Current Affairs Analysis

9th August 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

MAA programme; Classical Languages; Ponzi schemes; ‘Kafala’ System; Selfie Danger Zone; RO-RO Service; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
August 09, 2016


Polity & Governance

  • Health Minister launches MAA programme to promote breastfeeding
  • Madras High Court disposes plea against classical status to non-Tamil languages


  • Ponzi schemes not under our purview: SEBI

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Saudi King orders resolution of foreign workers’ issues

Key Points for Prelims

  • Daughters Day
  • Selfie Danger Zone
  • RO-RO Service Between Kolkata and Varanasi
  • “Connecting Global Climate Action” report
  • RBI launches ‘Sachet’ portal to check illegal money collection
  • Dhrubajyoti Ghosh gets global green award


Polity & Governance

Health Minister launches MAA programme to promote breastfeeding

Government launched National Breastfeeding Promotion Programme— MAA (mothers’ absolute affection) to ensure adequate awareness is generated among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding.

Details of the programme:

  • The goal of the Programme that will continue for a year, is to enhance optimal breastfeeding practices, which includes initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and continued breastfeeding for at least two years.
  • The programme will be monitored by UNICEF and other partners.
  • The government will train nurses in government hospitals, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives (ANM) to provide relevant information and counselling support to mothers for breastfeeding.
  • Monitoring and impact assessment is also an integral part of MAA programme. Progress will be measured against key indicators, such as availability of skilled persons at ground for counselling, improvement in breastfeeding practices and number of accredited health facilities.
  • Dedicated funds— Rs 4.3 lakhs per district, have been allocated to states for the programme, which is in addition to the funds approved under National Health Mission’s annual project implementation plans.
  • To ensure effective roll-out of the programme ministry of health has established MAA secretariat and a steering committee will be created in all states and at the district level.
  • UNICEF has roped in actor Madhuri Dixit as brand ambassador to promote breastfeeding.

Importance of breast feeding:

Importance of breast feeding

  • 13%: children die below 5 yrs of age, owing to poor breastfeeding practices
  • 823 000: child deaths can be averted every year.
  • 1,56,000: child deaths could be reduced in India with breastfeeding
  • 4 million: respiratory infection episodes can be reduced
  • 9 million: Diarrhoea episodes can be reduced
  • 15 times: children are more likely to die of pneumonia who are not breastfed
  • 11 times: children are more likely to die of diarrhoea
  • 20,000: mothers’ deaths due to breast cancer can be averted globally f mothers breastfeed for more than a year
  • 3 to 4 points: Increase in IQ, depending on the duration of breastfeeding

Risk of artificial feeding

Indian scenario:

  • 7%: deliveries take place in hospitals
  • 6%: children receive breastfeeding within one hour of birth
  • 9%: exclusively breastfed for the first six months
  • 5%: children between 6-8 months given complementary foods

Optimal Breast feeding Practices include:

Optimal Breast feeding

  • Breastfeeding within an hour of birth
  • Breast-milk alone is the best food and drink for an infant for the first six months of life
  • But allow infant to receive ORS, drops, syrups of vitamins, minerals and medicines when required
  • After 6 months, introduce semi-solid, soft food along with breast feeding up to two years
  • From 6 up to 12 months, breast milk provides half of the child’s nutritional needs
  • From the age of 6–8 months a child needs to eat two to three times per day and three to four times per day starting at 9 months – in addition to breastfeeding
  • The baby should be fed small amounts of food that steadily increase in variety and quantity as he or she grows
  • During an illness, children need additional fluids and encouragement to eat regular meals, and breastfeeding infants need to breastfeed more often.
[Ref: PIB, Hindustan Times]


Madras High Court disposes plea against classical status to non-Tamil languages

Madras High Court recently declined to interfere with the grant of classical status to languages other than Tamil by the Central government.

  • The court was disposing of petitions challenging the grant of classical status to Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Odiya and norms governing such conferment.

What has the Madras High Court said?

  • The court said that an expert body set up for the purpose was satisfied that these languages met the criteria and the court could not go into the body’s opinions and findings.
  • The court also said it disagreed with the petitioner’s stand that the prominence of Tamil language would be lost if it was treated on par with the other languages, which have been conferred classical status.

Classical languages of India:

In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that met certain requirements could be accorded the status of a “Classical Language in India”.

Languages thus far declared to be Classical are:


Criteria for Classical Languages in India:

The government of India currently follows the following criteria to determine the eligibility of language to be considered for classification as “classical language”:

  1. High antiquity of its early texts/ recorded history over a period of 1500-2000 years.
  2. A body of ancient literature/ texts, which is considered a valuable heritage by generations of speakers.
  3. The literary tradition be original and not borrowed from another speech community.
  4. The classical language and literature being distinct from modern, there may also be a discontinuity between the classical language and its later forms or its offshoots.

Key facts:

  • The Constitution of India does not give any language the status of national language.
  • The Constitution of India designates the official language of the Government of India as Standard Hindi written in the Devanagari script, as well as English.
  • The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists 22 languages, which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given recognition, status and official encouragement.
  • In addition, the Government of India has awarded the distinction of classical language to Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Odia.
[Ref: The Hindu, Wiki]



Ponzi schemes not under our purview: SEBI

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) denied any regulatory purview over ponzi schemes, squarely placing the responsibility of protecting investors on State governments.


  • SEBI was responding to the Supreme Court’s poser as to what the government and the market regulator were doing to check the “menace” of schemes running across the country in various forms which robbed the poor and small investors of their hard-earned money.

SEBI noted that:

  • Ponzi schemes do not fall under the regulatory purview of SEBI.
  • It is banned under the Prize Chit and Money Circulation (Banning) Act, 1978 and the State government concerned is the enforcement agency.
  • Though it is a Central Act, the respective State governments are the enforcement agency of this law.

What is the meaning of Ponzi schemes?


A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors.

  • The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi, who became notorious for using the technique in 1920.
  • The Ponzi scheme generates returns for older investors by acquiring new investors.
  • This is similar to a pyramid scheme in that both are based on using new investors’ funds to pay the earlier backers.

Why do Ponzi schemes collapse?

  • With little or no legitimate earnings, Ponzi schemes require a consistent flow of money from new investors to continue. Ponzi schemes tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out.
[Ref: The Hindu]


Bilateral & International Relations

Saudi King orders resolution of foreign workers’ issues

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has ordered authorities to address “once and for all” the grievances of distressed foreign workers, especially Indians and the Filipinos, stranded in the Kingdom after not being paid for months.

  • The King, in a series of directives, ordered the authorities, to oblige companies who have contracts with the government to pay the salaries of their employees in accordance with the government’s Wage Protection Programme.


  • The King’s directives come amid increasing complaints by workers that they have not been paid their salaries for months.

What is the issue?

  • The Saudi government was forced to cut its spending last year on the back of plummeting oil prices.
  • As a result, it created pressure on the financials of local construction companies. Such firms employ foreign workers and rely on state contracts.
  • The resultant strain on the firms led to nearly 10,000 workers being laid off, and left them with no money to even eat food. More than 2,500 Indians are said to be living in labour camps with no food for the past 10 days.

Are Indian migrant workers treated well in normal circumstances?

  • Wrongful treatment by the employer is an open secret about these nations.
  • Such workers, sometimes, are detained even after their work documents expire. They are usually paid very less or no salary for months together.
  • Currently, a total of 7,700 affected Indian workers are living in 20 camps in the country and the embassy is in the process of collecting information about others residing in different parts of Saudi Arabia.
  • The crux of the problem is the ‘kafala’ system. Under the system, migrant workers’ visas are tied to the employers so that they cannot change jobs without the consent of their employers, Human Rights Watch says.
  • The system is prevalent in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and UAE.

What are the Indian government’s plans?

  • The government has announced that it will be evacuating all the workers that are stuck there and bring them back home.
  • Minister of State, VK Singh, will also be travelling to the nation to help in the evacuation process.
  • The citizens are likely to be evacuated by airlifting them.
  • However, reports also indicate that the number of people to be evacuated may be more than estimated and that India may send a ship to rescue them.
  • The Centre will also be urging authorities in Saudi Arabia to help with exit visas and release the arrears of Indian workers as well.
[Ref: The Hindu, BS]


Key Points for Prelims

Daughters Day

The Ministry of Women and Child Development launched a social media campaign to mark the Daughters Day to be celebrated on 11th August 2016.

  • The coming week will be celebrated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development as Daughters’ Week, as part of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme.
  • Through social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter etc., users from across the country will post photographs online with their Daughters, Daughters-in-law and Granddaughters using the hashtag #BBBPDaughtersWeek.
[Ref: PIB]


Selfie Danger Zone

Selfie Danger Zone

  • In the wake of several deaths reported while taking selfies in the recent past, the Centre issued an advisory to state governments to mark Selfie Danger Zone at accident-prone locations of tourist sites.
  • The State Governments of Karnataka and Maharashtra have taken measures to create awareness through signages indicating danger zones including selfie danger zones.


RO-RO Service Between Kolkata and Varanasi

  • The Kolkata-Varanasi stretch of Ganga will be used for ‘roll-on and roll-off’ (RO-RO) service to transport cars between these two points next month.
  • In this regard, an MoU has been signed between the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Maruti Suzuki India Ltd.
  • The trial run will be for a cargo vessel weighing 1,000 tonnes.
  • Ro-Ro terminals with investment of Rs 120 cr has also been taken up to reduce road distance and facilitate connection between two banks of Ganga.


“Connecting Global Climate Action” report

  • The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has published the report “Connecting Global Climate Action” in 2015.
  • This report outlines the progress the Travel and Tourism sector has made since the initial publication of “Leading the Challenge on Climate Change” and the sectors’ renewed commitments and priorities and serves as a roadmap for further industry collaboration and collective advancement.


RBI launches ‘Sachet’ portal to check illegal money collection

To curb illegal and unauthorised pooling of funds by unscrupulous firms, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched a website ( which will help people obtain information about entities allowed to collect deposits.

  • This website will enable public to obtain information regarding entities who accept deposits, lodge complaints and also share information regarding illegal acceptance of deposits.
[Ref: BS]


Dr. Dhrubajyoti Ghosh gets global green award

Dr. Dhrubajyoti Ghosh was conferred with the Luc Hoffman award.

Ecologist Dhrubajyoti Ghosh
Ecologist Dhrubajyoti Ghosh
  • He is the first Indian environmental activist to receive this award.
  • The award is one of the highest international awards in environmental leadership.
  • Ghosh was involved in mapping East Kolkata Wetlands and calculating its economic value.
  • His untiring efforts led to the listing of the East Kolkata Wetlands as a wetland of international importance by the Ramsar Convention in 2002.
[Ref: The Hindu]


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