DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th August 2023

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  • August 19, 2023
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COVID-19 variant EG.5.1


  • Prelims –Science and Technology

Context: Recently, doctors have urged people to stay vigilant against COVID-19 variant EG.5.1.


  • On August 9, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the latest COVID variant, EG.5.1, unofficially known as, Eris, as a variant of interest.
  • The overall risk evaluation by WHO places this variant at a low level.

About COVID-19 variant EG.5.1.:-

  • Other name:
  • First documented: February 17, 2023.
  • Origin: The majority of these sequences originated from China, followed by the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Canada, and Australia.
  • It is a descendant of Omicron.
  • It is a descendant of the XBB 1.9.2 variant sharing a similar spike amino acid profile with XBB 1.5.
  • 5 carries an additional F456L amino acid mutation in the spike protein, compared to the parent XBB.1.9.2 subvariant and XBB.1.5.
  • Spread: According to the WHO, infections have been reported in 51 countries, including China, the US, the Republic of Korea, Japan, etc.




Q.1) In the context of vaccines manufactured to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, consider the following statements: (2022)

  1. The Serum Institute of India produced a COVID-19 vaccine named Covishield using an mRNA platform.
  2. The Sputnik V vaccine is manufactured using a vector-based platform.
  3. COVAXIN is an inactivated pathogen-based vaccine.

Which of the statements given above is correct?

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

Q.2) Consider the following: (2022)

  1. Aarogya Setu
  2. COWIN
  3. Digi Locker

Which of the above are built on top of open-source digital platforms?

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

Sulina Channel


  • Prelims – Geography

Context: Recently, the Sulina Channel has provided Ukraine with an alternative trade route for its grain after Russia withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal.


  • Russia, targeted ports and grain storage facilities along the Danube River in Ukraine in overnight drone strikes on August 16, 2023.
  • Russia also withdrew from the Black Sea grain deal in July 2023.
  • Amidst this, the Danube Delta has provided Ukraine with an alternative passage in the form of the Sulina Channel to help secure its grain requirements.

About Sulina Channel:-

IMAGE SOURCE: intechopen.com

  • Location Southeastern part of Romania.
  • Length: approximately 64 km long.
  • It connects the Danube River, with the Black Sea. (Loss of the ‘Moskva’ & Black Sea)
  • It provides a direct route for maritime transportation

Historical Background:-

  • The construction of the Sulina Channel dates back to the 19th century.
  • It was developed to improve the navigation of large ships and vessels in and out of the Danube Delta.


  • It is a significant watercourse for shipping and navigation.
  • It is a vital trade route for cargo vessels, commercial ships, and other maritime traffic entering or leaving the Black Sea region.
    • Danube: second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga (Russia).
  • Ukrainian grain ships sail from ports like Izmail and Reni on the Chilia Channel to Sulina.
  • Here the cargo is transferred to larger vessels.
  • These vessels proceed to Constanta, Romania’s major seaport.
  • This route falls under NATO’s surveillance and protection.
  • This ensures a degree of security against Russian aggression.

MUST READ: Russia-Ukraine War



Q.1) Consider the following countries: (2023)

  1. Bulgaria
  2. Czech Republic
  3. Hungary
  4. Latvia
  5. Lithuania
  6. Romania

How many of the above-mentioned countries share a land border with Ukraine?

  1. Only two
  2. Only three
  3. Only four
  4. Only five

Q.2) The term “Levant” often heard in the news roughly corresponds to which of the following regions? (2022)

  1. Region along the eastern Mediterranean shores
  2. The region along North African shores stretches from Egypt to Morocco
  3. The region along the Persian Gulf and Horn of Africa
  4. The entire coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea

Kharif crops


  • Prelims –Economy

Context: According to the recent data released, the sowing area of rice and coarse cereals increased under Kharif crops this year as compared to last year.


  • According to data released by Union Agriculture Ministry today, the sowing area of rice has increased from 345 lakh hectares to over 360 lakh hectares.
  • The sowing area of coarse cereals has also increased from 173 lakh hectares to over 176 lakh hectares.

About Kharif crops:-

  • Based on seasons, crops in India are classified into the following:-
    • Kharif crops
    • Rabi crops
    • Zaid crops
  • Kharif crops, are cultivated and harvested in the monsoon season.
  • Naming: The word “Kharif” is Arabic for autumn, since the season coincides with the beginning of autumn or winter.
  • Sowing: These are sown at the beginning of a monsoon season.
  • Harvesting: and farmers harvest them at the end of the season.
  • Time Period: from June to September.
    • The Kharif season may differ in every state of the country.
  • Features: One of the important features of Kharif crops is that they need a lot of water and hot weather for proper growth.
  • Kharif crops examples: Rice, Cotton, Maize, etc. (UPSC CSE: Government announces hike in MSP for Kharif season)
  • Production:-
    • India is the second-largest producer of rice in the world after China. (Minimum Support Prices)
    • India accounts for approximately 20% of the world’s rice production.

MUST READ: The Millet mission



Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2023)

  1. The Government of India provides Minimum Support Price for niger( Guizotia aoyssinica) seeds.
  2. Niger is cultivated as a Kharif crop.
  3. Some tribal people in India use niger seed oil for cooking.

How many of the above statements are correct?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Q.2) System of Rice Intensification” of cultivation, in which alternate wetting and drying of rice fields is practiced, results in:    (2022)

  1. Reduced seed requirement
  2. Reduced methane production
  3. Reduced electricity consumption

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

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

Gabon’s debt-for-nature swap deal


  • Prelims –Geography/International Relations

Context: Recently, Gabon announced a $500 million debt-for-nature swap deal for marine conservation.


  • Gabon on August 15, 2023, announced a $500 million debt-fornature swap.
  • This is the world’s second-largest deal signed under blue bond to refinance the country’s debt and conserve marine resources.
    • Blue bonds: financial instruments that are designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects.
  • In Africa, it is the largest such deal signed by any country to refinance its debt and conserve marine resources.
  • Debt-for-nature swaps: allow heavily indebted developing countries to seek help from financial institutions in the developed world with paying off their debt if they agree to spend on the conservation of natural resources.
    • Usually banks in developed countries buy the debts of such counties and replace them with new loans which mature later.
    • These have lower interest rates.
  • May 2023: the world’s first and largest debt swap to conserve oceans was signed by

About Gabon:-

IMAGE SOURCE: Britannica

  • Location: Africa.
  • Gabon is a central African country.
  • Water Bodies: It is located on the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Bordering countries: it borders Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo.
  • Population: It is sparsely populated, with a population of 2.3 million (2021) and forests covering 85% of its territory.
  • Resources: It is rich in natural resources.
    • It is the fourth largest oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa. (India-Africa: Challenges & Way Ahead)
    • It posted strong economic growth over the past decade, driven mainly by oil and manganese production.

India- Gabon Relations:-

  • India and Gabon have traditionally enjoyed warm and friendly relations, which are based on shared democratic values and vision.
  • The bilateral relationship has further strengthened in the past few years with the opening of the Gabonese Mission in New Delhi and the exchange of high-level visits.
  • Trade: The bilateral trade between India and Gabon is growing at a healthy rate and has touched 12 billion dollars in 2021-22 from 440 million dollars in 2017-18.

MUST READ: Horn of Africa



Q.1) Which one of the following is a part of the Congo Basin? (2023)

  1. Cameroon
  2. Nigeria
  3. South Sudan
  4. Uganda

Q.2) Very recently, in which of the following countries have lakhs of people either suffered from severe famine/acute malnutrition or died due to starvation caused by war/ethnic conflicts? (2018)

  1. Angola and Zambia
  2. Morocco and Tunisia
  3. Venezuela and Colombia
  4. Yemen and South Sudan

Karnail Singh Isru


  • Prelims –Modern Indian History

Context: Recently, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann paid his tributes to the late activist Karnail Singh Isru.

About Karnail Singh Isru:-

  • Birth: September 9, 1930.
  • Birth Place: Lyallpur district (now in Pakistan).
  • Death: August 15, 1955.
  • He died while participating in the Goa Liberation Movement for the state’s accession to India.

Political Career:-

  • He joined the Communist Party of India (CPI) and became part of the Goa Liberation Movement.
  • Isru left his home to join the movement without informing his family and was part of a group of Satyagarhis led by Sahodrabai Rai.
  • However, upon entering Patradevi village in Goa, Portuguese forces opened fire, and Isru was fatally shot in the chest at the age of 25.
  • Goa was eventually annexed by India in 1961 through Operation Vijay.


  • In Goa, a bronze bust of Isru was installed in a primary school in Patradevi village.
  • The legacy of Karnail Singh Isru serves as a reminder of the sacrifice made for India’s freedom struggle and the Goa Liberation Movement.

 MUST READ: Subhas Chandra Bose



Q.1) Consider the following freedom fighters: (2022)

  1. Barindra Kumar Ghosh
  2. Jogesh Chandra Chatterjee
  3. Rash Behari Bose

Who of the above was/were actively associated with the Ghadar Party?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 only
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 3 only

Q.2) The Ghadr (Ghadar) was a: (2014)

  1. revolutionary association of Indians with headquarters in San Francisco.
  2. nationalist organization operating from Singapore.
  3. militant organization with headquarters in Berlin.
  4. communist movement for India’s freedom with headquarters at Tashkent.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis


  • Prelims – Science and Technology

Context: Recently the suggestion of counting the condition of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as a rare disease was put forth by support groups.


  • Support groups for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis urge that the condition be counted as a rare disease, which they hope will ease eligibility for financial assistance.

About Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis:-

  • It’s also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • It is a neurodegenerative disease. (Rare disease ‘GNB1 Encephalopathy)
  • In this, the motor neurons in the brain and spine are affected.
    • Motor neurons: control an individual’s voluntary functions like walking, chewing, talking, and moving their arms.
    • Neuron: a specialized cell in the nervous system that is responsible for transmitting information through electrical and chemical signals.
  • As these nerve cells progressively die, the muscles dependent on them are unable to function or move, due to which they begin to atrophy or waste away.
  • It is a progressive disease.
    • Once it involves the motor neurons that regulate respiratory muscles, breathing gets affected.

Effect of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis:-

  • The two types of motor neurons are:
  • Upper motor neurons: the motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
    • Their job is to send signals to lower motor neurons.
  • Lower motor neurons: the motor nerve cells in the brain stem (lower part of your brain) and spinal cord.
    • They receive instructions from the upper motor neurons.
    • They then send messages to the muscles telling them to move.
  • Issue caused in the body: As the motor neurons (nerve cells) continue to decline, they can’t send signals to your muscles.
  • Diagnosis: From the onset of symptoms, it takes around 8 to 15 months for diagnosis.
  • Treatment: Currently, there is no effective cure for this disease.

MUST READ: National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021 released



Q.1) In the context of the developments in Bioinformatics, the term ‘transcriptome’, sometimes seen in the news, refers to (2016)

  1. a range of enzymes used in genome editing
  2. the full range of mRNA molecules expressed by an organism
  3. the description of the mechanism of gene expression
  4. a mechanism of genetic mutations taking place in cells

Q.2) The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee is constituted under the (2015)

  1. Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006
  2. Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999
  3. Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
  4. Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972


Ponzi scheme


  • Mains – GS 2 (Governance) and GS 3 (Economy)

Context: Recently Odisha police arrested the India head of Chinese earning application (online Ponzi scam).

About Ponzi scheme:

  • A Ponzi scheme is an investment plan in which the operator or the operating company pays returns to investors from the new capital coming in from new investors instead off the profits of the business.
  • The investors get attracted to these schemes because of the unusually high rate of return offered within shorter time spans compared to other conventional investment options.
    • These schemes start off as legitimate businesses.
    • However, they often fail to sustain them with operating income alone.
  • So, in order to meet the promises made to their investors, the capital gathered from new members gets used up.
  • For example, a hedge fund can turn into a Ponzi scheme if it faces unexpected losses and cannot legitimately meet the desired returns.
  • The promoters then start forging reports instead of admitting their failures.


  • The scheme got its name from Charles Ponzi, a fraudster who duped thousands of investors in 1919.
  • Ponzi promised a 50% return within three months on profits earned from international reply coupons.
  • Due to the fluctuations in postage prices, it was not unusual to find that stamps were pricier in one country than another.
  • Ponzi saw an opportunity in the practice and decided to hire agents to buy cheap international reply coupons on his behalf then send them to him.
  • He exchanged the coupons for stamps, which were more expensive than what the coupon was originally bought for.
  • The stamps were then sold at a higher price to make a profit.
    • This type of trade is known as arbitrage, and it is not illegal.
  • Under the Securities Exchange Company, he invited people to invest in the company, promising 50% returns within 45 days and 100% within 90 days.

Characteristics and concerns of a Ponzi scheme:

  • High investment returns with little or no risk
  • Overly consistent returns: The Ponzi schemes give guaranteed investment opportunity which is suspicious.
  • Unregistered investments: Ponzi schemes typically involve investments that have not been registered with state regulators.
  • Unlicensed sellers: Most Ponzi schemes involve unlicensed individuals or unregistered firms.
  • Secretive or complex strategies: The investments in Ponzi schemes cannot be understood and do not give complete information.
  • Difficulty receiving payment: -promoters routinely encourage participants to “roll over” investments and sometimes promise even higher returns on the amount rolled over.

Safeguards against Ponzi Schemes in India:

  • Ponzi schemes are banned under the Prize Chit and Money Circulation (Banning) Act, 1978.
    • It is a Central Act but the respective State governments are the enforcement agency of this law.
  • These are also dealt with by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
  • The Banning of unregulated Deposit Schemes Act 2019 has been enacted to prevent fraudulent schemes.
  • It provides for severe punishment ranging from 1 year to 10 years and fines ranging from 2 lakh to 50 crore rupees to act as a deterrent.
  • It has adequate provisions for disgorgement or repayment of deposits in cases where deposits have been raised illegally.
  • It mentions that the first claim on the recovered money will be that of depositors.

Way Forward:

There has been attempts to regulate Ponzi schemes have taken the form of SEBI’s ‘collective investment scheme’ regulations. By law, any scheme that amasses more than Rs.100 crore requires SEBI’s permission. The regulations allow SEBI to act where it comes across an illegal collective investment scheme.

Source:  The Hindu

Removing gender stereotypes from the law


  • Mains – GS 1 (Society) and GS 4 (Ethics)

Context: The Supreme Court has recently launched a ‘Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes’.

Highlights of the handbook:

Source:  The Hindu

  • Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes aims to free the judiciary and the legal community from the mechanical application of gender stereotypical language in judgments, orders, and court pleadings.
    • It “aims to assist judges and the legal community in identifying, understanding and combating stereotypes about women”.
  • It contains a glossary of gender-unjust terms and suggests alternative words or phrases which may be used while drafting pleadings as well as orders and judgments.
  • Some of the other terms that the handbook wants courts to avoid using are adulteress, bastard, career woman, carnal intercourse, concubine/keep, housewife, mistress, prostitute, transsexual and unwed mother.

Gender Stereotypes

  • Gender stereotyping refers to the practice of assigning certain traits, roles, behaviors, and characteristics to individuals based on their gender.
  • These stereotypes are often oversimplified and generalized beliefs about how people of different genders should act, think, or behave.
  • Gender stereotyping can affect various aspects of life, including social interactions, education, employment, and even legal and political matters.

Reasons for Gender Stereotypes:

  • Patriarchy: Patriarchy is a social system where men hold more power and privilege than women are.
    • It is a major driver of gender stereotypes, as it reinforces the idea that certain traits, behaviours, and roles are inherently male or female.
  • Societal Norms and Historical Practices: Many societies have ingrained traditional gender roles that have been passed down through generations.
    • These roles often prescribe specific behaviours, responsibilities, and expectations for individuals based on their gender.
  • Traditional Family Structures: The traditional nuclear family model, where men are typically the breadwinners, women are responsible for domestic chores, and caregiving has contributed to gender role expectations.
  • Religious and Cultural Beliefs: Many religious and cultural practices promote specific gender roles and expectations.
    • These beliefs can be very influential in shaping societal attitudes towards what is considered appropriate behaviour for each gender.
  • Media Influence the media, including television, movies, and advertisements, often portrays exaggerated and one-dimensional depictions of gender roles.
    • These portrayals reinforce stereotypes by presenting limited and often unrealistic ideas of how men and women should behave or look.
  • Lack of Representation: When certain genders are underrepresented or misrepresented in various fields, it can perpetuate the idea that they are not capable or suited for those roles.
    • This lack of representation can be due to historical biases and existing stereotypes.
  • Peer Pressure and Socialization: From a young age, individuals are socialized into gender roles by observing how people around them behave and by receiving messages from family, friends, and society at large.
    • This socialization can make it difficult for individuals to break free from these expectations.

Impacts of Gender Stereotyping on Women and Society:

  • Gender stereotypes act as a barrier for girls to access quality education.
    • For example, stereotypes about the role of women as confined to the domestic and family sphere underpin all obstacles to girls’ equal access to quality education.
  • Women are often held back from high status positions in society.
  • The persistent gender gap in education, employment and wages is due in part to gender stereotyping.
  • Harmful gender stereotypes, rigid constructions of femininity and masculinity and stereotyped gender roles are a root cause of gender-based violence against women.
  • Family dynamics: Gender stereotypes can affect family dynamics by influencing expectations placed on individuals within the family unit.
  • Economic disparities: Gender stereotypes often result in unequal pay and disparities in the workforce. Jobs traditionally associated with women tend to be undervalued and underpaid, leading to economic inequality.
  • Societal progress: Gender stereotypes hinder societal progress by limiting innovation and creativity.


  • Deep-rooted Beliefs: Cultural norms and beliefs that have been passed down through generations can be deeply ingrained in society.
    • Challenging these long-standing norms requires a significant cultural shift, which can be slow and met with resistance.
  • Media Influence: The media plays a powerful role in shaping societal attitudes and perceptions.
    • If the media continues to portray narrow and stereotypical gender roles, it can undermine efforts to challenge those stereotypes through other means.
  • Resistance to Change: Traditional mindsets and conservative values can resist efforts to change established gender norms.
  • Lack of Role Models: Limited representation of diverse gender roles and identities in positions of influence and leadership can make it difficult for individuals to envision alternative paths beyond traditional stereotypes.
  • Intersectionality: The intersection of gender with other factors like caste, class, and religion adds complexity to the challenge.
    • Discrimination and stereotypes can be compounded for individuals who face multiple forms of marginalization.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: When implementing gender equality initiatives, it is important to consider cultural nuances and sensitivities.
    • Approaches that are not culturally appropriate might face backlash and resistance.

Steps Taken to address gender stereotypes and promote gender equality:

  • Legal Framework: India has established a legal framework to protect women’s rights and address gender-based discrimination.
  • Education Initiatives: The Indian government has launched campaigns to promote girls’ education and reduce gender biases in educational materials.
    • Efforts are being made to ensure that textbooks and curricula do not perpetuate stereotypes and present a more inclusive view of gender roles.
  • Economic Empowerment: Programs like the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) focus on economic empowerment through self-help groups, skill development, and entrepreneurship training.
    • These initiatives aim to enhance women’s financial independence and decision-making abilities.
  • Reservation Policies: India has implemented reservation policies in various sectors, such as politics and education, to increase the representation of women and marginalized groups.
    • These policies aim to provide more opportunities for women to participate in decision-making processes.

Way Forward:

The handbook calls upon the Indian judiciary to recognise the deep-rooted impact of gender stereotypes and actively work to dismantle them from its thinking, decision-making, and writing. As pointed out by the Chief Justice of India, “even when the use of stereotypes does not alter the outcome of a case, stereotypical language may reinforce ideas contrary to our constitutional ethos”.

Source: The Hindu

Practice MCQs

Daily Practice MCQs

Q1) Consider the following pairs:

Crop name Type
1.Maize Kharif crops
2.Oat Rabi crops
3.Soybean Kharif crops

How many of the above pairs are correctly matched?

  1. Only one
  2. Only two
  3. All three
  4. None

Q2) Consider the following statements


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive disease.


It’s also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Which one of the following is correct in respect of the above statements?

  1. Both Statement-I and Statement-II are correct and Statement-II is the correct explanation for Statement-I
  2. Both Statement-I and Statement-II are correct and Statement-II is not the correct explanation for Statement-I
  3. Statement-I is correct but Statement II is incorrect
  4. Statement-I is incorrect but Statement II is correct

Q3) Consider the following statements


COVID-19 variant EG.5.1 is a descendant of the Delta variant.


The overall risk evaluation by WHO places this variant at a high-risk level.

Which one of the following is correct in respect of the above statements?

  1. Both Statement-I and Statement-II are correct and Statement-II is the correct explanation for Statement-I
  2. Both Statement-I and Statement-II are correct and Statement-II is not the correct explanation for Statement-I
  3. Statement-I is correct but Statement II is incorrect
  4. Statement-I is incorrect but Statement II is correct

Mains Practice Questions

Q.1) What are Ponzi schemes? Examine why they are considered as such a big menace in India? (250 words)

Q.2) What are the continued challenges for women in India against time and space? (250 words)

Comment the answers to the above questions in the comment section below!!

ANSWERS FOR ’ 19th August 2023 – Daily Practice MCQs’ will be updated along with tomorrow’s Daily Current Affairs.st

ANSWERS FOR 18th August – Daily Practice MCQs

Answers- Daily Practice MCQs

Q.1) – a

Q.2) – c 

Q.3) – d

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