Daily Current Affairs : 28th and 29th August

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. UNCCD
  2. Gooty Spider
  3. Child Well being index
  4. Fedor
  5. CITES
  6. One Country Two System Policy
  7. New Study to Check Antibiotic resistance in Ganga
  8. VIP Protection Categories
  9. Werewolf syndrome, Currency and gold revaluation account, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Coprolite 


Context : A week ahead of a United Nations conference here that will see experts from over 90 countries deliberate ways to combat desertification, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said India had committed to rejuvenate 50 lakh hectares (5 million) of degraded land between 2021 and 2030.

About the News

  • Desertification is a worldwide problem directly affecting 250 million people and a third of the earth’s land surface.
  • India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation. About 29% or about 96.4 million hectares are considered degraded.
  • At the UNFCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India also joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge and pledged to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.
  • To fight this menace, India will convert degraded land of nearly 50 lakh hectares to fertile land in next 10 years; it will implement provisions of New Delhi Declaration which is to be adopted at the end of conference and a Centre for Excellence will be established at Dehradun

Govt Efforts

  • Schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Health Card Scheme, Soil Health Management Scheme and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana are seen as ways to tackle land degradation


  • Convention entered into force in December 1996 is one of the three Rio Conventions along with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • India became a signatory to UNCCD on 14th October 1994 and ratified it on 17th December 1996. T
  • he main objective of the convention is to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, involving long-term integrated strategies that focus simultaneously, in affected areas, on improved productivity of land, and the rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources, leading to improved living conditions, in particular at the community level.
  • The Convention’s 197 parties work together to improve the living conditions for people in drylands, to maintain and restore land and soil productivity, and to mitigate the effects of drought.
  • The UNCCD is particularly committed to a bottom-up approach, encouraging the participation of local people in combating desertification and land degradation.
  • India will be hosting the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) from 2-13 September 2019

Note : UNCCD is comprehensively covered under PIB Analysis of June 15th and 16th

2 . Tarantula

Context : In an interesting find, researchers have sighted a critically endangered species of tarantula for the first time beyond its known habitat in the Eastern Ghats.

About the News

  • The spider belonging to the genus Poecilotheria, commonly known as the Peacock Parachute Spider or Gooty Tarantula was spotted by a team of researchers of the Puducherry-based Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF) in the Pakkamalai Reserve Forests near Gingee in Villupuram district.

About Gooty Spider

  • Poecilotheria metallica / Gooty Spider is an Old World species of tarantula. It is the only blue species of the genus Poecilotheria. Like others in its genus it exhibits an intricate fractal-like pattern on the abdomen
  • The species, known to be endemic to India, was found at different locations in the reserve forests.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorised it as Critically Endangered.
  • The spider was sighted way back in 1899 by Reginald Innes Pocock on the basis of a single female specimen in Gooty. About 102 years later this species has been recorded at degraded forest between Nandyal and Giddalur in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Gooty Spider has its name as metallica because of its bright colour
  • Tarantula spiders are usually harmless to humans

3 . Child Well being index

Context : Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry topped the charts in the child well-being index, a tool designed to measure and tracks children’s well-being comprehensively. Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh featured at the bottom, as per a report released by the non government organisation World Vision India and research institute IFMR LEAD.

About the Report

  • The report is an attempt to look at how India fairs on child well-being using a composite child well-being index.
  • The India child well-being index is a crucial report that can be mined both by the Government and civil organisations to achieve the goal of child well-being and we will use this report effectively.
  • Report provides insights on health, nutrition, education, sanitation and child protection. Our government is fully committed towards securing the rights and well-being of children and, for this, we are making investments in this regard.
  • The dimensions of the index include healthy individual development, positive relationships and protective contexts.
  • “Focusing on the three key dimensions, 24 indicators were selected to develop the computation of the child well-being index. The report highlights the multi-dimensional approach towards measuring child well-being — going beyond mere income poverty.

Key Findings

  • The report calls for States to look at their respective scores on the dimensions of child well-being, and to prepare for priority areas of intervention with specific plans of action.
  • It also hopes to trigger policy level changes, seek better budgetary allocations and initiate discussions with all stakeholders, which can help in enhancing the quality of life of all children in the country.


  • It has brought to the fore compelling insights on child well-being in India.
  • One of the primary objectives of index is to garner attention to the under-researched theme of child well-being in India, and inspire further academic and policy conversations on related issues.
  • Some of the key indicators that need to be studied in the future include mobile usage, digital access, financial literacy, mental health and quality of relationships per se, between parents/peers and children

4 . Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research (Fedor)

Context : On Tuesday, the humanoid robot Fedor, the first from Russia sent into orbit, reached the International Space Station. Short for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research, Fedor can be operated manually by ISS astronauts wearing robotic exoskeleton suits. The robot mirrors their movements.

About Fedor

  • FEDOR copies human movements, which will enable it to perform tasks that are risky for astronauts strapped onto an exoskeleton. It is 180 cm tall and weighs 160 kg.
  • It will also test new emergency rescue system.
  • Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor, also known as Skybot F850, was strapped into a specially adapted pilot’s seat, with a small Russian flag in hand.
  • Such robots will eventually carry out dangerous operations such as space walks. It will also test new emergency rescue system.
  • Fedor is Russia’s first robot in space, other countries have previously sent theirs. In 2011, NASA sent up Robonaut 2, a humanoid developed with General Motors that had a similar aim of working in high-risk environments.


Context : India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of star tortoises (Geochelone elegans), the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and small-clawed otters (Anoyx cinereus) in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora) have been approved.

About the Proposal

  • These species have been listed under Appendix I of CITES and will now enjoy the highest degree of protection as there will be a complete international ban enforced on their trade.
  • Tokay Gecko was included in Appendix II
  • The upgradation was approved at the Conference of the Parties (COP18) held at Geneva.

About Star Tortoise

  • Indian star tortoise is small reptile that belongs to the family of tortoises. It can be found in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Indian star tortoise inhabits dry and arid forests, scrublands and grasslands. Major threats for the survival of Indian star tortoises are introduction of new species, habitat loss and uncontrolled hunting and collecting from the wild due to exotic pet trade. Despite these factors, Indian star tortoise is still numerous and widespread in the most parts of its range
  • The species is categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union of Conservation of Nature and a decline greater than 30% was predicted by 2025 if the exploitation continued or expanded.

About Small-clawed Otter and Smooth coated otter

  • The Asian small-clawed otter (Amblonyx cinerea), also known as the oriental small-clawed otter or simply small-clawed otter, is a semi aquatic mammal native to South and Southeast Asia.
  • It is the smallest otter species in the world. Its paws are a distinctive feature; its claws do not extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes. This gives it a high degree of manual dexterity so that it can use its paws to feed on molluscs, crabs and other small aquatic animals.  it is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List
  • The smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) is an otter species occurring in most of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, with a disjunct population in Iraq. As its name indicates, the fur of this species is smoother and shorter than that of other otter species.
  • In case of the small-clawed otter and smooth-coated otter, which are traded for their fur in the international market, numbers are also declining due to habitat loss.

Tokay gecko

  • The tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) is a nocturnal arboreal gecko in the genus Gekko, the true geckos. It is native to Asia and some Pacific Islands.
  • This species is poached for the medicinal trades in parts of Asia . Its inclusion in CITES Appendix II will bring some restriction on the sale

Note : CITES covered under Daily Current Affairs of August 9

6 .One Country Two System Policy

Context : Protests in Hong Kong, now in its 13th consecutive week, have brought a decades-old policy of the People’s Republic of China back into focus — One Country Two Systems.

About One Country Two System Policy

  • It means that the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions, both former colonies, can have different economic and political systems from that of mainland China, while being part of the People’s Republic of China.


  • The One Country Two Systems policy was originally proposed by Deng Xiaoping shortly after he took the reins of the country in the late 1970s. Deng’s plan was to unify China and Taiwan under the One Country Two Systems policy. He promised high autonomy to Taiwan.
  • China’s nationalist government, which was defeated in a civil war by the communists in 1949, had been exiled to Taiwan. Under Deng’s plan, the island could follow its capitalist economic system, run a separate administration and keep its own army but under Chinese sovereignty. Taiwan, however, rejected the Communist Party’s offer.
  • The island has since been run as a separate entity from the mainland China, though Beijing never gave up its claim over Taiwan.

About the System in Hong Kong and Macau

  • The idea of two systems in one country resurfaced when Beijing started talks with Britain and Portugal, who were running Hong Kong and Macau, respectively. The British had taken control of Hong Kong in 1842 after the First Opium War.
  • In 1898, the British government and the Qing dynasty of China signed the Second Convention of Peking, which allowed the British to take control of the islands surrounding Hong Kong, known as New Territories, on lease for 99 years. London promised Peking that the islands would be retuned to China after the expiry of the lease, in 1997. Macau, on the other side, had been ruled by the Portuguese from 1557. They started withdrawing troops in the mid-1970s.
  • In the 1980s, Deng’s China initiated talks with both Britain and Portugal for the transfer of the two territories.
  • In talks, Beijing promised to respect the region’s autonomy under the One Country Two Systems proposal.
  • On December 19, 1984, China and the U.K. signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration in Beijing, which set the terms for the autonomy and the legal, economic and governmental systems for Hong Kong post 1997.
  • Similarly, on March 26, 1987, China and Portugal signed the Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau in which China made similar promises for the region of Macau after it was handed over to Beijing.
  • Hong Kong returned to Chinese control on July 1, 1997, and Macau’s sovereignty was transferred on December 20, 1999. Both regions became Special Administrative Regions of China.
  • The regions would have their own currencies, economic and legal systems, but defence and diplomacy would be decided by Beijing. Their mini-Constitutions would remain valid for 50 years — till 2047 for Hong Kong and 2049 for Macau. It is unclear what will happen after this term.

Recent crisis

  • In recent years, there has been a growing outcry from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy civil society against China’s alleged attempts to erode the city’s autonomy. This has created tensions between the city’s youth and the local government, which is effectively chosen by Beijing.
  • This year, Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, proposed the extradition Bill, which sought to extradite Hong Kongers to places with which the city doesn’t have extradition agreements.
  • Critics said it would allow the city government to extradite Beijing critics to mainland China where the judicial system is subservient to the ruling Communist Party.

7 . New Study to Check Antibiotic resistance in Ganga

Context : The government has commissioned a ₹9.3 crore study to assess the microbial diversity along the entire length of the Ganga and test if stretches of the 2,500 km long river contain microbes that may promote “antibiotic resistance”.

About the Project

  • The project, expected to last two years, is to be undertaken by scientists at the Motilal Nehru Institute of Technology, Allahabad; the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur; Sardar Patel Institute of Science & Technology, Gorakhpur, as well as start-up companies, Phixgen and Xcelris Labs.
  • The latter two provide genome sequencing services, which in this case will involve mapping the genomes of the microbes sampled.
  • Aims of the research project, according to a note by the National Mission for Clean Ganga under the Jal Shakti Ministry is to indicate the type of “contamination” (sewage and industrial) in the river and “threat to human health (antibiotic resistance surge)”, identifying sources of Eschericia coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the gut of animals and humans. While largely harmless, some species have been linked to intestinal disease as well as aggravating antibiotic resistance.

8 . VIP Protection Categories

Context : Govt recently downgraded the security cover of former PM Manomhan Singh, from Special Protection Group (SPG) to Z plus of the CRPF. The security cover of several other VIPs too has been downgraded.

How the level of protection is decided

  • The Home Ministry takes the decision based on inputs from intelligence agencies, which include the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing. They largely give a subjective measure of threat to life or injury to a person from terrorists or any other group, based on information from their sources.
  • Certain individuals, by dint of their position in government, are automatically entitled to security cover. These include the Prime Minister and his immediate family. The Home Minister and officials such as the National Security Adviser too generally get security cover on the basis of their position.
  • Since none of the intelligence agencies in India is accountable to any statutory body, barring the internal oversight of the Home and External Affairs Ministries, VIP security is sometimes seen as open to manipulation. A number of protectees, it has been alleged, are under security cover for political reasons and not necessarily due to any real threat.

Various protection levels?

  • There are largely six types of security covers: X, Y, Y plus, Z, Z plus and SPG.
  • While SPG is meant only for the PMs and his immediate family, other categories can be provided to anyone about whom the Centre or state governments have inputs about facing a threat.
    • The X category on an average entails just one gunman protecting the individual;
    • Y has one gunman for mobile security and one (plus four on rotation) for static security;
    • Y plus has two policemen on rotation for security and one (plus four on rotation) for residence security;
    • Z has six gunmen for mobile security and two (plus eight) for residence security;
    • Z plus has 10 security personnel for mobile security and two (plus eight) for residence security.
  • There are various kinds of cover within these levels. These include security of residence, mobile security, office security and inter-state security. Different VIPs are given different kinds of cover depending on threat perception. F
  • Then, different forces may be engaged for residence and mobile security. Many protectees get residence security from state police and mobile security from a Central Armed Police Force (CAPF).

Who are SPG? Whom do they protect?

  • The SPG is a force raised specifically for the protection of the PM, former PMs and their immediate family.
  • The force is currently 3,000 strong and protects only four people —PM Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi.
  • In 1985, the Birbal Nath Committee set up by the Home Ministry recommended raising a Special Protection Unit (SPU), and 819 posts were created under the Cabinet Secretariat. The SPU was then re-christened SPG and the post of Inspector General of Police was re-designated as director.
  • For three years , SPG functioned under executive orders. In 1988, Parliament passed the SPG Act. Then, the Act did not include former prime ministers. When V P Singh came to power in 1989, his government withdrew SPG protection given to his predecessor Rajiv Gandhi. After Rajiv’s assassination in 1991, Singh faced much criticism and the SPG Act was amended to offer protection to all former PMs and their families for at least 10 years.
  • In 2003, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government again amended the SPG Act to bring the period of automatic protection down from 10 years to “a period of one year from the date on which the former prime minister ceased to hold office” and beyond one year based on the level of threat as decided by the government. During the Vajpayee regime, the SPG cover of former PMs such as H D Deve Gowda, I K Gujaral and P V Narasimha Rao were withdrawn.

National Security Guard

  • The NSG was founded as a special commando unit for surgical strikes against organised terrorist attacks within the country. It was envisaged in the wake of high casualties and damage during Operation Blue Star in 1984.
  • It is a “Federal Contingency World Class Zero Error Force” to deal with terrorism. It is a force “specially trained and equipped to deal with specific situations and therefore to be used only in exceptional circumstances to thwart serious acts of terrorism”.
  • Yet its mandate of the force has been diluted over the years with the burden of VIP security. NSG has two groups of personnel and officers: Special Action Group (SAG) and Special Ranger Group (SRG). SAG is drawn from the Army and focuses on counter-terror training and action; SRG is used for VIP security.

9 . Facts for Prelims

Werewolf Syndrome

  • At least 17 children developed so-called “werewolf syndrome” in a major medicine mix-up in Spain, the health ministry
  • Werewolf syndrome,” also known as hypertrichosis, is the excess production of hair, either in one specific area or all over the body

Currency and gold revaluation account

  • Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India has decided not to transfer any amount from the CGRA (currency and gold revaluation account), which has Rs 730,000 crore of unrealised gains, to the government as recommended by the Bimal Jalan committee.
  • CGRA comprises unrealised gains or losses on foreign currency assets and gold due to movement in exchange rate and prices of gold. There will be no distribution of unrealised revaluation balances.
  • The contention of the RBI Board as well as the Jalan committee is that central bank doesn’t have the money in its CRGA account as it’s unrealised balance.
  • CGRA can be used not only for meeting the risks of USD-INR, cross-currency and gold price movements, but also for interest rate risks. Similarly, the Investment Revaluation Account-Rupee Securities and IRA-FS Investment Revaluation Account-Foreign Securities can meet currency and gold price risks in addition to the interest rate risks.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

  • The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), previously known as the Empire Parliamentary Association, is an organisation which works to support good governance, democracy and human rights.
  • As of 1989, the CPA acknowledges as Patron – the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – and as Vice-Patron, by rotation Heads of State or Heads of Government of the Commonwealth national government hosting its upcoming annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.
  • The Association’s supreme authority is the General Assembly, constituted by delegates to the annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.
  • The business and activities of the CPA are managed by an Executive Committee, which reports to the General Assembly.
  • The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) currently has approximately 180 branches and is divided into nine regions – Africa; Asia; Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean; Canada; Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic; India; Pacific, and South-East Asia. The CPA Headquarters Secretariat is based in London.
  • India is a member of CPA and consists of State legislatures as well as Parliament of India


  • Scientists have found the oldest parasite DNA ever recorded. The discovery was made in the “coprolite” of a prehistoric puma in Argentina.
  • Coprolites are fossilised faeces belonging to animals that lived millions of years ago.
  • Scientists can analyse and study their shape and size and depending on the location they were found in, they can figure out the animal from which they came as well as uncover what those animals ate
  • For example if there are bone fragments in the faeces, it tells scientists that the animal might have been a carnivore. Tooth marks can reveal how the animal ate.

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