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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 03 Aug 2017


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 03 Aug 2017


Paper 2:

Topic: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.


Proxy voting for NRIs cleared by the Union Cabinet


The Union Cabinet has cleared a proposal to extend proxy voting to overseas Indians by amending electoral laws. If the proposal passes political muster in Parliament, NRIs will be able to exercise their voting rights through “proxy”. Currently, only service personnel are permitted to vote through proxy.



An expert committee in the Election Commission working on the issue had, in 2015, forwarded the legal framework to the law ministry to amend electoral laws to allow overseas Indians use proxy voting.


Need for the introduction of proxy voting:

According to rough estimates, there are about 1 crore Indians settled abroad, of which 60 lakh could be of eligible voting age. Currently, voters residing abroad can only cast their votes in their respective constituencies. This regulation is seen as restrictive as only a few thousand Indians living overseas have registered as voters, the maximum being from Kerala. Of these, barely anyone has travelled to the country to exercise his or her franchise.


Key facts:

  • While NRIs and overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies where they are registered, according to the proposal, they would also be allowed to use the option of proxy, which as of now is only available to service personnel.
  • For overseas Indians, the Representation of the People Act needs to be amended to include proxy voting as other means to cast their votes.


How proxy voting takes place?

The Union Cabinet’s approval for proxy voting by NRIs carries a caveat: they cannot nominate one proxy for all polls. Overseas electors will have to appoint a nominee afresh for each election — one person can act as proxy for only one overseas voter. The proxy voter should be an ordinary resident of the constituency one is voting in.


Sources: the hindu.


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


Memorandum of Association (MOA) to establish the ISARC


In order to establish the IRRI-South Asia Regional Centre (ISARC), a Memorandum of Association (MOA) has been signed between the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC & FW), DAC&FW and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines.


About ISARC:

The Center will be the first international Center in the eastern India and it will play a major role in harnessing and sustaining rice production in the region. It is expected to be a boon for food production and skill development in the eastern India and similar ecologies in other South Asian and African countries.

  • This would be a Centre of Excellence in Rice Value Addition (CERVA) and will include a modern and sophisticated laboratory with the capacity to determine quality and status of heavy metals in grain and straw. The Centre will also undertake capacity-building exercises for stakeholders across the rice value chain.
  • ISARC will operate under the governance of the IRRI Board of Trustees who will appoint an appropriate IRRI staff member as Director. A Coordination Committee will be headed by Director General, IRRI as Chair and Secretary, Government of India, DACFW as Co-Chair.


What it does?

The Centre will support in adopting value chain based production system in the country. This will reduce wastage, add value and generate higher income for the farmers. The farmers in Eastern India will benefit in particular, besides those in South Asian and African countries.


Sources: pib.


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


Cabinet approves MoU between India and BRICs countries to set up BRICS Agriculture Research Platform


The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed among India and various BRICs countries for establishment of the BRICS Agriculture Research Platform (BRICS-ARP).




In October last year, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for setting up agriculture research platform (ARP) was signed by foreign ministers of BRICS countries in the 8th BRICS Summit held at Goa. With this, the Centre will promote sustainable agricultural development and poverty alleviation through strategic cooperation in agriculture to provide food security in the BRICS member countries.

BRICS-ARP will be the natural global platform for science-led agriculture-based sustainable development for addressing the issues of world hunger, under-nutrition, poverty and inequality, particularly between farmers’ and non-farmers’ income, and enhancing agricultural trade, bio-security and climate resilient agriculture.


Sources: pib.


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


India, ASEAN-5 more fetching to FDI than other emerging markets


As per a report, India along with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam has emerged as attractive destinations to FDIs as compared to other emerging markets and flows to these nations are expected to surge to around USD 240 billion by 2025.

  • For the same reason, India and ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) have been dubbed as “Asia’s tiger cubs“.
  • Moreover, sources of FDI to these nations are also witnessing a significant shift with more inflows expected from countries as China and Japan.


Factors behind this:

Rising labour costs in China and an ageing population in Northeast Asia have disincentivised foreign direct investment (FDI) and they are in search of new destinations and “India and the ASEAN-5 are well placed to emerge as that destination. Other factors that are expected to encourage FDI into India and ASEAN-5 include – large and growing domestic markets; reforms focussed on improving infrastructure and the ease of doing business; a more open and liberal FDI regime; sound economic management and political stability; and availability of low-cost labour.


Sources: et.


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

‘Merit-based’ immigration plan may benefit Indian professionals


President Donald Trump has announced his support for the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act that would cut in half the number legal immigrants allowed into the US while moving to a “merit-based” system favouring English-speaking skilled workers for residency cards.


What you need to know about the RAISE Act?

The RAISE Act would scrap the current lottery system to get into the US and instead institute a points-based system for earning a green card. Factors that would be taken into account include English language skills, education, high- paying job offers and age.

  • The RAISE Act ends chain migration, and replaces the low-skilled system with a new points-based system for receiving a Green Card.
  • If passed by the Congress and signed into law, the legislation titled the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act could benefit highly-educated and technology professionals from countries like India.


Sources: et.


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


Chinese daily cautions India, Japan over trade corridor


China has cautioned India and Japan over the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) sponsored by India and Japan. Some experts see AAGC as a counterbalance to China’s “Belt and Road” (B&R) initiative.


What’s the issue?

The new venture, jointly led by India and Japan – two countries that have so far opted not to join the B&R initiative – sets out a vision for the better integration of South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia with Africa and Oceania. However, the India-Japan vision indicates an overlap between the AAGC and the Belt and Road project and invites controversy over the actual intentions behind the growth corridor.


“One Belt, One Road” (OBOR):

Connecting with more than 60 across Asia, Europe and Africa, OBOR is one of the largest infrastructural projects and a network of land and sea routes. The primary objective of the Chinese President is to create a network of railways, roads, pipelines and grids, which will boost the development of China’s connectivity to the rest of the world. The initiative introduced by the Chinese government includes the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with the collaboration of more than 40 other countries, amid a huge investment of $50 billion from Chinese companies for infrastructural projects.


Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC):

Aiming to strengthen the growth and connectivity between Asia and Africa, India and Japan initiated the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), which primarily focuses on Development Cooperation Projects, Quality Infrastructure and Institutional Connectivity, Enhancing Skills, and People-to-People Partnership. Reportedly, China is Africa’s largest economic partner with a trade growth rate of 20% per year since 2002 and AAGC initiative by China’s two Asian rivals is key for the trans-continent relation between the Asian and African countries.


Is AAGC a counter to OBOR?

Unlike OBOR which entails development of a land corridor, AAGC will essentially be a sea corridor linking Africa with India and other countries of South-East Asia and Oceania. It is being presented as a “distinct initiative” borne out of a consultative process which would be profitable and bankable, unlike the “government-funded model” of OBOR (One Belt One Road) project.


Sources: et.


Paper 3:


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


RBI plans to set up public credit registry


RBI has announced the creation of a panel to consider creation of a Public Credit Registry (PCR) operated by the regulator.


What you need to know about the PCR?

The PCR will be an extensive database of credit information for India that is accessible to all stakeholders. The idea is to capture all relevant information in one large database on the borrower and, in particular, the borrower’s entire set of borrowing contracts and outcomes.


Need for a PCR:

A central repository, which, for instance, captures and certifies the details of collaterals, can enable the writing of contracts that prevent over-pledging of collateral by a borrower. In absence of the repository, the lender may not trust its first right on the collateral and either charge a high cost on the loan or ask for more collateral than necessary to prevent being diluted by other lenders. This leads to, what in economics is termed as, pecuniary externality – in this case, a spillover of one loan contract onto outcomes and terms of other loan contracts.

Furthermore, absent a public credit registry, the ‘good’ borrowers are disadvantaged in not being able to distinguish themselves from the rest in opaque credit markets; they could potentially be subjected to a rent being extracted from their existing lenders who enjoy an information monopoly over them. The lenders may also end up picking up fresh clients who have a history of delinquency that is unknown to all lenders and this way face greater overall credit risk.


Benefits of having a PCR:

  • A PCR can potentially help banks in credit assessment and pricing of credit as well as in making risk-based, dynamic and counter-cyclical provisioning.
  • The PCR can also help the RBI in understanding if transmission of monetary policy is working, and if not, where are the bottlenecks.
  • Further, it can help supervisors, regulators and banks in early intervention and effective restructuring of stressed bank credits.
  • A PCR will also help banks and regulators as credit information is a ‘public good’ and its utility is to the credit market at large and to society in general.


Sources: et.


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


Israel launches first environmental research satellite Venμs


Israel has launched the country’s first environmental research satellite in a joint venture between the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and its French counterpart CNES.


Key facts:

  • The Venus satellite (Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Micro-Satellite) is an earth-observation micro-satellite.
  • The satellite’s goal is to obtain high-resolution photographs of specific sites to track environmental issues such as desertification, erosion, pollution, natural disasters, and other phenomena linked to climate change.
  • The high resolution — plants can be distinguished as little as five meters apart — makes possible “precision agriculture,” in which farmers would be able to accurately plan for water, fertilizer, and pesticide needs.
  • The technological mission of the satellite will test the operation of an innovative electric propulsion system based on the Israeli-designed Hall Effect Thrusters. A Hall-effect thruster (HET) is a relatively low power device used to propel a spacecraft after entering orbit or farther out into space.
  • The satellite will be able to take repeated photos of the same spot in the same light conditions (accounting for the position of the sun), allowing for more accurate tracking of changing environmental issues. This is called “heliosyncronis orbit” because it requires taking a photo of the same coordinates while the sun is in the same position.
  • The satellite will circle the earth 29 times in each 48-hour period and will stay in commission for 4.5 years.


Sources: et.


Facts for Prelims:

Coconut palm declared State tree of Goa:

The Goa state government has decided to include coconut palm as a tree in the Goa, Daman and Diu Preservation of Trees Act, 1984, to regulate felling of coconut trees under the act. The cabinet has also resolved to declare the coconut tree as the “state tree”.