Daily Current Affairs : 10-Feb-2020

Updated: Feb 14

Major Topics Covered :

  1. MUKTOSHRI (IET 21845)










Why in news?

  • Researchers have developed and commercialised a rice variety that is resistant to arsenic. Several studies have shown that arsenic from groundwater and the soil can enter the food chain through paddy.


  • West Bengal is among the States with the highest concentration of arsenic in groundwater, with as many as 83 blocks across seven districts having higher arsenic levels than permissible limits.

  • The new rice variety, Muktoshri — also called IET 21845, was developed jointly by the Rice Research Station at Chinsurah coming under West Bengal’s Agriculture Department and the National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, over several years.

  • A gazette notification for the commercial use of Muktoshri was made by West Bengal last year in 2019.

Source: The Hindu


Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that reservation in the matter of promotions in public posts is not a fundamental right, and a state cannot be compelled to offer the quota if it chooses not to.


  • “There is no fundamental right which inheres in an individual to claim reservation in promotions. No mandamus can be issued by the court directing state governments to provide reservations,” the bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta said.

What is ‘Mandamus’?

  • Mandamus is among the “prerogative writs” in English common law — meaning the extraordinary writs or orders granted by the Sovereign when ordinary legal remedies are inadequate. These are habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari, and quo warranto.

  • In India, the Supreme Court can issue prerogative writs under Article 32 of the Constitution, and the High Court's under Article 226.

  • Mandamus literally means ‘we command’.

  • When issued to a person or body, the writ of mandamus demands some activity on their part.

  • It orders the person or body to perform a public or quasi-public duty, which they have refused to perform, and where no other adequate legal remedy exists to enforce the performance of that duty.

  • The writ cannot be issued unless the legal duty is of public nature, and to whose performance the applicant of the writ has a legal right.

  • The remedy is of a discretionary nature — a court can refuse to grant it when an alternative remedy exists.

  • However, for enforcing fundamental rights, the alternative remedy argument does not hold as much weight, since it is the duty of the Supreme Court and the High Courts to enforce fundamental rights.


  • The Supreme Court (under Article 32) and the high courts (under Article 226) can issue the writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, certiorari and quo-warranto.


  • It is a Latin term which literally means ‘to have the body of’.

  • 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.

  • The writ of habeas corpus can be issued against both public authorities as well as private individuals.

  • The writ, on the other hand, is not issued where the Detention is lawful,The proceeding is for contempt of a legislature or a court,Detention is by a competent court, and (d) detention is outside the jurisdiction of the court.


  • Literally, it 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.

  • Thus, unlike mandamus that directs activity, the prohibition directs inactivity.

  • 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.


  • In the literal sense, it means ‘to be certified’ or ‘to be informed’.

  • 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.

  • Previously, the writ of certiorari could be issued only against judicial and quasi-judicial authorities and not against administrative authories. However, in 1991, the Supreme Court ruled that the certiorari can be issued even against administrative authorities affecting rights of individuals.

  • Like prohibition, certiorari is also not available against legislative bodies and private individuals or bodies.


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

  • The writ can be issued only in case of a substantive public office of a permanent character created by a statute or by the Constitution. It cannot be issued in cases of ministerial office or private office.

  • Unlike the other four writs, this can be sought by any interested person and not necessarily by the aggrieved person.

Source: Indian Express


Why in news?

  • In the Antarctic floats a massive glacier, roughly the size of Britain, who's melting has been a cause of alarm for scientists over the years. Now, a new study has pinned the cause of the melting to the presence of warm water at a vital point beneath the glacier.


  • Thwaites Glacier, it is 120 km wide at its broadest, fast-moving and melting fast over the years. Because of its size (1.9 lakh square km), it contains enough water to raise the world sea level by more than half a metre.

  • Studies have found the amount of ice flowing out of it has nearly doubled over the past 30 years.

  • Thwaites’s melting already contributes 4% to global sea level rise each year. It is estimated that it would collapse into the sea in 200-900 years.

  • Thwaites is important for Antarctica as it slows the ice behind it from freely flowing into the ocean.

  • Because of the risk it faces — and poses — Thwaites is often called the Doomsday Glacier.

Source: Indian Express


Why in news?

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


  • Sant Ravidas was a 14th-century saint and founder of the Bhakti movement in North India. Lakhs of people converge at Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan Mandir, Seer Goverdhanpur in Varanasi to celebrate his anniversary.

Guru Ravidas:

  • Guru Ravidas was a North Indian mystic poet of the bhakti movement.

  • Guru Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima, which is the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Magha.

  • The Adi Granth of Sikhs, in addition to the Panchvani is the two of the oldest documented sources of the literary works of Guru Ravidas.

  • He belonged to an untouchable caste and suffered a lot of atrocities as a result.

  • However, the saint chose to focus on spiritual pursuits and also penned several devotional songs which made a huge impact in the Bhakti movement during the 14th to 16th century CE.

Source: PIB


Why in news?

  • Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) today operationalized the first ever helicopter services from Dehradun’s Sahastradhara helipad to Gauchar, and Chinyalisaur under the Regional Connectivity Scheme – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (RCS-UDAN) of Government of India.


  • MoCA awarded the Sahastradhara-Gauchar-Chinyalisaur route to Heritage Aviation under the UDAN 2 bidding process.

  • Heritage Aviation will operate helicopter services from Sahastradhara to Gauchar and Chinyalisaur twice daily.

  • For the Heli services, Viability Gap Funding (VGF) is provided under UDAN to keep the fares affordable for the common people.

  • The State Government of Uttrakhand is also providing additional incentives to make the scheme more attractive.

Source: PIB


Why in news?

  • Scientists have mapped the complete genome of two basmati rice varieties, including one that is drought-tolerant and resistant to bacterial disease. The findings, published in the journal Genome Biology, also show that basmati rice is a hybrid of two other rice groups.


  • The researchers focused on two basmati rice varieties: Basmati 334 from Pakistan, known to be drought tolerant and resistant to rice-killing bacterial blight, and Dom Sufid from Iran, aromatic long-grain rice that is one of the most expensive on the market.

  • Most genetic material in basmati comes from japonica —a rice group found in East Asia — followed by the rice group aus found in Bangladesh.

  • The researchers aim to work with the scientific and rice breeding communities to identify important genes, see what makes the basmati group unique, and even develop molecular markers to help breed new varieties.

Source: The Hindu


Why in news?

  • The Maharashtra government has directed all civic bodies in the state to set up Emergency Response Sanitation Units (ERSUs) to ensure safeguards for sanitation workers who clean manholes and sewers, after multiple cases were reported of workers dying from suffocation or inhalation of hazardous gases.


  • In its directive on the setting up of ERSUs, the state government said the municipal commissioner of the civic body concerned will be the Responsible Sanitation Authority (RSA).

  • The ERSU should be headed by a senior civic officer and other civic officers should be on the ERSU advisory board to decide the standard operating procedure (SoP) for workers who enter manholes for cleaning purposes.

  • The civic body will also have to set up a dedicated toll-free number for the ERSU.

  • The unit will impart training to sanitation workers.

  • Only workers trained and certified by an ERSU will be able to clean sewers, but the priority will be on using machines to get such work done.

  • In case a worker dies while cleaning a sewer, the civic body will have to hold an inquiry and register a police complaint.

Source: Indian Express


Why in news?

  • On 7th February, 2020 the government has given clearance to an ambitious gene-mapping project, estimated to be worth Rs 238 crore.


  • The Genome India Project, which has been described by those involved as the “first scratching of the surface of the vast genetic diversity of India”, involve over 20 scientists from institutions including the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and a few IITs.

  • Genome refers to an organism’s complete set of DNA, which includes all its genes and mapping these genes simply means finding out the location of these genes in a chromosome.

  • Genome mapping enables scientists to gather evidence if a disease transmitted from the parent to the child is linked to one or more genes.

  • Genome maps have been used to find out genes that are responsible for relatively rare, single-gene inherited disorders such as cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

  • Genetic maps may also point out scientists to the genes that play a role in more common disorders and diseases such as asthma, cancer and heart disease among others.

  • Genome maps are one-dimensional, much like the DNA molecules that make up the genome.

Source: Indian Express


Why in news?

  • On February 7, 2020, scientists investigating the animal origins of the novel coronavirus said pangolins could be responsible for the spread of the virus to humans in China.


  • The scientists have found that the genome sequence of the coronavirus isolated from pangolins was 99 per cent identical with that separated from infected humans.

  • Pangolins are considered to be one of the most trafficked animals in the world and are classified as a critically endangered species.

  • According to Chinese law, people who sell pangolins can be imprisoned for a period of 10 years or more. Despite this, thousands of pangolins are poached every year due to their “medicinal value” and the consumption of their meat in countries such as China and Vietnam.

  • It is believed that the novel coronavirus spread from the seafood market in Wuhan, where live animals are sold.

  • The SARS coronavirus, which was identified in 2003, is believed to have spread from bats to civet cats to human beings. Regarding the novel coronavirus, scientists had earlier claimed snakes could be its source, though the theory was dismissed.

Can pangolins be the source of the coronavirus?

  • The website of the South China Agricultural University in China’s Guangzhou says a study by two of its researchers has shown that “pangolin is a potential intermediate host for a new type of coronavirus.

  • Threat: According to the latest report released by TRAFFIC in March 2018, Pangolin is the most trafficked mammal in the world. Though hunted for its meat across the northeastern States and in central India, it is in huge demand for its scales in China.

  • IUCN status: The Chinese Pangolin was officially categorised as critically endangered in 2014, but it is believed to be extinct today.

  • The Indian Pangolin, marked endangered that year (2014), is now critically endangered and disappearing fast.

  • World Pangolin Day: The third Saturday of February is observed as the World Pangolin Day.

  • Corona Virus coronavirus is a large family of viruses that are often the source of respiratory infections, including the common cold.

  • Most of the viruses are common among animals, but sometimes, an animal-based coronavirus mutates and successfully finds a human host.According to the World Health Organization, during previous outbreaks due to other coronaviruses, human-to-human transmission occurred through droplets or objects making contact, suggesting that the transmission mode of the 2019-nCoV can be identical.Manifested symptoms may include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Antibiotics do not work against such viral pneumonia and there are no vaccines against them.

  • Due to this, travel bans across China are initiated and the literal isolation of Wuhan (the place where the novel coronavirus outbreak took place) has been done.In May 2015, there was an outbreak of MERS in Korea, which was the largest outbreak outside of the Arabian Peninsula.In 2003, 774 people died from a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. As of 2015, there were no further reports of cases of SARS. MERS and SARS are types of coronaviruses.

Source: Indian Express

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