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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 March 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 March 2018


Paper 1:

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.



Context: Ministry of Culture is organizing the Madhavpur Mela in Madhavpur Ghed, District Porbandar in Gujarat in a grand way.


About Madhavpur Mela:

  • The purpose of this integration is to bring various parts of the country especially the North-East, close to each other under the banner of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat announced by the Prime Minister.
  • The Madhavpur Mela of Gujarat shares its connect to the Mishmi Tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The Mishmi Tribe traces its ancestry to the legendary King Bhishmak and through him to his daughter Rukmini and Lord Krishna.


About Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat:

What is it?

“Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat” was announced by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 31st October, 2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Subsequently, the Finance Minister announced the initiative in his Budget Speech for 2016-17.


What is it for?

Through this innovative measure, the knowledge of the culture, traditions and practices of different States & UTs will lead to an enhanced understanding and bonding between the States, thereby strengthening the unity and integrity of India.



All States and UTs will be covered under the programme. There will be pairing of States/UTs at national level and these pairings will be in effect for one year, or till the next round of pairings. The State/UT level pairings would be utilized for state level activities. District level pairings would be independent of the State level pairings.



The activity will be very useful to link various States and Districts in annual programmes that will connect people through exchanges in areas of culture, tourism, language, education trade etc. and citizens will be able to experience the cultural diversity of a much larger number of States/UTs while realising that India is one.


What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: Madhavpur Mela and Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat.


Sources: pib.



Paper 2:

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


Draft policy on defence production

Context: The defence ministry has come out with a draft policy on defence production. The aim is to make India one of the top five manufacturers of defence platforms with active participation of public and private sectors. At present, India is one of the world’s largest importer of military platforms and weapons.


Highlights of the policy:

  • It envisages achieving a turnover of Rs 1,70,000 crore in military goods and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
  • The policy lists as a major aim achieving export of Rs 35,000 crore in military equipment and services by 2025 by promoting the domestic defence industry.
  • According to the policy, the government aims to make India self-reliant in defence production as well as fulfil demand of other friendly countries.
  • The policy says the licensing process for defence industries will be liberalised and the list of items requiring licences will be reviewed and pruned.
  • The policy says the tax regime will be rationalised to make domestic manufacturing attractive by ensuring that there is no tax inversion. Taxes on import of capital goods and services, inputs and components used in defence production will be rationalised.
  • The government identified 12 military platforms and weapons systems for production in India to achieve the aim of “self-reliance”. They are fighter aircraft, medium lift and utility helicopters, warships, land combat vehicles, missile systems, gun systems, small arms, ammunition and explosives, surveillance systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems and night fighting enablers, among others.


What’s important?

For Prelims and Mains: Policy on defence production and the need for indigenization.


Sources: the hindu.

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


New vehicle scrappage policy

Context: Government’s New Vehicle Scrappage policy was recently cleared by the Prime Minister’s Office and is awaiting the approval of the GST Council.


Highlights of the policy:

  • The policy targets to take polluting vehicles out of the roads and help the automobile industry register higher sales.
  • The policy mentions about vehicles older than 20 years becoming eligible for benefits under the scrappage scheme.
  • The scheme would now come in effect from April 1, 2020, coinciding with the implementation of the BS-VI norms.



  • The new vehicle scrappage policy of the Centre is unlikely to have any significant impact on the automobile industry in terms of increased demand, according to rating agencies.
  • Also, analysts say the benefit offered under the scrappage policy would be 15% of the vehicle’s price. But this advantage would be muted as prices of diesel vehicles were expected to rise 10-15% once the new norms (BS-VI) come into force.
  • The total population of commercial vehicles that will be older than 20 years in fiscal 2021 would be 50,000 vehicles, much lower than the government’s earlier estimate of 2.8 crore vehicles. In any case, 70,000 to 90,000 vehicles are scrapped every year. So, it is believed that the impact of the scrappage policy will be limited.
  • Also, the proportion of commercial vehicles above 20 years would be one lakh to two lakh units. Besides, most of these older vehicles are used in rural areas and smaller towns by small fleet operators who operate used vehicles and have limited financial resources to purchase new vehicles. Thus, the proposed scrappage policy is unlikely to be materially positive for commercial vehicle demand.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: The policy on vehicle scrappage.
  • For Mains: Significance and need for the policy.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Executive Board of UNESCO

Context: The Government of India has decided to nominate Professor J S Rajput, former Director NCERT, as India’s representative to the Executive Board (EXB) of UNESCO. Professor J S Rajput is an eminent educationist with rich experience in various fields including UNESCO.


About the Executive Board:

  • The EXB has a four-year term of office and 58 seats.
  • The executive board is one of the constitutional organs of UNESCO and is elected by the General Conference.
  • The executive board examines the work for the organization and the corresponding budget estimates.
  • In practice, the executive board is the main organ responsible for all policies and programmes of UNESCO.


Significance of the membership:

Being a member of the board enables India in principle to play a role in shaping and reviewing UNESCO’s policies and programmes corresponding to its five major programs on education, the natural science, the social and human Sciences, Culture and Communication and Information.


General conference:

  • The general conference consists of the representatives of the states members of the organisation.
  • It meets every two years, and is attended by member states and associate members, together with observers for non-member states, intergovernmental organisations and non- governmental organisations (NGOs).
  • Each country has one vote, irrespective of its size or the extent of its contribution to the budget.
  • The general conference determines the policies and the main lines of work of the organisation. Its duty is to set the programmes and the budget of the UNESCO. It also elects the members of the executive board and appoints, every four years.


What’s important?

For Prelims: UNESCO executive board and general conference.


Sources: pib.

Paper 3:

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.


Privatisation of PSBs


Context: Former NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya has made a strong case for privatisation of public sector banks with the exception of SBI.


Need for Privatisation:

  • Mainly, predominance of scandals and NPAs in PSBs highlight the need for privatisation of PSBs. Efficiency and productivity too demand that the government relinquish its control of the large number of banks whose market valuation has dwindled despite the fact that they hold the bulk of the deposits.
  • Also, there is a continuous pressure on the government finances on account of the weak performance of the banks. Privatisation would reduce the drain on the exchequer and the money saved could be used for developmental schemes and programmes of the government.


Benefits of private banks:

Private banks will bring innovations in products, technology and customer servicing and a market-based discipline to lending. Private banks, knowing that they cannot count on government’s protection, are unlikely to engage in the sort of risky lending that characterised public bank lending. Also, they will not be subject to the same pressure from politicians and others in government that has destroyed the public sector banks.


Way ahead:

The public-sector banks, which constitute almost 70% of the Indian banking system, are saddled with burgeoning stressed assets. The government has already injected over ₹2.6 lakh crore in the public-sector banks through recapitalisation in the last eleven years, which has had limited impact in improving the health of public sector banks thus far.

Therefore, recapitalisation of PSBs alone is not a permanent solution and will not be effective unless the inherent issues related to governance, productivity, risk management, talent, customer service, etc. are resolved. The government should shrink unproductive public sector banks and move forward with increasing private sector participation in the banking sector.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.


Northeast ex-militants get more sops


Context: For the first time since 1998, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has increased the monthly stipend of surrendered militants in northeast India. The stipend for the former militants has been increased from ₹3,500 to ₹6,000 per month and the one-time grant has been enhanced from ₹1.5 lakh to ₹4 lakh.


“Surrender-cum-rehabilitation” scheme:

Surrender-cum-rehabilitation scheme for Northeast States was meant to “wean away the misguided youth and hardcore militants who have strayed into the fold of militancy and find themselves trapped in that net.”

  • The scheme also seeks to ensure that the militants who have surrendered do not find it attractive to join militancy again.
  • The MHA reimburses the amount paid to the surrendered militants by the State governments under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme.


What’s needed?

The internal security situation in the North-eastern states is complex. It requires people with in-depth knowledge of the terrain, society, politics and culture and history of insurgency in the region to be placed in positions entrusted with the handling of affairs. The Government must also focus on concluding final peace agreements with the insurgent groups as soon as possible so that all the energies could then be applied in tackling the groups that remain intransigent.


Way ahead:

India’s Act East Policy could only be successful if we develop connectivity in the North-eastern states and permit greater people-to-people contact with the people of the ASEAN, and particularly with the people of Myanmar. Investments in the region are required for the economic advancement of the people. These would require the creation of a peaceful environment in the North-eastern states.


What’s important?

  • For Prelims: Surrender cum Rehabilitation scheme.
  • For Mains: Development of the northeast and the challenges posed by militancy.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas.


Protected area permit

Context: The Union Home Ministry is planning to relax the protected area permit (PAP) regime to enable foreign tourists to access border areas. The permit is being relaxed by the Centre following several requests by Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Nagaland, Manipur and the Tourism Ministry.


What is Protected area permit?

Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between the Inner line and the International Border of some states have been declared as protected areas.

The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Sikkim fall under the protected area regime while others under the restricted area.


How are these regions different?

As per the guidelines, a foreign national is not normally allowed to visit a protected or restricted area unless the government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify his or her visit.

  • Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in a protected or restricted area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority having the power to issue such permits to a foreigner, seeking it.
  • In cases, where the power to issue such permits has not been delegated to a subordinate authority by the Union government, the application for the special permit has to be referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs for prior approval, at least eight weeks before the date of the expected visit.


Who can issue such permits?

Necessary powers have been delegated to various authorities to issue such special permits without the prior approval of the Union home ministry to facilitate foreign tourists subject to the certain exceptions.

  • In cases of foreign diplomats, including the members of the United Nations and international organisations holding diplomatic or official passports, the special permits to visit such protected or restricted areas are issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • In cases of the citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin, no permit, however, can be issued without the prior approval of the Union home ministry.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate.


National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement

Context: A National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement was recently organized by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).


Need for prevention of drug abuse:

India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking as it is located between two largest Opium producing regions of the world i.e. Golden Crescent in the west and Golden Triangle in the east. Drug trafficking and abuse also pose serious threat to our societies.

Involvement of foreign nationals in drug peddling poses another significant challenge of drug trafficking in India. During 2017, 332 foreign national have been arrested in drug cases in India.


What has the government done in this regard?

The Government has taken several policy and other initiatives to deal with drug trafficking problem. It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”. Besides, in 2017, the government approved new Reward Guidelines with increased quantum of reward for interdiction or seizure of different illicit drugs.

  • For effective coordination with foreign countries including neighboring countries, India has signed 37 Bilateral Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding.
  • Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS) which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
  • The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drug, Psychotropic Substances; identifying, treating and rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.
  • The government is also conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure extent, pattern and trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.


About NCB:

The Narcotics Control Bureau is the apex coordinating agency. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 which came into effect from the 14th November, 1985 made an express provision for constituting a Central Authority for the purpose of exercising the powers and functions of the Central Government under the Act.

The Bureau, subject to the supervision and control of the Central Government, is to exercise the powers and functions of the Central Government for taking measures with respect to:

  • Co-ordination of actions by various offices, State Governments and other authorities under the N.D.P.S. Act, Customs Act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act and any other law for the time being in force in connection with the enforcement provisions of the NDPS Act, 1985.
  • Implementation of the obligation in respect of counter measures against illicit traffic under the various international conventions and protocols that are in force at present or which may be ratified or acceded to by India in future.
  • Assistance to concerned authorities in foreign countries and concerned international organisations to facilitate coordination and universal action for prevention and suppression of illicit traffic in these drugs and substances.
  • Coordination of actions taken by the other concerned Ministries, Departments and Organizations in respect of matters relating to drug abuse.


Sources: pib.




Facts for Prelims:


‘Print Biennale India 2018’:


What is it? It is the first International Exhibition of Graphic Prints held recently in New Delhi.

Host: Lalit Kala Akademi hosted the event.