Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 12th December 2018

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  • December 12, 2018
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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 12th December 2018



Person in news: Shaktikanta Das

In news:

  • After the sudden resignation of Governor Urjit Patel, Shaktikanta Das was appointed as RBI Governor. (25th Governor)
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Shri Shaktikanta Das, IAS Retd., former Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, as Governor, Reserve Bank of India, for a period of three years.
  • Das is currently a member of the Fifteenth Finance Commission and represents India at the G-20 in the role of a sherpa. He is a 1980 batch IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre.

Do you know?

Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC)

  • It is responsible for all appointments of higher ranks in the Central Secretariat, Public Enterprises, Public Enterprises and Financial Institutions.
  • The committee is composed of the Prime Minister of India (who is the Chairman), the Minister of Home Affairs.

House sparrow conservation through artificial nests

Part of: GS Prelims – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal Conservation

In news:

  • Odisha’s Ganjam district to become the first house sparrow-friendly district of Odisha.
  • Artificial nests will reach all the 22 blocks of Ganjam district by the end of 2018.

Do you know?

  • As sparrows nest and lay eggs almost four times a year, an increase in their population at a particular village would encourage inhabitants of nearby villages to take up similar measures.
  • Ganjam is the flag-bearer of sparrow conservation in the State.
  • Apart from providing protection to olive ridley turtles, volunteers of the Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee had also started sparrow conservation through artificial nests at Purunabandha village in 2007.
  • Sparrow conservation through artificial nests experiment has been replicated in 10 other Odisha districts and States including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand as well.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern

Odisha celebrates its traditional lac doll marriage

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains – Art and Culture; Indian tradition and heritage; Folk dances

In news:

  • Odisha celebrated its traditional lac doll marriage — the bride and the groom were beautiful dolls made of lac.
  • The marriage was organised in conformity with the Odia tradition of ‘jau kandhei bahaghara (lac doll marriage)’
  • The aim of this unique marriage ceremony was to promote traditional folk and tribal art forms and create awareness against social evils like dowry and child marriage.
  • The marriage procession included performers of several folk dance forms such as – Bagha Nacha (tiger dance), Ghoda Nacha (horse dance), Sakhi Nacha.

SC directs Centre to declare 10 km area around national parks as eco-sensitive

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal Conservation; Protected Areas

In news:

  • Supreme Court directed the Union Environment Ministry to declare 10 km area around 21 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the country as ‘eco-sensitive zones’.

We have already covered about ‘eco-sensitive zones’

About Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)  – Recap

Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) are areas notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India around Protected Areas , National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.

  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  • They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
  • The new ESZ guidelines include a broad list of activities that could be allowed, promoted, regulated or promoted.
  • The guidelines said activities, including commercial mining, setting of saw mills and industries causing pollution, commercial use of firewood and major hydro-power projects, are prohibited in such areas.
  • It also prohibits tourism activities like flying over protected areas in an aircraft or hot air balloon, and discharge of effluents and solid waste in natural water bodies or terrestrial areas.
  • Felling of trees, drastic change in agriculture systems and commercial use of natural water resources, including groundwater harvesting and setting up of hotels and resorts, are the activities regulated in the areas.
  • Activities permitted in the areas include ongoing agriculture and horticulture practices by local communities, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, adoption of green technology and use of renewable energy sources.
  • The width of the ESZ and type of regulation may vary from protected area to area. However, as a general principle, the width of the ESZ could go up to 10 kms around the protected area.

Do you know?

  • The rules for the ESZ or the Eco-Fragile Zones are based on the Environment Protection Act, 1986. However, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
  • The Act says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards.

Water traces found on asteroid Bennu

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Tech; Space programmes

In news:

  • NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered ingredients for water on asteroid Bennu.
  • The discovery may hold clues to the origins of life on the earth.
  • OSIRIS-REx found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules — part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life — embedded in the asteroid’s rocky surface.

Do you know?

  • The probe was launched in 2016.
  • Bennu orbits the Sun at roughly the same distance as the earth.
  • The spacecraft will later fly back to the earth, return samples from the asteroid to earth for study. (in September 2023)


  • The OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) is a NASA asteroid study and sample-return mission.
  • The mission’s main goal is to obtain a sample of about 60 grams (2.1 oz) from 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous near-Earth asteroid, and return the sample to Earth for a detailed analysis.

Don’t reveal identity of rape victims: SC

Part of: GS Mains – Social/Welfare issue; Women and Child issue

In news:

  • Supreme Court prohibited the media from publishing or airing the names or any material which may even remotely reveal the identity of victims of sexual crimes.
  • No person can print or publish in print, electronic, social media, etc. the name of the victim or even in a remote manner disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified and which should make her identity known to the public at large.
  • The intention of the law makers was that the victim of such offences should not be identifiable so that they do not face any hostile discrimination or harassment in the future.
  • SC also barred the police from putting in public domain FIRs under Sections 376 to 376E (the range of sexual offences under IPC) and those under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.


  • Fashion giants commit to cut emissions – Dozens of top fashion industry firms have pledged at the UN climate talks to reduce their combined greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.



TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Government policies and schemes; Health services  
  • International relations and cooperation 

Providing health for all; About Universal Health Coverage


December 12 is Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day. According to the World Health Organisation, UHC means “ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship”. It sounds basic, yet the basics often pose a major challenge.

Case Study of Japan

  • Japan has been leading the international efforts towards UHC, including its inclusion in the sustainable development goals and G20 agenda under our chairmanship next year, because health is one of our fundamental rights.
  • Japan created national health insurance coverage in 1961, when it was yet to take off economically. A major political decision was required to expand national health insurance and establish medical schools all over Japan.
  • The implementation of UHC could only have been possible through an early and vast national investment, and through a comprehensive government effort, with the Ministries of Health, Finance and Education, as well as local governments, working together.
  • This investment has paid off. UHC has increased the number of healthy people and healthy workers in Japan. It has contributed to the economic miracle of Japan.
  • UHC has also ensured social equity by functioning as a mechanism for redistribution of incomes. Even in the remotest of places in Japan, one do not have to worry about healthcare.
  • The peace of mind which UHC ensures to the Japanese is an indispensable ingredient of overall well-being.

UHC in India and Indo-Japanese efforts & collaborations

  • India has taken the vital first step towards UHC through Ayushman Bharat. This challenge is in resemblance of the path that Japan took more than half a century ago.
  • Japan is also partnering with India in wide-ranging projects for better healthcare. It has previously worked with India to eradicate polio in India.
  • Today, Japanese and Indian doctors are exchanging ideas and expertise at a research and control centre on diarrhoea established by Japan in Kolkata, and precious lives of newborns are being saved daily in a children’s hospital constructed in Chennai.
  • In 17 cities across Tamil Nadu, urban healthcare systems are being strengthened with cooperation of both the countries.
  • India and Japan signed a new Memorandum of Cooperation on healthcare to pursue the synergies between Ayushman Bharat and Japan’s Asia Health and Wellbeing Initiative.


  • Both the countries aim to pursue their cooperation in various fields, such as honing skills of doctors in surgery of trauma as well as providing technical training for Indian nurses studying in Japanese caregiving facilities.
  • These efforts will lead to a better health ecosystem and the promotion of UHC in India as well as Japan.
  • Both the countries can share their experiences in health sector, for example, Ayurveda can bring a new dimension to Japan’s healthcare system.

Connecting the dots:

  • Briefly analyse the Indo-Japanese cooperation in Universal Health coverage efforts.


TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementations
  • Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

General studies 4

  • Information sharing and transparency in government 
  • Challenges of corruption

An invitation to corruption? On Electoral Bonds


The concept of electoral bond was introduced in the Budget of 2017-18 for political funding. Electoral Bond is a bearer Banking Instrument to be used for funding eligible Political Parties.

Do you know?

Features of Electoral Bond:

  • Electoral Bonds may be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. A person being an individual can buy Electoral Bonds, either singly or jointly with other individuals.
  • The purchaser would be allowed to buy Electoral Bonds only on fulfillment of all KYC norms and by making payment from a bank account. It will not carry the name of payee.
  • Only the Political Parties registered under Representation of the People Act, 1951 and which secured not less than 1% of the votes polled in the last General or State Election, will be eligible for such donations.
  • The Electoral Bond(s) shall be cashed by an eligible political party only through a designated bank account with the authorized bank.
  • Bond(s) would be issued/purchased for any value, in multiples of Rs.1,000, Rs.10,000, Rs.1,00,000, Rs.10,00,000 and Rs.1,00,00,000 from the Specified Branches of the State Bank of India (SBI). Electoral Bonds shall be valid for fifteen days from the date of issue.

Criticism of Electoral bonds

Security threats:

  • The Election Commission cannot monitor the funding through Electoral Bonds as there is secrecy of donor, therefore it becomes difficult to know what is coming in is black money or not.
  • Electoral Bonds can be misused for routing foreign money and thereby increase ability of other countries to influence Indian elections.

Corporate sponsorship without oversight:

  • Anonymity promotes unnecessary secrecy in corporate funding whereby the shareholders of a corporation be unaware of the company’s contributions.
  • The programme removes an existing condition that had prohibited companies from donating anything more than 7.5% of their average net-profit over the previous three years. This now means that even loss-making entities can make unlimited contributions.
  • The requirement that a corporation ought to have been in existence for at least three years before it could make donations — a system that was meant to stop shell concerns from being created with a view to syphoning money into politics — has also been removed.
  • Electoral Bonds can be misused to bribe the Government of the day, to induce policies that will help the company in its business.

Voters’ right to know is silenced

  • Voters will have no idea of how, and through whom, a political party has been funded and for free and fair elections, voters require free and complete access to information about the parties for which they were going to vote.


  • Electoral Bonds has been criticised that they violate an essential condition of political equality.
  • Whereby, the absence of complete knowledge about the identities of those funding the various different parties is against the voters’ right to informed decision.
  • It can be concluded that Electoral Bonds’ Scheme prioritizes the donor over a voter.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically analyse the concept of electoral bonds; introduced in the Budget of 2017-18 for political funding.


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  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
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Q.1) ‘OSIRIS-REx mission’ is concerned with

  1. Saturn
  2. Bennu
  3. Trojan asteroids
  4. Pluto

Q.2) Which of the following is true about spacecraft OSIRIS-REx?

  1. (OSIRIS-REx) is NASA’s first unmanned asteroid sampling mission.
  2. (OSIRIS-REx) is NASA’s first manned asteroid sampling mission.
  3. (OSIRIS-REx) is NASA’s first unmanned meteoroid sampling mission.
  4. None of the above.

Q.3) Which Cabinet committee is often described as a ‘Super Cabinet’?

  1. Appointment committee
  2. Parliamentary affairs committee
  3. Economic affairs committee
  4. Political affairs committee

Q.4) Appointments Committee of the Cabinet is chaired by –

  1. Home Minister
  2. Prime Minister
  3. Parliamentary affairs Minister
  4. Finance Minister

Q.5) Consider the following statements about ‘Rushikulya river’

  1. It flows through three states
  2. The Rushikulya river mouth beach is a major nesting site of the endangered olive ridley turtles

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 Only
  2. 2 Only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.6) Which of the following species is the State bird of Delhi?

  1. Peacock
  2. Wood Pigeon
  3. House Sparrow
  4. Indian Jungle Fowl

Q.7) The traditional lac doll marriage – ‘jau kandhei bahaghara’ – is celebrated in which state?

  1. Jharkhand
  2. Odisha
  3. West Bengal
  4. Chhattisgarh


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