DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd JULY 2020

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  • July 2, 2020
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 2nd July 2020



Private participation in Railways

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Govt schemes and policies; Economy, Privatisation and Infrastructure

In news:

  • Railways kick-started the process to allow private players to operate certain trains.
  • The Ministry of Railways said this is the first initiative for private investment in running passenger trains over the Railways network, and will attract investments of about Rs. 30,000 crore.
  • It added that the objective of the initiative was to –
    • introduce modern technology
    • reduce transit time
    • reduced maintenance
    • boost job creation
    • provide enhanced safety
    • provide world class travel experience
    • reduce demand supply deficit in the passenger transportation sector

Do you know?

  • The Delhi-Lucknow Tejas is the first train that is not operated by the Indian Railways.
  • Earlier, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), which is a public sector undertaking, was entrusted with running the train. 

Additional information:

  • The Railways said “majority” of trains will be manufactured in India.
  • Private entity will be responsible for financing, procuring, operation and maintenance of the trains.
  • Trains will be designed for a maximum speed of 160 kmph.

Poor implementation of Aatmanirbhar food package scheme

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Govt schemes and initiatives; Welfare schemes

In news:

According to data provided by the Food Ministry –

  • Migrant foodgrain scheme reached less than 15% of 8 crore target.
  • Government aimed to provide free rations to eight crore migrants under the Aatmanirbhar package. 
  • However, overall, foodgrains were distributed to just 15% of the estimated eight crore beneficiaries in May month. In June, less than 11.6%, received rations.

Do you know?

  • Aatmanirbhar food package scheme was announced to support migrant workers without ration cards, but the Centre had left it to the States to identify such people. 
  • Many states failed to identify such people. Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Telangana had 0% distribution, and seven States had less than 1%.
  • Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) which provides additional free foodgrains and pulses to all ration card-holders was extended. However, Aatmanirbhar food package, which was meant to provide free foodgrains to migrants and those without ration cards was not extended.

Home Ministry designates 9 individuals as terrorists under UAPA

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Polity and Security issues

In news:

  • Union Home Ministry designated nine individuals as “terrorists” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
  • The nine persons declared terrorists are linked to separatist Khalistani groups that seek to establish a separate country for the Sikhs.

Important Value Additions:

About Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)

  • It was enacted in 1967. 
  • It aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities associations in India.
  • Under the act, the investigating agency can file a charge sheet in maximum 180 days after the arrests and the duration can be extended further after intimating the court.
  • Till 2004, “unlawful” activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. The 2004 amendment, added “terrorist act” to the list of offences.
  • If Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
  • It has death penalty and life imprisonment as highest punishments.

2019 Amendment of UAPA

  • The act was amended to designate individuals as terrorists on certain grounds provided in the Act. Earlier only organisations could be declared as such.
  • Not designating individuals as terrorists, would give them an opportunity to circumvent the law and regroup under different name.
  • It empowered the Director General of NIA to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by NIA.
  • Earlier it required the consent of State Police which delayed the process.
  • It empowered the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases of terrorism.
  • It gave the Home Ministry the power to designate individuals as terrorists.

Do you know?

  • NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008.
  • NIA is the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency of India and it works under overall guidance of Ministry of Home Affairs.

Environment Ministry reconstitutes Central Zoo Authority (CZA)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment issues; Conservation

In news:

  • Environment Ministry has reconstituted the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
  • CZA will include an expert from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, and a molecular biologist.

Key prelims pointers:

  • The CZA is a statutory body chaired by the Environment Minister and tasked with regulating zoos across the country.
  • Central Zoo Authority (CZA) is a statutory body created under the provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. 
  • The authority lays down guidelines and prescribes rules under which animals may be transferred among zoos nationally and internationally.
  • It regulates the exchange of animals of endangered category Listed under Schedule-I and II of the Wildlife Protection Act among zoos.


GST collections drop

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and related issues; Taxation

In news: 

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections witnessed a 41% drop in first quarter.
  • Reason for drop – COVID-19 impact on government revenues; revenues plunged during the lockdown

Step Taken

  • Small businesses have been allowed a three-month deferment of GST payments due to the COVID-19 situation.
  • There is a wider industry demand for a moratorium on payments and reduction in rates.

Important Value Additions:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a comprehensive indirect tax on manufacture, sale, and consumption of goods and services throughout India.
  • It is a destination-based taxation system.
  • It has been established by the 101st Constitutional Amendment Act.
  • It is an indirect tax for the whole country on the lines of “One Nation One Tax” to make India a unified market.
  • It is a single tax on supply of Goods and Services in its entire product cycle or life cycle i.e. from manufacturer to the consumer.
  • It is calculated only in the “Value addition” at any stage of a goods or services.
  • The final consumer will pay only his part of the tax and not the entire supply chain which was the case earlier.
  • There is a provision of GST Council to decide upon any matter related to GST whose chairman in the finance minister of India.

Kerala village deploys robot nurses for patient care

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology; Innovation and application of technology

In news:

  • Two robot nurses named Asha — meaning hope — have been successfully deployed at a COVID-19 First-line Treatment Centre in Kerala village, Eraviperoor. 
  • The robots will also facilitate real-time interaction with patients for their family members even from a distance of 15 km.

Do you know?

  • Eraviperoor village hit the headlines multiple times, it became the first grama panchayat in the country to receive the National Award for Public Administration in April 2015 and the first panchayat in the State to get ISO-9001 certification for its Primary Health Centre in August that year.



Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources 
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests 

Reforming India’s digital policy

Context: With COVID-19 continuing to extend its reach globally, economic growth has plunged and nations are taking measures to reverse recessionary trends. One sector that is expected to buck this trend is digital services.

Do You Know?

  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in its latest World Investment Report projected that FDI to developing Asian economies could drop by as much as 45%.
  • India will be host of the G20 nations in 2022, and in post-COVID-19 world, international cooperation and good governance in the digital sphere will be in top-priority agenda.

Why Digital Services has become crucial today?

  • Multi-sectoral utility: Digital services enable access to and delivery of a wide array of products across multiple sectors, from healthcare to retail distribution to financial services.
  • Critical for growth: Digital Services have become critical to every 21st century economy given that the world is at the doorstep of fourth Industrial revolution
  • Resisting the negative trends: Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, investments in digital services continue to flow at record levels globally, outpacing investment in nearly every other sector. 
  • Helpful during Emergencies: Digital services are filling gaps when national or global emergencies interrupt more traditional modes of commerce. Ex: Telemedicine during COVID-19 lockdown
  • Opportunity for India: India is an ideal destination for increased FDI flow because of its huge and increasingly digitised population along with good start-up ecosystem

What are the challenges in India that prevent full exploitation of its potential in digital services?

Along with need for bridging digital divide & improving digital infrastructure, below are some of the areas which need attention from government

1. Three pending measures in digital services

  • The Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB)
  • The e-commerce policy
  • The Information Technology Act Amendments

2. Contesting approaches & goals

  • Approaches in the above regulatory reform seem to emphasise on protecting the domestic market for domestic companies and prioritising government access to data
  • It may be difficult to reconcile these approaches with India’s strong interest in promoting data privacy, protecting its democratic institutions, and encouraging FDI. 

3. Challenges in Indo-US bilateral relationship

  • India and the U.S. are yet to conclude negotiation on a bilateral trade agreement that could address some digital services issues
  • U.S. has initiated a Section 301 review of whether digital services taxes like India’s equalisation levy constitute “unfair” trade measures.
  • Strong relationship with US is an important factor in realising the potential for greater trade and investment in digital services. 


India needs to attract FDI and address the obstacles preventing the growth of digital services, so as to achieve the goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy


Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Security and its challenges
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

Police reform and the crucial judicial actor

Context: The death of a father and son due to alleged custodial torture in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu.

  • P. Jayaraj(58) and his son J Beniks(31), were taken into police custody for violating COVID-19 curfew hours. However, they died four days later allegedly due to custodial torture.
  • The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has taken notice of the Thoothukudi violence on its own and is “closely” monitoring the situation
  • According certain report, across India there are as many as five custodial deaths a day. 

Impact of Custodial deaths

  • Against Human rights
  • Against rule of law 
  • Leads to tyranny of State authorities
  • Leads to erosion of Democratic culture
  • Disproportionately impacts the poor & vulnerable who don’t have access to tools of justice
  • Increases burden on Judiciary for providing guidelines on police procedures

What are the SC judgements on Police reforms?

  • Supreme Court of India is often considered as the only institution working towards police reforms in the Indian state.
  • Through cases such as Joginder Kumar v. State of UP (1994) and D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997) guidelines were passed to try and secure two rights in the context of any state action — a right to life and a right to know.
  • Through the guidelines, the Court sought to 
    • Curb the power of arrest and
    • Ensure that an accused person is made aware of all critical information regarding his arrest and also convey this to friends and family immediately in the event of being taken in custody. 
  • It took a decade, and in the form of amendments, as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008 to give statutory backing to these judicial guidelines; it remains part of the law today.

Why Custodial deaths still persist or Why police reforms are lagging behind? 

  • Long time to implement SC guidelines: It took reportedly 11 years for the State of Tamil Nadu to actually implement Prakash Singh and that several States remain in contempt of the Supreme Court’s judgment
  • Lack of Political will: Continued institutional apathy from bureaucracy & political masters towards the issue of police reform has prevented reform in policing
  • Inadequate Powers of Judiciary: The judiciary’s approach of simply passing directions and guidelines, has proven to be a failure. For judgements to transform into reality there is a need for money and a power of immediate implementation.
  • The gap between the highest court and the lowly police officer in India: Despite criminal laws being struck down as unconstitutional, they continue to be enforced in various parts of the country by local police
  • Culture of impunity: Madras High Court reportedly saw the Thoothukudi incident as the result of a “few bad apples” ruining a system’s reputation which leads to continuance of culture of impunity
  • Overworked magistrate: Struggling with an ever-exploding docket and in a rush to get done with the “remand case”, magistrate don’t treat an arrested person with the care and the consideration which leads to persistence of police brutality

Way ahead

  • It is time to consider sanctions at a larger scale and impose monetary penalties at the district level, to drive home the message that the erring actions of one officer must be seen as a failure of the force itself.
  • Constitutional courts could strike an inspired move by reorienting their guidelines to try and change the practices of magistrates, over whom they exercise powers of superintendence, as opposed to other non-judicial actors.

Connecting the dots:

  • Other Police reforms: Click here
  • Prison reforms


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

  1. National Investigation Agency (NIA) is a non-statutory body
  2. The Central Government has suo-moto powers to direct the agency (NIA) for investigation of any scheduled offence

Select the correct answer from the codes given below

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

Q.2 Goods and Services Tax is seen as one of the biggest economic reforms in recent history. It has been passed by which of the following Constitutional Amendment Act

  1. 99th
  2. 110th
  3. 101th
  4. 112th

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding Central Zoo Authority (CZA)

  1. It is a statutory body
  2. It is constituted under Environment Protection Act, 1986

Which of the given statement/s 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 related to Zoos of India

  1. Zoo is an establishment where captive animals are kept for exhibition to the public but does not include an establishment of a licensed dealer in captive animals.
  2. All the Zoos in India are governed by Central Zoo authority of India (CZA).

Choose the correct statement/s

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above


1 A
2 B
3 A
4 C

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