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Insights Daily Current Events, 16 May 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 16 May 2016

Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure- energy.

Centre sets into motion second phase of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

The Centre has launched the second phase of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) for three states — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Earlier on May 1the government had launched the scheme at Balia in Uttar Pradesh.

  • The scheme is designed to provide 5 crore free LPG connections to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in the next three financial years.

Aim of the scheme:

It aims at Providing Free LPG connections to Women from BPL Households.

Who is implementing it?

The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. This is the first time in the history of the country that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas would implement a welfare scheme benefitting crores of women belonging to the poorest households.


  • Under the scheme, Rs 8000 crore has been earmarked for providing five crore LPG connections to BPL households. This Scheme would be implemented over three years, namely, the FY 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.
  • The Scheme provides a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households.
  • The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.
  • The scheme is being partly funded from the savings of the GiveItUp initiative.

Sources: pib.

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

India and WHO sign a landmark agreement for Global promotion of Traditional Systems of Medicine

Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India and the World Health Organization (WHO) have signed an historic Project Collaboration Agreement (PCA) for cooperation on promoting the quality, safety and effectiveness of service provision in traditional and complementary medicine.


  • The PCA is titled as ‘Co-operation on promoting the quality, safety and effectiveness of service provision in traditional and complementary medicine between WHO and AYUSH, India, 2016-2020’.
  • It aims to support WHO in the development and implementation of the ‘WHO Traditional and Complementary Medicine Strategy: 2014-2023’ and will contribute to the global promotion of traditional Indian Systems of Medicine.
  • The PCA for the period 2016-2020 will deliver for the first time WHO benchmark document for training in Yoga, and WHO benchmarks for practice in Ayurveda, Unani and Panchakarma.

Benefits of the agreement:

  • These will contribute significantly to the strengthening of national capacities in ensuring the quality, safety and effectiveness of traditional medicine.
  • They will also help in establishing regulatory frameworks for traditional medicine products and practice and promote their integration in national healthcare systems.
  • This PCA is a further recognition of India’s rich experience in the development and governance of traditional medicine.
  • It will also pave the way for India’s long-term collaboration with the WHO in fostering the global promotion and integration of AYUSH systems of medicine including through the inclusion of Ayurveda and Unani in the International Classification of diseases and the International Classification of Health interventions.

Sources: pib.

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

Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and Mauritius on cooperation in cooperatives and related fields

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of an Inter-Governmental Agreement between India and Mauritius on cooperation in cooperatives and related fields.


  • The Agreement between the two countries will be for a duration of five years after which it will be automatically extended for another five years.
  • The Agreement provides for promoting cooperation through short and medium term programmes within the framework of the joint activities mentioned in the Agreement.
  • A work plan will be drawn up by mutual Agreement between the two parties to give effect to the objectives of this Agreement.

Sources: pib.

Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.

Government inks MoU with NDTV Ethnic Retail Ltd. to popularize India Handloom products

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between The Development Commissioner (Handlooms), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India and NDTV Ethnic Retail Ltd. for popularizing India Handloom textiles as a fashionable product for youth. The MoU is valid for three years.


  • The joint endeavour will endorse and launch a project, Indianroots Fashion Accelerator (IFA), a project by NDTV to support fresh talent and to support new and innovative ventures in fashion industry. Government will support the project with incubation and production support.
  • India Handloom Brand will also provide an interface where fashion professionals will be able to accesses facilities such as Weavers Service Centres and handloom clusters. The initiative will connect fashion designers with Handloom sector in an organized manner.

About ‘India Handloom’ Brand:

The India Handloom Brand was launched in August, 2015, the first National Handloom Day, to endorse the quality of handloom products in terms of raw material, processing, embellishment, weaving, design and other parameters, besides social and environmental compliance.

  • The main objective is to promote the production of quality products with new designs for winning the trust and confidence of customers by giving particular attention to defect free, hand woven, authentic niche products with zero defect and zero impact on environment.
  • The registration under the brand is given after stringent testing of samples in Govt. of India laboratories.
  • As on 1st April, 2016, 170 handloom producing agencies/enterprises have been given registration under the brand, in 41 product categories.
  • Several e-commerce platforms and leading retail stores have been engaged for marketing of India Handloom branded products.

Sources: pib.

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

Wildlife Institute of India to relocate endangered ‘dancing deer’ of Manipur

The scientists of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) have been assigned the task to provide second home to 110 Sangai , brow-antlered and one of the most endangered species under Centre’s Endangered Species Recovery Project.


The sangai is an endemic, rare and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer. It is also state animal of Manipur.

  • The Sangai is now restricted to the Keibul Lamjao National Park (KLNP) in the Southeastern fringe of Loktak Lake in Manipur. Phumdis, floating vegetation occupy about two-third of the surface area of the lake. They feed, live and breed on this 9 km area of Phumdis.
  • It is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

Why it is called “dancing deer”?

While walking on the floating biomass, Sangai often balances itself which looks as if it is dancing on the green grassland and therefore popularly called as “dancing deer” of Manipur.

Sources: toi.

Paper 3 Topic: conservation.

Asian waterbird census data causes mixed feelings

Evaluation of the bird data picked up from the Asian Water bird Census (AWC) held between 1987 and 2014 was recently carried out by the Kerala scientists.

  • The annual census, coordinated by Wetlands International, also happens to be the first country-wide citizen science activity on natural history in India.
  • Researchers focused their attention on the data generated from the four Ramsar sites of Kerala- Sasthamkotta Lake, Ashtamudi Lake, Vembanad Lake and Kole Wetlands – and also the other important wetland habitats to get a bird’s eye view of the population trends of wetland avian fauna.


  • The brightly coloured purple swamphen is one species that have thrived amidst widespread destruction of its habitats. Its population trend analysis demonstrated that the species has increased in Kerala during the last decade.
  • The painted stork, earlier evaluated as a vagrant visitor to wetlands of Malabar and south Kerala has spread beyond the region they are generally found.
  • The population of Asian Openbill, extremely rare during the 1970s, has remarkably increased since 2001, with at least four census reporting the presence of more than 3,000 birds. So is the case of Eurasian spoonbill as there have been several reports of sighting of large flocks from Kole Wetlands, Vembanad Lake and Kuttanad Wetlands. Same is the case with blackheaded Ibis.
  • Indian spotbilled duck, glossy ibis, oriental darter, Asian woollyneck and spotbilled pelican recorded increased presence whereas the population of the river terns and cormorants remained stable.
  • But the bird group of terns underwent a steady decline over the years. From the nearly 30,000-strong population in 1993-94, it had plummeted to just near 10,000 in the last decade. The loss of estuarine habitat like Purathur in Malappuram district and disturbances in other estuaries might have contributed to this decline. The decline was evident in the relatively stable sites such as Kole Wetlands, rued the ornithologists.
  • The population of whiskered tern, which form the major chunk of the population of the terns in the State, too has fallen significantly. Gulls too painted a gloomy picture as they were sighted in lesser number during the past few censuses.
  • The BirdLife International has recorded that 11 water bird species of Kerala come under the IUCN Red list threatened categories with the black bellied tern being one of the ‘Endangered’ waterbird species in Kerala. The only report of black bellied tern during AWC was from the Kole Wetlands.
  • Great knot, a ‘vulnerable,’ trans-continental migrant, has been reported from four sites whereas the Asian woolly neck stork (another vulnerable species), has been reported from 44 wetlands across the State.
  • An influx of Eurasian coot, which was an added to the list of Kerala birds during the late 1980s, has been reported in the State during winter season.

The report has identified the following threats:

  • Demographic pressure, industrial development, pollution, urbanisation, agriculture and aquaculture and water transport have been adding pressure on the wetlands of the State.
  • Reclamation of wetlands and the aquatic ecosystems, which are often considered as wastelands, is spelling trouble to several taxa. The stake nets used for fishing removes a wide array of non-target organisms, which are functionally important to the aquatic environment. Destructive fishing practise are also taking a toll on the bird population, it was reported.
  • Unregulated fishing, reclamation of wetlands, dumping of solid waste and domestic sewage too posed threats to the wetlands of Kerala, according to ornithologists.

About AWC:

Asian Waterbird Census is an annual event in which thousands of volunteers across Asia and Australasia count waterbirds in the wetlands of their country. This event happens every January. This event is coordinated by wetalands International and forms part of global waterbird monitoring programme called the International Waterbird Census (IWC).

  • Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) was started in the year 1987. Its main focus is to monitor the status of waterbirds and the wetlands. AWC also aims to create public awareness on various issues concerning wetlands and waterbird conservation. Each year the census is carried out as a voluntary activity.
  • 2016 marks the 50th global International Waterbird Census (IWC). With this, it has become the world’s longest running biodiversity monitoring programme. 2016 also marks the 30th year of AWC.
  • In India, the AWC is annually coordinated by the Bombay Natural history Society (BNHS) and Wetlands International.

What are waterbirds?

According to Wetlands International (WI), waterbirds are defined as species of birds that are ecologically dependent on wetlands. These birds are considered to be an important health indicator of wetlands of a region.

Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2 Topic: RPA.

Foreign firms can now fund parties

The government has admitted that the amended Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, which they brought in through the Finance Bill route, will not only help foreign-origin companies to fund NGOs here but has also cleared the way for them to give “donations to political parties.”


  • The amendment, which was cleared by the Lok Sabha in the recently concluded Budget session, will ensure that “donations made by such [foreign shareholding] companies to entities including political parties will not attract provisions of the FCRA, 2010.”
  • The government has brought the changes with retrospective effect.


The statement assumes significance as such funding from foreign donors will bypass government scrutiny. The Representation of the People Act bars political parties from receiving foreign funds.

Sources: the hindu.

Facts for Prelims:

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), Abu Dhabi for mutual co-operation and technical assistance between the two regulators. The MoU will promote further development of economic links and cooperation between the two signatories and will help create conditions for development of securities markets in the two countries. It would also contribute towards strengthening the information sharing framework between the two regulators.


  • An Indian Air Force (IAF) team has successfully concluded ‘Red Flag Alaska 16-1’, an advanced aerial combat training exercise at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, United States of America.


  • China has successfully launched a remote sensing satellite to carry out land surveys and disaster relief. The satellite named Yaogan-30 was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwestern China’s Gobi Desert. The satellite will be used for experiments, land surveys, crop yield estimates and disaster relief. Yaogan-30 was carried by a Long March-2D rocket, the 227th mission for the Long March rocket family. China launched the first “Yaogan” series satellite, Yaogan-1, in 2006.


  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has selected Aryans College of Engineering, Rajpura near Chandigarh for developing it as a green campus under its scheme on development of Solar Cities. With this, under the scheme 12 organizations have been sanctioned a grant of Rs 5,00,000 each for preparing the master plan which should be done within 12 months as per the guidelines in order to develop their campuses as green campuses.


  • A US congressional panel has issued a report warning of the dangers of the China’s “Guam killer” missile. The missile is capable of hitting targets 3,400 miles away. It has raised new fears of a growing Chinese threat to major U.S. military installations and stability in the Pacific Rim.


  • Scientists at the University of Sheffield have identified a protein, involved in the development of the human placenta. The study shows that a protein called Syncytin-1, which was the result of a viral infection of our primate ancestors 25 million years ago, is first secreted on the surface of a developing embryo even before it implants in the womb. This means the protein is likely to play a major role in helping embryos stick to the womb as well as the formation of the placenta. This fundamental understanding of the earliest stages of human embryo development is crucial for improving current treatments for a variety of stressful complications during pregnancy such as recurrent miscarriages, fetal growth restriction syndrome and pre-eclampsia — a life-threatening condition of elevated maternal blood pressure during pregnancy.


  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that the arrival of the southwest monsoon in Kerala will be delayed by at least a week beyond the normal of June 1. Though this could lead to reduced rainfall in June, it would not affect the overall quantum of rains across the country. The IMD’s model has an inbuilt error of four days which means the monsoon rains could set in as early as the June 3 or as late as June 11. According to IMD, the delay in onset over Kerala is because of the El Nino, which, though waning, is still strong, and the waters of the Indian Ocean being warmer than usual for this time of the year.


  • India has successfully test-fired Advanced Air Defence (AAD) supersonic interceptor missile from the integrated test range (ITR) of Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, in Balasore. It was engaged against the naval version of Prithvi missile launched from a ship anchored inside Bay of Bengal. The indigenously developed interceptor missile is capable of destroying any incoming hostile ballistic missile. The AAD interceptor is a 7.5 metre single-stage solid fuel rocket equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator.