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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 15 December 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 15 December 2018

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  2. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


National Medical Devices Promotion Council


What to study?

  • For Prelims: About NMDPC- Composition, objectives and functions.
  • For Mains: Significance and the need for the council.


Context: The government is planning to set up a National Medical Devices Promotion Council under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

  • The announcement was made on the occasion of 4th WHO Global Forum on Medical Devices at Andhra Pradesh Medtech Zone in Vishakhapatnam.


National Medical Devices Promotion Council:

The Council will be headed by Secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).

Apart from the concerned departments of Government, it will also have representatives from health care industry and quality control institutions.

  • The Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone of Visakhapatnam, will provide technical support to the Council.


The Prime objectives of the National Medical Devices Promotion Council are:

  • Act as a facilitating, promotional & developmental body for the Indian Medical Devices Industry (MDI).
  • Render technical assistance to the agencies and departments concerned to simplify the approval processes for MDI promotion and development.
  • Enable entry of emerging interventions and support certifications for manufacturers to reach levels of global trade norms and lead India to an export driven market in the sector.
  • Support dissemination and documentation of international norms and standards for medical devices by capturing the best practices in the global market.
  • Facilitate domestic manufacturers to rise to international level of understanding of regulatory and non regulatory needs of the industry.
  • Drive a robust and dynamic Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy by identifying the strengths of the Indian manufacturers and discouraging unfair trade practices in imports
  • Ensure pro-active monitoring of public procurement notices across India to ensure compliance with PMA guidelines of DIPP and DoP.
  • Undertake validation of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) and other such entities within MDI sector, which add value to the industry strength in manufacturing to gain foothold for new entrants.
  • Make recommendations to government based on industry feedback and global practices on policy and process interventions to strengthen the medical technology sector.



The Medical Devices Industry (MDI) plays a critical role in the healthcare ecosystem and is crucial to achieve the goal of health for all citizens of the country.  The manufacturing and trade in MDI is growing steadily in double digits. However, it is largely import-driven with imports accounting for over 65 percent of the domestic market.

The setting-up of the Council will spur domestic manufacturing in this sector as Indian companies and startups have stated moving towards creating innovative products.


Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: There is a need to ensure that medical device policies in our country are aligned for maximal public good. Comment.

Paper 1 and 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Women related issues.
  2. Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.


Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the Bill, features of RPC.


Context: The Jammu and Kashmir State Administrative Council (SAC) under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik has approved the ‘Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2018’ and the ‘Jammu and Kashmir Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018’.



With this, Jammu and Kashmir has become the first state in the country to have a law banning sexual exploitation of women by those in positions of authority, having a fiduciary relationship or a public servant.


Key features of the Bill:

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Ranbir Penal Code, whereby specific offence under section 354 E is being inserted to provide for the offence of ‘Sextortion’.
  • Amendments are being made in section 154, 161 and Schedule of Criminal Procedure Code and section 53 A of the Evidence Act so as to bring sextortion at par with similar offences prescribed under Ranbir Penal Code.
  • Amendment is also being made in the Prevention of Corruption Act to amend the definition of misconduct and provide that demand for sexual favours would also constitute misconduct within the meaning of section 5.


What necessitated this?

The amendment came after an order was passed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The court had directed the state to examine the concept of ‘Sextortion; in the context of applicable laws. “So that illegal acts, unwarranted demands for sexual favours and inappropriate contacts by the person in authority are made punishable.”


About Ranbir Penal Code:

Indian Penal code is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir and in place of IPC, a similar criminal law Ranbir Penal Code applies in the state.  The code was introduced by Ranbir Singh during the Dogra Dynasty and it came in effect from 1932. The provision of code was prepared by Thomas Babington Macaulay.


Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.




What to study?

  • For Prelims: Oxytocin- uses, features and significance.
  • For Mains: Why Centre had banned its usage, concerns over its increased usage and the need for alternatives.


Context: The Delhi High Court set aside the government decision to ban private firms from producing and selling oxytocin, a drug used for inducing labour contractions and controlling bleeding.


Observations made by the Court:

The government’s decision was arbitrary and unreasonable. There was no scientific basis behind the Centre’s decision restricting private companies from making or supplying the drug, which helps new mothers lactate, to prevent its alleged misuse in the dairy sector for increasing milk production.



As per the Centre’s April 27 notification, the state-run Karnataka Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (KAPL) was solely allowed by the Centre to make the drug to meet the country’s needs.


Why was it banned?

The drug is misused in the dairy industry where livestock is injected with Oxytocin to make them release milk at a time convenient to farmers. Oxytocin is also used to increase the size of vegetables such as pumpkins, watermelons, eggplants, gourds, and cucumbers.


About Oxytocin:

  • Oxytocin has also been dubbed the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behaviour, including its role in love and in female reproductive biological functions in reproduction.
  • Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain, in the hypothalamus. It is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.
  • It acts both as a hormone and as a brain neurotransmitter.
  • The release of oxytocin by the pituitary gland acts to regulate two female reproductive functions: Childbirth and Breast-feeding.


Way ahead:

Carbetocin: The World Health Organization (WHO) has come up with a safe and effective alternative to the controversial drug oxytocin.

  • While Oxytocin, must be stored and transported at 2–8 degrees Celsius, and becomes less effective when exposed to heat, Carbetocin does not require refrigeration and retains its efficacy for at least three years even if it is stored at 30 degrees Celsius, and in 75% relative humidity.


Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: Outright ban of drugs is not the solution to the health issues of the country. Comment, in the light of restrictions on the sale and manufacture of oxytocin.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Issues related to farm subsidies.


Farm loan waiver


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Which states announced farm loan waivers in last one year.
  • For Mains: Advantages and Disadvantages of farm loan waivers, the need for viable solution to farm distress.


Context: Former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan has stressed on the need to do away with farm loan waivers citing “enormous” problems for state finances and investment. He also said that farm loan waiver should not form part of poll promises and he has written to Election Commission that such issues should be taken off the table.



According to Rajan, loan waivers not only inhibit investment in the farm sector but put pressure on the fiscal of states which undertake farm loan waiver. In every state election during the last five years, loan waiver promise made by one political party or other. The recently concluded assembly election in five states, agriculture loan waiver and increasing minimum support price (MSP) of cereals was again part of manifesto of some of the political parties.

Also, loan waivers, as the RBI has repeatedly argued, vitiate the credit culture, and stress the budgets of the waiving state or central government.



According to a 2017 report by the RBI, farm loan waiver amounting to Rs 88,000 crore likely to be released in 2017-18 by seven states, including Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, may push inflation on permanent basis by 0.2%.


The ever- rising demand:

Agriculture currently contributes just about 15% to the national output and about 50% of the population directly or indirectly depends on it for employment.

Farmer distress is a real and pressing problem, as evidenced by the protests currently taking place in various parts of the country.  In the recent past, widespread demands have been heard for farm loan waivers amid continuing agrarian distress.


Drawbacks of loan waivers:

  • Firstly, it covers only a tiny fraction of farmers. The loan waiver as a concept excludes most of the farm households in dire need of relief and includes some who do not deserve such relief on economic grounds.
  • Second, it provides only a partial relief to the indebted farmers as about half of the institutional borrowing of a cultivator is for non-farm purposes.
  • Third, in many cases, one household has multiple loans either from different sources or in the name of different family members, which entitles it to multiple loan waiving.
  • Fourth, loan waiving excludes agricultural labourers who are even weaker than cultivators in bearing the consequences of economic distress.
  • Fifth, it severely erodes the credit culture, with dire long-run consequences to the banking business.
  • Sixth, the scheme is prone to serious exclusion and inclusion errors, as evidenced by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) findings in the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008.
  • Lastly, schemes have serious implications for other developmental expenditure, having a much larger multiplier effect on the economy.


What needs to be done?

Proper identification: For providing immediate relief to the needy farmers, a more inclusive alternative approach is to identify the vulnerable farmers based on certain criteria and give an equal amount as financial relief to the vulnerable and distressed families.

Enhance non- farm income: The sustainable solution to indebtedness and agrarian distress is to raise income from agricultural activities and enhance access to non-farm sources of income. The low scale of farms necessitates that some cultivators move from agriculture to non-farm jobs.

Improved technology, expansion of irrigation coverage, and crop diversification towards high-value crops are appropriate measures for raising productivity and farmers’ income. All these require more public funding and support.


Way ahead:

The magic wand of a waiver can offer temporary relief, but long-term solutions are needed to solve farmer woes. There are many dimensions of the present agrarian crisis in India. The search for a solution therefore needs to be comprehensive by taking into consideration all the factors that contribute to the crisis. Furthermore, both short- and long-term measures are required to address the numerous problems associated with the agrarian crisis.


Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: “Farm loan waiver undermines an honest credit culture, it impacts credit discipline, it blunts incentives for future borrowers to repay, in other words, waivers engender moral hazard.” Do you agree critically comment.

Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in space.




What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Features, objectives, scientific goals and significance of the mission.


Context: ISRO is gearing up for the launch of its latest communication satellite, GSAT-7A aboard Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F11) on December 19, 2018 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.



The GSLV-F11 is ISRO’s fourth generation launch vehicle with three stages. The launch vehicle, which is in its 13th flight, will inject GSAT-7A into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).


About GSAT-7A:

GSAT-7A would be placed in the geostationary orbit and this communication satellite is expected to help the IAF to interlink different ground radar stations, airbases and AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) aircraft. The idea is to improve the IAF’s network-centric warfare capabilities.

The GSAT-7A is expected to have the Ku-band transponders and two deployable solar arrays onboard.

  • The GSAT-7A is also expected to be a big push for drone operations as it will help the Navy reduce the reliance on on-ground control stations and take satellite-control of military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) which should help boost the range and endurance of the UAVs.
  • In addition to GSAT-7A, the IAF would also be getting the GSAT-7C in a few years, to boost the network-centric operations.


Background- GSAT 7 series:

The GSAT 7 series was launched in 2013 as a dedicated communications satellite for the Indian Navy, which made the Navy completely independent of relying on foreign satellites for its blue water capabilities, thanks to GSAT 7 having a 2,000 nautical mile footprint. This helps in providing real-time inputs to Indian warships, submarines and maritime aircraft.


Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  2. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


ECO Niwas Samhita 2018


Ministry of Power has launched the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018, an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (ECBC-R).

The code was launched on National Energy Conservation Day 2018.


Aim of ECO Niwas Samhita 2018:

To benefit the occupants and the environment by promoting energy efficiency in design and construction of homes, apartments and townships.


About the Energy Conservation Building Code:

  • It is prepared after extensive consultations with all stakeholders, consisting of architects & experts including building material suppliers and developers.
  • The parameters listed have been developed based on large number of parameters using climate and energy related data.

The code is expected to assist large number of architects and builders who are involved in design and construction of new residential complexes.

  • It has potential for energy savings to the tune of 125 Billion Units of electricity per year by 2030, equivalent to about 100 million ton of Co2 emission.


National Energy Conservation Awards:

Ministry of Power in association with Bureau of Energy Efficiency celebrates the National Energy Conservation Day on every 14th December.

On this day, 26 industrial units from various sectors were given awards for their excellent performance in energy efficiency.


About Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE):

  • A statutory body under Ministry of Power created in March 2002 under the provisions of the nation’s 2001 Energy Conservation Act.
  • To implement policy and programmes in energy efficiency and conservation.

Objective of BEE –

  • To reduce energy intensity in our country by optimizing energy demand and
  • To reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), responsible for global warming and climate change.

India has committed to reduction of 33-35% GHG emission by 2030 as part of the document submitted to UNFCCC.


Source: PIB

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
  2. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


India Post ventures into new arena of e-market place.


The Ministry of State for Communications (Independent Charge), launched the e-Commerce Portal of the Department of Posts (DoP).

It will provide an e-Market place to sellers especially to rural artisans/self-help groups/ women entrepreneurs/State and Central PSUs/Autonomous Bodies etc. to sell their products to buyers across the Country.


Major Highlights:

  • The small and local sellers (who were left) will now, by leveraging the vast physical and IT network of DoP, be able to maximize their reach and retailing power.
  • The buyers can access the products of their choice displayed by sellers on the portal and place online orders by making digital payments.


Post Office Savings Bank (POSB):

Under Core Banking Solution (CBS), an internet banking facility for Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) customers has been launched.

  • Now, nearly 17 Crore POSB accounts will be intra-operable and customers can also transfer funds online to RD and PPF accounts of Post Offices.
  • It helps to do transactions without physically visiting post offices.


Deen Dayal SPARSH:

The Department of Posts had launched a scholarship program for school children called Deen Dayal SPARSH (i.e., Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude & Research in Stamps as a Hobby).

Objective of Deen Dayal SPARSH –

To bring philately to the mainstream of the education system and incentivizing it, in 2017.


Meghdoot Award:

  • Shri Sinha (Minister of State for Communications) presented the Meghdoot Awards to the Gramin Dak Sewak (GDS) and employees of the Department in eight categories in recognition of their outstanding contribution.


Source: PIB

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Socially Oriented Insurance Schemes


The socially oriented insurance schemes are currently being operated or partially sponsored by the Central Government targeted at vulnerable sections of the society.


Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY):

  • Launched on 9th May, 2015.
  • These schemes are offered/administered through both public and private sector insurance companies, in tie up with scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks and cooperative banks.


  • It offers a renewable one-year term life cover of Rupees Two Lakh to all account holders in the age group of 18 to 50 years, covering death due to any reason, for a premium of Rs. 330/- per annum per subscriber, to be auto debited from subscriber’s bank account.


  • It offers a renewable one-year accidental death cum disability cover to all subscribing bank account holders in the age group of 18 to 70 years for a premium of Rs. 12/- per annum per subscriber to be auto debited from subscriber’s bank account.
  • It provides a cover of Rs. Two Lakh for accidental death or total permanent disability and Rs One Lakh in case of permanent partial disability.

The above schemes are on self-subscription basis and involves no Government contribution.


Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY):

  • Ministry of Agriculture implements PMFBY and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS).
  • It provides comprehensive crop insurance cover against non-preventable natural risks at an affordable rate to farmers.
  • It is compulsoryfor loanee farmers availing crop loans for notified crops in notified areas and voluntary for non-loanee farmers.
  • Uniform maximum premium of only 2%, 1.5% and 5% of the sum insured to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops, Rabi crops and commercial/horticultural crops.
  • The difference between premium and the rate of insurance charges payable by farmers is provided as subsidy and shared equally by the Centre and State.


Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) – Ayushman Bharat:

  • A centrally sponsored scheme.
  • An entitlement-based scheme. It covers poor and vulnerable families based on deprivation and occupational criteria as per SECC data.
  • It provides health coverage up to Rs. 5 lakh per family, per year for secondary and tertiary hospitalization to over 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families.
  • It provides cashless and paperless services for the beneficiary at the point of service in any (public and private) empaneled hospitals across India.
  • The ratio of premium under PMJAY is 60:40 between Centre and State except North Eastern States and 3 Himalayan States where the ratio is 90:10 with an upper limit for Centre.

In the case of Union Territories, the Central contribution of premium is 100% for UTs without legislature, while it is 60:40 for those with legislature.


Source: PIB

Facts for Prelims:


Jnanpith Award:

Context: Renowned English fiction writer Amitav Ghosh has been selected for Jnanpith award, 2018.


  • The Jnanpith Award is one of the prestigious literary honours in the country. The award was instituted in 1961.
  • Eligibility: Any Indian citizen who writes in any of the official languages of India is eligible for the honour.


Kochi-Muziris Biennale:

Context: Fourth edition of Kochi-Muziris biennale is being held in Fort Kochi, Kerala. The Biennale was curated by Anita Dube and become the first Biennale in world in which participation of women accounts for half of the participating artists.

Theme of the Biennale is – “Possibilities for a Non- Alienated Life”.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art held in Kochi, Kerala. It is the largest art exhibition in India and the biggest contemporary art festival in Asia. The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an initiative of the Kochi Biennale Foundation with support from the Government of Kerala.