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Daily Current Affairs : 4-Jan-2020

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Part of GS- 2 IR

Why in news?

  • Iran’s top security and intelligence commander, Major General Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US drone attack in Baghdad. Why is the killing causing concern in the Middle East and beyond?


  • What exactly happened in Baghdad on Friday morning?

  • Gen Soleimani was killed in an airstrike, for which the US later claimed responsibility. The strike was carried out by a drone on a road near Baghdad’s international airport. Soleimani had reportedly just disembarked from a plane. The blast also killed others including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the Iranian-backed militias in Iraq known as Popular Mobilisation Forces.

  • The strike capped a week of conflict between the United States and Iranian-backed militia in Iraq, starting with a rocket attack at a military base on December 27, which killed an American contractor (see graphic).

Why is his killing such a big deal?

  • Because of his influence, observers have equated his killing with the killing of a United States Vice President. While he commanded respect in Iran, he was by most accounts a quiet man who usually stayed inconspicuous in public.

  • An earlier display of his power came in 2008, in a text message to US General David Petraeus, then commanding the Multi-National Force in Iraq. According to The Guardian, Soleimani texted: “General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Soleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who’s going to replace him is a Quds Force member.”

What did the Quds Force do?

  • Khomeini had created the prototype in 1979, with the goal of protecting Iran and exporting the Islamic Revolution, Filkins wrote. In 1982, Revolutionary Guard officers were sent to Lebanon to help organise Shia militias in the civil war, which eventually led to the creation of Hezbollah. According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the IRGC including the Quds Force has contributed roughly 125,000 men to Iran’s forces and has the capability of undertaking asymmetric warfare and covert operations.

  • In recent years, Soleimani was believed to be the chief strategist behind Iran’s military ventures and influence in Syria, Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

How has the US justified his killing?

  • The Department of Defense issued a statement underlining Soleimani’s leadership role in conflict with the US: “General Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more. He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months — including the attack on December 27th — culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.”

What could happen now?

  • The strike has left the Middle East on edge, with possible repercussions beyond the region. President Rouhani said the killing would make Iran more decisive in resisting the US, while the Revolutionary Guards said anti-US forces would exact revenge across the Muslim world.

  • News agencies reported that US officials were braced for Iranian retaliatory attacks, possibly including cyberattacks and terrorism, on American interests and allies. Israel, too, was preparing for Iranian strikes.

  • Oil prices have already jumped by $3 a barrel. In India, a high-level meeting involving senior officials of Finance Ministry and Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas was held to assess the impact of a price rise and to review contingency measures.

  • Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Javad Zarif tweeted: “The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani-THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al-is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation. The US bears responsibility for all consequences of its rogue adventurism.”

Source: Indian Express



Part of GS- 1 A&C

Why in news?

  • In Tripura, Lai Haraoba, a ritualistic festival observed by Manipuri meitei communities since ancient times, began in Agartala last evening.


  • The five day long festival is jointly organised by Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, Government of Tripura, Puthiba Lai Haraoba Committee and Puthiba Welfare & Cultural Society, Agartala.

  • The five-day long festival was inaugurated by Speaker of state legislative Assembly, Rebati Mohan Das.

  • The festival aims to uphold tradition and cultural values of Meitei community.

  • Lai Haraoba is celebrated through oral literature, music, dance and rituals.

  • A cultural troupe from Manipur has also come to take part in festival.

  • They will be performing various cultural and traditional musical skits including Manipuri martial arts, folk music and folk dances during the festival.

Source: AIR



Part of GS- Education

Why in news?

  • New Delhi World Book Fair-2020 began at Pragati Maidan in the national capital.


  • Inaugurating the nine-day fair, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that literature is people's greatest friend. He said the New Delhi World Book Fair is Asia's largest book fair in which more than 600 publishers are taking part.

  • the world is facing the threat of terrorism and there is a need to follow Gandhiji's ideas of truth and non-violence.

  • The minister also said that as part of Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary celebrations, the theme of this fair is Gandhi: The Writers' Writer.

  • The theme underscores the influence of Gandhi on Indian literature and some major authors of India and abroad and also brings into focus the aspects of Gandhi as a writer, editor, journalist, publisher, printer, a mass communicator par excellence.

  • New Delhi World Book Fair started in the year 1972.

  • It is held annually in the month of January by National Book Trust (NBT) at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi.

  • The Fair is organized by National Book Trust (NBT), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

  • India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO), under the Ministry of Commerce, is the co-organizer of the Fair.

  • The Fair attracts participation from major publishing houses across the globe.

  • NDWBF offers the exhibitors an opportunity for business with this growing book industry. It is an ideal venue for promoting titles, co-publication arrangements and trade.

  • The book fair will run until the 12th of January.

Source: AIR



Part of GS- 3 Science & Tech

Why in news?

  • For the first time, researchers have shown that a species of brittle stars, which are relatives of starfish, can see even though it does not have eyes.


  • The red brittle star (Ophiocoma wendtii), which lives in the coral reefs of the Caribbean Sea, becomes only the second creature, after a sea urchin species, known to have this ability (barring freak cases in other species).

  • The ability to see without eyes is known as extraocular vision.

  • Previous researchers have defined it as the ability to resolve scenes without discrete eyes.

  • In 1966 Dr L Chertok of the Cochin Hospital wrote about the case of one Rosa Koulechova in Soviet Union who was able to “see” colours with her fingers. Chertok wrote that many thought the explanation for extraocular vision was to be found in the photo-sensitivity of the skin.

  • In sea urchins and brittle stars, researchers suspect that extraocular vision is facilitated by the photoreceptor cells found on their bodies.

  • The researchers suggest that a brittle star sees with the help of light-sensing cells that cover its entire body.

  • These light-sensing cells give the brittle star visual stimuli, allowing it to recognise coarse structures such as rocks, the research suggests.

Source : Indian Express



Part of GS- 1 Social Issues

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court has held in a judgment that a person accused of dowry harassment cannot be automatically convicted for abetment of suicide.


  • Merely because an accused is found guilty of an offence punishable under Section 498A of the IPC, the accused cannot be automatically held guilty for the offence punishable under Section 306 (abetment of suicide) of the IPC by employing the presumption under Section 113A of the Evidence Act.

  • Unless the prosecution establishes that some act or illegal omission by the accused has driven the deceased to commit the suicide, the conviction under Section 306 would not be tenable.

Section 306 of the Indian penal code, 1860:

  • Abetment of suicide is an offence under section 306 of the Indian penal code, 1860.

  • According to the 306 section of the Indian Penal Code, a person abetting the suicide of another person shall be punished with imprisonment up to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine.

  • Abetting a suicide is a non-bailable charge.

  • A person is guilty of abetment when: He instigates someone to commit suicide (or), He is part of a conspiracy to make a person commit suicide (or), He intentionally helps the victim to commit suicide by doing an act or by not doing something that he was bound to do.

Source : The Hindu



Part of GS- 1 Social Issues

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court has held in a recent judgment that the anti-child marriage law does not intend to punish a male aged between 18 and 21 years for marrying a “female adult.”


  • The supreme court interpreted Section 9 of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, which says - “whoever, being a male adult above 18 years of age, contracts a child marriage shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or with both.”

  • It said the 2006 Act also gives an option for prospective grooms who are between 18 and 21 years old to opt out of marriages.

  • The court said neither does the provision punish a child for marrying a woman nor a woman for marrying a male child because decisions regarding marriage are usually taken by the family members of the bride and groom, and women generally have little say in the matter.

Source : The Hindu



Part of GS- 1 A&C

Why in news?

  • KVIC opened first silk processing plant in Gujarat to boost production of signature Patola Saree.


  • In a historic initiative taken by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), a first Silk Processing Plant was inaugurated today at Surendranagar in Gujarat which would help cut down the cost of production of silk yarn drastically and increase the sale and availability of raw material for Gujarati Patola Sarees locally.

  • Patola, the trademark Saree of Gujarat, is considered to be very costly and worn only by the Royals or the Aristocrat.

  • Reason being the raw material silk yarn is purchased from Karnataka or West Bengal, where silk processing units are situated, thus increasing the cost of the fabric manifolds.

  • Surendranagar district is a backward district in Gujarat where KVIC has invested Rs. 60 Lakhs to build the Silk Processing Plant, in order to generate livelihood and boost sales of Patola Sarees by making silk more ready available at a low cost, for the Patola Saree manufacturers in the nearby area.

  • Traditionally, every region in India has had its own unique weave for the Silk Saree. It is quite notable that Patola Silk Saree is amongst the top five silk weaves which are desired in every Indian Saree Lover's wardrobe.

Source: PIB



Part of GS- 3 Environment

Why in news?

  • The Kerala Forest department is taking comprehensive steps to arrest the rampant growth of invasive alien plants, especially tree species like ‘Senna Spectabilis’, in the forest areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (NBR), including the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary.


  • Senna spectabilis is a plant species of the legume family (Fabaceae) in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae native to South and Central America.

  • The plant has become an invasive alien specie in parts of Africa and South Asia after it was introduced for resources such as firewood as well as to help combat deteriorating ecosystems affected by deforestation and desertification.

  • Currently, S. spectabilis is overtaking native tree species of forestry ecosystems around the world because of its ability to grow quickly.

  • They are often grown as an ornamental in front yards, parks, gardens, buildings etc. due to their bright yellow flowers that bloom during the summer months.

  • They are also known as Golden wonder tree, American cassia, Popcorn tree, Cassia excelsa, Golden shower tree or Archibald's cassia.

Important points:

  • The present study focused on 173 species of invasive alien plant in India.

  • These includes the most serious invasive, such as Alternanthera philoxeroides, Cassia uniflora, Chromolaena odorata, Eichhornia crassipes, Lantana camara, Parthenium hysterophorus, Prosopis juliflora and others.

Source : The Hindu



Part of GS- 1 History

Why in news?

  • The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Savitribai Phule on her birth anniversary(3 January).


  • Savitribai Phule (1831 – 1897) was an Indian social reformer, educationalist, and poet from Maharashtra.

  • Along with her husband, Jyotirao Phule, she played an important role in improving women's rights in India. She is regarded as the mother of Indian feminism.

  • She established the Mahila Seva Mandal to raise awareness for issues concerning women's rights.

  • Savitribai was also an anti-infanticide activist.

  • She opened a women's shelter called the Home for the Prevention of Infanticide, where Brahmin widows could safely deliver their children and leave them there to be adopted if they so desired.

  • She is regarded as the first female teacher of India.

  • Phule and her husband founded the first Indian girls' school in Pune, at Bhide wada in 1848.

  • She also worked to abolish the discrimination and unfair treatment of people based on caste.

  • She published Kavya Phule in 1854 and Bavan Kashi Subodh Ratnakar in 1892, and also a poem entitled "Go, Get Education" in which she encouraged those who are oppressed to free themselves by obtaining an education.

About Satya Shodhak Samaj:

  • Satya Shodhak Samaj was founded by Mahatma Jyotiba Phule on 24 September 1873 with an objective to liberate the Shudras and Ati Shudras and to prevent their ‘exploitation’ by the upper caste like ruling caste Maratha.

  • Satya Shodhak Samaj refused to regard the Vedas as sacrosanct, opposed idol worship denounced the chaturvarnya system (the caste system) and rejected the need for a Brahman priestly class as educational and religious leaders.

  • The existence of God was replaced by Nirmik.

  • Deenbandhu was the name of mouthpiece of the Satya Shodhak Samaj.

Source : Times of India



Part of GS- Health

Why in news?

  • Insurance regulator Irdai issued guidelines on standard individual health insurance, asking the general and health insurers to offer product that can take care of basic health needs of customers with maximum sum insured of Rs 5 lakh and a minimum of Rs 1 lakh.


  • The product will be named as Arogya Sanjeevani Policy, succeeded by the name of the insurance company. No other name is allowed in any of the documents, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (Irdai).

  • The standard product should have the basic mandatory covers, no add-ons or optional covers are allowed to be offered along with the standard product and the insurer may determine the price keeping in view the covers proposed to be offered subject to complying with guidelines.

  • The standard product shall be offered on indemnity basis only and the policy tenure shall be for a period of one year.

Source : Economic Times


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