Current Affairs Analysis

2nd August 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

e-RaKAM portal; Public Financial Management System; Global Breastfeeding Scorecard; Indus Water treaty; Justice BN Srikrishna Committee; India, China home to 39% of young Internet users: UN report; International Telecommunication Union (ITU); US- India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF)
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 02, 2017


Polity & Governance

  • IT systems of 7 north eastern states integrated with Public Financial Management System

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Inadequate breastfeeding may drain Indian economy of USD 14bn


  • Govt launches e-RaKAM portal for selling agri produce
  • Rising temperatures drive up farmer suicides in India: U.S. study

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India permitted to construct Kishanganga, Ratle projects under Indus Water Treaty: World Bank

Defence & Security Issues

  • Justice BN Srikrishna to head Committee for data protection framework

Science & Technology

  • India, China home to 39% of young Internet users: UN report

Key Facts for Prelims

  • US- India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF)

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Polity & Governance

IT systems of 7 north eastern states integrated with Public Financial Management System

To provide the Centre and State governments with a real time, reliable and meaningful management information system, the IT systems of all North Eastern States’ treasuries (namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, and Tripura) except Nagaland, have been integrated with PFMS.

What is Public Financial Management System?

PFMS is an electronic fund tracking mechanism compiles, collates and makes available in real-time, information regarding all government schemes.


  • The PFMS, also known as Central Plan Scheme Monitoring System (CPSMS), tracks fund disbursement and ensures that state treasuries are integrated with the Centre to ensure money is send as and when required.
  • PFMS, administered by the department of expenditure, is an end-to-end solution for processing payments, tracking, monitoring, accounting, reconciliation and reporting. It is a web based application.
  • It provides the government real-time information on resource availability and utilisation across schemes.
  • In addition, the platform will allow government expenditure to adopt a Just-in- Time (JIT) approach, with payments made only when they are needed.
  • The government has set a target to integrate PFMS with all state treasuries in current fiscal and implement Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) for welfare and scholarship schemes.
[Ref: Economic Times]


Issues related to Health & Education

Inadequate breastfeeding may drain Indian economy of USD 14bn

The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, a new report by the UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and WHO in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective, has been released.


About the report:

  • The scorecard was released at the start of World Breastfeeding Week alongside a new analysis.
  • It demonstrates that an annual investment of only USD 4.70 per newborn is required to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months to 50% by 2025.

Highlights of the report:

  • In China, India, Nigeria, Mexico, and Indonesia alone, inadequate breastfeeding is responsible for more than 2,36,000 child deaths each year.
  • In these countries, the estimated future economic cost of mortality and cognitive losses attributed to inadequate breastfeeding are estimated to be almost USD 119 billion per year.
  • Despite a reported 55 percent exclusive breastfeeding rate in children below the age of six months, the large population in India and high under five mortality means that an estimated 99,499 children die each year as a result of cases of diarrhea and pneumonia that could have been prevented through early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and continued breastfeeding.
  • Further, the high level of child mortality and growing number of deaths in women from cancers and type II diabetes attributable to inadequate breastfeeding is estimated to drain the Indian economy of USD 7 billion.
  • Together with another $7 billion in costs related to cognitive losses, India is poised to lose an estimated USD 14 billion in its economy, or 0.70% of its Gross National Income.
  • The scorecard, which evaluated 194 nations, reveals that no country in the world fully meets recommended breastfeeding standards.
  • It found that only 40% of children younger than six months are given nothing but breastmilk and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60%.
  • Globally, investment in breastfeeding is far too low. Each year, governments in lower- and middle-income countries spend approximately USD 250 million on breastfeeding promotion donors provide only an additional USD 85 million.
[Ref: The Hindu]



Govt launches e-RaKAM portal for selling agri produce

The Union Government has launched e-Rashtriya Kisan Agri Mandi (e-RaKAM) portal to provide a platform for farmers to sell agricultural produce.


About e-RaKAM:


  • e-RaKAM is a first of its kind initiative that leverages technology to connect farmers from the smallest villages to the biggest markets of the world through internet.
  • e-RaKAM is a digital initiative that aims to bring together the farmers, PSUs, civil supplies and buyers on a single platform to ease the selling and buying process of agricultural products.
  • It has been developed by state-run-auctioneer MSTC Limited and CRWC (Central Railside Warehouse Company) Limited.
  • Under this initiative, e-RaKAM centres are being developed throughout the country in a phased manner to facilitate farmers for online sale of their produce.
  • The farmers will be paid through e-Payment directly into their bank accounts under the e-RaKAM initiative.
[Ref: PIB]


Rising temperatures drive up farmer suicides in India: U.S. study

According research report from the University of California, US, climate change may have led to over 59,000 farmer suicides over the last 30 years in India.


About the study report:

  • The study was carried out using data for all States and Union Territories.
  • It tested the link between climate change, crop yields and suicide by comparing the number of suicides across India between 1967 and 2013 with crop yield and climate data.
  • Data on suicides were collected from the National Crime Records Bureau.

Key Highlights of Study:

  • The increase in temperature during the cropping season reduces crop yields, resulting in increased suicides. Even a 1°C increase in temperature above 20° C in a single day during the crop growing season results in about 70 suicides on average. Similar increase in temperature during other seasons did not result in a rise in suicides.
  • Crop losses due to heat damage causes additional burden on farming households leading to suicides. Moreover, increase in rainfall by 1 cm during the growing season decreases about 0.8 deaths per 100,000, thus lowering the suicide rate by 7% on average.
  • The effect of climate variation has revealed that past growing season temperature strongly influences suicide rates in the following years up to five years. For instance, abundant rainfall during one growing season leads to dip in the suicide rates for the next two or three years. Drought does not have any effect on suicide rates.
  • South India, which is generally hotter, has higher farmer suicide rates. States where the yields are more affected by high temperatures are also the States which report higher suicide rates. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have severe suicide rates in responses to temperature and crop yield is also more negatively affected by higher temperature.

Limitations of Study:

  • The study has not looked at other factors that could have contributed to suicides. It did not find any adaptive behaviour to prevent suicides in response to climate change.

Way ahead:

  • The government must undertake anticipatory research using genetic checkmating for potential changes in climate such as changes in precipitation, and temperature. India’s average temperature is expected to increase by 3°C by 2050.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

India permitted to construct Kishanganga, Ratle projects under Indus Water Treaty: World Bank

World Bank has allowed India to construct Kishanganga, Ratle hydroelectric power facilities on tributaries of the Jhelum and Chenab rivers with certain restrictions under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

ias toppers Lahore meet on Indus Waters Treaty

  • The World Bank’s comments came as officials from India and Pakistan concluded the secretary-level talks on the technical issues of the IWT in Washington, US.

ias toppers Kishanganga

Key Facts:

  • Pakistan had opposed the construction of the Kishanganga (Jhelum River) and Ratle (Chenab River) hydroelectric power plants built by India in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Both countries had disagreed over the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants, as these two rivers are part of “Western Rivers” along with Indus River under.
  • IWT has given Pakistan full control over these three western rivers for unrestricted use.
  • Besides, it also allows India to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers along with other uses, subject to constraints specified in annexures to the treaty.



  • Due differences over these projects, Pakistan had asked World Bank to facilitate the setting up of a Court of Arbitration to look into its concerns.
  • On the other hand, India had asked for the appointment of a neutral expert to look into the issues, citing that concerns raised by Pakistan were “technical” ones.
  • After that, representatives of the World Bank had held talks with India and Pakistan to find a way out separately.

About Indus Water treaty:

The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank.

  • The treaty was signed in Karachi in 1960 by Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.
  • According to this agreement, control over the three “eastern” rivers — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej — was given to India, while control over the three “western” rivers — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum — to Pakistan.
  • As per the provisions in the treaty, India can use only 20% of the total water carried by the Indus river.
  • A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.

It is important to note that China has been kept out of the Treaty although Indus originates from Tibet. If China decides to stop or change the flow of the river, it will affect both India and Pakistan.

[Ref: The Hindu]


Defence & Security Issues

Justice BN Srikrishna to head Committee for data protection framework

The Union Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEITY) has constituted an expert Committee to study and identify key data protection issues and recommend methods for addressing them.

ias toppers Justice BN Srikrishna data protection

  • The ten-member committee will be headed by Supreme Court Judge (retired) Justice B N Srikrishna and comprise of members from government, academia and Industry.

Terms of Reference of Committee:

  • The committee will study and identify key data protection issues and recommend methods for addressing them.
  • It will also suggest a draft Data Protection Bill.


  • It is seen that protection of data and keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected is expected to provide big boost to Digital economy of the country.
  • The government’s decision to focus on data protection comes on the back of a wave of privacy and data breaches– from corporates such as McDonalds, Reliance Jio and Zomato to government agencies that have leaked the personal data and Aadhaar of over 100 million citizens.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Science & Technology

India, China home to 39% of young Internet users: UN report

According to recently released report-ICT Facts and Figures 2017, India and China are home to 39% of the 830 million young people worldwide who use the Internet.


  • The report was released by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Highlights of Report:

  • Great strides are being made in expanding Internet access through the increased availability of broadband networks.
  • Digital connectivity plays a critical role in bettering lives, as it opens the door to unprecedented knowledge, financial and employment opportunities for billions of people worldwide
  • There has been significant increase in broadband access and subscriptions, with China leading the way. Youths (15-24 years old) are at the forefront of Internet adoption.

Least Developed Countries (LDCs): 

  • Up to 35% of individuals in LDCs are using the Internet are aged 15-24, compared with 13% in developed countries and 23% globally.
  • LDCs saw the highest growth-rate of mobile broadband subscriptions between 2012 and 2017.
  • Despite this, the number of mobile subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in LDCs is the lowest globally at 23%.

Fixed-broadband subscriptions: 

  • It has increased by 9% annually in the last five years with up to 330 million subscriptions added.
  • There has been an increase in high-speed fixed broadband subscriptions parallel to the growth in the number of fibre connections.
  • Most of these subscriptions were in developing countries accounting for 80 % of all fixed-broadband subscriptions.

Mobile broadband subscriptions: 

  • It has grown more than 20% annually in the last five years and is expected to reach 4.3 billion globally by the end of 2017.

Gender gap: 

  • It has narrowed in most regions since 2013. The proportion of men using the Internet remains slightly higher than the proportion of women using the Internet in two-thirds of countries worldwide.
  • In 2017, the global Internet penetration rate for men stands at 50.9% compared to 44.9% for women.

International Internet bandwidth:

  • It grew by 32% between 2015 and 2016, with Africa registering an increase of 72% during this period, the highest of all regions.


  • It declined by 4% from US $2.0 trillion in 2014 to $1.9 trillion in 2015. Developing countries, which are home to 83% of the global population, generate 39% of the world’s telecommunication revenues.

About International Telecommunication Union (ITU):

ITU is the UN specialised agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs).

ias toppers International Telecommunication Union

  • It has 193 countries as its members and also 800 private-sector entities and academic institutions. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • ITU is responsible for allocating global radio spectrum and satellite orbits.
  • It also develops the technical standards that ensure networks and technologies to seamlessly interconnect.
  • It also strives to improve access to ICTs among the underserved communities worldwide.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

US- India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF)

ias toppers US- India Strategic Partnership Forum

  • A new representative body — US- India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) — is being set up to further enhance business relations between the two countries.
  • The non-profit corporation aims to promote bilateral trade and work on creating “meaningful opportunities that have the power to change the lives of citizens.
  • The body will work closely together with businesses and government leaders to achieve its goals of driving economic growth, job creation, innovation, inclusion and entrepreneurship.


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