Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th February 2019

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  • February 28, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 26th February 2019



Drought less probable this year

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains I – Geography

In news:

According to Skymet (private weather forecaster) –

  • There’s unlikely to be a drought in 2019 as the El Nino — a climate phenomenon linked to poor monsoon in India — is likely to peter out by the beginning of the season.

Do you know?

  • Indian climatic conditions are shaped by many factors; one of them is El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
  • The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurring climate pattern involving changes in the temperature of waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
  • El Nino and La Nina are the extreme phases of the ENSO cycle.

Pic: https://scijinks.gov/la-nina/Normal_rev1_500.jpg

Pic: https://www.concernusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/what-is-el-nino-noaa.jpg


El Nino

  • Phenomenon of warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures (SST), in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean is known as El Nino.
  • The low-level surface winds, which normally blow from east to west along the equator (“easterly winds”), instead weaken or, in some cases, start blowing the other direction (from west to east or “westerly winds”).
  • This reversal of winds creates unusual warming and low pressure near the Peruvian Coast, and causes heavy rainfall.

La Nina

  • Phenomenon of cooling of the ocean surface or below-average Sea surface temperatures (SST), in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean is known as La Nina.
  • The normal easterly winds along the equator become even stronger.
  • This situation causes heavy rainfall (monsoon) on western Pacific areas.

Effects of El-Nino and La-Nina on India’s climate

  • For India, El Nino during winter results in development of warm conditions.
  • During summer, it leads to dry conditions and deficient monsoon, leading to droughts and water scarcity.
  • Whereas La-Nina brings rains and stronger monsoon in India, it may cause flood like situation in coastal areas.
  • El-Nino and La-Nina are complex unpredictable phenomenon and Agriculture being the important occupation, climatic changes due to these are grave for India.

Britain should hand over Chagos islands to Mauritius

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International Relations

In news:

  • International Court of Justice (ICJ) in an advisory opinion said that – Britain has an obligation to end its administration of the Chagos archipelago and complete the process of decolonisation of Mauritius.
  • It is a significant legal victory for Mauritius and other nations, including India, which supported its case.
  • The Chagos Islands — referred to by the British as the British Indian Ocean Territory, but which is not recognised as such by Mauritius — is home to the U.S. military base Diego Garcia.
  • It had been part of Mauritius since the 18th century when the French first settled the islands. Later this French colonial territory ceded to the British in 1810.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s, inhabitants were removed from the islands.
  • Tensions remain, with Mauritius maintaining that the archipelago remains its integral part.

Do you know?

  • Sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago is disputed between Mauritius and the United Kingdom.
  • Mauritius has repeatedly asserted that the Chagos Archipelago is part of its territory and that the United Kingdom (UK) claim is a violation of United Nations’ resolutions banning the dismemberment of colonial territories before independence.
  • The UK has stated that it has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Chagos but has also said that the Chagos will be returned to Mauritius once the islands are no longer required for defence purposes.
  • Given the absence of any progress with the UK, Mauritius has decided to internationalise the dispute and take up the matter at all appropriate legal and political forums.
  • The African Union and the Non-Aligned Movement have expressed unanimous support for Mauritius on the Chagos issue.

Banks may set repo rate as benchmark

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues related to it; Economic Development

In news:

  • Most commercial banks in India are likely to select RBI’s repo rate as the external benchmark to decide their lending rates, from April 1.
  • The repo rate is the key policy rate of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • RBI had asked the banks to move to an external benchmark for loan pricing from April 1, a move expected to improve monetary transmission as lenders had, in the past, been found reluctant to reduce lending rate.

Do you know?

  • Banks had four options from which to choose the external benchmark: the repo rate, the 91-day treasury bill, the 182-day T-bill or any other benchmark interest rate produced by the Financial Benchmarks India Private Ltd (FBIL).
  • The marginal cost of fund based lending rate (MCLR) is currently the benchmark for all loan rates. Banks typically add a spread to the MCLR while pricing loans for homes and automobiles.
  • Banks against move: Many banks have opposed the move to shift to a new external benchmark for loan pricing on grounds that their cost of funds are not linked to these benchmarks and that without a fall in the costs, it would not be possible to change the rates.

Two crore jobs created in 16 months to December 2018: CSO

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and issues related to it; Economic Development

In news:

  • According to the payroll data of the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), nearly two crore jobs were created in 16 months to December 2018.
  • The ESIC data is one of the payroll numbers released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in its reports based on people joining various social security schemes run by Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) and Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA).
  • The ESIC provides health insurance and medical services to its insured person, covering all those establishment which have 20 or more workers and all those employees whose monthly wages are up to ₹21,000.
  • During the period from September 2017 and December 2018, as many as 1.96 crore new subscribers joined the scheme.
  • Similarly, the EPFO data showed that employment generation in the formal sector almost trebled to touch a 16-month high of 7.16 lakh in December 2018, compared to 2.37 lakh in the year-ago month.
  • It indicated that nearly 72.32 lakh new subscribers were added to social security schemes of the EPFO from September 2017 to December 2018.
  • The EPFO covers all those firms that have 20 or more employees. Workers, whose basic wages are up to ₹15,000 per month at the time of joining the job, are mandatorily covered under the scheme.

New NPS numbers

  • The estimated number of new NPS (National Pension Scheme) subscribers during the period — September 2017 to December 2018 — is 9, 66,381.
  • The NPS covers central and State government employees while others can voluntarily subscribes to it.
  • The report gives different perspectives on the levels of employment in the formal sector and does not measure employment at a holistic level.


Inauguration of National War Memorial (NWM)

  • National War Memorial (NWM) was inaugurated near the India Gate, Delhi, to honour over 25,000 soldiers who have laid down their lives for the country since Independence.
  • A National War Museum has been constructed at the Princes Park complex gate.

Himavad Gopalswamy Betta range was in news

Why in news?

  • Forest fires have been ravaging vast tracts of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park.
  • Himavad Gopalswamy Betta range in Bandipur – worst affected area



TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests ; 
  • India and the World ; India and its neighbourhood- relations. 
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • Role of external state and nonstate actors in creating challenges to internal security
  • Security challenges and their management

India-Pakistan: Need for an inclusive ‘coalition against terrorism’


  • In the wake of the Pulwama attack, the government of India has iterated once again its plan for the “diplomatic isolation” of Pakistan.
  • The measures taken thus far — cancelling Most Favoured Nation status, maximising use of Indus waters, denying visas to Pakistani sportspersons, etc. — have little real impact on Pakistan and certainly none on the military establishment.
  • Beyond its idea of isolating Pakistan, the government should build a more inclusive ‘coalition against terrorism emanating from Pakistan’.

What should be India’s possible actions?

1. Need for collective action against terrorism emanating from Pakistan

  • Apart from India, countries like Iran and Afghanistan have faced terror attacks on their security forces along the border with Pakistan.
  • Therefore the government should attempt for a temporary alliance with countries which have also faced such attacks or see the presence of Pakistan-based groups on their soil and plan for collective action against terrorism.

But, in today’s interconnected world, it is difficult to expect countries to join a unilateral plan for isolation. (For instance, failure of US to get most countries, including India, to sever ties with Iran and North Korea)

However, there are some advantages as an inclusive coalition is more likely to move nations at the global stage as well. The success of the efforts led by the U.S. and other countries to ‘grey list’ Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force or of French efforts for a United Nations Security Council statement on Pulwama points to that.

2. Focus more on the case against Masood Azhar

  • India must focus on the case against Masood Azhar, which pre-dates the case against 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
  • Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack in a suicide bomber video and the claim has not been disputed by its leader Masood Azhar.
  • Azhar has been on the U.S.’s radar since 1992, when he was a leader of the banned terror group Harkat ul-Ansar, and worked with jihadi groups in Sudan and Bangladesh.
  • Azhar release after years in Indian prisons in exchange for hostages on board the IC-814 flight should on its own merit his banning and prosecution — not just in Pakistan, but in all the countries whose nationals were on board that Indian Airlines flight, as well as the stops that flight made: in Nepal, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan.

3. Avoid internationalising the Kashmir issue

  • India must prepare for a pushback from Pakistan, most likely in terms of internationalising the Kashmir issue, and linking it to progress in Afghanistan.

4. Use the diplomatic leverage to ensure action

  • India should use its considerable diplomatic leverage to ensure action that would shut down the JeM and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) permanently and bring their leaders to justice.
  • Therefore, instead of mere statements and bans, the government must consider other options, especially with the countries that carry the most leverage and access in Pakistan: China, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
  • For instance, India must press the U.S. to place travel sanctions on specific entities in the Pakistani military establishment unless visible action is taken against the JeM, whose leaders hold public rallies and issue videos threatening India.
  • Saudi Arabia, which once was a donor to Pakistan’s Islamist institutions, is now wary of funding extremism. India should pursue talks with Riyadh to withhold any funds that may trickle down to charitable wings run by the JeM and LeT.
  • China has not supported a simple ban at the UN Security Council. India should talk with China to rectify their past decision and push to ban Azhar in the next proposal.
  • More than the ban, India must ask China for action against any entities dealing with the JeM in Pakistan, given that China is the partner with the most influence in Pakistan today and one with the most to lose from terror groups in Punjab operating along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Do you know?

  • Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration’s moves to cancel funds to Pakistan last year is not the toughest action the U.S. has contemplated.
  • In May 1992, then U.S. President George H.W Bush had directed his Secretary of State James Baker to send a stern letter to then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif threatening to designate Pakistan as a “State sponsor of Terror” for its support to Kashmiri and Sikh militant groups.

5. Need for Steady dialogue

  • India must look to its own actions on the diplomatic front with Pakistan.
  • Calling off a formal dialogue process for more than a decade has clearly yielded no desired outcome.
  • South Asia as a region, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) process too have suffered the consequences of this disengagement, without yielding any desired outcomes.
  • A measured, steady and non-political level of dialogue is a more effective way of impressing India’s determination to root out terrorism than the present on-again, off-again policy.


As the nation prepares for a possible military response to the Pulwama attack, it is important that New Delhi consider its diplomatic response carefully, particularly taking into account both the historical and regional context of its moves.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically examine what should be India’s response against the recent Pulwama attack. Also discuss what options does India have to deal with Pakistan to curb such constant export of terrorism?
  • Beyond its idea of isolating Pakistan and withdrawing MFN status, the government should build a more inclusive ‘coalition against terrorism emanating from Pakistan’. Analyze.
  • Multi-pronged diplomacy is vital to compel Pakistan to end its support for terrorist groups. Elucidate.


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) The Chagos Archipelago is located in

  1. Atlantic Ocean
  2. Indian Ocean
  3. Pacific Ocean
  4. Arctic Ocean

Q.2) Consider the following pairs

Disputed territory : : Territorial Entities

  1. Kuril Islands : : Japan and China
  2. Guantanamo Bay : : USA and Mexico
  3. Chagos Archipelago : : Mauritius and the United Kingdom

Which of the following is/are incorrectly matched?

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

Q.3) Himavad Gopalswamy Betta range is located in –

  1. Bandipur Tiger Reserve and National Park
  2. Nagarhole Tiger Reserve and National Park
  3. Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary
  4. Mudumalai National Park

Q.4) Which of the following conditions are associated with El Nino?

  1. Weakened trade winds
  2. Warm water off the west coast of South America
  3. Low pressure around north Australia

Select the correct answer using code below

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

Q.5) Consider the following statements

  1. El Nino Modoki is characterized by strong warming in the central tropical Pacific
  2. EL Nino and La Nina are the atmospheric changes associated with the warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean
  3. El Nino is associated with the droughts in India, while La Nina is associated with excess rainfall in India

Select the correct statements

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

Q.6) Which of the following factors impact the Indian monsoon?

  1. Madden Julian Oscillation
  2. El Nino and Southern Oscillation
  3. Tibet Plateau
  4. Easterly jet streams

Select the code from following:

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

Q.7) Consider the following statements:

  1. CSO is a premier statistical institution for collecting data in India
  2. It presents the national income estimates twice a year.

Which of the above statements are correct?

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


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