Daily Current Affairs : 18th and 19th August 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. SC to study context of charges against judges
  2. 4G SIM cards disconnect ASHAs
  3. Pandit Jasraj
  4. Ninja UAV
  5. Farm Exports
  6. Report on Cancer
  7. SC verdict on PM CARES
  8. RBI framework for retail payments entity
  9. Domicile based job quota
  10. Facts for Prelims

1 . SC to study context of charges against judges

Context: The Supreme Court has decided to launch a detailed examination into the circumstances under which a person can make public allegations of corruption against the judiciary.


  • While hearing the Prashant Bhushan contempt case Supreme Court bench framed two questions for his remarks on corruption in judiciary. They are
    • In what circumstances can such statements [on judicial corruption] be made?
    • Under what circumstances can these allegations need to be made public


  • Other than the detailed examination into the circumstances under which a person can make public allegations of corruption against the judiciary. A three-judge Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra has also decided to hear arguments on laying down procedure which will be adopted if such statements of corruption are made in public against sitting as well as retired judges.
  • The Bench referred to the majority judgment delivered by Justice (as he was then) J.S. Verma for a Constitution Bench in 1992 concerning the removal of Justice V. Ramaswami, a Supreme Court judge.
  • According to the Bench the judgment was against publicly making allegations against judges.

Justice J.S. Verma 1992 judgment

  • The judgment had laid down the procedure to deal with allegations against a sitting judge.
  • According to the judgement, an inquiry committee had to be formed under the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968 and the judge had to be given a fair opportunity to be heard.
  • The inquiry process against a judge though had to be done within a tight and limited circle of high judicial functionaries and parliamentarians which limited the inquiry process.
  • The dominating spirit of the 1992 judgment was to “preserve the right, interest and dignity of the judge, which is commensurate with the dignity of all the institutions and functionaries involved in the process”.

Judges Enquiry Act, 1968

  • It is an Act to regulate the procedure for the investigation and proof of the misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court and for the presentation of an address by Parliament to the President and for matter-, connected therewith.

2 . 4G SIM cards disconnect ASHAs

Context:  Accredited Social Health Activists or ASHAs in Haryana have gone on strike after they were asked to migrate to Android phones.

About the News

  • Recently a new Jio 4G SIM cards along with internet data package were issued to ASHA workers and their old SIMs were disabled to ensure that they migrate to Android phones for better monitoring of service delivery.
  • 4G sims with data package will only work on a smart phone, which many ASHA workers can’t afford as they are paid poorly and often their salaries are delayed.
  • The ASHA workers say that they were promised smartphones in 2018, but the procurement has been delayed.
  • An estimated 20,000 ASHAs are on strike across 22 districts of Haryana. They completed 10 days of stir on Sunday.

Importance of Mobile Phones

  • Mobile phones help ASHA workers remain in contact with beneficiaries in their area, receive calls seeking assistance such as during child birth, and send updates and GPS locations of new COVID-19 cases.

Issues with salary

  • Income of an ASHA worker is a combination of a fixed honorarium of ₹4,000 and additional earnings from task-based incentives.
  • Additional earning has gone down since the COVID-19 outbreak as they are not able to deliver services which fetch them some extra money.
  • For their COVID-19 related activities they were promised an incentive of ₹1,000 in March, and another ₹500 by the State government.
  • Salaries are usually delayed by more than one month and they are yet to receive additional covid incentives


  • Their routine work includes screening pregnant women, lactating mothers as well as children for communicable and non-communicable diseases, vaccination, care during pregnancy and child birth etc
  • ASHAs, Anganwadi Workers and Auxillary Nurse Midwives have been given additional responsibilities since March, which include spreading awareness about preventive measures against coronavirus infection as well as detecting and referring suspected COVID-19 cases.
  • They have been delivering these services despite the lack of any protective personal equipment or security from attacks while out on surveys.

Importance of ASHA

  • Since ASHA’s live in the community and belong to that community, they have a much deeper knowledge of and connection with the families. Without such a connect, it will not be possible to ensure the last mile delivery of health services.
  • We would not have been able to achieve the gains we have of institutional delivery and reduction in maternal mortality but for the ASHAs.
  • They are also the ones helping us with the TB and malaria control programmes
  • Interventions by community health workers as per government guidelines led to fewer still births in the intervention clusters, due to improved neonatal care practices in both home-born and institution-born infants and reduction in neonatal mortality for babies born at home.

Way forward

  • ASHA workers can’t be expected to use a technology without provision for a suitable equipment. Hence they need to be provided with adequate mobile phones so that they can use the same without additional expenditure. At the same time they also need to be paid on time to ensure the health services reach the poor and needy.

About ASHA

  • Accredited Social Health Activists or ASHAs is one of the key components of the National Rural Health Mission.
  • Under NRHM a trained female community health activist ASHA or Accredited Social Health Activist is provided to every village in the country. ASHA works as an interface between the community and the public health system.
  • ASHA must primarily be a woman resident of the village married/ widowed/ divorced, preferably in the age group of 25 to 45 years.
  • She should be a literate woman with due preference in selection to those who are qualified up to 10 standard wherever they are interested and available in good numbers. This may be relaxed only if no suitable person with this qualification is available.
  • ASHA will be chosen through a rigorous process of selection involving various community groups, self-help groups, Anganwadi Institutions, the Block Nodal officer, District Nodal officer, the village Health Committee and the Gram Sabha.
  • Capacity building of ASHA is being seen as a continuous process. ASHA will have to undergo series of training episodes to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence for performing her spelled out roles.
  • The ASHAs will receive performance-based incentives for promoting universal immunization, referral and escort services for Reproductive & Child Health (RCH) and other healthcare programmes, and construction of household toilets.
  • Empowered with knowledge and a drug-kit to deliver first-contact healthcare, every ASHA is expected to be a fountainhead of community participation in public health programmes in her village.
  • ASHA will be the first port of call for any health related demands of deprived sections of the population, especially women and children, who find it difficult to access health services.
  • ASHA will be a health activist in the community who will create awareness on health and its social determinants and mobilise the community towards local health planning and increased utilisation and accountability of the existing health services.
  • She would be a promoter of good health practices and will also provide a minimum package of curative care as appropriate and feasible for that level and make timely referrals.
  • ASHA will provide information to the community on determinants of health such as nutrition, basic sanitation & hygienic practices, healthy living and working conditions, information on existing health services and the need for timely utilisation of health & family welfare services.
  • She will counsel women on birth preparedness, importance of safe delivery, breast-feeding and complementary feeding, immunization, contraception and prevention of common infections including Reproductive Tract Infection/Sexually Transmitted Infections (RTIs/STIs) and care of the young child.
  • ASHA will mobilise the community and facilitate them in accessing health and health related services available at the Anganwadi/sub-centre/primary health centers, such as immunisation, Ante Natal Check-up (ANC), Post Natal Check-up supplementary nutrition, sanitation and other services being provided by the government.
  • She will act as a depot older for essential provisions being made available to all habitations like Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORS), Iron Folic Acid Tablet(IFA), chloroquine, Disposable Delivery Kits (DDK), Oral Pills & Condoms, etc.

3 . Pandit Jasraj

Context: Pandit Jasraj, a doyen of Hindustani classical music passed away recently.

About Pandit Jasraj

  • He was the foremost exponent of the Mewati gharana moved away from Dhrupad and brought an element of devotional singing to khayal by employing harkats and murkis that were associated with light classical music.
  • He had mastery over shuddha madhyam notes.
  • He also had the ability to play with light and heavy and popular and rare ragas like Durga, Jog and Abeer Todi with equal felicity.
  • He will be remembered for taking the art beyond the rarefied confines of a select set by imbuing khayal with an unmistakable element of bhakti rasa.

Hindustani Classical Music

  • Hindustani Classical Music is one of the two systems of classical music. The other one is Carnatic Music.
  • Hindustani Music is practiced mainly in North India.
  • The roots of Hindustani Music is traced to the emergence of Dhrupad & Dhamar. It further developed into Vocal & Instrumental Streams.
  • Love, humor, pathos, anger, heroism, terror, disgust, wonder and serenity are the nava rasas or nine basic emotions which are fundamental to all Indian aesthetics Hindustani or Carnatic.
  • Most of the Hindustani musicians trace their descent to Tansen.
  • There are ten main styles of singing in Hindustani music like the Dhrupad, Khayal, Tappa, Chaturanga, Tarana, Sargam, Thumri and Ragasagar, Hori and Dhamar.


  • Dhrupad is a genre in Hindustani classical music from the Indian subcontinent. It is the oldest style of major vocal styles associated with Hindustani classical music
  • The roots of Dhrupad are ancient, and it is discussed in the Hindu Sanskrit text Natyashastra


  • Khayal is a word derived from Persian, and implies ‘idea’ or ‘imagination’.
  • Its origin is attributed Amir Khusrau
  • Khayal is more delicate and romantic, and has more freedom in structure and form.
  • Major gharanas in khayal: Gwalior, Kirana, Patiala, Agra, and Bhendibazaar Gharana. Gwalior Gharana is the oldest and is also considered the mother of all other gharanas.


  • The tappa is said to have developed from the songs of camel drivers of the North-West. Usually in Punjabi, the tappa is noted for its quick turns of phrase.

Tarana Style

  • In tarana there are no meaningful words. In this style the rhythm plays a very crucial role. The structure consists of melody.


  • The thumri is a light form based on the romantic-religious literature inspired by the bhakti movement. It employs folk scales, and the text of the songs is of primary Importance.
  • It was very famous in the 19th century under the patronage of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Of the two styles the Poorab or eastern style has slow and subdued exposition while the Punjab style is fast and lively.
  • A Thumri is usually performed as the last item of a Khayal concert.
  • Three main gharanas of thumri — Benaras, Lucknow and Patiala.

4 . Ninjas for surveillance

Context: The Railways have introduced a drone-based surveillance system Eye in the Sky: Improving Surveillance System to enhance security at railway stations, tracks and workshops.


  • Railways has recently procured Ninja Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV]
  • Railway Protection Force (RPF) had planned extensive use of drones for security purpose and had so far procured nine drones at a cost of ₹31.87 lakh at South Eastern Railway, Central Railway, Modern Coaching Factory, Rae Bareli and South Western Railway.
  • Additionally, 17 more drones are planned for purchase at an estimated ₹97.52 lakh.
  • In total, 19 RPF personnel have been trained in operation and maintenance of drones, of which four have received licences for flying drones.

Features Ninja UAV

  • The drone will have real-time tracking, video streaming & automatic fail safe mode that will enhance monitoring of the railway assets and ensure additional safety for passengers.
  • It will help in inspecting safety of railway assets, yards, workshops and car sheds.
  • It can be used to launch surveillance on criminal and anti-social activities like gambling, throwing of garbage, hawking etc in Railway premises.
  • It may be deployed for analysis of data collected which may prove to be extremely useful in vulnerable sections for safe operations of trains
  • These drones can also be utilised at disaster sites for helping in rescue, recovery, restoration and coordinating efforts of various agencies as well as mapping of railway assets to assess encroachments

Benefits of drone surveillance Technology

  • Drone surveillance technology has emerged as an important and cost effective tool for security surveillance over large areas with limited manpower. A drone camera can cover a large area which requires 8-10 RPF personnel
  • The purpose of deploying the drones is also to provide a force multiplier and aid to the effectiveness of the security personnel deployed
  • Drone acts as an “EYE IN THE SKY” and monitors the whole area. Any suspicious activity if noticed is intimated to the nearest RPF post of division to apprehend the criminal live.

5 . Farm exports

Context: India’s farm exports rose more than 23% in value terms to ₹25,553 crore during March-June period amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

What steps were taken to increase farm exports?

  • To promote farm exports, a “comprehensive action plan” has been prepared.
  • Under the comprehensive action plan, ‘Export Promotion Forums’ are being created and existing agri-clusters are strengthened.
  • Certain destinations for promotion of agricultural exports are also being identified.

Significance of increase in farm exports

  • Promotion of farm exports is extremely important for earning precious foreign exchange for the country.
  • It will also help in achieving the goal of an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat,’ for which self-reliant agriculture is critical.

6 . Report on India’s cancer burden

Context : The National Cancer Registry Programme Report 2020 was released recently.

About the Report

  • The report was released by ICMR and National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (NCDIR), Bengaluru.
  • The report provides trends and information related to cancer incidence, mortality and treatment in India in 2020, based on data collected through a network of population and hospital-based cancer registries across the country
  • These estimates are based on the information related to cancer collected from 28 Population Based Cancer Registries [PBCRs]

Findings of the report

  • The report found that in 2020, tobacco-related cancers are estimated to contribute to 27.1% of the total cancer burden, and highest in the north-eastern region of the country. The other common cancers included gastrointestinal tract cancers and breast cancer.
  • Cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach and oesophagus were the most common cancers among men. Cancers of the breast and cervix uteri were the most common cancers among women, the report said.
  • The report estimates that in 2020 cancer cases in the country will be at 13.9 lakhs. In 2020, tobacco related cancers are estimated to contribute 3.7 lakhs (27.1%) of the total cancer burden.
  • The cancer incidence rate for male population ranges from 269.4 in Aizawl district (highest in India) to 39.5 in Osmanabad and Beed district per 1,00,000 population.
  • Similarly, the cancer incidence rate for women population ranges from 219.8 (Papumpare district) to 49.4 (Osmanabad & Beed district) per 1,00,000 population.
  • Cancers related to use of any form of tobacco were highest in the northeastern region of the country and in higher proportions in men.
  • A significant increase in the incidence rates of breast cancers in women, and lung and head & neck cancers in both men and women was observed in most of the registries. However, a declining trend was seen in most of the registries for cancer of the cervix
  • It added that cancers of the lung were diagnosed at a stage of spread to distant sites, while cancers of head and neck, stomach, breast and cervix were in higher proportions with loco-regional spread.

7 . SC verdict on PM CARES

Context: The Supreme Court has endorsed the PM CARES Fund as a “public charitable trust” to which donors contribute voluntarily.


  • NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, had argued that the PM-CARES Fund was not subject to CAG audit. It was not under “public scrutiny”. Contributions to it were “100% tax-free”.

Details of the Supreme court Judgement on CAG Audit

  • The Supreme Court has stated that unlike the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), PM CARES Fund is a public charitable trust and so there is no question of audit by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India.
  • The court said that it is “not open” for a PIL petitioner to question the “wisdom” that created the fund in an hour of need.

On Transfer to NDRF

  • The court dismissed the idea that the PM CARES was constituted to “circumvent” the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) — the statutory fund already in existence under the Disaster Management Act of 2005 to receive contributions to finance the fight against a calamity. “Outbreak of COVID-19 in India as well as other countries of the world required immediate enhancement in the infrastructure of medical health and creation of a fund to contain COVID-19,” the court reasoned.
  • The Bench refused to direct the transfer of funds from the PM CARES Fund to the NDRF. It said they were two separate entities.
  • “The funds collected in the PM CARES Fund are entirely different funds, which are funds of a public charitable trust. There is no occasion for issuing any direction to transfer the funds to the NDRF

8 . RBI framework for retail payments entity

Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released a framework for setting up of a pan-India umbrella entity for retail payments systems.

About the Entity

  • This entity will be incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013.
  • The formation of the umbrella entity has been authorised under the Payment and settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • It would focus on retail payments systems.

Functions of the Entity

  • The umbrella entity will set up, manage and operate new payments systems in the retail space comprising ATMs, white label PoS, Aadhaar-based payments and remittance services.
  • The entity will operate clearing and settlement systems for participating banks and non-banks, identify and manage relevant risks, monitor retail payments system developments and related issues in the country and internationally.
  • The entity will frame necessary rules and the related processes to ensure that the system is safe and sound, and that payments are exchanged efficiently.
  • The entity will be permitted to participate in Reserve Bank’s payment and settlement systems, including having a current account with Reserve Bank.

The Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007

  • The PSS Act, 2007 received the assent of the President on 20th December 2007 and came into force with effect from 12th August 2008.
  • It was set up by the RBI and provides for the regulation and supervision of payment systems in India and designates the apex institution (RBI) as the authority for that purpose and all related matters.
  • RBI is authorized under the act to constitute a committee of its central board, which is known as the Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems (BPSS) to exercise its powers and perform its functions and discharge its duties
  • The Act also provides the legal basis for ‘netting’ and ‘settlement finality’.

9 . Domicile based job quota

Context: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced that government jobs in the State would now be reserved for local people only and the required legal provisions will be made for the same .


  • While domicile-based reservations have been implemented in education, courts have been reluctant to expand this to employment.
  • Although Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has not outlined details of the proposal, reservation solely based on place of birth would raise constitutional questions.

What does the Constitution say?

  • Article 16 of the Constitution, which guarantees equal treatment under law in matters of public employment, prohibits the state from discriminating on grounds of place of birth or residence.
  • Article 16(2) states that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State”. The provision is supplemented by the other clauses in the Constitution that guarantee equality.
  • However, Article 16(3) of the Constitution provides an exception by saying that Parliament may make a law “prescribing” a requirement of residence for jobs in a particular state. This power vests solely in the Parliament, not state legislatures.

Why does the Constitution prohibit reservation based on domicile?

  • When the Constitution came into force, India turned itself into one nation from a geographical unit of individual principalities and the idea of the universality of Indian citizenship took root.
  • As India has common citizenship, which gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country, the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be qualifications for granting public employment in any state.

But are reservations not granted on other grounds such as caste?

  • Equality enshrined in the Constitution is not mathematical equality and does not mean all citizens will be treated alike without any distinction.
  • To this effect, the Constitution underlines two distinct aspects which together form the essence of equality law — non-discrimination among equals, and affirmative action to equalise the unequals.

What has the Supreme Court said on reserving jobs for locals?

  • The Supreme Court has ruled against reservation based on place of birth or residence.
  • In 1984, ruling in Dr Pradeep Jain v Union of India, the issue of legislation for “sons of the soil” was discussed. The court expressed an opinion that such policies would be unconstitutional but did not expressly rule on it as the case was on different aspects of the right to equality.
  • In a subsequent ruling in Sunanda Reddy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1995), the Supreme Court affirmed the observation in Pradeep Jain to strike down a state government policy that gave 5% extra weightage to candidates who had studied with Telugu as the medium of instruction.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court invalidated appointment of government teachers in Rajasthan in which the state selection board gave preference to “applicants belonging to the district or the rural areas of the district concerned”.
  • In 2019, the Allahabad High Court struck down a recruitment notification by the UP Subordinate Service Selection Commission which prescribed preference for women who are “original residents” of the UP alone.

Examples of states where domicile rule has been implemented

  • West Bengal – For certain posts in state government, reading and writing skills in Bengali is a criterion
  • Karnataka- There is only caste-based reservation for government jobs in Karnataka. Over 95 per cent of government employees are, however, locals.
  • Jammu and Kashmir – Government jobs are reserved for domiciles. Any person who has resided in J&K for 15 years and their children are domiciles. Those who have studied in J&K for seven years and appeared for Class 10 and 12 exams from there are domiciles. Central government employees, who have served in J&K for 10 years, and their children are also eligible to apply for government jobs. Before abrogation of the special status, the jobs were reserved for state subjects.

Arguments against Reservation based on Place of Birth

  • Article 16(2) states that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State
  • Article 16(2) of the Constitution states that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against, in respect of any employment or office under the State.”
  • It might lead to inflation of moderate credentials as opposed to the promotion of merit-based education system
  • Other states might follow the race and sense of regionalism woulld increas thus threatening the unity of India.

Arguments in favour of Reservation based on Place oh Birth

  • Article 16(3) states that the Parliament can make any law prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory prior to such employment or appointment
  • Usually people migrate to other cities in search for better employment opportunities. This will be reduced too.
  • It will help in proper utilization of state resources and make the state prosperous.
  • Some states are already providing reservation in the state on other criteria
  • Maharashtra- Only local residents fluent in Marathi are eligible for government jobs. A local is defined as one who is domiciled in the state and has lived there for over 15 years.

10 . Facts for Prelims

Project Lion and Project Dolphin

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday announced that the government would soon launch programmes to conserve India’s lion and dolphin population on the lines of Project Tiger and Project Elephant.
  • A report released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change earlier this year had flagged an increase in the number of Asiatic lions in Gujarat’s Gir forest from 523 in 2015 to to 674 in 2020. This period also witnessed a distributional increase in the lion population—from 22,000 sq. km in 2015 to 30,000 sq. km in 2020.
  • “Project Lion will entail habitat development, engage modern technologies in lion management and address the issues of disease in lion and its associated species through advanced world class research and veterinary care
  • Project Dolphin, too, is slotted for launch soon and will run for 10 years. It will include oceanic as well as Gangetic river dolphins, which were declared a National Aquatic species in 2010.

Bhadbhut project

  • It is planned to be a 1.7-km causeway-cum-weir barrage with 90 gates, across the river Narmada, 5 km from Bhadbhut village, and 25 km from the mouth of the river, where it flows into the Gulf of Khambhat.
  • The barrage will stop most of the excess water flowing out of the Sardar Sarovar Dam from reaching the sea and thus create a “sweet water lake” of 600 mcm (million cubic metres) on the river.

No-Go Forest

  • No-Go’ areas, or regions that were once classified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change as containing very dense forests and hence closed to coal mining.
  • In 2020, of the 41 blocks put up for auction, 21 feature in the original No-Go list

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