DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th JUNE 2020

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  • June 12, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 12th June 2020



India Rankings 2020 released for Higher Educational Institutions 

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – Education

In News:

  • The Union Human Resource and Development Ministry recently released “India Rankings 2020” for Higher Educational Institutions in various categories on the basis of their performance on five broad categories of parameters.

Key takeaways

  • The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), launched in 2015, outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country.
  • It evaluates institutions on five parameters
    • Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR) – 30% Weightage
    • Research and Professional Practice (RP) – 40%
    • Graduation Outcomes (GO) – 5%
    • Outreach and Inclusivity (OI) – 15%
    • Perception (PR) – 10%
  • Dental institutions have been included for first time in “India Rankings” 
  • Some of the institutes which secured top rank in ‘India Rankings 2020’:
    • Overall: Indian Institute of Technology Madras
    • University: Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
    • Engineering: Indian Institute of Technology Madras
    • Management: Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
    • Pharmacy: Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi
    • Medical: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
    • Law: National Law School of India University, Bengaluru
    • Dental: Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, Delhi

Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) Complex inaugrated

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-III – Science and technology; Defence and security

In News:

  • The Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) Complex was recently inaugurated by Vice Admiral, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command (ENC) at Visakhapatnam.
  • It has been designed to accommodate the newly inducted Submarine Rescue System and to store the DSRV assets in a rescue-ready state.  

Important value additions 

Submarine Rescue system

  • It consists of a Submarine Rescue Vessel, a Remote Operations Vehicle, Side Scan Sonar and associated equipment. 
  • It also has Diver Decompression Chambers and hyperbaric (involving a gas at a pressure greater than normal) medical equipment to decompress submariners after being rescued from a sunken submarine.
  • It can be rapidly mobilised by air or road to facilitate submarine rescue operations even at distant locations.
  • The Indian Navy has inducted two such systems which will provide rescue cover to submarines on the West and East coast of India respectively.
  • Currently, there are about 40 nations that operate submarines in the world out of which only a few have any form of submarine rescue capability. 

Image source: The Hindu

International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report 2019 released

Part of: GS-Prelims and GS-II – International organisations; Effect of Policies on India’s interests

In News:

  • Recently, the US State Department has released its annual International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report 2019. 
  • IRF is a survey of the state of religious freedom across the world.

Key takeaways 

  • It published the country report for India to highlight the issue of religious freedom in India.
  • Earlier, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF report) had downgraded India’s religious freedom to the lowest grade of ‘Country of Particular Concern (CPC)’ category.
  • The IRF report listed countries for positive developments in religious freedom and negative examples.
  • Negative examples:
    • Nicaragua
    • Nigeria 
    • China 
  • India is not included in either of the lists.
  • The Country Report for India:
    • It highlighted the developments that took place in 2019 – the status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
    • Mob lynchings, anti-conversion laws, cow vigilantism and related issues were also discussed.
    • The need to ensure full protection to minorities was emphasized. 
  • The Indian government has rejected the report by asserting that a foreign government did not have right to comment on the state of its citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.
  • It also emphasised that the report did not talk about the religious freedom given to various communities in India.

Important value additions 

Freedom of Religion in India

  • Freedom of religion in India is a fundamental right guaranteed by Article 25-28 of the Constitution of India.
    • Article 25 – Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
    • Article 26 – Freedom to manage religious affairs
    • Article 27 – Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion
    • Article 28 – Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions
  • Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution deal with the protection of interest of minorities.

US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

  • It is a U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. 
  • USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President. 
  • Its principal responsibilities are:
    • Review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally
    • Make policy recommendations to the US President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress. 
  • It is authorized to travel on fact-finding missions to other countries and hold public hearings
  • It issues an annual report that includes policy recommendations to the U.S. government based on the report’s evaluation of the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations worldwide


List of 8 therapies being used in Indian hospitals for fighting COVID:

  • Antiviral drug
  • Used in treating Ebola in 2014
  • Inhibits viral replication in the body
  • Antiviral
  • Used as an anti-influenza drug.
Tocilizumab Immunosuppressant commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Itolizumab Commonly used for the skin disorder psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and autoimmune disorders.
  • Antimalarial drug
  • India is the largest producer 
Doxycycline + ivermectin 
  • Doxycycline – Antibiotic used to fight infection in the urinary tract, eye, or respiratory tract.
  • Ivermectin – Anti-parasite drug for treatment of scabies, head lice, and filariasis.
  • Used to treat Covid patients with acute symptoms
Ritonavir + lopinavir Antivirals commonly used to treat HIV patients.
Plasma therapy Meant for critical patients with low oxygen saturation levels, or those suffering a cytokine storm.



Topic: General Studies 2:

  • India and its neighborhood- relations. 
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 

India and Australia play for the long haul

Context: A ‘virtual’ summit held recently between Prime Ministers of India and Australia

Significance of the summit 

  • Change from the past: After decades of neglect, New Delhi and Canberra are finally coming to terms with each other’s potential
  • Increased Momentum: PMs of India and Australia have met four times over the last year and a half. Australia PM’s visit to India in January 2020 could not take place because of bush fires in Australia and later due to Covid-19. Virtual summit is an important signal to ensure that momentum is not disrupted
  • Elevating Bilateral relationship to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” with a focus on institutionalising their growing engagements
  • Strategic Collaboration: The two sides decided to elevate the “2+2” engagement to the level of Foreign and Defence Ministers, where strategic discussions will be taking place at least every two year
  • Broadening area of Cooperation: Several pacts were announced like framework arrangement on cyber technology, a MoU on cooperation in mining and processing of critical and strategic minerals, vocational training and water management.
  • Renewed focus on Trade: The two nations have restarted talks over the India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which were suspended in 2015
  • Growing defence synergy with the signing of two pacts
    1. The Australia-India Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement: It will give the two militaries reciprocal access to each nation’s respective military bases, thereby deepening the integration between the two militaries.
    2. The Defence Science and Technology Implementing Arrangement

What is the focus of India-Australia engagement?

  • The focus of their engagement was the maritime geography of the Indo-Pacific. 
  • Post-summit joint statement underscored that both countries “share a vision of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region to support the freedom of navigation, over-flight and peaceful and cooperative use of the seas.”
  • PM Modi argued, strong ties with Australia are “not only important for our two nations but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the whole world”
  • Australian PM also stated that Canberra is “committed to an open, inclusive, prosperous Indo-Pacific and India’s role in the region will be critical in the years ahead”

How has Australia’s foreign policy vis-à-vis India changed?

  • Moving beyond the ‘Cricket, Curry and Commonwealth’ banality, Canberra has imparted a renewed sense of purpose to its engagement with New Delhi 
  • After initial dilly-dallying from Australia on strong ties with India, it has recognised India now as a pre-eminent maritime power among Indian Ocean countries and a “front-rank partner of Australia.”
  • China’s aggression and assertive foreign policy has played an important role in shaping this robust outreach
    • China’s growing interference in Australian domestic politics and its attempts to use trade for geopolitical purposes has led to Australia’s realignment in foreign affairs
    • Retaliation by China on Australia calling for an independent enquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus. 
    • China not only suspended Australian beef imports from and imposed tariffs on barley but also issued an advisory to its citizens to avoid travelling to Australia

Way Ahead

  • The Indo-Australian bilateral trade is around $21 billion in 2018-19 which remains below potential. Hence, early signing of CECA is necessary for robust relationship
  • India’s annual Malabar naval exercises with the US and Japan should be expanded to include Australia – The Quad grouping. 
  • The Quad will also become more potent if the four powers are ready to pool together their defence capabilities in the service of regional stability and economic prosperity.


As the two nations realise each other’s significance in the emerging geopolitical and geo-economic dynamic, they can be more ambitious in charting out their future engagement.

Connecting the dots:

  • China’s String of Pearl Theory
  • USA’s Pivot to Asia Policy


Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Issues of food security; Technology missions 
  • Science & Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

GM seeds: the debate, and a sowing agitation

Context: In 2020 kharif season, farmers would undertake mass sowing of GM seeds for maize, soyabean, mustard, brinjal and herbicide tolerant (Ht) cotton, although these are not approved.

Farmers had carried out a similar movement in 2019 too.

What are genetically modified (GM) seeds?

  • Conventional plant breeding involves crossing species of the same genus to provide the offspring with the desired traits of both parents. 
  • Genetic engineering aims to transcend the genus barrier by introducing an alien gene in the seeds to get the desired effects. 
  • The alien gene could be from a plant, an animal or even a soil bacterium.
  • Bt cotton, the only GM crop that is allowed in India, has two alien genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) that allows the crop to develop a protein toxic to the common pest pink bollworm. 
  • Ht Bt cotton is derived with the insertion of an additional gene, from another soil bacterium, which allows the plant to resist the common herbicide glyphosate
  • In Bt brinjal, a gene allows the plant to resist attacks of fruit and shoot borer.
  • In DMH-11 mustard, developed by Deepak Pental & University of Delhi, genetic modification allows cross-pollination in a crop that self-pollinates in nature.

Some benefits of GM Products:

  • Increased crop yields.
  • Reduced costs for food or drug production.
  • Reduced need for pesticides.
  • Enhanced nutrient composition.
  • Resistance to pests and disease.
  • Greater food security and medical benefits to the world’s growing population.
  • Increase the yield of animals for milk and meat production.
  • Decrease susceptibility to disease in animals.
  • Allowing plants to grow in conditions where they might not otherwise flourish.
  • Increased shelf life and hence there is less fear of foods getting spoiled quickly.

Concerns over the use of genetically modified (GM) products:

  • Ecological Balance: The capability of the GMO to escape and potentially introduce the engineered genes into wild populations thus disturbing the fragile ecological balance
  • The reduction in the spectrum of other plants including loss of biodiversity
  • Danger of Permanence: The persistence of the gene after the GMO has been harvested
  • The susceptibility of non-target organisms (e.g. insects which are not pests) to the gene product
  • The stability of the gene is another cause of worry
  • Increased use of chemicals in agriculture.
  • Health: Genetic modification, experts say, brings about changes that can be harmful to humans in the long run.
  • Awareness and Labelling issues: Manufacturers do not mention on the label that foods are developed by genetic manipulation because they think that this would affect their business, which is not a good practice. 
  • Religious issues: Many religious and cultural communities are against such foods because they see it as an unnatural way of producing foods.
  • International Trade: With the increase of GM Products, developing countries would start depending more on industrial countries for GM technology

What is the legal position of genetically modified crops in India?

  • In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex body that allows for commercial release of GM crops. 
  • In 2002, the GEAC had allowed the commercial release of Bt cotton. More than 95 per cent of the country’s cotton area has since then come under Bt cotton. 
  • Use of the unapproved GM variant can attract a jail term of 5 years and fine of Rs 1 lakh under the Environmental Protection Act ,1989.

Why are farmers rooting for GM crops?

  • In the case of cotton, farmers cite the high cost of weeding, which goes down considerably if they grow Ht Bt cotton and use glyphosate against weeds. 
  • Brinjal growers in Haryana have rooted for Bt brinjal as it reduces the cost of production by cutting down on the use of pesticides.
  • This action of defying government regulations by growing unapproved Bt varieties will draw attention of authorities to the need for introduction of the latest technology in the fields
  • The approval process of GM seeds is lengthy, opaque and often excludes farmers. This is opposed by farmers who want access to better technology


With growing agrarian distress and increasing population pressures, there is a need for innovation in agriculture that balances interests of humans and that of environment.

Connecting the dots:


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 regarding India rankings 2020 which was recently released: 

  1. It is released by Ministry of Human Resource and Development. 
  2. The National Institutional Ranking Framework outlines methodology to rank Institutions across the country.
  3. Dental institutions have been included for the first time in the Ranking. 

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Submarine rescue system:

  1. It consists of hyperbaric medical equipment to decompress submariners after being rescued from a sunken submarine.
  2. It can be rapidly mobilised by air only to carry out submarine rescue operations 
  3. It has been inducted on the Western and Eastern coasts of India.

Which of the above is/are correct? 

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

Q.3 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Report is published by which of the following?

  1. USA
  2. France
  3. Switzerland
  4. United Nations

Q.4 Which of the following Article of the Constitution deal with the protection of interest of minorities?

  1. Article 29 
  2. Article 21
  3. Article 25
  4. Article 27


1 C
2 D
3 C
4 B

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