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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 February 2017



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 February 2017


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


Cabinet approves Amending the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 (7 of 2009)


The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to introduce a Bill in Parliament to extend the jurisdiction of the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 to Jammu & Kashmir on statistics relevant to any matters under any of the entries specified in the List-I (Union List) and the List- III (Concurrent List) in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, as applicable to Jammu & Kashmir under the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 1954.


Key facts:

  • The Amendment is aimed at strengthening data collection mechanism in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The amendment will provide for extending the jurisdiction of the Act to Jammu & Kashmir State in respect of matters not reserved for the State as per the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1954.
  • It will also provide for appointing a nodal officer at the Centre and in each State/Union Territory to effectively coordinate data collection activities and provide consultation to Government Departments for avoiding unnecessary duplication, etc.


About the Collection of Statistics Act 2008:

The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 was enacted to facilitate the collection of statistics on economics, demographic, social, scientific and environmental aspects etc.

  • The Act extends to the whole of India, except Jammu & Kashmir. The Jammu & Kashmir State legislature enacted the Jammu & Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010, which extends to the whole of the State of Jammu & Kashmir and is almost a replica of the central legislation.


Need for an amendment:

The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 and the Jammu & Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010 are not applicable to statistical subjects falling in the Union List, as applicable to the Jammu & Kashmir under the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order 1954. This has created a legislative vacuum. Moreover, the concurrent jurisdiction to be exercised by the Centre in Jammu & Kashmir has also not been provided for, in the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008. The amendment is intended to address this vacuum.

Sources: pib.


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


Cabinet approves acquisition of subsidiary banks of State Bank of India


The Union Cabinet has approved the acquisition by the State Bank of India of its subsidiary banks namely State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore.

  • The acquisition of subsidiary banks of State Bank is an important step towards strengthening the banking sector through consolidation of public sector banks. It is in pursuance of the Indradhanush action plan of the Government and it is expected to strengthen the banking sector and improve its efficiency and profitability.  


Benefits of merger:

  • The merger is likely to result in recurring savings, estimated at more than Rs. 1,000 crore in the first year, through a combination of enhanced operational efficiency and reduced cost of funds. Existing customers of subsidiary banks will benefit from access to SBI’s global network.
  • The merger will also lead to better management of high value credit exposures through focused monitoring and control over cash flows instead of separate monitoring by six different banks.
  • The acquisition under Section 35 of the State Bank of India Act, 1955 will result in the creation of a stronger merged entity. This will minimize vulnerability to any geographic concentration risks faced by subsidiary banks. 
  • It will also create improved operational efficiency and economies of scale. It will also result in improved risk management and unified treasury operations.



The merger proposal was announced in May 2016 and was scheduled for March 2017.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Cabinet’s nod to establishment of new FLRP


The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP) at Amlaha in Madhya Pradesh.


Key facts:

  • The research platform will be established with satellite hubs in West Bengal (for pulses) and Rajasthan (for natural resource management) by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA).
  • The Madhya Pradesh government will provide 71 hectares (or 175.42 acre) of land at Amlaha Farm for the project on rent of Re 1 per acre per year for 30 years on lease.
  • The Cabinet also gave ‘in principle’ approval for conferring on FLRP an international status as contemplated in Clause 3 of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947.
  • The platform is aimed at contributing significantly towards reducing poverty, improving food security, improving nutrition and health, and sustaining the natural resource base.


Significance of this move:

The establishment of FLRP will enable India to harness the best of international science in meeting the emerging food security challenges. A major international R&D institution will make India an even bigger centre for agricultural research in the world and this in turn, will attract further research and development investment in the country.



The International Center for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), a member of the CGIAR, supported by the CGIAR Fund, is a non-profit agricultural research for development institute that aims to improve the livelihoods of the resource-poor across the world’s dry areas.

  • Established in 1977, the ICARDA’s founding mandate is to promote agricultural development in the dry areas of developing countries.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.


Constitution bench to hear Delhi-Centre turf dispute


A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has referred to a Constitution Bench a series of appeals filed by the Delhi government for laying down the law on whether the Lieutenant Governor (LG) can unilaterally administer the National Capital without being bound by the “aid and advice” of the elected government.


What’s the issue?

The court is hearing a bunch of pleas filed by AAP government challenging the verdict of the Delhi High Court which held that the CM or his ministers could not issue orders without LG’s approval and every decision must be routed through him. The HC had in August last year ruled that the LG was not bound by the “aid and advice” of the Delhi cabinet on any matter.

However, the state government had contended that the HC verdict would subvert the democratic governance structure as the Constitution recognised Delhi as a state with an elected assembly.


What next?

A question that arises for consideration now is whether the appeals would have to be heard by an eleven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. This is because a nine-judge bench of the apex court had in 1996 in the NDMC versus State of Punjab case, recognised Delhi as a Union Territory for taxation purposes.


What the constitution says?

According to some experts, after receiving aid and advice from Delhi’s council of ministers under Article 239AA(4), the LG may or may not agree. If he disagrees on “any matter”, he is bound to refer it to the President for a decision. Pending such a decision, the LG can, in case of an urgency, take immediate action. Thus, the LG’s discretion is circumscribed by the President’s final decision.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein. 


Karnataka Cabinet clears Mekadatu project


Karnataka has decided to implement the Rs. 5,912 crore Mekedatu multi-purpose (drinking and power) project that involves building a balancing reservoir across the Cauvery near Kanakapura in Ramanagaram district.

  • However, the project has been opposed by Tamil Nadu on the grounds that it violates the Cauvery tribunal order. But, Karnataka has said that it aims to utilise excess water after releasing 192 tmcft to Tamil Nadu.


What next?

The State government would place the project before the Central Water Commission as well as the Supervisory Committee of the Supreme Court and Ministry of Environment and Forests for taking clearances. A total of 4,996 hectares of forest lands would be submerged under water.


About the project:

Karnataka intends to build a reservoir across river Cauvery near Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk. It was first proposed along with Shivanasamudra hydro power project at Shimsa in 2003 with an intention to use the water for a hydro power station and supply drinking water to Bengaluru city.

  • The drinking water and hydroelectric project will have a balancing reservoir to store 66.50 tmcft of Cauvery water.
  • The project is estimated to cost 5,912 crore and about 4,900 hectares of forest land will submerge if the project is implemented.

Sources: the hindu.


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


With MTCR done, India to test extended range Brahmos


India is planning to test a new version of the Brahmos cruise missile on March 10, with New Delhi’s entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) removing previous barriers that capped the range of the joint project with Russia.

  • The extended range version of the missile, aiming to reach 450 km, will be an improvement over the current range of 290 km.



The technology upgrade comes after India’s full membership into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which removed caps on range of India’s BrahMos missile, which it jointly developed with Russia.


About MTCR:

Established in April 1987, the voluntary MTCR aims to limit the spread of ballistic missiles and other unmanned delivery systems that could be used for chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks.

  • The MTCR regime urges its members, which include most of the world’s key missile manufacturers, to restrict their exports of missiles and related technologies capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers or delivering any type of weapon of mass destruction.

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.


Clouds over Maharashtra will have a silver iodide lining


During monsoon 2017, weather scientists will fly airplanes loaded with silver iodide over clouds hovering above Solapur, Maharashtra and begin a three-year investigation into an old question: does cloud seeding produce sufficient rain?

  • The ₹250-crore programme, coordinated by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, will be the first controlled experiment to quantify the extent to which clouds form water drops large enough to make rain.



Maharashtra has frequently toyed with the idea of cloud seeding because of the frequency of droughts over the Vidarbha region. Seeding involves spraying chemicals into clouds.


How is it done?

For their experiment, scientists will fly two aircraft and spray dry ice and silver iodide on 100 clouds and compare them with 100 unseeded clouds. Ground radar will track the clouds and verify which ones contributed rain.


cloud seeding


Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims


TAMRA portal for transparent mining clearance:

  • TAMRA portal was recently simultaneously launched across 12 mineral rich states.
  • The portal is developed by the ministry of Mines.
  • TAMRA is a step to speed up mining activity in India and facilitate all the stakeholders to track the status of the statutory clearances associated with blocks for getting mines to reach till operationalisation for the same.
  • It will be an interactive platform for all the stakeholders to compress the timeline for statutory and other clearances as it is expected to help minimise the gestation period for starting production.
  • TAMRA covers block-, state- and mineral-wise information of the blocks to be auctioned, monitors various statutory clearances and also highlights the additional resources generated through e-auction.
  • In case of delay in obtaining any clearances, TAMRA will send out triggers to the authority concerned so that the remedial steps can be taken immediately.
  • The mines ministry will also receive triggers generated by TAMRA, which will facilitate expediting clearances in case the timelines set against each of the statutory clearances are not met.