DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st MAY 2020

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  • May 21, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st May 2020



WAG12: Indian Railways’ first indigenous electric locomotive

Part of: GS-Prelims and Mains GS-III-  Economy, Infrastructure

In News:

  • The Indian Railways has operationalised its first 12,000 hp electric locomotive named WAG12
  • It is manufactured locally. 

Key takeaways:

  • The locomotive made its maiden commercial run between Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Station, UP to Shivpur, UP 
  • India became the sixth country in the world to produce high horsepower locomotive indigenously.
  • It is manufactured at the Madhepura Electric Locomotive Pvt. Ltd. (MELPL), Bihar. 
  • It is a joint venture between the French major and the Indian railways holding an equity share of 74% and 26% respectively.
  • It is the largest FDI in the railways sector.
  • WAG12 will allow faster and safer movement of heavier freight trains.
  • Such locomotive has been operationalised on broad gauge track in the world for the first time. 

Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia: Report by the UNODC released

Part of: GS-Prelims and Mains GS-III-  Economy, Health

In News:

  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently released the report on “Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia”.

Key takeaways:

  • Movement restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to an initial statistical reduction in drug seizures (confiscation). 
  • However, there will be hardly any change in terms of supply in the East and Southeast Asia region.
  • A large proportion of methamphetamine was manufactured, trafficked and consumed without the need for globalised supply chains.
  • An already vulnerable population of drug users may be exposed to additional risks as funding is re-prioritised, access to programmes and services becomes difficult, activities of treatment providers are hampered, and communities concentrate on coping with the effects of the pandemic. 
  • Additional efforts would be required at all levels to carefully analyse methods and trends to understand changes to drug markets.

Important value additions:

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 

  • Established in 1997 it is a member of the United Nations Development Group. 
  • Headquarters: Vienna, Austria
  • Functions: To assist the UN in addressing: 
    • interrelated issues of illicit trafficking in and abuse of drugs
    • crime prevention and criminal justice
    • international terrorism
    • political corruption. 
  • These goals are pursued through three primary functions: research, guidance and support to governments through various conventions, treaties and protocols. 

CBI alerts States, U.T.s and Central agencies to malicious software threat

Part of: GS-Prelims and Mains GS-III-  Security, GS-II- Governance

In News:

  • CBI has sent alerts to all the States, Union Territories and the Central agencies on a malicious software threat that uses an update related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key takeaways:

  • The alert related to banking Trojan and Cerberus has been sent on the basis of inputs received from the Interpol. 
  • It is primarily used to steal financial data, such as credit card numbers.
  • This malicious software sends SMS using the lure of COVID-19 related content to download the embedded malicious link. 
  • It can also trick victims into providing personal information and can capture two-factor authentication details. 

Important value additions:

  • The International Criminal Police Organisation (commonly known as INTERPOL) is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control. 
  • Headquartered in Lyon, France,
  • It has seven regional bureaus worldwide and a National Central Bureau in all 194 members states, making it the world’s largest police organization. 

Nepal’s new official map is “artificial” and unacceptable to India

Part of: GS-Prelims and Mains GS-II- International Politics

In News:

  • Ministry of External Affairs has claimed that Nepal’s new official map is “artificial” and unacceptable to India.

Key takeaways:

  • Nepal’s new political map claimed Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh of Uttarakhand as part of its sovereign territory. 
  • Nepal claims that India has encroached upon this area, claiming tracts of land, and wants Delhi to evacuate population from the location
  • Nepal has been on a collision course with India since Defence Minister has inaugurated a link road to Tibet on May 8th.
  • The newly inaugurated Darchula-Lipulekh link road passes through the disputed region and will cut travelling time to Mansarovar pilgrimage destinations. Nepal asserts the area belongs to it. 

Important value additions:

  • India had published a new map on November 2, 2019, representing the political boundaries of the country which showed the status of the newly created Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. 
  • The same map also showed the region of Kalapani as part of the Indian territory.
  • Nepal, however, maintains that not just the Kalapani region, but Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh are parts of its territory as demarcated in the 1816 Treaty of Sugauli



Topic: General Studies 2 &3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in defence sectors
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources

Grasping the Defence Self-reliance

Context: COVID-19 has brought to focus the impact of supply chain disruptions caused to defence sectors and increased the necessity for self-reliance

Did You Know?

  • For most of the past decade, India was the world’s largest arms importer, accounting for about 12% of global arms imports. 
  • Saudi Arabia jumped to first place in 2018 and 2019, but India still takes over 9% of global imports

Why defence self-reliance is necessary for India?

  • India’s external dependence for its defence-preparedness creates vulnerabilities during military crises.
  • Given two hostile neighbours and the threat of terrorism, defence self-reliance is of utmost need
  • Given its great power ambitions, India cannot afford to rely on other powers for defensive purposes
  • There is no dearth of skills as India does have technological capabilities but remains unutilized.

Steps taken by Union government to enhance defence preparedness 

  • Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) has been created
  • Make in India initiative for promoting indigenous equipment in the armed forces
  • A list of weapons systems for sourcing entirely from Indian manufacturers has been released by the government
  • A separate Budget provision for domestic capital procurement has been made to encourage private defence manufacturers
  • New Defence Procurement Procedures (DPP) 2020 are under formulation 
  • Liberalisation of foreign direct investment in defence manufacturing, raising the limit under the automatic route to 74%, 

Way Ahead

  1. A time-bound defence procurement process through
    1. Overhauling trial and testing procedures to speed up the procurement process 
    2. Establishing a professional project management unit
  2. Corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board. 
    1. OFBs structure, work culture and product range now need to be responsive to technology and quality demands of modern armed forces. 
    2. Corporatisation, including public listing of some units, ensures a more efficient interface of the manufacturer with the designer and end user
  3. Self-reliance should not be taken to extremes: Thrust for indigenous R&D should coexist with the import of cutting-edge military technologies to safeguard defence vulnerabilities
  4. Domestic Procurement: When we import weapon systems, we should plan for the ammunitions and spares for them to be eventually manufactured in India
  5. A long-term integrated perspective plan of the requirements of the armed forces is needed to give industry a clear picture of future requirements. 
  6. The definition of indigenisation itself needs to privilege technology over value or volume
  7. Export Promotion: Investment, Indian or foreign, will be viable only if the door to defence exports is opened, with a transparent policy. 
  8. Promoting indigenous research and development through tax incentives
  9. To give private industry a level playing field for developing defence technologies, conflicts of interest, created by the role of DRDO as the government’s sole adviser, developer and evaluator of technologies have to be addressed.


Of the key components of any major reform — money, method and mindset — mindset is the most critical and the most needed to bring transformation in any sector.

Connecting the dots:


Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in Health sectors 

COVID-19: An opportunity to Biomedical Industry

Context: As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks economy, there is enhanced focus on health & biomedical sector, where every country is trying to strengthen its indigenous capacity.

Did You Know?

  • In India, presently, a third of all authorised testing labs are concentrated in three states
  • US is aiming for a million daily tests. Germany already has walk-in test centres.

Why universal testing is necessary?

  • To contain pandemic: The virus currently has no effective treatment and a safe vaccine is possibly a year away, thus testing is needed to contain the pandemic
  • To restart Economy: The main driver of increased COVID testing globally is the need to make people safe so that they begin to engage in market activities. 
  • To attract investment: Global investment destinations will be influenced by the relative reputation of national testing protocols.
  • Moreover, recovery from infection doesn’t guarantee immunity from future infection. Hence the necessity of multiple and regular testing of workers is needed to protect workplaces

Scope for Biomedical Industry to expand

  • Potential for Testing industry: If one only targets urban workers in India, there will be a testing pool of approximately 200 million people.
  • Decentralisation: In India, the number of labs that can test for the virus needs to be increased to at least 2,000 with each lab having the capacity to test 5,000 samples a day. Also, labs need to be spread across country to ensure timely results.
  • Scope for Biomedical R&D: India needs to incentivise its universities, research laboratories and biomedical supply chains to develop cheaper and faster testing methods
  • Employment benefits: Massive testing requires hiring of testers, transporters and contact tracers thus increasing labour demand leading to job opportunities
  • Export Potential: Massive testing will likely be a worldwide phenomenon over the next year or two. Consequently, world demand for testing kits will explode. 
  • MSME boost: Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) can be manufactured by MSMEs at a much cheaper cost provided they are provided adequate governmental support 
  • Complements India’s pharmaceutical Sector: India is already a leading player in global pharmaceutical market. Enhanced strength in biomedical field will make India a strong player in overall Health Sector


The pandemic could do for the biomedical industry what the Y2K scare did for the Indian IT sector. India needs to give an unambiguous signal to its entrepreneurs about the centrality of this mission

Connecting the dots:

  • Medical devices parks in India
  • Generic Medicines and India’s provision of compulsory licensing


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 Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh often seen in news is a disputed territory between India and which other country?

  1. Sri Lanka
  2. Bhutan
  3. Nepal
  4. China

Q.2) Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up on the recommendation of:

  1. Santhanam Committee
  2. Administrative Reforms Commission of India
  3. Gorwala Report
  4. Ashok Mehta Committee

Q.3) Consider the following statements about CVC and CBI:

  1. Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was established by an executive resolution of the Central government.
  2. CVC establishment was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption.
  3. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was set up by a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  4. The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption.

Which of the above given statements are correct?

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

Q.4) Consider the following statements about The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 

  1. It assists UN in interrelated issues of illicit trafficking in and abuse of drugs
  2. It was established in 1997 and is a member of G-20

Which of the above given statements are correct?

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


1 C
2 D
3 A

Must Read

About safety in workplaces:

The Hindu

About China’s preparedness in post-COVID world:

The Hindu

About Social Security for Women:

The Indian Express

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