Daily Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – 16 October 2021

1. BSF powers and jurisdiction expanded

  1. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force (BSF) up to 50 km inside the international borders in Punjab, West Bengal, and Assam.
  2. The BSF’s powers which include arrest, search, and seizure was limited to up to 15 km in these states.
  3. The objective of the move is to bring uniformity and also to increase operational efficiency.

What kind of powers can the BSF exercise in this jurisdiction?

  1. Its jurisdiction has been extended only in respect of the powers it enjoys under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Passport Act, 1967.
  2. BSF currently has powers to arrest and search under these laws.
  3. It also has powers to arrest, search and seize under the NDPS Act, Arms Act, Customs Act, and certain other laws.
  4. Its jurisdiction under these laws has not been changed, meaning its powers under these will continue to be only up to 15 km inside the border in Punjab, Assam, and West Bengal, and will remain as far as 80 km in Gujarat.
  5. In 1969, the BSF first got powers to arrest and search under the CrPC with respect to certain laws such as the Foreigners Act, The Passport Act, forex laws, and Customs Act.


2. Perseverance Initiates Remarkable Sample Return Mission

  1. NASA, along with the European Space Agency, is developing a campaign to return the Martian samples to Earth.
  2. NASA’s Perseverance rover unfurled its arm, placed a drill bit at the Martian surface, and drilled down to extract a rock core.
  3. The rover later sealed the rock core in its tube.
  4. This historic event marked the first time a spacecraft packed up a rock sample from another planet that could be returned to Earth by future spacecraft.
  5. Mars Sample Return is a multi-mission campaign designed to retrieve the cores Perseverance will collect over the next several years.

About the Mission

  1. Perseverance addresses both the critical themes around Mars:
    • the search for life
    • a human mission to Mars
  2. It is not just another Rover Mission but the most advanced, most expensive, and most sophisticated mobile laboratory sent to Mars.
  3. The results of the experiments on Perseverance will likely define the next couple of decades of Mars exploration.
  4. It will determine the course of the search for life and a future manned mission to Mars.

Perseverance Rover Target

  1. Sample Return Mission – Perseverance is the first step in a multi-step project to bring samples back from Mars.
  2. The study of the returned rock samples will hopefully provide a decisive answer on whether life existed on Mars in the past.
  3. This long-term project is called MSR or Mars Sample Return.
  4. MSR will revolutionize our understanding of the evolutionary history of Mars.
  5. If MSR is successfully executed, it will tell a reasonable answer of whether there was microscopic life on Mars.
  6. Producing oxygen on Mars: A technology and infrastructure in place to manufacture oxygen on Mars using raw materials available on Mars is crucial to make a human mission to Mars at a reasonable cost
  7. Looking for underground water on Mars: Perseverance will carry the Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX).
  8. RIMFAX will provide a high-resolution mapping of the subsurface structure at the landing site.
  9. Testing a helicopter to fly on Mars: The Mars Helicopter is really a small drone.
  10. It is a technology demonstration experiment, to test whether the helicopter can fly in the sparse atmosphere on Mars.
  11. The low density of the Martian atmosphere makes the odds of actually flying a helicopter or an aircraft on Mars very low.

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3. India to Ban Single-Use Plastics

  1. India will ban most single-use plastics by next year as part of its efforts to reduce
  2. India’s central government announced the ban this year, following its 2019 resolution to address plastic pollution in the country.
  3. The ban on most single-use plastics will take effect from July 1, 2022.
  4. Single-use plastics refer to disposable items like grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, and straws that are used only once before they are thrown away, or sometimes recycled.
  5. About 60% of plastic waste in India is collected means the remaining 40% or 10,376 tons remain uncollected.
  6.  Independent waste-pickers typically collect plastic waste from households or landfills to sell them at recycling centers or plastic manufacturers for a small fee.
  7. Countries, including India, are taking steps to reduce plastic use by promoting the use of biodegradable alternatives that are relatively less harmful to the environment.

4. Hong Kong University ordered the removal of the Tiananmen Square massacre statue

The University of Hong Kong has ordered the removal of the Tiananmen Square massacre statue that commemorates the protestors killed in China’s 1989 crackdown.

What is the Pillar of Shame statue?

  1. The Pillar of Shame statue was made in remembrance of June 4, 1989, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which is referred to as the June 4 incident by Chinese authorities.
  2. The People’s Liberation Army had opened fire on student protestors who had been protesting since mid-April in 1989 against corruption, unemployment, inflation, etc.
  3. The statue shows 50 bodies with anguish-ridden faces piled up together commemorating unarmed student protestors who were killed as Chinese troops opened fire on them.
  4. The 8-meter high statue has been placed within Haking Wong Building inside the Hong Kong University since 1997.
  5. The statue was gifted by Galschiøt to the Hong Kong Alliance (HKA).
  6. The Alliance that has played a significant role in holding an annual Tiananmen vigil every year, has been facing a serious crackdown by the Hong Kong authorities.
  7. The statue was exhibited in Victoria Park in 1997 at the annual candle vigil of the massacre.
  8. The Alliance has been responsible for cleaning and maintaining the statue every year since it was installed.
  9.  In 2008, the Alliance painted the statue orange during their “The Color Orange” campaign which, according to Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), was “aimed at highlighting China’s human rights violations”.
  10. It was painted orange as it “was a mixture of red, representing the dictatorship of China, and yellow, representing freedom and human rights”.

Why is the statue being removed?

  1. Hong Kong’s clampdown on freedom and dissent has been active for a while now.
  2. With the new National Security Law passed by China on June 30 last year before the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer from Britain the Chinese government has heavily come down on dissenters.
  3. The notice stated that the statue should be removed from the University’s premises no later than 13 October 2021.