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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 October 2017

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 October 2017


GS2 Topic: International Affairs


US secretary of state Rex Tillerson visits India

US secretary of state Rex Tillerson visits India

Issues India would seek Clarity on from US:

  • The US position on limiting H1B visas.
  • US to decide whether to impose sanctions on Iran



  • US favours critical roles for India in South Asia as well as in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • US demanding Pakistan to suspend cross-border terrorism and asking India play a larger role in stabilising Afghanistan.
  • Tillerson speech distinguished between India, which adhered to international rules, and China, which is seen as undermining the international rules-based order. There is seen as an invitation to India to increase its role in the Indo-Pacific.


Source: the hindu, livemint



GS2 Topic: India and its neighborhood- relations.


China’s President Xi Jinping unveils new leadership line-up with no clear successor

China's President Xi Jinping unveils new leadership line-up with no clear successor

Key Features:


  • Premier Li Keqiang stays on, while additions to the top echelon are Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji and Han Zheng.
  • Given the ages of those now on the top committee, there’s no clear successor to Xi in the new leadership lineup


Xi Jinping:

  • The Chinese president has emerged as the country’s strongest leader for a generation, due to a corruption campaign that has seen him defeat potential rivals in the party.
  • He has silenced internet and media critics by cracking down on free speech, and has waged a war on civil society.
  • He is seen elevated to the political level of Mao Tse-tung, after his ideology was enshrined into the constitution.



  • China’s two centenary goals — a moderately prosperous society by 2021 and an advanced socialist country by 2050 — would guide policy and political conduct in the coming decades.
  • Chinese investors are hoping that a stronger Xi will now be able to push through bold economic and financial reforms that will prevent the economy from a shock. Ongoing efforts for sweeping changes have been hindered by concerns about social stability and conflicts of interest.
  • Xi’s policies could benefit from leadership continuity. Goals such as improving the environment and transitioning the economy to a higher-value and serviced based economy will take years to see through.


Source: the hindu, cnbc



GS2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector


Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship launched new Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector and said that it is important to develop new business models, marketing plans, technology and innovations in the sector.


Start-up Programmes for entrepreneurs in Oil and Gas sector

Steps Taken:


  • Oil and gas PSUs have setup venture capital funds to encourage start-ups based on innovative ideas in the energy sector.
  • 10 public sector undertakings under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, including the IOCL, ONGC, EIL, OIL, NRL, BPCL, HPCL, GAIL and MRPL, have created a corpus of Rs. 320 crore to support start-up initiatives.
  • The 10 oil PSUs have together selected nearly 30 start-up projects for support in the first round of the scheme which include
  1.  Electronic leak detector for detecting body and bung leak of LPG cylinders
  2. Self – sustaining low-maintenances toilets, or eco-toilets
  3. Multi use Fuel from Agricultural Waste Biomass
  4. Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for underwater inspections
  5. Converting waste plastics to high value petroleum fuels
  6. Solar Stove- Revolutionary Day and Night Indoor Solar Cooktop System for all lifestyles



  • It will change the status of the youth of our country from job seeker to that of job provider.
  • There has been a constant flow of applications and some extremely innovative ideas from a varying age group (from a fresh engineering graduate to a 70-year-old entrepreneur) from across the country.
  • Business partnership between the start-ups and the PSUs of Petroleum Ministry will create a new benchmark for growth and job creation


Source: pib



GS3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

$300 Million Loan to Promote Further Fiscal Reforms in West Bengal

$300 Million Loan to Promote Further Fiscal Reforms in West Bengal


The first ADB policy-based loan of $400 million was sanctioned in 2012 for the first West Bengal Development Finance Program. It aimed to create the fiscal space necessary to sustain higher public investment in the state. The state government achieved full compliance on all policy actions under the first program, received several awards for e-governance in tax administration.



  • While the first program focused on augmenting public investment, the Second West Bengal Development Finance Program will support private investments more directly by creating an infrastructure facility to support project preparation, development, and appraisal, with emphasis on public-private partnerships in health and education.
  • It also seeks to simplify the registration and licensing procedure for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.
  • It will carry forward reforms such as linking medium term expenditure plans to actual budgets, supported by strengthening internal audit system, and enhancements in the integrated financial management system (IFMS).
  • The program include improved tax monitoring and continued support for information technology systems in strengthening tax and land administration.


Asian Development Bank (ADB):

Asian Development Bank (ADB) ADB is a regional development bank which aims to promote social and economic development in Asia. It was established on 19 December 1966. It is headquartered in Manila, Philippines. The ADB has been modelled closely on the World Bank. It has 67 members, of which 48 are are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside


Source: the hindu, adb



GS3 Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc


BharatMala Project

BharatMala Project



Cabinet approved 5.35 lakh crore  to build 34,800 km of roads nationwide, including in border and coastal areas. The Centre had announced road construction, called BharatMala Pariyojana, in a bid to encourage the economy as private investment remains moribund.



  • National Highways suffer from the deficiencies of inadequate capacity, weak pavement, poor riding quality, distressed bridges, unabridged level crossings, congested cities, lack of wayside amenities and other safety measures.
  • There is very little participation of private sector in road development in India because of long gestation period and low-returns. Private investment in roads is not satisfactory.
  • There was no stable policy on highway development in the country.
  • There is shortage of funds for the construction and maintenance of roads.


BharatMala Pariyojana:

  • It is a government’s new umbrella programme to further optimise the efficiency of movement of goods and people across the country.
  • The BharatMala Pariyojana, to be implemented on an outlay of ₹5,35,000 crore, will generate 14.2 crore mandays of jobs.


Bharat Mala Project:


  • Bharatmala is a name given to road and highways project of Government of India.
  • The total investment for the Bharatmala plan is estimated at Rs10 trillion, which is the largest ever outlay for a government road construction scheme.
  • The BharatMala project will include economic corridors (9,000 km), inter-corridor and feeder route (6,000 km), national corridors efficiency improvement (5,000 km), border roads and international connectivity (2,000 km), coastal roads and port connectivity (2,000 km) and Greenfield expressways (800 km).
  • Bharat Mala will provide easier access to border areas for armed forces and boost trade via the land route.
  • Bharatmala will replace National Highways Development Project (NHDP) launched in 1998 as the scheme is expected to be completed by this year with just 10,000km of highway construction left under it.


Source: the hindu, pib



GS3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Centre to aid offshore e-commerce play

Centre to aid offshore e-commerce play

The Union government is working on a new policy to expand the footprint of the Indian e-commerce sector to tap potential markets outside the country, including Africa and Southeast Asia.





  • The e-commerce economy is currently pegged at $30 billion, and the government expects it to grow at $150 billion by 2024-25. It targets to make India a trillion-dollar digital economy in the next seven years.
  • To expand the e-commerce economy in  two aspects — one will focus on expansion within India, and the other on global expansion.
  • To tap markets such as Southeast Asia, West Asia, SAARC countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and BRICS partners (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa).
  • To generate employment for about 30 million people by 2024-25. While electronics, telecom and IT/ITeS sector will be the top three contributors with 8.9 million, 8.8 million and6.5 million jobs, respectively ,e-commerce is expected to create jobs for 6 million people.


Progress made:


  • Government is working on a strategy to make India a hub for data analytics, cloud computing and financial technology, besides encouraging development of Internet of Things,to push the digital economy
  • Draft Data Protection Act is likely to be ready by December 2017. It will provide a policy framework on digital economy, including social media ,security framework for mobile devices and the mobile application ecosystem by March 2018.


Source: the hindu



Ichthyosaur fossil discovered for first time in India

Ichthyosaur fossil discovered for first time in India

Scientists in India have discovered a 152 million-year-old fossil of an Ichthyosaur – an extinct marine reptile – in the western state of Gujarat.


Key Facts:


  • The fossil (5.5 m) was found inside rocks from the Mesozoic Era, which ran between 252 and 66 million years ago, in the Kutch desert.
  • Specimen can be identified with Ophthalmosauridae, a family of ichthyosaurs that lived in the oceans between 165 and 90 million years ago.
  • Eexamination of the teeth of the fossil suggests that it was a top-tier predator in its ecosystem




  • Often misidentified as “swimming dinosaurs”, they first appeared in the early Triassic period.
  • The name means fish-lizard, although the creature has been classified as a reptile since the mid-19th Century
  • The creature was noted for its sharp, robust teeth.
  • Ichthyosaurs became extinct before the dinosaurs, dying out in the early part of the late Cretaceous period


Significance of the discovery:


  • It throws light on the evolution and diversity of ichthyosaurs in the Indo-Madagascan region and India’s biological connectivity with other continents in the Jurassic.
  • Identification of the new specimen may further throw light on whether there was any marine connection between India and South America about 150 million years ago.


Source: the hindu, bbc



Singapore caps car numbers


Singapore, one of the most expensive places in the world to buy a vehicle, will freeze the number of private cars on its roads for at least two years, a rare move in Asia where many cities are increasingly gridlocked.


Key Points:

  • It applies to private cars and motorcycles, but not to goods vehicles and buses.
  • New multi-billion-dollar investment in the public transport network.
  • Tough controls on vehicle ownership to address High Traffic Congestion and air pollution problems
  • City-state has a largely efficient public transport system, including buses, trains and a metro. However it faced criticism recently after the metro suffered a series of breakdowns.


Source: the hindu