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20th November Current Affairs


  1. Covid-19 and Guillain Barre Syndrome
  2. Chapare virus Explained
  3. Protest against Anakkayam hydel project
  4. ‘Best Marine District’ award on World Fisheries Day
  5. Joint Parliamentary Committee on Office of Profit
  6. Delhi HC on plea to recognize same-sex marriages
  7. Chinese President Xi’s speech in APEC forum


Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

Several neurologists are conducting a study which will be the first of its kind – to establish a correlation between Covid-19 and the Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS).

Guillain–Barré syndrome

  • Guillain–Barré syndrome is a rapid-onset muscle weakness caused by the immune system damaging the peripheral nervous system.
  • Typically, both sides are involved and the initial symptoms are changes in sensation or pain often in the back along with muscle weakness, beginning in the feet and hands, often spreading to the arms and upper body.
  • Although the cause is unknown, the underlying mechanism involves an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the peripheral nerves and damages their myelin insulation.
  • The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown, but as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), GBS is often preceded by an infection.

Link with Covid-19:

  • The immune system, in an attempt to kill the coronavirus, accidentally starts attacking its own peripheral nervous system.
  • The peripheral nervous system is a network of nerves that lead from the brain and spinal cord (i.e. central nervous system) to different parts of the body. Attacking them can affect limb functions.
  • An interval of 5-10 days is noticed between onset of GBS symptoms and Covid-19 infection, but some doctors say it can also take weeks after Covid-19 infection for a person to develop GBS.

-Source: Hindustan Times


Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

  • Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have discovered that a rare Ebola-like illness that is believed to have first originated in rural Bolivia in 2004 can spread through human-to-human transmission.
  • The biggest outbreak of the ‘Chapare virus’ was reported in 2019.

What is the Chapare virus?

  • The Chapare hemorrhagic fever (CHHF) is caused by the same arenavirus family that is responsible for illnesses such as the Ebola virus disease (EVD).
  • According to the CDC website, arenaviruses like the Chapare virus are generally carried by rats and can be transmitted through direct contact with the infected rodent, its urine and droppings, or through contact with an infected person.
  • The virus, which is named Chapare after the province in which it was first observed, causes a hemorrhagic fever much like Ebola along with abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding gums, skin rash and pain behind the eyes.
  • Viral hemorrhagic fevers are a severe and life-threatening kind of illness that can affect multiple organs and damage the walls of blood vessels.

How is the Chapare hemorrhagic fever treated?

  • Since there are no specific drugs to treat the disease, patients generally receive supportive care such as intravenous fluids.
  • The CDC website lists maintenance of hydration, management of shock through fluid resuscitation, sedation, pain relief and transfusions as the supportive therapy that can be administered on patients suffering from CHHF.
  • As there are very few cases on record, the mortality and risk factors associated with the illness are relatively unknown.

-Source: Indian Express


Focus: GS-III Industry and Infrastructure

Why in news?

Scores of green collectives and environmental organisations are planning to protest against the planned felling of over 1,800 large trees in Vazhachal forests near Athirappilly for a proposed small hydro-electric project by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) at Anakkayam.

Why the protests?

  • The activists are of the view that the project not only violated the rights of the communities dependent on this forest patch for livelihood but would also accelerate the descend of the KSEB into financial dire straits.
  • It was granted approval without obtaining permission from the local Kadar tribe which holds the right of Community Forest Resources (CFR) as per the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
  • The plan is to fell about 2,000 large trees and also create a 5.617-km-long tunnel within the forest for the project.
  • It will come up in the buffer zone of the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve (PTR) and will also create a 5.617-km-long tunnel within the forest.
  • But this area is ecologically fragile, as we saw in 2018 when a massive landslide followed by minor landslips occurred in the proposed project site.

Athirapally Hydel Electric Project

  • In 2020, the Kerala government approved the Athirapally Hydro Electric Project (AHEP) on the Chalakudy river in Thrissur district of Kerala.
  • Chalakudy River originates in the Anamalai region of Tamil Nadu and is joined by its major tributaries Parambikulam, Kuriyarkutti, Sholayar, Karapara and Anakayam in Kerala.

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve

  • Parambikulam Tiger Reserve is a well-protected ecological portion in the Nelliampathy-Anamalai landscape of the Southern Western Ghats in India.
  • It was declared as Tiger Reserve during 2008-09.
  • The reserve is credited with the first scientifically managed teak plantation in the world which was later merged with the forest land.
  • It is also famous for having the world’s largest and oldest teak tree named “Kannimara”, which is believed to be 350 years old.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Agriculture

Why in news?

  • Krishna district has been selected for the ‘Best Marine District’ award in the country by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
  • The award would be presented at the World Fisheries Day 2020 celebrations on November 21
  • The marine development programmes, aqua farmer welfare programmes and other initiatives being implemented were studied across the country and three ‘Best Districts’ were announced.


  • Krishna had been announced as the Best Marine District.
  • Kalahandi of Odisha as Best Inland District.
  • Nagaon of Assam had been declared as Best Hilly and North Eastern District.

World Fisheries Day

  • World Fisheries Day is celebrated every year on 21 November throughout the world by fishing communities.
  • The day helps to highlight the critical importance of fish and the lives they sustain, both in and out of water.
  • Fisheries play an integral role in sustaining not only human lives but also aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • More than 25% of the world’s dietary protein is provided by fish.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II Polity and Governance

Why in news?

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Office of Profit deliberated on whether a Parliamentarian can continue to teach at University and if this draws the provisions of “Office of Profit” rules.

Article 102(1)

A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of either House of Parliament:

  1. if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder;
  2. if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;
  3. if he is an undischarged insolvent;
  4. if he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;
  5. if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament Explanation For the purposes of this clause a person shall not be deemed to hold an office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State by reason only that he is a Minister either for the Union or for such State.

Article 191(1) provides for disqualification of a Member of Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State with the same clauses from a through e (except in clause a – “parliament” is replaced by “Legislature of the State”.

What is the concept of ‘office of profit’?

  • MPs and MLAs, as members of the legislature, hold the government accountable for its work.
  • The essence of disqualification under the office of profit law is if legislators holds an ‘office of profit’ under the government, they might be susceptible to government influence, and may not discharge their constitutional mandate fairly.
  • The intent is that there should be no conflict between the duties and interests of an elected member.
  • Hence, the office of profit law simply seeks to enforce a basic feature of the Constitution- the principle of separation of power between the legislature and the executive.

According to the definition, what constitutes an ‘office of profit’?

  • The law does not clearly define what constitutes an office of profit but the definition has evolved over the years with interpretations made in various court judgments.
  • An office of profit has been interpreted to be a position that brings to the office-holder some financial gain, or advantage, or benefit.
  • The amount of such profit is immaterial.
  • In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that the test for determining whether a person holds an office of profit is the test of appointment.

Several factors are considered in this determination including factors such as:

  1. whether the government is the appointing authority?
  2. whether the government has the power to terminate the appointment?
  3. whether the government determines the remuneration?
  4. what is the source of remuneration?
  5. what is the power that comes with the position?

Protection against disqualification

  • Provisions of Articles 102 and 191 also protect a legislator occupying a government position if the office in question has been made immune to disqualification by law.
  • In the recent past, several state legislatures have enacted laws exempting certain offices from the purview of office of profit.
  • Parliament has also enacted the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, which has been amended several times to expand the exempted list.
  • There is no bar on how many offices can be exempted from the purview of the law. (This raises an important concern. If a large number of legislators are appointed to such offices, their role in scrutinising the work of the government may be impaired.)

What is the debate around making appointments to the office of parliamentary secretaries?

  • Interestingly, the appointment of legislators as parliamentary secretaries, in spite of the office being exempted from purview of the office of profit law, has been struck down by courts in several states.
  • A Calcutta High Court judgment in 2015 held that since the position may confer the rank of a junior minister on the legislator, the appointment of MLAs as parliamentary secretaries was an attempt by state governments to bypass the constitutional ceiling on the number of ministers.
  • In 2009, the Bombay High Court also held that appointing parliamentary secretaries of the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister is in violation of Article 164 (1A) of the Constitution.
  • The Article specifies that the number of ministers including the Chief Minister should not exceed 15% of the total number of members in the assembly.

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II Polity and Governance

Why in news?

  • The Delhi High Court issued notice to the Centre on a petition seeking a direction to the government to recognise same-sex marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) and the Special Marriage Act (SMA).
  • The notice was issued during the hearing of a plea argued that the Supreme Court had in 2018 decriminalised consensual homosexual sex in India.
  • It added that there was nothing in the HMA that mandated that marriage should take place only between a Hindu man and a Hindu woman.


  • While there is no statutory bar under the HMA and the SMA against gay marriages, they were not being registered throughout the country and in Delhi.
  • The plea argued that the prohibition of marriage of LGBT people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was an absolute discrimination towards them and also violative of the right to equality as granted by the Constitution.
  • Naming various countries such as the U.S., Australia, Germany, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, and England, where same-sex marriages are legal, the plea said, “right to marry is a part of ‘right to life’ under Article 21 of the Constitution”.
  • Apart from this petition, the High Court is also seized of two more petitions on a similar issue.

Special Marriage Act, 1954

  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party.
  • The Act originated from a piece of legislation proposed during the late 19th century.
  • Marriages solemnized under Special Marriage Act are not governed by personal laws.

Applicability of the SMA

  1. Any person, irrespective of religion.
  2. Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, or Jews can also perform marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
  3. Inter-religion marriages are performed under this Act.
  4. This Act is applicable to the entire territory of India and extends to intending spouses who are both Indian nationals living abroad.
  5. Indian national living abroad.

The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

  • The Hindu Marriage Act is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted in 1955.
  • Three other important acts were also enacted as part of the Hindu Code Bills during this time: the Hindu Succession Act (1956), the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (1956), the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956).

Applicability of the HMA

  1. to any person who is a Hindu by religion in any of its forms or developments, including a Virashaiva, a Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana or Arya Samaj;
  2. to any person who is a Buddhist, Jain or Sikh by religion; and
  3. to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends who is not a Muslim, Christian, Parsi or Jew by religion, unless it is proved that any such person would not have been governed by the Hindu law or by any custom or usage as part of that law in respect of any of the matters dealt with herein if this Act had not been passed

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • President Xi Jinping hailed China as the pivot point for global free trade while speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
  • But Mr. Xi’s rhetoric may raise eyebrows in capitals where China has either restricted trade or used its giant economy as a bargaining chip in wider geopolitical disputes.
  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which excludes the US, is viewed as a major coup for China and further evidence that Beijing is setting the agenda for global commerce as Washington retreats.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

  • The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is an inter-governmental forum for 21 member economies in the Pacific Rim that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Following the success of ASEAN’s series of post-ministerial conferences launched in the mid-1980s, APEC started in 1989, in response to the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific economies and the advent of regional trade blocs in other parts of the world; it aimed to establish new markets for agricultural products and raw materials beyond Europe.
  • Headquartered in Singapore, APEC is recognized as one of the highest-level multilateral blocs and oldest forums in the Asia-Pacific region, and exerts a significant global influence.
  • The heads of government of all APEC members except the Republic of China (which is represented by a ministerial-level official under the name Chinese Taipei as economic leader) attend an annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
  • APEC has three official observers: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretariat, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
  • APEC works to help all residents of the Asia-Pacific participate in the growing economy. APEC projects provide digital skills training for rural communities and help indigenous women export their products abroad.
  • Recognizing the impacts of climate change, APEC members also implement initiatives to increase energy efficiency and promote sustainable management of forest and marine resources.
  • The forum adapts to allow members to deal with important new challenges to the region’s economic well-being. This includes ensuring disaster resilience, planning for pandemics, and addressing terrorism.

-Source: The Hindu

July 2024