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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 March 2017


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 March 2017


Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Cabinet approves of proposal to establish a Fund of Fund for Start-ups (FFS)


The Union Cabinet has approved the following proposals with regard to the Fund of Funds of Start-ups (FFS) which was established in June, last year with a corpus of Rs. 1,000 for start up fund

  • Alternate Investment Funds (AIFs) supported by FFS shall invest at least twice the amount of contribution received from FFS in Start-ups. Further, if the amount committed for a Start-up in whole has not been released before a Start-up ceases to be so, the balance funding can continue thereafter.
  • It was also decided that operating expenses for carrying out due diligence, legal and technical appraisal, convening meeting of Venture Capital Investment Committee, etc. would be met out of the FFS to the extent of 0.50% of the commitments made to AIFs and outstanding. This will be debited to the fund at the beginning of each half year; i.e. April 1 and October 1.


About FFS:

The Union Cabinet in 2016 had approved the proposal to establish a Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) with a total corpus of Rs.10000 crore, with contribution spread over the 14th & 15th Finance Commission cycles based on progress of implementation and availability of funds. It was decided that the FFS shall contribute to the corpus of Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) for investing in equity and equity linked instruments of various start-ups at early stage, seed stage and growth stages.

  • The FFS is being managed and operated by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). FFS contributes to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) that may go up to a maximum of 35% of the corpus of the AIF concerned. 
  • The Cabinet has decided that the corpus of Fund of Funds along with counterpart funds raised by the AIFs in which FFS takes equity would be invested entirely in Start-ups.

Sources: pib.


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


Amendment to ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009’


The Union Cabinet has approved the amendment to Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.


Key facts:

  • The amendments are aimed at ensuring that all teachers, in position as on 31st March, 2015, acquire the minimum qualifications prescribed by the academic authority to extend the period for such training for four years up to 31st March, 2019.
  • This will enable the in-service untrained elementary teachers to complete their training and ensure that all teachers at the elementary level in the country have a certain minimum standard of qualifications.
  • This would also ensure that all Teachers would attain minimum qualifications as considered necessary to maintain the standard of teaching quality. This would ultimately result in improvement in overall quality of teachers, teaching processes and consequently learning outcomes of children.
  • This will also reinforce the Government’s emphasis on improvement of quality of elementary education.



The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, is effective from 1st April, 2010. It envisages free and compulsory elementary education to every child in the age group of 6-14 years.

The Proviso to Section 23(2) of the Act specifies that all teachers at elementary level who, at the commencement of this Act, did not possess the minimum qualifications as laid down under the RTE Act, need to acquire these within a period of five years i.e., 31st March, 2015. However, several State governments have reported that out of a total number of 66.41 lakh teachers at the elementary level, 11.00 lakh are still untrained (of this, 5.12 lakh are in Government and Aided Schools and 5.98 lakh are in private schools).

Sources: the hindu.


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


World Water Day


World Water Day is being observed globally today (22nd March). It is to mark the importance of water to human civilisation and nature.

The United Nations organisation sets a theme each year. Theme this year: wastewater.



World Water Day is part of a global mission to get safer water for all. It’s a day for people to learn, get involved and take action.

The United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day in 1993 following a resolution taken in Rio, Brazil in 1992. This is the 24th year, and it’s organised by UN Water in collaboration with governments and partners.


Sources: the hindu.


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


NABARD launches Water Conservation Campaign in 1 lakh villages

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has decided to launch a major Water Campaign during the current year, covering around one lakh villages in vulnerable/ water stressed areas and more specifically, where the ground water is over-exploited.


Key facts:

  • The campaign would essentially focus on creating awareness among the rural community about the methods of water conservation, preservation and its efficient utilization at various levels using the modern technologies like micro irrigation (more crop per drop), traditional water management practices, adopting improved package of agronomic practices and others.
  • In an innovative move, NABARD proposes to identify Village Volunteers (Jal Doots) for a localized and more effective approach. These volunteers will increase awareness about various methods of rain water harvesting, efficient water use, recharging groundwater and integrated farming systems besides facilitating creation of water conservation structures and adoption of water efficient practices/ technologies through convergence with the ongoing schemes of the Govt./ banks.
  • Adequate number of Master Trainers in each State will be identified and professionally trained who will be deployed to run the campaign at district/ village level during the campaign period of April to July 2017.



It is an apex development and specialized bank established on 12 July 1982 by an act by the parliament of India. Its main focus is to uplift rural India by increasing the credit flow for elevation of agriculture & rural non farm sector.

  • It was established based on the recommendations of the Committee set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under the chairmanship of Shri B. sivaraman.
  • It replaced the Agricultural Credit Department (ACD) and Rural Planning and Credit Cell (RPCC) of Reserve Bank of India, and Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation (ARDC).
  • It has been accredited with “matters concerning policy, planning and operations in the field of credit for agriculture and other economic activities in rural areas in India”.
  • NABARD is active in developing financial inclusion policy and is a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion.


Important functions:

It Serves as an apex financing agency for the institutions providing investment and production credit for promoting the various developmental activities in rural areas.

  • It takes measures towards institution building for improving absorptive capacity of the credit delivery system, including monitoring, formulation of rehabilitation schemes, restructuring of credit institutions, training of personnel, etc.
  • It regulates the cooperative banks and the RRB’s, and manages talent acquisition through IBPS CWE.
  • NABARD is also known for its ‘SHG Bank Linkage Programme’ which encourages India’s banks to lend to SHGs.


Sources: the hindu.


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.   


8 tribunals face axe amid downsizing

The Centre has decided to wind up eight tribunals that currently deal exclusively with disputes pertaining to employees’ provident fund or EPF, Competition law, Airports’ economic regulation, Information Technology law, National highways, railways, copyrights and foreign exchange.

  • The Lok Sabha has approved amendments to this effect in the Finance Bill of 2017 proposed by the Centre, along with changes in the norms for tribunals, appellate tribunals and other boards associated with the administration of 17 central laws.


Key facts:

  • The major tribunals to be relegated to history include the Competition Appellate Tribunal, whose work will now be transferred to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal; the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal (AERAAT) and the Cyber Appellate Tribunal — whose functions will now be discharged by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT).
  • The EPF Appellate Tribunal’s remit would be transferred to the Industrial Tribunal that examines matters under the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947.
  • Cases under the Foreign Exchange Management Act of 1999 would be transferred from the dedicated tribunal for foreign exchange matters to the Appellate Tribunal constituted under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act of 1976.
  • National Highways Tribunal that deals with disputes under the Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act of 2002 will be wound up.
  • Highway disputes will now be adjudicated by the Airport Appellate Tribunal set up under the Airport Authority of India Act of 1994, which is distinct from AERAAT.
  • The Railways Rates Tribunal for hearing matters under the Railways Act of 1989 will also cease to exist, with its workload transferred to the Railway Claims Tribunal set up under a 1987 law.
  • The Copyright Act of 1957, decisions under which are currently reviewed by the Copyright Board, will now be transferred to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board set up under the Trademarks Act of 1999.


Way ahead:

Typically, the terms of service of such tribunal heads and members are enshrined in the laws. The chairpersons and members of tribunals that are being wound up, will receive three months pay and allowances for the premature termination of their tenure, even as the Finance Bill makes significant changes in the terms of service and rules for appointments of such members and chairpersons in the tribunals that will continue to operate.


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. 


Third largest hypersonic wind tunnel at VSSC

Indigenously developed hypersonic wind tunnel and shock tunnel, the third largest in terms of size and simulation capability in the world, have been commissioned at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).


What is it for?

A wind tunnel is used to study the effects of air flowing past a solid object—in ISRO’s case, space vehicles. With the space agency lining up big missions like the ‘Reusable Launch Vehicle’ (RLV), ‘Two Stage to Orbit’ (TSTO) rockets, air breathing propulsion systems, and the human space flight programme for the future, the aero-thermodynamic modelling of such vehicles in a hypersonic environment is vital for optimal designs.


Significance of this move:

Commissioning of such facilities would provide adequate data for design and development of current and future Space transportation systems in the country.  The commissioning of the facility also symbolises the country’s capability in establishing such world class facilities wherein technology from outside is restricted or not available.

The facility will also help aerodynamic characterisation of advanced space transportation systems.


The need for wind tunnels and shock tunnels:

  • Aerospace vehicles fly at high speed, often greater than the speed of sound. Their re-entry through the atmosphere is at high Mach numbers, the modelling of which is intricate.
  • Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and Shock Tunnel facilities are used to simulate the aero-thermal environment where characterisation of vehicles is carried out. Facilities existing in the country are smaller in size and have limited simulation capabilities.
  • One metre hypersonic wind tunnel can simulate flow speeds of Mach 6 to 12.
  • One metre shock tunnel simulates flight speed of 4.5 kilometres per second.


Sources: the hindu.


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


Law coming to enforce dam safety regulations

The Centre is contemplating an institutional mechanism to improve safety in India’s 5300-odd dams. The new law, which has been vetted by the Union Law Ministry and will now go to the Union Cabinet for approval.

  • It proposes a Central authority and State-level bodies that will enforce regulation. Dam and project proponents falling short could face a fine, though they are unlikely to face imprisonment.


Need for the new law:

  • There are around 4900 large dams in India and several thousand smaller ones. About 300 are in various stages of construction. However, large reservoirs and water storage structures, in the past few decades, are not seen as a model of safety.
  • Currently, guidelines in this regard are not effectively enforced by the States. A recent analysis of the state of India’s dams found that half of them did not meet contemporary safety standards.

Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:


American Hindu Coalition (AHC):

  • It is a new organisation launched by a group of influential American Hindus, most of them of Indian descent. It aspires to emerge as the political platform for all Hindus in the country regardless of their ethnic origin.
  • The American Hindu Coalition (AHC) will be formally inaugurated in May but the group has launched a website and started raising funds online and from selected donors.
  • Primary aim of AHC is to represent Hindus in America who are U.S citizens, not all of them from India.