Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th March 2020

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  • March 18, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th March 2020



Nomination to Rajya Sabha

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Polity

In News:

  • President nominated former CJI Ranjan Gogoi to Rajya Sabha
  • Twelve members are nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the President of India for six-years term for their contributions towards arts, literature, sciences, and social services. 
  • This right has been bestowed upon the President according to the Fourth Schedule (Articles 4(1) and 80(2)) of the Constitution of India.

Indian Council of Medical Research and COVID-19 Testing

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • ICMR has decided to monitor community transmission by random sampling rather than expanding testing. 
  • This decision has been taken to avoid “futile testing” as well as hospitalisation for mildly symptomatic, positive patients.

Four Stages of Transmission of COVID-19

  • Stage 1-Imported Transmission
  • Stage 2-Local Transmission
    • Transmission through direct contact with an infected person within the country.
  • Stage 3-Community Transmission
    • It signifies that a virus is circulating in the community and can affect people with no history of travel to affected areas or of contact with an infected person.
    • India’s strategy on social distancing and isolation is aimed at checking community transmission.
  • Stage 4- Epidemic
    • An epidemic is a large outbreak, one that spreads among a population or region.
    • It is less severe than pandemic due to a limited area of spread.

Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Health

In News:

  • BIS is working to incorporate maximum permissible limit of Uranium as 0.03 mg/l (as per WHO provisional guidelines) in all drinking water standards
  • Elevated uranium level in drinking water may be associated with kidney toxicity
  • BIS is the National Standard Body of India established under the BIS Act 2016 for the harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods

Classical Languages

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II- Polity

In News:

  • Rajya Sabha passes bill to grant the status of Central universities to three deemed Sanskrit universities:
    • Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan in Delhi
    • Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in Delhi 
    • Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in Tirupati.
  • Currently there are six languages that enjoy the ‘Classical’ status in India:
    • Tamil (declared in 2004), Sanskrit (2005), Kannada (2008), Telugu (2008), Malayalam (2013), and Odia (2014).
  • All the Classical Languages are listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The guidelines for declaring a language as ‘Classical’ are:
    • High antiquity of its early texts/recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years
    • A body of ancient literature/texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers;
    • The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community
    • The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

Places in News:

  • Pakke Tiger Reserve – a biodiversity hotspot of the eastern Himalayas is located in Arunachal Pradesh 
  • The Sundarban National Park is located in the south-east of Calcutta in the District of West Bengal and forms part of the Gangetic Delta.


International Affairs

Topic: General Studies 3:

  • India and its neighbourhood relations
  • Policies and politics of developed and developing countries

Back to SAARC

Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s convened a video conference of leaders of the SAARC to collaborate on tackling COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The virtual summit is the first high-level SAARC meet since 2014, and comes after India’s pulling out of the 2016 summit following the Uri attack;

The virtual summit led to the setting up of a 

  • SAARC COVID-19 emergency fund — India will contribute $10-million
  • Rapid Response Team (of doctors, specialists, testing equipment and attendant infrastructure) to be put at the disposal of the SAARC, 

About South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

  • It was established on 8 December 1985.
  • Its member countries are—Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan (2005)
  • The Headquarters and Secretariat of the Association are at Kathmandu, Nepal.
  • SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (2018) of the global economy

Significance of SAARC for India

  • Neighbourhood first: Primacy to the country’s immediate neighbours.
  • Geostrategic significance: Can counter China (OBOR initiative) through engaging our neighbours in development process and economic cooperation.
  • Regional stability: These regional organisations can help in creation of mutual trust  (India & Pakistan) and ensure that regional interest over ride bilateral disputes
  • Global leadership role: It offers India a platform to showcase its leadership in the region by taking up extra responsibilities.
  • Game changer for India’s Act East Policy: Linking of South Asian economies with South East Asian region will bring further economic integration and prosperity to India particularly in its under-developed Eastern region
  • Potential for India’s export: With closer economic integration of economies in the region, India’s domestic companies will get access to much bigger market thus boosting their revenues

Challenges of SAARC

  • Broad area of cooperation leads to diversion of energy and resources.
  • Low Intra-regional trade: South Asia is the world’s least integrated region; less than 5% of the trade of SAARC countries is within.
  • Inadequate Political Will: India’s inclination towards Big powers which leads to neglecting its relationship with its neighbours
  • Bilateral tensions, especially between India and Pakistan, spilling over into SAARC meetings.
  • Perception of India being a Big Brother vis-à-vis its neighbours whereby India enforces its own agenda on small neighbouring countries through these groupings
  • Slow implementation of the projects announced by India – declines India’s credibility to deliver on its promises thus pushing Nations to seek help from China or West.
  • Rising China in the region with its overarching Belt & Road initiative (Cheque book Diplomacy of China)

Impact of COVID-19 on SAARC

  • Major concern is of an escalation in the virus’s spread in the subcontinent. 
  • With close to 300 positive cases, South Asia has seen a much lower incidence globally, but given its much higher population density, it is clear that any outbreak will lead to far more casualties. 
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan have specific challenges as they share long borders with Iran, which has emerged, after China and Italy, as a major hub of the virus. 
  • Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka worry about the impact on tourism, which is a mainstay of their economies. 
  • Other concerns are about under-reporting, as fewer people are being tested in much of South Asia 
  • Inadequate public health service infrastructure to cope with rising cases, as all SAARC members are developing nations with sub-standard public health infrastructure.


  • India’s assertive expression of its new willingness to stabilise the region through cooperative mechanisms, without being distracted by short-sighted disingenuous ploys of a troubled Pakistan, is a welcome step for regional cooperation in tackling the pandemic
  • India cannot afford to not to harvest this opportunity, after having sowed the seeds of a New South Asia.


Topic: General Studies 3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

Women work participation rates

Context: Women’s work participation rates have fallen sharply — from 29 per cent in 2004-5 to 22 per cent in 2011-12 and to 17 per cent in 2017-18

Concerned with ostensibly declining women’s work participation, identifying sectors from which women are excluded and more importantly, in which women are included have been missed out in our analysis. It is thus time to count women’s work rather than women workers.

Anatomy of the decline

  • Decline in women’s work participation rates shows that it is driven by rural women.
  • In the prime working age group (25-59), urban women’s worker to population ratios (WPR) fell from 28% to 25% between 2004-5 and 2011-12, stagnating at 24% in 2017-18. 
  • However, rural women’s WPR declined sharply from 58% to 48% and to 32% over the same period. 
  • Among rural women, the largest decline seems to have taken place in women categorised as unpaid family helpers — from 28% in 2004-5 to 12% in 2017-18. This alone accounts for more than half of the decline in women’s WPR. 
  • The remaining is largely due to a drop of about 9% in casual labour, while their regular salaried work increased by a mere 1 percentage point
  • In contrast, women counted as focusing solely on domestic duties increased from 21% to 45%

Some of the reasons for the decline are:

  • Increasing incomes: As husband’s and other family income increases, women’s incentive to work declines.
    • Goldin’s U- Shaped Hypothesis: where female labour force function is related it to the level of education and the emergence of the white collar sector jobs supports the argument of rising incomes impacting female labour force participation
  • Economic Slowdown, particularly in last three years, has pushed women out of the labour force as there is overall increase in unemployment.
  • Lack of Employment Opportunities for educated rural women: Rural men with a secondary level of education have options like working as a postman, driver or mechanic — few such opportunities are open to women. 
    • Women with secondary education have only half the work participation rate compared to their uneducated sisters. 
  • Weakness in Survey System which fails to take into account the exact nature of work being done by females (especially in rural areas). 
    • With shortage of funds and trained personnel, the National Sample Surveys increasingly relies on contract investigators hired for short periods, who lack these skills.

Way Forward:

  • More Robust Survey System 
    • Need to ask detailed questionnaire while undertaking surveys especially about the primary and secondary activity status of each household member
    • Similar questions also need to be asked about livestock ownership and about people caring for the livestock, ownership of petty business and individuals working in these enterprises
  • Develop data collection processes from the lived experiences of women and count women’s work rather than women workers 
  • Implementation of the recommendations of ‘Shramshakti: Report of National Commission on Self Employed Women and Women in the Informal Sector’ 
  • Providing employment opportunities for women in rural areas by adopting decentralization in our developmental strategy

Connecting the dots

  • Educational level and Women work wages disparity
  • Global Gender Gap Index


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. Consider the following statements about State Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)

  1. It is a statutory body constituted under the BIS Act 2016 
  2. Its mandate is harmonious development of the activities of standardization, marking and quality certification of goods

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 2. Consider the following statements about Classical Languages

  1. All Scheduled Eight Languages having an history of more than 700 years are declared as Classical languages of India
  2. The Ministry of Culture provides the guidelines regarding Classical languages.

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 about Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)

  1. It was established in 1911 as Indian Research Fund Association (IRFA) making it one of oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world.
  2. It is funded by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

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 nominated member of Rajya Sabha

  1. Nominated members enjoy all powers, privileges and immunities available to an elected member of Parliament including their right to vote in the election of the President of India.
  2. A nominated member has been exempted from filing his assets and liabilities under Section 75A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 which requires the elected member to do so within 90 days of his making or subscribing oath/affirmation

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. Pakke Tiger Reserve is located in which state of India?

  1. Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Mizoram
  3. Nagaland
  4. Assam


1 C
2 C
3 C
4 C
5 A

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