The sensitivity of the new test was about 93%
  • The new saliva test would increase efficiency and avoid shortage of crucial test components such as reagents.
  • As the saliva samples are taken from just inside the mouth provided it greater detection sensitivity and consistency throughout the course of an infection
  • The new test makes sample collection non-invasive and reduces the need for trained healthcare workers to collect the samples, reducing the risk of infection during collection.
  • Saliva samples are a viable alternative to nasopharyngeal swabs and could allow for at-home, self-administered sample collection for accurate large-scale SARS-CoV-2 testing
  • The saliva sample can be collected in any sterile container. The diagnostic test also does not require the use of preservatives at sample collection and even does not require specialised reagents or equipment for nucleic acid extraction.

Procedure of Saliva Direct Test

  • Collecting and testing saliva samples involves three steps — collecting saliva without preservative buffers, proteinase K treatment and heat inactivation, and dualplex RT-qPCR virus detection.

Issues with tests using nasopharyngeal swabs

  • The tests using nasopharyngeal swabs lead to false-negative results due to errors at the time of sample collection.
  • The collection of a nasopharyngeal sample requires a swab to be inserted into the back of the nostrils which very often causes irritation, leading to sneezing and coughing and thus exposing healthcare workers to the virus.
  • Collecting nasopharyngeal samples can also be uncomfortable and can discourage  people from getting tested.

12 . PM-CARES fund & RTI

Context: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has denied a Right to Information (RTI) request related to the PM-CARES Fund on the grounds that providing it would “disproportionately divert the resources of the office.

About the news

  • An RTI activist had filed an RTI request asking for the number of RTI applications related to PM-CARES and the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Response by PMO on the RTI request

  • PMO responded that the information sought is not maintained in that office in compiled form.
  • PMO also stated that its collection and compilation would disproportionately divert the resources of the office from the efficient discharge of its normal functions, thereby attracting the provisions under Section 7(9) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Section 7(9) of the RTI Act

  • It says “an information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought unless it would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority or would be detrimental to the safety or preservation of the record in question.”


  • The move has been criticized by the Central Information Commission (CIC) as misuse of Section 7(9) by the PMO.
  • According to the judgment by the Kerala High Court in 2010, Section 7(9) does not exempt any public authority from disclosing information. It only gives discretion to the public authority to provide the information in a form other than the form in which the information is sought.

13 . Facts for Prelims

Operation Hidden Idol

  •  US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI)  had launched a massive ‘Operation Hidden Idol’ to investigate looting rare antiquities from several nations worth tens of millions of dollars.

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