Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 January 2017



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 09 January 2017


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


Bengaluru Hosts 14th Edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas


The 14th edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, billed as the largest convergence of Indian diaspora, has begun in Bengaluru.

  • The ‘Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas‘ was also inaugurated as part of the PBD 2017 with an aim to connect with the youth, the new generation of Pravasis growing up all over the world.


About Pravasi Bharatiya Divas:

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. PBD conventions are being held every year since 2003.

  • The theme of this edition is “Redefining Engagement with the Indian Diaspora”.


Why is it celebrated on January 9th?

January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, led India’s freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever.


Significance of PBD:

  • These conventions provide a platform to the overseas Indian community to engage with the government and people of the land of their ancestors for mutually beneficial activities.
  • These conventions are also very useful in networking among the overseas Indian community residing in various parts of the world and enable them to share their experiences in various fields.
  • The event also provides a forum for discussing key issues concerning the Indian Diaspora.



During the event, individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India’s growth.

Sources: pib.


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


OCI and PIO cards


Addressing 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, 2017 Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged the diaspora community to switch from their PIO cards to OCI cards.


Who are NRIs, PIO and OCI?

Non-Resident Indians (NRI), Person of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) are the three major categories in which the people from India go and live abroad can be categorised.

While NRIs is essentially a term used for Indians that live in another country, PIOs and OCIs are people who want to stay connected and involved with India more closely.


Merger of PIO with OCI cards:

Merger of PIO cards with OCI cards was announced by PM in March 2016.


How will merging help?

Merging PIO and OCI will lead to simplification of the rules under a single umbrella. It would facilitate visa-free travel to India, rights of residency and participation in business and educational activities in the country. This is aimed at simplifying the visa-free entry for people of Indian origin into India.

The merger of the two cards could make PIO cardholders eligible for benefits already enjoyed by OCI cardholders. Merging of the two cards will also facilitate travel of Indians staying abroad and their participation in various activities in India.


Benefits of a PIO card:

  • A PIO card holder doesn’t need a visa to visit India. The holder also doesn’t require a student or employment visa to acquire employment or academic opportunities in India.
  • The holder is also exempted from registering at the foreigner regional registration office (FRRO) during the duration of stay in India.
  • The holder also enjoys parity with NRIs in concern to economic, financial and educational matters. These may include matters related to property transfer or acquisition, holding, disposal, investment, admission of children in educational institutions under general category quota for NRIs.
  • Separate immigration counters are provided at all International airports in India for PIO card holders.


Drawbacks of PIO card:

  • It does not provide voting rights to the holder. Prior permission is needed to undertake mountaineering expeditions or any such related research work in protected areas.


The benefits of OCI cards are substantial:

  • OCI is essentially a lifetime visa status offered by India to an Indian person who has given up his citizenship. OCI cards give lifetime multiple entry visa to India.
  • If one remains an OCI for 5 years, he/she can attain Indian citizenship and then live in India for a period of one year including short breaks.
  • Special immigration counters are provided at all international airports in India for OCI card holders.
  • An OCI cards holder can open special bank accounts in India just like NRIs and make investments. OCI holders can also buy non-farm property and exercise ownership rights.
  • An OCI card allows to apply for a driver’s license, PAN card or open a bank account in India. They get same economic, financial and educational benefits like NRIs and can also adopt children.


Restrictions for OCI card holders

An OCI card holder cannot vote, hold a government job or purchase agricultural or farm land. The person can also not run for public office or travel to restricted areas without permission.

Sources: pib.


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


Delhi Government unveils ‘Good Samaritan Policy’


Delhi government has approved ‘Good Samaritan Policy’ under which monetary incentive of Rs 2,000 and appreciation certificate will be given to people who help road accident victims in the national capital. The scheme is intended to encourage people to take accident victims in emergency situation to hospitals so that someone’s life could be saved.


Significance of this move:

Most of people are unwilling to help victims, mainly because they are scared they will land in trouble or be harassed. In some cases, doctors also cite reasons behind the death of accident victim that if he or she could be admitted in hospital on time, his or her life could have been saved. In 2015, 8085 accidents had taken place in the capital.

Therefore, the new move will give bystanders incentive to help accident victims and more importantly also provide them with legal protection.


As per the Law Commission of India, 50% of those killed in road accidents could have been saved if they had received immediate assistance. A report by World Health Organisation (WHO) also claimed that “skilled and empowered bystanders play a crucial role in saving lives” and “in order to enable bystanders to come forward and help injured persons, a supportive legal and ethical environment is needed”.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Ex-Pak army chief Raheel Sharif appointed head of Islamic anti-terror alliance


Former Pakistan Army chief Raheel Sharif has been made the head of a 39-nation military coalition formed by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism- Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT).

Raheel Sharif

About Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT):

The Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) was created by Saudi Arabia in December 2015 to combat the Islamic State and other groups.

  • Currently, it has 39 members, including Turkey and Malaysia. It is based at a command centre in Riyadh.
  • The coalition was envisaged to serve as a platform for security cooperation, including provision of training, equipment and troops, and involvement of religious scholars for dealing with extremism.
  • The coalition includes countries like Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Sudan, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen among others.

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.


Astronomers discover ‘powerful cosmic double whammy’ with help of India’s GMRT


By combining data from several telescopes around the world including India’s Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune, astronomers have discovered a cosmic double whammy unlike any ever seen before.


Key facts:

  • By combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune and other telescopes, researchers found what happens when matter ejected by a giant black hole is swept up in the merger of two enormous galaxy clusters.
  • The two phenomenon have combined to create a stupendous cosmic particle accelerator. This cosmic double whammy is found in a pair of colliding galaxy clusters called Abell 3411 and Abell 3412 located about two billion light years from Earth.
  • Scientists determined that as the shock waves travel across the cluster for hundreds of millions of years, the doubly accelerated particles produce giant swirls of radio emission.
  • This discovery solves a long-standing mystery in galaxy cluster research about the origin of beautiful swirls of radio emission stretching for millions of light years, detected in Abell 3411 and Abell 3412 with the GMRT.
  • This result shows that a remarkable combination of powerful events generate these particle acceleration factories, which are the largest and most powerful in the Universe.


About GMRT:

The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), located near Pune in India, is an array of thirty fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes of 45 metre diameter, observing at metre wavelengths.

  • It is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
  • At the time it was built, it was the world’s largest interferometric array offering a baseline of up to 25 kilometres (16 mi).
  • One of the aims for the telescope during its development was to search for the highly redshifted 21-cm line radiation from primordial neutral hydrogen clouds in order to determine the epoch of galaxy formation in the universe.

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.


China setting up highest altitude telescopes close to LAC


China is setting up the world’s highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in a Tibet prefecture close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, with a budget of $18.8 million.


Key facts:

  • The telescope aims to detect the faintest of echoes resonating from the universe, which may reveal more about the Big Bang theory.
  • The telescope, located 5,250 meters above sea level, will detect and gather precise data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • It is expected to be operational by 2021.
  • The telescope will be located at Ngari. Ngari, with its high altitude, clear sky and minimal human activity is said to be one of the world’s best spots to detect tiny twists in cosmic light.



Gravitational waves were first proposed by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity 100 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2016 that scientists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory announced proof of the waves’ existence, spurring fresh research interest among the world’s scientists.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Minigrids can power rural economic activity


A study has found that mini grids can spur economic activity in rural areas and accelerate the process of expanding mobile phone network across the country due to their large capacities and the ability to connect to the national grid.


What is a mini grid?

A mini grid, as defined by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, is an off-grid power system with a generation capacity of between 10 KW and 500 KW. It converts direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) and it provides safety as per REC and CEA standards.


Significance of mini grids:

There are a number of other solutions of smaller capacities that rural areas can use such as a solar lantern, a solar home solution, or even a community solution like a micro grid. But a mini grid is the only alternative that provides the kind of electricity that can be used for business activities.

The power generated from a mini grid can be seamlessly transferred to the national grid since it is already going through a a charge controller which manages the flow of energy and an inverter which converts the electricity from DC to AC. It also has a storage facility to meet night demand as well.


Suitable places for mini grids:

One of the important criteria in selecting a village to install a mini grid is to see whether there is at least one customer in the area – like a telecom tower, petrol pump, school or bank – that could make up a significant portion of the energy demand from the mini grid. The potential of existing commercial activity and future potential demand should also be considered.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.  


Anti-avoidance tax rule GAAR to kick in from April 2017


The tax department has clarified that tax anti-avoidance rule GAAR will kick in from April 1 in India. GAAR, which was originally to be implemented from April 1, 2014, will now come into effect from April 1, 2017 (Assessment Year 2018-19).


About GAAR:

General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR) was part of the 2012-13 Budget speech of the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to check tax evasion and avoidance. However, its implementation was repeatedly postponed because of the apprehensions expressed by foreign investors. It contains provision allowing the government to prospectively tax overseas deals involving local assets.



GAAR was introduced to address tax avoidance and ensure that those in different tax brackets are taxed the correct amount.  In many instances of tax avoidance, arrangements may take place with the sole intention of gaining a tax advantage while complying with the law.  This is when the doctrine of ‘substance over form’ may apply.  ‘Substance over form’ is where real intention of parties and the purpose of an arrangement is taken into account rather than just the nomenclature of the arrangement.  Many countries, like Canada and South Africa, have codified the doctrine of ‘substance over form’ through a GAAR – type ruling.

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.


SC wants paper trail in EVMs for fair poll


The Supreme Court has reiterated the necessity to implement the Vote Verifier Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in electronic voting machines (EVMs) to ensure 100% transparency in elections.


What is VVPAT system?

In the VVPAT system, when a voter presses the button for a candidate of his choice in the EVM, a paper ballot containing the serial number, name of the candidate and poll symbol would be printed for the voter.

The VVPAT is intended as an independent verification system for voting machines designed to allow voters to verify that their votes were cast correctly, to detect possible election fraud or malfunction and to provide a means to audit the stored electronic results.

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.


New Ginger species with medicinal properties found in Andamans


Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have found a new species of Zingiber (commonly referred as Ginger) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.


Key facts:

  • The species Zingiber pseudosquarrosum belonging to genus Zingiber, was already used by the local Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) of the Andamans for its medicinal values.
  • The pseudo stem of the new species is predominantly red in colour. Flowers have a vermilion tinge and dehisced fruit [fully mature fruits] are lotus shaped. Inflorescence buds are urceolate in shape.
  • The morphological features of this species makes it distinct from other species belonging to the genus Zingiber.
  • Like other species of Gingers, this new species is edible and can be propagated vegetatively from the rhizome. The fresh extract of fleshy tuberous roots is used to treat abdominal pain and anti-helminthic troubles by Nicobarese and certain other tribal communities.



As per scientific information available, there are 141 species of genus Zingiber are distributed throughout tropical Asia, including China, Japan and tropical Australia. Of these, 20 are reported from India, which include seven (latest being Zingiber pseudosquarrosum) from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Most of the species of these Gingers are endemic to India.

Sources: the hindu.