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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 Aug 2017

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 02 Aug 2017


Paper 2:

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


Inadequate breastfeeding may drain Indian economy of USD 14bn


The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, a new report by the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and WHO in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective, has been released.

  • The scorecard was released at the start of World Breastfeeding Week alongside a new analysis, demonstrating that an annual investment of only USD 4.70 per newborn is required to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months to 50% by 2025.


benefits-of-breast-feedingSignificance of breastfeeding:

The report points out that breastfeeding not only helps prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants, it also helps reduce mothers risk of ovarian and breast cancer, two leading causes of death among women. Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life. Breastmilk works like a babys first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive.


Highlights of the report:

  • In China, India, Nigeria, Mexico and Indonesia alone, inadequate breastfeeding is responsible for more than 236,000 child deaths each year. In these countries, the estimated future economic cost of mortality and cognitive losses attributed to inadequate breastfeeding are estimated to be almost USD 119 billion per year.
  • Despite a reported 55% exclusive breastfeeding rate in children below the age of six months, the large population in India and high under five mortality means that an estimated 99,499 children die each year as a result of cases of diarrhea and pneumonia that could have been prevented through early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and continued breastfeeding. Mortality and other losses attributed to inadequate breastfeeding could cost the country’s economy USD 14 billion.
  • Further, the high level of child mortality and growing number of deaths in women from cancers and type II diabetes attributable to inadequate breastfeeding is estimated to drain the Indian economy of USD 7 billion. Together with another $7 billion in costs related to cognitive losses, India is poised to lose an estimated USD 14 billion in its economy, or 0.70% of its Gross National Income.
  • The scorecard, which evaluated 194 nations, reveals that no country in the world fully meets recommended breastfeeding standards. It found that only 40% of children younger than six months are given nothing but breastmilk and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60%.
  • Globally, investment in breastfeeding is far too low. Each year, governments in lower- and middle-income countries spend approximately USD 250 million on breastfeeding promotion donors provide only an additional USD 85 million.


Sources: et.


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.


IT systems of 7 north eastern states integrated with Public Financial Management System


To provide the Centre and State governments with a real time, reliable and meaningful management information system, the IT systems of all North Eastern States’ treasuries (namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, and Tripura) except Nagaland, have been integrated with PFMS.

PFMS is a Centralized Transaction System & Platform, providing end to end Financial management services to all stakeholders. CPSMS Transaction System. Program division (Sanction) DDO- Bill Preparation. PAO – Payments. State Government (Departments/Treasury etc.) Implementing Agency. (E-Payments and other transactions) Banks. External Systems (MCTS/OCEANS etc.) MIS Users. For Analytical Approach. UIDAI. Citizen. Post Offices.


About the Public Financial Management System:

The PFMS, also known as Central Plan Scheme Monitoring System (CPSMS), tracks fund disbursement and ensures that state treasuries are integrated with the Centre to ensure money is send as and when required.

  • PFMS, administered by the department of expenditure, is an end-to-end solution for processing payments, tracking, monitoring, accounting, reconciliation and reporting. It is a web based application.
  • The PFMS platform compiles, collates and makes available in real-time, information regarding all government schemes, and, significantly, provides the government real-time information on resource availability and utilisation across schemes.
  • In addition, the platform will allow government expenditure to adopt a Just-in- Time (JIT) approach, with payments made only when they are needed.
  • The government has set a target to integrate PFMS with all state treasuries in current fiscal and implement Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for welfare and scholarship schemes.


Sources: et


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


USISPF set up to deepen Indo-US ties


A new representative body — US- India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) — is being set up to further enhance business relations between the two countries.


What it does?

The non-profit corporation aims to promote bilateral trade and work on creating “meaningful opportunities that have the power to change the lives of citizens. The body will work closely together with businesses and government leaders to achieve its goals of driving economic growth, job creation, innovation, inclusion and entrepreneurship.


Sources: et.


Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


India allowed to construct hydroelectric power plants under Indus Waters Treaty


The World Bank has said that India is allowed to construct hydroelectric power plants on the Jhelum and Chenab Rivers after secretary-level discussions between India and pakistan on the technical issues over the Indus Waters Treaty concluded recently in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.


What the disagreement is about:

India and Pakistan disagree about the construction of the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants being built by India (the World Bank is not financing either project).  The two countries disagree over whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravene the Treaty. The plants are on respectively a tributary of the Jhelum and the Chenab Rivers. The Treaty designates these two rivers as well as the Indus as the “Western Rivers” to which Pakistan has unrestricted use. Among other uses, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers subject to constraints specified in Annexures to the Treaty.



Pakistan had approached the World Bank last year, raising concerns over the designs of two hydroelectricity projects located in Jammu and Kashmir. It had demanded that the World Bank, which is the mediator between the two countries under the 57-year-old water distribution pact, set up a court of arbitration to look into its concerns.

  • On the other hand, India had asked for the appointment of a neutral expert to look into the issues, contending the concerns Pakistan raised were “technical” ones.
  • Following this, the international lender had in November 2016 initiated two simultaneous processes — for appointing neutral expert and establishment of court of arbitration to look into technical differences between the two countries in connection with the projects.
  • The simultaneous processes, however, were halted after India objected to it. After that, representatives of the World Bank held talks with India and Pakistan to find a way out separately.


What is the Indus Water Treaty (IWT)?

The six rivers of the Indus basin originate in Tibet and flow across the Himalayan ranges to end in the Arabian sea south of Karachi. The components of the treaty were fairly simple. The three western rivers (Jhelum, Chenab and Indus) were allocated to Pakistan while India was given control over the three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej). While India could use the western rivers for consumption purpose, restrictions were placed on building of storage systems. The treaty states that aside of certain specific cases, no storage and irrigation systems can be built by India on the western rivers.


Sources: et.

Paper 3:

Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.


Govt launches e-RaKAM portal for selling agri produce


The government has launched a portal, e-RaKAM, to provide a platform to sell agricultural produce.


Key facts:

E-RaKAM is a first-of-its-kind initiative that leverages technology to connect farmers of the smallest villages to the biggest markets of the world through internet and e-RaKAM centres.

  • The portal is a joint initiative by state-run-auctioneer MSTC and Central Warehousing Corporation arm CRWC.
  • E-RaKAM is developed by MSTC Limited and supported by marketing & logistics partner CRWC Limited.
  • E-RaKAM is a digital initiative bringing together the farmers, FPOs, PSUs, civil supplies and buyers on a single platform to ease the selling and buying process of agricultural products.
  • Under this initiative, e-RaKAM centres are being developed in a phased manner throughout the country to facilitate farmers for online sale of their produce.


Sources: pib.


Topic: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.


Rising temperatures drive up farmer suicides in India: U.S. study

temperature rise


According to a research report from the University of California, Climate change may have led to over 59,000 farmer suicides over the last 30 years in India.

  • The study tested the link between climate change, crop yields and suicide by comparing the number of suicides across India between 1967 and 2013 with crop yield and climate data. Data on suicides were collected from the National Crime Records Bureau.
  • The study was carried out using data for all States and Union Territories. However, the study has several limitations, though, including the fact that it has not looked at other factors that could have contributed to suicides.


Highlights of the study:

  • The increase in temperature during the cropping season reduces crop yields, resulting in increased suicides. Even a 1°C increase in temperature above 20° C in a single day during the crop growing season results in about 70 suicides on average. Similar increase in temperature during other seasons did not result in a rise in suicides.
  • Crop losses due to heat damage cause additional burden on farming households and this at times leads to suicides. An increase in rainfall by 1 cm during the growing season leads to a decrease of about 0.8 deaths per 100,000, thus lowering the suicide rate by 7% on average, she writes.
  • The effect of climate variation reveals that past growing season temperature strongly influences suicide rates in the following years up to about five years. For instance, when there is abundant rainfall during one growing season, the suicide rates dip for the next two or three years. Drought apparently does not seem to have any effect on suicide rates.
  • South India, which is generally hotter, has higher farmer suicide rates. States where the yields are more affected by high temperatures are also the States which report higher suicide rates. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh not only show severe suicide responses to temperature but crop yield is also more negatively affected by higher temperature.
  • The study did not find any adaptive behaviour to prevent suicides in response to climate change.


Way ahead:

The government must undertake anticipatory research using genetic checkmating for potential changes in climate such as changes in precipitation, and temperature. India’s average temperature is expected to increase by 3°C by 2050.


Sources: the hindu.


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


India, China home to 39% of young Internet users: UN report


The ICT Facts and Figures 2017 report released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), shows that of the 830 million young people online worldwide, 320 million, or 39%, are in China and India.

Internet users

Highlights of the report:

Broadband access: There is a significant increase in broadband access and subscriptions with China leading the way. Youths (15-24 years old) are at the forefront of Internet adoption. In Least Developed Countries (LDCs), up to 35% of individuals using the Internet are aged 15-24, compared with 13% in developed countries and 23% globally.

Mobile Broadband subscriptions: Mobile broadband subscriptions have grown more than 20% annually in the last five years and are expected to reach 4.3 billion globally by the end of 2017. Between 2012 and 2017, LDCs saw the highest growth-rate of mobile broadband subscriptions. Despite this, the number of mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in LDCs is the lowest globally at 23%.

Fixed- broadband subscriptions: The number of fixed-broadband subscriptions has increased by 9% annually in the last five years with up to 330 million subscriptions added. There has been an increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions parallel to the growth in the number of fibre connections. Most of the increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions in developing countries can be attributed to China, which accounts for 80% of all fixed-broadband subscriptions at 10 Mbit/s or above in the developing world.

Prices: Mobile broadband prices, as a percentage of gross national income per capita, dropped by half between 2013 and 2016. Mobile broadband is more affordable than fixed broadband in most developing countries.

Gender gap: While the Internet user gender gap has narrowed in most regions since 2013, the proportion of men using the Internet remains slightly higher than the proportion of women using the Internet in two-thirds of countries worldwide. In 2017, the global Internet penetration rate for men stands at 50.9% compared to 44.9% for women.

Bandwidth: International Internet bandwidth grew by 32% between 2015 and 2016, with Africa registering an increase of 72% during this period, the highest of all regions.

Revenues: Global telecommunication revenues declined by 4% from USD 2.0 trillion in 2014 to USD 1.9 trillion in 2015. Developing countries, which are home to 83% of the global population, generate 39% of the worlds telecommunication revenues.



Great strides are being made in expanding Internet access through the increased availability of broadband networks. Digital connectivity plays a critical role in bettering lives, as it opens the door to unprecedented knowledge, employment and financial opportunities for billions of people worldwide.


About ITU:

ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs.

  • It allocates global radio spectrum and satellite orbits, develops the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies seamlessly interconnect, and strives to improve access to ICTs to underserved communities worldwide.
  • An organization based on public-private partnership since its inception, ITU currently has a membership of 193 countries and almost 800 private-sector entities and academic institutions. ITU is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has twelve regional and area offices around the world.


Sources: et.


Topic: Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention.


Justice BN Srikrishna to head Committee for data protection framework


Justice B N Srikrishna, former judge of the Supreme Court of India will head a Committee of experts which has been formed to deliberate on a data protection framework for the country.


Key facts:

  • The government led ten-member committee will “identify key data protection issues in India and recommend methods of addressing them.”
  • The terms of reference of the committee include, “To make specific suggestions for consideration of the Central Government on principles to be considered for data protection in India and suggest a draft data protection bill.”


Need for data protection:

There is a need to ensure growth of the digital economy while keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected. Even though the Information Technology Act contains certain provisions about data protection and handling, experts are of the opinion that India needs a fresh data protection law with the increased digitisation led by Aadhaar, the Goods and Service Tax and the push towards a digital economy. IT Act may also be inadequate to deal with the current requirements since it was drafted almost 17 years ago in 2000 and was amended last in 2008.

Also, in the last 5-6 years there has been a quantum leap in the world of technology which has been driven by trends such as proliferation of social media, growth of ecommerce leading to boom in transactions over the Internet and demonetisation, which has pushed more people into the digital economy, so the IT act may have to be obviously reconsidered in the light of these developments.


Sources: et.