9 PM Current Affairs Brief – December 20th, 2019

NITI Aayog to draft roadmap for achieving population stabilisation

News: NITI Aayog, in partnership with Population Foundation of India (PFI), is organising a National Consultation titled “Realizing the vision of population stabilization: leaving no one behind”.


Family Planning in India: India was the first country to evolve a government-backed family planning programme in the 1950s.

Different Approaches:

  1. The Clinic Approach: In the First Five- Year, the natural method of family planning (the Rhythm Method) was propagated. It was based on the assumption that those who need family planning would visit such clinics without any hesitation.
  2. Extension Approach: It was outlined in the Report of the Director of Family Planning for 1962-63. It involved the adoption of an educational approach to bring about changes in the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of the people in regard to family planning.
  3. Integrated Approach: It was formulated in the Fifth Five-Year Plan and the Family Planning Programme formed an integral part of Maternal and Child Health (M.C.H.) and Nutrition Services.
  4. Camp Approach: Massive vasectomy camps were organised. The approach was introduced in 1971-72
  5. The Reproductive and Child Health Approach: The Population Policy of India underwent a major shift with the Programme of Action Adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held at Cairo in September 1994. Reproductive and sexual health and the rights and the provision of services were emphasised on.

The National Population Policy, 2000:

A number of socio-demographic goals were formulated to be achieved by 2010. These were:

  • Reduce infant mortality rate (IMR) to 30 per 1,000 live births.
  • Reduce maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) to below 100 per 1, 00,000 live births.
  • Achieve 80% institutional deliveries

EChO Network launched to catalyze cross-disciplinary leadership in India

News: Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India has launched EChO Network


About EChO Network:

  • It is a national program to foster cross-disciplinary leadership in India.
  • The program is a partnership of Government, industry and academia. Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India leads the program.
  • Aim: increasing research, knowledge, and awareness of Indian ecology and the environment
  • It seeks to develop a national network to solve real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology.

Rhinos to be re-introduced in Uttarakhand

News: The Uttarakhand State Wildlife Board has cleared a proposal by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to introduce rhinoceroses in the Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR)


About Jim Corbett National Park

  • Jim Corbet National Park was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park- the first national park in India.
  • It is located in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand.
  • The park was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1973- the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.

Additional Information:

The Great one horned Rhinoceros (Indian rhinoceros):

  • It is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.
  • There are about 2,600 rhinos in India, with more than 90% of the population concentrated in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park. Outside Kaziranga, rhinos are found in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Conservation Programmes in India

Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020 programme

  • The programme was launched in 2005 by Assam Forest Department in partnership with WWF-India, the International Rhino Foundation and US Fish & Wildlife Service.
  • It aims to attain a wild population of at least 3,000 greater one-horned rhinos spread over seven protected areas in Assam by the year 2020.

New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019: Under the declaration India will collaborate with Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia for conservation and protection of three Asian rhino species-

  • Greater one-horned rhinoceros,
  • Javan rhinoceros( listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List) and
  • Sumatran rhinoceros (listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List).

National Rhino Conservation Strategy for India: it has been launched by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It aims at strengthening rhino protection and expanding present distribution range by at least 5%

Wildlife Institute of India (WII) 

  • WII is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change. It was established in 1982 and is based in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
  • It offers training programs, academic courses and advisory in wildlife research and management.

India had most deaths caused by pollution in 2017: new report

News: Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP) 2019 has released Pollution and Health Metrics: Global, Regional and Country Analysis.


Key takeaways:

  • In 2017, pollution was responsible for 15% of all deaths globally.
  • India had the most pollution deaths (about 2.3 million) followed by Nigeria and China.

Additional Information

State of Global Air 2019 (published by Health Effects Institute (HEI))

  • Air pollution had led to 5 million deaths in 2017
  • South Asian region (Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan) had accounted for over 1.5 million deaths.

Indian Govt Initiatives to combat Air Pollution:

  1. National Clean Air Programme (NCAP): launched in 2019, it is a five-year action plan. it aims at 20%–30% reduction of PM2.5and PM10 concentration by 2024, taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration. The programme targets 102 non-attainment cities.
  2. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna: It seeks to replace unclean cooking fuels used in the most underprivileged households with clean and more efficient LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas). A major objective of the scheme is to ensure smoke-free houses and thus curb indoor air pollution.
  3. The Indian government has also decided to skip BS-V and directly move to BS-VI from 2020. It has further agreed to advance the proposed date for Euro-VI from 2026 to 2020.

Draft Bill proposes autonomy for National Statistical Commission

News:Government has released the draft National Statistical Commission (NSC) Bill for public comments.


About Draft National Statistical Commission(NSC) Bill:

  • The draft bill is aimed at empowering the National Statistical Commission(NSC) to become the nodal body for all core statistics in the country.
  • Core statistics include national income statistics like GDP, jobs data, industry data and budgetary transactions data.

Features of the Bill:

  • The Draft bill proposes a statutory National Statistical Commission(NSC) with an independent secretariat headed by a secretary rank officer.
  • The commission will have a Chairperson, five whole time members along with Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Chief Statistician of India(CSI) as other members and Chief Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance as the ex-officio member.
  • The Chairman and the members of the Commission shall be appointed by the central government on the recommendation of a search committee.
  • The Bill envisages financial autonomy for the commission through an independent National Statistical Fund.But the commission would be bound by the directions that the Centre may give in the interest of the country.
  • It also provides for establishing a National Statistical Audit and Assessment Organization within the NSC with a chief statistical auditor in the rank of secretary. 
  • All nodal officers designated in central ministries/departments /state government shall be professionally responsible to Chief Statistician of India on core statistics.

Additional information:

About NSC:

  • Currently,the National Statistical Commission(NSC) of India is an autonomous body which was formed in July 2005.
  • The objective of its commission is to reduce the problems faced by statistical agencies in the country in relation to collection of data.

RBI plans its own ‘Operation Twist’; to buy, sell bonds simultaneously

News:The Reserve Bank of India has announced that it will carry out US-style ‘Operation Twist’ to bring down interest rates.


About Operation Twist:

  • Operation Twist is when the central bank uses the proceeds from the sale of short-term securities to buy long-term government debt papers, leading to easing of interest rates on the long term papers.
  • Operation Twist first appeared in 1961 as a way to strengthen the U.S. dollar and stimulate cash flow into the economy.

What is the RBI’s Operation Twist?

  • Under Operation Twist,RBI will conduct simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities under Open Market Operations (OMO) for ₹10,000 crore each.
  • It will purchase the longer-term maturities which are government bonds maturing in 2029 and simultaneously sell the shorter duration ones which are short-term bonds maturing in 2020.
  • This simultaneous purchase and sale will bring down interest on long term loans which can lead to increase in economic spending.
  • It may also become a driving factor for long-term economic activity and the addition of new investment stock.

About Open Market operations:

  • Open market operations is the sale and purchase of government securities and treasury bills by RBI or the central bank of the country.
  • The objective of OMO is to regulate the money supply in the economy. The central bank carries out the OMO through commercial banks and does not directly deal with the public.
  • When the RBI wants to increase the money supply in the economy, it purchases the government securities from the market and it sells government securities to out liquidity from the system.

Odisha launches ‘Jalsathi’ programme to supply safe drinking water

News:Odisha Chief Minister has launched the ‘Jalsathi’ programme with the aim to ensure supply of safe drinking water to all households in the state.


About Jalsathi programme:

  • The JalSathi programme aims to ensure the supply of clean drinking water to consumers through piped water connections.
  • The Odisha government has roped in women volunteers to serve the people as ‘Jalasathis’.This will help boost the economic empowerment of women in the state.
  • Under the programme, over 5,000 women will be engaged in Odisha to supply safe drinking water.
  • The Jalasathis will be responsible for testing of water quality, facilitating new water connections and regularising connections, reassessing of demands, reading of meter, bill generation and delivery, collection of water charges and facilitating complaints redressal.
  • The programme will be initially implemented in eight wards of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation under the 5T initiative of the Housing and Urban Development.

Additional information:

About Mission Shakti:

  • Mission Shakti was launched on the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2001 by Chief Minister of Odisha.
  • The Mission aims at empowering women through formation and promotion of women Self Help Groups.

States with smaller population take the lead under PMEGP

News:According to the data presented by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises,states with smaller population take the lead under Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme(PMEGP) in the last four years.


  • The states with smaller populations such as Tamil Nadu, Assam, Karnataka and Arunachal Pradesh except Uttar Pradesh have emerged as major beneficiaries of the PMEGP in the last four years.
  • These top five States have generated 34% of the total employment opportunities created under the programme.

About Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme(PMEGP):

  • Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) is a credit-linked subsidy programme introduced by the government of India in 2008.
  • The programme is a merger of two schemes namely Prime Minister’s Rojgar Yojna and Rural Employment Generation Programme. 
  • The program focuses on generating self-employment opportunities through micro-enterprise establishments in the non-farm sector by helping unemployed youth and traditional artisans.

Objectives of the programme:

  • Generation of sustainable and continuous self-employment opportunities in urban and rural areas of the country
  • Providing sustainable and continuous employment to a large segment of rural and urban unemployed youth, traditional and prospective artisans through the establishment of micro-enterprises
  • Facilitating the financial institution’s participation for higher credit flow to the micro sector.


  • The Ministry of MSME administers the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP). 
  • The PMEGP Scheme is being implemented by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) at the national level. 
  • At the State level,the Scheme is being implemented through State Khadi and Village Industries Commission Directorates, State Khadi and Village Industries Boards and District Industries Centres and banks.

Indian Navy & Coast Guard conduct largest-ever anti-hijacking Exercise ‘Apharan’

News:The Indian Navy in collaboration with Indian Coast Guard has conducted a large scale Anti Hijacking Exercise named Exercise Apharan at the Port of Kochi,Kerala.


About Exercise Apharan:

  • The exercise was aimed at streamlining the response mechanism to thwart any attempt by anti-national elements to hijack a merchant vessel or attempt forced entry of a rogue/commandeered merchant vessel into Kochi harbour.
  • It saw the participation of multiple agencies including more than 12 ships and helicopters of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and Cochin Port Trust.
  • The exercise allowed all stakeholders to assess the preparedness of their organisations, identify gaps to address them on priority and formulate an integrated Crisis Management Plan for Kochi Port.
  • The need for anti-hijacking exercises is particularly important for India which suffered from an attack from the sea during the 2008 Mumbai terror attack.

Additional information:

About Piracy:

  • Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea through illegal use of force by non-state agents, popularly known as Pirates.In recent years, the problem of piracy has emerged as a major threat to the sea transportation in some parts of the world.
  • The hot spots of piracy today are the Indian Ocean, East Africa and the Far East including the South China Sea, South America and the Caribbean. 
  • In recent times,pirates have been found to be very active in the waters between the Red Sea (particularly in Gulf of Aden) and Indian Ocean off the Somali coast and in the Strait of Malacca.
  • While the piracy has declined in the Indian Ocean with no hijackings reported in the Western Indian Ocean in 2018, it is still present in other waters. 

About ICG:

  • The Indian Coast Guard is a multi-mission organization entrusted with superintendence and policing of India’s maritime areas including the Exclusive Economic Zone.
  • ICG was formally established in 1978 by the Coast Guard Act,1978 as an independent Armed force of India.It operates under the Ministry of Defence.
  • The organization is headed by the Director General Indian Coast Guard (DGICG).

Macau celebrates 20 years of China rule

News:Macau is celebrating the 20th Anniversary since the former Portuguese colony was returned to China.


About Macao:

  • Macau is a special administrative region of China.It is an example of One Country,Two Systems.
  • It is situated on the south-east coast of China near the mouth of the Pearl River.It is 60 kilometres from Hong Kong.
  • Macau consists of the Macau peninsula and the two islands of Taipa and Coloane.
  • The Macau retained its previous capitalist system and way of life rather than adopting the Chinese mainland’s socialist system.
  • Macao also has a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power except in two areas namely foreign affairs and defense.
  • But as part of China, Macao is under the leadership of the central government in China.

About One Country,Two Systems:

  • The “One Country, Two Systems” principle was an idea that first came into existence in the 1970s. 
  • In the early 1980s,the then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping put forward the concept in an effort to realize the peaceful reunification of China.  
  • According to Deng,there is only one China – under this premise the Chinese mainland adheres to the socialist system while Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan may retain their capitalist systems.

WHO launches first biosimilar medicine to treat Breast Cancer

News:TheWorld Health Organization(WHO) has launched its first biosimilar medicine to treat breast cancer named Trastuzumab.


About Trastuzumab:

  • Trastuzumab drug was included in the WHO Essential Medicines List in 2015 as an essential treatment for about 20% of breast cancers. 
  • It has shown high efficacy in curing early stage breast cancer and in some cases more advanced forms of the disease.

About Biosimilar medicines:

  • Biosimilars are replicas of biologic drugs(original drugs) that are used to treat different types of cancers and autoimmune diseases.
  • Biosimilar medicines are made from living organisms through highly complex manufacturing processes and must be handled and administered under carefully monitored conditions.
  • They are officially approved versions of original products and can be manufactured when the original product’s patent expires.Reference to the innovator product is an integral component of the approval.

Difference between Biosimilar and Generic medicines:

  • Biosimilars involve developing equivalent of biological entity while generics involve developing equivalent of a chemical entity-the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient.
  • Generic medicines are synthesized from chemicals in a consistent process so that manufacturers can be sure that each pill has the same effect every time.
  • On the other hand,Biosimilar medicines are produced from living organisms through highly complex manufacturing processes.

Portugal sets up Gandhi prize

News:Portuguese Prime Minister has announced the setting up of a Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize.


About Gandhi Prize:

  • The Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize is inspired by the thoughts and life of Gandhi.The award aims to help perpetuate the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The first year’s prize will be dedicated to animal welfare as Mahatma Gandhi always said that the greatness of any country can be evaluated by the way animals are treated.

Additional information:

About National Committee for the Commemoration Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary:

  • The National Committee for the Commemoration Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary is chaired by President at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • Portuguese Prime Minister is the only foreign Prime Minister to be a part of the committee.
  • The committee also includes Vice-President, Prime Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and Chief Ministers apart from Gandhians among others.

DRDO successfully flight-tests Pinaka Missile System off Odisha coast

News:Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) has successfully tested Pinaka Missile System from the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur off the Odisha coast.


About Pinaka Missile System:

  • Pinaka is an artillery missile system capable of striking into an enemy territory up to a range of 75 km with high precision.
  • The Pinaka Mk-II rocket is modified as a missile by integrating with the navigation, control and guidance system to improve the accuracy and enhance the range.
  • The missile system has been jointly developed by various Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories.
  • The navigation system of the missile is also aided by the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) also called as NAVIC.

Additional information:

About Pinaka:

  • Pinaka rocket systems was named after Pinaka,the bow of Lord Shiva. Pinaka was used for the first time in Kargil war.
  • The manufacturing of Pinaka missiles began with the help of Russian technology transfer.The plan was formulated in 1983 and manufacturing began in 1994.
  • Pinaka Mark I was first launched.It is an indigenous multi-barrel unguided rocket launch system for firing of multiple warheads.It was used in the 1999 Kargil conflict.It has a range of 40 km.
  • Pinaka Mark I was later transformed into a short-range precision guided missile and thus renamed as Guided Pinaka – Mark II.

Explained:How Section 144 CrPC works

News:Recently,state governments have issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure(CrPC),1973 after the protests started against the Citizenship Amendment Act.


About Section 144:

  • Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC) of 1973 authorizes the Executive Magistrate of any state or territory to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area.
  • It is imposed in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger of some event that has the potential to cause trouble or damage to human life or property.

Powers under Section 144:

  • The magistrate can direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take a certain order with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management. 
  • The Section also restricts carrying any sort of weapon in that area where it has been imposed and people can be detained for violating it.The maximum punishment for such an act is three years.
  • Moreover,obstructing law enforcement agencies from dispersing an unlawful assembly is a punishable offence.Section 144 also empowers the authorities to block the internet access.
  • However, this section can also be used to restrict even a single individual.Such an order is passed when the magistrate considers that it is likely to prevent obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person among others.

Duration of Section 144 order:

  • No order under Section 144 shall remain in force for more than two months but the state government can extend the validity for two months and a maximum of up to six months.
  • However,it can be withdrawn at any point of time if the situation becomes normal.

Court on Section 144:

  • In Ram Manohar Lohia case in 1967, the Supreme Court held that no democracy can exist if public order is freely allowed to be disturbed by a section of the citizens.
  • In Madhu Limaye vs Sub-Divisional Magistrate case 1970,the court had said that law may be abused.But it is not a  reason to strike it down.
  • It further ruled that the restrictions imposed through Section 144 cannot be held to be violative of the right to freedom of speech and expression. The imposition of Section 144 falls under the reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
  • In 2012,the Supreme Court criticised the government for imposing Section 144 against a sleeping crowd in Ramlila Maidan.The court held that such a provision can be used only in grave circumstances for maintenance of public peace. 
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