Daily Current Affairs: 8th December 2021

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics covered

  1. The India-Russia military alliance
  2. Model Code of Conduct
  3. Facts for Prelims

1. The India-Russia military alliance

Context: At the 20th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military Technical Cooperation, the two sides concluded four agreements, contracts and a protocol. While three documents were signed by the officials of the two sides, the protocol was signed by the two Defence Ministers. This includes an agreement for manufacture of over 6 lakh AK-203 assault rifles in India and the renewal of the agreement on military cooperation till 2031. The two sides have reaffirmed their long-standing and deep-rooted defence and strategic cooperation through the visit.


  • At the 20th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military Technical Cooperation, the two sides concluded four agreements, contracts and protocols which includes manufacture of over six lakh (AK)-203 assault rifles in India and the renewal of the military cooperation agreement till 2031.
  • The defence trade between India and Russia since 2018 has crossed $15 billion.
  • Both sides are now looking to move from licence manufacture to joint research and co-development of defence equipment.
  • Beyond defence sales, a Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS), as well as a Navy to Navy cooperation MoU are at advanced stages of conclusion.
  • The two sides are now looking at expanding format of exercises to make them more complex as well at ideas for expanding India-Russia cooperation in Central Asia.

Status of the defence trade between the two countries?

  • Russia continues to be among India’s biggest defence suppliers and the two sides are now looking to move from licence manufacture to joint research and co-development of defence equipment.
  • Agreement will see the manufacture of 6,01,427 AK-203 7.63X39mm assault rifles by a Joint Venture, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd, at Korwa, Amethi, in U.P.
  • This is among a series of defence agreements signed between the two sides in the last few years. Russia has started deliveries of the S-400 Triumf long-range air defence systems to India. The first division will be delivered by the end of 2021.
  • With the $5.43 billion S-400 as well as other big ticket deals, the defence trade between India and Russia since 2018 has crossed $15 billion.
  • Russia’s sales with India is about 25% of the total arms exports.
  • There are several other big-ticket deals currently under negotiation and expected to be concluded in the near future. These include procurement of 21 Mig-29s and 12 Su-30MKI fighters, Igla-S short-range air defence systems and the long-delayed deal for manufacture of 200 K-226T utility helicopters in India for which officials say the issues surrounding the indigenisation plan are yet to be resolved.
  • In addition to the S-400, other major contracts currently under implementation are construction of additional stealth frigates in Russia and India, licensed production of the Mango Armour-piercing (fin-stabilized) discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds for the T-90S tanks as also additional T-90S tanks. Some of the largest deliveries by Russia to India since 2000, include supply and licensed production of T-90S tanks, aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, Krivak class stealth frigates, licence production of Su-30MKI fighter aircraft, Smerch multiple rocket launchers and Mi-17V-5 helicopters among others.

What are the other avenues of cooperation other than defence sales?

  • On a broader military cooperation, a bilateral logistics support agreement, Reciprocal Exchange of Logistics Agreement (RELOS), as well as a Navy to Navy cooperation MoU are at advanced stages of conclusion.
  • The RELOS, which has seen several delays, gives India access to Russian facilities in the Arctic region which is seeing increased global activity as new shipping routes open up and in the backdrop, India’s own investments in the Russian Far East.
  • Underscoring the deep military to military partnership, the two countries have held a series of exercises both bilateral and multilateral, even during the COVID pandemic.
  • The two sides are now looking at expanding format of exercises to make them more complex, more sophisticated for exchange of experiences with regard to real time combat situations, including mobilisation of forces and their transportation across long distances, instant exercises, the impact of cyber, and the huge impact of drone technology on modern warfare.
  • In addition, the two countries are also looking at ideas for expanding India-Russia cooperation in Central Asia and “possibility of supplementing bilateral exercises with trilateral and multilateral ones.

What is the future trajectory of the defence cooperation?

  • Timely supply of spares and support to the large inventory of Russian hardware in service with Indian military has been a major issue from India.
  • To address this, Russia has made legislative changes allowing its companies to set up joint ventures in India to address it following an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed in 2019. This is in the process of being implemented.
  • With increased competition from the U.S., France, Israel and others who have bagged major deals in recent years, Russia is also focusing on timely deliveries and lifetime support.
  • Russia will remain a key defence partner for India for decades to come.
  • In line with India’s quest for self sufficiency, the partnership is reorienting presently to joint research and development, co-development and joint production of advanced defence technology and systems, the joint statement issued at the end of the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
  • In line with this, the two countries have been discussing how they can cooperate in using India as a production base for exporting to third countries Russian-origin equipment and services.

2. Model Code of Conduct

Context: The Election Commission on Tuesday said it had cautioned the Telangana Chief Secretary to be careful during the ongoing Legislative Council polls and issue formal warnings to two officers for violating the Model Code of Conduct.

About Model Code of Conduct?

  • The Model Code of Conduct for guidance of political parties and candidates is a set of norms which has been evolved with the consensus of political parties who have consented to abide by the principles embodied in the said code and also binds them to respect and observe it in its letter and spirit.
  • The MCC is applicable to political parties, political leaders, electoral candidates, government machinery, including departments and offices, government officers, and any institution that runs on public funds.
  • Code kicks in as soon as the election schedule is announced, and stays in force until the election process is completed.

What is the role of Election Commission in the matter?

  • The Election Commission ensures its observance by political party(ies) in power, including ruling parties at the Centre and in the States and contesting candidates in the discharge of its constitutional duties for conducting the free, fair and peaceful elections to the Parliament and the State Legislatures under Article 324 of the Constitution of India.
  • It is also ensured that official machinery for the electoral purposes is not misused.
  • Further, it is also ensured that electoral offences, malpractices and corrupt practices such as impersonation, bribing and inducement of voters, threat and intimidation to the voters are prevented by all means.
  • In case of violation, appropriate measures are taken.

What is applicability of code during general elections and bye-elections?

  • During general elections to House of People (Lok Sabha), the code is applicable throughout the country.
  • During general elections to the Legislative Assembly (Vidhan Sabha), the code is applicable in the entire State.
  • During bye-elections, in case the constituency is comprised in State Capital/Metropolitan Cities/Municipal Corporations, then the code would be applicable in the area of concerned Constituency only.
  • In all other cases the MCC would be enforced in the entire district(s) covering the Constituency going for bye-election(s).

What are the salient features of the Model Code of Conduct?

  • The salient features of the Model Code of Conduct lay down how political parties, contesting candidates and party(s) in power should conduct themselves during the process of elections i.e. on their general conduct during electioneering, holding meetings and processions, poll day activities and functioning of the party in power etc.

Legal Enforceability

  • Although the MCC has been around for almost four decades, its observance is left to parties and candidates. It is not a legally enforceable document, and the Commission usually uses moral sanction to get political parties and candidates to fall in line. However, certain provisions of the MCC may be enforced by invoking corresponding provisions in other statutes such as the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 and the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951.

Why it is not legally enforceable

  • Governments have in the past attempted to amend the RP Act, 1951, to make some violations of the MCC illegal and punishable. However, the EC has argued that making the Code legally enforceable would be self-defeating, because any violation must be responded to quickly and this will not be possible if the matter goes to court. On the other hand, in 2013, the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice recommended making the MCC legally binding by making it a part of the RP Act, 1951.

3. Facts for Prelims

Hornbill Festival

  • Nagaland is known as the land of festivals as each tribe celebrates its own festival with dedication and passion.
  • Some of the important festivals celebrated are: Tsukhenyie by the Chakhesangs in January, Mimkut by the Kukis in January, Bushu by the Kacharis in January, Sekrenyi by the Angamis in February, Aoling by the Konyaks in April, Moatsu by the Aos in May, Tuluni by the Sumis in July, Nyaknylum by the Changs in July, Tokhu Emong by the Lothas in November and Yemshe by the Pochurys in October.
  • To encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of Nagaland, the Government of Nagaland organizes the Hornbill Festival every year in the first week of December. It is also called the ‘Festival of Festivals’.
  • Organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments, Hornbill Festival showcases a mélange of cultural displays under one roof.
  • This festival usually takes place between the 1st and the 10th of December every year in Kohima. The Music festival and rock contest is now held in nearby Dimapur.
  • Hornbill Festival is held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 km from Kohima. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in this festival. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its extravaganza and traditions.
  • The Festival is named after the hornbill, the globally respected bird and which is displayed in folklore in most of the state’s tribes.
  • Festival highlights include Traditional Naga Morungs Exhibition and sale of Arts and Crafts, Food Stalls, Herbal Medicine Stalls, Flower shows and sales, Cultural Medley – songs and dances, Fashion shows, Beauty Contest, Traditional Archery, Naga wrestling, Indigenous Games, and Musical concert

Combined Antiretroviral Therapy (cART)

  • It refers to the combinations of drugs that are used to keep HIV infections under control.
  • While combination HIV therapies have historically been referred to as HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), the terminology has evolved to where many people simply described it as cART or ART (antiretroviral therapy).
  • Combination antiretroviral therapy consists of a minimum of two drugs from two different drug classes. They work by blocking various stages of the virus’s life cycle (also known as the replication cycle).
  • Without the means to complete the cycle, HIV cannot generate new copies of itself and the number of viral particles will quickly drop, ideally to undetectable levels.
  • There are six major classes of antiretroviral drugs, each of which interferes with replication in different ways:
    • Entry/attachment inhibitors prevent HIV from binding to and entering a host cell.
    • Nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) block the transcription of single-stranded viral RNA into double-stranded DNA.
    • Non-nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) work similarly to NRTIs by blocking the enzyme reverse transcriptase.
    • Integrase inhibitors (INIs) prevent the integration of the viral DNA coding into the host cell’s nucleus.
    • Protease inhibitors (PIs) prevent the creation of new viral particles by blocking the enzyme protease.
    • Pharmacokinetic enhancers don’t directly interfere with viral replication but rather boost the concentration of antiretrovirals in the blood to make them more effective.
  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) and their collaborators have identified a key role played by hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas in suppressing the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
  • Increased H2S was found to have a direct effect on reducing the rate at which the virus multiplies in HIV-infected human immune cells. The finding paves the way for developing a more comprehensive antiretroviral therapy against HIV.

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas

  • Hydrogen sulfide (also known as H2S, sewer gas, swamp gas, stink damp, and sour damp) is a colorless gas known for its pungent “rotten egg” odor at low concentrations.
  • It is extremely flammable and highly toxic.
  • Hydrogen sulfide is used or produced in a number of industries, such as
    • Oil and gas refining
    • Mining
    • Tanning
    • Pulp and paper processing
    • Rayon manufacturing
  • Hydrogen sulfide also occurs naturally in sewers, manure pits, well water, oil and gas wells, and volcanoes.
  • Because it is heavier than air, hydrogen sulfide can collect in low-lying and enclosed spaces, such as manholes, sewers, and underground telephone vaults. Its presence makes work in confined spaces potentially very dangerous.
  • Recently Hydrogen researchers at the IISC and their collaborators have identified a key role played by Hydrogen sulphide gas in surppressing the HIV

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