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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 June 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 June 2018


Paper 1:

Topic: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN)

Context: In a bid to make Indian cities more sustainable, the NITI Aayog has launched a new course on ‘Urban Analytics – Evaluating and Measuring Sustainability of Cities’ at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee. The course was launched under Global Initiative on Academic Network (GIAN). The course will provide an understanding and analysis on the urbanisation and its impacts that would help in evaluating the conditions of sustainability in Indian cities.


What is GIAN program?

Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education was launched in 2015. It is a program of Ministry of Human Resource and Development.

Aim: GIAN aims at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs to engage with the institutes of higher education in India to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reforms, and further strengthen India’s scientific and technological capabilities.


GIAN is envisaged to achieve the following objectives:

  • To increase the footfalls of reputed international faculty in the Indian academic institutes.
  • Provide opportunity to our faculty to learn and share knowledge and teaching skills in cutting edge areas.
  • To provide opportunity to our students to seek knowledge and experience from reputed International faculty.
  • To create avenue for possible collaborative research with the international faculty.
  • Develop high quality course material in niche areas, both through video and print that can be used by a larger body of students and teachers.
  • To document and develop new pedagogic methods in emerging topics of national and international interest.


What needs to be done to make our cities sustainable?

There is a need to harness the potential of urban information system and urban planning for making Indian cities more sustainable. All stakeholders should come forward with innovative and contextual solutions for Indian cities and create a model of a “living lab” by adopting a rural agglomeration in a nearby area which will transform into a township in the near future.


Way ahead:

India is the global host of the World Environment Day 2018, where the focus is on Sustainability and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals including SDG 11 which has a goal to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. Now, it is the responsibility of all the stakeholders involved to achieve this goal in a timely manner.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: GIAN and its objectives.
  • For Mains: Significance of GIAN and reforms in higher education, sustainable cities- need, significance, challenges and solutions.


Sources: pib.


Paper 2:

Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.


Article 35A

Context: The Centre has decided not to file any “counter-affidavit” on Article 35A, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition. The Supreme Court has scheduled further hearing for August 6.


What you need to know about Article 35A?

Article 35A is a provision in the Constitution that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define permanent residents of the state. It was added through the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, issued under Article 370.

Article 35A empowers Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state along with their special rights and privileges. This Article has an intricate relationship with Article 370.



Jammu and Kashmir Assembly defined Permanent Resident as a person who was a state subject on May 14, 1954 or who had been a resident of the state for 10 years and has “lawfully acquired immovable property in the state.”

A person who is not a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir is not allowed to buy or own properties in the state or vote in state Assembly election or contest election to the state Assembly. An outsider cannot get a job in the Jammu and Kashmir government.


Arguments against Article 35A:

The petition says Article 35 A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it creates a “class within a class of Indian citizens”. Restricting citizens from other States from getting employment or buying property within Jammu and Kashmir is a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

Also, the parliamentary route of lawmaking was bypassed when the President incorporated Article 35A into the Constitution. Article 368 (i) of the Constitution empowers only Parliament to amend the Constitution.


What’s the case now?

Attempts to undo Article 35A of the Indian Constitution would strike a fatal blow to the nationalists in the state. Kashmiris are apprehensive that such a move would open the sluice gates for a demographic transformation of the Valley. The J&K government is also concerned at the reluctance of the Union government to file a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court. Against the backdrop of the escalating protests in Kashmir, this issue could potentially be explosive.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Article 35A- features and permanent residents, Article 370.
  • For Mains: Issues associated.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Geo-Intelligence Asia – 2018

Context: The Eleventh edition of GeoIntelligence Asia 2018 is being held in New Delhi. It is organised by GeoSpatial Media and Communication with Directorate General of Information System as Knowledge Partners and Military Survey as Co-organisers.

Aim of the seminar: The seminar brings together the military, security officials including BSF and Police Forces, Government and industry together to examine the latest technology solutions and on the critical role of geospatial technology in military and security applications.

Theme: ‘GeoSpatial: A Force Multiplier for Defence and Industrial Security’.


Geospatial Intelligence and its significance:

  • Geospatial intelligence is a critical foundation for many aspects of defense and internal security. It offers the capability of monitoring, predicting and countering threats, while helping strategize and support various field operations.
  • It facilitates multi-source information sharing and integration across agencies and organizations by providing a common framework on which other information is based.
  • The use of big data, advanced geospatial analytics software and sophisticated imaging technologies from (very) high-resolution remote sensing satellites, UAVs and other sensors, enables seamless flow of information in pre-, real-time and post-combat operations.
  • Real-time views and insights of impacted regions are key to improving emergency response times, especially in vulnerable areas such as a country’s border.
  • Geospatial data is invaluable to the border security operations, to deliver accurate situational awareness information, enabling quick and secure decision-making, while mitigating risks, and increasing national security.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Geo intelligence Asia- 2018- the seminar and its objectives.
  • For Mains: Geo intelligence- need, significance, challenges and applications.


Sources: pib.


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


IBSA summit


Context: 2018 IBSA Ministerial meet was recently held in Pretoria, South Africa. The outcome of this meeting was a document titled IBSA Declaration on South-South Cooperation. This document calls for contribution of each of the member of IBSA forum to contribute to greater understanding of development cooperation as a common endeavour of the global south.


About IBSA forum:

The establishment of IBSA was formalised by the Brasilia Declaration of 6 June 2003. IBSA is a coordinating mechanism amongst three emerging countries, three multi ethnic and multicultural democracies, which are determined to:

  • Contribute to the construction of a new international architecture.
  • Bring their voice together on global issues.
  • Deepen their ties in various areas.


Significance of the platform:

The success of IBSA reflects an important demonstration effect. It demonstrates, most vividly, the desirability and feasibility of South-South cooperation beyond the conventional areas of exchange of experts and training. IBSA success in contributing to discourse on global issues also shows the importance of engaging with the countries of the South.


Sources: the hindu.

Paper 3:

Topic: Biotechnology.


Fortified rice

Context: The government is planning to provide fortified rice (enriched with essential vitamins and minerals) to all the poor under National Food Security Act (NFSA) across the country, which would cost about Rs 12,000 to Rs 14,000 crore annually. To begin with the scheme is likely to cover the 115 ‘aspirational’ districts across the country.

The proposal is being prepared with the support of Niti Aayog under the National Nutrition Mission.


What is Rice Fortification?

Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health. Rice fortification is the practice of increasing the content of essential micronutrients in rice and to improve the nutritional quality of the rice.


Why Rice Fortification?

  • Rice is the world’s most important staple food. An estimated 2 billion people eat rice every day, forming the mainstay of diets across large of Asia and Africa.
  • Historians have found evidence of rice being eaten in parts of china some 8,000 years ego and it even has the same word as “food” in Chinese. In Bangladesh, home of 160 million people, rice is the main stable food with a daily average consumption of 416 grams per capita.
  • Regular milled rice is low in micronutrients and serves primarily as a source of carbohydrate only. The fortification of rice is a major opportunity to improve nutrition.
  • Fortified rice are contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B12, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc.



Food fortification in India:

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’. These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods. The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory. This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: What is food fortification, FSSAI.
  • For Mains: Food fortification and food security.


Sources: the hindu.


Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Methanol Economy

Context: The NITI Aayog is working on a roadmap for full-scale implementation of methanol economy in the country in near future, which would not only curb pollution, but reduce India’s dependence on oil imports as well.


Methanol as an alternative fuel:

Methanol is a promising fuel as it is clean, cheaper than fossil fuels and a good substitute for heavy fuels. India imports methanol from Saudi Arabia and Iran at present. Across the world, methanol is emerging as a clean, sustainable transportation fuel of the future.


Why Methanol?

  • Methanol can be used as an energy producing fuel, transportation fuel and cooking fuel, cutting down India’s oil import bill by an estimated 20% over the next few years. Unlike CNG, using methanol as a transportation fuel would require minimal alteration in the vehicles.
  • Methanol is a clean-burning fuel that produces fewer smog-causing emissions — such as sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter — and can improve air quality and related human health issues.
  • Methanol is most commonly produced on a commercial scale from natural gas. It can also be produced from renewable sources such as biomass and recycled carbon dioxide.
  • As a high-octane vehicle fuel, methanol offers excellent acceleration and power. It also improves vehicle efficiency.


Advantages of methanol:

  • Methanol is a clean burning drop in fuel which can replace both petrol & diesel in transportation & LPG, Wood, Kerosene in cooking fuel. It can also replace diesel in Railways, Marine Sector, Gensets, Power Generation and Methanol based reformers could be an ideal complement to Hybrid and Electric Mobility.
  • Methanol is a scalable and sustainable fuel, that can be produced from a variety of feedstocks like Natural Gas, Coal (Indian High Ash Coal), Bio-mass, Municipal Solid waste and most importantly from CO2.
  • Methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines, produces no particulate matter, no soot, almost nil SOX and NOX emissions (NEAR ZERO POLLUTION). The gaseous version of Methanol – DME can blended with LPG and can be excellent substitute for diesel in Large buses and trucks.
  • Methanol 15 % blend (M15) in petrol will reduce pollution by 33% & diesel replacement by methanol will reduce by more than 80%.


In energy sector:

Other major area where methanol can reduce pollution is the Energy sector. India has an installed capacity of 22000 MW on HFO (Heavy fuel oil) alone. HFO is one of the dirtiest fuel and most countries of the world have abandoned it. The entire HFO usage can be replaced by Methanol. Power Modules of Mobile Towers (about 750000) in India can fully be replaced by Methanol Reformer / Fuel Cell based platforms in the next two years. Diesel industrial Gensets, Gas Turbines running on Naptha, LFOI (Light Fuel Oil) and other dirty fuels can also be fully replaced. Industrial boilers which are running on diesel will also be replaced with Methanol.


Methanol as an enduring solution to human energy needs?

Methanol has the potential to be an enduring solution to human energy needs is because the beltched out C02 (greenhouse gas emission) both from using Methanol and while producing Methanol can be tapped back to produce Methanol. Thereby a seamless loop of CO2 sequestration cycle is created to perpetually burn fuels without polluting the environment at all. C02 from steel plants, Thermal Power plants, Cement Plants etc. can be tapped in large quantities to produce Methanol.


Way ahead:

The Concept of “Methanol Economy” is being actively pursued by China, Italy, Sweden, Israel, US, Australia, Japan and many other European countries. 10% of fuel in China in transport Sector is Methanol. Methanol Economy, if adopted by India can be one of the best ways to mitigate the Environmental hazards of a growing economy. NITI Aayog is preparing a road map for a full-scale implementation in the near future.


What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: All about Methanol- uses, advantages, significance and future potential.


Sources: pib.