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Insights Daily Current Events, 21 January 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 21 January 2016


Paper 1 Topic: Salient features of Indian Society.

India slips to 89th rank on global talent competitiveness

India is ranked at the 89th position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) for the year 2015-16.

  • The list has been compiled by the INSEAD business school, in partnership with Adecco and Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI).
  • It is released every year on the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting.

What do we understand by this index?

The Global Talent Competitiveness index measures a nation’s competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain.

Performance of other countries:

  • Among the 109 countries, Switzerland ranked at the first position in the list. The List is dominated by the European countries.
  • The other countries that ranked at the top positions are Singapore at second, Luxembourg at third, the United States of America at fourth and Denmark at fifth.
  • The countries featuring at the bottom of the index are Mali (105), Tanzania (106), Ethiopia (107), Burkina Faso (108) and Madagascar (109).

What does India’s rank indicate?

  • Last year, India was placed at the 78th This year, it has slipped 11 places. According to the list, a lower position indicates a sharp shortage of skilled workforce
  • It reflects an acute shortage of skilled labour force and difficult business conditions.
  • India’s ranking is worst among the five BRICS countries, with China leading the pack with a global rank of 48.
  • India’s position also reflects skill shortage in vocational talent.
  • Another challenge for India is to attract talent from abroad, particularly in the context of large emigration rates of high-skilled people in the past.
  • In terms of Attract, India shows one of the worst scores (103rd) – particularly affected by the lack of international students.

The report noted that the improvement of India would have the greatest impact in terms of the pool of talent not only in the region but also globally.

End note:

According to the report, it is mobility which has become a key ingredient of talent development. It says that creative talent cannot be fully developed if international mobility and ‘brain circulation’ are not encouraged.

sources: the Hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: space.

Isro successfully launches India’s fifth navigation satellite IRNSS-1E

In its first launch this year, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has successfully put the IRNSS-1E in orbit using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-31.

  • The 1,425 kg satellite was the fifth to be launched as part of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) which will consist of a constellation of seven satellites.
  • IRNSS-1E carried navigation and ranging payloads, including a rubidium atomic clock, C-band transponder and corner cube retro reflectors for laser ranging.

When other satellites were launched?

The other four satellites IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C and ID, the first four satellites of the constellation, were successfully launched by PSLV on 2 July 2013, 4 April 2014, 16 October 2014 and 28 March 2015, respectively.

  • According to the National Space Agency, all the four satellites are functioning satisfactorily from their designated orbital positions.

About IRNSS:

What is it?

IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland.

What all services are provided?

IRNSS would provide two types of services, namely Standard Positioning Services available to all users and Restricted Services provided to authorised users.

How many more satellites to be launched?

As of now, 5 satellites are launched out of total 7. The last two satellites are scheduled to be launched this year, which will make the IRNSS functional.

Significance of IRNSS:

Once fully operational, the National Space Agency is aiming to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign navigational systems such as the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS.

Applications of IRNSS:

  • Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation.
  • Disaster Management.
  • Vehicle tracking and fleet management.
  • Integration with mobile phones.
  • Precise Timing.
  • Mapping and Geodetic data capture.
  • Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travelers.
  • Visual and voice navigation for drivers.


Other Global Navigational Systems:

  • As of April 2013, only the United States NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS are global operational GNSSs.
  • China is in the process of expanding its regional Beidou navigation system into the global Compass navigation system by 2020.
  • The European Union’s Galileo positioning system is a GNSS in initial deployment phase, scheduled to be fully operational by 2020 at the earliest.
  • France (DORIS), India, and Japan are in the process of developing regional navigation systems.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Rupee slumps to touch pre-Rajan era level as bears grip stocks

India’s benchmark equity indices have fallen to their lowest levels in 20 months. The rupee has breached the 68-a-dollar mark for the first time since August 2013.

  • It closed at a record low of 68.85 a dollar on August 28, 2013, just days before Raghuram Rajan took charge as RBI Governor.


Concerns about a global economic slowdown amid slumping commodity prices and a weakening rupee have spurred investors to sell shares. This has led to the fall.

Road ahead?

  • Sensing the urgency, the RBI intervened in both the currency futures as well as in the spot market. The intention of the central bank is not to allow the rupee to depreciate at a fast pace.
  • The central bank always maintains that it intervenes to curb volatility and does not target any level for the rupee.

Performance of Rupee:

  • The rupee has weakened 2.74% so far this year after declining more than 5% in 2015.
  • Still, the Indian currency has performed better than its emerging market peers from Russia, Brazil and South Africa. However, going forward, there could be more pressure on the rupee.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

China’s slowdown spooks CEOs at Davos

A survey of over 1,400 CEOs released recently, on the eve of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, paints a gloomy picture, as corporate leaders contemplate a rising tide of threats. According to the survey, confidence about near-term sales growth among chief executives around the world has fallen to its lowest level in six years.


It is mainly because of China’s economic engine slowdown and a slump in oil prices.

Other concerns raised by the CEOs:

  • Despite the trillions of dollars of stimulus and ultra-easy money that central banks have pumped into the system since the 2008 financial crash, just 27% of CEOs expect global economic growth to improve over the next 12 months, compared with 37% at the same time last year.
  • China, whose demand helped bring the world back from the brink last time around, is at the centre of concerns. It is because, china, being the second largest economy in the world, until now has seen very, very good growth rates when many others were really struggling. But, now it is seeing a real slowdown.
  • The latest official data showed China’s growth in 2015 was 6.9%, the lowest in a quarter of a century, adding to problems facing the government as it tries to transition from a centrally planned to a more market-oriented economy.
  • There are also big concerns with regard to currency and the stock market.
  • Only 35% of CEOs in the survey said they were “very confident” of growing their company’s revenue in the next 12 months, down from 39% in 2015 and the lowest reading since 2010.

However, India was a rare bright spot among major economies in bucking the downbeat mood, with confidence in short-term sales growth rising to 64% from 62%.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Child stunting declines, but still high, data show

NFHS-4 data, the first official data in over a decade, released recently shows that Indian states have seen some improvements in child nutrition over the last decade, but over one in three children is still stunted, and over one in five underweight.

Key facts from the report:

  • As of 2005-6, India had 62 million stunted children, accounting for a third of the world’s burden of stunting.
  • The new NFHS-4 data for 15 states shows that 37% of children under the age of five in these states are stunted. This indicates a fall of just 5% points in a decade. Bihar and Madhya Pradesh are the worst off, with 48 and 42% respectively of children stunted.
  • The proportion of underweight children has reduced equally slowly, from 39% to 34%, with Bihar and Madhya Pradesh the worst off again.
  • India has also failed to make progress on reducing anaemia. The proportion of anaemic children aged 6 to 59 months fell just five percentage points to 61% in 2014, and over half of women aged 15-49 are still anaemic.
  • Of all men aged 15-49, a quarter are suffering from anaemia, as was in 2004. Haryana has the highest proportion of anaemic children (72%) and women (63%) while in Bihar and Meghalaya, one in three men are anaemic, the highest in the country.
  • The one success has been in the area of child wasting (low weight for height). The states for which data is available have more than halved their proportion of wasted children in the last decade, from 48% to 22%. The proportions of adult men and women with below normal Body Mass Index have also declined.

nutrition india

What can we conclude?

It should be noted here that the data released so far covers only half the country and does not include high-performing states in the north-east, Kerala and Maharashtra. Hence, it’s hard to paint a complete story yet.

sources: the hindu.


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

Women having babies through surrogacy to get childcare leave

The Maharashtra government has sanctioned a special childcare leave provision for its women employees who have had a child through a surrogate.

Current situation:

Currently, women employees who have a biological child get 180 days of maternity leave. Adoptive mothers get 90 days of childcare leave.

  • In the past, women employees who went for surrogacy had to take legal recourse to get their due maternity leaves.
  • In August 2015, granting respite to a 48-year-old teacher, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court had ruled that even a mother getting a child through surrogacy is entitled to maternity leave. The Delhi High Court had also given a similar ruling on July 18, 2015.


  • This is first time women opting for a child through surrogacy have been granted ‘special leave’. This leave will be of 180 days.
  • According to the government notification, those women seeking leave will have to submit an application with an agreement of surrogacy, and certification from a doctor confirming that Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) documents on surrogacy and guidelines have been adequately met.
  • The employees should demand for the leave in advance and submit proper documents of the surrogacy process like agreement and doctor’s certificate. The leave is applicable from the birth of the child and can be availed only once.

What has the DoPT said?

The Union Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which frames employment rules for government employees, had, in January 2015, framed a memorandum saying women employees using surrogate mothers to carry their babies would not be allowed maternity leave or pay, while they could still avail childcare leave to look after their newborn. Maharashtra government’s order is in contradiction to this memorandum.

Surrogate pregnancy: In surrogate pregnancy, the fertilised eggs of biological mothers are implanted in the womb of another woman, who then undergoes the pregnancy.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources. 

Widespread lack of HIV awareness among Indian adults

The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data findings, released by the Health Ministry, reveal widespread ignorance about HIV/AIDS among adults in India.

Key figures:

  • According to the latest data, nearly 82% women and nearly 70% men — in the 13 States surveyed under phase 1 of NFHS4 — lacked comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS and safe sex practices.
  • The pattern is, worryingly, seen even in high burden States with the most drastic fall coming from Andhra Pradesh. As per the data, only 56% men and 29% women know about HIV — a staggering fall from a 2005 data when 93% in men and 74% in women in the State had comprehensive knowledge.
  • With a prevalence of 0.59%, Andhra Pradesh shoulders the third highest HIV burden in India — way above the national average of 0.35%.

Reasons for lack of awareness:

According to experts, this is a direct result of budget cuts, with IEC (information, education and communication) measures and targeted intervention activities coming to a screeching halt. Due to budget cuts in the past couple of years, IEC activities have suffered.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: biodiversity.

New class of frogs found in the north-east

A new class of frogs has been discovered in the North-East. The discovery has been made by an international team of researchers led by a Delhi University-based scientist.


  • The new frog has been christened Frankixalus Jerdonii and was once considered a species lost to science.
  • These newly found frogs grow in tree holes and, as tadpoles feed on eggs laid by their mother.
  • This genus remained unnoticed by researchers probably because of its secretive life in tree holes.
  • These new frogs are relatively large (between 37–50 mm long) with big, bulging eyes and blunt snouts and are found on forest canopies and inside bamboos slits.
  • Due to insufficient food resources in tree holes, the mother exhibits “remarkable parental care” by laying unfertilised eggs to feed her tadpoles.
  • Tree frogs occur across sub-Saharan Africa, China, much of tropical Asia, Japan, the Philippines and Sulawesi.

In the last two decades, India has reported a rapid rise in the discovery of frog species from the Western Ghats and, more recently, the north-eastern States.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

Photonics to drive terabit chips

Scientists from the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru are working on two projects in the area of photonic integrated circuits.

  • Researchers and scientists at CeNSE are building a next-generation processor, in which each unit is still electrical. The processor has millions of transistors connected with copper lines.

What changes are they planning to introduce?

Researchers are planning to replace the copper lines with photonic components. This is being tried under a project supported by the Defence of Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Under this project, scientists are trying to develop indigenous technology for high-speed optical interconnect technology. CeNSe has received a Rs. 5-crore grant from the DRDO for the three-year project.

What is photonics?

According to Wiki, Photonics is the science of light (photon) generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and detection/sensing.

How would it help?

The copper wires/interconnect create a bottleneck for data transfer, but the new project, will exploit high-speed Silicon photonics to improve data transfer between the core and the memory exponentially. It would exponentially improve the power of microprocessors.

How photonic applications operate?

Photonic applications use the photon in the same way that electronic applications use the electron.


  • Devices that run on light have a number of advantages over those that use electricity. Light travels at about 10 times the speed that electricity does, which means (among other things) that data transmitted photonically can travel long distances in a fraction of the time.
  • Furthermore, visible-light and infrared (IR) beams, unlike electric currents, pass through each other without interacting, so they don’t cause interference.
  • A single optical fibre has the capacity to carry three million telephone calls simultaneously.

Among the large number of current or possible photonic applications are: photonic switching, silicon photonics, photonic networks, and the photonic computer.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure-energy.

Cabinet nod for power tariff policy

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Power for amendments in the Tariff Policy.

  • For the first time a holistic view of the power sector has been taken and comprehensive amendments have been made in the Tariff policy 2006.

The amendments are also aimed at achieving the objectives of Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) with the focus on 4 Es: Electricity for all, Efficiency to ensure affordable tariffs, Environment for a sustainable future, Ease of doing business to attract investments and ensure financial viability.

Highlights of Amendments are:

  • In a major shift, power companies are allowed to pass costs on to consumers arising out of any changes in taxes, cesses and levies levied on them.
  • The policy also seeks to “create a win-win between the generator, utilities and consumers” by allowing power generators to sell their surplus power on the power exchange and sharing the proceeds with the state government.
  • The amended tariff policy also imposes a renewable energy obligation on new coal or lignite-based thermal plants, requiring them to establish or purchase renewable capacity alongside their own generation units. This provision is very important as it will be a big boost for renewable energy. But the other side is that it could add to generating companies’ stress.
  • The new policy also mandates that no inter-state transmission charges will be levied until a time to be specified by the government. The signal from such a move towards compulsory generation and procurement of renewable power by coal-based plants is a clear directional shift to renewables.
  • To encourage efficiency, the policy allows power producers to expand up to double their capacity through the automatic route, at their existing unit locations. This automatic approval was earlier limited to 50% capacity expansions.
  • Further, the tariffs for multi-state power projects will be determined by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, thereby removing a major point of uncertainty to do with such projects.
  • The amended policy also said that the power regulator has to come up with a clear action plan to ensure 24×7 power supply to all consumers by 2021-22 or earlier.
  • Towards the power for all initiative, the policy enables the creation of micro-grids in remote villages as yet unconnected to the grid, and also says that these micro-grids can sell their surplus power to the grid when it reaches those areas.

How would these amendments benefit consumers?

  • These amendments will benefit power consumers in multiple ways. While reducing the cost of power through efficiency, they will spur renewable power for a cleaner environment and protect India’s energy security.
  • They would also aid the objectives of Swachh Bharat Mission as well as Namami Gange Mission through conversion of waste to energy, usage of sewage water for generation and in turn ensure that clean water is available for drinking and irrigation.
  • These amendments will ensure availability of electricity to consumers at reasonable and competitive rates, improve ease of doing business to ensure financial viability of the sector and attract investments, promote transparency, consistency and predictability in regulatory approaches across jurisdictions.
  • It will further facilitate competition, efficiency in operations and improvement in quality of supply of electricity.
  • These holistic amendments to Power Tariff Policy which complement schemes like UDAY will ensure the realization 24X7 affordable power for all.

sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Cabinet approves policy on Promotion of City Compost

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for a Policy on Promotion of City Compost.

  • The policy primarily seeks to promote the use of city compost by bringing better coordination among various government departments and agencies.

Features of the new policy:

  • Under the policy, a provision has been made for market development assistance of 1500 rupees per tonne of city compost for scaling up production and consumption of the product. Market development assistance would lower MRP of city compost for farmers.
  • Fertilizer companies and marketing entities will also co-market city compost with chemical fertilizers through their dealers’ network.
  • The companies will also adopt villages for promoting the use of compost. Government Departments and Public Sector undertakings will also use city compost for their horticulture and related uses.
  • Concerned Ministry/Department will carry out IEC campaigns to educate farmers on the benefits of city compost and will take steps to increase setting up of compost plants across all States.
  • Eco-Mark standard will be specified for city compost that would ensure that environment friendly quality product reaches the farmers.
  • Agriculture Universities and KVKs will also take up field demonstration activities using City compost for which Department of Agriculture (DoA), Cooperation and Farmers Welfare will assign targets to them.
  • A joint mechanism will be set up by Department of Fertilizers, Ministry of Urban Development and DoA to monitor and facilitate availability of adequate quantity of city compost at terms mutually agreeable between compost manufacturers and fertilizer marketing companies.

Benefits of the new policy:

  • Compost from city garbage would not only provide carbon and primary/secondary nutrients to soil but also help in keeping the city clean.
  • Composting can reduce the volume of waste to landfill/dumpsite by converting the waste into useful by-products.
  • This also prevents production of harmful greenhouse gases (especially methane) and toxic material that pollutes groundwater apart from polluting the environment.
  • City Waste composting would also generate employment in urban areas.

sources: pib.


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

Memorandum of Understanding between India and United Kingdom in the field of Public Administration and Governance Reforms

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in November, 2015 between India, and United Kingdom for Cooperation in Public Administration and Governance Reforms.


  • The form of co-operation under the MoU will be in areas like sharing good governance practices in public administration, User led service design, Reducing bureaucracy in service delivery, Government Process Re-engineering, Building and developing staff capability, Public Grievance Redress Mechanism, Local Government Reforms etc.
  • The MoU will help in understanding the system of customer oriented public service delivery in UK with reference to rapidly changing environments in the area of public service management and enable in replicating, adapting and innovating some of the best practices and processes in the Indian Public Service Delivery System, leading to improved public service delivery in India.
  • A Joint Working Group on Public Administration and Governance will be responsible for implementation of the MoU.

The First Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is scheduled to be held later this month in London.


As part of its efforts in seeking international collaboration for initiatives in Good Governance and Administrative reforms, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) has so far entered into bilateral MoU with China, Malaysia, Singapore and with Brazil and South Africa (trilateral). The recent MoU with United Kingdom is a step in that direction as UK also ranks high in the UN E-Government Survey.

sources: pib.