Daily Current Affairs for 18th September 2020

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First regulate digital media, govt. tells SC


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

The Union government said the Supreme Court should frame guidelines drawing the line between journalistic freedom and responsible journalism for digital media first rather than mainstream electronic and print media.

Key details

  • The government was responding to a proposal by the court to frame guidelines against communal and derogatory content in mainstream media.
  • The court had mooted the idea while staying the broadcast of the show, Bindas Bol, on Sudarshan TV on September 15.
  • The show is accused of “vilifying” members of the Muslim community who join the civil services.
  • Media, includes mainstream electronic media, mainstream print media as well as a parallel media namely digital print media and digital web-based news portal and YouTube channels as well as ‘Over the Top’ (OTT) platform.

Issues with Media:

There are some issues with media that are not getting addressed like:

  • Cross media ownership
  • Inaccurate news being published
  • Creating sensationalism
  • Absence of journalistic ethics
  • Paid news
  • Advertisement oriented news being released for profit and privacy violation
  • Unnecessary news on celebrities and superstardom being circulated
  • Unethical sting operation being held for publicity

Regulation of Media in India

  • Media in India is mostly self-regulated.
  • In India, a statutory bodythe Press Council of India (PCI) — governs the conduct of the print media.
  1. The chairman, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, heads the PCI.
  2. It is a statutory, quasi-judicial institution that works under the aegis of the Press Council Act of 1978.
  • The electronic media has to comply with ‘The Central News Media Accreditation Guidelines, 1999’ which says that if a media organisation is held to have provided any false or fraudulent or forged details or documents the representative media organisation shall be debarred form accreditation up to a maximum of five years but not less than two years, as decided by Central Press Accreditation Committee (CPAC).
  • The television media has associated its own ‘self’ regulatory mechanism – News Broadcasting Standards Authority.


Definition of Print Media

  • The means of mass communication, which uses printed publications, such as newspapers, tabloids, magazines, books, journals, pamphlets, etc. to disseminate information to the general public, is called Print media.
  • It is one of the earliest and fundamental forms of mass media; wherein there is an in-depth analysis and reporting of any information or news.

Definition of Electronic Media

  • Electronic Media, is the means of mass communication in which electronic or electromechanical energy is required to disseminate news or any message to the audience.
  • primary sources of electronic media are audio-visual recordings, multimedia presentations, online content and so forth.
  • It is composed of all those devices, which are electronic such as television, radio, computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc. to communicate information to and from the audience.

Special Benches to hear cases against legislators


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

The Supreme Court has asked the Chief Justices of High Courts to head Special Benches and immediately hear long-pending criminal cases against sitting and former legislators.

Key details

  • Over 4,400 criminal trials have been held up, some for decades, because the powerful MPs and MLAs had approached the High Courts and got an interim stay. Some date back nearly 40 years.
  • Most are stuck at the stage of framing of criminal charges.
  • There are over 2,500 criminal cases against sitting legislators alone.
  • The Supreme Court asked the Chief Justices to list such cases immediately before their own respective Special Benches and review if the stay on the criminal trial needs to continue at all.

Criminalisation in Politics:

Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) report:

  • Nearly half of the newly-elected Lok Sabha members (17th Lok Sabha) have criminal charges against them, a 26% increase as compared to 2014.
  • Of the 539 winning candidates analysed by the ADR, as many as 233 MPs or 43% have criminal charges.
  • According to the report, 43% of the newly elected MPs are charged with criminal offenses, while 29% of them are facing serious criminal charges such as murder, rape and kidnapping.
  • According to ADR, a criminal charge is considered serious for the following cases:
  1. Punishments of 5 years or more or if it is non-bailable
  2. Electoral offences (such as bribery)
  • Assault, murder, kidnap or rape
  1. Offences mentioned under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951
  2. Offences of corruption, under the Prevention of Corruption Act

Supreme court rulings

  • The Supreme Court has come up with a series of landmark judgments to address the issue of criminalization of politics.
  1. In 2002, Supreme Court ruled in the Union of India (UOI) vs. Association for Democratic Reforms case, that every candidate, contesting an election to the Parliament, State Legislatures or Municipal Corporation, has to declare their criminal records, financial records and educational qualifications.
  2. Under Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951, lawmakers cannot contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case.
  • SC removed this statutory protection of convicted legislators from immediate disqualification via the Lily Thomas v. Union of India case in 2013.

III. The incorporation of the ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option in the voting machines was a landmark step in empowering the voters to force the political parties to field better candidates, even though there are associated concerns with NOTA.

  • This was done via the 2013 judgment in People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs. Union of India case.
  • A February 2020 Supreme Court judgment on criminalisation in politics may have far-reaching consequences for Indian democracy.
    1. It will first be implemented in the coming Bihar elections in October 2020.
    2. The political party and its leadership would for the first time have to publicly own up to criminalisation of politics.
  • The Court has asked the political parties to state “the reasons for such selection, as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.” If a political party fails to comply, it would be “… in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.”

Orders state that:

(a) Each candidate shall submit a sworn affidavit giving financial details and criminal cases;

(b) Each candidate shall inform the political party in writing of criminal cases against him or her;

(c) The party shall put up on its website and on social media as well as publish in newspapers the names and details of such candidates.

U.S. keen on finalising BECA at 2+2 dialogue


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

The U.S. is keen that India sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA), at the next India-U.S. 2+2 ministerial dialogue likely to held in October end.

Key details

  • A meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers is scheduled to take place in Tokyo in October.
  • A maritime information agreement is also under active deliberation between India and the U.S.A
  • Once concluded, India will have such arrangements with all Quad countries – Australia, Japan and the U.S.A


Foundational military agreements between USA and India:

  1. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA),
  • This is a logistics support agreement signed in 2016.
  • It gives both the nations access to each other’s military facilities. But it does not make it automatic or obligatory.
  • The agreement will primarily cover four areas — port calls, joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. 
  1. The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)
  • It is the most recent agreement signed in 2018.
  • COMCASA is an India-specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).
  • It comes into force immediately and is valid for a period 10 years.
  • It would facilitate access to advanced defense systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing U.S.-origin platforms.
  1. The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA).
  • GSOMIA was signed in 2002 between India and USA.
  • An extension to the GSOMIA, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed at the last 2+2 dialogue.
  • There has been a sharp increase in India’s maritime interactions with the Quad countries on a bilateral basis centred around information sharing for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific.
  1. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA):
  • BECA is last of the four foundational agreements.
  • It facilitates exchange of geospatial information.
  • It would set a framework through which the US could share sensitive data to aid targeting and navigation with India.


  • Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) is the informal strategic dialogue between India, USA, Japan and Australia with a shared objective to ensure and support a “free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
  • The idea of Quad was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007.
  • In December 2012, Japan again proposed the concept of Asia’s “Democratic Security Diamond” involving Australia, India, Japan and the US to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
  • In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan gave shape to the long-pending “Quad” Coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence (especially China).

India, Pakistan to attend SAARC meet


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

External Affairs Minister (EAM) and Pakistan Foreign Minister (PFM) are expected to meet via a videoconference at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meeting on September 24.

Key details

  • All member countries have confirmed participation in the meeting.
  • The SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting is part of an old practice of holding an informal meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
  • The chairman of this SAARC meet will be the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal.
  • The important issue will be the revival of SAARC cooperation due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, including the creation of an India-led SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, and exchanges between regional health professionals.


  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia.
  • Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • The SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 4.21% (US$3.67 trillion) of the global economy, as of 2019.

Coronavirus Emergency Fund

  • On March 15, 2020, during a video conference of the SAARC Heads of State and Government, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a Coronavirus Emergency Fund.
  • This emergency fund was set up in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
  • The initiative seeks to mitigate the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic in the South Asian region.

Wetlands being identified in Rajasthan to protect biodiversity


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

  • Efforts are being made in Rajasthan to protect the wetlands which have played an important role in the storage of sediment and nutrients.
  • While six wetlands are already identified in the State, 52 more have been earmarked for time-bound development.

Key Details:

No waste would be allowed to be dumped at the wetlands and effective steps would be taken for water conservation.

  • Strict action would be taken against those running submersible pump sets for illegal salt mining in the world-famous Sambhar Lake.
    • A large number of migratory birds died last year in the Sambhar Lake.
  • The State Government’s Directorate of Environment and Climate Change will function as the secretariat of the State Wetland Authority.
  • Environment committees would take up the works for the conservation of wetlands and water bodies.
  • Fresh and saline lakes supporting unique ecosystems in the State would be protected with the strict implementation of the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2019.

Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2019.

  • In order to conserve wetlands across the country, the Centre notified new rules that prohibit setting up or expansion of industries, and disposal of construction and demolition waste within wetlands.
  • The rules notified, provide for setting up an authority in each state and Union territory.
  • The authority will prepare a list of all wetlands of the state or UT within three months and make strategies for conservation and wise use of wetlands within their jurisdiction.
  • It (authority) shall recommend mechanisms for maintenance of ecological character through promotion activities for land within the boundary of notified wetlands.

Ramsar Convention and sites

  • The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value.
  • India currently has 37 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1,067,939 hectares.

Recently, the Ramsar Convention declared 10 wetlands from India as Ramsar sites taking the total number of Ramsar Sites in the country to 37.

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