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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 September 2017

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 16 September 2017


Paper 1:


Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


Assam Assembly adopts resolution for Population Policy


Seeking to curb population explosion in the state, especially among religious minority, through women empowerment in order to check increasing demographic changes and pressure over limited resources, the Assam legislative assembly has passed a government resolution for adopting a ‘Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam’.


Highlights of the policy:

  • The policy has a strict two-child policy for government servants and elected/nominated representatives of panchayat, municipal and statutory bodies, with stress on women empowerment and awareness.
  • The Policy seeks to empower women for making learned choice regarding motherhood as it would lead to better living conditions for the communities.
  • The policy has provisions to bar people with more than two children from contesting election for panchayat, municipal and other statutory bodies and committees at the state level.



Assam’s average family size is 5.5 which is above the national average that has pushed the state’s population by almost one crore to 3.12 cr between 2001 and 2011 census while the population density is 398 as per 2011 census as against 340 in 2001.

The population pressure has had a profound impact on the economy as Assam was among the lowest five States in terms of GDP growth (less than 6%) between 2005 and 2014. Also, the 37.9% of the population fall in the category of “poverty headcount ratio” of UNDP. At 61, the unemployment rate in the State is also high, compared to the national average of 50.


Sources: et.


Topic: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.

Assam forms ‘State Capital Region’ around Guwahati


In line with the National Capital Region, Assam will have a State Capital Region encompassing Guwahati and its peripheral areas with the passing of a bill in the state Assembly. The Assembly recently passed Assam State Capital Region Development Authority (ASCRDA) Bill 2017 to set up the regional authority for preparation of a plan for rapid development of the SCR.


Key facts:

  • The SCR shall comprise the districts of Kamrup Metropolitan, Kamrup, Nalbari, Darrang and Morrigaon, fully or partly. Capital Guwahati is in Kamrup Metropolitan district.
  • ASCRDA will be the overall authority to direct, implement and monitor the development of SCR.
  • ASCRDA will be headed by the State Chief Minister. It will prepare a regional plan for the area and coordinate the preparation of functional plans, regional plans, development schemes and project plans by the authority itself as well as by the municipal corporations, local bodies, panchayats and different government departments.
  • The body will be entrusted to organise and oversee the financing of selected development projects in the State Capital Region through government funding as well as other sources of revenue.


What necessitated this move?

The authority and guidelines of existing Guwahati Municipal Corporation Development Authority (GMDA), Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) and other urban authorities were not sufficient for desired development and growth of SCR.


Sources: et.



Paper 2:


Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Supreme Court for open air jails, better treatment for prisoners


The Supreme Court of India has passed a slew of directions on prison reforms. The court is hearing a 2013 PIL on prevailing inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.


Key directions:

  • All high courts have to register a suo motu petition to identify kin of prisoners who admittedly died an unnatural death after 2012 and award suitable compensation to them.
  • All state governments should appoint counsellors and support persons for counselling prisoners, particularly first-time offenders.
  • States should also study the availability of medical assistance to prisoners and take remedial steps wherever necessary.
  • The Ministry of Woman and Child Development has been asked to discuss with the official concerned of the state governments “and formulate procedures for tabulating the number of children (if any) who suffer an unnatural death in child care institutions where they are kept in custody either because they are in conflict with law or because they need care and protection”.
  • The Centre has to ensure circulation of its model prison manual, a monograph prepared by the National Human Rights Commission on suicides in prisons, and the Nelson Mandela Rules and guidelines on investigating deaths in custody issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross within one month to prison incharges of every states.
  • The states should conduct training and sensitisation programmes for senior police officers of all prisons on their functions, duties and responsibilities and the rights and duties of prisoners.
  • The government may consider extending the time or frequency of meetings by the family of a prisoner and explore the possibility of using phones and video conferencing for communication, also with their counsel.



The management of prisons falls exclusively under the domain of the state government, as per the seventh schedule of the constitution. In every state, the prison administrative machinery works under the chief of prisons who is a senior ranking IPS officer.


Need for reforms:

NHRC figures show that prisoners cut off from family and friends had a 50% more chance of committing suicide than those outside. The average suicide rate among the general public for this period is 11 (per 100,000) whereas the average suicide rate in prison is 16.9 (per 100,000). In other words, the average suicide rate in prisons is over 50% more than in normal conditions.

  • Indian prisons face three long-standing structural constraints: overcrowding, thanks to a high percentage of undertrials in the prison population, understaffing and underfunding. The inevitable outcome is sub-human living conditions, poor hygiene, and violent clashes between the inmates and jail authorities.
  • Besides, while 33% of the total requirement of prison officials still lies vacant, almost 36% of vacancy for supervising officers is still unfulfilled. In the absence of adequate prison staff, overcrowding of prisons leads to rampant violence and other criminal activities inside the jails.


Way ahead:

Indian jails have often been dubbed as a university for grooming criminals due to pathetic and inhumane conditions. In the absence of a robust Whistleblower Protection Act and structural changes to address the issues of overcrowding and understaffing, India’s prisons will continue to be heaven for politically connected criminals and hell for socio-economically disadvantaged undertrials, some regular media uproars notwithstanding.

Fundamental rights of prisoners cannot be placed in the back-burner and the Centre and the states need to be more pro-active in sensitising staff about the need to treat prisoners as humanely as possible.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


India Signs Deal with JICA to Upgrade Alang-Sosiya Shipyards


The Government of India has signed a loan deal worth $76 million with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), for a project to upgrade the environment management plan at Alang-Sosiya ship recycling yards.


Key facts:

  • The total cost of the project will be $ 111 million, out of which $76 million will be provided as soft loan from JICA.
  • Out of the remaining amount, $25 million as taxes and fees will be borne by Government of Gujarat and the balance $10 million will be shared by Ministry of Shipping & Government of Gujarat.
  • The project will be executed by Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and is likely to be completed by 2022.


Benefits of this project:

  • This project will help the Alang-Sosia ship-recycling yards to comply with international safety & environmental regulations.
  • This will attract more business at the recycling facilities at Alang, thereby further consolidating India’s share in the global ship-recycling industry.
  • This project will also help in safeguarding the marine and coastal environment. The use of advanced decontamination technology will rule out the possibility of fire accidents in oil and chemical tankers, thereby ensuring workers safety.
  • The project is expected to result in increase in direct employment from 50,000 to 92,000 people and in-direct employment from 1.5 lakhs to 3 lakh people.


Sources: pib.


Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Japan teams up with India for Northeast


A memorandum of understanding to set up India Japan Act East Forum with an aim to marry India’s Act East Policy with Japan’s Free and Open Asia-Pacific strategy in the backdrop of China’s One Belt One Road initiative is among the major agreements signed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India for the 12th Indo-Japan annual summit.

  • The forum will enhance connectivity and promote developmental projects in India’s Northeast region in an efficient and effective manner.


Japan’s investments in the North East:

Japan has cooperated with a variety of development projects in the Northeast, ranging from connectivity infrastructure such as roads and electricity, water supply and sewage, to forest resource management and biodiversity.

Recently, India and Japan signed a document on Japanese loan and aid for highway development in the Northeast that can complement India’s connectivity initiatives in Bangladesh, Myanmar and beyond. Japan will extend a loan of Rs 2,239 crore to India for ‘North East Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project’ to improve the National Highway 40 (NH-40) and construct a bypass on NH-54 in the Northeast. The project is expected to contribute to the improvement of the intra-regional and international connectivity through regional economic development.



Japan has a historic connection to the Northeast and is among the few countries that India has allowed a presence in the eight landlocked states which are the country’s gateway to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members. India and Japan agree that improving connectivity between Asia and Africa is vital for achieving prosperity of the entire region.


Opposition from China:

China has opposed any foreign investments in India’s North East, or the involvement of third-parties in resolving its border dispute with India. It has clearly opposed the involvement of any third party in the region in whatsoever form.


Sources: et.


Paper 3:


Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Successful Development Trials of Astra Missile

astra missile

The final Development Flight Trials of Astra – Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM) was conducted recently over the Bay of Bengal, Off the Coast of Chandipur, Odisha. The trials were successful.

  • The missions included engagement of target at very long range, engagement of high manoeuvring target at medium range and multiple launches of missiles in salvo to engage multiple targets.
  • All the sub-systems including the indigenous RF Seeker performed accurately, meeting all the mission parameters and objectives.


About Astra:

  • It is a Beyond-Visual Range, air-to-air indigenously developed.
  • The all-weather, radar homing missile has high manoeuvrability and capability to engage and destroy aerial targets at supersonic speeds.
  • The 60-km plus range missile possesses Shot Kill Probability (SSKP) making it one of the most reliable in its class of weapon systems.
  • The missile could be launched at different altitudes from sea level to 20 km for engaging aerial targets at various ranges.
  • Apart from integrating the missile with Su-30, it is planned to be mounted on other fighter aircraft including Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, Mirage-2000 and MIG-29.
  • The missile complex at Hyderabad and several DRDO laboratories in partnership with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the Indian Air Force developed Astra.


Sources: pib.


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


Snow leopard no longer ‘endangered’


The conservation status of snow leopard has been improved from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. The decision was announced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – the global standard for assessing extinction risk. The status change followed a three-year assessment process by five international experts.

  • However, experts have warned that the species still faces serious threats from poaching and habitat destruction.
  • The elegant yet elusive creatures, which live in the mountains of central Asia, were first listed as endangered by the IUCN in 1972.


Endangered Vs Vulnerable:

  • To be considered ‘endangered,’ there must be fewer than 2,500 mature snow leopards and they must be experiencing a high rate of decline.
  • Being classed as “vulnerable” means a species has under 10,000 breeding animals left, with a population decline of at least 10% over three generations.


Snow leopard stats:

  • The rarely-sighted cats live in the craggy peaks of central Asia – including the Himalayas, and Russia’s remote Altai mountains.
  • Their habitat covers more than 1.8 million sq km / 694,980 sq miles, across 12 countries.
  • Scientists say they are threatened by poaching for their fur, infrastructure developments, and climate change.
  • Usually found at elevations of 3,000-4,500m (11,480-14,760ft).
  • Solitary creatures, they usually hunt at dawn and dusk and are able to kill prey up to three times their own weight.
  • Mostly feed on wild animals, but will also prey on livestock.
  • Their spotted coats change with the seasons – from a thick, white fur to keep them warm and camouflaged in winter, to a fine yellow-grey coat in summer.


Sources: the hindu.