Current Affairs Analysis

17th October 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

INS Kiltan; Project 28 (Kamorta Class); Mullaperiyar Dam dispute; Universal social security plan for poorest; Project CHAMAN; Importance of horticulture; 16 October: World Food Day; Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA); What is Graded Response Action Plan? National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF); Free Movement Regime (FMR); etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
October 17, 2017


Polity & Governance

  • SC allows TN to increase Mullaperiyar water level

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Centre to come up with Rs 1.2-lakh crore universal social security plan for poorest
  • Project CHAMAN, likely to be completed by March 2018

Issues related to Health & Education

  • 16 October: World Food Day
  • PM inaugurated first ever All India Institute of Ayurveda

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Delhi finally has a graded action plan to combat air pollution

Bilateral & International Relations

  • NIIF gets first investor, Abu Dhabi fund brings in $1 bn

Defence & Security Issues

  • ‘Free movement’ along Myanmar border
  • INS Kiltan commissioned into Indian Navy

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Polity & Governance

SC allows TN to increase Mullaperiyar water level

In a major victory for Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the law passed by Kerala in 2006, constituting the Dam Safety Authority to prevent the Tamil Naidu from raising the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 ft to 142 ft.



  • On a suit filed by Tamil Nadu, the apex court in 2006 permitted the State to raise the water level from 136 ft to 142 ft.
  • However, by enacting the law and fixing the storage height of the dam at 136 ft, Kerala had nullified the 2006 judgment and usurped judicial power and thus interfered with the judicial functioning.

Observations made by the SC:

  • The Constitution envisaged separation of powers among the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature and one should not encroach into the domain of the other. Independence of the judiciary and courts alone would ensure rule of law.
  • Legislation could be invalidated on the ground that there was a breach of separation of powers in enacting the law, though the Legislature might have the competence to do so.
  • If the court finds that there was transgression of constitutional principles in separation of powers the court can declared the law void.
  • Legislature could only amend the law but could not invalidate a judgment or a decree passed by the court. The law enacted by Kerala legislature was an attempt to interfere with the judicial functioning.
  • The Kerala government was directed to allow Tamil Nadu to carry out all repairs and take all other steps for the safety of the dam.

About Mullaperiyar Dam:

  • The Mullaperiyar Dam or Mullaiperiyar Dam is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in the Indian state of Kerala.
  • It is located on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats in Thekkady, Idukki District of Kerala, South India.
  • It was constructed between 1887 and 1895 by John Pennycuick and also reached in an agreement to donate water eastwards to the Madras Presidency area (present-day Tamil Nadu).
  • The Periyar National Park in Thekkady is located around the dam’s reservoir.
  • The dam is located in Kerala on the river Periyar, but is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu state.

Mullaperiyar Dam dispute iastoppers

Mullaperiyar Dam dispute:

  • Tamil Nadu-Kerala dam row is an ongoing row and the long legal battle between the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala about the Mullaperiyar dam on the Periyar river.
  • Although the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by the government of Tamil Nadu which signed a 999-year lease agreement with the former British government to irrigate farmland on its side.
  • The control and safety of the dam and the validity and fairness of the lease agreement have been points of dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu states.
  • Supreme Court judgment came in February 2006, allowing Tamil Nadu to raise the level of the dam to 152 ft (46 m) after strengthening it.
  • Responding to it, Mullaperiyar dam was declared an ‘endangered’ scheduled dam by the Kerala Government under the disputed Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  • Kerala in 2006, constituting the Dam Safety Authority to prevent Tamil Naidu from raising the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 ft to 142 ft.
  • Tamil Nadu has insisted on exercising its unfettered rights to control the dam and its waters, based on the 1886 lease agreement. Kerala has pointed out the unfairness in the 1886 lease agreement and has challenged its validity. However, safety concerns posed by the 119-year-old dam to the safety of the people of Kerala in the event of a dam collapse, have been the focus of disputes from 2009 onwards.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Government Schemes & Policies

Centre to come up with Rs 1.2-lakh crore universal social security plan for poorest

In an attempt to improve the life of the extremely poor people of India, the government has drafted a Rs 1.2 lakh crore plan to provide universal social security coverage for the poorest people of the country.


Features of the scheme:

  • This broader programme envisages three categories — the poorest 20%, who will get a government payout; those who subscribe on their own and formal sector workers who will need to set aside a fixed proportion of income toward the scheme.
  • The scheme will have two tiers. The first of these comprises mandatory pension, insurance (both death and disability) and maternity coverage and the second, optional medical, sickness and unemployment coverage.
  • Funds collected under the universal social security scheme will be divided into sub-schemes and be ringfenced, meaning the benefits and the contribution will be commensurate.

What is the need for the scheme?

  • India’s total workforce currently stands at 450 million.
  • Though the statistics make it sound that a large fraction of the Indian population is employed, it is rather saddening that only a little over 10% are in the organised sector and get to enjoy the basic social security.
  • In fact, among the 10 million people who add on to the workforce every year, most of them don’t receive the minimum wage and lack any kind of social security coverage, the reason being that most them belong to the unorganised sector.

Way ahead:

  • While funding the scheme will be a challenge for the government, which has pledged to stick to the deficit target, it is seen as one that will gain broad popular support.
  • The new policy will be part of the social security code, one of four codes that the labour ministry is finalising and will subsume 17 existing items of legislation governing social security coverage in the country.
[Ref: Economic Times]


Project CHAMAN, likely to be completed by March 2018

Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh announced March 2018 as the deadline to complete the ambitious project of developing the horticulture sector using remote sensing technology and geo-informatics.



  • In order to provide strategic development to the horticulture sector, so as to increase farmers income, a pioneer project called CHAMAN, has been launched three years back by the Government.

About project CHAMAN:

The project CHAMAN (Coordinated Horticulture Assessment and Management using geoiNfromatics) envisages use of satellite remote sensing data for area and production estimation of 7 horticultural crops (Potato, Onion, Tomato, Chili, Mango, Banana and Citrus) in 12 major states in 180 districts.

project CHAMAN organization iastoppers

  • The programme also uses GIS (Geographical Information System) tools along with remote sensing data for generating action plans for horticultural development.
  • Another component of CHAMAN is to carry out research activities on horticultural crop condition studies, diseases assessment and precision farming.
  • The project is being implemented by Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre (MNCFC) in collaboration with ISRO Centres (SAC & NRSC) and 12 state horticulture departments, NHRDF, IMD, ICAR Centre and State Remote Sensing Centres.


  • Driven by consumer demand, farmers across India have rapidly adopted horticulture crops which ensure a quicker cash flow and can be grown in very small plots.
  • In 2016-17, production of horticulture crops like fruits, vegetables and spices touched a record high of 300 million tonnes, outstripping production of foodgrains for the fifth year in a row.

Importance of horticulture: 

  • Horticulture sector is one of the major drivers of growth in Agriculture sector. This sector provides nutrient rich crops to the people and better remunerative prices to the farmers thereby augmenting their income.
  • It also provides higher employment opportunities in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Thus, it has gained significant prominence in the recent years.
  • India is the Second largest producer of Vegetables and Fruits in the world and is First in the production of Banana, Mango, Lime and Lemon, Papaya and Okra.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu, Live Mint]


Issues related to Health & Education

16 October: World Food Day

The World Food Day is observed globally on 16 October to mark foundation of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945.


Key facts:

  • The theme for the year 2017 is “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.”
  • This day also shows commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
  • It’s also a day for us to celebrate the progress we have already made towards reaching #ZeroHunger.

About Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO):

FAO is specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.


  • Its parent organization is UN Economic and Social Council (UNESC).
  • It was established on 16 October 1945 and its headquarters are in Rome, Italy.
  • Its motto is “Let there be bread”.
  • It has 194 member states, along with the European Union (member organization)
  • It is neutral forum serving both developed and developing countries where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy.
  • FAO meet the demands posed by major global trends in agricultural development and challenges faced by member nations.
  • It helps countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.
[Ref: The Hindu]


PM inaugurated first ever All India Institute of Ayurveda

The first ever All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), set up along the lines of AIIMS, was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi on Ayurveda Day on 17th October, 2017 at New Delhi.



  • Set up as an apex institute under the Ministry of AYUSH, the AIIA will bring synergy between the traditional wisdom of Ayurveda and modern diagnostic tools and technology.

About All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA):

iastoppers All India Institute of Ayurveda

  • The AIIA is the first medical institute under the AYUSH ministry to hold the coveted National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) accreditation.
  • It has started working to facilitate quality patient care, research and bridging the gaps in the scientific information about quality, safety and efficacy of Ayurveda products and developing benchmarks of Ayurvedic education, research and healthcare.
  • Out Patient Services are being provided in the hospital block of AIIA and medicines are given free of cost.
  • Currently, the clinical specialties running in the hospital block are Neurological & Degenerative Disease Care Unit, Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Care Unit, Diabetes & Metabolic/Allergic Disorders Care Unit, Yoga, Panchakarma Clinic, Kriya Kalpa, Diabetic Retinopathy Clinic, Kshara Evum Anushastra Karma and Infertility Clinic.
  • It also has pathology, biochemistry, microbiology and Radiology laboratories/Diagonosis facilities. The indoor patient department has provision for 200 beds.
  • The AIIA has already signed MoU with NICPR- Noida (ICMR), AIIMS New Delhi, MDNIY and EAA (Germany). It has developed standard treatment guidelines for diabetes and SOP for various procedures.

Yoga Award:

iastoppers Ramamani Iyengar Memorial

  • The Prime Minister also gave the Yoga Award to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Pune, which was announced earlier this year on the occasion of International Day of Yoga.
[Ref: PIB, Indian Express, Economic Times]


Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Delhi finally has a graded action plan to combat air pollution

The Graded Response Action Plan, Delhi-NCR’s answer to combat air pollution that assumes apocalyptic proportions during this time of the year, will come into force for the first time from 17th October 2017.


What is Graded Response Action Plan?

  • Graded Response Action Plan defines the measures to taken based on air quality on the basis of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in the atmosphere.
  • Based on the air quality the grades have been classified as Emergency, Severe, Very Poor and Moderate poor.
  • It will be enforced by Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).

Graded Response Action Plan Delhi iastoppers

How it works?

  • Under this plan emergency measures will be automatically enforced in NCR if level of PM2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre (µgm/m3) and PM10 levels stay above 500 (µgm/m3) for two consecutive days.
  • The plan recommends measures like odd-even car rationing scheme and ban on construction activities to combat air pollution.
  • During ‘very poor’ air quality, it recommends banning diesel generators and parking fee increased by three to four times.
  • It also lists a number of other measures such as closing brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants and intensifying public transport services and increasing the frequency of mechanised cleaning and sprinkling of water on roads.

Implementing agency:

  • For enforcement of the action plan, the Union Government has assigned the task of implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan to the EPCA (Environment Pollution Control Authority) in pursuance of sub-section (1) of section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986).
[Ref: Times of India]


Bilateral & International Relations

NIIF gets first investor, Abu Dhabi fund brings in $1 bn

India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has signed an investment agreement worth $1 billion with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA).

iastoppers NIIF india

  • With this, ADIA became first institutional investor in NIIF’s Master Fund and shareholder in National Investment and Infrastructure Ltd, NIIF’s investment management company.
  • NIIF is claimed to be India’s first sovereign wealth fund.



  • The agreement was signed in pursuant to Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Finance Ministry and Government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) to mobilise long term investment into NIIF.

About National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF):

Proposed in Union Budget 2015, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) has been set up in last month of 2015.

ias toppers National Investment and Infrastructure Fund info

  • The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
  • The Fund aims to attract investment from both domestic and international sources.
  • The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
  • NIIF has been structured as a fund of funds and set up as Category II Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) Regulations.
  • It is a Rs. 40000 crore fund to provide long term capital for infrastructure projects.
  • The government’s contribution would be limited to 49% of the subscribed capital.
  • The government will seek participation from strategic investors such as sovereign fund, quasi sovereign funds and multilateral or bilateral investors, which can help leverage this fund to many times.
  • Cash-rich PSUs, pension funds, provident funds, National Small Saving Fund will be able to pick up stake in the fund.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]


Defence & Security Issues

‘Free movement’ along Myanmar border

The Union government has decided to devise standard operating procedures (SOP) to “facilitate” movement of Indian and Myanmarese citizens residing within 16 km of the India-Myanmar border.


  • In this regard, the Home Ministry held consultations with Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh — the states bordering Myanmar — to discuss the Free Movement Regime (FMR).
  • The FMR permits tribes residing along the border to travel 16 km across the boundary without visa restrictions.
  • The move comes in the wake of large-scale displacement of Rohingya people from Rakhine State in Myanmar.


  • In June 2017, the Ministry had constituted a committee to examine various methods to curb the misuse of free movement along the Myanmar border, a friendly country, with which it shares unfenced borders and unhindered movement of people across the border.

What’s the issue?

  • Indo-Myanmar border is unique in many ways as it has a visa-free movement regime for people living within 16 kms on either side of the border.
  • They can stay up to 72 hours with effective and valid permits issued by the designated authority on either side.
  • This regime has been in place keeping in view the traditional social ties among the border people.
  • However, it is misused by militants and criminals who smuggle weapons, narcotics, contraband goods and fake Indian currency notes (FICN).
  • Taking advantage of the free-movement regime, occasionally they enter India, commit crimes and escape to their relatively safer hideouts.
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]


INS Kiltan commissioned into Indian Navy

INS Kiltan (P30), third Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) stealth corvettes built under Project 28 (Kamorta Class) was commissioned into the Indian Navy.


  • The Kamorta-class corvettes are a class of anti-submarine warfare corvettes currently in service with the Indian Navy.

About INS Kiltan:


  • INS Kiltan is designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation, Directorate of Naval Design, and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata.
  • INS Kiltan is the first major warship with superstructure entirely of composite material.
  • It has been constructed using high grade steel (DMR 249A) produced by the state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL).
  • More than 80 % of the ship is indigenous with state of the art equipment & systems to fight in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions.
  • The ship derives its name from one of the islands in Aminidivi group of the strategically located Lakshadweep and Minicoy group of islands.
  • The carbon composite material gives it an extra stealth edge and also lowers the top weight and maintenance cost.
  • INS Kiltan is the latest indigenous warship after Shivalik Class, Kolkata Class and sister ships INS Kamorta and INS Kadmatt.
  • It is the first major warship to have undertaken sea trials of all major weapons and sensors as a pilot project.
  • Enhanced stealth features of the ship have been achieved by ‘X’ form of Hull, full beam superstructure, inclined ship sides and use of InfraRed Signature Suppression (IRSS) system designed by NSTL for cooling the Engine and Generator exhausts.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu, Indian Express]


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