Current Affairs Analysis

2nd & 3rd April 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Parent Maintenance; Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana; Mild Hybrid Vehicle; FAME India scheme; Chilika Lagoon; Tawang; Fungus that eats plastic; ‘Grassoline’; X-ray binary star system; PowerTex India; Chenani-Nashri tunnel; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
April 02, 2017


Polity & Governance

  • Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana
  • Govt withdraws subsidy to mild hybrids cars

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Centre may remove cap on parent maintenance

Environment & Ecology

  • Day cruise, forest trails planned at Chilika lagoon

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Now, China flags Tawang rail link

Science & Technology

  • Fungus that eats plastic may help clean environment
  • ‘Grassoline’ may power future flights
  • Eclipses of binary star shed light on orbiting exoplanet

Key Facts for Prelims

  • PowerTex India
  • Chenani-Nashri tunnel


Polity & Governance

Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana

The Union Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has launched Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana in Nellore District of Andhra Pradesh. The Scheme aims at providing physical aids and assisted-living devices for senior citizens belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category.

Key Provisions of the Scheme:

ias toppers Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana

  • The scheme will distribute free of cost physical aids and assisted-living devices for senior citizens belonging to BPL category in Camp mode.
  • It is the first-of-its-kind Central Sector Scheme (CCS) in India, to be fully funded by the Union Government.
  • It is expected to benefit 5,20,000 Senior Citizens and its expenditure implementation will be met from the “Senior Citizens’ Welfare Fund”.

iastoppers Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana

Implementing Agency:

  • Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation (ALIMCO), a PSU under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. It will also undertake one year free maintenance of the devices.

Aids and Assisted-Living Devices to be provided under it:

  • The eligible elderly beneficiary will get walking sticks, elbow crutches, walkers/crutches, tripods/qadpods, hearing aids, wheelchair, artificial Dentures and Spectacles depending upon their physical impairment.


  • The assisted-living devices will help the Senior Citizens to overcome their age related physical impairment and to lead a dignified and productive life with minimal dependence on care givers or other members of the family.

Identification of beneficiaries:

  • It will be done by the State Governments/UTs through a Committee chaired by the Deputy Commissioner/District Collector. 30% of the beneficiaries in each district shall be women.
  • The Committee can utilize the data of BPL beneficiaries receiving Old Age Pension under the NSAP or any other Scheme of the State/UTs for identification of senior citizens belonging to BPL category.


In the Union Budget 2015-16, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed formulation of a scheme for providing Physical Aids and Assisted-Living Devices to senior citizens belonging to BPL Category. Pursuant to this, “Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana” has been formulated.

As per the Census figures of 2011, population of senior citizens in India is 10.38 crore. More than 70% of the population of senior citizens live in rural areas of the country. A sizeable percentage (5.2%) of the senior citizens suffers from some sort of disabilities related to old age.

[Ref: PIB]


Govt withdraws subsidy to mild hybrids cars

The government has withdrawn incentives given to mild hybrid vehicles under FAME India scheme.

What is a mild hybrid vehicle?

  • A mild hybrid vehicle has an electric motor, which on its own cannot run a vehicle but assists normal engine by using recovered energy stored in a battery and helps save fuel.

ias toppers mild hybrids car

How does it operate?

  • Mild hybrid technology is different from plug-in or conventional hybrid vehicles.
  • Mild hybrid vehicles use the energy generated while applying the brakes and turns it into electric energy that is then stored in a battery. This energy can then be used to turn the starter motor when the car’s start stop system needs it.
  • In most cases, a mild hybrid will turn its engine off when at idle or when it comes to a halt at a traffic signal for instance.
  • Research shows that mild-hybrids are only 7-15% more fuel efficient as compared to conventional hybrid systems that can run on pure electric power for short distances too.

What is FAME India scheme?

ias toppers FAME

  • With an aim to promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government had launched the FAME India scheme in 2015 offering incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles of up to Rs 29,000 for bikes and Rs 1.38 lakh for cars.
  • FAME India – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
  • The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals starting with the current year.
  • It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Issues related to Health & Education

Centre may remove cap on parent maintenance

The government is mulling bringing legislative changes to remove the monthly ceiling of ₹10,000 on the maintenance paid by children to parents and introduce a rating mechanism for organisations providing home care services to the elderly.


  • If the proposed amendments to the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (MWPSC) Act come through, the maintenance amount to be decided by senior citizen tribunals for the neglected parents will depend on their need and the economic condition of their children.

Present scenario:

  • The MWPSC Act makes it a legal obligation for children and heirs to provide maintenance to senior citizens and parents.
  • At present, the maintenance for a parent or senior citizen that can be ordered by the tribunal as payable by the children or relative cannot be more than ₹10,000 a month.

Need of this move:

  • There have been complaints from many senior citizens’ associations that the maintenance amount was inadequate and not in keeping with the time in view of the rising costs of living.
  • With the increase in the number of elderly people staying alone at home, the government has realised the urgent need to ensure quality home care services to such people.
  • Therefore, it is proposed that a rating mechanism is developed for such organisations and uniform regulations are developed for monitoring such services.

The Ministry also intends to put in place a uniform regulation and a rating mechanism for organisations providing home care services to senior citizens.

[Ref: The Hindu]


Environment & Ecology

Day cruise, forest trails planned at Chilika lagoon

The Odisha government is pushing for massive infrastructure improvement around the Chilika lagoon.


  • IPE Global, which has been asked to prepare a tourism master plan for the Chilika Lake and its catchment area, with emphasis on preservation of the ecosystem and natural habitat, has proposed 10 key projects with an estimated investment of ₹757 crore.

Need of this move:

  • Chilika, with a wetland spread over nearly 1,165 sq. km and more than 25 pristine islands, has been attracting tourists from all corners of the globe, but its tourism potential could not be harnessed due to huge infrastructure gap.

About Chilika Lagoon:

ias toppers Chilika Lagoon

  • Chilika Lagoon is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the world after The New Caledonian barrier reef in New Caledonia.
  • Chilika Lagoon lies in the districts of Puri, Khurda and Ganjam of Odisha State along the eastern coast of India.
  • It is well connected to the Chennai and Kolkata through National Highway No 5, and the Chennai Kolkata rail line passes along the western bankof the Lagoon Balugaon, with Balugaon, Chilika and Rambha being the main stations along the Western shoreline of the lagoon.
  • It is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the Indian sub-continent.
  • It is one of the hotspot of biodiversity in the country, and some rare, vulnerable and endangered species listed in the IUCN Red List of threatened Animals inhabit in the lagoon for atleast part of their life cycle.
  • On account of its rich bio-diversity and ecological significance, Chilika was designated as the 1st “Ramsar Site” of India.
  • The Nalaban Island within the lagoon is notified as a Bird Sanctuary under Wildlife (Protection) Act, the National Wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs Committee of Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, have also identified the lagoon as a priority site for conservation and management.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

Now, China flags Tawang rail link

China has asked India to exercise “restraint” on its plan to link the strategic border district of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh with a railway network, saying any “unilateral action” might “complicate” the unresolved border issue.

What’s the issue?

  • Tawang, where the sixth Dalai Lama was born in 1683, is at the centre of Tibetan Buddhism and a friction point between India and China.
  • China has in recent days upped its rhetoric on claims to Arunachal Pradesh, which it says is Southern Tibet.

About Tawang:

ias toppers Tawang


  • Situated in western most part of Arunachal Pradesh, Tawang is a town on India-China border.


  • It is the smallest of the 16 administrative districts of Arunachal Pradeshin north-eastern India and with a population of 49,977 it is the eighth least populous district in the country. It is inhabited by the Monpa people.


  • The district has two main rivers, the Tawang Chhuand the Naymjang Chhu, that together have 10 main tributaries. These two rivers meet each other before exiting the district in a south-westerly direction.


  • There are two major religious festivals of the Monpas viz “LOSAR” and “TORGYA”. Both festivals are celebrated once annually. The LOSAR is celebrated to the commencement of New year. Every third year of Torgya, the festival of Dungyuris celebrated.


  • The area is historically part of Tibet and is claimed by both the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan).
  • Visitors to Tawang district require a special Inner Line Permit from the government.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Science & Technology

Fungus that eats plastic may help clean environment

Scientists have identified a soil fungus, which uses enzymes to rapidly break down plastic materials.

ias toppers Fungus that eats plastic

Key facts:

  • Aspergillus tubingensis is a fungus, which ordinarily lives in the soil. In laboratory trials, the researchers found that it also grows on the surface of plastics.
  • It secretes enzymes onto the surface of the plastic, and these break the chemical bonds between the plastic molecules, or polymers.
  • Using advanced microscopy and spectroscopy techniques, the team found that the fungus also uses the physical strength of its mycelia — the network of root—like filaments grown by fungi — to help break apart the polymers.
  • The fungus was found in Pakistan.

Significance of this discovery:

  • Humans are producing ever greater amounts of plastic — much of which ends up as garbage. Since plastic does not break down in the same way as other organic materials, it can persist in the environment over long periods of time.
  • Attempts to deal with plastic waste through burying, recycling, incineration or other methods are variously unsustainable, costly and can result in toxic by-products, which are hazardous to human health.

The new discovery is an advance that could help deal with waste problem that threatens our environment.

[Ref: The Hindu]


‘Grassoline’ may power future flights

In the quest of more sustainable energy sources, scientists have developed ‘grassoline’ — a biofuel derived from grass that could one day power aircraft.


  • Researchers investigated methods that can disintegrate and treat grass until it can be used as a fuel. Due to its vast abundance, grass is the perfect source of energy.

About the discovery:

  • To improve its biodegradability, the grass is pre-treated at first.
  • Then bacteria are added which convert the sugars in the grass into lactic acid and its derivatives.
  • This lactic acid can serve as an intermediate chemical to produce other compounds such as biodegradable plastics (PLA) or fuels.
  • The lactic acid was then converted into caproic acid, which was further converted into decane. Decane can be used in aviation fuel.

Way ahead:

Right now, the amount of biofuel that can be made from grass is still limited to a few drops.

The current process is very expensive, and engines should be adapted to this new kind of fuel. Researchers hope to make improvements in this regard.

[Ref: The Hindu]


Eclipses of binary star shed light on orbiting exoplanet

A team of scientists from Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru and University of Delhi for the first time have seen indications of a massive planet orbiting a low mass X-ray binary star system.

ias toppers X-ray binary star system

Key facts:

  • The system MXB 1658-298 is an X-ray binary and a part of the constellation Ophiuchus (serpent bearer).
  • It is nearly 30,000 light years away and the planet is expected to be nearly 8,000 times as massive as the earth.
  • X-ray binaries consist of a pair of stars orbiting each other of which one is compact one such as a black hole or a neutron star.
  • In this case it is a neutron star which draws matter from its less-massive companion and generates X-rays which are detected by detectors placed in satellites in space.

About the discovery:

  • This discovery is made with a new technique, X-Ray observation by measuring periodic delays in X-ray eclipses.
  • It is a new technique of detecting exoplanets and observations are done from space observatories.
  • In X-ray binaries, the time in-between eclipses of the source can increase, decrease and also shows abrupt changes. But in MXB 1658-298, time between the eclipses increases and decreases periodically.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

PowerTex India


  • The Union Ministry of Textiles has launched PowerTex India, a three-year comprehensive scheme for Powerloom Sector Development.
  • The PowerTex India scheme aims to boost common infrastructure and modernisation of the powerloom sector in the country.
  • PowerTex India scheme comprises new research and development in power loom textiles, new markets, branding, subsidies and welfare schemes for the workers.
  • It has overall nine major components, including two new schemes:
  1. In-situ Upgradation of Plain Powerlooms.
  2. Group Workshed Scheme (GWS).
  3. Yarn Bank Scheme.
  4. Common Facility Centre (CFC).
  5. Pradhan Mantri Credit Scheme for Powerloom Weavers.
  6. Solar Energy Scheme for Powerlooms.
  7. Facilitation, IT, Awareness, Market Development and Publicity for Powerloom Schemes.
  8. Tex Venture Capital Fund.
  9. Grant-in-Aid and Modernisation & Upgradation of Powerloom Service Centres (PSCs).


Chenani-Nashri tunnel

ias toppers Chenani-Nashri tunnel

  • Chenani-Nashri tunnel, a 10.9 km road tunnel which will shorten the driving time between Jammu and Srinagar by two hours, was recently inaugurated.
  • The two-lane Chenani-Nashri tunnel will be Asia’s longest, which will cut the distance between Jammu and Srinagar to around 250km from the current 350km.
  • The tunnel, which took seven years to build, will act as an all-weather alternative to the existing Jammu-Srinagar highway. It will link Chenani in Udhampur district with Nashri in Ramban district.
  • It is the world’s sixth road tunnel with a transverse ventilation system enabled and controlled by ABB software.
  • It also boasts features like Integrated Traffic Control System (ITCS), Video Surveillance System, FM Rebroadcast System, Entrance Detection Control System and Active Firefighting System.
  • It will help to boost the trade and commerce and tourism in the valley. It will reduce traffic jams on National Highway-1 A.


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