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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 December 2017


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 December 2017


GS Paper 2:

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


International Solar Alliance


With 19 countries ratifying its framework agreement, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) has become the first treaty-based international government organisation to be based in India.


international solar alliance


Significance of this event:

This marks the culmination of India’s efforts, which had taken a lead role in setting up the ISA—an alliance of 121 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. ISA also signals that New Delhi would employ it as a foreign policy tool to cement its leadership among developing countries.


Facts for Prelims:

  • The ISA now has become a treaty based inter-governmental international organisation and it will be recognized by UN legally to become fully functionable.
  • Guinea became the 15th country to ratify this agreement.
  • Other prominent intergovernmental organisations in the energy sector include the Vienna-based Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).


About ISA:

The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of France on 30 November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference. It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

  • The ISA, headquartered in India, has its secretariat located in the campus of the National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurgaon, Haryana.
  • The Paris Declaration, establishing the ISA, states that the countries share the collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts for reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology for immediate deployment solar generation assets.


Sources: pib.



Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Asian Harmonization Working Party (AHWP)



The 22nd conference of Asian Harmonization Working Party (AHWP) was recently inaugurated at New Delhi. The conference is being conducted by Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) and National Drug Regulatory Authority (NDRA) of India in collaboration with Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.


asian harmonization working party


The key objective of the event is to develop and recommend approaches for the convergence and harmonization of medical device regulations in Asia and beyond and to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and expertise amongst regulators and the industry.


About AHWP:

Asian Harmonization Working Party (AHWP) was established in 1999 as a voluntary non-profit organization of the 30 national regulators of member countries and industry members with a goal to promote regulatory harmonization on medical device regulations in Asia and other regions in accordance with the guidance issued by International Medical Device Regulators Forums (IMDRF). The AHWP works in collaboration with related international organizations such as IMDRF, WHO, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), etc.


Sources: pib.



Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


UN Peace keeping


Context: The opening ceremony of the Indian UN Peace Keeping Training by Mobile Training Team of CUNPK was recently conducted at the Vietnamese Centre for Peace Keeping located at Thaach Hon, Hanoi. The ceremony was attended by the Indian Mobile Training Team (MTT). This is in the furtherance to the ongoing training assistance being extended to the Vietnamese Centre for Peace Keeping by the Centre for UN Peace Keeping, New Delhi (CUNPK).


un peace keeping



The need for prospective peace keepers to be well trained before deployment in the mission area is a pre requisite for effective peace keeping. Towards this end, the vast experience gained by the Indian Defence Forces would be of great assistance to the Vietnam People’s Army.


What you need to know about UN Peacekeeping?

United Nations Peacekeeping was created in 1948. Its first mission involved the establishment of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which served to observe and maintain ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

  • UN Peacekeeping maintains three basic principles: Consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of Force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.
  • The UN Peacekeepers are led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DKPO). There are currently 17 UN peace operations deployed on four continents.
  • UN Peacekeepers are from diverse backgrounds, from areas all around the world. They include police, military and civilian personnel. They are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets.
  • The UN Peacekeeping Force won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
  • The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security. For this reason, the international community usually looks to the Security Council to authorize peacekeeping operations.


Sources: pib.



GS Paper 3:

Topic: e-technology in the aid of farmers.


Soil Health Card


Context: On the occasion of World Soil Day, Soil Health Card mobile App has been launched by the government to help the farmers.


soil health card app


Key facts:

The app will benefit field-level workers as it will automatically capture GIS coordinates while registering sample details at the time of sample collection in the field and indicate the location from where the sample has been collected.

This app works like other Geotagging apps developed for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. The app contains farmers’ details including name, Aadhaar card number, mobile number, gender, address, crop details, etc.


About World Soil Day:

World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on 5 December as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and advocating for the sustainable management of soil resources.

  • UN General Assembly designated 5 December 2014 as the first official World Soil Day. The date of 5 December for WSD was chosen because it corresponds with the official birthday of H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand, who officially sanctioned the event.
  • 2017 Theme: ‘Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground’.


Soil facts- and why is soil important?

  • Soil is one of the most complex biological materials on our planet. Soil is the network of interacting living organisms within the earth’s surface layer which support life above ground. The nutritional value of the food we eat is directly related to the health of the soil in which it grows.
  • Carbon is a master variable within the soil that controls many processes, such as development of soil structure, water storage and nutrient cycling. Soil high in organic carbon content enables better rainfall infiltration & retention – providing greater resilience to drought.
  • Management: Soil erosion within conventional agricultural practices can occur at rates up to 100 times greater than the rate of natural soil formation. Natural processes can take more than 500 years to form 2 centimetres of topsoil. Soils are vulnerable to carbon loss through degradation, but regenerative land management practices can build soil and restore soil health. Therefore, management of agricultural soils should consider the structural, biological and mineral health of the soil (not just N, P, K) to produce nutritionally-dense food.


About the Soil Health Card Scheme:

It is a scheme to provide every farmer a Soil Health Card in a Mission mode. It is a scheme under which the Central Government provides assistance to State Governments for setting up Soil Testing Laboratories for issuing Soil Health Cards to farmers.

  • The scheme will be implemented in all states to promote soil testing services, issue of soil health cards and development of nutrient management practices.
  • State Governments have adopted innovative practices like involvement of agricultural students, NGOs and private sector in soil testing, determining average soil health of villages, etc., to issue Soil Health Cards.
  • The state governments will prepare yearly action plan on the issue and the cost will be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and states.
  • The scheme assumes importance as the imbalanced application of fertilisers have caused deficiency of primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), secondary nutrients (such as sulphur), and micro-nutrients (boron, zinc, copper etc.) in most parts of country.


Soil health cards:

A Soil Health Card displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms. The indicators are typically based on farmers’ practical experience and knowledge of local natural resources.

The card lists soil health indicators that can be assessed without the aid of technical or laboratory equipment. The card, which will carry crop-wise recommendation of fertilisers required for farm lands, will help farmers identify health of soil and judiciously use soil nutrients.


Sources: the hindu.



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


Railways appoints IRSDC as nodal agency for station redevelopment plan



Indian Railways has decided to appoint its joint venture company Indian Railway Station Development Corp. Ltd (IRSDC) as the nodal agency for its ambitious station redevelopment programme, in an attempt to expedite the revamp of 400 A1 and A category railway stations. Under the Rs1 trillion station redevelopment plan, Indian Railways plans to revamp 400 railway stations by monetizing 2,700 acres of spare railway land.





The appointment of IRSDC, a joint-venture between Ircon International Ltd and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), took place following recommendations from a three-member committee of experts, which had submitted its report in November.

The report recommended IRSDC’s appointment as a nodal agency to ensure a speedy redevelopment process because the firm has shown notable performance in handling its model projects in places such as Gandhinagar and Surat.


About IRSDC:

Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Limited (IRSDC) is a Joint Venture company of Ircon International Limited (IRCON) (A Govt. of India Undertaking, under Ministry of Railways) and Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), a statutory authority under the Ministry of Railways. The core purpose of IRSDC as envisioned is to build world class railway stations that apply state of the art sustainable technologies in delivering delight to the users.


Sources: the hindu.



Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Akash Missile



Supersonic surface-to-air missile- Akash with indigenous radio frequency seeker was recently test fired from a test range in Odisha. With the successful test firing, India has achieved the capability of making any type of surface to air missile.


akash missile


What you need to know about the Missile?

  • Akash, the supersonic missile, is the first surface-to-air missile with indigenous seeker to be test fired and is being inducted into the Army as short range surface to air missile.
  • It has a strike range of about 25 km and carries a 55- kg fragmentation warhead that is triggered by proximity fuse.
  • It is an all-weather area air defence weapon system for defending vulnerable areas against medium range air targets penetrating from low, medium and high altitudes.
  • Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Akash missile system has the capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles as well as ballistic missiles.
  • The system is designed to neutralise multiple aerial targets attacking from several directions simultaneously. The system is autonomous and its operation is fully automated. There is flexibility in deployment.
  • It uses state-of-the-art integral ram jet rocket propulsion system and the onboard digital autopilot ensures stability and control. Electro-pneumatic servo actuation system controls cruciform wings for agile response and thermal batteries provide onboard power supply.


Sources: pib.



Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


New graphene-based battery


Context: Samsung Electronics has developed core battery technology using graphene to make lithium-ion batteries last longer and charge more quickly, a potential industry milestone if mass produced.


graphene battery


Significance of this breakthrough:

Standard lithium batteries require charging time of at least an hour to fully charge, even with quick charging technology, so numerous attempts to explore new innovative materials have been started.

Among the materials looked at, graphene, a material with high strength and conductivity, has widely become the primary source of interest. In theory, a battery based on the “graphene ball” material requires only 12 minutes to fully charge.


About Graphene:

Graphene has been touted in the global electronics industry as a “miracle material” given its strength, electrical conductivity and elasticity, and has been seen as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries since its discovery in 2004. It is a form of carbon that can be used to develop smaller, slimmer batteries but with higher capacity.

  • Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick. Its thin composition and high conductivity means it is used in applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices. These properties also enable thinner wire connections; providing extensive benefits for computers, solar panels, batteries, sensors and other devices.
  • The potential applications of graphene include water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine, to name a few.
  • Graphene has excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties as well. Its uses range from improving battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.


Sources: the hindu.



Facts for Prelims:

  • New Zealand kiwi birds:

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has upgraded the status of Okarito kiwi and Northern Brown kiwi from endangered to vulnerable. The number of Okarito kiwi has risen from 160 in 1995 to 400-450 now, and Northern Brown kiwi numbers are also climbing.