Daily Current Affairs: 19 November 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO)
  2. Cryptocurrency
  3. Green Hydrogen
  4. Speaker’s Power under Anti Defection Law
  5. Facts for Prelims
  6. Places in News

1. Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO)

Context: The Supreme Court quashed a Bombay High Court decision to acquit a man charged with assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) solely on the grounds that he groped the child over her clothes without “skin-to-skin” contact.

Background of the Case

  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was enacted in 2012 especially to protect children (aged less than 18) from sexual assault.
  • A judgment by the Bombay High Court, in Satish Ragde v. State of Maharashtra, in which the accused was acquitted under the POCSO Act, came under massive criticism.
  • One major difference between the POCSO and IPC is the definition of sexual assault itself. In the IPC it is generic whereas in POCSO, the acts of sexual assault are explicitly mentioned such as touching various private parts or doing any other act which involves physical contact without penetration.
  • Earlier Bombay High Court acquitted a man charged with assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) solely on the ground that he groped the child over her clothes and there was no skin-to-skin contact.

Current Verdict

  • Supreme Court quashed Bombay High Court judgement. Calling the Bombay High Court order “outrageous”, the Supreme Court said that sexual intent and not skin-to-skin contact forms assault. As this judgment was likely to set a dangerous precedent, the apex court stayed the acquittal.
  • Section 7 of the POCSO Act, inter alia, says that whoever with sexual intent touches the breast of the child is said to commit sexual assault. Whereas Section 8 of the Act provides minimum imprisonment of three years for sexual assault, Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) lays down a minimum of one year imprisonment for outraging the modesty of a woman
  • Judgment, observed that the “purpose of law is not to allow the offender to sneak out of the mesh of law”.
  • According to the judgement limiting the ambit of “touch” to a narrow and pedantic” definition would lead to an “absurd interpretation”. The Bench noted that the most important ingredient in Section 7 was the sexual intent of the offender and not skin-to-skin contact. The conclusion that “sexual intent” mentioned in the provision should be ex facie skin to skin would defeat the object of the provision. It would, rather than giving effect to the rule, destroy it.

Salient Features of the POCSO Act

  • The Act is gender neutral and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as a matter of paramount importance at every stage so as to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
  • The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and well-being of the child as being of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
  • It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
  • People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act. The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
  • Recently the act was amended to increase the quantum of minimum punishment in case of Punishment for Aggravated penetrative Sexual Assault from 10 years to a minimum of 20 years and introducing the death penalty as an option
  • It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
  • It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
  • It defines “child pornography” as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a child which include photograph, video, digital or computer generated image indistinguishable from an actual child, and image created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict a child
  • Section 44 (1) of POCSO Act, 2012 provides that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) shall monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Act.

2 . Cryptocurrency

Context : With cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin gaining popularity among citizens, the Centre has been compelled to take a stance on the legal status of these private currencies.

About Cryptocurrency

  • Cryptocurrency is decentralized digital money, based on blockchain technology. There are more than 5,000 different cryptocurrencies in circulation
  • You can use crypto to buy regular goods and services, although many people invest in cryptocurrencies as they would in other assets, like stocks or precious metals.

How Does Cryptocurrency Work?

  • A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange that is digital, encrypted and decentralized.
  • Unlike the Rupees, there is no central authority that manages and maintains the value of a cryptocurrency. Instead, these tasks are broadly distributed among a cryptocurrency’s users via the internet.
  • Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, first outlined in principle by Satoshi Nakamoto in a 2008 paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” Nakamoto described the project as “an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust.”
  • That cryptographic proof comes in the form of transactions that are verified and recorded in a form of program called a blockchain.

About Blockchain

  • A blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions in code. In practice, it’s a little like a checkbook that’s distributed across countless computers around the world.
  • Transactions are recorded in “blocks” that are then linked together on a “chain” of previous cryptocurrency transactions.
  • “Imagine a book where you write down everything you spend money on each day,” says Buchi Okoro, CEO and co-founder of African cryptocurrency exchange Quidax. “Each page is similar to a block, and the entire book, a group of pages, is a blockchain.”
  • With a blockchain, everyone who uses a cryptocurrency has their own copy of this book to create a unified transaction record. Software logs each new transaction as it happens, and every copy of the blockchain is updated simultaneously with the new information, keeping all records identical and accurate.
  • To prevent fraud, each transaction is checked using one of two main validation techniques: proof of work or proof of stake.

How Can You Mine Cryptocurrency?

  • Mining is how new units of cryptocurrency are released into the world, generally in exchange for validating transactions.
  • Bitcoin mining requires solving remarkably complicated problems of mathematics that authorise transactions in the currency. When a bitcoin is mined, the miner gets a predetermined portion of the digital currency. 

India’s stance

  • With cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin gaining popularity among citizens, the Government has been compelled to take a stance on the legal status of these private currencies. T
  • he Reserve Bank of India in 2018 had banned financial institutions such as banks from facilitating transactions involving cryptocurrencies. The RBI’s order was overturned by the Supreme Court last year, and this led to a tremendous surge in cryptocurrency transactions through exchanges.
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee recommended that cryptocurrencies be regulated rather than banned. The Government is also expected to table a bill that clarifies its position on cryptocurrencies in Parliament next year.
  • In this context, the said proposal to classify cryptocurrency exchanges as e-commerce platforms and tax them under the goods and services tax framework comes as a relief to many.
  • The move is seen as a sign that the Union Government might not be so keen on banning private cryptocurrencies outright, but may instead want to capitalise on the recent surge in the usage of cryptocurrencies to tax them and shore up its revenues.

3 . Green Hydrogen

About Green Hydrogen

  • Green hydrogen is hydrogen produced by splitting water by electrolysis. This produces only hydrogen and oxygen. We can use the hydrogen and vent the oxygen to the atmosphere with no negative impact.
  • To achieve the electrolysis we need electricity, we need power. This process to make green hydrogen is powered by renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar. That makes green hydrogen the cleanest option – hydrogen from renewable energy sources without CO2 as a by-product.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • 100 % sustainable: green hydrogen does not emit polluting gases either during combustion or during production.
  • Storable: hydrogen is easy to store, which allows it to be used subsequently for other purposes and at times other than immediately after its production.
  • Versatile: green hydrogen can be transformed into electricity or synthetic gas and used for domestic, commercial, industrial or mobility purposes.
  • Transportable: it can be mixed with natural gas at ratios of up to 20 % and travel through the same gas pipes and infrastructure – increasing this percentage would require changing different elements in the existing gas networks to make them compatible.

However, green hydrogen also has negative aspects that should be borne in mind:

  • High cost: energy from renewable sources, which are key to generating green hydrogen through electrolysis, is more expensive to generate, which in turn makes hydrogen more expensive to obtain.
  • High energy consumption: the production of hydrogen in general and green hydrogen in particular requires more energy than other fuels.
  • Safety issues: hydrogen is a highly volatile and flammable element and extensive safety measures are therefore required to prevent leakage and explosions.

Other types of Hydrogen

  • Blue Hydrogen : Blue hydrogen is when natural gas is split into hydrogen and CO2 either by Steam Methane Reforming (SMR) or Auto Thermal Reforming (ATR), but the CO2 is captured and then stored. As the greenhouse gasses are captured, this mitigates the environmental impacts on the planet. The ‘capturing’ is done through a process called Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS).
  • Grey Hydrogen : Grey hydrogen has been produced for many years. It is a similar process to blue hydrogen – SMR or ATR are used to split natural gas into Hydrogen and CO2. But the CO2 is not being captured and is released into the atmosphere
  • Pink Hydrogen : Similar to green hydrogen, pink hydrogen is made via electrolysis, but using nuclear energy as its source of power.
  • Yellow Hydrogen : Another type of hydrogen made by electrolysis is yellow, where electrolysis is achieved solely through solar power (unlike green which could use a combination of renewable energy sources such as wind or solar).

4 . Speaker’s Power under Anti Defection Law

Context : The All-India Presiding Officers’ Conference (AIPOC) ended with the delegates failing to reach a consensus on whether the Speaker’s powers under the anti-defection law should be limited, while reiterating an earlier resolution that there should be no disruptions during Question Hour and the President’s and Governor’s address to the House.

About Speaker’s Power under Anti Defection Law

  • The ultimate evaluator in the case of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule is the Speaker of the House.
  • The Speaker can disqualify a member-only if a claim of disqualification is made before him under Para 2 of the Tenth Schedule.
  • Under the light of Articles 102 and 191 of the Constitution and the Tenth Schedule, the Speaker’s exercise is of judicial nature as he can take a decision only after a member files a disqualification petition.

Background of Anti Defection Law

  • Indian political scene was besmirched by political defections by members of the legislature. This situation brought about greater instability in the political system.
  • Legislators used to change parties frequently, bringing about chaos in the legislatures as governments fell. In sum, they often brought about political instability. This caused serious concerns to the right thinking political leaders of the country.Several efforts were made to make some law to curb defections
  • Finally, in 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi government brought a Bill to amend the Constitution and curb defection.
  • Through 52nd constitutional amendment act 10th Schedule of the Constitution, which contains the anti-defection law, was added to the Constitution.

Details of Anti Defection Law

  • The purpose of the law is to curb political defection by the legislators.
  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
  • There are two grounds on which a member of a legislature can be disqualified.
    • If the member voluntarily gives up the membership of the party, he shall be disqualified. Voluntarily giving up the membership is not the same as resigning from a party. Even without resigning, a legislator can be disqualified if by his conduct the Speaker/Chairman of the concerned House draws a reasonable inference that the member has voluntarily given up the membership of his party.
    • If a legislator votes in the House against the direction of his party and his action is not condoned by his party, he can be disqualified.

Exception from Disqualification

  • The 10th Schedule says that if there is a merger between two political parties and two-thirds of the members of a legislature party agree to the merger, they will not be disqualified.


  • When it was enacted first, there was a provision under which if there occurs a split in the original political party and as a result of which one-third of the legislators of that party forms a separate group, they shall not be disqualified.
  • This provision resulted in large scale defections and the lawmakers were convinced that the provision of a split in the party was being misused. Therefore, they decided to delete this provision.
  • Now, the only provision which can be invoked for protection from disqualification is the provision relating to the merger

Is the law, as it stands now, open to interpretation?

  • The first ground for disqualifying a legislator for defecting from a party is his voluntarily giving up the membership of his party. This term “voluntarily giving up the membership of his party” is susceptible to interpretation. As has been explained earlier, voluntarily giving up the membership is not the same as resigning from a party.
  • The Supreme Court has clarified this point by saying that the presiding officer (Speaker), who acts as a tribunal, has to draw a reasonable inference from the conduct of the legislator.


  • The law certainly has been able to curb the evil of defection to a great extent. But, of late, a very alarming trend of legislators defecting in groups to another party in search of greener pastures is visible.
  • The recent examples of defection in state Assemblies and even in Rajya Sabha bear this out. This only shows that the law needs a relook in order to plug the loopholes if any. But it must be said that this law has served the interest of the society. Political instability caused by frequent and unholy change of allegiance on the part of the legislators of our country has been contained to a larger extent.


  • The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides. However, this law also restricts a legislator from voting in line with his conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate. Such a situation impedes the oversight function of the legislature over the government, by ensuring that members vote based on the decisions taken by the party leadership, and not what their constituents would like them to vote for.
  • Political parties issue a direction to MPs on how to vote on most issues, irrespective of the nature of the issue. Several experts have suggested that the law should be valid only for those votes that determine the stability of the government (passage of the annual budget or no-confidence motions

Way Forward

  • Various expert committees have recommended that rather than the Presiding Officer, the decision to disqualify a member should be made by the President (in case of MPs) or the Governor (in case of MLAs) on the advice of the Election Commission.
  • This would be similar to the process followed for disqualification in case the person holds an office of profit (i.e. the person holds an office under the central or state government which carries a remuneration, and has not been excluded in a list made by the legislature).

5 . Facts for Prelims

Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC)

  • The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) was set up through an India-China agreement in January 2012 for improved institutionalized information exchange on border related issues.
  • The mechanism was first suggested by Wen Jiabao in 2010. It was finalised at the 15th round of special representative talks in January 2012.
  • India and China on Thursday held a meeting of working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on Border Affairs and agreed on the need to find an early resolution to the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols so as to restore peace and tranquillity. The two sides also agreed that they should, in the interim, continue to ensure a stable ground situation and avoid any untoward incident.

Zircon hypersonic cruise missile

  • The 3M22 Zircon or the SS-N-33 is a maneuvering anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile developed in Russia.
  • The Zircon’s estimated range is 500 km at a low level and up to 750 km at a semi-ballistic trajectory, but the state-owned media in Russia reports the range as 1,000 km.
  •  It’s a two-stage missile that uses solid fuel in the first stage and a scramjet motor in the second stage
  • The Zircon missile is strategically valuable due primarily to its speed.

6 . Places in News

The Rezang La monument

  • Rezang La is one of the heights of the Kailash Range in the Chushul Sub-sector, occupied by India in August 2020, that provided leverage in the standoff negotiations.
  • The positions India occupied on the Kailash Ranges allowed the Indian troops to dominate not only China’s Moldo Garrison, but also the strategically sensitive Spanggur Gap, which was used by China to launch an offensive during the 1962 War.
  • The memorial in Chushul is at an altitude of over 15,000 feet and is very close to the India-China border.
  • It honours the troops of Charlie Company of 13 Kumaon Regiment, who had defended Rezang La and the surrounding areas located at over 16,500 feet on the Kailash Ranges during the 1962 War.
  • In the battle of Rezang La, which the government’s statement called a “saga of unparalleled bravery” Major Shaitan Singh and 113 soldiers “had made the supreme sacrifice, fighting one of the world’s rarest ‘last man, last bullet’ battles”.
  • Major Shaitan Singh was bestowed with the Nation’s highest gallantry award, the Param Veer Chakra, posthumously.

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • The LAC is the demarcation that separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory.
  • India considers the LAC to be 3,488 km long, while the Chinese consider it to be only around 2,000 km.
  • It is divided into three sectors: the eastern sector which spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the western sector in Ladakh.

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