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Current Affairs Analysis

23rd September 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Model Concession Agreement; Merchandise Exports from India Scheme; White Helmets; In-Residence’ programme; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
September 23, 2016


Polity & Governance

  • NITI Aayog chalks up plan to secure 50 medals in 2024 Olympics
  • Management board an ideal option to end Cauvery impasse: CWC chief


  • Ministry of Shipping Proposes New Model Concession Agreement for Port Sector
  • Union Government announces enhanced support under MEIS of Foreign Trade Policy

Science & Technology

  • Sugarcane waste yields carbon for use in batteries
  • IIT-M’s cheap solution to make brackish water potable

Key Facts for Prelims

  • White Helmets
  • ‘In-Residence’ programme
  • World’s largest solar power plant
  • 2016 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards


Polity & Governance

NITI Aayog chalks up plan to secure 50 medals in 2024 Olympics

NITI Aayog has devised a short –term and medium-to-long term action plan to help India achieve 50 medals in 2024 summer Olympics.


Need of this action plan:

  • India still does not have a conducive environment for sports to polish the talent of Indian sports persons and make them at par with their global counterparts.


Short-term vision (4-8 years):

  • It envisages targeting a group of priority sports, organising sports persons into three groups for each priority sport, harnessing the potential of indigenous and regional sports, selecting world-class coaches as well as a grading system for coaches.
  • This term will also focus on a sports injury insurance scheme, strengthening and scaling up of existing SAI training centres, facilitating creation of sports academies for individual sports and more.
  • It also looks forward towards creating a digital database for sports, implementing national sports code and sports Bill and promoting revenue generating methods for team leagues of priority sports.

Medium to long term vision (8-15 years):

  • It will focus on identifying talent at a young age, having sports curriculum in schools, a dedicated training program for coaches, encouraging development of sports infrastructure through private or PPP mode and developing a health and psychological support division.
  • It will also focus on availability of consistent funding of contracts as well as promoting a culture of sports in the country.


  • To do away the process of erratic funding, NITI Aayog has recommended that after each Olympics, a fixed 4-year contract is signed between SAI (Sports Authority of India) and sportspersons from Group A sportspersons, keeping in mind the funding required by them up to the next Olympics and other international events in between.
  • For Group B and C also, the budgets for the next 4 years should be fixed, with consistent funding allocation for each year. Funding data for all the groups should be publicly made available as soon as it gets finalised.
[Ref: Indian Express]


Management board an ideal option to end Cauvery impasse: CWC chief

The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to constitute a Cauvery Water Management Board.


What is the Cauvery Management Board?

  • The Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal mandated the establishment of the Cauvery Management Board to ensure implementation of and compliance with its 2007 final order on the sharing of the river waters, mainly between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but also with Kerala and Puducherry.
  • The board is a permanent body under the Union Ministry of Water Resources.

Composition of the Board:

  • According to the rules, the Centre will appoint the chairman and all the members of the management board.
  • Members will include an Irrigation Engineer and an agricultural expert and two other representatives from the Centre, who will be appointed by the Ministry of Water resources and Ministry of agriculture.
  • Also all four Cauvery states – Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry will have their representatives on the board.

Functions of the Board:

  • Once the Board is set up, all the Cauvery reservoirs in Karnataka will come under the control of the board and the state will lose its rights over the management of water.
  • The Board will take decisions on water usage and distribution.
  • The Board will also see to it that states ensure proper hydraulic structures at relevant sites.
  • It will determine the amount of water to be received by the states.
  • The Board will ensure adequate storage by the end of May each year during good years. This will help during delays in the onset of monsoons. In case of consecutive bad years, the Board will handle the issue appropriately by distributing water in a planned manner with minimum distress.


  • The important reservoirs will be handled by the concerned states as per guidelines issued by the Cauvery Water Management Board to meet the requirements of various states.

Expenses of the Board:

  • The expenses of the board will be borne by all the member states.
  • The expenses of the member representing a state will be borne by the respective state.
  • The cost of installations, constructions or maintenance of hydrological systems shall be borne by the concerned states.
[Ref: The Hindu]



Ministry of Shipping Proposes New Model Concession Agreement for Port Sector

The Ministry of Shipping has proposed a new Model Concession Agreement (MCA) for the Port Sector.


  • The proposed MCA will replace the existing Model Concession Agreement which came into existence in January, 2008.
  • The proposed MCA has taken into account the suggestions provided in various reports by Member Planning Commission (2010), Indian Ports Association (IPA-2015) and Kelkar Committee Report (2015).

The objectives of the revised Model Concession Agreement are following:

  • More equitable allocation of project risks.
  • Provisions to handle unforeseen circumstances.
  • Removing ambiguity in existing provisions.
  • To attract more private sector investment.

The salient changes proposed in the Revised Model Concession Agreements are:

  • Change in equity holding to provide exit route.
  • Providing for refinancing provision in MCA.
  • Amendment in Definition of “Change of Law”.
  • Provision for mid-term review of concession.
  • Approval of Discounts on Ceiling Rates for the Purpose of Recovery of Revenue share.
  • Improved Utilization of Project Assets and Higher Productivity.
  • Grievance Redressal System.
  • Provision for Additional Land, Utilities & Services.
  • Replacement of “Actual project Cost” with “Approved Project Cost.
[Ref: PIB]


Union Government announces enhanced support under MEIS of Foreign Trade Policy

In the backdrop of the continued challenging global environment being faced by Indian exporters, Department of Commerce has extended support to certain new products and enhanced the rate of incentives for certain other specified products under the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS).



  • 2901 additional products falling under different product categories have been added. These include items in the following areas:
  • Many items of traditional medicines like Ashwagandha herbs and its extracts, other herbs, extracts of different items.
  • Certain marine products, sea feed items.
  • Onion dried, processed cereal products and other value added items of plastics, lather articles, suitcases etc
  • Industrial products under different categories, including engineering goods, fabrics, garments, chemicals, ceramics, glass products, leather goods, newspapers, periodicals, silk items, made ups, wool products, tubes, pipes etc.

What is Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)?

MEIS was launched under Foreign Trade Policy of India (FTP) 2015-20.

  • It is one of the two schemes introduced in FP 2015-20, as a part of Exports from India Scheme. The other scheme is Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS).
  • Objective of MEIS is to offset infrastructural inefficiencies and associated costs involved in export of goods and products, which are produced and manufactured in India.
  • It seeks to enhance India’s export competitiveness of these goods and products having high export intensity, employment potential.
[Ref: PIB]


Science & Technology

Sugarcane waste yields carbon for use in batteries

Researchers from Pune’s National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have used a simple, cost-effective and quick process to convert sugarcane bagasse into anode-grade porous, conducting, activated carbon material for use in Li-ion batteries.


Key facts:

  • While making anode-grade carbon is currently very expensive and time-consuming, the researchers were able to produce high-quality carbon within minutes by using a low power microwave system.
  • The quality of carbon used for electrodes depends on the choice of precursors and the process used for converting the precursors into carbon.
  • Anode-grade carbon is generally produced through decomposition at nearly 1000 degree Celsius.
  • By using a simple kitchen microwave oven, researchers achieved local heating and combustion to realise high quality factory-grade carbon materials within a few minutes.
  • The process time to get anode-grade carbon is cut down dramatically. The electrical energy input is also reduced substantially.
[Ref: The Hindu]


IIT-M’s cheap solution to make brackish water potable

IIT-M has come up with an idea to convert brackish water into drinking water at about 12 paisa per litre right on the kitchen table by using a potential difference of just 1.8 volts.


How this was made possible?

  • The researchers used a stack of tissue paper and carbonised it at high temperature to make graphene. Graphite electrodes were then coated with the graphene produced in the lab.
  • When the electrodes are dipped into brackish water and 1.8 volt potential is applied to the electrodes, the sodium and chloride ions move towards respective electrodes and get adsorbed.
  • In about five minutes, the brackish water turns into potable water with less than 500 parts per million (ppm) of sodium chloride, which is less than the permissible limit for drinking water.
  • To render the graphene porous, silica precursors were added to the graphene and removed subsequently. The removal of silica makes the graphene porous while retaining its structural integrity.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

White Helmets


  • It is a Syrian civil organisation of emergency responders in rebel-held areas. It has won the prestigious Right Livelihood Award which is also known as ‘alternative Nobel’ prize.
  • Also known as the Syria Civil Defence, the group was honoured “for their outstanding bravery, compassion and humanitarian engagement in rescuing civilians from the destruction of the Syrian civil war”.
  • The White Helmets will share the prize with Russian activist Svetlana Gannushkina, Egypt’s feminist leader Mozn Hassan and leading independent Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.


  • Established in 1980, Right Livelihood Award is an international award that honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.
  • An international jury decides the awards in such fields as environmental protection, human rights, sustainable development, health, education, and peace.


‘In-Residence’ programme


  • Eminent artists Shri Paresh Maity and his wife, Smt. Jayasri Burman have commenced their stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan as Artists In-Residence. They will be in residence for 10 days.
  • The ‘In-Residence’ programme in Rashtrapati Bhavan was launched by the President of India on December 11, 2013 with the aim of providing writers and artists an opportunity to stay in Rashtrapati Bhavan and be a part of the life of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • The Programme seeks to provide an environment which will inspire creative thinking and rejuvenate artistic impulses.
  • It is intended to honour and recognize eminent and established artists and writers as well as encourage young upcoming talent from different parts of the country.


2016 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards


  • Two Indian forest officials have been selected for the 2016 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards that honour individuals engaging in exemplary law enforcement actions to protect wildlife.
  • They are Assistant Conservator Ritesh Sarothiya of Madhya Pradesh State Forest Service and Range officer Sanjay Dutta of Belakoba Forest Range Jalpaiguri in West Bengal.
  • The US based Species Survival Network, in cooperation with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) coordinates the presentation of the awards.
  • The award has been named in memory of Clark R. Bavin, who was the Chief of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of Law Enforcement.


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