Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 31st December 2018

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  • January 2, 2019
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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 31st December 2018



Role of technology in fighting poaching

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal Conservation; Science and Technology

In news:

  • Cameras, infrared and motion sensors, electronic bracelets and drones have been used over the years to protect endangered species.
  • French tech company Sigfox has developed a bite-size tracker that can be inserted into the horns of rhinos to help conservationists monitor and protect the endangered species.
  • Sensors will give the exact location of rhinos using the firm’s network over a longer period of time.
  • The sensors can be used to get rescue teams to the location in real time.

Ujjwala Sanitary Napkins initiative

Part of: GS Mains II – Role of CSOs/NGOs; CSR Initiatives; Welfare/Social programmes

In news:

  • Ujjwala Sanitary Napkins initiative – a sanitary pad-making initiative by three oil marketing companies – IOCL, BPCL and HPCL
  • The three companies will set up 100 manufacturing units at the Common Service Centres (CSC) covering 93 Blocks across 30 districts of Odisha at an estimated cost of ₹2.94 crore.
  • The initiative is a part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of Oil Marketing Companies.
  • The mission is aimed to educate women on female hygiene and health, improve accessibility to low cost eco-friendly sanitary pads and boost rural employment and economy.
  • The Ujjwala pads will be made of virgin wood pulp sheet, non-woven white sheet and a gel sheet which are all biodegradable in nature and will leave minimal carbon footprint.

Ross Island is now Netaji Dweep

In news:

  • Prime Minister announced renaming of three islands of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, as a tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
  • The Ross Island was renamed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Dweep, the Neil Island as Shaheed Dweep and the Havelock Island as Swaraj Dweep.

Person in news: Amos Oz

Why in news?

  • Amos Oz, renowned Israeli writer and peace advocate, expired.
  • His memoir ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ became a worldwide bestseller.
  • He is known as one of the earliest and most forceful critics of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands captured in the Six-Day War of 1967.



TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.

New FDI guidelines on e-commerce

In news:

  • Government recently reviewed the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy in e-commerce.
  • Under the new norms, online marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon India can no longer sell products of the companies in which they have a stake.
  • The new policy also prohibits these e-commerce companies from entering into an agreement for the exclusive sale of products.

What are the changes to the FDI norms covering e-commerce?

  • The new norms bar exclusive tie-ups between e-commerce firms that follow the ‘marketplace model’ and vendors using their platform.
  • In a marketplace model, the e-commerce firm is not allowed to directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods or services, and is required to offer a level playing field to all vendors.
  • The new norms said cashback or services, such as quick delivery, offered by e-tailers have to be applicable to all vendors on their platforms.
  • According to the FDI policy on e-commerce sector, while 100 per cent FDI under automatic route is permitted in the marketplace model of e-commerce, FDI is not permitted in inventory-based model of e-commerce.
  • Sales through one vendor not to exceed 25% in market place model.

Why the new norms?

The new norms are brought in by the government to plug-in some loopholes:

  • Offline traders have been complaining that e-commerce platforms with access to FDI are able to give deep discounts and other incentives through related-party vendors, which they cannot match.
  • The new norms aim to tackle the anti-competitive behaviour by e-commerce entities and to ensure that there is no wrong subsidization and the marketplace remains neutral to all vendors.
  • Small traders believe the latest policy change will create a level playing field by placing curbs on discounts by Amazon and Flipkart, and price competition from the e-commerce giants was also hitting conventional shopkeepers.
  • Both online and offline traders in the country will now be able to sell their goods on online platforms in a transparent manner.
  • The move is aimed at checking predatory pricing and deep discounting.
  • An e-commerce marketplace can only act as a facilitator between seller and buyer. It cannot exercise ownership or control over the goods to be sold.

How do the new norms impact e-commerce firms?

  • E-commerce companies, such as Amazon and Flipkart, have been luring customers with deep discounts and exclusive offerings. The bar on such firms ‘influencing’ pricing and mandating vendors to sell exclusively on their platforms may have a major impact on customer behaviour.
  • This will, in turn, have an impact on the revenue and growth of e-commerce companies in India.
  • This clause will also have an impact on private labels/in-house brands being sold by e-commerce companies.
  • The bar on e-commerce companies from selling products from entities they have a stake in, could affect Amazon because it has a stake in its two major seller entities, Cloudtail and Appario.
  • Even Flipkart has exclusive partnerships with top smartphone brands such as Xiaomi and Oppo. The new norms will adversely impact their business models.

Connecting the dots:


TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Improving quality of life and achieving sustainable development goals (SDG)


Two-thirds of India’s 112 backward districts are in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The remaining are scattered across the country with a few in the Northeast.

These districts identified in January 2018 for fast-track development represent the part of rural India that lags behind in basic services such as health, education and infrastructure, and have rightly come under the focus of policymakers.

Do you know?

  • Under the “aspirational districts” programme, central and state officials are working closely to identify the strength of each district and use it to catalyse growth.
  • NITI Aayog, which anchors the programme, has ranked these districts on their performance in key development areas of health and nutrition, education, farming, water resources, financial inclusion, skill development and access to basic infrastructure such as road, potable water and power.

NITI Aayog survey and ranking shows that –

  • Under the “aspirational districts” programme, several backward districts had reported improvement in elementary education over the 2017 national average.
  • Five districts have particularly made rapid progress—Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, Ranchi in Jharkhand, Siddharthnagar and Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh, and Jamui in Bihar.
  • Virudhunagar in Tamil Nadu has the best overall score among all the backward districts.
  • The incremental progress made by the five districts offer hope that with a focused approach, a quick course correction in the development trajectory could be achieved.

Achieving SDG goals

  • Plugging the development gaps and improving the quality of life of people in these backward areas is important to achieve SDG goals.
  • India has crossed only the halfway mark in achieving sustainable development goals (SDG) such as removal of poverty and inequality, which it had adopted in 2015 along with 192 other nations.
  • Improving basic services and ensuring livelihood of people in backward districts is of tremendous importance, considering that people are forced to migrate in search of a better life.

Two key initiatives: Ayushman Bharat scheme and BharatNet project

Apart from the “aspirational districts” programme, two key initiatives: Ayushman Bharat scheme and BharatNet project – will go a long way in achieving the SDG goal.

  • Ayushman Bharat scheme – offers health cover to 100 million vulnerable families, and
  • BharatNet project – digitally connects all gram panchayats. Digital connectivity will link people in rural areas with urban centres, improving employment opportunities.

In a nation that is set to be the fifth largest economy in the world, bridging the development gap is vital to social and political stability.

Connecting the dots:


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)


  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
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Q.1) The term M-STrIPES is sometimes seen in the news in the context of –

  1. Captive breeding of Wild Fauna
  2. Maintenance of Tiger Reserves
  3. Indigenous Satellite Navigation System
  4. Security of National Highways

Q.2) Ross Island, Neil Island and Havelock Island are located in –

  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. South China Sea
  3. Lakshadweep Islands
  4. Diego Garcia Islands


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