Daily Current Affairs : 16th September 2023

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Jal Jeevan Mission
  2. India – Saudi Relationship
  3. Facts for Prelims

1 . Jal Jeevan Mission

Context: In Mahoba district of Uttar Pradesh which has seen a dramatic spike in official tap water connections under the Central Scheme, residents say they only have pipes, not taps, and there is often no actual supply of water flowing through them; officials say the shortcomings will be rectified by Nov. 

About Jal Jeevan Mission

  • Jal Jeevan Mission, under the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, is envisioned to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India.  
  • The programme will also implement source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as recharge and reuse through grey water management, water conservation, rain water harvesting. 
  • JJM looks to create a jan andolan for water, thereby making it everyone’s priority.   


  • To provide FHTC to every rural household. 
  • To prioritize provision of FHTCs in quality affected areas, villages in drought prone and desert areas, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) villages, etc. 
  • To provide functional tap connection to Schools, Anganwadi centres, GP buildings, Health centres, wellness centres and community buildings 
  • To monitor functionality of tap connections. 
  • To promote and ensure voluntary ownership among local community by way of contribution in cash, kind and/ or labour and voluntary labour (shramdaan) 
  • To assist in ensuring sustainability of water supply system, i.e. water source, water supply infrastructure, and funds for regular O&M. 
  • To empower and develop human resource in the sector such that the demands of construction, plumbing, electrical, water quality management, water treatment, catchment protection, O&M, etc. are taken care of in short and long term 
  • To bring awareness on various aspects and significance of safe drinking water and involvement of stakeholders in manner that make water everyone’s business. 


  • Efforts should be made to source funds from different sources/ programmes and convergence is the key 
  • Development of in-village piped water supply infrastructure to provide tap water connection to every rural household 
  • Development of reliable drinking water sources and/ or augmentation of existing sources to provide long-term sustainability of water supply system 
  • Wherever necessary, bulk water transfer, treatment plants and distribution network to cater to every rural household 
  • Technological interventions for removal of contaminants where water quality is an issue 
  • Retrofitting of completed and ongoing schemes to provide FHTCs at minimum service level of 55 lpcd; 
  • Greywater management 
  • Support activities, i.e. IEC, HRD, training, development of utilities, water quality laboratories, water quality testing & surveillance, R&D, knowledge centre, capacity building of communities, etc. 
  • Any other unforeseen challenges/ issues emerging due to natural disasters/ calamities which affect the goal of FHTC to every household by 2024, as per guidelines of Ministry of Finance on Flexi Funds. 

Institutional Mechanism 

  • National Level – National Jal Jeevan Mission 
  • State Level – State Water & Sanitation Mission (SWSM) 
  • District Level – District Water & Sanitation Mission (DWSM) 
  • Gram Panchayat Level – Gram Panchayat and/ or its sub-committee/ User Group , i.e. Village Water & Sanitation Committee (VWSC)/ Paani Samiti, etc. 
  • State’s PHE/ RWS Department as Engineering Department 
  • Sector Partners – UN agencies, major Trusts/ Foundations, etc. 
  • Implementation Support Agencies (ISAs) – NGOs/ VOs/ women SHGs/ CBOs / Trusts, etc. 


  • Claim versus Reality: Even in villages certified as having 100% coverage of functional household tap connections (FHTC), many households do not actually have taps. Some do have taps, but are not getting any water through them; even in the best case scenario, such households get no more than two hours of water. 
  • Supply challenges: a major challenge of the mission was commissioning pipes that ran for hundreds of kilometres over undulating terrain, given that a crack or leak can cause disruptions in supply. 
  • Water Contamination : If the water quality doesn’t meet standards, supply is stopped for cleaning. 

2 . India- Saudi Arabia Relationship

Context: The relationship between New Delhi and Riyadh has been improving steadily. Saudi Arabia is a critical partner, and India is not wasting any opportunity to engage Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, and next in line to be King. 


  • The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1947. Indian government officials say they have always enjoyed cordial and friendly relations that reflect their socio-cultural and economic ties going back centuries. 
  • The visit of King Abdullah to India in January 2006 was a watershed moment in the relationship. The royal visit resulted in the signing of the Delhi Declaration, which was followed in 2010 by the Riyadh Declaration that elevated bilateral ties to a strategic partnership. 
  • Prime Minister’s visit to Riyadh in April 2016 captured the spirit of enhanced cooperation in the political, economic, security, and defence realms.  
  • King Salman conferred on the Prime Minister the kingdom’s highest civilian honour, the King Abdulaziz Sash, indicating the importance Saudi Arabia attached to its relationship with India. 
  • The visit of Crown Prince Mohammed to India in February 2019 took this momentum further. It was announced that the kingdom would invest approximately $100 billion in India, and six MoUs/ Agreements were signed in a range of fields. An agreement was also signed to pave the way for Saudi Arabia to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) launched by the Prime Minister. 
  • PM visited Riyadh again in October 2019. The Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) Agreement was signed during the visit, which established a high-level council to steer the Indo-Saudi relationship. The SPC now has separate subcommittees on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation, and on Economy and Investments. Twelve pacts were signed during the PM’s visit. 

Pillars of the relationship

For India, there are four key elements of the strategic ties with Saudi Arabia: 

Economic Ties

  • India is Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trade partner; Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trade partner. Bilateral trade in FY2022-23 was valued at $52.76 billion. Trade with Saudi Arabia accounted for 4.53% of India’s total trade in FY23. As of January 2022, there were 2,783 Indian companies registered as joint ventures/ 100% owned entities with investments worth approximately $2 billion in the kingdom.   
  • Indian companies and corporate groups such as L&T, Tata, Wipro, TCS, TCIL, and Shapoorji Pallonji have established a strong presence in Saudi Arabia. 
  • Saudi direct investments in India amounted to $3.15 billion (as of March 2022). Among the major investors are Aramco, SABIC, Zamil, e-holidays, and the Al Batterjee Group. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has invested in several Indian startups such as Delhivery, FirstCry, Grofers, Ola, OYO, Paytm, and PolicyBazaar through SoftBank Vision Fund.   
  • Among the major proposed investments is the $44 billion West Coast Refinery & Petrochemicals Project in Maharashtra, which is being jointly built by Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, and an Indian consortium that includes Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, and Bharat Petroleum Corporation. 

Energy Cooperation

  • Saudi Arabia is a key partner for ensuring India’s energy security, and was its third largest crude and petroleum products source for FY23. India imported 39.5 million metric tonnes (MMT) of crude from the country in FY23, amounting to 16.7% of India’s total crude imports. 
  • India’s LPG imports from Saudi Arabia stood at 7.85 MMT, and 11.2% of its total petroleum product imports, in FY 23. 

Defence Partnership

  • The defence partnership has witnessed tremendous growth in recent years. Then Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane made a landmark visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2020. 
  • There is extensive naval cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia, and two editions of the bilateral naval exercise, Al Mohed al Hindi, have been concluded so far. Both sides also cooperate closely in the domain of defence industries and capacity-building. 
  • On defence ties, the joint statement said that the two sides commended their deepening cooperation, and agreed to continue work including joint exercises, training and high-level visits, and to “consider possibilities of joint development and production of defence equipment”. 

Indians in Saudi

  • The Indian community in the kingdom is more than 2.4 million strong, widely respected for its contribution to the development of Saudi Arabia, and seen as a living bridge between the two countries. 
  • The joint statement said the Indian side thanked the Saudi side for taking excellent care of the Indian diaspora residing in the kingdom, supporting the evacuation of Indian nationals stranded in Sudan through Jeddah under Operation Kaveri, and for facilitating Indian Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.  

4 . Facts for Prelims


  • USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan, U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.  
  • USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally, and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. 
  • USCIRF is a congressionally created entity, not a non-governmental organization, interest group, or advocacy organization. 
  • The International Religious Freedom Act requires the President, who has delegated this function to the Secretary of State, to designate as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, those countries that commit systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. 
  • USCIRF has recommended that the following 15 countries be designated as CPCs for 2022: Afghanistan, Burma, China, Eritrea, India, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea,  Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. 

Hendra virus

  • Hendra virus (HeV) infection is a rare emerging zoonosis (disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals) that causes severe and often fatal disease in both infected horses and humans. The natural host of the virus has been identified as being fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropusgenus. 
  • HeV was identified during the first recorded outbreak of the disease in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra, Australia, in 1994. The outbreak involved 21 stabled racehorses and two human cases. These incidents were all confined to the north-eastern coast of Australia. 
  • A total of seven humans have contracted Hendra virus from infected horses, particularly through close contact during care or necropsy of ill or dead horses.  
  • Symptoms of Hendra virus infection in humans range from mild influenza-like illness to fatal respiratory or neurological disease. 
  • There is no specific treatment for human cases of Hendra virus. Intensive supportive care is provided, and the use of monoclonal antibodies is being investigated.  
  • A registered Hendra animal vaccine exists and vaccination is recognised as an effective way to reduce the risk of horses becoming infected and to reduce the likelihood of human exposure. 

Editors Guild of India (EGI) 

  • Editors Guild of India is a non-profit organisation of journalists, particularly the Editors, based in India. The organization has declared “objectives of protecting press freedom and for raising the standards of editorial leadership of newspapers and magazines”. It was founded in 1978, by Kuldip Nayar
  • The Editors Guild was founded with the twin objectives of protecting press freedom and for raising the standards of editorial leadership of newspapers and magazine.  
  • Eminent editors of the day felt that the lack of an organized forum of editors was one of the reasons for the sustained suppression of press freedom during the Emergency.  
  • The Editors Guild took up the issues of abuse of press freedom with the Parliament and Executive, and campaigned hard for restoring the press freedom and other freedoms which had been taken away by amendments to the Constitution, executive orders and judicial pronouncements. 
  • The freedom to report of proceedings of Parliament (Feroze Gandhi Act) which was taken away in 1976 was restored. 
  • It has been striving for improving standards of newspaper editors.It has brought a code of ethics of Editors. 

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