Current Affairs Analysis

28th & 29th January 2018 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

2018 Pulse Polio programme; Polio Virus; Child Nutrition and Development Nodal Agency Bill, 2017; Stree Swabhiman Initiative; What are the Common Services Centers (CSCs)? Pulse Polio Immunization (PPI); Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV); What is Prompt Corrective Action (PCA)? Red Handfish; Tasmania; Cambodia; SkyRev360; 'Beating Retreat' ceremony; 'Made in India' thermal spray coating technology; Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) science satellite; What is blockchain technology? Agricultural scientist GS Kalkat; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
January 29, 2018


Polity & Governance

  • Private Member’s Bill proposes setting up nodal agency to fight malnutrition

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Stree Swabhiman Initiative launched for Women Health and Hygiene

Issues related to Health & Education

  • President launches 2018 Pulse Polio programme


  • Prompt Corrective Action: Ministry to appraise bank heads

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • New population of extremely rare ‘walking fish’ found in Tasmania

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India, Cambodia decide to boost defence ties; ink 4 pacts
  • AAI, Lao PDR sign civil aviation cooperation agreement

Defence & Security Issues

  • Republic day: ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony

Science & Technology

  • NASA interested in a ‘Made in India’ thermal spray coating technology for spacecrafts
  • NASA to attempt recovery of lost IMAGE satellite
  • NASA Fund Researches the Potential of Blockchain Technology in Space

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Agricultural scientist GS Kalkat dies

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Polity & Governance

Private Member’s Bill proposes setting up nodal agency to fight malnutrition

Aiming to eradicate malnutrition among children, Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia has introduced a private member’s Bill in the Parliament.


  • The bill, ‘Child Nutrition and Development Nodal Agency Bill, 2017’ proposes setting up a nodal agency for child nutrition and development.

Why there is an urgent need for setting up a nodal agency?

  • Despite thousands of crores of rupees being spent and a number of government schemes working for child development, the status of health and nutrition of children in the country remains abysmal.
  • All nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive schemes work in silos. As a result, they are not able to achieve the intended outcome.

Therefore, the establishment of a nodal agency that would facilitate coordination of all ministries and departments and execute the schemes in a convergent manner is urgently required.

What would be the functions of this nodal agency?

  • The body would facilitate and supervise multi-sectoral programme in high, medium- and low-burdened districts with malnourished children.
  • It would coordinate and administer policy implementation among various ministries responsible for implementing programmes aimed at eradicating malnutrition.
  • At the end of each financial year, the agency will submit a report of its activities to the Central government.

What need to be done?

  • The need of the hour is to involve all field functionaries in a productive manner.
  • Consistent monitoring and evaluation of the schemes using technological interventions and real-time data is also important.
  • There is also a need to provide leverage budgets from related departments to develop an integrated plan with cross-sectoral collaboration to achieve nutrition-related targets.

What is Private member’s bill?

  • Members of Parliament other than ministers are called private members and bills presented by them are known as Private member’s bills.
  • Private members may belong to the party in power or the Opposition.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Government Schemes & Policies

Stree Swabhiman Initiative launched for Women Health and Hygiene

Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) has launched Stree Swabhiman Initiative.


Aim of the initiative:

  • Stree Swabhiman Initiative is aimed to create sustainable model for providing adolescent girls and women an access to affordable sanitary products by leveraging Common Service Centres (CSCs).

More about the Stree Swabhiman Initiative:

  • Under this initiative, Common Service Centres (CSC) will provide access to affordable, reliable and modern (eco-friendly) sanitary napkins (menstrual pads) to adolescent girls and women in rural areas.
  • Its purpose is to improve awareness on menstrual health and hygiene of women, thus help to protect dignity and rights of women.
  • Under this initiative, semi-automatic and manual sanitary napkin manufacturing units will be set up at CSC for producing affordable and eco-friendly sanitary napkins.
  • These micro manufacturing units will be operated by women entrepreneurs and generate employment for 8-10 women.

What are the Common Services Centers (CSCs)?

Common Services Centers (CSCs) are a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme.

  • They are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.
  • CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:
  1. Digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen.
  2. Governance and services on demand.
  3. Digital empowerment of citizens.


Significance of the CSCs:

  • CSCs are more than service delivery points in rural India. They are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods.
  • They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.
[Ref: PIB]


Issues related to Health & Education

President launches 2018 Pulse Polio programme

President Ram Nath Kovind has launched Pulse Polio Immunization (PPI) Programme for year 2018 at an event, organised on the eve of the National Immunisation Day (NID), observed on 28 January.


Efforts to curb Polio in India:

  • More than 17 crore children of less than 5 years across the country will be given polio drops as part of Government’s drive to eradicate polio from the country.
  • In order to mitigate the risk of poliovirus importation, the immunity against polio infection is maintained through National and Sub-National Polio rounds along with sustained high quality polio surveillance.
  • For additional protection, the government has also introduced the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) into its routine immunization program.
  • India maintains a sensitive surveillance system for polio. All cases of paralysis with sudden onset in children up to 15 years (which is called Acute Flaccid Paralysis or AFP) are picked up by the polio surveillance network.
  • Each of these cases is followed up and their stool samples tested for poliovirus in World Health Organization (WHO) accredited laboratories.
  • In addition, sewage samples are collected from over 30 sites spread across the country for poliovirus detection at regular intervals.

About Polio Virus:

Polio Virus iastoppers24

  • Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which mainly affects young children under the age of 5.
  • Poliovirus is usually spread from person to person. It mainly spreads through the faecal-oral route (e.g. contaminated water or food).
  • After entering body, it multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

About Pulse Polio Immunization (PPI):

Pulse Polio Immunization iastoppers

  • PPI Programme is massive immunization programme of Government to sustain polio eradication from the country.
  • It was launched by Central Government in co-operation with international agencies, state governments and non-government/voluntary organizations in 1995 as result of World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
  • PPI Programme was initiated with objective of achieving 100% coverage under OPV.
  • It aims to reach unreached children through improved social mobilization, plan mop-up operations in areas where poliovirus has almost disappeared and maintain high level of morale among the public.
  • Under this programme, all children under 5 years are given 2 doses of Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) in month of December and January every year until polio is eradicated.

About IPV:


  • Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), also called the Salk vaccine, consists of inactivated (killed) poliovirus strains of all three poliovirus types.
  • IPV is given by intramuscular or intradermal injection and needs to be administered by a trained health worker.
  • IPV produces antibodies in the blood to all three types of poliovirus. In the event of infection, these antibodies prevent the spread of the virus to the central nervous system and protect against paralysis.
  • IPV is an evidence-based intervention that not only ensures continued protection of children against all types of polio viruses, but also helps save vaccine — a move bound to positively impact global vaccine supply in the coming years.

In early 2016, India became the first country globally to introduce fractional doses of IPV in childhood immunisation programme in eight states and Union territories.


  • In India the last polio case was recorded on 13 January 2011.
[Ref: PIB]



Prompt Corrective Action: Ministry to appraise bank heads

The Finance Ministry is planning to initiate a performance review of heads of public sector banks that are under the RBI’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) as part of the reform process.



  • So far, the Reserve Bank has put 12 public sector banks under watch in view of poor performance on parameters such as high levels of non-performing assets (NPAs), low capital level and low return on assets.
  • These parameters indicate the financial health of banks and a need to initiate remedial measures to put them on the right course.

What is Prompt Corrective Action (PCA)?

  • PCA norms allow the regulator to place certain restrictions such as halting branch expansion and stopping dividend payment.
  • It can even cap a bank’s lending limit to one entity or sector.
  • Other corrective action that can be imposed on banks include special audit, restructuring operations and activation of recovery plan.
  • Banks’ promoters can be asked to bring in new management, too.
  • Under PCA, the RBI can also supersede the bank’s board.


When is PCA invoked?

  • The PCA is invoked when certain risk thresholds are breached.
  • There are three risk thresholds which are based on certain levels of asset quality, profitability, capital and the like.
  • The third such threshold, which is maximum tolerance limit, sets net NPA at over 12% and negative return on assets for four consecutive years.

What are the types of sanctions?

  • There are two types of restrictions, mandatory and discretionary.
  • Restrictions on dividend, branch expansion, directors compensation, are mandatory while discretionary restrictions could include curbs on lending and deposit.
  • In the cases of two banks where PCA was invoked after the revised guidelines were issued — IDBI Bank and UCO Bank — only mandatory restrictions were imposed. Both the banks breached risk threshold 2.


What will a bank do if PCA is triggered?

  • Banks are not allowed to renew or access costly deposits or take steps to increase their fee-based income.
  • Banks will also have to launch a special drive to reduce the stock of NPAs and contain generation of fresh NPAs.
  • They will also not be allowed to enter into new lines of business.
  • RBI will also impose restrictions on the bank on borrowings from interbank market.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

New population of extremely rare ‘walking fish’ found in Tasmania

A small population of fish that “walk” along the seabed have been discovered off Australia’s south coast in Tasmania.


  • The Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus) is found only in southeastern Tasmania, an isolated island state.
  • Until last week, only about 20 to 40 of them were identified in the Frederick Henry Bay.
  • The red handfish, born with finger-like fins, is believed to be the world’s rarest fish species.

Location of Tasmania:

Tasmania map iastoppers

Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by the Bass Strait.

Tasmania map iastoppers2

[Ref: The Hindu, India Today]


Bilateral & International Relations

India, Cambodia decide to boost defence ties; ink 4 pacts

India and Cambodia have signed four agreements to enhance cooperation on security, connectivity and development assistance while stressing the importance of adhering to the law of the sea.


  • Besides, a line of credit from India to fund Cambodia’s Stung Sva Hab water resources development project for USD 36.92 million has also been signed.
  • Significantly, Cambodia, which is very close to China, endorsed the importance of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in a joint statement with India.


  • India- Cambodia relations go back to the 1st century AD when Hindu and Buddhist religious and cultural influences emanated out of India to various parts of southeast Asia.
  • Cambodians are predominantly Buddhist but retain a strong influence of Hindu rituals, idolatry and mythology.

Location of Cambodia:


  • Cambodia is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia.
  • It is bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
[Ref: Indian Express, Times of India]


AAI, Lao PDR sign civil aviation cooperation agreement

India and Lao PDR have signed civil aviation cooperation agreement for providing SkyRev360, a comprehensive e-data gathering, invoicing and collection system.


  • The agreement was signed between Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Lao Air Traffic Management, Department of Civil Aviation.

About SkyRev360:

  • SkyRev360 is fully automated and comprehensive data gathering invoicing and collection service system.
  • It has been developed by AAI in collaboration with International Air Transport Association (IATA) under the Government’s Make in India initiative.
  • It was launched in February 2017 by AAI.

What it does?

  • It helps to eliminate inaccuracies errors and delays for better revenue management with less manual processing.
  • It helps airport operators world-wide in avoiding revenue leakages, reducing redundancies, disputes and easy integration with all external systems.
  • The solution gathers 100% of your flight data and produces comprehensive billing data. Therefore, with SkyRev360, ANSPs’ financial operations become both more accurate and efficient in one stroke.
  • It also helps in curtailing the debt collection period to the minimum.

Key Features:

Data gathering and processing module:

  • It can ensure essential data of invoices latest and most complete.

Invoicing module: 

  • It maintains all account attributes and allows for extensive view of associated data, including aircraft specifications, flight movements, billing ledger records, etc.


  • Its all data collections are managed with IATA Enhancement & Financing Services (E&F) process, which offers efficiencies and automation to air navigation service providers (ANSPs) and airlines by settling through IATA Settlement Systems.

Airline queries: 

  • All queries and disputes related to billing and collection from your air operators are handled by IATA team.

Dashboard and reports: 

  • It continuously reports incidents, airspace usage, traffic volumes, economic values etc.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Defence & Security Issues

Republic day: ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony

The Beating the Retreat Ceremony is held in the capital city of Delhi in India.


Key facts:

  • The Beating the Retreat Ceremony officially marks the finale of the Republic day celebrations.
  • The Republic Day parade comes to a close with the ‘Beating the Retreat Ceremony’, which happens on the 29th of January at Vijay Chowk or the victory square.
  • It is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.
  • Colours and Standards are cased and flags lowered. The ceremony creates nostalgia for the times gone by.


  • ‘Beating the Retreat’ has emerged as an event of national pride when the Colours and Standards are paraded.
  • The ceremony traces its origins to the early 1950s when Major Roberts of the Indian Army indigenously developed the unique ceremony of display by the massed bands.
  • The Festival of Beating the Retreat Ceremony in Delhi is observed keeping in mind the age old tradition, according to which, soldiers called a close down to the war at sunset. This call was the sound of the bugles vibrated across the battlefield calling a halt to the fighting.
[Ref: PIB]


Science & Technology

NASA interested in a ‘Made in India’ thermal spray coating technology for spacecrafts

NASA has expressed interests in a new thermal spray coating technology used for gas turbine engine in spacecraft developed by a Rajasthan-based researcher.


About the technology:

  • The technology is called controlled segmented Yttria-Stabilised Zirconia (YSZ)-Plasma sprayed coating technology.
  • It develops vertical cracks (segmentation) in coating, beneficial for gas turbine engine application used in spacecraft.

Significance of the new technology:

  • The new technology has advantage over current, costly techniques such as SPS or EB-PVD deposited coatings.
  • It has potential to reduce thermal spray coating cost by almost 50%. These present technologies develop such cracks through very expensive processes (in several crore) and are not controllable.
  • The YSZ thermal barrier coatings produced by atmospheric plasma sprayed (APS) technique has potential of wider industrial and strategic acceptability. It can be industrially adopted to make a strain-tolerant coating more economical.

About thermal spray coating technology:


[Ref: The Hindu, First Post]


NASA to attempt recovery of lost IMAGE satellite

A $150 million NASA satellite Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) science satellite which died from systems failure just five years after its launch has somehow reactivated and is still broadcasting.


  • The satellite is still transmitting data beyond simple telemetry, indicating that some of its six onboard instruments may still be active.


  • On March 25, 2000, NASA launched the IMAGE satellite atop a Delta II rocket.
  • Then on December 18, 2005, radio contact was lost for unknown reason. After weeks of attempts by NASA to regain contact, the probe was written off for good.

About IMAGE mission:

  • Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) was the first satellite mission dedicated to imaging the Earth’s magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by the Earth’s magnetic field and containing extremely tenuous plasmas of both solar and terrestrial origin.
  • Invisible to standard astronomical observing techniques, these populations of ions and electrons have traditionally been studied by means of localized measurements with charged particle detectors, magnetometers, and electric field instruments.
  • Instead of such in situ measurements, IMAGE employed a variety of imaging techniques to “see the invisible” and to produce the first comprehensive global images of the plasma populations in the inner magnetosphere.
  • With these images, space scientists were able to observe, in a way never before possible, the large-scale dynamics of the magnetosphere and the interactions among its constituent plasma populations.

IMAGE used neutral atom, ultraviolet, and radio imaging techniques to:

  • Identify the dominant mechanisms for injecting plasma into the magnetosphere on substorm and magnetic storm time scales.
  • Determine the directly driven response of the magnetosphere to solar wind changes.
  • Discover how and where magnetospheric plasmas are energized, transported, and subsequently lost during substorms and magnetic storms.
[Ref: Economic Times, IMAGE]


NASA Fund Researches the Potential of Blockchain Technology in Space

NASA recently awarded a grant of $330,000 USD to the University of Akron to research the potential of blockchain technology to improve space communications.


Need for blockchain technology to improve space communications:

  • A major hurdle of space exploration today is the distance between the machines in space and their Earth-based controllers. The distance creates a time lag between machine and operator.
  • Semi-autonomous machines eliminate some of the barriers created by this time lag, by allowing the machines to make some decisions for themselves.
  • NASA wants ways to reduce the time it takes for their exploration vehicles to receive signals and react to potential threats in space.
  • A decentralized blockchain would ensure there is no degradation or loss of the critical data collected by vehicles in space.

What is blockchain technology?

  • At a very high level, the blockchain is a decentralized ledger, or list, of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network.
  • This is the technology underlying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and it has the potential to disrupt a wide variety of business processes.


Applications of blockchain technology:

  • Using this technology, participants can transfer value across the Internet without the need for a central third party. The buyer and seller interact directly without needing verification by a trusted third-party intermediary.
  • Transactions are not anonymous, but they are pseudonymous: a transaction record is created, but identifying information is encrypted, and no personal information is shared.
[Ref: Economic Times, NASA]


Key Facts for Prelims

Agricultural scientist GS Kalkat dies

Agricultural scientist GS Kalkat ias current affairs

  • Noted agricultural scientist Gurcharan Singh Kalkat, who was known for his role in bringing Green Revolution to Punjab, passed away.
  • During his tenure, he identified the priority areas to find the problems of farmers and farming in consultation with agricultural economists and farm scientists.
  • During his tenure as the director agriculture, Punjab and agriculture commissioner/additional secretary, the country witnessed Green Revolution.


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