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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 May 2015

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 May 2015


Ordinance route not possible for special category

Union Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu recently made it clear that it would not be possible for taking the ordinance route to give special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

  • The Minister also said that a detailed procedure had been laid down to grant special category status to States.
  • The process for granting special category status will be set in motion based on the recommendations of the National Development Council (NDC), and later, the bill has to get the approval of Parliament.
  • The NDC has bestowed special category status on as many as 11 States based on parameters like low resource base, hilly and difficult terrain, low population density or sizeable share of tribal population.

Special category states in India:

The decision to grant special category status to States lie with the National Development Council composed of the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and members of the Planning Commission.

  • Initially, three states namely Assam, Nagaland and Jammu & Kashmir were accorded special category status and later on eight other states were also given special category status namely: Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, and Sikkim and thus the list is now increased to eleven.

The bases on the basis of which NDC decides whether a State should be accorded special status or not includes:

  • hilly and difficult terrain.
  • low population density and or sizeable share of tribal population.
  • strategic location along borders with neighboring countries.
  • economic and infrastructure backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances.

Resource allocation:

  • At the time of resource allocation by the centre to States, these special category States are at a beneficial position. Based on the Report of Fifth Finance Commission, a formula was fixed for the distribution of resources between the states. This formula was named after the then deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Dr. Gadgil Mukherjee.
  • For allocation among special category states, there are no explicit criteria for distribution and funds are allocated on the basis of the state’s plan size and previous plan expenditures. Allocation between non special category states is determined by the Gadgil Mukherjee formula which gives weight to population (60%), per capita income (25%), fiscal performance (7.5%) and special problems (7.5%).
  • In order to achieve the status of a special category state, a state has to project itself as socioeconomically or strategically vulnerable state.
  • The Finance Commission is entrusted with the work of distribution of central tax revenues among states. The Finance Commission also recommends the principles governing non-plan grants and loans to states.
  • The special category states get 30% of the total assistance for all states while the other states share the remaining 70%.
  • The nature of the assistance also varies for special category states. Normal Central Assistance (NCA) is split into 90% grants and 10% loans for special category states, while the ratio between grants and loans is 30:70 for other states.

Sources: The Hindu, prsindia.



India grants e-visas for Chinese nationals

Prime Minister of India, during his Chinese tour, has announced that India has decided to extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals.

  • The Prime Minister also said that it was part of a concerted effort by Indian government to bring the world’s two largest populations in closer contact.
  • The e-visa facility would enable Chinese applicants to apply for visas online a few days before they travel.
  • The e-visa announcement will boost an MoU on tourism cooperation, as 2015 and 2016 have been designated ‘Visit India’ and ‘Visit China’ years respectively, given that Chinese tourists to India now number less than two lakh a year.


e-Tourist Visa Facility is available for holders of passport of over 40 eligible countries.

  • Validity of these Visas: Visas to be issued under this scheme will be for single-entry and valid for only 30 days’ stay from the date of arrival in India.
  • Entry into India must be through any of the nine designated airports.


  • International Travellers whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation , sight seeing , casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit.
  • Passport should have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India. The passport should have at least two blank pages for stamping by the Immigration Officer.
  • International Travellers should have return ticket or onward journey ticket,with sufficient money to spend during his/her stay in India.

Non Eligible:

  • Not available to Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders.
  • Not available to individuals endorsed on Parent’s/Spouse’s Passport i.e. each individual should have a separate passport.
  • Not available to International Travel Document Holders.

Sources: The Hindu,


Manipur’s Ngapang revealed to world as new catfish species

Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new species of catfish, Glyptothorax senapatiensis , in the Chindwin river drainage in Senapati district of Manipur.

About the Fish:

  • It is a small but edible fish with high nutritional value and a lot of oil content.
  • The fish has a thoracic adhesive apparatus that helps it cling on to the rocky riverbed in mountains against strong currents. All Glyptothorax-genus fish have this characteristic.

Manipur has a high diversity of aquatic fauna because of the two important river drainage systems. The western half is fed by the Barak-Brahmaputra drainage and the eastern and central valleys are crisscrossed by the Chindwin river drainage, and these account for the variety in the aquatic fauna.

Sources: The Hindu.


IS seizes Ramadi, closes in on Palmyra

Extremists from the Islamic State group have closed in on Syria’s ancient metropolis of Palmyra.

  • Jihadist fighters have advanced to within one km of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site featuring Roman colonnades and an impressive necropolis.

UNESCO world heritage site:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance.

  • The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  • Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
  • The List of recorded sites on the World Heritage now stands at 981 which include both cultural and natural wonders.
  • Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 50 sites.

Selection criteria:

Until the end of 2004, there were six criteria for cultural heritage and four criteria for natural heritage. In 2005, this was modified so that there is only one set of ten criteria. Nominated sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one of the ten criteria.

Cultural criteria:

  • represents a masterpiece of human creative genius and cultural significance.
  • exhibits an important interchange of human values, over a span of time, or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning, or landscape design.
  • to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
  • is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural, or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history.
  • is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture, or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
  • is directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance.

Natural criteria:

  • contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
  • is an outstanding example representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.
  • is an outstanding example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems, and communities of plants and animals.
  • contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.


There are 32 World Heritage Properties in India out of which 25 are Cultural Properties and 7 are Natural Properties.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, UNESCO.

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