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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 29 September 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 29 September 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Cabinet approves India – Singapore MoU


The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Industrial Property Cooperation between Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), Ministry of Law, Government of Singapore.

  • The MoU will be signed at the upcoming visit of Singapore’s Prime Minister to India in October, 2016.
  • The MoU will enhance bilateral cooperation activities in the arena of Industrial Property Rights of Patents, Trademarks and Industrial Designs.
  • It is intended to give a boost to innovation, creativity and technological advancement in both regions.


The Priority initiatives under the MoU would be:

  • Exchange of best practices, experiences and knowledge on Intellectual Property awareness among the public, businesses and educational institutions of both countries.
  • Exchange of experts specialized in the field of intellectual property.
  • Exchange and dissemination of best practices, experiences and knowledge on IP with the industry, universities, R & D organizations and Small and Medium Enterprises.
  • Cooperation in the development of automation and implementation of modernization projects.
  • Partnership in IP-related training for local IP and business communities.


Significance of this MoU:

  • The MoU will enable India to exchange experiences in the innovation and IP ecosystems that will substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investor and businesses on both sides.
  • The exchange of best practices between the two countries will lead to improved protection and awareness about India’s range of Intellectual creations which are as diverse as its people.
  • It will be a landmark step forward in India’s journey towards becoming a major player in global innovation and will further the objectives of the National IPR Policy, 2016.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.


Cabinet approves an Undertaking between India and Korea on Mutual Recognition of Certificates for Seafarers, 1978


The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of an Undertaking between India and Korea on Mutual Recognition of Certificates.

  • It is in pursuance of the Regulation 1/10 of International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers, 1978, as amended.


Significance of this MoU:

Signing of the Undertaking will pave way for recognition of maritime education and training, certificates of competency, endorsements, training documentary evidence and medical fitness certificates for seafarers issued by the Government of the other country.


About STCW:

The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (or STCW), 1978 sets qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships.

  • STCW was adopted in 1978 by conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, and entered into force in 1984. The Convention was significantly amended in 1995.
  • The 1978 STCW Convention was the first to establish basic requirements on training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers on an international level. Previously the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping of officers and ratings were established by individual governments, usually without reference to practices in other countries.
  • The Convention prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers which countries are obliged to meet or exceed.
  • The 1995 amendments, adopted by a Conference, represented a major revision of the Convention, in response to a recognized need to bring the Convention up to date.
  • The 1995 amendments entered into force on 1 February 1997. One of the major features of the revision was the division of the technical annex into regulations, divided into Chapters as before, and a new STCW Code, to which many technical regulations were transferred. Part A of the Code is mandatory while Part B is recommended.

Sources: pib.


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.




Project Saksham, a new indirect tax network of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

  • The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 2256 crore, which will be incurred over a period of seven years.


About the project:

Under the project, the CBEC’s existing IT systems will be integrated with the GST Network. This is required for processing of registration, payment and returns data sent by GSTN systems to CBEC, as well as act as a front-end for other modules such as audit, appeals, investigation.

  • The exercise is also expected to help the indirect tax department cater to the larger number of taxpayers when GST rolls out from April 1, 2017. According to official estimates, the number of taxpayers under various indirect tax laws administered by CBEC is about 36 lakh at present, and will nearly double to 65 lakh after the introduction of GST.
  • It will also help in implementation of GST, extension of the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade and other taxpayer-friendly initiatives under Digital India and ease of doing business.

Sources: pib.


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.


A new handheld device to detect melamine in milk


Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore have developed a handheld melamine detector. With this detecting melamine in milk is expected to become easy, quick and inexpensive.


How is it detected?

In this method, leaf extract of a commonly seen weed parthenium along with silver nitrate is used for detecting the presence of melamine in milk.

  • Prior to melamine detection, the milk is processed to remove fat and proteins as they tend to interfere with detection.
  • With this technique, the presence of melamine in milk can be detected at room temperature within a few seconds through a change in colour.
  • The change in colour depends on the amount of melamine present and, therefore, the extent of its interference with the synthesis of silver nanoparticles. The colour change can be directly observed by the naked eye and also recorded by spectral change.
  • The silver nanoparticles are reddish yellow in the absence of melamine, while it becomes nearly colourless when melamine is present. Light absorption at 414 nm wavelength is a signature of silver nanopartciles. But when melamine is present the absorption of light is reduced as nanoparticle formation decreases.


Why be concerned about Melamine in milk?

Melamine content of more than 1 ppm in infant formula and more than 2.5 ppm in other foods should be viewed with suspicion of adulteration.


What is melamine?

Melamine is an organic base chemical most commonly found in the form of white crystals rich in nitrogen.


What is melamine generally used for?

Melamine is widely used in plastics, adhesives, countertops, dishware, whiteboards.


Why is melamine added into milk?

The addition of melamine increases the nitrogen content of the milk and therefore its apparent protein content.

However, addition of melamine into food is not approved by the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius (food standard commission), or by any national authorities.


What are the health effects of melamine consumptions in humans?

While there are no direct human studies on the effect of melamine data from animal studies can be used to predict adverse health effects. Melamine alone causes bladder stones in animal tests. When combined with cyanuric acid, which may also be present in melamine powder, melamine can form crystals that can give rise to kidney stones.

These small crystals can also block the small tubes in the kidney potentially stopping the production of urine, causing kidney failure and, in some cases, death. Melamine has also been shown to have carcinogenic effects in animals in certain circumstances, but there is insufficient evidence to make a judgment on carcinogenic risk in humans.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.


Almost every household has a bank account: Labour Bureau


According to the latest Labour Bureau data, almost every household in the country is a part of the banking system, mainly due to government’s financial inclusion plans.


Key facts:

  • Around 94.4% households had saving bank accounts in 2015-16. The figure was much higher than the official figure (58.7%) of households with saving bank accounts in India, as per Census 2011.
  • While 93.4% households in rural areas had a bank account, 96.8% houses had a savings bank account in the urban parts.
  • In Daman and Diu and Lakshwadeep, all the households surveyed had saving bank accounts. Chandigarh had 99% households with saving bank accounts whereas households in Nagaland had the least, 79.2%, access to the banking system.
  • Banking penetration was particularly low in north-eastern states – Manipur (82.8%), Meghalaya (85.1%) and Arunachal Pradesh (88.9%). This was followed by a comparatively low coverage in West Bengal (90.4%), Karnataka (91.6%) and Mizoram (91.7%).



According to the data, Government of India’s recent initiatives to enhance the financial inclusion and accessibility of financial institutions such as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (Mudra) Yojana may have translated into entering of more population in the ambit of formal financial activities.

Sources: the hindu.