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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 16 July 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 16 July 2019

Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Infrastructure- waterways.




What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features, need for and significance of the programme.


Context: Government on Monday said it has created about 10,000 jobs under its ambitious ‘Sagarmala’ initiative during the last three years.


About Sagarmala:

What is it?

  • The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
  • The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
  • It aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
  • Nodal ministry:The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
  • To implement this, State governments would set up State Sagarmala committees, headed by the chief minister or the minister in charge of ports.
  • At the central level, a Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) will be setup to provide equity support to assist various special purpose vehicles (SPVs) setup for various projects.


The Sagarmala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely:

  1. Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development.
  2. Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports.
  3. Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.


Why is it important?

India is located along key international trade routes in the Indian Ocean and has a long coastline of over 7,500 km. Yet, capacity constraints and lack of modern facilities at Indian ports tremendously elongates the time taken to ship goods in and out of the country and has held back India’s share in world trade.

Developing rivers as inland waterways can also help save domestic logistics costs too.

Sagarmala could boost India’s merchandise exports to $110 billion by 2025 and create an estimated 10 million new jobs (four million in direct employment).

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Infrastructure- energy and conservation related issues.


Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) Initiative


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: SATAT initiative- key objectives, significance and brief overview on CNG and CBG.


Context: The government has said that the SATAT initiative has the potential of addressing environmental problems arising from landfill emissions, farm stubble burning, etc. and also bring down dependency on oil/gas import.  Till June, 2019, Oil Marketing Companies and Gas Marketing Companies have awarded Letter of Intent (LoI) for 344 plants for production and supply of CBG.


About the initiative:

The initiative is aimed at providing a Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) as a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs.

Compressed Bio-Gas plants are proposed to be set up mainly through independent entrepreneurs.

CBG produced at these plants will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of OMCs for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative.

The entrepreneurs would be able to separately market the other by-products from these plants, including bio-manure, carbon-dioxide, etc., to enhance returns on investment.

This initiative is expected to generate direct employment for 75,000 people and produce 50 million tonnes of bio-manure for crops.


There are multiple benefits from converting agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste into CBG on a commercial scale:

  1. Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution.
  2. Additional revenue source for farmers.
  3. Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment.
  4. Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals.
  5. Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil.
  6. Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations.



Bio-gas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste / bio-mass sources like agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc. After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has pure methane content of over 95%.


What is CBG?

Compressed Bio-Gas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential. With calorific value (~52,000 KJ/kg) and other properties similar to CNG, Compressed Bio-Gas can be used as an alternative, renewable automotive fuel.


Way ahead:

The potential for Compressed Bio-Gas production from various sources in India is estimated at about 62 million tonnes per annum. Going forward, Compressed Bio-Gas networks can be integrated with city gas distribution (CGD) networks to boost supplies to domestic and retail users in existing and upcoming markets. Besides retailing from OMC fuel stations, Compressed Bio-Gas can at a later date be injected into CGD pipelines too for efficient distribution and optimised access of a cleaner and more affordable fuel.


GS Paper 1 and 2:

Topics covered:

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


Guidelines for crèches at workplaces


What to study?

For Prelims: Maternity Benefit Act- key features, Guidelines on crèches at workplaces.

For Mains: Significance of the act and challenges in its implementation, what needs to be done?


Context: Data on provision of mandatory crèche services at establishments is not maintained centrally. The complaints received for violation of provision of the Act by respective Governments are dealt with as per the provisions of the Act.


Legal provisions:

In March 2017, Parliament passed the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017, enhancing paid maternity leave from a period of 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The law is applicable to all institutions with 10 or more employees. It also makes it mandatory for every organisation with 50 or more employees to have a crèche.


The guidelines include:

  • A crèche be either at the workplace or within 500 metres of it. Alternatively, it could also be in the beneficiaries’ neighbourhood.
  • The facility should be open for eight to 10 hours and if the employees have a shift system, then the crèche should also be run accordingly.
  • A crèche must have a minimum space of 10 to 12 square feet per child to ensure that she or he can play, rest and learn. There should be no unsafe places such as open drains, pits, garbage bins near the centre.
  • The crèches should have at least one guard, who should have undergone police verification. There should also be at least one supervisor per crèche and a trained worker for every 10 children under three years of age or for every 20 children above the age of three, along with a helper.
  • No outsiderssuch as plumbers, drivers, electricians be allowed inside the crèche when children are present.
  • A crèche monitoring committeewith representations from among crèche workers, parents and administration should be formed.
  • There should also be a grievance redressal committeefor inquiring into instances of sexual abuse.


The Maternity Benefit Act:

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, applies to establishments employing 10 or more than 10 persons in factories, mines, plantation, shops & establishments and other entities.

The main purpose of this Act is to regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after child birth and to provide maternity benefit and certain other benefits.

The Act was amended through the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.


The amendment has brought in major changes to the law relating to maternity benefits. These are:

  • It extends the period of maternity benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeksof which not more than eight weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery. This exceeds the International Labour Organisation’s minimum standard of 14 weeks and is a positive development. However, a woman who has two or more surviving children will be entitled to 12 weeks of which not more than six weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery.
  • Women who legally adopt a child below the age of three months or a “commissioning mother” will be entitled to maternity benefit for 12 weeks from the date on which the child is handed over to her. A commissioning mother is defined as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman.
  • It gives discretion to employers to allow women to work from home after the period of maternity benefit on mutually agreeable conditions.
  • It introduces a provision which requires every establishment to intimate a woman at the time of her appointment of the maternity benefits available to her.


Mains Question: Maternity benefit Act has increased the entry barrier for women in Labour Force. Discuss. 

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.


Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: The scheme- features, significance, need and potential.


Context: 30,85,205 Persons Enrolled in PM-SYM as on July 10, 2019.


About Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana:

Launched by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment. The scheme was announced in the Interim Budget 2019.

PM-SYM is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme that will engage as many as 42 crore workers in the unorganised sector.



The unorganised sector workers, with income of less than Rs 15,000 per month and who belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years, will be eligible for the scheme.

Those workers should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

He or she should not be an income tax payer.



Minimum Assured Pension: Each subscriber under the scheme will receive minimum assured pension of Rs 3000 per month after attaining the age of 60 years.

In case of death during receipt of pension: If the subscriber dies during the receipt of pension, his or her spouse will be entitled to receive 50 percent of the pension as family pension. This family pension is applicable only to spouse.

In case of death before the age of 60 years: If a beneficiary has given regular contribution and dies before attaining the age of 60 years, his or her spouse will be entitled to continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or may even exit the scheme.


Contribution to the scheme:

Contribution by the Subscriber: The subscriber is required to contribute the prescribed contribution amount from the age of joining the scheme till the age of 60 years.

Medium of contribution: The subscriber can contribute to the PM-SYM through ‘auto-debit’ facility from his or her savings bank account or from his or her Jan- Dhan account.

Equal contribution by the Central Government: Under the PM-SYM, the prescribed age-specific contribution by the beneficiary and the matching contribution by the Central Government will be made on a ‘50:50 basis’.


Need of the hour:

  • Along with the social security, Government should ramp up skilling of the workforce, take steps to generate more jobs in the formal sector, change labour laws to include informal workers.
  • It will in effect provide wage protection, job security, social security to the workers and ultimately alleviate the hardships they face.
  • Eventually it will boost the overall economic growth of the country.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered: 

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


In News- ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’


What to study?

For Prelims: ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’- features.

For Mains: GST and its implications, issues associated and reforms to resolve them.


About Seva Bhoj Yojana:

Union Ministry of Culture has launched- ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’– a scheme to reimburse central share of CGST and IGST on food, prasad, langar or bhandara offered by religious and charitable institutions.

The scheme seeks to reimburse the central government’s share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on purchase of raw items such as ghee, edible oil, atta, maida, rava, flour, rice pulses, sugar and jaggery, which go into preparation of food/prasad/langar/bhandara offered free of cost by religious institutions.

The main objective of the scheme is to lessen the financial burden of such charitable religious institutions, which provide free of cost without any discrimination to the general public and devotees.



The charitable religious institutions including temples, gurudwara, mosque, church, dharmik ashram, dargah, monasteries, which fulfill the following criteria are eligible for the grant:

  1. The institutions that have been in existence for at least five years before applying for financial assistance/grant.
  2. The institutions that serve free food to at least 5000 people in a month.
  3. The institutions covered under Section 10(23BBA) of the Income Tax Act or those registered as Society under Societies Registration Act (XXI of 1860) or as a Public Trust under any law for the time being in force of statuary religious bodies constituted under any Act or institutions registered under Section 12AA of Income Tax Act.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered: 

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


National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill 2019


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the Bill, about NIA and the need for enhanced powers.


Context: The Lok Sabha has passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill 2019



Key features of the Bill:

  • The Bill amends the NIA Act, 2008 and provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences).  
  • It allows for the creation of Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences which include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. 
  • As per the Bill, the NIA will now have the power to investigate the following offences, in addition: (i) human trafficking, (ii) offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, (iv) cyber-terrorism, and (v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.       
  • Jurisdiction: The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to the investigation of such offences, across India. In addition, officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries. 
  • The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases, as if the offence has been committed in IndiaThe Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.
    The Bill states that the central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. The central government will need to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning, before designating it as a Special Court.  When more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, the cases will be distributed among the courts by senior-most judge.
  • The state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. 


Relevant articles from various news sources:


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.


Thirty Meter Telescope


What to study?

For prelims and mains: TMT- objectives and significance, location.


Context: Thirty Meter Telescope Set to Begin Construction.


The mega telescope completed its design and development phase in 2009, but legal challenges from Native Hawaiian activists — who treasure Mauna Kea for cultural and religious reasons — have hounded the telescope.


About TMT:

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT).

It is an international project being funded by scientific organisations of Canada, China, India, Japan and USA.

Planned locationMauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in the US state of Hawaii. 

The TMT is designed for near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared observations, featuring adaptive optics to assist in correcting image blur.



TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the Universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the Universe.

It will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars.


Sources:  Down to Earth.

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.


Why Rajasthan HC judges don’t want to be called ‘My Lord’?


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Evolution of the issue and why censure it?


Context: Rajasthan High Court resolved to censure the salutations “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” from courtroom protocol – a practice that has been inherited from British rule.


Why censure?

As the words “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” are relics of a Colonial past, it is proposed to incorporate the above rule showing respectful attitude to the Court.


Customs in other countries:

In UK, judges of the Court of Appeals and the High Court are to be addressed in court as “My Lord” or “My Lady”, Circuit judges as “Your Honour”, Magistrates as “Your Worship”, or “Sir” or “Madam”, and District judges and Tribunal judges as “Sir” or “Madam”.

In US, “Mr.” is only used in addressing the Chief Justice. Others are referred to as “Justice Scalia,” “Justice Ginsburg,” or “Your Honor.”

In Singapore, the Judge/Registrar can be addressed as “Your Honour”.

In Australia as well, in the High Court and the Federal Court, the judges are to be addressed as “Your Honour”.


Sources: Indian Express.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Infrastructure- Energy.


Why power costs vary, and uniform national rate is difficult to implement?


What to study?

For prelims and mains: How power tariffs are determined? Need for uniform national rate and challenges therein.


Context: Few lawmakers have suggested that power tariffs should be uniform across the country so that affordable power is available to all.


How do states decide power tariffs?

The electricity tariff paid by consumers in each state is directly reflective of the cost of power procurement by the power distribution companies (discoms) in the state.

There are state-specific factors for this.


Is the idea of having a flat countrywide rate feasible?

The State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) decide on the power tariff after utilities file their cost of power with the regulators. Because power tariffs entail a number of state-specific factors, a uniform nationwide tariff is a proposition that would be difficult to implement.



  1. States such as Jharkhand or Odisha or Chhattisgarh, which have had coal-fired thermal capacity, would typically have lower tariffs because of the base-load capacities that they possess.
  2. States such as Himachal or Uttarakhand would have low tariffs because of hydropower capacities that are either fully or partially depreciated, and from which the home state, under the Ministry of Power’s Tariff Policy, gets access to 40 per cent of the power free of cost.
  3. A state like Gujarat, which has capacities based on imported coal, will have comparatively higher tariffs. States such as Delhi or Punjab, which buy power from outside to meet domestic requirements either through long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) or spot power purchases at the power exchanges (PXs), have higher tariffs, as their power mix has high-cost power.


Sources: Indian Express.

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation related issues.

Blue flag project


Context: The Union Environment Ministry has selected 12 beaches in India to vie for a ‘Blue Flag’ certification, an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.

These beaches are at Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Eden (Puducherry), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).


About Blue flag programme:

The Blue Flag Programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).

It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined. Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches. Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.



There are nearly 33 criteria that must be met to qualify for a Blue Flag certification, such as the water meeting certain quality standards, having waste disposal facilities, being disabled- friendly, have first aid equipment, and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach. Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.


Sources: the Hindu.


Facts for prelims:


Reservation of Limboo and Tamang Communities:

Context: A proposal for reservation of seats for Limboo and Tamang communities in Sikkim Legislative Assembly is under consideration of the Government of India.

Article 371F(f) and Article 332 of the Constitution of India govern reservation of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim and the issue of seat reservation for Limboo and Tamang communities is being considered under these provisions of Constitution of India.

The Limbu are Kirati people indigenous and native to the Himalayan Limbuwan region of the Indian subcontinent, in what is now modern-day Eastern Nepal, Northern Sikkim, India and Western Bhutan.

The Tamang are the largest Tibetic ethnic group of Nepalis and Indian Gorkhas. Traditionally Buddhist by religion. Indian Tamangs are also a significant number in Sikkim and Darjeeling. Peculiar to Tamang people are complex marriage restrictions within the community.


Honey Mission:

Context: Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has distributed over 1.10 lakh bee-boxes across India in last one and half years under its Honey Mission. This has created over 11,000 new jobs for the farmers, unemployed youths and tribal people; 430 metric tonnes of honey worth Rs 4 crore has been extracted through these bee-boxes only.

About Honey Mission:

It was launched in August 2017. Under this mission KVIC provides beekeepers:

  • Practical training about examination of honeybee colonies.
  • Acquaintance with apicultural equipments.
  • Identification and management of bee enemies and diseases.
  • Honey extraction and wax purification.
  • Management of bee colonies in spring, summer, monsoon, autumn and winter seasons.
  • Loans for setting up processing units, packaging units and labelling units for honey.


In News- Sahiwal cattle:

Sahiwal is considered to be one of the best milch cattle breed of India.

The breed derives its name from Sahiwal area in Montgomery district of Punjab in Pakistan.

These animals are also known as “Lambi Bar”, “Lola”, “Montgomery”, “Multani” and “Teli”.


Molecular mechanism behind latent TB:

Context: Kolkatta Scientists figure out molecular mechanism behind latent TB. Scientists have figured out how tuberculosis bacterium is released from its reservoir inside the human body

How it occurs?

A macrophage is an important part of the immune system. The word ‘macrophage’ literally means a ‘big eater’. It is an amoeba-like organism and its job is to clean the body of microscopic debris and invaders. It has an innate ability to locate and consume invaders such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.

However, the story is different with TB bacterium. Instead of killing it, the macrophage creates a sac-like formation called granuloma around it. Granuloma keeps the bacillus contained and under control. The equilibrium can last for even several decades until it gets broken leading to release of infectious bacteria into the human body. This can happen due to several reasons such as lowered immunity because of physical weakness or infections such as HIV.


Spent pot lining (SPL):

About SPL:

Spent pot lining (SPL) from the aluminium industries is produced by the smelting plants.

It contains high level of cyanide and fluoride and is carcinogenic in nature and must be scientifically utilised or detoxified.

It has also been classified as hazardous waste under the Schedule to the Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016.