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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 19 August 2016




Insights Daily Current Affairs, 19 August 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


New steps to enhance transparency in Power Sector


In a bid to enhance transparency in power transmission sector of the country, the government has launched the ‘TARANG’ Mobile App, ‘e-Trans’ & ‘DEEP’ e-bidding web portals. These are developed by Rural Electrification Corporation Transmission Projects Company Limited (RECTPCL), a subsidiary of REC Ltd.

  • These measures are aimed at enhancing ease, accountability & transparency and would boost confidence of investors in power transmission sector. Better price discovery shall ultimately benefit the power consumers in India.


TARANG: It is a powerful monitoring tool that tracks upcoming transmission projects and monitor the progress of Inter-State & Intra-State transmission systems in the country, being developed through Regulated tariff mechanism as well as Tariff Based Competitive Bidding(TBCB) route. TARANG shall also include status of stalled/delayed transmission systems in country which would enable the stakeholders viz. Ministry of Power, State Governments, all private sector transmission developers and PSUs like Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd., for expeditious completion of such projects. Green Energy Corridors, an important component of our renewable energy mission, would also be monitored through TARANG.

e-Trans’: It is a web platform for e-bidding and e-reverse auction for Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) in transmission projects. Till date transmission sector providers have been participating in transmission bids through manual mode. With e-Trans, the interface will be electronic.

DEEP (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Price) e-Biddingportal: It is for medium term (1-5 years) purchase of power. The Portal will provide a common e-bidding platform with e-reverse auction facility to facilitate nation-wide power procurement through a wider network so as to bring uniformity and transparency in the process of power procurement.

Sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


BARC develops portable kit for detection of Chromium contamination of water


BARC has developed a simple, user friendly, quick and cost effective kit for onsite determination of Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI), which meets IS10500 as well as EPA criterion.barc new technology

  • It provides the much needed solution to measure the level of Chromium contamination in drinking water and tap water, lakes, rivers as well as ground water.

How is it measured?

The procedure involves adding a specified amount of specific reagents to the water sample and identifying the developed colour. The colour develops within 5 minutes and the distinction can be made with naked eye. For ease of comparison a colour chart is provided with the kit.

Benefits of this kit:

  • With this, water samples can be immediately categorized as being safe or toxic for drinking from Chromium(VI) point of view.
  • The kit provides several advantages including on site detection and instantaneous results, elimination of use of sophisticated instruments for analysis, low investment on infrastructure for production of the kit, easy availability of raw materials and very good accuracy for the intended purpose.


Chromium is widely used in various industries like leather, steel, chrome plating, paint manufacturing, wood preservation etc. Untreated effluents from these industries cause widespread contamination of water.


Chromium in the environment primarily exists as Trivalent Chromium Cr(III) and Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI). The latter is toxic and the World Health Organization has classified it as carcinogenic and can cause stomach ulcers and cancers and severe damage to kidneys and liver.

  • As per Indian standard IS10500 for drinking water, the maximum permissible concentration of Cr(VI) in drinking water is 50 microgram per litre. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a still lower permissible concentration of 10 microgram per liter.
  • Detection of Cr(VI) at such low levels is not only technically challenging but also expensive and time consuming since it involves collection of water samples from affected areas, transport to laboratory, storage and finally analysis.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Web Portal for Star Rating of Major Mineral Mines


The Ministry of Mines through Indian Bureau of Mines has developed a template for Scheme of Star Rating of Mines. The main objective of this system is to bring all mines to a minimum standard of Star Rating in the shortest possible time frame to adopt sustainable practices.

The star rating will be based on the following parameters:

  • Scientific and systematic mining to mitigate environmental impact.
  • Addressing social impacts of resettlement and rehabilitation of mining affected people.
  • Local community engagements and welfare programmes for socio-economic development of local community.
  • Progressive and final mine closure to ensure for restoration of mined out land in better conditions then original.
  • Adoption of international standards for mining operations and reporting.


  • Based on the performance of the mining leases, a one to five star rating would be given to the mines.
  • The Star Rating will be done initially for mines of major minerals.
  • The positive impact of getting higher Star Rating will drive miners to quickly adopt sustainable mining practices.
  • The Scheme of Star Rating will be a vital step for ensuring compliance of environmental protection and social responsibility by the mining sector.

The main advantages of the Star Rating of Mines will be:

  • Comprehensive mitigation of environmental impacts on land, air and water by mining activities.
  • Collation of various technical, environmental and social data of the mining sector at one platform by IBM, which would be utilised to enable better management and monitoring of the compliance of various conditions laid down by statutory authorities for mining.
  • In addressing cumulative impacts in mining areas through coordinated and collective action in the long run by helping in formulation of Comprehensive Regional Plans’- a robust Environment &Social Management framework.
  • Availability of the information on mining as well as the conservation activities in public domain to enable greater transparency to enable effective participation of stakeholder and speedy resolution of conflicts.
  • Reduced delays in obtaining various clearances (environmental, forest, mining plan, etc.) for mines. Self-certification to be allowed for the approvals for scheme of mining.
  • The progressive and final mine closures will be monitored to ensure that the lessee leaves the area after proper management of any adverse impact over the mined area.
  • Encourage adoption of highest standards and sharing and good practices.

Sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: conservation.


BRO Launches Ambitious Tree Plantation Drive


The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), under Ministry of Defence, has launched a massive tree plantation drive in the Northern & Eastern states of India.

  • This is one of the biggest ever tree plantation drive undertaken by the BRO, organised with the aim to protect the ecology and increase the green cover along the border areas of the Country.

About BRO:Border Roads Organisation (BRO),

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighbouring countries.

  • It is staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Military Police and army personnel on extra regimental employment.
  • Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
  • Currently, the organisation maintains operations in twenty-one states, one UT (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), and neighbouring countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
  • The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometres of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.

Sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Sunshine, seaweed help to break down dye waste


red seaweed polymer carrageenan

The researchers have developed a photocatalyst using titanium dioxide doped with red seaweed polymer carrageenan to degrade the dyes. With this photocatalyst, scientists have been able to completely degrade three industrial dyes — methyl orange, methylene blue and reactive black-5 — in the presence of sunlight.


Titanium dioxide has conventionally been used for photocatalytic degradation of industrial dyes, but it takes a long time to degrade dyes. So the researchers doped titanium dioxide nanoparticles with sulphur and carbon by treating it with carrageenan.


The nanocomposite was found to behave as an excellent photocatalyst that helped degrade industrial dyes quickly in a single-step process. The energy required to activate the catalyst is less when it is doped and this makes the dye degradation faster. Visible light is mainly responsible for degradation.

Significance of nanocomposites:

The nanocomposites are thermally stable and can be reused up to six times with the degradation efficiency remaining at over 97%. The nanocomposite photocatalyst can safely and completely treat harmful dyes in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner.


Despite stringent environmental regulations, a comprehensive method of treating industrial dye is not available. The methods available are expensive and do not completely break down the dye molecules to non-toxic constituents but merely concentrate the contaminants. Annually, more than 500 tonnes of non-degradable textile colour wastes are being disposed of in natural streams without adequate treatments.

Way ahead:

The researchers are planning to conduct studies during winter to assess the photocatalyst’s ability to break down the dyes when bright sunlight is not available.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


U.S. set to hand over Internet’s naming system to ICANN


The U.S. is set to cede power of the Internet’s naming system to a non-profit organisation on October 1, ending the almost 20-year process to hand over a crucial part of the Internet’s governance.


  • The U.S. will give up its power fully to Los Angeles-based ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit organisation.
  • The terms of the change were agreed upon in 2014, but it was not until now that the U.S. said it was finally satisfied that ICANN was ready to make the change.


The Domain Naming System, DNS, is one of the Internet’s most important components. It pairs the easy-to-remember web addresses with their relevant servers. Without DNS, one would only be able to access websites by typing in its IP address, a series of numbers such as “”.


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), in March 2016, submitted the plan for the global stewardship of the internet to the US government for review.

  • The plan aims to maintain Internet governance under a “multi-stakeholder” model which avoids control of the online ecosystem by any single governmental body.
  • The plan is the result of an inclusive, global discussion among representatives from government, large and small business, technical experts, civil society, researchers, academics and end users.
  • It provides a comprehensive package to transition the US Government’s stewardship of the internet’s key technical functions, called the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), and proposes ways to enhance ICANN’s accountability as a fully independent organization.

About the Internet Corporation Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):

ICANN is the global body that oversees operation and administration of the Internet domain name system. It was formed in 1998.

  • It is a not-for-profit partnership of people from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
  • ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn’t deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet’s naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.
  • It is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and methodologies of several databases, with unique identifiers, related to the namespaces of the Internet – and thereby, ensuring the network’s stable and secure operation.
  • ICANN is governed by an internationally diverse Board of Directors overseeing the policy development process. ICANN’s President directs an international staff, working from three continents, who ensure that ICANN meets its operational commitment to the Internet community.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Global Innovation Index: India moves up to 66th rank this year


Global Innovation Index for the year 2016 has been released. The annual index — released by WIPO, Cornell University, and the multi-nation business graduate school INSEAD — has been ranking world economies since 2007 according to their innovation capabilities using more than 80 indicators, including education, R&D, patent filings, knowledge and technology inputs and institutions.


  • India scored a major improvement in its Global Innovation Index ranking this year, moving up to the 66th place from 81 in 2015. India’s better performance in the latest index readings was due to its strengths in tertiary education, software exports, corporate R&D and market sophistication.
  • Among middle income countries, India (25) came second after China (17) in innovation quality, overtaking Brazil (27).
  • China figured at the 25th position (29 in 2015), the only middle-income country in the top 25.
  • The report said India was starting to excel in ICT and creative goods exports, setting a good example of how policy was improving the innovation environment.
  • In the sub-index for government effectiveness, which captures the perceptions of quality of civil services and degree of their independence from political pressures and the quality of policy formulation and implementation, India is ranked at 82, the same as last year.
  • India has also moved down in the rule of law sub-index, from 63 last year to 66 now. The index points at lowered perceptions regarding the quality of contract enforcement, property rights, the police, and courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence.
  • In the infrastructure indicator, India has stayed put in the 87th rank, not having progressed in the use of information technology.  
  • Overall, Switzerland emerged as the global leader followed by Sweden, the UK, the US and Finland. Switzerland had ranked first in the 2015 index as well.

Sources: et.


Facts for Prelims:

  • Airlander 10: It is the world’s largest and longest aircraft. It recently embarked on its maiden flight in central England. It is a hybrid airship made by Hybrid Air Vehicles in United Kingdom. Airlander 10 is a partly plane and partly airship filled with helium gas. It can stay airborne for more than two weeks unmanned.
  • MoU between India and Bangladesh: Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and the Roads and Highways Department of People’s Republic of Bangladesh have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The MoU enables IOCL to send its trucks carrying Motor Spirit, High Speed Diesel, Superior Kerosene Oil & Liquefied Petroleum Gas from Meghalaya to Tripura via territory of Bangladesh. The validity of this facility is till end September, 2016. Both sides have also agreed to extend the transit facility for a further short period on need basis.