Current Affairs Analysis

2nd February 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

CRISPR/Cas9; NRAMP1; CRISPR technology; Bovine Tuberculosis; Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017; Mahila Shakti Kendras; Payments Regulatory Board; Sualgiri/Swalgiri caste; ‘DARPGSEVA’; PRAGATI Exercise; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 02, 2017


Polity & Governance

  • Cabinet approves Introduction of The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament
  • Mahila Shakti Kendra will be set-up at village level


  • Govt proposes Payments Regulatory Board in RBI

Science & Technology

  • New TB-resistant cows developed in China

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Nod to modify Scheduled Castes list in Odisha
  • DARPG starts ‘DARPGSEVA’
  • PRAGATI Exercise


Polity & Governance

Cabinet approves Introduction of The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for introduction of The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017 in Parliament.

Key facts:

  • The amendment Bill provides for inclusion of Indian Institute of Information Technology Design and Manufacturing (IIITDM), Kurnool along with the other IITs in the Principal Act.
  • Subsequently, IITDM Kurnool will be declared as an institute of National Importance with the power to award degrees to students.


  • The expenditure for the operationalization of IITDM Kurnool is incurred from the Plan funds of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • The emerging needs of the industry and the economy, as a whole for skilled technical manpower is expected to be met from the talent pool of trained personnel of the Institute.
  • The Institute shall be open to all persons irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability, domicile, ethnicity, social or economic background.


The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Act, 2014 confers the status of Institutions of National Importance on the IIITs and also provides for matters connected with administering these IIITs.

Subsequently, the Government has approved creation of a new NIT at Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh as embodied in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014.

Due to addition of a new IIIT, amendment has to be made in the IIIT Act, 2014. With this, IIITDM. Kurnool will be the fifth Member as a Centrally Funded IIIT.

[Ref: PIB]


Mahila Shakti Kendra will be set-up at village level

The Finance Minister, in his Budget Speech has announced Rs 500 cr for setting up Mahila Shakti Kendras at village level in the Anganwadi Centres.


  • Besides, he has also increased allocations for women by 27% to Rs 1.84 lakh crore in 2017-2018 from Rs 1.56 lakh crore in 2016-2017.

About the Mahila Shakti Kendras:

These centres will provide one stop convergent support services for empowering rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition.

Significance of these Kendras:

  • Setting up of institutions like Mahila Shakti Kendras will increase access of essential services for women.
  • There is also an increase in employment opportunities for women with their participation increased from less than 48% to 55% in MGNREGA.


While details about the scheme and its implementation are yet to emerge, those working in the field of rural women’s empowerment raised some preliminary concerns.

  • The scheme proposes to attach a Mahila Shakti Kendra to each of the country’s 14 lakh anganwadis, or centres that provide basic healthcare and nutrition to mothers and children from low-income households. However, Rs 500 crore divided amongst 14 lakh anganwadis in the country amounts to just Rs 3,571 for each Mahila Shakti Kendra. This is insufficient.
  • Also, anganwadi workers are already overburdened with duties beyond their primary jobs, such as working for the census and other government schemes. Often, they are paid less than minimum wage.
[Ref: PIB]



Govt proposes Payments Regulatory Board in RBI

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed creation of a six-member Payments Regulatory Board in the RBI, headed by its Governor, as part of bringing about structural reforms in the payment eco-system.


  • For the purpose, necessary amendments are proposed in the Finance Bill 2017 to create a Payments Regulatory Board in the Reserve Bank of India by replacing the existing Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems.


  • A Committee on Digital Payments constituted by Department of Economic Affairs has recommended structural reforms in the payment eco system, including amendments to the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • It is proposed to create a Payments Regulatory Board in the Reserve Bank of India by replacing the existing Board for Regulation and Supervision of Payment and Settlement Systems.

Key facts:

  • As per the Finance Bill, the Reserve Bank will be the designated authority for the regulation and supervision of payment systems.
  • The RBI Governor will be Chairperson, ex officio. The Deputy Governor who is in—charge of the Payment and Settlement Systems—Member, and one officer of the Reserve Bank to be nominated by its Central Board will be its members.
  • The Payments Regulatory Board will exercise the functions relating to the regulation and supervision of payments and settlement systems under the Act.
  • The board would look at interoperability of digital transactions and facilitate competition and innovation among financial technology companies in the payments space.
  • It will also be responsible for consumer protection, decide on penalties and create appeal mechanisms, which could ensure faster resolution of disputes over settlement of digital payments.
[Ref: Business Line]


Science & Technology

New TB-resistant cows developed in China

Chinese scientists have used gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9 for the first time to successfully produce live cows with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis.


How was this done?

  • The researchers used a modified version of the CRISPR gene-editing technology to insert a new gene, called NRAMP1, into the cow genome.
  • In this study, the investigators inserted the NRAMP1 gene into the genome of bovine fetal fibroblasts—cells derived from female dairy cows—using the CRISPR/Cas9n technology.
  • These cells were then used as donor cells in a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. In it, nucleus of a donor cell carrying the new gene was inserted into an egg cell, known as an ovum, from a female cow.
  • These ovum were then nurtured in the lab into embryos and transferred into mother cows for a normal pregnancy cycle.
  • During this cycle, cows were produced with no off target effects on the animals’ genetics — a common problem when creating transgenic animals using CRISPR.

Significance of this move:

  • With this, the researchers have successfully developed live cows carrying increased resistance to tuberculosis.
  • Importantly, this method produced no off-target effects on the cow genetics, meaning that the CRISPR technology employed may be better suited to producing transgenic livestock with purposefully manipulated genetics.

Significance of the CRISPR technology:

  • CRISPR technology has become widely used in the laboratory in recent years as it is an accurate and relatively easy way to modify the genetic code.
  • The technology allows scientists to go in and essentially snip and tuck genes from one organism to another to enhance them in some way, and it’s already been done with pigs, fish, mice, and mosquitos, as well as human embryos.

However, sometimes unintentional changes to the genetic code occur as an off-target effect, so finding ways to reduce these is a priority for genomics research.

About Bovine Tuberculosis:

  • Bovine Tuberculosis is a chronic, highly infectious disease of cattle caused by Mycobacterium bovis. The bacterium can cause disease in other domestic or wild animals and also in humans.
  • Bovine TB is a huge concern in many countries including Ireland where the government spends millions annually to eradicate the disease.
[Ref: Business Standard]


Key Facts for Prelims

Nod to modify Scheduled Castes list in Odisha


  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for amendments in the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 to modify the list of Scheduled Castes of the State of Odisha.
  • It also approved amending the Constitution (Pondicherry) Scheduled Castes Order, 1964 to change the name of the Union territory to Puducherry from Pondicherry.
  • The amendment of Scheduled Castes list in Odisha makes inclusion of Sualgiri/Swalgiri caste in the list as it is Sabakhia caste which is already in the list of SC in Odisha.




  • The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has started its Twitter Seva, called ‘DARPGSEVA’.
  • The Twitter Seva aims to address issues relating to the DARPG like Public Grievances and Administrative Reforms etc.
  • The Twitter Seva will enable the DARPG to reach out to the common public and various stakeholders for facilitating redress of grievances and other issues of importance relating to the department.


PRAGATI Exercise


  • Sixteen PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation) meetings have been held recently.
  • PRAGATI aims at Pro-Active Governance and Timely implementation.
  • The meeting provides a robust platform for clear understanding of the bottlenecks and issues involved in such projects/programme and for evolving measures for taking them ahead.
  • Through such review meetings, various projects, public grievances, and programmes and schemes are discussed in detail and measures for fast tracking the same are evolved and implemented.
  • The monitoring is project and programme specific, not state specific.


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