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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 October 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 24 October 2016


Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Monitoring Committee to Oversee Outbreak of H5 Avian Influenza


Acting swiftly on the reports of mortality among the birds in National Zoological Park, Delhi NCR and other parts of the country due to H5 Avian Influenza Virus, the centre has constituted a monitoring committee for overseeing outbreak of H5 Avian Influenza in the country.

  • The committee will oversee the daily incidences of H5 Avian Influenza in National Zoological Park and other Zoos of the country and submit a daily report to the Environment Minister.
  • To control the disease actions including active surveillance and bio-security measures are being taken up.


Avian influenza or Bird flu:

Avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds with a tendency of causing large-scale outbreaks of serious disease. Although most influenza viruses do not infect humans, A(H5N1) and A(H7N9) have caused serious infections in people.


Bird flu symptoms:

  • Fever, cough, sore throat, muscle, body aches, nausea can lead to severe breathing problems, pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.



  • Human infections with bird flu viruses usually can be treated with the same prescription drugs that are used to treat human seasonal flu viruses.


Risk factors involved:

According to WHO, a few A(H5N1) human cases have been linked to consumption of dishes made of raw, contaminated poultry blood. However, slaughter, handling carcasses of the infected poultry, and preparing poultry for daily consumption in households are likely to be risk factors.

Sources: pib.


Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.


‘One India’ push for ease of business


The Centre is working with State governments to introduce a ‘One India’ concept, the most ambitious ‘ease of doing business’ initiative so far.


What is it all about?

The ‘one-form-one-portal’ model is aimed at attracting huge investments. Under this model, the processes will be simplified to an extent where investors will need to fill only a single e-form for investing and doing business anywhere in India.

  • The proposed concept will make it easy for investors to even change plans midway and shift projects to different locations in India where it is easier to do business.


Why such a reform is necessary?

Currently, firms are mandated to complete multiple forms at the Central and State-levels, and it gets more complicated as each State has different requirements and regulations.



The reform plan is among steps aimed at helping raise India’s global ranking on the World Bank Group’s ‘Doing Business’ index — from 130 in 2016 — to the top 50 among the 189 economies featured on the list.


Way ahead:

The centre has begun talks with the states, and will soon hold discussions with the private sector and users of government services in this regard. As an initial measure, a draft ‘Common Application Form’ is being circulated among states for their feedback.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.


Full convertibility on capital account unlikely for few years


The government has clarified that it is not looking at full capital account convertibility for the next few years.



Raghuram Rajan, the previous Reserve Bank of India governor, had said that the central bank was looking at bringing in capital account convertibility in a few years. However, the debate has acquired a new dimension with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently becoming more cautious about its benefits for developing economies.


What are capital controls?

Capital controls are used by the state to protect the economy from potential shocks caused by unpredictable capital flows.


What does capital account convertibility mean?

Essentially, it means freedom to convert local financial assets into foreign ones at market-determined exchange rates.


What can it do?

It can lead to free exchange of currency at lower rates. Also, it can result in unrestricted mobility of capital.


How does it benefit a nation?

It can trigger stepped up inflow of foreign investment. Transactions also can become much easier, and occur at a faster pace.


What are the negatives?

It could destabilise an economy especially if there is massive capital flows in and out of the country. Currency appreciation/depreciation could affect the balance of trade.


Where does India stand now?

India currently has full convertibility of the rupee in current accounts such as for exports and imports. However, India’s capital account convertibility is not full. There are ceilings on government and corporate debt, external commercial borrowings and equity.

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.


Centre plans to link varsity autonomy to performance


The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry is considering linking the autonomy of higher education institutions to their performance as measured by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). Greater autonomy could imply a number of things, including the complete freedom to have their own syllabi and curricula.

The government is thinking of dividing universities into three categories — A, B and C — on the basis of their NIRF rankings.

  1. The A category will comprise institutions with high NIRF rank and these will be highest on the autonomy scale
  2. The B category will comprise middle-ranking institutions with part autonomy but also government regulation.
  3. Category C will mean institutions with low ranking that will require greater regulation and hand-holding for improvement.



As per the 2016 rankings, IIT Madras topped among engineering colleges, followed by IITs at Mumbai, Kharagpur, Delhi, Kanpur and Roorkee. IIT Madras had a score of 89.41.

Among universities, the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, topped, followed by the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, Hyderabad University and Tezpur University. Among management schools, IIM Bengaluru was ranked first with a score of 93.04, followed by the IIMs at Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Udaipur and Kozhikode.

The next round of NIRF rankings will be published on the first Monday of April 2017.


What is NIRF?

The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) has been approved by the MHRD and was launched in September, 2015. This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country. The methodology draws from the overall recommendations and broad understanding arrived at by a Core Committee set up by MHRD, to identify the broad parameters for ranking various universities and institutions.

  • The parameters broadly cover “Teaching, Learning and Resources”, “Research and Professional Practices”, “Graduation Outcomes”, “Outreach and Inclusivity” and “Perception”.
  • NIRF has been given the responsibility of ranking institutions that have applied and submitted their data. The ranking of the Institutions will be done based on the parameters proposed by NIRF for different disciplines.

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.


India falls short in female literacy


Data from new research on female literacy show that India’s school education system is under-performing in terms of quality when compared to its neighbours, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

  • The research was carried out by New York-based International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. The research studies changes in female literacy over a number of schooling years.



  • The proportion of women who completed five years of primary schooling in India and were literate was 48%, much less than 92% in Nepal, 74% in Pakistan and 54% in Bangladesh.
  • Female literacy rates went up by one to 15% after completing two years of schooling. Corresponding numbers for Pakistan and Nepal were 3 to 31% and 11 to 47% respectively. This implies that schooling is roughly twice as productive at generating literacy for women during the early grades in Pakistan when compared to India.
  • India ranks low in global indices of female literacy as well. If countries are ranked by the earliest grade at which at least half of the women are literate — a proxy for quality of learning — India ranks 38th among the 51 developing countries for which comparable data is available. Indonesia, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Tanzania — all rank higher than India.



For this research, the authors devised a way to measure the quality of education around the world, with a specific focus on girls, using data from nationally representative Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) — one of the most comparable data sources on living standards in the developing world.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.


NCB to seize 500 Bitcoins used in drug trafficking


After cracking down on drug trafficking being conducted through the ‘darknet’ recently, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is set to freeze about 500 Bitcoins in the accounts of traffickers, the first ever seizure of the virtual, unregulated currency in a criminal probe in the country.

  • NCB has interdicted and begun investigation against three syndicates in the country till now and in one case detected in western India, it is moving to seize Bitcoins.



The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is working on the legal aspects of the case to seize about 400-500 Bitcoins as part of its criminal investigation under the Narcotic Drugs and Physchotropic Substances Act (NDPS) besides a few other laws.

While criminal probe agencies have seized a variety of assets like cash and immovable assets in their respective investigations all these years, Bitcoins have never been frozen as part of the tainted assets seizure. Bitcoin is equivalent to about Rs. 1 crore in the Indian currency.


What is bitcoin?

It is an attempt, using blockchain technology, to create a set of shares in a trading entity that had an initial set value and fixed number (much like the face value and number of shares offered in an initial public offering), in the hope that these shares would become the medium of exchange through which people trade goods and services.

Since the number of shares is fixed, demand for them goes up over a period of time as more and more people use the shares to settle their transactions; so, the bet is that each bitcoin’s value goes up stratospherically since there will never ever be any more bitcoins issued.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims

  • India has won the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup by defeating Iran. It was India’s third consecutive Kabaddi World Cup in the Standard Style version of Kabaddi. Earlier India had won in 2004 and 2007.