Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 March 2018

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 06 March 2018


Paper 1:

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


6th editon of India by the Nile festival

Context: Sixth edition of the India by the Nile (IBN) festival 2018 is being held in Cairo, Egypt.


About India by the Nile festival:

  • The annual festival showcases a range of Indian cultural output, including contemporary and classical music, dance, puppet theatre, visual arts, food and yoga.
  • It is the biggest foreign festival in Egypt and encourages artistic collaborations between the two countries.
  • This year, the festival will also bring two new events, a fashion show and screening of the Indian movies.
  • The festival is organised by the Embassy of India in Egypt and the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture in collaboration with entertainment company Teamwork Arts.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: India by the Nile festival.
  • For Mains: Cultural linkages between India and Egypt.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Special Status To Andhra Pradesh

Context: Andhra Pradesh government has asked the Centre to expedite resolution of all provisions in the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, including according special category status to the state.



Andhra Pradesh has been demanding a Special Category State (SCS) status from Centre ever since it was decided to carve out Telangana along with capital city Hyderabad. Following the bifurcation of A.P., Andhra lost a large volume of its revenue due to Hyderabad remaining the capital of Telangana.


What is SCS?

The Constitution does not include any provision for categorisation of any State in India as a Special Category Status (SCS) State. But, recognising that some regions in the country were historically disadvantaged in contrast to others, Central plan assistance to SCS States has been granted in the past by the erstwhile Planning Commission body, National Development Council (NDC).

The NDC granted this status based on a number of features of the States which included: hilly and difficult terrain, low population density or the presence of sizeable tribal population, strategic location along international borders, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of State finances.


What kind of assistance do SCS States receive?

The SCS States used to receive block grants based on the Gadgil-Mukherjee formula, which effectively allowed for nearly 30 per cent of the Total Central Assistance to be transferred to SCS States as late as 2009-10.

  • Following the constitution of the NITI Aayog (after the dissolution of the Planning Commission) and the recommendations of the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC), Central plan assistance to SCS States has been subsumed in an increased devolution of the divisible pool to all States (from 32% in the 13th FC recommendations to 42%) and do not any longer appear in plan expenditure.
  • The FFC also recommended variables such as “forest cover” to be included in devolution, with a weightage of 7.5 in the criteria and which could benefit north-eastern States that were previously given SCS assistance. Besides, assistance to Centrally Sponsored Schemes for SCS States was given with 90% Central share and 10% State share.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Special Category Status.
  • For Mains: SCS- need, issues, challenges and solutions.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.


Cooperative Election Authority


Context: The Haryana government has announced that a Cooperative Election Authority would be set up in the State for supervising the election process in cooperative bodies.


Constitution 97th Amendment Act:

The Constitution (Ninety Seventh Amendment) Act 2011 relating to the co-operatives is aimed to encourage economic activities of cooperatives which in turn help progress of rural India. It is expected to not only ensure autonomous and democratic functioning of cooperatives, but also the accountability of the management to the members and other stakeholders. As per the amendment the changes done to constitution are:

  • In Part III of the constitution, after words “or unions” the words “Cooperative Societies” was added.
  • In Part IV a new Article 43B was inserted, which says: The state shall endeavour to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of the co-operative societies”.
  • After Part IXA of the constitution, a Part IXB was inserted to accommodate state vs centre roles.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Cooperative bodies- constitutional provisions, cooperative election authority.
  • For Mains: Cooperative bodies- significance and their need, 97th


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.


Panel to study issues in Fintech space

Context: The Centre has set up a steering committee to go into various issues relating to Fintech space in India. The committee will be headed by Subhash Chandra Garg, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs.

Terms of reference:

  • The committee will work with government agencies such as UIDAI to explore creation and use of unique enterprise identification number.
  • It will also look into the possibility of international co-operation opportunities in Fintech with countries such as Singapore, the U.K., China and others.
  • The committee will consider means of using data with GSTN and data residing with information utilities such as credit information companies (CICs) and others in open domain with a view to developing applications for financing of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
  • It will also develop regulatory interventions e.g., regulatory sandbox model, that will enhance the role of Fintech in sectors identified for focused interventions. The ideas is to facilitate ease of doing business in the Fintech sector.


What is Fintech?

Fintech Or financial technology is the industry known for championing software and technology in the financial sector. A very broad term, it includes anything from a bank ATM, to software used to help spot manipulation of securities markets.


Why is it important?

India has a large population of non-city folk, many million small enterprises and any number of small borrowers without any credit history, who today cannot knock at the banks’ doors for loans. It is therefore said to be just ripe for a Fintech revolution. To help things along, the Government is expediting this by promoting the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhar, Mobile).

The reason why banking bigwigs are watching these developments like hawks is that Fintech has enormous power to disrupt old-world banks. They mostly function as online bazaars that simply put borrowers in touch with lenders or entrepreneurs with investors, while they pocket a fee on each transaction.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Subhash Chandra Garg panel.
  • For Mains: FinTech- potential applications.


Sources: et.

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


Dispute Settlement Body (DSB)

Context: The World Trade Organisation’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has agreed to India’s request for setting up a panel to determine whether the country complied with a previous ruling striking down its domestic content requirements for solar cells and modules.


What’s the issue?

In 2016, New Delhi had lost a case against the US at the WTO after the global trade body stated that power purchase agreements signed by the Indian government with solar firms for its National Solar Mission did not meet international trade norms.

  • The US, which is of the opinion that New Delhi continues to apply the “WTO-inconsistent measures”, had in December last year approached the Geneva-based multi-lateral organisation demanding action against India for non-compliance of the WTO ruling.
  • India, however, has been maintaining that it has complied with the WTO’s ruling. India had requested the WTO to set up a panel to determine its compliance with the rulings of the dispute.


Dispute Settlement Body:

The General Council convenes as the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to deal with disputes between WTO members. Such disputes may arise with respect to any agreement contained in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round that is subject to the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU).

The DSB has authority to establish dispute settlement panels, refer matters to arbitration, adopt panel, Appellate Body and arbitration reports, maintain surveillance over the implementation of recommendations and rulings contained in such reports, and authorize suspension of concessions in the event of non-compliance with those recommendations and rulings.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Dispute settlement body, National solar mission.
  • For Mains: India – US Solar panel dispute.


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.


CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN)

What is it? Airbus, an aeronautics company based in Netherlands, is developing CIMON (Crew Interactive MObile CompanioN), an AI-based space assistant for Germany’s DLR Space Administration.

Context: Described by its creators as a “flying brain”, this 3D-printed artificial intelligence system will soon join the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to assist astronauts. It will tested during the European Space Agency’s Horizons mission between June and October this year.


About CIMON:

  • CIMON will be the first AI-based mission and flight assistance system. The entire structure of CIMON is made up of plastic and metal, created using 3D printing.
  • CIMON has a brain-like AI network and is designed to support astronauts in performing routine work, for example by displaying procedures or offering solutions to problems. With its face, voice and artificial intelligence, becomes a genuine ‘colleague’ on board.
  • Applications: With CIMON, crew members can do more than just work through a schematic view of prescribed checklists and procedures; they can also engage with their assistant. CIMON makes work easier for the astronauts when carrying out every day routine tasks, helps to increase efficiency, facilitates mission success and improves security, as it can also serve as an early warning system for technical problems.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: CIMON.
  • For Mains: AI- applications in various fields.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Marshall Islands to launch world-first digital legal tender

Context: The Marshall Islands will launch the world’s first legal tender cryptocurrency. A law in this regard has been passed by the parliament.


Key facts:

  • The Marshall Islands has partnered with Israeli company Neema to issue 24 million units of the Sovereign (SOV) digital currency.
  • The SOV will require users to identify themselves, thus avoiding the anonymity that has kept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from gaining support from governments.


How is it different from ‘Petro’ cryptocurrency?

Venezuela had launched the Petro cryptocurrency in February. Unlike the Petro, the Sovereign (SOV) will be recognized in law as legal tender, holding equal status as the US dollar, which is the Pacific island nation’s current currency.



Plans for possible sovereign cryptocurrencies have gained momentum in recent months, as digital tokens launched by private companies have jumped in value. Several governments, including China, Estonia, and Iran, have discussed plans for their own digital currency.


How are cryptocurrencies used?

Cryptocurrency is fundamentally a decentralised digital currency transferred directly between peers and the transactions are confirmed in a public ledger, accessible to all the users. The process of maintaining this ledger and validating the transactions, better known as mining, is carried out in a decentralised manner. The underlying principle of the authenticity of the present to historical transactions is cryptographic proof, instead of trust; different from how it happens in the case of traditional banking systems.


Concerns associated:

Cryptocurrencies are being denounced in many countries because of their use in grey and black markets. There are two sets of interconnected risks; one being to the growth and expansion of these platforms in the uncertain policy environment, and the other being the risks these platforms pose to the users and the security of the state. They also have the potential use for Illicit Trade and Criminal Activities and can be used for Terror Financing.


Way ahead:

The future and further success of cryptocurrencies depends upon the way regulatory frameworks are devised. Different countries have approached this innovation in different ways, and therefore the regulatory environment remains uncertain. The governments will have to take considered steps, given the risks from possible use of cryptocurrencies in terror financing, money laundering and tax evasion.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: SOV, Petro.
  • For Mains: Cryptocurrencies- their usage, challenges, management and challenges.


Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:


India remains 12th largest foreign holder of US govt securities:

Context: According to latest official data, India is the 12th largest overseas holder of US government securities, just behind oil rich Saudi Arabia, whose holding stood at USD 147.4 billion in December 2017.

Background: The holding of India went up to USD 144.7 billion in December last, an increase of little over USD 26 billion compared to the year-ago period.

Top 3: In 2017, neighbouring China was the largest holder of US government securities with holdings to the tune of USD 1.18 trillion, followed by Japan at USD 1.06 trillion. At the third position was Ireland whose exposure rose to USD 326.5 billion.


India’s first helitaxi launched in Bengaluru:

Context: IT capital Bengaluru has become the first city in the country to have a HeliTaxi. The first helitaxi service is being provided by a Bell 407 helicopter.


Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam:


Context: The two-day national seminar “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” was recently conducted at New Delhi. The seminar was organised to spread the message that indigenous values and teachings of Vedas can only help India achieve its lost glory and attain the status of “Vishwa Guru” once again.

Meaning of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: It is a Sanskrit phrase found in Hindu texts such as the Maha Upanishad, which means “the world is one family”.



What is it? It is a new malware detected by cybersecurity agencies.

How it affects? It is capable of taking over electronic devices and turning them into ‘bots’, which can then be used for any purpose, including a Distributed Denial of Service attack which, with enough firepower, can cripple entire industries.