24th January – Prelims Booster

Centre seeks guidelines on execution of convicts

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has moved the Supreme Court to frame guidelines to execute death penalty of condemned prisoners within seven days of rejection of their mercy petitions.

Details –

  • The MHA filed an application in the court to seek “appropriate clarification/modification and directions” in the 2014 Shatrughan Singh Chauhan and another vs Union of India judgment that defined the procedure to be adopted in cases of prisoners on death row.
  • It sought a direction that “if the convict of death sentence wants to file mercy petition, it would be mandatory to do so only within a period of seven days from the date of receipt of death warrant issued by the competent court.


The existing guidelines, the Ministry said, are “accused-centric”. These guidelines do not take into account an irreparable mental trauma, agony, upheaval and derangement of the victims and their family members, the collective conscience of the nation and the deterrent effect which the capital punishment intends to make.

India drops 10 ranks in democracy index

The latest edition of the Democracy Index spells gloom for India. The world’s biggest democracy slipped 10 places in the 2019 global ranking to 51st place.

Details –

  • The report, “A year of democratic setbacks and popular protest”, was done by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
  • The survey attributes the primary cause of “the democratic regression” to “an erosion of civil liberties in the country”.
  • India’s overall score fell from 7.23 to 6.9, on a scale of 0-10, within a year (20182019) — the country’s lowest since 2006.
  • India was graded in electoral process and pluralism (8.67), government functioning (6.79), political participation (6.67), political culture (5.63) and civil liberties (6.76).
  • The Index also categorises India under “flawed democracies”, countries that hold free and fair elections and where basic civil liberties are respected, but have significant weaknesses in aspects of democracy, such as problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.
  • According to the report, there are only 22 “full democracies” as compared to 54 “authoritarian regimes” and as many “flawed democracies,” that include the U.S.

Tirumurai recital to mark Big Temple consecration

Apart from Sanskrit invocations, Tirumurai, a Tamil compendium of hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, will be recited on the day of consecration of the Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur.

What is Tirumurai?

From the fifth to the ninth centuries many great Shaiva saints like Sambandar Appar and Sundarar flourished in South India whose hymns constitute a magnificently rich devotional literature. The collection of these hymns is called Tirumurai.

Certificates of Competency for Seafarers

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for the Model Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for unilateral/bilateral recognition of Certificates, pursuant to Regulation 1/10 of International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers, 1978.


  • The unilateral MoU would facilitate unilateral recognition by another country of the certificates issued by the Directorate General of Shipping to Indian seafarers, without seeking similar recognition by India of the certificates issued by that country.
  • Indian Seafarers, therefore, will be eligible to be placed on ships under the flag of that country for employment, thus leading to increased employment opportunities.
  • The proposed bilateral MoU will enable India and another country with which such an MoU may be entered, to mutually recognise maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, documentary evidence of training and medical fitness certificates.
  • The bilateral MoU would therefore, make the seafarers of both the countries to be eligible for employment on ships of either party based on the certificates so recognised.

India achieves complete phase out of ozone depleting chemical

India has successfully achieved the complete phase out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141 b, which is a chemical used by foam manufacturing enterprises and one of the most potent ozone depleting chemical after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Details –

India is one among the few countries globally and a pioneer in some cases in the use of technologies, which are non-Ozone Depleting and have a low Global Warming Potential (GWP).

About HCFC-141 b –

  • (HCFC)-141 b is used mainly as a blowing agent in the production of rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.
  • The polyurethane foam sector has links with important economic sectors related to buildings, cold storages and cold chain infrastructure, automobiles, commercial refrigeration, domestic appliances such as refrigerators, water geysers, thermo ware, office and domestic furniture applications, specific high value niche applications etc.
  • HCFC-141b is not produced in the country and all the domestic requirements are met through imports.


The phase out of HCFC-141b from the country has twin environmental benefits viz.

  • assisting the healing of the stratospheric ozone layer, and
  • towards the climate change mitigation due to transitioning of foam manufacturing enterprises at this scale under HPMP to low global warming potential alternative technologies.

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