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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 February 2017



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 18 February 2017


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.


Maximum Possible Marks to Indian NRA in WHO Assessment


WHO has completed the assessment of the status of the Indian vaccine regulatory system against WHO NRA Global Benchmarking Tool (GBT) for benchmarking and measured the maturity of the system.


Key facts:

  • The assessment has been carried out by a WHO team comprising lead experts in different areas from WHO Headquarters Geneva, WHO India Country Office, experts drawn from the regulators of USA, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Indonesia, Thailand and Egypt.
  • The assessment has been done in respect of nine different functionalities and Indian National Regulatory Authority (NRA) has been declared ‘functional’ with a maturity level of 4 i.e. the highest level as per currently evolved definitions in respect of 5 functions, and maturity level 3 in respect of 4 functions.
  • While, maturity level 4 indicates good results and sustained improvement trends, maturity level 3 reflects systematic process based approach, early stage of systematic improvements, data availability regarding conformance to objectives and existence of improvement trends.


Why assessment of National Regulatory Authority (NRA) is necessary?

A fully functional NRA is a pre-requisite for WHO prequalification of vaccines. One of the requirements to become eligible and retain prequalification status is to have the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) assessed as functional against the WHO published NRA indicators.

  • WHO Prequalification Programme, as such, facilitates access to vaccines that meet the unified standards of quality, safety and efficacy as well as programme needs. The vaccine manufacturers can only apply for WHO vaccine prequalification if the NRA meets the standards of the WHO NRA published indicators i.e. WHO Global benchmarking Tool on functional regulatory system for vaccines.
  • The nine functions included in the tool are National Regulatory System; Registration and Marketing Authorization; Vigilance; Laboratory Access and Testing; Regulatory Inspection; Clinical Trial Oversight; NRA Lot Release; Licensing Premises; and Market Surveillance and Control. The Global Benchmarking Tool (GBT) so developed has 63 indicators and 288 sub-indicators.



National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India comprises the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), State Drug Regulatory Authorities, Pharmaco-vigilance Programme of India (PvPI) and Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) structures at the Central and States levels.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


Govt. junks border wall plan


The Centre has given up its proposal to build a wall along the Pakistan border in Jammu, originally envisaged as a barrier to cross-border terror.


About the proposed wall:

The proposed embankment would have been about 135 feet (41 metres) wide and 10 metres high, and would have accommodated bunkers and border outposts.

The raised embankment, initiated by the UPA government in 2013 after the twin attacks in the Hiranagar/Samba sector, was to come up along 179 km of the International Border in Jammu.

Opposition to the construction of wall:

  • The wall proposal was opposed by Pakistan, which shot off letters to the United Nations Security Council in 2015 accusing India of converting what it called a “working boundary” into a “quasi international boundary.”
  • The Indian Army too opposed the embankment, saying it would pose hurdles for their forward movement during military operations.
  • Also, unlike the Line of Control, the International Border is densely populated and has fertile agrarian land. Not many people were willing to let go of their land.


What next?

The government plans to depend on ‘technological solutions’ such as a ‘smart fence’, a seamless virtual fence with sensors to identify any infiltration. The Home Ministry is also working on a Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) for 24X7 surveillance.



India shares 3323 Km (including Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir sector) of its land border with Pakistan. This border runs along the States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir. The Indo-Pakistan border has varied terrain and distinct geographical features. This border is characterized by attempts at infiltration by terrorists and smuggling of arms, ammunition and contraband, the Line of Control being the most active and live portion of the border.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.


There’s no concept of National Song: SC


The Supreme Court has refused to intervene in a petition seeking a direction to the government to frame a national policy to promote and propagate the ‘National Song’, along with the National Anthem and the National Flag.



The decision came on a petition contending that a national policy should be framed “in the spirit of Article 51A to achieve the great golden goals, as set out in the Preamble of the Constitution of India.” The petition also sought the court to “ascertain the feasibility of singing/playing the National Anthem and National Song in the Parliament/Assembly, public offices, courts and schools on every working day.”


What has the court said?

According to the supreme court, “there is no concept of National Song”. Article 51A (a), citing the citizens’ fundamental duties, does not refer to ‘National Song.’ It only refers to National Flag and National Anthem.

Article 51A(a) mandates that citizens should abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.


Governor not ‘duty-bound’ by popular will, says SC


As Tamil Nadu politics witnessed a churn, the State’s Governor has come under intense scrutiny for not inviting AIADMK interim general secretary V.K. Sasikala to form the government despite the fact that her faction commanded a majority in the Legislative Assembly. However, a 2011 Supreme Court Judgment empowers Governor to use discretion.


What had the court said?

A 2001 Supreme Court precedent holds that a State Governor should not always be swayed by “popular will” or the “brute” support a chief minister aspirant enjoys from her party MLAs. It said the Constitution empowers the Governor, while appointing a chief minister, to use his discretion to ensure a stable government.

  • A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had held in the B.R. Kapur versus State of Tamil Nadu in 2001 that the Constitution does not give elected members of a majority party unfettered right to elect an incompetent or disqualified person as chief minister.
  • The court also held that “the contention that in all eventualities whatsoever the Governor is bound by the decision of the majority party is not a correct proposition. The Governor cannot be totally deprived of element of discretion in performance of duties of his office, if ever any such exigency may so demand its exercise”.

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. 


Project Loon can now predict weather systems   


Researchers at Google have moved a step closer to rolling out a network of huge balloons to provide Internet connectivity to billions of people around the world, particularly those in difficult-to-reach rural areas.


Key facts:

  • The Project Loon team, part of the company’s X research lab, said it can now use machine learning to predict weather systems. By using machine-learning algorithms, Google thinks it has found a way to predict weather with enough accuracy to make it possible to hover balloons over a relatively small area for a long period of time.
  • The advance means Google has much more control over where its balloons reach, making it possible to focus on a specific region, rather than circumnavigating the globe.


What is Project Loon?

Project Loon aims to provide internet services to the remote parts of the world. Rather than use under-ground fibre optic cables or construct cell towers to connect users, it will use balloons that float in the stratosphere. That explains the name.

  • Huge helium filled balloons — about 15m wide and 12m tall — will be launched at altitudes of 20 km above the earth, above the zone where airplanes fly. The balloons can then act as cell towers to receive and transmit signals. Solar panels will power these ‘loons’ with their batteries storing up charge for night-time operation.
  • The balloon’s path will be controlled by changing its altitude, so that it can optimally use wind speed and direction. The altitude will be altered by pumping or releasing air to raise or lower the balloon. As one ‘station’ moves off to a new pre-determined location, the next one moves in. Users will need a special antenna for receiving and sending radio signals to/from the balloon. They will need a connection to the internet service provider to access the web.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.


India slips to 143 in economic freedom index 


The Heritage Foundation has released its Index of Economic Freedom report 2017.


About the index:

Economic freedom is measured based on 12 quantitative and qualitative factors, grouped into four broad categories, or pillars, of economic freedom:

  1. Rule of Law (property rights, government integrity, judicial effectiveness).
  2. Government Size (government spending, tax burden, fiscal health).
  3. Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom).
  4. Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).


Each of the ten economic freedoms within these categories is graded on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall score is derived by averaging these ten economic freedoms, with equal weight being given to each.


Highlights of the report:

  • India is ranked 143, behind its several South Asian neighbours including Pakistan, as progress on market-oriented reforms has been “uneven”.
  • India has been placed in the category of “mostly unfree” economies, as progress on market-oriented reforms has been “uneven”.
  • India’s overall score of 52.6 points is 3.6 points less than that of last year, when India ranked 123rd.
  • India is a significant force in world trade, the report noted, but corruption, underdeveloped infrastructure, and poor management of public finance undermine overall development.
  • Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand topped the index. Among South Asian countries, only Afghanistan (163) and Maldives (157) were ranked below India.
  • Nepal (125), Sri Lanka (112), Pakistan (141), Bhutan (107), and Bangladesh (128) surpassed India in economic freedom.
  • China with a score of 57.4 points – an increase of 5.4 points compared to previous year – was placed at 111 position. The United States was ranked 17 with 75.1 points.
  • The world average score of 60.9 is the highest recorded in the 23-year history of the index.
  • Forty-nine countries – the majority of which are developing countries, but also including countries such as Norway and Sweden – achieved their highest-ever index scores.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims

INSV Tarini:

  • It is the Indian Navy’s second ocean going sailboat. It was recently inducted in to the Indian Navy.
  • INSV Tarini is a sloop built by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd at Divar, Goa.
  • It is slated to be the platform for First Indian All Women Circumnavigation of the Globe expedition of the Indian Navy.
  • The boat draws her origin from the famous Tara-Tarini temple of Orissa’s Ganjam district. The word Tarini means a Boat and is also a Sanskrit word for Saviour. Tara-Tarini is a patron deity for sailors and merchants and is worshipped for safety and success at sea.