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Current Affairs Analysis

1st November 2019 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas; Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel; Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2021; Lymphatic filariasis; Triple drug therapy; Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis; 14th National Health Profile, 2019; National Health Profile (NHP); ‘The 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health’; Efforts of Indian Government to eradicated TB; Pardoning power; Article 72; Article 161; Article 137; Ashok hurra case; Curative petitions; Core Industries; Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI); 2019 Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion report; African Swine Fever (ASF); World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE); Terrestrial Animal Health Code; UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN); Pegasus Spyware;
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
November 01, 2019


Polity & Governance

  • Nirbhaya case convicts given deadline for mercy plea

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Union Human Resource Minister reviews preparations for PISA 2021
  • Union Minister for Health inaugurates National Symposium on Lymphatic Filariasis
  • Union Minister for Health releases the 14th National Health Profile, 2019
  • Vice President calls for developing new and long-lasting vaccine to combat TB


  • Core sector output falls 5.2% in September
  • India among top nations with most conducive environment for financial inclusion
  • Why rising pork prices threaten China’s growth momentum

Indian History

  • Rashtriya Ekta Diwas observed across country to mark birth anniversary of Sardar Patel

Science & Technology

  • India questions WhatsApp after spyware is used for snooping

Key Facts for Prelims

  • UNESCO network of creative cities: Mumbai for films, Hyderabad for food

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Polity & Governance

Nirbhaya case convicts given deadline for mercy plea

The Tihar Jail administration sent a notice to four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape case asking them to apply for mercy plea before the President within seven days.


What is Pardon?

  • The term ‘pardon’ has been defined as an act of grace which exempts the individual from the punishment the law inflicts for a crime he has committed.


  • In other words, grant of pardon brings a person to the original position of innocence as if he had never committed the offence.

Pardoning power under the law

The law governing grant of pardon is contained in Articles 72 and 161 of the Indian Constitution. The executive also has additional power under the Criminal Procedure Code,1973 (Section 432, 433, and 433-A) in which Government at any time can suspend, remit, commute the sentence as a whole or any part of the punishment.

Article 72

  • Article 72 empowers the President to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence:

(a) in all cases where the punishment is by a Court Martial;

(b) in all cases where the punishment is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;

(c) in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.

Article 161

  • It is related to the Power of Governor to grant pardons, reprieves, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.

Landmark cases related to pardoning powers

  • In Maru Ram v Union of India, the Supreme Court held that the power under Article 72 is to be exercised on the advice of the Central Government and not by the President on his own.
  • In Dhananjoy Chatterjee alias Dhana v State of West Bengal, the Supreme Court reiterated its earlier stand in Maru Ram’s case.
  • Supreme Court in Kehar Singh v Union of India held that the grant of pardon by the President is an act of grace and, therefore, cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
  • In a landmark judgment Epuru Sudhakar vs Govt Andhra Pradesh, it was held by the Supreme Court that Supreme Court and High Courts has a limited judicial review of exercise of mercy powers of president and governor.

Type of pardon:

Pardon: The president can totally absolve/acquit the person for the offence and let him go free like a normal citizen.

Commute: To reduce the type of punishment into a less harsh one. For example Rigorous imprisonment to simple imprisonment.

Remission: To reduce the punishment without changing the nature of the punishment. For example 20 years rigorous imprisonment to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.

Reprieve: A delay is allowed in the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence for a guilty person to prove his innocence.

Respite: Reduce the degree of punishment looking at specific grounds like pregnancy, old age etc.

A Court-martial is a trial in a military court of a member of the armed forces who are charged with breaking military law.

Process of granting pardon in India:

  • The process starts with filing a mercy petition with the President under Article 72 of the Constitution.
  • Such petition is then sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Central Government for consideration.
  • The above mentioned petition is discussed by the Home Ministry in consultation with the concerned State Government. After the consultation, recommendations are made by the Home Minister and then, the petition is sent back to the President.

Article 137

  • Article 137 enables the Supreme Court to review its own judgments, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament. This power is exercisable under rules made by the court under article 145.

Curative petition

  • A curative petition is the last judicial corrective measure which can be pleaded for in any judgment passed by the Supreme Court which is normally decided by Judges in-chamber.
  • The objective behind allowing such a petition is only to minimize any abuse of the processes of law and to cure gross miscarriage and lapses in the system of justice.

Ashok hurra case

  • The concept of Curative petition was evolved by the Supreme Court of India in the matter of Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra and Anr. where the question was whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/order of the Supreme Court, after dismissal of a review petition.
  • The Supreme Court in the said case held that in order to prevent abuse of its process and to cure gross miscarriage of justice, it may reconsider its judgements in exercise of its inherent powers. For this purpose, the Court has devised what has been termed as a “curative” petition.

Why are curative petitions not heard in Court?

  • As with review petitions, curative petitions are not heard in open court unless judges first decide that there’s some merit in the case and therefore, they should be heard in open court.
  • Moreover, almost every curative petition is rejected by the Supreme Court after reading through the petition, without even hearing the lawyers. This is quite a reasonable process since the required grounds in curative petitions are extremely narrow.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Issues related to Health & Education

Union Human Resource Minister reviews preparations for PISA 2021

Union Minister reviewed the preparations for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2021 and instructed all the Deputy Commissioners to work hard to make India successful in this examination.

Union Human Resource Minister reviews preparations for PISA 2021

What is PISA?

  • Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests the learning levels of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science.


  • PISA was introduced in 2000 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development (OECD).
  • PISA is coordinated by the OECD, an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries, and is conducted in the United States by NCES.
  • It is a competency-based assessment which unlike content-based assessment, measures the extent to which students have acquired key competencies that are essential for full participation in modern societies.
  • The test is carried out every three years.
  • More than 80 countries, including 44 middle-income countries have participated in PISA.

India’s participation in PISA

  • In 2009, when India (only Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu students) first time participated in PISA test, it was ranked 72nd among the 74 participating countries. The government blamed that PISA had ‘out of context’ questions. Subsequently, India choose to not to participate in the 2012 and 2015 PISA Examination.
  • Now, India will participate in the PISA examination in 2021.
  • The students of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti and Union Territory of Chandigarh will represent India in this examination.
  • The CBSE and the NCERT will be part of the process and activities leading to the actual PISA test.

Why Chandigarh was selected for PISA 2021?

  • Chandigarh is a compact area.
  • India wanted to keep number of languages (in which the test has to be administered) to a minimum. In Chandigarh schools, students are taught in Hindi and English.
  • Chandigarh has a record of performing well in learning assessments.

Benefits of participating in PISA examination

  • Learnings from participation in PISA will help to introduce competency-based examination reforms in the school system and help move away from rote learning.

Why do Indian students struggle on tests like PISA?


  • The mentality that questions can be only from the textbook or minor variants of textbook questions.
  • Most application questions are based on a context which is first explained in the question. This requires students to read through at least a few paragraphs to understand what is being asked. Indian average student has very poor reading abilities and usually prefers to guess what the question must be by glancing through it.
  • The strategy that students use to solve questions in typical Indian exams is very different from what is needed for tests like PISA. It is easy for Indian students to recognise question types in the Indian tests since all exams follow a set of patterns that they are familiar with. However, there is no pattern to match with in PISA test.
  • When Indian students encounter PISA-type questions, many of them freeze at the first sign of the unfamiliar and decide that they have not ‘learnt this question type’ and cannot solve it.
  • Genuinely low understanding of processes or concepts and even comprehension skills.

Key Facts

  • In 2012, Shanghai in China topped the reading, mathematics and science test, followed by Singapore.
  • In 2015, Singapore (first), Japan (second) and Estonia (third) were ranked as top three countries.
[Ref: PIB, Indian Express]


Union Minister for Health inaugurates National Symposium on Lymphatic Filariasis

Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare inaugurated the day long National Symposium on the theme ‘United to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis’.


  • He signed the ‘Call to Action to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by 2021’.

Lymphatic filariasis


  • Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and and one of the four main worm infections.
  • Lymphatic filariasis is a type of Hathipaon infection.
  • It is a human disease caused by parasitic worms known as filarial worms.
  • The larval stages of the parasite (microfilaria) circulate in the blood and are transmitted from person to person by mosquitoes.
  • It affects all ages. While the infection may be acquired during childhood its visible manifestations may occur later in life, causing temporary or permanent disability.
  • It is most common in tropical Africa and Asia, and also in and sub-tropics of Asia, Africa, the Western Pacific, and parts of the Caribbean and South America.


  • Lymphatic filariasis is a vector-borne disease, being transmitted by mosquitoes (e.g. Culex, Anopheles and Aedes mosquitoes).


  • Altered lymphatic system causing abnormal enlargement of body parts (elephantiasis).


Lymphatic filariasis is a vector-borne disease

The disease is caused by three species of thread-like nematode worms, known as:

  1. Filariae – Wuchereria bancrofti,
  2. Brugia malayi and
  3. Brugia timori.

The male and female worms together form nests in the human lymphatic system (lymphatic system maintains the fluid balance between blood and body tissues).

India’s effort to eradicate Lymphatic filariasis

Since the launch of the Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) by the World Health Organization in 2000, endemic countries across the world including India have adopted a twin pillar strategy:

  1. prevention through Mass Drug Administration (MDA) using combination of 2 anti-filarial drugs (DEC (diethylcarbamazine) and Albendazole). The drugs do not kill the adult worms but prevent further spread of the disease until the worms die on their own. Even after the adult worms die, lymphedema can develop.
  2. providing Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention (MMDP) services to those affected by the disease.

India has missed earlier deadlines to eradicate the disease by 2015 and 2017. The global deadline now is 2020 and the three drug approach may help the country get there.

Triple drug therapy

  • In 2017, World Health Organization (WHO) recommended Triple drug therapy for elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis.
  • It includes three drugs: i) ivermectin, ii) diethylcarbamazine citrate and iii) albendazole

Triple-drug-therapy 1

  • The Government of India launched the Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) in 2018. As part of intensifying efforts towards elimination, it also rolled out Triple Drug Therapy (IDA) treatment in a phased manner.

Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis:

  • WHO launched the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) in 2000.
  • The elimination strategy has two components:
  1. to stop the spread of infection (interrupting transmission); and
  2. to alleviate the suffering of affected populations (controlling morbidity).
[Ref: PIB]


Union Minister for Health releases the 14th National Health Profile, 2019

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare released the 14th National Health Profile (NHP) 2019 & its e-book (digital version).


Highlights of NHP 2019

Life expectancy

  • Life expectancy in India has increased from 49.7 years in 1970-75 to 68.7 years in 2012-16.
  • For period 202-16, the life expectancy for females is 70.2 years and 67.4 years for males. There has been an increase in life expectancy in general compared to 2018 NHP survey.

Maternal, Neonatal, Nutritional Diseases and Other Communicable Diseases

Maternal, Neonatal, Nutritional Diseases and Other Communicable Diseases

  • Disease burden due to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases dropped from 61 % to 33 % between 1990 and 2016.
  • Accelerated rise in the prevalence of chronic non-communicable (NCD) diseases.
  • Dengue and Chikungunya, transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, are a cause of great concern to public health in India.

Infant and Maternal Mortality Rate

Infant and Maternal Mortality Rate


  • Infant Mortality Rate in India which was at 74 (per 1000 live births) in 1994 has declined to 33 (Per 1000 live births) in 2017.
  • The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) was reduced by 77% from 556 per 1 Lakh live births in 1990 to 130 per 1 Lakh live births in 2016.
  • Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 2.3 whereas in rural areas it was 2.5 and 1.8 in urban areas during 2016.

Birth rate, death rate and natural growth rate

  • There has been consistent decrease in the birth rate, death rate and natural growth rate in India since 1991 to 2017.
  • As on 2017, India has registered birth rate of 20.2 per population of 1,000 and death rate of 6.3 while the natural growth rate was 13.9 per population of 1,000.
  • The birth rate, death rate and natural growth rate are higher in rural areas than in the urban areas. However, the population, continues to grow, as the decline in the birth rate is not as rapid as the decline in the death rate.

Anaemia continues to remain a huge health concern

  • Over half the children between 6 and 59 months (58 %) and women in the age group 15-49 are anaemic.

Only One Government Doctor for 10,926 People

  • There is only one allopathic government doctor for every 10,926 people in India against the WHO’s recommended doctor-population ratio of 1:1000.

Public Expenditure

Public Expenditure

  • India’s public expenditure on health is 1.28 % of the GDP, which is way lower than the public health expenditure of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Indonesia, Thailand.

Population Density

  • Highest population density of 11,320 people per square kilometre is in NCT of Delhi whereas Arunachal Pradesh has reported the lowest population density of 17.

Economically active population

  • 27% of the total estimated population of 2016 were below the age of 14 years and majority (64 %) of the population were in the age group of 15-59 years i.e. economically active.

Suicidal rates and Accidental rates

Suicidal rates and Accidental rates

Suicidal rates and Accidental rates 1

  • Suicide rates are increasing significantly among young adults and the maximum number of suicide cases is reported between the age group 30-45 years.

About National Health Profile (NHP)

  • The NHP is prepared by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) since 2005.
  • The objective of NHP is to create a versatile data base of health information of India and making it available to all stakeholders in the healthcare sector.

Six Indicators of NHP (information covered by NHP) are:


  • Demographic indicators (population and vital statistics)
  • Socio-economic health status (education, employment, housing and amenities, drinking water and sanitation)
  • Health status indicators (An overview of Communicable & Non Communicable Disease prevalence in the country)
  • Health infrastructure (Public Health Expenditure including pattern of allocations made to Central/State Governments etc.)
  • Health of human resources (specialized medical, nursing and paramediacal personnel in the country).
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]


Vice President calls for developing new and long-lasting vaccine to combat TB

Inaugurating ‘The 50th Union World Conference on Lung Health’ in Hyderabad, the Vice President of India has called for developing a new and long-lasting vaccine to combat TB.


  • The current BCG (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin) vaccine for TB treatment does not last for many years. Hence, there is an absolute need for a booster vaccine or a new vaccine that is effective and long-lasting.

Efforts of Indian Government to eradicated TB


  • In 1962, the National TB Programme (NTP) was launched in the form of District TB Centre model, with Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccination. Although BCG immunisation does prevent severe multi-organ TB disease in young children, it does not control TB.
  • In 1978, the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) began, giving BCG to all babies soon after birth and achieving more than 90% coverage. However, the NTP and the EPI had not reduced India’s TB burden.
  • In 1993, the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) was launched, offering free diagnosis and treatment for patients rescuing them from otherwise sure death. It brought down TB incidence in India at an annual rate of 1.7%.
  • In 2018, India has pledged to eradicate TB by the year 2025, 5 years ahead of the global deadline set for 2030.
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched a National Prevalence Survey to estimate prevalence of tuberculosis at national and sub-national levels.

Key Facts

  • TB was one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide in 2018.
  • It is also the leading killer of people with HIV and a major cause of deaths related to antimicrobial resistance.
  • India is among the eight countries that accounted for 66% of the new TB cases: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and South Africa are the other nations.
  • During 2000-2018, TB mortality rate fell by 42%.
[Ref: PIB]



Core sector output falls 5.2% in September

Output of eight core infrastructure industries contracted by 5.2% in September, indicating the severity of the economic slowdown.


About Core Industries


  • Core industry can be defined as the main industry. These industries are the backbone of all other industries.
  • The Eight Core Industries comprise 40.27 % of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

There are 8 core industries in India:

  • Coal – Coal Production excluding Coking coal (10.33%)
  • Crude Oil (8.98%)
  • Natural Gas (6.88%)
  • Petroleum & Refinery Products (28.4%)
  • Fertilizer (2.63%)
  • Steel (17.9%) – Production of Alloy and Non-Alloy Steel only.
  • Cement (5.37%) – Production of Large Plants and Mini Plants.
  • Electricity (19.85%) – Actual Electricity Generation of Thermal, Nuclear, Hydro, imports from Bhutan.

About Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI)

  • The monthly Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) represents the production volume of all core industries.
  • The objective of the ICI is to provide an advance indication on production performance of industries of ‘core’ nature before the release of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) by Central Statistics Office.
  • The ICI is compiled and released by Office of the Economic Adviser (OEA), Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
[Ref: The Hindu]


India among top nations with most conducive environment for financial inclusion

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2019 Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion report, India is placed among the top nations with the most conducive environment for financial inclusion.


Highlights of the 2019 Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion report

  • Overall environment for financial inclusion has improved globally with India, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay and Mexico having the most favourable conditions for inclusive finance.


  • It highlighted the RBI’s National Strategy for Financial Inclusion aimed at deepening financial services’ coverage in India.
  • E-money: South Africa, India, Mexico, Tanzania and Uruguay are the top countries that safeguard e-money via deposit insurance or protection.

This type of protection provides

  • Security to users,
  • Avoids creating regulatory imbalances between different types of institution, and
  • Ensures that it does not place new consumers at a disadvantage compared to those transacting with more traditional institutions.

About the Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion report

Global Microscope on Financial Inclusion report

  • The Global Microscope for Financial Inclusion, published since 2005, is a benchmarking index that assesses the enabling environment for financial access in 55 countries.
  • It is published by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

The report has four basic parameters:

  1. Allowing non-banks to issue e-money,
  2. Presence of financial service agents,
  3. Proportionate customer due diligence
  4. Effective financial consumer protection.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Why rising pork prices threaten China’s growth momentum

Because China is the world’s largest pork producer and consumer, a sharp rise in prices – pork prices are expected to scale record levels by the end of 2019– has ramifications beyond China.


Why are Chinese pork prices rising?

  • Chinese pork prices are rising because of the rampant spread of African Swine Fever (ASF). The swine fever has reduced pork supply and raised prices, thus increasing inflation.
  • A sharp cut in pork and hog population affects other allied industries. For instance, China is no longer importing as much soybean and corn which are used as pig feed.

About African Swine Fever (ASF)

  • ASF is a highly contagious and fatal animal disease that infects domestic and wild pigs, typically resulting in an acute form of hemorrhagic fever (group of illnesses caused by four families of viruses: Ebola, Marburg, Lassa fever and yellow fever viruses).


  • ASF is not a threat to human beings since it only spreads from animals to other animals.
  • Although signs of ASF and classical swine fever (CSF) may be similar, the ASF virus is unrelated to the CSF virus.
  • ASF is characterized by high fever, loss of appetite, haemorrhages in the skin and internal organs, and death in 2-10 days on average. Mortality rates may be as high as 100%.
  • Since the fever has no cure, the only way to stop it spreading is by culling the animals.
  • ASF is a disease listed in the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code and must be reported to the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code.

About World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)


  • The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE- Office International des Epizooties) is an intergovernmental organization coordinating, supporting and promoting animal disease control.
  • It is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organization (WTO).


  • In 1920, rinderpest occurred unexpectedly in Belgium. It infected zebu cattle in India on their way to Brazil.
  • At the initiative of France, an international conference was held in Paris for the control of infectious animal diseases. This resulted in establishment of OIE.

About World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code

  • The OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (the Terrestrial Code) provides standards for the improvement of animal health and veterinary public health worldwide, including standards for safe international trade in terrestrial animals and their products.
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) recognises the OIE as the international standard setting organisation for animal health and zoonotic diseases.
  • The Terrestrial Code is published annually in the official OIE languages (English, French and Spanish), and in Russian.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Indian History

Rashtriya Ekta Diwas observed across country to mark birth anniversary of Sardar Patel

National Unity Day – Rashtriya Ekta Diwas was observed across the country on Oct 31 on the occasion of the 144th birth anniversary of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.


About Rashtriya Ekta Diwas

  • Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day commemorates the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.


  • It is being celebrated since the 2014. Rashtriya Ekta Diwas was inaugurated by Prime Minister of India in 2014, by flagging of a program which was known as ‘Run For Unity’ in New Delhi.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel


  • Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was an Indian barrister who played a leading role in the India’s struggle for independence.
  • After India achieved Independence, Sardar Patel became the first Home Minister and the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. He also assumed charges as Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Information and Minister of States.
  • In 1910, he went to London for further studies. In 1913, he returned to India and settled in Ahmadabad and became a barrister in criminal law at the Ahmadabad bar.
  • He served as the first Indian municipal commissioner of Ahmadabad and was elected as a municipal president.

Role in Indian Freedom Struggle

  • In 1918 he led a massive “No Tax Campaign” that urged the farmers not to pay taxes after the British insisted on tax after the floods in Kaira, Gujarat.
  • In 1928, he successfully led the Bardoli campaign and earned the title ‘Sardar’.
  • He was deeply influenced by Gandhi’s ideology and principles. He actively supported the non-cooperation Movement launched by Gandhi.
  • Upon Gandhi’s request he gave up his candidacy for the post of the Prime Minister of India.
  • In 1930, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was among the leaders imprisoned for participating in the Salt Satyagraha initiated by Mahatma Gandhi. He led the Satyagraha movement across Gujarat when Gandhi was under imprisonment.
  • Sardar Patel was freed in 1931, following an agreement, known as the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, signed between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin. The same year, Patel was elected as the President of Indian National Congress in its Karachi session.
  • He voiced his annoyance at Jawaharlal Nehru openly when the Nehru adopted socialism in 1936. Patel was also wary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.
  • In the 1942 Quit India Movement, Patel continued his support to Gandhi when several leaders criticized the Gandhi.
  • After independence, he was crucial in the integration of over 500 princely states into the Indian Union. His efforts towards consolidation of India earned him the title ‘Iron Man of India’.
  • He was also compelled to use coercion by launching ‘Operation Polo’ to liberate and integrate Hyderabad after the Nizam of Hyderabad entertained false hopes of either joining Pakistan or remaining independent.
  • He was a leading member of the Constituent Assembly of India and Dr. R. Ambedkar was appointed on his recommendation. He was the key force in establishing the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service.
  • The Civil Services Day is celebrated every year on April 21 to mark Sardar Patel’s address to the probationers at the All India Administrative Service Training School at Delhi on this day in 1947.
  • He was also honoured with the highest civilian award ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1991.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]


Science & Technology

What is Israeli spyware Pegasus, which carried out surveillance via WhatsApp?

The popular messaging platform WhatsApp was used to spy on journalists and human rights activists in India. The surveillance was carried out using a spyware tool called Pegasus.


Pegasus Spyware


  • Pegasus is a spyware that can be installed on certain devices.
  • It is developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm, NSO Group.

What is the issue?

  • On October 30 2019, WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook confirmed that Pegasus was used to target Indian journalists, activists, lawyers and senior government officials. The surveillance was carried out in 20 countries in April-May 2019.


How does it snoop on mobile devices?

  • To monitor a target, a Pegasus operator must convince a target to click on a special link which allows the operator to penetrate security features on the phone and installs Pegasus without the user’s knowledge.
  • Recently, the spyware uses a vulnerability in WhatsApp’s video-call feature that allowed attackers to inject the spyware on to phones simply by ringing the number of a target’s device. The person did not even have to answer the call.

What harm can Pegasus do?

  • Pegasus can access the targeted users’ private data, including passwords, contact lists, calendar events, text messages etc.
  • The target’s phone camera and microphone can be turned on to capture all activity in the phone’s vicinity.
  • Moreover, it has the ability to access password-protected devices, leaving no trace on the device, consuming minimal battery so that user does not know its presence, a self-destruct mechanism in case of risk of exposure, and ability to retrieve any file for analysis.

What is zero-day vulnerability?

  • A zero-day vulnerability is a software security flaw that is known to the software vendor but doesn’t have a solution in place to fix the flaw.
  • The term “zero-day” refers to the fact that the software engineers have ‘zero days’ to fix the problem that has just been exposed.
  • However, the software vendor may fail to make a solution before hackers manage to exploit the security hole. That’s known as a zero-day attack.
[Ref: Indian Express. Economic Times]


Key Facts for Prelims

UNESCO network of creative cities: Mumbai for films, Hyderabad for food

UNESCO has announced that Mumbai and Hyderabad have been included in its network of ‘Creative Cities’ on the occasion of World Cities Day 2019.


  • Mumbai has been designated as Creative City of Films and Hyderabad a Creative City of Gastronomy. Gastronomy is the study of the practice of choosing, cooking, and eating good food.

Which other Indian cities are in UCCN?

Varanasi – City of music

Why Varanasi was given the title of city of music?


  • Established the Sangeet Sankul Music School
  • Giving a new impulse to the 350-year-old city’s festivals of Gulab Bari, Budwa Mangal and Ramlila
  • Using music as a driver of intercultural dialogue through the Jugalbandi (combine performance of guitar and sitar) Fusion Interactions.
  • Supporting exchange schemes for music students of Creative Cities of Music to learn Guru-Shishya Parampara

Chennai- City of music

Why Chennai was given the title of city of music?


  • Creating a space for cultural professionals to interact with urban designers
  • Developing international music and dance festivals
  • Encouraging communities of disadvantaged areas of the city to engage in new avenues of music.

Jaipur – City of Crafts and Folk Arts

Why Jaipur was given the title of City of Crafts and Folk Arts?

Jaipur - City of Crafts and Folk Arts

  • Enhancing the working conditions of craftsmen through the Citizens Outreach Cell and the Heritage Walks.
  • Establishing the online and onsite museum Jaipur Haat, as well as the Crafts and Folk Art Gallery at the Jaipur International Airport.

UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN)


  • The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN)was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.
  • The Network covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature and Music.
  • By joining the UCCN, the cities pledge to share their best practices and develop partnerships to strengthen cultural activities, goods and services.

 [Ref: Business Standard]


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