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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 13 April 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 13 April 2019

Relevant articles from various News Papers:

Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Energy and pollution related issues.


India stares at pile of solar e-waste


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Solar Power potential and technologies used to store solar power and waste generated therein.
  • For Mains: Solar e- waste- extent, concerns, effects and measures needed.


Context: By 2050, India will likely stare at a pile of a new category of electronic waste, namely solar e-waste.  India’s PV (photovoltaic) waste volume is estimated to grow to 200,000 tonnes by 2030 and around 1.8 million tonnes by 2050.


What’s missing?

  • Currently, India’s e-waste rules have no laws mandating solar cell manufacturers to recycle or dispose waste from this sector.
  • India is poorly positioned to handle PV waste as it doesn’t yet have policy guidelines on the same.
  • A lack of a policy framework is coupled with the fact that even basic recycling facilities for laminated glass and e-waste are unavailable. Despite the e-waste regulation being in place for over seven years, only less than 4% of estimated e-waste is recycled in the organised sector as per the latest estimates from the Central Pollution Control Board.


What constitutes Solar e- waste and concerns associated?

Solar modules use potentially hazardous materials, including lead compounds, polymers and cadmium compounds. If disposed of in an inappropriate way, potential leaching of those hazardous materials can have negative environmental and health impacts.

For instance, leaching of lead has huge environmental impact including loss in biodiversity, decreased growth and reproductive rates in plants and animals, and several other health hazards like adverse impact on kidney function, nervous, immune, reproductive and cardiovascular systems.


Need of the hour:

  1. Specify liability and responsibility of each stakeholder for waste management and treatment.
  2. Mandate module manufacturers to use environmentally sustainable design and materials with end-of-life in mind.
  3. Lay down standards for PV waste collection, treatment and disposal.
  4. Encourage mutual recycling responsibility agreements between module suppliers, project developers and power purchasers.
  5. Undertake regular surveys of recycling facilities to understand technology and capacity levels. Identify investment and technical requirements for dedicated PV recycling facilities with focus on high-value recovery.


Way ahead:

India is among the leading markets for solar cells in the world, buoyed by the government’s commitment to install 100 GW of solar power by 2022. So far, India has installed solar cells for about 28 GW and this has been done largely from imported solar PV cells. Therefore, the time is ripe for the country to put in place a comprehensive policy to address the issues.


Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  2. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
  3. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


China’s BRI


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Key features of BRI.
  • For Mains: India’s concerns, ways to address them and global implications of the project.


Context: Malaysia will resume work on the multi-billion dollar East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) after months of negotiations with the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and the Chinese government brought the cost down by a third. China is building a deep-sea port on Malaysia’s east coast and the railway is a key link in its Belt and Road Initiative.


What is BRI?

BRI consisting of the land-based belt, ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, and ‘Maritime Silk Road’, aims to connect the East Asian economic region with the European economic circle and runs across the continents of Asia, Europe and Africa.

  • BRI is China’s ambitious project announced in 2013. It covers about 65% of the world population, 60% of the world GDP and over 70 countries in six economic corridors.
  • China is spending almost $1 trillion to revive and renew the overland and maritime trade links between China, Europe, West Asia, and East Africa through construction of modern ports linked to high-speed road and rail corridors.


India’s concerns with BRI:

  • India argues that the BRI and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project violates its sovereignty because it passes through the part of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that belongs to India.
  • Debt trap: BRI projects are pushing recipient countries into indebtedness, do not transfer skills or technology and are environmentally unsustainable.
  • China is planning to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Maldives, Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka are eagerly pursuing potential BRI projects.
  • Through OBOR, China is countering the strategies of India in North East region and is promoting its greater presence in North East India, part of which China claims as its own territory. This may have a security impact on India.
  • Tense bilateral relations with China, deep mistrusts and India’s growing concerns over Chinese hegemonic intentions in South Asia and Indo-Pacific region make it practically unlikely that India will ever consider joining this project.
  • Military deployment: The fact that the Chinese have begun to deploy 30,000 security personnel to protect the projects along the CPEC route makes it an active player in the politics of the Indian sub-continent. Clearly, this is a case of double standards.

Sources: the hindu.

Mains Questions: Why is India not part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)? Does India’s absence matter to China? Critically examine.


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.


Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO)


What to study?

  • For Prelims: CDSCO- key facts, about PvPI.
  • For Mains: Misuse of various drugs and the need for stringent provisions to prevent their misuse.

Context: The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has asked commonly-used antibiotics manufacturers to ensure its details be made available to the general public. This decision was taken considering directives from the National Co-ordination Centre of the Pharmacovigilance Programme of India (PvPI).          


What is Pharmacovigilance Programme of India (PvPI)?

The PvPI was started by the Government of India on 14th July 2010 with the AIIMS New Delhi as the National Coordination Centre for monitoring Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) in the country for safe-guarding Public Health.

Pharmacovigilance is defined as the science relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects, principally long term and short term adverse effects of medicines. The CDSCO has a nation-wide Pharmacovigilance Programme for protecting the health of the patients by promising drug safety.

The Programme is coordinated by the Indian Pharmacopeia commission, Ghaziabad as a National Coordinating Centre (NCC).


About CDSCO:

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation(CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.

Functions: Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view of bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.


Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


Legislation to strengthen US-India strategic partnership


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the bill, implications if encated, overview of NATO.


Context: US lawmakers introduce new legislation to strengthen US-India strategic partnership- The bill H R 2123.



  • If enacted, the new bill would ensure that the US State Department treats India as a NATO ally for the purposes of the Arms Export Control Act.
  • The law would send a powerful signal that defence sales to India should be prioritised according to US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, which had worked on this important legislation.
  • The legislation bolsters national security and helps ensure full alignment between the Department of Defence and the Department of State.



India is the world’s largest democracy, a pillar of stability in the region and has shown strong commitments to export control policies. This adjustment to US law will further allow the US-India partnership to flourish in line with the US’s security commitment to the Indo-Pacific region.



The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal 2017 included special language recognising the unique US-India defence relationship that designated India as a “Major Defence Partner” of the United States. The language seeks unique consideration for trade and technology sharing with India and increased attention and support to advance this relationship in the areas of defence trade and technology sharing.

To fulfil the spirit and intent of the NDAA 2017, the US-India Enhanced Cooperation Act would amend the Arms Export Control Act to put India on par with NATO allies and Israel, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.


Sources: bs.

Mains Questions: In the light of designation of India as “Major Defence Partner” by the US, do you think India’s recent behaviour with Pakistan and Afghanistan is upholding regional peace in South Asia? Critically comment.

Facts for Prelims:


Russia’s highest civilian award for PM:

Russia’s highest civilian award – the “Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First,” will be awarded to PM Narendra Modi for his work on bilateral ties.

Eligibility: The Order of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First is awarded to prominent government and public figures, prominent representatives of science, culture, art and various sectors of the economy for “exceptional services that contribute to the prosperity, greatness and glory of Russia”.

  • It was first awarded by former Russian Tsar ‘Peter the Great’ in 1698 and subsequently discontinued. In 1998, former President Boris Yeltsin reinstated the honour by a presidential decree.
  • Previous recipients include Chinese President Xi Jinping, and presidents of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


New early human species found: Homo luzonensis:

Context: Researchers have unearthed an unknown human species that lived on an island in Philippines some 50,000 years agoHomo luzonensis.

  • The newfound species is named Homo luzonensisin honor of Luzon, the island where the mysterious beings lived during the late Pleistocene epoch, more than 50,000 years ago. They were less than four feet tall.
  • Though luzonensisis short like the hobbit, it shares features with a number of other ancient human relatives.
  • It has curved foot and finger bones like Australopithecus(a genus that includes the famous Lucy); premolars that have characteristics similar to those seen in Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus; and small molars that look like those of modern humans, or Homo sapiens.


India to be Guest of Honour at ADIBF 2019:

Context: India will be the Guest of Honour country at the 2019 Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) to be held during April. The fair aims to highlight the UAE’s rich heritage, and showcase its authenticity, cultural and literary output. This will be the 29th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.

Summaries of important Editorials:


Jallianwala Bagh massacre: ‘Deep regret’ is simply not good enough:



What happened?

On April 13, 1919, Baisakhi day, following unrest in Amritsar after protests against the Rowlatt Act, Brigadier General (temporary rank) Reginald Dyer took a strike force of 50 rifles and 40 khukri-wielding Gurkhas into an enclosed ground, Jallianwala Bagh, where a peaceful public meeting of 15,000-20,000 was being held.

The firing of 1,650 rounds was deliberate and targeted, using powerful rifles at virtually pointblank range. Eyewitness accounts and information collected by Sewa Samiti, a charity organisation point to much higher numbers. Non-Indian writers place the number killed at anything between 500 to 600, with three times that number wounded.

Post incidence events – More was to follow after the proclamation, two days after the massacre, of Martial Law in Punjab: the infamous crawling order, the salaam order, public floggings, arbitrary arrests, torture and bombing of civilians by airplanes — all under a veil of strictly enforced censorship.

After calls for an investigation, including by liberals in Britain, a Disorders Inquiry Committee, soon to be known by the name of its Chairman, Lord Hunter, was set up.


Recent responses by the Britain:

British Prime Minister Theresa May finally came out with: “We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused.” However, the country has refused to formally apologise. Britain’s refusal to squarely apologise for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre is expected but disappointing.


What this means?

Deep regret is all we may get instead of the unequivocal apology that is mandated. The expectation could be that time will add more distance to the massacre, making these calls for apology increasingly an academic exercise. The fact remains that there are many ways to heal a festering wound between nations, as Canada’s apology for the Komagata Maru shows; clever drafting is not one of them.


Nine from outside the IAS set to become joint secretaries in government:


Context: In a move that was widely debated inside and outside the government for a year, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has announced the results of nine lateral hires on contract at the level of joint secretary in various departments and ministries. The move is a tipping point and marks a breach in the hegemony of the IAS.



In 2014, the Centre had mooted the idea of allowing lateral entry from academia and the private sector at the joint-secretary level. Initially 10 such lateral entries were to be selected and had drawn criticism from the serving and retired members of the Indian bureaucracy.


Rationale behind this move:

The recruitments have been done in a bid to infuse domain expertise in key government departments and is aimed at bringing in specialized talent in various government departments, contributing to better governance.


Why this is a good move?

Earlier experiences showed good results: Lateral entry has been used in the past to harness top talent from outside the civil services. Mr. Manmohan Singh, Nandan Nilekani, Ahluwalia etc served at various positions in the government and have showed promising results on ground.

Helps in getting private sector expertise: Various private sector experts have also been appointed as officers on special duty, ranked between under-secretary and secretary, to ministers. Institutionalising lateral entry, thus, makes it easier for the country to benefit from private sector/non-UPSC talent.

Deals with vacancy issue as well: The move will also address the drying up of the talent pool at the top level as there is an overall shortfall of about 20% in just IAS officers in 24 state cadres. The 2016 BS Baswan committee report pointed out that many large states suffer from a pronounced deficit of IAS officers, leading to their reluctance to depute officers for central posting.

Lateral entry will also address many structural problems the present system suffers from: The seniority criteria in promotions has meant many talented lower ranked officers take a long time to get appointed to posts where their skills could have significant impact in the immediate run.

Focuses on merit: While the education threshold for eligibility in the current notification is set at the graduate-degree level, higher qualifications will be an advantage. The call is for outstanding individuals with expertise in the relevant fields.

Specialists: The move could be a significant step towards fulfilling the longstanding need for domain specialists in positions crucial to policy-making and implementation of government schemes. Specialists coming from outside are likely to bring fresh ideas and help improve outcomes.


The idea is criticized due to the following reasons:

  • Lateral entry system is a disruption as there is a risk that due process might not be followed and ill-qualified, political appointees will land up in senior positions of the government and hurt public interest.
  • Lateral entry does open the risk and prospect of powerful corporate groups placing their men in key positions of government.
  • Also people who are recruited in this way might lack ground experience and also have little idea about the administrative leviathan.


Mains Questions: Lateral entry in government at Joint Secretary level comes not a day too soon. Critically analyze.