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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 February 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 February 2018


Paper 2:

Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.


Ayushman Bharat for a new India -2022


The Government has announced two major initiatives in health sector, as part of Ayushman Bharat programme. These two health sector initiatives under Ayushman Bharat Programme will build a New India 2022 and ensure enhanced productivity, well being and avert wage loss and impoverishment. These Schemes will also generate lakhs of jobs, particularly for women.


The initiatives are as follows:

Health and Wellness Centre: The National Health Policy, 2017 has envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India’s health system. Under this 1.5 lakh centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.  These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The Budget has allocated Rs.1200 crore for this flagship programme. Contribution of private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres is also envisaged.

National Health Protection Scheme: The second flagship programme under Ayushman Bharat is National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage upto 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. This will be the world’s largest government funded health care programme. Adequate funds will be provided for smooth implementation of this programme.


Sources: the hindu.

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


‘Khelo India School Games’

Context: Khelo India School Games as a part of the Khelo India Programme has been launched. The mission aims to develop a sporting culture in the country, identify talents from grassroots and groom them for international success. The Khelo India Games will witness athletes fight it out in 16 disciplines at various venues in the Capital.


About Khelo India Programme:

The Khelo India programme has been introduced to revive the sports culture in India at the grass-root level by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country and establish India as a great sporting nation.


Sources: the hindu.

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


More tribal areas to get Ekalavya schools

Context: The government has proposed to establish Ekalavya Residential School in each block of the country where tribal people constitute a majority of the population. It has been decided that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School.


Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)?

Eklavya Model Residential School Scheme was started in 1998 and first school was started in the year 2000 in Maharashtra. EMRSs have been functioning as institutions of excellence for tribal students.

As per existing EMRS Guidelines of 2010, at least one EMRS is to be set up in each Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) / Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) having 50% ST population in the area.

The capital cost for setting up the school complex, including hostels and staff quarters etc. has been earmarked at Rs. 12 crore with a provision to go up to Rs.16 crore in hill areas, deserts and islands. Recurring cost during the first year for these schools would be Rs. 42000/-per child, with a provision of raising it by 10% every second year to compensate for inflation etc.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Ashgabat agreement

Context: India has been admitted to Agreement on the Establishment of an International Transport and Transit Corridor” between Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan signed on April 25, 2011, known as the Ashgabat Agreement. All the four founding members have consented to the accession of India and India’s accession to the Agreement will enter into force on February 3, 2018.


Significance of this accession:

Accession to the Agreement would diversify India’s connectivity options with Central Asia and have a positive influence on India’s trade and commercial ties with the region. It also assumes significance given Beijing’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative of which the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), that leads to Gwadar port in Pakistan passing through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, is a major part. India’s stand has been that while it is all for connectivity, such initiatives should respect the territorial integrity of other countries.


About Ashgabat agreement:

The Ashgabat Agreement aims to develop a shortest trade route between Central Asian countries and Iranian and Omani ports. The Ashgabat Agreement has Oman, Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as founding members. Kazakhstan has also joined this arrangement subsequently. In October 2016, Pakistan also formally joined the Ashgabat Agreement.

The Iran-Turkmenistan-Kazakhstan (ITK) railway line will be the major route according to the Ashgabat Agreement, which became operational in December 2014 and was also included as part of India-funded North-South international transport corridor (NSITC).


Facts for Prelims:

Ashgabat, known as Poltoratsk between 1919 and 1927, is the capital and the largest city of Turkmenistan in Central Asia, situated between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

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


Gift City gets unified regulator


Context: The International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) at Gift City, Gujarat has received a major boost with the Finance Minister proposing a unified regulator for the special finance zone along with tax benefits for non-residents and non-corporate entities operating there.

This assumes significance as various government agencies and regulators, including the Reserve Bank of India and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), have oversight on entities that operate in the zone.


Way ahead:

The announcement of setting up of unified regulator for IFSC in India would help India achieve its full potential in the global financial markets. Globally, most of the financial centres host unified regulator in the same centre. This decision would help in establishing GIFT IFSC as a global financial hub.


What is an IFSC?

An IFSC caters to customers outside the jurisdiction of the domestic economy. Such centres deal with flows of finance, financial products and services across borders. London, New York and Singapore can be counted as global financial centres. Many emerging IFSCs around the world, such as Shanghai and Dubai, are aspiring to play a global role in the years to come.


What are the services an IFSC can provide?

  • Fund-raising services for individuals, corporations and governments.
  • Asset management and global portfolio diversification undertaken by pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds.
  • Wealth management.
  • Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization, which provides a business opportunity for financial intermediaries, accountants and law firms.
  • Global and regional corporate treasury management operations that involve fund-raising, liquidity investment and management and asset-liability matching.
  • Risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance.
  • Merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations.


Sources: the hindu.

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


BharatNet Project

Context: To further promote the Centre’s BharatNet project for providing broadband services in 2.5 lakh gram panchayats of the country, the finance ministry has proposed an allocation of Rs 8,175 crore, which will be used towards completing the second phase of the programme under which 1.5 lakh gram panchayats will be covered.


About BharatNet project:

Bharat Net sought to connect all of India’s households, particularly in rural areas, through broadband, forming the backbone of the government’s ambitious Digital India programme. It proposes broadband connectivity to households under village panchayats and even to government institutions at district level. The project is being funded through the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

In its first phase, the BharatNet project saw over one lakh gram panchayats being connected across the country with high speed optical fibre network as of December 31, 2017. Under the first phase, the project saw 2,54,895 km of optical fibre cable being laid covering 1,09,926 gram panchayats out of which 1,01,370 gram panchayats have been provided active connectivity.


Universal Service Obligation Fund:

USOF, established in 2002, provides effective subsidies to ensure telegraph services are provided to everyone across India, especially in the rural and remote areas. It is headed by the USOF Administrator who reports to the Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Funds come from the Universal Service Levy (USL) of 5% charged from all the telecom operators on their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) which are then deposited into the Consolidated Fund of India, and require prior parliamentary approval to be dispatched.

The USOF works through a bidding process, where funds are given to the enterprise quoting the lowest bid. However, the funds for NOFN were made an exception to this process since BBNL was the sole party involved in the implementation having being specifically created for it.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE)


Context: The government has announced a new initiative called Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE).


Key facts:

  • The initiative aims to step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions. It will have a total investment of ₹1,00,000-crore in the next four years.
  • Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative. The manner in which investment in institutions is provided is likely to be the same as is practised in HEFA, but there may be different windows for different institutions.


About HEFA:

What is it? The Union Cabinet had approved HEFA in September 2016 as a Special Purpose Vehicle with a public sector bank (Canara Bank). It would be jointly funded by the promoter/bank and the MHRD with an authorised capital of ₹2,000 crore. The government equity would be ₹1,000 crore.

Functions: HEFA will leverage the equity to raise up to ₹20,000 crore for the funding of world-class infrastructure at the IITs, IIMs, the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and such other institutions. The agency is also expected to mobilise Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds from public sector units (PSUs) and corporates. These would be released as grants to eligible institutions for promoting research and innovation.

Significance of HEFA: Funding from HEFA is expected to boost infrastructure, especially state-of-the-art laboratories, in key institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs).


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: money laundering and its prevention.

Bill to amend the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002


Context: Government has introduced Bill to amend the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 through Finance Act, 2018. The Amendments aim at further enhancing the effectiveness of the Act, widen its scope and take care of certain procedural difficulties faced by the Enforcement Directorate in prosecution of PMLA cases.


Proposed amendments:

  • Amendment in definition of “proceeds of crime”: A key proposed change is in the definition of “proceeds of crime”, which now also allows the ED to proceed against assets of equivalent value located even outside the country.
  • Amendment in bail provisions: In a move to de-link PMLA proceedings from those in scheduled offences pursued by other agencies, an amended Section 45(1) proposes uniform applicability of bail conditions, instead of only those crimes listed in its schedule that attract more than three years’ imprisonment.
  • The amendment to Section 8(8) allows the Special Court, if it deems fit, to consider the claims for the purposes of restoration of such properties also during the trial. The government has introduced a new Sub-Section (2) of Section 66, making it mandatory for the ED to share relevant details with other agencies.


PMLA 2002:

Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to prevent money-laundering and to provide for confiscation of property derived from money-laundering. PMLA and the Rules notified there under came into force with effect from July 1, 2005.

The Act and Rules notified thereunder impose obligation on banking companies, financial institutions and intermediaries to verify identity of clients, maintain records and furnish information.


Sources: the hindu.




Facts for Prelims:


Bhasha Samman:

Context: Magahi writer Shesh Anand Madhukar, who has been working extensively for the development of the language, has been honoured with this year’s Sahitya Akademi Bhasha Samman award. He is the second writer of Magahi language to be given the award.

About Bhasha Samman: Sahitya Akademi currently honours writers from 24 regional languages, but Bhasha Samman identifies those languages which are equally spoken in different parts of the country. The award is an attempt to make the writers of other languages feel equally important. The award comprises a Rs 1 lakh cheque and a memento.

About Magahi language: The Magahi language, also known as Magadhi, is a language spoken in Bihar-Jharkhand region of eastern India. Magadhi Prakrit was the ancestor of Magadh, from which the latter’s name derives. It is believed to be the language spoken by Gautama Buddha. It was the official language of the Mauryan court, in which the edicts of Ashoka were composed.


Geospatial world excellence award:

Context: Odisha has bagged Geospatial World Excellence Award-2018 for successful IT application on tracking of mineral production, dispatch and value accrued on real time basis through its i3MS website based software.

Geospatial World Excellence Awards: Initiated in 2007, Geospatial World Awards is an internationally-acclaimed private award recognizing exemplary innovations and practices in the global geospatial industry. With the ceremony taking place at Geospatial World Forum every year, Geospatial World Awards have recognized over 150+ individuals and organizations till date.


New wildlife sanctuary at Ghodazari:

The Maharashtra government has approved Ghodazari in Chandrapur district as a new wildlife sanctuary in the state. The sanctuary, in the North East of Tadoba, will include 159 sq km of Brahmapuri forest.


Sela pass:

Context: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced the government’s plan to build a tunnel through the Sela Pass located at an elevation of 13,700 ft which will ensure faster movement of troops in Tawang, a strategically- located town in Arunachal Pradesh bordering China.

About the Sela pass: The Sela pass is located between the Tawang and West Kameng districts of Arunachal Pradesh and considered crucial from strategic perspective. Sela Lake, near the summit of the pass, is one of approximately 101 lakes in the area that are sacred in Tibetan Buddhism.