Current Affairs 30th January, 2019

PAPER – 1 and PAPER -2

Topics Covered

1. Governance

2. Governmental Intervention to protect the vulnerable section of the society

3. Social Issues

Pariksha Pe Charcha 2.0

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What to read?

Prelims – About the programme

Mains – The extent of Exam stress among children and its consequences on the society

The Prime Minister, interacted with students, teachers and parents, as part of Pariksha Pe Charcha 2.0 in New Delhi.

  • The second edition Pariksha Pe Charcha 2.0 was held on January 29. On this occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts interacted with several students, parents and teachers from across the country and shared his personal experiences with the young audience to their queries on a host of subjects related to examinations particularly, dealing with exam-centric anxiety. The event was held at Talkatora Stadium in Delhi where 2000 students, teachers and parents will gathered to interact with the Prime Minister.

  • They were selected through the competitive route out of 1 lakh applicants. Not just students from India, Indian students residing in Russia, Nigeria, Iran, Nepal, Doha, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Singapore also participated in the event

  • The event was organised by Ministry of Human Resource Development.


Topics Covered

1. International Relations

2. International Organisations

India and OCED sign agreement on PISA

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What to read?

Prelims – What is OECD?, What is PISA?

Mains – Benefits to Indian Students in participating in PISA

A Signing ceremony of Agreement between India and OECD for India’s participation in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2021, in presence of Union HRD Minister was held in New Delhi.


  • The Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) was established in 1948 to run the US-financed Marshall Plan for reconstruction of a continent ravaged by war. By making individual governments recognise the interdependence of their economies, it paved the way for a new era of cooperation that was to change the face of Europe.

  • Encouraged by its success and the prospect of carrying its work forward on a global stage, Canada and the US joined OEEC members in signing the new OECD Convention on 14 December 1960. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was officially born on 30 September 1961, when the Convention entered into force.

  • Today, 36 OECD member countries worldwide regularly turn to one another to identify problems, discuss and analyse them, and promote policies to solve them.

India and OECD

Brazil, India and the People's Republic of China have emerged as new economic giants. The three of them, with Indonesia and South Africa, are Key Partners of the Organisation and contribute to its work in a sustained and comprehensive manner.

Together with them, the OECD brings around its table 39 countries that account for 80% of world trade and investment, giving it a pivotal role in addressing the challenges facing the world economy.

As a Key Partner, India is included in OECD analysis and statistical databases. Its participation in OECD bodies and fora is encouraged as a means of allowing Indian policy makers to benefit from the OECD’s technical expertise and analytical capacity.


The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.

In 2015 over half a million students, representing 28 million 15-year-olds in 72 countries and economies, took the internationally agreed two-hour test.

Students were assessed in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy.

Test items are adapted to the local context and language, pilot tested and validated before being used for the test.

PISA and India

The Government of India has decided that India will participate in the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) to be conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2021.

Schools run by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and schools in the UT of Chandigarh will participate.

OECD has agreed to ask some of the questions based on Indian context.

Map of countries Participated in PISA test so far OECD countries Partner countries and economies in PISA 2015 Partner countries and economies in previous cycles                                     

Benefit of India in participating PISA

  • Within the country (or specific geography to be covered in case of large countries), PISA covers a sample of 15-year-old students representing all forms of schooling i.e. public, private, private aided etc.

  • PISA 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. It would lead to recognition and acceptability of Indian students and prepare them for the global economy in the 21st century.

  • Learnings from participation in PISA will help to introduce competency based examination reforms in the school system and help move away from rote learning. The CBSE and NCERT will be part of the process and activities leading to the actual test.

  • More than 80 countries, including 44 middle-income countries, have participated in the assessment since the first round of testing in 2000.  Next round of PISA is going to be held in 2021.  

  • The list of registered countries includes Brazil, China (certain areas like Shanghai and Beijing) and countries from South-East Asia like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.


Topics Covered

1. Polity

2. Statutory bodies

Lack of experts in RTI panel

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What to read?

Prelims and Mains – Composition of the CIC office and the impact of lack in experts in the office

The Supreme Court asked why Right to Information bodies, especially the apex forum of Central Information Commission (CIC), were almost completely manned by bureaucrats.


  • CIC was established in 2005 by Central Government under provisions of Right to Information (RTI) Act (2005).

  • The Chief Information Commissioner heads the Central Information Commission.

  • The general superintendence, direction and management of affairs of Commission are vested in Chief Information Commissioner who is assisted by Information Commissioners.

  • CIC hears appeals from information-seekers who have not been satisfied by the public authority, and also addresses major issues concerning the RTI Act.

  • It examines any record which is under control of the public authority and which may be withheld from it on any grounds during the enquiry. While inquiring, it has powers of civil court

  • CIC submits annual report to Union government on the implementation of the provisions of RTI Act.

  • The central government in turn places this report before each house of Parliament.


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  • The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of—

    • The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee.

    • The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

    • A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

Supreme Court on CIC composition

A bench of Supreme Court judges pointed out that the Right to Information Act of 2005 mandates that people with a range of experience and from various fields should serve as information commissioners.

They also pointed out that out of 280 applications received for the post of information commissioners at the CIC recently, 14 were shortlisted, and they were almost all bureaucrats.

Need for transparency in CIC appointments

Of the 14 short-listed candidates for the post of Information Commissioners, two had not applied. This urges the need to usher in transparency in the appointments process.


Topics Covered

1. Issues and Management related to Health sector

Zika strain of Rajasthan – Endemic to India

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What to read?

Prelims – What do you mean byCommunity Herd Immunity?, About Zika virus

Mains – Spread of Zika virus in India and Steps to combat Zika

The Zika virus that infected 159 people in an outbreak in Rajasthan last year, could have been circulating in India for several years and is endemic to Asia, according to a new study published in the journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution.


  • The study, led by authors from Pune’s National Institute of Virology (NIV), an institute under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is the first to sequence full Zika virus genomes from India.

Zika Virus

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  • Zika is an infection spread by the Aedes egypti mosquito

  • Infections in pregnant women can cause children to be born with brain deficiencies

  • World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the Zika virus to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on February 1, 2016

  • This was done post an outbreak in Brazil and other Latin American countries and its association with birth defects (microcephaly) in newborns

  • It ceased to be a Public Health Emergency on November 18, 2016

  • Highlights of the study

    • It suggests that people in the region may have been previously exposed to the virus, building herd immunity that may limit future outbreaks.

    • It appears that the Indian strain has been around for a while.The Brazilian strain diverged more recently.

    • along with previous research, suggests that the virus has been in Asia for “at least 50 years

    Measures suggested in the study

    While endemicity means that large outbreaks, such as the Brazilian one, may not occur in India, serosurveys are needed to confirm this. In a serosurvey, a sample of the population is tested for Zika antibodies.

    Community Herd Immunity

    Herd immunity is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune.

    PAPER – 2 and PAPER -3

    Topics Covered

    1. Schemes/ Programmes

    2. Conservation of the Environment

    139 Polluted cities not on the Clean Air Plan

    Image result for 139 Polluted cities not on the Clean Air Plan

    What to read?

    Prelims – NCAP

    Mains – Highlights of the Study, Steps taken to measure air pollution in cities

    There are 139 Indian cities that breach air pollution standards but are not included in the Centre's National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), says a report by Greenpeace.



    To  play a crucial role in addressing the increasing air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner –

    • comprehensive management plan for prevention,

    • control and abatement of air pollution

    • Augmenting the air quality monitoring network across the country.

    Focuses on:

  • Collaborative and participatory approach covering all sources of pollution and coordination between relevant Central Ministries, State Governments, local bodies and other stakeholders

  • Intensive awareness, training and capacity-building drive, with specific impetus on augmentation of manpower and infrastructure facilities of CPCB and SPCB under the capacity building component of NCAP.

    • Technology is one of the critical elements of NCAP: solutions that are nationally acceptable, but more importantly, which are locally possible

    Key components of NCAP include

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    • City-specific air pollution abatement action plan for 100 polluting cities of the country similar to one for Delhi

    • Increasing the number of monitoring stations, data dissemination, public participation on planning and implementation

    • Setting up of Air Information Centre for data analysis, resource apportionment studies, setting up of national inventory, guidelines for indoor air pollution and setting up of rural monitoring stations

    Highlights of the report

  • Of these 313 cities, 241 (77%) had PM10 levels beyond the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). These specify upper limits to a range of airborne chemicals and compounds.

    • While 102 of these cities were included in the NCAP, the remaining 139 cities were left out.

  • Of the 139 cities that have not been included in the non-attainment list under the NCAP, there are several cities that have a population of more than 1 million, and PM levels (recorded in 2017) above NAAQS.

  • Note – NAAQS

    National Ambient Air Quality Standards

    • Ambient air quality refers to the condition or quality of air surrounding us in the outdoors

    • National Ambient Air Quality Standards are the standards for ambient air quality set by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that is applicable nationwide

    The CPCB has been conferred this power by the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

    A new National Air Quality Index (AQI) has been launched in October 2014 to disseminate information on air quality in an easily understandable form for the general public

    • The measurement of air quality is based on eight pollutants, namely, PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb

    • National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed for all of these pollutants

    • The 2005 World Health Organization’s “WHO Air quality guidelines” offer global guidance on thresholds and limits for 4 key air pollutants that pose health risks – particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2