9 PM Current Affairs Brief – February 10th, 2020

Arsenic-resistant rice cultivated in West Bengal

News: Researchers in West Bengal have developed and commercialised a rice variety that is resistant to arsenic.


  • The new rice variety is called Muktoshri, also known as IET 21845.
  • It has been jointly developed by the Rice Research Station at Chinsurah, under West Bengal’s Agriculture Department and the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow.

NASA Mysteriously Fixes Voyager-2’s Interstellar Glitch From 11.5 Billion Miles Away

News: NASA has managed to fix its Voyager-2 probe remotely, almost 11.5 billion miles away from its location.


  • Voyager 2 was launched by NASA in 1977.


  • Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to study all four of the solar system’s giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.) at close range.
  • Voyager 2 discovered a 14th moon at Jupiter.
  • Voyager 2 was the first human-made object to fly past Uranus.
  • At Uranus, Voyager 2 discovered 10 new moons and two new rings.
  • Voyager 2 was the first human-made object to fly by Neptune.
  • At Neptune, Voyager 2 discovered five moons, four rings, and a “Great Dark Spot” – a huge spinning storm in the southern atmosphere of Neptune which was about the size of the entire Earth.
  • Second spacecraft to enter interstellar space (November 2019). The first spacecraft to do so was Voyager 1 in 2012.

Explained: Behind Kerala’s ban on CFL and filament bulbs from November 2020

News: Kerala will impose a ban on the sale of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and incandescent (filament) bulbs starting November 2020 as part of sustainable energy policy. It is in line with ‘Filament-free Kerala’ envisaged in 2018 as part of the state’s Urja Kerala mission.


Filament-free Kerala Project

  • Aim: Replace incandescent bulbs and CFLs with the more energy-efficient LED bulbs.
  • The project is implemented by the KSEB and Energy Management Centre, Kerala.

Urja Kerala mission

  • It is an energy generation and conservation program which aims at integrated development of electricity sector in the state.

Five Key projects under the Mission

  1. Soura – to establish 1000 MW of solar power capacity in the state by 2021
  2. Filament free Kerala
  3. Dyuthi 2021 –  aims modernization of transmission structure of power in the state
  4. Transgrid 2.0 – aims at Power Highway – Creating High capacity transmission lines to reduce the transmission losses
  5. eSafe – a massive publicity campaign to sensitize the users of electricity on its safety aspects.

Additional Information

Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA) scheme:

  • Launched by Ministry of Power in 2015
  • It seeks to promote efficient lighting and enhance awareness on using efficient equipment. 
  • It is spearheaded by the Energy Efficiency Services Limited.

Urban Ministry devises smart city plan for top 20 to help bottom 20

News: The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry has adopted a 20-20 formula to implement Smart Cities Mission.


About 20-20 plan

  • 20 best performing cities (according to internal rankings) have been paired up with the 20 bottom cities and they will work as “sister cities”. The pairing has been done based on culture and region.
  • The pair of sister cities will have to sign a MoU before February 20 to ensure expeditious execution of projects and report compliance to the Smart Cities Mission Directorate
  • Sister Cities will undertake a 100-day challenge from the day of its announcement to enhance the ranks and performance of the bottom 20 cities.

Additional Information

Smart Cities Mission:

  • It was launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs.
  • Aim: to develop 100 smart cities across the country by 2022 making them citizen friendly and sustainable.
  • Objective: To promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions

Explained: Lessons from a melting Antarctic glacier

News: A New York University study reported water at just two degrees above freezing point at Thwaites’s “grounding zone” or “grounding line”


About Thwaites Glacier

  • Thwaites Glacier is located in western Antarctica and flows into Pine Island Bay, a part of the Amundsen Sea
  • According to NASA, the Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4% of global sea level rise. It holds enough ice to raise the world ocean by more than 2 feet.
  • It is estimated that it would collapse into the sea in 200-900 years. It is often called the Doomsday Glacier because of the risk it faces and poses.
  • A 2019 NASA-led study had discovered a giant cavity growing at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier
Image result for thwaites glacier antarctica map

Additional Information:

Grounding Line

  • The grounding line is the place below a glacier at which the ice transitions from grounded ice sheet to freely floating ice shelf on the ocean.
  • The location of the line is a pointer to the rate of retreat of a glacier.

Explained: What is storm Ciara, which has hit several countries in Europe

News: a major extra tropical cyclone named “Ciara” has hit northern Europe.


  • Extra tropical cyclone/ temperate cyclone is a type of storm system formed in middle or high latitudes, in regions of large horizontal temperature variations called frontal zones.

The main characteristics of a temperate cyclone are as under:

  1. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winds of a depression (cyclone) circulate round the centre in an anti-clockwise direction, while in the Southern Hemisphere, the winds blow in a clockwise direction.
  2. They originate where warm tropical air meets cold polar air, the former ascending over the latter with the formation of frontal surfaces.
  3. Their general direction of movement is from west to east in the mid-latitudes (westerlies), but specific paths are often curved and sometimes erratic

Formation of a Temperate Cyclone:

Polar Front Theory (Frontal Theory):

  • The polar front theory about the origin of temperate cyclones was put forward by V. Bjerknes in 1918.
  • The period of cyclone from its inception (cyclogenesis) to its termination (frontolysis or occlusion) is called the ‘life cycle of cyclone’ which is completed through six successive stages:
Image result for stages of extratropical cyclone
  1. Stage I: involves the convergence of two air masses of contrasting physical properties and directions.
  2. Stage II: It is called the ‘incipient stage’ during which the warm and cold air masses penetrate into the territories of each other.
  3. Stage III: It is mature when the cyclone is fully developed and isobars become almost circular.
  4. Stage IV: Warm sector is narrowed in extent due to the advancement of cold front at a faster rate than warm front, and cold front comes nearer to warm front.
  5. Stage V: starts with the occlusion of cyclone when the advancing cold front finally overtakes the warm front and occluded front is formed.
  6. Stage VI: warm sector completely disappears, occluded front is eliminated and ultimately cyclone dies out.

Africa Union Summit held at Addis Ababa

News: African Union Summit was held at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of the summit was “Silencing the Guns”


African Union

  • It is a continental body consisting of the 55 member states that make up the countries of the African Continent. It is a permanent observer at the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Establishment: In 2002 through Sirte Declaration.
  • Headquarters: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Objectives:
    • To achieve greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between the African countries and African nations.
    • To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States.
    • To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent.
Image result for african union countries map

Explained:Indian Diaspora

News:The Ministry of External Affairs has informed Lok Sabha that there are over 1.36 crore Indian nationals living abroad.


About Indian Diaspora:

  • Indian Diaspora is a generic term used for addressing people who have migrated from the territories that are currently within the borders of India.

Key takeaways from the Data:

  • The highest number of Indians abroad are living in the United Arab Emirates which comprises about one-fourth of all Indians abroad.
  • The UAE is followed by Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait , Oman, Qatar , Nepal, UK, Singapore and Bahrain.
  • According to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief,India is the world’s top recipient of remittances with its diaspora sending a whopping $79 billion back home in 2018.

Additional information:

About Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana(PKVY):

  • The Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is aimed at skilling Indians seeking employment abroad.
  • It is being implemented by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)  through its training partners and in consultation with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Skill Development Ministry.

About Know India Programme:

  • It is a programme of the Ministry of External Affairs for engagement with Indian origin youth(between 18-30 years) to enhance their awareness about India, its cultural heritage, art and to familiarise them with various aspects of contemporary India.

About Madad Portal:

  • It was launched in 2015.It seeks to help Indian citizens living abroad to file consular grievances online on the services offered by the Indian missions abroad.

SC says can’t issue mandamus for job promotions quota:What is mandamus?

News:The Supreme Court has ruled that reservation in the matter of promotions in public posts is not a fundamental right and the court cannot be compelled to issue mandamus directing state governments to provide reservations.


About Writs:

  • A Writ is a formal written order issued by the Supreme Court or High Court in the name of the sovereign power.
  • Article 32 empowers the Supreme Court and Article 226 empowers the High Courts to issue writs to a person or authority including the government.

Types of Writs:


  • Mandamus is a Latin word which means We Command.It is a command issued by the court to a public official asking him to perform his official duties that he has failed refused to perform. 
  • It can also be issued against any public body, a corporation, an inferior court, tribunal or government for the same purpose.

Limitations of Mandamus:

  • Under Article 361, mandamus cannot be granted against the President or Governor of a State for the exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done by him in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties.
  • It also cannot be issued against a private individual or body except where the State is in collusion with the private party for contravening a provision of the Constitution or a statute.

Other writs:

Habeas Corpus:

  • Habeas Corpus is a Latin term which means you may have the body.It is an order issued by the court to a person who has detained another person to produce the body of the latter before it. 
  • The court then examines the cause and legality of detention.It would set the detained person free, if the detention is found to be illegal.Thus, this writ is a bulwark of individual liberty against arbitrary detention.


  • Prohibition means ‘to forbid’. It is issued by a higher court to a lower court or tribunal to prevent the latter from exceeding its jurisdiction or usurping a jurisdiction that it does not possess.
  • The writ of prohibition can be issued only against judicial and quasi-judicial authorities.It is not available against administrative authorities, legislative bodies and private individuals or bodies.


  • Certiorari means to be certified.It is issued by a higher court to a lower court or tribunal either to transfer a case pending with the latter to itself or to squash the order of the latter in a case. 
  • It is issued on the grounds of excess of jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction or error of law.Thus, unlike prohibition which is only preventive,certiorari is both preventive as well as curative.

Quo Warranto:

  • In the literal sense, it means ‘by what authority or warrant’.It is issued by the court to enquire into the legality of a claim of a person to a public office.Hence,it prevents illegal usurpation of public office by a person.

This Word Means:Fermentophone

News:Recently,Joshua Rosenstock of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute has shown that the chemical processes of fermentation can be used to create spontaneous tunes called Fermentophone


About Fermentation:

  • Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by microorganisms such as bacteria or yeasts which results in some of the most delicious foods and beverages including cheese, chocolate and wine.

About Fermentophone:

  • The Fermentophone is defined as an edible musical instrument made of fermented fruits to showcase how fermentation can make music.

India developing new 200-km strike range Pranash ballistic missile

News:India is working on a new tactical ballistic missile called Pranash missile.


About Pranash missile:

  • Pranash is a surface-to-surface missile being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO).
  • It will be a non-nuclear missile which will be propelled by a single-stage solid propellant engine.
  • The missile is capable of striking targets at a range of 200km.It will be used by both the Indian Air Force and Army for destroying enemy targets at short ranges.

BBIN countries agree on quick implementation of MVA

News:Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal(BBIN) have held a meeting to finalize the Passenger and Cargo Protocols for implementation of the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement(MVA).


About BBIN:

  • Bangladesh,Bhutan,India and Nepal had signed a framework Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA)in June 2015.
  • Aim:Toprovide seamless people-to-people contact and enhance economic interaction by facilitating cross border movement of people and goods.
  • However,Bhutan has not yet ratified the pact for its entry to come into force.But it has provided its consent for the entry into force of the MVA among Bangladesh, India and Nepal without obligation to Bhutan.

Significance of BBIN:

  • It would permit unhindered movement of passenger and cargo vehicles among the four countries. 
  • It will promote safe, economical efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region and will further help each country in creating an institutional mechanism for regional integration.

Guru Ravidas Jayanti being celebrated across country

News:Guru Ravidas Jayanti, the birth anniversary of Sant Ravidas is being celebrated across the country on February 9th,2020.


About Guru Ravidas:

  • Guru Ravidas was a 14th century saint and reformer of the Bhakti movement in North India.
  • He was born as a member of an untouchable leather-working Chamar caste.
  • He gained prominence due to his belief in one God and his unbiased religious poems.
  • He advocated for the removal of social divisions of caste and gender and promoted unity in the pursuit of personal spiritual freedoms.
  • The famous saint poetess,Mirabai was a disciple of Guru Ravidas.
  • Around 41 poems of Guru Ravidas were included in ‘Guru Granth Sahib’, the religious text of the Sikhs.

RBI to release Digital Payment Index by July 2020

News:The Reserve Bank of India announced that it will create a Digital Payment Index by July 2020.


About the Index:

  • Aim:To capture the extent of digitization of monetary payments in the country.
  • The index will have a classification of urban, semi-urban and rural geographies to analyze the kind of digital payments that are gaining acceptance.
  • It will also help the regulator and government to understand the adoption of digital payments in the country.

India-Central Asia Business Council launched in New Delhi

News:The External Affairs minister has recently attended the India-Central Asia Business Council.


About the India-Central Asia Business Council:

  • The Council was formed by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) along with five industry bodies of Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan).
  • The council has decided to establish four working groups including on energy, agro and food processing, tourism and pharmaceuticals to present recommendations for ways to further boost trade.
  • The council also examined the viability of establishing air corridors between and Central Asia to boost trade in perishable goods, agricultural and food products.

Additional information:

About Air Corridors:

  • The proposed air corridors would include regular cargo flights with special clearing and customs facilities to expedite the movement of goods especially fresh fruit and other agricultural produce.
  • It would be similar to the one India had established in 2018 with Afghanistan.
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