Current Affairs Analysis

15th February 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

ISRO creates history; What is Food fortification? Sasta Sahitya Mandal; Muziris Heritage Project; South Asia Training and Technical Assistance Centre (SARTTAC); AEW&C NETRA Cartosat-2; ‘thubber’; Kalimpong; Cobra Gold Exercise; Food Fortification Logo; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 15, 2017


Polity & Governance

  • FSSAI constitutes panel to identify nutritional gaps
  • MoU signed between Publications Division and Sasta Sahitya Mandal for Joint Publication of books
  • Muziris Heritage Project set to turn over a new leaf

Environment & Ecology

  • Chemicals banned in 1970s discovered in deep ocean fauna
  • India’s air rivals China’s as deadliest in the world: Study

Bilateral & International Relations

  • IMF’s South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC)

Defence & Security Issues

  • IAF inducts indigenous early warning system NETRA

Science & Technology

  • ISRO creates history, launches 104 satellites in one go
  • Researchers engineer ‘thubber,’ a stretchable rubber that packs a thermal conductive punch

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Food Fortification Logo
  • Kalimpong becomes West Bengal’s 21st district
  • Cobra Gold Exercise


Polity & Governance

FSSAI constitutes panel to identify nutritional gaps

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has constituted a Panel on Food Fortification and Nutrition to identify critical nutritional gaps in the Indian diet in general and also in specific target groups.

  • The 11 member panel will frame final regulations on fortification of foods and prepare strategies to address malnutrition problem.

Mandate of the panel:

  • The Panel will identify critical nutritional gaps in the Indian diet in general and also in specific target groups based on credible scientific evidence and diet surveys.
  • It will review the standards required for all suitable food fortifying vehicles in addition to healthy dietary intake of sugar, fat and salt.
  • It will define strategies to address nutritional needs of general population and vulnerable groups.
  • It will also address regulatory and related technological issues, review proposals from industry using modern risk assessment methods.
  • It will also prescribe standard test and sampling methods for effective surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of the relevant regulations.


  • Micronutrient Malnutrition Disorders are ubiquitously prevalent in all age groups of the population.
  • According to National Family Health Survey (2006-07) and the World Bank (2006), about 70% preschool children suffer from iron deficiency anaemia and 57% preschool children have sub-clinical Vitamin A deficiency respectively.
  • Further, as per the World Bank (2006), Iodine deficiency is endemic in 85 per cent of districts.
  • Moreover, folate deficiency which leads to Neural Tube Defects (NTDS)are the most common congenital malformation in Indian context with an incidence that varies between 0.5-8/1000 births. It is estimated that 50-70% of these birth defects are preventable.

What is Food fortification?


Food fortification or enrichment is the process of adding micronutrients (essential trace elements and vitamins) to food.

  • Fortification requires neither changes in existing food patterns, habits nor individual compliance.
  • It is socio-culturally acceptable and does not alter the characteristics of the food.



Benefits of Food fortification:

  • Food fortification is a proven and effective strategy to meet the nutritional needs of a large number of people across various sections of the society, including the poor and underprivileged as well as the vulnerable, such as pregnant women and young children.
  • It can be introduced quickly and can produce nutritional benefits for populations in a short period of time.
  • It is safe and cost effective, especially if advantage is taken of the existing technology and delivery platforms.
  • Food fortification reinforces and supports existing nutrition improvement programmes and is part of a broader, integrated approach to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, thereby complementing other approaches to improve health and nutrition.


Regulations on Food fortification in India:

  • Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has formulated a comprehensive regulation on fortification of foods namely ‘Food Safety and Standards (Fortification of Foods) Regulations, 2016’.
  • These regulations set the standards for food fortification and encourage the production, manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of fortified foods.
  • The regulations also provide for specific role of FSSAI in promotion for food fortification and to make fortification mandatory. This sets the premise for the national summit on fortification of food.
[Ref: The Hindu]


MoU signed between Publications Division and Sasta Sahitya Mandal for Joint Publication of books

Publications Division, a Media Unit under Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and Sasta Sahitya Mandal (SSM) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint publication of books on heroes of freedom struggle, cultural leaders and other eminent personalities who worked towards Nation development.



  • The agreement is a joint initiative between the two organisations to sensitise the young generation about India’s rich and diverse culture and history.
  • It would promote availability of good literature for the people on diverse topics.
  • The agreement would also provide an opportunity, for both the organizations to enhance their reach by displaying and offering on sale any of publications published by either of the organizations.
  • This MOU is valid for three years from the date of signing of this MOU, which can be extendable for similar terms by mutual agreement.

About Sasta Sahitya Mandal:

  • Sasta Sahitya Mandal (SSM) is a Trust established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1925.
  • It is mandated to promote, develop and publish high class literature in Hindi and to make it available to the public at affordable prices.
  • Since its inception SSM has brought out more than 2500 titles on Indian culture, heritage, Indian epics, & stories and has created a huge corpus of children literature to infuse in them the values of life and love for the nation and humanity.
[Ref: PIB]


Muziris Heritage Project set to turn over a new leaf

The uniquely ambitious Muziris Heritage Project (MHP) is on the cusp of being revitalised and fast-tracked by the Kerala State Tourism Department.


About the Muziris Heritage Project:

The Government of Kerala has initiated the Muziris Heritage Project to reinstate the historical and cultural significance of the legendary port of Muziris.

  • The project utilizes at a global level the possibilities of a region, which lost its glory centuries ago. The region is dotted with numerous monuments of a bygone era that conjure up a vast and vivid past.
  • Muziris is an ancient port town in little Kerala still holds a kind of beauty that is filled with history and culture.
  • The project seeks to link up heritage sites, restore monuments and community spaces along the riparian North Paravur, Chendamangalam, Chittattinkara, Vadakkekara, Pallippuram, Kodungalloor, Mathilakam, Eriyad and Methala and liven them up with community-based projects and cultural shows from the region.
  • The entire project is designed to involve and integrate the local community in all intended developmental initiatives.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Environment & Ecology

Chemicals banned in 1970s discovered in deep ocean fauna

Scientists have, for the first time, discovered high levels of manmade pollutants in the tissues of marine creatures dwelling in world’s deepest ocean trenches.


  • An extraordinary level of toxic chemicals that were banned in the 1970s were found more than six miles below the sea level in the Marina Trench in the Pacific Ocean. The Trench’s closest major landmass at 1300 km is Japan.
  • These chemicals were discovered after sampling amphipods from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which are over 10 km deep and 7,000 km apart.


How these pollutants reached at this level?

  • Researchers claim that these pollutants may have found their way to deep trenches through contaminated plastic debris and dead animals sinking to bottom of ocean, where they were consumed by amphipods and other fauna.

About the research:

  • Researchers found presence of extremely high levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the organism’s fatty tissue.
  • These POPs include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants.
  • These banned pollutants are invulnerable to natural degradation and persist in the environment for decades. They may have been released into the environment through industrial accidents.
  • These sampled amphipods contained levels of contamination similar to that found in Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted industrial zones of the north-west Pacific.
  • Thus, this research shows that the remote and pristine oceanic realm which was earlier considered safe from human impact is actually not.
[Ref: The Hindu]


India’s air rivals China’s as deadliest in the world: Study

According to a new study of global air pollution India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is now surpassing China’s as the deadliest in the world.


  • The report was issued jointly by Health Effects Institute and Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Highlights of the report:

  • India’s notoriously poor air quality causes nearly 1.1 million premature deaths every year, almost on a par with China.
  • India has recorded a nearly 50% increase in premature deaths linked to fine airborne particles known as PM2.5 between 1990 and 2015.
  • India and China, the two Asian giants accounted for more than half of all global deaths related to PM2.5 exposure.
  • India has undergone a rapid economic transformation in the past two decades but burning coal for energy and torching farmland to plant new crops has seen pollution rocket.
  • India and neighbouring Bangladesh have experienced the steepest increases in pollution since 2010 and now have the highest PM2.5 concentrations in the world.
  • Experts blamed lack of proactive policies for the rising air pollution.
  • The air pollution in recent times has worsened in parts of the world, including South Asia, but it improved in the United States and Europe.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

IMF’s South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has opened a first-of-its-kind South Asia Training and Technical Assistance Centre (SARTTAC) in New Delhi for economic capacity building in South Asia.



In 2016, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a capacity development centre for South Asia.

The opening of SARTTAC is part of the MoU and marks a major milestone in the partnership between the IMF and its member countries in the region.



SARTTAC is financed mainly by its six member South Asia countries viz. India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka with additional support from Australia, South Korea, European Union and United Kingdom.


  • It will work to support local member countries of South Asia to build human and institutional capacity and implement policies for growth and poverty reduction.
  • It strategic goal is to help its member countries strengthen their institutional and human capacity to design and implement macroeconomic and financial policies that promote growth and reduce poverty.
  • It will allow the IMF to meet more of the high demand for technical assistance and training from the region.
  • It is expected to become the focal point for the delivery of IMF capacity development services to South Asia.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Defence & Security Issues

IAF inducts indigenous early warning system NETRA

The Indian Airforce (IAF) has formally inducted the first indigenously built Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) dubbed as NETRA.


Key Facts:

  • The AEW&C NETRA has been indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • AEW&C are airborne radar systems mounted on a carrier jet for airborne surveillance system i.e. to detect and track aircraft, missiles, ships and vehicles and provide command and control to direct friendly forces.
  • It consists of active electronically scanned radar, secondary surveillance radar, electronic and communication counter measures, LOS (Line of Sight) and beyond-LOS data link, voice communication system AEW&C NETRA system is based on Embraer aircraft (Emb-145 platform).
  • It has self-protection suite and also mid-air refueling capability to enhance surveillance time. This system gives 240-degree coverage of airspace.
  • DRDO has developed three NETRA systems and its three aircraft will be based at Bhatinda, facing the Western border.
  • With this India, joins group of other countries such as United States, Russia and Israel which have developed the AEW&C system.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Science & Technology

ISRO creates history, launches 104 satellites in one go

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) created history by successfully launching a record 104 satellites in single mission.


  • These satellites were launched on board of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37, on its 39th mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.’

Key facts:

  • Of the total 104 satellites, three were Indian and remaining 101 belonged to international customers.
  • India’s three satellites included earth-mapping Cartosat-2 satellite (main payload) and nanosatellites INS-1A and INS-1B.
  • Of the total earth-observation satellites, three are Indian, 88 are from the US and the rest from Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Around 90 small satellites belonged to US-based company Planet Inc. They are named ‘Doves’ and their constellation will be used to image the earth at low cost.
  • In this mission, PSLV first launched the Cartosat-2 and then its 103 co-passengers into the polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO), about 520 km from the Earth.


Significance of this launch:

With the successful launch, India did something no country has done before.

  • Its launch of 104 satellites from a single rocket was a world record most satellites launched at the same time from a single rocket.
  • The country that comes second to us in this aspect is Russia, who is far behind with a maximum of 37 satellite launches from a single rocket.


  • This PSLV-XL rocket launch is ISRO’s 15th space mission. ISRO has a very impressive success arte in terms of space programmes as it hasn’t failed even ince since 2010.
  • The XL version of the PSLV was earlier used in India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) after it had debuted in 2008 in India’s first attempt to raech moon, Chandrayan-I.
  • India had earlier made a national record in June 2016 after it had succesfully rocketed 20 satellites at one go, including 13 from the United States of America.

About Cartosat-2:

  • The Cartosat-2 series satellite is the primary satellite carried by PSLV-C34, provides remote sensing services, and earth observation.
  • Built, launched and maintained by the ISRO, the satellite weighs around 725.5 kg.
  • Cartosat-2 carries a state-of-the-art panchromatic (PAN) camera that can take black and white pictures of the earth in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • The images sent by Cartosat satellite will be useful for cartographic, urban, rural, coastal land use, water distribution and other applications.
  • The mission life of the Cartosat satellite is about 5 years.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Researchers engineer ‘thubber,’ a stretchable rubber that packs a thermal conductive punch

Scientists have developed novel rubber like material nicknamed ‘thubber’ which has high thermal conductivity and elasticity.


  • It is an electrically insulating composite material that exhibits an unprecedented combination of metal-like thermal conductivity, elasticity similar to soft, biological tissue.

Key Facts:

  • Thubber consists of a soft elastomer with non-toxic, liquid metal microdroplets suspended within it.
  • This semi-liquid state allows the metal to deform with the surrounding rubber at room temperature. When it is pre-stretched at room temperature, it stretches up to six times its initial length.
  • During this phase, liquid metal microdroplets form into elongated pathways through which heat can easily travel through. At the same time, the material is electrically insulating.


Potential applications:

  • In developing wearable computing and soft robotics, which require mechanical compliance and stretchable functionality.
  • In industries like athletic wear and sports medicine — think of lighted clothing for runners and heated garments for injury therapy.
  • Advanced manufacturing, energy, and transportation are other areas where stretchable electronic material could have an impact.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

Food Fortification Logo


  • FSSAI has also unveiled a Logo for fortified foodswhich may be used by food businesses.
  • This Logo comprises of a square encompassing an F with a ‘+’ sign with a ring around it which signifies the addition of extra nutrition and vitamins to daily meals toprovide good health, protection and an active life.
  • Several food businesses have already started using this logo.


Kalimpong becomes West Bengal’s 21st district


  • The Kalimpong subdivision of the Darjeeling hills became the 21st district of West Bengal.
  • Kalimpong district is spread over 1,056 square kilometers and with a population of just under 50,000, is also densely populated Bengal’s least populated district.
  • Kalimpong was once known for the Silk Route that passed through the region, connecting Nepal and Bhutan with the city.
  • Kalimpong was an important gateway between India and Tibet due to its proximity to Nathu La. However, that changed with the 1962 Indo-Sino War. The region was also once a hotbed for Gorkhaland statehood agitation.


Cobra Gold Exercise


  • It is an annual military Exercise jointly hosted by the US and Thailand.
  • Recently, it commenced in Chonburi Province of Thailand.
  • The 11-day exercise is one of Asia’s largest multinational drills.
  • This year more than 8,300 personnel from 29 countries, including Japan, China, South Korea and Southeast Asian nations are taking part.
  • It includes landing drills using amphibious vehicles and humanitarian assistance projects.


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