DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th December 2020

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  • December 19, 2020
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis
DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th December 2020
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Cabinet Committee on Security approves the setting up of a new National Security Directive

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Infrastructure

In news

  • Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the setting up of a new National Security Directive on the telecommunication sector.

Key takeaways 

  • It aims to classify telecom products and their sources under the ‘trusted’ and ‘non-trusted’ categories.
  • It will make its decision based on approval of the National Security Committee on Telecom.
  • It will be headed by the deputy National Security Advisor (NSA). 
  • It will have members from other departments and ministries, independent experts and two members from the industry.
  • The National Cyber Security Coordinator is the designated authority and will devise the methodology to designate trusted products.

Eight-member committee makes Recommendations on Reservation in IITs

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – Education

In news

  • Recently, an eight-member committee, appointed by the government made recommendations for effective implementation of reservation in students’ admissions and faculty recruitment in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). 

Key takeaways 

  • It was chaired by IIT Delhi’s Director
  • It had representatives of secretaries of the departments of Social Justice and Empowerment, Tribal Affairs, Department of Personnel and Training, Persons with Disabilities, among others.
  • Its report was submitted to the Ministry of Education in June 2020. 
  • It has been made available under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 also.


  • Being established and recognised as institutions of national importance, IITs should be added to the list of “Institutions of Excellence” mentioned in the Schedule to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Teachers’ Cadre) Act, 2019 (CEI Act).
  • Implementation of reservation policies for all categories including Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) be restricted just to Assistant Professor Grade I and Grade II and not for levels above.
  • Vacancies not filled in a particular year due to non-availability, be de-reserved in the subsequent year.
  • Conduct of special recruitment drives to attract candidates from reserved categories.
  • A system emphasising targeted goals over a period of time and not specific quotas be followed so that IITs can compete with other top institutions in the world in terms of excellence, output, research and teaching.
  • The panel proposes a two-year Research Assistantship for students from reserved categories aspiring to join PhD programmes. 

Hawker Culture in Singapore included in UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-I – Culture & GS-II – International relations

In news

  • Hawker Culture in Singapore has been inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at the 15th session of the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) that was held online.

Important value additions 

Hawker Culture in Singapore

  • It is a living heritage shared by those who prepare hawker food and those who dine and mingle over hawker food in community dining spaces called hawker centres.
  • It reflects Singapore’s multicultural identity as a people and nation, and resonates strongly with Singaporeans across all races and social strata.

UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

  • This list is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance.
  • Established in: 2008 when the Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into effect.
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, recognized by UNESCO: 

  • The Ministry of Culture has also launched the draft National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) of India

Related article:

India’s communication satellite CMS-01 was successfully launched by PSLV-C50

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Achievements of Indians in Sci & Tech

In news

  • India’s communication satellite CMS-01 was successfully launched by PSLV-C50 recently from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

Key takeaways

  • CMS-01 is envisaged to provide services in the extended-C Band of the frequency spectrum that will cover the Indian mainland, the Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.
  • It provides services like tele-education, tele-medicine, disaster management support and Satellite Internet access.
  • It was India’s 42nd communication satellite with a mission life of over seven years.
  • The satellite will be placed in the specified slot in the geosynchronous orbit.
  • Subsequently, it will function as the continuation of GSAT11 launched 11 years back.
  • PSLV-C50 is the 52nd flight of PSLV and 22nd flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with 6 strap-on motors).

(Mains Focus)


Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure 
  • Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

MSP — the factoids versus the facts

Context:  After the passage of the three controversial farm laws, the Minimum Support Price (MSP) — not mentioned in the laws — has gained a lot of attention. 

What is Minimum Support Price (MSP)?

  • MSP is the price set by the government to purchase crops from the farmers, whatever may be the market price for the crops.
  • The MSP is meant to set a floor below which prices do not fall, and is announced by the government for 23 commodities. It is the price at which the government ‘promises’ to buy from farmers if market prices fall below it.
  • MSP is declared by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs before the sowing time on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)
  • Support prices generally affect farmers’ decisions indirectly, regarding land allocation to crops, quantity of the crops to be produced etc
  • MSP assures farmers agricultural income besides providing a clear price signal to the market
  • The major objectives are to support the farmers from distress sales and to procure food grains for public distribution. 

Do You Know?

  • Even for commodities for which MSP is announced, the proportion of sales via the mandi range is only between 10-64%
  • The demand for the MSP originates because the prices paid outside the mandi tend to be much lower. Countrywide, sales to mandi or government procurement agencies fetched on average 13.3% higher prices for paddy and 5.8% for wheat.

What are some of the misconceptions regarding MSP and arguments against it?

  1. Few (6%) farmers benefit
  • One, the 6% figure from the NSS data 2012-13 relates to paddy and wheat alone. Even here, however, among those who sold any paddy/wheat, the numbers are higher — 14% and 16%
  1. Only farmers of Punjab and Haryana (to some extent, western UP) benefit.
  • The Government of India has made a systematic effort to expand the reach of MSP to more States, via the Decentralized Procurement (DCP) Scheme. 
  • Introduced in 1997-98, it was not very popular in the initial years and began to be adopted by States in earnest only around 2005. 
  • Under the DCP scheme, the responsibility of procurement devolved to the State governments which were reimbursed pre-approved costs. 
  • FCI data suggest that by July 2015, as many as 15 States had taken up this programme, though not all were implementing it with equal enthusiasm. 
  • Largely on account of it, procurement began moving out of ‘traditional’ States (such as Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh). 
  • Until 2000, barely 10% of wheat and rice was procured outside the traditional States. By 2012-13, the share of the DCP States rose to 25-35%.
  • Chhattisgarh and Odisha contribute about 10% each to the total paddy procurement in the country. For wheat, decentralised procurement has taken off in Madhya Pradesh in a big way, accounting for approximately 20% of wheat procurement. 
  1. Only large farmers benefit
  • Procurement has benefited the small and marginal farmers in much bigger numbers than medium and large farmers. 
  • At the all-India level, among those who sold paddy to the government, 1% were large farmers, owning over 10 hectares of land. 
  • Small and marginal farmers, with less than 2 hectares accounted for 70%. The rest (29%) were medium farmers (2-10 hectares).
  • In the case of wheat, 3% of all wheat-selling farmers were large farmers. More than half (56%) were small and marginal farmers.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, nearly half (45%) of those who sell wheat to government agencies are small or marginal farmers.


Getting the facts right is an important first step in resolving the issues facing the agricultural sector and farmers’ issues. To recap, the facts are as follows: 

  • One, the proportion of farmers who benefit from (even flawed) government procurement policies is not insignificant. 
  • Two, the geography of procurement has changed in the past 15 years. It is less concentrated in traditional States such as Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, as DCP States such as Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha have started participating more vigorously. 
  • Three, perhaps most importantly — it is predominantly the small and marginal farmers who have benefited from the MSP and procurement,


Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

China’s Brahmaputra dam: Trans-boundary water governance in South Asia

Context: On November 29, 2020, Chinese state media announced that Beijing will build a mega dam on the the Yarlung Zangbo river close to the Line of Actual Control in Tibet. The move could have a far-reaching impact on water security in India’s North East.

South Asia and Transboundary rivers

  • The whole of South Asia comes under ‘high’ to ‘extremely high’ water-stressed areas. This, even though it has a lot of fresh water.
  • South Asia is separated from the rest of the continent by the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountain ranges. 
  • There are some 25 major rivers in South Asia. Of the 30 major river basins of the world identified as global level priorities for the protection of aquatic biodiversity, nine are in India, which constitutes the majority of South Asia.
  • The Brahmaputra carries a flow volume that is greater than Europe’s 20 major rivers. The river passes through the world’s deepest gorge and three of its most populous countries — China, India and Bangladesh — before merging into the Bay of Bengal.


  • Transboundary Impact: Natural resources like rivers, forests and mountains pay no attention to political boundaries. They have evolved over millions of years of natural cycles. Dams or water diversion projects in the upstream areas of rivers have a significant effect on downstream countries through which river flows. 
  • Advantage to China: China has a clear advantage in building dams and other infrastructure to reduce or divert water flow from river systems originating in Tibet. Communities in the lower riparian areas have to accept what is being offered to them. Thus, there is a general feeling that China controls the headwaters. 
  • Ecological threats for Himalayan Ecosystem: The glaciers and snowlines of the Himalayas are retreating. If the current warming continues, there is a projection that the waterways of the Tibetan Plateau could first flood and then dry up gradually, turning the vast landscape into a desert.
  • Water conflicts: Discontent and conflict result from a situation where water demand is more than its supply. They can also result from asymmetric power controls over access and allocation of water between competing users or between transboundary governments. Further, the lack of a cooperative framework for managing river systems in South Asia leads to unresolved conflicts.
  • Unsustainable Approach: The reductionist engineering approach only looks at short-term gains on a model of competitive exploitation of river water resource. The supply-centric irrigation department talks in terms of diversions, dams, barrages, canals, tunnels and turbines. They do not know the science of bringing water into the river. 
  • Domestic Federal Issue: As water is a state subject, states assume exclusive powers over water governance. The cumulative outcomes at the national level do not inspire optimism about long-term security and sustainability. This is partly attributed to the poor devolution by states and weak institutions.

Way Ahead- A change of Approach

  • The real issue is not the scarcity of water resources. Rather, it is scarcity of ‘social resources’ and abundance of ‘power disparities’ between the riparians
  • We have to reconsider the fluvial landscape approach to river basin management. This approach respects the integrity of the landscape and the catchments.
  • It respects river behaviour and patterns, it respects the river’s legitimate rights to flood and cause droughts. They are inseparable parts of the hydrological cycle.
  • The fluvial memory concept is not based on ‘solutionising’ at reach scales on an ad-hoc basis. It takes the entire flow-habitat-catchment perspective.
  • Since the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin and the Himalayas are shared by all riparian states, the fluvial memory of the Brahmaputra should respected and it should be allowed to flow freely from source to mouth without any major obstructions.


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 National Security Directive recently approved by Cabinet Committee on Security:

  1. It shall classify telecom products and their sources under the ‘trusted’ and ‘non-trusted’ categories.
  2. It will be headed by the deputy National Security Advisor (NSA). 

Which of the above is/are correct?

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

Q.2 Which of the following Intangible Cultural Heritage of India which are recognized by UNESCO:

  1. Kutiyattam
  2. Yoga
  3. Nowruz
  4. Kumbh Mela
  5. Kathak dance

Select the correct code:

  1. 1 and 5 only
  2. 2, 4 and 5 only
  3. 1, 2, 3 and 4 only
  4. 2 and 4 only

Q.3 Consider the following statements regarding India’s recently launched satellite CMS-01:

  1. It will have frequency spectrum that will cover Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands only.
  2. It is launched in geosynchronous orbit.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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


1 A
2 B
3 A
4 B
5 A

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