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Insights Daily Current Events, 18 June 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 18 June 2016


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


India, South Korea to review trade pact


India and South Korea are planning to jointly review their Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to boost trade and investment ties. This exercise is expected to be concluded in the favour of both the countries.

  • The review will involve, among other things, fresh negotiations on elimination/reduction of duties on various products.


The FTA, officially called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), had come into effect in 2010.

  • As per the agreement South Korea will cut tariffs on 93% on goods from India. India will cut 75% of total tariffs.
  • The agreement provided better access for the Indian service industry in South Korea. Services include Information technology, engineering, finance, and the legal field.
  • The agreement eased restrictions on foreign direct investments.
  • Both countries avoided issues over agriculture, fisheries, and mining and choose not to decrease tariffs in those areas. This was due to the very sensitive nature of these sectors in the respective countries.

Sources: the hindu.


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


WHO team probes suspected polio case in Uttar Pradesh


A WHO team is in Uttar Pradesh to investigate a suspected case of polio in a six-year-old in Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh. The suspected case of polio comes on the back of a wild polio-virus strain being found in a drain in Hyderabad earlier this week.


Reacting to reports from the virus in Telangana, the Union Health Ministry had said that India remained polio-free amidst concerns over a wild polio virus (P2 strain) being found in a Hyderabad drain. The polio virus (P2 strain) that has been detected in Telangana was from a sewage sample near the Secunderabad railway station. The last case of Wild Polio Virus Type 2 in country was reported 17 years back in 1999.

  • However, as a preventive measure the government is planning to launch a special immunisation drive in the high-risk areas of Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts, from June 20, where an estimated 3,00,000 children will be protected against polio using Inactivated Polio Vaccine.
  • The special campaign will ensure all vulnerable children living in high-risk areas are given protection against polio.
  • The last case due to wild poliovirus in India was detected on 13 January 2011 and the country was certified polio-free by the WHO in March 2014. India continues to maintain a highly sensitive surveillance system for polio.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Cabinet approves India’s Membership of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program


The Union Cabinet recently gave its approval for Indian membership of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) consortium by signing an MoU with the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for geosciences. This is a government-funded, Public Law Foundation of the State of Brandenburg, Germany.


  • By signing the MoU on the membership for a period of five years with ICDP, India would enable engaging internationally renowned experts with profound expertise in different aspects of scientific drilling in order to accomplish deep drilling and associated investigations in Koyna region.
  • As a part of the membership agreement, India will get a seat on two ICDP panels – Executive Committee (EC) and Assembly of Governors (AOG). Also, ICDP will provide technical / operational support, facilitate capacity building in terms of manpower training in key scientific areas, sample and data management and support workshops for the Koyna scientific deep drilling project undertaken by Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • As a member of ICDP, scientists/engineers from India would have right to submit proposals, to participate in all ICDP co-funded workshops and drilling projects and have access to all data results from ICDP projects. This will shed new light on the genesis of seismicity and better understanding of earthquake processes.

About International Continental Scientific Drilling Program:

It is a multinational program to further and fund geosciences in the field of Continental Scientific Drilling. It was founded in February 1996 in the German Embassy in Tokyo as a result of the German Continental Deep Drilling Program.

  • The research findings will provide direct insight into Earth processes by testing geological models.
  • The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences serves as the headquarters for the ICDP.
  • Members of ICDP: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, the USA and UNESCO.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Judicial commission on OROP gets extension


With concerns on the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme expressed by ex-servicemen still to be addressed, the government has given an extension to the one man judicial commission appointed on the issue.


The government, had in December last year, appointed the one man commission headed by Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, former Chief Justice of Patna High Court with a six month mandate which ended on June 15.

  • The commission was part of the notification issued on November 7, 2015 implementing the long pending scheme for military personnel to bring parity in pensions based on rank and service, and irrespective of the date of retirement.

One-rank one-pension scheme:

This is a scheme which will ensure that soldiers of the same rank and the same length of service receive the same pension, irrespective of their retirement date. In simple words, it demands equal pensions for those who have retired in one particular year, as those who retire in another year at the same position, and for the same duration of services rendered. The difference in the pension of present and past pensioners in the same rank occurs on account of the number of increments earned by the defence personnel in that rank.

Sources: the hindu.


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


1st Meeting of National Committee on Ramayana Circuit & Krishna Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Scheme


The 1st Meeting of National Committee on Ramayan Circuit and National Committee on Krishna Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism was recently held under the chairmanship of the Minister of Tourism & Culture Dr. Mahesh Sharma.

Key facts:

  • Under Ramayana Circuit, 11 destinations spread across 6 states have been proposed. The destinations covered are: Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringhverpur & Chitrakoot (Uttar Pradesh); Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga (Bihar); Jagdalpur (Chattisgarh); Bhadrachalam (Telangana); Hampi (Karnataka); and Rameshwaram (Tamil Nadu). Expert committee has suggested to include Chitrakoot (Madhya Pradesh), Nashik & Nagpur (Maharashtra) and Mahendragiri (Odisha) in the proposed circuit.
  • Under Krishna circuit, 12 destinations spread across 5 states have been proposed. The destinations covered are: Dwarka (Gujarat); Nathdwara, Jaipur & Sikar (Rajasthan); Kurukshetra (Haryana), Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Barsana, Nandgaon & Govardhan (Uttar Pradesh); Puri (Odisha). The destinations were approved by the expert committee.

Swadesh Darshan scheme:

The Ministry of Tourism has launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15 with an aim to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.

Under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, thirteen thematic circuits have been identified, for development namely: North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.

Sources: pib.


Facts for Prelims:


  • The Centre has announced that non-resident Indians (NRIs) can now open National Pension Scheme (NPS) accounts online. All that is required is an Aadhaar or PAN card. In addition, NRIs will get to open these NPS accounts on both repatriable and non-repatriable basis. So far, NRIs could only make paper-based applications to banks. Both repatriable and non-repatriable schemes will greatly appeal to NRIs who intend to return to India after their employment abroad, in view of their attractive returns, low cost, flexibility and their being regulated by the PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority). India has the second-largest diaspora in the world, with around 29 million people living in over 200 countries and out of these 25 per cent live in the Gulf countries.


  • The India-Bangladesh waterways transit, carrying goods from Kolkata, was inaugurated recently in Dhaka. As part of this, the vessel carrying Indian goods consigned for Tripura marked the official transit to India’s north-east via the inland waterways of Bangladesh. The opening is part of the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade signed by the Prime Ministers of the two nations last year. The transit would reduce the transportation cost substantially to carry goods from rest of India to country’s north-east as the distance reduces from about 1,700 km via Siliguri in north Bengal to about 500 km via Bangladesh.


  • Russia’s new Project 22220 nuclear-powered icebreaker dubbed “Arktika” was recently launched from the Baltic Shipyard in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg. Built at the Baltic Shipyard, which belongs to Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation, project 22220 is the world’s largest and most powerful vessel of its kind. The Project 22220 vessel is 189.5 yards long and 37.1 yards wide. The ship displaces 33,540 metric tons. Fitted with two specifically designed RITM-200 nuclear-power reactors, new vessels of this kind will be able to escort convoys in the Arctic, breaking ice up to 10 feet thick and 13 feet deep.