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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 April 2017


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 April 2017


Paper 2 Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.


Latest MoP draft awaits green light from judges


The supreme court collegium is involved in exhaustive consultations in finalising the MoP for appointment of judges.



IN October, 2015, a Constitution Bench led by Justice J.S. Khehar had revived the collegium after declaring the government’s NJAC law unconstitutional. The Bench then went on to invite public opinion on ways to improve the opaque collegium system of judicial appointments. After receiving over 11,500 views from the public, the Bench had summarised them and tasked the government to draft a new MoP on December 16, 2015.

The government had submitted MoP to the collegium in August 2016 and tis had created impasse between the court and the government. No progress was made over this. The draft is currently with Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and awaiting the judges’ approval. The past months have seen a stalemate with the judiciary raising objections against the earlier government drafts of the MoP.


What next?

Though both the judiciary and the government have maintained that the pendency of the MoP would not stand in the way of judicial appointments, an amicable resolution to that issue would clear the air on the procedure for appointments of judges to the higher judiciary.


Highlights of the draft:

  • To implement the judicial direction to “widen the zone of consideration”, the latest MoP draft wants all Supreme Court and High Court judges to be able to recommend names to their respective collegiums.
  • Chief Ministers should also have the right to recommend names to the respective High Court collegiums. Similarly, the Attorney General should be allowed to recommend the names of judges to the Supreme Court at the Centre and Advocate-General of States to their respective State High Courts.
  • These High Court committees would screen the names of the candidates, their backgrounds, the number of cases they have argued as lawyers, etc, before forwarding them to the High Court collegium.
  • Once the High Court collegium clears certain names, they would be sent to a similar appraisal committee at the Supreme Court. This apex-level committee would again sift through the names before they are finally referred to the SC collegium.
  • The government reasons that the two-fold vetting process – one by the respective High Court appraisal committee and then by the Supreme Court committee – would ensure transparency in judicial appointments.
  • The government has further asked the judiciary to fix an age for High Court judgeship and make it “non-flexible.” It also wants the mechanism for redressing complaints against judges to remain within the judiciary.

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.


Hyperloop Transportation in talks with 5 Indian states for high-speed travel network


US-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is in talks with five Indian states to build a high-speed travel network and will also raise $100 million to invest in the country. The money will be raised exclusively for India play and from both international and domestic investors.


What is hyperloop transportation system?

It is a transportation system where a pod-like vehicle is propelled through a near-vacuum tube connecting cities at speeds matching that of an aircraft.

The hyperloop concept is a brainchild of Tesla founder Elon Musk. US-based Hyperloop Transport Technology (HTT) claimed it costs $40 million per kilometre to build a hyperloop system while building a high-speed train line would cost almost twice. The hyperloop system is being designed to transport passengers and freight.


How it operates?

In hyperloop transporation, custom-designed capsules or pods are expected to zip smoothly through continuous steel tubes which are held at partial vacuum. The pod which sandwiches the passenger compartment between an air compressor upfront and a battery compartment in the rear is supported by air caster skis at the bottom. The skis float on a thin layer of air provided under high pressure, eliminating rolling resistance and allowing for movement of the pods at high speeds. These capsules are expected to be driverless with estimated speeds of 1,000 km/h.

Linear induction motors that are placed along the tube control the speed of the pod. Electronically-assisted acceleration and braking determines the speed of the capsule.

Sources: the hindu.


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


China’s ‘neighbouring base’ in Djibouti worries U.S.


China is constructing its first overseas military base in Djibouti — just a few miles from Camp Lemonnier, one of the Pentagon’s largest and most important foreign installations. With this, United States and China will become neighbours in this sun-scorched patch of East African desert.


Why is US worried?

  • Established after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Camp Lemonnier is home to 4,000 personnel. Some are involved in highly secretive missions.
  • S. strategists worry that a naval port so close to Camp Lemonnier could provide a front-row seat to the staging ground for U.S. counterterrorism operations in the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.
  • The base, which is run by the Navy and abuts Djibouti’s international airport, is the only permanent U.S. military installation in Africa.


What China says?

Chinese officials play down the significance of the base, saying it will largely support anti-piracy operations that have helped quell the threat to international shipping once posed by marauding Somalis. The support facility will be mainly used to provide rest and rehabilitation for the Chinese troops taking part in escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, UN peacekeeping and humanitarian rescue.


About Dijbouti:

Djibouti, officially the Republic of Djibouti, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea in the north, Ethiopia in the west and south, and Somalia in the southeast. The remainder of the border is formed by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden at the east.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Railways to roll out high speed indigenous rakes


The railways will soon manufacture its own train sets that can run at a maximum speed of 160 kilometre per hour, after its global bid in this regard failed to elicit positive response.


Key facts:

  • Aptly named ‘Train-2018’, the first train set — a rake without a separate locomotive — is expected to be ready by March next year and likely to be pressed into service in Delhi-Lucknow or Delhi-Chandigarh sector.
  • A train set, much like a Delhi Metro rake, comprises of many coaches that are individually powered by a propulsion system, eliminating the need for locomotive.
  • Aiming to offer both comfort and pace to passengers, the project will roll out semi-high speed, 16-coach train sets with quicker acceleration and world-class passenger amenities.
  • For the first time in Indian Railways, these train sets will have automatic plug type doors that will open and close at stations, wide windows for panoramic view, and ergonomically designed seating.
  • Equipped with bio-toilets, all coaches in the fully AC train set will be inter-connected so that passengers can move from one coach to other with ease.
  • As per the Rs. 200 crore project, two train sets will be manufactured, in collaboration with foreign players on transfer of technology basis, for which the integral coach factory (ICF) has floated a fresh global tender.



The railways had floated a global tender for procurement-cum-maintenance and manufacture of 15 train sets with 315 coaches in June, 2015. Though five bidders had qualified for the initial round, they did not find the offer viable and asked for raising the tender size to 1,000 coaches.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Though the net tightens, India remains hub for turtle trade 


According to a report, India continues to bear the ignominy of being the source of the illegal trade and export of tortoises and freshwater turtles (TFT).


Key facts:

  • The detection of a staggering 58,442 smuggled amphibians over five years, demonstrates the persistence of the illegal trade despite increasing enforcement.
  • The study finds that 14 species were being commercially harvested — nine more in 1993, when a similar study was conducted.
  • Overall, there were 223 reported seizures by authorities between 2011-15. Most of the seizures were in India, while the rest were from Bangladesh, Thailand and China. Of the amphibians seized, the turtles were established as having come from India.
  • Within India, the Gangetic Plains accounted for 46% of all seizures, with Lucknow and Kanpur being major hubs. Researchers said this was linked to tightening of the enforcement (including an active Special Task Force) in Uttar Pradesh and the Gangetic belt. There is a tradition of turtle poaching in this area given the diversity of TFT population along the river.
  • Apart from the Ganga and its tributaries, TFTs have been poached in rivers of the Western Ghats and, in smaller numbers, in the Eastern Ghats. The cities of Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata have seen large-scale seizures, suggesting accumulation before export, the researchers said.
  • While domestic consumption of turtle meat in West Bengal and Bangladesh continues, it is the international export to south-east Asian countries and China that rake in profits for smugglers.


Why there is a surge in trade of turtles?

While enforcement has become stricter, the ease of transporting thousands of turtle hatchlings in bags has led the trade to continue unhindered. The species are poached by fishermen in streams, ponds and rivers. Very rarely are the traded species bred — they are mostly taken from the wild. It reaches middlemen who have strong networks to smuggle them across international borders. Turtles and tortoises are taken in trucks, buses and trains towards Bangladesh or through airports to south-east Asia.



Sources: the hindu.


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


India, Germany ratify social security agreement


India and Germany have ratified the Social Security Agreement (SSA), which will come into force from May 1 this year, to help promote more investment flows between the two countries.


Key facts:

  • The agreement establishes the rights and obligations of nationals of both countries and provides for their equal treatment and unrestricted payment of pensions even in case of residence in the other contracting state (benefits export principle).
  • The SSA will also integrate the provisions of the 2008 social insurance pact that exempts detached workers of the two countries from making social security contributions in either countries so long as they were making such contributions in their respective countries.
  • The requirements to be entitled to a pension can be met by aggregating the periods of insurance completed in India and Germany, whereby each country pays only the pension for the insurance periods covered by its laws. The period of posting will be up to 48 calendar months.



India and Germany had earlier signed an Agreement on Social Insurance on 8 October 2008 which came into force on 1 October 2009. According to this agreement, detached workers of the two countries were exempted from making social security contributions in either countries as long as they were making such contributions in their respective countries. Subsequently a wider encompassing SSA including totalisation of benefits was negotiated and the SSA was signed by the two nations on 12 October 2011.

Till date, India has signed and operationalised similar agreements with 18 countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, South Korea, Germany and Japan.   

Sources: the hindu.


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


Bahrain may enhance direct air connectivity to India


Baharin, which historically served as a gateway between East and West, is planning to enhance air connectivity with India and other Asian countries. The move follows a decision by Asian carriers to operate more direct flights to Bahrain International Airport (BIA) to help passengers save time and money.



India figures high on the agenda as its represents 20% of Bahrain’s air traffic and this market is set to grow between five and 7% in the near term. Over 350,000 Indian nationals work in Bahrain and they travel mostly through connecting flights from hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Bahrain has a large segment of expatriate workers and businesspeople from India, which gives it large potential for high traffic numbers.


About Bahrain:

Bahrain is a small Arab monarchy in the Persian Gulf. It is an island country consisting of a small archipelago centered around Bahrain Island, situated between the Qatar peninsula and the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is connected by the 25 km (16 mi) King Fahd Causeway. It is 780 km2 in size, making it the third smallest nation in Asia after the Maldives and Singapore.

Bahrain had the first post-oil economy in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is the site of the ancient Dilmun civilisation.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Two endangered plant species spotted


In a major breakthrough in eco-conservation, forest officials in Munnar have spotted two critically endangered impatiens plant species on the peripheries of the Eravikulam National Park.


Key facts:

  • The newly discovered specis include- Impatiens Mankulamensis and Impatiens Panduramgani. They are included in the critically endangered category of IUCN.
  • Impatiens, also called jewel weeds, are seen in pristine forests where moisture content and relative humidity are high. The Eravikulam National Park and the Mankulam forest division are surrounded by sholas.
  • The plant normally flowers in the rainy season of July to October. The flowers are white in colour with a pink border.


Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims


First robot table tennis tutor sets Guinness record:

  • The world’s first robot table tennis tutor in Japan has set a new Guinness World Record for its uncanny ability of being able to play the game better than most humans.
  • FORPHEUS (Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonised aUtomation with Sinic Theoretics) has officially been given the Guinness title for its unique technological intelligence and educational capabilities.
  • The machine is easily able to act as a coach thanks to cutting edge vision and motion sensors it can use to gage movement during a match.
  • FORPHEUS also features an array of cameras that are situated above the ping pong table which monitors the position of the ball at an impressive rate of 80 times per second. This functionality also allows the robot to show its human student to see a projected image as to where the return ball will land so that they may improve their skills.
  • FORPHEUS encourages players to try their best by showing supportive messages along the LED screen situated on the tables net.


Mumbai richest Indian city with wealth of $820 billion: 

  • According to New World Wealth, Mumbai is the richest city in the country followed by Delhi and Bengaluru in the second and third place, respectively.
  • Mumbai, which is home to 46,000 millionaires and 28 billionaires, is the richest Indian city with a total wealth of $820 billion.
  • The total wealth held in the country amounts to USD 6.2 trillion (as of December 2016) and the country is home to 264,000 millionaires and 95 billionaires in total.


Black rhinos on the brink of extinction:  

  • As the value of rhinoceros horn touches $65,000 per kg, poaching has begun to drive the African black rhinoceros to “the verge of extinction” – not just by reducing its population size, but by erasing 70% of the species’ genetic diversity- says a report.
  • Two centuries ago, the black rhinoceros – which roamed much of sub Saharan Africa – had 64 different genetic lineages; but today only 20 of these lineages remain. The species is now restricted to five countries, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
  • The species overall is classified as critically endangered, and three subspecies, one including the western black rhinoceros, were declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2011.