Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Events, 09 July 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 09 July 2015


Centre wants to break forex reserves

The central government is examining if India’s foreign exchange reserves held by the Reserve Bank can be deployed for funding infrastructure projects or recapitalising public sector banks.

  • According to rough estimates of the Finance Ministry, bad loans-ridden banks would require capital infusion of about Rs. 40,000 crore over two years.
  • India’s forex reserves is doing pretty well. Recently, it touched a record $355.46 billion.

However, as of now, the proposal does not enjoy unanimous support within the government. The government doesn’t own the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

But, can the government deploy these reserves?

  • According to a former RBI Governor, the government could deploy the reserves held by the central bank for recapitalisation of banks. The government could also draw from the RBI’s balance sheet for this objective.

However, the procedure might not be easy for the government to do so as the Board of the Reserve Bank had to approve it. Even the RBI would be unwilling to deploy reserves for scuh risky purposes by compromising BoP.

Forex reserves – Quick look:

Foreign exchange reserves are an important component of the balance of payments and an essential element in the analysis of an economy’s external position.

  • The components of India’s foreign exchange reserves are foreign currency assets (FCA), gold, SDRs and reserve tranche position (RTP) in the IMF.
  • Foreign Currency Assets (FCA) is the biggest component of the forex reserves.

Sources: The Hindu, RBI.


India to contribute $18 billion to BRICS’ $100-billion foreign exchange reserves pool

India is all set to contribute $18 billion to the $100 billion foreign-exchange reserves pool that is being set up by five nations of the BRICS grouping.


  • To help each other “in case of any problems with dollar liquidity”.


  • The Agreement on setting BRICS Pool of Conventional Currency Reserves was signed on July 15, 2014 at the summit in Fortaleza (Brazil). The agreement was signed in Moscow after a meeting of the Finance Ministers and heads of the central banks of the BRICS countries.
  • The operational agreement regarding this was signed by the central banks of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on July 7, 2015 in Moscow. The Operational Agreement details the working procedures of the Pool to be observed by BRICS central banks, and defines their rights and obligations.
  • The Agreement outlines the terms of mutual support for member states in the framework of the Agreement on BRICS Pool of Conventional Currency Reserves.

About the Pool:

  • The pool is being set up according to an agreement signed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
  • It will be a $100 billion pool, with maximum $41 billion coming from China.
  • India’s contribution of $18 billion to the Pool will be same as that of Brazil and Russia. South Africa would chip in $5 billion.
  • The fund will be an “insurance instrument” that members nations could draw on if they experience problems with their balance of payments.
  • The Pool will go into force on July 30.
  • The Pool is tasked to ensure mutual provision of US dollars by the central banks of BRICS members in case of any problems with dollar liquidity.
  • The Pool would help BRICS members to maintain financial stability in case of volatility in dollar exchange rate.

The BRICS nations account for nearly $16 trillion in GDP and 40 per cent of the world’s population.

Sources: ET.


Racist slur can land you in jail for 5 years

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs recently told the Delhi High Court that it has decided to amend the Indian Penal Code to make “racial discrimination” a non-bailable criminal offence.

  • Accordingly, any derogatory reference meant to discriminate against the race of a person from the Northeast or any other part of the country will become a non-bailable offence with punishment of up to five years in jail.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is in the process of finalising a comprehensive Bill for insertion of new Sections 153C and 509A in the Indian Penal Code, which will be introduced in Parliament after inter-Ministerial consultation.

What the Law says?

  • Under the amended law, any word, sign or gesture insulting the race of a person will be punishable with a three-year prison term.
  • Any word, gesture, written statement or activity aimed at discriminating against the race of a person or promoting violence against a particular race will invite a prison term of five years.


  • Concerned over the spate of attacks on people from the Northeast in Delhi, the High Court had earlier asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to change the existing SC/ST Act or make other stronger prosecuting laws to protect the victims.
  • The Central government had set up the M.K. Bezbaruah committee which recommended a series of punitive actions to prevent such attacks. The ministry has accepted most of the recommendations made by the committee.

Sources: The Hindu.


Modi, Putin discuss India’s accession to Shanghai block

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin recently resolved to take strategic bilateral ties forward and discussed India’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

  • Modi is in Russia primarily for BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summits.
  • India is currently an observer in the multilateral grouping.

About the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):

It is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries, except for Uzbekistan, had been members of the Shanghai Five, founded in 1996; after the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation.

  • The SCO is seen as a counter to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
  • Its six full members account for 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a quarter of the world’s. With observer states included, its affiliates account for about half of the world’s population.
  • The SCO has established relations with the United Nations, where it is an observer in the General Assembly, the European Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
  • It also has Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observers, and Belarus, Sri Lanka and Turkey as dialogue partners.

The Hindu, Wiki.


Entire Nagaland declared as ‘disturbed area’

The Centre has declared entire Nagaland as a “disturbed area”.


  • The centre says that it finds that a “dangerous condition” prevails in Nagaland and armed forces should assist the civil administration in maintaining law and order.


  • The centre declared Nagaland as a disturbed area in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 for a period of one year with effect from June 30, 2015.
  • The decision came almost a month after NSCN-K, the dominant Naga rebel group, attacked an army convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district and killed 18 soldiers.

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.

In an area declared, “disturbed” an army officer is legally free to carry out following operations:

  • Fire upon or otherwise use force, even to the causing of death, against any person who is acting in contravention of any law” against “assembly of five or more persons” or possession of deadly weapons.
  • Destroy any shelter (private or govt.) from which armed attacks are made or likely to be made or attempted to be made.
  • Arrest any person without warrant who has committed a cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed or is about to commit a cognizable offence.
  • Enter and search, without warrant, any premises for purpose of arrest or to recover any person, arms, explosives.
  • Search and seize any vehicle suspected to be carrying an offender or any person against whom any reasonable suspicion exists that he has or is about to commit an offence.
  • Provide legal immunity to the army personnel found involved in any violation or ethical breach i.e., they cannot be sued or prosecuted.

The decision of the government to declare a particular area ‘disturbed’ cannot be challenged in a court of law. In 2005 the Jeevan Reddy Commission said that AFSPA should be repealed and the clauses that are required should be included in other Acts.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, ET, NDTV.


NGT order may affect 80 projects in Tamil Nadu

The National Green Tribunal has set aside an office memorandum by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) that allows post-facto clearance for projects. With this nearly 80 construction projects in Tamil Nadu are likely to come to a standstill.

  • The projects require prior environmental clearance as per the Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 2006. Most of the projects had commenced construction and then sought environmental clearance, while a few had applied for clearance, but started construction before sanction was given.
  • The Tribunal has come down on seven of the project proponents who impleaded in the case.

About the National Green Tribunal (NGT)

The National Green Tribunal has been established under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010 for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.

  • The tribunal also deals with matters relating to the enforcement of any legal right relating to environment and giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property.
  • The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.
  • The Tribunal’s dedicated jurisdiction in environmental matters shall provide speedy environmental justice and help reduce the burden of litigation in the higher courts.
  • The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.


  • The sanctioned strength of the tribunal is currently 10 expert members and 10 judicial members although the act allows for up to 20 of each.
  • The Chairman of the tribunal who is the administrative head of the tribunal also serves as a judicial member.
  • Every bench of the tribunal must consist of at least one expert member and one judicial member. The Chairman of the tribunal is required to be a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court of India.
  • Members are chosen by a selection committee (headed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India) that reviews their applications and conducts interviews.
  • The Judicial members are chosen from applicants who are serving or retired judges of High Courts. Expert members are chosen from applicants who are either serving or retired bureaucrats not below the rank of an Additional Secretary to the Government of India (not below the rank of Principal Secretary if serving under a state government) with a minimum administrative experience of five years in dealing with environmental matters. Or, the expert members must have a doctorate in a related field.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, NGT.


NJAC: SC seeks details of States’ ratification

The Supreme Court has sought details from the Centre about the ratification process of the 99th Constitution Amendment incorporating the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) law by State Assemblies.

  • The Centre had earlier told the court that as many as 20 states have approved the Constitutional amendment to replace the Collegium system with the NJAC.


NJAC is a body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. It seeks to replace the collegium system of appointing the judges of Supreme Court and 24 High Courts with judicial appointments commission wherein the executive will have a say in appointing the judges.


  • A new article, Article 124A, (which provides for the composition of the NJAC) will be inserted into the Constitution.
  • The NJAC Act also seeks changes in articles 124,217,222 and 231.

The commission will consist of the following members:

  • Chief Justice of India (Chairperson, ex officio)
  • Two other senior judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India – ex officio
  • The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio
  • Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.

Functions of the Commission:

  • Recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India, Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts and other Judges of High Courts.
  • Recommending transfer of Chief Justices and other Judges of High Courts from one High Court to any other High Court.
  • Ensuring that the persons recommended are of ability and integrity.

Under the present Collegium system, the Chief Justice of India would consult the four senior most judges of the Supreme Court for Supreme Court appointments and two senior-most judges for high court appointments.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, IE.


Australian Gets Fatal ‘One-In-A-Million’ Brain Disease

An Australian has been diagnosed with the rare, degenerative brain condition sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

About Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD):

  • CJD is a rare, degenerative disease of the brain that is not linked to the consumption of meat and occurs in one in a million people per year in Australia.
  • CJD is caused by an agent called a prion. Prions are misfolded proteins that replicate by converting their properly folded counterparts, in their host, to the same misfolded structure they possess.
  • It has no treatment or cure and the disease is fatal within weeks or months after the onset of symptoms.
  • CJD has been likened to mad cow disease.
  • Most cases of CJD occur because of mutations with a person’s brain and are not spread from other people.
  • The first symptom of CJD is rapidly progressive dementia, leading to memory loss, personality changes, and hallucinations. Other frequently occurring features include anxiety, depression, paranoia, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and psychosis. This is accompanied by physical problems such as speech impairment, jerky movements (myoclonus), balance and coordination dysfunction (ataxia), changes in gait, rigid posture, and seizures.
  • As of now, no generally accepted treatment for CJD exists.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.


Invasive species of snail spotted on Goa varsity campus

The Giant African Land Snail (GALS) was spotted on the campus of Goa University at Taleigao, near Panaji, recently.

  • It is listed as one of the world’s 100 most invasive species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
  • This species is one of the most damaging land snails in the world.

Why is it a cause for concern?

If these snails multiply, there will be a threat to agro-horticulture and public health since they act as a vector of human diseases like Eosinophilic meningitis, which is caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a parasite that nematode commonly resides in the pulmonary arteries of rats. The parasite is passed on to humans through eating raw or improperly cooked snails or freshwater prawns.

Sources: The Hindu.

Insights Secure Prelims 2015

Welcome to Insights Secure Prelims – 2015 initiative. The following questions are based on current events that appear in PIB (Public Information Bureau) and from some important newspapers. For more challenging question papers (Full Length), please join our Preliminary Exam – 2015 Test Series (Please Click Here for Reviews)

To view Solutions, follow these instructions:

  1. Click on – ‘Start Quiz’ button

  2. Solve Questions

  3. Click on ‘Quiz Summary’ button

  4. Click on ‘Finish Quiz’ button

  5. Now click on ‘View Questions’ button – here you will see solutions and links.