Current affairs play a vital role in UPSC civil service exam preparation. The daily current affairs from the daily news’ are one of this important area. This section gives you a very brief summary of the important topics to be covered. You may use this section for revising your preparation. Nevertheless, we recommend you visit our daily current affairs section that gives a comprehensive analysis of the topics needed to be studied for the UPSC civil service exam.
1. Fiscal deficit increases to Rs.9.1 lakh crore
The fiscal deficit has increased to Rs. 9.1 lakh crore which is in other words almost 115% of the budget target of Rs.7.96 lakh crore for 2020-2021.
- A fiscal deficit is a shortfall in a government’s income compared with its spending.
- Fiscal Deficit is the difference between the total income of the government (total taxes and non-debt capital receipts) and its total expenditure.
FRBM Act 2003:
- FRBM Act is an Act to provide for the responsibility of the Central Government to ensure inter-generational equity in fiscal management and long-term macro-economic stability by removing fiscal impediments in the effective conduct of monetary policy and prudential debt management consistent with fiscal sustainability through limits on the Central Government borrowings, debt and deficits, greater transparency in fiscal operations of the Central Government and conducting fiscal policy in a medium-term framework and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
1. Annual Status of Education Report(ASER)
ASER survey was conducted to analyze the situation of children during the COVID-19 lockdown in India.
- ASER stands for Annual Status of Education Report.
- This is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India.
ASER Wave 1 survey-Key highlights:
- The ASER 2020 Wave 1 survey was designed to be conducted at a time when schools have not yet reopened and governments and schools are reaching out to children through a variety of remote means with diverse educational content.
- It explores the provision of, and access to, remote education mechanisms and materials in rural parts of the country, and the ways in which children, families, and educators are engaging with these from their homes.
1. Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme
The government has extended the deadline for the payment under the Vivad Se Vishwas scheme by three months to 31st March 2021 from the earlier deadline of 31st December 2020.
Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme:
- The ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ Scheme was announced during the Union Budget, 2020, to provide for dispute resolution in respect of pending income tax litigation.
- It is a direct tax dispute resolution scheme.
OPEC is hopeful that any second wave of COVID-19 spread will not affect the energy demands.
- The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in Baghdad, Iraq, with the signing of an agreement in September 1960 by five countries namely the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. They were to become the Founder Members of the Organization.
- Currently, 13 member countries are there in OPEC.
2. India-U.S. BECA signing today
India and the United States of America will be signing the last foundational agreement BECA at 2+2 ministerial dialogue today as per the statement of the Defence Ministry of India.
India-U.S. Foundational Agreements:
- India has already signed three of four foundational agreements with the U.S. till date namely:
- Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement(LEMOA)
- the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)
- the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)
- Even India has signed the extension to the GSOMIA, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) at the last 2+2 dialogue.
Significance of signing Foundational Agreements with the US:
- The COMCASA allows the US to transfer communication equipment to India which facilitates secure transmission of data and real-time information between the armed forces of the two countries.
1. MPC is cautious of inflation.
Monetary Policy Committee has said in its minutes that monetary policy needs to be accommodative as there is a chance of the second wave of COVID-19 threat to India. The RBI has left the interest rates unchanged.
Monetary Policy Committee:
- The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is a committee of the Reserve Bank of India, headed by the RBI Governor, which is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy interest rate (repo rate) to contain inflation within the specified target level.
2. Forex reserves hit a record high
The Foreign Exchange Reserves of India have touched a record high of $555.12 billion. The major reason for the rise in Forex Reserves this week is due to the sharp jump of Foreign Currency Assets from $3.539 billion to $512.322 billion.
Foreign Exchange Reserves:
- Foreign Exchange Reserves of India consists of :
- Foreign Currency Assets
- Reserve position in the IMF.
Foreign Currency Assets:
- FCA (Foreign Currency Assets): FCA is maintained as a multi-currency portfolio comprising major currencies, such as US dollar, Euro, Pound sterling, Japanese yen, etc. and are valued in terms of US dollars.
SDR: (Special Drawing Rights)
- The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves.
- The value of the SDR is based on a basket of five currencies—the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound sterling.
Reserve position in the IMF:
- A reserve tranche is a portion of the required quota of currency each member country must provide to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that can be utilized for its own purposes—without a service fee or economic reform conditions.
1. CPCB issues draft guidelines on carcasses disposals
Central Pollution Control Board has issued draft guidelines on the disposal of carcasses. Guidelines for incineration, for better use of remains for fertilizers, have been provided by the CPCB.
- Central Pollution Control Board
- CPCB is a statutory organization
Draft guidelines on disposal of Carcasses:
Carcasses Meaning: Dead body of an animal.
- India has a large population of cattle and nearly 25 million cattle die of natural causes.
- However, there is no organized system for the disposal of carcasses.
2. NAG Anti-tank Guided Missile
Final user trial of 3rd generation Anti Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) NAG was carried out today on 22 Oct 2020 at 0645 hrs from the Pokhran range.
NAG Anti-tank Guided Missile:
- NAG is a 3rd Generation Anti-tank Guided Missile.
- ATGM NAG has been developed by DRDO to engage highly fortified enemy tanks in day and night conditions.
3. CPI-IW base year index changed to 2016
Minister of State (I/C) for Labour& Employment Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Labour Bureau released the new series of Consumer Price Index for Industrial Worker (CPI-IW) with the base year 2016, is compiled and maintained by Labour Bureau, an attached office of Ministry of Labour& Employment. The new series of CPI(IW) with base 2016=100 will replace the existing series with base 2001=100.
- The CPI-IW is the single most important price statistics, which has financial implications.
- The Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPI-IW), one of the vital economic indicators, which measures the relative changes in retail prices over a period of time in respect of a fixed set of goods and services consumed by an average working-class family in a given area with reference to a base year.
1. COVIRAP Device – ICMR approves
Indian Council of Medical Research has approved the IIT Kharagpur’s new COVID diagnostic low costing device COVIRAP.
- COVIRAP is a cuboid-shaped portable testing device that can deliver results in an hour, making it an effective tool to scale up Covid-19 screening in peripheral and rural areas.
- COVIRAP Device showed accuracy similar to RT-PCR testing.
Working of COVIRAP:
- Each testing kit contains three master mixes which can confirm the presence of the virus.
- After the RNA sample is collected, it is mixed with master mixes and heated to a certain temperature after being inserted in the pre-programmed machine.
1. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) blooms during COVID-19
“FDI equity inflow received during FY21 (April to August 2020) is $27.1 billion. It is also the highest ever for the first five months of a financial year,” the ministry said.
FDI Inflow – Report by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry:
- From April to August 2020, the total FDI inflow of US$ 35.73 billion is received. It is the highest ever for the first 5 months of a financial year and 13% higher as compared to the first five months of 2019-20 (US$ 31.60 billion).
- Foreign Direct Investment takes place when an investor establishes foreign business operations or acquires foreign business assets, and establishes ownership or controls interest in a foreign company.
Routes of FDI:
- Automatic Route: Under the Automatic Route, the non-resident investor or the Indian company does not require any approval from the Government of India for the investment.
1. National Company Law Tribunal
It is a piece of political news not relevant to the exam.
- The Central Government has constituted National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) under section 408 of the Companies Act, 2013 (18 of 2013) with effect from 01st June 2016.
- National Company Law Tribunal is the outcome of the Justice Eradi Committee.
2.National Company Law Appellate Tribunal(NCLAT)
It is a piece of political news not relevant to the exam.
- National Company Law Appellate Tribunal was constituted under Section 410 of the Companies Act, 2013 for hearing appeals against the orders of the National Company Law Tribunal(NCLT) w.e.f 1st June 2016.
- NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by NCLT under Section 61 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 (IBC) w.e.f 1st Dec 2016.
1.Drug smuggling check by Women Soldiers through LOC.
Women soldiers are combating the smuggling of narcotics across the Line of Control(LOC). Riflewomen of Assam were deployed at Sadhna Pass to contain the smuggling of narcotics.
- Sadhna Pass is a mountain pass in Jammu And Kashmir.
- It is located in the Himalayas and connects Karnah tehsil of Kupwara district with the rest of the Indian administrated Kashmir valley.
Line of Control(LOC):
- Line of Control (LoC) is 740 km long and runs from parts of Jammu to parts of Leh.
- Line of Control is a ceasefire line that came into existence after the 1948 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan.
Shimla Agreement 1972:
- The Simla Agreement signed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan on 2nd July 1972 was much more than a peace treaty seeking to reverse the consequences of the 1971 war (i.e. to bring about withdrawals of troops and an exchange of PoWs).
1. Global Hunger Index and India’s ranking
Global Hunger Index:
- The Global Hunger Index is a peer-reviewed annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.
- The aim of the GHI is to trigger action to reduce hunger around the world.
India’s ranking in GHI:
- India secured 94th rank out of 107 countries.
- India secured a score of 27.2.
1. M-sand policy meeting to be held in November
To regulate the unregulated sale of M-Sand, the Public Works Department(PWD) has planned to organize a meeting for policy on M-Sand. The meeting is expected to be held in November will all the stakeholders. This policy on M-Sand once created will have a legal framework for production and sale.
- M-Sand is manufactured sand, obtained from specific hard rock (granite) using state-of-the-art International technology.
- Manufactured Sand (M-sand) is the most common alternative of river sand, which has already gained prominence in some of the southern States.
Advantages of M-Sand:
- M Sand has a higher Fineness Modules Index compared to the natural river sand, which gives good workability for concrete.
- Better abrasion resistance, higher unit weight, and lower permeability as M sand is free from silt and clay particles.
Sand and Minor Minerals:( 2019 Prelims Question)
- Sand is classified as a “minor mineral”, minor mineral means building stones, gravel, ordinary clay, ordinary sand other than sand used for prescribed purposes, and any other mineral which the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare to be a minor mineral; as defined under Section 3(e) of The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957 (MMDR Act).
1. India’s Public Debt ratio to increase to 90% of GDP
India’s Public Debt ratio which remained stable at 70% of GDP since 1991 is projected to increase to 90% of GDP due to increased public spending on account of COVID-19. Vitor Gaspar, Director of IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department said that the increase in public spending, in response to COVID-19, and the fall in tax revenue and economic activity, will make public debt jump by 17 percentage points to almost 90% of GDP.
- The debt-to-GDP ratio is the measure of comparing a country’s public debt to its gross domestic product (GDP).
- Public debt includes the total liabilities of the Union government that have to be paid from the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Public Debt is sometimes also used to refer to the overall liabilities of the central and state governments.
1. Pakistan to be in Grey list of FATF
Pakistan will likely remain in the Grey List of FATF. The main reason for Pakistan to remain on Greylist is due to the fact that Pakistan is yet to show progress in six key areas among the FATF’s 27 point action list.
- Financial Action Task Force
- FATF is the watchdog of global money laundering and terrorist financing.
FATF has 2 lists. They are:
- Countries knowns as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs) are put on the blacklist.
- These countries support terror funding and money laundering activities.
- Countries that are considered safe haven for supporting terror funding and money laundering are put in the FATF grey list.
Consequences of Greylist for the countries:
- Economic sanctions will be imposed on the Greylist countries from the IMF, World Bank, and ADB.
- Those countries cannot get loans easily from IMF, World Bank, ADB, and other organizations.
1. Blue flag certified beaches of India.
Hon’ble Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that all eight beaches recommended by the Government have got the prestigious International Blue flag Certification. He also said that 8 beaches have been given blue flag certification in a single attempt.
Beaches which got Blue flag Certification:
The beaches which got International Blue flag Certification are
- Shivrajpur beach in Dwarka Gujarat,
- Ghoghla beach in Diu,
- Kasargod in Karnataka
- Padubidri in Karnataka,
- Kappad in Kerala,
- Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh,
- Golden Beach in Odisha and
- Radhanagar Beach in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Blue Flag Certification:
- The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognized voluntary awards for beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators.
- In order to qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained.
1. Hepatitis C virus.
The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded jointly to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M. Rice “for the discovery of Hepatitis C virus”.
- Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV): the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
2. Genome Editing and CRISPR/Cas9:
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 was awarded jointly to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna “for the development of a method for genome editing.”
- Genome editing is a method that lets scientists change the DNA of many organisms, including plants, bacteria, and animals.
- CRISPR/Cas9 edits genes by precisely cutting DNA and then letting natural DNA repair processes to take over.
DRDO tests Indigenously Developed Anti Radiation Missile(RUDRAM)
New generation Anti Radiation Missile (RUDRAM) was successfully flight tested on 9th October 2020 onto a radiation target located on Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha by the DRDO.
- RUDRAM is the first indigenous anti-radiation missile of the country for the Indian Air Force (IAF), being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- It has INS-GPS navigation with Passive Homing Head for the final attack.
Nobel Peace Prize for UN’s World Food Programme
The United Nation’s World Food Programme won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 for its efforts in combating hunger around the world.
UN World Food Programme:
- The World Food Programme (WFP) is the leading humanitarian organization saving lives and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies, and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
- UN WFP works in India also among the 88 countries.
Merger vs Amalgamation
LVB Bank is in talks for a non-binding offer of amalgamation and merger.
- Amalgamation is the consolidation or combination of two or more companies known as the amalgamating companies usually the companies that operate in the same or similar line of business to form a completely new company.
- The merger is a process wherein two or more companies/entities are combined to form either a new company or an existing company absorbing the other target companies.
1. Section 124A of IPC:
- Section 124A deals with Sedition.
- Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
2. Cabinet approves Natural Gas Marketing Reforms
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved ‘Natural Gas Marketing Reforms’, taking another significant step to move towards a gas-based economy.
- Natural gas is the cleanest of fossil fuel among the available fossil fuels.
- It is used as a feedstock in the manufacture of fertilizers, plastics, and other commercially important organic chemicals as well as used as a fuel for electricity generation, heating purpose in industrial and commercial units.
Domestic Gas Sources:
- The domestic gas in the country is being supplied from the oil & gas fields located in western and southeastern areas viz. Hazira basin, Mumbai offshore & KG basin as well as the North East Region (Assam & Tripura).
Benefits of Natural Gas MArketing Reforms:
- Reduction in import dependence
- Encouragement of investments
- Environmental benefit
- Employment opportunities
- Increased investments in Downstream industries
Gold imports down to a 4-month low
India’s gold import fell to a 4 month low by 59% compared to the previous year.
Gold Monetization Scheme
- Gold Monetization Scheme is intended to mobilize gold held by households and institutions of the country and facilitate its use for productive purposes, and in the long run, to reduce the country’s reliance on the import of gold.
- All Scheduled Commercial Banks excluding RRBs will be eligible to implement the Scheme.
Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi inaugurated the Summit -RAISE 2020 – ‘Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020 through video conference.
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions.
Some of the notable applications of AI are in :
- Healthcare industry for drug delivery
- Disease diagnosis
- Surgical procedures in patients
- Self-driving cars
- Detection of unusual card activity in Banking and Finance
- Text-to-Speech conversion
- Create meaningful short stories and songs
- Wireless transmission of electrical energy.
- The Chardham project is an all-weather project that proposes to connect Yamnotri, Gangotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath which host Chardham Yatra in the State of Uttarakhand.
- Border Roads Organization is constructing highways and projects lie completely in Uttarakhand only.