Daily Current Affairs : 22nd April

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Autism
  2. Solar Powered Cow
  3. Biomarkers
  4. Solar Thermal
  5. Medicine labels in regional language
  6. Powers of Election Commission
  7. Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups
  8. National Monument Authority
  9. Air Pollution
  10. Facts for Prelims – Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, Indian Bull Frog

1 . Autism

Context : April 2 was celebrated as World Autism Day

About Autism

  • Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
  • Autism has many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged.
  • Indicators of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3.


  • Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental, influences.

2 . Solar Power Project

Context : Children from poor families in sub-Saharan Africa have been able to swap cleaning up cowpats for lessons thanks to a solar power project that rewards parents for sending them to school.

About the Project

  • South Korean solar firm Yolk has designed a cow-shaped solar power station for schools that can be used to charge power banks for families while their children are in class.
  • The design references the fact that many children are removed from school in order to care for their family’s cattle.
  • According to the company – “If the value is similar or more, then they’re wiling to send their children to school rather than the workplace. As a solar company, energy was an obvious solution – and power is also an expensive commodity in developing countries.
  • Many rural homes are not connected to the grid, meaning that households may have to walk several hours to reach a charging shop and pay to charge devices such as phones. ‘Solar cow’ charging stations are installed in schools and pupils are given a milk-bottle-shaped power bank which they plug into to charge if they attend class and take home at the end of the school day to provide households with electricity.
  • Each milk bottle contains about a dollar’s worth of electricity – a significant asset for the poorest families – and it can also be connected to a bulb fitting to provide up to 10 hours’ of light

Indian Examples

  • Saraswati Cycle Yojana – Chhattisgarh Government is providing the free bicycle to girl students in High school under the scheme of “Saraswati Cycle Yojana” as an initiative to promote education for girl students. Bicycle has turned out as a boon to the girls, which not only helps them to continue their studies but also served as a big help in doing daily chores related to house and market.
  • Mid day meal Scheme – The programme supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labour. The scheme provides positive effect on enrollment of disadvantaged children in schools

3 . Biomarkers

Context : By looking out for five biomarkers, it is now possible to tell in advance if a person with oral cancer of the gum and cheek has lymph node metastasis even before surgery is undertaken, a study has found

What are Biomarkers

  • The term biomarker refers to a broad subcategory of medical signs – that is, objective indications of medical state observed from outside the patient – which can be measured accurately and reproducibly.

About the Finding

  • In oral cancer patients, the cancer cells tend to commonly spread to the lymph node in the neck. But not all oral cancer patients have the tendency for the cancer to spread to other organs (metastasis)
  • The team found that there are five genomic features or biomarkers of lymph node metastasis in oral cancer patients. Two of these are rare, heritable DNA changes in BRCA2 and FAT1 genes. The remaining three are non-heritable (somatic) DNA alterations. The somatic DNA alterations can occur in genes belonging to three different pathways — mitotic G2/M cell-cycle pathway, homologous recombination (HR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) DNA-repair pathways.


  • As a result, an oral cancer patient can be spared of a neck dissection to investigate if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in case the five biomarkers are absent. Lymph node dissection increases morbidity.

4 . Solar Thermal

Context : Use of solar thermal is yet to catch the imagination of investors and users; the key is to incentivise industry to use this less expensive method of heating

About Direct Solar Energy

  • Direct solar energy source consist of solar rays reaching the atmosphere. They can be collected by two different technologies: solar photovoltaics (also known as solar PV) and solar thermal systems. 

Solar Photovoltaics

  • Solar PV panels are a relatively newer technology compared to thermal. There are few types of them – Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline and Thin-film solar panels. They absorb sunlight and transform it into electricity by utilizing a silicon based technology

Solar Thermal

  • Solar thermal power is usually used for water heating. It’s a simple technology: the panels on your roof are the collectors of sunlight, thus heating up the liquid in the tubes which is then transported into your cylinder ready for use.


  • Solar PV is based on the photovoltaic effect, by which a photon (the basic unit of light) impacting a surface made of a special material generates the release of an electron. Solar thermal, on the other hand, uses sunlight to heat a fluid (depending on the particular application, it can be water or other fluid).
  • Sun-facing photovoltaic sheetsare called ‘panels’ or ‘modules’, whereas in solar thermal the stuff that lies open to sun are called ‘collectors’ and are measured in terms of square metres. They come in different forms, but primarily, as tubes, flat plates or reflectors that focus sunlight on to a heat-picking ‘thermic fluid’. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Regarding power plants, PV design is much simpler than that of thermal. A PV power station is formed of many solar panels connected in parallel and in serie. On the other hand, electricity generation using solar thermal technology implies the transmission of energy from a hot fluid to a generator. That has led to different and complex designs, some of them mentioned above.
  • At a smaller scale, domestic PV systems are more versatile than thermal systems, since they can power many appliances (solar thermal is limited to space and water heating). They also have a larger lifespan.

Advantages of Solar Thermal

  • Its possibility to store the energy generated, since thermal power plants don’t convert solar energy directly into electricity and domestic thermal systems always include a water tank where heat can be stored. PV systems, on the contrary, suffer from an inherent intermittency that stems from sunlight patterns. The storage of electricity is normally not considered an option, due to energy losses that make it really inefficient. That results in a more uniform and reliable supply of electricity by thermal plants.
  • Solar thermal technology for domestic use is much less complicated than solar PV. It’s important to point out that the energy generation for residential uses vary from thermal to PV systems. Thermal generate heat, while PV electricity. Thermal panels are also more space efficient.

5 . Medicine labels in regional language

Context : In order to counter fake, sub-standard and expired drugs, the Union Health Ministry has said Hindi and regional language will be used in the tendering process.

About the News

  • The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) recently recommended that government procurement agencies should take necessary steps in the tendering process to include the regional language, along with English, on the label of iron tablets and polio drops in government programmes

6 . Powers of Election Commission

From where does the EC derive its powers and what is its extent?

  • Article 324 says the superintendence, direction and control of all elections to Parliament, the State legislatures, and the offices of the President and Vice-President shall be vested in the EC.
  • The Article has been interpreted by courts and by orders of the EC from time to time to mean that the power vested in it is plenary in nature. It is seen as unlimited and unconditional in the matter of holding elections.
  • In other words, the EC can take any action it deems fit to ensure that elections and the election process are free and fair.
  • The independence of the EC is preserved by clauses in the Constitution that say the Chief Election Commissioner cannot be removed from office except in the manner provided for the removal of a Supreme Court judge and that the conditions of his service cannot be varied to the incumbent’s disadvantage after appointment

What kind of control does the EC have over civil servants during an election?

  • As the superintendence and control over all aspects of the election process is vested in the EC, it exercises direction and control over civil servants deployed for election-related work.
  • This means that bureaucrats engaged in the administrative aspects of elections, including police officers with law and order duties, are also amenable to the EC’s jurisdiction.
  • This power enables the EC to monitor both the manner in which civil servants perform their election-related duties, and prevent activities which may be seen as partisan.
  • The EC often cites its vast powers under Article 324 to transfer or suspend officials during election time, even though they normally come under the disciplinary purview of the government of India or the State governments.

What are the possible actions it can take against candidates and parties?

  • The EC monitors the adherence of political parties and candidates to the ‘Model Code of Conduct’. The code is a set of norms laid down by the EC, based on a consensus among political parties, spelling out the dos and don’ts for elections.
  • However, it does not have statutory value, and it is enforced only by the moral and constitutional authority of the EC. If the violations are also offences under election law and the criminal law of the land, the EC has the power to recommend registration of cases against the offenders.
  • However, for some violations — such as canvassing for votes during a period when electioneering is barred, making official announcements while the MCC is in force, and making appeal to voters on sectarian grounds — the EC has the power to advise or censure candidates, in addition to directing registration of cases. In some cases, as recent incidents would show, the EC may bar candidates or leaders from campaigning for specified periods.
  • Asking individuals to leave a constituency or barring entry into certain areas are other powers that the EC may exercise.
  • These powers are not necessarily traceable to any provision in law, but are generally considered inherent because of the sweeping and plenary nature of the EC’s responsibility under the Constitution to ensure free and fair elections.
  • Its powers extend to postponing elections to any constituency, cancelling an election already notified, and even to abrogate or annul an election already held.

What are the limitations of the EC’s powers?

  • The EC does not have the power to disqualify candidates who commit electoral malpractices. At best, it may direct the registration of a case.
  • The EC also does not have the power to deregister any political party.
  • The Constitution empowers the EC to decide whether a candidate has incurred disqualification by holding an office of profit under the appropriate government, or has been declared an insolvent, or acquired the citizenship of a foreign state.
  • When a question arises whether a candidate has incurred any of these disqualifications, the President of India or Governor has to refer it to the EC. The poll panel’s decision on this is binding.
Magzter [CPS] IN

7 . Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups


  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups. Due to this factor, more developed and assertive tribal groups take a major chunk of the tribal development funds, because of which PVTGs need more funds directed for their development.
  • In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, while in 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 17 states and one Union Territory (UT), in the country (2011 census).
  • Currently there are 75 tribal groups have been categorized categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)s. PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands. 

How they are identified

  • According to the procedure, the state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.


  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc


  • The Scheme seeks to adopt a holistic approach to the socio-economic development of PVTGs and gives state governments flexibility in planning initiatives that are geared towards the specific socio-cultural imperatives of the specific groups at hand.
  • Activities supported under the scheme include housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, cattle development, construction of link roads, installation of non conventional sources of energy, social security, etc.
  • Each state and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ administration, is required to prepare a long term Conservation-cum-Development (CCD) plan, valid for a period of five years for each PVTG within its territory, outlining the initiatives it will undertake, financial planning for the same and the agencies charged with the responsibility of undertaking the same.
  • The CCD Plan is approved by an Expert Committee, appointed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The Scheme is then funded entirely by the Central government.

8 . National Monument Authority

About National Monument Authority

  • National Monuments Authority (NMA) under the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India has been setup as per provisions of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 which was enacted in March, 2010.
  • Formed in 2010 with the enactment of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR), the NMA has been tasked with coming up with heritage by-laws for protected monuments in the country.

Functions & Powers of NMA

  • Make recommendations to the Central Government for grading and classifying protected monuments and protected areas declared as of national importance under sections 3 and 4, before the commencement of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010.
  • Make recommendations to the Central Government for grading and classifying protected monuments and protected areas which may be declared after the commencement of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, as of national importance under section 4;
  • Oversee the working of the competent authorities;
  • To suggest measures for implementation of the provisions of this Act;
  • To consider the impact of large-scale development projects, including public projects and projects essential to the public which may be proposed in the regulated areas and make recommendations in respect thereof to the competent authority;
  • To make recommend actions to the competent authority for grant of permission.


  • The Act provides for NMA to be constituted with a Chairperson and up to 5 Whole Time and 5 Part Time Members each and a Member Secretary. DG ASI is an ex officio Member.

9 . Air Pollution

Context : India can achieve its air quality goals if it completely eliminates emissions from household sources

About the News

  • A recent study has pointed out that the use of firewood, kerosene and coal in the households contributed to about 40% of the PM 2.5 pollution in the Gangetic basin districts. This number varied across the country but household emissions remained one of the major culprits behind air pollution.
  • The results showed that by eliminating household emissions the average outdoor air pollution levels could be reduced and brought within the national ambient air quality standards.
  • If all households transitioned to clean fuels, about 13% of premature mortality in India could be averted. At the national scale, mitigating household emissions is also expected to bring large health benefits.

Way Forward

  • Study has demonstrated that mitigating at a household level is the easiest and more practical way out for the government to reduce not only the household pollution but also outdoor air pollution at the national scale
  • We also need a multi-pronged approach to control emission from other major sectors like industries, transportation, and power plants to effectively address the air pollution issue.

10 . Facts for Prelims

Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo

  • Distinguished by the green and brown plumage on its back, the dimunitve Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo ( Chalcites basalis ) is a native of Australia and New Guinea.
  • IUCN Status – Least Concern

Two other first time visitors were also recorded on the islands over 2017-18.

  • The Zappey’s Flycatcher ( Cyanoptila cumatilis ) a song bird that breeds in China and spends the winters in the Malay peninsula, Sumatra and Java, was spotted six times in different areas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands between December 2017 and March 2018 — at least thrice in pairs. IUCN Status – Near Threatened
  • That year researchers recorded the presence of the Javan Pond Heron (Ardeola speciosa ), usually found in Thailand and Cambodia. IUC Status – Least Concern

Indian Bull Frog

  • It is a large species of frog found in mainland Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal.
  • It has been introduced in Madagascar and India’s Andaman Islands where it is now a widespread invasive species

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