Current Affairs 4th February, 2019

 PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. International Relations

2. International Organisations, Agreements / Treaties

INF Nuclear Treat – Russia follows U.S in suspending the pact

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What to read?

Prelims – About INF Nuclear Treaty

Mains – Implications of the withdrawal

Russia has suspended its involvement in the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) following a similar decision by the US.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia would start developing new missiles.

Background of the issues – On February 1, 2019, the US, which has long accused Russia of violating the treaty, formally announced it was suspending its obligations under the agreement.

Intermediate- Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty

The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty required the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

  • The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification. As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.

  • Despite its name, the INF Treaty covers all types of ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles — whether their payload is conventional or nuclear. Moscow and Washington are prohibited from deploying these missiles anywhere in the world, not just in Europe. However, the treaty applies only to ground-launched systems. Both sides are free to deploy air- and sea-launched missiles within the 500-to-5,500-kilometer range.

 What are the diplomatic implications of withdrawal?

Withdrawal is likely to be controversial with U.S. allies in NATO, further splitting the alliance at a difficult time for transatlantic relations. Many Western European NATO states favour retaining the INF, in conjunction with previous U.S. policy designed to push Moscow back into compliance. This raises concerns that divisions within NATO may worsen when the United States officially withdraws from the INF.

  • Trump’s move is also likely to undermine the 2010 New START treaty governing U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear systems. The INF Treaty’s demise will undercut New START by reopening questions on the relationship between intermediate and strategic systems that have been resolved for 30 years by the elimination of ground-based, intermediate-range missiles.

  • China’s growth in Nuclear race - In 2018, the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review noted that Beijing was steaming forward with the expansion of its cruise missile arsenal, potentially neutralising the capability of American warships that could seek to approach the Chinese coastline during a standoff.

  • Europe at a standstill position - Shifting geopolitics also requires that European concerns be factored into strategic discussions on the INF, particularly because it is Europe that is most immediately threatened by the Russian stockpile.

  • In pulling out of the INF, Washington is effectively throwing away leverage it may have had with Russia on an issue of global concern.

Related Treaties

1. New START

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  • New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. It was signed in Prague and, after ratification entered into force on 5 February 2011. It is expected to last at least until 2021.

  • New START replaced the Treaty of Moscow (SORT).

  • Under terms of the treaty, the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half

  • It does not limit the number of operationally inactive stockpiled nuclear warheads that remain in the high thousands in both the Russian and American inventories.


Topics Covered

1. Polity

2. Non – Constitutional bodies

Appointment of New CBI director – Rishi Kumar Shukla

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What to read?

Prelims and Mains – About CBI and their functions, powers

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has, based on the panel recommended by the Committee constituted as per Section 4A(1) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, approved the appointment of Shri Rishi Kumar Shukla, IPS(MP:1983) as Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a period of two years from the date of assumption of charge of the office.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is India’s premier investigating agency that handles all high-profile cases. Its job is to ensure a fair and an impartial probe. 

Time travel by CBI

  • Origins of CBI can be traced back to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) set up in 1941 in order to cases of bribery and corruption in War & Supply Department of India during World War II.

  • The need of a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption was felt even after the end of World War II. So, DSPE (Delhi Special Police Establishment) Act, 1946 was brought that gave legal power of investigating cases to CBI.

  • CBI is not a statutory body as it is not established by an Act of the Parliament.

  • CBI investigates cases related to economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption and other high-profile cases.

  • CBI comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. Various organizations under this Ministry are Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), CBI, Central Information Commission (CIC), etc.

  • CBI is exempted from Right to Information (RTI) Act similar to National Investigating Agency (NIA), National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), etc.

  • CBI is headed by a Director, an IPS (Indian Police Service) officer of the rank of Director General of Police.The director is selected based on CVC Act, 2003 for two years-term. Several other ranks in CBI are filled through recruitment by SSC or deputation from Police, Income Tax Department and Customs Department.

  • The appointment procedure of CBI Director has undergone several changes over time.

Evolution in appointment of the Director

  • Initially, appointments were made as per Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.


  • 2003: DSPE Act revised on Supreme Court’s recommendation. A committee that had members from Central Vigilance Commission, Secretaries from Home Ministry, Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances would send recommendations to Central Government for appointment of CBI Director.

  • 2014: The Lokpal Act provided a committee headed by Prime Minister and members as Leader of Opposition/ Leader of single largest opposition party, Chief Justice of India/ a Supreme Court Judge for appointment of CBI Director was formed. Home Ministry sends list of eligible candidates to DoPT that prepares the final list and send it to the committee.

Note - Established in 1902 by the British Government, CID (Crime Investigation Department) is an investigation and intelligence department of state police. On the other hand, CBI is an agency of the Central Government.

  • The ten regional zones of CBI are in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Guwahati, Kolkata, Patna, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Bhopal and Delhi.

  • Central Government can authorize CBI to investigate cases in any state with the consent of the concerned state.

  • Supreme Court and High Courts can also order the CBI to investigate without state’s consent.


Topics Covered

1. Infrastructure

2. Energy Resources

Round the year power supply to Ladakh

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What to read?

Prelims - Srinagar- Alusteng - Drass- Kargil – Leh Transmission Line, POWERGRID

Mains – Benefits to the region and Challenges in execution

PM dedicates 220 kV Srinagar- Alusteng - Drass- Kargil – Leh Transmission Line to the Nation; Ladakh now connected to National Grid.

Srinagar- Alusteng - Drass- Kargil – Leh Transmission Line:

Built at a height of around 3000-4000 meters, this approx. 335 km long transmission line has been constructed by POWERGRID. In this project, the four new State-of-the-Art 220/66 kV Gas Insulated Sub-stations built at Drass, Kargil, Khaltsi and Leh will help to ensure 24x7 quality power in all weather conditions. Funding provisions have been in the ratio of 95:05 (95% Govt. of India share and 5% J&K state share).


POWERGRID is one of the World’s Largest Power Transmission Utility, and has a wide network of 150,874 circuit kilometers transmission lines, with 238 Sub-stations and transformation capacity of 351,106 MVA.

Benefits to the region

  • The implementation of this project was also aimed to supply power to the people of Ladakh in harsh winters and evacuation of surplus power of Kargil & Leh Hydel stations of NHPC in summers. It is a flagship project of Government of India, under PMRP scheme which was aimed to improve reliability & quality of power supply in Ladakh region of J&K by connecting with National Grid.

  • This will not only help evacuate power in summers, but will also supply power to the region in winters when temperatures dip and hydro electricity generation do not match up. The project will meet the power demand of Ladakh region at economical rates.

  • With quality electricity available at reasonable rates, hospitality industry in Ladakh will get a boost, as their reliance on diesel sets will reduce. This will also attract tourists looking for affordable stay in all weathers.

Challenges in execution:

  • This herculean task executed by POWERGRID in unforeseen weather conditions was made possible by immaculate project monitoring skills, high team spirit and strategic planning and use of modern technologies. The line remains snow covered for nearly six months with the minimum temperature going down to as low as -40 degrees at Drass. Therefore, specially designed tower foundations were constructed with assistance from Snow & Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) for spotting the tower foundations, as the work force braved the challenge of working at lesser oxygen levels.

  • It shall also provide grid connectivity and reliable quality power supply to the strategically important Ladakh region including defence establishments in the area.

Related Scheme

1. Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (for Jammu and Kashmir)

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The then Prime Minister during his visit to J&K on 17th and 18th November 2004, announced a Reconstruction Plan for J&K involving an outlay of Rs.24000 crore. At present, approximate total outlay for PMRP projects is Rs.36561.58 crore. There are 67 Projects/Schemes under 4 sectors. They are

1. Expanding Economic Infrastructure

(a) Power

(b) Roads

(c) Assistance for External Borrowing for Infrastructure

2. Expanding Provision of Basic Service.

(d) Education

(e) Health

(f) Physical Infrastructure for Civic Amenities

3. Thrust to employment & income generation

(g) Tourism

(h) Agriculture & Food Processing

(i) Industrial Promotion Related Measures

(j) Other employment measures

4. Relief and Rehabilitation for families of victims of militancy.

(k) Assistance to the dislocated & the families of the victims of militancy.


Topics Covered

1. Governance

2. Infrastructure – Roadways

National Road Safety Week

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What to read?

Prelims – About the celebration, Motor rally to commemorate Gandhi

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways  is all set to launch the 30th National Road Safety Week from February 4, 2019.

In  an event at Gandhi Smriti and DarshanSamiti, Rajghat, New Delhi,  Union Home Minister, External Affairs Minister and Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation will flag off a motor car rally to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

Highlights of the rally

  • The rally will travel through places historically associated with Gandhiji, both in India, as well as in Bangladesh and Myanmar, and will pass through Sabarmati, Porbandar, Dandi, Yerwada, Sewagram, Jabalpur, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, ChauriChaura, Champaran, Shantiniketan and Kolkata in India before travelling to Dhaka in Bangladesh.

  • It will conclude at Yangon in Myanmar on the 24th of February, covering a total distance of 7250 km.

  • The rally  is part of the year long celebrations to commemorate the 150th year of Mahatma Gandhi in India and across the globe, initiated by Government of India on 2nd October last year. It will take up advocacy on Road Safety concerns along the route.

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Dashboard on Road Accident Data, 2019 - Year of Road Safety

  • Apart from the rally, the event will also see the  launch of  Dash Board for Road Accident Data of India and its states.

  • The Society of Indian Automobile Industry will also declare 2019 as the Year of Road Safety on the occasion, to underline its commitment and support for promoting safety on Indian roads.

Other initiatives for road safety in the celebration

  • Amartra Chitra Katha will release a set  of comic books on road safety that it has published- aimed at creating awareness on the issue among children in an informal format that they  can relate to.

  • Retro Reflective Stickers on Sadak Suraksha JeevanRaksha  (Road Safety – Protection to Life) will be launched on the occasion. These will be put on vehicles to improve their visibilty.


Topics Covered

1. Science and Technology

2. Space Missions

Hubble telescope discovers Dwarf Galaxy

What to read?

Prelims and Mains – About the discovery, About NASA’s Hubble telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope has made an unexpected discovery of a never-before seen dwarf galaxy in our cosmic backyard, located just 30 million light-years away.

Researchers used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study white dwarf stars within the globular cluster NGC 6752.

Bedlin – 1

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  • The cosmic neighbour, nicknamed Bedin 1, is a modestly sized, elongated galaxy. It measures only around 3000 light-years at its greatest extent—a fraction of the size of the Milky Way.

  • Not only is it tiny, but it is also incredibly faint. These properties led astronomers to classify it as a dwarf spheroidal galaxy.

  • Bedin 1 has some notable features. Not only is it one of just a few dwarf spheroidals that have a well established distance but it is also extremely isolated.

  • Due to its isolation—which resulted in hardly any interaction with other galaxies—and its age, Bedin 1 is the astronomical equivalent of a living fossil from the early Universe.

Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy

Dwarf spheroidal galaxies are defined by their small size, low-luminosity, lack of dust and old stellar populations. 36 galaxies of this type are already known to exist in the Local Group of Galaxies, 22 of which are satellite galaxies of the Milky Way.

Hubble telescope

  • The Hubble Space Telescope is a large telescope in space. NASA launched Hubble in 1990.

  • It was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency.

  • Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts.

  • Expanding the frontiers of the visible Universe, the Hubble Space Telescope looks deep into space with cameras that can see across the entire optical spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet.

Related Telescope

1. WFIRST telescope

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  • WFIRST was tentatively scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s, to become NASA’s next “flagship mission,” a classification applied to large-scale missions with broad science objectives.

  • The Wide Field Instrument will have a field of view that is 100 times greater than the Hubble infrared instrument, capturing more of the sky with less observing time. As the primary instrument, the Wide Field Instrument will measure light from a billion galaxies over the course of the mission lifetime.

Other NASA flagship missions include the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Telescope, and the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.