Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 22nd December 2018

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  • December 24, 2018
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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 22nd December 2018



NITI Aayog SDG index

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Development issues; Gove schemes and interventions; Indian Economy and related issues

In news:

According to a first-of-its-kind sustainable development index released by NITI Aayog –

  • Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have been ranked highest in terms of being on track to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
  • The SDG Index Score for Sustainable Development Goals 2030 ranges between 42 and 69 for States and between 57 and 68 for UTs.
  • The average Indian score was 57.
  • The aim of the index is to instill competition among States to improve their performance across social indices as the States’ progress will determine India’s progress towards achieving the set goals by 2030.

About the Index:

  • The index comprises a composite score for each State and Union Territory based on their aggregate performance across 13 of the 17 SDGs.
  • The score, ranging between 0 and 100, denotes the average performance of the State/UT towards achieving the 13 SDGs and their respective targets.
  • The average Indian score was 57.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/12/22/CNI/Chennai/TH/5_01/ee8a549e_a1a55ef7_101_mr.jpg

Do you know?

  • Among the States, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh are the front runners, with an SDG India Index score of 69. Among the UTs, Chandigarh is the front runner with a score of 68.
  • Tamil Nadu has a score 66, and is the top scorer on the goals to do with eradicating poverty and also providing clean and affordable energy.
  • Kerala’s top rank is attributed to its superior performance in providing good health, reducing hunger, achieving gender equality and providing quality education.
  • Himachal Pradesh ranks high on providing clean water and sanitation, in reducing inequalities and preserving the mountain ecosystem.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/12/22/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_05/685855c7_2611166_101_mr.jpg

Allowing 10 different Central agencies to snoop challenges SC verdict on privacy

Part of: GS Mains III – Defence/Security issues; Cyber Security

In news:

In previous day’s article we read that –

  • Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order authorising 10 Central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer.”
  • However, experts said that the MHA order challenges the SC verdict on privacy.
  • The government order is based on Section 69(1) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and Rule 4 of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009.

Do you know?

  • Nine-judge Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court had directed the government to protect informational privacy of every individual.
  • In its 2017 judgment, the court had asked the government always to balance individual privacy and the legitimate concerns of the state carefully and sensitively, even if national security was at stake.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/12/22/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_08/82ee7b62_307435_8_mr.jpg


Experts have argued that –

  • It is a serious invasion of individual privacy recognised in the S. Puttuswamy (privacy) judgment
  • Balance tilts heavily in favour of the government
  • A wide range of government bodies have been given blanket powers. There is no common thread among these agencies. For example, why should the Central Board of Direct Taxes get access to the encrypted material of its citizens?

Hefty fines if States fail to give plans to clean up rivers: NGT

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Pollution; Conservation of River Ecosystem

In news:

NGT noted that –

  • 16 States have submitted “incomplete action plans” pertaining to the cleaning of 351 polluted river stretches in the country.
  • It has extended the deadline for submitting the action plans to January 31.
  • In case of non-compliance, hefty compensation will be levied on the States and the Union Territories.


  • States and UTs have not even taken the first requisite step of preparing an action plan, showing total insensitivity to such a serious matter and public issue.
  • NGT said – for every delay, compensation for damage to the environment will be payable by each State or UT at the rate of ₹1 crore per month for each of the Priority-I and Priority II stretches, ₹50 lakh per month for stretches in Priority III and ₹25 lakh per month each for Priority IV and Priority V stretches.


In news:

  1. Arunachal’s tallest tree : : Atang Ane (Ficus elastica) means ‘mother rubber tree’
  2. UAE to deposit $3 billion in Pakistan’s central bank : : to help “enhance liquidity” as Pakistan struggles with a balance of payments crisis.
  3. S. has decided to pull a significant number of troops from Afghanistan
  4. Alba : : world’s only known albino orangutan (in Borneo). The population of orangutans in Borneo has plummeted from about 2,88,500 in 1973 to about 1,00,000 today, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  5. Do you know? Orangutans are three extant species of great apes native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Orangutans are currently only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Both Sumatran and Bornean orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).



TOPIC:General studies 2

  • India and its neighborhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

India should strengthen its Indian Ocean outreach


  • We recently read that Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih began his trip to India declaring his country’s commitment for trade with foreign partners.
  • He had assured India that the Maldives is pivoting to the ‘India First’ policy.

Do you know?

  • The five-year-long tenure of his predecessor, Abdulla Yameen, was marked by a serious deterioration in ties with India.
  • Abdulla Yameen steadily took his nation towards authoritarianism and into a close embrace with China.
  • However, Mohamed Solih’s government has adopted a different vision — one anchored in decentralised and people-centric governance.

Fast recap: India-Maldives Ties

  • India has worked out a generous $1.4 billion assistance package to help Maldives address its budget deficit and development challenges.
  • Much of the funding may be utilised for people-friendly projects in four domains: health care, education, water and sanitation.
  • India has offered visa facilitation that will allow Maldivians to visit India easily (with reciprocal facilities for Indian visitors to the Maldives).
  • 1,000 “additional” training slots for the next five years
  • Close cooperation on political and diplomatic issues
  • Support to the Maldives as it seeks to rejoin the Commonwealth and its entry into the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)
  • Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s recent visit to India resulted in the conclusion of four agreements – relating to cooperation for information technology, culture, agri-business, and visa arrangements.
  • His government has also given assurances to be fully sensitive to India’s security and strategic concerns, in the light of reports that China has gained access to one or more islands for military purposes.
  • The two governments now plan “to enhance maritime security” in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Intelligence agencies hope to revert to nurturing better collaboration in combating terrorism, radicalisation and other non-traditional security challenges.

Why India should strengthen its Indian Ocean outreach?

  1. China’s footprint in South Asia has increased in recent years.
  2. India has its own advantages, assets and friends.
  3. Maintaining balance in their (Indian Ocean countries’) external relations.
  4. India enjoys close relations with Mauritius and the Seychelles. A new grouping of India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and the Seychelles, focussed on maritime security and economic development, looks attainable in the short term.
  5. Implementation of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) in IOR
  6. Address its neighbours’ concerns on security challenges; and harness enticing opportunities for the Blue Economy.

Connecting the dots:

  • India’s relation with Maldives has got a lifeline as a result of the recent visit of Maldives President. Do you agree? Also discuss why India should strengthen its Indian Ocean outreach?


TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Controversial exit: U.S troops withdrawal from Syria


  • President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria has predictably upset both the Washington establishment and America’s global allies.
  • Earlier this year he had wanted to exit Syria but delayed the decision amid resistance within his cabinet.
  • Now he claims that the physical infrastructure of the IS caliphate is destroyed and the U.S. can leave the war against the remnants of the jihadist group to the Syrian government and its main backers, Russia and Iran.

Do you know?

  • The caliphate is actually destroyed — the IS has lost 95% of the territory it once controlled and is now confined to narrow pockets on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
  • The U.S. would also not like to get stuck in Syria forever. It is basically Russia’s war.
  • The U.S. is already stranded in Afghanistan (for 17 years) and Iraq (over 15 years) without a way out.
  • Barack Obama had pulled back most U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Trump wants to get out of the Syrian theatre. But the ground reality is too complex and requires Mr. Trump to be more patient and strategic in his policymaking.

Risk Factors:

Syrian Kurds will be left at the mercy of Turkish troops

  • The 2000 U.S. troops were not directly involved in the ground battle and were supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces, a rebel group led by Kurdish rebels who were in the forefront of the fight against the IS.
  • The U.S. support for the Kurdish rebels has irked Turkey, which sees them as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, the rebels on the Turkish side who have been fighting Turkish troops for decades.
  • Turkey considers the military consolidation of Kurds as a strategic threat. When Mr. Trump pulls out American troops, he would in effect be leaving the Syrian Kurds at the mercy of Turkish troops.
  • Turkey may launch attack on the Kurdish militants, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to do.
  • The Kurds will then have to re-channel their resources to fight Turkish soldiers. This will weaken the ground resistance against the remaining IS militants on the southern side of the border.

May Fuel Greater Tension Between Israel, Iran

  • The Syrian conflict still represents multiple dangers for the security of the world.
  • Syria remains a divided country, with many nations including Iran, Turkey and Russia with skin in the game.
  • Iran will never abandon its presence in Syria. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are deeply embedded in the Syrian security forces and Iranian advisors continue to be active in Syria.
  • Iranian investment in Syria has escalated to billions of dollars in military and economic adventures.
  • With Iran’s presence in Syria, Netanyahu’s Israel is pressing all international players and powerbrokers to force Iran to leave Syria.
  • Israel would strike against any attempt by Iran to “establish itself militarily” in Syria.

Revival of Islamic State

  • Islamic State in Syria are still trying to reconstitute themselves by regaining territory and power.
  • The withdrawal could allow for a revival of the Islamic State.

Pic: https://images.haarets.co.il/image/upload/w_640,q_auto,c_fill,f_auto/fl_any_format.preserve_transparency.progressive:none/v1545228047/1.6763017.59111700.JPG


The sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria that Trump has called for would pose severe humanitarian risks.

The power vacuum created by an abrupt U.S. disengagement could spark a new round of fighting, which in turn will disrupt and displace communities. The result could be an even worse humanitarian crisis in a country where some 11 million people have fled their homes and more than half a million people in the northeast alone are already receiving some form of humanitarian assistance.

Before any withdrawal goes forward, plans must be in place to minimize the humanitarian consequences of the ensuing instability.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically evaluate the Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.


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Q.1) Strategy 2030 is a long-term strategy, of which among the following commitments –

  1. Sustainable Development Goals
  2. Paris Agreement on climate change
  3. New Development Bank
  4. Asian Development Bank

Choose the correct answer:

  1. 1 and 4 only
  2. 1, 2 and 4
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q.2) ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ is in sync with which of the following ‘Goals of the Sustainable Development Goal’?

  1. Goal 1
  2. Goal 3
  3. Goal 7
  4. Goal 6

Q.3) Orangutans are found in

  1. CLMV countries
  2. Malaysia
  3. Indonesia

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

 Q.4) The Kurds are scattered mainly over which of the following countries?

  1. Iraq
  2. Iran
  3. Turkey
  4. All of the above


The sinking island of Kerala

The Hindu

Implant Files: Who should own up to what

Indian Express

Hindutva & India’s neighbours

Indian Express

M for menstruation

Indian Express

  Good intentions aren’t enough

Indian Express

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