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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 19 January 2017



Insights Daily Current Affairs, 19 January 2017


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


MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency


The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the United Arab Emirates on the Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency.

 United Arab Emirates

Key facts:

  • The proposed MoU 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 in accordance with the provisions of Regulation 1/10 of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention, and cooperation between the two countries in training and management of seafarers.
  • The MoU will ensure that the education, training and assessment of seafarers, as required by the STCW Convention, are administered and monitored in accordance with of the STCW Code for each type and level of training assessment involved.


About STCW convention:

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. As a result, standards and procedures varied widely, even though shipping is extremely international by nature.
  • The Convention prescribes minimum standards relating to training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers which countries are obliged to meet or exceed.
  • One important feature of the Convention is that it applies to ships of non-party States when visiting ports of States which are Parties to the Convention.

Sources: pib.


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


Cabinet approves the repealing of the obsolete and redundant laws


The Union Cabinet has given its nod to a Law Ministry proposal to bring the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2017 to scrap 105 redundant laws which have been clogging the statute books.



The two-member committee constituted by the PMO, the Law Commission and the Legislative Department had identified 1824 redundant and obsolete Central Acts for repeal. Four Acts have so far been enacted to repeal 1175 Central Acts between May, 2014 and August, 2016 by the Parliament.  


Key facts:

  • The 105 laws, which would be repealed once the bill is passed, include the 2008 amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, The President’s Emoluments and Pension Act and the Vice-President’s Pension Act.
  • Till date, 73 ministries/departments including Legislative Department have given their comments whereby they have agreed to repeal 105 Acts and disagreed to repeal about 139 Acts.

Sources: pib.


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


Cabinet approves India’s Membership in the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), South Korea


The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal for India’s taking full membership of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Governing Council.

  • The move involves payment of annual contribution of US $ 5,00,000 to the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea.

 International Vaccine Institute (IVI), South Korea


In the year 2007, with the approval of Cabinet, India joined IVI. India is a long-term collaborator and stake-holder of IVI. In December, 2012 the Board of Trustees (BOT) of IVI approved the formation of its new governance structure. As per the new governance structure of IVI, a member State has to contribute to the IVI by paying a portion of its core budget. Since India is classified in Group-I, it has to pay an annual contribution of US $ 50,000.   

About IVI:

International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea, established in 1997 on the initiatives of the UNDP, is an international organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases.

  • Created initially as an initiative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), IVI began formal operations as an independent international organization in 1997.
  • Currently, IVI has 40 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) as signatories to its Establishment Agreement.
  • The Institute has a unique mandate to work exclusively on vaccine development and introduction specifically for people in developing countries, with a focus on neglected diseases affecting these regions.

Sources: pib.


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


‘ShaGun’ – a web-portal for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan


The government has launched a dedicated web portal ‘ShaGun’ for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

  • ‘ShaGun’ aims to capture and showcase innovations and progress in Elementary Education sector of India by continuous monitoring of the flagship scheme – Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).


ShaGun, which has been coined from the words ‘Shala’ meaning Schools and ‘Gunvatta’ meaning Quality, has been developed with a twin track approach:

  • First, is the Repository with an engaging interface that focuses on positive stories and developments in the field of School Education. In this repository, best practices will be documented in the form of videos, testimonials, case studies, and images, which will display state-level innovations and success stories that are driving improvements in performance under SSA. This repository has a decentralized management structure that enables State governments to choose, upload and manage their own content.
  • Secondly, it has an online monitoring module to measure state-level performance and progress against key educational indicators. It has been developed to collect and report data which will enable the government and administrators to track the efficiency with which SSA funds are being utilized and the results that this is delivering.


About SSA:

It is Government of India’s flagship programme for achievement of Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner, as mandated by 86th amendment to the Constitution of India making free and compulsory Education to the Children of 6-14 years age group, a Fundamental Right.

  • It is being implemented in partnership with State Governments to cover the entire country and address the needs of 192 million children in 1.1 million habitations.
  • It seeks to open new schools in those habitations which do not have schooling facilities and strengthen existing school infrastructure through provision of additional class rooms, toilets, drinking water, maintenance grant and school improvement grants.
  • Existing schools with inadequate teacher strength are provided with additional teachers, while the capacity of existing teachers is being strengthened by extensive training, grants for developing teaching-learning materials and strengthening of the academic support structure at a cluster, block and district level.
  • It also seeks to provide quality elementary education including life skills. SSA has a special focus on girl’s education and children with special needs. SSA also seeks to provide computer education to bridge the digital divide.

Sources: pib.


Paper 2 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.  


Cabinet approves amendment in Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme


The Union Cabinet has given its approval for amendment in the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) to further incentivize investments in Electronic Sector and moving towards the goal of ‘Net Zero imports’ in electronics by 2020.

  • Besides expediting investments into the Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector in India, the amendments in M-SIPS are expected to create employment opportunities and reduce dependence on imports.
  • The Policy covers all States and Districts and provides them an opportunity to attract investments in electronics manufacturing.


The salient features of the amendment are:

  • The applications will be received under the scheme upto 31st December 2018 or till such time that an incentive commitment of Rs 10,000 crore is reached, whichever is earlier. In case the incentive commitment of Rs 10,000 crore is reached, a review will be held to decide further financial commitments.
  • For new approvals, the incentive under the scheme will be available from the date of approval of a project and not from the date of receipt of application.
  • The incentives will be available for investments made within 5 years from the date of approval of the project.
  • Approvals will normally be accorded to eligible applications within 120 days of submission of the complete application.
  • A unit receiving incentives under the scheme, will provide an undertaking to remain in commercial production for a period of at least 3 years.
  • The Appraisal Committee recommending approval of project will be chaired by Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and IT.
  • A separate Committee headed by Cabinet Secretary and comprising of CEO, NITI Aayog, Secretary Expenditure and Secretary, MeitY will be set up in respect of mega projects, envisaging more than Rs. 6850 crore (approx. USD 1 Billion) investments.


About M-SIPS:

The Cabinet had, in July, 2012 approved the M-SIPS to provide a special incentive package to promote large scale manufacturing in the Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector.

  • The scheme provides subsidy for capital expenditure – 20% for investments in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and 25% in non-SEZs.
  • The Scheme was amended in August, 2015 for scope enhancement and simplification of procedure.
  • The Scheme has attracted investments in the ESDM sector to the tune of Rs. 1,26,838 crore, of which investments of around Rs. 17,997 crore have been approved by the MeitY. The M-SIPS has been able to create positive impact on investment in electronics sector.

Sources: pib.


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


Government school students move up the learning curve


The eleventh Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER), released recently, has given a glimmer of hope by acknowledging improvements in learning levels, largely driven by government schools.


Highlights of the survey:

  • This year there is an improvement in children’s reading ability and arithmetic understanding — especially in early grades in government schools. This is the first year since 2010 that there is an upward trend in arithmetic figures.
  • ASER 2016 notes that the proportion of children in the Class 3 who are able to read at least class 1level text has gone up from 40.2% in 2014 to 42.5% in 2016 with a substantial increase of 7% up among children in government schools in states like Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana.
  • The proportion of children in Class V who could read a Class II level text improved by more than 5 percentage points from 2014 to 2016 in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tripura, Nagaland and Rajasthan. This improvement is driven by gains in learning levels in government schools in these state.
  • The all India (rural) figures for basic arithmetic have improved for class III. In 2014, 25.4% of class III children could do a 2-digit subtraction, the number in 2016 is 27.7% with the improvement registered primarily from government schools which showed an increase from 17.2% in 2014 to 20.2% in 2016. In almost all states there is some improvement in the arithmetic levels of children enrolled in government schools in Class III.
  • Enrolment levels continue to increase and there is also a significant increase in the number of useable toilets for school goers —an improvement that may possibly be attributed to government’s flagship Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Out of school children, however, have increased in certain states including Uttar Pradesh.
  • Enrollment continue to show an upward swing up from 96.7% in 2014 to 96.9% in 2016 for age group 6-14 and 83.4% in 2014 to 84.7% in 2016 for the age group 15-16.
  • For children (age 6-14), it has increased between 2014 and 2016 — Madhya Pradesh (3.4% to 4.4%), Chhattisgarh (2% to 2.8%), and Uttar Pradesh (4.9% to 5.3). In other states, the proportion of out-of-school girls (age group 11-14) also remains greater than 8%. These states are Rajasthan (9.7%) and Uttar Pradesh (9.9%). Joining them in 2016 is Madhya Pradesh (8.5%).
  • There is no significant increase in private school enrollment between 2014 and 2016. However, both in Kerala and Gujarat, there was an increase in government school enrolment while Uttarakhand (Arunachal Pradesh and Assam showed increase in private school enrolment in in the 6-14 age group.
  • Nationally, no change in the availability of computers in schools since 2014. However, some states stand out in terms of high provision of computers- Kerala, 89% of schools visited had computers; 75.2% in Gujarat, 55.1% in Maharashtra and 57.3% in Tamil Nadu.
  • The proportion of schools with libraries has fallen from 78.1% in 2014 to 75.5% in 2016. However, children were seen using library books in more schools in 2016.

Sources: et.


Facts for Prelims


24th Conference of Central and State Statistical Organisations(COCSSO):  

  • The two day Conference of Central and State Statistical Organizations (COCSSO) has begun at Nagpur, Maharashtra.
  • This Conference is being conducted by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) in collaboration with the Directorate of Economics and Statistics(DES), Government of Maharashtra.
  • The theme of this year’s Conference is “Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare”.
  • As per the recommendations of the National Statistical Commission, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation organizes a COCSSO every year, which provides a platform for the Central and State Statisticians to exchange views and discuss common issues relating to statistical activities.
  • This is a major national forum for coordination between the Central and State Statistical Agencies with the objective of putting in coordinated efforts for making available reliable and timely statistics to planners and policy makers, not only in Government but also in private corporate sector for evidence based decision making and good governance.


Bengaluru beats Silicon Valley, becomes the most dynamic city in the world: 

  • Bengaluru has emerged as the most dynamic city in Jones Lang LaSalle’s fourth annual City Momentum Index of cities around the world.
  • Bengaluru is followed by Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam and Silicon Valley in the U.S.
  • Other cities in Top 10 category include Shanghai, Hyderabad, London, Austin, Hanoi, Boston and Nairobi.
  • Asia-Pacific cities comprise half of the top 30 fastest-changing cities. India has taken over from China as home to some of the world’s most dynamic cities. Six Indian cities feature in the CMI Global Top 30, with the country’s primary technology hub, Bengaluru, moving into the top spot for the first time.
  • The annual City Momentum Index tracks the speed of change of a city’s economy and commercial real estate market. It covers 134 major established and emerging business hubs and identifies cities that have the potential to maintain the greatest dynamism over the short and long term.