Current Affairs Analysis

21st February 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

SAATHIYA’ Resource Kit and ‘SAATHIYA SALAH’ Mobile App; National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC); Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram; Rotavirus Vaccine; Universal Immunization Programme; Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Program; Deep sea mining; India and Rwanda; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 21, 2017


Polity & Governance

  • MoU signed for welfare of Handicraft Artisans belonging to Scheduled Castes
  • Govt launches ‘SAATHIYA’ Resource Kit and ‘SAATHIYA SALAH’ Mobile App for Adolescents
  • Government announces expansion of rotavirus vaccine
  • Centre okays building of over 90,000 houses under PMAY (Urban)

Environment & Ecology

  • Deep sea mining gets a second look

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India, Rwanda sign MoUs in innovation, aviation and visa requirements
  • Centre not for terming Pakistan a ‘terror state’
  • India seeks Vijay Mallya’s custody under MLAT


Polity & Governance

MoU signed for welfare of Handicraft Artisans belonging to Scheduled Castes

An MoU was signed between Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles and National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC), a Central PSU under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the economic development of an estimated 12 lakh scheduled caste artisans.


Objective of the MoU:

  • The MoU is signed with the objective of working together to improve the earnings of artisans across the country, belonging to Scheduled Castes categories.
  • The basic objective of the MoU is to help Scheduled Caste artisans and their families by promoting production and marketing of high value quality Handicrafts products at cluster level in the field of Handicrafts, Cane & Bamboo, Artificial jewellery, Textiles (Hand printed, Hand Embroidery), Dolls & Toys, Stone Carving, Footwear, etc.


  • Handicrafts Sector is the second largest economic activity after agriculture.
  • There are around 12 lakh scheduled castes artisans in the country.
  • Most of the Scheduled Caste Artisans are pursuing various Handicrafts such as Cane & Bamboo in Assam, Textiles (Hand printed) in Gujarat & Punjab, Metal wares in Uttar Pradesh, Dolls & Toys in Karnataka, Theatre Costumes & Puppets in Andhra Pradesh etc.

About NSFDC:


  • National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) was set up in 1989 as a Central PSU under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • NSFDC is the apex institution for financing, facilitating and mobilizing funds from other sources and promoting the economic development activities of the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes living below double the poverty line.
  • NSFDC finances income generation schemes for the target group through the State Channelising Agencies (SCAs) nominated by respective State/UT Governments.
[Ref: PIB, nsfdc.nic.in]


Govt launches ‘SAATHIYA’ Resource Kit and ‘SAATHIYA SALAH’ Mobile App for Adolescents

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched SAATHIYA Resource Kit and SAATHIYA SALAH mobile app for adolescents as part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) programme.


  • The kit and app will help Peer Educators (Saathiyas) who are introduced under the RKSK programme.
  • The Saathiyas act as catalyst for generating demand for adolescent health services and also impart age appropriate knowledge on key adolescent health issues to their peer groups.

Key Facts:

  • The Resource Kit has been developed by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Population Foundation of India (PFI).
  • The resource kit comprises of an Activity Book, Bhranti-Kranti Game, a Question-Answer Book and a Peer Educator Diary.
  • The Peer Educators will be trained across the country in a phased manner and the communication material is specially designed to help the Peer Educator to be recognized and respected as ‘saathiya’, a good friend for the adolescents.
  • In addition, the mobile app ‘Saathiya Salah’ acts as cost-effective information platform for the adolescents.
  • It also has feature of toll-free Saathiya Helpline which will act as an e-counselor.


India is home to 253 million adolescents which is largest in the world in terms of absolute numbers.  Their health and wellness is utmost priority as they are the critical mass of asset which in future will be the biggest demographic dividends to the country’s economy.

About Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram:


Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) programme RKSK programme was launched by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in January 2014 with an aim to cater and address health and development needs of the country’s adolescents.

  • It introduces community-based interventions through peer educators (Saathiyas), and is underpinned by collaborations with other ministries and state governments.
  • RKSK identifies six strategic priorities for adolescents:
  1. Nutrition,
  2. Sexual and reproductive health (SRH),
  3. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs),
  4. Substance misuse,
  5. Injuries and violence (including gender-based violence) and
  6. Mental health.
  • To guide the implementation of this programme, the ministry in collaboration with UNFPA has developed a National Adolescent Health Strategy.
  • The strategy focuses on age groups 10-14 years and 15-19 years with universal coverage. It covers males and females in school and out of school, in urban and rural, married and unmarried and vulnerable and under-served.
[Ref: PIB]


Government announces expansion of rotavirus vaccine

The government has announced the expansion of rotavirus vaccine in five additional states under its Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP).


  • Now, the vaccine will be expanded to Assam, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
  • The announcement came after 38 lakh children were vaccinated in four states – Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha when the vaccine was first introduced.
  • The vaccine will prevent Rotavirus diarrhoea in children which accounts for approximately 40% of hospitalizations from diarrhoea in India.


  • Diarrhoea is one of the biggest killers in children and rotavirus is one of the most common causes of severe diarrhoea in children less than 2 years of age.
  • Rotavirus diarrhoea is responsible for nearly 78,000 deaths, 32 lakh out-patient visits and nearly 9 lakh hospitalizations every year.


About Rotavirus:

  • Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe vomiting and diarrhoea among infants and young children less than five years of age.
  • Nearly every child in the world has been infected with rotavirus at least once by the age of five.
  • There are eight species of this virus, referred to as A, B, C, D, E, F, G and H. Rotavirus A, the most common species, causes more than 90% of rotavirus infections in humans.


  • The virus is transmitted by the fæcal-oral route. It infects and damages the cells that line the small intestine and causes gastroenteritis (which is often called “stomach flu” despite having no relation to influenza).
  • In 2014, nearly 80,000 children died due to rotavirus, whereas about 9 lakh were hospitalised due to episodes of severe diarrhoea.

About UIP:

Universal Immunization Programme is a vaccination program launched by the Government of India in 1985. It became a part of Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme in 1992.


  • It is currently one of the key areas under National Rural Health Mission(NRHM) since 2005.
  • The program consists of vaccination for 10 diseases-
  1. Tuberculosis,
  2. Diphtheria,
  3. Pertussis (whooping cough),
  4. Tetanus,
  5. Poliomyelitis,
  6. Measles,
  7. Hepatitis B,
  8. Diarrhoea,
  9. Japanese Encephalitis and
  • Hepatitis B was added to the UIP in 2007.
  • In 2014 it was announced that four vaccines will be added to the program, namely rotavirus, rubella and Japanese encephalitis, as well as the injectable polio vaccine.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Centre okays building of over 90,000 houses under PMAY (Urban)

The Centre approved construction of over 90,000 more affordable houses for the urban poor under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) with an investment of Rs 5,590 crore.


  • The central assistance for construction of these houses would be to the tune of Rs 1,188 crore.
  • So far, construction of 16,51,687 affordable houses for the benefit of urban poor has been sanctioned under PMAY (Urban) with total investment of Rs 89,072 crore and central assistance of Rs 25,819 crore.

About PMAY-Urban:

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Programme launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), in Mission mode envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence.


  • The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals:
  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors.
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement.
[Ref: PIB]


Environment & Ecology

Deep sea mining gets a second look

The risk of running out of rare earth metals that are essential to modern technology has led to a surge in interest in mining the deep seas.


  • Fears have also mounted about the environmental impact of disturbing vast areas of the pristine ocean floor.

Need for deep sea mining:

  • According to a recent UN report, demographic growth and the acceleration of technological innovations in the past 40 years have doubled the quantity of minerals extracted worldwide, leading to shortages of certain key metals.
  • If global development proceeds at its current pace, traditional land-based supply of resources may be challenged to meet demand.

This uncertainty highlights the importance of considering deep-sea mining, even though the process involves environmental risks.


What should be done?

Waters deeper than 200 meters make up 65% of the world’s oceans, and are vulnerable to human activities. Given the risks to fragile ecosystems, a new international approach to managing mineral deposits should be put in place.

[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

India, Rwanda sign MoUs in innovation, aviation and visa requirements

India and Rwanda have inked three agreements in the fields of innovation, aviation and visa requirements to boost bilateral relations.


  • These agreements were signed in Kigali in the presence of Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari and Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi during a business forum meet.
  • Vice President is the first Indian leader to officially visit Rwanda. He launched India-Rwanda innovation growth programme.

Signed agreements are:

  1. Bilateral air service agreement between two countries.
  2. Agreement for exemption of visa requirements for diplomatic and service passports.
  3. Agreement for establishment of an Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Rwanda duly financed by India.


  • Both Rwanda and Uganda are important from India’s viewpoint of trade, especially in the pharmaceuticals, automobiles, mechanical appliances and machinery sectors.
  • Since 2012, India’s trade with Rwanda has doubled and it is one of Uganda’s largest trading partners and largest investors.
[Ref: Business Standard]


Centre not for terming Pakistan a ‘terror state’

The Centre has decided to oppose a Private Member’s Bill moved in the Rajya Sabha recently seeking to declare countries like Pakistan “terror states.”


Why the government is opposing the Bill?

  • The Home Ministry is opposing the Bill as it jeopardises international relations under the Geneva Convention.
  • The government feels that it will be not prudent to declare any country as a terror state as India is bound by international norms.


An independent Member of Parliament had recently moved The Declaration of Countries as Sponsor of Terrorism Bill, 2016 to impose legal, economic and travel sanctions on citizens of countries which promote terror.

While presenting the Bill, the MP said, “For decades, India and other countries in the region have been victims of terror attacks from organisations and individuals based in and with the support of elements in Pakistan. Yet for decades we have remained engaged with Pakistan in an attempt to draw it into the mainstream. Pakistan’s track record of fostering terrorism and terrorists is long and incontrovertible. It is time that we stop running to other countries to declare Pakistan a terror state and stood up and did this job ourselves.”

What’s next?

  • A private member’s Bill can be enacted into a law once it has been screened by a House committee, which is optional, and passed by a majority vote.
[Ref: The Hindu]


India seeks Vijay Mallya’s custody under MLAT

The Home Ministry forwarded to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) a court-issued request to bring back embattled liquor baron Vijay Mallya from the United Kingdom to India to face money laundering probe.


  • Indian agencies sought help in securing the custody of businessman Vijay Mallya, at a meeting with their British counterparts, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) for his prosecution in a money laundering case against him.


  • Mallya faces criminal proceedings by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the ED in two major cases of default of bank loans of ₹9,000 crore.
  • He flew out to London last March and refused to come back despite court intervention. His diplomatic passport was cancelled and non-bailable warrants issued against him. He has been declared a proclaimed offender.

What are MLATS?

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) are agreements between two or more countries, which create obligations under international law for governments to assist one another in criminal investigations and prosecutions.

  • Law enforcement officers or prosecutors use them when they need help to obtain evidence from within another country’s jurisdiction.

What are the benefits of MLATS?

  • MLATs create a predictable process for sharing information across jurisdictions. Where MLATs do not exist, letters rogatory, formal requests for information to a foreign court, or informal requests are used, but they lack predictability and oversight.
  • Many MLATs also include protections to ensure respect for international human rights and domestic privacy protections.

What kind of assistance can be obtained under an MLAT?

Most MLATs are drafted broadly to facilitate a wide range of assistance. Many MLATs state near the beginning of the treaty that governments should provide ‘the widest possible measure of mutual assistance’.

They typically provide an inclusive list of the types of assistance that can be provided.

Common examples include:

  • obtaining witness testimony (either voluntarily or by compulsion)
  • executing search warrants
  • obtaining bank records
  • freezing or forfeiting the proceeds of crime.
[Ref: The Hindu]


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