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Current Affairs 09 September 2023


  1. Swachh Vayu Survekshan 2023
  2. Push to Criminalize Ecocide
  3. 20th ASEAN-India Summit
  4. Nation First Transit Card
  5. Varicella Zoster Virus
  6. National Payments Corporation of India
  7. Fujianvenator prodigiosus

Swachh Vayu Survekshan 2023


Recently, the awards for Swachh Vayu Survekshan (Clean Air Survey) 2023 were announced. The survey was conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).


GS II: Government Policies and Interventions

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Swachh Vayu Survekshan 2023
  2. Performance Highlights of Swachh Vayu Survekshan 2023
  3. About the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

Swachh Vayu Survekshan 2023

  • Swachh Vayu Survekshan (SVS) is a novel initiative launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • Its primary objective is to rank cities based on air quality and the implementation of activities sanctioned under the city action plan (National Clean Air Program – NCAP) in 131 non-attainment cities.
  • Non-attainment status is attributed to cities consistently failing to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM10 or NO2 over a 5-year period.
  • City categorization aligns with data from the 2011 population census.
Assessment Criteria

The evaluation of cities in SVS 2023 is based on eight key parameters:

  • Control of biomass
  • Municipal solid waste burning
  • Road dust
  • Dust from construction and demolition waste
  • Vehicular emissions
  • Industrial emissions
  • Public awareness
  • Improvement in PM10 concentration

Performance Highlights of Swachh Vayu Survekshan 2023

1st Category: Million Plus Population
  • Top 3 Cities: Indore, Agra, Thane
  • Worst Performers: Madurai (46), Howrah (45), Jamshedpur (44)
  • Notable: Bhopal ranked 5th, Delhi ranked 9th
2nd Category: 3-10 Lakhs Population
  • Top 3 Cities: Amravati, Moradabad, Guntur
  • Worst Performers: Jammu (38), Guwahati (37), Jalandhar (36)
3rd Category: Less than 3 Lakhs Population
  • Top 3 Cities: Parwanoo, Kala Amb, Angul
  • Worst Performer: Kohima (39)
Comparison with SVS 2022
  • In SVS 2022, the top three spots in the million-plus category were secured by cities in Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi), all of which have ranked lower in SVS 2023.

About the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • Aim: The NCAP is designed to systematically address air pollution by involving all relevant stakeholders and ensuring necessary actions are taken.
  • City Coverage: It encompasses 131 cities across India, targeting specific action plans for each of them.
  • Key Target: This program marks the country’s first-ever effort to establish a national framework for air quality management with a clear, time-bound reduction goal.
  • Reduction Target: The NCAP aims to reduce the concentration of coarse particles (PM10) and fine particles (PM2.5) by a minimum of 20% within five years, using 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • Monitoring Tool: To facilitate its goals, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched the “PRANA” portal. This platform serves multiple functions:
    • Monitoring Implementation: It tracks the progress of NCAP implementation.
    • Action Plan Status: Monitors the status of action plans in various cities.
    • Best Practices Sharing: Provides a space for cities to share successful practices for others to adopt.

-Source: The Hindu

Push to Criminalize Ecocide


The Maya train project in Mexico, designed to connect tourists with historic Maya sites, has raised concerns about its possible adverse effects on the environment and culture. This controversy highlights the discussion around “ecocide” and the increasing worldwide push to make environmental harm a criminal offense.


GS III: Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Ecocide: Killing One’s Home
  2. Arguments in Favor of Criminalizing Ecocide
  3. Arguments Against Criminalizing Ecocide
  4. Present Status of Ecocide Acknowledgment in India

Ecocide: Killing One’s Home

  • The term “ecocide” originates from Greek and Latin, conveying the notion of “killing one’s home” or “environment.”
  • Legal Description: There is presently no universally accepted legal definition for ecocide. However, in June 2021, a group of lawyers assembled by the NGO Stop Ecocide Foundation put forth a proposed definition. It aims to classify severe environmental harm as akin to crimes against humanity. According to their proposal, ecocide is described as “unlawful or reckless actions conducted with the awareness that there is a significant probability of causing severe, extensive, or lasting harm to the environment.”
Historical Context
  • 1970: Biologist Arthur Galston was the first to draw a connection between environmental devastation and genocide, an internationally recognized crime. He made this connection when addressing the use of Agent Orange, an herbicide, by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.
  • 1972: Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme also referenced this concept in a United Nations speech, warning that uncontrolled industrialization could lead to irreversible environmental damage.
  • 2010: A British lawyer played a pivotal role by urging the United Nations’ International Criminal Court (ICC) to officially acknowledge ecocide as an international crime.
  • Current Legal Framework: The Rome Statute of the ICC currently addresses four major offenses: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. The provision related to war crimes is the only statute that can hold an offender accountable for environmental destruction, but only if it is intentionally caused during armed conflicts.

Arguments in Favor of Criminalizing Ecocide:

  • Preservation of Ecosystems: Ecosystems have evolved over millions of years, and recognizing the environment’s intrinsic value acknowledges the importance of preserving these intricate networks of species and interactions in their natural state.
  • Environmental Entity: Ecocide laws address a gap in environmental protection by recognizing the environment as an entity deserving safeguarding, beyond its utilitarian value.
  • Biodiversity Debt: Ecocide is seen as accumulating a “biodiversity debt” that future generations must repay. Criminalizing it reflects society’s obligation to leave a sustainable planet for posterity.
  • Complement to Climate Agreements: Addressing ecocide through criminal law complements international climate agreements by directly targeting root causes of climate change, including large-scale deforestation and uncontrolled fossil fuel extraction.
  • Legal Accountability: Criminalizing ecocide adds a legal dimension to environmental protection, holding individuals and entities accountable for actions that harm the climate.

Arguments Against Criminalizing Ecocide:

  • Development vs. Conservation: Critics argue that defining ecocide may create tensions between development goals and environmental conservation, potentially hindering economic growth in some cases.
  • Sovereignty Concerns: Some view ecocide laws as encroachments on national sovereignty, limiting a country’s ability to manage its environmental policies and resources as it deems fit.
  • Deterrence for Research: Scientists and researchers may be deterred from conducting environmental studies involving manipulation or experimentation due to potential legal repercussions, hampering scientific progress.
  • Effectiveness Questioned: Critics question the effectiveness of criminalizing ecocide, suggesting that existing environmental regulations, when rigorously enforced, may be more practical and efficient.

Present Status of Ecocide Acknowledgment in India

  • International Level: India has neither signed nor ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and has not officially stated its position regarding the proposal to criminalize ecocide at the international level.
  • International Environmental Treaties: However, India has ratified various international environmental treaties and conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
  • National Legislation: India has implemented several national laws and policies to safeguard and conserve the environment, such as the Environment Protection Act 1986, the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 (CAMPA).
  • Informal Use: Although the term ‘ecocide’ has been informally mentioned in certain Indian court judgments, it has not been formally incorporated into Indian legislation.
  • Examples:
    • In the case of Chandra CFS and Terminal Operators Pvt. Ltd. v. The Commissioner of Customs and Ors 2015, the Madras High Court observed the continuous and uncontrolled activities leading to ecocide in relation to the removal of valuable timber.
    • The T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union Of India & Ors 1995 case in the Supreme Court highlighted the necessity of shifting from an anthropocentric approach to an ecocentric approach for achieving environmental justice.

-Source: The Hindu

 20th ASEAN-India Summit


Prime Minister visited Jakarta, Indonesia at the invitation of Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia. During his visit, PM attended the 20th ASEAN-India Summit and 18th East Asia Summit being hosted by Indonesia as current Chair of ASEAN.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of PM Modi’s Speech at 20th ASEAN-India Summit
  2. 12-Point Proposal for Cooperation
  3. About Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Key Highlights of PM Modi’s Speech at 20th ASEAN-India Summit:

  • Emphasis on ASEAN Importance: Highlighted the significance of ASEAN in regional and international affairs.
  • ASEAN Centrality in Indo-Pacific: Reaffirmed ASEAN’s centrality in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • ASEAN in India’s Act East Policy: Stressed that ASEAN is a central pillar of India’s Act East Policy.
  • Synergies with AOIP and IPOI: Pointed out the synergies between India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative (IPOI) and ASEAN’s Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
  • Theme of ASEAN Summit: Noted that the theme of this year’s ASEAN Summit is ‘ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.’

12-Point Proposal for Cooperation:

  • Presented a 12-point proposal to strengthen India-ASEAN cooperation.
Proposal Highlights:
  • Connectivity and Economic Corridor: Proposed establishing multi-modal connectivity and economic corridors linking South-East Asia, India, West Asia, and Europe.
  • Digital Transformation: Offered to share India’s Digital Public Infrastructure Stack with ASEAN partners.
  • Digital Future Fund: Announced the ASEAN-India fund for Digital Future, focusing on cooperation in digital transformation and financial connectivity.
  • Support to ERIA: Announced renewal of support to the Economic and Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) for enhancing engagement.
  • Global South Issues: Called for raising issues faced by the Global South in multilateral forums.
  • Traditional Medicine Center: Invited ASEAN countries to join the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine being established by WHO in India.
  • Mission LiFE: Called for collaborative efforts on Mission LiFE.
  • Affordable Medicines: Offered to share India’s experience in providing affordable and quality medicines through Jan-Aushadhi Kendras.
  • Counterterrorism and Cybersecurity: Called for collective action against terrorism, terror financing, and cyber-disinformation.
  • Disaster Resilience: Invited ASEAN countries to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
  • Disaster Management: Advocated for increased cooperation in disaster management.
  • Maritime Safety: Called for enhanced cooperation on maritime safety, security, and domain awareness.

About Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising Ten Countries in Southeast Asia.

Members of ASEAN
  1. Indonesia
  2. Malaysia
  3. Philippines
  4. Singapore
  5. Thailand
  6. Brunei
  7. Vietnam
  8. Laos
  9. Myanmar
  10. Cambodia
ASEAN’s Objectives:
  1. To promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other countries in Asia.
  2. To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations.
  3. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.
  4. To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations.

A major partner of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances and dialogue partners and is considered by many as the central union for cooperation in Asia-Pacific.

  • The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
  • ASEAN is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • 8th August is observed as ASEAN Day.
  • In 1967 ASEAN was established with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding fathers: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
  • Chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.
  • ASEAN is the 3rd largest market in the world – larger than EU and North American markets.
ASEAN Plus Three

ASEAN Plus Three is a forum that functions as a coordinator of co-operation between the ASEAN and the three East Asian nations of China, South Korea, and Japan.

ASEAN Plus Six
  • further integration to improve existing ties of Southeast Asia was done by the larger East Asia Summit (EAS), which included ASEAN Plus Three as well as India, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • The group became ASEAN Plus Six with Australia, New Zealand, and India, and stands as the linchpin of Asia Pacific’s economic, political, security, socio-cultural architecture, as well as the global economy.
  • This group acted as a prerequisite for the planned East Asia Community which was supposedly patterned after the European Community (now transformed into the European Union).
ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA)
  • The ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement was signed and entered into force in 2010.
  • Under the Agreement, ASEAN Member States and India have agreed to open their respective markets by progressively reducing and eliminating duties on more than 75% coverage of goods.
ASEAN-India Trade in Services Agreement (AITISA)
  • The ASEAN-India Trade in Services Agreement was signed in 2014.
  • It contains provisions on transparency, domestic regulations, recognition, market access, national treatment and dispute settlement.
ASEAN-India Investment Agreement (AIIA)
  • The ASEAN-India Investment Agreement was signed in 2014.
  • The Investment Agreement stipulates protection of investment to ensure fair and equitable treatment for investors, non-discriminatory treatment in expropriation or nationalisation as well as fair compensation.
ASEAN-India Free Trade Area (AIFTA)
  • The ASEAN–India Free Trade Area (AIFTA) is a free trade area among the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and India.
  • The free trade area came into effect in 2010.
  • The ASEAN–India Free Area emerged from a mutual interest of both parties to expand their economic ties in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • India’s Look East policy was reciprocated by similar interests of many ASEAN countries to expand their interactions westward.
  • The signing of the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement paves the way for the creation of one of the world’s largest FTAs – a market of almost 1.8 billion people with a combined GDP of US $ 2.8 trillion.
  • The AIFTA will see tariff liberalisation of over 90% of products traded between the two dynamic regions, including the so-called “special products,” such as palm oil (crude and refined), coffee, black tea and pepper.

-Source: The Hindu

Nation First Transit Card


State Bank of India has launched its ‘Nation First Transit Card’, a RuPay prepaid instrument under the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) that can be used nationwide.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Nation First Transit Card
  2. About National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)
  3. What is a RuPay Card?

Nation First Transit Card

  • Objective: Enhance customer commuting experience and simplify digital fare payments.
  • Usages: Metro, buses, water ferries, parking, etc.
  • Payment Options: Also applicable for retail and e-commerce transactions.
  • Technology: Utilizes RuPay and National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) technology.
Nation First Transit Card Features:
  • Streamlines customer commuting.
  • Provides a unified digital ticketing solution.
  • Enables seamless fare payments across various modes of transportation.
  • Offers versatility with retail and e-commerce payment capabilities.
  • Leverages RuPay and NCMC technology for secure transactions.

About National Common Mobility Card (NCMC):

  • Usage of Debit Cards: NCMC allows bank customers to utilize their Debit Cards for travel on Metro Rail and enabled buses.
  • Origin: NCMC was proposed by the Nandan Nilekani committee, established by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • Government Initiative: It is an initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in India, aiming to promote cashless transactions and provide a unified payment platform for commuters.
  • Launch Date: NCMC was officially launched on March 4, 2019.
  • Unified Transport Solution: It offers a unified contactless transport solution using the RuPay platform, developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • Automatic Fare Collection: NCMC functions as an automatic fare collection system, potentially turning smartphones into versatile transport cards for Metro, bus, and suburban railway services.

What is a RuPay Card?

  • Origin and Issuance: RuPay is an Indian domestic card scheme introduced and managed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • Affordability and Variants: RuPay cards are cost-effective and can be issued as credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards.
  • Wide Acceptance: RuPay cards enable electronic payments at all Indian banks and financial institutions.

-Source: The Hindu

Varicella Zoster Virus


Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute of Virology scientists, have for the first time in the country, found the presence of Clade 9 variant of varicella-zoster virus (VZV).


GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Varicella Zoster Virus
  2. Key Facts about Chickenpox

Varicella Zoster Virus Overview:

  • Type of Virus: Varicella Zoster Virus is a herpes virus responsible for causing chickenpox, a common childhood illness.
  • Human Exclusive: It is an exclusively human virus and falls under the α-herpesvirus family.
  • Global Presence: The virus is present worldwide and is highly contagious.
  • Primary Infection: Initial exposure to this virus results in acute varicella or “chickenpox,” typically seen in children.
  • Complications: Infections can potentially progress to central nervous system involvement and severe complications.

Key Facts about Chickenpox:

  • Highly Contagious: Chickenpox is an extremely contagious disease.
  • Symptoms: Common symptoms include an itchy, blister-like rash, among others.
  • Rash Progression: The rash typically begins on the chest, back, and face before spreading to cover the entire body.
  • Transmission: Chickenpox is transmitted through direct contact with an infected individual, inhaling air containing virus particles from a sneeze or cough of an infected person, or contact with fluids from an infected child’s eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Incubation Period: The incubation period for chickenpox ranges from 10 to 21 days.
  • Seriousness: Chickenpox can be particularly severe in certain populations, including pregnant women, babies, adolescents, adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems (lowered ability to combat infections).

-Source: The Hindu

National Payments Corporation of India


Recently, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) unveiled several new products with an aim to create an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable digital payments ecosystem.


GS III: Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. New Product Offerings in Digital Payments
  2. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

New Product Offerings in Digital Payments:

  • Credit Line via UPI:
    • Allows pre-sanctioned credit lines from banks through UPI.
    • Facilitates offline payments.
    • UPI Tap & Pay enhances QR Code and NFC technology for digital payments.
    • Offers the option to tap NFC-enabled QR codes for payment at merchant locations.
  • Hello UPI:
    • Introduces Conversational Payments on UPI.
    • Enables voice-enabled UPI payments through UPI Apps, telecom calls, and IoT devices in Hindi and English.
    • Future plans include availability in various regional languages.
  • BillPay Connect:
    • Supports Conversational Bill Payments nationwide through a Bharat BillPay-provided nationalized number.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI):

  • Purpose:
    • Acts as an umbrella organization for managing retail payments and settlement systems in India.
  • Initiative:
    • Established as a joint initiative of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • Legal Status:
    • Registered as a “Not for Profit” Company under Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of the Companies Act 2013).
  • Promoters:
    • Promoted by ten major banks, including the State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Citibank, Bank of Baroda, and HSBC.
  • Regulatory Board:
    • Headquartered in Mumbai, it is governed by a regulatory board consisting of nominees from the RBI and ten core promoter banks.

-Source: Indian Express

Fujianvenator prodigiosus


Scientists recently said they unearthed in Fujian Province the fossil of a Jurassic Period dinosaur they named Fujianvenator prodigiosus.


Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Fujianvenator Prodigiosus
  2. Key Facts About the Jurassic Period

About Fujianvenator Prodigiosus:

  • Classification:
    • Member of the avialans group, which includes all birds and their closest non-avian dinosaur relatives.
  • Survivor:
    • Birds, including Fujianvenator, managed to survive the asteroid strike 66 million years ago, which led to the extinction of their non-avian dinosaur counterparts.
  • Distinctive Features:
    • The lower leg bone (tibia) was twice as long as the thigh bone (femur), a unique trait among theropods.
    • Possessed a long bony tail.
    • Forelimb structure resembled a bird’s wing but had three claws on the fingers, which are not found in modern birds.

Key Facts About the Jurassic Period:

  • Period Classification:
    • The Jurassic Period is the second of three periods within the Mesozoic Era.
  • Time Period:
    • It occurred from approximately 201.3 million to 145 million years ago.
  • Chronological Context:
    • The Jurassic Period directly followed the Triassic Period (from 251.9 million to 201.3 million years ago).
    • It was succeeded by the Cretaceous Period (from 145 million to 66 million years ago).
  • Global Changes:
    • The Jurassic Period was marked by significant global changes in continental positions, ocean currents, and biological ecosystems.
  • Continental Drift:
    • During this period, the supercontinent Pangea began to break apart, leading to the eventual formation of the central Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

-Source: The Hindu

March 2024