Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th February 2019

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  • February 24, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 20th February 2019



Cabinet approves new National Electronics Policy 2019

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government schemes and policies; Indian Economy

In news:

  • Union Cabinet approved the National Electronics Policy 2019, which aims to achieve a turnover of $400 billion (about ₹26 lakh crore) for the electronics system design and manufacturing sector by 2025.
  • It is also expected to generate employment opportunities for one crore people.
  • The policy will enable flow of investment and technology, leading to higher value addition in the domestically manufactured electronic products and increased manufacturing of electronics hardware for local use as well as exports.

Do you know?

  • NPC 2019 is proposed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
  • The Policy aims to position India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing – (ESDM).
  • To help create an ecosystem, the policy has pitched for 2.0 version of the Electronics Manufacturing Cluster Scheme, under which infrastructure support will be provided for a group of industries that are part of the product supply chain rather than individual industries.
  • It has also proposed a sovereign patent fund to acquire intellectual property for chips and chip components.

Salient Features of NPE 2019

  1. Create eco-system for globally competitive ESDM sector: Promoting domestic manufacturing and export in the entire value-chain of ESDM.
  2. Provide incentives and support for manufacturing of core electronic components.
  3. Provide special package of incentives for mega projects which are extremely high-tech and entail huge investments, such as semiconductor facilities display fabrication, etc.
  4. Formulate suitable schemes and incentive mechanisms to encourage new units and expansion of existing units.
  5. Promote Industry-led R&D and innovation in all sub-sectors of electronics, including grass root level innovations and early stage Start-ups in emerging technology areas such as 5G, loT/ Sensors, Artificial Intelligence (Al), Machine Learning, Virtual Reality (VR), Drones, Robotics,   Additive   Manufacturing,   Photonics,   Nano-based devices, etc.
  6. Provide incentives   and   support   for   significantly   enhancingavailability of skilled manpower, including re-skilling.
  7. Special thrust  on  Fabless  Chip  Design  Industry,  Medical Electronic Devices Industry, Automotive Electronics Industry andPower Electronics for Mobility and Strategic Electronics Industry.
  8. Create Sovereign Patent Fund (SPF) to promote the developmentand acquisition of IPs in ESDM sector.
  9. Promote trusted electronics value chain initiatives to improve national cyber security profile.

Seaplane operations in Andamans and Lakshadweep

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I and III – Geography; Infrastructure

In news:

  • Four islands in the Andamans and three in Lakshadweep have been identified for seaplane operations.
  • Bids invited for private sector participation in tourism-based projects.


Do you know?

  • Islands Development Agency (IDA) is chaired by Union Home Minister.
  • IDA was constituted in 2017 for the holistic development of islands after giving due consideration to unique maritime and territorial bio-diversity of the islands.
  • The IDA had identified 10 islands for development which include 5 islands in A&N Islands (i.e. Smith, Ross, Long, Avis and Little Andaman) and 5 in Lakshadweep (i.e. Minicoy, Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam, Suheli).

Drug menace in India

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Health issue; Welfare/Social issue; Children issue

In news:

According to a survey conducted by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, Delhi –

  • 7 crore people suffer from alcohol dependence in India
  • More than 4 lakh children and 18 lakh adults are inhalant addicts
  • Of the 16 crore people who consumed alcohol across the country, prevalence of alcohol consumption was 17 times higher among men than among women.
  • About 3.1 crore individuals consumed cannabis
  • The most common opioid used was heroin. The current use of heroin was 1.14%, followed by pharmaceutical opioids (0.96%) and opium (0.52%). The abuse was found most prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.


The survey ascertains the magnitude of substance abuse in the country.

The Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment maintained that a national guideline would be formulated after detailed consultation with all stakeholders to counter the drug menace in the country.

Do you know?

  • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has introduced Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse.
  • The scheme seeks to benefit victims of alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Under the scheme, non-governmental organisations have been entrusted with the
  • responsibility for delivery of services and the Ministry bears substantial financial responsibility (90% of the prescribed grant amount).

Mid Day Meal Scheme

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Welfare/Social scheme; Government schemes and policies

In news:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the revision of norms under the Mid Day Meal Scheme.
  • MDM scheme to be provided ₹12,054 crore for 2019-20, in addition to the subsidy of about ₹8,000 crore borne by Department of Food & Public Distribution.
  • A new component of ₹10,000 per kitchen for repair of more than 10-year-old kitchens had been introduced.
  • Also, ₹50 crore has been allocated for fortification of food items in a systematic manner. This would address the problems of anaemia and other micro nutrient deficiencies.

About MDM scheme:

  • The scheme involves provision of lunch free of cost to school-children on all working days.
  • Key objectives: Protect children from classroom hunger; Increase school enrolment and attendance; Improve socialisation among children belonging to all castes; Address malnutrition and social empowerment through provision of employment to women.
  • Scheme covers all children studying in class I to VIII
  • MDM is covered by National Food Security Act, 2013
  • Ministry/Department : Department of School Education & Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development

Panic button feature on mobiles launched

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Welfare/Social scheme; Government schemes and policies

In news:

  • Centre launched panic button feature on mobiles for safety of women and other emergency services
  • The initiative was opened jointly by Home Minister and Women and Child Development Minister
  • In order to access an emergency service, such as police, medical and other services, a user can dial 112 from any phone.
  • A smartphone user can also press the power button thrice in quick succession and a user of a basic or feature phone can long press 5 or 9 on the key pad.

Do you know?

  • Once a user presses the panic button, five calls will be made to emergency number 112 as well as call log details and the geo location of the victim will be sent by SMSes and emails to police officials at the State, district and local level.
  • The panic button facility, also known as the Emergency Response Support System, is being supported under the Nirbhaya Fund set up for safety of women.

France to propose ban on JeM chief

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International; Security issues

In news:

  • France will move a proposal at the U.N. in a “couple of days” to ban Masood Azhar, chief of the U.N.-proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
  • In 2017, the U.S., supported by the U.K. and France, moved a proposal at the U.N.’s Sanctions Committee 1267 to ban him. However, it was blocked by China.
  • This will be the second time France will be party to such a proposal.

India-Fiji Relations

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations; India and the World

In news:

  • Fiji High Commissioner to India said – Fiji will maintain China-India balance
  • Fiji is politically attached to India and the island country in the South Pacific Ocean is the only other country, apart from India, where Hindi is designated as an official language.
  • Of the 9,00,000 people of the south Pacific island nation, some 40% are of Indian origin.
  • Defence agreement – Both India and Fiji signed a defence agreement in 2017 with a goal to deepen cooperation in maritime security and provide training for Fiji troops.

LOFAR telescope

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology; Space Missions

In news:

  • A new map of the night sky published recently charts hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies discovered using a LOFAR telescope that can detect light sources optical instruments cannot see.
  • The discovery shed new light on some of the Universe’s deepest secrets, including the physics of black holes and how clusters of galaxies evolve.
  • More than 200 astronomers from 18 countries were involved in the study, which used radio astronomy to look at a segment of sky over the northern hemisphere, and found 3,00,000 previously unseen light sources thought to be distant galaxies.
  • The discovery of the new light sources may also help scientists better understand the behaviour of one of space’s most enigmatic phenomena.

About LOFAR Telescope

The Low-Frequency Array or LOFAR, is a large radio telescope network located mainly in the Netherlands, completed in 2012 by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy and its international partners.

Animal in news: Bramble Cay Melomys

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

In news:

  • Australia officially declared a Great Barrier Reef rodent extinct.
  • The rat-like Bramble Cay Melomys — whose only known habitat was a small sandy island in far northern Australia — has not been spotted in a decade.
  • Bramble Cay Melomys is the first mammal believed to have been killed off by human-induced climate change.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/02/20/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_18/ac97c066_2747738_1_mr.jpg

Illegal migrants in Assam

Part of: GS Mains II – Welfare/Social issue

In news:

  • SC expressed concern over thousands of illegal migrants being kept in detention centres for years in Assam without being repatriated or deported to their countries of origin.
  • The Centre assured the court that it would hold consultations with the State on a scheme to expedite deportation or repatriation of illegal foreigners.

Do you know?

  • Illegal migrants are convicted under the Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • The Foreigners Act, 1946 is an Act of the Central Legislative Assembly enacted to grant the certain powers to Indian government in matters of foreigners in India. The Act was enacted before India became independent.



TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  • India and the World 

India-Saudi-Pakistan triangle


  • In previous Daily News Analysis articles, we had discussed about Saudi Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 plan to transform Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy into a vibrant, diversified one better-suited to the economic realities of the 21st century.
  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) recent visits to Asian countries reflects that Asia is set to become the most important component of the Vision 2030 plan.
  • For MBS, the visit to India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia and Indonesia is an opportunity to re-assert Saudi Arabia’s role as a major foreign policy player in Asia amid growing criticism over the Yemen war and the brutal assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
  • For the Government of India, the visit is an opportunity to cap its pursuit of stronger ties with West Asian nations on a high note.

India-Saudi Relations:

  • Expansion of trade and investment: Saudi has shown interest in expanding trade and investment in India and collaboration in the energy sector. India could likely absorb $100 billion in Saudi investment.
  • Ratnagiri refinery and petrochemicals complex joint venture: Saudi Aramco is set to partner with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in developing an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, a $44 billion joint venture with Indian public sector involvement.
  • Largest supplier of oil: Saudi Arabia is already one of the three largest suppliers of oil to India.
  • Strategic Partnership Council: Both the countries have a strong independent strategic partnership and it will be further strengthened with the launching of the Strategic Partnership Council.
  • People-to-people relations: There were announcements of the release of 850 Indians from Saudi jails, a hike in the quota for Indians making the Haj pilgrimage and an annual upscaling of airline seats to and fro.
  • Comprehensive security dialogue and counter terrorism: A comprehensive security dialogue between the national security advisers of the two nations has been announced, besides a joint working group on terrorism.
  • Inaugural joint naval exercises soon: Both agreed to hold their inaugural joint naval exercises at the earliest.

Pakistan-Saudi Relations:

  • Strategic and economic nexus between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan: Pakistan is far too important to Saudi Arabia for internal security reasons. The Pakistan Army has more than once acted as the Saudi rulers’ praetorian guard and given the uncertain hold of MBS on his country, despite impressions to the contrary, he may need the services of Pakistani mercenaries in the near future.
  • Strategic importance of Pakistan in Afghanistan: Afghanistan has been a point of strategic convergence for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia going back to the 1980s when the Saudis used Pakistan as a conduit for material assistance to the Islamist forces fighting the Soviet Union and its proxy government in Kabul. With U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan’s strategic value as the Taliban’s patron has grown exponentially. Saudi Arabia is interested in curbing Iranian influence in Afghanistan and needs Pakistan to contain Iran’s ability to influence events in that country after the American withdrawal through its Tajik and Hazara allies.
  • Aid to Pakistan: Saudi economic largesse matters greatly to Pakistan, which is in dire economic straits and has been forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loans that are bound to come with strict conditionalities.
  • Saudi investment in Pakistan (especially Gwadar port): Over and above the $6 billion already promised by Saudi Arabia, MBS has promised a further $20 billion in Saudi investment in Pakistan. A large part is earmarked for investment in the construction of an oil refinery in Gwadar on the Makran coast, which is being developed as a strategic port by China and features prominently in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan.
  • Iran-Saudi Arabia Conflict: Iran is Saudi Arabia’s chief adversary in West Asia. MBS has made containment of Iran his top foreign policy priority. Therefore, Saudi perceives Pakistan as a major asset it can use to check the spread of Iranian influence.

Moreover, Pakistan’s relations with Iran have hit a new low following the recent terrorist attack in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province that killed 27 Revolutionary Guards. As Pakistan’s relations with Iran deteriorate, it is likely to move further into the Saudi orbit.

On the other hand, India deepened its engagement with Iran, be it on oil trade or the Chabahar port. Iran is important for India as it is a gateway to Central Asia.


  • India should take advantage of any benefit that accrues from India’s economic relations with Saudi Arabia but should not pin much hope on Riyadh in the political-strategic sphere of Saudi-Pakistan ties.
  • While Saudi Arabia is vital for India’s energy security, Iran is a gateway to Central Asia. New Delhi is sure to continue this balancing act even as it seeks to strengthen the Saudi pillar of India’s West Asia policy.

Connecting the dots:

  • Saudi Arabia and India have a historic opportunity to collaborate in shaping the future of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Asia regions. Critically analyse.
  • What challenges does India face in cultivating gainful ties with Saudi Arabia? Examine.
  • Give an overview of India – Saudi Arabia defence, economic and strategic relations.


TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Infrastructure: Energy 
  • Environment and Ecology; Pollution
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Need for Clean Fuel and Sustainable Energy System


  • Ministry of Environment had notified emission limits for major pollutants such as suspended particulate matter, sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury in December 2015.
  • However, despite this notification, the effort to clean up India’s thermal power plants running on coal has never really taken off.

About Emission Standards for Coal Power Plants

  • In December 2015, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) notified new emission standards for coal thermal power plants (TPPs).
  • The new standards mandate reduction of sulphur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and mercury (Hg) emissions, along with tightening of the existing norms for particulate matter (PM10) emissions.
  • Around 50% of the total SOx, 30% of total NOx, and 8% of total PM2.5 emissions are attributed to the energy sector, within which coal TPPs are the biggest contributors.
  • Once MoEFCC’s standards are implemented, the air quality in India could significantly improve.
  • Standards have been specified differently for unit, vintage and installed capacity. The original deadline for compliance was December 2017. Due to limited progress in implementing the standards, MoEFCC recently decided to support the Ministry of Power’s (MoP’s) phasing plan, which extends the deadline for implementation to 2022.


  • These pollutants have cumulative impact on the health and well-being of people.
  • Government/Centre has failed to follow up the notification with a viable financial plan to help power plants acquire pollution control technologies.
  • Originally, the compliance deadline was set for 2017, but that was missed and the plan now is to achieve the norms by 2022.
  • India’s coal use is over 54% of the present energy mix, and the dirty fuel will continue to retain a high share of the overall generation.
  • Over 300 out of around 500 units of coal-based power plants are not adhering to the emission norms notified by the Union Environment Ministry in December 2015.
  • To comply with the new emission standards, most coal TPPs will have to incur INR 0.5–1 crore/MW.

The way ahead:

  • Power Ministry has proposed to provide the equivalent of over $12 billion (about ₹88,000 crore), mainly to remove sulphur from coal plant emissions.
  • A viable financial mechanism must be evolved to remove pollutants in existing and upcoming power plants, without losing sight.
  • Providing grants to existing plants would help.
  • Developing detailed regulatory guidelines to enable tariff transfer to consumers.
  • There is a need to stop further long-term investments in a dirty fuel such as coal that contributes to carbon emissions.
  • Developing synthetic gypsum market to monetise the byproduct from FGD technologies, as additional revenue for new plants.

Connecting the dots:

  • India’s energy needs have to be diverse to fulfil India’s Energy Mix. Explain in detail with suitable examples.
  • Studies across the world has released that coal power plants in India are most lethal in the world. Critically analyse the need for green technologies and sustainable energy system.


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


  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Consider the following statements about Islands Development Agency (IDA)

  1. It is chaired by Union Environment Minister
  2. It was constituted in 2017 for the holistic development of islands after giving due consideration to unique maritime and territorial bio-diversity of the islands.

Which of the statements above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both
  4. None

Q.2) Which of the following are the pillars of growth under Digital India?

  1. Free internet access
  2. Electronics Manufacturing
  3. E-governance
  4. Universal access to Mobile Connectivity

 Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

Q.3) Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam, Suheli is associated with –

  1. Islands of Lakshadweep
  2. Islands of Andamans
  3. Indigenous cattle breeds
  4. Folk songs of Odisha

Q.4) Scheme of Assistance for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse was introduced by –

  1. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  2. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  3. Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers
  4. Home Ministry

Q.5) Consider the following statements with regard to Mid-day Meal Scheme:

  1. Scheme covers all children studying in class I to VIII
  2. MDM is covered by National Food Security Act, 2013
  3. The programme supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government aided, local body, Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan only.

Which of the statements above are correct?

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

Q.6) An integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, a $44 billion joint venture is proposed between which two countries?

  1. India and UAE
  2. India and Russia
  3. India and Saudi Arabia
  4. India and Iran


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