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Insights Daily Current Events, 26 February 2016

Insights Daily Current Events, 26 February 2016



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

Bhopal Gas tragedy

Survivors of Bhopal Gas disaster have launched a postcard campaign seeking an urgent Supreme Court hearing in the case demanding additional compensation.


  • About five years ago the government filed the curative petition in the Supreme Court on the issue and yet there has been no hearing. Besides, the government has not moved a single petition for urgent hearing on additional compensation.
  • Meanwhile, victims of the disaster continue to die battling economic hardship caused due to exposure related ill health and paltry compensation.
  • Activists and survivors are not happy over government’s apathy. The government’s neglect towards the legal rights of the Bhopal victims to adequate compensation is also evident in its carelessness regarding figures of injury and death. Despite the central minister’s promise made over a year ago, the figures of injury and death in the curative petition remain downplayed to a fraction of the actual damage.

More than 3,500 people were killed instantly when poisonous gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal on the night of December 2-3, 1984. Thousands more have died over the years. Many more thousands have been maimed or suffer from serious health issues due to their exposure to the gas.

How did it happen?

There was a leakage in the water pipe and as result water entered into methyl iso cyanide(MIC) tank. Also refrigeration system was not working to cool MIC and prevent chemical reaction. Due to this, exothermic reaction took place releasing large amount of heat and the volume of gas increased and a cloud of gases phosgene, carbon monoxide and MIC started coming out. As it was very spontaneous and rapidly it spread and soon a very dense cloud was formed over the city of Bhopal exposing half a million people.

sources: the hindu.


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

E-tourist visa extended to 37 more nations

The Union home ministry has decided to extend e-tourist visa scheme to 37 more nations, taking the number of beneficiary countries to 150.

The countries added in the latest round include Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Iceland, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Moldova, Namibia, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Key facts:

  • Until the latest addition, the scheme covered 113 countries with nine airports designated for providing e-tourist visa service.
  • Over 7.5 lakh visas have been issued since the e-tourist visa scheme was launched. This translates to an average of 3,500 e-tourist visas on a daily basis to foreign nationals.

About the scheme:

TVoA (tourist visa on arrival), enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), popularly known as e-Tourist Visa scheme, was launched on November 27, 2014.

  • Under the e-Tourist Visa scheme, an applicant receives an email authorising him or her to travel to India after it is approved and he or she can travel with a print-out of this authorisation.
  • On arrival, the visitor has to present the authorization to the immigration authorities who would then stamp the entry into the country.
  • The visas would have a validity of 30 days from the date of arrival. Biometric details of the applicant will be mandatorily captured on arrival in India. The facility can be availed for a maximum of two visits to the country in a calendar year.

Who is not eligible?

  1. Not available to Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders.
  2. Not available to individuals endorsed on Parent’s/Spouse’s Passport i.e. each individual should have a separate passport.
  3. Not available to International Travel Document Holders.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: disaster management.

India dispatches relief material to cyclone hit Fiji

India has dispatched relief material to cyclone hit Fiji as part of its Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief efforts in the neighbourhood. Dispatched relief material to the island nation includes food, medicines and tents.


  • Fiji was hit by a massive cyclone ‘Winston’ last week. The island nation had also requested foreign aid.
  • India has already announced aid in the aftermath of the disaster. It extended USD one million in immediate assistance to Fiji after devastating Cyclone Winston hits.

Cyclone Winston was the most powerful tempest recorded in the southern hemisphere and hit Fiji at speeds of 200 miles per hour, causing extensive flooding and rendering thousands homeless.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.

US wins WTO dispute against India’s solar power rules

The United States has won a ruling against India at the World Trade Organization after challenging the rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India’s national solar power programme.


  • The United States complained to the WTO in 2013 about the Indian solar programme, which sought to ease chronic energy shortages in Asia’s third-largest economy without creating pollution.
  • But a requirement that certain cells and modules be made in India fell afoul of WTO rules on discriminating against imports.
  • The United States said its solar exports to India had fallen by 90% from 2011, when India imposed the rules.

The WTO ruling, which can be appealed within 60 days, was repeatedly delayed as the two sides tried to negotiate a settlement.

National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible. The Mission has set the ambitious target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022 and aims at reducing the cost of solar power generation in the country. The US primarily exports thin film technology for the solar panel.

sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: government budgeting.

Railway Budget special:

Theme of the Budget

  • Overcoming challenges – Reorganize, Restructure Rejuvenate Indian Railways: ‘Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen’
  • Three pillars of the strategy i.e. Nav Arjan – New revenues, Nav Manak – New norms, Nav Sanrachna – New Structures. 

Four new categories of trains announced

Four new categories of trains have been announced in the budget— one for unreserved passengers and three for reserved passengers.

The four new categories of trains are- Humsafar, Tejas, Antyodaya Express and Uday.

  1. Humsafar would be fully air-conditioned third AC service with an optional service for meals.
  2. Tejas on the other hand will showcase the future of train travel in India. Operating at speeds of 130 kmph or more, it will have on-board services such as entertainment, local cuisine, Wi-Fi etc.
  3. Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri (UDAY) Express will be introduced on the busiest routes, which has the potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40%.
  4. Antyodaya Express is a long-distance, fully unreserved, super-fast train service, for the common man to be operated on dense routes.

The railway minister has also announced that two to four Deen Dayalu coaches would be added in some long distance trains for unreserved travel. These coaches will also have facility for potable drinking water and a higher number of mobile charging points.

Seven missions to improve functioning

To make the functioning of railways more efficient, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has announced seven missions, including activities to increase the average speed of superfast mail trains by 25 kilometres per hour in the next five years.

The seven missions are ’25 Tonne’, ‘Zero Accident’, PACE (Procurement and Consumption Efficiency), ‘Raftaar’, ‘Hundred’, ‘beyond book-keeping’ and ‘capacity utilisation’.

  • Under Mission Raftaar, the railways would target doubling average speeds of freight trains and increasing the average speed of superfast mail/express trains by 25 kmph in the next 5 years.
  • On Mission 25 Tonne, railways will augment the carrying capacity to realise the goal of revenue enhancement. A critical step in that direction is making our infrastructure suitable to carry 25-tonne axle load. It is proposed to introduce 10-20% freight loading through 25-tonne axle-load wagons in 2016-17 and target movement of 70% of freight traffic on high axle load wagons by FY 19-20.
  • Among others, Mission Hundred would focus on sidings and freight terminals.
  • Under ‘Beyond Book-keeping’, Indian Railways will establish an accounting system where the outcomes can be tracked to inputs.

Each of the missions would be headed by a director reporting directly to the Railway Board Chairman.

Three freight corridors to be built on priority

The country will get three new dedicated freight corridors, according to the Railway Budget 2016, in addition to the Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata freight corridors that are due to be commissioned in 2019.

  • The new projects are a North-South corridor, from Delhi to Chennai, an East-West corridor from Karaghpur to Mumbai and an East Coast corridor, from Karaghpur to Vijayawada.
  • These projects will be financed through a PPP (public private partnership) mechanism and rolled out on a high priority basis.


Facts for Prelims:

  • NASA astronaut Captain Sunita Williams is in India on a three-day visit. She holds the record for the highest number of space walks by a woman astronaut at 7 and has received many awards including Padma Bhushan.
  • With 8066 cases registered, Uttar Pradesh is at the forefront in the number of cases of offences of atrocities against members of SCs registered under Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act in conjunction with the IPC, during 2014. UP is closely followed by Bihar and Rajasthan with 7874 and 6734 cases registered respectively.