DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st February 2022

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  • February 22, 2022
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Permanent Indus Commission

Part of: Prelims and GS-II International relations 

Context: A 10-member Indian delegation will visit Pakistan for the annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission.

  • For the first time, three women officers will also be part of the Indian delegation.

Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)

  • Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) was signed by India and Pakistan in 1960. 
  • Under the treaty, India has full use of the three “eastern” rivers (Beas, Ravi, Sutlej), while Pakistan has control over the three “western” rivers (Indus, Chenab, Jhelum), although India is given rights to use these partially as well for certain purposes. 

Permanent Indus Commission (PIC)

  • PIC is a bilateral commission consisting of officials from India and Pakistan.
  • Objective: To implement and manage the goals, objectives and outlines of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) which was signed in kuSeptember 1960 with World Bank standing guarantee for any dispute resolution.

News Source: TH

Synthetic biology

Part of: Prelims and GS-III  Science and technology 

Context: The 70-page ‘compilation’ document was recently released by the central government.

  • The government is working on a national policy on synthetic biology which is an emerging science that deals with engineering life forms for a wide range of applications from making designer medicines to foods.

Key takeaways 

  • The document lays out the state of synthetic biology internationally with respect to research and development and the involvement of the private sector, globally, in dealing with synthetic biology.
  • As part of the 12th Five-Year Plan, India had set up a task force on systems biology and synthetic biology research in 2011.
    • This body underlined the potential benefits from synthetic biotechnology in biofuels, bioremediation, biosensors, food and health.
    • It also strongly recommended for this technology.
  • However, Parliament is yet to clear the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill, 2013, that could have included framework for synthetic biology. 

Synthetic biology

  • Synthetic biology refers to the science of using genetic sequencing, editing, and modification to create unnatural organisms or organic molecules that can function in living systems.
  • It enables scientists to design and synthesise new sequences of DNA from scratch.
  • It is also seen as one of the top 10 breakthrough technologies as part of the “new industrial revolution” that are “most likely to change the world”.
  • Regulation of both the benefits and risks is important.
  • The current laws and regulations framework often fail to fully adapt to the evolving possibilities of synthetic biology.
  • Instances of application: use of gene editing systems such as CRISPR that allow defective genes in animals, plants and even people to be silenced, or changed, and control biological outcomes.

News Source: TH

Active Galactic Nuclei

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Space 

Context: A roughly dough-nut-shaped cloud of cosmic dust and gas covering a huge black hole at the center of a galaxy Messier 77, which is similar in size to the Milky Way, was recently observed.

  • The observation is providing scientists with new clarity about the universe’s most energetic objects.

Key takeaways 

  • Their recent observations lend support to predictions made three decades ago about “active galactic nuclei”.
    • It also provided strong support for the “unified model” of active galactic nuclei. 
    • This model holds that all active galactic nuclei are basically the same but that some have different properties.

Active galactic nuclei

  • These are places at the centres of many large galaxies that have tremendous luminosity which sometimes outshine all of a galaxy’s billions of stars combined and produce the universe’s most energetic outbursts.
  • The energy arises from gas violently falling into a supermassive black hole that is surrounded by a cloud of tiny particles of rock and soot along with mostly hydrogen gas.

Black holes

  • Black holes are extraordinarily dense objects possessing gravitational pulls so powerful even light cannot escape them. 
  • Supermassive black holes, which reside at the centre of many galaxies, including Milky Way, are the largest of them.

Messier 77

  • Messier 77, also called NGC 1068 or the Squid Galaxy, is located 47 million light years (9.5 trillion km) from the Earth in the constellation Cetus. 
  • Its supermassive black hole has a mass roughly 10 million times greater than our sun.

News Source: TH

(News from PIB)

Lavender Cultivation as a part of Purple Revolution

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-2: Government policies and intervention

In News: ‘Lavender Cultivation’ under CSIR-IIIM’s Aroma Mission to be started in Ramban as a part of Purple Revolution.

Aroma Mission

  • The Aroma Mission is envisaged to bring transformative change in the aroma sector through desired interventions in the areas of agriculture, processing and product development for fuelling the growth of aroma industry and rural employment.
  • Objectives: 
    • To promote the cultivation of aromatic crops for essential oils.
    • To enable Indian farmers and the aroma industry to become global leaders.
    • To provide benefits to the farmers in achieving higher profits, utilization of waste lands and protection of their crops from wild and grazing animals.
    • Provided employment to women farmers
  • Nodal Agencies: CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CSIR-CIMAP), Lucknow.
  • Aromatic Plants include 
    • Lavender
    • Damask rose
    • Mushk bala, etc.
  • Projects include
    • Lavender oil which sells for at least Rs. 10,000 per litre
    • Lavender water, which separates from lavender oil, is used to make incense sticks.
    • Hydrosol, which is formed after distillation from the flowers, is used to make soaps and room fresheners.
    • Coverage: The project assured benefits to the growers of Vidarbha, Bundelkhand, Gujarat, Marathwada, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and other states where farmers are exposed to frequent episodes of weather extremes and account for maximum suicides.
  • Outcomes:
    • Bring about 5500 ha of additional area under captive cultivation aromatic cash crops particularly targeting rain-fed /degraded land across the country
    • Provide technical and infrastructural support for distillation and values-addition to farmers/growers all over the country
    • Enabling effective buy-back mechanisms to assure remunerative prices to the farmers/growers
    • Value-addition to essential oils and aroma ingredients for their integration in global trade and economy’


  • During Phase-I CSIR helped cultivation on 6000 hectares of land and covered 46 Aspirational districts across the country. More than 44,000 persons have been trained and several crores of farmers’ revenue generated. 
  • In the second Phase of Aroma Mission, it is proposed to engage over 45,000 skilled human resources with the aim of benefitting more than 75,000 farming families across the country.

News Source: PIB

FPOs to Play Key Role in Making India Millet Hub of the World

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-2: Government policies and intervention

Context: The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution sponsored by India and supported by over 70 nations declaring 2023 as the ‘International Year of Millets’, aimed at raising awareness about the health benefits of the grain and its suitability for cultivation under changing climatic conditions.

About Millets

  • Millets are coarse grains and a repository of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. 
  • They include jowar (sorghum), ragi (finger millet), korra (foxtail millet), arke (kodo millet), sama (little millet), bajra (pearl millet), chena/barr (proso millet) and sanwa (barnyard millet).
  • Millets were one of the oldest foods known to humans. But they were discarded in favour of wheat and rice with urbanization and industrialization
  • India is their largest global producer, with a 41% market share, and a compound annual growth rate of 4.5% is projected for the global millet market in the coming decade. 

What are their nutritional benefits?

  • Millets are extremely nutritious and good for health and they also need less water and can stored for years, as they have a long shelf life. Millets make for a perfect healthy meal. They are loaded with high amount of starch and proteins, which can be beneficial, if added to the daily diet.
  • These little grains are a powerhouse of nutrition, which help in improving heart health and can effectively reduce coronary blockage. It is enriched with the goodness of magnesium, which can effectively reduce blood pressure and risk of stroke and heart attacks.
  • Millets are a rich source of magnesium, which help in stimulating the level of insulin, thereby increasing the efficiency of glucose receptors in the body, which further helps in maintaining a healthy balance of sugar level in the body.
  • Rich in fibre, millets make for a healthy cereal, which can help in digestion and can relieve bowel issues.
  • Millets are loaded with the components such as curcumin, ellagic acid, Quercetin and catechins, which further help in removing foreign agents and free radicals and balance the enzymatic reactions in the body. These can naturally detoxify the blood.

What are the advantages with Millets?

1. Climate Resilience

  • Being hardy crops, they can withstand extreme temperatures, floods and droughts. 
  • They also help mitigate the effects of climate change through their low carbon footprint of 3,218-kg CO2 equivalent per hectare, as compared to wheat and rice, with 3,968kg and 3,401kg, respectively, on the same measure.

2. Restoration of ecosystems and sustainability: 

  • Land degradation has been a major problem in India, causing massive economic losses year after year. Drought-tolerant crops, like millets, with low dependence on chemical inputs would put far less pressure on ecosystems.
  • The inter-cropping of millets with other crops is especially beneficial because the fibrous roots of millet plants help in improving soil quality, keep water run-off in check and aid soil conservation in erosion-prone areas, thereby restoring natural ecosystems.

3. Biofuel and Ethanol Blending

  • In June 2021, government set a target of achieving 20% ethanol blending with petrol by 2025.
  • Most bio-ethanol in India is produced using sugar molasses and maize. 
  • However, a study conducted among farmers in Madhya Pradesh showed that bio-ethanol can be created using sorghum (jowar) and pearl millet (bajra), and that this fuel could bring down carbon emissions by about half.
  • Estimates also suggest that millets can deliver greater returns than maize, while using 40% less energy in processing. Millets also offer a significant cost advantage over maize as a feedstock for bio-ethanol production.

4. A cultural connection: 

  • The cultivation of millets is deep-rooted in Indian culture. 
  • Organizations like Deccan Development Society have formed women’s collectives in Telangana and are promoting millets through a culture-centric approach. 
  • Such crop sensitization has filtered into urban settings too. In 2018, the #LetsMilletCampaign in Bengaluru saw the use of millets in dishes such as risotto and pizza by restaurateurs. 

5. Helps address Sustainable DGs: 

  • Millets can play a role in India’s sustainability policy interventions. Contemporary research developments have shed light on the influence of millets on energy optimization, climate resilience and ecosystem restoration. 
  • Millet farming has led to women’s empowerment, too. The Odisha Millet Mission, for example, saw 7.2 million women emerge as ‘agri-preneurs’.

What are the concerns with Millets growth?

  • A rise in incomes and urbanization has reduced the demand for millets
  • Inadequate government policies.
  • Unjust pricing for farmers due to intermediaries.
  • Lack of input subsidies and price incentives.
  • Procurement and subsidised supply of rice & wheat through the PDS has made farmers shift from millets to these crops.
  • Millets being used for various purposes other than for consumption. 

News Source: PIB

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Part of: GS-1: Modern Indian History; Important personalities

In News: 

  • Born on 19th February, 1630 at Shivneri Fort in District Pune; born to Shahaji Bhonsle, a Maratha general who held the jagirs of Pune and Supe under the Bijapur Sultanate and Jijabai, a pious woman whose religious qualities had a profound influence on him.
  • 1645: Got control of the Torna Fort which was under Bijapur. Also, acquired the Kondana Fort. Both these forts were under Adil Shah of Bijapur.
  • Battle of Pratapgarh in 1659: Shivaji’s forces vanquished the Bijapur Sultanate’s army
  • Aurangzeb sent Raja jai Singh of Amber, who besieged Purander fort →  Treaty of Purander, 1665
    • Shivaji surrendered 23 / 35 forts to Mughals and said to be loyal to Mughal empire
    • It was agreed that Shivaji would meet Aurangzeb at Agra. Shivaji also agreed to send his son Sambhaji as well.
    • At Agra in 1666, when Shivaji went to meet the Mughal emperor, the Maratha warrior felt he was insulted by Aurangzeb and stormed out of the court. He was arrested and kept prisoner. The clever escape of Shivaji and his son from imprisonment in disguise out of Agra is a legendary tale even today.
  • In 1674, Shivaji recaptured all his lost territory & crowned himself at Raigarh assuming the title of Chhtrapati, Shakakarta, Kshatriya Kulavantas and Haindava Dharmodhhaarak.
  • 3 April 1680 at Raigad: Death
  • Shivaji: Considered a master of the guerrilla warfare
  • Kanhoji Angre, his admiral, is called the ‘Father of Indian Navy’.


  • Battle of Pratapgad, 1659: Fought at the fort of Pratapgad near the town of Satara, Maharashtra, between the forces of the Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Adilshahi general Afzal Khan.
  • Battle of Pavan Khind, 1660: Fought at a mountain pass in the vicinity of fort Vishalgad, near the city of Kolhapur, Maharashtra, between the Maratha Sardar Baji Prabhu Deshpande and Siddi Masud of Adilshahi.
  • Sacking of Surat, 1664: Fought near the city of Surat, Gujarat, between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Inayat Khan, a Mughal captain.
  • Battle of Sinhagad, 1670: Fought on the fort of Sinhagad near the city of Pune, Maharashtra between Tanaji Malusare, a commander of Maratha ruler Shivaji Maharaj and Udaybhan Rathod, fortkeeper under Jai Singh I who was a Mughal Army Chief.
  • Battle of Kalyan, 1682-83: Bahadur Khan of the Mughal Empire defeated the Maratha army and took over Kalyan.
  • Battle of Sangamner, 1679: Fought between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire. This was the last battle in which the Maratha King Shivaji fought.


International Mother Language Day: 21st February every year, to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. The theme of 2022 is: “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities”

Host for 2023 International Olympic Committee Session: India

Devi Ahiliyabai Holker

  • The hereditary noble Queen of the Maratha Empire, India.
  • Khanderao Holkar, Ahilyabai’s husband, was killed at the Battle of Kumher in 1754. 
  • Her father-in-law, Malhar Rao Holkar, died twelve years later, after which she took over the affairs of the Holkar fief a year later. She attempted to defend her homeland against looting invaders and personally led armies into battle.
  • Ahilyabai was a great pioneer and builder of Hindu temples and built hundreds of temples and Dharmashalas throughout India. Her greatest achievement was to rebuild the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in 1776, which was dedicated to Shiva; the presiding deity of the city of Varanasi, one of the holiest Hindu sites of pilgrimage that had been plundered, desecrated, demolished & converted into Gyanvapi Mosque on the orders of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1669.
  • Devi Ahilyabai Holkar Award: for Best Private Sector Organization/Public Sector Undertaking in promoting the well-being and welfare of women.

Public Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure 

Context: The Government of India has undertaken multiple initiatives to promote the manufacturing and adoption of electric vehicles in the country. With the considerable expansion in the public EV charging infrastructure, the electric vehicles have started penetrating the Indian market.

  • Efforts by government results in 2.5 times increase in charging stations in 9 mega cities in last four months
  • Additional installation of 678 public EV charging stations between October 2021 to January 2022 in these 9 cities
  • Currently 9 cities account for about 940 of India’s 1640 public EV chargers
  • 22,000 EV charging stations to be set up by Oil Marketing Companies across the country in prominent cities and highways

(Mains Focus)


  • GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

CEPA between India and the UAE

Context: On February 18, 2022, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) inked a trade pact, Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) during a virtual summit led by Indian PM and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

What is the India-UAE CEPA about? 

  • The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is a bilateral trade pact that will cover over a period of time 90% of India’s exports. 
  • This will include leather, processed agriculture and dairy products, handicrafts, gems and jewellery, furniture, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, engineering products and nearly the entire spectrum of items produced by the Indian economy. 
  • Apart from the goods sector, it will also include the services sector. The services sector is expected to boom by $15 billion in the coming five years.
  • The deal has strong anti-dumping measures integrated into it which will prevent any country from dumping its products into the Indian market by using the route of the UAE. 
  • The document has very strong rules of origin clauses that will disallow any country to export goods to India taking advantage of relaxed tariff on the Indian side. It India wants 40% value addition into a product from a third country before it could be exported to India through UAE.

How will the trade pact benefit India-UAE economic ties? 

  • India-UAE economic ties are marked by the flow of remittances from the oil rich Gulf country to India. 
  • The country hosts at least 3 million Indians who work in diverse sectors of the economy of the Emirates and provides it with vital manpower support at all levels. 
  • In 2019, India received $83 billion from the Gulf region. The figure was marginally affected in 2020 when large number of Indian workers returned home because of pandemic related economic distress.
  • The India-UAE economic relation at present is shaped by the remittances that remain much greater than the $60 billion bilateral trade
  • The remittances are expected to rise with full economic recovery of the UAE’s post-pandemic economy. The FTA will also increase remittances as Indian investments in UAE will bring Indian employees into the Gulf country.

Why did PM Modi refer to the western Quad? 

  • The western Quad consisting of Israel, India, UAE and the United States has been a regional factor ever since it was convened in October 2021 which was followed by a ministerial meeting of the four countries. 
  • The western quad is marked by the diplomatic breakthroughs between Israel and the UAE which recently hosted Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. 
  • It is understood that UAE as part of its post pandemic recovery plans is planning to revitalise its trade links with the region from the Mediterranean coast to Turkey on one hand and India and South Asia on the other. 
  • USA and the UAE are among the biggest trading partners of India, and Israel is among the top technology support providers for India. All four are connected by currents of security and trade. 

What will be the immediate outputs of the FTA?  

  • The FTA will allow goods from UAE, especially the famed dates of UAE to enter India. 
  • Most of the Indian exports similarly will benefit from the “zero tariff” that UAE is expected to grant. 
  • This move will allow increased visibility of Indian products in the UAE. The reduction in tariff for Indian jewellery and gems will allow it to enter the UAE in greater volume. 

How is the CEPA different from other such trade agreements India is negotiating with countries like Australia? 

  • Most of the other agreements are expected to be “early harvest agreements” or interim agreements till both sides conclude the final agreement in a comprehensive manner. 
  • The India-UAE FTA however is comprehensive in nature to highlight the vast scope of items that will come under it. 
  • Early harvest agreements are expected to include goods and products. But the CEPA will have a greater spread of both goods as well as services. 

When will the agreement come into effect? 

  • Though the signing of the agreement took place on February 18, it is not likely to come into force immediately as UAE has not yet completed the necessary official procedures on its end. 
  • This process will take 60 days at least and India has expressed hope that CEPA will be in the phase of implementation after May 1. 

Connecting the dots:


  • GS-2: Judiciary

Sealed Cover Jurisprudence

Context: Recently, Kerala High Court’s verdict upheld the transmission ban on Malayalam news channel MediaOne, imposed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) denied the channel security clearance. 

  • The High Court’s decision was based entirely on assessment of documents presented by the MHA in a sealed cover, “the contents of which were not shared” with the news channel.

What is sealed cover jurisprudence?  

  • It is a practice used by the Supreme Court and sometimes lower courts, of asking for or accepting information from government agencies in sealed envelopes that can only be accessed by judges. 
  • While a specific law does not define the doctrine of sealed cover, the Supreme Court derives its power to use it from Rule 7 of order XIII of the Supreme Court Rules and Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. 
  • It is stated under the said rule that if the Chief Justice or court directs certain information to be kept under sealed cover, no party would be allowed access to the contents of such information. 
  • It also mentions that information can be kept confidential if its publication is not considered to be in the interest of the public. 
  • As for the Evidence Act, official unpublished documents relating to state affairs are protected and a public officer cannot be compelled to disclose such documents. 
  • Other instances where information may be sought in secrecy or confidence is when its publication impedes an ongoing investigation, such as details which are part of the police’s case diary; or breaches the privacy of an individual. 

When has it been done in the past?  

  • Sealed cover jurisprudence has been frequently employed by courts in the recent past. 
  • In the case pertaining to the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal, a Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi in 2018, had asked the Centre to submit details related to deal’s decision making and pricing in a sealed cover. 
    • This was done as the Centre had contended that such details were subject to the Official Secrets Act and Secrecy clauses in the deal. 
  • In the matters related to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, the supreme court mandated coordinator of the NRC, Prateek Hajela, was asked by the apex court to submit period reports in sealed cover, which could neither be accessed by the government nor the petitioners. 
  • In the case where CBI’s former director Alok Verma and the national agency’s former special director Rakesh Asthana had made counter allegations of corruption against one another, the Supreme Court had asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to submit its preliminary report in a sealed cover. 
  • In the 2014 BCCI reforms case, the probe committee of the cricket body had submitted its report to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope, asking it not to make public the names of nine cricketers who were suspected of a match and spot fixing scam. 
  • In the Bhima Koregaon case, in which activists were arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Supreme Court had relied on information submitted by the Maharashtra police in a sealed cover. The police had stated that this information could not be disclosed to the accused as it would impede the ongoing investigation. 
  • Information submitted by state agencies in a sealed cover was also relied upon in the 2G and coal scam cases, the Ramjanmabhoomi case, the high-profile case pertaining to the death of judge BH Loya, as well as the 2019 case pertaining to the release of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biopic around the national elections. 

What is the criticism and what do the courts say?  

  • Critics of this practice contend that it is not favorable to the principles of transparency and accountability of the Indian justice system, standing in contrast to the idea of an open court, where decisions can be subjected to public scrutiny . 
  • It is also said to enlarge the scope for arbitrariness in court decisions, as judges are supposed to lay down reasoning for their decisions, but this cannot be done when they are based upon information submitted confidentially. 
  • It is considered as the violation of rights to fair adjudication whereby the applicant does not get to know the contents of the sealed cover.
  • Basing the verdict on sealed or secret documents went against “the basic principles of natural justice”. The said principle mandates that in any process of adjudication, especially one that involves fundamental rights, evidence “must be shared with both parties to the dispute.”
  • What is further contested is whether the state should be granted such a privilege to submit information in secrecy, when existing provisions like in-camera hearings already provide sufficient protection to sensitive information. 
  • Besides, it is argued that not providing access to such documents to the accused parties obstructs their passage to a fair trial and adjudication
    • In the 2019 judgment in the case of P Gopalakrishnan V. The State of Kerala, the Supreme Court had said that disclosure of documents to the accused is constitutionally mandated, even if the investigation is ongoing and said documents may lead to breakthrough in the investigation. 
    • In the INX Media case in 2019, while granting bail to Congress leader P. Chidambaram, a Bench of the Supreme Court had criticised the Delhi High Court for basing its decision to deny bail on documents submitted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a sealed cover. 

Connecting the dots:


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Q.1 Consider the following statements:

  1. Messier 77 is located 47 million light years (9.5 trillion km) from the Earth in the constellation Cetus. 
  2. Active galactic nuclei are places at the centres of many large galaxies that have tremendous luminosity which sometimes outshine all of a galaxy’s billions of stars combined.

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.2 Consider the following statements regarding Synthetic biology:

  1. Synthetic biology refers to the science of using genetic sequencing, editing, and modification to create unnatural organisms or organic molecules that can function in living systems.
  2. It enables scientists to design and synthesise new sequences of DNA from scratch.

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 Which of the following is not the tributary of the Indus River?

  1. Shyok
  2. Gilgit
  3. Zaskar
  4. Luni


1 C
2 C
3 D

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