DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 16th March 2021

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  • March 16, 2021
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World Health Assembly’s 1st resolution on Meningitis

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II – Health In news

  • World Health Assembly endorsed the 1st ever resolution on meningitis prevention and control recently.

Important value additions 


  • It is a serious infection of the meninges – the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord
  • It is a major global public health issue causing up to 5 million cases each year.
  • It can be caused by many different pathogens including bacteria, fungi or viruses. 
  • The highest global burden is seen with bacterial meningitis.
  • Examples of bacteria: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitidis 
  • Transmission: Person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions from carriers.

Global Centre for Traditional Medicine

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations; Health 

In news

  • The World Health Organisation will set up a Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India.

Key takeaways 

  • The centre will support WHO’s efforts to implement the WHO traditional medicine strategy 2014-2023. 
  • Aim of the medicine strategy: To support countries in developing policies and action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicine as part of their journey to universal health coverage.


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

In news

  • The Himachal Pradesh government has decided to start planting seabuckthorn in the cold desert areas of the state. 

Important value additions Seabuckthorn 

  • It is a shrub which produces an orange-yellow coloured edible berry.
  • In India, it is found above the tree line in the Himalayan region, generally in dry areas such as the cold deserts of Ladakh and Spiti.
  • In Himachal Pradesh, it is locally called chharma. 
  • Ecological, medicinal and economic benefits: (1) Treating stomach, heart and skin problems; (2) Its fruit and leaves are rich in vitamins, carotenoids and omega fatty acids; (3) Helps troops in acclimatising to high-altitude; (4) Important source of fuelwood and fodder; (5) Prevents soil-erosion; (6) Checks siltation in rivers; (7) Helps preserve floral biodiversity; (8) Used in making juices, jams, nutritional capsules etc.

Community in news: Zo People 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – I – Society &  GS- II – International Relations 

In news

  • Zo community was recently in news. 
  • A Mizoram-based group representing the community has petitioned Indian President and Prime Minister to impose sanctions on military-ruled Myanmar.

Important value additions 

  • The Zo people are an ethnic group of India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. 
  • They are known as “Chin” and “Zomi” in Myanmar, and “Mizo”, “Zomi “and “Kuki” in India.
  • In north-eastern India, they are present in: Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Assam.

Water Quality Testing Framework 

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

In news

  • Water Quality Testing Framework was recently rolled out under Jal Jeevan Mission
  • Citizens can now get the water quality in their taps tested at reasonable rates, as part of the framework 

Key takeaways 

  • A network of National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accredited labs will be set up in every State, district and block over the next year.
  • At the panchayat level, teams of women of the village water and sanitation committees will be given field testing kits.
  • Limited number of Private players can also be included. 
  • Estimated cost: ₹600 for all 16 water quality parameters
  • Turnaround time for chemical tests: 24 hours
  • Turnaround time for the biological contaminants: 48 hours.
  • All results of testing will be fed into the Water Quality Information Management System (WQMIS). 
  • It is a portal developed with the support of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

Martian Blueberries find a parallel on Earth

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – III – Space; Sci & Tech

In news

  • According to a recent research paper, Martian ‘blueberries’ find a parallel on Earth.

Key takeaways 

  • In 2004, NASA’s Mars exploration rover ‘Opportunity’ found several small spheres on the planet, informally named Martian blueberries.
  • Opportunity’s spectrometers noted they were made of iron oxide compounds called haematites.
  • Presence of haematites suggests that there was water present on Mars. 
  • Haematite is known to form in oxidising environments.

Do you know? 

  • Study of the Jhuran formation in Gujarat (which is between 145 and 201 million years old) of the haematite concretions revealed that they resemble the ones on Mars.

Bamboosa Bambos likely to threaten Nilgiri biosphere

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

In news

  • The flowering of bamboo inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS) may pose a threat to wildlife in the Nilgiri biosphere, a major tiger and elephant habitat.

Key takeaways 

  • The bamboo groves in the Wayanad forest are the mainstay of herbivores in the Nilgiri biosphere during summer.
  • With the onset of the summer, migration of wild animals starts from the adjacent sanctuaries in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to Wayanad due to shortage of fodder and water.
  • The flowering may adversely affect migration, especially by elephants, wild gaur, and other lower herbivores due to the mass destruction of bamboo groves after the flowering.

Important value additions 

  • It is a tall, bright-green coloured spiny bamboo species, which grows in thickets consisting of a large number of heavily branched, closely growing culms.
  • Bamboosa bambos is a monocarpic (flowering only once) plant. 
  • Family: Poaceae family (grass family). 
  • Its flowering cycle varies from 40 to 60 years.
  • It is also known as the giant thorny bamboo, Indian thorny bamboo, spiny bamboo, or thorny bamboo.
  • It is a species of clumping bamboo native to southern Asia.

Do you know? 

  • The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary in Wayanad, Kerala, India.



  • Bara-lacha la is also known as Bara-lacha Pass. 

  • It is a high mountain pass in Zanskar Range. 
  • It connects Lahaul district in Himachal Pradesh to Leh district in Ladakh. 
  • It is situated along the Leh–Manali Highway.
  • The pass also acts as a water-divide between the Bhaga river and the Yunam river.
  • The Bhaga river, a tributary of the Chenab river, originates from Surya taal lake. 

(Mains Focus)



  • GS-2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States
  • GS-2: Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

Centre versus State in Delhi

Context: The Centre has recently introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (GNCTD) in Lok Sabha, reviving the dispute on the distribution of powers between the elected government and the Lieutenant Governor (L-G).

Constitutional Framework of Delhi 

  • Delhi’s current status as a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly is an outcome of the 69th Amendment Act through which Articles 239AA and 239BB were introduced in the Constitution. 
  • The GNCTD Act was passed simultaneously to supplement the constitutional provisions relating to the Assembly and the Council of Ministers in the national capital. 
  • For all practical purposes, the GNCTD Act outlines the powers of the Assembly, the discretionary powers enjoyed by the L-G, and the duties of the Chief Minister with respect to the need to furnish information to the L-G.

What does the 2021 amendment Bill say?

  • In light of Supreme Court Judgement: In the statement of objects and reasons section, the Centre claims that the amendment Bill seeks to give effect to the Supreme Court’s interpretation and that it further defines the responsibilities of the elected government and the Lt Governor in line with the Constitutional scheme. 
  • Clarification on the term Government: The bill clarifies that the term “government” in any law made by the Legislative Assembly shall mean the L-G. This, essentially, gives effect to former L-G’s assertion that “Government means the Lieutenant Governor of the NCT of Delhi appointed by the President under Article 239 and designated as such under Article 239 AA of the Constitution”. 
  • Prior Opinion of LG: The Bill adds that the L-G’s opinion shall be obtained before the government takes any executive action based on decisions taken by the Cabinet or any individual minister.

What did the Constitution Bench say?

  • Concurrence of LG: In its 2018 verdict, the five-judge Bench had held that the L-G’s concurrence is not required on issues other than police, public order and land. 
  • Communication between CoM & LG: SC also had added that decisions of the Council of Ministers will, however, have to be communicated to the L-G. 
  • Upheld the spirit of Representative Governance: SC stated that “It has to be clearly stated that requiring prior concurrence of the Lieutenant Governor would absolutely negate the ideals of representative governance and democracy conceived for the NCT of Delhi by Article 239AA of the Constitution”. The L-G was bound by the aid and advice if the council of ministers, it had said.
  • Status of LG and Delhi: The Court pointed out that “The status of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is not that of a Governor of a State, rather he remains an Administrator, in a limited sense, working with the designation of Lieutenant Governor”. It had also pointed out that the elected government must keep in mind that Delhi is not a state.

Consequences of the SC Judgement

  • The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, therefore, tilted the scales in favour of the elected government through its 2018 verdict.
  • Encouraged by the Supreme Court verdict, the elected government had stopped sending files on executive matters to the L-G before the implementation of any decision. 
  • It has been keeping the L-G abreast of all administrative developments, but not necessarily before implementing or executing any decision.
  • It is observed that it was because of the judgment that the elected government was able to clear policy decisions like giving free power to those using under 200 units, free bus riders for women and doorstep delivery of ration.

Does the L-G enjoy no discretionary power under the current arrangement?

  • Article 239AA(4): The L-G does have the power to refer any matter, over which there is a disagreement with the elected government, to the President under Article 239AA(4). 
  • 2018 SC Verdict & Article 239AA(4): The Delhi Law Secretary had in 2019 written in an internal memo that the elected government cannot use the Supreme Court verdict to keep the L-G in the dark about its decisions as that would prevent him from taking informed decisions on whether to invoke Article 239AA(4) or not. 
  • SC on invoking 239AA(4): But the SC had also categorically pointed out that the L-G “should not act in a mechanical manner without due application of mind so as to refer every decision of the Council of Ministers to the President”.

What will change if the amendments are cleared by Parliament?

  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Bill, which “seeks to drastically curtail powers of the elected government”, is “against” the Supreme Court judgment.
  • The amendment, if cleared, will force the elected government to take the L-G’s advice before taking any action on any cabinet decision.
  • The Bill seeks to add a provision in the original GNCTD Act, 1991, barring the Assembly or its committees from making rules to take up matters concerning day-to-day administration, or to conduct inquiries in relation to administrative decisions.
  • By making it mandatory for the elected government to route all its files through the L-G, the amendments will essentially take away the government’s autonomy and the dream for full statehood for the state.

Connecting the dots:



  • GS-3: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Education, Human Resources 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

A Kerala Model for Universal Education

Context: India tops the list of countries with out-of-school children. The 2011 Census affirmed that 84 million children in the country do not go to school at all and 47 million children get eliminated even before Class 10.

Did You Know?

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in Article 26(1) and (2) by the General Assembly of the UN emphasises in clear terms that every individual has the right to education and that it should aim for holistic development which in turn would evolve respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Seven decades after the UDHR, 58 million children are out of school globally and more than 100 million children get eliminated from the schooling system before completing primary education

Kerala Model

Kerala is known for its highest literacy rate in the country and one hundred per cent enrolment of children in primary and secondary education. Reasons for success of Kerala Model are:

  • Roots in Colonial Period: The historic royal rescript of 1817 proclaimed education as the “responsibility” of the state. Simultaneously, it emphasised that “political will” is more important than the political economy to decide the expenditure on education.
  • Strength of Teachers: With around 46 lakh students, 16,000 schools and 1.69 lakh teachers, the student-teacher ratio and student-school ratio reveal a desirable scenario. With more than 20,000 non-teaching staff, the teachers are not burdened with non-teaching or administrative work and are free to concentrate on their pedagogical roles
  • Consistency of Policies: The total literacy campaign started by the then Left Front government in 1989. The successful implementation of PRISM (Promoting Regional Schools to International Standards through Multiple Interventions) and whooping allocations to develop one school in each assembly segment to international standards is what can be seen as the reason behind the tectonic shift of 2.35 lakh students from private to public schools.
  • Funding: Successive governments in Kerala have increased the capital outlay to education and simultaneously decentralised financing of education through local bodies. The per capita expenditure on education is also on a steady rise.
  • Comprehensive Intervention: The Kerala model shows that comprehensive interventions pertaining to nutrition, health, sanitation, and early simulation can help to achieve sustainable growth in human development. 

Challenges in Universalization of Education

The Constitution of India provides for free and compulsory education for all children up to 14 years of age. In pursuance of this Government of India has enacted the Right to Education Act, 2009. However, the goal of universalization of primary education is still far from our reach. The factors that can be attributed to this are as follows:

  • Low Public Spending: The Union Budget 2021 budget allocated only 2.75 percent of the GDP to education. However, the Incheon Declaration to which India is a signatory, expects member states to spend 4-6% of their GDP on education to achieve SDG4.
  • Privatization of education: Decline of Public school system and simultaneous rise of expensive private schooling has made a large number of children being eliminated from the system at early stages. Private schooling are also criticised for their low quality, neglect of values, excessive focus on jobs and systemic inefficiencies
  • Qualitative Issue: Universalization of compulsory education has failed to catch up to the desired target because quality control of primary education has not been maintained. The successive ASER survey reflects the poor state of learning outcomes in primary education.

Way Forward

  • Active Role of State: To make education universal the state must find resources to provide ancillary services such as school health, mid-day meals, free supply of textbooks, writing materials, school uniform, etc (Similar to comprehensive intervention of Keral Model).
  • Civil Society Participation: The success of Kerala is made possible thanks to the collective efforts of the various departments of the government, officials, volunteers, NGOs, and friendly associations.
  • Social Auditing: There should be a Village or Mohalla School Committee in each village or urban area. Such a committee would look after the construction and maintenance of buildings, playgrounds, and school gardens, provision for ancillary services, the purchase of equipment, etc.
  • Increased Commitment: The kind of commitment or collective will shown for the provisions of electricity, water and roads needs to be developed for education as well. 


Unless education becomes an election and emotional issue akin to nationalism, we will have only a few pocket boroughs of royal rescripts like Kerala.

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 Jhuran formation is found in which of the following state of India? 

  1. Odisha 
  2. Tamil Nadu 
  3. Assam 
  4. Gujarat 

Q.2 Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is located in :

  1. Kerala
  2. Tamil Nadu 
  3. Andhra pradesh 
  4. Meghalaya 

Q.3 Citizens can now get the water quality in their taps tested at reasonable rates, as part of the Water Quality Testing Framework, under which of the following? 

  1. Swacchh Bharat Abhiyan
  2. Jal Jeevan Mission 
  3. Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana 
  4. Aatmanirbhar Bharat 


1 B
2 C
3 A

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