Current Affairs Analysis

17th March 2018 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

NASA's HAMMER spacecraft; Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES); Sach-Gaurav: India's first cloned Assamese buffalo born; Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB); Maharashtra to ban plastic; Artificial heart with rocket technology; 73rd Amendment of Constitution; Two-tier panchayati raj system; Who are Rohingyas? What is a no-confidence motion? Yellow fever; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
March 17, 2018


Polity & Governance

  • Supreme Court should not intervene on Rohingya refugees, Says Centre
  • Arunachal Pradesh Assembly bill to have two-tier panchayati raj
  • Notice for no-confidence motion against Modi govt

Issues related to Health & Education

  • New model links yellow fever in Africa to climate, environment

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Odisha govt. to collaborate with RIMES for disaster management
  • Maharashtra to ban plastic

Science & Technology

  • India’s first cloned Assamese buffalo born
  • NASA’s HAMMER spacecraft
  • China develops artificial heart with rocket technology

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Polity & Governance

Supreme Court should not intervene on Rohingya refugees, Says Centre

The centre has asked the Supreme Court not to intervene in the deportation of Rohingya Muslims, saying any direction by the top court on the subject would not be in the national interest.


Why Centre is debarring SC?

  • According to the centre, India is already facing serious problems of infiltration because of its porous border with other countries which is the root cause of spread of terrorism in the country and takes “thousands of lives” of citizens and security personnel.
  • And securing the borders of any sovereign nation in accordance with law is an essentially function and hence the court should not issue any direction in this matter.
  • Also, since India is not a signatory to the United Nations convention relating to status of refugees, it is not mandatory for the court to issue a direction to stop their deportation.

Who are Rohingyas?

  • The Rohingya people are a stateless Indo-Aryan people from Rakhine State, Myanmar.
  • There were an estimated 1 million Rohingya living in Myanmar. As of September 2017, nearly half of them have fled to other countries.
  • Described by the United Nations in 2013 as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, the Rohingya population are denied citizenship under the 1982 Burmese citizenship law.
  • The Rohingyas have faced multiple military crackdowns in two to three decades.

Way ahead:

  • The Myanmar Government should amend or repeal the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law to provide the Rohingya people with full citizenship in the country.
  • Bangladesh and other governments in Southeast Asia must ensure those fleeing violence and seeking protection, are granted access, at least temporarily.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]


Arunachal Pradesh Assembly bill to have two-tier panchayati raj

As per 73rd Amendment of Constitution, Arunachal Pradesh Assembly passed Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill 2018 to do away with the Anchal Samiti, the intermediate level of the three-tier panchayati raj system and set up a two-tier system in the state.


73rd Amendment of Constitution:

  • 73rd Amendment of Constitution that enables state having less than 20 lakh population not to have intermediate level and Arunachal has population of 13.84 lakh.


Need for two-tier panchayati raj system:

  • The purpose of setting up two-tier panchayati raj system in state is to standardis use of financial resources due to poor resource base.
  • It also seeks to avoid delay in passing plans and policies as they delayed at Anchal Samiti level (intermediate level).
  • In two-tier panchayati raj system, planning and execution of schemes will be faster as there will be direct connection between Gram Panchayats and Zilla Parishads, the village and district levels of panchayati raj system.
  • In two-tier system, even strength of elected members will be reduced, thus helping to save money for conducting polls and functional costs on Anchal Samities. The revenue saved can be utilised for developmental activities and strengthening panchayats.
[Ref: Times of India, Business Standard]


Notice for no-confidence motion against Modi govt

Recently, the YSR Congress has proposed a no-confidence motion against the NDA government on the issue of granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh.

  • The motion will be the first such move during the tenure of this NDA government.


What is a no-confidence motion?

  • A no-confidence motion is a parliamentary motion which is moved in the Lok Sabha against the entire council of ministers, stating that they are no longer deemed fit to hold positions of responsibility due to their inadequacy in some respect or their failure to carry out their obligations. No prior reason needs to be stated for its adoption in the Lok Sabha.

Passage of the motion:

  • At least 50 MPs would need to stand up and support the move. If there are 50 MPs in favour, the motion is admitted and the speaker allots a date for discussion on the motion.
  • The prime minister or ministers reply to the charges made. The mover has the right to reply.
  • After the debate, the speaker puts question to the house and ascertains the decision of the house by voice vote or a division.
  • A Motion of No-confidence need not set out any grounds on which it is based. Even when grounds are mentioned in the notice and read out in the House, they do not form part of the no-confidence Motion.


  • The government is expected to resign if it loses a trust vote. In case its refuses to do so, the President has the power to remove the prime minister.
  • In the history of Indian Parliament, no Prime Minister has been forcibly removed so far. After a government loses a trust vote and resigns, it continues to function, but as a caretaker government with almost the same powers as it had before the voting.
  • However, a caretaker government wouldn’t have the power to take any major policy decisions since Parliament remains dissolved. A new government gets elected after the general elections.

Key facts about the No-confidence motion:

  • The Rajya Sabha does not have a procedure for moving of an adjournment motion, censure motion or no-confidence motion against the Government.
  • Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha lays down the procedure for moving a Motion of No-Confidence in the Council of Ministers.
  • There is no mention of a no-confidence motion in the constitution.
  • It need not state the reasons for its adoption in the Lok Sabha.
  • It can be moved against the entire council of ministers only.
  • It is moved for ascertaining the confidence of Lok Sabha in the council of ministers.
  • If it is passed in the Lok Sabha, the council of ministers must resign from office.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Issues related to Health & Education

New model links yellow fever in Africa to climate, environment

Researchers from Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO) have developed a new model to quantify yellow fever dynamics across Africa using not only annual averages of these climatic measures, but seasonal dynamics.

  • Generally, the burden of yellow fever in any given area is known to be heavily dependent on climate, particularly rainfall and temperature which can impact both mosquito life cycle and viral replication.

About the new model:

  • The new model integrated the effects of temperature on mosquito behavior and virus transmission, and looked at monthly variation in temperature rainfall, and vegetation throughout the year across Africa.
  • The new model confirmed and quantified that, even in areas with high transmission potential for yellow fever, the risk varies throughout the year.

Significance of the new model:

  • This finding, in conjunction with forecasted data, could highlight areas of increased transmission and provide insights into the occurrence of large outbreaks.
  • When used in conjunction with forecasted data, the model predictions could be useful for focusing both surveillance efforts, and the pre-positioning of material and equipment in areas and periods of particularly high risk. This would allow the facilitation of early interventions in emerging yellow fever outbreaks — which is key to prevent large scale outbreaks.


About yellow fever:

Yellow fever is an acute viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The “yellow” in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.

  • Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
  • The disease is caused by the yellow fever virus and is spread by the bite of an infected female mosquito.
  • It infects only humans, other primates, and several species of mosquitoes.
  • The disease may be difficult to tell apart from other illnesses, especially in the early stages. To confirm a suspected case, blood sample testing with polymerase chain reaction is required.
  • A safe and effective vaccine against yellow fever exists and some countries require vaccinations for travellers.
  • It is common in tropical areas of South America and Africa, but not in Asia.
[Ref: Economic Times]


Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Odisha govt. to collaborate with RIMES for disaster management

What is RIMES?

  • The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) is an intergovernmental body registered under United Nations.
  • It is owned and managed by 45 collaborating countries in Asia Pacific and Africa Region.
  • India is chairman of the body.
  • It was established in 2009 and was registered with UN in July 2009.
  • It operates from its regional early warning centre located at campus of Asian Institute of Technology in Pathumthani, Thailand.
  • It has evolved from efforts of countries in Africa and Asia in aftermath of 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.



  • It seeks to establish regional early warning system within multi-hazard framework for generation and communication of early warning information and capacity building for preparedness and response to trans-boundary hazards.
  • It provides information related to Tsunami and extreme weather conditions.
  • It also acts as a test bed for emerging technologies and help to enhance performance.

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Odisha government will collaborate with RIMES for strengthening its early warning services and enhancing preparedness for management of hazards in state.

Advantages of this collaboration:

  • RIMES will provide technical support to OSDMA regarding analysis of data to be generated through automatic weather stations being installed in all the gram panchayats, validation of the forecast, early warning and preparedness for lightening, heat wave, flood, draught and Tsunami.
  • It would enhance the warning response capacities of the OSDMA by imparting specialized expert training.
  • It will also help to develop a one-stop risk management system for all OSDMA needs- integration of multiple data database/servers.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Maharashtra to ban plastic

The Maharashtra government has decided to ban the use of plastic.

  • For this, the changes will be brought in with amendments to the Solid Waste Management Act 2016 and the Plastic Carry Bags (Manufacture and Usage) Rules 2006.


Highlight of the ban:

  • The ban would cover the production, use, storage, sale, distribution, import and transportation of plastic. The ban covers disposable plastic cups, plates, spoons and flex, but excludes garbage bin liners and PET bottles.
  • Both manufacturers and users will be penalized.
  • The punishment is a fine ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 and a jail term of three months.
  • Implementation will be the responsibility of local bodies and the state pollution control board (MPCB).

What would be allowed?

  • Plastic used to cover medicines, forest and horticulture products, solid waste, tree saplings and the use of plastic in special economic zones for export purposes would be exempt from the ban.
  • Similarly, plastic covers and wrappers used for manufactured and processed products would also be exempt.
[Ref: Indian Express, Economic Times]


Science & Technology

India’s first cloned Assamese buffalo born

Scientists at the ICAR-Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) have claimed that India’s first cloned Assamese buffalo male calf named Sach-Gaurav was born in Hisar, Haryana.

  • It was born to Murrah buffalo, at Hi Tech Sach Dairy Farm, 100 kms from cloning laboratory, making it first buffalo calf to be born in field.


Key facts:

  • This is second cloned male buffalo produced by ICAR-CIRB after Hisar-Gaurav, born in December 2015.
  • With this achievement CIRB becomes world’s third and India’s second institute to produce cloned buffalo. This achievement has been made under the project entitled, Cloning for conservation and multiplication of superior buffalo germplasm.
  • The first successful cloning was achieved by the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal in 2010.
  • Samrupa is the world’s first Murrah buffalo calf cloned using a simple “Hand guided cloning technique”.

How it is distinct?

  • This cloned buffalo calf is distinct from the earlier clones produced in India, as this is produced from cells of ventral side of tail of superior buffalo bull, this part is least exposed to sunlight and may have less mutation rate, and can be good choice for isolation of donor cells to produce healthy clones.


  • Animal cloning is an excellent reproductive tool for conservation and multiplication of selected superior animals of buffalo breeds.
  • India has 58% the world’s buffaloes and 35% of India’s cattle are buffaloes.
  • Buffalo milk is 70% of the total milk yield in India, with its national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) share being larger than wheat and rice combined.
  • Buffalo meat makes up 86% of India’s total meat exports.

About Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB):

  • The CIRB is a publicly funded institute for water buffalo research. It is located at Hisar in the north Indian state of Haryana.
  • It has a mandate to conserve superior animals of all buffalo breeds.
  • It is the world’s largest buffalo research institute with the widest range of breeds under study.
  • It has created the world’s first online Buffalopedia in several languages.
[Ref: The Hindu, Hindustan Times]


NASA’s HAMMER spacecraft

NASA has drawn up plans to build a huge nuclear spacecraft, named Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) spacecraft.

About the Hammer spacecraft:

  • NASA’s Hammer spacecraft is capable of shunting or blowing up dangerous space rocks and safeguarding life on Earth.
  • The spacecraft is an eight tonne spaceship which could deflect a giant space rock, if it happens to hit Earth.
  • It was devised by top experts, including NASA, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and two Energy Department weapons labs.



  • The spacecraft has two ways of dispatching an asteroid collision threat. The first involves hitting the asteroid, and then steering it off-course so it doesn’t end up hitting Earth.
  • The second – and more dangerous – would see the HAMMER detonating its on-board nuclear warhead to change the asteroid’s course.

Potential application of Hammer spacecraft:

  • The new spacecraft could be useful in 2035, when scientists say there is a 1 in 2,700 chance the Bennu asteroid will hit us. The space boulder is currently circling the sun at 63,000mph, and has a very slim chance of plummeting into Earth. Bennu is around 500m in diameter.
  • Every 6 years, Bennu’s orbit brings it within 200,000 miles of the Earth, which means it has a high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd Century.
  • Although there is little risk it could hit the Earth, it is still considered as a NEO, or Near Earth Object, which would hit the planet with 1,450 megatons of TNT. Bennu’s impact would release three times more energy than all nuclear weapons detonated throughout history.


  • Earth is hit by asteroids with surprising regularity but most are too small to do much damage or fall in unpopulated areas. NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies now lists 73 asteroids which have a one in 1,600 chance of hitting the Earth.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]


China develops artificial heart with rocket technology

Chinese scientists have developed artificial heart using rocket technology and it is currently undergoing thorough testing experiments on animals.

  • The artificial heart uses magnetic and fluid levitation from rocket system.



  • This technology can reduce friction in device to increase working efficiency and extend life span of power generator.
  • This technology used can reduce damage to the blood and enable blood pump to work longer.
[Ref: Times of India]


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