Current Affairs Dec 9

Indo-Nepal Link Canal

Why in News?

  • NHPC’s CMD laid the foundation stone of head regulator works of Indo-Nepal Link Canal at Barrage of 94.2 MW Tanakpur Power Station of NHPC located in Banbasa, DisttChampawat (Uttarakhand).
  • The 1.2 km long Indo-Nepal canal is being constructed under ‘Mahakali Treaty’ signed between India and Nepal.

About Mahakali Treaty

  • Mahakali Treaty (Mahakali Sandhi) is an agreement between the Government of Nepal (former His Majesty’s Government of Nepal) and the Government of India regarding the development of watershed of Mahakali River.
  • The treaty was signed in 1996.
  • The treaty has 12 articles agreements for an integrated development of barrage, dams and hydropower for mutual cooperation of the two countries by managing the water resources.
  • The treaty recognizes the Mahakali River as a boundary river between the two countries.




Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)

Why in News?

  • NITI Aayog in association with Patna High Court, organized the inaugural meeting in a broader engagement on efficient and affordable access to justice for all, through the the interplay of technology, law and innovation in the post pandemic world.

About ODR

  • ODR is the resolution of disputes, particularly smalland mediumvalue cases, using digital technology and techniques of alternate dispute resolution (ADR), such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.
  • While courts are becoming digitized through the efforts of the judiciary, more effective, scalable, and collaborative mechanisms of containment and resolution are urgently needed.
  • ODR can help resolve disputes efficiently and affordably.




Supply Of Life-saving Medicines

Why in News?

  • The Ministry of Railways has written to the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, seeking exemption for procuring certain medical items manufactured outside India, particularly medicines used in the treatment of COVID-19, cancer, etc.
  • The issue was first flagged in August 2020 by Northern Railway, which formally wrote to the Railway Board, expressing difficulty in procuring drugs and surgical items in the light of the latest ‘Make in India’ policy.

Problem Faced

  • Suppliers of anti-viral medicines used for the treatment of COVID-19, and even the vaccine for the coronavirus, may not fall under the Class-I or Class-II categories, which is required for purchases under the new ‘Make in India’ guidelines.

Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade’s (DPIIT) norms

  • Class-I is a local supplier or service provider whose goods, services or works offered for procurement have local content equal to or more than 50%, while
  • Class-II is a supplier or service provider whose goods, services or works offered for procurement have local content of more than 20% but less than 50%.
  • Only these two categories of suppliers shall be eligible to bid in the procurement of all goods, services or works and with estimated value of purchases of less than ₹200 crore.
  • However, the Ministry of Railways was advised to exercise the powers conferred under Para 14 of the ‘Make in India’ policy guidelines with the approval of the Minister in-charge to seek relaxation in any particular procurement, if required.
  • Indian Railways, one of the largest employers in the country with over 12 lakh employees, has its own network of healthcare infrastructure, including super speciality hospitals in all Zonal Headquarters.




National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA)

Why in News?

  • The Democratic-controlled House has approved a wide-ranging defence policy bill, even as U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his threat to veto the bill unless lawmakers clamp down on social media companies he claims were biased against him during the election.
  • S. President says he will veto “the very weak National Defence Authorisation Act”, or NDAA, unless it repeals so-called Section 230, a part of the communications code that shields Twitter, Facebook and other tech giants from content liability.
  • Also wants Congress to strip out a provision of the bill that allows renaming of military bases that now honour Confederate leaders.
  • Measures approved by the House and Senate would require the Pentagon to rename bases such as Fort Benning and Fort Hood named for Confederate generals.
  • The Bill affirms automatic 3% pay raises for US troops and authorises other military programmes — despite the veto threat.




Simulator to Help Researchers Develop Quantum Algorithms

Why in News?

  • Google launched qsim, a new open-source quantum simulator to help researchers develop quantum algorithms.
  • Unveiled a new website to get started with qsim and other open-source quantum software.

How is it Helpful?

  • Researchers can access Google’s tools, research initiatives, educational material, latest publications and research repositories from the website.
  • Students can find educational resources or apply for internships, and developers interested in quantum computing can also join.

What is it?

  • Simulators are important tools for writing and debugging quantum code for developing quantum algorithms.
  • Currently available quantum processors are prone to noise and don’t correct errors, simulators like qsim will allow researchers to explore quantum algorithms under idealized conditions. They also help prepare experiments to run on actual quantum hardware.

About qsim

  • qsim is part of Google’s open source ecosystem of software tools that include Cirq, quantum programming framework, ReCirq, a repository of research examples, and TensorFlow Quantum for quantum machine learning.
  • Researchers who have developed quantum algorithms with Cirq can use qsim by changing one line of code in Colab.
  • Once done, they will experience an instant speedup in their circuit simulations.




Method to Harvest Water from Air

Why in News?

  • A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati (IIT-G) has developed a pitcher plant-inspired inexpensive method for harvesting water from humid air.

How is it Developed?

  • The method, developed by spraying a sponge-like porous polymeric material on a simple A4 printer paper, can also used in underwater hulls of ships and submarines to prevent bio-fouling as well as to prevent icing on aircraft windows.
  • Such water harvesting techniques use the concept of hydrophobicity or water-repelling nature of some materials such as the lotus leaf.


  • Such simple hydrophobicity is unsuitable for water harvesting from highly humid environments because high moisture content can displace the trapped air and cause permanent damage.
  • Researchers have thus taken inspiration from the insect-eating pitcher plant that has a slippery surface making insects that land on it to fall into its tube-shaped structure to be digested.
  • The IIT-G researchers used the concept of chemically patterned slippery liquid-infused porous surface, or SLIPS for the first time to effectively harvest water from moist or foggy air.
  • The researchers also compared the performance of their pitcher-plant inspired SLIPS materials to other bio-inspired ideas and found theirs to be superior in terms of efficiency of water harvesting.







Major buyers of American weapons in 2020

Why in News?

  • India’s weapons procurement from the United States jumped from a meagre $6.2 million to a whopping $3.4 billion in the final year of the Donald Trump’s administration.
  • Data released by the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the jump in the sale of American weapons to India comes at a time when sale of weapons from the U.S. to other countries has dipped to $50.8 billion in 2020 from $55.7 billion in 2019.
  • Major buyers of American weapons in 2020 were India ($3.4 billion up from $6.2 million in fiscal year 2019), Morocco ($4.5 billion up from $12.4 million), Poland ($4.7 billion up from $673 million), Singapore ($1.3 billion up from $137 million), Taiwan ($11.8 billion up from $876 million), and the United Arab Emirates ($3.6 billion up from $1.1 billion).
  • Several countries reported a drop in purchase of weapons from the U.S..
  • Prominent among them were Saudi Arabia which came down from $14.9 billion in 2019 to $1.2 billion in 2020, Afghanistan ($1.1 billion down from $1.6 billion), Belgium ($41.8 million down from $5.5 billion), Iraq ($368 million down from $1.4 billion), and South Korea ($2.1 billion down from $2.7 billion).
  • According to the 2020 edition of the Historical Sales Book, India purchased weapons worth $754.4 million in 2017 and $282 million in 2018.
  • Between 1950 and 2020, U.S. sale of weapons to India under Foreign Military Sales (FMS) category was $12.8 billion.



SIPRI Report

Why in News?

  • S. and Chinese companies dominated the global arms market in 2019, while the West Asia made its first appearance among the 25 biggest weapons manufacturers, a report by the SIPRI research institute said.

Report Findings

  • The U.S. arms industry accounted for 61% of sales by the world’s “Top 25” manufacturers last year, ahead of China’s 15.7%, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
  • Total sales by the “Top 25” rose by 8.5% to $361 billion, or 50 times the annual budget of the UN’s peacekeeping operations.
  • The U.S. has dominated the market for decades, but for China — whose companies’ sales rose by almost 5% in 2019 — “this increase corresponds to the implementation of reforms to modernise the People’s Liberation Army underway since 2015.
  • S. companies Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics clinched the top five spots, while China’s AVIC, CETC and Norinco held spots six, eight and nine.
  • Airbus (European, 13th in the ranking) and Thales (French, 14th) can meanwhile boast of having the strongest international presence — each is represented in 24 countries, ahead of U.S. Boeing.
  • For the first time, a company from the West Asia made it into the “Top 25”: EDGE, of the United Arab Emirates, was formed by the consolidation of some 25 defence entities in 2019.
  • In 22nd spot, EDGE “is a good illustration of how the combination of high national demand for military products and services with a desire to become less dependent on foreign suppliers is driving the growth of arms companies in the Middle East.
  • French group Dassault had shot up from 38th to 17th place, boosted by exports of its Rafale fighter jets in 2019.
  • Two Russian companies were also in the “Top 25”, Almaz-Antey in 15th spot and United Shipbuilding in 25th.




France New Security Law

Why in News?

  • Paris has been rocked by street protests after the government introduced a controversial security bill in parliament that seeks to provide greater powers and protections for police officers.
  • The proposed law, being pushed by President Emmanuel Macron, is being opposed by civil rights liberties groups, journalists and migrant activists.

 What does the proposed law seek to do?

  • Three articles of the bill, which have caused controversy, concern enabling the police to organise ground and air mass surveillance, while at the same time restricting the filming of police officers.
  • Articles 21 and 22 of the proposed “global security” law allow the police and the gendarmes (paramilitary forces) to use body cameras and drones to film citizens, and allow the recorded footage to be livestreamed to the command post.
  • Article 24 penalises publishing “the image of the face or any other element of identification” of a police or paramilitary official who is acting in “a police operation”,
  • If the dissemination is done with “the intent of harming their physical or mental integrity”.
  • Punishment for the crime will be imprisonment for up to 1 year, with a maximum fine of 45,000 euros.

What are the opponents of the new law saying?

  • Journalists and human rights groups have expressed concern that Article 24 would make it harder to cover public events and record instances of police violence, thus making it more difficult to hold officers accountable.
  • Its wording has also been criticised as being open-ended, and reporters have worried how the courts would interpret the term “intent of harming.
  • Civil liberties groups and left-wing parties have called the bill authoritarian and unnecessary, insisting that existing laws are sufficient to protect police officers.

What have the bill’s supporters said?

  • The government has insisted that it does not intend to target press freedoms, and that the new law is aimed at protecting police officers and their families from online trolling and harassment when off duty.
  • Another controversial legal measure, the so-called “anti-separatism” bill that Macron is proposing, has been seen as a part of this trend.
  • The bill, which aims to crack down on Islamic radicalism, is to be introduced in Parliament in December, and envisages a range of measures, including school education reforms to ensure Muslim children do not drop out, stricter controls on mosques and preachers, and has caused concern among Muslims in France.





Why in News?

  • Ramnagar Forest Division in Nainital district, Uttarakhand, recently built its first eco-bridge for reptiles and smaller mammals.

Why eco-bridges matter

  • Eco-ducts or eco-bridges aim to enhance wildlife connectivity that can be disrupted because of highways or logging.
  • These include canopy bridges (usually for monkeys, squirrels and other arboreal species);
  • Concrete underpasses or overpass tunnels or viaducts (usually for larger animals); and
  • Amphibian tunnels or culverts.
  • Usually these bridges are overlaid with planting from the area to give it a contiguous look with the landscape.




Mount Everest got 3 feet height

Why in News?

  • The Foreign Ministers of Nepal and China jointly certified the elevation of Mount Everest at 8,848.86 metres above sea level — 86 cm higher than what was recognised since 1954.
  • The common declaration meant that the two countries have shed their long-standing difference in opinion about the mountain’s height — 29,017 feet (8,844 m) claimed by China and 29,028 ft (8,848 m) by Nepal.

How and when was the earlier measurement of 8,848 m done?

  • This was determined by the Survey of India in 1954, using instruments like theodolites and chains.
  • The elevation of 8,848 m came to be accepted in all references worldwide — except by China.
  • Mount Everest rises from the border between Nepal and China.
  • In 1999, a US team put the elevation at 29,035 feet (nearly 8,850 m). This survey was sponsored by the National Geographic Society, US.
  • The Society uses this measurement, while the rest of the world, except China, had accepted 8,848 m so far.

When was the new measurement done?

  • Until the devastating earthquake of April 2015, Nepal’s Survey Department had perhaps never considered the idea of measuring Mt Everest. But the earthquake triggered a debate among scientists on whether it had affected the height of the mountain.
  • The government subsequently declared that it would measure the mountain on its own, instead of continuing to follow the Survey of India findings of 1954.
  • New Zealand, which shares a bond with Nepal over the mountain, provided technical assistance. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber on the peak along with Nepal’s Tenzing Norgay in May 1953, worked as the mountain’s undeclared brand ambassador to the world.

How did China come to be part of it?

  • China’s measurements were done separately. Nepal, in fact, had completed its mission early last year.
  • The two sides subsequently signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly make public their results. The Chinese side conducted its measurements early this year.

When was the new measurement done?

  • Until the devastating earthquake of April 2015, Nepal’s Survey Department had perhaps never considered the idea of measuring Mt Everest.
  • But the earthquake triggered a debate among scientists on whether it had affected the height of the mountain.
  • The government subsequently declared that it would measure the mountain on its own, instead of continuing to follow the Survey of India findings of 1954.
  • New Zealand, which shares a bond with Nepal over the mountain, provided technical assistance.

How did China come to be part of it?

  • China’s measurements were done separately. Nepal, in fact, had completed its mission early last year.
  • The two sides subsequently signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly make public their results. The Chinese side conducted its measurements early this year.





Why in News?

  • A new drug called Molnupiravir has been shown to stop the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in 24 hours
  • Indian researchers plan to apply to the drug regulator to conduct human trials with the drug.
  • The drug: The antiviral drug Molnupiravir, or MK-4482/EIDD-2801, is taken orally. Molnupiravir is being developed by the biotechnology firm Ridgeback Biotherapeutics in collaboration with pharmaceutical firm Merck.
  • The research team repurposed MK-4482/EIDD-2801 against SARS-CoV-2 and tested it on ferrets.
  • Its action: In ferrets, the drug was shown to completely suppress transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in 24 hours.
  • Why ferrets: Ferrets are a popular model for influenza and other respiratory infections because their lung physiology is similar to humans and researchers hope they will mimic aspects of Covid-19 in people such as its spread.
  • They readily spread SARS-CoV-2 but mostly do not develop severe disease – closely resembling the infection spread in young adults.




Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI)

Why in News?

  • India remains in the top 10 for the second year in a row in the latest global Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) released in Germany.

Key Findings

  • The biggest current emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) China figures at 33rd rank while the largest historical polluter, the USA, appears at the bottom of the list.
  • Though India slid one position down from ninth in 2019 to 10th this year, the country’s journey towards climate protection has been consistent with it improving its ranking from 31st in 2014.
  • Globally none of the countries assessed for the annual CCPI report are, however, on the path to meet their Paris Agreement commitment of keeping global warming increase below 2 degree celsius by the end of the century and actually to make efforts to restrict it to 1.5 degree celsius rise.
  • The list is prepared by assessing performances of 57 countries and European Union (as a whole) in four categories – GHG emissions (40%), renewable energy (20%), energy use (20%) and climate policy (20%).
  • These 57 countries and the EU collectively are responsible for about 90% of global GHG emissions.

About CCPI

  • The CCPI is developed by not-for-profit organisations Germanwatch and NewClimate Institute (Germany) together with the Climate Action Network (CAN International).
  • It is an important tool to enhance transparency in international climate politics and enables comparison of climate protection efforts and progress made by individual countries.



UNESCO World Heritage Cities

Why in News?

  • The historical fort cities of Gwalior and Orchha in Madhya Pradesh have been included in the list of UNESCOs world heritage cities under its urban landscape city programme.
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), an agency of the United Nations, aims at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture.
  • A UNESCO team will visit the state next year and after having a look at the heritage properties will prepare a master plan for their development and conservation.
  • The project will prove to be an example for South Asia. Under the plan UNESCO will suggest best measures and resources for the development of these places under the Historic Urban Landscape recommendations.


  • Gwalior was established in 9th century and ruled by Gurjar Pratihar Rajvansh, Tomar, Baghel Kachvaho and Scindias.
  • The memorabilia left by them is found in abundance in memorials, forts and palaces in the area.
  • Gwalior is known for its palaces and temples, including the intricately carved Sas Bahu Ka Mandir temple.


  • Orchha is popular for its temples and palaces and was the capital of the Bundela kingdom in the 16th century.
  • The famous spots in the town are Raj Mahal, Jehangir Mahal, Ramraja Temple, Rai Praveen Mahal, and Laxminarayan Mandir
  • After inclusion in the World Heritage City list, chemical treatment of historic spots like Mansingh Palace, Gujri Mahal and Sahastrabahu Temple will be done so that art inscribed on them will become more visible.




‘Havana Syndrome’

Why in News?

  • Nearly four years after a mysterious neurological illness, referred to as “Havana syndrome”, started to afflict American diplomats and intelligence operatives in Cuba, China, and other countries, a report by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) has found “directed” microwave radiation to be its “plausible” cause.
  • Neither the State Department nor the FBI have publicly pointed to “microwave weapons” as being the cause of the “syndrome” whose symptoms include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties.

What are ‘microwave weapons’?

  • “Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
  • People exposed to high-intensity microwave pulses have reported a clicking or buzzing sound, as if seeming to be coming from within your head.
  • It can have both acute and long-term effects — without leaving signs of physical damage.

What is the ‘Havana syndrome’?

  • In late 2016, US diplomats and other employees stationed in Havana reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.
  • The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”.
  • Cuba had denied any knowledge of the illnesses even though the US had accused it of carrying out “sonic attacks”, leading to an increase in tensions.

What has the NAS report said on the ‘Havana syndrome’?

  • The report concluded that “directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered”.




Epidemic Preparedness’ day

Why in News?

  • The United Nations General Assembly has approved a resolution proclaiming Dec. 27 as the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness to keep a global spotlight on the need to strengthen global measures to prevent pandemics like COVID-19.
  • The resolution adopted by consensus by the 193-member world body expresses “grave concern at the devastating impacts of major infectious diseases and epidemics, as exemplified by the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, on human lives.”
  • The assembly underlined the urgency of having robust health systems and expressed deep concern that without international attention “future epidemics could surpass previous outbreaks in terms of intensity and gravity.”




Urban Governance Index

Why in News?

  • Odisha tops the list of states in urban governance followed by Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh while Manipur and Nagaland are at the bottom, according to the Urban Governance Index (UGI)-2020 released by the Praja Foundation. Delhi ranks 13th in the list.

How to Calculate and what it Indicates?

  • The ranking has been done based on a urban governance reforms study spanning over three years across 40 cities in 28 states and NCT of Delhi.
  • The UGI has ranked states to indicate where they stand in terms of real empowerment of local self-government and grass root democracy.
  • None of the states could even score 60 out of 100 indicating that municipal bodies are still hamstrung by their limited authority for effective governance at the local level.

Key Findings

  • 28 years after Parliament passed a constitutional amendment, not a single state has devolved all the 18 functions to municipal bodies. The functions deal with the powers, authority and responsibilities of municipalities.
  • The 18 functions include urban planning, regulation of land-use, planning for economic and social development, water supply, fire service, urban forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects.
  • These provisions aim at functional and financial empowerment of the local urban bodies and democratic decentralisation of the local governance.
  • Seven states – Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra – do not have terms of mayor co-terminus with the city government.
  • None of the councillors across cities have privileges and immunity against all statements made or acts done in the course of their duty.
  • Similarly, none of the state Municipal Acts which were a part of the study have provision for the right to recall their councillors.
  • The report also mentions that only Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have directly elected mayors and barely in 11 states, councils have the authority to pass no confidence motion against mayors.





Why in News?

  • A ‘mystery disease’ has left 450 patients in Eluru, Andhra Pradesh with seizures, nausea, dizziness and headaches. Among tentative reasons being blamed are organochlorides.
  • A preliminary analysis of test reports has pointed to the role of organochlorines, which are chemical substances used in pesticides.

What are organochlorines?

  • Organochlorines (OC) are a group of chlorinated compounds that belong to the class of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) with high persistence in the environment.
  • They are widely used as pesticides.
  • OC insecticides were earlier used to control malaria and typhus; they were later banned in most countries.
  • They are relatively cheaper; as a result Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH), aldrin and dieldrin are among the most widely used pesticides in developing countries of Asia.
  • 40 per cent of all pesticides used belong to the organochlorine class of chemicals.
  • OC can cause several adverse are substances capable of causing adverse effects in the central and peripheral nervous system; as a result, several such chemicals were banned in the United States.

 How do these pesticides reach people?

  • People can be exposed to organochlorines through accidental inhalation if they are in an area where such pesticides were used or sprayed.
  • The chemicals can also be ingested through fish, dairy products and other fatty foods, which can get contaminated.
  • Organochlorine pesticides accumulate in the environment. They are persistent and move long distances in surface runoff or groundwater.
  • OCs, in the mid-1970s in India, resulted in widespread reproductive failure among birds; they laid eggs with thin shells that cracked before hatching.

How can these pesticides affect human health?

  • Exposure to organochlorine pesticides over a short period may result in convulsions, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tremors, confusion, muscle weakness, slurred speech, salivation and sweating.
  • Long-term exposure to organochlorine pesticides may damage the liver, kidney, central nervous system, thyroid and bladder.


Que-    Rainbow flags will be allowed in stadiums at the 2022 Football World Cup, which country recently said anti-LGBTQ laws would not be enforced at matches to comply with FIFA regulations promoting tolerance and inclusion.

a) Qatar

b) Kuwait

c) Oman

d) UAE

ANs-     (a)

1 thought on “Current Affairs Dec 9”

Comments are closed.