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December 17, 2020
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December 19, 2020
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18 December Current Affairs

Himalayan Serow

In News:

A Himalayan serow (Capricornis sumatraensis thar) has been sighted for the first time in the Spiti cold desert region, Himachal Pradesh.


It is a subspecies of the mainland serow (C. sumatraensis).

It is found at altitudes between 2,000 and 4,000 m, which is restricted to the Himalayan region.

They are known to be found in eastern, central, and western Himalayas, but not in the Trans Himalayan region.

It has previously been spotted in the Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu; Rupi Bhaba Wildlife Sanctuary, and in higher reaches of Chamba.

It has been categorised as ‘vulnerable’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

It is listed under Schedule I of The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides absolute protection.

S-400 Air Defence Missile System

In News:

The United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey on Monday over its acquisition of Russian S-400 air defence systems.


The S-400 Triumf, (NATO calls it SA-21 Growler), is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.

It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).

The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km. The system can track 100 airborne targets and engage six of them simultaneously.

The S-400 Triumf air defence system integrates a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control centre. It is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.

What is CAATSA, and how did the S-400 deal fall foul of this Act?

Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was passed unanimously by the US Congress and signed reluctantly by US President Donald Trump. Enacted on August 2, 2017, its core objective is to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.

With India set to get the consignment of the S-400 air defence system early next year, India is watching Washington’s moves closely.

While it has got a waiver from the outgoing Trump administration, India hopes that the incoming Biden administration would not work towards reversing the decision.

Recognition Scheme For Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies

In News:

Quality Council of India (QCI) at the behest of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come out with a Scheme for approval of Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies to scale up Hygiene Rating by increasing the number of recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agencies in the country.


FSSAI’s initiative of ‘Food Hygiene Rating Scheme’ is a certification system for food businesses supplying food directly to consumers, either on or off premise.

The food establishments are rated based on food hygiene and safety conditions observed at the time of audit.

The hygiene rating will be in the form of smileys (1 up to 5) and the certificate should be displayed prominently in the consumer facing area.

The scheme aims to allow consumers to make informed choices/decisions pertaining to the food outlets where they eat by encouraging food businesses to improve their hygiene and safety standards.

The recognised Hygiene Rating Audit Agency will verify the compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures laid by FSSAI.

Maharashtra bill on sexual crime

In News:

The Maharashtra government this week presented a draft bill making changes to existing laws on violence against women and children.


The Bill is proposed to be enacted as Shakti Act, 2020.

What is the reason given by Maharashtra to bring in a new law?

An increase in the number of cases of violence, specifically sexual violence against women and children.

What does the draft bill proposes?

The draft Bill proposes to make changes to the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

The changes are proposed in existing sections of rape, sexual harassment, acid attack and child sexual abuse.

The Bill proposes death penalty in cases of rape, gang rape, rape by persons in authority, aggravated sexual assault of minors and in cases of acid attack when grievous injury is caused.

The death penalty is proposed in cases which are heinous in nature and where adequate conclusive evidence is available and circumstances warrant exemplary punishment.

Are there any specific provisions related to social media?

The draft Bill proposes an additional law to deal with abuse of women on social media.

Section 354E is added to include intentional acts creating “a sense of danger, intimidation, and fear to a woman” apart from insulting her modesty by any act, deed or words including offensive communication will be an offence with a maximum punishment of two years and a Rs 1 lakh fine.

This also includes uploading morphed videos of women or threatening them with uploading of photos, videos which could defame, cause disrepute to them or violate their privacy.

Provisions for “false” information and “implied consent”:

The Bill also makes provision for making a “false complaint” or provides false information in respect of offence committed stating that anyone who does that “solely with the intention to humiliate, extort or threaten or defame or harass” a person shall face imprisonment for a term up to one year or fine or both.

Not all Indian droughts are caused by El Nino

In News:

As per latest findings, nearly six out of 10 droughts, in non-El Nino years, that occurred during the Indian summer-monsoon season in the past century may have been driven by atmospheric disturbances from the North Atlantic region.


In 2014, India saw a 14% rainfall deficit — or a drought — that wasn’t linked to El Nino and before that in 1986 and 1985.

Factors that influence these droughts:

These droughts are a consequence of a sudden and steep drop in rainfall in late August.

Winds in the upper atmosphere are interacting with a deep cyclonic circulation above the abnormally cold North Atlantic waters. The resulting wave of air currents, called a Rossby wave, curved down from the North Atlantic squeezed in by the Tibetan plateau and hit the subcontinent around mid-August, suppressing rainfall and throwing off the monsoon that was trying to recover from the June slump.

What is El Nino?

El Nino is a climatic cycle characterised by high air pressure in the Western Pacific and low air pressure in the eastern.

During this event, there is a warming of the sea surface temperature in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean.

It is one phase of an alternating cycle known as El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

What causes El Nino?

El Nino sets in when there is anomaly in the pattern.

The westward-blowing trade winds weaken along the Equator and due to changes in air pressure, the surface water moves eastwards to the coast of northern South America.

The central and eastern Pacific regions warm up for over six months and result in an El Nino condition.