Daily Current Affairs for 25th September 2020

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India, Pak. trade charges at SAARC, CICA meets


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

Why in news?

India and Pakistan crossed swords over terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir at the Foreign Minister’s meetings of the 8-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the 27-nation Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

Key details

  • unlike similar occasions in the past, neither side walked out during the events held via video-conference.
  • India listed cross-border terrorism, blocking of connectivity and obstruction of trade as the key challenges confronting SAARC.
  • One of the agenda items in the SAARC ministerial meeting was the 19th SAARC Summit, which was to be hosted by Pakistan.
  • The meeting, chaired by Nepal, was held in virtual mode and attended by all SAARC member states.


  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
  • Originally there were 7 members in the SAARC.
  • Afghanistan became the 8thmember of the SAARC organisation in the summit held in the Dhaka in November 2005.
  • Currently there are 8 members in the SAARC organisation i.e. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, 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.
  • The Secretariat of the Association was set up in Kathmandu on 17 January 1987.
  • It launched the South Asian Free Trade Areain 2006


  • The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia(CICA) is an inter-governmental forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.
  • The idea of convening the CICA was first proposed by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev on 5 October 1992, at the 47th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Blue-member states

Green- observer States


  • At the video conference of SAARC Health Ministers on COVID-19 hosted by Pakistan on 23 April 2020, India developed an electronic platform, namely ‘SAARC COVID19 Information Exchange Platform (COINEX)’ for use by all SAARC countries.
  • The platform will be launched for exchange of specialized information and tools on COVID-19 among designated health professionals in the region.
  • COINEX will also offer and facilitate various online training resources and e-learning modules.

The SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund

  • On March 15, 2020, during a video conference of the SAARC Heads of State and Government, India 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.
  • It is based on voluntary contributions from all SAARC members.
  • India announced donating $10 million as its initial contribution to support the initiative
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also constituted the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund with the help of corporate bodies, foundations and the UN Foundation.

More opposition against Tripura bru resettlement


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

Why in news?

More local communities in Tripura are up in arms against the resettlement of the Brus displaced from adjoining Mizoram.

Key details

  • Members of the Halam community, a Scheduled Tribe of Tripura, also called Riam, prevented surveyors from assessing land in the Churaibari area in Dharmanagar Subdivision of North Tripura district. The area borders Assam.
  • People belonging to the Manipuri and Muslim communities in the area too protested the proposed settlement of Bru refugees in the area.
  • This was the first instance of conflict over the issue of resettling the internally-displaced Brus beyond the Kanchanpur and Panisagar Subdivisions of North Tripura district.
  • The sizeable Bengali, Mizo and local Brus – also called Reangs – have been against the settling of the Bru refugees near the areas they inhabit.

Who are the Brus?

  • Bru or Reang is a community indigenous to Northeast India, living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram and Assam.
  • In Tripura, they are recognised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
  • In Mizoram, they have been targeted by groups that do not consider them indigenous to the state.
  • In 1997, following ethic clashes, nearly 37,000 Brus fled Mamit, Kolasib and Lunglei districts of Mizoram and were accommodated in relief camps in Tripura.
  • Since then, 5,000 have returned to Mizoram in eight phases of repatriation, while 32,000 still live in six relief camps in North Tripura.

Have there been efforts to repatriate them?

  • The Centre and the two State governments involved made nine attempts to resettle the Brus in Mizoram.
  • The first was in November 2010 when 1,622 Bru families with 8,573 members went back.
  • Protests by Mizo NGOs, primarily the Young Mizo Association, stalled the process in 2011, 2012 and 2015. Meanwhile, the Brus began demanding relief on a par with the relief given to Kashmiri Pandits and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees.
  • The Centre spent close to ₹500 crore for relief and rehabilitation until the last peace deal was brokered over three years since 2015.
  • A final package of ₹435 crore was arrived at in July 2018 and it involved Mizo NGOs besides the governments concerned.

Jnanpith presented to Malayalam ‘Mahakavi’ Akkitham


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

Why in news?

Renowned Malayalam poet Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri was conferred the Jnanpith award, the country’s highest literary award.


  • The man who introduced “meaningful modernism” several decades ago in Malayalam poetry, Akkitham is the only living poet being called Mahakavi (great poet) in Malayalam.
  • Akkitham, who is widely considered the tallest among the living Malayalam poets.
  • Akkitham has contributed such seminal works as Pathalathinte Muzhakkam, Irupatham Noottandinte Ithihasam, and Balidarshanam.
  • He has nearly four dozen works to his credit.
  • Among them are anthologies of poems, stories, dramas and essays.
  • His work Balidarshanam won the State and Central Sahitya Akademi Awards in 1972-73.
  • He was awarded Padmashri in 2017.

Jnanpith Award

  • Jnanpith Award is literary award presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith to an author for their “outstanding contribution towards literature“.
  • Instituted in 1961, the award is bestowed only on Indian writers writing in Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India and English, with no posthumous conferral.
  • From 1965 till 1981, the award was given to the authors for their “most outstanding work” and consisted of a citation plaque, a cash prize of ₹1 lakh, and a bronze replica of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and wisdom.

  • The first recipient of the award was the Malayalam writer G. Sankara Kurup who received the award in 1965 for his collection of poems, Odakkuzhal (The Bamboo Flute).
  • The rules were revised in subsequent years to consider only works published during the preceding twenty years, excluding the year for which the award was to be given and the cash prize was increased to ₹1.5 lakh from 1981.

IAF bought uncertified UAV Engines at inflated prices: CAG


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

Why in news?

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has recommended an investigation into the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s purchase of five Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) engines in 2010.

Key details

  • The same engines were purchased by a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory at almost one-third the price two years later, resulting in an undue gain for the vendor of ₹3.16 crore.
  • Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Ltd. gained an undue benefit of ₹3.16 crore as it supplied five UAV engines at more than three times the market price.
  • The vendor supplied uncertified engines while the contract was concluded for certified engines.
  • There were many reported accidents involving these uncertified engines including loss of one UAV in a flying accident.

What is UAV

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) popularly known as Drone, is an airborne system or an aircraft.
  • It is operated remotely by a human operator or autonomously by an onboard computer.
  • Drone surveillance technology has emerged as an important and cost-effective tool for security surveillance over large areas with limited manpower.
  • Drones were used to enforce lockdown and monitor the movement of migrants during the COVID-19 lockdown
  • Remotely piloted aircraft have been divided into five categories based on their weight-
  • Nano : Less than or equal to 250 grams.
  • Micro : From 250 grams to 2kg.
  • Small : From 2 kg to 25kg.
  • Medium : From 25kg to 150kg.
  • Large : Greater than 150kg.

National Drones Policy:

  • The National Drones Policy drafted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation came into effect from December 1, 2018.
  • The “Drone Regulations 1.0” lays down rules as to where, when and how drones can operate within India.
  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation started the online registration of drones in India through its Digital Sky portal.
  • The Digital Sky Platform is the first-of-its-kind national unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that implements “no permission, no takeoff” (NPNT).
  • Under the new policy, Nano drones which weigh less than 250 grams or equal does not need a registration or license.
  • However, drones that belong to remaining categories will need to be registered on the Digital Sky portal.
  • Drone Regulations 1.0 intend to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 ft altitude operations.
  • Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission).
  • The regulation also defines “No Drone Zones” around airports; near international border, Vijay Chowk in Delhi; State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations/vital and military installations; etc.

Recently, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has notified the draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020.

  • The draft rules have been issued at a time when the use of drones has increased due to a coronavirus lockdown, for purposes like surveillance, disinfection and videography.
  • Earlier, the government had issued drone regulations 1.0 and the drone regulations 2.0. The government has also finalized National Counter Rogue Drone Guidelines for handling the threats from Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Govt. extends IBC pause by 3 months


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

Why in news?

Corporate India has got three more months of relief from invocation of insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings by lenders, with the government extending the suspension of relevant provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) against firms defaulting on their loans since March 25 this year.

Key Details:

  • The Bill replaces an Ordinance passed in June 2020.
  • This amendment will help ensure that fresh insolvency proceedings will not be initiated for at least six months starting March 25 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The provisions of the IBC will be confined to only those default payments that may arise due to the COVID-19 period, and will not affect the applications filed before March 24, 2020, when the lockdown was imposed.
  • This provision is aimed at helping save the Companies recouping from losses due to the pandemic and the lockdowns.

Performance of IBC:

  • In the year 2018-19, the IBC ensured 42.5% recovery of the non-performing assets (NPA) of scheduled commercial banksor ₹17,819 crore, whereas such recoveries made through Lok Adalats stood at 5.3% and those made under Debt Recovery Tribunals at 3.5%.


All advances given by banks are termed “assets”, as they generate income for the bank by way of interest or instalments. However, a loan turns bad if the interest or instalment remains unpaid even after the due date and turns into a nonperforming asset, or NPA, if it remains unpaid for a period of more than 90 days.

RBI releases document on UCBs’ cybersecurity


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

Why in news?

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has come out with a document to enhance cybersecurity of urban co-operative banks (UCBs).

Key Details:

  • It has been drafted to enhance the cybersecurity of urban co-operative banks (UCBs).
  • It aspires to:
    • Involve more board oversight over cybersecurity.
    • Enable UCBs to better manage and secure IT assets.
    • Implement an offsite supervisory mechanism framework for UCBs on cybersecurity-related controls.
    • Develop a forum for UCBs so that they can share best practices and discuss practical issues and challenges.
    • Implement a framework for providing awareness/training for all UCBs.
  • It has 12 specific action points and plans to achieve its objective through a five-pillared strategic approach “GUARD”:
    • Governance Oversight
    • Utile Technology Investment
    • Appropriate Regulation and Supervision
    • Robust Collaboration
    • Developing necessary IT, cybersecurity skill sets.
  • With wider adoption of digital banking channels, the cybersecurity landscape will continue to evolve.
    • It would necessitate the UCBs to manage the associated risks effectively.
    • Active collaboration within UCBs and stakeholders would be necessary for sharing and coordinating various measures taken on cybersecurity aspects.

Reason for the cybersecurity framework

  • Considering the heterogeneity of the UCB sector in terms of size, regions, financial health and digital depth, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach may not be suitable while prescribing cyber security guidelines for UCBs.
  • A differentiated tier-wise approach will be followed while prescribing cyber security controls for UCBs
  • The tiers would be decided based on risk exposure in terms of the digital services offered by UCBs.
  • The approach will ensure that UCBs with high IT penetration and offering all payment services are brought at par with other banks having mature cyber security infrastructure and practices

Urban Co-operative banks

Co-operative banks, which are distinct from commercial banks, were born out of the concept of co-operative credit societies where members from a community band together to extend loans to each other, at favourable terms.

  • Credit co-operatives (or co-operative banks) are broadly classified into urban or rural co-operative banks based on their region of operation.
  • Urban co-op banks are classified into scheduled and non-scheduled banks.
  • RBI had announced a scheme on voluntary transition of UCBs into Small Finance bank in September, 2018.
  • Small Finance Banks are a specific segment of banking created by RBI under the guidance of Government of India with an objective of furthering financial inclusion by primarily undertaking basic banking activities to un-served and underserved sections including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganized entities.

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