Current Affairs Analysis

30th September 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ); Western Ghats; Kasturirangan Committee; Land acquisition order; Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act of 2013; Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP)-2020; Defence India Startup Challenge; iDEX4Fauji; iDEX initiative; Astrosat; Ban on loose cigarette and beedis; National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB); Marginal Standing facility (MSF) scheme; Net Demand and Time Liabilities (NDTL); Monetary Policy Committee (MPC); Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health; Ureilites; Forest Rights Act, 2006; Amnesty International; Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA); Cat Que virus (CQV); NSS Report: Time Use in India- 2019; Biodiversity by the Bay campaign; etc.
By IASToppers
September 30, 2020


Polity & Governance

  • CJI questions inerrancy of SC land acquisition order
  • Maharashtra modifies Forest Rights Act

Issues related to Health & Education

  • What is Cat Que virus from China?

Social Issues

  • NCRB data: 7% rise in crimes against women
  • NSS Report: Time Use in India- 2019


  • RBI extends enhanced borrowinglimit for banks
  • RBI Monetary Policy Committee
  • Amnesty International shuts India operations

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • 6 states want 6k sq km to be taken off Western Ghats eco zone

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

Defence & Security Issues

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveils Defence Acquisition Procedure

Science & Technology

  • India’s Astrosat Completes 5 Years of Mapping Stars

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Ban on loose cigarette and beedis
  • Origin of Diamonds in Meteorites
  • Biodiversity by the Bay campaign

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Polity & Governance

CJI questions inerrancy of SC land acquisition order

Chief Justice of India (CJI questioned the infallibility of a land acquisition judgment delivered by a Constitution Bench, saying the verdict had left things “unsaid”.


  • In March 2020, the five-judge Bench held that land acquisition proceedings cannot lapse merely due to a failure to pay compensation to landowners.
  • It held that a lapse will only occur if the State also fails to take physical possession of the land.
  • Further, it held that payment does not require the State to deposit money in a landowner’s account – tendering compensation is sufficient.

What is the issue?

  • The Central government takes possession of a property but has not paid compensation. The acquisition does not lapse.
  • Five years is the time given under the parliamentary law, but if the compensation is not paid, question remain: how long will the acquisition continue.
  • The judgment has given the government laxity, which Parliament did not want the government to have.
  • Parliament had said the government cannot do this, the law said the compensation should not be kept pending, the government cannot just take over land and not pay compensation

What does CJI say?

  • The CJI said the order gifted the government “laxity” in several aspects, which even Parliament did not bother to provide under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013.
  • For one, the verdict did not specify for how long the government could possess a land acquired without paying compensation.
  • The judgment had declared that acquisition would only lapse if the government had neither taken possession nor paid the compensation due to the landowner for five or more years prior to January 1, 2014.

Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act of 2013:

  • Section 24 (2) of the 2013 Act, which dealt with payment of compensation for land acquired by the government.
  • It said acquisition would not lapse as long as the government earmarked the compensation money by paying it into the Treasury.
  • The money need not actually reach the farmer or landowner. Acquisition would also not lapse just because the farmer refused the compensation and claimed higher.
  • Similarly, there was no lapse in acquisition if the compensation had been paid but possession not taken of the land.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Maharashtra modifies Forest Rights Act

Governor of Maharashtra issued a notification modifying the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, that will enable forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other traditional forest-dwelling families to build houses in the neighbourhood of forest areas.

  • The notification was issued by the Governor using his powers under sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 5 of the Schedule V of the Constitution.


  • The notification is the result of the consistent efforts of Vayam– a community-based organization, working for the empowerment of tribal communities in Palghar and Nashik districts.
  • During visits to Palghar, Nandurbar, Gadchiroli and other districts having scheduled areas, it had come to the notice of the Governor that certain scheduled tribes and forest-dwelling families in the scheduled areas were moving outside their native villages and migrating elsewhere in the absence of housing areas.

Forest Rights Act, 2006

  • The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, was enacted to protect the marginalized socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to environment with their right to life and livelihood.
  • The Act basically does two things:
    • Grants legal recognition to the rights of traditional forest dwelling communities, partially correcting the injustice caused by the forest laws.
    • Makes a beginning towards giving communities and the public a voice in forest and wildlife conservation.

Rights to forest dwellers under FRA, 2006

Land Rights

  • No one gets rights to any land that they have not been cultivating prior to December 13, 2005 and that they are not cultivating right now.
  • Those who are cultivating land but don’t have document can claim up to 4 hectares, as long as they are cultivating the land themselves for a livelihood.
  • Those who have a patta or a government lease, but whose land has been illegally taken by the Forest Department or whose land is the subject of a dispute between Forest and Revenue Departments, can claim those lands.
  • There is no question of granting 4 hectares of land to every family.
  • The land cannot be sold or transferred to anyone except by inheritance.
  • The Act recognizes rights to habitation and cultivation on forest lands if the land were occupied before December 13, 2005.

Use Rights

  • Minor forest produce things like tendu patta, herbs, medicinal plants etc. “that has been traditionally collected. This does not include timber.
  • Grazing grounds and water bodies.
  • Traditional areas of use by nomadic or pastoralist communities i.e. communities that move with their herds, as opposed to practicing settled agriculture.

Right to Protect and Conserve

  • The Act provides a right and a power to conserve community forest resources, while section 5 gives the community a general power to protect wildlife, forests, etc.
  • This is vital for the thousands of village communities who are protecting their forests and wildlife against threats from forest mafias, industries and land grabbers, most of whom operate in connivance with the Forest Department.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Issues related to Health & Education

What is Cat Que virus from China?

The scientists from the Pune-based Maximum Containment Laboratory and ICMR-National Institute of Virology have noted the presence of antibodies against the Cat Que virus (CQV) in two human serum samples.

Why was this study undertaken?

  • The study was conducted in 2017-2018 to develop diagnostic tests for CQV prompted by the spread of similar species of Culex mosquitoes in India.

What is the Cat Que virus?

  • CQV belongs to the Simbu serogroup and infects both humans and economically important livestock species.
  • It was first isolated in 2004 from mosquitoes during the surveillance of arbovirus activity in northern Vietnam.
  • For CQV, domestic pigs are considered to be the primary mammalian hosts.
  • Antibodies against the virus have been reported in swine reared locally in China, which indicates that the virus has formed a natural cycle in the local area and has the ability to spread in pigs and other animal populations through mosquitoes.

How can humans get infected and is there a cause for concern?

  • Humans can get infected through mosquitoes as well.
  • Because of positivity in human serum samples and the replication capability of CQV in mosquitoes, there is only a possible disease-causing potential of CQV in the Indian scenario.
  • Availability of vector, primary mammalian host (swine) and confirmation of CQV from jungle myna signifies the potential of this virus as a public health pathogen in India.
  • It can cause febrile illnesses (such as fever, headaches, chills, muscle and joint pains), meningitis (inflammation of the meninges), and paediatric encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Social Issues

NCRB data: 7% rise in crimes against women

According to the annual National Crime Record Bureau’s “Crime in India” 2019 report crimes against women increased 7.3 per cent from 2018 to 2019, and crimes against Scheduled Castes also went up 7.3 per cent in the same period.

Major findings of the report

  • In terms of absolute numbers, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of cases in both these categories.
  • But Assam reported the highest rate of crimes against women (per lakh population), while Rajasthan had the highest rate of crimes against Scheduled Castes.
  • A total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women were registered during 2019, showing an increase of 7.3% over 2018 (3,78,236 cases).
  • Majority of cases under crime against women under IPC were registered under ‘cruelty by husband or his relatives’ (30.9%), followed by ‘assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty’ (21.8%),kidnapping & abduction of women’ (17.9%) and ‘rape’ (7.9%).
  • The crime rate registered per lakh women population is 62.4 in 2019 in comparison with 58.8 in 2018.
  • Rajasthan reported the highest number of rapes with 5,997 cases, followed by UP (3,065) and Madhya Pradesh (2,485).
  • UP also had the highest number of crimes against girl children under the POCSO Act with 7,444 cases, followed by Maharashtra (6,402) and MP (6,053).
  • UP had the highest number of dowry cases (2,410), at a rate of 2.2 (per lakh population), followed by Bihar (1,120). 
  • As many as 10.5 lakh cases of offences affecting the human body were registered in 2019, which accounted for 32.6% of total IPC crimes. Hurt accounted for maximum 5.45 lakh cases or 51.9% of such offences, followed by cases of using death by negligence (13.8%) and cases of kidnapping and abduction (10%).
  • Cyber crimes registered a 63.5% jump over 2018.

National Crime Record Bureau

  • National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is a part of central Home Ministry of India.
  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
  • Its set up was based on the recommendation of the Task force and National Police Commission.
  • It was set up by merging the Directorate of Coordination and Police Computer (DCPC), Statistical Branch of BPR&D, Inter State Criminals Data Branch of CBI and Central Finger Print Bureau of CBI.
[Ref: Indian Express; Times of India]

NSS Report: Time Use in India- 2019

The Time Use in India- 2019 report by National Statistical Office (NSO) puts numbers to a well-known fact that Indian women bear the brunt of household work and domestic chores.

Major Highlights:

  • The average Indian woman spends 243 minutes on household work and domestic chores which is almost ten times the 25 minutes the average man does.
  • Men spend more time than women in every other activity — working, studying, even just taking care of themselves.
  • Indian women undertake a lot of unpaid domestic work.
  • An average Indian woman spends 19.5% of her time engaged in either unpaid domestic work or unpaid care-giving services.
  • There are also differences in participation of women in daily activities depending on where they live.
  • Rural women participate more on paid or unpaid work, whereas urban women participate more in learning, socializing or leisure activities.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]


RBI extends enhanced borrowing limit for banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the enhanced borrowing facility provided to banks by six months to meet liquidity shortage till March 31, 2021.

What is the issue?

  • On March 27, the central bank had increased the borrowing limit for scheduled banks under the marginal standing facility (MSF) scheme from 2 per cent to 3 per cent of their net demand and time liabilities.
  • The facility which was initially available up to June 30 was later extended up to September 30 due to economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
  • With a view to providing comfort to banks on their liquidity requirements as also to enable to continue to meet LCR requirements, it has been decided to continue with the MSF relaxation for a further period of six months, that is up to March 31, 2021.
  • This dispensation provides increased access to funds to the extent of ₹1.49 lakh crore and also qualifies as high-quality liquid assets for the liquidity coverage ratio.

What is marginal standing facility (MSF) scheme

  • Under the MSF, banks can borrow overnight at their discretion by dipping into the statutory liquidity ratio portfolio up to a limit at a penal rate of interest.
  • This provides a safety valve against unanticipated liquidity shocks to the banking system.
  • The marginal standing facility rate currently stands at 4.25 per cent.

What is net demand and time liabilities (NDTL)?

  • The Net Demand and Time Liabilities or NDTL shows the difference between the sum of demand and time liabilities (deposits) of a bank (with the public or the other bank) and the deposits in the form of assets held by the other bank.
  • The net demand and time liabilities of a bank can be calculated by using the following formula:

                  Bank’s NDTL = Demand and time liabilities (deposits) – deposits with other banks

[Ref: Livemint]

RBI Monetary Policy Committee

  • Recently, the Reserve Bank of India postponed the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting because it failed to nominate its three members to the six-member panel.

About Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is a committee of the Reserve Bank of India which is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy interest rate (repo rate) to contain inflation within the specified target level.


  • Price stability and Inflation targeting
  • In 2016, the government had provided statutory backing to the MPC by notifying amendments to the RBI Act, 1934.
  • Under the Monetary Policy Framework Agreement, the RBI will be responsible for containing inflation targets at 4% (with a standard deviation of 2%) in the medium term.

Structure of the MPC:

  • The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is formed under the RBI with six members.
  • MPC is headed by RBI governor.
  • Three of the members are from the RBI while the other three members are appointed by the government.
  • The government members are appointed by the Centre on the recommendations of a search-cum-selection committee consisting of the Cabinet Secretary (Chairperson), the RBI Governor,  the secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and three experts in the field of economics or banking as nominated by the central government.
  • The three central government nominees are appointed for four years and will not be eligible for re-appointment. 
  • RBI Act prohibits appointing any Member of Parliament or Legislature or public servant, or any employee / Board / committee member of RBI or anyone with a conflict of interest with RBI or anybody above the age of 70 to the MPC.
  • Further, the Central government has the power to remove any of its nominated members from MPC subject to certain conditions and if the situation warrants the same.

Decision Making

  • The proceedings of MPC are confidential and the quorum for a meeting shall be four members, at least one of whom shall be the Governor and, in his absence, the Deputy Governor who is the Member of the MPC.
  • The MPC takes decisions based on a majority vote (by those who are present and voting). In case of a tie, the RBI governor will have the second or casting vote.
  • The decision of the Committee would be binding on the RBI.
  • As per the Act, RBI has to organise at least four meetings of the MPC in a year. (More meetings can be held if the RBI Governor is of that opinion).
[Ref: Indian Express]

Amnesty International shuts India operations

Following a move by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to freeze its bank accounts over alleged charges of money laundering, global NGO Amnesty International (AI) India has decided to shut its operations in the country.

  • The organisation has called the move a “witch-hunt of human-right activists by the government, and a crackdown on dissent”.


  • Amnesty India was granted prior permission for receiving foreign donations under FCRA on December 19, 2000. Since then, it had applied for prior permission several times but was refused by the ministry.
  • In 2018, the Enforcement Directorate had carried out searches at the headquarters of Amnesty International in Bangalore. The raids were conducted for an alleged violation of the foreign exchange act.
  • To circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four entities registered in India, by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
  • A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA’s approval under FCRA. This mala fide rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions.
  • India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations.
  • Amnesty International India Foundation Trust (AIIFT) was denied permission/ registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) by the MHA, after which they resorted to bypass the FCRA by floating a commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt. Ltd (AIIPL) as a foreign direct investment (FDI), which is prohibited.

Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)

  • The FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect internal security.
  • It is implemented by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • First enacted in 1976, it was amended in 2010 when a slew of new measures were adopted to regulate foreign donations.

Salient Features

  • Prohibits acceptance and use of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality.
  • Regulates the inflow to and usage of foreign contribution by NGOs by prescribing a mechanism to accept, use and report usage of the same.
  • The FCRA is applicable to all associations, groups and NGOs which intend to receive foreign donations.
  • It is mandatory for all such NGOs to register themselves under the FCRA.
  • The registration is initially valid for five years and it can be renewed subsequently if they comply with all norms.
  • Registered associations can receive foreign contribution for social, educational, religious, economic and cultural purposes.
  • Filing of annual returns, on the lines of Income Tax, is compulsory.
  • In 2015, the MHA notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with any foreign state and does not disrupt communal harmony.
  • All such NGOs would have to operate accounts in either nationalised or private banks which have core banking facilities to allow security agencies access on a real time basis.

Restriction on use of foreign funding

  • All funds received by a NGO must be used only for the purpose for which they were received. No funds other than foreign contribution is deposited in the Foreign Contribution account.
  • Such funds must not use in speculative activities identified under the Act.
  • Except with the prior approval of the Authority, such funds must not be given or transferred to any entity not registered under the Act.
  • Every asset purchased with such fund must be in the name of the NGO and not its office bearers or members.
  • Any organisation of a political nature and any association engaged in the production and broadcast of audio or audio visual news have been placed in the category prohibited to accept foreign contribution.

Key Fact

  • The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha on September 20, 2020 which amends the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
[Ref: Economic Times]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

6 states want 6k sq km to be taken off Western Ghats eco zone

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed concern after six states asked the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to whittle down the size of eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) under the ecologically fragile Western Ghats by 6,386.65 sq km.

  • In 2014, the then MoEF issued a draft notification declaring 56,825 sq km in the Western Ghats as ESZ.

Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ):

  • Areas around protected areas to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • MoEFCC can designate any area as ESZ.
  • Environment Protection Act, 1986 does not mention the word Eco-sensitive Zones.
  • Act says that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries & carrying on certain operations on basis of considerations like:
    • Biological diversity of an area,
    • Maximum allowable limits of concentration of pollutants for an area,
    • Environmentally compatible land use, and
    • Proximity to protected areas.
  • This clause have been used by govt. to ESZ or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFA) & No Development Zones.
  • MoEFCC has approved guidelines laying down criteria for declaring ESAs, include:
    • Species Based (Endemism, Rarity etc),
    • Ecosystem Based (sacred groves, frontier forests etc) and
    • Geomorphologic feature based (uninhabited islands, origins of rivers etc).

Key Facts on Western Ghats:

  • The Western Ghats are also known as Sahyadri.
  • Western Ghats run around 1.6 lakh sq. km, from Kanyakumari to Gujarat and spread across six states.
  • Western Ghats is a treasure trove of biodiversity and source of major rivers, including Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery.
  • The hills of this area run parallel to the western coast of the Indian peninsula and span Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • The area is an important biological landscape and hosts a variety of endemic species of flora and fauna.
  • Alongside such biodiversity, the Ghats also support about 50 million people.
  • The range runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain ‘Konkan’ along the Arabian Sea.
  • The range starts near the Songadh town of Gujarat and ends at Marunthuvazh Malai, near the southern tip of India.
  • The Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s ten hottest biodiversity hotspots.
  • At least 325 globally threatened species occur in the Western Ghats.
  • They influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer.

Kasturirangan Committee:

  • The Kasturirangan committee was headed by Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
  • This committee’s report watered down the focus on preserving the environment and recommended that only 37% of the Western Ghats region be classified as an ESA.
  • The report essentially split the Ghats into two landscapes – cultural and ecological, with the percentage of ecological landscape standing at 37%.
  • The report removed the system of gradation recommended by the Gadgil commission.
  • Instead, the former banked on an existing system of ‘red’, ‘orange’ and ‘green’ categorization of activities according to their polluting effects.
  • Kasturirangan recommended that ‘red’ category industries (like mining and quarrying) be banned, ‘orange’ ones (like food processing, hotels and restaurants, automobile servicing) be regulated and ‘green’ (like processing of grains, apparel-making) be allowed to function as usual.
  • With respect to activities like sand-mining and quarrying, which fall in the ‘red’ category, the Kasturirangan report provided some relief: existing operations would be allowed to continue until their lease expired but that the lease would not be renewed.
  • However, conservationists had issues with the dilutions of the Gadgil report. Because only 37% of the Western Ghats were to be regarded as an ESA, the threat posed to the region by developmental activities like hydropower projects remained because they could be setup in the remaining 63%, and still fragment and degrade the landscape.
  • The Kasturirangan report was submitted to the environment ministry in 2013 and was quickly met with resistance from politicians as well as members of local communities.
[Ref: The Indian Express]

Bilateral & International Relations

Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

  • Recently the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare participated in the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) ‘Accountability Breakfast’ through Video Conference.
  • The event was co-hosted by the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) and Every Woman Every Child (EWEC).

About Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

  • The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) is the world’s largest alliance for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health (WCAH), bringing together over 1,000 partner organizations across 192 countries.
  • PMNCH was launched in September 2005
  • It is hosted by the World Health Organization.


  • PMNCH seeks to achieve universal access to comprehensive, high-quality reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health care.

Three Strategic Objectives (SOs) are:

  • SO 1: Broker knowledge and innovation for action, leading to increased access to, and use of, knowledge and innovations to enhance policy, service delivery and financing mechanisms.
  • SO 2: Advocate for mobilizing and aligning resources and for greater engagement, leading to additional resource commitments for RMNCH, visibility of women’s and children’s health issues in relevant forums, and consensus on evidence-based policy development and implementation.
  • SO 3: Promote accountability for resources and results, leading to better information to monitor RMNCH results, as well as better and more systematic tracking of how resource commitments are allocated.

Members include:

  • Academic, Research and Training Institutes; Adolescents and Youth; Donors and Foundations; Global Financing Mechanisms; Healthcare Professional Associations; Inter-Governmental Organizations; Non-Governmental Organizations; Partner Governments; Private Sector; and United Nations Agencies.
  • The Vice-Chairs of PMNCH’s Board is the Government of India (who acted as interim Chair of the Board in 2018 and 2019) and the Government of the UK.
[Ref: PIB]

Defence & Security Issues

Union Defence Minister unveils Defence Acquisition Procedure

Union Defence Minister unveiled the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP)-2020 in the national capital. The DAP 2020 will be applicable with effect from October 1.

Defence Acquisition Procedure

  • The DAP is issued to ensure timely procurement of best military equipment and platforms for the armed forces through optimum utilisation of budgetary resources.
  • Moreover, the DAP’s focus is also on promoting self-reliance in defence equipment production.
  • The DAP remains in place for a period of five years. The last DAP was issued in 2016.

Key Features of the new policy:

  • Reservation in Categories for Indian Vendors: The categories of Buy (Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured)), Make I, Make II, Production Agency in Design & Development, OFB/DPSU will be exclusively reserved for Indian Vendors meeting the criteria of Ownership by resident Indian Citizens with FDI not more than 49%.
  • Notify a List of Weapons/Platforms for Ban on Import: To make India more self-reliant in defence production.
  • Indigenization of Imported Spares:
    • New Category of Buy (Global – Manufacture in India): Incorporates ‘manufacture of either the entire/part of the equipment or spares/sub-assemblies/Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility for the equipment, through its subsidiary in India.
    • Co-production through IGA (Intergovernmental Agreements): Enables establishment of co-production facilities through IGA achieving ‘Import Substitution’ and reduce Life Cycle Cost.
  • Time Bound Defence Procurement Process and Faster Decision Making: A Project Management Unit will facilitate obtaining advisory in specified areas to streamline Acquisition process.
  • Offset guidelines: have been revised, wherein preference will be given to manufacture of complete defence products over components
    • The offset clause requires a foreign vendor to invest a part of the contract value in India.
    • Moreover, there will be no offset clause in procurement of defence equipment if the deal is done through inter-government agreement (IGA), government-to-government or an ab initio single vendor.
    • In 2005, India adopted the Offset Policy for defence capital purchases. This meant that for all capital purchases above Rs 300 crore made through imports, the foreign vendor was required to invest at least 30 % of the value of the purchase in India. This investment was to be made in the Indian defence and aerospace sector.
  • Rationalization of Trial and Testing Procedures: Scope of Trials will be restricted to physical evaluation of core operational parameters, Avoiding duplication of trials and opportunity will be given to vendors to rectify faults.
  • Incorporates new chapters on information and communication technologies, post-contract management, acquisition of systems developed by the state-run defence entities like the DRDO and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).
  • Featured measures to reduce delay in procurement of essential items by the three services as it proposed a new enabling provision to acquire them through capital budget under a simplified procedure in a time-bound manner.
  • Included provisions to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) like adding new category ‘Buy (Global – Manufacture in India)’.
  • Provides for single-stage accord of AoN (Acceptance of Necessity) in all cases up to Rs 500 crore to cut delays in approval of acquisition proposals.
  • Overall Enhancement in Indigenous Content
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]

Defence India Startup Challenge-4 & iDEX4Fauji

Defence minister launched the Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC 4) during the iDEX event, along with iDEX4Fauji.

Defence India Startup Challenge

  • Defence India Startup Challenge was launched by Ministry in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission in 2018.
  • It is aimed at supporting Startups/MSMEs/Innovators to create prototypes and/or commercialize products/solutions in the area of National Defence and Security.
  • Under Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) 4, 11 challenges from Armed forces, OFB&DPSUs were thrown open to provide innovative ideas on defence technologies.


  • iDEX4Fauji is a first of its kind initiative, launched to support innovations identified by members of the Indian Armed Forces.
  • Through this initiative, Indian service personnel working in the field and on borders, handling extreme conditions and equipment could provide ideas and innovations to improve such equipment.

iDEX initiative

  • The iDEX initiative of the Department of Defence Production was launched by Prime Minister in April 2018.
  • It aims to encourage innovations in the Indian Defence sector and create an ecosystem where Startups, MSMEs and individual innovators could interact easily with the Indian defence establishment and provide innovations for specific challenges experienced in operational environments.
  • The iDEX initiatives are executed by ‘Defence Innovation Organisation’, a Section 8 company of Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) – BEL (Bharat Electronics Limited) & HAL (Hindustan Aerospace Limited).
[Ref: PIB]

Science & Technology

India’s Astrosat Completes 5 Years of Mapping Stars

Astrosat completed five years of imaging celestial objects in space.

About Astrosat

  • It is India’s first multi-wavelength astronomical observatory.
  • It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2015.
  • It is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands simultaneously.
    • Ultra-Violet Imaging Telescope (UVIT), one of the five payloads on board AstroSat, is a 3-in-1 imaging telescope simultaneously observing the visible, near-ultraviolet (NUV), and the far-ultraviolet (FUV) spectrum.

Scientific objectives:

  • To understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes;
  • Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars;
  • Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy;
  • Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky;
  • Perform a limited deep field survey of the Universe in the Ultraviolet region.

Observations made by Astrosat

  • Astrosat has explored stars, star clusters, mapping of large and small satellite galaxies of the Milky Way called ‘Magellanic Clouds’, an energetic phenomenon in the Universe such as the ultra-violet counterparts to gamma-ray bursts, supernovae, active galactic nuclei.
  • Its superior spatial resolution capability has enabled astronomers to probe star formation in galaxies as well as resolve the cores of star clusters (three times better than the last NASA mission, GALEX).
    • Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite was a NASA mission (2003-2012) whose primary goal was to investigate how star formation in galaxies evolved from the early Universe up to the present.
[Ref: The Indian Express]

Key Facts For Prelims

Ban on loose cigarette and beedis

  • The Maharashtra government has banned the sale of loose cigarette and beedis. The consumers will now have to buy the whole packet of these items.
  • The reason cited is these single stick loose cigarettes or beedis do not have the specific health warning on it which is in the public interest.
  • This has been issued under subsection (2) of section 7 of the cigarette and other Tobacco Products (prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and commerce Production, supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA), 2OO3.
  • Under COTPA, tobacco products need to be sold with graphic health warnings on their packaging and loose cigarettes do not comply with this rule.

Origin of Diamonds in Meteorites

  • Scientists have offered new insights into the origin of diamonds in a group of stony meteorites called ureilites.
  • Previously, researchers have proposed that diamonds in ureilites formed like those on Earth — deep in the mantle of the planet, where the high pressures needed to form a diamond, are created by the weight of the overlying rock.
  • As per the scientists, diamonds in the ureilites would most likely be formed by rapid shock transformation from graphite during one or more major impacts into the ureilite parent asteroid in the early solar system.


  • The knowledge generated will provide important implications for models of planetary formation in the early solar system.

Biodiversity by the Bay campaign

  • The Mumbai-based citizen’s collective known as Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic announced Biodiversity by the Bay campaign on August 2020.
  • It is aimed to spark a movement among the young, progressive Mumbai residents with regards to saving the biodiversity and green cover in the city.
  • The end goal is to create a youth-led climate movement including fisherfolk, indigenous communities, law and architect students and local communities.
  • As the part of the campaign, a biodiversity map of the city to showcase the wildlife hotspots, mangrove forests, urban green spaces and over 90 species that can be spotted in the city has been illustrated.
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