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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 January 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 January 2016


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.


International Conference on Brucellosis 2016


International Research Conference on Brucellosis was recently inaugurated in New Delhi.

  • On the sidelines, the centre also launched programme of “Brucella Free Villages” for implementation on pilot scale in 50 villages covering 10 states.
  • This programme will be supported by guidelines and standard operating practices along with an IT enabled application.
Brucellosis Bacteria

Key facts:

  • The three day International Conference on Brucellosis is being organized by the Department of Biotechnology in collaboration with Indian Council for Agriculture Research.
  • The conference is result of DBT’s network programme on Brucellosis launched in 2012 to address this epidemiology and for development of new generation of vaccines and diagnostic kits.
  • The Conference provides a technical platform for scientist and experts from all over the world.
  • Participants from 26 countries include USA, Belgium, Germany, Nigeria, Argentina, Spain and Turkey.
  • The three days deliberations would address various issues on Brucellosis covering broad and interdisciplinary field of “One Health” concept revolving around Brucella Pathogenesis & Host-pathogen interaction; Human Brucellosis; Epidemiology and Control; Brucella research in India; Canine and Wildlife Brucellosis; Diagnostic methods; and Vaccines & Immunology.  


About Brucellosis:

Brucellosis is a dreadful disease caused by the genus of the bacteria known as Brucella infecting various species of Brucella cows, buffalos, sheep, goats, deer, pigs, dogs and other animals as well as humans. The disease causes economic losses of about Rs. 28000.00 Crores. Brucellosis is endemic in India.


Spread of the disease:

  • Human become infected by coming in contact with animals or animal product like meat and milk contaminated with these bacteria.
  • Dairy man, veterinarians, butchers and other animal handlers are exposed to high risk of brucellosis infection.



  • In humans brucellosis can cause range of symptoms that are similar to the flu and may include fever, sweats, headache, back pain and physical weakness.
  • Severe infections of the central nervous system or lining of the heart may also occur.



Quite often brucellosis is diagnosed after ruling out all other fevers such as those caused by malaria, typhoid, dengue etc. Therefore, the disease is under reported and many medical professionals are not even aware of the problem.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Bhutan blocks India’s ambitious sub-regional road connectivity plan


An ambitious road connectivity plan involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) has hit a roadblock with the upper house of Bhutan parliament deciding against ratifying the motor vehicle pact.



A large cross-section of people in Bhutan, including lawmakers, have expressed concerns over the environmental impact of allowing large number of vehicles enter the country after it ratifies the pact.


How will this impact the agreement?

The BBIN agreement – signed in Bhutan’s capital Thimpu in July – will become operational only when all the four countries ratify it. India, Bangladesh and Nepal have already ratified the pact.

This might also derail the entire plan as any restrictions which are beyond the reasonable won’t be accepted by the other member countries.



This is the second time that the Indian government’s sub-regional road connectivity plan has hit a hurdle. Earlier, Pakistan scuppered the Saarc motor vehicle agreement by refusing to come on board.

India then decided to tap its eastern neighbours to boost regional connectivity. Bypassing Pakistan, India moved to have an agreement with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan to remove restrictions on vehicular movement in the subcontinent.


About the agreement:

The Union Cabinet had approved a proposal to sign the SAARC MVA during the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014. The SAARC declaration at the Kathmandu Summit in November 2014 also encouraged Member States to initiate regional and sub-regional measures to enhance connectivity.

  • Accordingly, it was considered appropriate that a sub-regional Motor Vehicle Agreement among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) may be pursued.
  • The pact will allow seamless movement of passenger and cargo vehicles among the four countries.
  • Under the agreement, the “contracting parties” will allow cargo vehicles for inter-country cargo, including third country cargo and passenger vehicles or personal vehicles, to ply in the territory of another country “subject to the terms of the agreement”. All vehicles, however, will require a permit for plying through the other country.


How will this help India?

India is in a bilateral motor vehicle agreement with Nepal and Bangladesh, but a multilateral pact would go a long way in boosting trade in the region.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Not a pipe dream: Govt to set up national gas hub


The government is planning to come up with a national gas hub, which would be a trading platform for gas at market-determined price. A final form of this Indian benchmark will be ready within a year.


What is a gas hub?

A gas hub is a physical point where several gas pipelines come together or intersect. It is a trading place for gas at market determined prices.



The ministry of petroleum and natural gas is working towards setting up a common gas hub after the government introduced a new gas pricing formula in 2014. This gas price is applicable for six months wherein the average prices of US-based Henry Hub, the UK-based National Balancing Point, Canada’s Alberta Gas and Russian gas gets reflected.


Significance of this move:

If the idea gets cleared, India will also have a gas-trading place similar to international hubs such as the US’ Henry Hub and the UK’s National Balancing Point. While Henry Hub is a physical point where several gas pipelines come together, National Balancing Point is a virtual trading point.


Present scenario:

At present, the Indian domestic natural gas price is calculated on a half-yearly basis, based on a weighted average of Henry Hub, National Balancing Point, Russian gas and Canada’s Alberta Gas.


How it operates?

A gas hub works exactly like a stock exchange does. There are buyers and sellers, and prices are determined by market forces. Gas is thus freely traded.


Why is the setting up of gas hub good for India?

This is a huge positive for upstream companies in India as prices will be market-driven. Moreover, it seems like the domestic natural gas pricing will be uniform with the move.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Student Startup Policy


President Pranab Mukherjee recently launched the National Student Startup Policy.


Key facts:

  • The National Student Startup Policy, formulated by AICTE, aims to create 100,000 technology based student start-ups and a million employment opportunities within the next 10 years.
  • The policy plans on achieving this by developing an ideal entrepreneurial ecosystem and promoting strong inter-institutional partnerships among technical institutions.
  • It emphasizes the much-desired need for an appropriate startup policy to propel the youth of India through and beyond the 21st century.

Sources: pib.


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


India is ‘non-committal’ on market economy tag for China


Indian government has indicated that it is not inclined to automatically grant the coveted ‘Market Economy Status’ (MES) to China this December under World Trade Organisation (WTO) norm.



According to India, granting MES to China will severely curb the ability of nations including India to impose anti-dumping duties on “unfairly priced” Chinese imports.

With this, India has taken sides with the U.S. and European Union in stating that unlike in ‘market economies’ where prices of items are market determined (based on demand & supply conditions), there is still a significant government influence in the Chinese market.



Citing the provisions in the ‘Protocol on the accession of China to the WTO’ in 2001, Beijing has said WTO member countries must fulfil their promise to deem China a ‘market economy’ from December 2016.


What is a non-market economy?

A “non-market economy” is any foreign country that does not operate on market principles of cost or pricing structures. When this is the case, sales by the exporting country do not reflect fair value.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims

Fastest supercomputer:

  • For the eighth consecutive year, China has retained the top spot in the list of the world’s fastest supercomputers for its ‘Sunway TaihuLight’ which can perform 93 million billion calculations per second.
  • This was announced in the latest edition of the semiannual Top 500 list of supercomputers released recently.
  • TaihuLight, the massive supercomputer, built entirely using processors designed and made in China has been crowned as the world’s fastest.
  • TaihuLight made its appearance in June, replacing the former champion, Tianhe-2, also a Chinese system but built based on Intel chips.


Women commandos by CRPF:

  • For the first time, CRPF has deployed a team of women commandos in anti-Naxal operations in Jharkhand.
  • The 135 women belonging to the 232 battalion’s Delta company are currently undertaking operations under the close supervision of CRPF’s 133 battalion in Naxal-infested forests on the outskirts of Ranchi near Khoonti area.