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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 17 July 2020


  1. 5G Technology
  2. Kerala Act on animal, bird sacrifices
  3. Pied Cuckoo
  4. Is India a hub for drug peddling
  5. India registers a steep decline in maternal mortality ratio

5G Technology

Ambani announced that Google has picked up a stake in Reliance Jio for around 33,000 crore. Google and Reliance Jio will work on an Android -based OS for affordable smartphones.

Reliance Jio announced that it has designed and developed from scratch, a complete indigenous 5G solution ready for deployment. 

Legacy IAS

5g technology

  • The transition to 5G is an upgrade to wireless systems. This is not just about faster smartphones.
  • This will affect many other kinds of devices, including industrial robots, security cameras, drones and cars that send traffic data to one another.
  • This new era will leap ahead of current wireless technology, known as 4G.
  • This would offer mobile internet speeds that will let people download movies within seconds and bring big changes to video games, sports and shopping.
  • To get the benefits of 5G, users will have to buy new phones, while carriers will need to install new transmission equipment to offer the faster service.

How does 5G work?

All 5G networks chiefly operate on three spectrum bands.

  • The low-band spectrum has been proven and works fast even in underground conditions. However, the maximum speed limit on this band is 100 Mbps (Megabits per second).
  • In the mid-band spectrum, though the speeds are higher, telecom companies across the world have registered limitations when it comes to coverage area and penetration of telephone signals into buildings.
  • The high-band spectrum offers the highest speed but has extremely limited network coverage area and penetration capabilities.
5G network architecture as illustrated in Public Safety ...

Where does India stand on the deployment of 5G?

  • Both telecom service providers and their equipment vendors, have completed lab trials of 5G network components but are yet to commence field trials, which were initially scheduled to happen last year.
  • For the same, telecom companies are awaiting allocation of test spectrum from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
  • The service providers have already tied up with equipment makers like Nokia, Ericsson, etc for deploying their 5G networks.

Read more: 5G TECHNOLOGY

Kerala Act on animal, bird sacrifices

Why in news?

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition Act of 1968 that prohibits sacrifice of animals and birds in temples to ‘please’ the deity

The dichotomy over ritual slaughter

  • The Supreme Court will analyse how the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 allows the killing of animals but prohibits cruelty to animals.
  • It highlighted the “dichotomy” in animal protection law that allows the killing of animals for food but does prohibits killing of animals for an offer to a deity and then consumption.

Why did SC interfere?

  • The 1968 Kerala law bans the killing of animals and birds for religious sacrifices but not for personal consumption. This amounted to arbitrary classification.

Legal protections to Animal sacrifice

  • The Kerala Act criminalizes the intent behind the animal sacrifice.
  • If the sacrifice is not for propitiating any deity but for personal consumption even in the precincts of the temple, it is not forbidden.
  • Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1960 does not make the killing of animals for religious purposes and offence.

Appeal citing the necessity of the practice

  • The oral remarks came in an appeal filed by P.E. Gopalakrishnan and some others, who are Shakthi worshippers, and for whom, animal sacrifice is an integral part of the worship.
  • In their appeal, they said the animal sacrifice was an “essential religious practice” and the High Court had no power to interfere.

Why animal sacrifice needs a rethink?

  • All religions call for compassion, no religion requires killing or eating animals and hacking animals to death with weapons.
  • The way executioners handle, transport and kill animals for sacrifices and consumption violates animal transport and slaughter laws, making it a punishable offence.
  • There exist ample ambiguities in religious texts over allowing the ritual slaughter of animals.
  • Moreover, the practice of animal sacrifice normalizes killing and desensitizes humans to violence against animals.

Legal safeguard for animals.

  • In 1976, the 42nd amendment incorporated protection of wildlife and forests in the Directive Principles.
  • It also included forests and protection of wild animals in the Concurrent List of the constitution.
  • Article 48 A, mandate that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
  • Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution states that, it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and Wildlife.
  • According to the Twelfth Schedule of Indian constitution, Municipalities may undertake certain duties pertaining to the regulation of slaughterhouses and tanneries.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

This Act provides for the protection of the country’s wild animals, birds and plant species, in order to ensure environmental and ecological security. Among other things, the Act lays down restrictions on hunting many animal species


Pied Cuckoo

Why in news?

A new project by a number of agencies is using advancements in nanotechnology to study migratory patterns of the Pied Cuckoo

Pied Cuckoo

  • There are basically three subspecies of the Pied Cuckoo of which one is resident in Africa while another is resident in South and the third is a migrant moving between India and Africa.
  • The Pied Cuckoo is famous in North Indian folklore as ‘chatak’, a bird that quenches its thirst only with raindrops.
  • From Southern Africa, it comes to the Himalayan foothills stretching from Jammu to Assam to breed every year. The birds come to the same localities every year.
  • It is also a brood parasite in that it does not make its own nest and instead lays its egg in the nest of other birds, particularly the Jungle Babbler.
Legacy IAS

About the Study

  • The project is a joint effort by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS), which comes under the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO.
  • The Pied Cuckoo migration study is part of a larger project — Indian Bioresource Information portal (IBIN) funded by the Department of Biotechnology under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • It aims to deliver relevant bioresources (plant, animal and other biological organisms) information of India through a web portal.
  • The project aims to assess the likely impacts of projected climate change on the potential distribution of Pied Cuckoo in the altered climate change scenarios.

Why study Pied Cuckoo?

  • It is closely linked with the arrival of the south-west monsoon in India. It moves to India during the summer.
  • Being a small, terrestrial bird, a sea crossing holds a lot of risk for this cuckoo.
  • Before it migrates back to its home in the southern African region, by flying over the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, it must be stopping somewhere. It is these stopovers that researchers want to find out about.

Is India a hub for drug peddling

Why in news?

Madras High Court has directed the Centre to spell out whether India is being used as a hub by international drug cartels

Some facts about Drugs

  • The maximum of 644 tonnes of opium was seized in Iran, followed by 27 tonnes in Afghanistan and 19 tonnes in Pakistan. In India, the figure stood at four tonnes in 2018
  • Again, Iran reported the highest seizure of heroin (25 tonnes), followed by Turkey, United States, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • Myanmar, which accounts for 7% of the global opium production, and Laos, where 1% of the opium is produced, it is supplied to east and south­east Asia and Oceania

How is Heroin manufactured

Heroin is manufactured from the morphine extracted from the seed pod of opium poppy plants.

Golden crescent

  • The Golden Crescent is the name given to one of Asia’s two principal areas of illicit Opium production , located at the crossroads of central, south and western asia.
  • This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent.
Golden Crescent - Wikipedia

Golden triangle

The Golden Triangle is located in the area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers.

Along with the Golden Crescent, it is regarded as one of the largest producers of opium in the world since the 1950s until it was overtaken by the Golden Crescent in the early 21st century.

India registers a steep decline in maternal mortality ratio

Why in news?

The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in India has declined to 113 in 2016­ – 18 from 122 in 2015 – ­17 and 130 in 2014­2016, according to the special bulletin on Maternal Mortality in India 2016­ – 18, released by the Office of the Registrar General’s Sample Registration System (SRS)

Healthy trend 
The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) between 2016 and 2018 
dropped to 113 in India, almost 100 deaths lesser than in the 
2007-2009 period 
2011 13 
MMR is 
defined as the 
number of maternal 
deaths during a 
given time 
period per 
live births 
2015 17 

Maternal Mortality Ratio

  • MMR is the annual number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy.
  • It is a key performance indicator for efforts to improve the health and safety of mothers before, during, and after childbirth.

Disparity amoung states

  • The MMR of various States according to the bulletin includes  Assam (215), Bihar (149), Madhya Pradesh (173), Chhattisgarh (159), Odisha (150), Rajasthan (164), Uttar Pradesh (197) and Uttarakhand (99).
  • The southern States registered a lower MMR Andhra Pradesh (65), Telangana (63), Karnataka (92), Kerala (43) and Tamil Nadu (60).

Reasons for Declining MMR

  • Focus on quality and coverage of health services through public health initiatives have contributed majorly to the decline. Some of these initiatives are:
    • LaQshya,
    • Poshan Abhiyan,
    • Janani Suraksha Yojana,
    • Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan
    • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana,
  • The implementation of the Aspirational District Programme and inter-sectoral action has helped to reach the most marginalized and vulnerable population.
  • Recently launched Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan Initiative (SUMAN) especially focuses on zero preventable maternal and newborn deaths.

The continuous progress in reducing the MMR will help the country to achieve the SDG 3 target of MMR below 70 by 2030.

November 2023