DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th October 2020

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  • October 16, 2020
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th October 2020
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India’s Public Debt Ratio projected to increase

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In news

  • As per the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s public debt ratio is projected to increase by 17% to almost 90% because of an increase in public spending due to Covid-19.

Key takeaways 

  • The ratio is projected to stabilise in 2021. 
  • It will slowly decline up to the end of the projection period, in 2025. 
  • The pattern of public debt in India is similar to the pattern around the world. 

Do you know? 

  • This debt-to-GDP ratio is used to compare a country’s public debt to its GDP. 
  • It is often expressed as a percentage. 
  • By comparing what a country owes (debt) with what it produces (GDP), the debt-to-GDP ratio indicates a particular country’s ability to pay back its debts. 
  • A country with a high debt-to-GDP ratio finds it difficult to pay off public debts.

Pakistan gets re-elected to the UNHRC

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Global Groupings

In news

  • Recently Pakistan was re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
  • Pakistan is currently serving on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) since 1st January, 2018. 
  • With its re-election, Pakistan will continue as a member for another three-year term starting from 1st January, 2021.
  • This is the fifth time that Pakistan has been elected to the UNHRC.

Key takeaways 

  • A total of 15 countries were elected to the 47-nation council. 
  • Russia and Cuba were elected unopposed. 
  • Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Nepal and China were elected from the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Pakistan has been re-elected despite opposition from activist groups over its low human rights records. With a number of countries with questionable rights records being elected, the current system of entry to UNHRC is in serious need of reform.
  • Except for the Asia-Pacific contest, the election of 15 members was decided in advance because all the other regional groups had unopposed states.
  • However, there is a silver lining to repressive countries being elected to the council. It is far more difficult for them to hide their own human rights abuses because of their position as the supposed guardian of human rights makes 

Important value additions 

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

  • The Council was created through the resolution 60/251. 
  • Established in: 2006.
  • Headquarter: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Aim: (1) To Promote and protect human rights around the globe; (2) To investigate alleged human rights violations.
  • Features: The UNHRC has 47 members elected for three-year terms on a regional group basis from 5 groups.
  • Membership: To become a member, a country must receive the votes of at least 96 of the 191 states of the UN General Assembly (an absolute majority).
  • Members are elected directly by secret ballot by the majority of the UN General Assembly.
  • Five regional groups for membership: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and Eastern Europe.
  • The members are elected for a period of three years, with a maximum of two consecutive terms.
  • Sessions: The UNHRC holds regular sessions three times a year.

DAY-NRLM Special Package for J&K and Ladakh

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Policies and interventions

In news

  • Recently, the Union Cabinet approved a special package worth Rs. 520 crore in the Union Territories (UTs) of J&K and Ladakh for a period of five years under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM).

Key takeaways 

  • The Centre aims to universalise all centrally sponsored beneficiary-oriented schemes in J&K and Ladakh in a time-bound manner.
  • The package has been approved for a period of five years till 2023-24. 
  • It has been decided to ensure funding on a demand-driven basis without linking allocation with poverty ratio during the extended period. 
  • Around two-third rural women from the UTs will be covered and 10.58 lakh women will get the benefit from the special package.

Important value additions 

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission

  • It is a centrally sponsored programme,
  • Ministry: Ministry of Rural Development
  • Aim: (1) To eliminate rural poverty through the promotion of multiple livelihoods and improved access to financial services for the rural poor households across the country; (2) To reach out to all rural poor households and impact their livelihoods.
  • It involves working with community institutions through community professionals. 
  • It is implemented in a Mission mode by special purpose vehicles. 
  • The government plans to take the scheme to 10 crore women.

Tur dal to be released from Buffer Stocks

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Economy

In news

  • The Union government plans to release 40,000 tonnes of tur dal from its buffer stock into the retail market in small lots, in order to cool down the recent hike in pulses prices.

Key takeaways 

  • Major consuming centres (Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar and Tamil Nadu) of urad and tur dal have seen a 20% hike in prices recently. 
  • At an all-India level, the average retail prices of urad have shot up almost 40% in comparison to 2019, while the average retail prices of tur dal have increased by almost 24%.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) has introduced retail intervention. 
  • It is a mechanism to use the buffer stock of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED).
  • For such retail intervention, offer prices are fixed on the basis of MSP itself.
  • The DoCA has also decided to release 40,000 metric tonnes of tur from the buffer stock in Open Market Sale (OMS) Scheme in small lots so that the releases may reach the retail market sooner and help in cooling off rising prices.

Important value additions 

National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India

  • Registered under: Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002.
  • Set up in: 1958 
  • Objective: To promote cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit the farmers.
  • Agricultural farmers are the members of the General Body of NAFED, who participate in the decision-making process.

Minimum Support Price

  • It is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers.
  • Objective: To counter the price volatility of agricultural commodities due to the factors like variations in the supply, lack of market integration and information asymmetry.
  • It is fixed on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Parasitic Infections found in One-Horned Rhinoceros

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment; Biodiversity

In news

  • Recently, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India has published report – ‘Prevalence of Endoparasitic Infections in Free-Ranging Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros’ for Assam and West Bengal.

Key takeaways 

  • The report highlights the natural causes due to which these rhinos die along with poaching. These natural causes have not been studied in great detail yet.
  • Since 2017, the Rhino Task Force of Assam and WWF India have been undertaking steps to study pathogens found in fresh rhino dung samples in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • According to the researchers, habitat degradation can lead to an increased exposure to pathogens
  • From the samples from Assam and West Bengal, the study concluded that parasites from four genera were present in an estimated 68% of India’s rhino population.
  • The overall prevalence of endoparasites was 58.57% in Assam and 88.46% in West Bengal. 
  • Results from UP are pending.

Do you know? 

  • Endoparasites are parasites that live in the tissues and organs of their hosts, such as tapeworms, flukes, and protozoans of vertebrates.

Important value additions 

  • There are three species of rhino in Asia — Greater one-horned, Javan and Sumatran.
  • Two greatest threats: Poaching for the horns and habitat loss 
  • The five rhino range nations: India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • These Nations have signed a declaration ‘The New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019’ for the conservation and protection of the species.

Protection Status

  • IUCN Red List
    • Javan and Sumatran Rhino: Critically endangered  
    • Greater one-horned rhino:  vulnerable
  • All three listed under Appendix I (CITES).
  • Greater one-horned rhino: Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • In India, rhinos are mainly found in Kaziranga National Park (NP), Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS), Orang NP and Manas NP in Assam, Jaldapara NP and Gorumara NP in West Bengal and Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in UP.

Conservation Efforts by India

  • Recently, the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has begun a project to create DNA profiles of all rhinos in the country.
  • National Rhino Conservation Strategy: It was launched in 2019 to conserve the greater one-horned rhinoceros.
  • Indian Rhino Vision 2020: It was launched in 2005. Aim: To attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in the Indian state of Assam by the year 2020.


Madhuca Diplostemon

  • Recently, Madhuca diplostemon tree has been rediscovered after a gap of more than 180 years from a sacred grove in Kollam district, Kerala.

  • The tree is locally known as Kavilippa in Malayalam.
  • It was identified by the scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode, Kerala.
  • The threatened species of the Western Ghats was believed to be extinct.
  • IUCN has included it in the endangered species list. 
  • The JNTBGRI is planning to undertake the ex-situ conservation of this species through the institute’s species recovery programme.



Topic: General Studies 1,2:

  • Contemporary World History (UN & its challenges)
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

The message in the Peace Nobel

Context: 2020 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the World Food Programme (WFP). 

Paradox of Present Times

  • At a time when cross-national and global challenges have increased Nation states are less willing to cooperate and collaborate to tackle them effectively.
  • When the lives of people are at stake, active collaboration would have enhanced our collective ability to overcome what has become a public health-cum-economic crisis (COVID-19 Pandemic)
  • But we live in an era when nationalist urges, fuelled by a political opportunism, diminish the appeal of international cooperation. 
  • One would have expected that countries, particularly those with technological and financial capabilities, would agree to pool their resources together to work on an effective and affordable anti-virus vaccine. 
  • Instead, there are several parallel national efforts under way even as WHO has put together a Covax alliance for the same purpose.

Do You Know?

  • According to the WFP, 132 million more people could become malnourished as a consequence of the pandemic. 
  • To the 690 million people who go to bed each night on an empty stomach, perhaps another 100 million or more will be added. 

About World Food Programme (WFP)

  • Founded in 1961, WFP is the food assistance branch of United Nations
  • It deals with hunger eradication and promotes food security in the world.
  • WFP is funded completely by voluntary donations. 
  • It is a member of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and works in close tandem with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
  • WFP partners with more than 1,000 national and international NGOs to provide food assistance and tackle the underlying causes of hunger.
  • WFP is the largest humanitarian organisation implementing school feeding programmes worldwide

Significance of Nobel Peace Prize awarded to WFP

  • Hunger as Weapon of War: For its efforts to combat hunger and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict, WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020. 
  • Need for International Cooperation: The message this award is sending to the world — that we need multilateralism as an expression of international solidarity. 
  • Dangers of Pandemic: The award is also a warning that the novel coronavirus pandemic is reversing the substantial gains made in the fight against hunger and poverty. The Nobel Prize to the WFP will nudge our collective conscience to come together and relieve this looming humanitarian crisis.
  • Need for Funding: The WFP’s achievement are modest, not because it is an inefficient institution, but because it is perennially under-funded

Food Security and need of multilateralism

  • Food, energy and water security are inter-linked with strong feedback loops. There exists inter-connectedness among these challenges.
  • Enhancing food security may lead to diminished water and energy security. It may also have collateral impact on health security. 
  • Raising crop yields with current agricultural strategies means higher incremental use of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides. 
  • India’s unprotected farmers are exposed to serious health risks as a result and often get bankrupted not due to crop failure but debilitating health costs.
  • One has to realize of these inter-connections and hence come together to work collectively in a multilateral framework.
  • A narrow Nationalistic approach to global challenges like Climate Change, hunger and Poverty will not be sustainable in long run
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are cross-domain but also cross-national in character, and hence demand greater multilateral cooperation in order to succeed.
  • Thus, there is need for a more democratic world order since lack of cooperation from even a single state may frustrate success in tackling a global challenge


A fresh pandemic may erupt in any remote corner of the world and spread throughout the globe. Prevention cannot be achieved through coercion, only through cooperation. It is only multilateralism that makes this possible.

Connecting the dots:


Topic: General Studies 3:

  • Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping 
  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

The road to zero hunger by 2030

Context:  World Food Day being celebrated on October 16

Do You Know?

In the year 2020

  • FAO is celebrating 75 years of fighting hunger in over 130 countries
  • IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) become the first UN agency to receive a credit rating
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace

What is a food system? 

  • It is a framework that includes every aspect of feeding and nourishing people: from growing, harvesting and processing to packaging, transporting, marketing and consuming food. 
  • To be sustainable, a food system must provide enough nutritious food for all without compromising feeding future generations.

How did India’s food system work during Pandemic?

  • During the COVID-19-precipitated lockdown, the FAO, IFAD and the WFP worked in close coordination to support the Government of India’s Empowered Group 5 on facilitating supply chain and logistics management, so necessary items such as food and medicines were available.
  • Over the past few decades, India has gone from being a net importer to a net exporter of food grains. This strength has been evident through the pandemic. 
  • During April to June 2020, Central and State governments were able to distribute around 23 million tonnes from India’s large domestic food grain reserves through Public Distribution System
  • The government also successfully mobilised food rations for 820 million people from April to November 2020, including finding alternate solutions to provide food rations to 90 million schoolchildren. 
  • During Pandemic’s initial days of lockdown, there were efforts to remove bottlenecks in the food supply chain to ensure that agricultural activities weren’t disrupted. 
  • As a result, agriculture grew at 3.4% during the first quarter this financial year and the area cultivated this kharif exceeded 110 million hectares.

Challenges Ahead for India

  • High number of Malnourished: The Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18 revealed that over 40 million children are chronically malnourished, and more than half of Indian women aged 15-49 years are anaemic.
  • Climate change continues to be a real and potent threat to agrobiodiversity, which will impact everything from productivity to livelihoods across food and farm systems.
  • Small Land Size: Intensified food production systems with excessive use of chemicals and unsustainable farming practices cause soil degradation, fast depletion of groundwater table and rapid loss of agro-biodiversity. These challenges multiply with an increase in fragmentation of landholdings.

Way Ahead

  • The way we produce food must change through agroecology and sustainable production practices in agriculture and allied sectors
  • India must stop the waste — one-third of the food we produce is wasted. 
  • COVID-19 is an opportunity to adopt innovative solutions based on scientific evidence so they can build back better and make food systems more resilient and sustainable
  • Everybody — governments, the private sector, civil society and local communities — has a role to play in transforming our food systems so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks

Connecting the dots:

  • Sustainable Developmental Goals
  • India’s Commitment to Paris Climate Deal


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 Which of the following is not among the five rhino range Nations? 

  1. India 
  2. Bhutan 
  3. Nepal 
  4. China

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding greater one horned Rhino: 

  1. It is included in endangered list of IUCN red list. 
  2. It is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.3 Consider the following statements:

  1. The debt-to-GDP ratio indicates a particular country’s ability to pay back its debts. 
  2. A country with a low debt-to-GDP ratio finds it difficult to pay off public debts.

Which of the above is or are correct? 

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

Q.4 Where is the headquarters of UNHRC located?

  1. Geneva
  2. The Hague
  3. Paris
  4. New York


1 B
2 D
3 D

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