Daily Current Affairs : 16th and 17th September

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Survey of India
  2. Periyar E.V. Ramasamy
  3. Climate Change and Banana Yield
  4. How waived loans impact states
  5. Public Safety Act
  6. Particulate matter emission trading
  7. Impact of oil Price rise
  8. Ancient DNA
  9. Gur & Amla, Diclofenac, Solomon Islands

1 . Survey of India

Context : India’s oldest scientific department, the Survey of India (SoI) — historically tasked with mapping the country — will for the first time rely on drones to map the country.

About Survey of India

  • Survey of India, The National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country under the Department of Science & Technology, is the Oldest Scientific department of India
  • It was set up in 1767 and has evolved rich traditions over the years. In its assigned role as the nation’s Principal Mapping Agency, Survey of India bears a special responsibility to ensure that the country’s domain is explored and mapped suitably, provide base maps for expeditious and integrated development and ensure that all resources contribute with their full measure to the progress, prosperity and security of our country
  • The history of the Survey of India dates back to the 18th Century. Forerunners of army of the East India Company and Surveyors had an onerous task of exploring the unknown. Bit by bit the tapestry of Indian terrain was completed by the painstaking efforts of a distinguished line of Surveyors such as Mr. Lambton and Sir George Everest.
  • It is a tribute to the foresight of such Surveyors that at the time of independence the country inherited a survey network built on scientific principles.

About the News

  • The aim is to map 75% of India’s geography— about 2.4 million sq km of the 3.2 million sq km — within the next two years.
  • The organisation aims to procure about 300 drones — so far about 30 have been sourced — for the gargantuan exercise. However forests, hills and deserts are likely to be left out.
  • As a prelude, the SoI, which is affliated to the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has signed agreements with 6 districts in Haryana, 2 in Karnataka and 2 in Maharashtra to undertake such drone-based mapping exercises. Every square kilometre mapped by drones will be encapsulated in 2500 pictures and thus be a trove of digital data.
  • A major consequence of the drone-based exercise will be the mapping of settled habitations in villages (called abaadi areas in legal parlance). Based on the availability of accurate maps, residents will finally be able to get property cards as well as proper legal titles to their lands

2 . Periyar EV Ramasamy

About EV Ramasamy

  • EV Ramasamy “Periyar” is considered as the pioneer of Dravidian Nationalism. Popularly known as Thanthai Periyar or Periyar, he is known for his self-respect movement and for founding Dravidar Kazhagam.
  • Periyar’s Kazhagam later resulted in the foundation of mainstream Tamil political parties like DMK and AIADMK. As per Tamil Nadu’s Information and Public Relation Department website, Ramasamy was also hailed as ‘Pagutharivu Paghalavan’.
  • Periyar held many honorary positions like president, secretary, vice-president etc in several public institutions, number of association of agriculturists, Devasthanam (Religious Trust), Sangeetha Sabha etc.
  • Periyar had joined Indian National Congress in 1920. He had a strong affinity towards Gandhi
  • Periyar resigned from the party in 1925, and associated himself with the Justice Party and the Self Respect Movement, which opposed the dominance of Brahmins in social life, especially the bureaucracy. The Justice Party had a decade earlier advocated reservation for non-Brahmins in the bureaucracy and, after coming to power in the Madras Presidency, issued an order to implement it.
  • He also started a weekly, “Kudiyarasu” (Republic).
  • Periyar’s fame spread beyond the Tamil region during the Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924, a mass movement to demand that lower caste persons be given the right to use a public path in front of the famous Vaikom temple. Periyar took part in the agitation with his wife, and was arrested twice. He would later be referred to as Vaikom Veerar (Hero of Vaikom).
  • The leader started writing extensively on issues like eradication of caste, re-marriage of widows, opposition of Orthodoxy and superstition. The title of “Periyar” was awarded to him in 1938 during the then Tamil Nadu Women’s Conference in Chennai.
  • In 1944, Periyar declared that Justice Party led by him would henceforth be known as the Dravidar Kazhagam, or “Dravidian Association”.


  • He stands for a politics that foregrounded social equality, self-respect, and linguistic pride. As a social reformer, he focused on social, cultural and gender inequalities, and his reform agenda questioned matters of faith, gender and tradition.
  • He asked people to be rational in their life choices. He argued that women needed to be independent, not mere child-bearers, and insisted that they be allowed a equal share in employment.
  • The Self Respect Movement he led promoted weddings without rituals, and sanctioned property as well as divorce rights for women. He appealed to people to give up the caste suffix in their names, and to not mention caste. He instituted inter-dining with food cooked by Dalits in public conferences in the 1930s.

3 . Climate Change and Banana Yield

Context : Global warming in the last about 60 years had helped increase banana yield at annual rate of 0.024 tonnes per hectare translating to an average increase of 1.37 tonnes per hectare in 27 countries since the 1960s. But with continued warming, the yield gains could slow down or even reverse in some countries leading to a drop in yields — 0.59-0.19 tonnes per hectare — by 2050, a study published in Nature Climate Change finds.

Key Findings

  • India, which is the world’s largest producer and consumer of banana, along with nine other countries such as Brazil will see a reduction in the yield
  • At the same time, certain other countries — Ecuador and Honduras, and many in Africa — will witness an overall increase in crop yields.
  • “India could experience a major reversal with predicted negative effects of future climate change compared to positive effects in the past. But the decline in production due to climate change in the case of India may be mitigated by strong, technology-driven measures to increase the yield.
  • The authors caution that the study does not take into account agro-economic considerations such as cultivation infrastructure, access to market to name a few which are taken into account to arrive at production data. Similarly, the extent of irrigation in use has not been accounted for in the analysis.

Banana Production in India

  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with 29 million tonnes produced per year between 2010 and 2017, India is the world’s number one producer of banana.
  • Over 29% of the world’s banana production is in India. The average yield of banana in India is around 60 tonnes per hectare, according to the FAO.
  • During the same period (2010 and 2017), China, which is second largest producer globally, produced about one-third of India — 11 million tonnes per year.

4 . How waived loans impact states

Context : On Friday, the Reserve Bank of India shared the report of an Internal Working Group (IWG), which was set up in February to look at, among other things, the impact of farm loan waivers on state finances. The report has shown how farm loan waivers dented state finances and urged governments — both central and state — to avoid resorting to farm loan waivers.

What has been the impact on state finances?

  • In the past five years, just a handful of states have already waived three-times the amount waived by the central government in 2008-09.
  • The actual waivers peaked in 2017-18 — in the wake of demonetisation and its adverse impact on farm incomes — and amounted to almost 12 per cent of the states’ fiscal deficit.

What is the impact on economic growth, interest rates and job creation?

  • In essence, a farm loan waiver by the government implies that the government settles the private debt that a farmer owes to a bank. But doing so eats into the government’s resources, which, in turn, leads to one of following two things:
    • either the concerned government’s fiscal deficit (or, in other words, total borrowing from the market) goes up or it has to cut down its expenditure.
  • A higher fiscal deficit, even if it is at the state level, implies that the amount of money available for lending to private businesses — both big and small — will be lower. It also means the cost at which this money would be lent (or the interest rate) would be higher. If fresh credit is costly, there will be fewer new companies, and less job creation.
  • If the state government doesn’t want to borrow the money from the market and wants to stick to its fiscal deficit target, it will be forced to accommodate by cutting expenditure. More often than not, states choose to cut capital expenditure — that is the kind of expenditure which would have led to the creation of productive assets such as more roads, buildings, schools etc — instead of the revenue expenditure, which is in the form of committed expenditure such as staff salaries and pensions. But cutting capital expenditure also undermines the ability to produce and grow in the future.
  • As such, farm loan waivers are not considered prudent because they hurt overall economic growth apart from ruining the credit culture in the economy since they incentivise defaulters and penalise those who pay back their loans.

How much do state finances matter for India’s macroeconomic stability?

  • Far too often, analyses of the Indian economy focuses on the Union government’s finances alone. But the ground realities are fast changing. The NIPFP study of state finances reveals that all the states, collectively, now spend 30 per cent more than the central government.
  • Since 2014, state governments have increasingly borrowed money from the market. In 2016-17, for instance, total net borrowings by all the states were almost equal (roughly 86 per cent) of the amount that the Centre borrowed.
  • In other words, state-level finances are just as important as the central government finances for India’s macroeconomic stability and future economic growth.

5 . Public Safety Act

Context : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has been detained under the state’s stringent Public Safety Act (PSA), which enables authorities to detain any individual for two years without trial. A look at the provisions of the Act, and the conversation around it:

What is the PSA?

  • The Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978 is a preventive detention law, under which a person is taken into custody to prevent him or her from acting in any manner that is prejudicial to “the security of the state or the maintenance of the public order”. It is very similar to the National Security Act that is used by other state governments for preventive detention.
  • By definition, preventive detention is meant to be preventive, not punitive. This broad definition is the most common ground used by a law-enforcement agency when it slaps the PSA on an individual. It comes into force by an administrative order passed either by Divisional Commissioner or the District Magistrate, and not by an detention order by police based on specific allegations or for specific violation of laws.
  • The PSA allows for detention of a person without a formal charge and without trial. It can be slapped on a person already in police custody; on someone immediately after being granted bail by a court; or even on a person acquitted by the court. Detention can be up to two years.
  • Unlike in police custody, a person who is detained under the PSA need not be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of the detention. The detained person does not have the right to move a bail application before a criminal court, and cannot engage any lawyer to represent him or her before the detaining authority.
  • Within four weeks of passing the detention order, the government has to refer the case to an Advisory Board. This Advisory Board will have to give its recommendations within eight weeks of the order. If the Board thinks that there is cause for preventive detention, the government can hold the person up to two years.
  • The person detained has limited rights. Usually when a person is arrested, they have the right to legal representation and can challenge the arrest. But, when a person is arrested under the PSA, they do not have these rights before the Advisory Board unless sufficient grounds can be established that the detention is illegal. There have been cases where the High Court has interfered and quashed the detention.
  • According to Section 13(2), the detaining authority need not even inform the detained individual as to the reason for the action, if it decides that it goes against public interest.
  • The District Magistrate who has passed the detention order has protection under the Act, which states that the order is considered “done in good faith”. Therefore, there can no be prosecution or any legal proceeding against the official who has passed the order. Also, after an amendment last year by the Governor, persons detained under the PSA in Jammu & Kashmir can now be detained in jails outside the state.


  • The only way this administrative preventive detention order can be challenged is through a habeas corpus petition filed by relatives of the detained person. The High Court and the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction to hear such petitions and pass a final order seeking quashing of the PSA. However, if the order is quashed, there in no bar on the government passing another detention order under the PSA and detaining the person again.

6 . Particulate matter emission trading

Context : Gujarat became the world’s first market for particulate matter emissions in the world, after 155 industrial units of Surat came together for “live trading” under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

What is the emissions trading scheme?

  • The emissions trading programme allows the government to put a cap on emissions and industries to buy and sell credits to maintain emissions below the cap.
  • Under this scheme, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) will initially allot each plant a fixed number of permits that would set the quantum of emission an industry is permitted. 
  • This means that if a plant records emission below the permissible limit, it can sell its permits to other factories. Likewise, if a factory crosses the permissible limit, it can buy permits from less polluting factories.
  • The real-time emissions of factories are recorded using the continuous emissions monitoring systems, an early innovation by the GPCB, and at the end of the given period industries must have enough permits to cover their costs. If they fail to do so, they would be slapped with environmental damage-compensation-charges, which will cost them more than the permits they would have bought during the compliance period.

International Examples

  • The cap-and-trade system has been used in the US to bring down the level of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (Nox).
  • On the other hand, the emissions trading programme is the first in the world to regulate particulate air pollution. The particulate matter in the air is one of the greatest threat to human health globally.

7 . Impact of Oil Price Rise

  • Higher prices: adverse impact on fiscal deficit: India imports 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil each year . This comes up to around 86% of its annual crude oil requirement. So, the surge in crude oil prices could increase India’s expenditure, thus adversely affecting India’s fiscal deficit – the difference between the government’s total revenue and total expenditure. Fiscal deficit indicates the amount of money the government has to borrow to meet its expenses. A rise in fiscal deficit could negatively affect the economy as well as markets. The fall in crude oil prices was a major contributing factor in the reduction of India’s fiscal deficit between 2014 and 2016, according to a report by Livemint .
  • Impact on the rupee:The rise in crude oil prices has a clear impact on the Indian rupee. In addition, if crude oil prices remain at high levels, the rupee is further expected to depreciate. Rupee depreciation has a reverberating effect on the Indian economy and even the stock market.
  • Impact on Current Account Deficit (CAD):India’s dependency on crude oil imports has only been increasing over the past few years. The rise in crude oil price has a big impact on the Indian Current Account Deficit (CAD). CAD is a measure of India’s trade where the value of goods and services imported exceeds the value of goods and services exported. CAD essentially indicates how much India owes the world in foreign currency.
  • Impact on Sensex, midcaps: The Indian stock markets have faced a lot of pressure due to the rise in crude oil prices. With the rise in price, there has been a sell-off in small cap and mid cap stocks. Analysts warn that this could continue if the crude oil price continues to rise.
  • Impact on stocks: A lot of Indian companies depend on healthy crude oil prices. This includes tyre, lubricants, footwear, refining and airline companies. The profitability of these companies is adversely affected due to higher input costs. This could negatively impact stock prices in the near term. On the other hand, oil exploration companies in the country could benefit from a rise in oil prices.
  • Impact on inflation:Oil is a very important commodity and it is required to meet domestic fuel needs. And in addition to that, it is a necessary raw material used in a number of industries. An increase in the price of crude oil means that would increase the cost of producing goods. This price rise would finally be passed on to consumers resulting in inflation.

8. Ancient DNA

Context : Journal Cell published a paper, An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists and Iranian Farmers, which claimed that the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilisation lacked the steppe-pastoralist ancestry which had brought Indo-European languages into South Asia. The findings are based on the DNA sequencing of the remains of a woman found at Rakhigarhi in present-day Haryana. Another paper, published in the journal Science by the same authors and others, established baselines for the DNA of South and Central Asian populations over the last 10,000 years.

What is ancient DNA (aDNA) and what has it been used to study?

  • Ancient DNA can be carefully extracted from archaeologically recovered bones, teeth or fossil plant remains. Small fragments are processed to sequence the genome of those ancient organisms.
  • aDNA becomes degraded, on account of its age and the climatic and soil conditions it was buried in.
  • Palaeogeneticists have been able to establish, for example, how genetic variation might relate to the independent evolution of species on different continents that were previously thought to be related, or how different subspecies of horses emerged after their domestication, or how populations that today appear distinct and in different geographical areas were once related and likely existed together in one region.

What can be done with aDNA from human samples?

  • They have been used for several applications, prominently including attempts to understand the genetic predisposition towards certain diseases and responses to medicines in different social groups in South Asia.
  • The comparison of aDNA samples with other aDNA and modern DNA databases can reveal otherwise unsuspected genetic histories. Scientists can trace the deep ancestry of ancient individuals and assess how their genetic makeup is distinct on account of specific variant genes (alleles), mutations and other markers (99% of all human DNA is common) and see how this compares with that of modern groups. Thus, the most common way of understanding the relatedness of DNA between groups and individuals is by their admixture percentages.
  • Importantly, genes may co-vary with a group’s ethnicity — understood as the combination of language and material practices — but they also may not.
  • While populations display aggregate trends of admixture and patterns of deep shared ancestry, there are no ‘Aryan’ or ‘Harappan’ or ‘Dravidian’ genes.

About the Recent Study

  • The two recent papers, (in Science and Cell), have provided complementary levels of insights into South Asian population history.
  • According to the First Paper : The primary source of ancestry for today’s South Asians is a mixture of First Indians and a people related to the hunter-gatherers of Iran. This mixed population created the agricultural revolution in northwestern India and built the Harappan Civilisation that followed. When the Harappan Civilisation declined after 2000 BCE due to a long drought, the Harappans moved south-eastwards (from northwestern India) to mix with other First Indians to form the Ancestral South Indian (ASI) population whose descendants live in south India today.
  • Around the same time, the Harappans also mixed with Steppe pastoralists who had by then migrated to north India through Central Asia, to form the Ancestral North Indian (ANI) population. The Steppe ancestry of the people of both South Asia and Eastern Europe in the Bronze Age explains how the movements of the Central Asians between the two regions caused the well-known similarities between the Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages.
  • The second paper presents the results of the first successful aDNA extraction from prehistoric South Asia. Individual 6113 was an elite woman buried between 2300 and 2800 BCE (estimated) in a cemetery on the outskirts of the Harappan town of Rakhigarhi, located near the present day city of Hissar in Haryana.
  • This study, based on the ancient DNA of a woman who lived in the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi about 4,600 years ago, was published in Cell, co-authored by 28 scientists including some co-authors of the Science report, such as Thangaraj, Reich, Narasimhan and Rai, with Shinde being the lead author. The study’s title seemed straightforward: ‘An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian Farmers.’ But this made many journalists jump to the conclusion that it meant there was no Arya migration either.
  • These individuals had little if any Steppe pastoralist related ancestry, showing that it was not ubiquitous in northwest South Asia during the IVC as it is today. The meaning is clear. Today, Steppe pastoralist ancestry is ubiquitous, but it was not so during the period of the Indus Valley Civilisation. (How ubiquitous is it today? The new studies have that figure too: it could be up to 30% in some population groups in India.)
  • The only possible conclusion from this, therefore, is that the Steppe migrations to India happened after the decline of the Harappan Civilisation.

9 . Facts for Prelims

Gur & Amla

  • Aamla, or gooseberry, is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, while gur, or jaggery, is rich in iron, vital vitamins and minerals that boost the immune system.


  • The major reason behind the vulture population getting nearly wiped out was the drug Diclofenac, found in the carcass of cattle the vultures fed on. The drug, whose veterinary use was banned in 2008, was commonly administered to cattle to treat inflammation.

Solomon Islands

  • A scattered archipelago of about 1,000 mountainous islands and low-lying coral atolls, the Solomon Islands lie east of Papua New Guinea and northeast of Australia in the south Pacific. The islands include Guadalcanal, Malaita, Santa Isabel, San Cristóbal, Choiseul, New Georgia, and the Santa Cruz group.

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