Daily Current Affairs : 16th June 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Vienna Convention
  2. SIPRI Year Book
  3. Standard Q COVID Test
  4. Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act
  5. IAEA
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . Vienna Convention

Context: Two Indian nationals,Paul Selvadhas and Dwimu Brahma, employed as drivers in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, went missing for several hours on Monday, in a suspected case of abduction by local security agencies. They were later released by authorities in Pakistan after India lodged a strong protest.

About the News

  • The incident comes a fortnight after India expelled two employees of the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi on espionage charges. Abid Hussain and Mohammed Tahir were accused of behaviour “incompatible with their status as members of a diplomatic mission” and were asked to leave India within 24 hours.
  • Since the expulsion, the Indian mission in Pakistan has witnessed persistent harassment of diplomats and non-diplomatic staff.
  • The daily harassment had become serious, and India had sent a note verbale last Friday to ensure its officials are treated according to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, and the Code of Conduct of 1992 that ensures safety of Indian and Pakistani diplomats during hostile exchanges.

Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961

  • The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which was agreed in 1961 and went into force in 1964, sets out how sovereign states can establish, maintain and, if need be, terminate diplomatic relations.
  • It defines who is a diplomat and thus entitled to special privileges and immunities. These include immunity from civil and criminal prosecution in the host state and exemption from all dues and taxes. 
  • It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or harassment by the host country. This forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity. Its articles are considered a cornerstone of modern international relations.
  • As of October 2018, it has been ratified by 192 states.

What is diplomatic immunity?

  • It’s the privilege of exemption from certain laws and taxes granted to diplomats by the country in which they are posted.
  • It was framed so that diplomats can function without fear, threat or intimidation from the host country. Diplomatic immunity is granted on the basis of two conventions, popularly called the Vienna Conventions — the Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, and the Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.
  • They have been ratified by 187 countries, including India. Which means, it is a law under the Indian legal framework and cannot be violated.

What is the extent of their immunity?

  • According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, the immunity enjoyed by a diplomat posted in the embassy is “inviolable”.
  • The diplomat cannot be arrested or detained and his house will have the same inviolability and protection as the embassy.
  • It is possible for the diplomat’s home country to waive immunity but this can happen only when the individual has committed a ‘serious crime’, unconnected with their diplomatic role or has witnessed such a crime. Alternatively, the home country may prosecute the individual.

Is this immunity same for all diplomats

  • The Vienna Convention classifies diplomats according to their posting in the embassy, consular or international organisations such as the UN.
  • A nation has only one embassy per foreign country, usually in the capital, but may have multiple consulate offices, generally in locations where many of its citizens live or visit.
  • Diplomats posted in an embassy get immunity, along with his or her family members. While diplomats posted in consulates too get immunity, they can be prosecuted in case of serious crimes, that is, when a warrant is issued. Besides, their families don’t share that immunity.

2. SIPRI Yearbook 2020

Context: All nations that have nuclear weapons continue to modernise their nuclear arsenals, while India and China increased their nuclear warheads in the last one year, according to a latest report by Swedish think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Details of SIPRI Yearbook 2020:

  • China is developing a so-called nuclear triad for the first time, made up of new land and sea-based missiles and nuclear-capable aircraft.
  • India and Pakistan are slowly increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear forces.
  • China’s nuclear arsenal had gone up from 290 warheads in 2019 to 320 in 2020, while India’s went up from 130-140 in 2019 to 150 in 2020.
  • Pakistan’s arsenal was estimated to be between 150-160 in 2019 and has reached 160 in 2020. Both China and Pakistan continue to have larger nuclear arsenals than India.
  • Together the nine nuclear-armed states — the U.S., Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possessed an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons at the start of 2020, which marked a decrease from an estimated 13,865 nuclear weapons at the beginning of 2019.
  • The decrease in the overall numbers was largely due to the dismantlement of old nuclear weapons by Russia and the U.S., which together possess over 90% of the global nuclear weapons.
  • The U.S. and Russia have reduced their nuclear arsenals under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) but it will lapse in February 2021 unless both parties agree to prolong it. The discussions to extend the New START or negotiate a new treaty made no progress with the U.S.’s insistence that China must join any future nuclear arms reduction talks, which China has categorically ruled out.
  • The deadlock over the New START and the collapse of the 1987 Soviet–U.S. Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF Treaty) in 2019 suggest that the era of bilateral nuclear arms control agreements between Russia and the U.S. might be coming to an end.
  • Russia and the U.S. have already announced extensive plans to replace and modernise their nuclear warheads and delivery systems. Both countries have also given new or expanded roles to nuclear weapons in their military plans and doctrines, which marks a significant reversal of the post-Cold War trend towards the gradual marginalisation of nuclear weapons


  • SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
  • Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public.
  • Based in Stockholm, SIPRI is regularly ranked among the most respected think tanks worldwide.
  • SIPRI’s vision is a world in which sources of insecurity are identified and understood, conflicts are prevented or resolved, and peace is sustained.

About New START Treaty

  • New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. It was signed on 8 April 2010 in Prague and, after ratification entered into force on 5 February 2011. It is expected to last at least until 2021.
  • New START replaced the Treaty of Moscow (SORT), which was due to expire in December 2012. Its name is a follow-up to the START I treaty, which expired in December 2009, the proposed START II treaty, which never entered into force, and the START III treaty, for which negotiations were never concluded.

Terms of Treaty:

  • Under terms of the treaty, the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half.
  • The treaty limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550
  • It will also limit the number of deployed and non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear armaments
  • A new inspection and verification regime will be established, replacing the SORT mechanism.
  • It does not limit the number of operationally inactive stockpiled nuclear warheads that remain in the high thousands in both the Russian and American inventories

About INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty

  • The Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, commonly referred to as the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty, requires destruction of the Parties’ ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, their launchers and associated support structures and support equipment within three years after the Treaty enters into force.
  • The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification.
  • As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1, 1991

3. Standard Q COVID-19 Ag antigen detection test

Context : ICMR recommends use of faster COVID-19 testing kit.

What is the rapid antigen detection test for Covid-19?

  • It is a test on swabbed nasal samples that detects antigens (foreign substances that induce an immune response in the body) that are found on or within the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • It is a point-of-care test, performed outside the conventional laboratory setting, and is used to quickly obtain a diagnostic result.
  • In India, the ICMR has allowed the use of antigen detection kits developed by the South Korean company S D Biosensor, which has a manufacturing unit in Manesar.
  • The kit, commercially called Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection kit, comes with a with an inbuilt Covid antigen test device, viral extraction tube with viral lysis buffer and sterile swab for sample collection.
  • The Standard Q COVID-19 Ag detection kit is a rapid chromatographic immunoassay for qualitative detection of specific antigens to SARS-CoV-2.

How is rapid antigen detection test different from RT-PCR test?

  • RT-PCR is currently the gold standard frontline test for the diagnosis of Covid-19. Like RT-PCR, the rapid antigen detection test too seeks to detect the virus rather than the antibodies produced by the body.
  • While the mechanism is different, the most significant difference between the two is time. As the ICMR has pointed out, the RT-PCR test takes a minimum of 2-5 hours including the time taken for sample transportation. “
  • These specifications limit the widespread use of the RT-PCR test and also impedes quick augmentation of testing capacity in various containment zones and hospital settings,” the ICMR advisory states. In a reliable rapid antigen detection test, the maximum duration for interpreting a positive or negative test is 30 minutes.

Where will the test be used?

  • As of now, the kit will be used in containment zones or hotspots and healthcare settings.
  • In both settings, the ICMR, has advised that the test will be performed onsite under strict medical supervision and maintaining the kit temperature between 2° and 30°C.
  • In containment zones, the test can be conducted on all symptomatic influenza-like illnesses. Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts with co-morbidities (lung disease, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, blood disorders) of a confirmed case are to be tested once between day 5 and day 10 of coming into contact.
  • A positive test in antigen, result of which is available in 30 minutes, should be considered as a true positive one and does not need reconfirmation by RT-PCR test. It will show whether the patient is currently infected

What are the limitations of an antigen test’s results?

  • When it gave emergency authorisation for the first antigen kit, the US FDA pointed out that antigen tests are very specific for the virus, but are not as sensitive as molecular PCR tests. “This means that positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives, so negative results do not rule out infection. With this in mind, negative results from an antigen test may need to be confirmed with a PCR test prior to making treatment decisions or to prevent the possible spread of the virus due to a false negative,” the USFDA said.
  • SD Biosensor has said a negative test result may occur if the level of an extracted antigen in a specimen is below the sensitivity of the test or if a poor quality specimen is obtained; a negative result may also occur if the concentration of antigen in a specimen is below the detection limit of the test or if the specimen.
  • Also, the company points out, children tend to shed the virus for longer periods than adults, which may result in differences in sensitivity between adults and children.

4. The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act

Context : The Supreme Court asked the government to explain its decision to suspend crucial rules of a parliamentary law against pre-natal sex determination and sex selection till June-end, amid the COVID-19 national lockdown.

About the News

  • April 4 notification issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which put on hold the implementation of certain rules of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex-Selection Rules) of 1996 and said that it was done due to the “unprecedented situation created by COVID-19” till June 30, 2020.
  • It suspended Clause 9(8) in the rules of the act which mandates that the organisation should keep records of all tests and procedures conducted by it.
  • The other two rules which have been suspended pertain to registration of the clinic and registration and meetings of the advisory council and other authorities.

Issues is suspending the rules

  • Suspending the rule means that the clinic need not produce any records till June 30th. This could be misused by unscrupulous sections to conduct sex determination tests freely.

What does the law say about sex determination?

  • The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 2003, commonly called PC-PNDT Act, makes it illegal to determine the sex of the unborn child or even use sex-selection technologies.
  • The law first came into force in 1996 as the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, in response to the falling sex ratio and fears that ultrasound technologies were being used to determine the sex of the foetus.
  • The law was amended in 2003 to bring the technique of preconception sex selection within the ambit of the Act – essentially, banning practices where medical practitioners try to influence the sex of the child before conception by using techniques such as sperm sorting (where a sperm cell is specifically chosen because of its sex chromosome).
  • The law as it stands not only prohibits determination and disclosure of the sex of the foetus but also bans advertisements related to preconception and prenatal determination of sex.

What are the provisions of the Act?

  • According to the Act, ultrasound clinics, genetic counselling centres and genetic laboratories cannot be used for conducting pre-natal diagnostic techniques except for detecting abnormalities such as chromosomal abnormalities, genetic metabolic diseases, sex-linked genetic diseases and congenital anomalies.
  • The Act makes it mandatory for all ultrasound facilities to be registered and for medical practitioners to maintain records of every scan done on pregnant women.

5 . International Atomic Energy Agency

Context : IAEA begins meet over Iran’s n-programme

About IAEA

  • The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations generated by the discoveries and diverse uses of nuclear technology. The Agency’s genesis was U.S. President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” address to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 8 December 1953.
  • The IAEA is an independent international organization that reports annually to the UN General Assembly.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the nuclear field.
  • It works for the safe, secure and peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology, contributing to international peace and security and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
  • When necessary, the IAEA will report to the UN Security Council in regards to instances of members’ noncompliance of safeguard and security obligations
  • In carrying out its functions, the Agency conducts its activities in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter to promote peace and international cooperation, and in conformity with policies of the United Nations for furthering the establishment of worldwide disarmament through safeguards.
  • The IAEA Secretariat is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.


  • Encourage and assist research, development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful uses throughout the world
  • Establish and administer safeguards designed to ensure that such activity assisted by the Agency is not used to further any military purpose
  • Apply safeguards to relevant activities at the request of Member States
  • Apply, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other international treaties, mandatory comprehensive safeguards in non-nuclear weapon States (NNWS) Parties to such treaties.

6 . Facts for Prelims


  • Tala-Maddale is an ancient form of performance dialogue or debate performance in Southern India in the Karavali and Malnad regions of Karnataka and Kerala.
  • The plot and content of the conversation is drawn from popular mythology but the performance mainly consists of an impromptu debate between characters involving sarcasm, puns, philosophy positions and humour.
  • The main plot is sung from the same oral texts used for the Yakshgana form of dance- drama. Performers claim that this was a more intellectual rendition of the dance during the monsoon season.
  • The art form is popular in Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Shimoga districts of Karnataka and Kasaragod district of Kerala. It is a derived form of Yakshagana.
  • A typical Tala-Maddale show consists of veteran artists sitting in a circular fashion along with a Bhagavata (the singer, with “Tala” or pair of small hand cymbals) and a “Maddale” (a type of drum) player. Artists play the roles of characters in stories, typically, from Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other puranas. Some consider them as a good presentation of oratorial skills.


  • Yakshagana is a traditional theatre form that combines dance, music, dialogue, costume, make-up, and stage techniques with a unique style and form.
  • Yakshagana literally means the song (gana) of the yaksha (nature spirits).
  • It developed in Udupi, in the state of Karnataka. It is popular in the Karnataka districts of Dakshina Kannada, Kasaragod, Udupi, Uttara Kannada and Shimoga . It is also practiced in the Kasargod district of Kerala
  • Yakshagana is strongly influenced by the Vaishnava Bhakti movement. Its stories are mainly drawn from Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavata and other Hindu epics.
  • A typical Yakshagana performance consists of background music played by a group of musicians (known as the himmela); and a dance and dialog group (known as the mummela), who together enact poetic epics on stage.
  • Yakshagana is traditionally presented from dusk to dawn.

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