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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 30 November 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 30 November 2016


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


Australia’s Great Barrief Reef sees largest coral die-off ever


As per a recently conducted study, a mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef this year killed more corals than ever before sounding the alarm over the delicate ecosystem. The 2,300-kilometre Great barrier reef in Australia is the world’s biggest.  


Highlights of the study:

  • Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • The reef suffered its most severe bleaching in recorded history, due to warming sea temperatures during March and April, with the northern third bearing the brunt.
  • Environmentalists have called for Australia to abandon coal mining to help prevent further bleaching disasters.
  • Scientists estimate the northern region, which teems with marine life, will take at least 10-15 years to regain lost corals.   


How bleaching occurs?

Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.

Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow. The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease and means it will eventually die.

coral-bleaching great barrier reef

Can coral recover?

Yes. Coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Disaster and disaster management.


ISRO drones help map disasters in north-east


The Shillong-based North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation has tested unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to assess several regional problems, ranging from measuring diseased paddy fields to damage caused by frequent landslides in the north eastern region of the country.


Key facts:

  • NE-SAC has taken the initiative for design and assembling of UAVs for various applications. UAVs can perform efficient surveys for disaster-prone or physically inaccessible areas, quick damage assessment of landslides, floods and earthquakes and enable timely relief measures.
  • Among various services provided on request to the north-eastern States using the drones, NE-SAC mapped the area affected by landslides along Meghalaya’s life line, NH40. It gave the extent of damage caused to pest-infested paddy fields in Naramari village of Assam.
  • Drone-based studies are new and currently confined to few north-eastern States. Data from ISRO’s remote sensing satellites are generally combined with ground-based details. Use of drones cuts much leg work that ground surveyors must take up.   


About NESAC:

NE-SAC, located at Umiam (near Shillong), Meghalaya, is a joint initiative of DOS and North Eastern Council to provide developmental support to the North Eastern region using space science and technology.

  • The NE centre was started in the year 2000 to provide Space technology-based communication and technology support to the region.
  • The centre has the mandate to develop high technology infrastructure support to enable NE states to adopt space technology inputs for their development.
  • At present, NE-SAC is providing developmental support by undertaking specific application projects using remote sensing, GIS, satellite communication and conducting space science research.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


AIIB driven by projects and not politics: Alexander


The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), conceived and hosted by China, is essentially a multilateral development bank that is driven solely by the “quality of projects and not politics”, according to its Vice-President, Danny Alexander.



This clarification came against the backdrop of India’s strategic concerns regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that covers areas including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. CPEC is the so-called ‘flagship’ project of China’s One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative, aimed at developing infrastructure in more than 60 countries. OBOR is among those that will get AIIB funding.


About AIIB:

The AIIB was established as a new multilateral financial institution aimed at providing “financial support for infrastructure development and regional connectivity in Asia.”

  • It was founded in October, 2014, and will have its headquarters in Beijing.
  • Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
  • The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China.
  • The bank expects to lend $10 billion to $15 billion a year for the first five years of its operations, beginning in the second quarter of 2016.
  • India is an influential member of the AIIB as it has the second-largest voting share and percentage of shares (next only to China) in the multilateral institution that has 57 member countries.

Sources: the hindu.


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


‘Industries should use recycled groundwater’


The Water Ministry is planning amendments to a Bill on groundwater management that will impose restrictions on how companies, farmers and various groups can use groundwater.


Key provisions:

  • Industries can only use recycled water, and activities such as gardening would require the use of treated sewage water.
  • Extracting pristine water from aquifiers, the norm in much of the country, would be sharply regulated. Failing to adhere to this would invite “stringent punishment”.



Earlier this year, the Ministry had made public a draft Bill that proposed significant changes to the way groundwater would be regulated.

  • This included guaranteeing every individual a certain amount of water “for life” and protecting groundwater from undue exploitation and pollution as well as mandating the use of rainwater harvesting in residential projects.
  • However, this version of the Bill only demands that users “give priority” to recycling water and does not compel companies and other stakeholders to use recycled water.


Why a law in this regard is necessary?

Groundwater depletion is among the grave ecological threats that the country faces. Around 85 %of drinking water and 65% of water for irrigation is sourced from groundwater. However, previous plans to address the problems have been stalled as water is a State subject and, existing laws give the owners of a piece of land complete right over its groundwater.

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.


Son has no legal right in parents’ house, can stay at their mercy: HC


In a significant move, the Delhi High Court has ruled that a son cannot claim a right to live in the self-acquired house of his parents and can do so only at their mercy.


Important observations made by the court:

  • A son can reside in a self-acquired property of his parents so long as they desire and cannot claim a legal right to stay there, irrespective of his marital status.
  • Merely because the parents have allowed him to live in the house when their relations were cordial does not mean they have to bear his burden throughout life.



The High Court was hearing an appeal against a lower court’s order asking a man and his wife to vacate the first floor of his parents’ property in Delhi.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.


Even nil vacancies won’t cut backlog: Report


A study ordered by the Supreme Court shows that more judges in the High Courts, or even filling all the vacancies in them, does not necessarily end pendency. The study was conducted by the National Court Management Systems Committee (NCMSC).



  • The two-year study was commissioned by the court through an order dated August 20, 2014 while hearing Imtiyaz Ahmad versus State of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The court had directed the committee to study the recommendations made by the Law Commission of India on pendency and the relation between backlog and judges’ strength.


Highlights of the study:

  • The study notes that not a single High Court has been able to eliminate backlog even when vacancies are non-existent or very low (say zero to 20%).
  • The study also questions Chief Justice Thakur’s recent observation that 70,000 judges are required to clear pendency.
  • The committee says blindly increasing judicial strength with the sole aim to hike the rate of disposal of cases and avoid backlog was skewed logic. In fact, it said, avoiding backlog seems to be the “central and sole objective” of having more judges in the High Courts.
  • According to the study, the current method of calculating judges’ strength in High Courts is not scientific or robust, nor has it produced desired results of pendency resolution.
  • The report calls for a long-term scientific method to assess the number of judges required in a court. It said judges’ strength should be augmented after calculating the judicial hours required to hear and dispose of cases on the basis of their individual nature and complexity.



Effective judicial strength has not expanded adequately to meet the rising inflow of cases in the country. In the last five years, the number of new cases filed in the High Courts of India has increased by 24% and pendency by 32%. Yet, effective judge strength has increased only by 8.5%.

Only 49 judges have been added to the effective strength of High Courts in five years in the whole country to deal with 3.72 lakh additional new cases — this means an average of 7,591 cases per new judge — and 7.2 lakh additional pendency at the rate of 14,693 cases per new judge.

Sources: the hindu.