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Daily Current Affairs : 9-Dec-2019

Major Topics Covered :







  7. OPEC









Part of GS- 1 Social Issues, 2 Polity and Governance

Why in news?

After the rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad on November 28 and the burning of a rape survivor in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, on December 5, there has been an outcry for justice for the victims.


Within and outside Parliament there has been a clamour to make the criminal justice system tougher on an offender committing sexual crimes against women and children.

Indian Penal Code, 1860:

  • ‘Rape’ as a clearly defined offence was first introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1860.

  • The rape law in India even today remains gender specific, as the perpetrator of the offence can only be a ‘man’.

  • Section 375 of the IPC made punishable the act of sex by a man with a woman if it was done against her will or without her consent.

  • The definition of rape also included sex when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.

  • Also, sex with or without her consent, when she is under 18 years is considered rape.

  • However, under the exception, sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.

  • Section 376 provided for seven years of jail term to life imprisonment to whoever commits the offence of rape.

  • Section 228A makes it punishable to disclose the identity of the victim of certain offences including rape.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act in 2013:

  • The 2013 Act increased jail terms in most sexual assault cases and also provided for the death penalty in rape cases that cause death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state.

  • It also created new offences, such as use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking.

  • The punishment for gang rape was increased to 20 years to life imprisonment from the earlier 10 years to life imprisonment.

  • It clearly defined offences such as use of unwelcome physical contact, words or gestures, demand or request for sexual favours, showing pornography against the will of a woman or making sexual remarks and allocated punishment.

  • Stalking was made punishable with up to three years in jail.

  • The offence of acid attack was increased to 10 years of imprisonment.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018:

  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018, for the first time put death penalty as a possible punishment for rape of a girl under 12 years; the minimum punishment is 20 years in jail.

  • Another new section was also inserted in the IPC to specifically deal with rape on a girl below 16 years.

  • The provision made the offence punishable with minimum imprisonment of 20 years which may extend to imprisonment for life.

  • The minimum jail term for rape, which has remained unchanged since the introduction of the IPC in 1860, was increased from seven to 10 years.

Source: The Hindu


Part of GS-1 History

Why in news?

President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday (December 8) laid the foundation stone for a memorial to mark 200 years of the Paika Rebellion, an uprising against colonial rule that predates the rebellion of the sepoys in 1857, and is sometimes described as the first war of independence.


  • The Paika Memorial will come up in a 10-acre plot at the bottom of Barunei Hill in Odisha’s Khurda district.

  • In March 1817, The Paiks rose in rebellion under their leader Bakshi Jagabandhu and projected Lord Jagannath as the symbol of Odia unity.

  • The rebellion quickly spread across most of Odisha before being ruthlessly put down by the company's forces.

  • By May 1817, the British managed to re-establish their authority over the entire province, but it was a long while before the tranquillity finally returned to it.

  • The Ministry of Culture has recognised the Paika Rebellion at the national level. The decision to commemorate the bi-centenary of the revolution was announced in the 2017-18 Budget Speech.

Did the Paikas lead India’s “first war of independence”?

  • Through the 19th century, on either side of the great revolt of 1857, India’s vast rural areas were alive with discontent that periodically manifested itself in resistance against old inequities and new hardships.

  • These uprisings coincided with the military expansion of the British East India Company inside India, and forced disruptions in existing social relations in peasant and tribal communities.

  • Because these expressions of discontent coincided with traditional society coming into contact with European colonialists and missionaries, the uprisings are seen as expressions of resistance against colonial rule.

  • This is the reason why several recent descriptions of the Paika Rebellion in Odisha’s Khurda in 1817 have referred to it as the “original” first war of Indian Independence.

  • So who were the Paikas, and why did they rise in revolt?

  • The Paikas (pronounced “paiko”, literally ‘foot soldiers’), were a class of military retainers had been recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for hereditary rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) and titles.

  • The advent of the British and establishment of colonial rule brought new land revenue settlements, which led to the Paikas losing their estates.

Source: Indian Express


Part of GS-3 Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

The world’s oceans have less oxygen today than they did up to, say, 1950 or 1960, according to a new study (IUCN).


Who has carried out this study, and what does it say?

  • The report is the work of 67 scientists from 17 countries around the world. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it, released the study on Saturday (December 7) at the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently underway in Madrid.

  • According to the findings of the study, the levels of oxygen in oceans fell by around 2 per cent from 1960 to 2010.

  • The deoxygenation of the oceans occurred due to climate change and other human activities (such as the nutrient runoff from farm fertilizers into waterways), the report said.

So, how dangerous is that?

  • According to Dan Laffoley, the principal adviser in IUCN’s global marine and polar programme and an editor of the report, who was quoted by ‘The New York Times’, the decline in oxygen levels might not seem significant because, “we’re sort of sitting surrounded by plenty of oxygen and we don’t think small losses of oxygen affect us”.

  • ‘The NYT’ report noted that a study published in the journal ‘Science’ had established that the water in some parts of the tropics had experienced a 40 per cent to 50 per cent reduction in oxygen.

And what can deoxygenation do to oceans?

  • In many parts of the world, including along the western coast of the United States, fish have been dying en masse a clear illustration of the ways in which deoxygenation is choking the oceans.

  • Also, the loss of oxygen in the oceans can affect the planetary cycling of elements such as nitrogen and phosphorous.

  • As oceans lose oxygen, they become more acidic, a phenomenon that has resulted in some places in shellfish having their shells degraded or dissolved —-the so called “osteoporosis of the sea”.

  • Apart from their declining oxygen content, oceans have, since the middle of the 20th century, absorbed 93 per cent of the heat associated with human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, leading to mass bleaching of coral reefs.

  • Also, since warmer water occupies more space than cooler water, NASA estimates that this is the reason for roughly a third of the rise in sea levels.

Source: Indian Express


Part of GS-3 Economy

Why in news?

Asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) will no longer be allowed to bilaterally buy assets from banks or financial institutions (FIs) that they count among their sponsors, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said.


  • ARCs will also be barred from directly buying assets from institutions that have lent to them, subscribed to the fund or are part of the same group as the ARC.

  • “However, they may participate in auctions of the financial assets provided such auctions are conducted in a transparent manner, on arm’s length basis and the prices are determined by market forces,” RBI said in a notification.

  • The firm most likely to be affected by the central bank directive is Asset Reconstruction Company (India), or Arcil, which is sponsored by State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Punjab National Bank and IDBI Bank. Other ARCs sponsored by prominent FIs are Edelweiss ARC, JM Financial ARC and Phoenix ARC, which is promoted by the Kotak group.

  • Earlier this year, a task force on the development of a secondary market for corporate loans recommended to the RBI that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) should be allowed to directly buy stressed loans from Indian banks within certain annual prudential limits. Analysts say that the regulator has, in recent years, tried to make ARCs more accountable for their participation in the market.

  • In August 2014, the minimum investment requirement by ARCs for assets acquired was increased from 5 per cent to 15 per cent. Norms for investment in ARCs as well as SRs, including for foreign investors, were eased subsequently.

  • Crisil said that assets under management (AUM) of ARCs, as measured by security receipts (SRs) outstanding, crossed the Rs 1 lakh-crore mark as on March 31, 2019, up 7 per cent from the previous year.

Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC):

  • An ARC that is a special type of financial institution buys the debtors of the bank at a mutually agreed value and attempts to recover the debts or associated securities by itself.

  • The ARCs take over a portion of the debts of the bank that qualify to be recognised as Non-Performing Assets.

  • ARCs are registered under the RBI and regulated under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Securities Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act, 2002).

Source: Indian Express


Part of GS- 3 Environment

Why in news?

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has pulled up 270 tyre pyrolysis units in 19 States for employing technology that is polluting and harmful to the health of workers employed.


  • Tyre pyrolysis refers to a technique of breaking down used tyres in the absence of oxygen. Shredded tyres, at temperatures between 250º C and 500º C, produce liquid oil and gases.

  • While this is considered a safer technique than burning tyres, pyrolysis leaves fine carbon matter, pyro-gas, oil as residue and the inadequate management of these by-products poses health risks.

  • The CPCB letter of December 4 says States should be closing down all pyrolysis units that are not compliant and that the import of hazardous substances - these include used tyres - ought to be strictly regulated.

Some Important Terms:

  • Incineration: uses MSW as a fuel, burning it with high volumes of air to form carbon dioxide and heat to make steam, which is then used to generate electricity.

  • Biomethanation: is a process by which organic material is microbiologically converted under anaerobic conditions to biogas.

  • It involves fermenting bacteria, organic acid oxidizing bacteria, and methanogenic archaea.

  • Gasification: is a process that converts organic or fossil fuel based carbonaceous materials into carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. This is achieved by reacting the material at high temperatures (>700’C), without combustion, with a controlled amount of oxygen and/or steam. The syngas produced by gasification can be turned into higher value commercial products.

  • Pyrolysis: involves application of heat with no added oxygen in order to generate oils and/or syngas (as well as solid waste outputs) and requires more homogenous waste streams.

Source: The Hindu


Part of GS-Health

Why in news?

The World Health Organization and UNICEF published a report on global scenario of Measles in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).


  • In 2018, measles caused an estimated 10 million cases and 1,42,000 deaths globally.

  • Measles is a highly-contagious virus and spreads rapidly in unvaccinated children, causing symptoms from rash to blindness, pneumonia to death.

  • Measles can be prevented through two doses of vaccination.

  • There were nearly 70,000 cases of measles in India in 2018, the third highest in the world.

  • At 2.3 million, India has the second highest number of children under one year of age who are not vaccinated against measles.

  • With 2.4 million, Nigeria has the most number of unvaccinated children.

  • The WHO recommends 95% coverage using two doses of measles vaccine to prevent outbreaks.

  • In 2018, only 86% of children globally received the first dose through routine immunisation. In the case of second dose, the coverage globally is just 69%.

  • India accounted for 47% of the 346 million children across the world who received measles vaccine during mass-immunisation campaigns.

Source : The Hindu


Part of GS- 2 IR

Why in news?

OPEC group of oil-producing countries and their allies, including Russia, have decided to cut oil production by 500,000 barrels per day from 1st January, 2019.


  • In a meeting in Vienna, they agreed to reduce production to stem pressure on prices from abundant reserves and weak global economic growth.

  • According to a statement, Ministers gathered at OPEC headquarters decided for an additional adjustment of five lakh barrels per day, effective from 1st January 2020.

  • This would bring production 1.7 million barrels per day below October 2018 levels.

  • The group, however, said, in addition, several countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, will continue their additional voluntary contributions.

  • It will lead to an overall production cut to 2.1 million barrels per day.

About OPEC:

  • OPEC is a permanent intergovernmental organization of 14 oil-exporting developing nations that coordinates and unifies the petroleum policies of its Member Countries.

  • Headquarter: Vienna, Austria.

  • OPEC was founded in 1960 in Baghdad, Iraq by five countries namely Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

  • Present member countries: Qatar terminated its membership on 1 January 2019. Thus, currently, the Organization has a total of 14 Member Countries.

Source: AIR


Part of GS-3 Environment

Why in news?

India is the fifth most vulnerable country globally to climate change, according to a new analysis released on 5th December, 2019. India has also recorded the highest number of fatalities due to climate change and the second highest monetary losses from its impact in 2018.


  • The Global Climate Risk Index 2020, published by environmental think tank German watch which assessed 181 countries and quantified impacts of climate change through economic losses, losses to GDP and fatalities to arrive at a ranking, found Japan to be the most vulnerable followed by Philippines, Germany, Madagascar and India.

  • The southwest monsoon in 2018 severely affected India, the analysis said adding that Kerala was especially impacted where 324 people died because of drowning or being buried in the landslides set off by the flooding- the worst in hundred years.

  • Japan remains the most vulnerable, according to the analysis, because it was hit by extreme weather events in 2018.

Key findings:

  • India is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change.

  • In 2020, India’s rank has worsened from the 14th spot in 2017 to 5th in 2018 in the global vulnerability.

  • India’s high rank is due to severe rainfalls, followed by heavy flooding and landslide that killed over 1000 people.

  • India has also recorded the highest number of fatalities due to climate change and the second highest monetary losses from its impact in 2018.

Source: HindustanTimes


Part of GS-2 Polity and Governance

Why in news?

Almost six years after the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, was signed into law, several key provisions needed for the anti-corruption ombudsman to function have still not been operationalised.


  • The process of constituting the Lokpal’s inquiry and prosecution wings has not yet begun, and regulations for how to conduct preliminary investigations have not been made, the Lokpal has said in response to RTI queries.

  • The movement to ensure accountability through an anti-corruption ombudsman has been long.

  • The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 but it was not until January 2014 that the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act came into force.

  • It was more than five years later, in March 2019, that the first chairperson and members of the Lokpal were appointed.

  • The process of constituting the Lokpal’s inquiry and prosecution wings has not yet begun, and regulations for how to conduct preliminary investigations have not been made.

  • The rules for the disclosure of assets and liabilities by public servants have not been notified either.

  • This is a key provision as the amassing of assets disproportionate to the known sources of income is often the basis for a complaint.

ABOUT LOKPAL:- Key Features of the Lokpal Act of 2013:

The Act allows setting up of anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State-level.

Composition: The Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.


  • The Lokpal will cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister. But the armed forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal.

  • The Act also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.

  • The States will have to institute Lokayukta within one year of the commencement of the Act.

  • The Act also ensures that public servants who act as whistleblowers are protected.


The person who is to be appointed as the chairperson of the Lokpal should be either of the following:

  • Either the former Chief Justice of India or

  • the former Judge of Supreme Court Or

  • an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.


  • Out of the maximum eight members, half will be judicial members. Minimum fifty per cent of the Members will be from SC / ST / OBC / Minorities and women.

  • The judicial member of the Lokpal should be either a former Judge of the Supreme Court or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.

  • The non-judicial member should be an eminent person with impeccable integrity and outstanding ability, having special knowledge and expertise of minimum 25 years in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, finance including insurance and banking, law and management.

Term of Office:

  • The term of office for Lokpal Chairman and Members is 5 years or till attaining age of 70 years.

  • The salary, allowances and other conditions of service of chairperson are equivalent to Chief Justice of India and members is equivalent to Judge of Supreme Court. If the person is already getting the pension (for being a former judge), the equivalent pension amount will be deducted from the salary.

  • The source of salary for Lokpal and Members is Consolidated Fund of India.

  • If the chairperson dies in office or has resigned from the post, President can authorise the senior-most Member to act as the Chairperson until new chairperson is appointed.

  • If chairperson is not available for certain functions due to leave, his job will be done by senior most member.


  • The Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.

  • As per the Act, the Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe.

  • Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.

  • An investigation must be completed within six months.

  • However, the Lokpal or Lokayukta may allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.

  • Special courts will be instituted to conduct trials on cases referred by Lokpal.

Ambit of the Lokpal:

  • For a wide range of public servants from the PM, ministers and MPs, to groups A, B, C and D employees of the central government various rules are in place.

  • If a complaint is filed against the PM, the Act says, “Lokpal shall inquire or cause an inquiry to be conducted into any matter involved in, or arising from, or connected with, any allegation of corruption made in a complaint”.

  • However, certain conditions will apply. The Act does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the PM relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.

  • Also, complaints against the PM are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of an inquiry and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.

  • Such an inquiry against the Prime Minister (if conducted) is to be held in camera and if the Lokpal comes to the conclusion that the complaint deserves to be dismissed, the records of the inquiry are not to be published or made available to anyone.

Lokpal itself is also subjected to the Law:

The Act also includes the Lokpal’s own members under the definition of “public servant”.

  • The Chairperson, Members, officers and other employees of the Lokpal shall be deemed, when acting or purporting to act in pursuance of any of the provisions of this Act to be public servants.

  • It shall apply to public servants in and outside India.

  • It clarifies that a complaint under this Act shall only relate to a period during which the public servant was holding or serving in that capacity.

Source: The Hindu


Part of GS-3 Environment and ecology

Why in news?

Researchers have developed a device that will allow scientists to monitor frogs in the wild.


  • It is described as the world’s first solar-powered remote survey device that can be installed at any frog pond and which receives a 3G or 4G cellular network, it has been named “FrogPhone”.

  • It has been developed by a team from various Australian institutions, including the University of New South Wales and the University of Canberra.

  • A field trial conducted between August 2017 and March 2018 in Canberra proved successful, the British Ecology Society said in a statement.

Source: Indian Express


Part of GS-3 Environment

Why in news?

Greenhouse gas emissions directly from the movement of volcanic rocks can create massive global warming effects. According to a study, the effects could be more than previously believed. It may lead to changes in the way scientists estimate climate change.


  • The study, published in the journal, Nature Communications, noted that changes in the planet's geology caused the largest temporary global warming of the past 65 million years.

  • The researchers, including those from the University of Birmingham in the UK, said one such role in climate change could be played by Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs), extremely large accumulations of rocks forming when magma travelled through the crust towards the surface.

  • They created a model of changes in carbon emissions during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) - a short interval of maximum temperature lasting around 100,000 years some 55 million years ago.

  • As part of the study, the researchers calculated the greenhouse gas fluxes associated with the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP) - one of Earth's largest LIPs that spans Britain, Ireland, Norway and Greenland.

  • The simulations by the researchers predicted that the volcanic rocks part of the NAIP could have initiated PETM climate change. According to the researchers, the PETM is the largest natural climate change event of this era.

Greenhouse effect and Global Warming

  • A greenhouse is a structure whose roof and walls are made chiefly of transparent material, such as glass, in which plants requiring regulated climatic conditions are grown.

  • In a greenhouse, the incident solar radiation (the visible and adjacent portions of the infrared and ultraviolet ranges of the spectrum) passes through the glass roof and walls and is absorbed by the floor, earth, and contents, which become warmer and re-emit the energy as longer-wavelength infrared radiation (heat radiation).

  • Glass and other materials used for greenhouse walls do not transmit infrared radiation, so the infrared cannot escape via radiative transfer.

  • As the structure is not open to the atmosphere, heat also cannot escape via convection, so the temperature inside the greenhouse rises. This is known as the ‘greenhouse effect’.

Global Warming Potential

A relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps in the atmosphere

Compares the amount of heat trapped by a certain mass of the gas in question to the amount of heat trapped by a similar mass of carbon dioxide

GWP of Primary CHGs – SF6 > PFCs > HFCs > N2O > CH4 > CO2.

The main greenhouse gases include:

Water vapour

Carbon dioxide (CO2)

Methane (CH4)

Nitrous oxide (NO2)

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)

Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)

Perfluorocarbon (CFC)

Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)

Carbon tetrachloride (CCL)

Source: AIR


Part of GS- 2 Polity

Why in news?

Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on 5th December, 2019 pulled up members for skipping meetings of the standing committees.

He said that only 18 members attended all the 41 meetings of the eight panels since their reconstitution in September last.


Why do we have parliamentary committees?

  • Committees are an instrument of Parliament for its own effective functioning.

  • Committees are platforms for threadbare discussion on a proposed law.

  • The smaller cohort of lawmakers, assembled on the basis of the proportional strength of individual parties and interests and expertise of individual lawmakers, could have more open, intensive and better-informed discussions.

  • Committee meetings are ‘closed door’ and members are not bound by party whips, which allows them the latitude for a more meaningful exchange of views as against discussions in full and open Houses where grandstanding and party positions invariably take precedence.

  • Members of Parliament may have great acumen but they would require the assistance of experts in dealing with such situations. It is through committees that such expertise is drawn into law making. They allow for more detailed discussions.

  • This mechanism also enables parliamentarians to understand the executive processes closely.

What are the types of committees?

  • Most committees are ‘standing’ as their existence is uninterrupted and usually reconstituted on an annual basis.

  • Some are ‘selecting’ committees formed for a specific purpose, for instance, to deliberate on a particular bill. Once the Bill is disposed of, that select committee ceases to exist. Some standing committees are departmentally related.

  • The three financial committees are the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.


  • Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105 (on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).

Source: The Hindu


Part of GS-3 Economy

Why in news?

The country's foreign exchange reserves rose by $2.48 billion during the week ended November 29, official data showed on 6th December, 2019.


  • According to the Reserve Bank of India's weekly statistical supplement, the overall forex reserves increased to $451.08 billion from $448.59 billion reported for the week ended November 22.

  • India's forex reserves comprise foreign currency assets (FCAs), gold reserves, special drawing rights (SDRs) and India's reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

  • However, the RBI's weekly data showed that the value of the country's gold reserves went down by $148 million to $26.64 billion.

  • Similarly, the SDR value inched down by $4 million to $1.43 billion and reserve position with the IMF declined by $6 million to $3.62 billion.

Source: The Hindu


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