Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th February 2019

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  • February 18, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th February 2019



Aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – India and Pakistan relations; Terrorism and Security issues

In news:

After revoking MFN status and hiking import duty on Pakistani goods to 200 per cent, the following are the other actions taken by the Government of India and Jammu and Kashmir government.

  • Jammu and Kashmir government withdrew all security personnel and government facilities provided to 5 separatist leaders in Kashmir (Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone, Hashim Qureshi and Shabir Shah)
  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has approved a plan to charter flights to transport Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) personnel deployed in the Kashmir Valley.
  • Professional counselling would be given to the personnel if they felt traumatised after the February 14 attack.
  • The valour and sacrifice of military and paramilitary personnel killed in action may soon be made part of the school curriculum in some states. It will develop a sense of respect for the martyrs among students and will develop feeling of patriotism.

Animal in news: Blackbuck

About Blackbuck

  • The blackbuck also known as the Indian antelope, is an antelope found in India, Nepal and Pakistan. The blackbuck is the sole extant member of the genus Antilope.
  • In India, hunting of blackbuck is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
  • The blackbuck is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.

Do you know?

  • Black buck is believed to be the second fastest animal after Cheetah.
  • Punjab’s State animal: Black buck
  • Note: Blackbucks have religious significance in Hindu mythology and Bishnoi tribe of Rajasthan is famous for its conservation efforts for Black bucks.

‘Policies biased against rainfed agriculture’

Part of: GS Mains II – Government schemes and policies, issues arising of such policies; Agriculture distress; Farmer’s welfare

Key pointers:

  • Three out of five farmers in India grow their crops using rainwater, instead of irrigation.
  • However, per hectare government investment on their lands may be 20 times lower.
  • Procurement of their crops is just a fraction of major irrigated land crops and many of the flagship agriculture schemes are not tailored to benefit them.
  • In other words, there has been “negligence” toward rainfed areas, which is leading to lower incomes for farmers.
  • Flagship government schemes, such as seed and fertiliser subsidies and soil health cards, are designed for irrigated areas and simply extended to rainfed farmers without taking their needs into consideration.

Do you know?

  • Lands irrigated through big dams and canal networks get a per hectare investment of ₹5 lakh. Watershed management spending in rainfed lands is only ₹18,000-25,000.
  • A new rainfed agriculture atlas was released recently.
  • The rainfed agriculture atlas not only maps the agro biodiversity and socio-economic conditions prevailing in such areas, but also attempts to document the policy biases that are making farming unviable for many in these areas.

Scientists discover massive mountains under Earth’s crust

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I – Geography; Physical geography – Interior of Earth; Structure and feature of Earth’s interior

In news:

  • Scientists have discovered massive mountains in the Earth’s mantle, an advance that may change our understanding of how the planet was formed.
  • We know that Earth has three layers: a crust, mantle and core, which is subdivided into an inner and outer core.
  • While that is not wrong, it does leave out several other layers that scientists have identified within the Earth.

Do you know?

  • Scientists used data from an enormous earthquake in Bolivia to find mountains and other topography on a layer located 660 km straight down, which separates the upper and lower mantle.
  • Lacking a formal name for this layer, the researchers simply call it “the 660-km boundary.”
  • Data from earthquakes that are magnitude 7.0 or higher send out shockwaves in all directions that can travel through the core to the other side of the planet — and back again.
  • The presence of roughness on the 660-km boundary has significant implications for understanding how our planet formed and evolved.


1. 55th Munich Security Conference

In news:

  • 55th Munich Security Conference brings together global leaders and security experts from across the world.
  • Representatives of several countries unequivocally condemned the attack and extended their condolences to the bereaved families.
  • There was widespread support for India’s concerns over Pakistan-sponsored terrorism on Indian soil.

2. Bomb blasts on the rise in J&K

In news:

According to a report presented by the National Bomb Data Centre of the National Security Guard –

  • Jammu and Kashmir has seen a steady increase in IED and other blasts over the past five years.
  • 2018 witnessed a 57% jump in bomb blasts.
  • However, in areas affected by Left-wing extremism and the northeast, the number has gone down.

Do you know?

  • Thirty-five blasts took place in J&K in 2014, 46 in 2015, 69 in 2016, 70 in 2017 and 117 last year.



TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security. 
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention. 
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.

India urgently needs a Nation Security Doctrine


The recent Pulwama incident has again highlighted the security lapses that are prevalent in the country.

  • India remains deficient in intelligence-analysis, inter-agency coordination, and, above all, a national security doctrine.
  • Crisis after crisis has caught our nation by surprise — unprepared and invariably in the reactive mode.
  • In order to prevent recurrence of such tragedies, it is vital that an urgent review be undertaken of the quality and timeliness of intelligence inputs.
  • It is also vital to review the standard operating procedures (SOP) being followed by the armed police force convoys or the army’s.

This tragic incident provides India yet another opportunity for reflection and introspection about our management of crisis situations in general, and of Pakistan’s role in Kashmir, in particular.

India’s missteps

  • India should retain a firm focus on the centrality of Pakistan’s “deep state” — the unholy nexus of its army’s General Headquarters and the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Directorate.
  • Indian state has failed to evolve a strategy for resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio. It has allowed this issue to become a pressure-point for exploitation by our western and eastern neighbours, separately and in collusion.
  • Amongst India’s major missteps has been the coining of the euphemism “cross-border terrorism” to describe, what were clearly, “acts of war” by Pakistan.
  • Acts which were committed through training and arming fighters on its territory, and then, launching them, under its army’s covering fire, to wreak death and destruction on Indian soil.
  • Pakistani fidayeen attacks on the Pathankot air base, followed by the Uri and Nagrota army camps — and now, Pulwama – marks just another step in the continuum of ISI’s ongoing “grab-Kashmir” campaign; more such steps will, no doubt, follow.

Need of the hour:

  • Apart from diplomatic and economic steps that are being initiated, the current juncture would be apt for the urgent promulgation of a security-cum-defence doctrine.
  • Such a document, whose public version defines India’s vital interests, aims and objectives will not only become the basis for strategy-formulation, contingency-planning and evolution of SOPs, but also send a reassuring message to our public.
  • Setting in place clear “red lines” for adversary nations and non-state entities will mean that, in future, no further notice is required for instant punitive or retaliatory actions for any infringement of India’s red lines.

Connecting the dots:


TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security. 
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention. 
  • Security challenges and their management.
  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Dealing with emerging dangerous cyberspace


  • Cyberspace is in news again as the laws governing it are getting a lot scarier.
  • There is a wide debate among experts about Trump administration’s decision to repeal Presidential Policy Directive 20 (an Obama-era cyberwarfare policy) and what exactly will replace PPD-20 remains clouded in uncertainty.

About PPD20:

  • During early years of his presidency, former US President Barack Obama signed the Presidential Policy Directive 20 (PPD20).
  • This was a secret act that only came into public notice when National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed classified documents to the world in 2013.
  • PPD20 deals with Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) – which can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging.
  • However, such an operation required rigorous levels of approval and government oversight. Therefore, PPD20 provided such approval process, which also included requirement of personal authorization of the President.

Cyberweapon called STUXNET

  • Years ago, the world witnessed the creation of the first major “cyberweapon”, known as Stuxnet.
  • Stuxnet is a malicious computer worm which was secretly loaded onto an unknown Iranian worker’s USB flash drive.
  • The self-replicating computer worm entered Iranian computer networks and spread like a cancer, infecting more than 15 Iranian industrial networks and eventually infected its primary target: Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz.
  • Workers watched helplessly as centrifuges spun out of control, tricked by the worm to spin faster and faster until its eventual mechanical suicide.
  • Strands of the worm, which found its way into the wild, still infect computers to this day.

Stuxnet, which went through years of development between its initial creation and eventual deployment, required rigorous levels of approval and government oversight before its launch.

The weapon was treated as significantly different from conventional weapons and featured an approval process similar to those reserved for nuclear weapons. President Obama himself had to personally authorize the attack (under PPD20).

However, experts fear that such approval process might change under Trump regime.

US Cyber Command, which is the American military hacking outfit, may have full authority to launch cyberattacks wherever it feels the need to. It does not need oversight from the state department, commerce department and intelligence agencies, and certainly not from the president.

Cybernetics with no geographic constraints

The world knows that countries such as Russia and China use cyber attacks as a standard mode of foreign policy/intimidation.

  • For instance, Russia has used its cyber weapons against Ukraine repeatedly and it has also interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections.
  • In 2014, Chinese hackers working for the People’s Liberation Army stole the entire database of the US government’s office of personnel management (OPM).
  • A couple of years later, “agents working for unknown government” stole the records of 143 million Americans from Equifax, a credit rating agency.

Therefore, what we are accepting is a world of perpetual endless warfare. Human beings may get killed, there will be battles, insurgencies, rebellions, perhaps even revolutions.


  • From above, it is evident that the threat landscape is evolving continuously and the complex layers make cyber security a challenge.
  • Though India is taking steps towards strengthening cyber security, India needs to invest more in cyber security on such above discussed war-footing. As we are working on Digital India, we should work more on cyber safety.
  • The existing security gaps are ready ground for cyber-criminals to exploit.
  • Government, private institutions along with educational institutions must work together to strengthen cyber security of our country.

Connecting the dots:

  • What is cyberspace? How does it impact India’s national, economic and financial security? Critically examine.


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) Which of the following states have approved the first Blackbuck Conservation Reserve in India?

  1. Rajasthan
  2. Gujarat
  3. Uttar Pradesh
  4. Madhya Pradesh

Q.2) Match the following Wildlife Sanctuaries with its associated states:

Wildlife Sanctuary                                         State

  1. Borail Wildlife Sanctuary                       A. Madhya Pradesh
  2. Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary               B. Bihar
  3. Abohar Wildlife Sanctuary                    C. Assam
  4. Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary             D. Punjab

Choose the appropriate code:

1-2- 3-4

  1. A-B- C-D
  2. B-A- C-D
  3. D-C- A-B
  4. C-A- D-B

Q.3) Which of the statements given below are correct?

  1. Asthenosphere is associated with the upper layer of the earth’s mantle (below the lithosphere) whereas Barysphere is associated with inner layer of the earth’s core (below outer core)
  2. The main mineral constituents of the continental mass are silica and alumina.
  3. The oceanic crust mainly consists of silica and iron.

Choose appropriate answer from the codes given below:

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

Q.4) Consider the following statements with regard to Earthquake:

  1. The place in the crust where the movement starts is called the epicentre.
  2. The place on the surface above the Epicentre is called the focus.
  3. Focus is also known as Hypocentre

Select the incorrect statements

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

Q.5) If Asthenosphere is associated with the upper layer of the earth’s mantle (below the lithosphere), then ‘Barysphere’ is associated with:

  1. Thin layer of the earth’s crust (above lithosphere)
  2. Lower layer of the earth’s mantle (below Astenosphere)
  3. Inner layer of the earth’s core (below outer core)
  4. Upper layer of the earth’s mantle (below the lithosphere) only


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