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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 19 February 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 19 February 2018


Paper 2:

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


‘Watan ko Jano’

Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had recently organized the programme “Watan Ko Jano”.


About Watan Ko Jano:

What? “Watan Ko Jano” is sponsored jointly by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (Kashmir Cell) and State Rehabilitation Council Social Welfare Department. The programme aims to give exposure to the youth and children of Jammu and Kashmir about the cultural and socio-economic development taking place in other parts of the country.

Who? Youth and children hit by militancy and from weaker sections of the society have been identified for the purpose.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Watan Ko Jano programme is related to?
  • For Mains: Scheme for the betterment of weaker section of the society.


Sources: pib.

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


Northeast Venture Fund

Context: In a bid to make Northeast a favourite destination for young Startups, the government has invited young start-ups to avail the benefits of Northeast Venture Fund.


About Northeast Venture Fund:

What? The Ministry of DoNER had rolled out “Venture Fund” for anybody who wishes to Startup in the Northeast region, which would provide a huge financial relief particularly to young entrepreneurs. Northeast Venture Fund is the first dedicated venture capital fund for North-Eastern region and the initiative to set it up began in April this year.

Who? It has been set up by North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi), which already has the mandate to encourage entrepreneurship in the region, primarily by offering support to the first-generation entrepreneurs. In addition, the NEDFi also performs the role of hand-holding and capacity building.



While all the avenues of livelihood and new ventures are gradually getting exhausted in other parts of the country and States, the immense unexplored avenues and potentials of North Eastern region are still available. With its vast unexplored avenues, those looking for livelihood will soon find a potential enterprise in the Northeast, particularly in fruit, food, handicraft and tourism industry.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Venture fund.
  • For Mains: Significance of North East region.


Sources: pib.

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


Kerala to get MGNREGS assets geo- tagged


Context: Kerala is planning to get assets generated under MGNREGS geo- tagged and perhaps become the first state to achieve this distinction. The state Rural Development Department has already geo- tagged over 1 lakh assets.


Need for geotagging:

The scale of rural assets created under MGNREGA is very large. Since the inception of the programme in financial year 2006-07, about 2.82 Crore assets have been created under the programme. On an average, about 30 Lakh Assets are created annually which includes a variety of works such as water harvesting structures, plantations, rural infrastructure, flood control measures, individual assets for sustainable livelihood, community infrastructure and so on.


What is geotagging?

Geotagging is the process of adding geographical information to various media in the form of metadata. The data usually consists of coordinates like latitude and longitude, but may even include bearing, altitude, distance and place names.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Geo tagging.
  • For Mains: Applications and Challenges.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


Myanmar dam on border worries Manipur village

Context: Myanmar is constructing a dam, called Tuidimjang, on the Twigem river flowing into Myanmar from Manipur.


What’s the issue?

Since, Tuidimjang dam is being constructed across a river close to the boundary with India, it has stoked fears of submergence and water scarcity among border villagers in Kengjoi subdivison of Manipur’s Chandel district. The topography of the area is such that nearby Indian villages will be submerged if the dam comes up. The villagers, dependent on the river, are already facing water scarcity.

Also, the dam is being built by Myanmar authorities barely 100 metres from the Zero Line separating the two countries. International rules warrant border countries to check activities in No Man’s Land – a 150-metre strip on either side of the boundary line.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Tuidimjang dam.
  • For Mains: Construction of dams on international boundaries- Issues and solutions.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.


Chabahar port

Context: India and Iran have signed a significant pact which gives New Delhi operational control of a part of the strategically located Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman for 18 months. The first phase of the Chabahar port was inaugurated in December last, opening a new strategic route connecting Iran, India and Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.


Where is Chabahar port?

Iran’s Chabahar port is located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country. The port gives access to the energy-rich Persian Gulf nations’ southern coast and India can bypass Pakistan with the Chabahar port becoming functional.


Why Chabahar port is crucial for India?

  • The first and foremost significance of the Chabahar port is the fact that India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan. Chabahar port will boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  • Chabahar port will be beneficial to India in countering Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea which China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
  • With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
  • With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
  • Chabahar port will ensure in the establishment of a politically sustainable connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This is will, in turn, lead to better economic ties between the two countries.
  • From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.


Way ahead:

Chabahar port is crucial for India as it is easily accessible from Indian western ports of Mumbai and Kandla. While, Iran would benefit from increased trade, earn transit fees and witness major infrastructural investments and developments. Also, development of Chabahar port will have a multiplier effect on the growth of its economy and boost foreign investments in the country.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topic: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.


Hyperloop Between Mumbai and Pune

Context: The Virgin Group has signed an “intent agreement” with Maharashtra to build a hyperloop transportation system between Mumbai and Pune, which aims to reduce the travel time between the two mega cities to 20 minutes from the three hours at present. The hyperloop route will link central Pune with the megapolis as well as the Navi Mumbai international airport.


What is hyperloop transportation system?

It is a transportation system where a pod-like vehicle is propelled through a near-vacuum tube connecting cities at speeds matching that of an aircraft.

The hyperloop concept is a brainchild of Tesla founder Elon Musk. US-based Hyperloop Transport Technology (HTT) claimed it costs $40 million per kilometre to build a hyperloop system while building a high-speed train line would cost almost twice. The hyperloop system is being designed to transport passengers and freight.


How it operates?

In hyperloop transporation, custom-designed capsules or pods are expected to zip smoothly through continuous steel tubes which are held at partial vacuum. The pod which sandwiches the passenger compartment between an air compressor upfront and a battery compartment in the rear is supported by air caster skis at the bottom.

The skis float on a thin layer of air provided under high pressure, eliminating rolling resistance and allowing for movement of the pods at high speeds. These capsules are expected to be driverless with estimated speeds of 1,000 km/h. Linear induction motors that are placed along the tube control the speed of the pod. Electronically-assisted acceleration and braking determines the speed of the capsule.


The Problems Plaguing the Hyperloop:

  • Constructing a tube hundreds of kilometers long would be an engineering marvel in of itself. However, introducing a tube hundreds of kilometers long that operates at a near perfect vacuum which can support the force of capsule weighing thousands of kilograms as it travels hundreds of kilometers an hour is nothing short of sci-fi fantasy.
  • Small scale experiments reveal the fundamentals of the idea are sound. Although, in the real world, there are too many factors that cannot be accounted for with a small scale design. In the real world, there are tens of thousands of kilograms of atmospheric pressure which threatens to crush any vacuum chamber.
  • There is also the problem with thermal expansion which threatens to buckle any large structure without proper thermal expansion capabilities. The Hyperloop would also be stupendously expensive. There are many unavoidable problems facing the Hyperloop that threaten the structural integrity, and every human life on board. The problems can be addressed, but at a great cost.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Compensatory Afforestation Act

Context: The government has notified the draft Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Rules, 2018 to facilitate utilisation of over Rs50,000 crore among states to expand India’s forest cover. The draft rules, which come nearly one and half years after the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Bill was passed by Parliament in July 2016, specify the activities that would be allowed or restricted in a forest area.


Draft rules:

Utilization of funds: According to the proposed rules, 80% of the “net present value (NPV)” can be used for forest and wildlife management activities like assisted natural regeneration, artificial regeneration (by plantations), protection of plantations and forests, pest and disease control in forest, forest fire prevention and others. 20% of the NPV, in a financial year, “shall be utilised for strengthening the forest and wildlife related infrastructure, capacity building of the personnel of state forest departments and other associated agencies and organisations involved in utilisation of these monies”.

Activities allowed: The draft rules also specified a list of activities that can be undertaken or are not allowed from the fund. It allows activities like establishment, upgradation and maintenance of modern nurseries, purchase and maintenance of communication devices, construction, up-gradation and maintenance of inspection paths. These activities “shall be taken up in consultation with the Gram Sabha or Van Sanrakshan Samiti (VSS) or Village Forest Committee as the case may be” and shall be in consonance with the provisions of FRA 2006.

Activities not allowed: The fund will not be used for activities like payment of salary, travelling allowances, medical expenses to regular employees of the state forest department, undertaking foreign visits, payment for legal services, purchase of cars, construction of residential and official buildings for officers above forest range officers.


Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act 2016:

This act provides for setting up Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) at both central and state level to ensure expeditious and transparent utilization of amounts realized in lieu of forest land diverted for non-forest purpose.

The act also seeks to establish the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state. The payments into the funds include compensatory afforestation, NPV, and any project-specific payments.



Environmentalists and forest rights activists have criticized the draft rules stating they violate the Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006. They say these will result in further atrocities and crimes against tribals and forest dwellers. FRA Act mandates that gram sabhas (village councils) have both the right and the power to protect, manage and conserve their forests.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: CAMPA.
  • For Mains: Forest conservation, role of various stakeholders in conservation.


Sources: the hindu.



Facts for Prelims:


National Banana Festival 2018:

What and where? National Banana Festival (NBF) 2018 is being held at Kalliyoor, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The festival plays host to a buyer-seller meet, training programmes, documentary screenings, photography contest etc. The festival also includes a national seminar, exhibition, training programmes, farmers’ meet and a host of other activities.

Who? The festival is organised by Centre for Innovation in Science and Social action (CISSA) in partnership with Kalliyoor Grama Panchayat and a host of National and State organisations.


Theatre Olympics:

Context: India is hosting the 8th Edition of Theatre Olympics ‘The Biggest Theatre Celebration of the World’.

What? The Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, as the first international theatre festival. With the tagline ‘Crossing Millennia’, this is an initiative to connect the cultural past with the present and future, bringing the richness and diversity of theatre heritage to the experiments and research of contemporary theatre. The first country to host the Theatre Olympics was Greece in 1995.

Who? The Theatre Olympics, being held in India for the first time, is being organised by National School of Drama, under the aegis of Ministry of Culture.


Sci-tech Oscar Award:

Context: Vikas Sathaye, a Pune-born person has been honoured with the Scientific and Engineering Academy Award at the recently held Oscars Scientific and Technical Awards 2018 at Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, California. Sathaye and his team received the award for his contribution towards conceptualisation, designing, engineering, and the implementation of the ‘Shotover K1 Camera System’.

About Shotover K1 Camera System: The Shotover K1 Camera System is a camera mount that is used in aerial filming. The camera mount gets attached to the base of a helicopter, which carries the camera and lens. The primary function of the camera mount is to eliminate any vibration from reaching the camera, thus ensuring a steady footage.

About the Awards: The Academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards honor the men, women and companies whose discoveries and innovations have contributed in significant and lasting ways to motion pictures.