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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 15 January 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 15 January 2018


Paper 1:

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


Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-2018


Context: To celebrate the idea of unity in diversity, the Ministry of Culture is organising the 7th edition of the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav.

The Mahotsav will cover a profusion of art forms from classical and folk, music and dance, theatre to literature and the visual arts and would offer the chance to experience the best in established and emerging virtuosity. A handloom and handicrafts-utsav is part of the proposed event. The gastronomic culture of several partnering states will be showcased through a food festival.


Facts for Prelims:

  • The Ministry of Culture is organising the event under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix.
  • The event will be held in Karnataka. The State paired with Karnataka is Uttarakhand.


Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat:

The Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat programme was launched by the Prime Minister on 31st October, 2016 to promote engagement amongst the people of different states/UTs so as to enhance mutual understanding and bonding between people of diverse cultures, thereby securing stronger unity and integrity of India.


Sources: pib.

Topic: Geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features.



What is it? It is the world’s largest deep ocean volcanic eruption happened in New Zealand. It was recently confirmed by the researchers.


About Havre:

Named as Havre, the deep ocean volcanic eruption was first discovered in 2002. A solidified volcanic rock known as pumice raft — 400 square kilometres in size — found floating in the ocean near New Zealand in 2012 showed that underwater eruption had occurred. The eruption involved 14 aligned vents causing a “massive rupture”.


Sources: et.


Paper 2:

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.


Mahadayi row

Context: The row between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra over the sharing of the Mahadayi (Mandovi) river has escalated. With Karnataka headed for elections and the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal setting a February date for the final hearing, political parties in both States have upped the ante.


What is the Mahadayi row?

Karnataka seeks to divert water from tributaries of the river through the Kalasa-Bhanduri Nala project towards the parched Malaprabha river basin (a tributary of River Krishna), which is being strongly opposed by Goa. This has led to a long-drawn farmers’ agitation in Karnataka, which has been revitalised as the State goes to the polls later this year.

Goa’s main contention is that Karnataka cannot divert water from an already-deficit Mahadayi basin to the Malaprabha river basin: 115 tmcft was available in the basin, while the requirement for the three States is 145 tmcft. It has said that any attempt to divert water from one river basin to the other will cause irreparable environmental damage. Karnataka claims 199.6 tmcft is available and the river is water-surplus. Of this, Karnataka wants 24.15 tmcft.


Facts for Prelims:

Mahadayi: The 80-km-long river rises from the forests of the Western Ghats at Devgaon in northern Karnataka. It enters Goa where it is a lifeline, both for the people and the rich flora and fauna of its forests.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Context: According to a recent study, in India, more than 10 million people suffer from a self-diagnosable ailment called Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Its milder version usually resolves itself within months.


What is Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

SAD occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year. Sometimes, it is mistaken to be a “lighter” version of depression, which is untrue. It is a different version of the same illness and people with SAD are just as ill as people with major depression, according to psychiatrists.

Symptoms: Symptoms include fatigue, depression, a feeling of hopelessness and social withdrawal.

Vulnerable group: Women are overwhelmingly more susceptible to SAD than men. Statistics released by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) show that SAD occurs four times more often in women than in men. The age of onset is estimated to be between 18 and 30 years but can affect anyone irrespective of age. SAD generally starts in late fall and early winter and goes away during spring and summer. Depressive episodes linked to summer can occur, but are much rarer than winter episodes.

Prevention: A few ways in which people can prevent winter depression include ensuring a healthy and balanced diet. Staying well hydrated is key during the winter months since it gives you more energy, mental clarity and an enhanced digestive function. Getting enough sunlight and engaging in regular outdoor physical exercise are also important.

Treatment: Treatment for SAD involves enough light exposure, artificial light exposure, sun therapy and drugs, if needed. Artificial light exposure is effective but may take four to six weeks to see a response, although some patients improve within days. Therapy is continued until sufficient and daily natural sunlight exposure is available.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Monuments Bill


Context: Some historians and archaeologists have expressed concern over amendments proposed to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958). The Lok Sabha passed the amendments to the Act on January 3. But the Bill is yet to be cleared by the Rajya Sabha.


What are the concerns?

The Act, which originally instituted conservation measures and banned construction activities near protected monuments, is now sought to be amended so that public works could be allowed within the 100 m prohibited zone.


The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017:

Construction in ‘prohibited areas’: The Act defines a ‘prohibited area’ as an area of 100 meters around a protected monument or area.  The central government can extend the prohibited area beyond 100 meters.  The Act does not permit construction in such prohibited areas, except under certain conditions.  The Act also prohibits construction in ‘prohibited areas’ even if it is for public purposes. The Bill amends this provision to permit construction of public works in ‘prohibited areas’ for public purposes.

Definition of ‘public works’: The Bill introduces a definition for ‘public works’, which includes the construction of any infrastructure that is financed and carried out by the central government for public purposes.  This infrastructure must be necessary for public safety and security and must be based on a specific instance of danger to public safety.  Also, there should be no reasonable alternative to carrying out construction in the prohibited area.

Procedure for seeking permission for public works: As per the Bill, the relevant central government department, that seeks to carry out construction for public purposes in a prohibited area, should make an application to the competent authority. If there is any question related to whether a construction project qualifies as ‘public works’, it will be referred to the National Monuments Authority.  This Authority, will make its recommendations, with written reasons, to the central government.  The decision of the central government will be final.

Impact assessment of proposed public works: The Bill empowers the National Monuments Authority to consider an impact assessment of the proposed public works in a prohibited area, including its (i) archaeological impact; (ii) visual impact; and (iii) heritage impact. The Authority will make a recommendation, for construction of public works to the central government, only if it is satisfied that there is no reasonable possibility of moving the construction outside the prohibited area.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.


World Economic Forum manufacturing index

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its Global Manufacturing Index. This is WEF’s first ‘Readiness for the future of production report’. The report has been developed in collaboration with A T Kearney and calls for new and innovative approaches to public-private collaboration are needed to accelerate transformation.


The report has categorised 100 countries in four major groups for its ranking:

  • Leading (strong current base, high level of readiness for future).
  • High Potential (limited current base, high potential for future).
  • Legacy (strong current base, at risk for future).
  • Nascent (limited current base, low level of readiness for future).


Performance of various countries:

  • Japan has topped the list. Japan is followed by South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, China, Czech Republic, the US, Sweden, Austria and Ireland in the top 10.
  • Among BRICS nations, Russia is ranked 35th, Brazil 41st and South Africa at 45th place.
  • China figures among the WEF`s “leading countries”. “Legacy” group includes Hungary, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Turkey, among others, and Brazil as well as South Africa are among the “nascent” ones.


Performance of India:

  • India is at the 30th position, five places below China, but higher than the other BRICS members Brazil, Russia and South Africa. India has been placed in the “Legacy” group.
  • In terms of scale of production, India has been ranked 9th, while for complexity it is at 48th place. For market size, India is ranked 3rd, while areas where the country is ranked poorly (90th or even lower) include female participation in labour force, trade tariffs, regulatory efficiency and sustainable resources.
  • Overall, India is ranked better than its neighbours Sri Lanka (66th), Pakistan (74th) and Bangladesh (80th). Other countries ranked below India include Turkey, Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Mauritius and the UAE.
  • India’s manufacturing sector has grown by over 7% per annum on average in the past three decades and accounts for 16-20% of India`s GDP. Home to the second-largest population in the world and one of the fastest growing economies, the demand for Indian manufactured products is rising.


Way ahead for India:

India has room for improvement across the drivers of production, except for demand environment where it ranks in the top 5. Human capital and sustainable resources are the two key challenges for India and the country needs to continue to raise the capabilities of its relatively young and fast-growing labour force. This entails upgrading education curricula, revamping vocational training programmes and improving digital skills. India should also continue to diversify its energy sources and reduce emissions as its manufacturing sector continues to expand.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Sikkim allows people to forge fraternal ties with trees


Context: Under Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017, the Government of Sikkim has come up with a unique way of preserving trees by encouraging people to forge a relationship of brotherhood or sisterhood with trees through a practice locally known as Mith/Mit or Mitini. With this, Sikkim is keen to not just preserve its forest cover but also forge amity between people and trees.


Highlights of Sikkim Forest Tree (Amity & Reverence) Rules 2017:

  • Under the rules, State government shall allow any person to associate with trees standing on his or her private land or on any public land by entering into a Mith/Mit or Mitini relationship.
  • A person can also adopt a tree “as if it was his or her own child in which case the tree shall be called an adopted tree.” Another way to forge a relationship with a tree is by “preserving a tree in remembrance of a departed relative in which case the tree shall be called a smriti tree.”
  • In case an individual wants to forge a relationship with a tree which does not stand on his or her land but another’s, the person concerned shall execute an agreement with the owner and compensate him or her in terms of the market value of the timber or the wood contained in the tree. If the person desires to enter into a relationship with a tree located on public land then permission from the said department or agency needs to be taken.
  • The Rules also prohibit felling or damage to any tree registered as Mith/Mit or Mitini, adopted or smriti and points out that any such violation shall be treated as a forest offence.



As per the Forest Survey of India, 2015 the forest cover of Sikkim is 47.80 % of the State’s total geographical area. Over the past few years the State government has also started an initiative of identifying heritage trees where 21 trees of 25-ft. girth and above and 32 trees of 20-25 ft. girth have been demarcated as heritage trees.


Sources: the hindu.

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


The 25 Year Environment Plan

Context: UK has launched its long-awaited 25 Year Environment Plan. The Plan sets out comprehensive and long-term approach to protecting and enhancing the environment in England for the next generation. The Plan is far-reaching, touching on topics ranging from plastics recycling, biodiversity and habitats to climate change and air pollution.


Highlights of the plan:

Independent green watchdog: The plan promises a consultation on a new independent body to hold government to account post-Brexit, alongside a new set of green principles to underpin policy-making. A new set of metrics will also help assess progress against the 25 Year goals.

Green business council: A new council is to be established to advise government on setting the right conditions to stimulate environmental entrepreneurism and innovation. The group would also promote the business case for companies to address and report on natural capital risks and green opportunities in their supply chains.

2019 Year of Green Action: The government has promised to launch a year-long youth-focused promotional campaign to engatge people with environmental issues. Using #iwill hashtag the campaign will aim to increase action and engagement on the environment among 10 to 20 year olds. Meanwhile, a range of events and activities will be staged to coincide with the 70th anniversary of National Parks and centenary of the Forestry Commission.

‘Natural Environment for Health and Wellbeing’ programme: A cross-government alliance will establish a three-year programme promoting natural environment as a path for improving health and wellbeing.

Green infrastructure standards: Natural England will lead on new cross-government project to review and update existing standards for green infrastructure by summer 2019, with government supporting local councils to assess developments against these new standards.

Tree planting: The government reiterates goals to plant one million trees in England’s towns and cities by 2022, and endorses proposals for a new Northern Forest. It will also appoint a national Tree Champion and design a new woodland creation grant scheme. A Tree health Resilience Plan is also scheduled for 2018.

Plastic waste targets and taxes: The government said it aims to eliminate all “avoidable” waste by 2050, and all “avoidable plastic waste” by the end of 2042. A call for evidence on using the tax system to eradicate single-use plastics is also on its way this year, while government says it will “explore whether we can ban other problematic materials where suitable alternatives exist”.

Water refill points: To cut plastic bottle waste, the government wants to help retailers and transport hubs to offer up free water refill points in every major city and town in England, while the water industry will be encouraged to create nationwide network of refill points.

International Natural Capital Conference: The UK plans to host major event to “discuss new ways of incorporating natural capital approaches to long-term policy making”.

Global deforestation initiative: A cross-government global resource initiative is to be set up this year that will work with businesses, NGOs, producer countries, and intermediary countries to identify supply chain actions to boost the sustainability of products and reduce deforestation.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas.


Villagers along India-Myanmar international border to get passes

India and Myanmar are all set to streamline free movement of people within 16 km along their borders. The Centre has asked the four states that share unfenced border with Myanmar to distribute “border pass” to all the residents living within 16 km from the boundary line. It has also asked the governments of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram to enrol the border residents under Aadhaar on war footing.


About the border pass:

The border pass will be given only to the domiciles. All residents going across the border for agriculture, work or to meet relatives should carry the pass at all times. There will be no restrictions on their movement.



Both the countries had been intending to put a system in place after India raised the issue of movement of extremists and smugglers freely across the border. On January 3, the Union Cabinet had approved the agreement between India and Myanmar on land border crossing which the government said would enhance economic interaction between the people of the two countries.


Facts for Prelims:

India and Myanmar share an unfenced border of 1,643 km, touching Arunachal Pradesh (520 km), Nagaland (215 km), Manipur (398 km) and Mizoram (510 km).


Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:



What is it? It is a newly discovered species of moth. This discovery represents the first record of Elcysma from Arunachal Pradesh. Researchers have suggested that the new species be commonly called Apatani Glory, named after a local tribe called Apatani.

From where? The species was discovered from the Talle Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.

Key facts: This species has only been seen during autumn, notably in the month of September, indicating that it is a univoltine species, meaning it has one brood of young in a year.


Country’s First Agri-commodity Options Contracts in Guar Seed:

Context: The Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley recently launched the country’s First Agri-commodity Options Contracts in Guar Seed.

Significance: NCDEX Agri-Options in Guar Seed aim to provide farmers better engagement in the commodity markets.​