Daily Current Affairs - 18-01-2021

The Allahabad High Court recently ruled that couples planning to marry under Special Marriage Act shall choose not to publish thirty-day notice before registering their marriage. According to the judgement, the provisions of the act invade the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy. That is, putting a prior notice that provides the details of the bride and groom invades their privacy.

Special Marriage Act, 1954

It is an act that was enacted to provide special form of marriage in certain cases. This includes validating and registering interreligious and inter caste marriages. The three main objectives of Special Marriage act are as follows:

Applicability of Special Marriage Act, 1954

The Special Marriage Act is applicable to:

Requirements under Special Marriage Act, 1954

The Special Marriage Act does not demand rites or ceremonies. Rather it is a civil contract. Both the parties signing the contract have to file a notice of intended marriage to the Marriage Registrar of the district. In this, one of the parties should have resided in the district for not less than thirty days. After thirty days of such notice and if the marriage is not objected by any person the marriage may be solemnized. Now, this formality of thirty-day notice has been cancelled by the Allahabad High Court under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.

Conditions in Special Marriage Act, 1954

The conditions under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 are as follows:

Russia recently announced that it is withdrawing from the “Open Skies Treaty”. The treaty allows the signatories to carry out unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territories. In 2020, the US announced that it is to leave the Open Skies Treaty.

Open Skies Treaty

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 after the Disintegration of the Soviet Union. It was first proposed by the former US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955 to deescalate cold war tensions. The treaty was signed between NATO (Non-Atlantic Treaty Organization) members and the former Warsaw Pact countries. In 2002, more than 35 countries had signed the treaty. This included US and Russia as well. India is not a signatory of the Open Skies Treaty.

Key Features

The Open Skies Treaty aims to build confidence among its signatories. According to the treaty, a member state can spy on any part of the host nation only after receiving its consent. Also, a member state can take aerial images of the host state after providing a notice before 72 hours. The Open Skies Treaty regulations covered territories such as mainland, territorial waters and islands.

Russia and US

The US left the Open Skies Treaty accusing that Russia is non-compliant with the Open Skies Treaty. On the other hand, according to Russia, withdrawal of US from the treaty has created imbalance in its implementation. This is the reason for Russia’s withdrawal.

Also, the Open Skies Treaty was signed during a time where satellite surveillance did not exist. This puts the treaty in async with the satellite surveillance technology which is currently the preferred mode of intelligence gathering.

Other treaties

The US and Russia left the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty (INF) in 2019. According to INF, the countries agreed to destroy lethal missile systems from their own stocks as a means to decelerate the nuclear arms race.

The Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) recently celebrated its 6th annual day on January 15, 2021. The annual day is celebrated on January 15 because CARA was granted the status of statutory body on this day under Section 68 of the Juvenile Justice act, 2015.

About CARA

Hague convention

The convention protects children against the risks of irregular, illegal and premature adoptions all over the world. It has created safeguards to make sure that the intercountry adoptions are in the best interests of the children.

Challenges faced by CARA

Between 2015 and 2019, CARA faced several instances of disruption. Disruption are those circumstances where an adoption is stopped after the child is placed in an adoptive home. According to CARA, six in 400 children are being returned at advanced stages of adoption.

Between countries that are not signatories of Hague convention, the authorities in both countries do not agree in certain terms.

Adoptions in India

On an average there are 4000 legal adoption in India.

Way forward

The major challenge faced by Central Adoption Resource Authority is that the child is unable to forget the relationship it had developed with the earlier family. In order to resolve this, post adoption trauma therapy shall be adopted. Psychological conditions of the parents and their background should be checked properly before adoption.

The state of Tamil Nadu celebrates Thiruvalluvar Day during Pongal celebrations. Every year, the Thiruvalluvar Day is celebrated on the second day of Tamil month “thai”.


About Thirukkural

The Kural (couplet) literature has three parts. They are aram (virtue), porul (wealth) and inbam (love). The couplets aim at attaining ultimate salvation.

Tribute to Thiruvalluvar

In 1976, Valluvar Kottam was built in Chennai. It houses one of the largest auditoriums in Asia. A 133-foot-tall statue of Thiruvalluvar was built at Kanyakumari. The number 133 has its significance. Thirukkural written by the legend has 1330 couplets and the couplets are divided into 133 sections.  Thus the height of the statue of Thiruvalluvar is 133 foot.

G U Pope

George Uglow Pope translated Thirukkural in English. He came to India under Anglican Christian Missions He lived in 19th century. He spent more than forty years in Tamil Nadu and translated tamil literature in English.

Other translations of Thirukkural

Thirukkural was translated into Latin in 1730. This helped to make the work known to European intellectuals.

The Aero India-21 mobile application was recently launched by the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The mobile app will act as a handy interactive interface for all the issues related to Aero India 2021. The application has features to support the attendees, exhibitors and media of Aero India 21.

Aero India 21

Defence Exhibition Organisation

The Defence Exhibition Organisation was established in 1981. It was established to promote the export potential of the Indian defence industry. It is responsible for organizing international exhibitions such as DEFEXPO.

Draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy, 2020

The United Nations recently released the report “International Migration 2020 Highlights”. According to the report, the Indian diaspora is the largest in the world. More than 18 million people from India were living outside India as of 2020.

Key Findings of the report

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas recently launched SAKSHAM awareness campaign. The campaign was launched to spread awareness about green energy.


The campaign will spread awareness about clean energy. It is a one-month long people centric fuel conservation campaign. The campaign is to be launched by the Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA). The campaign is to create awareness in seven key drivers namely greater reliance on domestic sources to drive bio-fuels, moving towards gas based economy, cleaner use of fossil fuels, achieving renewable targets with the set deadlines, increased use of electric vehicles to decarbonize mobility, increased use of cleaner fuels and digital innovation across all energy systems.

Green Energy Schemes in India

Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM)

The PM-KUSUM scheme covers grid connected renewable energy power plants, grid connected agriculture pumps and solar water pumps. The scheme aims to install 10,000 MW of decentralised grid connected renewable energy power plants. It will install standalone off grid solar water pumps to fulfil irrigation needs. Also, it will solarise the existing grid-connected agriculture pumps. With this the farmers can sell the surplus solar power generated to the Discoms.

Grid Connected Roof top Solar Programme

The programme aims to achieve a cumulative capacity of 40,000 MW of Rooftop solar power projects by 2022. In a grid connected rooftop solar power project, DC power generated is converted into AC power using power conditioning unit and is then fed into the grid. The main objective of the solar programme is to promote solar power generating plants among the residential, institutional and community establishments.

National Wind-Solar Hybrid Policy

The main aim of the policy is to provide a framework to promote large grid connected wind-solar hybrid system. It aims to encourage new technology and way-outs involving combined operation of solar and wind power plants.

National Offshore Wind Energy Policy

The policy was notified in 2015. The main objective of the policy is to develop offshore wind energy in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone. The policy has identified eight zones that have cumulative offshore wind energy potential of 70 GW.

The Chatham House recently published a report proposing a blueprint for foreign policy of UK after Brexit. The report classed India as one of the “difficult four” countries along with China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Key Highlights of the report

Implication of India as a Difficult Four countries

By grouping India as one of the Difficult Four countries, UK has destined India to count among its rivals or awkward counterparts as it pursued global goals.

Chatham House

The Chatham House is also called the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The Chatham House aims to promote debate on significant developments in international affairs and policy responses. It is usually used as a source of information by experts on matters involving major international issue.


The D10 group of countries was proposed by Britain. The D10 group will include all the G7 countries and additionally India, Australia and South Korea. D10 means Ten biggest democracies in the world.

The Italian authorities believe that the Ndrangheta Mafia is responsible for controlling the massive amount of cocaine entering Europe from South America. This was confirmed by the Italian Government after a massive mafia trial targeting the Ndrangheta group.


The Ndrangheta is a prominent Italian Mafia based in the region of Calabria. The Mafia has been in existence since 18th century. The first official report of Ndrangheta was submitted in 1792 during the reign of the Bourbons of Naples. The House of Bourbon ruled Southern Italy and Sicily for more than a century during 18th and 19th century.

According to the US, money laundering activities, narcotics trafficking account to 3% of Italy’s GDP. The annual revenue of Ndrangheta is about 50 billion USD to 60 billion USD.

Ndrangheta is also active in other countries such as Albania, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Netherlands, Germany, Malta, Switzerland, Slovakia, UK, Uruguay and USA.

According to EUROPOL (European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation), Ndrangheta is the most powerful organized crime groups in the world.


EUROPOL was formed in 1998 to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organised crime and terrorism. EUROPOL has no executive powers. The officials of EUROPOL cannot arrest the suspects without prior approval from competent authorities.


Calabria is the region where the Ndrangheta are highly powerful. The region is located in southern Italy. The region is bordered by Ionian sea in the east and Tyrrhenian sea in the west. The Strait of Messina separate Calabria from Sicily. The Sicilian Mafia is considered to be one of the closest allies of Ndrangheta.

Allies of Ndrangheta

The allies of Ndrangheta mafia are Camorra, Sacra Corona Unita, Societa foggiana, Stidda, Albanian Mafia, American Mafia, Primeiro Comando da Capital.

The Camorra, Sicilian Mafia, Sacra Corona Unita, Stidda and Societa foggiana are located in Italy. Primeiro Comando da Capital is located in Brazil.

Nine former officials who served in the Michigan, US and the state’s former governor Rick Snyder were recently charged in connection with a criminal investigation into the Flint Water crisis.

Flint Water Crisis

The Flint Water Crisis is an ongoing investigation on public health crisis. The issue began when the City of Flint in the state of Michigan shifted its water supply from Lake Huron to Flint river. The city has a population of 100,000 people. The shift caused water distribution pipes to corrode. This resulted in leaching of lead and other contaminants into the municipal drinking water. The city suffered from an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease due to the leaching of lead. This is referred to as Flint Water crisis.

The main reason behind crisis is that the officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the water.

Legionnaires’ disease

The disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. According to US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, people get sick from the disease if they breathe or accidentally swallow the bacteria containing water. There are no vaccines available for the disease. The disease can be prevented by good maintenance of water systems.

State Emergency due to Flint Water Crisis

The outbreak of the disease was very serious that the State of Michigan declared a state of emergency in 2016. The residents were advised not to drink municipal tap water unless it was filtered.

Flint river

The Flint river is also called the Thronateeska river.

Lead Poisoning

It is a type of metal poisoning caused by lead. Lead poisoning causes almost 10% of intellectual disability and can result in behavioural problems. Pre-industrial human Blood Lead Level are estimated to have 0.016 micro grams of lead per deci-litres. This increased from 0.8 to 3.2 micro grams per deci litres. The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 10 micro grams per deci litres of lead in blood level as a level of concern.

The United States National Rifle Association recently filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. The association filed for bankruptcy in order to avoid being investigated by New York Attorney General.


The New York Attorney General had sued the National Rifle Association in August 2020 based on allegations that the association top executives diverted millions of dollars for their personal trips.

United States Rifle Association

It is a non-profit organisation formed by the civil war veterans General George Wingate and Colonel William C Church in 1871. The organization was formed to promote and encourage rifle shooting on scientific basis. It is considered as the most influential pro-gun organisation in the US. The critics believe that the organisation is an enabler of gun violence in the country.

NRA teaches firearm safety and competency. It publishes several magazines and sponsors competitive marksmanship events. As of December 2018, the NRA consisted of more than five million members.

The major efforts of NRA were the Firearm Owners Protection Act that lessened the restrictions of the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Dickey amendment that blocked the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention from using federal funds to advocate for gun control.

The US National Rifle Association was formed in line with the British National Rifle Association that was formed a year and a half earlier.

American Civil War

The American Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865. The civil war began as a result of long-standing enslavement of Black people. The NRA is believed to be an outcome of the civil war.

Arms Trade Treaty

The National Rifle Association recently opposed the Arms Trade Treaty. The Arms Trade Treaty is a multilateral treaty that regulates international trade. More than 109 states have ratified the treaty. The treaty is an attempt to regulate international trade of conventional weapons.

The Ministry of Railways recently approved a new Iron Ore Policy. The policy is to come into effect on February 10, 2021. The Iron Ore Policy governs the allocation of rakes and transportation of iron-ore.

About Iron Ore Policy

Iron Ore and Indian Railways

Iron ore is the second most important stream of traffic of Indian Railways. Iron ore and steel together account for more than 17% of total freight loading of Indian Railways (2019-20 data). The total freight loading of Indian Railways is 1,210 tonnes. Of this, 153.35 million tonnes are of iron ore and 53.81 million tonnes are of steel.

Centre for Railway Information System

The Centre for Railway Information System designs, develops, implements and maintains the information system of Indian Railways. It was established in 1986. The major projects of CRIS are computerization of freight operations, passenger reservation system, NGeT (Next Generation e-ticketing), computerization of Indian Railways Unreserved ticketing system, national train enquiry system, rail budget compilation system, etc.

Iron Ore in India

The total recoverable reserves of iron ore in India are 9,602 million tonnes of hematite and 3,408 million tonnes of magnetite. The principal states producing iron ore in India are Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan.

Recently on Army Day (January 15, 2021), the Indian Army displayed its combat drones that are part of the Swarm Technology.

What are Swarm drones?

Swarm drones are lightweight drones that carry multiple packages to a single destination at a time.  In simple words, multiple drones are engaged in a single operation.  Here, multiple drones receive commands from a single drone. They overcome single drone’s payload and battery limitations. They work on swarm intelligence. Swarm Intelligence is the collective behaviour of decentralized and self-organized Systems.

Key features

Child Drone and Mother Drone

In the Swarm Drone Technology, the unmanned aerial vehicle has a mother drone that is attached to a child Drone. The child Drone is meant to fire and self-destroy after hitting the target.

Current Scenario

The Indian Army had only 5 combat drones in August 2020. The Drone capabilities of the Indian Army has been enhanced with the induction of 75 indigenous unmanned aerial vehicles. These UAVs can be used for surveillance and also to carry out targeted strikes.


The Indian Army has purchased more of combat drones as the tensions escalated with China in the region of Ladakh. Also, the ceasefire violations by Pakistan in the line of control has increased.

Artificial intelligence offensive Drone operations

The Indian Army has taken up several technology initiatives in coordination with startups. The Artificial Intelligence Offensive Drone Operations is one such project that has been incubated with an Indian startup. It aims to develop high tech swarm drones for Indian Army.