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03 January Current Affairs

Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018

In News:

The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018 has been introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Aadhaar Act provides targeted delivery of subsidies and benefits to individuals residing in India by assigning them unique identity numbers, called Aadhaar numbers.


The Bill amends the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.

Key features of the Bill:

Offline verification of Aadhaar number holder: The Bill allows ‘offline verification’ of an individual’s identity, without authentication, through modes specified by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) by regulations.

During offline verification, the agency must (i) obtain the consent of the individual, (ii) inform them of alternatives to sharing information, and (iii) not collect, use or store Aadhaar number or biometric information.

Voluntary use of Aadhaar to verify identity: The Bill states that an individual may voluntarily use his Aadhaar number to establish his identity, by authentication or offline verification. Authentication of an individual’s identity via Aadhaar, for the provision of any service, may be made mandatory only by a law of Parliament.

Entities using Aadhaar: An entity may be allowed to perform authentication through Aadhaar, if the UIDAI is satisfied that it is (i) compliant with certain standards of privacy and security, or (ii) permitted by law, or (iii) seeking authentication for a purpose specified by the central government in the interest of the State.

Aadhaar number of children: The Bill specifies that at the time of enrolling a child to obtain an Aadhaar number, the enrolling agency shall seek the consent of his parent or guardian. The agency must inform the parent or guardian of (i) the manner in which the information will be used, (ii) the recipients with whom it will be shared, and (iii) their right to access the information. After attaining eighteen years of age, the child may apply for cancellation of his Aadhaar.

Disclosure of information in certain cases: Under the Act, restrictions on security and confidentiality of Aadhaar related information do not apply in case the disclosure is pursuant to an order of a District Court (or above). The Bill amends this to allow such disclosure only for orders by High Courts (or above). The Bill also allows disclosure of information on directions of officers not below the rank of a Secretary.

UIDAI Fund: Under the Act, all fees and revenue collected by the UIDAI shall be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India. The Bill removes this provision, and creates the Unique Identification Authority of India Fund.  All fees, grants and charges received by the UIDAI shall be credited to this fund.  The fund shall be used for expenses of the UIDAI, including salaries and allowances of its employees.

Complaints: The Bill allows the individual to register complaints in certain cases, including impersonation or disclosure of their identity. The Bill defines the Aadhaar ecosystem to include enrolling agencies, requesting agencies, and offline verification-seeking entities. It allows the UIDAI to issue directions to them if necessary for the discharge of its functions under the Act.

Penalties: Under the Bill, the UIDAI may initiate a complaint against an entity in the Aadhaar ecosystem for failure to (i) comply with the Act or the UIDAI’s directions, and (ii) furnish information required by the UIDAI. Adjudicating Officers appointed by the UIDAI shall decide such matters, and may impose penalties up to one crore rupees on such entities.  The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal shall be the appellate authority against decisions of the Adjudicating Officer.

Why the amendments are proposed?

While upholding the constitutional validity of Aadhaar, the Supreme Court had struck down Section 57 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016 that permitted private entities like telecom companies or other corporate to avail of the biometric Aadhaar data. Hence to address the issues like recognising the authentification of those who provided Aadhaar as the identity proof, the amendments are brought in by the government.

Source: The Hindu

Assam Accord

In News:

The Union Home Ministry will set up a high-level committee to look into the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. The composition and terms of reference of the committee, which will also look at issues related to the Bodo community, will be announced later.


Clause 6 of the Assam Accord “envisaged that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

The Committee will:

Hold discussions with all stakeholders and assess the required quantum of reservation of seats in the Assam Assembly and local bodies for Assamese people.

Look at measures to protect Assamese and other indigenous languages of Assam, reservation in state government jobs, and other steps to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of Assamese people.

Suggest constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards and examine the effectiveness of actions since 1985 to implement the clause.

Look into issues of the Bodo people, especially the measures mentioned in the Memorandum of Settlement signed between the Government of India, Assam government and the Bodo Liberation Tigers Force in 2003.


The setting up of the committee will pave the way for the implementation of the Assam Accord in letter and spirit and will help fulfill longstanding expectations of Assamese people.

The Union Cabinet’s announcement comes at a time when Centre is facing criticism in Assam over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which proposes to make minority (non-Muslim) immigrants from three neighbouring countries — Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan — eligible for Indian citizenship.

But as per the Assam Accord, any person who came to the state after the midnight of March 24, 1971, will be identified as a foreigner. So the proposed Bill is seen to violate the Assam Accord by differentiating between migrants on the basis of religion.

What is Assam Accord?

The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.

The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after.

As per the Accord, those Bangladeshis who came between 1966 and 1971 will be barred from voting for ten years. The Accord also mentions that the international borders will be sealed and all persons who crossed over from Bangladesh after 1971 are to be deported.

Though the accord brought an end to the agitation, some of the key clauses are yet to be implemented, which has kept some of the issues festering.

Source: The Hindu

Parivesh (Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single-window Hub)

In News:

An ambitious web-based single-window system ‘Parivesh’ will be rolled-out at state levels by January 15, bringing an end to the clearance nightmare for entrepreneurs. The automated system for submission, clearance and monitoring has already been implemented at the Central level.


It is an environmental single window hub for Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ clearances. This Single-Window Integrated Environmental Management System has been developed in pursuance of the spirit of ‘Digital India’ initiated by the Prime Minister and capturing the essence of Minimum Government and Maximum Governance.

Key features:

“PARIVESH” is a workflow based application, based on the concept of web architecture. It has been rolled out for online submission, monitoring and management of proposals submitted by Project Proponents to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC), as well as to the State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAA).

It seeks to give various types of clearances (e.g. Environment, Forest, Wildlife and Coastal Regulation Zone Clearances) from Central, State and district-level authorities.

The system has been designed, developed and hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, with technical support from National Informatics Centre, (NIC).

It provides single registration and single sign-in for all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ), unique-ID for all types of clearances required for a particular project and a single Window interface for the proponent to submit applications for getting all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forests, Wildlife and CRZ clearances).

Significance and benefits of the platform:

PARIVESH offers a framework to generate economic growth and strengthens Sustainable Development through e- Governance. With automatic highlighting of non-compliance by the system, PARIVESH helps in improving the overall performance and efficiency of the whole appraisal process.

It also helps the processing authorities, as it has a Single Window System for Central, State and District level clearances.

The facility of Geographic Information System (GIS) interface for the Appraisal Committee will help them in analyzing the proposal efficiently, automatic alerts (via SMS and emails) at important stages to the concerned officers, committee members and higher authorities to check the delays, if any.

It also enables project proponents, citizens to view, track and interact with scrutiny officers, generates online clearance letters, online mailers and alerts to state functionaries in case of delays beyond stipulated time for processing of applications.

Source: The Hindu

Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities

In News:

Both India and Pakistan have exchanged their list of nuclear installations. The exchange was in accordance with the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India.


The exchange is done each year on January 1, under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities, also referred to as the Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement.

About the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations:

The agreement, which was signed on December 31, 1988, and entered into force on January 27, 1991, provides that the two countries inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the pact on the first of January of every calendar year.

Significance of the agreement:

The need for the agreement had been felt against the backdrop of Israel’s 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak reactor near Baghdad. The strike, carried out by Israeli fighter jets over hostile airspace, had set Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme significantly.

The agreement had also come at a time of deep anxiety for Pakistan. Islamabad had been rattled by the memory of the 1972 defeat which dismembered the country, and military developments in India, such as Operation Brasstacks in 1987, which was a wargame exercise to prepare for deep strike offensive capabilities. Pakistan had at the time responded by putting at its nuclear installations and assets on ‘high alert’.

Source: The Hindu

Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018

In News:

U.S. President Donald J. Trump has signed into law the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), which has already been passed by the U.S. Senate.


The ARIA Act, specifically, calls for America’s increased engagement in the Indo-Pacific region and strengthened support, including arms sales, for U.S. allies in the region.

The act develops a long-term strategic vision and a comprehensive, multifaceted, and principled United States policy for the Indo-Pacific region.

Key highlights of the Act:

Security Interests:

Authorizes US$ 1.5 billion annually for 5 years to enhance U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific.

Reaffirms U.S. security commitments to our allies in the Indo-Pacific, including Japan, South Korea, and Australia and builds security partnerships with nations in Southeast Asia.

Establishes a policy goal to peacefully denuclearize North Korea though the campaign of maximum pressure and engagement.

Enhances the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and security relationship with India.

Enforces U.S. freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the Indo-Pacific.

Expresses support for regular arms sales to Taiwan and to enhance the economic, political, and security relationship between Taiwan and the United States.

Promotes robust cybersecurity cooperation with our allies in the region.

Sets U.S. policy to pursue effective arms control and nuclear nonproliferation policies in the Indo-Pacific region.

Economic Engagement:

Promotes economic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region as essential for the growth of the U.S. economy and success of American businesses.

Authorizes bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations with Indo-Pacific nations.

Provides for robust U.S. commercial presence throughout the Indo-Pacific region to promote U.S. exports and additional trade facilitation efforts.

Authorizes the imposition of penalties on entities and governments engaged in the theft of United States intellectual property.

Requires a new comprehensive U.S. policy to promote energy exports.

Promoting Values:

Provides US$ 150 million annually for 5 years for democracy, rule of law, and civil society support, including $10 million annually for freedom of information efforts in North Korea.

Call for additional U.S. efforts against trafficking-in-persons and human slavery; and Authorizes U.S. sanctions against human rights abusers.

Source: The Hindu

A paper sensor that can detect freshness of milk

In News:

Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, have developed a simple paper kit that can test freshness of milk and tell how well it has been pasteurized. Aided with a smart phone app, the kit can help ensure that milk is consumed before it turns too sour.


Milk being widely consumed food, its safety is of prime concern to consumers. More so because it is highly perishable and prone to action of enzymes and microorganisms inherently present in it. Although pasteurization, freezing and preservation using additives are widely used to prevent spoilage, perishability of milk is still a concern.

The new method- how it works?

A milk enzyme, Alkaline Phosphatase or ALP, is considered an indicator of milk quality because its presence even after pasteurization indicates presence of microbes that may not have been rendered inactive with pasteurization.

Researchers used ordinary filter paper to prepare the detector. The filter paper was cut into small discs and impregnated with chemical probes that preferentially react with ALP. The ‘probes’ used are antibodies that specifically bind to ALP. When ALP comes into contact with the probe, it turns white paper disc into a coloured one.

The colour change on paper discs is then photographed by a smartphone camera and images processed to obtain corresponding colour values. These values are then compared with standard data stored in the phone. Thus not only the presence of ALP could be detected but the amount of it in milk could also be measured.

Source: The Hindu

Organizations Banned Under UAPA


In exercise of the powers vested in the Central Government under Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), the Government on being satisfied that the organizations have become Unlawful, has declared the following Organizations as Unlawful Associates during the last three years:

  • Islamic Research Foundation (IRF)
  • National Liberation Front in Tripura (NLFT)
  • All Tripura Tiger Forum (ATTF)

Under Section 35 of UAPA, the Government on being satisfied that the organization is involved in terrorism had added the following organizations to the First Schedule of UAPA during the last three years:

  • Al-Qaida in Indian Sub-continent (AQIS) and all its manifestations.
  • Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP)/ISIS Wilayat Khorasan/Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham-Khorasan (ISIS-K) and all its manifestations.
  • Khalistan Liberation Force and all its manifestations.

Current Scenario:

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested 418 accused persons under UAPA during the last three years. But, the State Police also detain accused persons under UAPA, the details of which are not maintained by the Central Government.

The Government has not removed any organization from the list of banned organizations under the UAPA during the last three years.

The Government has not released any person detained under UAPA. However, the data of persons detained under UAPA and released on the order of the competent courts is not maintained by the Government.


National Investigation Agency: (HQ – New Delhi)

The National Investigation Agency was established after the enactment of the NIA Act on 31st Dec 2008.

Presently, NIA is functioning as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency in India.

NIA comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Vision of NIA –

The National Investigation Agency aims to be a thoroughly professional investigative agency matching the best international standards. The NIA aims to set the standards of excellence in counter terrorism and other national security related investigations at the national level by developing into a highly trained, partnership oriented workforce. NIA aims at creating deterrence for existing and potential terrorist groups/individuals. It aims to develop as a storehouse of all terrorist related information.

Source: PIB

‘The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2018’

In News:

Cabinet approves ‘The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2018’ for revision in list of Scheduled Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh


The Union Cabinet (chaired by Prime Minister) has approved the introduction of The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2018 in the Parliament for certain amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 so as to modify the list of Scheduled Tribes (STs) of Arunachal Pradesh.

Changes made in list of Scheduled Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh are:

Deletion of ‘Abor’ in serial No. 1, as it is the same as ‘Adi’ in Serial No. 16.

Replace ‘Tai Khamti’ instead of ‘Khampti’ at serial No. 6.

Inclusion of ‘Mishmi-Kaman’ (Miju Mishmi), Idu (Mishmi) and Taraon (Digaru Mishmi) in serial No. 8.

Inclusion of Monpa, Memba, Sartang, Sajolong (Miji) in serial No. 9 in lieu of ‘Momba’.

Inclusion of ‘Nocte’, ‘Tangsa’, ‘Tutsa’, ‘Wancho’ in lieu of ‘Any Naga Tribes’ in serial No. 10 in list of Scheduled Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh.

After the Bill becomes an Act, member of the communities newly listed will also be able to derive benefits meant for STs under the existing schemes of the Government.

Source: PIB

Scramjet Engine

  • The first experimental mission of a sub-scale Scramjet engine was successfully conducted by ISRO in 2016.
  • The mission, towards the realization of an Air Breathing Propulsion System, was conducted from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
  • Launch vehicles use a combination of propellants consisting of oxidiser and fuel for energy.
  • In the launch vehicle basically, 86% of the total launch vehicle mass is propellant mass.
  • Air-breathing propulsion systems use atmospheric oxygen, which is available up to a height of 50km from the earth’s surface, to burn the fuel stored on board.
  • As the air from the atmosphere is used in this tech it reduces the need for carrying the oxidizer along with the fuel.
  • So it will benefit in bringing down the cost of access to space.
  • The technology is an important step towards developing reusable launch vehicles.
  • Ramjet, Scramjet and Dual Mode Ramjet (DMRJ) are the three concepts of air-breathing engines which are being developed by various space agencies.

Invasion of Shola Grasslands

  • Shola forest-grassland ecosystem is characterised by patches of forest of stunted evergreen shola trees in the valleys and grasslands on hill slopes.
  • They are spread across the Western Ghats of Tamilnadu and Karnataka.
  • Over four decades, almost one-fourth of the grasslands in the high-altitudes of the ecosystem was lost.
  • The exotic invasive trees like pine, acacia and eucalyptus that were earlier used for afforestation in these areas are the primary reason behind it.
  • Broadly, these grasslands in Tamil Nadu showed the highest rates of invasion than in Karnataka.
  • Though the practice has been ceased in 1996, the exotics still invade these ecosystems.
  • But the shola forests in the valleys have remained “relatively unchanged” over these years.
  • The Anamalai-Munnar areas have also remained stable during this time.