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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 March 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 21 March 2018


Paper 1:

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


National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA)


Context: National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA) project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, implemented by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) has been certified as the world’s first Trusted Digital Repository as per ISO 16363:2012 standard, granted by Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorisation Body Ltd. (PTAB), United Kingdom.


ISO 16363:

  • ISO 16363 for the Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories grew out of the Trusted Digital Repositories and Audit Checklist (TRAC) and is supported by ISO 16919 (Requirements for Bodies providing Audit and Certification) and managed by the Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorisation Body (ISO-PTAB).
  • PTAB has been accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies of India (NABCB) to conduct ISO 16363 audits worldwide utilizing ISO standard 17021, as extended by ISO 16919.


About National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA):

IGNCA is implementing the National Cultural Audiovisual Archives project. The primary objective of the NCAA is to identify and preserve the cultural heritage of India available in audiovisual form through a process of digitization and making it accessible to the people.

  • At present, NCAA has a total of twenty-one (21) Partnering Institutions from across the country, covering 11 governmental and 10 non-governmental cultural organisations. The digitization and metadata standards followed by the Project are in parity with international standards within the overall framework of the OAIS model.
  • The digitization standards are in concordance with those prescribed by the International Association of Sound & Audiovisual Archives (IASA) and the metadata schema is extended Dublin Core, followed by galleries, libraries, archives and museums worldwide.


What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: NCAA and the need for digitization.


Sources: pib.



Paper 2:

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL)

Context: India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL) has made contribution of Rs 10.00 Crore to the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF).

The IIFCL contribution is being utilized for promotion of sports in the disciplines Badminton, Archery and Para Sports by way of support to sportspersons in these disciplines for their customized training and other services and setting up of Academies/Support to Academies in these disciplines.


About the India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL):

IIFCL is a wholly-owned Government of India company set up in 2006 to provide long-term financial assistance to viable infrastructure projects through the Scheme for Financing Viable Infrastructure Projects through a Special Purpose Vehicle called India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd (IIFCL), broadly referred to as SIFTI.

  • Eligible sectors: The sectors eligible for financial assistance from IIFCL are as per the Harmonized list of Infrastructure Sub-Sectors as approved by the Government and as amended from time to time. These broadly include transportation, energy, water, sanitation, communication, social and commercial infrastructure.
  • IIFCL has been registered as a NBFC-ND-IFC with RBI since September 2013.


About the National Sports Development Fund:

The National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) was established in 1998, under Charitable Endowments Act 1890, vide Government of India Notification dated 12th November 1998.

Functions: The NSDF supports sportspersons to excel in the field by providing opportunities to train under coaches of international repute with technical, scientific and psychological support and also in getting exposure to international competitions. Financial assistance is also provided to specific projects for promotion of sports and games sponsored by reputed Organizations/Institutes, provided the facilities so created are made available to a sizeable population of the area/region.

The Council: The Fund is managed by a Council constituted by the Central Government. Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports is the Chairperson of the council. The Members of the Council include senior officers in the Department of Sports/Sports Authority of India. The representatives of the Apex industry organizations namely, FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM have been included in the Council as members. The representatives of Sports Promotion Boards of reputed organizations are also members of the Council. Joint Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is the ex-officio Member Secretary of the Council.


What’s important?

For Prelims: NSDF and IIFCL.


Sources: pib.

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC)

Context: The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) celebrated its 6th Foundation Day on 20th March, 2018.

Theme: ‘Sustaining Innovation – A Market Driven Pathway’.


SoCH awards:

The event saw the announcement of the preliminary winners of the SoCH (Solutions for Community Health) awards.

What is it?

  • This award is an innovation challenge award which was launched on the MyGov portal in September 2017.
  • This challenge has two themes, platform technologies for reducing disease burden (communicable and noncommunicable diseases) and sanitation and waste recycling.
  • The winners will now have 6 months and rupees 15 lakhs to develop a minimal viable prototype and will then compete for the larger rupees 50 lakh award within their categories.


About BIRAC:

Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) is a not-for-profit Public Sector Enterprise, set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science and Technology Government of India, to empower the emerging biotech industry to undertake strategic research and innovation.

BIRAC is a new industry academia interface and implements its mandate through a wide range of impact initiatives, be it providing access to risk capital through targeted funding, technology transfer, IP management and handholding schemes that help bring innovation excellence to Indian biotech firms and make them globally competitive.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: BIRAC and SoCH awards.
  • For Mains: Significance of Biotechnology.


Sources: pib.

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


60 Higher Educational Institutions granted autonomy

Context:  In a historic decision, the University Grants Commission has granted autonomy to sixty Higher Educational Institutions which have maintained high academic standards.


Criteria for granting autonomy status:

Autonomy is granted to institutes based on the parameters of excellence in academic performances, capability of self-governance and enhancement in the quality of education, and it can be seen as a great opportunity to meet the emerging and evolving needs, in sync with the industry.



  • These universities will remain within the ambit of UGC but will have the freedom to start new courses, off campus centers, skill development courses, research parks and any other new academic programs.
  • They will also have the freedom to hire foreign faculty, enroll foreign students, give incentive based emoluments to the faculty, enter into academic collaborations and run open distance learning programmes.
  • The eight autonomous collages, granted autonomy, will be free to set their own syllabus, hold examinations, carry out evaluation as well as declare results. In this case, only the degree will be awarded by the respective university.


Why higher educational institutions need greater autonomy?

Higher education plays a crucial role in the realisation of India’s potential for economic and technological growth. Autonomy helps institutionalise quality and accountability, thereby encouraging institutions to incorporate unique pedagogical developments and practices into the curriculum.

Management education is meant to be contemporary in nature and thus dynamic. Frequent changes are required in pedagogy, curriculum and other aspects. An autonomous status expedites these operations and thus enthuses constant fluidity in the pattern and curriculum, apart from accelerating and improving evaluation.


Significance of autonomy:

While expanding new horizons for higher education and strengthening the quality and relevance, autonomy can be considered a possible solution to enhance the quality of education and incorporate methods of skilling the students, thus contributing to creating a knowledge-based economy and paving the way to gear up the young workforce for Industry 4.0.


Way ahead:

It is essential that Indian institutes are given the freedom to work with a greater agility in realising the larger goals of the education space in the country. Government impetus for autonomy can propel the global ranking of Indian institutions and push India higher on the world charts for education. By bringing this into effect, there are high chances of reducing the brain drain, turning it into a brain gain.


What’s important?

For Mains: Autonomy for higher education institutions- need, challenges and significance.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topic: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.


Krishi Vigyan Kendras


Context: The ministries of agriculture and skill development have signed a pact to conduct programmes for training in farm and allied sectors at 690 Krishi Vigyan Kendras across the country.


Need for skill upgradation:

About 40% of the country’s workforce is linked to agricultural knowledge activities. The government aims to double farmers’ income. However, without skill upgradation, this is not possible. There are rapid technological strides in the agriculture sector; therefore, upskilling is needed.


What is Krishi Vigyan Kendra?

Krsihi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) are agricultural extension centres created by ICAR (Indian Council for Agricultural Research) and its affiliated institutions at district level to provide various types of farm support to the agricultural sector. The first KVK was established during 1974 (Pondichery) and has grown as a largest network in the country.



KVKs provide several farm support activities like providing technology dissemination to farmers, training, awareness etc. To achieve the set objectives KVKs undertake following types of activities in the adopted villages: (1) Farm Advisory Service (2) Training programme for different categories of people. (3) Training programme for the extension functionaries. (4) Front Line Demonstration (Fill) (5) On Farm Testing (OFT).


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: KVKs.
  • For Mains: Agricultural reforms.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Awareness in space.


Copernicus programme

Context: India has joined Europe’s mega global arrangement of sharing data from Earth observation satellites, called Copernicus.


The agreement:

  • Under this arrangement, the European Commission intends to provide India with free, full and open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections.
  • Reciprocally the DoS will provide the Copernicus programme and its participating states with a free, full and open access to the data from ISRO’s earth observation satellites, including historical data sets.
  • It is intended that ISRO’s satellite data would be made available for distribution on the European ‘Copernicus hub’.
  • This comprises land, ocean and atmospheric series of ISRO’s civilian satellites (Oceansat-2, Megha-Tropiques, Scatsat-1, SARAL, INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR) with the exception of commercial high-resolution satellites data.


About Copernicus programme:

Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.

  • Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.
  • This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • ESA coordinates the delivery of data from upwards of 30 satellites. The EC, acting on behalf of the European Union, is responsible for the overall initiative, setting requirements and managing the services.
  • Services provided by Copernicus: land management, the marine environment, atmosphere, emergency response, security and climate change.
  • Sentinel: ESA is developing a new family of satellites, called Sentinels, specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The Sentinels will provide a unique set of observations, starting with the all-weather, day and night radar images.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958

Context: The government has informed the Lok Sabha that it was considering a proposal to make the AFSPA Act more “operationally effective and humane.” The AFSPA is in force in several northeastern States.

The decision came after the Home Ministry decided to reduce the number of Central Armed Police Force personnel deployed in the northeastern States.


What is AFSPA?

AFSPA, enacted in 1958, gives powers to the army and state and central police forces to shoot to kill, search houses and destroy any property that is “likely” to be used by insurgents in areas declared as “disturbed” by the home ministry.

The Act provides army personnel with safeguards against malicious, vindictive and frivolous prosecution. Security forces can “arrest without warrant” a person, who has committed or even “about to commit a cognizable offence” even on “reasonable suspicion”.


What are ‘disturbed’ areas?

The state or central government considers those areas as ‘disturbed’ “by reason of differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.


How is a region declared ‘disturbed’?

Section (3) of the Afspa empowers the governor of the state or Union territory to issue an official notification in The Gazette of India, following which the Centre has the authority to send in armed forces for civilian aid. Once declared ‘disturbed’, the region has to maintain status quo for a minimum of three months, according to The Disturbed Areas (Special Courts) Act, 1976.”


What is state government’s role?

The state governments can suggest whether the act is required to be enforced or not. But under Section (3) of the act, their opinion can be overruled by the governor or the Centre.


What are the arguments for Afspa?

The army is opposed to the withdrawal of Afspa. Many argue that removal of the act will lead to demoralising the armed forces and see militants motivating locals to file lawsuits against the army.


What do detractors say?

Critics say the undemocratic act has failed to contain terrorism and restore normalcy in disturbed areas, as the number of armed groups has gone up after the act was established. Many even hold it responsible for the spiralling violence in areas it is in force.

The justice Jeevan Reddy Committee was set up in 2005 to review Afspa and make recommendations. It recommended that Afspa should be repealed and the Unlawful Activities Protection Act strengthened to fight militancy. However, no steps were taken to repeal or reform the act.


Sources: the hindu.



Facts for Prelims:


106th Indian Science Congress to be held in Bhopal:

Context: 106th edition of the Indian Science Congress will be held next year in Januaryin  Bhopal.

The theme: “Future India: Science & Technology”.


Plastic Park to be set up in Deoghar District, Jharkhand:

Context: Government of India has approved the setting up of a Plastic Park in Deoghar District, Jharkhand.

About the project: The project would be set up at a cost of Rs. 120 crores in an area of 150 acres and a range of polymer products including woven sacks, moulded furniture, water tanks, bottles, pipes mosquito nets, etc would be manufactured. It has great potential for attracting investment for setting up an ecosystem for plastic industry and generate employment opportunities for the local populace. The project is likely to provide direct employment generation to about 6000 people and indirect employment to over 30000 people.


Gulf Shield 1:

Context: Royal Saudi Navy is holding exercises “Gulf Shield 1” in the Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Oman Sea.

  • The drill, which is considered the largest military drill in the region in terms of diversity of expertise and quality of weapons, aims at raising the military readiness of the participating countries, modernizing the joint mechanisms and enhancing coordination and cooperation.
  • “Gulf Shield 1” is part of a series of exercises the fleet has carried out in the area aiming to raise combat readiness, gain the necessary skills, and improve ability to perform the essential leadership services.