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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 11 June 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 11 June 2019

Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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

BS – VI norms


What to study?

For prelims: what are BS Norms, components and comparison between BS – IV norms and the BS- VI?

For mains: Need for upgradation, role of new norms in reducing pollution.


Context: International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) has released India’s first Type Approval Certificate (TAC) for Bharat Stage – VI (BS – VI) norms for the two wheeler segment.

Last year, ICAT issued the approval for BS –VI norms to M/s Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles for the Heavy Commercial Vehicle segment which was also the first in its segment in India.



Bharat Stage norms are the automotive emission norms which the automotive manufacturers have to comply to sell their vehicles in India. These norms are applicable to all two wheelers, three wheelers, fourwheelers and construction equipment vehicles.

To curb growing menace of air pollution through the vehicles emission, the Government of India has decided to leapfrog from the exiting BS – IV norms to the BS- VI, thereby skipping the BS – V norms, and to implement the BS – VI norms with effect from 1st April 2020. Only those vehicles will be sold and registered in India from 1st April 2020 onwards, which comply to these norms. The norms are stringent and at par with global standards.


About ICAT:

ICAT is the premier testing and certification agency authorized by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for providing testing and certification services to the vehicle and component manufacturers in India and abroad.


Difference between BS-IV and the new BS-VI:

  • The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and the new BS-VI auto fuel norms is the presence of sulphur.
  • The newly introduced fuel is estimated to reduce the amount of sulphur released by 80%, from 50 parts per million to 10 ppm.
  • As per the analysts, the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars is also expected to reduce by nearly 70% and 25% from cars with petrol engines.


Why is it important to upgrade these norms?

Upgrading to stricter fuel standards helps tackle air pollution. Global automakers are betting big on India as vehicle penetration is still low here, when compared to developed countries. At the same time, cities such as Delhi are already being listed among those with the poorest air quality in the world. The national capital’s recent odd-even car experiment and judicial activism against the registration of big diesel cars shows that governments can no longer afford to relax on this front.

With other developing countries such as China having already upgraded to the equivalent of Euro V emission norms a while ago, India has been lagging behind. The experience of countries such as China and Malaysia shows that poor air quality can be bad for business. Therefore, these reforms can put India ahead in the race for investments too.

Relevant articles from various news sources:


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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


Why lakhs are protesting on the streets in Hong Kong


What to study?

For prelims: Geographical and political position of Hong Kong.

For mains: The recent controversy over the extradition bill, concerns expressed, key features of the bill and what needs to be done?


Context: Huge protests in Hong Kong.


Reasons behind:

The protesters were marching against proposed changes in the law that would allow suspects accused of crimes such as murder and rape to be extradited to mainland China to face trial.

Once the law is changed, Hong Kong will also hand over to China individuals accused of crimes in Taiwan and Macau. Macau, like Hong Kong, is a Chinese special administrative region with significant autonomy.


China’s response:

The government has said that the proposed amendments would “plug loopholes” that allow the city to be used by criminals. It has assured that courts in Hong Kong would make the final decision on extradition, that only certain categories of suspects would be liable, and that individuals accused of political and religious offences would not be extradited.


The protesters in Hong Kong are concerned mainly because:

China may use the changed law to target political opponents in Hong Kong.

Extradited suspects are likely to face torture. Also, they say, the change in the law will deal another blow to Hong Kong’s already crumbling autonomy.


International response:

Human Rights Watch and the International Chamber of Commerce have warned against changing the law. A body of the US Congress has said it would make Hong Kong vulnerable to Chinese “political coercion”, and the UK and Canada have expressed concern over the potential impact on their citizens in Hong Kong. The EU has sent a diplomatic note.


Relationship of Hong Kong with respect to China:

The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, and is semi-autonomous under the “one country, two systems” principle. It has its own laws and courts, and allows its residents a range of civil liberties. Hong Kong does not have an extradition agreement with Beijing.


Sources: Indian express.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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


What is the three-language formula?


What to study?

For prelims and mains: the three language formula, need, concerns associated over imposition of Hindi and the need for reforms.


Why is it in the news now?

A 50-year-old controversy got a new lease of life recently when a paragraph in the Draft New Education Policy 2019 referred to the mandatory teaching of Hindi in States where Hindi is not spoken. This was a reiteration of the Central government’s three-language formula, but it set off a storm in Tamil Nadu, which stoutly opposes any attempt to impose Hindi and adheres to a two-language formula. The Union government sought to neutralise the hostile reaction by dropping the controversial reference to Hindi.


What is the formula?

It is commonly understood that the three languages referred to are Hindi, English and the regional language of the respective States.



Though the teaching of Hindi across the country was part of a long-standing system, it was crystallised into a policy in an official document only in the National Policy on Education, 1968. This document said regional languages were already in use as the media of education in the primary and secondary stages.

In addition, it said, “At the secondary stage, State governments should adopt and vigorously implement the three-language formula, which includes the study of a modern Indian language, preferably one of the southern languages, apart from Hindi and English in the Hindi-speaking States.”

In the ‘non-Hindi speaking States’, Hindi should be studied along with the regional language and English. It added: “Suitable courses in Hindi and/or English should also be available in universities and colleges with a view to improving the proficiency of students in these languages up to the prescribed university standards.”


What did NEP 1968 say on promotion of Hindi as the link language?

On promotion of Hindi, the NPE 1968 said every effort should be made to promote the language and that “in developing Hindi as the link language, due care should be taken to ensure that it will serve, as provided for in Article 351 of the Constitution, as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India. The establishment, in non-Hindi States, of colleges and other institutions of higher education which use Hindi, as the medium of education should be encouraged”.


Why is there opposition to the teaching of Hindi which crystallised into a policy in an official document in 1968?

The origin of the linguistic row, however, goes back to the debate on official language. In the Constituent Assembly, Hindi was voted as the official language by a single vote. However, it added that English would continue to be used as an associate official language for 15 years. The Official Languages Act came into effect on the expiry of this 15-year period in 1965. This was the background in which the anti-Hindi agitation took place. However, as early as in 1959, Jawaharlal Nehru had given an assurance in Parliament that English would continue to be in use as long as non-Hindi speaking people wanted it.


What needs to be done?

There are numerous attractive ways to promote a language to the desired extent. So, instead of prescribing a set of languages, Draft NEP 2019 should give the freedom to choose “any three languages of 8th Schedule of the Constitution or official languages of the Union of India” as offered in the scheme of studies by the Boards of Secondary Education. This is a win-win solution for all.


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.


All States can now constitute Foreigners Tribunals


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Foreigners Tribunal-need, composition, Functions and significance.


Context: The MHA has amended the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964,


Changes proposed as per the amendment:

It has empowered district magistrates in all States and Union Territories to set up tribunals to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.

The amended Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 2019 also empowers individuals to approach the Tribunals

The amended order also allows District Magistrates to refer individuals who haven’t filed claims against their exclusion from NRC to the Tribunals to decide if they are foreigners or not.


Current Practice:

So far, the powers to constitute tribunals were vested only with the Centre. The 1964 order on Constitution of Tribunals said: “The Central Government may by order, refer the question as to whether a person is not a foreigner within meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946 (31 of 1946) to a Tribunal to be constituted for the purpose, for its opinion.”


Sources: the Hindu.



Facts for Prelims:


What is reciprocal trade agreements?

Countries use bilateral/regional trade agreements to increase market access and expand trade in foreign markets. These agreements are called reciprocal trade agreements (RTAs) because members grant special advantages to each other.

RTAs include many types of agreements, such as preferential arrangements, free trade agreements, customs unions, and common markets, in which members agree to open their markets to each other’s exports by lowering trade barriers.

Need: They have become an increasingly prominent feature of the multilateral trading system in recent years, in part, because of stalled global negotiations taking place under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Many observers believe that RTAs deepen market integration and complement efforts by the WTO to liberalize international markets. While acknowledging that RTAs can open up markets, other observers contend that these agreements also distort trade and discriminate against nonmember countries.

Why in news? Commerce Minister emphasizes on reciprocal market access for Indian goods.


Cyclone Vayu:

Cyclone Vayu – it is still to develop into a cyclone and is only a deep depression as of now – is currently positioned around 250 km northwest of Aminidivi island in Lakshadweep and about 750 km southwest of Mumbai.

Cyclones are sustained by very strong low-pressure areas at their core. Winds in surrounding areas are forced to rush towards these low-pressure areas.

Arabian Sea cyclones:

Though cyclones are common in the June, very few of them originate in the Arabian Sea. Most of them are found in the Bay of Bengal. In the last 120 years for which records are available, just about 14% of all cyclonic storms, and 23% of severe cyclones, around India have occurred in the Arabian Sea. Arabian Sea cyclones are also relatively weak compared to those emerging in the Bay of Bengal.

This, along with the fact that the Gujarat coastline, which is where most of the cyclones emerging in the Arabian Sea are headed, is not very densely populated, ensures that the damage potential of the cyclones on the western coast is comparatively low.


El Salvador recognises forests as living entities:

  • El Salvador has, in a historic move, recognised forests as living entities. Its citizens, will now be required to preserve forests. 
  • El Salvador has lost about 85 per cent of its native forests since the 1960s, while Earth has lost about 80 per cent of its native forests.


India, Portugal to join hands in setting up maritime museum:

  • India and Portugal will cooperate in the setting up of a national maritime heritage museum at Lothal in Gujarat.
  • It is likely to come up on the lines of a similar museum at Lisbon, which is administered by the Portuguese Navy.
  • The project is being implemented by the Ministry of Shipping through its Sagarmala programme, with the involvement of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the State government and other stakeholders.


Samadhi Buddha:

Context: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has gifted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a Samadhi Buddha statue.

The Samadhi Buddha is a famous statue situated at Mahamevnāwa Park in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The Buddha is depicted in the position of the Dhyana Mudra, the posture of meditation associated with his first Enlightenment. This statue is 7 feet 3 inches in height and carved from dolomite marble.


Kashmir annual Kheer Bhawani mela:

Hundreds gather in Kashmir for annual Kheer Bhawani mela.

The Kheer Bhawani mela is one of the biggest religious functions of the Kashmiri Pandits.

It has become a symbol of communal harmony as Muslims in the locality make all the arrangements for the devotees, including setting up of stalls for flowers and other offerings.


Traffic Index 2018:

Context: Traffic Index 2018 is published by TomTom, an Amsterdam-based company.

  • It offers traffic solutions, uses location technology to collect traffic information, and has been publishing city rankings for eight years.
  • The index factors for peak hours, accidents, inclement weather, construction work and all other factors likely to cause disruptions.
  • The latest index ranks 403 cities across 56 countries, including 13 new cities.

Definition: For this study, congestion has been defined in terms of the additional time taken to reach a destination as opposed to when the road would have been clear of traffic.

Key findings:

  • The study has ranked Mumbai as the most traffic-congested city in the world for the second straight year, and Delhi at fourth place.
  • Nearly 75% of the cities part of the 2018 index had increased or stable congestion levels between 2017 and 2018, with only 90 cities showing measurable decreases.
  • Globally, Christmas Day resulted in the least traffic congestion.

End of Childhood Index:

The index is part of Changing Lives in Our Lifetime – Global Childhood Report, 2019 and was released by Save the Children, a non-profit, on May 28, 2019.

Countries are evaluated on eight parameters on the wellbeing of those up to 19 years of age — child mortality, malnutrition, lack of education, child labour, early marriage, adolescent birth, displacement by conflict and child homicide.

Performance of countries:

  • India ranks 113 in 176 countries.However, India has improved significantly on child mortality from 39 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017.
  • Singapore tops the list and eight European countries figure among the top 10.
  • Globally, the rate of child marriage has reduced by 25 per cent in 2019. In South Asia, India has performed significantly well where child marriage is down 51 per cent since 2000 and 63 percent since 1990.
  • Indian progress alone accounts for almost three quarters of decline in teen births worldwide.



Summaries of important editorials:


How education can be flexible?

Context: Recommendations made on higher education reforms by a committee set up for drafting a new educational policy (NEP).


Key recommendations:

  • The main thrust of the draft policy is on breaking the “rigid boundaries of disciplines” in higher education and moving towards broad-based, flexible learning. Institutions offering single streams (such as technical education) must be phased out, and all universities and colleges must aim to become multidisciplinary by 2030.
  • Reintroduction of the four-year undergraduate programme in Liberal Arts Science Education (LASE) with multiple exit options, and scrapping of the MPhil programme. The LASE curriculum will be designed to develop broadly “useful capacities” (critical thinking, communication skills, scientific temper, social responsibilities etc), while offering rigorous education in specialisations (called majors or dual majors) across disciplines.
  • Build a small number of new liberal arts universities, modelled after Ivy League schools, in the next five years.
  • Increase in the number of off-shore campuses of Indian institutions and permitting the world’s top 200 institutions to set up branches in India, with a new law to regulate the latter’s entry and operation. 
  • A National Research Foundation (NRF), tasked with creating a conducive ecosystem for research through funding and mentoring, should be set up.
  • There is need for a common regulatory regime for the entire higher education sector, “eliminating isolation and disjunction”. As with primary education, in higher education, too, the functions of “regulation, provision of education, funding, accreditation and standard setting will be separated, and will not be performed by the same institution or institutional hierarchy”.
  • Rules of various regulatory bodies: The National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA) will be the sole regulatory authority, while NAAC, along with other accreditation agencies, will oversee accreditation. The existing University Grants Commission, currently regulator as well as grants disbursing agency, will transform into the Higher Education Grants Council (HEGC) and will limit itself to grants giving.
  • Other regulatory bodies — such as Medical Council of India, Bar Council of India, AICTE, National Council for Teacher Education — will become Professional Standard Setting Boards in their respective fields, without regulatory powers in professional education.
  • Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog (RSA): It will be a new apex institution for education. It will be created through an Act of Parliament, that will be responsible for “developing, articulating, implementing, evaluating, and revising the vision of education in the country on a continuous and sustained basis”.
  • Composition of RSA: It will be chaired by the Prime Minister and run by executive and advisory bodies, half of which will made up of ministers and the other half of educationists and civil society members. A range of institutions — NRF, NCERT, NHERA, National Testing Agency, Higher Education Grants Council, and state education regulatory authorities, among others — will be reporting to this super organisation.
  • A committee chaired by the UME (Union Minister for Education) and consisting of the ED (Executive Director of RSA) and a few members appointed by the UME will be constituted for this purpose at the earliest. Over a period of time, as the roles and functions stabilise, the RSA will be given Constitutional status through an Act of the Parliament.
  • The draft policy proposes a National Education Technology Forum, a group of education leaders and government officials to discuss and advise on how to strengthen educational technology, and Centres of Excellence in Educational Technology in prominent institutions.



Other suggestions:

  • Public investment in higher education to be raised from the current 10% of overall public expenditure in education to 20%, over a 10-year period.
  • Substandard and dysfunctional technical educational institutions to be closed.
  • Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog to commission a perspective plan for professional education.
  • A quasi-judicial body may be constituted for a mission-mode clean-up of teacher education.
  • The four- year integrated BEd. will, by 2030, become the minimal degree qualification for schoolteachers. All pre-service teacher education programmes will be offered only in multidisciplinary institutions.
  • First year or two of MBBS will be designed as a common period for all science graduates after which they can take up MBBS, BDS, Nursing or other specialisations.
  • A common exit examination for MBBS.
  • All new colleges started from 2020 onwards must only be autonomous colleges. No new affiliated colleges shall be started after 2020. After 2030 there will be no affiliated colleges – all colleges must develop to become autonomous degree granting colleges or a university.


Need for multidisciplinary approach:

The future workplace will demand critical thinking, communication, problem solving, creativity, and multidisciplinary capability. Single-skill and single-discipline jobs are likely to become automated over time. Therefore, there will be a great need to focus on multidisciplinary and 21st century competencies for future work roles — these are indeed the capabilities that will separate humans from robots.