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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 Aug 2017

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 04 Aug 2017

Paper 2:


Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.


NOTA option to stay in Rajya Sabha polls


The Supreme Court has refused to stay an Election Commission circular issued in January 2014 that introduced NOTA in the Rajya Sabha elections. The court has, however, issued notice to the Election Commission of India, saying the poll body should be heard in detail as any judicial decision on NOTA may have a ripple effect on elections conducted from January 24, 2014, to the present day.



The Election Commission, in October 2013, issued directions for providing the NOTA option in elections. But then, doubts were raised about its applicability in the Rajya Sabha polls.

  • After examining the issue, the EC on January 24, 2014, directed that the option would also apply for elections to the Rajya Sabha. Immediately thereafter, NOTA was introduced for the biennial elections to the Upper House held in 16 States on February 7 the same year.
  • On February 27, 2014, while extending the NOTA option to the Legislative Council elections, the electoral body gave further directives on its use.


What is NOTA?

NOTA, or ‘None Of The Above’, option appears at the bottom of EVM or ballot paper, below the names of all the contestants. This option allows a voter to reject all the candidates in any election. It was included in the EVMs and ballot papers by virtue of a Supreme Court judgment in September 2013 which directed the Election Commission to “make necessary provision in the ballot papers/EVMs for “None of the Above (NOTA)” option so that the electors who do not wish to vote for any of the candidates can exercise their right not to vote for any candidate without violation of the secrecy of their decision.”

  • The Supreme Court had justified the inclusion of NOTA by saying that it would force political parties to project clean candidates in an election. The court said that since all citizens have the “right to vote”, one must also have the right to reject all candidates as part of their fundamental right to speech and expression in the Constitution.


Prior to this judgment, there was a similar provision in which one could refuse all the candidates in the fray and exercise his or her right to vote. To do that, a voter had to go to the Presiding Officer at the polling booth and fill form 17A. This, however, did not allow for anonymity.


Which other countries have such a provision?

According to Association of Democratic Reforms, apart from India, France, Belgium, Bangladesh, Brazil, Greece, Ukraine, Chile, Finland, Sweden, Spain and Columbia are countries where NOTA or similar voting practice is allowed. Few states like Nevada and Texas in the US also allow it. Bulgaria also joined the list in 2016.


Sources: the hindu.


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


Breastfeeding Week to promote breastfeeding


Breastfeeding Week is observed in the first week of August to focus attention on the important aspect of promotion and support of breastfeeding. The theme of this year’s breastfeeding week is ‘Sustaining Breastfeeding’. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has planned various activities at the national level.

MAA program

MAA programme:

To intensify the efforts further for promotion of breastfeeding, the Health Ministry has initiated a nationwide programme called “MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection’’ to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of services towards supporting breastfeeding, along with ongoing efforts of routine health systems.

  • The key components of the MAA programme are awareness generation, promotion of breastfeeding & inter personal counselling at community level, skilled support for breastfeeding at delivery points and monitoring and Award/ recognition of health facility.
  • Under this programme, ASHA has been incentivized for reaching out to pregnant and lactating mothers and provide information on benefits and techniques of successful breastfeeding during interpersonal communication. ANMs at all sub-centres and health personnel at all delivery points are being trained for providing skilled support to mothers referred with issues related to breastfeeding.
  • Under NHM, funding support has been recommended for all States and UTs for successful implementation of the MAA programme.


Significance of breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding is an important efficient and cost-effective intervention promoting child survival and health. Breastfeeding within an hour of birth could prevent 20% of the newborn deaths. Infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pnuemonia and 11 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than children who are exclusively breastfed, which are two leading causes of death in children under-five years of age. In addition, children who were not breastfed are at increased risk for diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome etc. Apart from mortality and morbidity benefits, breastfeeding also has tremendous impact on improved IQ.


Sources: pib.


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


Lok Sabha passes bill to raise Nabard’s capital to Rs 30000 crore


The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to enable exit of RBI from Nabard and increase authorised capital of the development institution six times to Rs 30,000 crore was recently passed by the Lok Sabha.


Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill seeks to amend the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981.

Increase in capital of NABARD: Under the 1981 Act, NABARD may have a capital of Rs 100 crore.  This capital can be further increased to Rs 5,000 crore by the central government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The Bill allows the central government to increase this capital to Rs 30,000 crore.  The capital may be increased to more than Rs 30,000 crore by the central government in consultation with the RBI, if necessary.

Transfer of the RBI’s share to the central government: Under the 1981 Act, the central government and the RBI together must hold at least 51% of the share capital of NABARD.  The Bill provides that the central government alone must hold at least 51% of the share capital of NABARD.  The Bill transfers the share capital held by the RBI and valued at Rs 20 crore to the central government.  The central government will give an equal amount to the RBI.

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME): The Bill replaces the terms ‘small-scale industry’ and ‘industry in the tiny and decentralised sector’ with the terms ‘micro enterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ and ‘medium enterprise’ as defined in the MSME Development Act, 2006.  Under the 1981 Act, NABARD was responsible for providing credit and other facilities to industries having an investment of upto Rs 20 lakh in machinery and plant.  The Bill extends this to apply to enterprises with investment upto Rs 10 crore in the manufacturing sector and Rs five crore in the services sector.

Under the 1981 Act, experts from small-scale industries are included in the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of NABARD.  Further, banks providing loans to small-scale, tiny and decentralised sector industries are eligible to receive financial assistance from NABARD.  The Bill extends these provisions to the micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Consistency with the Companies Act, 2013:  The Bill substitutes references to provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 under the NABARD Act, 1981, with references to the Companies Act, 2013.  These include provisions that deal with: (i) definition of a government company, and (ii) qualifications of auditors.



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. shivaraman.
  • 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”.


Sources: the hindu.


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.


Development of Radiation Technology


Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) – Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has been actively engaged in R&D work on the technology of preservation and hygienization of food and agri-products by radiation.



Irradiation is very effective in treating the horticultural produces. Extension of shelf life of horticultural produces is very much depended on the produce, variety and storage conditions. For many fresh agri produce subjected to irradiation and proper storage, substantial shelf life extension has been achieved.


Unique advantages of radiation processing are:

  • Significant increase in shelf life for many products including fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses, spices, sea foods and meat products.
  • Effective elimination of harmful bacteria, viruses and insects/pests.
  • Cold & clean process (No temperature raise or residue); and treatment done after final packaging (no repacking necessary).


What is irradiation?

In irradiation, food products are subjected to a low dosage of radiation to treat them for germs and insects, increasing their longevity and shelf life. Radiation treatment is carried out in dosage recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and it neither reduces the nutritional value of food nor spoils their taste and appearance.


How this will help India?

In India, according to estimates, post-harvest losses in food and food grains are around 40-50%, primarily due to insect infestation, microbiological contamination, physiological changes due to sprouting and ripening, and poor shelf life.

  • The wastage of fruits and vegetables alone is about Rs. 60,000 crore annually. Including cereals, meat, pulses and flowers, the annual loss is estimated to be Rs. 2,50,000 crores. Besides, there are a few low level irradiation plants in the country, which are not adequate.
  • With irradiation, it is possible to reduce these losses.


Government efforts in this regard:

  • BARC-DAE has set up two technology demonstration units, one commissioned in the year 2000 for high dose irradiation at Vashi, Navi Mumbai, and another in 2002, for low dose irradiation, KRUSHAK (Krushi Utpadan Sanrakshan Kendra) facility at Lasalgaon, near Nashik.
  • Recently the harmonization of food irradiation rules with the international regulation through adaptation of class wise clearance of irradiated food items by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has taken place [Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Sixth Amendment Regulations, 2016] for large scale deployment of this technology.
  • India and Russia have also signed a pact to set up 25 integrated infrastructure centers for irradiation treatment of perishable food items to improve shelf life and cut post-harvest losses.


Way ahead:

The quantum of horticulture produce in India is huge. Hence, many more facilities are needed.


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.

AGRI UDAAN- Food and Agribusiness Accelerator 2.0


In an attempt to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture, the government is launching a new AGRI-UDAAN programme that will mentor startups and help them connect with potential investors.


Key facts:

  • The programme will help convert innovative ideas from India’s rural youth into viable businesses. The idea is to attract the youth from rural India and elsewhere, and train them so they can add value to the farmers’ produce.
  • It will be managed by ICAR-NAARM’s technology incubator, a-IDEA along with IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation.
  • Under the programme, start-ups will get incubation space to run their businesses and have access to research laboratories and libraries. AGRI UDAAN will also help the selected start-ups with regulatory services like company registration and environmental compliances.
  • The programme will shortlist 40 start-ups in the first round who will pitch their ideas to a panel of evaluators. Out of these, between 8 to 12 start-ups will be selected for the final capacity building workshop.
  • Following an intensive training lasting six months, the new start-ups will be connected to investors for funding.


Sources: pib.


Topic: indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


India’s first private missile production facility unveiled


India’s first private sector missile sub-systems manufacturing facility, a joint venture between Kalyani Group and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd., was recently inaugurated near Hyderabad.

  • Formed in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Centre and the policy to encourage private sector participation in defence production, the 51:49 joint venture will develop a wide range of advanced capabilities.
  • To begin with, the Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS) plant will make anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) Spike. Besides supplying to the Indian Army, the plan is to export to South East Asian countries.


Make in India:

Make in India campaign aims to draw in organizations from around the globe to manufacture and invest in India. The campaign concentrates on facilitating job creation, enforcement to the tertiary and secondary sector, boosting the national economy, making India a self-reliant nation and ensuring that the Indian economy gets international acknowledgement.

  • The essential target of the campaign is to draw in ventures from over the globe and reinforce India’s assembling segment. It is being driven by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
  • Under the ‘Make in India’ initiative, the government has, in the last one year, announced several steps to improve the business environment by easing processes to do business in the country, and attract foreign investments.


Sources: the hindu.


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


Joint Project between NASA and ISRO

ISRO and NASA are working towards realisation of NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission by 2021.



ISRO and NASA have a framework agreement for cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes signed in 2008. Under this framework agreement, ISRO and NASA have executed an implementing arrangement for cooperation in NISAR mission, which is valid until 2034 and provides scope for joint activities on science & applications of NISAR data after the launch.


About NISAR:

The Nasa-Isro Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission is a joint project between NASA and ISRO to co-develop and launch a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar satellite.

  • The satellite will be the first radar imaging satellite to use dual frequency and it is planned to be used for remote sensing to observe and understand natural processes of the Earth.
  • NISAR would provide information about a place more frequently than older satellites orbiting the Earth at present.
  • Among the objectives of NISAR are estimation of soil moisture, agriculture and forest biomass.
  • It is also designed to observe and take measurements of some of the planet’s most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.


Sources: pib.


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


Isro to sign MoU with CSIR-NPL to make desi GPS a reality soon


Seeking to make desi GPS – indigenous regional positioning system named as Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) – independent from the US clock system, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to sign an MoU with CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) for time and frequency traceability services.

  • The move will help the desi GPS get formally synchronized with the Indian Standard Time (IST) which is being maintained by the Delhi-based NPL – the timekeeper of India.
  • The step will help in making the desi GPS fully operational in the market for commercial purposes as time synchronisation is essential for all kinds of services – be it financial transactions, stock handling, digital archiving, time stamping, national security or prevention of cyber crimes.


About NavIC:

NAVIC is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland. It provides two types of services, namely Standard Positioning Services available to all users and Restricted Services provided to authorised users.

It consists of seven satellites. Three of these will be geostationary over the Indian Ocean, i.e., they will appear to be stationary in the sky over the region, and four will be geosynchronous – appearing at the same point in the sky at the same time every day. This configuration ensures each satellite is being tracked by at least one of fourteen ground stations at any given point of time, with a high chance of most of them being visible from any point in India.


Its applications include:

  • Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation.
  • Disaster Management.
  • Vehicle tracking and fleet management.
  • Integration with mobile phones.
  • Precise Timing.
  • Mapping and Geodetic data capture.
  • Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travelers.
  • Visual and voice navigation for drivers.


Sources: et.