9 PM Current Affairs Brief – January 14th, 2020

Maharashtra, Gujarat lag behind in compensation for sewer deaths

News: According to data from the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), of the 926 sewer deaths, families of 172 victims are yet to receive compensation. Gujarat and Maharashtra lag behind the most in compensation for sewer deaths.


Manual scavenging: It is the practice of manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or handling human excreta.

Indian Government efforts to end Manual Scavenging:

  • Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013
    • It seeks to eliminate insanitary latrines and prohibit employment as manual scavengers. It also prohibits hazardous manual cleaning of sewer and septic tanks.
    • It made the states responsible for identifying and rehabilitating manual scavengers by providing them training, giving assistance, loans and even houses.
  • Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS)
    • It aims to rehabilitate manual scavengers and their dependents in alternative occupations, in a time bound manner.
  • Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: It has fourfold aim:
    • To eliminate open defecation
    • To eradicate manual scavenging
    • To bring in modern and scientific municipal solid waste management
    • Behavioural change regarding healthy sanitation practices

Additional Information

National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK)

  • It acts as a Non-Statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment whose tenure is extended from time to time through Government Resolutions.


  • Recommend government regarding specific programmes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis
  • Monitor the implementation of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

Govt publishes policy for treatment of rare diseases

News: Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare published a national policy for treatment of rare diseases, listing 450 diseases as rare.


Rare Disease: It is a health condition of low prevalence that affects a small number of people compared with other prevalent diseases in the general population. Example: Haemophilia, Thalassemia, Sickle cell anaemia, auto-immune diseases etc.

National Policy for Treatment of Rare Diseases

Three Categories of Rare Diseases:

  1. diseases requiring one-time curative treatment,
  2. diseases which need long-term treatment but the cost is low, and
  3. diseases that require life-long treatment and the cost is high

Key measures suggested

  • Arriving at a definition of rare diseases suited to India
  • Creating a patient registry for rare diseases housed in ICMR
  • Strengthen laboratory networks for diagnosis of rare diseases
  • Centre to provide assistance of Rs 15 lakh to patients suffering from rare diseases that require one-time curative treatment under the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi scheme

Additional Information

Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi scheme: It provides financial assistance to patients, living below poverty line and who are suffering from major life threatening diseases, to receive medical treatment.

Transgender Persons Act comes into effect

News: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment notified Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019


Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019

Aim: Social, economic and educational empowerment of transgender persons.

Definition of Transgender: Those whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth.

Key Provisions:

  1. Right to Self-Identification: Person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.
  2. Acquiring Certificate: transgender persons need to go through a district magistrate and district screening committee to get certified as a transpersons
  3. Prohibition of Discrimination: No discrimination against transgender persons in accessing education, employment and healthcare
  4. National Council for Transgender persons (NCT): It would advise the central government on related policies and legislation and also act as a centre for grievance redressal
  5. Responsibilities of Government:
  6. Provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres
  7. Provide, through an insurance scheme, medical expenses for sex reassignment surgery, hormonal therapy, laser therapy or any such health related expenses
  8. Take steps for rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training and self-employment
  9. Create transgender sensitive schemes, and promote their inclusion in cultural activities

Additional Information:

  1. NALSA Judgement, 2014: The Supreme Court in National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India & Ors. upheld that transgenders should be treated as a third gender for the purpose of safeguarding their fundamental rights.
  2. Section 377 Judgement, 2018: SC in Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India case decriminalised homosexuality by partially striking down the certain provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  3. Marriage between Man and Trans woman: In April 2019, Madras High Court upheld that the marriage solemnised between a man and a trans woman was valid under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and ordered its registration. This is first time in India where marriage between man and Trans woman has been legally recognised.

Isro’s communication satellite GSAT-30 to launch on Jan 17 from French territory Ariane

News: ISRO will launch GSAT-30 onboard Ariane-5 launch vehicle (VA 251) from French Guiana on January 17


About GSAT-30

  • It has designed and manufactured by the Indian Space Research Organisation
  • It is an operational communication satellite for DTH, television uplink and VSAT services.
  • It will replace the INSAT-4A satellite currently used by cable operators to broadcast their channel overseas.
  • GSAT-30 has a mission life of 15 years


  • High-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services to the mainland and India’s islands.
  • Extended coverage in the C-band, which helps television broadcasters beam their programs across India, Gulf countries, number of Asian countries and Australia
  • Has one Ku-band beacon downlink signal for ground tracking purposes.

Additional Information:

Communication Satellites of India: GSAT series, INSAT series, EDUSAT, HAMSAT, KALPANA-1

Private property is a human right: Supreme Court

News: In Vidaya Devi vs. The State of Himachal Pradesh case, the Supreme Court has held that in a welfare state, right to property is a human right


Highlights of SC Judgement

  • The state cannot trespass into the private property of a citizen and then claim ownership of the land in the name of ‘adverse possession’
  • Grabbing private land and then claiming it as its own makes the state an encroacher.
  • State cannot dispossess a citizen of his property except in accordance with the procedure established by law.

Additional Information:

  • Article 19(1) (f) guaranteed to every citizen the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property. 
  • Article 31 guaranteed every person, both citizens and non-citizens, the right against deprivation of his/her property. It provided that no person shall be deprived of his property except by authority of the law. 
  • Article 31 empowered the State to acquire or requisite the property of a person for public purpose and after providing adequate compensation.
  • The Constitution (forty fourth amendment) Act, 1978 abolished the right to property as a fundamental right. 
    • It repealed article 19(1) (f) and article 31. 
    • It inserted a new article 300A in part XII with the label ‘Right to property’. Now article 300A provides that no person shall be deprived of his property except by authority of the law
    • Right to property is only a legal and constitutional right and not a fundamental right
  • Though the fundamental right to property under part III has been abolished, part III still contains provisions which guarantees the right to compensation when the State acquires private property
    • Article 30: when the State acquires the property of a minority educational institution
    • Article 31A: It provides that the State should pay adequate compensation at market value when the State acquires any land held by a person while the land held by the person is used for personal cultivation and the size of the land is within statutory ceiling limit

Statue of Unity finds place in ‘8 Wonders of SCO’

News:The Statue of Unity has been included in the 8 wonders of Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO).


About 8 Wonders of SCO:The Eight Wonders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO) project embraces eight unique archeological and historical monuments of the SCO member states.These eight sites are:

  • Statue of Unity in India 
  • Daming Palace in China 
  • Navruz Palace in Tajikistan 
  • Mughals Heritage in Pakistan
  • Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan
  • Po-i-Kalan complex in Uzbekistan
  • Tamgaly Gorge in Kazakhstan
  • Golden Ring of Russia.

About Statue of Unity:

  • The Statue of Unity is a memorial to Sardar Vallabhai Patel.It was inaugurated on 31st October 2018 in commemoration to Sardar Patel on his 143rd birth anniversary.
  • It is situated in the Kevadia town,Narmada district Gujarat. It has been built on the Sadhu Bet Island, on the Narmada River.
  • It is the tallest statue in the world with a height of 182 mts.

Additional information:

About Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO):

  • The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) also known as the Shanghai Pact is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation.
  • It was was founded in 2001 in Shanghai.The Secretariat of SCO is based in Beijing,China.
  • The members of the SCO are China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Govt. launches road accident database

News:Central Government has launched a central accident database called Integrated Road Accident Database(IRAD).


About the IRAD:

  • The Integrated Road Accident Database(IRAD) has been developed by the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras(IIT-M) and will be implemented by the National Informatics Centre(NIC).
  • The database will help in analysing causes of road crashes and in devising safety interventions to reduce such accidents in the country.
  • The system will be first piloted in the six States with highest fatalities from road crashes namely Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • The IRAD will then be improved on the basis of the learning from the trial following which it will be rolled out across the country.

Working of IRAD:

  • The IRAD mobile application will enable police personnel to enter details about a road accident, along with photos and videos, following which a unique ID will be created for the incident.
  • Subsequently, an engineer from the Public Works Department or the local body will receive an alert on his mobile device. He or she will then visit the accident site, examine it, and feed the required details, such as the road design.
  • Data thus collected will be analysed by a team at IIT-M, which will then suggest if corrective measures in road design need to be taken.
  • Road users will also be able to upload data on road accidents on a separate mobile application, which is expected to go live from 1st April 2020.

Additional information:

Road accidents in India:

  • According to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways data,road accidents in India has killed around 1.5 lakh people every year between 2015 and 2017.
  • This works out to a daily average of 400 or more deaths in each of the three years.
  • Among states,Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of deaths in road accidents in each of the three years followed by Tamil Nadu.

Explained: What is the commissionerate system

News:Recently,the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has approved the commissionerate system of policing for state capital Lucknow, and Noida.



  • Under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution,‘Police’ is under the State list, meaning individual states typically legislate and exercise control over this subject. 
  • In the arrangement in force at the district level,a ‘dual system’ of control exists in which the Superintendent of Police(SP) has to work with the District Magistrate(DM) for supervising police administration.
  • However,at the metropolitan level, many states have replaced the dual system with the commissionerate system as it is supposed to allow for faster decision-making to solve complex urban-centric issues.

About the commissionerate system:

  • In the commissionerate system,the Commissioner of Police(CP) is the head of a unified police command structure and is responsible for the force in the city, and is accountable to the state government. 
  • The office also has magisterial powers including those related to regulation, control and licensing.
  • The CP is usually drawn from the Deputy Inspector General rank or above, and is assisted by Special/Joint/Additional/Deputy Commissioners.

Where is the system in force?

  • In 1983,the sixth National Police Commission report recommended the introduction of a police commissionerate system in cities with a population of 5 lakh and above as well as in places having special conditions.
  • Initially,only four cities had the system namely Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai.But by 2016,53 cities had implemented this system.

Home minister chairs sixth meeting of Island Development Agency 

News:Union home minister has chaired the sixth meeting of the Island Development Agency(IDA).


Key takeaways from the meeting:

  • The meeting reviewed the work progress of the programme “Holistic Development of Islands”.
  • Government has identified 16 islands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and 10 in Lakshadweep for holistic development of Islands.
  • The development plan focuses on the creation of jobs for the islanders through tourism promotion as well as export of seafood and coconut-based products made in the Islands.
  • Further,this is the first time under the guidance of IDA,an initiative of sustainable development in the identified Islands within scientifically assessed carrying capacity has been taken-up.

About IDA:

  • The Island Development Agency(IDA) was constituted in 2017 under the aegis of Ministry of Home Affairs to look into the holistic development of islands.
  • Home Minister of India is its chairman and CEO of NITI Aayog acts as its convener.
  • The other members of IDA include Secretary- Tourism, Tribal affairs, the Home Secretary, Secretary Ministry of Environment and Cabinet secretary.
  • NITI Aayog has been mandated with the task to steer the holistic development of the islands in sustainable manner.

Prime Minister names Kolkata Port Trust  after Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee

News:Prime minister has renamed the Kolkata Port Trust after Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee on the port trust 150th anniversary.


About Kolkata Port Trust:

  • Kolkata Port Trust is an autonomous body under the ministry of shipping, Government of India administered through Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.
  • The trust manages two separate dock agglomerations – the Kolkata Dock System (KDS) and Haldia Dock Complex (HDC).

About Kolkata Port:

  • The Kolkata port is the only riverine port in the country situated 203 km from the sea. 
  • The river Hooghly on which it is located has many sharp bends and is considered a difficult navigational channel.
  • The Port was first used in the early 16th century by the Portuguese to anchor their ships since they found the upper reaches of the Hooghly river beyond Kolkata unsafe for navigation.
  • It was also used after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1833 to ship lakhs of Indians as ‘indentured labourers’ to far-flung territories throughout the Empire.
  • Currently,the port is considered as the guiding factor to trade and commerce of vast hinterland comprising the entire Eastern India and the two land-locked Himalayan Kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan.

Additional information:

Major Ports:

  • India has 13 major sea ports and about 200 non-major sea ports and intermediate ports.

Huge increase in open-loop scrubber usage in ships: Report

News:According to GlobalData,there has been a huge increase in the use of open-loop scrubbers in ships in just last one year even as a debate about their viability in mitigating sulphur emissions from ships has also escalated.


About Scrubbers in Ships:

  • Scrubbers are used to remove particulate matter and harmful components such as sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the exhaust gasses generated as a result of combustion processes in marine engines, to implement pollution control.
  • The two types of scrubbers namely Closed-loop scrubbers which retains the sulfur emissions for safer disposal at the port.
  • On the other hand,Open-loop scrubbers release pollutants back into the sea after turning the sulfur dioxide into sulphuric acid.


  • The International Maritime Organisation(IMO) adopted the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
  • The MARPOL Convention was adopted by the International Maritime Organisation(IMO) on 2nd  November 1973.
  • It is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
  • It regulates the prevention of air pollution from ships and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances such as sulphur oxides and nitrous oxides.
  • Further,all ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements regardless of where they sail and member nations are responsible for vessels registered on their national ship registry.

Additional information:

International Maritime Organization:

  • The International Maritime Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations.It currently has 174 Member States.
  • IMO is responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent pollution from ships.
  • It is also involved in legal matters, including liability and compensation issues and the facilitation of international maritime traffic.

Rajasthan to get first biotech park soon

News:Rajasthan will soon get its first biotechnology park and incubation centre as memorandum of understanding will be signed with the Centre’s Department of Biotechnology.


About the Biotech Park in Rajasthan:

  • The Biotech park and incubation centre is expected to enable the State government to take up research in the field of biotechnology and provide employment to the youths.
  • It would help to promote interdisciplinary fields such as bioinformatics, biomedical engineering and nanomedicine
  • Further,it also has the significance of science-based manufacturing in industrialisation.

About Biotech Park:

  • The Department of Biotechnology has established Biotechnology Parks/Incubators across the country to translate research into products and services by providing the necessary infrastructure support. 
  • These Parks offer facilities to Scientists and Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) for technology incubation, technology demonstration and pilot plant studies for accelerated commercial development of Biotechnology.
  • It also assists new enterprises to forge appropriate linkages with other stakeholders of biotechnology sector including academia and Government.

National Biotechnology Parks Scheme:

  • The Department of Biotechnology has also launched the ‘National Biotechnology Parks Scheme’.
  • The scheme aims to create an ecosystem to absorb the start-ups which have graduated from incubators and give them a platform for further scaling up their R&D activities in collaboration with the state government and industry.

Retail inflation at 5-year high of 7.3% in December

News:The retail inflation based on Consumer Price Index(CPI) has reached a five and a half year high of 7.35% in December 2019.


Reasons for rise in retail inflation:

  • The rise in retail inflation is primarily due to increase in Consumer food price inflation to 14.12% in December 2019.This is the highest since 17.89% in November 2013.
  • This rise in food inflation has been viewed as transitory driven largely by the damage to the kharif crop from prolonged unseasonal rains during September to early November,2019.
  • However,the simultaneous hardening of international prices poses a challenge to the government and the Reserve Bank of India in containing domestic food inflation at a time when the economy is already going through a deep slowdown.
  • Further,the latest overall retail inflation at 7.35% is also above the Reserve Bank of India’s upper band target of 6%.

Additional information:

About Consumer Price Index(CPI):

  • Consumer price index(CPI) is a statistic used to measure the average price of a basket of commonly used goods and services in a period relative to some base period.
  • It measures change in the price level of a market basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households.
  • It is widely used by countries as a macroeconomic indicator of inflation and deflation and as a tool by governments and central banks for inflation targeting and for monitoring price stability.
  • The CPI data is released monthly by the Central Statistics Office(CSO) which functions under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Bull tamers gear up for jallikattu

News:Jallikattu, a popular bull taming sport held during Pongal is all set to take place in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu.


About Jallikattu:

  • Jallikattu is called as Eru thazuval or embracing the bull.The festival is a Tamil custom celebrated on the day of Mattu Pongal,the day after Pongal (harvest festival).
  • The term ‘jallikattu,’ comes from Tamil terms ‘salli kaasu’ which means coins and kattu which means package tied to the horns of bulls as prize money.
  • An ancient reference to Jallikattu is found in a seal discovered at Mohenjodaro which is dated between 2,500 BC and 1,800 BC.The festival also finds a mention in the Sangam literature.
  • During the festival,Bulls of indigenous breeds mostly Kangeyam are specially prepared for the event by providing them with sumptuous food and care.
  • On the day of the festival,the bulls are let loose from an enclosure(vaadi vaasal) and participants attempt to subdue them.

Additional information:

Other Bull taming sports:

About Hori Habba:

  • Hori Habba’ is a popular bull-catching event in Karnataka.It is held during the harvest season. 
  • It is an ancient folk game native to Haveri district, and played on the lines of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and Kambala in Dakshina Kannada district.

About Kambala:

  • Kambala is traditional slush track buffalo race that is held annually in coastal districts of Karnataka.
  • During the festival,buffalo pairs are made to race one after another in paddy fields as a thanksgiving to the Gods for protecting the animals from diseases.
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