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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 05 September 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 05 September 2016



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.


Real time video monitoring of crowds at railway stations


In a first, the Indian Railways has deployed ‘intelligent video analytics’ to assess crowd density at major railway stations and initiate crowd control measures when the number of passengers/visitors exceeds a prescribed limit.



Taking cue from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) guidelines on crowd control, the railway has included crowd management in its revised Disaster Management Plan.



  • The facility has been installed in the surveillance system on a trial basis at Chennai Central and Egmore railway stations.
  • The technology incorporated in the integrated security system will give an automatic alert to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel to set in motion certain Standard Operating Procedures.
  • SOPs include a temporary ban on the issue of platform tickets and closure of parking lots till normalcy is restored.
  • Zonal railways have also been told to analyse past crowd disasters and focus on crowd management strategies, risk analysis and preparedness, information management and dissemination, safety measures and emergency planning, transportation and traffic management.


Significance of video analytics:

Video analytics would help security agencies get timely alerts when large crowds build up in the station premises and help implement preventive protocols. Visuals stored on Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) network system would be of immense help in identifying miscreants and in ensuring effective legal action.


Why such measures are required?

The inflow of passengers is usually high during long weekends and festive season. Besides, major railway stations are vulnerable to terror attacks in view of the large gathering of people, multiple entry/exit points and stoppage of trains at wayside stations where adequate security arrangements are not in place. Hence, effective crowd management plans should be in place.

Sources: the hindu.


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.


Zika alert in India


According to a study, India, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh are vulnerable to Zika virus.



These countries receive a combination of high volumes of travelers from Zika-affected areas, have mosquitoes capable of transmitting Zika virus, climate conditions conducive to local spread, and limited health resources.


What needs to be done?

According to the study, identifying where and when populations would be most susceptible to local transmission of Zika virus could help inform public health decisions about the use of finite resources.



Even though Zika virus was first identified in Africa, and sporadic cases have been reported in both Africa and Asia-Pacific, little is known about whether the Asian strain of the virus (now circulating in the Americas) will affect individuals differently if they have previously been infected with the African strain.


Zika virus:

Zika virus disease is an emerging viral disease transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. This is the same mosquito that is known to transmit infections like dengue and chikungunya.

  • World Health Organisation has reported 22 countries and territories in Americas from where local transmission of Zika virus has been reported.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Indian scientists unlock preterm birth mystery


Indian researchers have made a major discovery by understanding the mechanisms by which preterm births (between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation) occur. At 35%, India accounts for the highest burden of preterm births in the world.


What has been discovered?

The researchers found that gram-positive Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria produce small balloons called membrane vesicles, which contain toxins that kill both foetal and maternal cells and destroy the collagen that binds the cells together.

The researchers found that the toxins present in the vesicles fragmented the collagen of the amniotic membrane. Fragmentation of the collagen leads to loss in elasticity and weakening of the amniotic membrane thus making it susceptible to rupture due to pressure from the growing foetus. This leads to preterm birth. The vesicles also degrade the collagen in the womb.


GBS Bacteria:

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria are normally found in human vagina and their numbers can shoot up in some pregnant women. The GBS bacteria have been associated with premature rupture of amniotic membrane and preterm birth.


How the study was carried out?

The scientists tested hypothesis by injecting vesicles into 15 pregnant mice. All the injected mice gave birth to preterm babies and nearly 40 per cent were born dead (stillborn). The preterm babies were much smaller and unhealthy. In mice, the babies were born two days preterm. This is equivalent to two months in humans as the gestation period in mice is 21 days.


What is preterm birth?

Preterm, also known as premature birth is a birth that takes place more than three weeks before the baby is due. In other words, a premature birth is one that occurs before the start of the 37th week of pregnancy. Normally, a pregnancy usually lasts about 40 weeks. Premature birth gives the baby less time to develop in the womb.

Sources: the hindu.


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


G20 countries score poorly in climate goals report


A report from Climate Transparency, an open global consortium, has shown that Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of G20 countries are continuing to increase. The study analysed key indicators, including carbon intensity and share of coal in total electricity produced, to assess the performance of these countries


Highlights of the study:

  • Between 1990 and 2013, the absolute carbon dioxide emissions of G20 countries, which account for three-fourths of global CO2 emissions, went up by 56%.
  • The study found that half of G20 countries are inadequate as regards actions taken to curb climate change. This is despite energy intensity and the carbon intensity of the G20 economies decreasing as overall economic activity increased.
  • The study also found that the carbon intensity of the energy sector was found increasing, due to the strong and continuing role that coal plays. The G20 countries rely heavily on coal in their primary energy supply.
  • G20 countries are planning a large number of new coal-fired power plants, which if realised, would almost double coal capacity, making it virtually impossible to keep the temperature increase to below 2°C, let alone 1.5˚C as mandated by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.


Performance of various countries:

  • India received a ‘medium’ rating with good scores for emissions, share of renewables in total primary energy supply (TPES) and climate policy, but poor scores in carbon intensity, share of coal in TPES and electricity emissions.
  • The worst overall performers were Australia, Argentina, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
  • Of all the G20 member-states, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United States stand out with by far the highest per capita energy-related CO2 emissions.
  • Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan still show an increase over the five-year period 2008-2013. Argentina and South Africa have declining per capita emissions, as with the EU and its big member-states Germany, France, Italy and the U.K.
  • China’s per capita emissions were found to be above the G20 average: at 38%, with China having the highest economic growth rate between 2008 and 2013.
  • The coal share of China, India, South Africa and Turkey will remain clearly above the maximum 2˚C benchmark in the time period until 2030.


Investment gap:

According to the study, to be in line with a 2°C-compatible trajectory by 2035, G20 countries face an investment gap of almost $ 340 billion/year in the power sector.

  • Though plugging the gap requires an increase in green investments, G20 governments provided, on average, almost $ 70 billion in subsidies for fossil fuel production between 2013 and 2014. This was despite G20 leaders pledging to phase out ‘inefficient’ fossil fuel subsidies in 2009.
  • The report also points out that reducing fossil fuel subsidies could theoretically create fiscal space for more international climate finance.

Sources: the hindu.


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.


Mobile access scheme for remote areas soon


The government is planning to unveil a new scheme to provide mobile phone access to over 55,000 villages, particularly those in border states and in the Himalayan region, to push forward its flagship Digital India programme. The scheme will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).



As per official data about 4,700 villages in Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), and 2,138 villages in Border States (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana) are not yet connected.

  • Further, 5,41,939 villages out of total 5,97,608 villages in the country are already covered with mobile services, leaving 55,669 villages, i.e., 9.31%, without coverage.
  • Among states, Odisha has the highest number of villages (10,398) which do not have mobile coverage, followed by Jharkhand (5,949) and Madhya Pradesh (5,926), Maharashtra (4,792) and Chhattisgarh. In states such as Kerala and Karnataka all villages have coverage.


Universal Service Obligation Fund:

USOF, established in 2002, provides effective subsidies to ensure telegraph services are provided to everyone across India, especially in the rural and remote areas. It is headed by the USOF Administrator who reports to the Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

  • Funds come from the Universal Service Levy (USL) of 5% charged from all the telecom operators on their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) which are then deposited into the Consolidated Fund of India, and require prior parliamentary approval to be dispatched.
  • The USOF works through a bidding process, where funds are given to the enterprise quoting the lowest bid. However, the funds for NOFN were made an exception to this process since BBNL was the sole party involved in the implementation having being specifically created for it.
  • As on date, the total available fund in USOF is more than Rs.47,411.56 crore. The total collection since the scheme was started in 2002-03 stands at about Rs.78,587.31 crore, while total amount disbursed for various initiatives to boost rural connectivity is about Rs.31,175.75 crore, according to government data.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:

  • Sainthood for Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa has been declared a saint in a canonization Mass held by Pope Francis in the Vatican. Mother Teresa set up her Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata in 1950 and made it headquarters for nearly half a century. Earning global recognition for her unending work and compassion for the poor, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.


  • TMC as National Party: The Election Commission has granted national party status to All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) party. The party has fulfilled one of the conditions of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968. TMC qualified for the status as it is recognised as a state party in four states. The TMC is now the seventh party to be given the status after Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Nationalist Congress Party.