Current Affairs Analysis

16th January 2018 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

65th meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE); India International Exchange (India INX); Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC); What are Green Bonds? Passenger protocol; BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA); SASEC Programme; What is National Knowledge Network (NKN)? Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’; Purandara Dasa; The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH); Mahanadi river; ‘IPrism’ competition; Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM); UN Youth Envoy's office; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
January 16, 2018


Polity & Governance

  • Union HRD Minister chairs 65th meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education


  • India INX lists IRFC’s green bonds – first debt security at IFSC

Bilateral & International Relations

  • BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement regains momentum
  • India’s NKN, Sri Lanka’s LEARN connect with high capacity Net

Defence & Security Issues

  • Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ to be held in Seattle

Art & Culture

  • Speculation over the birth place of Purandara Dasa ended
  • INTACH plan to retrace heritage along Mahanadi in Odisha

Science & Technology

  • CIPAM-DIPP launches IP competition for college & university students

Key Facts for Prelims

  • India contributes $50K to UN Youth Envoy’s office

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Polity & Governance

Union HRD Minister chairs 65th meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education

The 65th Meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) was held under Chairmanship of Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi.


  • A number of decisions were taken at the meeting, in part flowing from the agenda, and in part stemming from concerns raised by the State Governments.

Resolutions adopted at the meeting:

  • Operation Digital Board will be launched in all schools in five years and will be undertaken jointly by Centre, State, Corporate Social Responsibility and community.
  • It will improve quality of education. Under it, students will be empowered with 360 degree information with interesting learning experience and increase teacher accountability.
  • CABE also will ensure to provide Quality, Equity, Accessibility, Accountability and Affordability in education by pro-active action and plan.
  • It will also promote Swacch Bharat, Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat, Padhe Bharat, Sugamya Bharat and physical education.
  • It also resolved to promote human value education, life skill education, experiential learning to bring out good human beings out of education system.

About the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE):

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) is the highest advisory body to advise the Central and State Governments in the field of education.

  • CABE is the oldest and the most important advisory body of the Government of India in education.
  • It was first established in 1920 and dissolved in 1923 as a measure of economy. It was revived in 1935 and has been in existence ever since.
  • The idea that there should be a central Advisory Board of Education was first put forward by the Calcutta University Commission (1917-19).

Composition of CABE:

  • Chairman of the board shall be Union Minister of Human Resource Development.
  • Minister of State for Human Resource Development shall be the Vice- Chairman.
  • The tenure of office of members of the Board, other than the ex-officio members, shall be three years.

Functions of CABE:

  • To review the progress of education from time to time.
  • To appraise the extent and manner in which the education policy has been implemented by the Central and State Governments, and other concerned agencies, and to give appropriate advice in the matter.
  • To advice regarding coordination between the Central and State Governments/UT Administrations, State Governments and non-governmental agencies for educational development in accordance with the education policy.
  • To advise, suo motu, or on a reference made to it by the Central Government or any State Government or a Union Territory Administration or any educational question.
[Ref: PIB]



India INX lists IRFC’s green bonds – first debt security at IFSC

The India International Exchange (India INX) has listed the Indian Railway Finance Corporation’s (IRFC’s) green bonds on its debt listing platform-Global Securities Market (GSM).


Key facts:

  • With this, IRFC green bonds became first debt security to be listed on exchange at International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Gujarat’s GIFT city.
  • India INX’s GSM segment is India’s first debt listing platform. It allows raising funds in any currency of choice by both foreign and Indian issuers from investors across the globe.

About India International Exchange (India INX):


  • India INX is India s first international exchange at IFSC Gujarat International Financial Tech (GIFT) City, Gandhinagar.
  • It is wholly-owned subsidiary of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), through its global bourse.
  • It is one of the world’s most advanced and fastest trading technology platforms with turn-around time of 4 micro seconds.
  • It will operate for 22 hours a day allowing international investors and NRIs to trade from anywhere across globe.
  • India INX commenced trading activities on January 16, 2017.

About IRFC:

Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) is a finance arm of the Indian Railway.

Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) iastoppers logo

  • IRFC was set up on in December 1986 as the dedicated financing arm of the Indian Railways for mobilizing funds from domestic as well as overseas Capital Markets.
  • IRFC is a Schedule ‘A’ Public Sector Enterprise under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways, Govt. of India.
  • It is also registered as Systemically Important Non–Deposit taking Non Banking Financial Company (NBFC – ND-SI) and Infrastructure Finance Company (NBFC- IFC) with Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • IRFC raises money through financial bonds and from banks and financial institutions.

Objective of IRFC:

  • The primary objective of IRFC is to meet the predominant portion of ‘Extra Budgetary Resources’ (EBR) requirement of the Indian Railways through market borrowings at the most competitive rates and terms.
  • The Company’s principal business therefore is to borrow funds from the financial markets to finance the acquisition / creation of assets which are then leased out to the Indian Railways.

What are Green Bonds?


[Note: To know all about the Green Bonds, read IASToppers’ Exclusive G.S. Slide Note at]


Bilateral & International Relations

BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement regains momentum

Bangladesh, India and Nepal have given nod to operating procedures for movement of passenger vehicles in the sub-region under Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicles agreement.


  • These countries will soon complete the internal approval processes for signing of the passenger protocol.

About Passenger protocol:

  • The passenger protocol agreed upon is document detailing procedures for cross-border movement of buses and private vehicles for transport facilitation in subregion.
  • It will be signed by three countries after completing necessary internal approval processes in their government.
  • The delegations participating countries also agreed to continue to conduct trial movement of cargo vehicles along scheduled routes from April 2018 onwards, before finalizing protocol for cargo vehicular movement.


  • India proposed a SAARC Motor Vehicle Agreement during the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014.
  • Due to objections from Pakistan, an agreement could not be reached. India instead pursued a similar motor vehicle agreement with the BBIN. The Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal Motor Vehicles Agreement was signed on 15 June 2015.
  • Bhutan has not yet ratified the pact for its entry to come into force. However, Bhutan has given its consent for the BBIN MVA to enter into force amongst the other 3 countries i.e. Bangladesh, India and Nepal, who have already ratified it.

About BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA):

The landmark MVA was signed by Transport Ministers of BBIN countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal) in Thimphu, Bhutan in June 2015.


Objective of the agreement:

  • The main objective of the agreement is to provide seamless people-to-people contact and enhance economic interaction by facilitating cross border movement of people and goods.

Key features of the agreement:

  • As per the agreement, member countries would allow vehicles registered in the other countries to enter their territory under certain terms and conditions.
  • Customs and tariffs will be decided by the respective countries and these would be finalised at bilateral and trilateral forums.
  • The agreement will permit member states to ply their vehicles in each other’s territory for transportation of cargo and passengers, including third country transport and personal vehicles.

Significance of the agreement:

  • The BBIN agreement will promote safe, economical efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region and will further help each country in creating an institutional mechanism for regional integration.
  • The agreement would permit unhindered movement of passenger and cargo vehicles among the four countries. Cargo vehicles do not have to be changed at the border, a practice that has prevailed until now.

Assistance from ADB:

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing technical, advisory, and financial support to BBIN MVA initiative as part of its assistance to South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program.


  • Earlier trail runs for cargo vehicles under MVA were conducted along Kolkata-Dhaka-Agartala and Delhi-Kolkata-Dhaka routes which had successfully establishes their economic benefits.

About SASEC Programme:

In 2001, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal formed the South Asia Sub-Regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme, which the Maldives and Sri Lanka joined in 2014.


  • Under SASEC programme, these countries have worked together to build power plants, highways, rail systems and fibre optic networks to expand and improve Internet access.
  • It is a project-based partnership to promote regional prosperity by
  1. Improving cross-border connectivity,
  2. Boosting trade among member countries, and
  3. Strengthening regional economic cooperation.
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the secretariat and lead financier of the SASEC programme.
[Ref: PIB, Live Mint]


India’s NKN, Sri Lanka’s LEARN connect with high capacity Net

India and Sri Lanka signed four agreements for collaboration in Information and communication technology (ICT) sector between both countries.


  • The agreements were signed for collaboration in ICT sector and setting up of e-office system and connecting of National Knowledge network (NKN) for collaboration among universities and academics.

Significance of the move:

  • With this, Sri Lanka became first country to be connected to NKN through Gigabyte (GB) optical fibre network.
  • This will connect NKN to Lanka education & research network (LEARN) through which universities on both sides can share best practices and research ideas.

What is National Knowledge Network (NKN)?

NKN is a state-of-the-art Pan-India Gigabit network and is a revolutionary step towards creating a knowledge society without boundaries.


  • NKN is also providing an ultra-high speed backbone for e-Governance and has links to multiple Global Networks.
  • This project was launched in 2010 for period of 10 years. Currently, it is component of umbrella “Digital India” programme.

Purpose of NKN:

  • The purpose of such a knowledge network goes to the very core of the country’s quest for building quality institutions with requisite research facilities and creating a pool of highly trained professionals.
  • The NKN will enable scientists, researchers and students from different backgrounds and diverse geographies to work closely for advancing human development in critical and emerging areas.

Features of NKN:

NKN is designed as a Smart Ultra High Bandwidth network that seamlessly interconnects the leading Scientific and Technological institutions – which are pursuing world-class research and development.

Some of the salient features of the NKN are:

  • Establishing Connectivity for Knowledge and information sharing.
  • Enabling Collaborative Research in emerging areas such as Climate Modeling.
  • Facilitating distance education in specialized fields such as medicine, emerging high tech areas covering info-bio-nano technology.
  • Facilitating an ultra-high speed e-governance backbone for information sharing.

NKN will also act as a test bed for research in the area of network, security and delivery models for various services. The leading mission oriented agencies in the fields of nuclear, space and defence research are also part of NKN.

Services offered by NKN:

NKN network is designed with the aim of providing:

  • Highest level of availability
  • Robust & reliable connectivity
  • Highest level of Scalability (specifically planned to match the unknown future demands which cannot be envisaged currently)
  • Best Bandwidth Capacity: For NKN, various National Long Distance Carriers (NLDs) have provided 1Gbps / 2.5Gbps capacity links which can be self-healed. Further, the NLDs are in process of upgrading (using DWDM) to 10Gbps or more connectivity.
[Ref: The Hindu, Business Standard]


Defence & Security Issues

Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ to be held in Seattle

The Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Vajra Prahar’ will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Seattle (a seaport city on the west coast of the United States) in third week of January in line with the increasing military cooperation between both countries.


  • The exercise will mainly focus on special operations in urban areas.

Aim of the Vajra Prahar:

  • The aim of the Vajra Prahar exercise is to promote military relations between two countries by enhancing interoperability and mutual exchange of tactics between Special Forces.

Objectives of the Vajra Prahar:

  • To share the best practices between the two armies
  • To develop joint strategies by sharing expertise of conducting operations in a counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism environment
  • To capitalise on the rich repository of experiences of each other armies.

About ‘Vajra Prahar’ exercise:

  • ‘Vajra Prahar’ is Indo-US Special Forces joint training exercise conducted alternately in India and the US started in 2010.
  • It is conducted annually, but there was a gap of three years between 2012 and 2015.
  • The last edition was held in Jodhpur in March 2017.
  • This edition’s Indian Army team is from the Pune-headquartered Southern Command.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]


Art & Culture

Speculation over the birth place of Purandara Dasa ended

There is much speculation about where Purandara Dasa, regarded as the pitamaha of Carnatic music, was born.


  • Now, an expert committee constituted by Kannada University, Hampi, has come to the conclusion that it was most likely a small village called Kshemapura (now called Keshavapura) at Araga hobli in Tirthahalli taluk of Shivamogga district, Karnataka.
  • There is enough evidence to believe this place, which was a major province of the Vijayanagara empire, was the birthplace of the saint.


  • Till now, some have been arguing that the saint-poet was born in Purandaragadh, near Pune in Maharashtra, and finally settled in Hampi.

About Purandara Dasa:

  • Purandara Dasa (1484–1564) was a Haridasa (a devotee – servant of Lord Vishnu), great devotee of Lord Krishna (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and a saint.
  • He was a disciple of the celebrated Madhwa philosopher-saint Vyasatirtha, and a contemporary of yet another great Haridasa, Kanakadasa.
  • He was the pioneer who blended the rich musical streams, namely the Dravidian and Aryan music, into a single stream known as Carnatic music.
  • In honor of his significant and legendary contributions to Carnatic Music, he is widely referred to as the Pitamaha of Carnatic Music.
  • He is respected as an avatara (incarnation) of the great sage Narada (a celestial being who is also a singer).

Contributions of Purandara Dasa:

  • He formulated the basic lessons of teaching Carnatic music by structuring graded exercises known as Svaravalis and Alankaras, and at the same time, he introduced the Raga Mayamalavagowla as the first scale to be learnt by beginners in the field – a practice that is being followed till date.
  • Purandara Dasa is noted for composing Dasa Sahithya, as a Bhakti movement vocalist, and a music scholar.
  • Purandara Dasa’s Carnatic music compositions are mostly in Kannada, while some are in Sanskrit.
[Ref: The Hindu, Wiki]


INTACH plan to retrace heritage along Mahanadi in Odisha

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) will document tangible and intangible heritage sites along both sides of Mahanadi river.


  • The teams, which will be involved in documentation of the heritage sites, has been flagged off from the premises of Samaleswari Temple Complex, situated on the banks of Mahanadi.
  • Under the project, as many as seven teams of heritage enthusiasts will cover nearly 1000 kms on both sides of the river, beginning from upper reaches of Hirakud till its merger into Bay of Bengal near Paradip in Jagatsingpur.


  • Tangible heritage like temples, palaces and forts have come up along Mahanadi while intangible heritage like folklore, songs and dances, tribal art and craft have also thrived along the river.


The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) ias

  • The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is an autonomous non-governmental Indian non-profit society that seeks to preserve Indian culture and heritage.
  • It was founded in 1984.

About Mahanadi river:

  • The Mahanadi is a major river in East Central India.
  • The 850km length of the Mahanadi river is divided almost equally between Chhattisgarh, where it is born, and downstream Odisha.
  • Mahanadi rises from Raipur district of Chhatisgarh and flows for about 851 km before its outfall into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Near the city of Sambalpur, it is dammed by the largest earthen dam in the world, the Hirakud Dam.
  • The combined Delta of the Mahanadi’s numerous distributaries and the Brahmani is one of the largest in India.

Mahanadi river map ias

Important Tributaries of the Mahanadi river:


  • Seonath, Mand, Ib, Hasdeo


  • Ong, parry river, Jonk, Telen
[Ref: Economic Times, Indian Express]


Science & Technology

CIPAM-DIPP launches IP competition for college & university students

The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), in collaboration launched ‘IPrism’ for college and university students.


  • It is one of its kind Intellectual Property (IP) Competition was launched by CIPAM-DIPP in association with ASSOCHAM and ERICSSON India.

About ‘IPrism’ competition:


  • The IPrism competition aims to foster culture of innovation and creativity in younger generation.
  • It will provide young creators unique opportunity to see their creations recognized on national platform.
  • It invites students to submit films on piracy & counterfeiting under two categories of 30 and 60 seconds.
  • Another category in the competition is for a mobile gaming app on IP.


  • Counterfeiting and Piracy cause significant loss to film industry and pose serious safety threats to consumers.
  • By generating awareness it can help to tackle such crimes since limited knowledge about their adverse social and economic impact leads to circulation and consumption of pirated content and fake goods.
  • The National IPR Policy adopted in May, 2016 that aims to create vibrant IP ecosystem in country calls for creating IPR Awareness through outreach and promotional activities.

About CIPAM:

ias toppers CIPAM

  • Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the Government in May 2016, with the slogan – “Creative India; Innovative India”.
  • CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation, providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets and coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments and other stakeholders.
[Ref: PIB]


Key Facts for Prelims

India contributes $50K to UN Youth Envoy’s office


  • India has contributed $50,000 to the UN’s youth mission which works to raise awareness and attention to youth issues globally.
  • The cheque has been received by the UN Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake.
  • Sri Lankas Wickramanayake, who was appointed the UN Secretary-Generals Envoy on Youth in June 2017 at the age of 26.
  • The Youth Envoy’s works to raise international awareness and attention to youth issues among others.
  • Its mission aims to promote engagement of youth and advocate for them across all the four pillars of UN’s work –human rights, peace and security, sustainable development and humanitarian action.


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