Daily Current Affairs : 20th & 21st September 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020
  2. Ethics code for Media
  3. Universal Eligibility
  4. Second sero-survey
  5. Kakatiya Dynasty
  6. Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP)
  7. Agreements with China
  8. Life markers on Venus
  9. Facts for Prelims

1 . Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020

Context: The Centre is set to amend the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and proposes to make Aadhaar a mandatory identification document for all the office-bearers, directors and other key functionaries of an NGO or an association eligible to receive foreign donations.

About the bill

  • Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 amends the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. 
  • The Act regulates the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution by individuals, associations and companies.

What is Foreign Contribution?

  • Foreign contribution is the donation or transfer of any currency, security or article (of beyond a specified value) by a foreign source.

Key Provisions of the bill

  • Prohibition to accept foreign contribution:
    • The bill has added Public Servants (as defined under the Indian Penal Code) and “corporation owned or controlled by the government” to the list of people who are prohibited to accept any foreign contribution.
    • Other people prohibited according to the origina act are election candidates, editor or publisher of a newspaper, judges, government servants, members of any legislature, and political parties, among others. 
    • Public servant includes any person who is in service or pay of the government, or remunerated by the government for the performance of any public duty.
  • Transfer of foreign contribution:
    • Under the original act, foreign contribution cannot be transferred to any other person unless such person is also registered to accept foreign contribution (or has obtained prior permission under the Act to obtain foreign contribution).  The Bill amends this to prohibit the transfer of foreign contribution to any other person.  The term ‘person’ under the Act includes an individual, an association, or a registered company. Hence an NGO cannot transfer the fund to another NGO.
  • Aadhaar for registration:
    • For accepting foreign contribution a person need to be registered or seek permission from the govt. A person seeking prior permission, registration or renewal of registration must provide the Aadhaar number of all its office bearers, directors or key functionaries, as an identification document and in case of a foreigner, they must provide a copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India card for identification.
  • FCRA account:
    • Under the Bill foreign contribution must be received only in an account designated by the bank as “FCRA account” in such branch of the State Bank of India, New Delhi, as notified by the central government. 
  • Restriction in the utilisation of foreign contribution:
    • The Bill restricted the usage of unutilised foreign contribution for persons who have been granted prior permission to receive such contribution by the government.  This may be done if, based on a summary inquiry, and pending any further inquiry, the government believes that such person has contravened provisions of the Act.     
  • Renewal of license:
    • The Bill has provided that the government can conduct an inquiry before renewing the certificate to ensure that the person making the application: (i) is not fictitious or benami, (ii) has not been prosecuted or convicted for creating communal tension or indulging in activities aimed at religious conversion, and (iii) has not been found guilty of diversion or misutilisation of funds, among others conditions.
  • Reduction in use of foreign contribution for administrative purposes:
    • The bill has reduced the limit of usage of foreign contribution for administrative expenses to 20% from 50% in the act. 
  • Surrender of certificate:
    • The Bill adds a provision allowing the central government to permit a person to surrender their registration certificate. 
  • Suspension of registration:
    • The bill has extended the period of suspension to an additional 180 days which under the Act could not exceed 180 days.

Significance of the bill

  • The Bill will enhance transparency and accountability in the receipt and utilisation of foreign contributions worth thousands of crores of rupees every year and facilitating the “genuine” non-governmental organisations or associations who are working for the welfare of society.


  • It may severely impact collaborative research in critical fields in India as organisations receiving foreign funds will no longer be able to transfer them to small NGOs working at the grassroots level.
  • The Bill would impact the livelihoods of workers associated with these small NGOs and ultimately lead to the “killing” of the entire sector as caps on administrative expenses would make it impossible for even the bigger NGOs to perform.

2 . Ethics code for Media

Context: The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) has asked the Supreme Court to make its code of ethics against airing malicious, biased and regressive content applicable to all TV news channels.


  • The NBA affidavit is in response to an order by the Supreme Court on September 18 to suggest steps to strengthen the self-regulatory mechanism to prevent or penalise airing of communal or derogatory content on electronic media.
  • The order by a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was in the background of a plea to stop the telecast of a programme ‘Bindas Bol’ on Sudarshan TV containing objectionable content against the Muslim entries into the civil services.
  • The court had stated that the content was prima facie “plainly hurtful to the community and it is an affront to the dignity of the community.”

NBA directives

  • The NBA has suggested that the court direct the government to include its ethical code in the Programme Code of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.
  • All news channels, whether they are NBA members or not have to follow the Programme Code containing the proposed amendments.


  • The ethical code will strengthen the self-regulatory mechanism to prevent or penalise airing of communal or derogatory content on electronic media.

About News Broadcasters Association (NBA)

  • The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) represents the private television news & current affairs broadcasters. It is the collective voice of the news & current affairs broadcasters in India . It is an organization funded entirely by its members.

3 . Universal Eligibility

 Context: The World Bank has given a loan of $1 billion to India to prevent, detect and respond to the threat of coronavirus and strengthen national health systems to combat the ongoing pandemic but it is with a condition of “universal eligibility” in procurements.

About the loan

  • The loan is a part of the “India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Strengthening Project,” which is a joint initiative of the Government of India and the World Bank.
  •  The Railway Ministry is one of the implementing agencies of the project.
  • $1 billion loan has been disbursed by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
  • The first component of the project deals with emergency response to the pandemic and would be implemented till April 2022.
  • Railways under it will have to make procurements in accordance with the World Bank guidelines and the allocated the funds also cannot exceed.
  • In case any railway is not in a position to spend the funds earmarked by March 31, 2021 then the same will be communicated to the board latest by December 31, 2020.

What does universal eligibility mean?

  • Universal eligibility means that all preferential market access policies, including Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order, Micro Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Policy, certain benefits to start-ups, shall not be applicable on purchases made while implementing the national project.

Other conditions

  • Besides universal eligibility in the supply system, the World Bank will also have the right to review the procurement documents, inspect/audit all accounts, records and other files relating to the project and compliance to these conditions have been made mandatory for the funding.

Allocation of funds to Railways

  • The Northern Railway has got the highest allocation of ₹45.59 crore this year followed by the Eastern Railway with ₹42.56 crore, the Southern Railway has been given ₹30.95 crore.
  • The Integral Coach Factory which is the largest coach maker in the world has got a sanction of ₹3.17 crore.
  • The total allocation to 16 Zonal Railways, Metro, production units and others stands at ₹399.36 crore.

Utilization of funds

  • The Railways will spend ₹399 crore across its network to strengthen health infrastructure in the combat against COVID-19 in this financial year and the focus will be on creating more isolation facilities with medical equipment such as ventilators, oxygen cylinders etc.
  • It will be utilised for establishing isolation wards by purchasing ventilators, oxygen cylinders, laboratory machines, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits, face shields, hospital furniture, medical equipment, gloves, goggles and other consumables.

4 . Second sero-survey

Context: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has completed its second national sero-survey to gauge the prevalence of COVID-19.

About the first survey

  • The first survey was conducted in May across 400 districts and about 28,000 were sampled (most of them in rural India) to gauge the spread of the infection.

Objectives of Sero survey

  • The objective was to estimate national prevalence and spread of the infection in hotspots.
  • The study has two parts in which the primary task was of estimating the fraction of population that has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 in general population.
  • The second objective is of estimating fraction of population that has been infected in containment zones of hotspot cities is in the process of completion.

Findings of the First Survey

  • Recently ICMR published results of the First Survey which suggested that nearly 6.4 million were likely infected with the virus by May.
  • There were 82-130 infections that went undetected for every confirmed case in May.
  • The possible prevalence of the infection was 36% in Dharavi, Mumbai; 48% in Ahmedabad and 30% in Kolkata.
  • According to the findings, the Containment zones are dynamic in nature and they do not fit into nationally representative sampling
  • The findings have also undermined the effectiveness of the lockdown in containing the spread of the virus and the government’s insistence that abrupt shutdown of the country had restricted the virus transmission to only a few dense urban agglomerations.

COVID-19 prevalence

  • According to ICMR prevalence of the disease was 0.73% nationally and that compared to rural areas, risk of spread was 1.09 times higher in urban areas and 1.89 times higher in urban slums.

5 . Kakatiya Dynasty

Context : A temple constructed by emperor Ganapati Deva, a mighty ruler of Kakatiya dynasty, in Dharanikota near present Andhra Pradesh capital Amaravathi has been converted into an abode of local goddess Balusulamma (Goddess Durga)

About Kakatiya Dynasty

  • Kakatiya Dyansty is an Andhra Dyansty that emerged in the 12th and the 13th centuries
  • They ruled from Warangal (Telangana) from AD 1083-1323. Before the establishment of Orugallu/Warangal as the capital, Hanamakonda was the first capital of the Kakatiyas.
  • They were at first the feudatories of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyana, ruling over a small territory near Warangal.
  • Prataparudra I established a sovereign dynasty in 1163 CE.
  • The dynasty saw powerful leaders like Ganapathi Deva and Rudramadevi.
  • The great Italian traveller Marco Polo visited the Kakatiya Kingdom during Rudramadevi’s tenure and made note of her administrative style; admiring her extensively.
  • Ganapati Deva is the first king who introduced the worship of Kakati Devi into the coastal region of Andhra and outside the dominions of his kingdom


  • They were known for construction of a network of tanks for irrigation and drinking water and thereby gave a big boost to the overall development of the region.
  • There are a number of Hindu temples that wrer built under the patronage of Kakatiya kings like Ganapati Deva, Rudrama Devi and Prataparudra of Kakatiya dynasty.
  • Thousand Pillar Temple or Rudreshwara Swamy Temple – Telangana. It is a star-shaped, triple shrine (Trikutalayam) – Vishnu, Shiva and Surya.
  • Golconda Fort in Hyderabad (Telangana) was also constructed by the Kakatiya rulers.
  • The Koh-i-Noor Diamond, which is now among the jewels set in the British Crown, was mined and first owned by the Kakatiya Dynasty.
  • Kakatiya Thoranam was built by Rudramadevi’s father in the 12th Century. This ornate arch is said to have many similarities with the gateways at the Sanchi Stupa and is also the emblem of Telangana.
  • Pakhal lake in Warangal was built by Ganapathi Deva.
  • The Kakatiya rule finally came to an end in 1323 A.D. when Warangal was conquered by the Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, the then Sultan of Delhi.

6 . Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP)

Context : Nearly three in four COVID patients have comorbidites and the proportion of those with diabetes and hypertension — the most common of secondary ailments — has fallen since July, an analysis of data on trends in COVID-19 prevalence maintained by the Health Ministry’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) reveals.

Details of the Survey

  • The data are sourced from details of hospital records from all over the country that are provided to the IDSP and, as of September 20, consists of a sample of 34,616 positive people and is a sliver of India’s 5.4million case load as of Sunday.
  • In July, when comparable data was made public by the organisation, only 8% of 16,155, whose data were publicised by the IDSP, were diabetic and 9% hypertensive. That has now fallen to 5.74% and 5.21% respectively and a category called ‘others’ that denotes a patient with at least one comorbid condition, has jumped to 58.85% from 30% in July.
  • For the IDSP’s purposes, only comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, asthma, chronic renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, immunocompromised conditions, malignancy, bronchitis and chronic neuromuscular disease are publicised.
  • Except for diabetes and hypertension, each of these conditions on their own account for less than 2% of overall comorbidities.

About IDSP

  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) was launched by Hon’ble Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare in November 2004 for a period upto March 2010. The project was restructured and extended up to March 2012. The project continues in the 12th Plan with domestic budget as Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme under NHM for all States with Budgetary allocation of 640 Cr.
  • A Central Surveillance Unit (CSU) at Delhi, State Surveillance Units (SSU) at all State/UT head quarters and District Surveillance Units (DSU) at all Districts in the country have been established.


  • To strengthen/maintain decentralized laboratory based IT enabled disease surveillance system for epidemic prone diseases to monitor disease trends and to detect and respond to outbreaks in early rising phase through trained Rapid Response Team (RRTs)

Programme Components

  • Integration and decentralization of surveillance activities through establishment of surveillance units at Centre, State and District level.
  • Human Resource Development – Training of State Surveillance Officers, District Surveillance Officers, Rapid Response Team and other Medical and Paramedical staff on principles of disease surveillance.
  • Use of Information Communication Technology for collection, collation, compilation, analysis and dissemination of data.
  • Strengthening of public health laboratories.
  • Inter sectoral Co-ordination for zoonotic diseases

6. Agreements with China

Context : On September 15, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that China had mobilised a large number of troops and armaments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with several friction areas in eastern Ladakh including the north and south banks of Pangong Tso (lake). He said the amassing of troops went against the bilateral agreements of 1993 and 1996.

Why are there different perceptions?

  • There have been situations of prolonged stand-offs in the border areas with China in the past which had been resolved peacefully.
  • Both India and China have different perceptions about the LAC and this has led to periodic tensions and the number of transgressions and face-offs went up as India’s border infrastructure improved and Indian Army patrols to the claim areas increased over the years.
  • A series of boundary agreements have been signed and confidence-building measures (CBMs) have been carried out to maintain peace and tranquillity while the two sides attempted to delineate the boundary through Special Representatives.
  • This year is very different both in terms of scale of troops involved and the number of friction points

What happens when agreements are flouted?

  • The recent massive mobilisation of troops, tanks, armoured carriers and air defences very close to the LAC is in violation of the agreements.
  • Since the Galwan Valley clash on June 15, the Army has empowered its local commanders to take appropriate action as situations unfold and recently shots have been fired in the air, the first on the LAC since 1975.
  • Thousands of troops and armaments are being deployed in close proximity, in some places within a few hundred metres of each other, so that the chances of an accidental or inadvertent escalation which can spiral into a major confrontation remain high.

What do the border agreements say?

  • A key element of both the 1993 and 1996 agreements is that the two sides would keep their forces in the areas along the LAC to a minimum level. But the agreements do not define what comprises the minimum level.
  • The 1996 agreement limits the deployment of major categories of armaments close to the LAC, including tanks, infantry combat vehicles, guns with 75-mm or bigger calibre, mortars with 120-mm or above and various missiles. It also limits combat aircraft from flying within 10 km of the LAC. It stipulates that neither side “shall open fire, cause bio-degradation, use hazardous chemicals, conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two km” from the LAC.
  • Use of firearms on the LAC is strictly regulated as per the agreements of 1993, 1996 and 2005.
  •  The 1993 and 1996 agreements also mandate that pending a final solution to the boundary question, the two sides shall strictly respect the LAC.
  • In these agreements, India and China have committed themselves to clarification and confirmation of the LAC to reach a common understanding of the alignment. But this process has made little progress since 2003.
  • Both sides have so far exchanged maps only in the central sector, leading to overlapping claims at several points due to “differences in perception”.

How should troops deal with face-offs?

  • In 2012, India and China had agreed to establish a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination to “study ways and means to conduct and strengthen exchanges and cooperation between military personnel and establishments in the border areas.”
  • The 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement lists several mechanisms to reduce misunderstandings and improve communication.
  • Article VI of the agreement prohibits either side from tailing the patrols of the other “in areas where there is no common understanding of the line of actual control”.

What is the way forward?

  • A review of the agreements should be done.
  • Both sides should abide by all the existing boundary agreements, maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and “avoid any action that could escalate matters”.
  • According to the five-point plan agreed between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Moscow on September 10 the two sides should expedite work to conclude new CBMs to maintain and enhance peace and tranquillity in the border areas.

7 . Life markers on Venus

Context: An international team of astronomers led by Jane S. Greaves of Cardiff University and University of Cambridge, U.K., have announced the discovery of traces of a molecule known as phosphine on Venus.

About the research

  • According to the researchers Phosphine could originate from unknown photochemistry or geochemistry, or, by analogy with biological production of [phosphine] on Earth, from the presence of life.
  • Professor Greaves had first observed phosphine on Venus using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii in 2017.
  • The research was further pursued with the 45-telescope array ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) in Chile which led to a confirmation of their observations by this extremely sensitive instrument in 2019.

Have astronomers found definite signs of life?

  • The detected presence of phosphine on Venus does convey the possibility of life there.
  • After detecting the phosphine and estimating the amount in Venus’s atmosphere — 20 parts per billion — researchers have calculated whether this amount of phosphine can be produced by natural chemical processes, such as sunlight, volcanoes erupting and lightning.
  • The other mechanisms could at most produce only ten-thousandth of the amount of phosphine they have detected.
  • But they do not rule out the possibility that there could be unknown natural processes (photochemistry or geochemistry) that can produce this amount of the biomarker.

Why is phosphine gas considered a biomarker of life?

  • A molecule of phosphine gas consists of a phosphorus atom surrounded by three hydrogen atoms, just like ammonia consists of a nitrogen atom surrounded by three hydrogen atoms.
  • On Earth, this molecule is produced by industrial processes. It is also produced by some anaerobic bacteria, which live in oxygen-sparse environments such as sewers, landfills, or even animal guts.
  • It is the biochemical processes that form a source of the gas and hence it is considered a biomarker in astronomy.

Has phosphine been found on other planets?

  • Phosphine has been seen on Jupiter and Saturn.
  • As early as the 1970s, when the first exoplanets were not even discovered experimentally, phosphine was seen on Jupiter.
  • But on Jupiter phosphine is said to form deep in the interiors of the gas giant and rise to the top, in a purely chemical process.

Venus is considered to be a hostile planet. How can life survive there?

  • The surface temperature of Venus, at about 470 degrees Celsius which is too hot to harbour life.
  • It is hot enough to melt lead. It is hotter than Mercury which is closest to the sun.
  • According to a senior astronomer who is a member of the Astronomical Society of India, this is so because Venus has experienced a runaway greenhouse effect which traps all heat that falls on it. But high up in its atmosphere, there are clouds which can provide a cooler home for microbial life.
  • Even there, the atmosphere is teeming with sulphuric acid vapour which makes it extremely hostile, thereby reducing the chance of finding life forms.
  • According to the expert, the phosphine signature could be the sign of some extraordinary chemistry, as it could be of life forms.

Have space missions been sent to Venus?

  • There have been several space missions to study Venus, and some of the recent dedicated missions are the European Space Agency’s Venus Express and JAXA’s Akatsuki.
  • Many space missions have flown by Venus: for example, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe used the gravity of Venus to achieve gravity-assisted boosts to its velocity on its journey to the Sun.
  • NASA is planning a mission to Venus to be launched next year. The Indian Venus mission is being developed. Though formally unnamed, it is referred to as Shukrayaan-1.

9 . Facts for Prelims

Scrub typhus

  • Scrub typhus is also known as bush typhus.
  • It is a disease caused by a bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi.
  • Scrub typhus is spread to people through bites of infected chiggers (larval mites).
  • The most common symptoms of scrub typhus include fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes rash.
  • Most cases of scrub typhus occur in rural areas of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, Japan, India, and northern Australia. Anyone living in or traveling to areas where scrub typhus is found could get infected.
  • Treatment: Scrub typhus should be treated with the antibiotic doxycycline. Doxycycline can be used in persons of any age.
  • Prevention: There is no vaccine available to prevent scrub typhus. The risk of getting scrub typhus can be reduced by avoiding contact with infected chiggers.

Vehicle scrappage Policy

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has formulated a note for Cabinet for the vehicle scrappage policy.
  • The ecosystem wll be voluntary and environment friendly which will phase out of unfit and old polluting vehicles.
  • The proposed policy will be applicable on all vehicles.
  • With this policy, India could emerge as a hub for automobile manufacturing as key raw material available from scrapping steel, aluminium and plastic were bound to be recycled, bringing down automobile prices by “20-30%.”

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