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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 18 October 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 18 October 2019

Table of contents:


GS Paper 1:

  1. Skandagupta.
  2. Veer Savarkar.


GS Paper 2:

  1. Legislative Council.
  2. Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report.
  3. What Is in the New Brexit Deal?


GS Paper 3:

  1. India Innovation Index 2019.
  2. Vikram Sarabhai.
  3. Delhi’s odd-even rule.


Facts for prelims:

  1. Article 161.
  2. Air quality index.
  3. Mount Kilimanjaro.
  4. Saharan silver ant.
  5. Web tax in Italy.
  6. Mt Paektu.
  7. Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).
  9. World’s first graduate-level research-based AI University.



GS Paper 1:


Topics Covered:

  1. Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.



What to study?

For Prelims and mains: His legacy, contributions and inscriptions.


Context: Union home minister Amit Shah recently inaugurated an international seminar on the role of Gupta dynasty emperor Skandagupta at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi. Extolling the greatness of Skandagupta, Shah said history has been unfair to Gupta period rulers.

The Gupta period is known as the golden period of ancient Indian history and Skandagupta Vikramaditya is known as the Saviour of India as he successfully fought the battle against the invading Huns.

Who is Skandagupta?

  1. He ascended the throne in 455 AD and ruled till 467 AD.
  2. During the 12 year rule, he not only defended the great culture of India but also from external aggression and defeated the Huns (Bhitari pillar inscription), who had invaded India from the north west.
  3. By defeating Pushyamitras during his initial years of ascendancy, Skandagupta proved his ability to rule and took upon himself the title of Vikramaditya.
  4. The Junagadh rock, which contains inscription of the earlier rulers Ashoka and Rudradaman, has an inscription engraved on the orders of Skandagupta’s governor Parnadatta. The inscription states that Skandagupta appointed governors of all provinces, including Parnadatta as the governor of Surashtra.
  5. Skandagupta issued five types of gold coins: Archer type, King and queen type, Chhatra type, Lion-slayer type and Horseman type.
  6. His silver coins are of four types: Garuda type, Bull type, Altar type and Madhyadesha type.


Sources: the Hindu.

Topics Covered:

  1. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Veer Savarkar


What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Contributions and role in freedom struggle.


Context: Had it not been for Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the 1857 uprising would have been viewed through the lens of the British, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said recently.


Who is Veer Savarkar?

  1. Born on May 28, 1883 in Bhagur, a city in Maharashtra’s Nashik.
  2. In his teenage, Savarkar formed a youth organization. Known as Mitra Mela, this organization was put into place to bring in national and revolutionary ideas.
  3. He was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi. In 1905, he burnt all the foreign goods in a bonfire on Dussehra.
  4. He championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. In fact, he even dismissed cow worship as superstitious.
  5. In his book, The History of the war of Indian Independence, Savarkar wrote about the guerilla warfare tricks used in 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.
  6. The book was banned by Britishers, but Madam Bhikaji Cama published the book in Netherlands, Germany and France, which eventually reached many Indian revolutionaries.
  7. He was arrested in 1909 on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Morle-Minto reform.
  8. He also Worked on abolishment of untouchability in Ratnagiri. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar also compared his work to Lord Buddha.
  9. He founded the two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’ calling Hindus and Muslims two separate nations. In 1937, Hindu Mahasabha passed it as a resolution.
  10. It was in year 1964, when Savarkar declared his wish to attain Samadhi and started hunger-strike on February 1, 1966 and passed away on February 26, 1966. He believed that his purpose of life is solved as India has gained Independence.
  11. In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar’s Island was renamed after Veer Savarkar International Airport.


Sources: the Hindu.



GS Paper 2:


Topics Covered:

  1. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.


Legislative Council


What to study?

For Prelims: Features, composition and formation of legislative councils.

For Mains: Significance and issues related.


Context: Legislative council abolished in J&K as per Section 57 of the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, which reduced the State to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.


What are the Legislative Councils, and why are they important?

India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament. At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.


Why do we need a second house?

  1. To act as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House.
  2. To ensure that individuals who might not be cut out for the rough-and-tumble of direct elections too are able to contribute to the legislative process.
  3. Having a second chamber would allow for more debate and sharing of work between the Houses.


Arguments against having a second house:

  1. Rather than fulfilling the lofty objective of getting intellectuals into the legislature, the forum is likely to be used to accommodate party functionaries who fail to get elected.
  2. It is also an unnecessary drain on the exchequer. 
  3. Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack the constitutional mandate to do so. Legislative Assemblies have the power to override suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.
  4. While Rajya Sabha MPs can vote in the election of the President and Vice-President, members of Legislative Councils can’t. MLCs also can’t vote in the elections of Rajya Sabha members.
  5. As regards Money bills, only fourteen days’ delay can be caused by the Council, which is more or less a formality rather than a barrier in the way of Money Bill passed by the Assembly. 


How is a legislative council created?

Under Article 169 of the constitution, Parliament may by law create or abolish the second chamber in a state if the Legislative Assembly of that state passes a resolution to that effect by a special majority.


Strength of the house:

As per article 171 clause (1) of the Indian Constitution, the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall not exceed one third of the total number of the members in the legislative Assembly of that state and the total number of members in the legislative council of a state shall in no case be less than 40.


How are members of the Council elected?

  1. 1/3rd of members are elected by members of the Assembly.
  2. 1/3rd by electorates consisting of members of municipalities, district boards and other local authorities in the state.
  3. 1/12th by an electorate consisting of teachers.
  4. 1/12th by registered graduates.
  5. The remaining members are nominated by the Governor from among those who have distinguished themselves in literature, science, art, the cooperative movement, and social service.


Sources: the Hindu.


Mains Question: Why Some States in India have Bicameral Legislatures? Discuss the relevance of the Legislative Councils in the States.

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to health.

Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report 


What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings of the report.

For Mains: India’s TB burden, efforts and measures needed.


Context: The report has been released by WHO.

The report provides a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of the TB epidemic and progress in the response at global, regional and country levels for India.


Key findings and observations:

  1. Tuberculosis incidence rate in India has decreased by almost 50,000 patients over the past one year (26.9 lakh TB patients in India in 2018).
  2. Incidence per 1,00,000 population has decreased from 204 in 2017 to 199 in 2018.
  3. Number of patients being tested for rifampicin resistance has increased from 32% in 2017 to 46% in 2018.
  4. Treatment success rate has increased to 81% for new and relapse cases (drug sensitive) in 2017, which was 69% in 2016.


Global scenario:

  1. TB remains the top infectious killer in the world claiming over 4,000 lives a day.
  2. However, more people received life-saving treatment in 2018 than ever before, largely due to improved detection and diagnosis. 
  3. Reduction in the number of TB deaths: 5 million people died from TB in 2018, down from 1.6 million in 2017. 
  4. Number of new cases of TB has been declining steadily in recent years.
  5. The burden remains high among low-income and marginalized populations: around 10 million people developed TB in 2018.


Challenges present:

  1. Fragile health infrastructure and workforce shortages.
  2. Weak reporting systems.
  3. More out-of-pocket expenditure.
  4. Drug resistance.
  5. Fight against TB remains chronically underfunded.


Way ahead:

  • The world must accelerate progress if it is to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of ending TB by 2030.
  • Sustained progress on TB will require strong health systems and better access to services. That means a renewed investment in primary health care and a commitment to universal health coverage.
  • There is an urgent need for funding of TB research and development, with an annual shortfall of US$1.2 billion.
  • Priority needs include a new vaccine or effective preventive drug treatment; rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests; and safer, simpler, shorter drug regimens to treat TB.


Global TB targets:

SDG 3.3 includes a target of ending the TB epidemic by 2030

The World Health Assembly-approved Global TB Strategy aims for a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030 compared with 2015 levels. The Strategy established milestones for 2020 of a 35% reduction in TB deaths and a 20% reduction in the TB incidence rate from 2015 levels.


The UN Political Declaration on TB in 2018 includes 4 new global targets:

  1. Treat 40 million people for TB disease in the 5-year period 2018-22 (7 million in 2018).
  2. Reach at least 30 million people with TB preventive treatment for a latent TB infection in the 5-year period 2018-22.
  3. Mobilize at least US$13 billion annually for universal access to TB diagnosis, treatment and care by 2022.
  4. Mobilize at least US$2 billion annually for TB research.


TB facts:

  1. Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
  2. About one-quarter of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with the disease and cannot transmit it.
  3. The highest burden of TB in 2018 is in 8 countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa.


Sources: the Hindu.

Topics Covered:

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


What Is in the New Brexit Deal?

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: What is Brexit? Why does Uk wants it? Implications and challenges ahead, overview of the deal.


Context: Britain, European Union reach a new Brexit deal, though it must still be formally approved by the bloc and ratified by the European and UK Parliaments.


Key elements of the new deal:

  1. UK will honour EU rules till the end of 2020.
  2. UK will pay £39 by ‘divorce bill’.
  3. Rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be guaranteed.
  4. Northern Ireland will be aligned with the EU single market for goods while it will legally part with the EU.
  5. There will be customs borders between Great Britain and the Irish Island.


Brexit story so far:

  1. In a 2016 referendum, Britons choose to leave the EU.
  2. The UK is deeply and bitterly divided on how it should exit the EU, and what its future relationship with the bloc should look like.
  3. Former British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and her counterparts in the European Union negotiated a withdrawal agreement last year, but opposition to the deal from the UK Parliament killed it three times. 
  4. May’s Brexit defeats led to her political downfall, and she resigned her premiership in June.
  5. New head- Boris Johnson took over in July.
  6. Johnson promised that he would deliver Brexit for the United Kingdom, “do or die,” by the current deadline of October 31. Johnson has said he’ll achieve what May failed to do: get a Brexit deal that can win the support of Parliament. And if he can’t, well, the UK would be totally fine breaking away from Europe without a deal.
  7. Leaving the EU without any deal promises chaos for both the UK and the rest of Europe — yet some Brexit devotees are willing to take the risk because they believe it would deliver a swift and decisive end to the UK’s relationship with the EU.

What caused Brexit to happen?

So far, there seem to be three theories for what drove so many people to vote Brexit:

  1. Immigrants: Faced with rising immigration locals worried about their jobs and the erosion of the English way of life wanted their government to clamp down on immigration. This was a revolt against unrestricted immigration from poorer Eastern European states, Syrian refugees residing in the EU and millions of Turks about to join the EU.
  2. Elites: Faced with decades of economic malaise, stagnant real wages and economic destitution in former industrial heartlands ever since the rise of “Thaterchism” and the embrace of Neoliberal policies by Tony Blair’s New Labour the non-Londoners have decided to revolt against the elite. This isn’t just about being against the EU as it stands, and its free market and free movement of peoples.
  3. Bureaucracy: Faced with Brussel’s asphyxiating amount of red tape the English people decide to “take back control” of their country’s bureaucracy.

The three theories are obviously intertwined at times and contradictory at others, that’s why it matters who is going to be negotiating the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and the EU.


What’s the future for the U.K. and E.U.?

This may be the end of negotiations but it’s also the beginning of talks for a new chapter in Britain’s relations with the European Union. The future relationship will be a matter of debate and negotiation that will most likely take years to crystallize.

In a nonbinding statement, known as the Political Declaration, they agreed “to work together to safeguard the rules-based international order, the rule of law and promotion of democracy, and high standards of free and fair trade and workers’ rights, consumer and environmental protection, and cooperation against internal and external threats to their values and interests.”

A central element of this relationship will center on how Britain trades with the bloc, which will remain its No. 1 trading partner.


Sources: the Hindu.



GS Paper 3:


Topics Covered:

  1. 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.


India Innovation Index 2019 


What to study?

For Prelims: Highlights of the index.

For Mains: Significance, performance of states, gaps existing and ways to address them.


Context: NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner has released the India Innovation Index (III) 2019.


Key findings:

  1. Karnataka is the most innovative major state in India.
  2. Others in top 10: Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Haryana, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.
  3. The top ten major states are majorly concentrated in southern and western India. 
  4. Sikkim and Delhi take the top spots among the north- eastern & hill states, and union territories/city states/small states respectively.
  5. Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh are the most efficient states in translating inputs into output.


About the index:

The index attempts to create an extensive framework for the continual evaluation of the innovation environment of 29 states and seven union territories in India and intends to perform the following three functions:

  1. Ranking of states and UTs based on their index scores.
  2. Recognizing opportunities and challenges.
  3. Assisting in tailoring governmental policies to foster innovation.


The Index is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions – Enablers and Performance.

  1. The Enablers are the factors that underpin innovative capacities, grouped in five pillars: (1) Human Capital, (2) Investment, (3) Knowledge Workers, (4) Business Environment, and (5) Safety and Legal Environment.
  2. The Performance dimension captures benefits that a nation derives from the inputs, divided in two pillars: (6) Knowledge Output and (7) Knowledge Diffusion.


Significance of the index:

India has a unique opportunity among its myriad challenges to become the innovation leader in the world. Cluster-based innovation should be leveraged upon as the focal point of competitiveness.

The index is a great beginning to improve the environment of innovation in the country as it focuses on both the input and output components of the idea.

The index is a good effort to benchmark the performance of the state with each other and promote competitive federalism.

Sources: pib.

Topics Covered:

  1. Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Vikram Sarabhai


What to study?

For prelims: Key contributions of Vikram Sarabhai.

For mains: Contributions of India and Indians to the development of space technology.


Context: Department of Atomic Energy organizes a Curtain Raiser programme to mark the Centenary Celebrations of Dr Vikram Sarabhai.


About Vikram Sarabhai and his contributions:

Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919. Sarabhai was instrumental in forming India’s future in astronomy and setting up the country’s space research facilities.


Key contributions:

  1. Based on his persuasion, the Indian government agreed to set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962.
  2. Sarabhai was the first chairman of the committee.
  3. The INCOSPAR was restructured and renamed as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969.
  4. Sarabhai founded the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad in the year 1947. The laboratory started its operation from RETREAT, Sarabhai’s residence in Ahmedabad. Its first topic of research was cosmic rays.
  5. He also set up India’s first rocket launch site in Thumba, a small village near the Thiruvananthapuram airport in Kerala.
  6. Vikram Sarabhai was also responsible for bringing cable television to India. His constant contact with NASA paved a way for the establishment of Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975.
  7. Sarabhai was the mastermind behind building India’s first satellite, Aryabhata.
  8. He was one of the founding members of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).
  9. Vikram Sarabhai received the Padma Bhushanin 1966 for his contribution to India’s progress. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1972, posthumously.


Sources: pib.

Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Delhi’s odd- even rule


What to study?

For Prelims: Overview and features of odd- even rule.

For Mains: It’s performance, impact, outcomes and other measures necessary to fight the pollution.


Context: Odd-even road rationing scheme will be implemented in Delhi from November 4 to 15.


Need for the scheme:

The capital city of India is facing worst phase of pollution and it could lead to devastating effect if pollution remains untreated or inadequately treated. Although number of steps have been taken in this regard, strict implementation has been lackluster and inadequate. Further most of the actions themselves lack sound strategy and sustainability. Thus, is urgent need for evolving sustainable and effective measures.


What exactly is the odd-even vehicle rule? 

Private vehicles will be allowed to run across the city based on their registration numbers. For example, if a vehicle’s registration number ends with an odd digit, it will be allowed on the road on January 1, while that ending with an even number can be driven on the second, and so on.


Where did it come from?

  1. This system was implemented in Beijing in 2008 just before the summer Olympics. While the rule was initially said to be temporary, it turned out to be so effective the government made it permanent.
  2. Similar road-rationing rules are imposed in many places around the world like Paris, Mexico and Bogota to curb road jams and pollution.


Is it enough?

Experts say the efficacy of the scheme would depend much on the availability of public transport. If public transport is robust, the government would be in a position to include all vehicles in the scheme, including more than 60 lakh two-wheelers that contribute heavily to the city’s pollution.


Sources: the Hindu.



Facts for prelims:


Article 161:

  • Deals with Power of Governor to grant pardons, etc, and to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.
  • It states, the Governor of a State shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.


Air quality index:

  • Air Quality Index (AQI) is a tool for effective dissemination of air quality information to people.
  • There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.
  • AQI will consider eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.


Mount Kilimanjaro:

Context: Differently-abled man from Ernakulam district scales Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano in Tanzania.

  • It is the highest mountain in Africa, with its summit about 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) from its base, and 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level.
  • The first people known to have reached the summit of the mountain were Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller, in 1889.

Saharan silver ant:

  • Saharan silver ant is the fastest of the world’s 12,000 known ant species.
  • It clocks a blistering 855 millimetres — nearly a metre — per second.
  • It covers 108 times its own body length per second, a feat topped only by two other creatures, the Australian tiger beetle and the California coastal mite.

Web tax in Italy:

  • Italy has approved a new tax on digital companies as part of its 2020 draft budget.
  • The levy will oblige firms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, to pay a 3% levy on Internet transactions.


Mt Paektu:

  • Mount Paektu or Changbai (in Chinese) is a volcanic mountain that last erupted over 1,000 years ago.
  • Situated at the border between Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and China.
  • At a height of about 9,000 feet, it is also the highest peak in the Korean peninsula.
  • A reference to the mountain is made in the South Korean national anthem as well.


Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM):

Context: AFM, being referred to as a ‘polio-like condition’, has been tested negative for the polio virus, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States.

What is AFM?

  • It is a neurological illness. It is a weakness or paralysis of the limbs. In case of myelitis, there’s inflammation of the spinal cord. 
  • The symptoms of AFM, particularly, weakening of limbs, are similar to polio.
  • While the exact hasn’t been identified, the CDC believes that some virus may be the behind it.



It is a bilateral joint exercise between Indian Air Force and Royal Air Force Oman (RAFO).

The exercise will enhance inter-operability during mutual operations between the two Air Forces and will provide an opportunity to learn from each other’s best practices.


World’s first graduate-level research-based AI University:

  • To be set up in UAE.
  • Named after Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
  • This university will enable graduate students, governments and businesses to advance the artificial intelligence field.