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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 January 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 January 2018


Paper 1:

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Jangalmahal Utsab


Context: Jangalmahal Utsab was recently inaugurated at the Jhargam district in West Bengal.


About the festival:

The festival is organised in the state to promote tribal art and culture. Different folk songs and dances such as Tusu, Bhadu, Ahira and Jhumur are performed by the locals of the Jangalmahal area during the festival.


Facts for Prelims:

The world Junglemahal is used to refer four districts of the state — Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore. These four districts were once affected by Maoist insurgency.


Sources: toi.

Topic: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.


“Bomb Cyclone”

Context: A massive winter storm called a “bomb cyclone” is hammering the eastern coast of the US, bringing snow, ice, flooding, and strong winds.


What is a Bomb cyclone?

The term is used by meteorologists to indicate a mid-latitude cyclone that intensifies rapidly. A bomb cyclone happens when atmospheric pressure in the middle of the storm drops at least 24 millibars over 24 hours, quickly increasing in intensity. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.


How it works?

Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move and the rotation of the earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere leading to winds that come out of the northeast.


What’s the difference between hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons?

Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are all tropical storms. They are all the same thing but are given different names depending on where they appear. When they reach populated areas they usually bring very strong wind and rain which can cause a lot of damage.

Hurricanes are tropical storms that form over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. Cyclones are formed over the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Typhoons are formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.


Sources: the hindu.



Paper 2:

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.


Govt notifies electoral bonds to replace cash donations to political parties

In an attempt to ensure more transparent financing of political parties participating in elections, the government has announced the introduction of new electoral bonds that donors can buy from the State Bank of India (SBI). The political parties who get these bonds can in turn encash them only through a designated bank account. The bonds will be available at specified SBI branches for 10 days each in the months of January, April, July and October.


About Electoral bonds:

What are electoral bonds? Electoral bonds will allow donors to pay political parties using banks as an intermediary. Although called a bond, the banking instrument resembling promissory notes will not carry any interest. The electoral bond, which will be a bearer instrument, will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore.

Eligibility: electoral bonds, can be given to a registered political party which has secured at least 1 per cent vote in the last Lok Sabha or state assembly elections. That party will have to give one bank account to the Election Commission and it will have to be encashed within 15 days.

Need: The electoral bonds are aimed at rooting out the current system of largely anonymous cash donations made to political parties which lead to the generation of black money in the economy.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Surakhsa Yojna (PMSSY)

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved setting up of an AIIMS in Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh with an outlay of Rs. 1,350 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Surakhsa Yojna (PMSSY).


What you need to know about PMSSY?

The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) was announced in 2003 with objectives of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable/ reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country.

  • The scheme has two components: Setting up of new AIIMS and upgradation of government medical colleges.
  • Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress. Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) have been sanctioned in 2015 and two AIIMS have been sanctioned at Bathinda and Gorakhpur in 2016.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Swine flu

Context: The Rajasthan government has sounded an alert in the State after more than 400 people were diagnosed positive for the swine flu virus. Nearly 11,721 people were tested for swine flu between January 1, 2017 to December 19, 2017, of which 3,214 were confirmed positive.


Swine Flu:

What is it? Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. H1N1 is a flu virus. When it was first detected in 2009, it was called “swine flu” because the virus was similar to those found in pigs.

Transmission from Pigs to Humans: The H1N1 virus is currently a seasonal flu virus found in humans. Although it also circulates in pigs, one cannot get it by eating properly handled and cooked pork or pork products.

Pandemic: In 2009, H1N1 was spreading fast around the world, so the World Health Organization called it a pandemic.

Spread: Swine flu is contagious, and it spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu. When people who have it cough or sneeze, they spray tiny drops of the virus into the air. If a person comes in contact with these drops or touch a surface that an infected person has recently touched, the person can catch H1N1 swine flu.

Pregnant women who contract the H1N1 infection are at a greater risk of developing complications because of hormonal changes, physical changes and changes to their immune system to accommodate the growing foetus.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Typbar TCV


What is it? It is a Typhoid conjugate vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech Ltd (BBL).

Why in news? The World Health Organisation (WHO) has pre-qualified its typhoid conjugate vaccine. The new vaccine was found to have given a longer immunity from typhoid than older vaccines and it required fewer doses for childhood immunisation.

What does this mean? The pre-qualification by WHO allows for the sale of the vaccines to UN agencies such as UNICEF and GAVI.


About the vaccine:

Typbar TCV is reportedly the world’s first typhoid vaccine clinically proven for use on recipients who can be as young as six months. A single dose offers 87% protective efficacy against typhoid.


About Typhoid:

Typhoid fever is caused by food and water contaminated by Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) bacteria. The symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation and sometimes diarrhoea. According to the World Health Organisation, typhoid affects about 21 million people per year and kills around 222,000.


Facts for Prelims:

What is GAVI? Created in 2000, Gavi is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries. Gavi brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Official languages of the UN

Context: India is pushing forward its proposal to include Hindi as one of the official languages of the United Nations. The ministry of external affairs [MEA] is currently reviewing a draft advocacy paper to present the Indian case with regard to introducing Hindi in the UN.


Procedure for language to be recognised as an official one of UN:

The procedure for getting any language recognized as one of the Official Languages of the UN involves obtaining approval of the General Assembly. Such a proposal has to be approved by more than half of the members of the General Assembly where every member-State has a vote. In addition, recognizing any language as the official language of the UN entails a substantial increase in the expenditure of the UN necessitating an enhanced contribution by every member country, which is why most of the members remain reluctant to support such a proposal.


Need for recognition:

According to the estimates around 340 million to 500 million speak, and as many as 800 million people understand Hindi language. Outside India there are countries like Nepal South Africa, Mauritius, the United Kingdom, the United States, Yemen, and Uganda where a significant number people speak Hindi. Also, the government believes that at a time when Indian economy is shining and the country is emerging as next global power it is the best time for the country to promote its national language and get it recognised as an official language of United Nations.


Official languages of the UN:

There are six official languages of the UN.  These are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. These languages are used at meetings of various UN organs, particularly the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council.

  • Each representative of a country may speak in any one of these six languages, or may speak in any language and provide interpretation into one of the six official languages. The UN provides simultaneous interpretation from the official language into the other five official languages, via the United Nations Interpretation Service.
  • The six official languages are also used for the dissemination of official documents. Until a document is available in all six official languages, it is not published. Generally, the texts in each of the six languages are equally authoritative.
  • The six official languages spoken at the UN are the first or second language of 2.8 billion people on the planet, less than half of the world population. The six languages are official languages in more than half the nations in the world.


Multilingualism and the UN:

Multilingualism enables communication between the UN’s linguistically and culturally diverse Member States within the meeting rooms and halls of the UN. By promoting tolerance, multilingualism also ensures increased participation of all Member States in the Organization’s work, as well as greater effectiveness, better outcomes and more involvement.


What’s India doing in this regard?

India has already started diplomatic efforts to promote Hindi at international level and to gain the support of other countries. The MEA has set up the World Hindi Secretariat in Mauritius along with the ministry of external affairs has prepared Hindi-Chinese, Hindi-Arabic, Hindi-French, and Hindi-Spanish dictionaries to promote Hindi. A consolidated Hindi-based dictionary of UN languages is also under compilation.


Sources: th

Paper 3:

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




The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was recently passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in August, 2017.


Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill seeks to amend the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981.

Increase in capital of NABARD: Under the 1981 Act, NABARD may have a capital of Rs 100 crore.  This capital can be further increased to Rs 5,000 crore by the central government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The Bill allows the central government to increase this capital to Rs 30,000 crore.  The capital may be increased to more than Rs 30,000 crore by the central government in consultation with the RBI, if necessary.

Transfer of the RBI’s share to the central government: Under the 1981 Act, the central government and the RBI together must hold at least 51% of the share capital of NABARD.  The Bill provides that the central government alone must hold at least 51% of the share capital of NABARD.  The Bill transfers the share capital held by the RBI and valued at Rs 20 crore to the central government.  The central government will give an equal amount to the RBI.

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME): The Bill replaces the terms ‘small-scale industry’ and ‘industry in the tiny and decentralised sector’ with the terms ‘micro enterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ and ‘medium enterprise’ as defined in the MSME Development Act, 2006.  Under the 1981 Act, NABARD was responsible for providing credit and other facilities to industries having an investment of upto Rs 20 lakh in machinery and plant.  The Bill extends this to apply to enterprises with investment upto Rs 10 crore in the manufacturing sector and Rs five crore in the services sector.

Under the 1981 Act, experts from small-scale industries are included in the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of NABARD.  Further, banks providing loans to small-scale, tiny and decentralised sector industries are eligible to receive financial assistance from NABARD.  The Bill extends these provisions to the micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Consistency with the Companies Act, 2013:  The Bill substitutes references to provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 under the NABARD Act, 1981, with references to the Companies Act, 2013.  These include provisions that deal with: (i) definition of a government company, and (ii) qualifications of auditors.



It is an apex development and specialized bank established on 12 July 1982 by an act by the parliament of India. Its main focus is to uplift rural India by increasing the credit flow for elevation of agriculture & rural non farm sector.

It was established based on the recommendations of the Committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the chairmanship of Shri B. shivaraman. It replaced the Agricultural Credit Department (ACD) and Rural Planning and Credit Cell (RPCC) of Reserve Bank of India, and Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation (ARDC).

It has been accredited with “matters concerning policy, planning and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India”.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: infrastructure.


Zojila Pass tunnel

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the construction of Asia’s longest bi-directional Zojila Pass tunnel at an estimated cost of Rs 6,089 crore.


About the Zojila pass tunnel:

What is it? It is a 14.2-km long tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh, which remains cut-off from the rest of India during winters due to heavy snowfall. “Zojila tunnel will be the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia.

Implementation: The project will be implemented by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRT&H) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).

Benefits of the tunnel: The project would enhance the safety of travellers crossing Zojila Pass and reduce the travel time from 3.5 hours to 15 minutes. This pass is most strategic for the entire Kargil sector which has seen intrusion and war in the past. It will further increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities.


Facts for Prelims: Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.


Sources: pib.

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.


Indo-Myanmar agreement on land border crossing


Context: The Union Cabinet has approved an agreement between India and Myanmar on land border crossing which the government said would enhance economic interaction between people of the two countries.


Significance of the agreement:

  • The agreement will also facilitate movement of people on the basis of valid passports and visas which will enhance economic and social interaction between the two countries.
  • It is expected to provide connectivity and enhance interaction of the people from north-eastern states of India with those of Myanmar.
  • The agreement will also safeguard the traditional rights of the largely tribal communities residing along the border which are accustomed to free movement across the land border.



India shares a 1643-km long border with Myanmar in  Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. Despite threats, the  India–Myanmar border has the Free Movement Regime (FMR), which allows the tribes living along the border to travel 16 km across the boundary without visa restrictions. There are over 250 villages with over 300,000 people living within 10 km of the border who frequently cross the border through 150 small and large, formal and informal, border crossings.


Sources: the hindu.