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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 February 2017



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 February 2017


Paper 1 Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


Mahila Shakti Kendra will be set-up at village level


The Finance Minister, in his Budget Speech has announced Rs 500 cr for setting up Mahila Shakti Kendras at village level in the Anganwadi Centres.


What are these centres for?

These centres will provide one stop convergent support services for empowering rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition.


Concerns associated with this scheme:

While details about the scheme and its implementation are yet to emerge, those working in the field of rural women’s empowerment raised some preliminary concerns.

  • For one, the scheme proposes to attach a Mahila Shakti Kendra to each of the country’s 14 lakh anganwadis, or centres that provide basic healthcare and nutrition to mothers and children from low-income households. However, Rs 500 crore divided amongst 14 lakh anganwadis in the country amounts to just Rs 3,571 for each Mahila Shakti Kendra. This is insufficient.
  • Also, anganwadi workers are already overburdened with duties beyond their primary jobs, such as working for the census and other government schemes. Often, they are paid less than minimum wage.


What else is there for the welfare of women and children in the budget?

Overall, there is a hike in budget allocation for the welfare of women and children, from Rs 1.56 lakh crore last year to Rs 1.84 lakh crore.

Sources: pib.


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


Cabinet approves Introduction of The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament


The Union Cabinet has given its approval for introduction of The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament.


Key facts:

  • The amendment Bill provides for inclusion of Indian Institute of Information Technology Design and Manufacturing (IIITDM), Kurnool along with the other IITs in the Principal Act.
  • Subsequently, IITDM Kurnool will be declared as an institute of National Importance with the power to award degrees to students
  • The expenditure for the operationalization of IITDM Kurnool is incurred from the Plan funds of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The emerging needs of the industry and the economy, as a whole for skilled technical manpower is expected to be met from the talent pool of trained personnel of the Institute.
  • The Institute shall be open to all persons irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability, domicile, ethnicity, social or economic background.



The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act, 2014 confers the status of Institutions of National Importance on the IIITs and also provides for matters connected with administering these IIITs. Subsequently, the Government has approved creation of a new NIT at Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh as embodied in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014. Due to addition of a new IIIT, amendment has to be made in the IIIT Act, 2014. With this, IIITDM. Kurnool will be the fifth Member as a Centrally Funded IIIT.

Sources: pib.


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.


CRISPR Variant Produces Tuberculosis-Resistant Cows


A team of researchers from China has successfully utilized an innovative form of the genome-editing technique CRISPR to insert a new gene into the cow genome, rendering the animals much more resistant to tuberculosis.

  • Researchers used a novel version of the CRISPR system called CRISPR/Cas9n to successfully insert a tuberculosis resistance gene into the cow genome.

How was this done?

In this study, the investigators inserted the NRAMP1 gene into the genome of bovine fetal fibroblasts—cells derived from female dairy cows—using the CRISPR/Cas9n technology. These cells were then used as donor cells in a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning), where the nucleus of a donor cell carrying the new gene is inserted into an egg cell, known as an ovum, from a female cow.

  • Next, the ova were nurtured in the lab into embryos before being transferred into mother cows for a normal pregnancy cycle. As a control, the experiments were also conducted using the standard CRISPR/Cas9 technology as a comparison. A total of 11 calves with new genes inserted using CRISPR were able to be assessed for resistance to tuberculosis and any off-target genetic effects.
  • Genetic analysis of the calves revealed that NRAMP1 had successfully integrated into the genetic code at the targeted region in all of the calves. None of the calves that had the gene inserted using the new CRISPR/Cas9n technology had any detectable off-target effects, whereas all of the calves with the gene inserted with previously used techniques for CRISPR/Cas9 did.
  • Remarkably, when the calves were exposed to Mycobacterium bovis, the bacterium that causes bovine tuberculosis, the researchers found that transgenic animals showed an increased resistance to the bacterium measured by standard markers of infection in a blood sample. Additionally, they found that white blood cells taken from the calves were much more resistant to M. bovis exposure in laboratory tests.



CRISPR technology has become widely used in the laboratory in recent years as it is an accurate and relatively easy way to modify the genetic code. The technology allows scientists to go in and essentially snip and tuck genes from one organism to another to enhance them in some way, and it’s already been done with pigs, fish, mice, and mosquitos, as well as human embryos.  

However, sometimes unintentional changes to the genetic code occur as an off-target effect, so finding ways to reduce these is a priority for genomics research.


Significance of this move:

With this, the researchers have successfully developed live cows carrying increased resistance to tuberculosis. Importantly, this method produced no off-target effects on the cow genetics, meaning that the CRISPR technology employed may be better suited to producing transgenic livestock with purposefully manipulated genetics.

Sources: ie.


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.


Government introduces alternative funding mechanism of electoral bonds


The government has announced measures in the Budget to bring in greater transparency in funding of political parties. These include capping cash funding by a single anonymous donor to 2000 that is at a tenth of the current limit and proposing electoral bonds that are likely to reveal the identity of the donor while keeping the name of the party hidden.

  • Both proposals will require amendments to existing laws. While introduction of electoral bonds will need an amendment to the RBI Act, the lowering of limit for anonymous contributions to Rs 2,000 from Rs 20,000 could necessitate an amendment to the Representation of the People Act.


Significance of this move:

The measures are expected to force parties to put out details of the bulk of their donors in public domain. A report released by the Association of Democratic Reforms last month revealed that 69% of funds of political parties in India from 2004-05 to 2014-15 came from “unknown” resources.


Electoral bonds:

It is expected that RBI will issue such bonds on behalf of the government like any other sovereign bond to which a donor may subscribe from bank branches and take certificates against it. Later, the bonds can be given to any political party, which will be able to redeem these securities at its bank account. So, the bearer’s identity is unlikely to be revealed in the books of the party and the recipient party will also remain unknown.

Sources: et.


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.


Decision on FRBM Review Panel report in due course: FM Arun Jaitley


Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has clarified that the report of the FRBM Review Panel, headed by former revenue secretary N K Sinha, will be carefully examined and appropriate decisions will be taken in due course.



A five-member committee was constituted in May 2016 following Mr. Jaitley’s announcement, in Budget 2016-17, of the creation of a panel to review the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. The government had mandated the committee to explore whether it should adopt a flexible fiscal deficit target instead of a fixed number every year. The panel recently submitted its report to the government.


Highlights of the report:

  • The committee has recommended major changes in the 13-year-old Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act and suggested ways to ensure responsible and higher growth, sources said.
  • The committee says, “a new FRBM Act is critical to create better conditions for co-ordination between monetary and fiscal policy and also usher in a low interest rate regime.”
  • The Committee had recommended debt-to-GDP ratio of 60% by 2023 and fiscal deficit at 3% for next three years.
  • There is also a suggestion that fiscal expansion or contraction should be aligned with credit contraction or expansion respectively in the economy.


Need for review of FRBM act:

Since its introduction, the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act has been facing a rocky road in terms of implementation. Paused four times since its enactment in August 2003, including for a reset of the fiscal deficit target in 2008-09 following the global financial crisis, the FRBM Act has become a subject of animated debate.

Sources: et.


Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


Govt proposes setting up of Payments Regulatory Board under RBI


The government, keen on promoting digital payments, has proposed to form a separate regulator for the payments industry to resolve disputes, ensure customer protection and check any foul play by dominant players.


Key facts:

Finance minister Arun Jaitley has called for an overhaul of the Payment and Settlements Act 2007 to create the Payments Regulatory Board.

  • The board would be under the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). This is being done to avoid criticism that the board would dilute the banking regulator’s powers.
  • The Payments Regulatory Board will exercise the functions relating to the regulation and supervision of payments and settlement systems under the Act.
  • The board would look at interoperability of digital transactions and facilitate competition and innovation among financial technology companies in the payments space.
  • It will also be responsible for consumer protection, decide on penalties and create appeal mechanisms, which could ensure faster resolution of disputes over settlement of digital payments.
  • The proposed board will have the RBI governor as the chairperson, along with a deputy governor in charge of payments as member, besides an RBI officer nominated by the RBI Board. It will also have three members nominated by the central government.



The payments industry has been crying for attention in the wake of the explosion of financial technology companies that facilitate transactions. Consumers have embraced their services due to the simplicity they offer. But there have been allegations that dominant banks have been creating hurdles for such companies to protect their turf.

Source: et.


Facts for Prelims



  • It is a Twitter Seva initiative of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • The Twitter Seva aims to address issues relating to the DARPG like Public Grievances and Administrative Reforms etc.
  • The Twitter Seva will enable the DARPG to reach out to the common public and various stakeholders for facilitating redress of grievances and other issues of importance relating to the department.