Current Affairs Analysis

26th January 2018 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

26th January: Republic Day; PM’s Shram Awards for 2016; Padma Awards 2018; WHO pre-qualification; Rotavac; Rotavirus; Universal Immunization Programme; Zojila pass tunnel; India, ASEAN sign Delhi Declaration; Global Centre for Cybersecurity; World Economic Forum (WEF); Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD); India-Japan Smart Grid Pilot Project; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
January 26, 2018


Polity & Governance

  • Centre announces PM’s Shram Awards for 2016 to 50 workers
  • 26th January: Republic Day
  • Padma Awards 2018

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Bharat Biotech’s rotavirus vaccine gets WHO pre-qualification


  • NHIDCL inks MoU with IL&FS for Rs 6,808 crore Zojila tunnel project

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India, ASEAN sign Delhi Declaration

Defence & Security Issues

  • WEF launches Global Centre for Cybersecurity

Science & Technology

  • NASA’s new GOLD space weather instrument launches

Key Facts for Prelims

  • India-Japan Smart Grid Pilot Project

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Polity & Governance

Centre announces PM’s Shram Awards for 2016 to 50 workers

The Ministry of Labour & Employment has announced Prime Minister’s Shram Awards for the year 2016 to be awarded to 50 workers including 3 women employed in Departmental Undertakings & Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) of Central/ State Governments and Private Sector Units employing 500 or more workers. In 2016, 34 workers are from PSUs and 16 workers are from Private Sectors.

Shram Awards 2018 iastoppers

  • The awards are given in recognition of their distinguished performances, innovative abilities, outstanding contribution in the field of productivity and exhibition of exceptional courage and presence of mind.

About Shram Awards:

  • The Prime Minister’s Shram Awards were instituted in 1985 by the Government of India.
  • This national award is conferred on workers for outstanding contributions that improve productivity, innovation, and indigenization, resulting in saving foreign exchange.
  • The award is also given for long-term exceptional dedicated work.
  • The objective of the Prime Ministers Shram Awards is to recognize the outstanding contributions made by workmen as defined in the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 in organizations both in public and private sector and who have distinguished record of performance, devotion to duty of a high order, specific contribution in the field of productivity and proven innovative abilities among others.

They are four types of awards:

  1. Shram Ratna: Rs. Two lakhs and recognition of their contribution to their field (a Sanad).
  2. Shram Bhushan: RS. 100000 and a Sanad.
  3. Shram Vir / Shram Veerangana: RS. 60000 and a Sanad.
  4. Shram Devi / Shram Shree: RS. 40000 and a Sanad.
[Ref: PIB]


26th January: Republic Day

India is celebrating its 69th Republic Day this year.


About Republic day:

  • Republic day in India is celebrated every year on 26th of January to honour the Constitution of India as it came into force on the same day in the year 1950.

Why 26th January was chosen?

  • The Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950, a date specially chosen to coincide with the anniversary of ‘Purna Swaraj Diwas’. January 26, 1930 was marked as ‘Purna Swaraj Diwas’, or the day the nation would attain complete freedom from its colonisers by the Congress.
  • The members of the drafting committee felt that the birth of the constitution should be observed on a day that held some significance in their fight for independence. When India was ultimately granted freedom by the British in 1947, but on August 15 and not January 26, the date was instead assigned to celebrating India’s Republic Day.
  • This was the day the Indian Independence Act was consequently repealed and India was established as a democratic republic, no longer a dominion of the British Crown.

Republic day celebrations 2018:


  • The 69th Republic Day celebrations will for the first time have 10 chief guests.
  • The heads of the ASEAN leaders from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei – will be hosted in this year’s celebrations.
  • The significance of the ASEAN leaders attending the event is that ASEAN completes 50 years of formation and that India completes 25 years of its partnership with the grouping.
[Ref: PIB]


Padma Awards 2018

Government has announced the list for the Padma Awards 2017 on the eve of Republic Day.


  • The list comprises 3 Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 73 Padma Shri Awards. Total 85 Padma Awards including two duo cases has been conferred.

About Padma awards:

The Padma awards are conferred by the President at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan in March/April every year.

  • The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.
  • Padma Awards – one of the highest civilian Awards of the country, are conferred in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
  • The Awards are given in various disciplines/ fields of activities, viz.- art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.
  • The award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously if the demise of the person proposed to be honoured has been recent, say within a period of one year preceding the Republic Day on which it is proposed to announce the award.

Three categories of Padma awards:

  • ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service.
  • ‘Padma Bhushan’ is awarded for distinguished service of high order.
  • ‘Padma Shri’ is awarded for distinguished service in any field.

Change in nomination process:

In the past three years, the common man had found space in the awards category as a result of changes made in the nomination process.

  • There was a certain methodology of awarding Padma awards every year, but this entire process has been changed for the past three years.
  • Now, any citizen can nominate any person in our country.
  • Transparency has been brought about in the entire process by making it operable online.

Key facts:

  • With a total of the coveted 10 Padma awards to 11 nominees, including one posthumously, Maharashtra has bagged the highest number of Padma awards in 2018.
[Ref: PIB]


Issues related to Health & Education

Bharat Biotech’s rotavirus vaccine gets WHO pre-qualification

For the first time, the Rotavac, a vaccine conceived and developed from scratch in India, has been “pre-qualified” by the World Health Organisation.

rotavirus vaccine gets WHO pre-qualification ias

What does that mean?

  • To be “pre-qualified” means that the vaccine can be sold internationally to several countries in Africa and South America.

So far, several vaccines from India have been pre-qualified by WHO, but Rotavac is first vaccine entirely developed locally to get this status in safety and efficacy.

Significance of this recognition:

  • This recognition signifies credible industrial, scientific and regulatory process in place to develop vaccines in India.
  • It paves the way for health and humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF, GAVI and Pan-American Health Organization to procure Rotavac for public health vaccination programmes across the world.

About Rotavac:

Rotavac protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by the rotavirus.

Rotavac iastoppers

  • It was conceived and developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited.
  • It was developed under the joint collaboration between India and United States in area of medical research.
  • It was developed under public-private partnership (PPP) model that involved Ministry of Science and Technology, institutions of the US Government and NGOs in India supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The vaccine was built on strain of the virus isolated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi over 30 years ago.
  • It has been included in India’s national immunisation programme. The vaccine was tested in field for over a year, have not shown any negative effect.

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 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
  10. 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, Indian Express, Live Mint]



NHIDCL inks MoU with IL&FS for Rs 6,808 crore Zojila tunnel project

The Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has inked MoU with IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd for construction of the 14.150 km long, 2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir.


Where is Zojila pass situated?

  • Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.

About the Zojila pass tunnel:

The Zojila Tunnel will be situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway (NH-1A).


Aim and objective of the project:

  • The Project aims at construction of 14.150 km long 2-lane bidirectional single tube tunnel with a parallel 14.200 km long egress (escape) tunnel excluding approaches between Baltal & Minamarg in J&K.
  • The main objective of the project is to provide all whether connectivity to strategically important Leh region in J&K which at moment is limited to at best 6 months because of snow on the mountainous passes and threat of avalanches. Ladakh region remains cut off from rest of the country during winter months due to heavy snowfall.

Implementation of the project:

  • The project will be implemented by Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) through the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode.

Significance of the project:

  • This would be India’s longest road tunnel and longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia.
  • The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather safe, fast and cheap connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh.
  • It will bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions.
  • It also has strategic and socio-economic importance and it will be instrument for development of economically backward districts in J&K.
  • The project, on completion, will also lead to enormous boost in employment as local businesses get linked to National market and beautiful region is able to receive round the year tourist traffic.
[Ref: PIB, Economic Times]


Bilateral & International Relations

India, ASEAN sign Delhi Declaration

The ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit was held in New Delhi to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of sectoral dialogue between two sides under the theme of “Shared Values, Common Destiny”.


  • During this summit, Delhi declaration was adopted.

Highlights of Delhi Declaration:

  • In a statement called the “Delhi Declaration”, the leaders decided to increase commitment and “promote comprehensive approach to combat terrorism” through disruption of militant activities.
  • Leaders of the ASEAN and India also decided to increase cooperation in combating other transnational crimes such as human trafficking, illicit drug trafficking, cyber crime and piracy.
  • The two entities agreed to ensure compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions on counter-terrorism, and to note the efforts made towards the formation of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
  • Leaders of the two entities decided to strengthen ASEAN-India economic relations by effectively implementing the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area, and intensifying efforts towards creating a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the region.
  • ASEAN and India also agreed to cooperate for the conservation of marine resources, in the aviation and maritime transport sectors, promote growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, deepen relations in science and technological exchange, implement an ASEAN-India Space Cooperation Programme, and encourage private sector investment.
  • The Delhi Declaration called for the early completion of the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway Project. It said that the trilateral highway should then be extended to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

About ASEAN:

ASEAN memers ias

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN is regional intergovernmental organisation comprising ten Southeast Asian countries.
  • It was established on August 8, 1967 through ASEAN declaration (also known as Bangkok Declaration). Its secretariat is located in Jakartaa, Indonesia.
  • ASEAN promotes Pan-Asianism and intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational and socio-cultural integration amongst its members and other Asian countries.
  • It consists of 10-member countries- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu, Indian Express]


Defence & Security Issues

WEF launches Global Centre for Cybersecurity

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has launched new Global Centre for Cybersecurity in a bid to safeguard world from hackers and growing data breaches — especially from nation-states.


About Global Centre for Cybersecurity:

The Global Centre for Cybersecurity will function as an autonomous organization under WEF.

  • The centre will be headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and will become operational from March 2018.
  • It will help to build a safe and secure global cyberspace.
  • Its aim is to establish first global platform for governments, businesses, experts and law enforcement agencies to collaborate on cybersecurity challenges.
  • It will draw on WEF’s government and industry support to work towards more secure cyberspace through its established multi-stakeholder approach.

The centre will focus on the following aims:

  • Consolidating existing cybersecurity initiatives of the World Economic Forum.
  • Establishing an independent library of cyber best practices.
  • Helping partners to enhance knowledge on cybersecurity.
  • Working towards an appropriate and agile regulatory framework on cybersecurity.
  • Serving as a laboratory and early-warning think tank for future cybersecurity scenarios.

Way ahead:

  • As a truly borderless problem, cyber-attacks are surpassing the capacities and institutions that are currently dealing with this threat in an isolated manner.
  • Only through collaboration, information exchange and common standards can the global community successfully counter organized digital crime.

About World Economic Forum (WEF):

WEF is Swiss non-profit foundation, also recognized as international institution for public-private cooperation.

  • It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • It is committed to improve state of world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.
  • WEF is best known for its annual winter meeting for five days in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in eastern Alps region of Switzerland.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Science & Technology

NASA’s new GOLD space weather instrument launches

NASA’s Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) instrument was recently launched atop an Ariane 5 rocket.


About Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD):


  • GOLD will investigate the dynamic intermingling of space and Earth’s uppermost atmosphere.
  • GOLD is the first NASA science mission to fly an instrument as a commercially hosted payload.
  • GOLD aims to shed light on how the uppermost layers of Earth’s atmosphere can be affected by powerful space and Earth-based weather events.
  • GOLD will be tasked with collecting far ultraviolet light data on Earth’s atmosphere.
  • GOLD will focus its attention on a relatively poorly-understood region of the upper atmosphere, where the charged particles of the ionosphere mingle with the diffuse neutral gasses that make up the thermosphere.


GOLD is essentially an imaging spectrograph.

  • Spectrographs are scientific instruments that have been designed to break light down into its constituent wavelengths and to measure their intensity.
  • By examining the data from such an instrument, scientists can determine a wide variety of characteristics, including a target’s composition and temperature.



  • Earth’s atmosphere is a complex, multi-layered protective shell that envelopes our planet, and safeguards its inhabitants from dangerous space weather emanating largely from our Sun. This tenuous region of the atmosphere has been known to undergo swift and significant changes in less than an hour.
  • These fluctuations can be driven by the constant interactions between the ionosphere and thermosphere, in conjunction with weather emanating from both Earth and space.
  • The complexity of these interactions makes it very difficult to predict when an atmospheric change in the ionosphere and thermosphere will occur, and this can be a serious problem for satellite communications.
  • Disturbances in the ionosphere can interfere with, or even block signals being sent between Earth-based systems and orbital probes, potentially affecting cell-phone communications, and other vital services such as GPS, which is needed to safely navigate airplanes and ships.
[Ref: Economic Times]


Key Facts for Prelims

India-Japan Smart Grid Pilot Project


  • The state government of Haryana inaugurated the India-Japan Smart Grid Pilot Project in Panipat, Haryana.
  • The project has been initiated under intensive relations between Japan and India and the Prime Minister’s Make in India Programme.
  • The Smart Grid Pilot Project, being set up with the assistance of Japan, would ensure uninterrupted power supply to domestic as well as industrial consumers of the city.


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