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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 December 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 14 December 2016


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


India Signs Grant Agreement with the IBRD


An agreement for Global Environment Facility Grant of USD 5.19 Million for “Additional Financing for Financing Energy Efficiency at MSMEs Project- Programmatic Framework for Energy Efficiency” was recently signed between India and IBRD.


Key facts:

  • The proposed additional financing (AF) would be used to help further scale up the initiatives taken up under the parent project- India: Financing Energy Efficiency at MSME Project (FEEMP).
  • The additional financing will also contribute to bridge the current gap in understanding between different stakeholders, mainly energy professionals/technology suppliers, entrepreneurs, banks and financial institutions.


The project will focus on tapping Energy Efficiency (EE) benefits through a three pronged approach which includes:

  • Awareness/capacity building.
  • Direct intervention to increase EE investments at MSME level, facilitating active involvement of service providers and Financial Institutions.
  • Expanding the EE knowledge base to scale up and replicate the project initiatives, especially through establishing key performance indicators.



The parent project – India: Financing Energy Efficiency at MSME Project (FEEMP) became effective on September 29, 2010 with an original GEF Grant amount of US$ 11.3 million. The Development Objective of the project was to increase demand for energy efficiency investments in select micro, small and medium enterprise clusters and to build their capacity to access commercial finance.

The parent project currently has a Satisfactory rating towards achievement of Project Development Objective (PDO), and implementation performance.

Sources: the hindu.


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


International conference on housing & urban development


Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu recently inaugurated an international conference on housing and urban development in Asia Pacific region.


Key facts:

  • The sixth edition of ‘Asia Pacific Ministerial Conference on Housing & Urban Development (APMCHUD)’ seeks to address issues ranging from crowded city centres to peripheral expansion, metropolitan based urban population growth, megacities and urban corridors, among others.
  • During the conference, ministers and senior officials from 68 countries in the region will deliberate on challenges of urban planning and management.
  • The conference will come out with a Delhi Declaration and implementation plan for aligning urban development strategies of member countries with the New Urban Agenda adopted at Quito, Eucador for the next 20 years.
  • The theme of the declaration will be on ‘Emerging Urban Forms Policy Responses and Government Structures’.


Significance of the conference:

  • The APMCHUD is the first such conference after UN Habitat-III global conference on sustainable development held in Quito this September.
  • It will help in furthering the new urban agenda adopted at the recent conference of UN Habitat-III.
  • The conference assumes significance considering that APAC region accounts for 60% of the world population and 55% of global urban population.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


National Resource Centre for Tribal Livelihood to be launched


Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in collaboration with UNDP and National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC) is all set to launch “Vanjeevan” the National Resource Centre for Tribal Livelihood issues at Bhubaneswar, Odisha.


About Vanjeevan:

Vanjeevan will be a programme to identify the problems in livelihood issues in select districts of six states having low HDI of tribal people in the first phase. The states are Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha and Telangana.

  • In the second phase the programme will be implemented in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Meghalaya and Tripura.
  • The programme will focus on the identification of local resources, keeping in view the existing skill level.
  • The programme will facilitate utilization of funds under various Government programmes for the above purpose.
  • The National Resource Centre will serve as a platform for livelihood mapping, skill gap analysis and knowledge hub where consolidation of best livelihood and entrepreneurship models will be accessible for tribal entrepreneurship development.

Sources: pib.


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


‘War against malaria far from over’


According to the recently released World Malaria report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the global fight against malaria is in “urgent need” of more funding.


Highlights of the report:

  • There were 212 million new cases of malaria and 4,29,000 deaths worldwide in 2015. Further, nearly 78% of Plasmodium vivax malaria cases in 2015 occurred in just four countries: Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan.
  • Despite the billions of dollars spent on malaria programmes, too many people are missing out on available resources like medicines and bed nets that protect against mosquitoes that spread the disease.
  • Surveillance systems catch fewer than 20% of cases. The vast majority cases are in Africa. About 70% of deaths are in children under the age of five.



WHO had set a goal of cutting malaria cases to “near zero” by the end of last year. It fell far short, and now is aiming to reduce malaria cases and deaths by at least 90% by 2030.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.


Centre to review IT Act to bolster cybersecurity


The government is mulling a review of the more than 15-year-old Information Technology (IT), Act to strengthen cybersecurity infrastructure, following the push for digital payments post-demonetisation.


Key facts:

  • A closed group, under IT Secretary Aruna Sundarajan, has been set up to look into various aspects of the Act in line with the changing times.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has also set up a separate ‘digital payments’ division under Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) — its cyber security arm — to monitor and strengthen cashless transactions.
  • All digital payments agencies have also been asked to report to CERT-In any unusual activity that they see on their platforms.


Why review of IT act is necessary?

The IT Act came out in 2000. Since then, it has not been reviewed. However, since we are moving towards a digital economy now, the act should be reviewed to see if there is a need to re-look at the IT Act architecture to make it more of a deterrent for cyber criminals.

Besides, Venezuela, which like India has withdrawn its highest currency note from the market, has also cautioned New Delhi about cybercrimes that target the digital economy.

Sources: the hindu.


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.


Centre to finance digital discounts


The Centre has decided to bear the burden imposed on public sector firms on account of the many discounts and incentives offered to promote digital payments. Public sector insurers, oil-marketing firms and others will thus not take a hit on their books for the Centre’s cashless push.



The government has offered many discounts on transaction charges and merchant discount rates that accompany payments using cards or online last week.


What’s being done?

  • A new expenditure head in the exchequer’s accounts that will absorb the costs of incentives provided will be created.
  • A non-tax receipt portal,, has been developed to enable users to make non-tax payments to the government for 237 categories including spectrum charges, RTI application fees, and purchase forms online, without going to either a bank or a government office.
  • Mobile banking through interoperable automatic teller machines (ATM) has been launched, 81,000 ATMs or 12 banks are already live and another 15,000 machines are expected to go live shortly”.
  • All 5.5 lakh fair price shops run by the government are being equipped with micro ATMs/PoS terminals, which will enable them to undertake digital payment transactions or even be banking correspondents.
  • A standardised, interoperable multi-purpose, multimodal National Common Mobility card is being developed for smart cities and is ready for testing on a pilot basis.  

Way ahead:

These measures are being put in place to enable a cashless transactions ecosystem. Going forward, all government organisations, public sector undertakings and authorities have been advised to review rules and regulations to support digital payments, adopt payment-related solutions and absorb transaction fees and activate payments facility through the ‘Pay Gov India’ if they have such a facility.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims


  • Seventh edition of Exercise EKUVERIN will shortly be held at Kadhdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Maldives.
  • The Exercise is a 14 day platoon level joint military exercise between the Indian Army & the Maldives National Defence Force conducted on a yearly basis.Kadhdhoo
  • The aim of the exercise is to conduct military training with emphasis on amphibious & counter insurgency/ counter terrorism operations with a view to enhance interoperability between the two armies.
  • The previous edition of the exercise was held in India at Trivandrum, Kerala.


Indra Navy – 2016:

  • INDRA NAVY is a bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian and Russian navies and epitomizes the strategic relationship between the two countries. Initiated in 2003, the exercise has matured over the years with increase in scope, complexity of operations and level of participation.
  • The 9th edition of exercise INDRA NAVY, an annual bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Russian Navy has begun in the Bay of Bengal.
  • The primary aim of exercise INDRA NAVY-16 is to increase inter-operability amongst the two navies and develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.
  • The scope of the exercise includes wide-ranging professional interactions in harbor phase and a diverse canvas of operational activities across a spectrum of maritime operations at sea.