Daily Current Affairs : 8th & 9th October 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Shaheenbagh Verdict
  2. Nobel Chemistry Prize
  3. India – Japan
  4. Anti Trust Regulatory Framework
  5. Natural Gas Marketing Reforms
  6. Television Rating Points
  7. Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)
  8. Facts for Prelims

1 . Shaheenbagh Verdict

Context : The Supreme Court found the indefinite “occupation” of a public road by the Shaheen Bagh protestors unacceptable.


  • Petitioner had first approached the Delhi High Court, highlighting problems caused by the protests which led to the closure of the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch, including the Okhla underpass, from December 15, 2019.
  • Petitioner contended that public roads could not be encroached upon in this manner and sought a court direction to clear the roads.
  • The High Court, which heard the plea on January 14, 2020, disposed it the same day without any specific direction. It said Delhi Police had all the powers, jurisdiction and authority to control traffic in the larger public interest wherever protests or agitations were on. The High Court said it was up to authorities to take a call based on ground reality and the wisdom of police, especially in situations that could change every 10 minutes.

Details of the Supreme Court Verdict

  • The court said the protest, considered an iconic dissent mounted by mothers, children and senior citizens of Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), became inconvenient to commuters.
  • The judgment upheld the right to peaceful protest against a law but made it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied, and that too indefinitely. 
  • “Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case was not even one of protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters
  • The seeds of protest and dissent were sown deep during the Freedom struggle. But dissent against the colonial rule cannot be equated with dissent in a self-ruled democracy, Justice Kaul reasoned. 

Rights of free speech and peaceful protest & Right of the Commuters

  • In a democracy, the rights of free speech and peaceful protest were indeed “treasured”. They were to be encouraged and respected, the court said.
  • But these rights were also subject to reasonable restrictions imposed in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and public order. Police regulations also weighed in.
  • ‘Fundamental rights do not live in isolation. The right of the protester has to be balanced with the right of the commuter. They have to co-exist in mutual respect’.

2 . Nobel Chemistry Prize 

Context : Emmanuelle Charpentier of France and Jennifer Doudna of the U.S. on October 7 won the Nobel Chemistry Prize for the gene-editing technique known as the CRISPR-Cas9 DNA snipping “scissors”, the first time a Nobel science prize has gone to a women-only team.

Background of Gene Editing

  • Genome editing, or genome engineering, or gene editing, is a type of genetic engineering in which DNA is inserted, deleted, modified or replaced in the genome of a living organism. Unlike early genetic engineering techniques that randomly inserts genetic material into a host genome, genome editing targets the insertions to site specific locations.
  • Unusual but repeated DNA structures that scientists had been observing were given a name — Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats or CRISPR.


  • Scientists discovered that CRISPR is a key part of the “immune system”. For instance, when a virus enters a bacterium, it fights back by cutting up the virus’s DNA. This kills the virus but the bacterium store some of the DNA.
  • The next time there is an invasion, the bacterium produce an enzyme called Cas9 which matches the stored fingerprints with that of the invader’s. If it matches, Cas9 can snip the invading DNA.

Components of CRISPR Cas 9 Gene Editing Tool

  • The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool has two components — a short RNA sequence that can bind to a specific target of the DNA and the Cas9 enzyme which acts like a molecular scissor to cut the DNA.

Gene Editing using CRISPR

  • To edit a gene of interest, the short RNA sequence that perfectly matches with the DNA sequence that has to be edited is introduced.
  • Once it binds to the DNA, the Cas9 enzyme cuts the DNA at the targeted location where the RNA sequence is bound.
  • A DNA strand, when broken, has a natural tendency to repair itself. But the auto-repair mechanism can lead to the re-growth of a problematic sequence.
  • Scientists intervene during this auto-repair process by supplying the desired sequence of genetic codes, which replaces the original sequence.
  • It is like cutting a portion of a long zipper somewhere in between, and replacing that portion with a fresh segment.

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna’s Work

  • While researching a common harmful bacteria, Prof. Charpentier discovered a previously unknown molecule — part of the bacteria’s ancient immune system that disarms viruses by snipping off parts of their DNA.
  • After publishing her research in 2011, Prof. Charpentier worked with Prof. Doudna to recreate the bacteria’s genetic scissors, simplifying the tool so it was easier to use and apply to other genetic material.
  • They then reprogrammed the scissors to cut any DNA molecule at a predetermined site — paving the way for scientists to rewrite the code of life where the DNA is snipped.


  • Its simplicity has often been compared to the ‘Cut-Copy-Paste’ mechanism in any word processor (or probably, the equally common ‘Find-Replace’ mechanism), while its uses can potentially transform human beings, and all other life forms.
  • It can potentially eliminate genetic, and other, diseases, multiply agricultural production, correct deformities, and even open up the more contentious possibilities of producing ‘designer babies’, and bringing cosmetic perfection. In effect, anything that is linked with functioning of the genes can be corrected, or ‘edited’.
  • As the entire process is programmable, it has a remarkable efficiency, and has already brought almost miraculous results. There are a whole lot of diseases and disorders, including some forms of cancer, that are caused by an undesired genetic mutation. These can all be fixed with this technology.

3 . India – Japan

Context : India and Japan agreed on the text of an agreement for robust and resilient digital and cybersecurity systems.

Details of the Agreement

  • The agreement promotes cooperation in capacity building, research and development, security and resilience in the areas of Critical Information Infrastructure, 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), among others,” the statement said.
  • The firming up of the deal comes in the midst of growing concerns in India over cyber attacks from China, particularly after India banned over 100 mobile apps with Chinese links following the bitter border standoff between the two countries in eastern Ladakh.
  • A statement issued after the Cabinet meeting said the cyber-security pact will also provide for sharing strategies and best practices to promote the integrity of the supply chain of information and communication technology (ICT) products.

Indo Pacific Strategy

  • On the Indo-Pacific strategy, the statement said that the two ministers concurred that the region had acquired greater salience in recent times and underscored the need for India and Japan to work together for the benefit of the region.
  • “Reaffirming the similarities in their respective Indo-Pacific visions, that are based on rule of law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Japanese side agreed to be the lead partner in the connectivity pillar of the Indo-Pacific Oceans’ Initiative (IPOI) and jointly take both countries’ respective visions for the Indo-Pacific forward,” the statement said.

About IPOI

  • The IPOI was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bangkok last year, when the East Asia summit was held in early November.
  • The IPOI is an India-backed framework aimed at making meaningful efforts to create a safe and secure maritime domain in the Indo-Pacific, a region where China has been expanding its military assertiveness triggering global concerns.
  • As an open global initiative, the IPOI draws on existing regional cooperation architecture and mechanisms to focus on seven central pillars conceived around Maritime Security; Maritime Ecology; Maritime Resources; Capacity Building and Resource Sharing; Disaster Risk Reduction and Management; Science, Technology and Academic Cooperation; and Trade Connectivity and Maritime Transport.

4 . Anti Trust Regulatory Framework

Context : Google is facing a new antitrust case in India for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the Android smart-television market by creating barriers for companies which wanted to use or modify its android operating systems for their smart televisions, according to a report from Reuters.

India’s Anti Trust Laws

  • Competition Act which was enacted in 2002 is India’s Anti Trust Law. Berfore the competition Act it was Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1969 (MRTP Act)

About Competition Act 2020

  • Competition Act 2002 (Competition Act) regulates business practices in India so as to prevent practices having an appreciable adverse effect on competition (AAEC) in India.
  • The Competition Act primarily seeks to regulate three types of conduct: anti-competitive agreements, abuse of a dominant position and combinations (i.e., mergers, acquisitions and amalgamations).
  • The Competition Act has also created a new enforcement authority, the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which is solely responsible for the enforcement and administration of the Competition Act.
  • The CCI may initiate an inquiry in relation to an anti-competitive agreement or abuse of dominant position either on its own, on the basis of information or knowledge in its possession, or on receipt of information or on the receipt of a reference from the government or a statutory authority.
  • Any person, consumer or their associations can file a complaint/information relating to anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position. With respect to combinations, the CCI may initiate an inquiry either on its own or on the basis of the notification by the firms proposing to enter into the combination. 

5 . Natural Gas Marketing Reforms

Context : The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved ‘Natural Gas Marketing Reforms’, taking another significant step to move towards gas based economy.

Objective of the Policy

  • The objective of the policy is to prescribe standard procedure to discover market price of gas to be sold in the market by gas producers, through a transparent and competitive process, permit Affiliates to participate in bidding process for sale of gas and allow marketing freedom to certain Field Development Plans (FDPs) where Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.


  • The policy aims to provide standard procedure for sale of natural gas in a transparent and competitive manner to discover market price by issuing guidelines for sale by contractor through e-bidding.
  • This will bring uniformity in the bidding process across the various contractual regimes and policies to avoid ambiguity and contribute towards ease of doing business.

Other Features

  • The policy has also permitted Affiliate companies to participate in the bidding process in view of the open, transparent and electronic bidding. This will facilitate and promote more competition in marketing of gas. However, rebidding will have to be done in case only affiliates participate, and there are no other bidders.
  • The policy will also grant marketing freedom to the Field Development Plans (FDPs) of those Blocks in which Production Sharing Contracts already provide pricing freedom.


  • These reforms in gas sector will further deepen and spur the economic activities in the following areas:
    • The whole eco-system of policies relating to production, infrastructure and marketing of natural gas has been made more transparent with a focus on ease of doing business.
    • These reforms will prove very significant for Atmanirbhar Bharat by encouraging investments in the domestic production of natural gas and reducing import dependence.
    • These reforms will prove to be another milestone in moving towards a gas based economy by encouraging investments.
    • The increased gas production consumption will help in improvement of environment.
    • These reforms will also help in creating employment opportunities in the gas consuming sectors including MSMEs.
    • The domestic production will further help in increasing investment in the downstream industries such as City Gas Distribution and related industries.
  • No blocks were allocated between 2010 and 2017 which has impacted the long term viability of the domestic production. Since 2017 more than 1.6 lakh sq.km area under 105 exploration blocks have been allocated. This will ensure sustainability of the domestic production in long run.
  • Government brought a series of reforms in Gas sector and as a result investment of more than Rs. 70,000 crore is being made in the East coast. Gas production from East coast will contribute to Atmanirbhar Bharat by meeting increasing energy needs of the country.

6 . Television Rating Points

Context : Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said that police are looking into a scam about manipulation of TRPs (Television Rating Points) by rigging the devices used by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, which has the mandate to measure television audience in India.

What is TRP?

  • In simple terms, TRPs represent how many people, from which socio-economic categories, watched which channels for how much time during a particular period. This could be for an hour, a day, or even a week; India follows the international standard of one minute. The data is usually made public every week.
  • A consultation paper about television audience measurement and ratings in India floated by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in 2018 defined its importance as: “On the basis of audience measurement data, ratings are assigned to various programmes on television. Television ratings in turn influence programmes produced for the viewers. Better ratings would promote a programme while poor ratings will discourage a programme. Incorrect ratings will lead to production of programmes which may not be really popular while good programmes may be left out.”
  • TRPs are the main currency for advertisers to decide which channel to advertise on by calculating the cost-per-rating-point (CPRP).

What is BARC?

  • It is an industry body jointly owned by advertisers, ad agencies, and broadcasting companies, represented by The Indian Society of Advertisers, the Indian Broadcasting Foundation and the Advertising Agencies Association of India.
  • Though it was created in 2010, the I&B Ministry notified the Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies in India on January 10, 2014 and registered BARC in July 2015 under these guidelines, to carry out television ratings in India.

How is TRP calculated?

  • BARC has installed “BAR-O-meters” in over 45,000 empanelled households. These households are classified into 12 categories under the New Consumer Classification System (NCCS), the so-called “new SEC” adopted by BARC in 2015, based on the education level of the main wage earner and the ownership of consumer durables from a list of 11 items ranging from an electricity connection to a car.
  • While watching a show, members of the household register their presence by pressing their viewer ID button — every person in household has a separate ID — thus capturing the duration for which the channel was watched and by whom, and providing data on viewership habits across age and socio-economic groups. The panel chosen to capture TRPs must be representative of the country’s population, and the methodology must be economically viable for the industry.

How can TRP data be rigged?

  • If broadcasters can find the households where devices are installed, they can either bribe them to watch their channels, or ask cable operators or multi-system operators to ensure their channel is available as the “landing page” when the TV is switched on.
  • For TRPs, it does not matter what the entire country is watching, but essentially what the 45,000-odd households supposed to represent TV viewership of the country have watched. Broadcasters can target these households to fudge actual viewership data.
  • In the 2018 consultation paper, TRAI said: “One of the biggest challenges has been the absence of any specific law through which the agents/ suspects involved in panel tampering/infiltration could be penalised”. It noted that BARC “has filed FIRs in various police stations against the agents/ suspects involved in panel tampering/infiltration” but its efforts “to mitigate panel tampering/ infiltration have been hampered due to absence of any legal framework”.

How does panel tampering affect TRPs?

  • TRAI mentioned “panel infiltration has a significant impact when the panel size is smaller” and “with the increase in panel size, infiltration of panel homes becomes challenging”.
  • A senior industry insider said BARC has filed multiple FIRs in the past “as it tracks unusual viewership behaviour and takes action”. In the current case, the insider said an FIR was filed against employees of Hansa Research, which BARC hires for certain field jobs like going to panel households. BARC hires multiple agencies so that no single agency has the entire map of panel households across the country.
  • The source cited the example of English TV news, which has a small share of the national viewership pie at around 1.5%, which means that for around 45,000 panel households, around 700 households will contribute to the viewership. “What actually happens is that while your sample is around 700, not all of them are watching English TV news every day. Actual watching will be around 350 homes.” In such a scenario, the source said, “if you manage to rig 10 among the heavy viewing homes, then you can swing the needle big time”.
  • When the sample is smaller, “manipulation becomes easier”. In a genre like English news, “because fewer homes will have larger weightage, change in behaviour of one home gets amplified at a much larger scale nationwide”.
  • Additionally, as each channel tries to project itself as a market leader in a particular segment, it slices the data into socio-economic brackets on the basis of NCCS, age, gender, time slots (primetime) etc to find the perfect data slice. This too increases relative error in the data, because of the small sample size.

7 . Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)

Context : A Supreme Court-appointed pollution monitoring body has directed Delhi and neighbouring States to implement air pollution control measures under “very poor” and “severe” category air quality of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) from October 15, including a ban on the use of diesel generators, except for emergency activities.

About GRAP

  • GRAP is a plan that institutionalised measures to be taken when air quality deteriorates.
  • It was approved by the Supreme Court in 2016, the plan was formulated after several meetings that the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) held with state government representatives and experts.
  • GRAP works only as an emergency measure. If air quality reaches the severe+ stage, GRAP talks about shutting down schools and implementing the odd-even road-space rationing scheme.
  • GRAP was notified in 2017 by the Centre and draws its authority from this notification. Before the imposition of any measures, EPCA holds a meeting with representatives from all NCR states, and a call is taken on which actions has to be made applicable in which town.

Implementation under different Air Quality Index (AQI)

  • Severe+ or Emergency (PM 2.5 over 300 µg/cubic metre or PM10 over 500 µg/cu. m. for 48+ hours)
    • Stop entry of trucks into Delhi (except essential commodities)
    • Stop construction work
    • Introduce odd/even scheme for private vehicles and minimise exemptions
    • Task Force to decide any additional steps including shutting of schools
  • Severe (PM 2.5 over 250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 over 430 µg/cu. m.)
    • Close brick kilns, hot mix plants, stone crushers
    • Maximise power generation from natural gas to reduce generation from coal
    • Encourage public transport, with differential rates
    • More frequent mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water
  • Very Poor (PM2.5 121-250 µg/cu. m. or PM10 351-430 µg/cu. m.)
    • Stop use of diesel generator sets
    • Enhance parking fee by 3-4 times
    • Increase bus and Metro services
    • Apartment owners to discourage burning fires in winter by providing electric heaters during winter
    • Advisories to people with respiratory and cardiac conditions to restrict outdoor movement
  • Moderate to poor (PM2.5 61-120 µg/cu. m. or PM10 101-350 µg/cu. m.)
    • Heavy fines for garbage burning
    • Close/enforce pollution control regulations in brick kilns and industries
    • Mechanised sweeping on roads with heavy traffic and water sprinkling
    • Strictly enforce ban on firecrackers

8 . Facts for Prelims

Hawk eye technology

  • Hawk-Eye is a computer vision system used in numerous sports such as cricket, tennis, Gaelic football, badminton, hurling, rugby union, association football and volleyball, to visually track the trajectory of the ball and display a profile of its statistically most likely path as a moving image. The onscreen representation of the trajectory results is called Shot Spot
  • The system was originally implemented in 2001 for television purposes in cricket. The system works via six (sometimes seven) high-performance cameras, normally positioned on the underside of the stadium roof, which track the ball from different angles. The video from the six cameras is then triangulated and combined to create a three-dimensional representation of the ball’s trajectory. Hawk-Eye is not infallible, but is accurate to within 3.6 millimetres and generally trusted as an impartial second opinion in sports

Nobel Literature Prize

  • American poet Louise Gluck won the 2020 Nobel Literature Prize 
  • Prof. Gluck, 77, was honoured “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal,”
  • She is the fourth woman to win the Nobel Literature Prize in the past decade — after Olga Tokarczuk, Svetlana Alexievich and Alice Munro — and only the 16th since the Nobel prizes were first awarded in 1901.

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