Current Affairs Analysis

4th & 5th December 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

'Amritsar Declaration'; Stanpan Suraksha App; Forest Policy; Mercosur; India-Qatar Relations; Navy Day 2016; 7th World Ayurveda Congress; micro-Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and POS terminals; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
December 05, 2016


Polity & Governance

  • Stanpan Suraksha app launched to promote breastfeeding

Environment & Ecology

  • Environment Ministry postpones forest policy indefinitely

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Mercosur suspends Venezuela
  • India, Qatar ink four pacts on visas, cybersecurity, investments
  • Heart of Asia conference adopts ‘Amritsar Declaration’

Defence & Security Issues

  • CERT-In warns micro-ATMs against malware attacks

Key Facts for Prelims

  • First district to pay cashless transactions wages
  • Navy Day 2016
  • 7th World Ayurveda Congress


Polity & Governance

Stanpan Suraksha app launched to promote breastfeeding

The Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram has launched the ‘Stanpan Suraksha’ mobile application to promote breastfeeding and keep a check on “inappropriate” promotion of baby food items in the country.


  • The mobile application was developed by the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI).

Key features of Stanpan Suraksha app:

  • It is first-of-its-kind app that aims to promote breastfeeding and baby food promotion reporting mechanism.
  • If anyone comes across any inapt promotion of baby food, he or she just has to click a photograph of inappropriate baby food promotion and send it to BPNI.
  • It also has a city-wise database of trained breastfeeding counsellor to educate and provide assistance to mothers during antenatal and postnatal period.
  • Moreover, it provides sign up option for mothers who wish to become a breastfeeding counsellor.
  • It will also be able to gather incremental evidence on promotion of baby foods from remote locations as well.


  • Undermining of the breastfeeding practices has spread in the country in the recent times mainly due to cultural barriers and myths associated with breastfeeding.
  • Around 79% of the babies are delivered in institutions and out of this, only 45% are given breast milk in the first hour.
  • To address this problem, Union Government launched MAA (Mothers Absolute Affection) programme to promote breastfeeding.
[Ref: TOI]


Environment & Ecology

Environment Ministry postpones forest policy indefinitely

The Environment Ministry has indefinitely postponed an ambitious plan to update India’s forest policy.


  • It has also decided to abstain from committing to a timeframe by which it would have a third of India’s land under forest or tree cover, a key promise of the forest policy.



  • The MoEFCC had tasked the Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM), an affiliated organisation, with reviewing and revising the existing forest policy.
  • This was the first time that the policy was being re-looked since 1988 as it wanted to update the several changes in the forest laws and provide a forward-looking policy that talked about increasing India’s forest cover and tackling the effects of climate change.
  • The organisation had submitted its report in June this year. However, the report was later rejected by the government.

What are the suggestions put forth by IIFM report?

  • The report proposed levy of a green tax and called for safeguarding forest land by exercising strict restraint on diversion for non-forestry purposes like mining and industrial projects and practising responsible eco-tourism in forest areas to ensure safety of wildlife.
  • On generating resources to manage the forest cover, it said the budget of the forestry sector should be appropriately enhanced so that the objectives enshrined in this policy can be achieved.
  • It also proposed to levy environmental cess and carbon tax on certain products and services.
  • On the contentious issue of diversion of forests for mining and industrial projects, it suggested that forest land diversion projects related to mining, quarrying, construction of dams, roads and other linear infrastructure needs to adopt special caution. Use of state-of-the-art technology which causes minimum pollution and damage should be promoted.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

Mercosur suspends Venezuela

Venezuela has been suspended from the Mercosur trade group over its failure to comply with its commitments when it joined the group in 2012.


  • The membership was revoked by the Foreign Ministers of the four founding members of Mercosur — Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Why Venezuela was suspended?

  • Venezuela was blocked after it failed to comply with its commitments given when it had joined the group in 2012. It also failed to meet December 1, 2016 deadline to adopt certain standards and rules required for membership of the bloc.
  • The bloc considered Venezuela as burden for the economic group due to its poor performance of the economy, colluding with the goals of the bloc.
  • It is also suffering from broken economic system (world’s highest inflation and crumbling currency), corruption problem and is close to civil unrest.
  • Since 2015, tensions between Venezuela and its Mercosur partners had exacerbated. Earlier in 2016, the bloc had stopped Venezuela from assuming the rotating presidency.


  • The suspension would not carry any sanctions against Venezuela, but would sideline its government from bloc meetings and trade negotiations.
  • A suspension would also further isolate Venezuela as it struggles with food shortages and social unrest as its oil-dependent economy crumbles.



  • Mercosur is a sub-regional bloc.
  • Its full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • Its associate countries are Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Suriname.
  • Observer countries are New Zealand and Mexico.
  • Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people, and currency. The official languages are Spanish, Portuguese and Guarani.
  • It has been updated, amended, and changed many times since. It is now a full customs union and a trading bloc.
  • Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations are customs unions that are components of a continuing process of South American integration connected to the Union of South American Nations.
[Ref: The Hindu]


India, Qatar ink four pacts on visas, cybersecurity, investments

India and Qatar have signed five agreements including in the field of visas, cyberspace and investments.

  • These agreements were signed during the recent visit of PM Modi to Qatar.

Agreements singed are:


  • Letter of Intent on an Agreement on grant of e-Visa for businessmen and tourists
  • MoU on greater collaboration and exchange in the field of national ports management.
  • Protocol on Technical Cooperation in cyber space and combating cybercrime.
  • Agreement on exemption from visa requirement for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports.
  • MoU between Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

India-Qatar Relations:

  • India enjoys close and friendly relations with Qatar. The relationship is based on mutually beneficial commercial exchanges and extensive people-to-people contacts.
  • Qatar is one of the most important trading partner of India in the Gulf region and important contributor to India’s energy security.
  • It is the largest supplier of LNG to India, accounting for 66% of the total imports in 2015-16.
  • Indians form the largest expatriate community (around 630,000) in Qatar.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Heart of Asia conference adopts ‘Amritsar Declaration’

The Sixth Ministerial Conference on Heart of Asia- Istanbul process of Afghanistan has adopted the Amritsar declaration.


  • The declaration puts focus on the concerned countries to address terrorism and enhancing regional economic cooperation.

Key features of the declaration:

  • The declaration recognises terrorism as the biggest threat to peace and security and demands immediate end to all forms of terrorism and all support financial and safe havens providing sanctuary to it.
  • The declaration states the urgency to respond to the nexus between drug menace and its financial support for terrorist entities in Afghanistan. The declaration also mentions the Haqqani Network.
  • It also calls for early finalisation of the draft comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It also looks at the early meeting of experts to discuss a draft regional counter terrorism framework strategy, recently prepared by Afghanistan for its early finalisation.
  • The declaration states the welcoming of the agreements between the international community and Afghanistan for continued financial support to the Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) until 2020.
  • The declaration welcomes the MOU on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road between China and Afghanistan.
  • The declaration also expressed serious concern about opium, the base material for production of heroin in Afghanistan, a large chunk of which eventually finds its way into India through Indo-Pak international border in Punjab.
[Ref: Economic Times]


Defence & Security Issues

CERT-In warns micro-ATMs against malware attacks

With the usage of micro-ATMs and point-of-sale counters witnessing a sharp surge post demonetisation, the country’s premier cyber security agency, CERT-In, has cautioned customers, bankers and traders against skimming and malware attacks on these systems and asked them to adopt high-end encryption to plug possible breaches.


  • The CERT-In, the government’s nodal agency to combat hacking, phishing attacks and to fortify security-related defences of the Indian Internet domain, has issued two specific advisories for micro-Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and POS terminals.

Highlights of the advisories:

  • Micro-ATMs security features must be strong and updated in order to check attempts by hackers who stealthily plan to steal private customer and bank data.
  • Point to Point Encryption (P2PE) should be used to minimise this risk as it will encrypt the card data and keep it encrypted to the maximum extent throughout its life.
  • Banks and micro ATM operators must use some counter-measures to thwart cyberattacks.
  • Micro ATM must not transmit any confidential data unencrypted on the network.
  • It must automatically log out the operator and lock itself after a period of inactivity.
  • Operators must keep all micro ATM software, application, anti-virus regularly updated and educate the customer about basic functionalities and security best practises.
  • Customers must render due diligence of securing their PIN and not sharing vital details with strangers.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]


Key Facts for Prelims

First district to pay cashless transactions wages


  • Assam’s Hailakandi district becomes the first in the state to pay wages to tea garden workers through bank accounts.
  • The payment was made through five Banking Correspondents (CSPs) of Assam Gramin Vikash Bank.
  • Such payments were possible due to the effort bankers, tea garden managements and mobile service providers.


Navy Day 2016


  • India celebrates Navy Day on 4th December to celebrate Navy’s role in 1971 Indo-Pakistan war when missile boats carried out a daring attack on Karachi harbour. The mission titled as Operation Trident commenced on the same date.
  • Indian Navy is one of most potent maritime forces in the world and the most lethal in Indian Ocean.


7th World Ayurveda Congress


  • The 7th World Ayurveda Congress (WAC) was recently held at Science City in Kolkata, West Bengal.
  • Organised by the World Ayurveda Foundation with the support of the Union Ministry of AYUSH
  • Organised to facilitate development and growth of AYUSH system of medicine comprising Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.
  • The focus theme of the Ayurveda Congress was “Strengthening the Ayurveda Ecosystem“.


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