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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 September 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs, 26 September 2018


Paper 1:

Topic: population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


Ease of Living index

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Performance of various states.
  • For Mains: Ease of Living index and its significance.


Context: Ease of Living index has been released.

  • Andhra Pradesh has topped Ease of Living Index rankings under AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation).
  • It is followed by Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.


About the Ease of Living index:

The index has been developed to allow city managers to get a grip on the city’s baseline and compare its performance across key indicators. The first edition of index released in January 2018 had ranked 111 Indian cities and was topped by Pune.

  • The index covers 116 cities that are smart city contenders, capital cities, and cities with population of 1 million plus.
  • The index captures the quality of life based on the data collected from the urban local bodies on four parameters, which were further broken down into 15 categories.
  • The four parameters include institutional (governance), social (identity, education, health, security), economic (economy, employment) and physical factors (waste water and solid waste management, pollution, housing/ inclusiveness, mixed land use, power and water supply, transport, public open spaces).
  • Institutional and social parameters carry 25 points each, physical factors have a weightage of 45 points and economic factors five points totalling to a 100 mark scale on which cities were evaluated.


About AMRUT:

AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

  • It adopts a project approach to ensure basic infrastructure services relating to water supply, sewerage, storm-water drains, transportation and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children.
  • Under this mission, 10% of the budget allocation will be given to states and union territories as incentive based on the achievement of reforms during the previous year.
  • AMRUT will be implemented in 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above. It would cover some cities situated on stems of main rivers, a few state capitals and important cities located in hilly areas, islands and tourist areas.
  • Under this mission, states get the flexibility of designing schemes based on the needs of identified cities and in their execution and monitoring. States will only submit state annual action Plans to the centre for broad concurrence based on which funds will be released. But, in a significant departure from JNNURM, the central government will not appraise individual projects.
  • Central assistance will be to the extent of 50% of project cost for cities and towns with a population of up to 10 lakhs and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakhs.
  • Under the mission, states will transfer funds to urban local bodies within 7 days of transfer by central government and no diversion of funds to be made failing which penal interest would be charged besides taking other adverse action by the centre.


Sources: pib.


Paper 2:

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


Central Zonal Council


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Zonal Councils- objectives, significance, composition and issues associated.


Context: The 21st Central Zonal Council meeting was held in Lucknow and was chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

  • The Council discussed various issues including road transport, Pradhanmantri Gramin Sadak Yojna, measures to tackle Naxal violence, modernization of Police, infrastructure development of airports, minimum support price, National health mission and issues related to primary schools.


What are zonal councils?

Zonal councils have been established by the Parliament to promote interstate cooperation and coordination. They are statutory bodies established under the States Reorganisation Act 1956 and not constitutional bodies. They are only deliberative and advisory bodies.


There are 5 five Zonal councils namely:

The Northern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.

The Central Zonal Council, comprising the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

The Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal.

The Western Zonal Council, comprising the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

The Southern Zonal Council is composed of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and the Union Territory of Puducherry.



  • Chairman – The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
  • Vice Chairman – The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
  • Members- Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
  • Advisers- One person nominated by the Planning Commission (which has been replaced by NITI Ayog now) for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone.
  • Union Ministers are also invited to participate in the meetings of Zonal Councils depending upon necessity.


The main objectives of setting up of Zonal Councils are:

  • Bringing out national integration.
  • Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies.
  • Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences.
  • Establishing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and speedy execution of development projects.


Facts for Prelims: The North Eastern States i.e. (i) Assam (ii) Arunachal Pradesh (iii) Manipur (iv) Tripura (v) Mizoram (vi) Meghalaya (vii) Sikkim and (viii) Nagaland are not included in the Zonal Councils and their special problems are looked after by the North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Indian Culinary Institute

What to study?

  • For Prelims: Where is it located?
  • For Mains: Need and significance of the institute.


Context: Indian Culinary Institute (ICI) has been inaugurated at Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. It is promoted by Union Ministry of Tourism.


About ICI:

  • The main objective of setting up of the Indian Culinary Institute (ICI) is to institutionalize a mechanism to support efforts intended to preserve, document, promote and disseminate Indian Cuisine, meet the sectoral requirement of specialists specific to Indian Cuisine, as also of promoting Cuisine as a Niche Tourism product.
  • The ICIs will be Centres of Excellence which will offer structured regular programmes of study specific to culinary arts and culinary management leading to graduate and post graduate level degrees, promote research and innovation, organize demand driven certificate and diploma courses, document and create data base specific to Indian cuisine and commission studies and survey on cuisine.



The need for ICI was felt as the formal education specific to Indian cuisine, a culinary art, with pan India sweep is conspicuous by its absence. There is no regular credible institutional source at apex level for supply of cuisine specialists to the Sector. Also, there was no institutional mechanism to document and disseminate knowledge related to cuisine and gastronomy.



  • In India, at present, there is a dearth of state-of-the-art training ground to groom top-of-the-line chefs of international standards. To fill this void, the Indian Culinary Institute would provide the appropriate training platform at par with the elite “Chef Schools” functioning in different parts of the developed world.
  • This effort will facilitate building a super-speciality food production work-force to assure positions of culinary experts in the hospitality industry. The ICIs will also help the local youth to get trained in these streams as well as create entrepreneurs and make them self-sufficient.
  • The hotel and tourism industry in the proximity of these institutes will also get benefitted by getting the trained and skilled manpower which in turn will enhance their business.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Swadesh Darshan Scheme

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the scheme, various circuits covered.


Context: Two coastal tourism projects taken up under Swadesh Darshan scheme were recently inaugurated by the Vice- President.

  • The first circuit includes beautification of Nellore tank and Pulicat Lake, facelift to Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, construction of a restaurant and development of Ubbala Madugu, Kotha Koduru, Mypadu, Rama Theertham, and Isukapalli project.
  • The second coastal tourism circuit is aimed at developing Kakinada port, Hope Island, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, construction of cottages and wooden huts at Passarlapudi, Aduru and S Yanam and development of Kotipalli project.


About Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.


Features of Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
  • To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
  • Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
  • A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
  • A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
  • PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Study on spending on education and health care by various countries


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Highlights of the study.
  • For Mains: Performance of India- potential, concerns and ways to address them, India’s relative performance.


Context: A study on spending on education and health care by various countries by various countries has been released. The study is based on analysis of data from sources, including government agencies, schools, and health care systems.

  • The study was conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the request of the World Bank.
  • It is the first of its kind to measure and compare the strength of countries’ “human capital”.
  • The study underscores that when a country’s human capital score increases, its economy grows.


India’s relative performance:

  • India ranks 158th in the world for its investments in education and health care. The nation is placed behind Sudan (ranked 157th) and ahead of Namibia (ranked 159th) in the list.
  • South Asian countries ranking below India in this report include Pakistan (164), Bangladesh (161) and Afghanistan (188).
  • Countries in the region that have fared better than India in terms of human capital include Sri Lanka (102), Nepal (156), Bhutan (133) and Maldives (116).



India has improved its performance from its position of 162 in 1990. However, India is falling behind in terms of health and education of its workforce, which could potentially have long-term negative effects on the Indian economy.


Global performance:

  • The study places Finland at the top.
  • The U.S. is ranked 27th, while China is at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.
  • Turkey showed the most dramatic increase in human capital between 1990 and 2016.
  • Asian countries with notable improvement include China, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.
  • Within Latin America, Brazil stands out for improvement.
  • All these countries have had faster economic growth over this period than peer countries with lower levels of human capital improvement.
  • In addition, the greatest increase among sub-Saharan African countries was in Equatorial Guinea.


Significance of human capital:

The findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP which policy-makers ignore at their own peril. As the world economy grows increasingly dependent on digital technology, from agriculture to manufacturing to the service industry, human capital grows increasingly important for stimulating local and national economies.


Sources: the hindu.

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


Global Media Compact to raise awareness of SDGs


What to study?

  • For Prelims: SDGs- overview, about Global Media Compact.
  • For Mains: Need for awareness on SDGs, significance of SDGs.


Context: UN has announced Global Media Compact to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals. India’s ministry of information and broadcasting is part of it.


About SDG Media Compact:

  • SDG Media Compact is an initiative marking a new drive to advance awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were unanimously adopted by all world leaders at the United Nations in 2015.
  • The Compact seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Goals.
  • The Compact is an initiative of the United Nations, in collaboration with the UN Foundation and with the support of FleishmanHillard.



The SDG Media Compact is inclusive and aims to embrace media companies from all regions and all platforms. Participating organizations will have the opportunity to create content partnerships with the United Nations, whereby the organization will increase its efforts to source and share high-value media content and newsworthy opportunities relating to the SDGs. Regular monitoring and review meetings will gauge engagement.

Collectively, the founding members of the SDG Media Compact already comprise an audience in the billions spanning over 80 countries on 4 continents and many more companies are expected to join.


About the SDGs:

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by world leaders at the historic Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015. Encompassing everything from health, to gender equality, and education, the Goals will mobilize efforts around the world to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 3:

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.


Financial Inclusion Index

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and significance of FII.


Context: Financial Inclusion Index has been launched.


Financial Inclusion Index:

Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance will release an Annual Financial Inclusion Index (FII). The single composite index gives a snap shot of level of financial inclusion that would guide Macro Policy perspective.

The index will be a measure of access and usage of a basket of formal financial products and services that includes savings, remittances, credit, insurance and pension products.

The index will have three measurement dimensions:

  1. Access to financial services.
  2. Usage of financial services.
  3. Quality.


Utility of the Index:

  • The various components of the index will help to measure financial services for use of internal policy making.
  • Financial Inclusion Index can be used directly as a composite measure in development indicators.
  • It enables fulfillment of G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators requirements.
  • It will also facilitate researchers to study the impact of financial inclusion and other macro-economic variables.


Sources: pib.

Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the portal.


Context: Finance and Corporate Affairs Ministry has launched a web portal which is a transformative initiative in MSME credit space. The web portal will enable in principle approval for MSME loans up to Rs. 1 crore within 59 minutes from SIDBI and 5 Public Sector Banks (PSBs).


About the Portal “PSBLoansin59min”:

  • It is one of its kind platforms in MSME segment which integrates advanced fintech to ensure seamless loan approval and management. The loans are undertaken without human intervention till sanction and or disbursement stage.
  • The Portal sets a new benchmark in loan processing and reduces the turnaround time from 20-25 days to 59 minutes. Subsequent to this in principle approval, the loan will be disbursed in 7-8 working days.
  • The solution uses sophisticated algorithms to read and analyse data points from various sources such as IT returns, GST data, bank statements, MCA21 etc. in less than an hour while capturing the applicant’s basic details.
  • The system simplifies the decision making process for a loan officer as the final output provides a summary of credit, valuation and verification on a user-friendly dashboard in real time.


Sources: pib.