Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th February 2020

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  • February 24, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 24th February 2020



Regional integration pegged to SAARC revival

Part of: GS Prelims –Polity and GS-II- International relations

In news:

Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said :

  • Postponement of the Kathmandu SAARC Summit in 2017 due to heightened tensions between India and Pakistan had brought the regional grouping “to a standstill”.
  • Successful regional integration both economic and security depends on SAARC becoming fully functional at the highest levels
  • BIMSTEC is not a substitute for SAARC
  • Proposed  an ‘Economic Integration Road Map (EIRM)’ : a “sub-region”, consisting of the five southern States of India, Sri Lanka (Population of 300 million people and a combined GDP of over $500 billion)

From Prelims Point of View:

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

  • Established with the signing of the SAARC Charter Dhaka
  •  Headquarters and Secretariat Kathmandu, Nepal.

Framework of the SAARC:

  • Respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other States and mutual benefit.

SAARC comprises of eight member States

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • India
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka

Observers to SAARC, are: (i) Australia; (ii) China; (iii) the European Union; (iv) Iran; (v) Japan; (vi) the Republic of Korea; (vii) Mauritius; (viii) Myanmar; and (ix) the United States of America.


  • Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional multilateral organisation.


  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka
  • Myanmar
  • Thailand


  • Connects South and Southeast Asia
  • Connects ecologies of the Great Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal.


  • To create an enabling environment for rapid economic development
  • Accelerate social progress , Promote collaboration on matters of common interest in the region.
  • Sub-regional organization came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration
  • Creating an enabling environment for the rapid economic development of the sub-region.
  • Encouraging the spirit of equality and partnership.
  • Promoting active collaboration and mutual assistance in the areas of common interests of the member countries
  • Accelerating support for each other in the fields of education, science, and technology, etc.

Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary to be a tiger reserve

Part of: GS Prelims –Environment  and GS-II- Conservation

In news:

  • Approval from the NTCA (National Tiger Conservation Authority) is expected to notify the Malai Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary as a tiger reserve.

From Prelims Point of View:

Project Tiger:

  • Launched in 1973 with 9 tiger reserves
  • Currently, The Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy.
  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change providing central assistance to the tiger States

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) :

  • Statutory body by 2006 amendment of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
  • Launched in 2005ecommendations of the Tiger Task Force. 
  • Supervisory/coordination role, performing functions as provided in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
  • M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for Tigers – Intensive Protection and Ecological Status) is an app based monitoring system, launched across Indian tiger reserves by the NTCA in 2010.

Two tamers, including student, killed in jallikattu events in Tamil Nadu

Part of: GS Prelims –Culture and GS- I- Festival 

From Prelims Point of View:

  • Jallikattu is referred to as bull taming event 
  • Practiced in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal 
  • jallikattu’ is derived from Tamil words Jalli refers to gold or silver coins ,Kattu means ‘tied’.
  • Found mentioned in the Sangam literature (2500 years ago).

Controversial :

  • Because the sport often results in major injuries and even deaths of both bulls and humans.


  • Supreme Court in 2014 banned Jallikattu in response to Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) petitions citing cruelty to animals.
  • The article 51A of the constitution states that citizens should safeguard the wildlife and forests and have compassion for living creatures.



Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • Issues related to Health

Swachh Bharat Mission and Jal Jeevan Mission


India participated in ministerial round table discussion on “Scaling Up Sanitation in Africa” held at Addis Ababa

One of the biggest hurdles African ministers faced in replicating the SBM model in their countries was that they were not able to convince their finance ministries to invest heavily in sanitation like India has done since 2014.

Some of the reasons which has led to success of SBM in India are:

  • Political Will especially from the very top. Prime Minister of India provided leadership to the movement and made SBM one of the government’s flagship programme.
  • Large investment on sanitation through public financing:  the central and state governments have invested in excess of one lakh crore on sanitation over 2014-19 period
  • Civil Society movement: Media and NGOs realized the socio-economic significance of sanitation. These groups owned up the scheme and made it into social movement which led to behavioural changes at ground level.
  • Community Ownership: The scheme relied upon the community owning up the scheme (through rankings of cities, declaration of ODF villages) instead of government bureaucracy led scheme. This led to sustenance of progress made during initial period. 95% of people with access to toilets in rural India used them regularly,

Returns on these investments in sanitation (through SBM):

  • UNICEF estimated that investments in sanitation in India are yielding a 400 per cent return 
  • Each rural household in an open-defecation-free village saving Rs 50,000 on account of avoided medical costs and time savings.
  • The Toilet Board Coalition has estimated that the sanitation infrastructure and services market in India will be worth over $60 billion by 2021 –creating many jobs even in the rural parts of the country.
  • A study by UNICEF has estimated that SBM resulted in creating over 75 lakh full time equivalent jobs over the past five years, giving the rural economy a major boost.

On October 2, 2019, PM Modi commemorated the ODF declaration by all states and stated that the focus in future has to be on sustaining the success and moving towards ODF++ strategy

The next Critical service area which government considers as key pillar for broader rural development is Water. As a result, Government announced Jal Jeevan Mission on August 15th 2019.

  • The goal of JJM is to ensure piped water supply for all households of India by 2024 with commitment of Rs 3.6 lakh crore of central and state funds for the scheme.
  • In the Union budget for 2020-2021, the government has already allocated Rs 11,500 crore for JJM, with an additional Rs 12,000 crore being made available through extra budgetary resources
  • In addition, a huge impetus to the rural water supply and sanitation sector is the earmarking of 50% of the Rs 60,750 crore grant for rural local bodies provided under the 15th Finance Commission for drinking water and sanitation. 
  • This ensures that the scheme is driven by local bodies and are sufficiently financed by the government to make it a success


  • Investment in sanitation and water is actually a facilitator for broader economic, health and social gains as indicated in UNICEF studies.
  • Government should replicate the model of sanitation, which has led to its success, in the area of water also to bring inclusive development in the country.

Connecting the dots

  • NITI Aayog’s Composite Water Management Index
  • Ministry of Jal Shakti (merging of two ministries and reasons)

Do you know?

  • ODF protocol – Not a single person is found defecating in the open.
  • ODF+ protocol- Not just open defecation but also no public urination. Additionally, all community & public toilets need to be functional and well-maintained.
  • ODF++ protocol adds the condition that faecal sludge/septage and sewage is safely managed and treated, with no discharging and/or dumping of untreated faecal sludge/septage and sewage in drains, water bodies or open areas.

International Affairs

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

India- US relationship: Trump Visit to India


During Mr. Trump’s visit to India on Feb 24-25, there is the prospect of more cooperation on trade and tariffs and also the possibility of major defence deals.

US-India Trade

  • U.S.-India trade in goods and services has grown at a steady clip from $16-billion to $142-billion during 1999-2018.
  • However, the trade growth is not without wrinkles. U.S. and Indian officials have disagreed for years on tariffs, foreign investment limitations, agricultural trade, medical devices, digital economy and IPR issues
  • At the heart of Trump’s foreign policy strategy are concerns about the trade deficit that the U.S. has with its economic partners worldwide, although India does not rank among the top 10 in this regard.
  • In 2019 India’s trade deficit with the U.S. of $23.3-billion is dwarfed by China’s corresponding figure of $346-billion

Chronology of U.S.-India trade squabbles

  • In March 2018, the Trump administration slapped “national security” tariffs of 25% on $761-million worth of steel and of 10% on $382-million of aluminium imported from India
  • Trump administration ended a year-long review of the U.S. Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) in June 2019 by removing India from the tariff concession system. 
  • These measures are said to have impacted nearly $5.8 billion of India’s exports, or more than 12% of exports to the U.S. in 2017.
  • India immediately imposed higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 U.S. products including almonds, walnuts, cashews, apples, chickpeas, wheat, and peas.
  • U.S. also recently changed the status of India, among other countries, to a “developed” country, to further reduce trade concessions that it could receive from the U.S.
  • India has expressed its concern regarding restrictions on visas for highly skilled professionals seeking to take up employment in the U.S, even though laws that brought in restrictions, for example by imposing higher visa fees, were passed before Mr. Trump entered office.

Hope for a positive announcement on trade?

  • There were initial signs that a “limited trade deal” might be hammered out when Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi meet. 
  • However, the aspiration of trade deal fell through when it became clear that nothing on that scale would be finalised until after November 2020 US Presidential elections.
  • There is however possibility of a “mini trade deal” or more simply a smaller trade package announcement. This might include an increase in India’s LNG imports from the U.S.
  • An MoU for India’s gas importer Petronet to invest $2.5 billion in U.S. company Tellurian Inc’s LNG project, that was signed during Mr. Modi’s visit to Houston, is likely to be formalised during Mr. Trump’s visit

India – US defence prospects (during Trumps Visit)

  • There is more positive news on the defence cooperation with the likely announcement during the visit of Mr. Trump of a deal for 24 Lockheed Martin-built MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Role Helicopters for the Indian Navy.
  • These 24 helicopters, said to be worth $2.4-billion, are likely to be procured through the Foreign Military Sales route of the U.S. government. India’s Cabinet Committee on Security has cleared their purchase 
  • India and the U.S. are also said to be in negotiations regarding India’s potential purchase of drones, additional P-8I long-range, multimission maritime patrol aircraft and also Raytheon intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft.

India – US Strategic prospects (during Trumps Visit)

  • Trump has reiterated his promise withdraw US troops in Afghanistan with the prospects of US- Taliban deal
  • This might lead to revival of the Taliban’s influence, Pakistan-based terror elements or Pakistan’s ISI gaining a stronger foothold in the power vacuum that will inevitably develop there. This could compromise Indian interests considerably

Way forward

  • India should come out with well defines Strategic Policy in its western sphere, which includes maritime arena also (Western Indian Ocean).
  • India should improve the competitiveness of its own industries to make its products & services attractive to consumers so that they are able to overcome obstacles imposed temporarily by foreign governments.

Connecting the dots

  • US-China Trade war
  • India not joining RCEP trade deal
  • Indo-US 2015 joint Vision of Indo-Pacific


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. Apart from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are the other member countries of SAARC?

  1. Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand and Singapore
  2. Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia and Maldives
  3. Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan
  4. Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore and Sri Lanka

Q 2. Consider the following statements: 

  1. M-STrIPES is launched by the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  2. National Tiger Conservation Authority is a statutory body.
  3. . National Tiger Conservation Authority is chaired by the Prime Minister.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q 3. 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


1 B
2 B

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