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Current Affairs Analysis

31st January 2018 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Nilgiri Marten; Pampadum shola national park; Anti-Leprosy Day; World Leprosy Day; What is leprosy? New World Wealth; India is world’s 3rd largest steel producer; World Steel Association (WSA); National Solar Mission; Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project; Thar Link Express/Thar Express; Third Scorpene class submarine Karanj; High performance computer system Mihir; Explorer 1 satellite; Difficult Dialogues; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 01, 2018


Issues related to Health & Education

  • Anti-Leprosy Day observed


  • India emerges as 6th wealthiest country in 2017: New World Wealth
  • India is world’s 3rd largest steel producer
  • India hits 20GW solar capacity milestone
  • World Bank commits $100 million to boost Tamil Nadu’s rural economy

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Pampadum Shola has significant population of evasive Nilgiri Marten

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India and Pakistan extend Thar Rail Link for three more years

Defence & Security Issues

  • Navy launches third Scorpene class submarine Karanj

Science & Technology

  • India launches high performance computer system Mihir
  • NASA celebrates 60th anniversary of launching first moon to orbit earth

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Difficult Dialogues

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Issues related to Health & Education

Anti-Leprosy Day observed

Anti-Leprosy Day was observed on 30th January 2018 across the nation.


About Anti-Leprosy Day:

  • Anti-Leprosy Day is observed every year on January 30 in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi who attained martyrdom on this day in 1948, to remember his selfless efforts and care for the people affected with Leprosy.


World Leprosy Day:

  • Every year, World Leprosy Day is observed internationally on the last Sunday of the January month.
  • The day focuses on the target of zero cases of leprosy-related disabilities in children.

What is leprosy?

Leprosy (also known as Hansen’s disease) is a progressive disease that gradually develops and slowly damages the skin and the nervous system.

leprosy image iastoppers

  • The disease takes a long time to develop anywhere between six months to 40 years and results in skin lesions and deformities which can be very disfiguring.
  • Human-to-human transmission is considered as the primary source of infection, there are three other species which can carry and very rarely transfer Mycobacterium leprae (M.leprae) to humans. These are- mangabey monkeys, chimpanzees, nine-banded armadillos.
  • The disease is known as a chronic granulomatous disease which is quite similar to tuberculosis since it produces inflammatory nodules (granulomas) in the nerves and skin over time.
  • Leprosy is a chronic granulomatous disease mainly affecting the skin and peripheral nervous system.
  • It can also affect the eyes and respiratory system.
  • The disease is quite serious but with proper care and precaution it can be treated and prevented. It is curable with multidrug therapy (MDT).

leprosy image iastoppers2

How is leprosy caused?

  • Leprosy is caused by an infection with Mycobacterium leprae or M. lepromatosis bacteria.
  • The early symptoms actually start in the cooler parts of the body and include a loss of sensation.
  • It generally takes about 3-5 years for the symptoms to appear after coming into contact with the leprosy-causing bacteria. With some people, they might take up to 20 years to develop any symptoms.
  • The time between the contact with the bacteria and the appearance of the signs is known as the incubation period. The long incubation period of leprosy makes it really difficult for doctors to determine when and where a person with leprosy got infected.

How is leprosy diagnosed?

  • A physical examination is conducted to look for tell-tale signs of the disease. A skin biopsy or scraping is performed.
  • A lepromin skin test is also undertaken to determine the type of leprosy.


  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), despite being eliminated globally as a public health problem in 2000, leprosy continues to mar the lives of individuals, and impacts families and communities.
  • Leprosy affected 212 000 more people globally in 2015, of them 60% were in India.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu, Times Now, WHO]



India emerges as 6th wealthiest country in 2017: New World Wealth

According to a report by New World Wealth, India has been ranked sixth in the list of wealthiest countries with total wealth of $8,230 billion.


Definition of total wealth:

  • Total wealth refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each country/city. It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities, business interests) less any liabilities.

The report, however, excludes government funds from its figures.

Who are High net-worth individuals?

  • High net-worth individuals are those with $1 million or more in net assets.

Highlights of the report:

New World Wealth report iastoppers

  • As per the report, the US is the wealthiest country with total wealth of $64,584 billion, followed by China ($24,803 billion) and Japan ($19,522 billion).
  • Others in the list include United Kingdom (4th, $9,919 billion), Germany (5th, $9,660 billion), France (7th, $6,649 billion), Canada (8th, $6,393 billion), Australia (9th, $6,142 billion) and Italy (10th, $4,276 billion).
  • India was the best performing wealth market globally in 2017 as its total wealth rose 25% from $6,584 billion in 2016 to $8,230 billion in 2017.
  • Over the past decade (2007-2017), India’s total wealth increased from $3,165 billion in 2007 to $8,230 billion in 2017, a jump of 160%.
  • The report further noted that India, is home to 330,400 HNWIs (high net-worth individuals), ranking it ninth in this aspect. The US topped the list with 5,047,400 HNWIs.
  • India is also home to 20,730 multimillionaires, the seventh largest in the world.
  • India has 119 billionaires, the third-highest after the US and China.

New World Wealth report iastoppers2

[Ref: Live Mint]


India is world’s 3rd largest steel producer

According to recent report published by World Steel Association (WSA), India has overtaken US to become the world’s third largest steel producer in 2017.

ias toppers India steel

Key Facts:

  • China has remained world leader by producing 831.7 MT in 2017.
  • Japan is second largest global steel producer.
  • India had grabbed the third slot in steel production in 2015 from the US after long been holding the fourth slot.

About World Steel Association (WSA):


  • WSA is a non-profit organisation.
  • The World Steel Association (worldsteel) was founded as the International Iron and Steel Institute on 10 July 1967. It changed its name to the World Steel Association on 6 October 2008.
  • Its headquartered is in Brussels, Belgium.
  • It is one of the largest industry associations in world. Its members represent approximately 85% of the world’s steel production.
  • It includes over 160 steel producers with 9 of the 10 largest steel companies, national and regional steel industry associations, and steel research institutes.

Goals of World Steel Association:

  • To act as the focal point for the steel industry providing global leadership on all major strategic issues impacting the industry, particularly focusing on economic, environmental and social sustainability
  • Deliver benchmarking analysis and drive global improvement initiatives in the areas of environmental protection, technology, safety and people development
  • Promote global market development opportunities for steel and promote steel to the world at large
  • Provide on a timely basis world-class economic data and analysis on the global steel industry and its value chain, as well as assessments on life cycle aspects of steel
  • Increase awareness, understanding and support for the steel industry amongst all external stakeholders and key target audiences worldwide
  • Promote market competition that is free of government interventions preventing fair trade.
[Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]


India hits 20GW solar capacity milestone

According to a latest research report, India has achieved 20 GW (giga watt) cumulative solar capacity, achieving the milestone four years ahead of the target for 2022 originally set in the National Solar Mission.


India’s achievements:

  • India’s utility-scale cumulative installations now stand at approximately 18.4 GW, with rooftop solar accounting for another 1.6 GW.
  • For the first time, solar was the top source of new power capacity additions in India during calendar year 2017. Solar installations reached 9.6 GW and accounted for 45% of total capacity additions.
  • The top state for solar installations was Telangana, followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

Solar capacity reaches 20 GW on govt push iastoppers

Challenges ahead:

  • The country has reached the milestone at a time when protectionist measures threaten to slow down activity in the industry.
  • The pace of overall solar installations is expected to be less impressive in 2018 as several protectionist government policies appear poised to increase costs and uncertainty.
  • Also, experts say Centre’s revised solar installation target of 100 GW by 2022 has recently been clashing with Make in India Initiative to promote domestic manufacturing.
  • The recently announced 70% preliminary safeguard duty recommendation, the ongoing anti-dumping case, and a 7.85% port duty on imported modules are together creating an atmosphere of regulatory uncertainty that is taking a toll on the industry and slowing down installation activity.

Way ahead:

  • The 20 GW of solar installations is a laudable achievement for India. However, it took eight long years to reach 20 GWs and hopefully the pace will pick up soon.

About the National Solar Mission:

  • National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.
  • The mission is one of the several initiatives that are part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
  • The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.


  • The Mission has set the ambitious target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022 and aims at reducing the cost of solar power generation in the country.
  • The target of 20GW by 2022 was later increased to 100 GW in the 2015 Union budget of India.
[Ref: The Hindu]


World Bank commits $100 million to boost Tamil Nadu’s rural economy

India and the World Bank have signed a $100 million loan agreement to support Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project.


About Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project:

  • The project is expected to promote rural enterprises, facilitate their access to finance, and create employment opportunities for youth, particularly women, in selected blocks of Tamil Nadu across 26 districts, directly benefitting over 400,000 people.
  • It will create enabling environment for producer organizations and enterprises to promote businesses across select value chains.
  • Under this project, communities will identify commodities and subsectors in the value chain for preparing business plans based on the analysis.
  • 30% of the financing for these plans will be through matching grant program from project and remaining 70% will be leveraged from other financial institutions.
  • The project will work with targeted households that are already part of Self-Help Groups (SHGs).
  • It will also specifically support eligible households from socially and culturally disadvantaged groups to harness their existing assets, skills, and resources.
  • It will also test selected innovations and start-up ideas or scaled up them under newly created platform known as Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Marketplace.
  • Moreover, it will have e-governance architecture with use of ICT along with a robust Management Information System (MIS) to monitor and track results real time.
[Ref: Business Standard, Financial Express]


Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Pampadum Shola has significant population of evasive Nilgiri Marten

A team of researchers has found that Pampadum Shola National Park is a safe haven of rare and most elusive Nilgiri Marten.


About Pampadum shola national park:


  • It is located on the southern portion of Western Ghats.
  • It is the smallest national park in Kerala state.
  • Coming under Munnar Wildlife Division, Pampadum Shola enjoys proximity of Kurunjimala Wildlife Sanctuary and Palani hills of Tamil Nadu.


About Nilgiri Marten:

Nilgiri Marten image ias

  • The Nilgiri marten is the only species of marten found in southern India. It occurs in the hills of the Nilgiris and parts of the Western Ghats.
  • Nilgiri Marten looks like a civet or a mongoose and it most prefers higher altitudes.
  • The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Schedule II, Part 2 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

India and Pakistan extend Thar Rail Link for three more years

India and Pakistan decided to extend the Thar Link Express/Thar Express.


  • The train will now continue to connect both nations till January 31, 2021.

About Thar Link Express/Thar Express:

  • Thar Express connects Khokhrapar in Pakistan and Munabao in Rajasthan.
  • The rail link facilitates people-to-people contacts which Pakistan believes are essential for improving relations between both the countries.
  • The weekly train connects Jodhpur and the bordering region of Rajasthan with the province of Sindh in Pakistan.


  • The agreement to run the Thar Link Express was signed in 2006 and is one of the cheapest means of transport between the two rival countries.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Defence & Security Issues

Navy launches third Scorpene class submarine Karanj

The Indian Navy launched the third Scorpene class submarine, INS Karanj.


  • It will undergo rigorous tests for the next one year before it is commissioned.

About INS Jaranj:


  • Karanj is the third of the six Scorpene-class submarines being built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) under the Project 75 programme of Indian navy.
  • It has superior stealth features such as advanced acoustic silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels and hydrodynamically optimized shape. These stealth features give it an invulnerability, unmatched by most submarine.
  • It is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics.
  • It is provided with all means and communications to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task.

Previous Scorpene submarines:

  • The first one, INS Kalvari, a diesel-electric attack submarine was commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 14 last year.
  • The second one, INS Khandari, was launched on January 12 this year is currently undergoing sea trials.


  • The Scorpene submarines are a primary modernization requirement of the Indian Navy, which is currently faced with an ageing submarine fleet.
  • MDL has the contract for the construction and transfer of technology for six Scorpene submarines.
  • The submarines are being built in collaboration with French shipbuilding major Naval Group (formerly DCNS).
[Ref: The Hindu, Times of India]


Science & Technology

India launches high performance computer system Mihir

In an initiative to improve India’s weather forecasting, the Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) launched a high performance computer (HPC) system named Mihir.


Key facts:

  • The new system will be India’s largest HPC facility in terms of peak capacity and performance.
  • It will propel India’s ranking from the 368th position to the 30th in the list of top 500 HPC facilities in the world.
  • The country will now also be ranked 4th – after Japan, UK and USA – for dedicated HPC resources for weather/climate community.

Significance of the new HPC facility:

The new HPC facility is expected to improve:

  • Weather forecasts at block level over India which can predict extreme weather events.
  • High resolution seasonal/extended range forecasts of active/break spells of Monsoon.
  • Very high resolution coupled models for prediction of cyclones with more accuracy and lead time.
  • Ocean state forecasts including marine water quality forecasts at very high resolution.
  • Tsunami forecasts with greater lead time.
  • Air quality forecasts for various cities.
  • Climate projections at very high resolution.

This new HPC facility will not only help in meeting the operational requirements of the MoES but also support the research and development activities in MoES and other academic institutions working on various problems related to earth science.

[Ref: The Hindu]


NASA celebrates 60th anniversary of launching first moon to orbit earth

Commemorating what is widely considered to be the greatest achievement of space exploration, NASA celebrated the 60th anniversary of the launching of the first moon to orbit Earth.



  • Late in the evening of Jan. 31, 1958, the United States took its first step into space with the launch of the Explorer 1 satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

About Explorer 1 satellite:

The Explorer 1 iastoppers

  • Explorer 1 was the first satellite of the United States, launched as part of its participation in the International Geophysical Year.
  • It was the first spacecraft to detect the Van Allen radiation belt.
  • It was a two-metre long satellite carrying a scientific instrument.
  • The main instruments were a cosmic-ray detection package; internal, external and nose-cone temperature sensors; a micrometeorite impact microphone; a ring of micrometeorite erosion gauges; and two transmitters.
  • Electrical power was provided by batteries that made up 40% of the total weight.


  • The Explorer 1 launch happened in the depths of the Cold War at a time when the US and the Soviet Union were competing for a military and technological edge over one another.
  • The Explorer 1 was not the first object launched into space, as almost a year earlier the USSR successfully put a small metal satellite, Sputnik 1, into orbit.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

Difficult Dialogues

Difficult Dialogues iastoppers

  • Difficult dialogues is an independent, non-partisan forum for conversations around critical issues concerning our lives in South Asia.
  • To be held as an annual festival of topical ideas and motions, it is premised on the conviction that knowledge sharing is the cornerstone of progressive change in this fastest growing, volatile region of the world.

Why it is in news?


  • The third edition in the series of Difficult Dialogues Summit wil be held in Goa in the month of February.
  • This year, the forum will be held in partnership with UCL (University College London), Goa University (GU) and the ICG.
  • Difficult Dialogues 2018 will focus on how Indian gender constructs affect fundamental aspects of daily lives and citizenship.


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