Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 July 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 27 July 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Irom Sharmila to end fast, contest elections in Manipur


Sixteen years after starting her hunger strike demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, Irom Chanu Sharmila has decided to end it on August 9 and contest the Manipur Assembly elections as an Independent candidate.

Who is Irom Sharmila?

She is the woman crusader who has been on a fast-unto-death since November 2000 demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Manipur. She was also recently acquitted in a case of attempted suicide registered in 2006.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act:

It is an Act empowering armed forces to deal effectively in ‘Disturbed Areas’. Any area which is declared ‘Disturbed’ under the disturbed areas act enables armed forces to resort to the provisions of AFSPA.

Who declares an area as disturbed?

The choice of declaring any area as ‘disturbed’ vests both with state and central government.

Special powers provided to armed forces:

After an area comes under the ambit of AFSPA, any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or another person of equivalent rank can use force for a variety of reasons while still being immune to the prosecution.


The act was passed on 11 September 1958 by the parliament of India to provide special legal security to the armed forces carrying out operations in the troubled areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura (seven sisters).

  • In 1990 the act was extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir to confront the rising insurgency in the area.
  • In Manipur, despite opposition from the Central government, state government withdrew the Act in some parts in Aug, 2004.

The government can declare AFSPA in the following conditions:

  • When the local administration fails to deal with local issues and the police proves inefficient to cope with them.
  • When the scale of unrest or instability in the state is too large for the police to handle.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Blow to India as arbitration tribunal rules against Antrix


An international tribunal in The Hague has ruled against the Indian government over the cancellation of a contract between telecommunications firm Devas Multimedia and Antrix Corporation Ltd., in a decision that could cost the Centre billions of dollars in damages.


In 2005, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) commercial arm Antrix Corporation entered into an agreement with Devas to lease out satellite spectrum which the Bangalore-based company could use to provide high-quality telephony and Internet services. The deal involved Antrix committing to manufacturing and launching two ISRO satellites and then leasing nearly 70 MHz of S-band satellite spectrum to Devas for a period of 12 years. In return, Devas committed to paying upfront fees of a little over $30 million.

  • In 2011 however, a leaked draft audit report noted that there were potentially a number of irregularities in the agreement including conflict of interest, favouritism, financial mismanagement and non-compliance of standard operating procedures. While two committees that were set up to investigate the matter didn’t find evidence of a quid pro quo between ISRO and Devas, there were a number of procedural lapses that had apparently taken place.
  • Shortly after the controversy exploded, ISRO decided to annul the agreement, with newly appointed space chief K. Radhakrishnan stating that the S-band spectrum was needed for “larger national and strategic purposes”.

Tribunal’s observations:

current affairs

Source: Livemint

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague has ruled that the government’s actions in 2011 amounted to expropriation and that in annulling the ISRO-Devas contract, the country has breached treaty commitments to accord fair and equitable treatment to Devas’s foreign investors.

The PCA’s logic is essentially as follows: by annulling the contract and denying the commercial use of S-band spectrum, the Indian government has not only damaged the business interests of Devas but also expropriated the investments of the company’s foreign shareholders. This, the tribunal believes, makes the government liable to pay financial compensation.

About PCA:

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is an international organization based in The Hague, the Netherlands. The PCA was created in The Hague by treaty in 1899.

  • It is not a court and does not have permanent judges. The PCA is a permanent bureaucracy that assists temporary tribunals to resolve disputes among states (and similar entities), intergovernmental organizations, or even private parties arising out of international agreements.
  • The cases span a range of legal issues involving territorial and maritime boundaries, sovereignty, human rights, international investment, and international and regional trade.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


High-level panel to recast UGC, AICTE


The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has directed the high-level committee, headed by Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, to prepare a road map for reforming the two regulatory bodies in the field of education — the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) — as well as the board looking after Homeopathy and Ayurvedic education in the country.


The committee has already proposed the scrapping of Medical Council of India (MCI) and replacing it with the National Medical Commission (NMC). The main objective behind this is to end the inspector raj in the medical field in the country.


  • NMC will become the main regulatory body and will take over all roles and responsibilities of the MCI.
  • NMC will have eminent doctors and experts from related fields to suggest the direction that should be given to medical education in the country so as to ensure that the quality of education is at par with global standards.
  • NMC will have around 19-20 members and their tenure will be about five years. It will also have members from other fields such as economics, law, etc in a bid to inculcate more professionalism in the body.
  • It will have a chairman as well as there will be four Boards — Under Graduate Medical Board, Post Graduate Medical Board, Accreditation and Assessment Board and a board for registration of medical colleges as well monitoring of the ethics in the profession.
  • These boards will be given autonomy and they will work on the fields for which they are formed.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


So what if jallikattu is an age-old tradition


While asserting that it disapproves arguments that the ‘Jallikattu’ should be allowed because it’s centuries old, the Supreme Court has set August 30 as the final hearing date to decide on the constitutionality of Jallikattu.

Background:current affairs

The court’s strong response was after Tamil Nadu argued that Jallikattu – the mostly southern bull-racing sport – should be permitted as it showcases a cultural tradition that has been part of the custom and culture of people of the state for 5,000 years.

  • The Supreme Court already banned Jallikattu once, in May 2014. At the time it said bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for Jallikattu or for bullock-cart races. However, in January, the Centre allowed the ‘sport’ in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. It was seen as a pre-state election manoeuvre; state elections were held in Tamil Nadu in May.
  • Days after the Centre allowed it, in January, the Supreme Court put Jallikattu on hold. It issued notices to the Centre and other states asking them to file their responses in four weeks, to petitions challenging the central government’s notification allowing Jallikattu and bullock-cart races.


Jallikattu is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day. It is a Tamil tradition called ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ in Sangam literature(meaning, to embrace bulls), popular amongst warriors during the Tamil classical period.

  • Jallikattu is based on the concept of “flight or fight”. All castes participate in the event. The majority of jallikattu bulls belong to the pulikulam breed of cattle.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: infrastructure- energy.


Indo-U.S. expedition discovers natural gas in Indian Ocean


A large natural gas discovery has been made in the Indian Ocean following a joint expedition by India and the U.S., opening up a new resource to meet energy needs. India’s Oil Ministry and the U.S. Geological Survey made the discovery of large, highly enriched accumulations of natural gas hydrate — an icy form of the fuel — in the Bay of Bengal. This is the first discovery of its kind in the Indian Ocean that has the potential to be producible.

Natural gas hydrates:

Natural gas hydrates are a naturally occurring, ice-like combination of natural gas and water found in oceans and polar regions.

  • Gas hydrates are considered as vast resources of natural gas and are known to occur in marine sediments on continental shelf margins.
  • By nature this gas is mostly methane. Methane gas hydrate is stable at the seafloor at water depths beneath about 500 meters.

Their occurrence:

The amount of gas within the world’s gas hydrate accumulations is estimated to greatly exceed the volume of all known conventional gas resources. Gas hydrate resources in India are estimated at 1,894 trillion cubic meters and these deposits occur in Western, Eastern and Andaman offshore areas.

current affairs ias

  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gas hydrate deposits along ocean margins are estimated to exceed known petroleum reserves by about a factor of three.

Sources: the hindu.