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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 December 2018

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 21 December 2018

Paper 1:

Topics covered:

  1. Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.


Paika Rebellion


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Paika Rebellion- what when and why?


Context: The government is planning to release the commemorative coin and postage stamp in memory of Paika Rebellion.


About Paika rebellion:

Two-hundred years ago in 1817, a valiant uprising of soldiers led by Buxi Jagabandhu (Bidyadhar Mohapatra) took place in Khurda of Odisha. This is known as Paika rebellion.


Reason for the revolt:

  • The Paikas were the traditional land-owning militia of Odisha and served as warriors. When armies of the East India Company overran most of Odisha in 1803, the Raja of Khurda lost his primacy and the power and prestige of the Paikas went on a decline. The British were not comfortable with these aggressive, warlike new subjects and set up a commission under Walter Ewer to look into the issue.
  • The commission recommended that the hereditary rent-free lands granted to the Paikas be taken over by the British administration and this recommendation was zealously adhered to. They revolted against the British.
  • However, the rebellion had several other underlying causes – like the rise in the price of salt, abolition of the cowrie currency for payment of taxes and an overtly extortionist land revenue policy.
  • Although initially the Company struggled to respond they managed to put down the rebellion by May 1817. Many of the Paik leaders were hung or deported. Jagabandhu surrendered in 1825.


Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
  2. Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO)


What to study?

  • For Prelims: CDSCO- key facts and about Isotretinoin.
  • For Mains: Misuse of various drugs and the need for stringent provisions to prevent their misuse.

Context: The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has issued safety guidelines for Isotretinoin.

CDSCO has directed Drug Controllers of all the States and Union Territories to monitor the sale, manufacture and distribution of Isotretinoin.



Isotretinoin is an oral drug, which is used in the treatment of severe acne. Isotretinoin capsules of 10 mg/20 mg were approved by CDSCO in 2002 for the treatment of cystic and conglobate acne, and severe nodular acne unresponsive to antibiotic therapy.

It was later found that Isotretinoin can cause birth defects in progeny if not taken without proper guidance.


About CDSCO:

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) under Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India is the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) of India.

Functions: Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, CDSCO is responsible for approval of New Drugs, Conduct of Clinical Trials, laying down the standards for Drugs, control over the quality of imported Drugs in the country and coordination of the activities of State Drug Control Organizations by providing expert advice with a view to bring about the uniformity in the enforcement of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

CDSCO along with state regulators, is jointly responsible for grant of licenses of certain specialized categories of critical Drugs such as blood and blood products, I. V. Fluids, Vaccine and Sera.


Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: It is said that India is becoming home to production and trial of substandard drugs in recent years. In your opinion, why such drugs are produced and distributed? How can they be regulated? Critically comment.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Cybersecurity related issues.


MHA authorises 10 central agencies to access any computer resource


What to study?

  • For Prelims: Agencies allowed to access the information.
  • For Mains: Concerns over data privacy and the need for access.


Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued an order authorising ten security and intelligence agencies of the country to access any information stored in any computer for the purpose of monitoring, decrypting and interception.


Who are these agencies?

The 10 agencies include Intelligence Bureau, Narcotics Control Bureau, Enforcement Directorate, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence;, Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency Cabinet Secretariat (RAW), Directorate of Signal Intelligence (For service areas of Jammu & Kashmir, North-East and Assam only), and Commissioner of Police, Delhi.


Highlights of the Order:

  • The ministry has vested the authority on the agencies under Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Rule 4 of the Information Technology Procedure and Safeguards for Interception, Monitoring and Decryption of Information) Rules, 2009.
  • The order mandates for a subscriber or service provider or any person in charge of the computer resource to extend technical assistance to the agencies.
  • Non-compliance will invite seven-year imprisonment and fine.


Concerns raised:

Only data in motion could be intercepted earlier. But now data revived, stored and generated can also be intercepted as powers of seizure have been given. This means not just calls or emails, but any data found on a computer can be intercepted. The agencies will also have powers to seize the devices. The sweeping powers given to agencies to snoop phone calls and computers without any checks and balances is extremely worrisome. This is likely to be misused.


Sources: the hindu.

Paper 2 and 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  2. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  3. Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.


Govt seeks ₹41,000 crore more for bank recapitalisation


What to study?

  • For Prelims: About PCA- meaning, exemptions and norms.
  • For Mains: Recapitalisation- concerns associated, need and the need for comprehensive solution.


Context: The government has sought Parliament’s approval for supplementary grants worth ₹41,000 crore to infuse fresh capital into ailing state-run banks in the current fiscal.



The additional capital could help as many as five such state-run banks exit the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework that mandates them to pare lending to companies and cut concentration of loans to certain sectors. Eleven banks were put under the PCA framework by the Reserve Bank of India between February 2014 and January 2018.

The government had budgeted ₹65,000 crore for infusion into public sector banks (PSBs) through recapitalization bonds this fiscal, of which ₹42,000 crore is still to be allotted. With the additional ₹41,000 crore of capital infusion by 31 March, the government will be infusing a total ₹83,000 crore into public sector banks this year.

The capital infusion will be utilized to ensure that the better-performing banks under the PCA framework meet their regulatory capital norms and non-PCA banks do not breach the threshold.


Concerns associated with recapitalization of banks:

  • The government as the major owner is free to recapitalise but the issue is, at what cost, for how long, and whether recapitalisation alone is enough.
  • The government is finding it increasingly difficult to recapitalize public sector banks due to the compulsion to adhere to the stringent budgetary deficit benchmarks.
  • Bankers become lackadaisical toward debt recovery and tend to escalate provisions and contingencies to be adjusted against the fresh capital.
  • In different-banks-same-pay situations, employees in the loss-making, but recapitalized, banks become unenthusiastic while those in profit-making, but not recapitalized are demotivated.
  • It also implies cross-subsidization: dividend-paying PSU banks subsidizing the non-dividend paying. Ultimately, systemic efficiency suffers.



PSBs are in very real danger of losing not only their market share but also their identity unless the government intervenes with surgical precision and alacrity. Hence, policymakers and bankers need to put their heads together and come up with a smart option to resolve an issue that can no longer be put on the backburner.


Sources: the hindu.

Mains Question: In the wake of the current Indian banking system crisis, discuss what measures should be taken by the government to prevent such incidents in the future.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS)


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: ATAGS- key features and significance.


Context: The Army has begun finalising the Preliminary Specifications Qualitative Requirements (PSQR) of the indigenously-designed heavy artillery gun, the Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS).


Sources: the hindu.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.


NASA Confirms Saturns Rings Will Be Gone in 100 Million Years


Context: New NASA research confirms that Saturn is losing its iconic rings at the maximum rate estimated from Voyager 1 & 2 observations made decades ago.

The rings are being pulled into Saturn by gravity as a dusty rain of ice particles under the influence of Saturn’s magnetic field.


Composition and structure:

Saturn’s rings are made up of billions of particles ranging from grains of sand to mountain-size chunks. Composed predominantly of water-ice, the rings also draw in rocky meteoroids as they travel through space.

  • Though Saturn appears surrounded by a single, solid ring when viewed by an amateur astronomer, several divisions exist. The rings are named alphabetically in the order of discovery. Thus the main rings are, from farthest from the planet to closest, A, B and C. A gap 2,920 miles wide (4,700 kilometers), known as the Cassini Division, separates the A and B rings.
  • The rings themselves contain a number of gaps and structures. Some are created by Saturn’s many small moons, while others continue to puzzle to astronomers.


Is it only the Saturn to have rings?

Saturn is not the only planet in the solar system to have rings — Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune also contain faint ring systems — but with its satellites spanning three-quarters of the Earth-moon distance (175,000 miles or 282,000 km), it is by far the largest and most visible.


Sources: et.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in the field of IT.


National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: NSM- objectives, significance and challenges ahead.


Context: French IT services firm Atos has won a three-year contract to build the first phase of supercomputers under India’s Rs 4,500-crore National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).


National Supercomputing Mission (NSM):

The Mission envisages empowering national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities.

  • These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN).
  • The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network.
  • The Mission includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.
  • India looks forward to create a cluster of machines for weather forecasting, drug discovery and data mining.


Agencies involved:

  • The Mission would be implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) over a period of seven years.
  • The tender to build these high performance computers (HPC) had been floated by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
  • Atos would be deploying its energy efficient Direct Liquid Cooled Bull Sequana supercomputers in India.



World-wide supercomputing facilities have enabled countries in their S&T capabilities in areas such as designing vehicles, aeroplanes, massive structures like high rise buildings and bridges, infrastructure, discovery of new life saving drugs, discovery and extraction of new energy sources including oil, natural gas etc.

Over the years, supercomputers have benefitted mankind in several ways. Weather prediction has reached accuracy of forecast as well as real time tracking of natural phenomenon. Timely warning of cyclones in the recent past have saved many lives and property. The Mission aims to further such capabilities beyond current levels.


Sources: et.


Facts for Prelims:


Shram Awards:

Context: The Union Government has announced to confer the Prime Minister’s Shram Awards 2017 to 40 workers across country.


About Shram Awards:

The Prime Minister’s Shram Awards were instituted in 1985 by the Government of India.

This national award is conferred on workers for outstanding contributions that improve productivity, innovation, and indigenization, resulting in saving foreign exchange. The award is also given for long-term exceptional dedicated work.

The objective of the Prime Ministers Shram Awards is to recognize the outstanding contributions made by workmen as defined in the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 in organizations both in public and private sector and who have distinguished record of performance, devotion to duty of a high order, specific contribution in the field of productivity and proven innovative abilities among others.


There are four types of awards:

  • Shram Ratna: Two lakhs and recognition of their contribution to their field (a Sanad).
  • Shram Bhushan: 100000 and a Sanad.
  • Shram Vir / Shram Veerangana: 60000 and a Sanad.
  • Shram Devi / Shram Shree: 40000 and a Sanad.