Daily Current Affairs : 29th July

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Species Extinction
  2. Kashmir Mediation
  3. Deep Ocean Mission
  4. Amazon Forest
  5. Section 11 of RPA
  6. Iconic Tourist sites
  7. Integrated Battle Groups
  8. Military Logistics Support Agreement
  9. Facts for Prelims : Agent Smith, Securitypedia, Ulhas River, Dolutegravir

1 . Species Extinction

Context : Four species of fauna and 18 species of flora have gone extinct in India in the past few centuries, according to wildlife survey organisations.

Details of the Survey

  • As per the survey India is home to 11.5% of all flora in the world. India has about 6.49% of all the fauna species in the world
  • According to the International Union for Conservation Of Nature, a new study has shown that since 1750, more than double the number of plants have disappeared from the wild than birds, mammals and amphibians combined.
  • As per information given by the BSI, 18 species of plants — four non-flowering and 14 flowering — have gone extinct.
  • The notable among them are Lastreopsis wattii , a fern in Manipur discovered by George Watt in 1882 and three species from the genus Ophiorrhiza (Ophiorrhiza brunonis , Ophiorrhiza caudate and Ophiorrhiza radican ), all discovered from peninsular India. Corypha taliera Roxb, a palm species discovered in Myanmar and the Bengal region by William Roxburgh is also extinct.
  • Among mammals, the cheetah (Acionyx jubatus)and the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensisi) are considered extinct in India.
  • The pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllaceai) is feared extinct since 1950 and the Himalayan quail (Ophrysia supercililios) was last reported in 1876.

Reasons for Extinction

  • Factors like competition, predation, natural selection, and human induced factors like hunting, habitat degradation are some of the important reasons that have led to these extinctions

2 . Kashmir Mediation

Context : U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought mediation in Kashmir when they met during the G-20 summit in Osaka. In Parliament, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar categorically said that Mr. Modi did not request Mr. Trump to “mediate or arbitrate” on the Kashmir issue. He said India remains committed to discussing all issues with Pakistan bilaterally.

Background of US Mediation

  • In 1993, the new administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton decided to wade into the Kashmir issue, indicating repeatedly that it wished to mediate between India and Pakistan.
  • At the U.N. General Assembly in September, Mr. Clinton referred to resolving “civil wars from Angola to the Caucasus to Kashmir,” and a month later, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel questioned the validity of Kashmir’s ‘Instrument of Accession’ during a press briefing. India issued a strong protest against the statement
  • No U.S. leader has publicly mentioned about mediation in the past 25 years.

Why does India refrain from taking help?

  • India’s firm position against mediation on Kashmir or any other issue stems from several reasons, most notably a historical suspicion, since the 1950s and 1960s, as mediated talks by the United Nations and World Bank, the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia have been unsuccessful in resolving the issues between India and Pakistan
  •  Another reason is that India sees itself as a regional leader, and does not require any assistance in sorting out its issues with other regional countries.
  • There is a widespread belief that mediation favours the weaker party by levelling the playing field, and with its stronger conventional and non-conventional military prowess, India has seen no significant gain from bringing a third-party into its 70-year-old conflict with Pakistan.

United Nations attempt to mediate?

  • The early attempts at mediation by the UN were made after India took its complaint against Pakistan’s forced occupation of parts of Kashmir (PoK) to the UN Security Council on January 1, 1948.
  • The UN then set up the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) which proposed mediating a resolution along a three-point action plan:
    • Pakistani demilitarisation of the Kashmir region, followed by Indian reduction in military presence, and a proposed final resolution by an impartial U.N. administered plebiscite to “determine the wishes of the Kashmiri people”.
  • The deal never got off the ground as Pakistan never agreed to demilitarise, and India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made it clear that a plebiscite would never be accepted.
  • Where the UNCIP was successful was in mediating a ceasefire in 1949, and negotiating the geographical location of the cease-fire line which would be monitored by the United Nations Military Observer Group In India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).
  • Individual U.N. representatives continued to visit both sides from 1949 to 1953 but failed to improve the atmosphere for a resolution, or to convince either side to demilitarise the two sides of the LoC.
  • The first United Nations Representative for India and Pakistan (UNRIP) appointed to mediate the dispute was Sir Owen Dixon, an Australian jurist, who was followed by Frank Graham, an American diplomat, who gave up after his proposal was rejected by New Delhi and Karachi (then the capital of Pakistan) in April, 1953.

Successful Mediation

  • In 1960 World Bank guaranteed Indus Water Treaty
  • Territorial agreement on the Rann of Kutch, mediated successfully by the British government in 1965.
  • Soviet Premier Kosygin also moderated between Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Pakistani President Ayub Khan to broker the 1965 Tashkent peace agreement, but the treaty has always been marked by suspicion and doubts, tainted by Shastri’s sudden death at Tashkent.

U.S Mediation Attempts

  • The U.S. had provided India with planes and military hardware worth about $60 million during the war, and the price was that India should agree to mediated talks with Pakistan on Kashmir. The mediation was accepted because Nehru was in shock after the defeat to China, and the U.S. made it clear that any further military assistance was contingent on India’s cooperation on Kashmir talks.
  • On November 21, 1962, the day the war ended, a team of 24 American negotiators headed to India, led by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Averell Harriman. They worked, along with U.S. Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith and British High Commissioner Paul Gore-Booth to bring India to the table for six rounds of talks between Foreign Minister Swaran Singh and Pakistan Foreign Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Eventually, however as India regained its confidence, the talks floundered, and ended in 1963 after Nehru made it clear that India would never give up the Kashmir Valley.

Shimla Agreement & Lahore declaration

  • After winning the war with Pakistan that saw the creation of Bangladesh, India, in 1972, negotiated the Shimla Agreement, which did away with any idea of future mediation between the two countries.
  • According to the Agreement signed on July 2, 1972 by Indira Gandhi and by then President Bhutto, the two countries “resolved to settle their differences by peaceful means through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon between them”.
  • In February 1999, the Lahore declaration signed by Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee also affirmed the bilateral nature of issues and their resolution.

3 . International Sea Bed Authority & Deep Ocean Mission

Context : A five-year, ₹8,000-crore plan to explore the deepest recesses of the ocean has finally got the green signal from the government.

About Deep Ocean Mission

  • The ‘Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) will be led by the Union Earth Sciences Ministry will commence from October 31,
  • The mission proposes to explore the deep ocean similar to the space exploration started by ISRO about 35 years ago
  • India has been allotted a site of 75,000 sq. km. in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) by the UN International Sea Bed Authority for exploitation of polymetallic nodules (PMN).
  • These are rocks scattered on the seabed containing iron, manganese, nickel and cobalt. Being able to lay hands on even 10% of that reserve can meet the energy requirement for the next 100 years.
  • It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean. India’s Exclusive Economic Zone spreads over 2.2 million sq. km. and in the deep sea, lies “unexplored and unutilised”.

About International Sea Bed Authority

  • The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • It is established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area underlying most of the world’s oceans. It is an organization established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • The Authority is headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica
  • The exploitation system envisaged in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is overseen by the Authority,
  • A 15-year contracts was signed with seven organizations that had applied for specific seabed areas in which they were authorized to explore for polymetallic nodules. 

4 . Amazon Rain Forest

Context : Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro slashing environmental regulations and opening the region for farming and mining, the country’s portion of rainforest faces an unprecedented attack on its flora, fauna and tribes

Importance of Amazon Rain Forest

  • Carbon dioxide in, oxygen out
    • Under natural conditions, plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere and absorb it for photosynthesis, an energy-creating process that yields:
      • Oxygen, which is released back into the air
      • Carbon, which allows the plant to grow.
    • So, without tropical rainforests the greenhouse effect would likely be even more pronounced, and climate change may possibly get even worse in the future.
  • The importance of the Amazon rainforest for local and global climate
    • Tropical forests and woodlands (e.g. savannas) exchange vast amounts of water and energy with the atmosphere and are thought to be important in controlling local and regional climates
    • Water released by plants into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration (evaporation and plant transpiration) and to the ocean by the rivers, influences world climate and the circulation of ocean currents. This works as a feedback mechanism, as the process also sustains the regional climate on which it depends
  • Amazon rainforest could cure you
    • Humans have used insects, plants and other organisms in the region for a variety of uses; and that includes agriculture, clothing and, of course, cures for diseases.
    • Indigenous people have perfected the use of chemical compounds found in plants and animals. Knowledge of using these plants is usually held by a medicine man, who passes on this tradition to an apprentice, a process which has been ongoing for centuries and that forms an integral part of people’s identity. With rainforests going fast, the continuity of this knowledge for the benefit of future generations is under threat.
  • Untapped potential of the Amazon’s plants
    • Scientists believe that less than half of 1% of flowering plant species have been studied in detail for their medicinal potential. As the Amazon rainforest biome slowly shrinks in size, so does the richness of wildlife found in its forests, along with the potential use of plants and animals that remain undiscovered.

5 . Section 11 RPA

Context : Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang’s fate now rests with the Election Commission (EC) as he is learnt to have recently requested a waiver of the remaining period of his disqualification to retain the post.


  • Tamang served a year in prison, between 2017 and 2018, after he was found guilty of misappropriating government funds in a cow distribution scheme while he was the minister of animal husbandry in the 1990s. He was released on August 10, 2018.
  • Under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, those convicted and imprisoned under the Prevention of Corruption Act are disqualified from contesting elections during the period of incarceration and until six years after release.

About Section 11 of RPA

  • Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, empowers the EC to remove or reduce the period of disqualification

6 . Iconic Tourist sites

Context : During her Budget speech earlier this month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that 17 “Iconic Tourist Sites” in the country would be developed by the government into world class tourist destinations, to serve as a model for other tourism sites.

Sites selected as Iconic Tourist Sites

  • Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Ajanta & Ellora (Maharashtra), Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar (Delhi), Colva (Goa), Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Kaziranga (Assam), Kumarakom (Kerala) and the Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).

About iconic Tourist sites

  • The government is looking at overall development from the tourism point of view in and around these sites — which includes roads and infrastructure, hotels and lodges, connectivity and access”.
  • Several ministries, from Railways to Civil Aviation, will be involved, while the Tourism Ministry will be the nodal agency.
  • Interventions in and around the monuments will have elements of universal accessibility, green technology, and enhanced security for tourists.

7 . Integrated Battle Groups

What are Integrated Battle Groups

  • IBGs are brigade-sized, agile, self-sufficient combat formations, which can swiftly launch strikes against adversary in case of hostilities.
  • Each IBG would be tailor-made based on Threat, Terrain and Task and resources will be allotted based on the three Ts. They need to be light so they will be low on logistics
  • They will be able to mobilise within 12-48 hrs based on the location.
  • The IBGs will also be defensive and offensive. While the offensive IBGs would quickly mobilise and make thrust into enemy territory for strikes, defensive IBGs would hold ground at vulnerable points or where enemy action is expected. The composition of the IBGs would also depend on this.

About the Reorganisation

  • A command is the largest static formation of the Army spread across a defined geography, a corps is the largest mobile formation.
  • Typically each corps has three divisions and each division has three brigades.
  • The idea is to reorganise them into IBGs which are brigade-sized units but have all the essential elements like infantry, armoured, artillery and air defence embedded together based on the three Ts.


  • After the terrorist attack on the Parliament, the Indian military undertook massive mobilisation but the Army’s formations which were deep inside took weeks to mobilise loosing the element of surprise.
  • Following this, the Army formulated a proactive doctrine known as ‘Cold Start’ to launch swift offensive.
  • The ‘Cold Start’ doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces envisages swift deployment of troops on the western border within days if a situation of a full-blown war arises. This doctrine aims to allow Indian forces to conduct sustained attacks while preventing a nuclear retaliation from Pakistan. The operation would be carried out by a unified battle group involving various branches of India’s military.

8 . Military Logistics Support Agreement

Context : India is looking to conclude three Military Logistics Support Agreements (MLSA) by the year-end, which will further enhance the operational reach of the military in the region. India has already signed such agreements with a few countries beginning with the U.S. The Navy has been the biggest beneficiary of them.

About Military Logistics Support Agreement

  • Logistics agreements are administrative arrangements facilitating access to military facilities for exchange of fuel and provisions on mutual agreement, simplifying logistical support and increasing operational turnaround of the military away from India.
  • India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA) with the U.S. in August 2016
  • MLSA with Japan is called the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) and with Russia, the Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS).

Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA)

  • The ACSA would permit the Indian Navy (IN) access to a Japanese base in Djibouti, while the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) would be permitted to use India’s military installations on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands located in the Indian Ocean, which lie near the Malacca Straits, next to other naval facilities.

Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support (ARLS)

  • It is a military pact between India and Russia
  • The pact will be most beneficial to the Navy as warships will get access to mutual ports and exclusive economic zones to refuel and pick up supplies
  • The Indian Navy, with a significant strength of Russian origin warships, will be able to smoothly transit through for exercises or refits using the agreement while the air force will find it easier to deploy aircraft for joint exercises. Following the agreement, Russians could not only use ports like Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. 
  • Besides ports Russia would also be able to access airbases. India could do the same, when it comes to Russian ports and airbases. This includes access to Northern route and ports in Russian part of Arctic.


  • India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding (LEMOA) with the U.S.
  • LEMOA gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment.
  • The agreement will primarily cover four areas — port calls, joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. 

9 . Facts for Prelims

Bharat Stage VI Advantages

  • As per Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms for upgraded fuels, (IS: 2796 – petrol and IS: 1460 – diesel), sulphur content is reduced to 10 mg/kg max in BS-VI from 50 mg/kg under BS-IV. This key reduction in sulphur makes it possible to equip vehicles with better catalytic converters that capture pollutants.
  • BS-VI confers several benefits, the most important of which is limits set on Particle Number (PN) for engines, a reference to direct injection engines that emit more particulates but are more efficient and release less carbon dioxide. Also, there are lower limits for hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in diesel engines and lower Particulate Matter limits for both petrol and diesel engines.

Agent Smith

  • Agent Smith is a malware
  • Malware can replace apps on android phones with malicious versions without the user’s knowledge. Around 59% of those affected by Agent Smith are Indians
  • Unlike most malware, the creators of Agent Smith seem to have made the effort to identify all the latest vulnerabilities in the Android operating system and designed it specifically to exploit them
  • One such vulnerability is called the Janus, which was discovered in 2017 by cybersecurity researchers. It allows hackers to modify an app without affecting its own signature, which makes the hack impossible to detect.


  • Securitypedia is an online encyclopaedia launched by Central Industrial Security Force which incorporates a wide gamut of security-related practices across the globe


  • Based on new evidence assessing benefits and risks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended the use of the HIV drug dolutegravir (DTG) as the preferred first-line and second-line treatment for all populations, including pregnant women and those of childbearing potential. ‘Dolutegravir is safe for pregnant women’

Ulhas River

  • Ulhas River is a west flowing river in the state of Maharashtra

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