Current Affairs Analysis

15th October 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

National Counter Terrorism Centre; Self-Powered UV Photodetector; The United Group; Hungary and Algeria; 'Shaurya Smarak'; World’s Largest Handicrafts Fair; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
October 15, 2016


Polity & Governance

  • Government to distribute subsidized pulses through postal network
  • Smaller parties, Independents in Rajya Sabha unite for more talk time

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India to collaborate with Germany for rail projects worth Rs1 trillion
  • Ansari begins four-day visit to Hungary, Algeria

Defence & Security Issues

  • Centre plans to revive counter-terror body

Science & Technology

  • Self-powered UV photodetector charges energy storage devices

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Brics U – 17 Football Tournament winner
  • Shaurya Smarak
  • World’s largest handicrafts fair


Polity & Governance

Government to distribute subsidized pulses through postal network

The Government has decided to use postal network for distribution of subsidized pulses.


  • The decisions were taken in the Inter Ministerial Committee on prices of essential commodities headed by Union Consumer Affairs Secretary.
  • The committee has also decided to release more Chana from buffer stock to ensure availability of these commodities at reasonable prices during ongoing festival season.
  • The committee reviewed availability and prices of essential commodities specially pulses and suggested that in the absence of Government outlets in the states postal networks should be export for the distribution.
[Ref: PIB]


Smaller parties, Independents in Rajya Sabha unite for more talk time

Vice-President Hamid Ansari has formally recognised a group of 22 MPs belonging to parties with less than four MPs and certain independents as a consolidated block — the United Group.


  • This is only the third time in the history of Indian Parliament that this is happening, the first was in 1983, and the second in 1990.

Was there any need for it?

  • Hailing from ideologically diverse backgrounds and including nominated MPs, this group of MPs have united to secure more time to speak in House debates, where their solitary or numerically lean status afforded them as little as three minutes of speech time.

Significance of this move:

Smaller parties and independent MPs who may want to contribute to debates rarely get enough time to put forward a cogent argument.

  • With this grouping, now such MPs form the third largest group in the Rajya Sabha, after the Congress and the BJP.
  • Now, they also will find a place in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) that decides time allotment.
  • Time allotted to parties to speak on debates depends entirely on their strength in the House. A grouping of this kind will, therefore, make it possible to speak for.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

India to collaborate with Germany for rail projects worth Rs1 trillion

India will collaborate with Germany for projects worth Rs1 trillion to improve and enhance rail connectivity of Indian ports.


  • Recently, both countries decided to identify the potential areas where projects can be implemented with mutual cooperation.


  • The development follows inking of a pact between IPRCL and the German Railways Deutsche Bahn (DB) during the Maritime India Summit earlier this year for co-operation on modernisation of rail port connectivity and port rail facilities of Indian ports.

Indian Government’s efforts:

  • The government has already proposed to engage IPRCL for the port connectivity projects identified under its ambitious Sagarmala programme and the corporation has been entrusted with carrying out the feasibility and implementation of 22 projects.
  • Out of the total 22 projects, subject to their feasibility, 10 projects are likely to be completed during 2017-18 and 7 during 2018-19.
  • For efficient evacuation of cargo from ports and to reduce logistics cost, last-mile rail connectivity of ports holds significance.
  • Indian port Rail Corporation has been set up specifically to work in this area.
[Ref: LiveMint]


Ansari begins four-day visit to Hungary, Algeria

Vice President Hamid Ansari left on a five-day visit to Hungary and Algeria, where he will raise the matter of cross-border terrorism and a host of other bilateral issues.


Visit to Hungary:

  • The Hungary visit should serve to underline and acknowledge the support and understanding that India has extended to that country over a long time.

About Hungary:


  • Hungary is a parliamentary constitutional republic in Central Europe.
  • It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, Slovenia to the west, Austria to the northwest, and Ukraine to the northeast.
  • The country’s capital and largest city is Budapest.
  • It is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD and the Schengen Area.

Visit to Algeria:

  • In the case of Algeria, which has rich oil, gas and phosphatic resources, India sees this visit as an opportunity to kindle interest in cooperative ventures.
  • Collaboration in the field of space missions is also on the horizon.

About Algeria:


  • Algeria is a sovereign state in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast.
  • It is the largest country in Africa.
  • Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the west by Morocco, to the southwest by the Western Saharan territory, Mauritania, and Mali, to the southeast by Niger, and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The country is a semi-presidential republic.
[Ref: Indian Express, The Hindu]


Defence & Security Issues

Centre plans to revive counter-terror body

The government is planning to bring back plans to establish the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which were first introduced during the UPA government’s regime.


The NCTC was the brainchild of former Union home minister P Chidambaram, who now heads the standing committee as an opposition member, and it was modelled on the NCTC formed in the United States after the 9/11 attacks.


Opposition from the states:

  • The idea was put into cold storage back then, after objections from several state governments over the powers proposed for the body.
  • The state governments termed the centre an infringement upon their powers under the federal structure.

What would be the key functions of the NCTC?

  • NCTC would be empowered to conduct searches and arrests under Sections 43 and 43A of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
  • The NCTC, to be located within the Intelligence Bureau, will carry out counter-terror operations and collect, collate and disseminate data on terrorism.
  • The agency will also maintain a data base on terrorist and their associates including their families.
  • The NCTC will also formulate a response to terror threats. It is meant to serve as a single and effective point of control and coordination of all counter terrorism measures.
  • It will also have the mandate to carry out anti-terror operations, if any, through, or in conjunction with, the State police.
  • It will have the power to conduct searches and arrests in any part of India.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]


Science & Technology

Self-powered UV photodetector charges energy storage devices

The researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru have developed a cost-effective, high-performance, self-powered UV photodetector.


  • The self-powered UV photodetector can use the harvested optical energy for direct self-charging of energy storage devices such as supercapacitor.

What is Photodetector?


  • Photodector is a device capable of sensing (detecting) or responding to electromagnetic energy, typically light by using the electrical effect of individual photons.


How was it developed?

  • The researchers have developed the photodetector by integrating semiconducting vanadium doped zinc oxide (VZnO) nanoflakes with a conducting polymer.
  • The zinc oxide (ZnO) is the base material for UV detection which can be doped with vanadium to produce photodetectors that are self-powered.
  • The photodetector has superior performance in terms of faster detection of photo signals in the order of milliseconds even when UV light intensity is low.

How it works?

  • When doped with vanadium, the microstructure of ZnO changes from nanorods to closely-packed nanoflakes. It causes increase in the surface area to the volume of the material.
  • It also creates surface defects within the band gap of ZnO, which helps in trapping the UV radiation that falls on the nanoflakes.
  • These nanorods are one-dimensional and cause more light reflection from top surface. When UV light enters into pores it undergoes multiple reflections and finally gets absorbed.

Its potential usage:

  • It can also be used for operating electronic devices in the absence of external power source.
  • The nanoflake (VZnO) produces five times more photocurrent, compared with ZnO, which generates only 40 nA photocurrent.
  • Once these nanoflakes are hydrogenated, the current generation capacity further increased to 1,000 nA.
  • When these hydrogenated nanoflakes exposed to UV light, they detect photo signal within milliseconds, which is nearly 100 times faster than conventional UV photodetectors.
  • VZnO nanoflakes structure has 98% light harvesting efficiency which is much higher than 84% seen in ZnO.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

Brics U – 17 Football Tournament winner


Brazil has won the 1st BRICS U-17 Football Tournament 2016 held at Goa, India.

In the Finals they defeated South Africa 5-1.


Shaurya Smarak


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated ‘Shaurya Smarak’, the war memorial in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
  • The ‘Shaurya Smarak’ was constructed by the state government in honour of those who laid down their lives for the country.


World’s largest handicrafts fair


Recently, the 42nd edition of world’s largest handicrafts fair, “IHGF- Delhi Fair Autumn 2016” has been inaugurated at Greater Noida, India.


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