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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 Aug 2017

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 Aug 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.


Centre’s eBiz initiative stutters


Even after 4 years of its launch, the centre’s eBiz is struggling to become fully operational. eBiz project was unveiled in 2013 to serve as online, single-point entry for investors looking to set up a business anywhere in the country.



  • State governments’ apathy: Many State governments have not come on board for critical components of the project.
  • Technical glitches have arisen in the plan to integrate all clearances onto a single system owing to government departments opting for different technology platforms. Even services that were available on the portal, such as registrations with the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Employees’ Provident Fund, have been ‘impacted’ due to technical issues.
  • Multiple stakeholders: Testing the integration of individual services with the eBiz portal also added to delays. This is mainly because of ‘dependency on multiple stakeholders’ such as NSDG, banks and state treasuries.


What can be done?

Matter should be taken up at appropriate levels in partner departments to take necessary measures in speeding up integration with the portal. Also, additional efforts are required to resolve technology migration issues.


About eBiz:

eBiz is one of the integrated services projects and part of the 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under the National E-Governance Plan (NEGP) of the Government of India.

Implementation: eBiz is being implemented by Infosys Technologies Limited (Infosys) under the guidance and aegis of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.

The focus of eBiz is to improve the business environment in the country by enabling fast and efficient access to Government-to-Business (G2B) services through an online portal. This will help in reducing unnecessary delays in various regulatory processes required to start and run businesses.

Aim: This project aims at creating an investor-friendly business environment in India by making all regulatory information – starting from the establishment of a business, through its ongoing operations, and even its possible closure – easily available to the various stakeholders concerned. In effect, it aims to develop a transparent, efficient and convenient interface, through which the government and businesses can interact in a timely and cost effective manner, in the future.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


India moves to revive TAPI gas pipeline


India will host the next steering committee meeting of the proposed 1,814 kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. With this, India has reaffirmed its strong commitment to TAPI — first proposed in 1995.

tapi pipeline

About TAPI gas pipeline project:

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Natural Gas Pipeline (TAPI) Project is a natural gas pipeline being developed by the Asian Development Bank.

  • The TAPI pipeline will have a capacity to carry 90 million standard cubic metres a day (mscmd) gas for a 30-year period and be operational in 2018.
  • India and Pakistan would get 38 mscmd each, while 14 mscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan. From the Galkynysh field in Turkmensitan, the pipeline will run to Herat and Kandahar province of Afghanistan, before entering Pakistan. In Pakistan, it will reach Multan via Quetta before ending at Fazilka (Punjab) in India.
  • The pipeline, that had its ground-breaking ceremony in December 2015, has seen flagging interest since then for a number of reasons. India’s effort is to tap Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh gasfields, which are the fourth largest in the world.



Sources: the hindu.


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


U.K. to seek ‘temporary customs union’


As UK leaves the EU and therefore the customs union, it has sought a new customs arrangement that facilitates the freest and most frictionless trade possible in goods between the U.K. and the EU, and allows to forge new trade relationships with India and other partners in Europe and around the world.

  • The UK has said it is leaving the EU’s customs union because as a member it is unable to strike trade deals with other countries.


What is the customs union?

Countries in the customs union don’t impose tariffs – taxes on imports – on each other’s goods. Every country inside the union levies the same tariffs on imports from abroad.


What the UK negotiators want?

The UK could ask Brussels to establish a “temporary customs union” after it leaves the EU in March 2019. But during this period, it would also expect to be able to negotiate its own international trade deals – something it cannot do as an EU customs union member.

The use of interim arrangements would mean businesses would only have to adjust once to the new arrangements. Once this period expires, the UK will look to agree either a “highly streamlined” border with the EU, or a new “partnership” with no customs border at all.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:


Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.


MasterCard mulls using blockchain tech


Mastercard is working on a network that can incorporate the benefits of blockchain technology while meeting the requirements of a globally distributed financial network. In this regard, it has asked for a clear regulatory framework in India that lays down what blockchain can be used for.

  • This platform will support a wide range of use cases, including but not exclusive to B2B inter-bank payments, tracking trade finance obligations along the value chain, exchanging KYC (Know Your Customer) or AML (Anti Money Laundering) data between trusted parties, and more.


Attempts to regulate the technology:

In India, an inter-ministerial committee is currently looking at how best to regulate blockchain technology, if it is allowed at all. One of the proposals is to bring it under market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

Another option is bringing blockchain regulation under the proposed Payments Regulatory Board in the Reserve Bank of India. The Board is to have three members each from the central bank and the Centre.


About Blockchain technology:

Blockchain is an emerging technology. Blockchain is the technology behind crypto-currency such as Bitcoin, which is a purely electronic currency that can also be traded on exchanges. A blockchain is an anonymous online ledger that uses data structure to simplify the way we transact. Blockchain allows users to manipulate the ledger in a secure way without the help of a third party.


How it works?

Blockchain enables two entities that do not know each other to agree that something is true without the need of a third party. As opposed to writing entries into a single sheet of paper, a blockchain is a distributed database that takes a number of inputs and places them into a block. Each block is then ‘chained’ to the next block using a cryptographic signature. This allows blockchains to be used as a ledger which is accessible by anyone with permission to do so.  If everyone in the process is pre-selected, the ledger is termed ‘permissioned’. If the process is open to the whole world, the ledger is called unpermissioned.


Benefits of blockchain technology:

A blockchain is anonymous, protecting the identities of the users. This makes blockchain a more secure way to carry out transactions. The algorithm used in blockchain reduces the dependence on people to verify the transactions.


Where can it be used?

Use of blockchain technology is not limited to the financial sector. It is being used in many other areas. For example, Honduras government has put all land records on a public ledger – the blockchain. The minute there is a change in ownership, it gets recorded publicly. The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) announced this year that it would move Australia’s equities clearing and settlement system on to blockchain.



The fact that some blockchain technologies like Bitcoin have recently been associated with ransomware attacks means that regulation must be even more careful when legislating the use of these technologies.

This technology used for recording various transactions has the potential to disrupt the financial system.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.


Assam, Manipur can now decide on AFSPA


The Union Home Ministry is set to give up its power to impose the ‘disturbed areas’ tag on Assam and Manipur. The move effectively means it will be the States’ decision to either continue the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) or revoke it.

  • It would be the first time since 1990 — when the AFSPA was first invoked in Assam — that the Centre would give up its power to continue or discontinue it.


What is AFSPA?

AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.

  • The Act provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution.
  • Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.


What are ‘disturbed’ areas?

The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.


How is a region declared ‘disturbed’?

Section (3) of the Afspa empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid. Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.”


Sources: the hindu.


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


Aeroplanes may be affecting ozone, monsoon


According to a study by researchers, Aeroplanes may be ejecting significant amounts of black carbon (BC) and this may be depleting the ozone layer. Researchers now have evidence of these particles existing up to 18 km into the stratosphere and there are about 10,000 of them in every cubic centimetre.


How these particles affect Ozone layer?

Given the shape and location of these particles, Black Carbon could only derive from emissions from aviation fuel and they pose a problem because these black carbon particles can linger long enough to provide a fertile ground for other chemical reactions that can deplete the ozone layer.

  • The stratosphere is a stable region of the atmosphere and because BC particles absorb heat, they warm the surrounding air, become lighter and rise to greater heights by a process called ‘self lift’ and persist in the air. The sheer volume of air travel means that the black carbon count only continues to increase.


What is Black Carbon?

Black carbon consists of pure carbon in several linked forms. It is formed through the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass, and is emitted in both anthropogenic and naturally occurring soot.


Harmful effects of BC:

Black carbon (BC) is a pollutant known to aggravate breathing disorders. Because BC particles strongly absorb solar and terrestrial radiation and heats up the atmosphere it can upset the monsoon system. If deposited on snow, it could accelerate the heating of snow and quicken the melting of glaciers.


Sources: the hindu.