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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 December 2016



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 December 2016


Paper 3 Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.  


Anti-Airfield Weapon


The Defence and Research Development Organization (DRDO) recently successfully flight tested the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW), from an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft.


Key facts:

  • SAAW is an indigenously designed and developed 120 kg. class smart weapon.
  • It is developed by DRDO.
  • It is capable of engaging ground targets with high precision up to a range of 100 kms.
  • The light weight high precision guided bomb is one of the world class weapons systems.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.


Land of religious body can be acquired: HC


Allahabad High Court has ruled that land belonging to religious body can be used for public purpose.



High Court made its remark while asking the Church of North India Association and NHAI to “work out modality” for “demolition or shifting” of a church for construction of a six-lane road.

  • In its plea, the petitioner had argued that acquisition of the land by NHAI violates the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act which safeguards “all religious properties”.
  • The petitioner had also argued that the move violated the “right to freedom of religion” and the “freedom to manage religious affairs” guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution.


What else has the court said?

The court noted, “once there is public purpose for which land in question has been acquired, invoking provision of National Highways Act, 1956, then no relief can be accorded to the petitioner”.

The court also said that the Place of Worship (Special Provisions) Act only “bars any person from converting any place of worship of any religious denomination or different religious denomination” and that the “provision had been introduced to see that communal harmony is not disturbed and persons of one religious community may not take on the other”.

Sources: the hindu.


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


Need to link Aadhaar with details of voters


Noting that “there is an emergent need to link Aadhaar with the electoral details of voters”, the Election Commission of India has given a mixed response to the Supreme Court on providing absentee voting rights, like electronic voting and proxy voting, to over 300 million domestic migrants in the country, saying there is no foolproof mechanism to verify their identity and block duplicity.


Why it is difficult to provide absentee voting rights?

“Domestic migrants” do not constitute a “uniquely identifiable and countable class.” There is also no reliable information or documentation on the number of domestic migrants in the country. The last one on them is the 15-year-old 2001 Census data of 314.5 million.

Therefore, any provision of absentee voting rights to the “loosely defined term domestic migrants” would become a logistical nightmare for the Commission, that is, for example, they are so spread out that an election in one Assembly constituency would mean electoral arrangements in 4,120 Assembly constituencies.

Besides, multiple vernacular data and “varying patterns of spelling” and difficulty in ascertaining the date of birth of voters have given rise to multiple entries of voters.



The Supreme Court had asked the Election Commission to study the possibility for electoral reforms to allow inter-State migrants voting privileges like postal ballot available to government servants.

In this regard, EC had last year set up a committee to study the possibility of amending the electoral law to empower voters who have migrated to other States within the country.


Way ahead:

EC has not totally negated the idea of providing domestic migrants with absentee voting rights. It is in favour of extending these rights only to a small subset of migrants who formed an identifiable and countable class of electors not delinked from their present place of registration and only “temporarily absent” from their place of ordinary residence.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 1 Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


Kuchipudi performers dance their way into Guinness Records


Andhra Pradesh’s own classical dance ‘Kuchipudi’ has found a place in the Guinness World Records yet again when a record 6,117 dancers came together to present a show at the IGMC Stadium in Vijaywada recently. In 2012, a similar feat was achieved when 5,900 dancers performed ‘Kuchipudi’ in Hyderabad.  

  • The “Maha Brunda Natyam” (grand group dance) was organised as part of the ‘5th International Kuchipudi Dance Convention’ organised by the state Department of Language and Culture.
  • “Jayamu Jayamu” is one of the glorious items of ‘Kuchipudi’ dance choreographed by the legend Vempati China Satyam.


Kuchipudi is one of the classical dance forms of the South India. Kuchipudi derives its name from the Kuchipudi village of Andhra Pradesh.

  • Kuchipudi exhibits scenes from the Hindu Epics, legends and mythological tales through a combination of music, dance and acting.
  • Like other classical dances, Kuchipudi also comprises pure dance, mime and histrionics but it is the use of speech that distinguishes Kuchipudi’s presentation as dance drama.
  • In its early form, the female roles were played by boys and young men of beautiful looks. The director (called Sutradhar) played the most important role. He combined the role of conductor, dancer, singer, musician, comedian, all in one. In modern times the Kuchipudi dance is considerably different than it originally used to be. Most of the performances are solo, done by female dancers.



  • In 17th century Kuchipudi style of Yakshagaana was conceived by Siddhendra Yogi a Vaishnava poet and visionary who had the capacity to give concrete shape to some of his visions. He was steeped in the literary Yakshagaana tradition being guided by his guru Teerthanaaraayana Yogi who composed the Krishna-Leelatarangini in Sanskrit.
  • It was Lakshminarayan Shastry (1886-1956) who introduced many new elements including solo dancing and training of female dancers in this dance style.


Important features:

  • Kuchipudi carries the sensuousness and fluidity of Odissi with the geometric line of today’s Bharata Natyam.
  • As in all other classical dance forms of India, the Kuchipudi dance is both interpretive and lyrical, making use of abstract dance sequences as well.
  • Kuchipudi dance retains its devotional character with stress on dramatic outlook.


Accompanying music:

The music that accompanies the dance is according to the classical school of Carnatic music and is delightfully syncopatic. The accompanying musicians, besides the vocalist are: a mridangam player to provide percussion music, a violin or veena player or both for providing instrumental melodic music, and a cymbal player who usually conducts the orchestra.

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


Pakistan urges World Bank to fulfil commitment under Indus treaty


Pakistan has urged the World Bank to fulfil its commitment in accordance with the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) under which no party can pause the performance of its role.

  • The demand was made by Pakistan in response to the World Bank’s decision to pause the process of empanelment of the Court of Arbitration.



Recently, the World Bank had announced a pause in the separate processes initiated by India and Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.

The decision halted the appointment of a neutral expert as requested by India and the Chairman of the Court of Arbitration as requested by Pakistan to resolve issues regarding two hydro-electric power plants under construction by India along the Indus Rivers system.

Sources: the hindu.


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


‘Google Tax’ detrimental to startup ecosystem: Experts


The equalisation levy, also known as Google Tax’ which the government is imposing on online advertising revenue by non-resident e-commerce companies earned in India, is expected to adversely affect the startup ecosystem going forward, according to tax experts.


Why this tax is detrimental to startup ecosystem?

The levy which is at 6% presently became effective on June 1. If passed on to startups, the applicable tax is expected to be in excess of 22%, including the 15% service tax and could further increase if GST comes into effect.

  • Besides, the fact that the levy has been notified in addition to taxes payable by a businessman on imported online services unduly increases the cost of doing business for startups which in turn stifles innovation.
  • Usually, small scale technology driven companies generally do not have enough capital to engage employees inhouse for all necessary business activities. Google tax adds to this problem.
  • Also, emerging startups burn a lot of cash in the first few years before becoming profitable and when the levy is expanded to include a vast number of other digital services the burden is set to multiply exponentially, hampering even more serious cost to innovation.


What needs to be done?

A cap should be placed on the rate of taxation at the very least, and the number of notified services subject to the levy should not be expanded until there is an impact study undertaken by the government.

Sources: et.


Paper 3 Topic: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Agni 5, India’s Longest Range Nuclear Capable Missile, Successfully Test Fired


Agni-5, India’s longest range nuclear capable missile, was recently successfully test fired from the Kalam Island off Odisha coast by the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO.

  • The intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile, the latest in India’s “Agni” family of medium to intercontinental range missiles, has been through four trials now.
    Source: Reuters
  • The Agni 5 missile, with new technology for navigation and guidance, gives India the strategic depth it needs to contain its enemies, say scientists. After a few more trials, it will soon join India’s military arsenal.
  • This was the first test of the Agni-5 missile after India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, a 35-nation group to check the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons.


Key facts:

  • Agni-5 has a range of over 5,000 km and can carry about a 1,000-kg warhead. It can target almost all of Asia including Pakistan and China and Europe.
  • The solid propellant driven missile will be tested from a canister which gives it all-weather and any terrain mobile launch capability.
  • The 17-metre long Agni-5 Missile weighs about 50 tonnes and is a very agile and modern weapon system.
  • The surface-to-surface missile is a fire-and-forget system that cannot be easily detected as it follows a ballistic trajectory.
  • India describes the Agni – 5 missile system as a ‘weapon of peace’.
  • The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and tested in 1989.

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.  


World’s most heat resistant material found


Scientists have identified materials that can withstand temperatures of nearly 4,000 degrees Celsius, an advance that may pave the way for improved heat resistant shielding for the faster-than-ever hypersonic space vehicles.


Key facts:

  • Researchers from Imperial College London in the UK discovered that the melting point of hafnium carbide is the highest ever recorded for a material.
  • Tantalum carbide (TaC) and hafnium carbide (HfC) are refractory ceramics, meaning they are extraordinarily resistant to heat.
  • Their ability to withstand extremely harsh environments means that refractory ceramics could be used in thermal protection systems on high-speed vehicles and as fuel cladding in the super-heated environments of nuclear reactors.

hafnium carbide

How the materials were tested?

There is no technology available to test the melting point of TaC and HfC in the lab to determine how truly extreme an environment they could function in. Therefore, the researchers developed a new extreme heating technique using lasers to test the heat tolerance of TaC and HfC.

  • They used the laser-heating techniques to find the point at which TaC and HfC melted, both separately and as mixed compositions of both.
  • They found that the mixed compound was consistent with previous research, melting at 3,905 degrees Celsius, but the two compounds on their own exceeded previous recorded melting points. The compound TaC melted at 3,768 degrees Celsius, and HfC melted at 3,958 degrees Celsius.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims


Online safety campaign by Google:

  • Google has teamed up with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in India to launch a country-wide ‘Digitally Safe Consumer’ campaign in order to raise awareness and protect consumer interest on the internet.
  • As part of the campaign, Google will work on educating consumer organisations in India, help in training members of the Consumer Affairs department, and also work with officials in the National Consumer Helpline.
  • Google will start rolling out this year-long campaign in January 2017, and it will work towards organising ‘Digital Literacy, Safety & Security’ workshops. Google will rely on the ‘Train the Trainer’ model for this exercise, and plans to train around 500 people, including 250 consumer organisations across the country.
  • The educational campaign will also feature write ups, posters, interactive quizzes and audio-visuals that will help educate users about the challenges of Internet safety and security.