Daily Current Affairs : 17th June

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. State Disaster Response Fund & National Disaster Response Fund
  2. Aspirational District Programme
  3. Duckworth Lewis Stern Method
  4. Hong Kong extradition bill
  5. Fly ash
  6. G20 agrees to tackle ocean plastic waste
  7. Simultaneous elections
  8. Facts for Prelims : Periodic Table, Balsams

1 . State Disaster Response Fund & National Disaster Response Fund

Context : With parts of India experiencing drought situation, some States asked for changes in the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) guidelines.

About State Disaster Response Fund

  • The State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), constituted under Section 48 (1) (a) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, is the primary fund available with State Governments for responses to notified disasters.
  • The Central Government contributes 75% of SDRF allocation for general category States/UTs and 90% for special category States/UTs (NE States, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir).
  • The annual Central contribution is released in two equal installments as per the recommendation of the Finance Commission.
  • SDRF shall be used only for meeting the expenditure for providing immediate relief to the victims.
  • If the amount available under the SDRF is not sufficient, states can request for making available assistance from a similar fund managed by the central Government – National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
  • SDRF is located in the ‘Public Account’ under ‘Reserve Fund’. (But direct expenditures are not made from Public Account.)
  • Disaster (s) covered under SDRF :
    • Cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold waves.
    • Local Disaster: A State Government may use up to 10 percent of the funds available under the SDRF for providing immediate relief to the victims of natural disasters that they consider to be ‘disasters’ within the local context in the State and which are not included in the notified list of disasters of the Ministry of Home Affairs subject to the condition that the State Government has listed the State specific natural disasters and notified clear and transparent norms and guidelines for such disasters with the approval of the State Authority, i.e., the State Executive Authority (SEC).

National Disaster Response Fund

  • The National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), constituted under Section 46 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, supplements SDRF of a State, in case of a disaster of severe nature, provided adequate funds are not available in SDRF.
  • The DM Act defines “disaster” to mean ‘a catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes, or by accident or negligence which results in substantial loss of life or human suffering or damage to, and destruction of, property, or damage to, or degradation of, environment, and is of such a nature or magnitude as to be beyond the coping capacity of the community of the affected area.’
  • In the event of a disaster of ‘a severe nature’, in which the funds needed for relief operations exceeded the balances in the SDRF account, additional assistance would be provided from the NDRF after following prescribed procedures.
  • NDRF amount can be spent only towards meeting the expenses for emergency response, relief and rehabilitation.
  • For projects exclusively for the purpose of mitigation, i.e, measures aimed at reducing the risk, impact or effect of a disaster or threatening disaster situation a separate fund called National Disaster Mitigation Fund has to be constituted
  • Ministry of Home Affairs oversee utilisation of release of funds from NDRF

2 . Aspirational District Programme

About ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme

  • Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ programme aims to quickly and effectively transform some of the most underdeveloped districts of the country.
  • The broad contours of the programme are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a Mass Movement or a Jan Andolan.
  • With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.
  • To enable optimum utilization of their potential, this program focuses closely on improving people’s ability to participate fully in the burgeoning economy.
  • Health & Nutrition, Education, Agriculture & Water Resources, Financial Inclusion & Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure are this programme’s core areas of focus.
  • After several rounds of consultations with various stakeholders, 49 key performance indicators have been chosen to measure progress of the districts. Districts are prodded and encouraged to first catch-up with the best district within their state, and subsequently aspire to become one of the best in the country, by competing with, and learning from others in the spirit of competitive & cooperative federalism.

3 . Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Method

Context: Rain has played spoilsport at the ongoing International Cricket Council (ICC) cricket World Cup England and Wales 2019, washing out a number of matches, including India’s clash with New Zealand.

What is the DLS?

  • The Duckworth-Lewis-Stern or DLS method (as it is now known) is a mathematical system employed to calculate target scores and reach outcomes in rain-shortened limited-overs matches.
  • Devised by English statisticians Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis and originally named after them, it was first used in 1997.
  • Australian academic Steve Stern updated the formula, becoming its custodian ahead of the 2015 World Cup; his name was added to the title.

How does the DLS method work?

  • Before adopting Duckworth lewis method Average Run Rate and Most Productive Over method were used. Neither the ARR nor the MPO methods were able to factor the match situation into their calculations, failing to take into account the wickets a team had left.
  • The DLS method addresses this issue, considering both wickets and overs as resources and revising the target based on the availability of those resources.
  • At the start of an innings, a team has 100% of its resources — 50 overs and 10 wickets — available. The DLS method expresses the balls and wickets remaining at any point as a percentage. How much is a wicket or a ball worth in percentage terms?
  • This is calculated according to a formula which takes into account the scoring pattern in international matches, derived from analysis of data (ODI and T20, men and women) from a sliding four-year window. On the first of July every year, a new year’s worth of data is added; so the DLS evolves as scoring trends do.
  • The rate at which resources deplete is not constant over the course of an innings: the curve is exponential, with that resource percentage falling faster as more wickets are lost and more balls are consumed.
  • The DLS methods sets targets (and decides outcomes) by calculating how many runs teams should score (and would have scored) if the resources available to both sides were equal. To calculate a target, the formula may simply be expressed thus: Team 2’s par score = Team 1’s score x (Team 2’s resources/Team 1’s resources). In international cricket, the resource values (which are not publicly available) are obtained from a computer programme.
  • The DLS method also allows for the fact that a team batting before a rain interruption would have batted differently had it known the game was going to be truncated. Of course, the weighting of wickets and overs is based on a formula, and there can be no universally perfect weightage, simply because the method cannot make qualitative measurements of individual batting abilities.
  • It was long felt that under the D-L method, teams chasing big totals were better off keeping wickets in hand when rain was around the corner even if it meant scoring at a lower rate. Steve Stern felt he had improved on the D-L method in this regard by adjusting the formula to reflect changing realities in high-scoring ODIs and T20 matches.
  • An older version of the DL method (called the D-L Standard Edition), meant to be used where computers are not available, applies pre-calculated resource values off a chart. Where upward revisions are required (when the first innings is interrupted), a quantity called the G50 — the average total score in a 50-over innings — is used as reference. For matches involving ICC full member nations, G50 is currently fixed at 245. However, the Standard Edition is not used in international cricket.

4 . Hong Kong extradition bill

Context : An extradition bill Hong Kong authorities had proposed triggered one of the largest protests in the city’s history, escalating tensions between its pro-Beijing ruling elite and a defiant civil society.

What is the extradition bill?

  • Hong Kong has seen several protests since it was handed over to China by the British colonialists in 1997. In 2014, the city saw weeks-long protests against proposed changes in the electoral system, which came to be known as the Umbrella Movement.
  • In the latest protest, the trigger has been the extradition bill which, if passed, would have allowed the city government to extradite any suspect to places with which Hong Kong does not have extradition accords.
  • When Hong Kong’s extradition agreements were finalised, mainland China and Taiwan were left out because those regions had fundamentally different criminal justice systems from that of the city. This “loophole”, according to the Hong Kong government, allows suspected criminals to avoid trial elsewhere by taking refuge in the city.
  • Hong Kong’s current leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the bill would close the loophole so that suspects wanted elsewhere, including in mainland China, could be extradited.

Why is there opposition to the bill?

  • Civil society groups and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists say the bill will allow mainland China to deepen its influence in Hong Kong.
  • When Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997 by Britain, both sides agreed that the city would remain a semi autonomous region under the Basic Law, its mini-Constitution, for 50 years.
  • The Basic Law provides people in Hong Kong more political freedoms than their counterparts in mainland China. There is a relatively free press, an unregulated Internet and a less-controlled judiciary in Hong Kong. Also, mainland authorities are not allowed to operate directly in Hong Kong.
  • So civil society groups are say the bill is another blow against the rights those in Hong Kong currently enjoy, noting that it would empower the city government to send critics of Beijing to the mainland where the criminal justice system is tightly controlled by the establishment.
  • It will practically break the existing legal barriers between Hong Kong and mainland China that are guaranteed under the “One Country Two Systems” model

5 . Fly Ash

Context : With the first round of redevelopment of flats for MPs on North Avenue complete, the remaining flats on the North and South Avenues here are also likely to be demolished and re-constructed using fly ash and construction and demolition (C&D) waste bricks

About Fly ash

  • Fly ash is a fine powder and is a byproduct of burning pulverized coal in power plants.
  • Fly ash is a pozzolan, a substance containing aluminous and siliceous material that forms cement in the presence of water.
  • Fly ash is a proven resource material for many applications in construction industries and currently is being utilized in manufacturing of Portland Cement, bricks/blocks/tiles manufacturing, road embankment construction and low lying area development, etc.
  • When used in concrete mixes, fly ash improves the strength and segregation of the concrete and makes it easier to pump.
  • Fly ash is composed of tiny, airborne particles and is thus considered to be a type of particulate matter or particle pollution

Environmental benefits. 

  • Fly ash utilization, especially in concrete, has significant environmental benefits including:
    • Increasing the life of concrete roads and structures by improving concrete durability
    • net reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas and other adverse air emissions when fly ash is used to replace or displace manufactured cement
    • reduction in amount of coal combustion products that must be disposed in landfills
    • conservation of other natural resources and materials.

6 . G20 agrees to tackle ocean plastic waste

Context : Group of 20 environment ministers agreed on Sunday to adopt a new implementation framework for actions to tackle the issue of marine plastic waste on a global scale, the Japanese government said after hosting the two-day ministerial meeting.

About the New Framework

  • The new framework is aimed at facilitating further concrete action on marine waste, though on a voluntary basis, after the G20 Hamburg Summit in Germany adopted the “G20 action plan on marine litter” in 2017.
  • Under the new framework, G20 members will promote a comprehensive life-cycle approach to prevent and reduce plastic litter discharge to the oceans through various measures and international cooperation.
  • They will also share best practices, promote innovation and boost scientific monitoring and analytical methodologies.

7 . Simultaneous elections

Context : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday invited heads of all parties in Parliament for a meeting to discuss “one nation, one election”

Background of Simultaneous elections in India

  • First election after enforcement of constitution in 1952 was conducted simultaneously, and later the elections of 1952, 1957 and 1962 were also the same.
  • The liquidation of fourth Lok Sabha brought an end to the process.


  • Saving time and energy: A lot of money and time is being spent on elections. The money could be put to better use. The focus of respective parties is on winning elections in different parts of the country rather than on actual governance. Violence, hate speeches and surcharged atmosphere can disturb the law and order situation.
  • Less promotion of individualism over nationalism: Parties, in order to win hearts near the time of elections, declare individualistic policies to lure the voters and not the nationalistic policies. The spirit of policy making gets hampered. Simultaneous elections would stop this.
  • Smaller role of corruption, casteism: Party funding would not be required again and again, which would reduce manipulative practices of the parties to raise money. Caste politics won’t be ignited every time elections are round the corner.
  • Model code of conduct (MCC): Political parties wouldn’t make unnecessary measures to win elections in the wake of MCC. Frequent imposition of MCC results in standstill of the government machinery, thus hindering development and policy implementation.
  • Increase in voting percentage: It has turned out in many researches that voters’ participation is motivated with simultaneous elections. Voting percentage is a serious concern.


  • Advantage to national parties: Regional parties gather their state machinery for the state legislative elections, whereas national parties will gain more momentum with their power in every state.
  • National issues over regional ones: National issues may overpower the regional ones which are equally important to be looked upon. Submerging of regional stories with national issues may create havoc.
  • Federal structure would be disturbed: The party in power at the Centre may exercise such powers which may hamper the working of parties in power at state levels.
  • Shortage of staff and security: One election in all levels at a time would require large deployment of forces and resources together for secure and smooth functioning, which would be a big challenge. The ignited election mode would require high security. More than 24 lakh EVMs and VVPAT would be required to conduct elections together.
  • Disturbance in system of checks and balances: In a federal structure, the state governments and the central governments, especially when from opposite parties, check each other’s work and evaluate it. This competitive spirit may be curtailed and a lethargic attitude may crawl into working of these governments.

Recommendations of Reports and Committees

  • The idea of ‘One Nation, One Election’ was suggested by the Election Commission in 1983. The main reason for such a suggestion was heavy expenditure on elections, deployment of forces affecting their normal course of duties, slowing down of administrative machinery throughout the country etc.
  • In 1999, Law Commission in its 170th report suggested that India go back to the concept of simultaneous elections.
  • Report of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) in 2002 highlighted that amendments with respect to simultaneous elections could be done without disturbing the basic structure of the constitution.
  • The 255th Law Commission report discussed amendment to Anti-Defection Law, which is an important subject with respect to simultaneous elections.
  • The 79th report presented by Rajya Sabha in December 2015, after consulting various political parties, organisations, individuals and experts, suggested various reforms and conducts. It held that the term of legislatures could not be extended, except during emergency, but elections of Lok Sabha/State Legislative Assemblies could be conducted six months earlier under Section 14 and 15 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951. It also suggested conducting of elections in two phases where some state legislative elections are conducted for a shorter term to end their tenure with the tenure of Lok Sabha.
  • Recently, the Law Commission headed by B.S. Chouhan released a draft report on simultaneous election :
    • Conduct of simultaneous elections: The Commission noted that simultaneous elections cannot be held within the existing framework of the Constitution.  Simultaneous elections may be conducted to Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies through appropriate amendments to the Constitution, the Representation of the People Act 1951, and the Rules of Procedure of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies.  The Commission also suggested that at least 50% of the states should ratify the constitutional amendments. 
    • The Commission noted that holding simultaneous elections will: (i) save public money, (ii) reduce burden on the administrative setup and security forces, (iii) ensure timely implementation of government policies, and (iv) ensure that the administrative machinery is engaged in development activities rather than electioneering.
    • Commission recommended three alternatives to synchronise elections in India :
      • Advancing or Postponing elections in certain states so that elections are only conducted twice in near feature and can move to one election by 2024
      • If simultaneous elections cannot be conducted, then the Commission recommended that all elections falling due in a calendar year should be conducted together.

8 . Facts for Prelims

Periodic Table

  • The periodic table of the chemical elements is a tabular method of displaying the chemical elements, first devised in 1869 by the Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev.
  • The main value of the periodic table is the ability to predict the chemical properties of an element based on its location on the table.
  • It should be noted that the properties vary differently when moving vertically along the columns of the table, than when moving horizontally along the rows.
  • The table organizes all chemical elements by the number of protons in a given atom and other properties. There are seven rows, called periods, and 18 columns, called groups, in the table. Elements in the same group share similar properties. Those in the same period have the same number of atomic orbitals.
  • International Union of Pure Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) maintains the periodic table
  • UNESCO has launched the International Year Of The Periodic Table to celebrate 150th Year 

Impatiens / Balsams

  • Impatiens is a group of plants commonly known as Balsams or jewel-weeds
  • Consisting of both annual and perennial herbs, balsams are succulent plants with high endemism.
  • Because of their bright beautiful flowers, these group of plants are of prized horticultural significance.
  • They are sensitive to climate change hence most of the species of Impatiens cannot endure persistent drought or extended exposure to direct sunlight. As a result Impatiens species are typically confined to stream margins,

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