Daily Current Affairs : 5th and 6th September

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Terrorists under UAPA
  2. Global liveability Index & Press Freedom Index
  3. External Benchmark Rate
  4. Asteroid impact deflection assesment
  5. Facial payment system
  6. PMs visit to Russia
  7. Leprosy and Tuberculosis Screening Programme
  8. Lightning
  9. Facts for Prelims : Eastern Economic forum, antiquities, Tourism Ranking, Institution of Eminence

1 . Terrorist under UAPA

Context : Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, Hafiz Saeed of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), his deputy Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who planned and executed the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts are the first four persons designated as “terrorists” under the anti-terror law passed by Parliament

About the News

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a gazette notification declaring the four as ‘terrorists’ under clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 35 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.

About Section 35 of UAPA

  • The central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette, and add his name to the schedule 4 0f theact.
  • The government is not required to give an individual an opportunity to be heard before such a designation.
  • At present, in line with the legal presumption of an individual being innocent until proven guilty, an individual who is convicted in a terror case is legally referred to as a terrorist, while those suspected of being involved in terrorist activities are referred to as terror accused. The act does not clarify the standard of proof required to establish that an individual is involved or is likely to be involved in terrorist activities.

What happens when an individual is declared a terrorist?

  • The designation of an individual as a global terrorist by the United Nations is associated with sanctions including travel bans, freezing of assets and an embargo against procuring arms. The act, however, does not provide any such detail.
  • The act also does not require the filing of cases or arresting individuals while designating them as terrorists.
  • The act also seeks to give the central government the power to remove a name from the schedule when an individual makes an application. The procedure for such an application and the process of decision-making will also be decided by the central government.
  • If an application filed by an individual declared a terrorist is rejected by the government, the act gives him the right to seek a review within one month after the application is rejected.
  • Under the act, the central government will set up the review committee consisting of a chairperson (a retired or sitting judge of a High Court) and three other members. The review committee will be empowered to order the government to delete the name of the individual from the schedule that lists “terrorists”, if it considers the order to be flawed.
  • Apart from these two avenues, the individual can also move the courts challenging the government’s order.

2 . Global liveability Index & Press Freedom Index

Context : The national capital has dropped by six places to rank 118th on a list of the world’s most liveable cities due to increase in cases of petty crimes and poor air quality, an annual survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

About the Index

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit’s liveability rating quantifies the challenges that might be presented to an individual’s lifestyle in 140 cities worldwide.
  • Each city is assigned a score for over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories of Stability, Healthcare, Culture and environment, Education and Infrastructure.

About the Results

  • New Delhi is ranked 118th and Mumbai 119th
  • New Delhi registered the biggest decline in Asia, Mumbai also fell two places since last year to rank 119th on the list topped by Vienna (Austria) for the second consecutive year.
  • The EIU said decline in Mumbai’s rank was mainly due to a downgrade in its culture score, while New Delhi has fallen in the index because of downgrades to its culture and environment score as well as fall in the stability score owing to rising crime rates.
  • New Delhi has been given an overall score of 56.3, Mumbai has got 56.2, while top-ranked Vienna has scored 99.1 and least-ranked Damascus (Syria) has got 30.7 points.
  • A score between 50-60 points, which is the case for India, indicates constrained liveability conditions.

Reporters Without Border

  • Reporters Without Borders Reporters Without Borders (RWB), also known under its original name Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Paris that conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom of information and freedom of the press.
  • RWB compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries called as World Press Freedom Index based upon the organization’s assessment of their press freedom records
  • India’s rank is 140

3 . External Benchmark rate

Context : The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday made it mandatory for all banks to link floating rate loans — to retail customers and loans to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) — to an external benchmark. Some banks have already started to link home and auto loan rates to the repo rate, which is an external benchmark.


  • All loans such as for car and home disbursed from April 1, 2016 are linked to marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR).
  • The MCLR-based regime had replaced the earlier base rate regime to provide transparency in the transmission of monetary policy decisions.
  • MCLR is an interal benchmark rate that depends on various factors such as fixed deposit rates, source of funds and savings rate. The price of loan comprises the MCLR and the spread or the bank’s profit margin.

The problem with MCLR-based system

  • The biggest problem with the current system is the lack of required transmission of policy rates. When the RBI cuts repo rate there is no guarantee a borrower will get the benefit of the rate cut or that it will be transmitted down to him.
  • Due to internal benchmarking of loan price, policy rate cuts often don’t reach the borrowers.
  • The MCLR system is opaque since its an internal benchmark that depends on the way a bank does its business.

How the new system will work

  • Under the new system banks will have to link their lending rates with an external benchmark instead of MCLR. The RBI has given these options to banks: RBI repo rate, the 91-day T-bill yield; the 182-day T-bill yield; or any other benchmark market interest rate produced by the Financial Benchmarks India Pvt. Ltd.
  • One of these benchmarks will be used to decide the lending rate in addition to the spread, Banks will be free to decide their spread value but it will have to be fixed for the tenure of the loan. However, it can change if the credit score of the borrower changes. The interest rates under the new system will change every month.

How it will benefit borrowers

  • First, it will help better transmission of policy rate cuts which means an RBI rate cut will immediately reach the borrower in the current system in which internal benchmark is not influenced solely by the policy rate cut but depends on a variety of factors.
  • Second, it will make the system more transparent since every borrower will know the fixed interest rate and the spread value decided by the bank. It will help borrowers compare loans in a better way from different banks.
  • Under the new system, a bank is required to adopt a uniform external benchmark within a loan category so that there is transparency, standardisation and ease of understanding for the borrowers. This would mean that same bank cannot adopt multiple benchmarks within a loan category.

Repo Rate

  • Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (Reserve Bank of India in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Repo rate is used by monetary authorities to control inflation.

About Financial Benchmark India Pvt. Ltd (FBIL) 

  • Reserve Bank of India set up a Committee on Financial Benchmarks in June 2013 to review the existing systems governing major financial benchmarks in India.
  • The Committee headed by Shri Vijaya Bhaskar, the then Executive Director, Reserve Bank of India made wide-ranging recommendations to reform the benchmark administration in India.
  • These were accepted by the Reserve Bank of India in early 2014, who identified FIMMDA and FEDAI as the benchmark administrators for the Indian rupee interest rates and Forex benchmarks respectively.
  • It was suggested that these associations may jointly or independently form a separate entity to administer the benchmarks. This is the first major step for formation of Financial Benchmark India Pvt. Ltd (FBIL) as an independent benchmark administrator for interest rates and foreign exchange.
  • The FBIL, jointly owned by FIMMDA, FEDAI and IBA, was formed in December 2014 as a private limited company under the Companies Act 2013.


  • Its aim is to develop and administer benchmarks relating to money market, government securities and foreign exchange in India.
  • It is responsible for all the aspects relating to the benchmarks to be issued by it, namely, collection and submission of market data and information including polled data , formulation, adoption and periodic review of benchmark calculation methodologies, calculation, publication and administration of benchmarks confirming to the highest standards of integrity, transparency and precision

4 . Asteroid Impact Deflection Assesment

Context : Among all the causes that will eventually cause the extinction of life on Earth, an asteroid hit is widely acknowledged as one of the likeliest. Over the years, scientists have suggested different ways to ward off such a hit, such as blowing up the asteroid before it reaches Earth, or deflecting it off its Earth-bound course by hitting it with a spacecraft. Now, scientists have embarked on a plan to test their expertise with the second of these two methods.

About the Mission

  • It is an ambitious double-spacecraft mission to deflect an asteroid in space, to prove the technique as a viable method of planetary defence.
  • The mission includes NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), is known as the Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA).
  • The target is the smaller of two bodies in the “double Didymos asteroids” that are in orbit between Earth and Mars. Didymos is a near-Earth asteroid system. Its main body measures about 780 m across; the smaller body is a “moonlet” about 160 m in diameter.
  • The project aims to deflect the orbit of the smaller body through an impact by one spacecraft. Then a second spacecraft will survey the crash site and gather the maximum possible data on the effect of this collision, ESA explained in a statement.
  • NASA is building the Double Asteroid Impact Test (DART) spacecraft for launch in summer 2021. It is planned to collide with the target at 6.6 km/s in September 2022. Flying along with DART will be an Italian-made miniature CubeSat, called LICIACube, to record the moment of impact.
  • ESA’s contribution is a mission called Hera, which will perform a close-up survey of the post-impact asteroid, acquiring measurements such as the asteroid’s mass and detailed crater shape. Hera will also deploy a pair of CubeSats for close-up asteroid surveys and the very first radar probe of an asteroid.
  • All this would allow researchers to model the efficiency of the collision. This can help turn this experiment into a technique that could be repeated, as needed, in the event of a real threat

5 . Facial Payment System

Context : No cash, no cards, no wallet, and no smartphones: China’s shoppers are increasingly purchasing goods with just a turn of their heads as the country embraces facial payment technology.

About Facial Payment System

  • China’s mobile payment infrastructure is one of the most advanced in the world, but the new systems — which require only face recognition — being rolled out nationwide could make even QR codes seem old-fashioned.
  • Customers simply make a purchase by posing in front of point-of-sale (POS) machines equipped with cameras, after linking an image of their face to a digital payment system or bank account.
  • The software is already widely used, often to monitor citizens — it has been credited with nabbing jaywalkers and catching criminals.
  • But authorities have come under fire for using it to crack down and monitor dissent, particularly in China’s surveillance-heavy region of Xinjiang.

6 . PMs recent visit to Russia

Major agreements / decisions taken during the visit

  • Two sides “underlined the primacy of international law and emphasised their commitment to the purposes and the principles stated in the UN Charter including the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of member states
  • Proposal has been made to have a full fledged maritime route between Chennai and Vladivostok. A Memorandum of Intent was signed in this regard.
  • The two sides noted the pace of progress achieved in the construction of the remaining four of the six nuclear power plants at Kudankulam.
  • Russia will help train Indian astronauts for the manned space mission — Gaganyaan.
  • Two sides vowed to upgrade their defence cooperation, including by fostering joint development and production of military equipment, components and spare parts.
  • They called for reform of the UN Security Council to reflect contemporary global realities. Russia expressed its support for India’s candidacy for a permanent membership of the UNSC.
  • The sides intend to focus particularly on increasing the effectiveness of countering terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, cross-border organized crime, and information security threats, in particular by improving the functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure
  •  The two leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and called on the international community to set up a united front to fight against this evil.
  • They reiterated their commitment to further strengthen global non-proliferation. Russia expressed its strong support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
  •  The two sides expressed their support for an inclusive peace and Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation in Afghanistan.
  •  They reaffirmed their commitment to building an equal and indivisible security architecture in Asia and the Pacific region.
  • The two sides signed 15 agreements/MoUs in areas such as defence, air, and maritime connectivity, energy, natural gas, petroleum and trade.

Importance of Chennai to Vladivostok Maritime route

About the route

  • In Russian, Vladivostok is ‘Ruler of the East’. Located on the Golden Horn Bay north of North Korea and a short distance from Russia’s border with China, it is the largest port on Russia’s Pacific coast, and home to the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy.
  • It is the eastern railhead of the legendary Trans Siberian Railway, which connects the far east of Russia to the capital Moscow, and further west to the countries of Europe.
  • At Vladivostok’s massive port, shipping and commercial fishing are the main commercial activities. Automobiles are a major item of import at the port, from where they are often transported further inland.
  • An ocean liner travelling from Vladivostok to Chennai would sail southward on the Sea of Japan past the Korean peninsula, Taiwan and the Philippines in the South China Sea, past Singapore and through the Strait of Malacca, to emerge into the Bay of Bengal and then cut across through the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago to Chennai.


  • India is building nuclear power plants with Russia’s collaboration in Kudankulam on the sea coast in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district. The opening of a sea route is likely to help in the project.
  • A vibrant sea route will help in the upscaling of trade relations between the two nations.
  • It will also increase India’s presence in the Indo-Pacific, and especially the South China Sea, a deeply contested patch of the ocean that Beijing considers its stomping ground.

$1 billion line of credit for development of Russia’s Far East

  • India’s connection to Russia’s Far East go back a long way. India was the first country to open a Consulate in Vladivostok.
  • For the development of Far East, India will give line of credit worth USD 1 billion.

7 . Leprosy and Tuberculosis Screening Programme

Context : In India, screening for disease is usually associated with non-communicable rather than communicable diseases. Since last month, India has embarked on a large-scale plan to screen all children for leprosy and tuberculosis. If a person is suspected to have either of the two, s/he will be sent to a higher centre for confirmation. The existing Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) infrastructure will be used for the screening.

About Leprosy and Tuberculosis

  • Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. It usually affects the skin and peripheral nerves, but has a wide range of clinical manifestations. The disease is characterised by a long incubation period that is generally 5-7 years. It is a leading cause of permanent physical disability. Timely diagnosis and treatment of cases, before nerve damage has occurred, is the most effective way of preventing disability due to leprosy.
  • Tuberculosis infection, caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is one of the most common communicable diseases in India, its transmission fuelled by unhygienic, crowded living conditions. It is said that most Indians carry the bacterium and the infection flares up when their immunity levels are low, like when they are malnourished or suffering from conditions like AIDS in which the body’s immune system is compromised.
  • Both diseases are infectious and India has a substantial burden — its tuberculosis burden is the highest in the world. Children tend to be more prone to catching infectious diseases from their peers because of long hours in confined spaces and more bodily contact than in adults. Addressing the problem early would ensure that the infection cycle is broken.

Incidence rate in India

  • India eliminated leprosy in 2005 — WHO defines elimination as an incidence rate of less than one case per 10,000 population. All states except Chhattisgarh and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli have eliminated leprosy. However, 1.15 lakh to 1.2 lakh new leprosy cases are still detected every year
  • TB kills an estimated 4,80,000 Indians every year — an average over 1,300 every day. India also has more than a million “missing” cases every year that are not notified. Most remain either undiagnosed or unaccountably and inadequately diagnosed and treated in the private sector. The problem in the latter case is that many of these patients do not complete the full course of the antibiotic, thus exposing the bacterium to the medicine without fully killing it. This is trigger enough for the bacterium to evolve into a version of itself that is resistant to that particular drug.

About the Mission

  • Launched in 2013 under the National Health Mission, RBSK is focused on preventing disease and disability in children.
  • Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services basically refer to early detection and management of a set of 30 health conditions prevalent in children less than 18 years of age. These conditions are broadly defects at birth, diseases in children, deficiency conditions and developmental delays including disabilities, together described as 4Ds.
  • Until now, neither leprosy nor TB were a part of the programme.
  • In 2017, India had set a target of elimination of leprosy by 2018. The deadline has passed but leprosy remains a challenge in a country that launched the National Leprosy Eradication Programme way back in 1955.
  • For tuberculosis, the global Sustainable Development Goal target is to end the disease is 2030. However, there is a new urgency in India’s TB control efforts since last yearas India advanced the deadline for India to end TB to 2025.

8 . Lightning

Formation of Lightning

  • Lightning is a very rapid and massive discharge of electricity in the atmosphere. Some of it is directed towards the Earth.
  • It is a result of the difference in electrical charge between the top and bottom of a cloud. The lightning-generating clouds are typically about 10-12 km in height, with their base about 1-2 km from the Earth’s surface. The temperatures at the top range from -35°C to -45°C.
  • As water vapour moves upwards in the cloud, it condenses into water due to decreasing temperatures.
  • A huge amount of heat is generated in the process, pushing the water molecules further up. As they move to temperatures below zero, droplets change into small ice crystals. As they continue upwards, they gather mass, until they become so heavy that they start descending.
  • It leads to a system where smaller ice crystals move upwards while larger ones come down. The resulting collisions trigger release of electrons, in a process very similar to the generation of electric sparks. The moving free electrons cause more collisions and more electrons; a chain reaction is formed.
  • The process results in a situation in which the top layer of the cloud gets positively charged while the middle layer is negatively charged.
  • The electrical potential difference between the two layers is huge, of the order of billions of volts.
  • In little time, a huge current, of the order of lakhs to millions of amperes, starts to flow between the layers.
  • It produces heat, leading to the heating of the air column between the two layers of cloud. It is because of this heat that the air column looks red during lightning. The heated air column expands and produces shock waves that result in thunder sounds.

How does lightning strike Earth?

  • The Earth is a good conductor of electricity. While electrically neutral, it is relatively positively charged compared to the middle layer of the cloud.
  • As a result, an estimated 20-25 per cent of the current flow gets directed towards the Earth. It is this current flow that results in damage to life and property.
  • Lightning has a greater probability of striking raised objects on the ground, such as trees or buildings. Once they are sufficiently near the ground, about 80-100 m from the surface, they even tend to redirect their course to hit the taller objects. This is because travelling through air, which is a bad conductor of electricity, the electrons try to find a better conductor and also the shortest route to the relatively positively charged Earth’s surface.
  • Thousands of thunderstorms occur over India every year. One thunderstorm can involve more than 100 lightning strikes.

Lightning Strikes in India

  • Lightning strikes have caused at least 1,311 deaths in the four-month period between April and July this year, according to a first-of-its-kind report on lightning incidents in India. 
  • It counted 65.55 lakh lightning strikes in India during this four-month period, of which 23.53 lakh (36 per cent) happened to be cloud-to-ground lightning, the kind that reaches the Earth.
  • The other 41.04 lakh (64 per cent) were in-cloud lightning, which remains confined to the clouds in which it was formed.

9 . Facts for Prelims

Eastern Economic Forum

  • The Eastern Economic Forum was established by decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2015 to support the economic development of Russia’s Far East and to expand international cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.


  • Standing Buddha 6th-7th century — East India
    • The Buddha is seen holding a garment (snaghati) in his raised left hand while the other hand is probably in varadamudra. Standing Buddha, originally from Bodh Gaya Math Compound in Bihar, was reported missing by former ASI Director-General Debala Mitra. It was later found displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. After an inquiry, the Met Museum returned the work in March 1999.
  • Sridevi 12th-13th Century Tamil Nadu
    • The Chola bronze image of Sridevi is in a tribhanga pose holding probably a lotus stem in her raised left hand. She wears a high crown, bangles, earrings, necklace, anklets and a breast band. The sculpture, smuggled out of India by notorious antiquity dealer Subhash Kapoor, was seized by the US Homeland Securities in New York and returned to India in June 2016.
  • Brahma -Brahmani 14th-15th century — West India
    • The marble sculpture was stolen from an open air museum at Rani Ki Vav in Patan, Gujarat, in November 2001. The discovery of the theft came to light in 2012 when a strikingly similar image of the sculpture appeared on an illustrated advertisement by London-based antique dealer Jeremy Knowles. The issue was examined by the ASI, which concluded that the Brahma-Brahmani stolen from Patan and the image on the advertisement was the same. India got back the work after 15 years, when the-then UK High Commissioner took its possession from London-based Art Loss Register.
  • Mithunas 1st century — Rajasthan
    • The two amorous Mithuna sculptures from Atru, near Kota in Rajasthan, were stolen from the ruins of a Vishnu temple built in 965-70 BC. One of these sculptures was found to be illustrated through an advertisement in the Hong Kong-based journal, Arts of Asia (March-April 2010). A French national, Michel Postel, on seeing the advertisement, met Indian Ambassador to France, Rajan Mathai, and requested him to follow up with the officials in the UK. Interpol then issued an alert when the sculpture was supposed to move from London to New York. Homeland Securities seized the work in April 2010, while the second sculpture was seized in July the same year.

Travel and Tourism Competitive Report

  •   Travel and Tourism Competitive Report” report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks the travel & tourism competitiveness of 140 economies.
  • The biennial “Travel and Tourism Competitive Report” shows that India has made the greatest improvement since 2017 among the top 25 per cent of the countries that were previously ranked, the WEF said in a statement.
  • Overall, India is ranked 34, up six places from 2017.

Institution of Eminence

  • The Human Resource Development Ministry has awarded the status of Institute of Eminence to the IIT-Madras, the IIT-Kharagpur, Delhi University, Benares Hindu University and the University of Hyderabad
  • Four private universities — the Vellore Institute of Technology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Jamia Hamdard University and the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology — were issued Letters of Intent to grant them the status.
  • The new greenfield Bharti Institute, a project of Airtel’s Satya Bharti Foundation, has also been issued the letter.

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