Current Affairs Dec 10

MoU between India and Luxembourg

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for the proposal of Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to sign a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Securities and Exchange Board of India and Financial and Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF), Luxembourg.


  • The MoU is likely to strengthen cross border cooperation in the area of securities regulations and facilitate mutual assistance, contribute towards efficient performance of the supervisory functions aid in imparting technical domain knowledge and enable effective enforcement of the laws and regulations governing the securities markets of India and Luxembourg.

Major impact:

  • CSSF, like SEBI, is a co-signatory to International Organization of Securities Commissions’ Multilateral MOU (IOSCO MMoU).
  • However, the IOSCO MMoU does not have under its scope the provision for technical assistance.
  • The proposed bilateral MOU would, in addition to contributing towards strengthening the information sharing framework leading to effective enforcement of securities laws, also help in establishing a technical assistance programme.
  • The technical assistance programme would benefit the Authorities by way of consultations on matters relating to capital markets, capacity building activities and training programmes for the staff.


  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was established under the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 to regulate the securities markets in India.
  • The objectives of the SEBI are to protect the interest of the investors and to regulate and promote development of securities markets in India.
  • The Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) of Luxembourg is a public law entity, with administrative and financial autonomy, established by the law of 23rd December 1998.
  • The CSSF is the competent authority for the prudential supervision of the entire Luxembourg financial centre, except for the insurance sector.
  • The CSSF is also legally responsible for the regulation and supervision of the securities market.




Memorandum of Understanding between India and Suriname

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Republic of Suriname on Cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine.
  • The bilateral Memorandum of Understanding will encourage cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Health of the Government of the Republic of Suriname through joint initiatives and technology development in the health sector.

Salient Features:

The main areas of cooperation between the two Governments include the following:

  • Exchange and Training of medical doctors, officials, other health professionals and experts;
  • Assistance in development of human resources and setting up of health care facilities;
  • Short term training of human resources in health;
  • Regulation of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics and exchange of information thereon;
  • Promotion of business development opportunities in pharmaceuticals;
  • Procurement of generic and essential drugs and assistance in sourcing of drug supplies;
  • Procurement of health equipment and pharmaceuticals products;
  • Tobacco control;
  • Promotion of mental health;
  • Early detection and management of depression
  • Digital health and Tele-medicine; and
  • Any other area of cooperation as may be mutually decided upon.




Public Wi-Fi Networks

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for the proposal of DoT
      • For setting up of Public Wi-Fi Networks by Public Data Office Aggregators (PDOAs)
      • To provide public Wi-Fi service through Public Data Offices (PDOs) spread across length and breadth of the country
      • To accelerate proliferation of Broadband Internet services through Public Wi-Fi network in the country.
  • There shall be no license fee for providing Broadband Internet through these public Wi-Fi networks.

Salient Features:

  • This Public Wi-Fi Access Network Interface will be known as PM-WANI.

PM-WANI eco-system will be operated by different players as described herein under:

  • Public Data Office (PDO): It will establish, maintain, and operate only WANI compliant Wi-Fi Access Points and deliver broadband services to subscribers.
  • Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA): It will be an aggregator of PDOs and perform the functions relating to Authorization and Accounting.
  • App Provider: It will develop an App to register users and discover WANI compliant Wi-Fi hotspots in the nearby area and display the same within the App for accessing the internet service.
  • Central Registry: It will maintain the details of App Providers, PDOAs, and PDOs. To begin with, the Central Registry will be maintained by C-DoT.


  • While no registration would be required for PDOs, PDOAs and App Providers will get themselves registered with DoT through online registration portal (SARALSANCHAR; of DoT, without paying any registration fee.
  • Registration shall be granted within 7 days of the application.
  • Further, the proliferation of public Wi-Fi will not only create employment but also enhance disposable incomes in the hands of small and medium entrepreneurs and boost the GDP of the country.
  • Proliferation of Broadband Services through public Wi-Fi is a step towards digital India and consequential benefit thereon.




Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity between Mainland (Kochi) and Lakshadweep Islands (KLI Project).
  • The Project envisages provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Kochi and 11 Islands of Lakshadweep viz. Kavaratti, Kalpeni, Agati, Amini, Androth, Minicoy, Bangaram, Bitra, Chetlat, Kiltan & Kadmat.

Financial implications:

  • The estimated cost of implementation is about Rs. 1072 crore including operational expenses for 5 years. The Project would be funded by Universal Service Obligation Fund.


  • The present approval for Provision of Submarine Optical Fibre Cable Connectivity will vastly improve telecommunication facility in the Lakshadweep Islands by providing large bandwidth.
  • The submarine connectivity project will have vital role for delivery of e-Governance services at the doorstep of citizens, potential development of fisheries, coconut based industries and high-value tourism, educational development in term of tele-education and in health care in terms of telemedicine facilities.

Implementation Strategy & Targets:

  • Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) has been nominated as Project Execution Agency and Telecommunications Consultant India Ltd. (TCIL) as the Technical Consultant of the Project to assist Universal Service Obligation Fund, Department of Telecommunications.
  • The ownership of the asset under the project will rest with USOF, the funding agency, under DoT. The project is targeted to be completed by May 2023.




Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY)

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana (ABRY) to boost employment in formal sector and incentivize creation of new employment opportunities during the Covid recovery phase under Atmanirbhar Bharat Package 3.0.
  • Cabinet has approved an expenditure of Rs. 1,584 crore for the current financial year and Rs.22,810 crore for the entire Scheme period i.e. 2020-2023.

The salient features of the Scheme are as under:

  • Government of India will provide subsidy for two years in respect of new employees engaged on or after 1st October, 2020 and upto 30th June, 2021
  • Government of India will pay both 12% employees’ contribution and 12% employers’ contribution i.e. 24% of wages towards EPF in respect of new employees in establishments employing upto 1000 employees for two years,
  • Government of India will pay only employees’ share of EPF contribution i.e. 12% of wages in respect of new employees in establishments employing more than 1000 employee for two years.
  • An employee drawing monthly wage of less than Rs. 15000/- who was not working in any establishment registered with the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) before 1st October, 2020 and did not have a Universal Account Number or EPF Member account number prior to 1st October 2020 will be eligible for the benefit,
  • Any EPF member possessing Universal Account Number (UAN) drawing monthly wage of less than Rs. 15000/- who made exit from employment during Covid pandemic from 01.03.2020 to 30.09.2020 and did not join employment in any EPF covered establishment up to 30.09.2020 will also be eligible to avail benefit,
  • EPFO will credit the contribution in Aadhaar seeded account of members in electronic manner,
  • EPFO shall develop a software for the scheme and also develop a procedure which is transparent and accountable at their end.
  • EPFO shall work out modality to ensure that there is no overlapping of benefits provided under ABRY with any other scheme implemented by EPFO.




Quantum Communication

What is it?

  • Secure communications are vital for defence and strategic agencies world over and distribution of encryption keys from time to time is an important requirement in this context.
  • Sharing of keys over the air or wired links requires encryption, which in turn requires encryption keys to be pre-shared.
  • Quantum based communication offers a robust solution to sharing the keys securely.
  • Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) undertook the project for development of this technology.

Why in News?

  • DRDO developed Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) technology underwent trials in Hyderabad between two DRDO labs, DRDL and RCI, to show secure communication.

Who Developed?

  • The technology is developed by CAIR, Bengaluru and DYSL-QT, Mumbai.
  • Quantum Communication using time-bin Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) scheme was performed under realistic conditions.
  • Quantum based security against eavesdropping was validated for the deployed system at over 12kms range and 10dB attenuation over fibre optic channel.
  • Continuous wave laser source was used to generate photons without depolarization effect.
  • The timing accuracy employed in the setup was of the order of picoseconds.
  • The Single photon avalanche detector (SPAD) recorded arrival of photons and key rate was achieved in the range of kbps with low Quantum bit error rate.
  • Software was developed for data acquisition, time synchronization, post-processing, determining Quantum bit error rate and extracting other important parameters.




Indus Valley Civilisation sites

Why in News?

  • A new study has found the presence of animal products, including cattle and buffalo meat, in ceramic vessels dating back about 4,600 years at seven Indus Valley Civilisation sites in present-day Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • About 50-60% of domestic animal bones found at Indus Valley sites come from cattle/buffalo.
  • The high proportions of cattle bones may suggest a cultural preference for beef consumption across Indus populations, supplemented by the consumption of mutton/lamb.
  • Analysis of lipid residues involved extraction and identification of the fats and oils that were absorbed in the vessels.
  • Lipids are relatively less prone to degradation and have been discovered in pottery from archaeological contexts around the world.
  • However, they have seen very limited investigation in ancient ceramics from South Asia.
  • While cattle bones have been found in large numbers at Indus Valley sites, the study found little evidence of dairy products.




Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Why in News?

  • Britain’s medicines regulator has advised people with a history of significant allergies not to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after two people reported adverse reactions on the first day of its rollout in the UK.

What exactly happened?

  • UK officials said there have been two reports of anaphylaxis and one report of a possible allergic reaction since rollout began.
  • Anaphylaxis can cause throat swelling, breathing trouble and difficulty swallowing.
  • Anaphylaxis is an overreaction of the body’s immune system, which the UK National Health Service describes as severe and sometimes life-threatening.

Who should not get the vaccine?

  • Anyone with a history of anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine or food should not get the vaccine.
  • Pfizer had excluded people with a history of significant adverse reaction to vaccines or its vaccine’s ingredients from late-stage trials.




China Successfully Launches Two Satellites

Why in News?

  • China successfully launched two satellites for the detection of gravitational waves into planned orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan Province.
  • The two satellites, which compose the Gravitational Wave High-energy Electromagnetic Counterpart All-sky Monitor (GECAM) mission, were launched by a Long March-11 carrier

Used for?

  • The GECAM satellites will be used to monitor high-energy celestial phenomena such as gravitational wave gamma-ray bursts, high-energy radiation of fast radio bursts, special gamma-ray bursts and magnetar bursts, and to study neutron stars, black holes and other compact objects and their merger processes.
  • They will also detect high-energy radiation phenomena in space, such as solar flares, Earth gamma flashes and Earth electron beams, providing observation data for scientists.
  • The GECAM project is carried out by the Chinese Academy of Science.


Social Distancing Fish

  • Social distancing has been found to cause changes in the expression of certain genes in the brain of zebrafish.
  • When the fish were raised in social isolation, the level of transcription of a gene (parathyroid hormone 2) was found to decrease.
  • Just 30 minutes after more zebrafish were added to the tank, the expression levels rose.
  • More studies are needed to understand this gene and its functions in detail.




Life on Mars

  • If there was life on Mars, where would it have been?
  • As per Researchers, the most habitable region would have been several kilometers below the surface.
  • At such depths, life could have been sustained by hydrothermal (heating) activity and rock-water reactions.
  • So, the subsurface may represent the longest-lived habitable environment on Mars,” says lead author Lujendra Ojha in a release.




Sound of Fluid

  • How does a fluid that flows with very small friction sound like?
  • Neither like a forest river nor like water poured into a cup.
  • Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a perfect fluid in the laboratory using elementary particles called fermions and recorded the sound waves travelling through it.
  • The team writes that these sounds can help study neutron stars, the early universe, and other fluids.




Honey bees

Why in News?

  • Scientists have observed that Asian honey bees collect chicken feces, buffalo dung and even human urine, then smear it around the entrances of their nests to stop attacks from marauding giant hornets.
  • The pungent practice is the first documented case of honey bees collecting non-plant matter, and the first clear example that they can use a “tool” (in this case, excrement).
  • It was previously known that honey bees, famous for their prolific collection of resources, have devised an array of strategies to deflect attacks from predators.
  • These include physically shielding their colonies, performing synchronized body shakes or wave-like displays, hissing, or enveloping intruders in a ball until they overheat.
  • Giant hornets, who are four to five times bigger than honey bees, are well-armoured killing machines with a venomous sting and powerful mandibles for crushing, dismembering and chewing prey.
  • Colonies that were exposed to secretions from glands that giant hornets use to mark nests for attack had more fecal spots around their nest entrance after six hours than colonies exposed to a control substance.
  • Animal feces may contain compounds that deter the hornets. Or, it might be masking the chemical markers the hornets put down to target colonies for mass attacks.




Globally Forcible Displacements

Why in News?

  • More than 80 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide as of mid-2020, with existing and new conflicts as well as the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically affecting their lives this year, a UN report has said.
  • According to its report on trends in global forced displacement released in Geneva, The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR estimates that global forced displacement surpassed 80 million at mid-year.


  • At the beginning of this year it said that about 79.5 million people had been forced from their homes due to persecution, conflict, and human rights violations.
  • This total included 45.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs), 29.6 million refugees and others forcibly displaced outside their country, and 4.2 million asylum seekers.
  • An estimated 30-34 million (38-43%) of the 79.5 million forcibly displaced persons are children below 18 years of age (end-2019).
  • More than two thirds of all refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and Venezuelans displaced abroad came from just five countries — as of mid-2020- Syria (6.6 million), Venezuela (3.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.3 million) and Myanmar (1 million).
  • Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees, with 3.6 million people. Colombia is second with 1.8 million, including Venezuelans displaced abroad.




Submarine Day

Why in News?

  • The Indian Navy celebrated Submarine Day on December 8.
  • The Indian Naval Ensign was unfurled on INS Kalvari, the first submarine to be inducted in the Indian Navy, at Riga in Latvia, the erstwhile USSR, in 1967.
  • Kalvari is the Malayalam name for Tiger Shark, a predator in the Indian Ocean.
  • The Kalvari was decommissioned in 1996 after 29 years of service.

What kind of submarine was INS Kalvari?

  • INS Kalvari was a diesel-electric submarine of the Foxtrot Class from the erstwhile USSR.
  • After INS Kalvari, three more submarines — Karanj, Khanderi and Kursura — were commissioned in the Indian Navy along with submarine support vehicle Amba.
  • A submarine rescue ship, INS Nistar, was also commissioned in 1972.

What kind are the present Kalvari Class submarines in Indian Navy?

  • The Indian Navy is inducting several submarines in Kalvari Class, named after the very first submarine inducted into service.
  • INS Kalvari, a diesel-electric submarine of Scorpene-class, was inducted into service in 2017 after having being built at the Mazagon dock in Mumbai.
  • It has been designed by French company DCNS.
  • INS Khanderi is the other submarine of Kalvari class currently in service.
  • The other submarines slated to join service under this class are Vela, Karanj, Vaghir and Vaghsheer.




Malana Cream

Why in News?

  • The Narcotics Control Bureau in Mumbai claimed to have seized the contraband ‘Malana Cream’ from a person linked to actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.

What is Malana Cream?

  • It is the charas or hash or hashish which comes from the Malana Valley in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. Charas, called bhang in Himachal.
  • It is the resin obtained from a species or strain of the cannabis plant (botanical classification of cannabis is disputed), which grows naturally in the valley and is also cultivated illegally.
  • The valley has a single village, Malana, and the hash resin produced there is generally more ‘creamy’, or clay-like, as compared to that produced in other parts of the state.

What makes it unique?

  • The cannabis plant has a number of chemical compounds called cannabinoids, among which tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive constituent which produces the high sensation.
  • Strains of the plant with low levels of THC are used for industrial and non-drug purposes such as making ropes, paper, textiles etc.
  • Plants with a high level of another cannabinoid called CBD (cannabidiol) are used for medicinal purposes.
  • A high proportion of THC in the plant extract is required for recreational drug use and Malana Cream is believed to be particularly rich in THC, making it more potent.
  • Resin extracted from the plant, generally by rubbing using hands, is also concentrated further to obtain the more potent hash oil.




Online ‘Mapathon’ launched

Why in News?

  • The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), along with the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B), ISRO and FOSSE have launched an ‘online mapathon’ to popularise open-source educational tools to create resource maps for the country.
  • Peoples’ participation would improve resource mapping and make it more accurate in solving complex real-time problems.
  • This will also create awareness that ISRO’s data can be used not just by government agencies but also by common people to track natural calamities, floods, droughts, crop failure, assess soil fertility, water and cropping area.
  • The maps would be hosted on open source archives of Free Open Source Software in Education (FOSSE) or RuDRA at the IIT Bombay that anyone can access for community applications.




Policy on School Bag 2020

What it Says?

  • School bags should not be more than 10% of the body weight of students across classes I to X and there should be no homework till class II.
  • The new ‘Policy on School Bag 2020’ of the Union ministry of education also recommends that the weight of the bag needs to be monitored on a regular basis in schools.
  • They should be light-weight with two padded and adjustable straps that can squarely fit on both shoulders and no wheeled carriers should be allowed.


  • The weight of each textbook may come printed on them by the publishers.
  • The ‘Policy on School Bag 2020’ made 11 recommendations on the weight of the bags, including adequate good quality mid-day meal and potable water to all the students so that they need not carry lunch boxes or water bottles.
  • Children with special needs be provided a double set of textbooks, through book banks in schools and lockers in classes for storing and retrieving books and other items.
  • There should be no bags in pre-primary.
  • For classes I and II the bag weight range should be between 1.6 kg to 2.2 kg.
  • Likewise it should be 1.7 kg to 2.5 kg, 2 kg to 3 kg, 2.5 to 4 kg, 2.5 kg to 4.5 kg and 3.5 kg to 5 kg for classes III to V, classes VI and VII, class VIII, classes IX and X and classes XI and XII respectively.
  • Total study time should be accounted for while planning the syllabus.
  • While there should be no homework upto class II and a maximum of two hours per week for classes III to V, homework duration for classes VI to VIII should not exceed one hour a day and two hours a day for classes IX and above.




Human Rights Day 2020: Dec 10th

  • Human Rights Day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
  • The UDHR is a milestone document that publicly announces the absolute rights which all the human beings are entitled to irrespective of any race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Human Rights Day 2020 theme

  • This year’s Human Rights Day theme is “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights”. It is linked to the Covid-19 pandemic with the focus on the need to building a back better by ensuring human rights are the centre of the recovery efforts.




Centre Can Notify Any Land, Acquire It for Highway

Why in News?

  • The Centre is “fully competent” to notify “any land (not necessarily an existing road/highway) for acquisition, to construct a highway to be a national highway”, the Supreme Court ruled while upholding notifications issued under the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Act, 1956, for acquisition of land for construction of the eight-lane Chennai-Krishnagiri-Salem national highway.
  • The highway is to be built as part of the Bharatmala Pariyojna–Phase-I project.
  • The project had come under challenge on grounds that the notification issued under Section 3(A) of the NHAI Act could only have been done after environmental clearance. It was also contended that the Centre could not acquire open green fields for construction of national highway, and that only a preexisting state highway could be declared as such.
  • The HC upheld the argument that prior environmental clearance was needed for issuing the notification under Section 3(A) for the project, 10 km of which is scheduled to pass through the forest region.
  • Overruling this, the SC said the notification is only an expression of interest to acquire the designated land, and no prior environmental clearance was needed before issuing it.


National Campaign against Torture (NCAT) Report

  • Data culled from the annual reports of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) from 1996-97 to 2017-18 have revealed that 71.58% of the custodial deaths in India were of people from poor or marginalised sections of society.
  • Chakma and Hajong groups “face serious discrimination as descendants of migrants from East Pakistan” in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The NHRC recorded a total of 15 deaths in police custody during 2014-2015 to 2018-2019 in the State.
  • Of these 15, three were from the Chakma community.
  • It is clear that Chakmas with 3% of the total population constituted about 20% of the deaths in police custody.
  • These custodial deaths expose the non-existent criminal justice system for the targeted and discriminated groups like the Chakmas.


Man-made Mass

Why in News?

  • For the first time in history man-made materials now likely outweigh all life on Earth, scientists said y in research detailing the “crossover point” at which humanity’s footprint is heavier than that of the natural world.
  • The weight of roads, buildings and other constructed or manufactured materials is doubling roughly every 20 years, and it currently weighed 1.1 teratonnes (1.1 trillion tonnes).
  • As mankind has ramped up its insatiable consumption of natural resources, the weight of living biomass — trees, plants and animals — has halved since the agricultural revolution to stand at just 1 teratonne currently.
  • Estimating changes in global biomass and man-made mass since 1990, the research showed that the mass of human-produced objects stood at just three percent of the weight of biomass at the start of the 20th century.
  • But since the post-World War II global production boom, manufacturing has surged to the extent that humans now produce the equivalent of the weight of every person on Earth every week on average.
  • At the current growth rate, man-made material is likely to weigh as much as three teratonnes by 2040.
  • At the same time, overall biomass is decreasing, mainly because of deforestation and land use changes making way for intensive agriculture.
  • Buildings and roads account for most of the man-made mass, and a number of construction trends — including shifting from bricks to concrete in construction in the mid-1950s — contributed to the accelerated weight accumulation.


Que-    Recently which Indian Union Territories entire group of islands being declared an organic agricultural area

a) Andaman

b) Nicobar

c) Lakshadweep

d) Diu

Ans-     (c)

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