Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Sarat Chandra IAS Current Affairs of 6th December 2020


Sarat Chandra IAS Academy brings to you the daily current affairs keeping in mind the changing pattern of the UPSC civil services exam. UPSC Prelims and Mains exams mix the current affairs with static core concepts. So, we give the background explanation for every current topic



  3. The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP)
  4. Government approves Deputy Chief of Strategy post
  5. Malayan Giant Squirrel



Relevant to: Prelims GS

Context: On the occasion of ‘Navy Day’, the Indian Navy on 4th Dec. began a two-day Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Russian Federation Navy (RuFN) in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region (IOR).


  • The exercise involves the participation of RuFN guided-missile cruiser Varyag, the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev and medium ocean tanker Pechenga.
  • Indian Navy is being represented by indigenously constructed guided-missile frigate
  • Shivalik and anti-submarine corvette Kadmatt along with integral helicopters.
  • AIM : The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability, improving understanding and imbibing best practices between both the navies.


  • PASSEXs are conducted regularly by IN with units of friendly foreign navies, whilst visiting each other’s ports or during a rendezvous at sea.
  • This exercise, being conducted in the Eastern Indian Ocean Region, reflects the strong long-term strategic relationship between the two countries and particularly, defense cooperation in the maritime domain
  • India and Russia conduct their major `Indra’ naval exercise biennially, with the last edition being held in the northern IOR in September this year
  • The two countries also undertook their first tri-Service Indra exercise, with participation from the two armies, navies and air forces, at Vladivostok in October 2017. The second edition was held in India in December 2019.
    Navy Day is celebrated every year on December 4 to commemorate the Indian Navy’s achievement in inflicting heavy damage on Pakistani vessels in Karachi harbor during the India-Pakistan war in 1971.



Relevant to: Prelims GS

Context: The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) at its ongoing 63rd session, voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, decades after they were first placed on the list. GLOBAL DECISION

  • The 53-member CND has chosen to affirm a World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation from 2019 to remove cannabis from its ‘most dangerous’ category, with 27
  • Member States voting in favour, 25 against, and one abstention. India was part of the voting majority, along with the US and most European nations.
  • China, Pakistan and Russia were among those who voted against, and Ukraine abstained.


Currently in India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, illegalizes any mixture with or without any neutral material, of any of the two forms of cannabis – charas and ganja — or any drink prepared from it.


According to the WHO, cannabis is a generic term used to denote the several psychoactive preparations of the plant Cannabis sativa.

The major psychoactive constituent in cannabis is Delta-9 tetra hydro cannabinol (THC).

The Mexican name ‘marijuana‘is frequently used in referring to cannabis leaves or other crude plant material in many countries.

Most species of cannabis are dioecious plants that can be identified as either male or female. • The unpollinated female plants are called hashish.

Cannabis oil (hashish oil) is a concentrate of cannabinoids — compounds which are structurally similar to THC — obtained by solvent extraction of the crude plant material or of the resin.

The WHO says that cannabis is by far the most widely cultivated, trafficked and abused illicit drug in the world.


An important emphasis of the UN was that the reclassification of cannabis could “act as catalyst for countries to legalize the drug for medicinal use, and reconsider laws on its recreational use”.


  • The Vienna-based CND, founded in 1946, is the UN agency mandated to decide on the scope of control of substances by placing them in the schedules of global drug control conventions.
  • Cannabis has been on Schedule IV (the most dangerous category) of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs for as long as the international treaty has existed.
  • Currently, over 50 countries allow medicinal cannabis programs, and its recreational use has been legalised in Canada, Uruguay and 15 US states.


  • The reclassification of cannabis by the UN agency, although significant, would not immediately change its status worldwide as long as individual countries continue with existing regulations.
  • As per drug policy experts, the CND decision would add momentum to efforts for decriminalising cannabis in countries where its use is most restricted, while further legalising the substance in others.
  • Scientific research into marijuana’s medicinal properties is also expected to grow.


3)The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP):

Relevant to: Prelims GS

Context: The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) has recently mapped over three million galaxies in a record 300 hours during its first all-sky survey.

ASKAP is a powerful telescope developed and operated by Australia’s science agency CSIRO.

Key points

  • ASKAP is currently conducting pilot surveys of the sky before it can begin large-scale projects from 2021 onward.
  • ASKAP surveys are designed to map the structure and evolution of the Universe, which it does by observing galaxies and the hydrogen gas that they contain.
  • One of its most important features is its wide field of view.
  • It has been able to take panoramic pictures of the sky in great detail.
  • The telescope uses novel technology of a “radio camera” to achieve high survey speeds and consists of 36 dish antennas, which are each 12m in diameter.
  • The present Rapid ASKAP Continuum Survey (RACS) taken by the ASKAP telescope is like a “Google map” of the Universe where most of the millions of star-like points are distant galaxies, about a million of which have not been seen before


4) Government approves Deputy Chief of Strategy post:

Relevant to: Prelims GS

Context: A major restructure at the Army Headquarters has finally been approved by the government.

Key takeaways

  • The government has given its nod to create the position of a third Deputy Chief of Army.
  • He will act as a “single-point advice” person to the Vice Chief of Army on operational issues.
  • He will head operations, intelligence, perspective and information warfare.
  • The Directorate General of Military Operations and the Directorate General of Military Intelligence, both headed by Lieutenant General-rank officers, will be under him.
  • Two new offices, for Perspective Planning and Strategic Communications, which will also be headed by director generals of Lt Gen-rank, will also come under the new Deputy Chief.
  • The changes will start rolling out immediately.
  • Current DGMO Lt Gen Paramjit Singh is likely to be appointed the first Deputy Chief (Strategy).


5) Malayan Giant Squirrel:

Relevant to: Prelims GS

Context: A recent study by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has projected that numbers of the Malayan Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor) could decline by 90% in India by 2050.

Ministry: Ministry of Environment

Key takeaways

  • According to the ZSI, destruction of its habitat could restrict the squirrel to only southern Sikkim and North Bengal by 2050,.
  • Only 43.38% of the squirrel’s original habitat in India is now favourable to it
  • By 2050, the favourable zone could shrink to 2.94% of the area the species was meant to inhabit.
  • The Malayan Giant Squirrel is one of the world’s largest squirrel species.
  • It has a dark upper body, pale under parts, and a long, bushy tail.
  • IUCN Status: Near Threatened
  • It is protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act.
  • Found in India: West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Nagaland.
  • Other Countries: Southern China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Burma, the Malayan Peninsula, Sumatra, and Java.
  • It is found mostly in evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, from plains to hills at elevations of 50 m to 1,500 m above sea level.

Do you know?

  • India is home to three giant squirrel species.
  • The other two – Indian Giant Squirrel and Grizzled Giant Squirrel – are found in peninsular India.
  • Unlike the nocturnal flying squirrels, giant squirrels are diurnal, but arboreal (tree-dwelling) and herbivorous like the flying squirrels.


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