Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Events, 20 February 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 20 February 2016



Paper 1 Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

PETA moves HC against Kambala

The High Court of Karnataka has ordered issue of notices to the Union and State governments on a PIL petition, which questioned the conditional permission granted for organising Kambala, a traditional slush track buffalo race practised in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts.

  • The petition was filed by PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals).


  • The Department of Animal Husbandry in December, 2015, granted permission for Kambala on certain conditions, which were imposed by the High Court in its 2014 interim order.
  • The High Court had said that there was no “scientific report to access whether Kambala amounts to cruelty as per the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act.”
  • Later, a three-member expert committee gave its view on Kambala and pointed out that basically Kambala does not involve any violence on animals and instances like beating of buffaloes are preventable through proper education and disqualification for such acts.

Petitioner’s arguments:

  • The petitioner claims that Kambala is similar to Jalikattu and bullock-cart race, which were banned by the apex court as well as the notification issued by the Centre in July 11, 2011.
  • The petitioner also questions the report of the expert committee while contending that the report did not contain scientific assessment of welfare of buffaloes, besides failing to take note of the cruelty inflicted on buffaloes for forcing them to participate in the race.

The petitioner has sought a direction from the court to prohibit Kambala on the lines of Jalikattu.


Kambala is an annual Buffalo Race held traditionally under the auspices of local land lords and households or Patel of village, in coastal Karnataka, India. The Kambala season generally starts in November and lasts until March.

Salient features:

  • The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair raced in wet rice fields, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
  • The ‘track’ used for Kambala is a paddy field filled with slush and mud.
  • The “Kambala Committee” is formed and it usually arranges Kambala in several categories.
  • People place massive bets on the buffaloes to win and one can witness more than 20,000 spectators in a well-organised Kambala, egging on and cheering the buffaloes to complete the race.
  • In traditional form of Kambala, racing is non-competitive, and buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields.
  • A ritualistic approach is also there, as some agriculturists race their buffaloes for thanks giving (to god) for protecting their animals from diseases.
  • The buffaloes developed for the race are carefully fed and some owners of the buffaloes have even built separate swimming pool for competing buffaloes.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: indigenization of technology.

GSLV-MkIII on course as cryo engine passes big test

India’s GSLV-Mark III project aimed at carrying four-tonne payloads, including future manned missions, has got a boost with Isro’s recent successful test-firing. The indigenous high-thrust cryogenic rocket engine was tested for more than its full duration.

  • ISRO has indicated that the next step would be high-altitude tests by simulating low pressure atmospheric conditions on ground to see how the engine behaves.

About GSLV Mk III:

  • The GSLV-III or Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, is a launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organization.
  • GSLV Mk III is conceived and designed to make ISRO fully self reliant in launching heavier communication satellites of INSAT-4 class, which weigh 4500 to 5000 kg.
  • It would also enhance the capability of the country to be a competitive player in the multimillion dollar commercial launch market. The vehicle envisages multi-mission launch capability for GTO, LEO, Polar and intermediate circular orbits.
  • GSLV-Mk III is designed to be a three stage vehicle, with 42.4 m tall with a lift off weight of 630 tonnes. First stage comprises two identical S200 Large Solid Booster (LSB) with 200 tonne solid propellant, that are strapped on to the second stage, the L110 re-startable liquid stage. The third stage is the C25 LOX/LH2 cryo stage. The large payload fairing measures 5 m in diameter and can accommodate a payload volume of 100 cu m.
  • The GSLV-III features an Indian cryogenic third stage and a higher payload capacity than the current GSLV.

Why cryogenic engine?

  • A cryogenic engine is more efficient as it provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant burnt.
  • Cryogenic fuels are also very clean as they give out only water while burning.

A cryogenic fuel includes the gases liquefied at a very low temperature.

sources: the hindu.


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

US imposes new sanctions on North Korea

The US has imposed new sanctions against North Korea for testing a nuclear device on January 6, 2016 and launching a satellite on February 7, 2016 using ballistic missile technology.

Intention behind these sanctions:

  • New unilateral sanctions by the U.S. seek to sharpen and expand the scope of existing sanctions against the North.
  • The measure is also meant to compel American allies to enact similarly tough restrictions on North Korea to further isolate the country.


  • The new sanctions regime will require the President to mandatorily investigate and designate persons and entities for violations. The law will also give more tools to the administration to enforce secondary sanctions — which are restrictions on a third country from doing business with the North.
  • The new move also now covers some activity not targeted for sanctions before, such as North Korea’s metal and coal exports, and gives the U.S. government greater tools to implement so-called secondary sanctions.
  • The new sanctions would also freeze the assets of anyone doing business related to North Korea’s nuclear or weapons programs or is involved in human rights abuses in the country.

China’s stand:

Tough new multilateral sanctions have been held up at the United Nations Security Council over disagreements between China and other nations. China, a longtime sponsor of North Korea, has expressed concerns about measures that it worries could debilitate North Korea’s economy.


Since North Korean entities are often difficult to sanction directly, this could be a more effective way to cut off North Korea’s third country support networks, streams of foreign revenue, and supply chains.

Way ahead:

With China opposed to it, the efficacy of the move remains ambiguous at best. Despite intense U.S. diplomatic efforts, including a visit by Secretary of State John Kerry to China in the last week of January, there has been no agreement between the two countries on the nature of the measures to be taken against a defiant North. As a result, negotiations at the U.N. for new multilateral sanctions are stuck. China has opposed the unilateral sanctions announced by the U.S.


Previous executive orders, and other pieces of Congressional legislation, covered many of the sanctioned activities contained in the new law. However, sanctions designations were largely discretionary in the hands of the President, State Department, and Treasury Department.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Resource mobilization

GST Committee: Amit Mitra named chairman

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra has been appointed as the new chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on Goods and Services Tax (GST).

  • He was elected at a recent meeting of state finance ministers that was also attended by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
  • He will succeed Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani who had to resign in November over corruption charges.
  • He will be the second chairman of the panel, tasked with framing rules for roll out of the ambitious GST regime, which will subsume all indirect taxes and create one national market, from West Bengal.

The absence of a chairman of the Empowered Committee had derailed its meetings where key issues on the proposed laws and rules were to be discussed.


The goods and services tax (GST) is a comprehensive value-added tax (VAT) on goods and services. It is an indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at a national level.

  • GST is essentially a tax on value addition, and there is seamless transfer of input tax credit across the value chain.
  • Under GST, the taxation burden will be divided equitably between manufacturing and services, through a lower tax rate by increasing the tax base and minimizing exemptions. Currently, a manufacturer needs to pay tax when a finished product moves out from a factory, and it is again taxed at the retail outlet when sold.

sources: the hindu.


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

India and Armenia Sign MoU on Agriculture Cooperation

India and Armenia recently signed a MoU on agriculture cooperation.


  • The MoU envisages various priority sectors such as plant-breeding, including agricultural crop seed-breeding and plant protection; buffalo-breeding and poultry, including pedigree; exchange of experience on agricultural organization in dry lands; milk production and processing; hi-tech horticulture including irrigation and water management technology etc.
  • The MoU also provides for establishment of Joint Working Group and preparation of Work Plans.
  • The MoU will be valid, initially for a period of five years, and would be extendable beyond five
  • The two countries have identified sectors such as cattle identification, cooperatives, agriculture machinery, plant breeding and exchange of agri scientist and students, as the priority areas and resolved to constitute the JWG at the earliest to move the agreement.

sources: pib.


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

Agreement for Commercialisation of Ayurvedic Formulations

National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), an Enterprise of the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology and M/s Dabur India Ltd. have entered into License Agreements for commercialization of two Ayurvedic formulations.

  1. Ayush-64, an ayurvedic formulation for treatment of Malaria. The Ayurvedic Drug Ayush-64 is very effective for the treatment of Malaria which is one of the most prevalent; destructive widely spread disease, well known to Ayurvedic Physicians as Visama Jvara from ancient times. In view of its wide prevalence and drug resistant malarial parasite, a poly-herbal non-toxic drug has been developed by CCRAS after carrying out extensive pharmacological, toxicological and Clinical studies.
  2. Ayush-82, an ayurvedic Formulation for management of Diabetes. Ayush-82; an anti diabetic drug also developed by CCRAS is a combination of known and tested hypoglycemic drugs.

The use of these two drugs would help millions of people suffering from Malaria and Diabetes. Both these medicines were developed by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), New Delhi, an Autonomous body of the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy).

sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: disaster management and terrorism.

Indo-Nepal Battalion level combined Exercise Surya Kiran IX

The Ninth Indo-Nepal Combined Battalion level Military Training Exercise SURYA KIRAN is being conducted at Pithoragarh in Uttarkhand under the aegis of Panchshul Brigade of Central Command.

  • During the exercise, an Infantry battalion each from Indian Army and the Nepalese Army would be training together and sharing their experiences of Counter Terrorism operations and Jungle Warfare in mountain terrain.


  • The Surya Kiran series of exercises is a bi-annual event which is conducted alternatively in Nepal and India.
  • The aim of this combined training exercise is to enhance inter-operability between the Indian and the Nepalese Army units in Jungle Warfare and Counter Terrorism operations in mountainous terrain.
  • The training will also focus on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief including medical and aviation support. Both the Armies will stand to benefit mutually from shared experiences.
  • The combined training, mutual interaction and sharing of experiences between both the countries shall further strengthen the historical military and strategic ties, giving further fillip to the bilateral relations and existing strong bonding between both countries.

sources: pib.


Topic: Current events (Prelims)

MoU between Prasar Bharati, Digital Television Russia

Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati and top Russian pay-tv programmer Digital Television Russia (DTR) have inked a pact for joint production and exchange of TV programs and related services.

  • In this regard, the two partners have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Benefits of this MoU:

  • This alliance will focus on high-quality production, marketing and distribution of content related to art, culture, trade & science, research and technology among others.
  • It will also open up great opportunities in the field of news-exchange and of setting up a joint venture to explore the possibilities of commercial cooperation in area of broadcasting.

About Prasar Bharati:

Prasar Bharati is a statutory autonomous body established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence on 23.11.1997. It is the Public Service Broadcaster of the country. The objectives of public service broadcasting are achieved in terms of Prasar Bharati Act through All India Radio and Doordarshan, which earlier were working as media units under the Ministry of I&B and since the above said date became constituents of Prasar Bharati.

DTR is Russia’s leading programmer in basic and premium subscription television channels.



sources: pib.