Daily Current Affairs : 22nd December 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Standing Committees
  2. Article 31D
  3. UDAAN scheme
  4. James Webb Space
  5. Facts for Prelims – Chillai Kalan, World Press Freedom Index

1 . Standing Committees

Context : As the Lok Sabha on Tuesday sent the Bill which seeks to raise the age of marriage for women to 21 to a standing committee, Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said the proposed legislation would ensure uniformity across all religions and communities.

Note : Details of Bill already covered

About Standing Committee

  • Standing Committees are permanent and regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
  • The work of these Committees is of continuous nature.
  • The Financial Committees, DRSCs and some other Committees come under the category of Standing Committees.
  • Origin: Rules Committee of the Lok Sabha had recommended setting-up of 17 Department Related Standing Committees (DRSCs). Accordingly, 17 Department Related Standing Committees were set up on 8 April 1993. In July 2004, rules were amended to provide for the constitution of seven more such committees, thus raising the number of DRSCs from 17 to 24.
  • Members: Each of these committees have 31 members – 21 from Lok Sabha and 10 from Rajya Sabha. These members are to be nominated by the Speaker of Lok Sabha or the Chairman of Rajya Sabha respectively.

The functions of these Committees are:

  • To consider the Demands for Grants of various Ministries/Departments of Government of India and make reports to the Houses;
  • To examine such Bills as are referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may be, and make reports thereon;
  • To consider Annual Reports of ministries/departments and make reports thereon; and
  • To consider policy documents presented to the Houses, if referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha or the Speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may be, and make reports thereon.

Importance of Standing committees

  • Parliament deliberates on matters that are complex, and therefore needs technical expertise to understand such matters better.  Committees help with this by providing a forum where Members can engage with domain experts and government officials during the course of their study. 
  • Committees also provide a forum for building consensus across political parties.  The proceedings of the House during sessions are televised, and MPs are likely to stick to their party positions on most matters.  Committees have closed door meetings, which allows them to freely question and discuss issues and arrive at a consensus. 
  • After a Committee completes its study, it publishes its report which is laid in Parliament.  These recommendations are not binding, however, they hold a lot of weight. 

2 . Article 31D

Context : The word ‘anti-national’ has not been defined in statutes, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the Lok Sabha. It added that ‘anti-national activity’ was inserted in the Constitution during Emergency in 1976 but was removed later.


  • Constitution (Forty–Second Amendment) Act, 1976 inserted in the Constitution Article 31D (during Emergency) which defined ‘anti-national activity’ and this Article 31D was, subsequently, omitted by the Constitution (Forty-third Amendment) Act, 1977

Savings Clause

  • During the emergency, many changes were introduced to the constitutional scheme. One of the important changes was an introduction of a saving clause to the doctrine of Right to Constitutional Remedies.
  • In the constitutional journey of Indian democracy, saving clauses have been used for various reasons on the Part III of the Indian constitution which talks about people’s Fundamental Rights to consolidate state power. A saving clause in a simple sense is a sort of exception to the general rule and norm. It has been regularly used as a tool for centralising the federal system and acquisition of property.

Article 31 D ( Now repealed)

  • The heading of this article reads, saving of laws in respect of anti-national activities. It was there, for the first time, that the word anti-national appeared in the text of the constitution. This article is not a part of the constitution today as it was immediately repealed and omitted after the emergency by section two of the 43rd Amendment Act, 1978. Nevertheless, in the short life of its existence, it gave a broad summary of what was considered anti-national by law.
  • Article 31D was introduced by the section five of (in)famous 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. This article is often obscured by the unconstitutional judgement of ADM Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla [1976]. The first clause with two sub-clauses namely (a) and (b) of repealed and omitted provision read as follows:
  • Article 31D. Saving of laws in respect of anti-national activities. –
  • (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in article 13, no law providing for –
    • (a) the prevention or prohibition of anti-national activities; or
    • (b) the prevention of formation of, or the prohibition of, anti-national associations, shall be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by, article 14, article 19 or article 31.
  • The second clause of Article 31D precluded state legislatures from making of laws related to prevention and prohibition of anti-national activities and associations.
  • The third clause added an additional security net to the retrospective laws related to anti-national activities and associations. The state, by 42nd Amendment, introduced a law which derogated the Fundamental Rights of the people
    • Article 31D (3) Any law with respect to any matter referred to in sub-clause (a) or sub-clause (b) of clause (1) which is in force immediately before the commencement of section 5 of the constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976, shall continue in force until altered or repealed or amended by parliament.

Article 31 D (4)

  • The core of the provision was the five points of anti-national activities.
  • First, on intentions or and actions of solidarity to and towards cession and secession of territoriality of Indian State.
  • Second, any activity which disclaims, questions, threatens and disrupts the sovereignty and unity of the country.
  • Third, any intention of coup d’état. Fourth, intentions of creating and disrupting public services with the vaguely phrased internal disturbances.
  • Fifth, the perpetrations of religious, racial, regional, caste and communal hatred.
  • The persons who had association or membership of any of the five-point objectives or who would abet the activities were to be considered anti-national by law.

Repeal of the Act

  • Article 31D was omitted and was considered repealed by the 43rd Amendment.

3 . UDAAN scheme

Context : On Monday, Rajya Sabha MP Ramkumar Verma asked Minister of State for Civil Aviation V. K. Singh whether “most of the routes awarded under UDAN are not active”. Though the MoS declined to provide the exact number of the discontinued routes, he provided three reasons why this was happening. These included failure to set up airports or heliports due to lack of availability of land, airlines unable to start flights on routes awarded to them or finding the routes difficult to sustain, and adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is the UDAN scheme?

  • The Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme is a low-cost flying scheme launched with the aim of taking flying to the masses. The first flight under UDAN was launched in April 2017.
  • It is also known as the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) as it seeks to improve air connectivity to tier-2 and tier-3 cities through revival of unused and underused airports.
  • Airlines are awarded routes under the programme through a bidding process and are required to offer airfares at the rate of ₹2,500 per hour of flight. At least 50% of the total seats on an aircraft have to be offered at cheaper rates.
  • In order to enable airlines to offer affordable fares they are given a subsidy from the Government for a period of three years.
  • The Government had also earmarked ₹4,500 crore for revival of 50 airports in the first three years.

Status of the scheme

  • So far, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has awarded 948 routes under UDAN, of which 403 routes have taken off that connect 65 airports, which include eight heliports. Out of the total 28 seaplane routes connecting 14 water aerodromes, only two have commenced. However, in reality, some of the routes launched have been discontinued.
  • While the Ministry of Civil Aviation undertook interesting initiatives within the scheme to provide improved connectivity to hilly regions and islands through helicopters and seaplanes, as well as linking Assam with certain international destinations in South Asia and South East Asia, these mostly remain on paper.


  • Poor financial health of many smaller, regional carriers have been a bane for the scheme.
  • Many players don’t have more than one or two planes and they are often poorly maintained. New planes are too expensive for these smaller players.
  • Often, they also have problems with availability of pilots and are forced to hire foreign pilots which costs them a lot of money and makes the business unviable.

4 . James Webb Space

Context : NASA has announced the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on December 24.

About James Webb Space Telescope

  • Webb, the world’s premier space science observatory, will succeed the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s flagship telescope that has been in service for more than three decades now.
  • According to NASA Webb is the successor of Hubble whose science goals were motivated by the results from Hubble.
  • Webb will primarily study the universe in the infrared, while Hubble looks at it mainly at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths. Webb’s mirror is much larger than Hubble’s; it can, therefore, look farther back into time than Hubble. Also, Hubble is in a much closer orbit around Earth than Webb will be.
  • Wavelength: Webb’s four instruments to capture images and spectra of astronomical objects will provide wavelength coverage from 0.6 to 28 microns (the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum is from about 0.75 microns to a few hundred microns); the instruments on Hubble can observe mainly in the ultraviolet and visible parts of the spectrum from 0.1 to 0.8 microns. Infrared observations are important because light at this wavelength can penetrate the dust that shrouds newly formed stars and planets, and make them visible.
  • Size: Webb’s primary mirror is approximately 6.5 metres in diameter, giving it a significantly larger collecting area than the mirrors of the current generation of space telescopes. Hubble’s mirror has a diameter of 2.4 metres, which means Webb’s collecting area is around 6.25 times that of Hubble’s. Webb will cover more than ~15 times the field of view covered by Hubble’s NICMOS camera. Webb’s sunshield is about 22 m by 12 m, a little less than the size of a tennis court
  • Orbit : Hubble orbits the Earth at an altitude of ~570 km. Webb will not orbit the Earth, instead it will sit at the Earth-Sun L2 Lagrange point, 1.5 million km away. This means that Webb will orbit the Sun along with the Earth, but will stay fixed at the same spot in relation to the Earth and the Sun. At the L2 point, Webb’s solar shield will block the light from the Sun, Earth, and Moon, which will help it stay cool — important for an infrared telescope.
  • How Far : Because light takes time to travel, the farther away an object is, the farther back in time we are looking. Thus, while Hubble can see the equivalent of “toddler galaxies”, Webb will be able to see “baby galaxies”. This is also because Webb is an infrared telescope, and can see distant objects which are very dim at visible wavelengths of light.

5 . Facts for Prelims

World Press Freedom Index

  • World Press Freedom Index 2021 published by the international journalism not-for profit body, Reporters Without Borders (RSF),
  • India is ranked 142 this year, same as last year, after it had consistently slid down from 133 in 2016.
  • In the South Asian neighbourhood, Nepal is at 106, Sri Lanka at 127, Myanmar (before the coup) at 140, Pakistan at 145 and Bangladesh at 152.

Chillai Kalan

  • Chillai Kalan or Chillia Kalan is the local name given to 40 day period of harsh winter in Kashmir. It is the coldest part of winter, starting from 21 December to January 29 every yea

Leave a comment

error: Content is protected !! Copying and sharing on Social media / websites will invite legal action