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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 February 2017



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 February 2017


Paper 1 Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Bet Dwarka Darshan Circuit in Gujarat to be developed at a cost of Rs.16.27 cr under HRIDAY


Ministry of Urban Development has approved development of 6 km long Bet Dwarka Darshan Circuit in Gujarat at a cost of Rs.16.27 cr under the Central Scheme ‘Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)’.

  • The circuit connects the famous Dwarkadish Haveli and Hanuman Dandi, the only temple housing Hanumanji and his son Makardhwaj, in Dwarka district of Gujarat. There are two important water bodies along the circuit viz., Ranchod Talav and Shankhudhar Lake.
  • Darshan Circuit works to be taken up include development of streets and pedestrian pathways, laying of cycle tracks along beach side, plantation, provision of benches, resting spaces, changing rooms, drinking water and toilet facilities, craft and food bazar, signages, LED lighting, plazas for vending spaces etc.



Under HRIDAY launched in January, 2015, heritage related infrastructure development is being taken up in 12 identified cities at a total cost of Rs.500 cr. It aims to preserve and rejuvenate the rich cultural heritage of the country.


Key facts:

  • It seeks to promote an integrated, inclusive and sustainable development of heritage sites, focusing not just on maintenance of monuments but on advancement of the entire ecosystem including its citizens, tourists and local businesses.
  • Central government will meet the entire expenditure under the scheme. But, the states and local urban bodies are requested to supplement their resources for rapid development of heritage cities.
  • The project will work through a partnership of Government, Academic Institutions and local community combining affordable technologies.
  • The 12 cities selected for the scheme are Ajmer, Amritsar, Amravati, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Warangal, Puri, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Varanasi and Velankanni.

Sources: pib.


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.   


15 lakh youth to get online and experiential learning on Entrepreneurship Education


The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (SDE) and Wadhwani Operating Foundation (WOF) have signed two Agreements for effectuating an earlier understanding of jointly developing and implementing Entrepreneurship and Skill Development initiatives in the country with the Pradhan Mantri YUVA Scheme being the first joint effort in this regard.

  • The WOF, in capacity of Knowledge Partner will contribute, free of cost, Software, Content and Intangibles such as faculty and field staff training and program consulting services under the Scheme.


About Pradhan Mantri YUVA Scheme:

Pradhan Mantri YUVA Scheme launched by the Ministry during November, 2016 aims at providing online Entrepreneurship Education to about 15 lakh students across the country through 3050 Project Institutes consisting of Institutions of Higher Learning; Schools; ITIs and Entrepreneurship Development Centres, both Government and Private.

  • The online Entrepreneurship Modules will be duly supplemented by the class room based experiential learning activities and practicums which will be facilitated by specially trained Faculty of the educational institutions.
  • The Ministry would also provide financial assistance to these institutions for different activities under the Scheme. The total scheme outlay is Rs.450 crores.
  • The five-year Scheme is expected to witness setting up of more than 23,000 enterprises thus resulting into creation of more than 2.30 lakh direct and indirect jobs in the country.
  • The Scheme also envisages delivery of specially developed Social Entrepreneurship Modules to interested students in Institutions of Higher Learning.

Sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: Disaster and disaster management.


NDMA prepares States to deal with Heat Wave 2017 


A national workshop on Preparation of Heat Wave Action Plan was recently organised in Hyderabad by NDMA. Discussions were held with all stakeholders resolving to work towards mitigating the adverse impact of the imminent heat wave this year.

  • The workshop was organised by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with the Government of Telangana.


About heatwaves:

The Indian Meteorology Department (IMD) defines a heatwave as an excess of five to six degrees C over the maximum daily temperature (over a 30-year period) of less than 40 degree C or an excess of four to five degree C over a normal historical maximum temperature of over 40 degree C.

A heat wave is a combination of and humidity for a prolonged period. It is an extended period of very high summer temperature with the potential to adversely affect communities.


What are the possible health hazards due to heat wave?

According to the National Health Service based in UK, heat stroke and heat exhaustion are the two major risks posed by high-temperature conditions. Continuous and constant exposure to high temperatures could result in nausea and heat cramps, resulting in rapid rise of the body temperature. Dehydration (absence of adequate water within the body) could also aid in heat exhaustion. Headaches, dizziness and nausea are some of the symptoms.

Sources: pib.


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


Fourth series of Sovereign Gold Bonds


The Centre has decided to come out with the fourth series of Sovereign Gold Bonds 2016-17, which the Reserve Bank of India will issue on its behalf. The bonds will be issued on March 17.

  • The bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India (SHCIL), designated post offices and recognised stock exchanges — National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange.


About Sovereign Gold Bond scheme:

Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2015, the Sovereign Gold Bond scheme aims at cutting down the huge demand for the precious metal.


Salient features:

  • Minimum investment under the Gold Bond scheme is one gm.
  • Maximum investment under the Gold Bond scheme is 500 gm.
  • Interest to be obtained under the Gold Bond scheme is at a fixed rate of 2.75 per cent payable every six months.
  • The Gold Bond scheme is available in DEMAT and paper form.
  • The Gold Bond scheme has a tenure of eight years, with exit options in the 5th, 6th and 7th year.
  • At time of exit the bond can be redeemed at market rate of gold.
  • The gold bond can be used as collateral to avail a loan.
  • Can be used as collateral for loans.
  • Capital gain tax will be exempted on redemption.

Sources: pib.


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


Sikkim becomes 22nd State to join UDAY 


The Government of India and the State of Sikkim have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under the Scheme Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), for operational improvement of the State’s Power Distribution Department.


Key facts:

  • With the signing of MoU, the total number of States covered under UDAY has reached twenty-two.
  • Sikkim would derive an Overall Net Benefit of approximately Rs. 207 crores through UDAY by way of cheaper funds, reduction in AT&C and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, etc. during the period of turnaround.
  • The MoU paves way for improving operational efficiency of the Power Distribution department of the State.
  • AT&C losses and transmission losses would be brought down through compulsory distribution transformer metering, consumer indexing & GIS mapping of losses, upgrade/change transformers, meters etc., smart metering of high-end consumers, feeder audit etc., besides eliminating the gap between cost of supply of power and realisation.
  • The reduction in AT&C losses and transmission losses to 15% and 3.50% respectively is likely to bring additional revenue of around Rs. 179 crores.


About UDAY:

UDAY or Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojna was launched in November 2015 to help loss-making discoms turn around financially, with support from their State governments.

  • Under the scheme, States will take over three-fourths of the debt of their respective discoms. The governments will then issue ‘UDAY bonds’ to banks and other financial institutions to raise money to pay off the banks. The remaining 25% of the discom debt will be dealt within one of the two ways — conversion into lower interest rate loans by the lending banks or be funded by money raised through discom bonds backed by State guarantee. Backing from the State will help bring down the interest rate for the discoms.
  • In return for the bailout, the discoms have been given target dates (2017 to 2019) by which they will have to meet efficiency parameters such as reduction in power lost through transmission, theft and faulty metering, installing smart meters and implementing GIS (geographic information system) mapping of loss making areas. States will also have to ensure that power tariffs are revised regularly.

Sources: pib.


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


‘Legally vetted’ pact on services tabled at WTO


India has submitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a legally vetted proposal on a global services pact, that among other things, aims to ease norms for movement of skilled workers across borders for short-term work.


Key facts:

  • In October 2016, India had tabled a concept note on the proposed TFS at the WTO and followed it up with a paper on its possible elements in November 2016. The TFS proposal is on the lines of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Goods.
  • According to India, the proposed TFS pact is also about ‘facilitation’ – that is “making market access ‘effective’ and commercially meaningful and not about ‘new’ (or greater) market access.”
  • The proposed pact also aims to ensure portability of social security contributions, a single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals and cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism.


Way ahead:

The proposal for a Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement will be taken up by an expert committee at the WTO headquarters in Geneva during March 14-17, following which it will be put up for discussion among all the WTO members.

Sources: the hindu.


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


India, Israel to develop missile for Army


India has approved a deal with Israel to develop jointly a medium range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) system for the Army in a ₹17,000-crore deal. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) gave the go-ahead for the deal to be executed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI).


Key facts:

  • This is the latest in a series of other variants of SAM systems for the Navy and the Air Force being jointly developed with Israeli help under deals estimated at billions of dollars.
  • The deal is for five regiments of the missile, which consists of 40 units and 200 missiles. It has a range of 50-70 km.
  • The system will be based on the older Barak system of Israel, which is in use in India. It is being changed as per requirements.
  • The systems will be manufactured in India and would have an 80% indigenous content.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Record olive ridley nesting baffles wildlife experts


A record-breaking mass nesting by 3.8 lakh endangered olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) took place at the Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district of Odisha in February 2017. Interestingly, no mass nesting had taken place at the site a year ago.

  • It is believed that several environmental factors, including chemical factors like salinity of the beach and the sea near the coast, may have prompted these marine reptiles to give the coast a miss in 2016.


According to experts, most mass nesting sites of olive ridley turtles in the world are located near river mouths, where salinity is low. However, a lot still needs to be explored with regard to the influence of the salinity factor as not much is known about the relation between mass nesting by these endangered turtles and coastline salinity.


About Olive Ridley turtles:

Also known as the Pacific ridley sea turtle, Olive turtles are a medium-sized species of sea turtle found in warm and tropical waters, primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

  • They are best known for their behavior of synchronized nesting in mass numbers.
  • The olive ridley is classified as Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and is listed in Appendix I of CITES.
  • The Convention on Migratory Species and the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles have also provided olive ridleys with protection, leading to increased conservation and management for this marine turtle.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Nod for road widening in wildlife sanctuary opposed


Wildlife conservationists have strongly criticised the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for granting permission to the widening of a road that falls in the buffer zone of the Nagarjuna Sagar- Srisailam Tiger Reserve and also the Ecologically Sensitive Zone of the Gundla Brahmeswaram Wildlife Sanctuary.



The NBWL gave permission for widening of the Nandyala-Atmakur road in Kurnool district from the single lane to double lane at its most recent meeting held in New Delhi.


About Nagarjuna Sagar – Srisailam Tiger Reserve:

Located in Telangana, Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve is the largest tiger reserve in India. The multipurpose reservoirs, Srisailam and Nagarjunasagar, are located in the reserve. The area consists mostly of the Nallamala Hills. The hill ranges contain number of plateau of which Amrabad, Srisailam, Peddacheruvu, Sivapuram, Nekkanti are noteworthy.

  • The Krishna river cuts its basin almost 200 m (660 ft) deep over a distance of 130 km (81 mi) through the reserve.
  • It is home to a dazzling array of wild animals. In addition to the Bengal Tiger, which is the apex predator, many other species like leopard, rusty-spotted cat, sloth bear, wild dog, pangolin, mouse deer, Chausingha, Mugger Crocodiles, Indian Rock Python, and innumerable varieties of birds are found here.

Sources: the hindu.