DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 17th May 2021

  • IASbaba
  • May 17, 2021
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Mars Landing by China

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Sci & tech 

In news

  • China landed a spacecraft on Mars carrying its first Mars rover in a big boost to its space ambitions.

Key takeaways 

  • China had in July 2020, launched its first Mars mission, called Tianwen-1, carrying a lander and rover.
  • Tianwen-1 had been in orbit since February. 
  • Recently, a lander descended successfully on the surface of Mars carrying a rover named Zhurong. 
  • Only Russia and the U.S.A had previously carried out a successful landing on Mars.
  • The rover will provide “first-hand materials for research on the Mars’ space environment, surface topography, and soil structure.

Do you know? 

  • In 2019, the fourth lunar probe, Chang’e-4, carried out the world’s first landing on the far side of the moon. 
  • The Mars mission was launched the following year.
  • Last month, a Long March-5B Y2 rocket carried out the first of three components for the space station, called the Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony module.

Species in news: Common crane

Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III – Environment

In news

  • Common crane was recently spotted in Ireland. 
  • It had disappeared more than three centuries ago from Ireland.
  • The bird is part of its folklore and was a popular pet during medieval times, 

Key takeaways

  • A pair of cranes was spotted last year on a restored peat bog 
  • Peat bog is a type of wetland that is mostly found in northern latitude countries. 
  • The birds are in Ireland’s Midlands region, but their exact location has been kept secret to protect them.
  • Cranes stand at 4 feet tall with a wingspan of over 7 feet, and used to be the largest birds in Ireland. 
  • Although they were once common, the destruction of their habitat caused them to disappear around the 16th and 17th century.

Important value additions 

Why is bog restoration important

  • Bogs (also called quagmires) are soft, spongy wetlands that accumulate peat. 
  • Peat is a fossil fuel that is used for heating homes and businesses in northern Europe.
  • They are formed in northern climates, and take thousands of years to develop.
  • Bogs also act as carbon sinks, sequestering around 200 million tons of carbon from the environment in Siberia and Scandinavia.
  • For centuries, however, bogs have been drained for extracting peat or for development, leading to the destruction of their delicate ecosystems, including damage to species such as cranes that breed here.

Death of 18 elephants due to Lightning 

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – I – Geography & GS – III – Environment

In news

  • Recently, 18 elephants died on a hilltop in Assam. 
  • The preliminary post-mortem report indicates they had been struck by lightning.

Important value additions 

The Indian elephant

  • One of three extant recognised subspecies of the Asian elephant and native to mainland Asia
  • IUCN Red List: Endangered 
  • The wild population has declined by at least 50% since the 1930s
  • Threats: by loss, degradation and fragmentation of its habitat
  • It is included in Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972

How does lightning kill animals

  • Lightning may injure or kill animals in a number of ways such as:
  • Direct Flash: An animal in an open field may be struck directly by lightning if part of its body protrudes over other objects in the vicinity. Taller animals are more vulnerable.
  • Side Flash: When lightning strikes a tall object such as a tree, it may generate a side flash that can strike an animal standing underneath the tree.
  • Touch Potential: If one part of a tall animal’s body is in contact with the ground while another part, at a higher elevation, comes in contact with a lightning-struck object, a partial current may pass through its body.
  • Step Potential: The most common lightning hazard among four-legged animals. When an animal’s front and hind feet are far enough apart, a partial current may pass through the body in certain circumstances.
  • Since an elephant’s front and hind feet are wide apart, it would appear to make it more vulnerable than a smaller animal, such as a rat.
  • The Bamuni Hill in Assam, where the elephants died, has no tall trees that could have taken the brunt of the lightning strike.

Related articles

World Elephant Day

Elephants counted from Space

Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organization (PESO)

Part of: GS Prelims and GS – II –  Governance 

In news 

  • The Indian Government has reviewed the existing procedure for approval of global manufacturers for importing oxygen cylinders by Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organization (PESO).

Important value additions 

Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organization (PESO)

  • It is an organization under Department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), Ministry of commerce & Industry. 
  • It administers the usage of explosives & petrol stations in India.
  • Headquarters: Nagpur, Maharashtra.



  • Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces resumed in the restive southern province of Helmand. 
  • It is located in Southern Afghanistan. 
  • It is the largest province by area. 
  • Lashkargah serves as the provincial capital. 
  • The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region of the province, providing water used for irrigation. 
  • The Kajaki Dam, which is one of Afghanistan’s major reservoirs, is located in the Kajaki district.
  • Helmand is believed to be one of the world’s largest opium-producing regions, responsible for around 42% of the world’s total production.
  • It has been considered to be Afghanistan’s “most dangerous” province.

(Mains Focus)



  • GS-2: Important International events; Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
  • GS-3: Science & Technology

Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defence system

Context: Israeli Defence Forces(IDF) said that in recent violence between Israel & Palestine, Hamas has fired more than 1,500 rockets from Gaza all the way into Israel which has been intercepted by Iron Dome.

What is Iron Dome?

  • Defence System: Iron Dome is a multi-mission system capable of intercepting rockets, artillery, mortars, aircraft, helicopters and UAVs over short ranges of up to 70 km. 
  • Versatility: It is an all-weather system and can engage multiple targets simultaneously and be deployed over land and sea.
  • Developers: Iron Dome is manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Limited and has been in service with Israeli Air Force since 2011. The radar system was developed by Elta. 
  • Context of Development: Its development was prompted after a series of rocket attacks on Israel by Hezbollah and Hamas in the 2000s. In the 2006 Lebanon war, around 4,000 rockets were fired on the northern parts of Israel resulting in the death of about 44 Israeli civilians and evacuation of around 250,000 citizens following the development of the system was taken up.

Source: BBC

How does it work?

  • An Iron Dome battery consists of a battle management control unit, a detection and tracking radar and a firing unit of three vertical launchers, with 20 interceptor missiles each. 
  • The interceptor missile uses a proximity fuse to detonate the target warhead in the air. 
  • The Iron Dome is deployed in a layered defence along with David’s Sling and Arrow missile defence system which are designed for medium- and long-range threats.
  • One of the system’s important advantages is its ability to identify the anticipated point of impact of the threatening rocket, to calculate whether it will fall in a built-up area or not, and to decide on this basis whether or not to engage it. 
  • This prevents unnecessary interception of rockets that will fall in open areas and thus not cause damage, the paper states.
  • The system has intercepted thousands of rockets so far and, according to Rafael, its success rate is over 90%. 
  • The I-DOME is the mobile variant with all components on a single truck and C-DOME is the naval version for deployment on ships.

What are the limitations of the system?

  • The system has performed very well so far. However, the system can see limitations when it is overwhelmed with a barrage of projectiles. The system has a ‘saturation point’. 
  • It is capable of engaging a certain (unpublished) number of targets at the same time, and no more. Additional rockets fired in a crowded salvo could succeed in breaching defences and cause damage.
  • Several assessments suggest that Hamas is developing mitigating strategies including lowering the trajectories of the projectiles while also continuing to accumulate thousands of rockets with improved precision. 
  • One of the possible limitations is the system’s inability to cope with very short range threats as estimates put the Iron Dome’s minimum interception range at 5-7 kilometres. 
  • The other factor is the cost of interception is high. The cost of the interceptor missile is about $40,000-50,000.



  • GS-1: Social Empowerment
  • GS-2: Governance

Learning from Politicians

Context: India’s civil service has been confronted with unique challenges in light of the ghastly coronavirus pandemic, making the existing structures and processes ineffective. 

Civil Servant need to learning from politicians the following: 

  • The ability to communicate clearly and effectively – useful for elucidating the vision of the government, or explaining the benefits of a policy decision. Civil servant needs to framing the message to public as a story (just like politicians) to convey it more effectively.
  • Ability to Listen: Politicians are better listeners, which is an art, and can listen for hours. For the ordinary citizen, just being heard is a hugely empowering experience, and bureaucrats must practice this art to make governance sensitive & responsive to people’s needs.
  • Ability to simplify complex ideas, while never losing touch with its core, is another skill successful politicians have mastered. This allows them to get to the root of the problem and propose simple yet grounded solutions.
  • Multi-tasking and time management is the another great quality of a successful politician
  • Having a razor-sharp didactic memory greatly aids the politician. Having a strong memory comes from years of conscious practice and auto-suggestion, which bureaucrats must resort to.
  • Risk-taking ability: Politics and risk-taking are synonymous. With bureaucrats, tales of policy paralysis, and passing the buck, are common, which needs to be changed.
  • Emotionally Intelligence: Another great distinguishing feature of a public representative is her decisively superior interpersonal skills and the ability to provide a human touch, especially to the underprivileged and the marginalised.
  • Devotion to duty: Driven by notions of public good, the ideal politician seeks to bring about transformative changes. Fulfiling the aspirations of an increasingly restless society demands an ever greater devotion to duty. This has to be replicated in civil servants also.


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 Where is Kajaki Dam situated?

  1. Uzbekistan
  2. Tajikistan
  3. China
  4. Afghanistan

Q.2 Consider the following statements regarding Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organization (PESO):

  1. It is an organization under, Ministry of Petroleum and natural gas. 
  2. It administers the usage of explosives & petrol stations in India.

Which of the above is/are correct?

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


1 D
2 C
3 D

Must Read

On restructuring of Tribunals:

The Hindu

On COVID and Women:

The Hindu

On Urban Homelessness:

Deccan Herald

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