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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 31 January 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 31 January 2018


Paper 2:

Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.


Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project


Context: India and the World Bank have signed a $100 million loan agreement to support Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project. This is expected to promote rural enterprises, facilitate their access to finance, and create employment opportunities for youth, particularly women, in selected blocks of Tamil Nadu across 26 districts, directly benefitting over 400,000 people.


About Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project:

The Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project will create an enabling environment for producer organisations and enterprises to promote businesses across select value chains. The project will enable producer organizations and enterprises in Tamil Nadu build businesses that will help them access finance, markets and networks and generate employment.

It will also specifically support eligible households from socially and culturally disadvantaged groups harness their existing assets, skills, and resources; break their entry barriers to value-added economic activities; enhance their ability to access finance, markets, technology, and related support services; help them graduate to value-added economic activities with higher returns such as garment manufacturing and food processing units, eco-tourism ventures, and businesses around creative industries.


Sources: BS.

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


Thar Link Express

Context: Thar Link Express, the solitary rail link between India and Pakistan has received an extension for three more years from Islamabad.


About the Thar Link Express:

The Thar Link Express connects Khokhrapar in Pakistan and Munabao in Rajasthan. The agreement to run the Thar Link Express was signed in 2006 and is one of the cheapest means of transport between the two rival countries. The rail link facilitates people-to-people contacts which Pakistan believes are essential for improving relations between both the countries.


Sources: the hindu.

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


India is world’s 3rd largest steel producer


As per the latest data released by World Steel Association, India is the world’s third-largest steel producer.


Key facts:

  • India remained the world’s third-largest steel producer for the third year in a row in 2017. India had grabbed the third slot in steel production in 2015 from the US after long been holding the fourth slot.
  • In 2017, China and Japan have occupied top two positions respectively.



About the World Steel Association:

What is it? Worldsteel is a non-profit organisation with headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. A second office in Beijing, China, opened in April 2006.

Background: The World Steel Association (worldsteel) was founded as the International Iron and Steel Institute on 10 July 1967. It changed its name to the World Steel Association on 6 October 2008.

Representation: Worldsteel represents over 160 steel producers (including 9 of the world’s 10 largest steel companies), national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes. Worldsteel members represent around 85% of world steel production.


Goals of Worldsteel:

  • To act as the focal point for the steel industry providing global leadership on all major strategic issues impacting the industry, particularly focusing on economic, environmental and social sustainability.
  • Deliver benchmarking analysis and drive global improvement initiatives in the areas of environmental protection, technology, safety and people development.
  • Promote global market development opportunities for steel and promote steel to the world at large.
  • Provide on a timely basis world-class economic data and analysis on the global steel industry and its value chain, as well as assessments on life cycle aspects of steel.
  • Increase awareness, understanding and support for the steel industry amongst all external stakeholders and key target audiences worldwide.
  • Promote market competition that is free of government interventions preventing fair trade.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Difficult Dialogues forum

Context: The third edition in the series of Difficult Dialogues Summit wil be held in Goa in the month of February. This year, the forum will be held in partnership with UCL (University College London), Goa University (GU) and the ICG.

Difficult Dialogues 2018 will focus on how Indian gender constructs affect fundamental aspects of daily lives and citizenship.


About Difficult Dialogues:

Difficult dialogues is an independent, non-partisan forum for conversations around critical issues concerning our lives in South Asia. To be held as an annual festival of topical ideas and motions, it is premised on the conviction that knowledge sharing is the cornerstone of progressive change in this fastest growing, volatile region of the world.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topic: Infrastructure energy.


Solar capacity reaches 20 GW on govt push

Context: India has achieved 20 GW (giga watt) cumulative solar capacity, achieving the milestone four years ahead of the target for 2022 originally set in the National Solar Mission. The utility-scale cumulative installations now stand at approximately 18.4 GW, with rooftop solar accounting for another 1.6 GW.


Key facts:

  • For the first time, solar was the top source of new power capacity additions in India during calendar year 2017. Solar installations reached 9.6 GW and accounted for 45% of total capacity additions.
  • The top state for solar installations was Telangana, followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan.


Challenges ahead:

The country has reached the milestone at a time when protectionist measures threaten to slow down activity in the industry. The pace of overall solar installations is expected to be less impressive in 2018 as several protectionist government policies appear poised to increase costs and uncertainty.

Also, experts say Centre’s revised solar installation target of 100 GW by 2022 has recently been clashing with Make in India Initiative to promote domestic manufacturing. The recently announced 70% preliminary safeguard duty recommendation, the ongoing anti-dumping case, and a 7.85% port duty on imported modules are together creating an atmosphere of regulatory uncertainty that is taking a toll on the industry and slowing down installation activity.


Way ahead:

The 20 GW of solar installations is a laudable achievement for India. However, it took eight long years to reach 20 GWs and hopefully the pace will pick up soon.


About the National Solar Mission:

National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible. The mission is one of the several initiatives that are part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change. Initial target was to achieve 20GW by 2022 which was later increased to 100 GW in the 2015 Union budget of India.

The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: awareness in space.


60th anniversary of first US satellite into space

Context: United States is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the launch of the first spacecraft sent into space.


Explorer 1:

Explorer 1, a two-metre long satellite carrying a scientific instrument, was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on 31 January 1958. Explorer 1 was around two metres in length. Within that the science instrument took up about 95cm.

The main instruments were a cosmic-ray detection package; internal, external and nose-cone temperature sensors; a micrometeorite impact microphone; a ring of micrometeorite erosion gauges; and two transmitters. There were two antennas in the body of the satellite and its four flexible whips that formed a turnstile antenna. Electrical power was provided by batteries that made up 40% of the total weight.

Explorer 1 and missions that came after it were responsible for the first space-based discovery – radiation belts around the Earth called the Van Allen Belts.


Facts for Prelims:

Overall, Explorer 1 was not the first object launched into space, as almost a year earlier the USSR successfully put a small metal satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit. A month later, they also successfully launched a second, Sputnik 2.


Sources: et.

Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology.


India commissions high performance computer system Mihir


India recently commissioned its High Performance Computer (HPC) system – named ‘Mihir’ (meaning Sun) – at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting at Noida, Uttar Pradesh.


About Mihir:

The new system will be India’s largest HPC facility in terms of peak capacity and performance and will propel India’s ranking from the 368th position to the 30th in the list of top 500 HPC facilities in the world. The country will now also be ranked 4th – after Japan, UK and USA – for dedicated HPC resources for weather/climate community.


The new HPC facility is expected to improve the following services:

  • Weather forecasts at block level over India which can predict extreme weather events.
  • High resolution seasonal/extended range forecasts of active/break spells of Monsoon.
  • Very high resolution coupled models for prediction of cyclones with more accuracy and lead time.
  • Ocean state forecasts including marine water quality forecasts at very high resolution.
  • Tsunami forecasts with greater lead time.
  • Air quality forecasts for various cities.
  • Climate projections at very high resolution.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: indigenization of technology.


Scorpene-class submarine Karanj

Context: The third Scorpene-class submarine – INS Karanj has been launched.


About Karanj:

Karanj is the third of the six Scorpene-class submarines being built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) under the Project 75 programme of Indian navy. It is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics. It is provided with all means and communications to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task.

It has superior stealth features such as advanced acoustic silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels and hydrodynamically optimized shape. These stealth features give it an invulnerability, unmatched by most submarine.



The Scorpene submarines are a primary modernization requirement of the Indian Navy, which is currently faced with an ageing submarine fleet. MDL has the contract for the construction and transfer of technology for six Scorpene submarines. The submarines are being built in collaboration with French shipbuilding major Naval Group (formerly DCNS).

The first one, INS Kalvari, a diesel-electric attack submarine was commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 14 last year. The second one, INS Khandari, was launched on January 12 this year is currently undergoing sea trials.


Sources: the hindu.








Facts for Prelims:


Nilgiri Marten:

Context: A recent study has found that Pampadum Shola National Park located on the southern portion of Western Ghats is a safe haven of rare and most elusive Nilgiri Marten.

About Nilgiri Marten: Endemic to the Western Ghats, Nilgiri Marten looks like a civet or a mongoose and it most prefers higher altitudes. The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Schedule II, Part 2 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

About Pampadum shola national park: Coming under Munnar Wildlife Division, Pampadum Shola enjoys proximity of Kurunjimala Wildlife Sanctuary and Palani hills of Tamil Nadu. It is the smallest national park in Kerala state.