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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 22 December 2017


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 22 December 2017


GS Paper 2:

Topic: RPA.


The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill of 2017



The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill of 2017 has been introduced by the government in the Parliament.

Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill proposes to allow non-resident Indians (NRIs) to emerge as a decisive force in the country’s electoral politics on their own terms. The amendment paves the way to remove an “unreasonable restriction” posed by Section 20A of the Representation of the People Act, which requires overseas electors to be physically present in their electoral constituencies to cast their votes.

What necessitated this move?

Section 20A of the Act provides for registration and inclusion of overseas electors in the electoral rolls. The Registration of Electors Rules, 1960 provide for overseas electors to register themselves in the electoral rolls of their respective constituencies on the basis of self-attested copies of their passport and valid visa, and exercise their franchise in person on production of the original passport at the time of voting at the specified polling booth.

Thus, the rules demand for the physical presence of overseas electors in their respective polling stations in India on the day of polling. This causes hardship to the overseas electors. This amendment proposes facilitating an external mode of voting, that is, voting by proxy, whereby such electors can exercise their franchise from their places of residence abroad.

Significance of this move:

If the Bill is passed, overseas voters can appoint a proxy to cast their votes on their behalf, subject to certain conditions to be laid down in the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. This would considerably mitigate the difficulties presently faced by overseas electors in exercising their franchise.


Sources: the hindu.



Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


National Highways Investment Promotion Cell (NHIPC)


national highways


The National Highways Authority of India has created a National Highways Investment Promotion Cell (NHIPC) for attracting domestic and foreign investment for highways projects.

About NHIPC:

The cell will focus on engaging with global institution investors, construction companies, developers and fund managers for building investor participation in road infrastructure projects.

The NHIPC will be working in close co-ordination with various connected Ministries and Departments of Government of India, State Governments, Apex Business Chambers like CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, and InvestIndia etc. NHIPC will also work in close co-ordination with Foreign Embassies and Missions in India and Indian Embassies and Missions situated in foreign countries.


The Government has set an ambitious target of construction of 35,000 km. of National Highways in the next five years involving an investment of Rs. 5,35,000/- crores under ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’. Given the scale of investment required, both foreign and domestic investment from public and private sector is pivotal.

About NHAI:

The National Highways Authority of India was constituted by an act of Parliament, the National Highways Authority of India Act,1988. It is responsible for the development, maintenance and management of National Highways entrusted to it and for matters connected or incidental thereto. The Authority was operationalised in Feb, 1995.


Sources: pib.



Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.


National Service Scheme


national services awards


The President Shri Ram Nath Kovind recently presented National Service Scheme Awards 2016-17.

Objective of NSS Awards: The objective of NSS Awards is to recognize and reward outstanding contributions towards voluntary community service made by the Universities/ Senior Secondary (+2) Councils, NSS Units/ Programme Officers and NSS Volunteers, with a view to further promote NSS.

About National Service Scheme (NSS):

What is it?

NSS is a Centrally Sector Scheme. The Scheme was launched in the year 1969 with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service. The ideological orientation of the NSS is inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Very appropriately, the motto of NSS is “NOT ME, BUT YOU”.

Programme Structure: 

NSS is being implemented in Senior Secondary Schools, Colleges and Universities. The design of the NSS envisages that each educational institution covered under the Scheme has at least one NSS unit comprising of normally 100 student volunteers, led by a teacher designated as Programme Officer (PO). Each NSS unit adopts a village or slum for taking up its activities.

Nature of Activities under NSS:

Briefly, the NSS volunteers work on issues of social relevance, which keep evolving in response to the needs of the community, through regular and special camping activities. Such issues include (i) literacy and education, (ii) health, family welfare and nutrition, (iii) environment conservation, (iv) social service programmes, (v) programmes for empowerment of women, (vi) programmes connected with economic development activities, (vii) rescue and relief during calamities, etc.


Sources: pib.



Topic: e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.


DARPAN Project




DARPAN – “Digital Advancement of Rural Post Office for A New India” Project has been launched to improve the quality of service, add value to services and achieve “financial inclusion” of un-banked rural population.

The goal of the IT modernization project is to provide a low power technology solution to each Branch Postmaster (BPM) which will enable each of approximately 1.29 Lakhs Branch Post Offices (BOs) to improve the level of services being offered to rural customers across all the states.


So far, 43,171 Branch Post Offices have migrated under the “DARPAN”project with the aim of financial inclusion to rural population and it is targeted to complete the project by March, 2018.

Significance of the project:

The Project shall increase the rural reach of the Department of Posts and enable BOs to increase traffic of all financial remittances, savings accounts, Rural Postal Life Insurance, and Cash Certificates; improve mail operations processes by allowing for automated booking and delivery of accountable article; increase revenue using retail post business; provide third party applications; and make disbursements for social security schemes such as MGNREGS.


Sources: pib.



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


MEA launches SAMEEP




With an aim to bring foreign policy to the masses the External Affairs Ministry has come up with an initiative – SAMEEP – ‘Students and MEA Engagement Programme’.


The main objective of SAMEEP is to take Indian foreign policy and its global engagements to students across the country.

How it works?

Under this programme, all the ministry officers – under-secretary and above – will be asked to go to their hometowns, particularly their alma maters. They will be expected to interact with the students about the way the MEA works, basic elements of its policies, how diplomacy is conducted, and generally give students an idea of what a career in the MEA would look like.

  • The officials will be provided a basic standardised presentation by the ministry, but will be free to add their own improvisations and experiences.
  • The agenda of the programme is not only to make students interested and aware of India’s place in the world and its global ambitions, but also to drive interest in diplomacy as a career option.


Sources: the hindu.



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


India-Swiss deal inked on data sharing


india swizz data sharing


In a move aimed at combating black money stashed abroad, India has signed an agreement with Switzerland that would allow automatic sharing of tax- related information from January 1 next year.

Present scenario:

So far, India had to ask Switzerland for specific bits of information by proving that a valid inquiry was on against the account holder. The Swiss could delay or deny the information altogether.


A joint declaration for the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) was signed last month between the two sides here and it provided that both countries would start collecting data in accordance with the global standards in 2018 and exchange it from 2019 onwards. The AEOI conforms to a norm set by global economic body the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for tax transparency.

While Switzerland has conformed to the global standards on automatic exchange of information with the signing of the declaration, India, on its part, has promised to safeguard the confidentiality of the data.

Significance of this move:

Confidentiality and data protection requirements are to be strictly followed under the automatic information exchange framework. This process ensures the signatory always maintains control over its exchange partners and the treatment of the data exchanged, as per OECD. The automatic exchange of information will also discourage Indians from stashing black money in Swiss banks. Indian deposits in Swiss banks have been falling already.

What necessitated this move?

Switzerland, which has always been at the centre of the debate on black money allegedly stashed by Indians abroad, used to be known for very strong secrecy walls till a few years ago around its banking practices. A huge global pressure has resulted in Switzerland relenting on the tough secrecy clauses its local laws gave to the banks.

Way ahead:

Though the deal will do little by way of bringing back black money from Swiss accounts, it will have a deterrent effect. The black money hoarders will be under pressure with one big safe haven gone off their list.


Sources: the hindu.



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


India inks pact to restore normalcy in Rakhine




India will provide Myanmar with $25 million for development projects including prefabricated houses in troubled Rakhine state to enable the return of Rohingya Muslims who have fled the area. A memorandum of understanding to support development of Rakhine and help create jobs was recently signed.

  • This support is intended to help the Government of Myanmar achieve its objective of restoration of normalcy in Rakhine State and enable the return of displaced persons.
  • Under this MoU, Government of India proposes to take up, among others, a project to build prefabricated housing in Rakhine State so as to meet the immediate needs of returning people. Besides housing, the proposals include building schools, healthcare facilities and building bridges and roads.


More than 600,000 Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh after attacks by insurgents on Myanmar security forces in August triggered a military crackdown that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing. The international community demands the Rohingya be allowed to go home in safety, and Bangladesh and Myanmar have begun talks on repatriation, but huge doubts remain about the Rohingya ever being able to return in peace to rebuild homes and till fields.

India, which is concerned about the influx of the refugees into its territory, has stressed economic development of the Rakhine region as a way to help lower tensions.

Assistance to Myanmar:

India has been trying to promote economic cooperation with Myanmar to try to push back against China’s expansive involvement in infrastructure development across south Asia. Beijing has also stepped into the Rohingya crisis and proposed a three-phase plan including a ceasefire, bilateral talks and then tackling poverty long-term.

Way ahead:

India’s task will depend on how the Myanmar government facilitates the development work. Indian officials have drawn up a detailed plan in the past couple of months. Indian policymakers felt they had to move fast after it became apparent that the Rohingya crisis was pushing the West into its default mode of condemnation and sanctions against Myanmar which India believes to be counter-productive.


Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:



Context: Indian Coast Guard Ship – Sujay – the sixth in the series of six 105m Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) was recently commissioned.

About ICGSSujay: Sujay means ‘great victory’. The 105 meter OPV has been designed and built by Goa Shipyard Limited. It is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment and sensors and machinery. The ship is based at Paradip, Odisha under the operational and administrative control of the Commander Coast Guard Region (North-East).