Current Affairs Analysis

2nd December 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Hornbill Festival; National Nutrition Mission; Mission SAMPARK; National Strategic Plan 2017-24; What is 90:90:90 Strategy? What is Food Recall? Operation Save Kurma; Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB); Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Autonomy to Election Commission of India; Transgender Persons Bill, 2016; BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement; BIMSTEC; Ajeya Warrior-2017; What is SDR technology? What is Dark Matter? China's DAMPLE; What are “justice clocks”? etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
December 02, 2017


Polity & Governance

  • SC Seeks Attorney General’s help in PIL on Autonomy to Election Commission of India
  • All you need to know about the Transgender Persons Bill, 2016

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Cabinet approves Rs9,046 crore National Nutrition Mission
  • National Strategic Plan (2017-24) and Mission “SAMPARK”

Issues related to Health & Education

  • FSSAI rolls out guidelines for food recall

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • India Awarded Certificate of Commendation for Its Effort to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade

Bilateral & International Relations

  • BIMSTEC Member States discuss draft text of Coastal Shipping Agreement

Defence & Security Issues

  • Ajeya Warrior-2017

Art & Culture

  • Hornbill Festival

Science & Technology

  • New radio technology for Navy
  • China’s ‘Monkey King’ detects mysterious signals in dark matter probe

Key Facts for Prelims

  • ‘Justice clocks’

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Polity & Governance

SC Seeks Attorney General’s help in PIL on Autonomy To Election Commission of India

The Supreme Court has sought the Attorney-General’s assistance on a PIL petition pointing out the vagueness in the procedure for removal of Election Commissioners, saying it affects the Election Commission’s autonomy.


What’s the issue?

  • Article 324(5) does not provide similar protection to the Election Commissioners from arbitrary removal.
  • The same constitutional provision is silent about the procedure for removal of the two Election Commissioners. It only provides that they cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the CEC.

Constitutional provisions:

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is a permanent constitutional body established in 1950 and consists of the CEC and two Election Commissioners.
  • The proviso to Article 324 (5) of the Constitution safeguards the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) from arbitrary removal.
  • The CEC and the Election Commissioners have a tenure of six yearsor up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier, and enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to apex court judges.
  • The CEC and the ECs enjoy the same decision-making powers which is suggestive of the fact that their powers are at par with each other.
  • The CEC can be removed from office only by the order of the President, just like a judge of the Supreme Court.

What the petition seeks?

  • The petition has sought to provide same and similar protection to both the Election Commissioners so that they shall not be removed from their office except in the like manner and on the like grounds as the Chief Election Commissioner.
  • The petition has also sought directions to the Centre to take appropriate steps to confer rule-making authority status on the ECI, similar to the powers vested in the apex court, to empower it to make election-related rules and code of conduct.
  • The petition also pointed out that the protection granted to the CEC was to ensure autonomy to the ECI from external pressure.
  • The PIL has also sought direction to the Centre to provide an independent secretariat to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and declare its expenditure as charged from the Consolidated Fund of India.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]


All you need to know about the Transgender Persons Bill, 2016

The contentious Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha August 2016, is set to be re-introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

Transgender Persons Bill, 2016 iastoppers

  • India’s transgender community — which numbers 4.8 million according to data from the latest round of the census — is up in arms, since they believe the legislation meant to safeguard their interests only serves to undermine their right to life and livelihood.

Evolution of transgender legislation

  • In February 2014, the Supreme Court passed a landmark judgement, paving the way for enshrining the rights of transgenders in law.
  • The apex court deemed that individuals had the right to the self-identification of their sexual orientation. It ruled that the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution are equally applicable to transgenders who constitute the ‘third gender’.
  • The judgement also called for affirmative action in education, primary health care, and that transgenders be identified as beneficiaries of social welfare schemes.
  • The first effort at framing legislation for the same was made in December 2014. The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha by Mr. Siva. It was unanimously passed in the Upper House but was never debated in the Lok Sabha.

Why is the transgender community upset?

  • The final version of the legislation identifies transgenders as being “partly female or male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male”. This definition which draws a clinical caricature is a departure from the intention of the original Bill to cleanse society of the stigma it placed on transgenders.
  • Moreover, to be recognised as transgenders, individuals have to submit themselves to a medical examination by a District Screening Committee comprising of a Chief Medical Officer, a psychiatrist, a social worker, and a member of the transgender community. This is in stark contrast to the 2014 Bill which gives individuals the right to self-identify their sex.
  • The anti-discriminatory clauses of the Bill are extended to education, health care and social security. The provision of earmarking jobs for transgenders, a central plank of the 2014 Bill, has been lost in translation, with the diluted new draft ditching reservations and espousing equal opportunity in all spheres of life, as a panacea to create equity among the sexes.
  • Grievance redressal has been internalised, with establishments consisting of hundred or more persons mandated to designate a complaint officer to deal with any violation of the Act. This is in lieu of the setting up of central and State transgender rights courts.

What did the standing committee recommend?

  • The bill was referred to a standing committee. In its report on the 2016 draft Bill, the committee draws attention to the inadequate definition of the third gender, which is founded on a heterosexual worldview.
  • It also advocates extending civil rights enjoyed by the citizenry, such as marriage, divorce, and adoption, to encompass the third gender.
  • Other recommendations include the rescue, protection, and rehabilitation of transgenders. Educational institutions have been directed to adopt an inclusive approach that is gender-neutral.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Government Schemes & Policies

Cabinet approves Rs9,046 crore National Nutrition Mission

The Union cabinet has approved the setting up of a National Nutrition Mission (NNM) with a three-year budget of Rs 9,046.17 crore, to rein in malnourishment and stunted growth.


About National Nutrition Mission (NNM):

  • NNM will address three aspects—the food that should be given to rein in stunting, undernourishment, low birthweight and anaemia; the delivery system required for it; and monitoring of the entire process.

iastopper National Nutrition Mission 2017


  • Under NNM, the ministries of women and child development, health and family welfare, and water and sanitation will work together.
  • The mission will form an apex body under Ministry of Women and Child Development that would fix targets and monitor, supervise and guide nutrition-related interventions across the ministries.
  • It will monitor various schemes contributing towards addressing malnutrition.
  • It will be rolled out in three phases from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
  • Its implementation strategy will be based on intense monitoring and Convergence Action Plan right upto grass root level.



  • NNM will set targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia among young children, women and adolescent girls and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.
  • Though NMM has set target to reduce stunting is atleast 2% per annum, but it will strive to achieve reduction in stunting to 25% by 2022 (Mission 25 by 2022) from 38.4% (NFHS-4).


Function of NNM

  • NMM through set targets will strive to reduce level of anemi, stunting, under-nutrition and low birth weight babies.
  • It will also create synergy, issue alerts for timely action, ensure better monitoring, and encourage States/UTs to perform, supervise Ministries and States/UTs to achieve targeted goals.
  • Introducing a very robust convergence mechanism including ICT based Real Time Monitoring system, NNM will incentivize states/UTs for meeting the targets.
  • It will also incentivize Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) for using IT based tools. It will eliminate registers used by AWWs.
  • It will introduce measurement of height of children at the Anganwadi Centres (AWCs).
  • It will aid to conduct Social Audits. It will set-up Nutrition Resource Centres, involving masses through Jan Andolan for their participation on nutrition through various activities, among others.


  • All States and districts will be covered in phased manner i.e. 315 districts in 2017-18, 235 districts in 2018-19 and remaining districts in 2019-20.
  • More than 10 crore people will be benefitted by this programme.


  • NNM has been set with total amount of Rs. 9046.17 crore that will be expended for three years commencing from 2017-18.
  • It will be funded by Government Budgetary Support (50%) and 50% by International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD aka World Bank) or other MDB.
  • Government budgetary support would be 60:40 between Centre and States/UTs, 90:10 for Northeast region and Himalayan States and 100% for UTs without legislature.
  • Total Union Government share over period of three years would be Rs. 2849.54 crore.

Need for such mission:

  • It is very important to invest in nutrition in India because balanced diet and healthy nutrition plays a pivotal role in overall development of women and children. Healthy women deliver healthy children and nurture a good society, and healthy and nourished children are the country’s future. Therefore, to tackle undernutrition problem in the country, various ministries need to work in convergence and not silos and NNM will be a platform to do so. NNM will ensure convergence, and lead to better results.
  • There are number of schemes directly and indirectly affecting nutritional status of children (0-6 years age) and pregnant women and lactating mothers. In spite of these, level of malnutrition and related problems in country is high. There are number of schemes but there is lack in creating synergy and linking between schemes to achieve common goal. NNM through robust convergence mechanism and other components will strive to create synergy.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu, Live Mint]


National Strategic Plan (2017-24) and Mission “SAMPARK”

On the occasion of World AIDS Day (1st December), the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the National Strategic Plan 2017-24 and Mission SAMPARK.


About Mission SAMPARK:

  • Mission SAMPARK was launched to trace those who are Left to Follow Up and are to be brought under Antiretroviral therapy (ART) services.
  • Mission SAMPARK will further aid to will help in fast-tracking the identification of all who were HIV positive and subsequently linking to ART programme.

Need for such mission:

  • Presently, about 11.5 lakh People Living with HIV (PLHIVs) are taking free ART through 536 ART centres in the country. It is big challenge to trace those who are Left to Follow Up and needed to be brought under ART services.

About National Strategic Plan 2017-24:

  • The National Strategic Plan 2017-24 will pave a roadmap not only for achieving the target of 90:90:90 Strategy but also strive along with partners towards fast track strategy of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

What is 90:90:90 Strategy?

  • It is a new HIV treatment narrative of UNAIDS programme which has set targets of 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status (90% diagnosed), 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (90% on HIV treatment) and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression (90% suppressed).
[Ref: PIB]


Issues related to Health & Education

FSSAI rolls out guidelines for food recall

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a set of guidelines regarding the recall of unsafe food products from the market, in a bid to ensure that a proper system is in place.


Objective of the move:

  • The guidelines have been issued to help food business operators frame a proper recall plan and implement them when the situation demands.

What is Food Recall?

  • Food Recall can be defined as action to remove food products from market at any stage of food chain, including that possessed by consumer, which may pose threat to public health or food that violate Food Safety Act.

Need for food recalls:

  • According to FSSAI, food recalls are essential to remove or correct marketed food products and their labelling that violate the laws administered by the regulatory authority, as the circulation of such products can cause health hazards to those that consume it.

Key guidelines:

  • Under the guidelines, FSSAI may review the license of concerned food company if the recall is related to serious health issues.
  • The recovered product must be stored in area which is separated from any other food product.
  • Accurate records must be kept of amount of recovered product and the batch codes of the product recovered.
  • Companies, which have produced unsafe products should take steps so that need for such recalls do not arise again in future.
[Ref: Economic Times, Indian Express]


Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

India Awarded Certificate of Commendation for Its Effort to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade

India has been awarded with the Certificate of Commendation for its exemplary enforcement action in its regional and global effort to combat illegal wildlife trade.


  • India was the only recipient of the Certificate of Commendation at the recently held 69th Standing Committee meeting of CITES at Geneva.

The award was given to:

  • The award has been given to Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) by the Secretary General of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • The award was given to Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) for its efforts in conducting and coordinating species-specific wildlife enforcement operation, codenamed ‘Operation Save Kurma’.
  • It recognises exemplary enforcement action of WCCB’s regional and global effort to combat illegal wildlife trade.

Operation Save Kurma

illegal trade of live turtles iastoppers

  • The operation was conducted to combat the proliferating illegal trade of live turtles and its parts from the country to destinations abroad.
  • The operation was also aimed to invite attention of the enforcement agencies towards such illegal trade.
  • During the operation conducted from December 15, 2016 to January 30, 2017, approximately 16,000 live turtles and tortoises were seized and released back into the wild. WCCB had worked in close collaboration with regional law enforcement agencies of different states.

About Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB):

WCCB is statutory multi-disciplinary body under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) to combat organized wildlife crime in the country.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau logo iastoppers

  • It was established in June 2007 by amending the Wildlife (Protection) Act (WLPA), 1972, a special Act to protect the wildlife and fauna in the country.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi and has five regional offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Jabalpur; three sub-regional offices at Amritsar, Guwahati, and Cochin; and five borders.

Functions of WCCB:

  • Under Section 38 (Z) of WLPA, 1972, it is mandated to collect and collate intelligence related to organized wildlife crime and disseminate it to state and other enforcement agencies for immediate action.
  • It assists foreign authorities and international organization concerned to facilitate co-ordination and universal action for wildlife crime control.
  • It is tasked with capacity building of the wildlife crime enforcement agencies for scientific and professional investigation into wildlife crimes and assist states to ensure success in wildlife crimes prosecutions.
  • It advises Union Government on issues relating to wildlife crimes having national and international ramifications, relevant policy and laws.
  • It also assists and advises the Customs authorities in inspection of the consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions of Wild Life Protection Act, CITES and EXIM Policy governing such an item.

About CITES:

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is international agreement to regulate worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species.

ias toppers CITES

  • Its aim is to ensure that international trade does not threaten the survival of the species in the wild.
  • It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It entered into force in July 1975.
  • CITES is legally binding on state parties to the convention, which are obliged to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals.
  • It classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on how threatened. They are:

Appendix I species:

  • It lists species that are in danger of extinction. It prohibits commercial trade of these plants and animals except in extraordinary situations for scientific or educational reasons.

Appendix II species:

  • They are those that are not threatened with extinction but that might suffer a serious decline in number if trade is not restricted. Their trade is regulated by permit.

Appendix III species:

  • They are protected in at least one country that is a CITES member states and that has petitioned others for help in controlling international trade in that species.
  • In addition, CITES also restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as food, clothing, medicine, and souvenirs.
[Ref: PIB]


Bilateral & International Relations

BIMSTEC Member States discuss draft text of Coastal Shipping Agreement

Member States of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) recently met in New Delhi to discuss modalities for promoting coastal shipping in the region.


  • In this first meeting of the Working Group member countries discussed the draft text of BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement drafted by the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India.


  • The meeting of Working Group is follow up of BIMSTEC leaders’ call at Retreat hosted by India in Goa in October 2016 to enhance connectivity in region on sidelines of BRICS Summit. India is lead country in BIMSTEC for cooperation in transport and communication.

About BIMSTEC Coastal Shipping Agreement

  • The objective of agreement is to facilitate coastal shipping in region to give boost to trade between member countries.
  • It will apply to coastal shipping that is shipping within 20 nautical miles of coastline.
  • Once agreement is ratified by member countries and becomes operational, it will facilitate lot of cargo movement between member countries can be done through cost effective, environment friendly and faster coastal shipping route.

Need for Agreement

  • The requirements for movement of vessels within 20 nautical miles of coastline are different from standard requirements of deep sea shipping. Coastal ship movements require smaller vessels and lesser draft, and therefore, involve lower costs.


The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization comprising seven Member States lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal constituting a contiguous regional unity.


  • It came into being in 1997 through the Bangkok Declaration.
  • It constitutes seven Member States: Five deriving from South Asia: [Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka] and Two from Southeast Asia: [Myanmar and Thailand].
  • The main objective of BIMSTEC is technological and economic cooperation among South Asian and South East Asian countries along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.
  • The headquarters of BIMSTEC is in Dhaka.
  • Unlike many other regional groupings, BIMSTEC is a sector-driven cooperative organization. Starting with six sectors—including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries—for sectoral cooperation in the late 1997, it expanded to embrace nine more sectors—including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change—in 2008.
  • The whole region which constitutes the BIMSTEC is home to over 1.5 billion people. The population counts for around 22 percent of the total world population. These countries have a combined GDP of $2.7 trillion.
[Ref: PIB]


Defence & Security Issues

Ajeya Warrior-2017


  • The Combined Military exercise ‘Ajeya Warrior- 2017’ between India and the UK was held at Mahajan Field Firing Range near Bikaner of Rajasthan.
  • It was third joint military exercise between India and UK.
  • The first exercise was conducted in 2013 at Belgaum, Karnataka and second exercise was held in 2015 in UK.
  • The objective of this exercise is to increase mutual cooperation and coordination between two countries. Both armies will learn and share from each other’s experiences.
[Ref: PIB]


Art & Culture

Hornbill Festival

18th edition of the Hornbill Festival began at the Naga Heritage Village in Kisama, Nagaland.


  • The festival coincided with 54th statehood day of Nagaland.

About Hornbill Festival:


  • Hornbill Festival is celebrated in Nagaland every year in the first week of December.
  • It is one of the biggest indigenous festivals of the country. It is also called as the ‘Festival of Festivals’.


  • The festival is a tribute to Hornbill, the most admired and revered bird for the Nagas for its qualities of alertness and grandeur. The majestic bird is closely identified with the social and cultural life of the Nagas as reflected in tribal folklore, dances and songs.
  • It is organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments. It is also supported by the Union Government.
  • Hornbill Festival was established on 1st December 1963 and was inaugurated by the then President Dr. S Radhakrishnan. Over the years festival has become a unique platform for tourists to witness cultural diversity not only of Nagas and other seven sister states of northeastern region.
  • It exposes both the culture and tradition of tribal peoples, and reinforces Nagaland’s identity as a unique state in India’s federal union.
[Ref: PIB]


Science & Technology

New radio technology for Navy

The Union Defence Ministry has approved procurement of 260 Software Defined Radios (SDR), a naval communication sets for Indian Navy at cost of Rs. 490 crore to ramp up surveillance on the high seas.

Software Defined Radios (SDR) iastoppers

Key Facts:

  • It will be first batch of indigenously designed and developed software defined radio sets to be procured by any of three services. These will replace existing systems on-board warships.
  • The development of SDRs was carried out by Defence Electronics & Applications Laboratory (DEAL) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will be production Agency.

What is SDR technology?

  • Software-defined radio (SDR) Technology is a radio communication system where components that have been traditionally implemented in hardware are instead implemented by means of software on a personal computer or embedded system.

Significance of SDR Technology:

  • The SDR technology will improve information sharing and situational awareness through secure voice communications and data transfer capabilities.
[Ref: The Hindu, Times of India]


China’s ‘Monkey King’ detects mysterious signals in dark matter probe

What is Dark Matter?

Roughly 80 percent of the mass of the universe is made up of material that scientists cannot directly observe. Known as dark matter, this bizarre ingredient does not emit light or energy.

  • Dark matter is a hypothetical type of matter distinct from baryonic matter (ordinary matter such as protons and neutrons), neutrinos and dark energy.
  • Dark matter does not emit or interact with observable electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and is thus invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Dark matter has never been directly observed; however, its existence would explain a number of otherwise puzzling astronomical observations.
  • Unlike normal matter, dark matter does not interact with the electromagnetic force. This means it does not absorb, reflect or emit light, making it extremely hard to spot.


Why in news?

Coming as a major breakthrough in dark matter probe, China’s Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE), also called Wukong or “Monkey King”, has detected unexpected and mysterious signals in its measurement of high-energy cosmic rays.


  • The satellite has measured more than 3.5 billion cosmic ray particles with the highest energy up to 100 tera-electron-volts (TeV), including 20 million electrons and positrons, with unprecedented high energy resolution.

Significance of these findings:

  • The findings have brought scientists a step closer to proving the existence of the invisible matter. The mysterious dark matter is believed to comprise a quarter of universe.
  • Precise measurement of cosmic rays, especially at the very high energy range, are important for scientists to look for traces of dark matter annihilation or decay, as well as to understand the universe’s most energetic astrophysical phenomena, such as pulsars, active galaxy nuclei and supernova explosions.

About China’s DAMPLE:

  • DAMPE (DArk Matter Particle Explorer), was designed to look for clues to support one hypothesis for dark matter, which claims it consists of weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs.
  • The idea for DAMPE was to collect the high energy cosmic ray electrons and anti-matter counterpart positrons, which are emitted by phenomena such as supernovae and pulsars.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]


Key Facts for Prelims

‘Justice clocks’

‘Justice clocks’ iastoppers

  • Recently, while addressing a gathering at a National Law Day event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested installing of “justice clocks”.

What are “justice clocks”?

  • To encourage competition among judges in disposing off cases, “justice clocks” are proposed to be set up at various court premises to rank the best performing courts of the country.
  • As of now, such a clock is installed at the office of the department of justice, which shows the best disposal of cases among courts.


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