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

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  • November 18, 2019
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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th November 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 18th November 2019




Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In News

  • National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) has launched India’s first agri index — ‘NCDEX Agridex’, for easy reference to price variations in agricultural commodities.
  • Launched with a composition of 10 leading liquid contracts on the NCDEX platform at present which will be tradable after being approved by SEBI
  • Leading commodities such as guar seed, guar gum, soybean, chana, mustard seed, and jeera, etc, will be the index’s constituents. 
  • For indices, the NCDEX has partnered with NSE Indices, a leading index service provider, as a third party, to maintain and disseminate real-time NCDEX Agridex values.
  • Futures trading on Agridex will enhance overall liquidity on the exchange platform
  • The NCDEX’s index launch is in continuance with Sebi’s plan to broaden its horizon in commodities trading through the introduction of a new set of players and products


Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- Environment

In News

  • The German parliament passed the Climate Protection Act in an attempt to reach its climate target by 2030
  • This will be Germany’s first climate action law.
  • With this bill, a price on carbon emissions in the transport and heating sectors will be imposed along with some other measures to combat climate change.
  • The bill consists of emissions targets for different sectors of the economy such as transport, energy and housing.
  • Flying domestically and within Europe will be made more expensive, due to increase in aviation tax.
  • From 2021, companies that market diesel and petrol, heating oil and natural gas in the country will need to obtain pollution rights for the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. This will be regulated through a national emissions trading mechanism

Do You Know?

  • Germany wants to save over 55 % of its greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990.
  • Recently, New Zealand passed the Zero-Carbon Law in a bid to comply with its Paris climate accord commitments and become a carbon-neutral nation by the year 2050.
  • However, unlike New Zealand, where the bill was passed with near-unanimous support, the same was not the case with Germany, where the opposition voted against it
  • For more details, refer: https://iasbaba.com/2019/11/daily-current-affairs-ias-upsc-prelims-and-mains-exam-11th-november-2019/


Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains I – Geography

In News

  • The seismometer, which helps measure the magnitude of an earthquake, and several other key instruments installed at the Jayakwadi dam have stopped functioning properly.
  • Jayakwadi dam is a multipurpose project located on Godavari river, where the water is mainly used to irrigate agricultural land in the drought-prone Marathwada Region of Maharashtra state.
  • Also other instruments, like the piezometer (to measure liquid pressure), earth pressure cell (to monitor total pressure in earthfill dams) and slope meter, have been out order for the last two years
  • The seismometer was installed at the Jayakwadi dam after the devastating earthquake in Killari in Latur district in 1993. 
  • This instrument is powerful as it has a range of 10,000 km. In the past, it has recorded the epicentres of earthquakes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and Nepal.

Voluntary model code of conduct

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – Polity

In News

  • Supreme Court is hearing case on whether Cabinet Ministers at both the Central and State levels should have a “voluntary model code of conduct” which addresses their private and public activities.
  • The Court is examining if “greater restrictions” should be imposed on the right of free speech and expression of high public functionaries to protect the citizen’s fundamental right to lead a dignified life.
  • The question was framed after family members of the Bulandshahr rape case victim complained about former Uttar Pradesh Minister Azam Khan’s public statements that the rape case was part of a political conspiracy against the then state government
  • The lawyers arguing for petitioners asked the court to direct the government to frame the code of conduct for Cabinet Ministers, with the Cabinet head ensuring a collective responsibility for the activities of the individual Ministers.
  • Union Ministry of Home Affairs already has a code of conduct for Ministers, which is essentially concerned with financial discipline, that is narrow and inadequate. It should be enlarged to include the private & public activities of the Ministers in general.

Minimum operating price

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Economy

In News

  • In an effort to create a level playing field for online and offline retailers, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has written to government seeking implementation of a “minimum operating price” (MOP)
  • MOP is the price consisting of landing price, operational cost and reasonable profit margin and below the MOP no product should be sold in the market
  • The traders’ body alleged that e-commerce companies and brands in collusion with banks, by charging much lower price (through deep discounts) than the actual market value is depriving the government of GST and other revenue.
  • Other measures recommended by CAIT are:
    • Cash back on credit cards given by the banks should also be made applicable to offline trade. There should not be any kind of exclusivity either for online or offline trade. 
    • Upgrade or buyback offer by brands should remain the same for both offline and online trade. 
    • All schemes of the brands should be made available to online and offline trade in a transparent manner
    • Government should constitute a Regulatory Authority to regulate and monitor all verticals of retail trade including small retail, big retail, e-commerce and direct selling besides MOP, and if anyone wants to offer any scheme, the same should be approved by the Regulatory Authority.

Insurance companies to merge as planned

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains III – Economy

In News

  • Finance Minister reiterated that the government would move forward on the merger of the three state-run general insurance companies as announced in the previous Budget.
  • In the February 2018 Budget, the government had announced a plan to merge three public sector general insurance firms—National Insurance, United India Insurance and Oriental Insurance. Subsequently, it planned to list the merged entity on the stock exchanges. 
  • However, there has been little progress on the merger since, even as the financial health of the firms deteriorated in terms of losses, falling market share and poor solvency ratios.
  • There is a need for immediate recapitalisation as per their current balance sheet position, according to which they are either on or below the minimum required insolvency ratio of 1.5
  • According to rough estimates, the need for immediate recapitalisation is at least Rs 2,000-3,000 crore in each of the companies, while the collective requirement is close to Rs 12,000-13,000 crore.
  • The three sets of challenges identified are integration of work culture, rolling out common software, and rationalisation of branches. In total, the three insurers have close to 6,000 offices across the country. 


Rajya Sabha: The Journey since 1952

  • It is a publicationbrought out by the Rajya Sabha secretariat to mark the 250th session of the Upper House that begins from18th Nov 2019.
  • Some of the interesting facts about the house are: 
  • Rajya Sabha’s first sitting was on May 13, 1952.
  • The longest debate on any given subject till date was on the government’s failure to provide adequate security to former PM Rajiv Gandhi in wake of his assassination at Sriperumbudur by LTTE cadres. The debate went on for 12 hours and four minutes on June 4, 1991.
  • The Upper House which on March 9, 2010, cleared the Women’s Reservation Bill that proposes to reserve 33% of all seats in Lok Sabha for women, has a dismissal record itself in terms of women members.
  • In 2014 it had the highest number of women members at 31 and in 1970 the lowest at 14.
  • Under Congress governments from 1952-1969 and again between 1972-1977, there was no leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha since no opposition parties had enough members to stake claim to the position.
  • In 67 years of it’s existence, the Upper House has expelled only three members
  • Rajya Sabha has sat beyond midnight on nine occasions and so far its longest sitting was on December 17, 1981 when the House sat till 4.43 a.m. to debate and clear Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to ensure that normal life of people is not obstructed by strikes and shutdowns.



TOPIC: General Studies 1:

  • Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

The  Sabarimala review


  • A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court   referred Kerala’s Sabarimala temple case to a larger bench of seven judges, with a 3:2 majority.
  • The bench did not stay the judgment passed on 28 September 2018 that had lifted the ban on entry of women between age 10 and 50 to the temple.
  •  Women can still visit the shrine until the larger bench decides on the matter.

Sabarimala case previous judgment:

”Right to pray” in the temple for women between 10 and 50 years of age won over the ‘right to wait’ campaign as the Supreme Court condemned the prohibition as “hegemonic patriarchy”. Patriarchy cannot trump freedom to practice religion

Logic behind the ban: 

The restriction imposed on entry of women in Sabarimala is because of the nature of the deity worshipped there as a ‘naishtika brahmachari’ (celibate). Some argue that it is not because of any discriminatory attitude towards women based on biological factors such as menstruation.

But many are of the opinion that it is due to the age-old practice and belief that the presence of women deviated men from celibacy. This places the burden of a men’s celibacy on women thus, stigmatising women and stereotyping them. Individual dignity of women could not be at the mercy of a mob. Morality was not ephemeral. It transcended biological and physiological barriers.

SC underlines the Constitution’s transformative power (Points can be used in mains answer and essay)

The Constitution protects religious freedom in two ways –

  • It protects an individual’s right to profess, practise and propagate a religion
  • Assures similar protection to every religious denomination to manage its own affairs.

Observations made by the Judges: 

The argument that the practice is justified because women of menstruating age would not be able to observe the 41-day period of abstinence before making a pilgrimage failed to impress the judges. To Chief Justice Dipak Misra, any rule based on segregation of women pertaining to biological characteristics is indefensible and unconstitutional. Devotion cannot be subjected to the stereotypes of gender. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said stigma built around traditional notions of impurity has no place in the constitutional order, and exclusion based on the notion of impurity is a form of untouchability.

On freedom of religion 

  • The Supreme Court dismissed the argument that the prohibition was an essential part of religion.
  • The Chief Justice said the inclusion of women, rather than their exclusion, is the essential part of the Hindu religion.
  • By allowing women to enter Sabarimala temple for offering prayers, the nature of Hindu religion would not be fundamentally altered or changed in any manner.
  • The devotees of Lord Ayyappa are exclusively Hindus and do not constitute a separate religious denomination. This temple is a public religious endowment.
  • The right to practise religion, as claimed by the thanthris and worshippers, must be balanced with and yield to the fundamental right of women.
  • The prohibition violated Section 3 of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965, which stated that “places of public worship” like the Sabarimala temple should be open to “all sections and classes of Hindus.”
  • The law recognises an idol or deity as a “juristic person which can own property and can sue and be sued in the court of law”. But it “does not mean the deity necessarily has constitutional rights”.
  • Fundamental rights are meant for individuals, not deities or idols.
  • Generally, the right to freedom of religion of both individuals and groups is recognised as an intrinsic facet of a liberal democracy. The Constitution memorialises these guarantees in Articles 25 and 26. The former recognises a right to freedom of conscience and a right to freely profess, practise, and propagate religion, subject to common community exceptions of public order, morality, and health, and also, crucially, to the guarantee of other fundamental rights.
  • Article 25(2)(b) creates a further exception to the right. It accords to the state a power to make legislation, in the interests of social welfare and reform, throwing open Hindu religious institutions of public character to all classes and sections of Hindus. 
  • Article 26, on the other hand, which is also subject to limitations imposed on grounds of public order, morality, and health, accords to every religious denomination the right, among other things, to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes and to manage their own affairs in matters of religion.

Dissenting opinion

  • Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge on the Constitution Bench, dissented with the majority opinion.
  • She held that the determination of what constituted an essential practice in a religion should not be based on the “personal views” of judges.
  • She held that essentiality of a religious practice or custom had to be decided within the religion.
  • It is a matter of personal faith. India is a land of diverse faiths. Constitutional morality in a pluralistic society gives freedom to practise even irrational or illogical customs and usages.

Connecting the dots:

  • It is not the courts but the people who must restore to Indian polity its reasoned, secular character. Analyse


TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Comparison of the Indian constitutional scheme with that of other countries

Constitutional crisis in Srilanka

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

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

Src: AFP

  • A constitutional crisis began in Sri Lanka when President Maithripala Sirisena appointed former president and member of parliament Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister October 2018 before formally dismissing the incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe, resulting in two concurrent Prime Ministers. 
  • Wickremesinghe and the United National Party (UNP) viewed the appointment as illegal, and he refused to resign.
  • Sirisena’s sudden decision instigated “political turmoil in the country”, and drew international criticism
  • Wickremesinghe, the majority of the parliament, and opposition parties refused to acknowledge his removal and the appointment of Rajapaksa, stating that Sirisena’s move was unconstitutional.
  • Wickremesinghe claimed that he still commands a majority in parliament and requested that Speaker of the Parliament Karu Jayasuriya convene parliament immediately.
  •  Sirisena ignored all calls and prorogued parliament, delaying its meeting till 16 November.
  • After an attempt to form a new cabinet of ministers with Rajapaksa as Prime Minister failed, Sirisena attempted to dissolve parliament.
  • The UNP declared the move unconstitutional and subsequently the Supreme Court stayed Sirisena’s dissolution until December 2018, when it ruled that the move was unconstitutional and illegal. 
  • Rajapaksa backed down from claiming the office and Wickremesinghe was once again reinstated, ending the crisis after 7 weeks of political and economic turmoil.

Can we call it a Constitutional crisis?

  • Sirisena’s decisions are unlikely to pass the test of the courts since the constitution explicitly bars early dissolution of the House unless two-thirds of its members vote for it. However, events are moving at a pace that may make it impossible to restore status quo even if the court overrules the president’s decisions. Whatever be the judicial outcome, the ongoing chaos threatens to push Sri Lanka back to a state of political uncertainty that it cannot afford. Though it has been a decade since the war in the north ended, there has been limited progress on the resolution of issues that nearly split the country on ethnic lines. 
  • The sudden developments in Sri Lanka have thrown into uncertainty the few steps that the country finally took this year to address post-war issues of transitional justice and rehabilitation, which it had committed to at the UN Human Rights Council in 2015. As President, Rajapaksa had invited UN censure for not doing enough on this front. Instead, after winning the war against the LTTE in 2009, he unleashed a majoritarian triumphalism that dashed all hopes for reconciliation.

Difference between the Constitution of India and Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, which had a Constitution like India’s, changed it to one more like the French Constitution, where the President chooses the Prime Minister who has to command confidence of Parliament. But there is no way to remove the President. The consequences of Sirisena’s decision go beyond a mere change of regime; it may lead to a reversal of the structural changes in the polity achieved since 2015.


  • South Asia has been the home of religions preaching nonviolence but its politics has been very violent. There have been regional disputes, competing nationhoods as well as communal conflicts.
  • India has asked that democratic values and constitutional process be respected. This is due to the fact that further chaos could derail Colombo’s slow progress towards rebuilding its economy and healing the wounds of the civil war. Afterall, a peaceful neighbour is always beneficial for a country like India.

Connecting the dots:

  • Dissolution of Sri Lanka’s Parliament negates the letter and spirit of constitutional reforms. Comment


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


  • Correct answers of today’s questions will be provided in next day’s DNA section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers. 
  • Comments Up-voted by IASbaba are also the “correct answers”.

Q.1) What is Piezometer used for?

  1. To measure liquid pressure
  2. To measure magnitude of earthquake
  3. To measure atmospheric pressure
  4. None of the above

Q.2) Consider the following statementsabout AGRIDEX

  1. It is released by NITI Aayog in collaboration with Bombay Stock Exchange
  2. It will help in easy referencing the price variations in agricultural commodities.

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.3) Consider the following statements

  1. In the February 2018 Budget, the government had announced a plan to merge three public sector general insurance firms
  2. The challenges identified for the merger are integration of work culture, rolling out common software, and rationalisation of branches

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.4) Consider the following statements about Minimum Operating Price (MOP)

  1. Itis the price consisting of landing price, operational cost and reasonable profit margin and below which no product should be sold in the market
  2. MOP is currently being regulated by Competition Commission of India in collaboration with State governments

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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

Q.5) Consider the following statements

  1. The fourth schedule of the constitution deals with the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha to the states and Union territories.
  2. Under article 75(3) of the Constitution, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?

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


1 B
2 B
3 C
4 A
5 B


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