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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 April 2017


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 20 April 2017


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


Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill 2017 and National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017

123 bill

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has given Ex-post facto approval for introduction of the following bills in the Parliament:

  • Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill 2017.
  • National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017.


The Constitution Amendment Bill is for:

  • Constitution of a Commission under Article 338B for socially and educationally backward classes by name of National Commission for Backward Classes.
  • Insertion of Clause (26C) under Article 366 with modified definition viz. “socially and educationally backward classes” means such backward classes as are so deemed under Article 342A for the purpose, this Constitution.


NCBC repeal Bill is for:

  • Repeal of the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 along with Savings Clause for namely the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017.
  • Dissolution of the National Commission for Backward Classes with effect from such date as the Central Government may appoint in this behalf and the National Commission for Backward Classes constituted under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the said Act shall stand dissolved.


Key facts:

  • The proposed Act of repeal is necessary in view of setting up of the National Commission for Backward Classes by insertion of Article 338B of the Constitution.
  • The decision will also enable effecting continuity in the functioning of the National Commission for Backward Classes under Article 338B.


Sources: pib.


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


The Government decides to do away with beacons for all categories of vehicles


With a view to strengthening healthy democratic values in the country, the Central Government has decided to do away with beacons of all kinds atop all categories of vehicles in the country. States are also being stripped of their power to specify persons whose vehicles can use blue flashing lights.



Amendments in this regard will be made in the Central Motor Vehicles Rules of 1989. A specific clause in Rule 108 of the 1989 regulations, which empowers the Centre and the States to designate some dignitaries as entitled to red lights on top of their vehicles, is being abolished. Its abolition would mean that neither the Centre nor the States would have any dignitary that governments can nominate for the usage of red beacons.  


What necessitated this move?

Beacons on vehicles are perceived symbols of VIP Culture, and the government believes they have no place in a democratic country.



Beacons, however, will be allowed on vehicles concerned with emergency and relief services, ambulance, fire service etc.


Sources: the hindu.


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


Cabinet approves permission to avail external assistance by State Government entities from bilateral agencies

The Union Cabinet has approved the policy guidelines to allow financially sound State Government entities to borrow directly from bilateral ODA (Official development Assistance) partners for implementation of vital infrastructure projects.


Key facts:

  • The guidelines will facilitate the State Government entities to directly borrow from the external bilateral funding agencies subject to fulfilment of certain conditions and all repayments of loans and interests to the funding agencies will be directly remitted by the concerned borrower.
  • The concerned State Government will furnish guarantee for the Loan. The Government of India will provide counter guarantee for the loan.


Significance of this move:

Several State agencies are implementing major infrastructure projects of national importance. These projects, even if viable and sound, have huge funding requirements and borrowing by the State Governments for such projects may exhaust their respective borrowing limits. Therefore, in order to accelerate the pace of investment in major infrastructure projects in the country without compromising the need for external assistance for other sectors, this enabling provision in the existing guidelines was considered necessary to facilitate direct borrowing by the State Government entities from bilateral external agencies.


Present scenario:

Presently, external development assistance from bilateral and multilateral sources is received by the Government of India:

  • For projects/programmes in the Central sector.
  • For projects executed by Central Public Sector Undertakings.
  • On behalf of the State Governments for State sector projects/programmes to be implemented by the State Governments and/or local bodies and public sector undertakings.

The existing guidelines do not allow direct borrowings by the State Government entities from external agencies.


Sources: pib.


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.


A frog’s mucus could treat flu


Researchers have found that skin mucus secreted by a colourful, tennis ball-sized frog species- Hydrophylax bahuvistara, found in Kerala can be used to develop an anti-viral drug that can treat various strains of flu.

frogs mucus

Key facts:

  • The secretion from frog contains peptide, or chain of amino acids. The researchers have named the newly identified peptide “urumin” after the urumi, a sword with a flexible blade that snaps and bends like a whip.
  • Urumin is not toxic to mammals, but “appears to only disrupt the integrity of flu virus”.
  • It seems to work by binding to a protein that is identical across many influenza strains, and in lab experiments, it was able to neutralise dozens of flu strains.
  • More research is needed to determine if urumin could become a preventive treatment against the flu in humans, and to see if other frog-derived peptides could protect against viruses like dengue and Zika.


Sources: the hindu.


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


India, China to resume stalled dialogue on corridor with Myanmar, Bangladesh


The stalled consultation process for the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) Economic Corridor is set to resume, with officials and scholars from the four countries shortly meeting in Kolkata after a gap of more than two-and-half years. The last meeting of the Joint Study Group (JSG), which has government sanction, was held at Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh in December 2014.



The idea of creating a corridor of regional integrity was first floated in 1999 but there has been little progress in implementing the grand plan.

Officially, China and India say the process of finalising the BCIM is not easy because of several reasons, including the restive nature of the region the planned corridor will pass through. Privately, diplomats and bureaucrats from the two countries blame each other for the tardy progress.


About BCIM Economic Corridor:

The BCIM economic corridor hopes to connect Kolkata with Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province. It envisages formation of a thriving economic belt, focusing on cross-border transport, energy and telecommunication networks.

Starting from Kunming, the route passes through nodal points, such as Mandalay and Lashio in Myanmar. It heads towards Kolkata after passing through Manipur and Silchar, before crossing Bangladesh via Sylhet and Dhaka, with branches extending to the ports of Cox Bazar and Chittagong.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


Aryabhata: Looking back at first Indian ‘space baby’


India’s first satellite – Aryabhata – was launched successfully by a Russian rocket on 19th April 42 years ago in 1975, taking the country on an exciting space odyssey as far as the Moon and the Mars.


About Aryabhata:

Aryabhata is the first Indian spacecraft that was also built in the country. Named after the 5th century astronomer, the experimental spacecraft did not last its design life of six months in space. But this kick-started the Indian capability to build satellites solidly on track.

  • It was meant to study distant celestial bodies that emit X-rays, Sun and Earth’s ionosphere.
  • ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) — which has built nearly 90 bigger and far more sophisticated spacecraft since then — proudly observes April 19 every year as Aryabhata Day or Technology Day.


Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:


Video gaming to be featured at 2022 Asian Games:

  • Competitive video games will become a medal sport for the first time ever at the 2022 Asian Games.
  • They will appear as a demonstration event at the 2018 edition of the next Asian Games, to be held in Indonesia, as part of the run-up to esports’ official inclusion as a medal sport in the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
  • Asian Games is a multi-sport competition, touted as second only to the Olympics in terms of size. It is held every four years.


One Part Woman bags Sahitya Akademi award:

  • The English translation of writer Perumal Murugan’s novel Mathorubhagan (One Part Woman) has won the Sahitya Akademi’s award for translation in English. The translation was done by Aniruddhan Vasudevan.
  • The Sahitya Akademi Award is a literary honor in India, which the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, annually confers on writers of the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages (24 languages, including the 22 listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, along with English and Rajasthani) recognised by the Sahitya Akademi.