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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 April 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 April 2018


Paper 2:

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


Zonal Council

Context: The 23rd meeting of the Western Zonal Council was recently held at Gandhinagar, Gujarat and the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh chaired the meeting.


What are zonal councils?

Zonal councils have been established by the Parliament to promote interstate cooperation and coordination. They are statutory bodies established under the States Reorganisation Act 1956 and not constitutional bodies. They are only deliberative and advisory bodies.


There are 5 five Zonal councils namely:

  • The Northern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.
  • The Central Zonal Council, comprising the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal.
  • The Western Zonal Council, comprising the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
  • The Southern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.



  • Chairman – The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
  • Vice Chairman – The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
  • Members- Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
  • Advisers- One person nominated by the Planning Commission (which has been replaced by NITI Ayog now) for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone.
  • Union Ministers are also invited to participate in the meetings of Zonal Councils depending upon necessity.


The main objectives of setting up of Zonal Councils are:

  • Bringing out national integration.
  • Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies.
  • Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences.
  • Establishing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and speedy execution of development projects.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Zonal Councils and their composition.
  • For Mains: Zonal Councils and their significance.


Sources: pib.

Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.


Scheduled areas

Context: The Union Cabinet has given approval to the declaration of Scheduled Areas in respect of Rajasthan under Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of India. This will ensure that the Scheduled Tribes of Rajasthan will get benefits of protective measures available under the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution of India.


What are scheduled areas?

As per the Fifth Schedule {Article 244(1)} to the Constitution of India, the expression ‘Scheduled Areas’ means ‘such areas as the President may by order declare to be Scheduled Areas’. 

Alternation of boundaries: In accordance with the provisions of paragraph 6(2) of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution, the President may at any time by order increase the area of any Scheduled Area in a State after consultation with the Governor of that State; rescind, in relation to any State or States, any order or orders made under this paragraph, and in consultation with the Governor of the State concerned, make fresh orders redefining the areas which are to be Scheduled Areas.

The current fifth scheduled areas are in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan.


Administration of these areas:

  • The Executive power of the Union shall extend to giving directions to the respective States regarding the administration of the Scheduled Areas.
  • The Governors of the State in which there are “Scheduled areas” have to submit reports to the President regarding the administration of such Areas, annually or whenever required by the President.
  • Tribes Advisory Councils are to be constituted to give advice on such matters as welfare and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Governor is authorised to direct that any particular Act of Parliament or of the Legislature of the State shall not apply to a Scheduled Area or shall apply, only subject to exceptions or modifications. The Governor is also authorised to make regulations to prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by, or among members of the Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Governor may make regulations for the peace and good government of any area in a State which is for the time being a Scheduled Area.
  • These provisions of the Constitution relating to the administration of the Scheduled Areas and Tribes may be altered by Parliament or by ordinary legislation.
  • The Constitution provides for the appointment of a Commission to report on the administration of the Scheduled Areas and the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes in the States.
  • The President may appoint such Commission at any time, but the appointment of such Commission at the end of 10 years from the commencement of the Constitution was obligatory.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: TAC, Fifth schedule areas.
  • For Mains: Schedule areas- their significance, need, administration and challenges.


Sources: pib.

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


National Biopharma Mission

Context: The Union Government has entered into agreement with World Bank for flexible financing arrangement to accelerate research towards early development for biopharmaceuticals under National Biopharma Mission.

The agreement was signed between the project implementing agency – BIRAC a PSU of DBT, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Govt. of India and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (on behalf of World Bank).


About National Biopharma Mission:

  • The National Biopharma Mission is being implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) – a Public Sector Undertaking of Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • It aims to make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products such as vaccines, biologics and medical devices for combating public health concerns.


Significance of the programme:

  • The programme will specifically focus on the development of new vaccines, bio-therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices to better address the rising burden of diseases in the country.
  • It will also bring isolated centres of excellence together, enhance regional capabilities and strengthen the current bio-clusters network in terms of capacities as well as quantity and quality of output.
  • This would strengthen translational capability of academic researchers; empower bio-entrepreneurs and SMEs by decreasing the cost and risk during early stages of product development and also elevate the innovation quotient of the industry.



India has been an active player in the pharmaceutical industry and has contributed globally towards making life saving drugs and low cost pharmaceutical products accessible and affordable for those in need.  Be it the Rotavirus vaccine, heart valve prosthesis or affordable insulin, India has been a forerunner in these and many more. Despite, these advances Indian biopharmaceutical industry is still 10-15 years behind their counterparts in the developed countries and faces stiff competition from China, Korea and others. The lacuna primarily exists due to disconnected centers of excellence, less focus on translational research and staggered funding.


What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: National Biopharma Mission and its significance, BIRAC.


Sources: pib.

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


Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Context: Human Resource Development Ministry has launched Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0.


About Unnat Bharat Abhiyan:

  • Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, with the intention to enrich Rural India.
  • It aims to leverage the knowledge base and resources of the Premier Institutions of the country to bring in transformational change in rural developmental process.
  • It also aims to create a vibrant relationship between the society and the higher educational institutes, with the latter providing the knowledge and technology support to improve the livelihoods in rural areas and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private organisations in the society.


Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0:

  • Under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0, the institutions have been selected on a Challenge Mode and the scheme has been extended to 750 reputed Higher Educational Institutes (both public and private) of the country.
  • Also, scope for providing Subject Expert Groups and Regional Coordinating Institutes to handhold and guide the participating institutions has been strengthened.
  • IIT Delhi has been designated to function as the National Coordinating Institute for this programme and the Ministry intends to extend the coverage to all the reputed Higher Educational Institutes, in a phased manner. Each selected institute would adopt a cluster of villages / panchayats and gradually expand the outreach over a period of time.


Significance of the programme:

Institutes through their faculty and students, will carry out studies of living conditions in the adopted villages, assess the local problems and needs, workout the possibilities of leveraging the technological interventions and the need to improve the processes in implementation of various government schemes, prepare workable action plans for the selected villages. Such knowledge inputs would make their way into the development programmes in rural areas.

The Institutes would be expected to closely coordinate with the district administration, elected public representatives of panchayat / villages and other stakeholders and will become very much a part of the process of development planning and implementation. In this process, faculty and students of such institutes would be re-oriented and connected to the rural realities so that their learning and research work also becomes more relevant to the society.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Unnat Bharat Abhiyan.
  • For Mains: Need for involvement of premier institutions in bringing transformational change in rural developmental process.


Sources: pib.


Paper 3:

Topic: Technology missions.


National Bamboo Mission


Context: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National Bamboo Mission (NBM) under National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) during remaining period of Fourteenth Finance Commission (2018-19 & 2019-20). The Mission would ensure holistic development of the bamboo sector by addressing complete value chain and establishing effective linkage of producers (farmers) with industry.


The restructured NBM strives to:

  • To increase the area under bamboo plantation in non forest Government and private lands to supplement farm income and contribute towards resilience to climate change.
  • To improve post-harvest management through establishment of innovative primary processing units, treatment and seasoning plants, primary treatment and seasoning plants, preservation technologies and market infrastructure.
  • To promote product development at micro, small and medium levels and feed bigger industry.
  • To rejuvenate the under developed bamboo industry in India.
  • To promote skill development, capacity building, awareness generation for development of bamboo sector.



  • The Mission will focus on development of bamboo in limited States where it has social, commercial and economical advantage with focus on genetically superior planting material of bamboo species of commercial and industrial demand.
  • Adoption of end to end solution in bamboo sector i.e. complete value chain approach starting from bamboo growers to consumers would be emphasized.
  • Mission has been developed as a platform for integration of Ministries/ Departments/Agencies with implementation responsibilities given based on their mandate.
  • Capacity building of the officials, field functionaries, entrepreneurs and farmers through skill development and trainings will be emphasised.
  • Focus will be given on Research & Development (R&D) to increase the production and productivity of bamboo.



The scheme will benefit directly and indirectly the farmers as well as local artisans and associated personnels engaged in bamboo sector including associated industries. Since it is proposed to bring about one lakh ha area under plantation, it is expected that about one lakh farmers would be directly benefitted  in terms of plantation.


States/ districts covered:

The Mission will focus on development of bamboo in limited States where it has social, commercial and economical advantage, particularly in the North Eastern region and States including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.


What was the need for restructuring?

National Bamboo Mission (NBM) started as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in 2006-07, was mainly emphasizing on propagation and cultivation of bamboo, with limited efforts on processing, product development and value addition. There, was weak linkage between the producers (farmers) and the industry. The restructured proposal gives simultaneous emphasis to propagation of quality plantations of bamboo, product development and value addition including primary processing and treatment; micro, small & medium enterprises as well as high value products; markets and skill development, thus addressing the complete value chain for growth of the bamboo sector.


What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: NBM and its significance.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Atal New India Challenge


Context: The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) under the NITI Aayog has launched the Atal New India Challenge.


About the Atal New India Challenge:

It shall be run in collaboration with various ministries- Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation.

What it does? Under the Atal New India Challenge, AIM will invite prospective innovators/MSMEs/start-ups to design market-ready products, using cutting edge technologies or prototypes across 17 identified focus areas such as Climate Smart Agriculture, Smart Mobility, Predictive Maintenance of Rolling Stock, Waste Management etc.

Grants: Applicants showing capability, intent and potential to productize technologies will be awarded grants up to Rs. One crore. This grant will be further supplemented by mentoring, handholding, incubating and other support as needed at various stages of commercialisation, while generating wider deployment for the product.


About AIM:

  • The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is Government of India’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.
  • AIM is mandated to create an umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country and revolutionizing the innovation eco-system – touching upon the entire innovation life cycle through various programs.
  • Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) create innovators, Atal Incubation Centre and support to Established Incubation Centre will take the innovations to the market and a network of Incubators shall help create enterprises around these innovations.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: AIM, Atal new India Challenge.
  • For Mains: Need for innovation and support by the government.


Sources: pib.



Facts for Prelims:



Context: As part of ongoing Indo-Malaysian defence cooperation, a joint training exercise HARIMAU SHAKTI is being conducted in Malaysia.

The exercise is aimed at bolstering cooperation & coordination between armed forces of both the nations and to share the expertise of both the contingents in conduct of counter insurgency operations in jungle terrain.


Bhabha Kavach:

What is it? It is an armour panel developed by BARC which gives personal protection against bullets of different threat levels.

Key features:

  • Bhabha Kavach made up of BARC Nano-Sheets are lighter in weight with reduced trauma level with respect to the existing jackets.
  • The jacket is made using extremely hard boron carbide ceramics that is hot-pressed with carbon nano-tubes and composite polymer.