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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 17 September 2020


  1. Russia to test, supply Sputnik V to India
  2. Special courts for cases against Politicians
  3. Amendment for RBI supervision of cooperative banks
  4. May take decades to clean Ganga water, say experts


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which is piloting Russia’s Sputnik V candidate vaccine, currently in Phase 3 trials, has partnered with the Hyderabad-based Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories to test, and subject to regulatory approvals in India, supply 100 million doses of the vaccine.


  • Deliveries could potentially begin in late 2020 subject to completion of successful trials and registration of the vaccine by regulatory authorities in India.
  • The agreement does not include manufacturing the vaccine in India.
  • The Dr. Reddy’s-RDIF agreement constitutes the second major international deal for supplying a potential vaccine after the agreement between British company AstraZeneca and the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII).

The Russian “Sputnik V” vaccine

  • The vaccine is administered in two doses and consists of two serotypes of a human adenovirus, each carrying an S-antigen of the new coronavirus, which enter human cells and produce an immune response.
  • The platform used for the vaccine was developed by Russian scientists over two decades and had formed the basis for several vaccines in the past, including those against Ebola.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Supreme Court gave the green signal for the Centre’s scheme to set up 12 fast track courts to exclusively prosecute and dispose the 1500+ riminal cases pending against Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies within a year.


  • A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha directed the Centre to forthwith allocate ₹7.8 crore to the States for setting up such courts.
  • Immediately after such allocation, the State governments, in consultation with the High Courts, will set up the Fast Track Courts.
  • The 1,581 criminal cases in question regarding the move for special courts were declared by politicians in their nominations in the 2014 general elections.
  • Justice Gogoi said the scheme proposes to club the cases of several politicians together and have one court hear them.
  • This way, the Bench expected a special court to finish at least 100 cases a year.
  • The Supreme Court said the Centre’s scheme was “rudimentary” at this stage, but it would be open for modifications as and when the situation arises.

Report Submitted in Supreme Court regarding Cases against Legislators:

  • A report submitted in the Supreme Court has said there are a total 4,442 cases pending against legislators across the country.
  • The apex court had sought the amicus report on the basis of a petition highlighting the criminalisation of politics.
  • Recently the Supreme Court had taken a timely decision by agreeing to hear a plea from the Election Commission of India (ECI) to direct political parties to not field candidates with criminal antecedents.

Highlights of the report

  • Of the massive 4,442 cases pending against legislators – cases against sitting Members of Parliament and members of State legislatures was more than 2,500.
  • The cases were pending in various special courts exclusively set up to try criminal cases registered against politicians, it said.
  • The cases against the legislators include that of corruption, money laundering, damage to public property, defamation and cheating.
  • A large number of cases were for violation of Section 188 IPC for wilful disobedience and obstruction of orders promulgated by public servants.
  • There are more than 400 cases in respect of offences, which are punishable with imprisonment for life, out of which in 174 cases sitting MPs/ MLAs are accused.
  • The trial of more than 350 cases had been stayed by High Courts and the apex court.
  • A large number of cases were pending at the appearance stage and even non-bailable warrants (NBWs) issued by courts have not been executed.
  • As per the report, Uttar Pradesh tops the chart.

Way Forward

  1. Judicial pronouncements on making it difficult for criminal candidates to contest are necessary, only enhanced awareness and increased democratic participation could create the right conditions for the decriminalization of politics.
  2. There needs to be an increased and sincere monitoring the affidavits of candidates.
  3. Working with the Election Commission in monitoring compliance with the Supreme Court judgment to see if details of tainted candidates are promptly put up on their websites, and on their social media handles, along with proper reasons for giving them ticket.
  4. Voters also need to be vigilant about misuse of money, gifts and other inducements during elections.
  5. Voters also need to be wary of fake news, trolling, and fanciful claims.
  6. Discouraging political parties from fielding criminals as candidates
  7. Adequate security measures during elections
  8. Role of money in election should be lowered

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The Lok Sabha passed an amendment to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, which will bring cooperative banks under the direct supervision of the RBI and bring them under some of the same governance norms as commercial banks.


  • The Amendment to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 will also allow the RBI to amalgamate or reconstruct a stressed cooperative bank without first imposing a moratorium, thus protecting the interests of the depositors.
  • The Bill replaces an ordinance to the same effect promulgated on June 26, and was passed by a voice vote.
  • Addressing concerns that the RBI has failed to curb crisis situations among commercial banks as well, the Finance Minister noted that 430 cooperative banks had been delicensed and liquidated over the last two decades, while not a single commercial bank has gone into liquidation under the oversight of the RBI.

Cooperative Banks

  • Co-operative banks are financial entities established on a co-operative basis and belonging to their members.This means that the customers of a co-operative bank are also its owners.
  • Cooperative Banks continue to be important and the ideal organisations even in the changing economic environment, as participation and inclusion are central to poverty reduction.

More details about Cooperative Banks

  • Co-operative banks in India are registered under the State’s Cooperative Societies Act.
  • The Co-operative banks are also regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and governed by the Banking Regulations Act 1949 and Banking Laws (Co-operative Societies) Act, 1955.
  • The Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS) is in control of management elections and many administrative issues as well as auditing, and the RBI brought them under the Banking Regulation Act as applicable to cooperative societies.
  • Urban cooperative banks have been under the radar of the RBI, but because of dual regulation either of them did not have as much control over these banks in terms of supersession of boards or removal of directors.

Structure of co-operative banks in India:

  • Broadly, co-operative banks in India are divided into two categories – urban and rural.
  • Rural cooperative credit institutions could either be short-term or long-term in nature.
  • Short-term cooperative credit institutions are further sub-divided into State Co-operative Banks, District Central Co-operative Banks, Primary Agricultural Credit Societies.
  • Long-term institutions are either State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (SCARDBs) or Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (PCARDBs).

Problems with Cooperative Banking in India

  1. Politicians in local as well as in state use them to increase their vote bank and usually get their representatives elected over the board of director in order to gain undue advantages.
  2. The cooperatives in northeast states and in states like West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha are not as well developed as the ones in Maharashtra and Gujarat. There is a lot of friction due to competition between different states, this friction affects the working of cooperatives.
  3. A serious problem of the cooperative credit is the overdue loans of the cooperative banks which have been continuously increasing over the years.
  4. Large amounts of overdues restrict the recycling of the funds and adversely affect the lending and borrowing capacity of the cooperative.
  5. The cooperatives have resource constraints as their owned funds hardly make a sizeable portfolio of the working capital.
  6. Raising working capital has been a major hurdle in their effective functioning.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology


Namami Gange, the Central government’s ambitious project to clean the Ganga, seems to have delivered modest results, with the quality of river water from Rudraparayag in Uttarakhand to Uluberia in West Bengal having improved between 2014 and 2019, according to Jal Shakti ministry data, but experts say it will take decades before the water becomes fit for human consumption.


  • The dissolved oxygen level, or the amount of oxygen available to living aquatic organisms, has improved at 27 locations.
  • The biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), the amount of oxygen consumed by bacteria while they decompose organic matter, and faecal coliform (FC) content, a measure of the suitability of water for consumption, has also improved in various locations.

Higher dissolved oxygen shows whether water can sustain aquatic life.

A lower BOD shows there is less bacteria and other microorganisms in water.

The faecal coliform indicates the amount of sewage in water.

  • Jal Shakti ministry data shows that in past six years, the water quality of the river on these three parameters has improved marginally at most locations and at this pace, the authorities would take decades to make the river’s water fit for human consumption, experts said.
  • The Central government had initially fixed 2019 as the deadline to clean the river, but extended it to 2022 as the Namami Ganga Project (NGP) took off slowly.

Click Here to read more about the Namami Gange Project

-Source: Hindustan Times

February 2024