Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 December 2016

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 December 2016


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


NGT bans open waste burning


The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed a complete ban on burning of waste in open places, including at landfill sites and announced a fine of Rs. 25,000 on each incident of bulk waste burning.


What else has the NGT said?

  • All State governments and Union Territories shall prepare an action plan in terms of the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 and implement within four weeks. The action plan would relate to the management and disposal of waste in the entire State. The steps are required to be taken in a time-bound manner.
  • Plants for processing and disposal of waste and selection and specifications of landfill sites which have to be constructed, be prepared and maintained strictly in accordance with the Rules of 2016.
  • Non-biodegradable waste and non-recyclable plastic should be segregated from the landfill sites and should be used for construction of roads and embankments in all road projects.



The green panel’s judgement came on a petition seeking directions to local bodies in states and the Centre for improving solid waste management methods.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


China launches satellite to monitor global carbon emissions


China has launched a global carbon dioxide monitoring satellite to understand climate change.


Key facts:

  • The 620-kg satellite TanSat was put into orbit by Long March-2D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China’s Gobi Desert.
  • Besides TanSat, the rocket also carried a high-resolution micro-nano satellite and two spectrum micro-nano satellites for agricultural and forestry monitoring.
  • The satellite was sent into a sun synchronous orbit about 700 kms above the earth and will monitor the concentration, distribution and flow of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
  • The satellite will help understanding climate change and provide China’s policy makers with independent data.Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre
  • On a three-year mission, TanSat will thoroughly examine global carbon dioxide levels every 16 days, accurate to at least 4 ppm (parts per million).
  • The new satellite will enable China to obtain emissions data first-hand and share it with researchers worldwide.
  • The satellite can trace the sources of greenhouse gases and help evaluate whether countries are fulfilling their commitments.
  • TanSat means a louder voice for China on climate change, carbon reduction and in negotiations with a bigger say on carbon trading.


Significance of this mission:

This was the 243rd mission of the Long March series rockets. China is the third country after Japan and the US to monitor greenhouse gases through its own satellite.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Cabinet approves ordinance to pay salaries via cheques


The Centre recently approved the promulgation of an ordinance to enable industries to pay wages by cheque or by direct credit into bank accounts of workers earning up to Rs. 18,000 a month, without taking their explicit consent as required under the present 1936 law.


Key facts:

  • The ordinance proposes changes to Section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act of 1936. The Centre or State governments may specify the industry through official notifications where the payment of wages shall be through cheques or direct credit in bank accounts.
  • Wage payment through the banking system would only be optional, until State governments or the Centre come up with a notification for specific industries. The current provisions of payment of wages through cash will remain.


Significance of this move:

The move assumes significance in the context of the government’s efforts to promote cashless transactions after its decision to scrap the old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes.



The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 15, but it couldn’t be cleared owing to the impasse in Parliament. The present law states that all payment of wages should be in cash, with a provision asking employers to obtain written permission of the worker to pay either by cheque, or by crediting the wages to his or her bank account.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Centre recasts panel helping Krishna Board


The Centre has reconstituted a committee that was tasked with assisting the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB).


Key facts:

  • The new committee will be headed by A.K. Bajaj, former chairman of the Central Water Commission.
  • The committee is tasked with assisting the Krishna River Management Board prepare a manual on how projects, common to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, ought to be handled.
  • It also has to weigh in on how the Godavari waters ought to be transferred to the Krishna Basin in accordance with the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal Award.



The committee’s reconstitution comes even as the Board ruled that Krishna water be divided 70:30 between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for the coming month. The Telangana government has strongly objected to this.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Digital hurdles


According to a new SBI report, card transactions have fallen to a nine-month low, posing a new challenge to the government’s demonetisation drive.

  • According to the report, the aggregate of debit and card transactions at point of source (PoS) terminals fell to a little more than Rs 35,000 crore in November, the lowest since February.



  • That the decline happened even when most banks have reported an increase in the number of transactions involving swipe cards after the announcement of the demonetisation drive throws up issues which the government must address.
  • It signifies a fall in consumer sentiment. People seem to be using their debit and credit cards for purchases of relatively inexpensive items, while there has been a sharp fall in big ticket purchases. This does not augur well for the economy.


Challenges to digital push:

  • A PoS machine costs between Rs 4,000 and Rs 8,000. There are low cost options but these require the use of smartphones. Given that only about 250 million people in the country have such phones, it’s difficult to imagine that the seemingly low cost options will be adopted without sound incentives.
  • The government took more than a month to announce incentives for cashless transactions. But these incentives did not address the problems at the level of digital infrastructure.
  • Also, people prefer making their purchases in cash because they are not convinced about data safety in digital transactions. In fact, a security breach a few weeks before the demonetisation drive had forced the SBI to recall more than three lakh debit cards.


What needs to be done?

  • The report points to the necessity of bolstering the digital transaction infrastructure. There are about 15 lakh PoS machines in the country. The report points out that the country needs an additional 20 lakh such machines. A vast majority of these should be in tier II and tier III cities, and in rural areas.
  • The government should bring in a privacy law with strong liability clauses to allay people’s fears. All this should be accompanied by robust awareness drives, hardly in evidence so far.
  • Bank officials have to play a major role in this endeavour. But they have their hands full in the aftermath of demonetisation.


Way ahead:

The SBI report is a warning that the economy needs a push. Sound digital infrastructure and robust privacy laws could be the first steps in that direction.   

Sources: ie.


Paper 2 Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.


In it for the short haul


According to a study, the average turnover of the members of the Uttar Pradesh state assembly between 1957 and 2012 was 58.5%. In other words, it means that on an average, nearly 60% of the members of the legislative assembly are first-time MLAs, in every assembly.

  • This number is high if one compares UP with most other democracies, where individual incumbency is the norm rather than the exception. In the United States Congress, for instance, individual incumbency can be as high as 90%, the incumbent candidate benefiting from their established reputation and party support.


What’s the main concern now?

In India, the phenomenon of anti-incumbency, or the propensity of voters to reject those they elected in the previous election, is well known. Even if governmental incumbency has increased in India in recent years, UP remains highly volatile: No government there has served two consecutive mandates since 1985.


Reasons behind this volatility:

  • The first reason is that less than half of incumbent MLAs re-run after their first election, as parties frequently deny them a ticket for their own re-election. Parties may do so to prevent anti-incumbency, or to punish non-performing representatives. They may also change their local caste alliance and ditch their representatives accordingly.
  • The second reason for the high turnover is that in every election, a number of sitting MLAs change party affiliation, hoping to join a stronger party.
  • The third reason for high individual anti-incumbency comes from voters themselves, who tend to reject the people they voted for in the previous election.


This state of affairs has three important political consequences:

  • The first is that the assembly has to work with a majority of inexperienced MLAs. One can laud the democratic value of alternation or of the rapid renewal of political elites, but a high turnover of representatives means a loss of accumulated experience after every election.
  • A second consequence is that, considering the costs incurred and the hardships undergone to enter into politics, a short political life expectancy acts as a powerful inducement for predatory behaviour. In other words, legislators who spent crores of rupees to get elected know that they have a little less than five years to recoup their investment.
  • A third consequence is that political power tends to be concentrated within a few hands, as the stable political class, or those who succeed in being elected more than twice, comprises on average about a hundred individuals at any point of time since Independence.

Sources: ie.


Facts for Prelims


Google Maps Toilet Locator App:

  • It is a mobile app recently launched by the government to enable people to locate the nearest public toilet for use in five cities in National Capital Region and Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
  • This facility now available in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida and the two cities of Madhya Pradesh would help in addressing open urination and open defecation.
  • The App also gives information about the nature of the toilet seat available, free or pay for use, working hours etc. This facility will be extended to other cities in due course. Ministry of Urban Development has partnered with Google to enable this service.


National Mathematics Day:

  • The National Mathematics Day is observed every year on 22nd December to celebrate birth anniversary of Indian Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.
  • 2016 marks the 129th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan.
  • He compiled more than 3,900 mathematical results and equations. His Ramanujam Prime and Ramanujam theta discoveries had also inspired further research on the subject.
  • With almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions.
  • The Ramanujan Journal, an international publication, was launched to publish work in all areas of mathematics influenced by his work.
  • Ramanujan’s home state of Tamil Nadu celebrates 22 December as ‘State IT Day’, memorialising both the man and his achievements, as a native of Tamil Nadu.