Daily Current Affairs : 31st December 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. China Renaming places situated in Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Electoral Bonds
  3. Pangolin
  4. Facts for Prelims
  5. Places in News

1 . China Renaming places situated in Arunachal Pradesh

Context : China Thursday ‘renamed’ 15 places — including residential areas, mountains, rivers and a mountain pass — situated in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as its own territory called ‘South Tibet’.

Details of Chinese Action

  • China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced on Wednesday that it had standardised in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of 15 places in Zangnan, the Chinese name for Arunachal Pradesh
  • This is in accordance with regulations on geographical names issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet, it said in a report.
  • Among the official names of the 15 places, which were given exact longitude and latitude, eight are residential places, four are mountains, two are rivers and one is a mountain pass
  • This is not the first time China has “standardised” names of places in Arunachal Pradesh. The first batch of changed names were issued in 2017 for six places in the state.

New Border Law of China

  • The move comes two days before Beijing’s new border law, initially passed earlier this year and titled the ‘Land Border Law of the People’s Republic of China’, is to come into effect on 1 January 2022
  • The law, which aims to strengthen border control, directly concerns countries that share a land border with China, and has potential implications for India’s ongoing tensions with it along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Details of New Border Law

  • First, it gives powers to state to take necessary action against any act that threatens its sovereignty. It stipulates that ‘the state shall take measures to resolutely safeguard territorial integrity and land border security, and guard against and combat any acts that undermine territorial sovereignty and land boundaries.’
  • Second, it focuses on the need for ‘development of infrastructure at the border, public services and infrastructure in border areas, encouraging and supporting people’s lives and work there, and promoting coordination between border defence and social, economic development in border areas.’ According to article 43 of the law, “the state supports the construction of border towns, improves the system of border towns, and strengthens the construction of supporting infrastructure.”
  • Third, ‘it gives powers to the Central Military Commission to give directions to relevant military organs for organising, directing and coordinating the defence and control of land borders, maintain social stability, deal with emergencies, and cooperate in border defence.’
  • Fourth, the law states that ‘the PLA, the armed militia, and local governments support and coordinate border defence, border management, and infrastructure. This underlines coordination among the civil and military organs for the defence of borders.  

2 . Electoral Bonds

About Electoral Bonds

  • An electoral bond is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India.
  • The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice.
  • The bonds are similar to bank notes that are payable to the bearer on demand and are free of interest.
  • An individual or party will be allowed to purchase these bonds digitally or through cheque. 

When was electoral bond introduced

  • The electoral bonds were introduced with the Finance Bill (2017). On January 29, 2018 the Narendra Modi-led NDA government notified the Electoral Bond Scheme 2018. 

How to use electoral bonds

  • The bonds will be issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 100,000 and Rs 1 crore (the range of a bond is between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 crore).
  • These will be available at some branches of SBI. A donor with a KYC-compliant account can purchase the bonds and can then donate them to the party or individual of their choice.
  • Now, the receiver can encash the bonds through the party’s verified account. The electoral bond will be valid only for fifteen days. 

When are the bonds available for purchase

  • The electoral bonds are available for purchase for 10 days in the beginning of every quarter.
  • The first 10 days of January, April, July and October has been specified by the government for purchase of electoral bonds.
  • An additional period of 30 days shall be specified by the government in the year of Lok Sabha elections. 

Electoral bonds: Conditions 

  • Any party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent General elections or Assembly elections is eligible to receive electoral bonds.
  • The party will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the electoral bond transactions can be made only through this account. 
  • The electoral bonds will not bear the name of the donor. Thus, the political party might not be aware of the donor’s identity. 

Are electoral bonds taxable

  • In February 2017, the then finance minister Arun Jaitley said that the donations would be tax deductible. Hence, a donor will get a deduction and the recipient, or the political party, will get tax exemption, provided returns are filed by the political party. 

Reasons for introduction of electoral Bonds

  • Electoral bonds were being introduced to ensure that all the donations made to a party would be accounted for in the balance sheets without exposing the donor details to the public. 
  • The government said that electoral bonds would keep a tab on the use of black money for funding elections. In the absence of electoral bonds, donors would have no option but to donate by cash after siphoning off money from their businesses, the government

Controversy over electoral bond

  • Experts are of the view that if the electoral bonds scheme had been introduced to bring about greater transparency, the government must not restrain from allowing details of such donations to be made public. 
  • Experts and several politicians say that since neither the purchaser of the bond nor the political party receiving the donation is required to disclose the donor’s identity, the shareholders of a corporation will remain unaware of the company’s contribution.
  • Voters, too, will have no idea of how, and through whom, a political party has been funded. 
  • Opponents of the electoral bond scheme argue that since the identity of the donor has been kept anonymous, it could lead to an influx of black money.
  • Some others allege that the scheme was designed to help big corporate houses donate money without their identity being revealed.
  • According to civil rights societies, the concept of donor “anonymity” threatens the very spirit of democracy. The Congress party said that the donations made through electoral bonds were equivalent to money laundering.

Restrictions that were done away with after the introduction of the electoral bond scheme 

  • Earlier, no foreign company could donate to any political party under the Companies Act
  • A firm could donate a maximum of 7.5 per cent of its average three year net profit as political donations according to Section 182 of the Companies Act 
  • As per the same section of the Act, companies had to disclose details of their political donations in their annual statement of accounts. The government moved an amendment in the Finance Bill to ensure that this proviso would not be applicable to companies in case of electoral bonds. Thus, Indian, foreign and even shell companies can now donate to political parties without having to inform anyone of the contribution. 

What does the Supreme Court have to say on electoral bonds

  • Supreme Court asked all the political parties to submit details of donations received through electoral bonds to the ECI.
  • It also asked the Finance Ministry to reduce window of purchasing electoral bonds from 10 days to five days. The apex court is yet to fix a date for hearing other pleas against the electoral bonds. 

On what grounds has the scheme been challenged in court?

  • The petitioners have stated that the Electoral Bonds Scheme has “opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate donations to political parties and anonymous financing by Indian as well as foreign companies which can have serious repercussions on the Indian democracy”.
  • The scheme, they have said, has “removed the caps on campaign donations by companies and have legalised anonymous donations”. This poses a “serious danger to the autonomy of the country and are bound to adversely affect electoral transparency, encourage corrupt practices in politics, and have made the unholy nexus between politics and corporate houses more opaque and treacherous and is bound to be misused by special interest groups and corporate lobbyists”.

The petitioners have raised four major objections:

  • Ordinary citizens will not be able to know who is donating how much money to which political party, and the bonds “increase the anonymity of political donations”.
  • The requirement to disclose in the profit and loss account the name of the political party to which a donation has been made, has also been removed.
  • With the removal of the 7.5% cap on the net profits of the last three years of a company, corporate funding has increased manifold, as there is now no limit to how much a company, including loss-making ones, can donate. This opens up the possibility of companies being brought into existence by unscrupulous elements primarily for routing funds to political parties through anonymous and opaque instruments like electoral bonds.
  • The contribution received by any eligible political party in the form of electoral bonds will be exempt from income-tax as per Section 13A of the Income Tax Act

What does the Election Commission think of electoral bonds?

  • In its affidavit to the Supreme Court filed the EC said that “any donation received by a political party through an electoral bond has been taken out of the ambit of reporting under the Contribution Report”, and if information on the money received through such bonds is not reported, “it cannot be ascertained whether the political party has taken any donation in violation of provisions” of the Representation of the People Act, which “prohibits the political parties from taking donations from government companies and foreign sources
  • The Commission also flagged the issue of laws being changed to allow political parties to receive contributions from foreign companies, which would “allow unchecked foreign funding of political parties in India which could lead to Indian policies being influenced by foreign companies”.
  • In its affidavit to the Supreme Court filed on March 25, the EC said that it had written to the Union Ministry of Law and Justice in April 2017 that “certain provisions of the Finance Act, 2017 and corresponding amendments carried out in the Income-Tax Act, the Representation of the People Act, and the Companies Act will have serious repercussions/ impact on the transparency aspect of political finance/ funding of political parties

What are the government’s arguments on these issues?

  • The government has been defending the scheme on the ground that it limits the use of cash in political funding, thus bringing more transparency, and provides a shield to donors by granting them anonymity.
  • It told the Supreme Court in its affidavit that the introduction of the scheme “has brought in a marked shift from the old electoral system which suffered from many lacunas” as “massive amounts of political donations were being made in cash, by individuals/corporates, using illicit means of funding” and identity of the donors was not known and “the ‘system’ was wholly opaque and ensured complete anonymity”.
  • It argued that “all payments made for the issuance of the electoral bonds are accepted only by means of a demand draft, cheque or through the Electronic Clearing System or direct debit to the buyers’ account”; “no black money can, therefore, be used for the purchase of these bonds”.
  • The goverment underlined that buyers must comply with KYC requirements, and the beneficiary political party has to “disclose the receipt of this money and must account for the same”. Also, limiting the time for which the bond is valid “ensures that the bonds do not become a parallel currency”.
  • According to the government, “non-disclosure of the identity of the donor is the core objective of the scheme, in order to safeguard the donor from political victimisation”, and “the records of the purchaser are always available in the banking channel and may be retrieved as and when required by enforcement agencies”.

 Reserve Bank of India on electoral bonds scheme 

  • RBI was critical of the scheme. The central bank had warned the government that the bonds would “undermine the faith in Indian banknotes and encourage money laundering.

3 . Pangolins

Context : The Odisha Forest and Environment Department has completed its first-ever radio-tagging of the Indian pangolin in an attempt to standardise the rehabilitation protocol for the animal in the State.

About the News

  • A male pangolin, which was rescued by the Paralakhemundi Forest Division last month, was radio-tagged and released in the Nandankanan Wildlife Sanctuary after treatment.
  • Radio-tagging involves attaching a transmitter to an animal to monitor its movements. The animal would be tracked using a Yagi antenna and receiver.
    • A Yagi antenna is a directional antenna consisting of a driven element such as dipole or folded dipole and additional parasitic elements, typically a reflector and one or more directors. It radiates in only one direction and is most commonly used in point-to-point communications
  • After Madhya Pradesh, Odisha is the second State in the country to release a radio-tagged Indian pangolin into the wild.
  • The exercise was expected to reveal valuable information on the ecology, dispersal pattern, home range and survival of the reclusive animal.

About Pangolins

  • Pangolins are the most illegally traded mammals in the world and the Indian pangolin is the largest among eight pangolin species.
  • Pangolins, or scaly anteaters as they are otherwise known, are unique mammals covered in hard scales, comprised of keratin. They predate almost exclusively on ants and termites and are predominantly nocturnal and elusive, secretive mammals.
  • There are eight extant species of pangolin. They comprise the Chinese pangolin, Indian pangolin, Sunda pangolin and Philippine pangolin, which inhabit Asia, and the white-bellied pangolin, black-bellied pangolin, giant pangolin and Temminck’s pangolin, which occur in Africa.
  • Paleo-archaeological evidence suggests pangolins may have evolved in Europe but the extant species are found only in Asia and Africa. They fulfil a similar ecological niche to anteaters in South America, but are unrelated, each having evolved to fill similar ecological roles through convergent evolution.
  • The word pangolin is derived from the Malay word ‘penggulung’ which means roller – representative of how pangolins behave when they feel threatened, rolling up into a ball.
  • They are poached and illegally traded in huge numbers in Asia, while in Africa they are hunted for wild meat and use in traditional African medicine, though evidence now suggests African pangolins and their derivatives are being targeted for trade to Asian markets. Consequently, pangolin populations are in severe decline and are thought to be locally extirpated in parts of both Asia and Africa.
  • Out of the eight species of pangolin, the Indian Pangolin and the Chinese Pangolin are found in India.
  • Both these species are listed under Schedule I Part I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Pangolin can curl itself into a ball as self-defense against predators such as the tiger.
  • World Pangolin Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in February, is an international attempt to raise awareness of pangolins and bring together stakeholders to help protect these unique species from extinction.

4 . Facts for Prelims

National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation

  • The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation in India (NTAGI) fulfils a need for informing decision-making concerning the introduction of new vaccines and strengthening the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).
  • The role and membership of NTAGI have expanded over the years in tune with the emerging needs and priorities of the Government of India.

5 . Places in News

Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP)

  • Nandankanan Zoological Park is a premier large zoo of India. Unlike other zoos in the country, Nandankanan is built right inside the forest and set in a completely natural environment.
  • Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) is the only conservation breeding centre for Indian pangolins in the world. The centre was established in 2009 to standardise the protocol for housing and husbandry of the endangered species. The centre has so far bred 10 animals in captivity, the department said.
  • First captive breeding centre for endangered Gharials in the year 1980.
  • Kanjia Lake – A wetland of National importance (2006).
  • Conservation Breeding Centres for Indian Pangolin and Long billed vultures.
  • First record of breeding of Indian Ratels in captivity (in 2012).
  • First zoo in the country to become member of World Association of Zoos & Aquarium (WAZA).
  • Only zoo in India after which an express train (Nandankanan Express) has been named by Indian Railways.


  • Mozambique, a scenic country in southeastern Africa. Mozambique is rich in natural resources, is biologically and culturally diverse, and has a tropical climate.
  • Its extensive coastline, fronting the Mozambique Channel, which separates mainland Africa from the island of Madagascar, offers some of Africa’s best natural harbours. 

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