Current Affairs Analysis

6th January 2018 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas; Central Water Commission (CWC); Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP); 3rd meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion; What is e-Tourist Visa? What is Avian influenza? What is H5N1? National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD); What is Ethereum? What is the ‘latte levy’? Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD); P-8I Training Solution; Low Intensity Conflict Electronic Warfare System (LICEWS); What are Bio-toilets? etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
January 06, 2018


Polity & Governance

  • Central Water Commission receives CBIP Special Recognition Award 2018
  • 3rd meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion

Government Schemes & Policies

  • Cruise tourists with e-visas exempt from biometric enrolment requirement

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Confirmation of H5 Avian Influenza in Dasarahalli Village, Bengaluru


  • Ethereum Joins $1,000 Club

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • What is the ‘latte levy’?

Bilateral & International Relations

  • ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Defence & Security Issues

  • Defence Ministry approves projects worth ₹2420 crore for Navy, Army

Science & Technology

  • Railways’ bio-toilet project deeply flawed, reveals CAG report

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Polity & Governance

Central Water Commission receives CBIP Special Recognition Award 2018

Central Water Commission (CWC) has received Central Board of Irrigation and Power (CBIP) Special Recognition Award 2018 for Excellence in Health & Safety of Large Dams.


  • The award has been given in recognition of the contribution made by CWC for promoting the health and safety of large dams in India through the World Bank aided Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP).

About Central Water Commission:

Central Water Commission (CWC) is a premier Technical Organization of India in the field of Water Resources.

ias toppers Central Water Commission

  • It is presently functioning as an attached office of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India.
  • The Commission is entrusted with the general responsibilities of initiating, coordinating and furthering in consultation of the State Governments concerned, schemes for control, conservation and utilization of water resources throughout the country, for purpose of Flood Control, Irrigation, Navigation, Drinking Water Supply and Water Power Development.
  • It also undertakes the investigations, construction and execution of any such schemes as required.

About DRIP:

The Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Government of India, with assistance from the World Bank, is implementing the Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Project (DRIP).


  • DRIP is a project involving 9 implementing agencies (IAs) across seven states of India (Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand) and targets rehabilitation of about 225 dam projects across the country.
  • The Project is also facilitating the institutional strengthening of the implementing agencies for sustainable dam safety initiatives.
  • The project will also promote new technologies and improve Institutional capacities for dam safety evaluation and implementation at the Central and State levels and in some identified premier academic and research institutes of the country.
  • The Central Dam Safety Organisation of Central Water Commission, assisted by a Consulting firm, is coordinating and supervising the Project implementation.
  • The preparation of Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for all DRIP dams is one of the important activities under DRIP. This document defines clear roles for all concern agencies as well as Standard Operating Protocols during various stage of exigencies, as well as contains all technical details about the flood waves moving downstream affecting the downstream habitation.

The project development objectives of DRIP are:

  1. To improve the safety and performance of selected existing dams and associated appurtenances in a sustainable manner, and
  2. To strengthen the dam safety institutional setup in participating states as well as at central level.
[Ref: PIB]


3rd meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion

Minister for Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu, chaired the third meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion.

Council for Trade Development and Promotion 3rd ias

About the Council for Trade Development and Promotion:

The Council for Trade Development and Promotion was constituted in July 2015 under the chairpersonship of the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, in pursuance to the provisions of Foreign Trade Policy statement 2015-20.


  • The objective was to ensure a continuous dialogue with the governments of states and Union Territories on measures for providing an international trade enabling environment in the states and to create a framework for making the states active partners in boosting India’s exports.


  • The State Ministers of Commerce and Industry, Secretaries of concerned central departments/Ministries and heads of other export related organizations/trade bodies are Members of the Council.
[Ref: PIB]


Government Schemes & Policies

Cruise tourists with e-visas exempt from biometric enrolment requirement

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on request of the Ministry of Shipping has exempted cruise tourists arriving with e-visa from the requirement of biometric enrolment for a period of three years i.e. till 2020.

Cruise tourists with e-visas exempt from biometric enrolment requirement ias

Purpose of the move:

  • To promote cruise tourism in the country and make India attractive cruise tourist destination.

This simplified immigration clearance procedure is part of a series of steps to attract and to enhance cruise passenger experience at the major ports.

Significance of the move:

  • This simplified immigration clearance procedure will make immigration clearance of such passengers faster, leaving them with more time to spend on shore.
  • This is also important factor that will help cruise lines decide whether or not to include a destination in their itinerary.


  • Till now biometrics of passengers were required at port of first arrival for immigration clearance. However, the immigration procedure was taking more than internationally accepted norm of clearing immigration for all cruise passengers in a maximum of 90 minutes.
  • The Ministry of Shipping has been working towards simplifying immigration clearance procedure and providing passengers with customer friendly and hassle free logistics process when they embark on or disembark from their cruise at Indian ports.
  • E-visa facility is being implemented in five major ports viz. Mumbai, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin and Chennai.

What is e-Tourist Visa?

  • The e-Tourist Visa enables the prospective visitor to apply for an Indian Visa from his/her home country online without visiting the Indian Mission and also pay the visa fee online.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]


Issues related to Health & Education

Confirmation of H5 Avian Influenza in Dasarahalli Village, Bengaluru

An outbreak of H5 Avian Influenza has been reported from Dasarahalli village, Bengaluru East Taluk, Bengaluru Urban District in Karnataka.


  • The samples from the said epicenter (a poultry meat shop) were sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD), Bhopal which confirmed that the samples were found positive for H5 strain of Avian Influenza virus.
  • On the directions of the Centre, the Karnataka Government has notified the outbreak and initiated the control and containment operations.
  • A central team of Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries comprising of two experts has been deputed to Bengaluru for overseeing the operation and to assist the State Government.

What is Avian influenza?

  • Avian influenza (AI), commonly called bird flu, is an infectious viral disease of birds.


Effects of Avian influenza:

  • Outbreaks of AI in poultry may raise global public health concerns due to their effect on poultry populations, their potential to cause serious disease in people, and their pandemic potential.
  • Reports of highly pathogenic AI epidemics in poultry, such as A(H5N1), can seriously impact local and global economies and international trade.

What is H5N1?

  • Most avian influenza viruses do not infect humans. However, some, such as A(H5N1) and A(H7N9), have caused serious infections in people.
  • H5N1 is a type of influenza virus that causes a highly infectious, severe respiratory disease in birds called avian influenza (or “bird flu”).
  • Human cases of H5N1 avian influenza occur occasionally, but it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person. When people do become infected, the mortality rate is about 60%.

How does H5N1 influenza spread to people?

  • Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in people have been associated with close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments.
  • The virus does not infect humans easily, and spread from person to person appears to be unusual.
  • There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food.

Why is there so much concern about H5N1 influenza?

  • H5N1 infection in humans can cause severe disease and has a high mortality rate.
  • If the H5N1 virus were to change and become easily transmissible from person to person while retaining its capacity to cause severe disease, the consequences for public health could be very serious.


  • Controlling the disease in animals is the first step in decreasing risks to humans.

About National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD):

  • Came into existence in 2014, the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is a premier institute of India for research on exotic and emerging pathogens of animals.
  • The institute has contributed significantly by detecting many animal diseases of exotic origin and preventing them from entering our country.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]



Ethereum Joins $1,000 Club

Ethereum has hit $1,000 for the first time, while investors eye at alternative currencies such as ripple, ethereum and litecoin besides bitcoin.


  • Earlier Ethereum was the second-most valued currency after bitcoin, but now ripple has outpaced it lately.
  • The market capitalization of ripple is $121 billion while ethereum’s market cap is little less than $100 billion.
  • Bitcoin, the big daddy of cryptocurrency, still rules the world of digital currencies with a whopping market cap of $280 billion.

What is Ethereum?

  • At its simplest, Ethereum is an open software platform based on blockchain technology that enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications.
  • The value token of the Ethereum blockchain is called ether.

Ethereum infographics iastoppers

Is Ethereum similar to Bitcoin?

  • Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is a distributed public blockchain network. Although there are some significant technical differences between the two, the most important distinction to note is that Bitcoin and Ethereum differ substantially in purpose and capability.
  • Unlike most blockchains, Ethereum has an added component that’s particularly attractive to enterprise clients: smart contracts. These protocols help to verify, facilitate, or enforce the negotiation of a contract in an efficient and secure manner.


Benefits of Ethereum decentralized Platform:

Because decentralized applications run on the blockchain, they benefit from all of its properties.

  • Immutability – A third party cannot make any changes to data.
  • Corruption & tamper proof – Apps are based on a network formed around the principle of consensus, making censorship impossible.
  • Secure – With no central point of failure and secured using cryptography, applications are well protected against hacking attacks and fraudulent activities.
  • Zero downtime – Apps never go down and can never be switched off.

Downside of Ethereum decentralized Platform:

  • Because smart contract code is written by humans, smart contracts are only as good as the people who write them. Code bugs or oversights can lead to unintended adverse actions being taken.
  • If a mistake in the code gets exploited, there is no efficient way in which an attack or exploitation can be stopped other than obtaining a network consensus and rewriting the underlying code. This goes against the essence of the blockchain which is meant to be immutable.
  • Also, any action taken by a central party raises serious questions about the decentralized nature of an application.

What is blockchain technology?

  • At a very high level, the blockchain is a decentralized ledger, or list, of all transactions across a peer-to-peer network.
  • This is the technology underlying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and it has the potential to disrupt a wide variety of business processes.


Applications of blockchain technology:

  • Using this technology, participants can transfer value across the Internet without the need for a central third party. The buyer and seller interact directly without needing verification by a trusted third-party intermediary.
  • Transactions are not anonymous, but they are pseudonymous: a transaction record is created, but identifying information is encrypted, and no personal information is shared.
[Ref: Economic Times]


Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

What is the ‘latte levy’?


  • The ‘latte levy’ is a minimum 25p charge on disposable hot drink cups. Britain is considering implementing a “latte tax” to curb the consumption of disposable coffee cups.
  • It is intended to encourage people to use reusable coffee cups.

Will the levy cut down on waste?

  • In the UK, 500 takeaway coffee cups are thrown away every minute. Most takeaway cups aren’t recyclable; they’re laminated with plastic or polyethylene that is difficult to strip away and most recycling facilities aren’t equipped to recycle them.
[Ref: Economic Times]


Bilateral & International Relations

ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

The annual ASEAN India Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is being celebrated at Singapore.


  • The conference, which will be attended by top leaders and businessmen from Singapore and India, will discuss the contribution of the Indian diaspora community in Southeast Asia.
  • Theme: “Ancient Route, New Journey: Diaspora in the Dynamic Asean-India Partnership.”



  • To highlight the “ancient human, maritime, cultural, commercial and religious links between India and Southeast Asia” and to promote greater economic, cultural and diplomatic cooperation between the two regions.

Significance of the event:

  • The event coincides with the 25th anniversary of India-ASEAN dialogue partnership, which will be marked by a summit on Jan. 25 in New Delhi. ASEAN leaders have been invited by India to be chief guests at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Jan. 26.

About Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD):


  • PBD is an annual event organised since 2003 by Ministry of External Affairs to foster greater interaction between the Indian Diaspora and Indian government.
  • It is held annually on 9 January to mark the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India i.e. on 9 January, 1915.
  • During the event, individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to appreciate their role in India’s growth.

Significance of PBD:

  • It is a very important platform for engagement of the Union Government and the state governments with the overseas Indian community.
  • It provides the single platform to Indian diaspora to put forth their issues and grievances before the government and in turn government can leverage their resources in nation building activities.
[Ref: PIB]


Defence & Security Issues

Defence Ministry approves projects worth ₹2420 crore for Navy, Army

The Union Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved procurement of P-8I Training Solution for Indian Navy and Low Intensity Conflict Electronic Warfare System (LICEWS) for Indian Army at total cost of Rs 2419.32 crore.


About P-8I Training Solution

  • The P-8I Training Solution will be brought from Boeing for Rs.1949.32 crore.
  • This training solution accurately simulates P-8I aircraft and mission systems. It will help Indian Navy realistically train and rehearse for sophisticated missions involving P-8I aircraft, at fraction of the cost of live aircraft training.
  • The P-8I aircraft manufactured by Boeing is equipped for long range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance in support of broad area, maritime and littoral operations.
  • It is capable of instant punitive response and maintaining watch over India’s immediate and extended areas of interest.


About Low Intensity Conflict Electronic Warfare System (LICEWS):

  • This system will be procured from Bharat Electronics Limited for Rs. 470 crore.
  • It will equip Indian Army with upgraded communications infrastructure that will help forces to effectively deal with advanced communications systems being used by terrorist groups.


  • The first P-8I aircraft was inducted in Indian Navy in 2013. As of date, 8 aircraft based at INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu have been fully integrated into Indian Naval operations. In 2016, MoD placed follow-on order for 4 additional P-8I and their delivery will begin in 2020.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]


Science & Technology

Railways’ bio-toilet project deeply flawed, reveals CAG report

The government’s auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report on bio-toilets has found 1,99,689 defects in 25,000 toilets installed in Railways.


  • According to the data released by CAG to Parliament, the Indian Railways needs to buy 3,350 truckloads of cow dung at Rs 42 crore in 2018 to “recharge”— add bacteria to activate degradation — leaky, malfunctioning ‘bio-toilets’ that it has fitted on 44.8% of trains and hopes to expand to all trains by 2018.


  • For 24 years, the Indian Railways have tried to find a solution to the 3,980 tonnes–497 truck-loads (at 8 tonnes per truck)–of excreta ejected from trains on to tracks every day. The latest effort was the installation of what are called “bio digesters” beneath train toilet seats where bacteria in a compost chamber digest excreta. But according to IIT, Madras findings, the bio-toilets are no better than “septic tanks” and the water they led out no better than “raw sewage”.

What are Bio-toilets?

  • Bio-toilets are small-scale sewage-treatment systems beneath the toilet seat: Bacteria in a compost chamber digest human excreta, leaving behind water and biogases (mainly methane and carbon dioxide).
  • Each bio-toilet requires 60 litres — or three large bucketfuls — of inoculum, a mix of cow dung and water. This inoculum begins the process of breaking down 3,980 tons of human excreta. Anaerobic bacteria are abundantly available in cow dung.

bio-toilet working ias

More about Bio-toilets:

  • Indian Railways in its commitment to provide hygienic environment to passengers and to keep station premises/tracks clean, have developed environment-friendly Bio-toilets for its passenger coaches.
  • The technology has been developed jointly by Indian Railways (IR) and Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) for railway passenger coaches through an MoU.
  • In the bio-toilet fitted coaches, human waste is collected in tanks below the toilets and the same is decomposed by a consortium of bacteria.
  • This environment friendly, low cost and robust technology, is the first of its kind in Railway Systems in the world.

Bio-toilets in Indian Railways:

  • The Railways ministry has provided 15,500 bio-toilets in 2015-16 in about 4,000 coaches, while till March 2015, it has fitted around 19,000 bio-toilets.
  • Indian Railways has decided to provide bio-toilets in all coaches by September 19, 2019.
[Ref: Economic Times, First Post]


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