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Insights Daily Current Events, 18 January 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 18 January 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

‘Balamrutam’ programme caught in bifurcation tangle

Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh has resulted in ‘Balamrutam’, a child nourishment programme, being put on the backburner.

  • The worst sufferers are children in the six months – six years age group in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
  • As many as 26.61 lakh children are affected by this.

About Balamrutam scheme:

In 2013, then government of united Andhra Pradesh had launched this project. Under this scheme, children enrolled with Anganwadis were given Balamrutam — a mixture of rice, wheat, red gram, millets and milk powder.

  • The project was aimed at supplying quality diet to infants enrolled in Anganwadi centres.
  • The scheme was meant for children aged between six months and six years and the government used to supply 100 grams of ‘Balamrutam’ for each child per day.

What has happened now?

  • AP Foods located in the present Telangana State was supplying ‘Balamrutam’ to the infants across the State.
  • In June 2014, Andhra Pradesh was divided and AP Foods was renamed Telangana Foods and supply of ‘Balamrutam’ has been stopped to AP since then. A similar organisation has not been created by AP so far.

Significance of this project:

  • Poor quality of diet was one among the reasons for the increasing Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in the country. IMR among infants below six months due to malnourishment was 129 in India, and 39 in Andhra Pradesh for every one lakh children, according to the records.

Many mothers in the state cannot afford to buy nutritious food for their infants from private shops. Hence, experts have requested the government to start AP Foods in Andhra Pradesh and revive the project immediately.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Boost to infrastructure

China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was formally opened by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing recently. The bank was formally established in December 2015.

Key facts:

  • The AIIB was established as a new multilateral financial institution aimed at providing “financial support for infrastructure development and regional connectivity in Asia.”
  • It was founded in October, 2014, and will have its headquarters in Beijing.
  • Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
  • The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China.
  • It has 57 member states.
  • The bank expects to lend $10 billion to $15 billion a year for the first five years of its operations, beginning in the second quarter of 2016.
  • Despite opposition from Washington, U.S. allies including Australia, Britain, German, Italy, the Philippines and South Korea have agreed to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in recognition of China’s growing economic clout.

sources: the hindu.


Topic: general awareness.

Anuradha Roy wins DSC Prize

Author Anuradha Roy has won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, 2016, for her novel Sleeping on Jupiter. The novel deals with violence against women.

About the Award:

  • The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is a literary prize awarded annually to writers of any ethnicity or nationality.
  • It is for an original full-length novel written in English, or translated into English.
  • The award carries a cash prize of $50,000 and a trophy.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

India elected to Board of Directors of China-backed AIIB

India’s Dinesh Sharma has been elected to the board of directors of the China-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). He has been elected to the 12-member board for which a secretballot was recently held.

  • With this, India will be the first board of directors for the new bank in which 57 members joined founding members.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

U.S. lifts sanctions on Iran

The U.S. has removed a wide range of sanctions against Iran after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran had met its commitments to roll back its nuclear programme, under an agreement with China, France, Russia, the U.K., the U.S. and Germany on July 14 last year.

  • With this, Iran joins US, UK, France, Germany, China, Russia and EU among peaceful users of nuclear energy.
  • It should be noted here that the U.S. has only removed secondary sanctions that restrict the dealings of other countries with Iran. Primary sanctions that bar U.S. citizens and companies from business with Iran will remain.

Significance of this decision:

  • The removal of restrictions on its oil, petrochemicals, banking, natural gas and port sectors will hugely benefit Iran and allow it to re-enter the global market.
  • Iran will be able to access the huge amount of cash it has accumulated overseas from restricted oil sales during the sanctions. Most of this money is sitting in China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.
  • This has also put out 400 Iranians and entities out of US Blocked Persons List.

Various actions undertaken by Iran include:

  • All the excess stockpile and nuclear parts are kept at an IAEA-monitored location.
  • Iran has reduced its enriched uranium stockpile.
  • It has reduced the number of installed centrifuges by two-thirds.

Benefits for India:

  • The lifting of the sanctions on Iran will benefit India with lower oil prices and more opportunities for trade. India reportedly owes Iran $6.5 billion for crude oil purchases, the payment of which has so far been held up due to the sanctions.
  • The lifting of sanctions also removes an important hurdle — U.S. pressure to hold off on the deal — in the proposed India-Iran gas pipeline.
  • One of the major construction projects in Iran that India has taken an interest in is the development of the Chabahar Port. Now Indian companies will be able to get contracts for this project.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

PM unveils liberal start-up ecosystem

PM Modi has unveiled the “Start-up India, Stand-up India” action plan to boost start-up ventures in the country. With this, the government seeks to infuse more energy into India’s start-up ecosystem.

What is Startup India, Standup India?

Organised by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), along with other key Indian startup ecosystem players, the Startup India, Standup India initiative aims to celebrate the country’s entrepreneurial spirit, and create a strong ecosystem for fostering innovation and startups in India.

Highlights of the Action plan:

  • A Rs. 10,000 crore fund for startups: The government will set up a fund with an initial corpus of Rs. 2,500 crore and a total corpus of Rs. 10,000 crore over a period of four years, which will be managed by a board with private professionals drawn from industry bodies, academia, and successful startups. The fund will participate in the capital of SEBI registered venture funds, and invest in sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, health, and education.
  • A single point of registration for startups: The government will launch a mobile app and a portal on April 1, which will enable startups to register their company in a day. The portal will also serve as a single point of contact for clearances, approvals and registrations, and for companies to apply for schemes under the Startup India Action Plan.
  • A simplified regulatory regime based on self-certification: To reduce the regulatory burden for startups, the government will allow startups to self-certify compliance on nine labour and environment laws through the startup mobile app. No inspections will be conducted in case of the labour laws for a period of three years.
  • A fast-track mechanism filing patent applications: Launched on a pilot basis for a year, the Central Government shall bear the cost of patents, trademarks and designs for a startup, with an 80% rebate to encourage the creation and protection of its intellectual property.
  • A credit guarantee fund for startups: A credit guarantee mechanism will help startups raise debt funding through the formal banking system through National Credit Guarantee Trust Company (NCGTC)/SIDBI, which has an annual corpus of Rs. 500 crore for the next four years.
  • Tax exemption for three years, and capital gains: Aimed at facilitating growth and help retain capital, startups will be exempted from income-tax for a period of three years. However, the exemption shall be available subject to non-distribution of dividend by the startup.
  • A Startup India Hub for collaboration: The Startup India Hub will serve as a single point of contact for startup ecosystem players, and will function in a hub and spoke model with central and state governments, Indian and foreign VCs, angel networks, banks, incubators, legal partners, consultants, universities and R&D institutions. The hub will assist startups in obtaining financing, and organise mentorship programs to encourage knowledge exchange.
  • Relaxed norms of public-procurement: The Central Government, State Government and PSUs will exempt startups in the manufacturing sector from the criteria of “prior experience/ turnover” as long as they have their own manufacturing facility in India, and have the requisite capabilities and are able to fulfil the project requirements.
  • Faster exits for startups: Startups may be wound up within a period of 90 days from making of an application for winding up on a fast track basis, as per the recently tabled Insolvency and Bankruptcy Bill 2015, which has provisions for voluntary closure of businesses. This process will respect the concept of limited liability.
  • Atal Innovation Mission to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation: The Atal Innovation Mission will establish sector specific incubators and 500 ‘Tinkering Labs’ to promote entrepreneurship, provide pre-incubation training and a seed fund for high-growth startups. Three innovation awards will be given per state and union territory, along with three national awards, as well as a Grand Innovation Challenge Award for finding ultra-low cost solutions for India.
  • Innovation focused programs for students: An innovation core program targeted at school kids aims to source 10 lakh innovations from five lakh schools, out of which the the best 100 would be shortlisted and showcased at an Annual Festival of Innovations, to be held in Rashtrapati Bhavan. A Grand Challenge program called NIDHI (National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations) shall be instituted through Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centres (IEDCs) to support and award INR 10 lakhs to 20 student innovations.
  • An annual incubator grand challenge: The government will identify and select ten incubators, evaluated on pre-defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as having the the potential to become world class, and give them Rs.10 crore each as financial assistance to ramp up their infrastructure.

sources: the hindu, pib.