Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 October 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 October 2016


Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Report on Palaeo Channel of North West India


The government has released a Report on Palaeo Channel of North West India.


What are Palaeochannels?

They are remnant of once active rivers/streams or in other words, are paths abandoned by rivers when they change their course either due to movement of tectonic plates or severe floods and cut new ones. Some of the palaeochannels lie buried under younger sediments.



Key facts:

  • The report has been prepared by an expert committee headed by Prof. K.S. Valdiya, eminent Geologist.
  • This report is based on the study of the land texture of states of North-West India including- Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab.
  • The committee has taken account of the geological changes that had occurred in the past while preparing the report.
  • During its six-month research period, the committee studied piles of sediments, their shapes and features which appeared to have been brought by a “big river” and are reminiscent to ones found in present-day Ghaggar, Ganga and Yamuna.


Significance of this report:

The report is an assertion of the assumption that River Saraswati originated from Adibadri in Himalaya to culminate in the Arabian Sea through the Runn of Kutch. This river was once upon a time the lifeline of the north- western states of India and a vibrant series of civilizations from Mahabharat period to Harappa had flourished on the banks of this river.


Important observations made by the report:

  • Saraswati river passed through Haryana, Rajasthan and North Gujarat. It also passed through Pakistan before meeting Western Sea through Rann of Kutch and was approximately 4,000 km in length.
  • One-third of the river stretch fell in present-day Pakistan. The longer, two-third stretch measuring nearly 3000 km in length fell in India.
  • The river had two branches: western and eastern. The Himalayan-born Satluj “of the PAST”, which flowed through the channels of present-day Ghaggar-Patialiwali rivulets, represents the western branch of the ancient river.
  • On the other hand, Markanda and Sarsuti represented the western branch of Saraswati, known as Tons-Yamuna.
  • The confluence of the branches was near Shatrana, 25 km south of Patiala. And suddenly, it flows crossing the dessert (Rann of Kutch) and meet gulf of western sea.


Suggestions made by the committee:

  • The committee has recommended that the government legislate a law to regulate extraction of water from palaeochannels in view of low rainfall in dry stretches and “reckless” exploitation of freshwater for irrigation and other purposes.
  • The panel suggested that it develop systematic database of all surface maps of palaeochannels and sub-surface stratigraphic data including geophysical surveys, borehole data, chemical quality and isotopic composition of groundwater in and around palaeochannel.
  • It also proposed launching of a mission to facilitate accurate estimation of groundwater reserves.
  • Among other, the committee has urged the government to make recharging as many “well-identified” palaeochannels as possible its “top priority”.


Way ahead:

The report will be studied by the Central Ground Water Board as well as the Experts in various ministries for its optimum use. Then, the report will be submitted before the Cabinet for further action.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Mining Surveillance System


The government has launched the Mining Surveillance System (MSS). It uses space technology for curbing illegal mining activity in the country.


What is it?

MSS is a satellite-based monitoring system which aims to establish a regime of responsive mineral administration, through public participation, by curbing instances of illegal mining activity through automatic remote sensing detection technology.


Who developed it?

Ministry of Mines, through Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), has developed the MSS, in coordination with Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics (BISAG), Gandhinagar and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY).


Significance of MSS:

Developed under the Digital India Programme, MSS is one of the first such surveillance systems developed in the world using space technology. The current system of monitoring of illegal mining activity is based on local complaints and unconfirmed information. There is no robust mechanism to monitor the action taken on such complaints.


How it operates?

In the MSS the maps of the mining leases have been geo-referenced. The geo-referenced mining leases are superimposed on the latest satellite remote sensing scenes obtained from CARTOSAT & USGS.

  • The system checks a region of 500 meters around the existing mining lease boundary to search for any unusual activity which is likely to be illegal mining. Any discrepancy if found is flagged-off as a trigger.
  • Automatic software leveraging image processing technology will generate automatic triggers of unauthorized activities. These triggers will be studied at a Remote Sensing Control Centre of IBM and then transmitted to the district level mining officials for field verification. A check for illegality in operation in conducted and reported back using a mobile app.
  • A user-friendly mobile app has been created which can be used by these officials to submit compliance reports of their inspections. The mobile app also aims to establish a participative monitoring system where the citizens also can use this app and report unusual mining activity.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


National Summit on Fortification of Food


The National Summit on Fortification of Food to address interventions in combating micronutrient malnutrition in the country was recently inaugurated.


Key facts:

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is co-hosting the two day Summit in partnership with related central ministries / departments and development partners.
  • The Summit will bring together experts from the nutrition and development communities as well as representatives from state governments, academics, technical supporters and donors to beneficiaries past and present.
  • It provides a platform to discuss and debate – presenting in-depth analysis and impact assessments, important and case study examples of food fortification programs as well as learnings and challenges to build on so effective food fortification efforts can carry on delivering in the future.
  • There will be a number of themes including the roles of industry, government, academia and civil society; improving compliance and measurement; cost-benefit analysis; modelling potential for impact and the required investments.



Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food. Food fortification is a proven and effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society, including the poor and underprivileged as well as the vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children.

Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance. It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food. It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time. It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms.

Food fortification reinforces and supports existing nutrition improvement programmes and is part of a broader, integrated approach to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, thereby complementing other approaches to improve health and nutrition.


Food fortification in India:

Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’. These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods. The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory. This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Kigali makes history with HFC freeze


197 countries have struck a new landmark deal at Kigali in Rwanda to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which could prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by year 2100.




  • The announcement came at Kigali where 197 countries that are party to the Montreal Protocol were trying to negotiate a deal to substantially reduce the use of HFCs by 2030.
  • The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is legally binding.
  • The agreement at Kigali came after seven years of negotiations under which the 197 Montreal Protocol parties reached a compromise wherein developed countries will start to phase down HFCs by 2019.
  • Developing countries will follow with a freeze of HFCs consumption levels in 2024, with some countries freezing consumption in 2028. By the late 2040s, all countries are expected to consume no more than 15-20% of their respective baselines. Overall, the agreement is expected to reduce HFC use by 85% by 2045.
  • As per the agreement, China, which is the largest producer of HFCs in the world, will reduce HFC use by 80% by 2045 over the 2020-22 baseline. India will reduce the use of HFCs by 85% over the 2024-26 baseline.
  • The countries negotiating at Kigali also agreed to provide adequate financing for HFCs reduction—which runs in billions of dollars globally. The exact amount of additional funding will be agreed at the next meeting of the Parties in Montreal, in 2017.
  • The amendment will enter into force on 1 January, 2019, provided that at least 20 instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval of the Amendment have been deposited by states or regional economic integration organisations that are parties to the Montreal Protocol on substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.


What is the Montreal Protocol?

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer is a landmark international agreement designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. The treaty was originally signed in 1987 and substantially amended in 1990 and 1992.

The Montreal Protocol, which came into force in 1989, is aimed at reducing the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to protect the earth’s fragile ozone layer.



Commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning as substitutes for ozone-depleting substances, HFCs are currently the world’s fastest growing greenhouse gases, their emissions increasing by up to 10% each year. They are also one of the most powerful, trapping thousands of times more heat in the Earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).

Growth of HFCs has mainly been driven by a growing demand for cooling, particularly in developing countries with a fast-expanding middle class and hot climates.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


BRICS meet declaration pledges to fight terror


The 8th BRICS summit has ended with the adoption of the Goa Declaration.

The theme for the summit was “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions”.


Key highlights of the Goa declaration:

  • The Declaration urged the dismantling of terror bases and said nations should adopt a comprehensive approach that includes tackling radicalisation, recruitment, cutting off terror funding systems and address terrorism on the internet and social media. The declaration mention ISIS, Al Qaeda and Jubhat ul Nusra.
  • The declaration calls for a “holistic approach” and says all counter-terrorism measures should “uphold international law and respect human rights”.
  • The declaration also emphasized the need for adaptation of Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly and the urgent need to reform the United Nations, including UN Security Council, to increase representation of developing countries.
  • It also expressed its confidence in resolving international problems that require collective efforts for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means.
  • The declaration also condemned unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognised norms of international relations.
  • Concerns about the situation in the Middle East and North Africa were also expressed. BRICS countries have expressed their support for finding ways to the settlement of the crises in accordance with international law and in conformity with the principles of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries of the region.

Sources: pib.


Facts for Prelims



  • Brazil has lifted the 1st BRICS U-17 Football Tournament 2016. In the Finals they defeated South Africa 5-1.
  • India hosted the first BRICS U-17 Football Tournament. It was held in Goa.
  • The tournament was played among the ‘BRICS’ countries Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

S-400 missile systems:

  • India and Russia have signed a deal on S-400 missile systems, a game-changer in countering airborne threats.
  • Designed by the Almaz-Antey Central Design Bureau, the S-400 Triumf, referred to as SA-21 Growler by NATO, is considered one of the most advanced long-range defence systems in the world.

    S-400 missile system

    Source: The Aviationist

  • It can tackle all airborne targets at a range of up to 400 km. The system has 8 launchers, a control centre, a powerful radar and 16 missiles that are available for reload.
  • The system is capable of firing three types of missiles, hence creating a layered defence for any country that owns it.
  • The S-400 would help check short and medium range ballistic missile threats.
  • India is the second purchaser of this system after China, which had struck a deal with Russia for S-400 last year.


  • India and Russia have signed a deal to jointly produce 200 Kamov Ka-226T helicopters, at the India Russia Summit in Goa. The helicopters are believed to boost the capabilities of the armed forces.
  • Kamov 226T will replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak choppers.Kamov Ka-226T helicopters
  • Kamov is a small, twin engine Russian utility helicopter. It is manufactured by Russian Helicopters.
  • This light multipurpose helicopter has a maximum takeoff weight of 3.6 tons. It can carry up to one ton payload. It has a maximum speed 220 Km/hr.
  • The machine has excellent maneuverability and handling, easy maintenance.

Manned mission by China:

  • China has successfully launched longest-ever manned mission by taking two astronauts into the orbit. They were launched on board of Shenzhou-11 spacecraft.
  • The spacecraft was put into orbit by a Long March-2F carrier rocket.
  • Both astronauts will spend a month aboard an experimental space laboratory Tiangong-2.
  • During the mission, they will conduct aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance with human participation. They will also undertake ultrasound tests during space travel for the first time and cultivate plants in space.
Long March-2F

Long March-2F