Current Affairs Analysis

20th March 2018 Current Affairs Analysis -IASToppers

Adopt a Heritage Scheme (Apni Dharohar Apni Pehchan Project); Minority status for Lingayats; Veerashaivas; Basavanna; Russian presidential election; SATH-E project; 'Tribal Diaries' Mobile App; Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS); Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act; Rail Infrastructure Improvement Project; Varuna-18; RITES Ltd.; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
March 20, 2018


Polity & Governance

  • Vladimir Putin secures record win in Russian presidential election

Government Schemes & Policies

  • ‘Tribal Diaries’ Mobile App to strengthen internal monitoring
  • SC directs Centre to frame model scheme for welfare of construction workers

Issues related to Health & Education

  • NITI Aayog releases SATH-E Roadmaps
  • India and ADB Sign $120 Million Loan to Improve Rail Infrastructure

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India hands over 18 high-end diesel locos to Myanmar

Art & Culture

  • Karnataka govt clears minority status for Lingayats
  • Letters of Intent issued Adopt a Heritage project

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Varuna-18

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Polity & Governance

Vladimir Putin secures record win in Russian presidential election

Vladimir Putin has won another term as Russia’s president.

All about the President of Russia:

  • This is the highest office in the country, with the holder being the head of state and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
  • Two key powers which allow the President a far-reaching political influence are their right to determine the country’s foreign policy stance and their right to nominate candidates for most official state positions, such as for the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, and the Federation Council – the upper house of the Parliament.


How Russian President be elected?

  • Russian Presidential elections take place every six years in a two-round electoral system.
  • During the first round, an absolute majority is required to win. If no candidate gets 50%+1 of the votes, a second round is held exactly three weeks later between the two candidates with the most votes.


  • According to the Constitution, any Russian citizen who is more than 35, has permanently resided in Russia for the 10 years leading up to the election, and has committed no serious crime can run for Presidency.
  • However, individuals running as independents or with the backing of a political party which is not represented in the State Duma, the lower house of the Parliament, face an additional obstacle.
  • Those with the backing of a political party have to collect 100.000 signatures in support of their candidacy, while for independents that number goes up to 300.000.
  • Moreover, there is a ban on more than two consecutive terms in office, although Presidents are free to run again for a further third and fourth time after sitting out once full electoral term.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Government Schemes & Policies

‘Tribal Diaries’ Mobile App to strengthen internal monitoring

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has developed an android based mobile application called Tribal Diaries.


Key features of the mobile application:

  • It has been developed for internal monitoring and for connecting with officers/officials concerned with implementation of schemes / programmes for tribal development.
  • The application is for accredited users. This application provides an opportunity for visual feedback in terms of photographs, videos, uploading reports of official tours / inspections and sharing of best practices etc.
  • The application is being extensively used to get an overview of the Ekalavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) funded by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

About Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS):


  • Eklavya Model Residential School Scheme was started in 1998 and first school was started in the year 2000 in Maharashtra.
  • EMRSs have been functioning as institutions of excellence for tribal students.
  • A total of 259 schools have been sanctioned during the last 17 years, out of which, 72 EMRS were sanctioned during last three years.
  • As per existing EMRS Guidelines of 2010, at least one EMRS is to be set up in each Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) / Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) having 50% ST population in the area.
  • The capital cost for setting up the school complex, including hostels and staff quarters etc. has been earmarked at Rs. 12 crore with a provision to go up to Rs.16 crore in hill areas, deserts and islands.
  • Recurring cost during the first year for these schools would be Rs. 42000/-per child, with a provision of raising it by 10% every second year to compensate for inflation etc.

Objectives of EMRS:

The objective of EMRS is to provide quality middle and high level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas, not only to enable them to avail of reservation in high and professional educational courses and as jobs in government and public and private sectors but also to have access to the best opportunities in education at par with the non ST population.

This would be achieved by:

  • Comprehensive physical, mental and socially relevant development of all students enrolled in each and every EMRS. Students will be empowered to be change agent, beginning in their school, in their homes, in their village and finally in a larger context.
  • Focus differentially on the educational support to be made available to those in Standards XI and XII, and those in standards VI to X, so that their distinctive needs can be met,
  • Support the annual running expenses in a manner that offers reasonable remuneration to the staff and upkeep of the facilities.
  • Support the construction of infrastructure that provides education, physical, environmental and cultural needs of student life.
[Ref: PIB]


SC directs Centre to frame model scheme for welfare of construction workers

The Supreme Court of India on March 19, 2018 directed the Union Government to frame a model scheme to address issues concerning the welfare of construction workers including education, health, social security and pension within six months, by September 30.

  • The SC bench stated that the construction workers do not just build infrastructure but also the nation.


Court’s directions:

  • Frame a scheme to ensure workers receive proper education, health, social security, old age, disability pension and other benefits necessary to live a dignified life.
  • All state governments and union territories should constitute an expert committee and bring out statutory rules within six months.

Need for such scheme:

  • The Centre and states are not addressing the plight of construction workers despite Parliament framing Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act in 1996 for levy and collection of 1% cess on cost of construction.
  • Around Rs 37,400 crore have been collected from cess over the years but only about Rs 9,500 crore have been utilised and Rs 28,000 crore remain unutilised.

Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act:

  • BOCW Act is a welfare legislation intended and enacted for the benefit of the unorganised sector of building and construction workers.
  • It has a strong flavour of social justice and is a serious attempt by Parliament to ensure that building and construction workers are not exploited because of their poverty and their children do not suffer their fate in terms of education, healthy living and whatever it takes to live a life of dignity.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]


Issues related to Health & Education

NITI Aayog releases SATH-E Roadmaps

NITI Aayog has released comprehensive roadmaps and detailed timelines for its initiative Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E) project to introduce system-wide Governance Transformation in school education.


About SATH-E project:

SATH-E project aims at promoting vocational education, skill development, teacher training and introducing technology in classrooms.

  • It will also promote data-driven analysis to strengthen academic monitoring across schools in the country.
  • It also aims to transform elementary and secondary school education across these three states.
  • Its roadmap refers to time-bound, goal-driven exercise that will reach its logical culmination by end of academic year 2020.
  • It seeks to create role model states for education across country to facilitate qualitative and quantitative transformation of learning outcomes.
  • It will use innovative, external third party funding and Public- Private- Philanthropic Partnership (PPPP) experimentation.
  • It will be facilitated by National Steering Group (NSG), chaired by CEO of NITI Aayog and including Chief Secretaries of 3 states, which will continuously monitor progress, introduce course-corrections and offer a platform for addressing issues in implementation.

Key Facts:

  • The roadmaps will operate between 2018 to 2020. They lay out detailed interventions to be taken by three participating states- Jharkand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha to become ‘Role Model States’ in school education.
  • These roadmaps will present first-of-its-kind, customized, action-oriented programmes, outlining interventions at individual, district and State level.
  • They were jointly prepared by NITI Aayog, three participating states and knowledge partners of SATH Initiatives, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Piramal Foundation For Education Leadership (PFEL).
[Ref: PIB]


India and ADB Sign $120 Million Loan to Improve Rail Infrastructure

Government has inked $120 million loan agreement with Asian Development Bank (ADB) for completion of projects to improve Rail Infrastructure along high-density corridors and operational efficiency of Indian railways.


  • The loan has 20-year term, including grace period of 5 years and have annual interest rate determined according to ADB’s London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) based lending facility, and commitment charge of 0.15% per year.

Rail Infrastructure Improvement Project:

  • The project is aimed at enhancing efficiency of rail infrastructure through electrification, introduction of modern signaling system and doubling rail tracks on key routes in country.
  • It will help to develop energy-efficient, safe, and reliable railway system that will result in reduced travel time along project rail routes and improved operational and financial efficiency.
[Ref: The Hindu, Business Standard]


Bilateral & International Relations

India hands over 18 high-end diesel locos to Myanmar

Indian Railways recently handed over 18 microprocessor controlled Indian locomotives to Myanma Railways.


  • They are supplied by RITES and manufactured by Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi, India.

About RITES:

  • The RITES Ltd. is a Mini Ratna Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Railways.
  • It is the export arm of the railways undertaking various projects worldwide.
  • RITES has engaged in the supply of Railway rolling stock (locomotives, coaches, wagons, permanent way maintenance vehicles), maintenance of railway infrastructure, technical studies, training of Myanmar Railway officials.
[Ref: PIB]


Art & Culture

Karnataka govt clears minority status for Lingayats

The Karnataka government has decided to declare Lingayats as a religious minority and include the Veerashaivas who follow Basavanna as a group within the community.

  • The state government will, now, recommend to the Centre that the community be granted religious minority status.



  • The community has been demanding status of a separate religion for a long time.
  • One part of the community demands the minority status for both Veerashaiva and Lingayats considering them the same, while another wants it only for the Lingayats as it considers Veershaivas to be Hindus.
  • Karnataka State Minorities Commission had formed a seven-member committee, headed by retired high court Judge HN Nagamohan Das on the issue. The Nagamohan committee has recommended minority status for only the Lingayats and has kept Veershaivas out.

Who are Lingayats?

  • Lingayats are followers of 12th-century social reformer Basavanna and his vachana (verses) philosophy.
  • Their beliefs, practices and faith are different. Veerashaivas worship Lord Shiva, the one mentioned in Hindu mythology.
  • However, the Shiva that Basavanna referred to in his vachanas (verses) is not the Hindu god Shiva but the ishtalinga (formless God), which people of the community wear around their neck.

Who are Veerashaivas?

  • Veerashaivas are a sub-sect of Lingayats and ardent followers of Lord Shiva.
  • They preceded Basavanna, the founder of Lingayatism.
  • Veerashaivism has its roots in the Vedas and Agamas, and Veerashaivas do not worship any god other than Shiva; they can be found spread across Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.


About Basava:

  • Basavanna was a 12th-century philosopher, statesman, Kannada poet and a social reformer during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I in Karnataka, India.
  • The revolution that Basavanna led came years after the Buddha.
  • He spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas.
  • He rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals.
  • He introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”), which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.
  • As a leader, he developed and inspired a new devotional movement named Virashaivas, (or “ardent, heroic worshippers of Shiva”). This movement shared its roots in the ongoing Tamil Bhakti movement, particularly the Shaiva Nayanars traditions, over the 7th- to 11th-century.
  • Basava championed devotional worship that rejected temple worship and rituals led by Brahmins, and replaced it with personalized direct worship of Shiva through practices such as individually worn icons and symbols like a small linga.
  • Basaveshwara is the first Kannadiga in whose honour a commemorative coin has been minted in recognition of his social reforms.
  • In November 2015, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi inaugurated the statue of Basaveshwara along the bank of the river Thames at Lambeth in London.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Letters of Intent issued Adopt a Heritage project

A Letter of Intent has been issued to 24 agencies for the Submission of Vision Bids for 75 sites under the Adopt a Heritage Project.

  • The private players will undertake gap analysis of the actual requirement of the basic and advanced amenities, within the permissible guidelines of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and prepare a Vision Bid Proposal accordingly for the site opted by them.
  • Once vision bid is accepted, MoU will be signed with the related party for upkeep of the Monument for overall enhanced tourist experience.

Adopt a Heritage Scheme (Apni Dharohar Apni Pehchan Project):

The scheme was launched by Union Ministry of Tourism on World Tourism Day (27th September).

  • This scheme was launched by Tourism Ministry in close collaboration with Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Under it, Private, Public Sector Companies and Corporate individuals were invited to adopt heritage sites and to take up responsibility for making them and promote sustainable tourism through conservation and development under their CSR activities.
  • It envisages at developing monuments, heritage and tourist sites across India and making them tourist friendly and enhance their tourism potential and cultural importance in planned and phased manner.

Monument Mitras:

  • Successful bidders selected for adopting heritage sites / monuments by the Oversight and Vision Committee shall be called as Monument Mitras.
  • The basic and advanced amenities of the tourist destinations would be provided by them.
  • They would also look after the operations and the maintenance of the amenities.
  • The ‘Monument Mitras’ would associate pride with their CSR activities.
[Ref: PIB]


Key Facts for Prelims


  • The Indo-French joint naval exercise, “Varuna-18”, has commenced in the Arabian Sea off the Goa coast.
  • The Indian Navy and the French Navy have been conducting naval exercises since 1983.
  • These exercises were christened as “Varuna” in 2001.
  • The last edition of the exercise was conducted off the French coast in April last year.



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