Current Affairs Analysis

31st May 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Darwaza Band; What is International Comparison Programme? Bicycle Patrols; National Commission for Schedule Tribes (NCST); Legalising gambling; Global warming and local urban heating; Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect; India-Spain Agreements; Minesweeper deal; Sankhyiki Bhawan; ICBM defense system; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
May 31, 2017


Polity & Governance

  • International Comparison Programme (ICP)
  • Delhi Police launches Bicycle Patrols for Better Policing
  • Darwaza Band for open defecation
  • Important Decision of NCST
  • Legalising gambling: law panel in moral quandary

Environment & Ecology

  • Dual onslaught on earth: Global warming and local urban heating

Bilateral & International Relations

  • India and Spain Sign Seven Agreements

Defence & Security Issues

  • Minesweeper deal to be inked soon

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Sankhyiki Bhawan
  • USA successfully tests ICBM defense system for first time

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Polity & Governance

International Comparison Programme (ICP)

India is participating in the current phase of International Comparison Programme (ICP) with reference to 2017.


What is International Comparison Programme?

  • The ICP is a worldwide statistical initiative led by the World Bank under the auspices of the United Nations Statistical Commission.
  • Its main objective is to provide comparable price and volume measures of gross domestic product (GDP) and its expenditure aggregates among countries within and across regions.
  • Through a partnership with international, regional, sub-regional and national agencies, the ICP collects and compares price data and GDP expenditures to estimate and publish purchasing power parities (PPPs) of the world’s economies.
  • In India, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MOSPI) will take up the price collection work in rural and urban areas shortly all over the country.
[Ref: PIB]


Delhi Police launches Bicycle Patrols for Better Policing

As a ‘green’ initiative for patrolling the parks, congested lanes and by-lanes, the cooperative societies etc, the Delhi Police has introduced bicycle patrols to complement and supplement its existing motorcycle and PCR patrols which focus mainly on crime prevention along the arterial and main roads of Delhi.


  • The officers are being specifically trained to make a note of the happenings around them for sharing and validation.

About Bicycle Patrols:

  • Cycle patrols can go where traditional patrol vehicles cannot. The bicycle patrols will reach the narrow and heavily congested areas where mechanized vehicles find it difficult to reach and maintain a steady presence.
  • They will also be utilized for patrolling during odd hours when the residents are taking rest, since they are less disturbing.
  • One of the main areas of focus of these bicycle patrols will be parks where citizens including senior citizens and women go for morning and evening walks.
  • The bicycle patrols will also be introduced in the University campus areas and near schools/colleges where the police officers can have a friendly interface with the student community.
  • With zero environmental costs and additional health benefits for the riders, the bicycle patrol parties will also bring the concept of ‘Policing by community involvement’ close to the largely immigrant and working class population.
  • The bicycle patrols will mostly be in ‘buddy pairs’ and will normally cover a distance of 2 to 5 kilometres per patrol.
  • The patrolling officers are equipped with standard police communication equipment which will operate in ‘hands-free mode’ and function like mobile police posts of the local Police Station.
  • Each bicycle has been fitted with cell phone docks and equipment for keeping other accessories.

Significance of Bicycle Patrols:

  • While focusing on the ‘Policing by community involvement’ model, the bicycle patrols will, apart from assuring the law abiding citizenry of their friendly and protective presence, also play the role of area domination, sending out a message of deterrence to the law breakers in the vicinity.
  • Being slow paced, the spectrum of observation of bicycle patrol officers will be qualitatively much more meaningful in detecting unwarranted movements and questionable/suspicious presence in the areas of patrol.
[Ref: PIB]


Darwaza Band for open defecation

The centre has launched an aggressive new campaign titled ‘Darwaza Band’ to promote toilet use and freedom from open defecation across the country’s villages.


About the campaign:

  • The campaign is produced by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation under Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • The campaign has been supported by the World Bank and is being rolled out countrywide immediately after the launch.
  • It is designed to encourage behaviour change in men who have toilets but are not using them.


  • Behaviour change has been the focus of Swachh Bharat Mission, which is being pursued through a countrywide comprehensive IEC(Information-Education-Communication) programme.
  • Communication campaigns have been taken up both, at the central and State levels, for promoting sustained use of toilets and for sustaining the Open Defecation Free status achieved.
[Ref: PIB]


Important Decision of NCST

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has asked the Department of Personnel and Training to constitute a committee having minimum of two members from ST community to investigate any matter requiring penalty on employees belonging to Scheduled Tribes community.


What are the recommendations?

  • As per the recommendations of the commission if ST officers are not available in the Department or Ministry then ST officers from other Departments may be included in the committee.
  • The commission has also asked the Department of Personnel and Training to issue instructions to all Departments and Ministries so that they take necessary action on the recommendations of NCST.
  • If the Department face any problem than before approaching the High Court they should take permission of the concerned Ministry.

About National Commission for Schedule Tribes (NCST):

NCST was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.

  • By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
  • The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member is three years from the date of assumption of charge.
  • The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister and the Vice-Chairperson that of a Minister of State and other Members have the ranks of a Secretary to the Government of India.
  • NCST is empowered to investigate and monitor matters relating to safeguards provided for STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. order.
  • The Commission is also authorized to inquire into specific complaints relating to rights and safeguards of STs and to participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to socio-economic development of STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and States.
  • The commission submits its report to the President annually on the working of safeguards and measures required for effective implementation of Programmers/ Schemes relating to welfare and socio-economic development of STs.
[Ref: PIB]


Legalising gambling: law panel in moral quandary

The Law Commission has sought views from the public and stakeholders on whether or not gambling and betting are “morally correct in the Indian circumstances”.


  • Primarily, it wants public inputs on the question of legalising gambling and betting — conducted clandestinely across the country and the cause of ruin for many families.
  • Views would be compiled for a report to be handed over to the government.


  • The question came up after the Supreme Court asked the commission to study the possibility of legalising betting in the backdrop of the IPL betting scandal.

Views sought on:

  • Whether legalising betting and gambling will help in curbing illegal activities.
  • Will licensing gambling and betting help the government earn substantial revenue and generate employment.
  • Is legalising betting and gambling morally correct in the Indian circumstances.
  • What can be a possible model by which people engaging in such activities can be safeguarded against bankruptcy.
  • If legalised, should foreign betting and gambling companies be allowed to have a foothold in the country.

Menace of gambling:

  • Because of gambling, families are rendered bankrupt and many people are behind bars.
  • Online gambling and betting is another area which has become very difficult to curb.
  • It is understood that a lot of money is involved in illegal gambling business, creating almost a parallel economy, converting legally earned money into black money that is drained to gambling operators in other countries online.

Laws preventing gabling in India:

  • Gambling is covered under an archaic law, the Public Gambling Act of 1867.
  • The Constitution has enabled the States to enact their own gambling legislation.
  • Section 67 of the Information Technology Act of 2000 vaguely prohibits online transmission and publication of material which “corrupt” persons.

Need for a new law:

  • However, there is no uniformity in the various State laws and most of these laws pertain to physical gambling and not online or virtual gambling, which is seen to be a route to crime, corruption and money laundering.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Environment & Ecology

Dual onslaught on earth: Global warming and local urban heating

Researchers in a recent study warned that the world’s cities may be as much as eight degrees Celsius warmer by 2100 due to a dual onslaught of global warming and localised urban heating.


  • The projection is based on the worst-case-scenario assumption that emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases continue to rise throughout the 21st century.
  • For the latest study, researchers used data from the world’s 1,692 largest cities for the period 1950 to 2015.

Highlights of the study:

  • The top quarter of most populated cities, in this scenario, could see the mercury rise 7 degrees Celsius or more by century’s end, said a study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
  • For some, nearly 5 degrees Celsius of the total would be attributed to average global warming.
  • The rest would be due to the so-called urban heat island (UHI) effect, which occurs when cooling parks, dams and lakes are replaced by heat-conducting concrete and asphalt — making cities warmer than their surrounds.
  • The top 5% (of cities per population) could see increases in temperatures of about 8 degree Celsius and larger.

ias toppers urban heat island

Effects of this temperature rise:

  • Such a temperature spike can have dire consequences for the health of city-dwellers, robbing companies and industries of able workers, and putting pressure on already strained natural resources such as water.
  • UHI “significantly” increases city temperatures and economic losses from global warming. With the warming of cities, the median city, right in the middle of the range, stands to lose between 1.4% and 1.7% of GDP per year by 2050 and between 2.3% and 5.6% by 2100. For the worst-off city, losses could reach up to 10.9% of GDP by 2100.


  • Cities cover only about 1% of the earth’s surface but produce about 80% of gross world product and account for around 78% of energy consumed worldwide.
  • They produce more than 60% of global carbon dioxide emissions from burning coal, oil and gas for fuel.

What can be done?

  • Local actions to reduce UHI — such as planting more trees or cooling roofs and pavements, can make a big difference in limiting warming and minimising costs.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

India and Spain Sign Seven Agreements

India and Spain have signed seven agreements following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy at the Moncloa Palace in the Spanish capital.


Agreements include:

  1. Agreement for Transfer of Sentence Persons
  2. MoU on Cooperation in Organ Transplantation
  3. MoU on Cooperation in Cyber Security
  4. MoU on Cooperation in Renewable Energy
  5. MoU on Technical Cooperation in Civil Aviation
  6. Agreement on visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports.
  7. MoU between Foreign Service Institute and Diplomatic Academy of Spain.

India-Spain relations:

  • Spain is India’s 7th largest trading partner in the European Union. Bilateral trade between both the nations have totalled USD 5.27 billion in 2016.
  • The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Spain in nearly 30 years. The last Prime Minister to visit Spain was Rajiv Gandhi in 1988.
  • Earlier, PM Modi and the Spanish prime minister had met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Turkey in November 2015.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has welcomed Spain’s infrastructure, tourism, energy and defense companies to invest in priority sectors in India.
[Ref: PIB]


Defence & Security Issues

Minesweeper deal to be inked soon

After repeated delays and protracted negotiations, India and South Korea are set to be close to finalising the deal for 12 minesweepers for the Indian Navy.


  • Commercial negotiations are in the final stages and should be concluded in the next two months.
  • The technical negotiations have long been completed which also involves the Indian Navy.
  • The deal for 12 minesweepers or Mine Counter Measure Vessels is worth about ₹32,640 crore and the ships would be manufactured in India under Transfer of Technology.
  • The first ship is expected to be delivered three years after the contract is signed.

Need for Minesweepers:

  • Minesweepers are crucial to detect mines and explosives planted by the enemy targeting our ships as they enter or leave harbours.
  • Minesweeper ships use sonar systems to detect mines planted on the seabed or mines that float at predetermined depths.
  • They are used to keep seas mine-free.
  • The Navy is presently left with four ageing minesweepers which will be retired by 2018 end. However, efforts to procure new MCMVs have been repeatedly delayed.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Key Facts for Prelims

Sankhyiki Bhawan


  • Recently, the ‘Sankhyiki Bhawan’, a new office of the NSSO has been inaugurated.
  • The new building houses all divisions under one roof. Now, with all Divisions under one roof, it will improve coordination of various work at a very closer level resulting speedier and better output.
  • Established in 1950, the National Sample Survey Office conducts nation-wide large-scale sample surveys to obtain comprehensive and continuing information relating to social, economic, demographic, industrial and agricultural aspects.


USA successfully tests ICBM defense system for first time

ias toppers ICBM defense system

  • United States for the first time has successfully tested its defence system against an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
  • ICBM target is hailed as an important milestone for the Ground-based Midcourse Defence (GMD) system. The GMD uses globally deployed sensors to detect and track ballistic missile threats.
  • The test comes at the backdrop of US’s increased tensions with North Korea.


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