Comprehensive News Analysis - 04 May 2017

Table of Contents:

A. GS1 Related:


1. 4,000 year old model garden found outside Egypt tomb

B. GS2 Related:


1. ‘Data leaks not from UIDAI, but from States’

2. NITI Aayog for more research, less teaching

C. GS3 Related:


1. Portal on mobile tower emissions

2. Package to resolve NPAs gets Cabinet nod


1. Endangered dholes to run free in Eastern Ghats


1. NASA’s inflatable greenhouse could produce oxygen on Mars, feed astronauts


1. BrahMos missile achieves rare feat


1. 21,000 fine on women using mobile phones in public in U.P. village

D. GS4 Related:
E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn
F. Bills/Acts/Schemes/Orgs in News
G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
H. Archives


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Useful News Articles for UPSC Current Affairs

A. GS1 Related


1. 4,000 year old model garden found outside Egypt tomb

What’s in news?

  • Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a nearly 4,000-year-old model 4,000 year old model garden found outside Egypt tombgarden outside a tomb in the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes.
  • The ten foot by seven foot garden consists of equally divided square plots each about a foot across.
  • It was found in an open courtyard outside a Middle Kingdom (2050 to 1800 BCE) tomb.

Cultural significance:

  • The garden probably had a symbolic meaning and must have played a role in the funerary rite.
  • The tiny square plots seem to have each contained different species of plants and flowers. In the middle there are two elevated spots for a small tree or bush. At one of the corners, the root and the trunk of a 4,000 year old small tree have been preserved to a height of a foot. Next to it, a bowl was found containing dates and other fruits, which could have been presented as an offering.
  • In ancient Egypt, the dead were traditionally surrounded by objects they enjoyed in life, so they could continue to enjoy them in the afterlife.
  • The team also discovered a small mud-brick temple attached to the tomb containing three stone slabs, one of which contained a dedication to the Egyptian gods Montu, Ptah, Sokar and Osiris.


B. GS2 Related


1. ‘Data leaks not from UIDAI, but from States’

What’s in news?

  • To address privacy and security concerns over Aadhaar, the Centre is in the process of educating government agencies that sensitive data must not be made public, and is drafting amendments to the Information Technology (IT) Act to strengthen provisions for data protection and security.

Area of focus: the new IT law will quell security concerns related to digital payments as well as privacy issues.

Data Leakages:

  • According to a report by the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS)- close to 135 million Aadhaar numbers and 100 million bank account numbers could have leaked from official portals dealing with government programmes of pensions and rural employment
  • With Aadhaar being used to authenticate and authorise transactions, the financial risks presented by the disclosure of such data are greatly exacerbated
  • As per the CIS report, the data in question has not been treated as confidential at all in several cases and the government agencies in question have, in fact, taken pains to publish them. “ These are wilful and intentional instances of treating Aadhaar numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) as publicly shareable data by the custodians of the data,” the CIS report noted.

2. NITI Aayog for more research, less teaching

What’s in news?

  • The National Institution for the Transformation of India (NITI) Aayog has recommended that faculty at “world class” institutions prioritise research and be allowed to “reduce their teaching responsibility,”
  • World class universities also ought to be allowed to recruit research staff from abroad and be encouraged to compete for research projects from industry.
  • Universities ought to be ranked according to metrics such as teaching, research output and funding won from the private sector.


  • This would ensure that investments in research better translate to more products and bolster “innovation and development”.

World class universities:

  • ‘World class universities’ are part of a government-outlined plan to raise funding for 10 public and 10 private universities and mould them into institutions that rank among the world’s best.  

‘National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation’

  • The NITI Aayog proposes setting up of a new ‘National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation’
  • Head– distinguished scientist.
  • Main Task:
  • Coordinate with science and technology departments, ministries, governments and private sector bodies and deliberate on national issues and recommend interventions.
  • Review progress of projects every six months and propose “course corrections” for achieving these goals.

New Database of schemes

  • Creation of a database of all existing schemes related to science and technology across ministries and departments.
  • Objectives behind creation of Database:
  • This will provide information on the coordinating ministry, its objectives and available funds.
  • Key purpose would be to avoid “duplication of efforts, reduce approval times, increase accountability and collaboration between entities and measured outcomes,”

Other notable recommendations:

  • More public private partnerships.
  • Given the government’s “limited funds” the NITI Aayog recommends research priorities to water management, agriculture, energy, waste management, health, connectivity and security.


C. GS3 Related


1. Portal on mobile tower emissions

What’s in news?

  • The Telecom Department has opened a web portal — ‘tarang sanchar’ — to allay misconceptions and fear of health issues due to Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF) emissions from mobile phone towers.
  • One can check any tower and its EMF signal compliance status on this web portal.
  • Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said, “some people have been propagating myths and misconceptions” about EMF emissions to prevent development, adding that the Centre has been making efforts to dispel such myths.

2. Package to resolve NPAs gets Cabinet nod

What’s in news?

  • The government cleared a package to resolve the persistent rise in non-performing assets that are plaguing public sector banks and denting credit growth.
  • The package includes an ordinance to amend the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 to empower the Reserve Bank of India to take more actions to check bad loans

Key fact:

  • Bad loans in the Indian banking system have gone up sharply in the last one year.
  • Reserve Bank of India data:
  • Gross NPA, as a percentage of gross advances went up to 9.1% in September 2016 from 5.1% in September 2015.
  • During the same period, stressed assets (which is gross NPA plus standard restructured advances and write-offs), moved up from 11.3% to 12.3% and some estimates suggested it had doubled since 2013.
  • Public sector banks share a disproportionate burden of this stress. Stressed assets in some of the public sector banks have approached or exceeded 20%.
  • Some estimates suggest the total stress in the Indian banking system is about ₹14 lakh crore.

Other measures:

  • The Union Cabinet also kicked off the disinvestment process for hotels owned by the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC). The government’s stakes will be offloaded in Ashok Hotels in Bharatpur, Guwahati and Bhopal.
  • Policy to give “preference to domestically manufactured iron and steel products” for government’s infrastructure projects
  • The Centre also approved a National Steel Policy 2017 aimed at attracting ₹10 lakh crore investments in the steel sector by 2030-31.
  • A central sector scheme, SAMPADA was approved with an allocation of ₹ 6,000 crore in a bid to decrease agro-waste and modernise processing.


1. Endangered dholes to run free in Eastern Ghats

What’s in news?

  • Endangered and hard-to-spot dholes, or Indian wild dogs, will soon test their fortunes in the Eastern Ghats.
  • The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP), running a conservation breeding centre for the species, plans to reintroduce a pack of 16 into the forests.
  • Dholes are protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and listed as ‘endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Attempts to save other species:
  • Darjeeling’s Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park had a programme for the red panda
  • Pygmy Hog Conservation Programme was undertaken in Assam.

Basic Information:

  • The pygmy hog (Porcula salvania) is a critically endangered suid, previously spread across India, Nepal, and Bhutan, but now only found in Assam.The current world population is about 150 individuals or fewer.
  • The red panda (Ailurus fulgens), also called the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, and the red cat-bear, is a mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China. The red panda has been classified as Endangered by the IUCN because its wild population is estimated at less than 10,000 mature individuals and continues to decline due to habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and inbreeding depression, although red pandas are protected by national laws in their range countries.


1. NASA’s inflatable greenhouse could produce oxygen on Mars, feed astronauts

What’s in news?

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists have designed an inflatable greenhouse that astronauts could one day use to grow fresh food and produce oxygen on Mars or Moon.
  • The prototype involves an inflatable, deployable greenhouse to support plant and crop production for nutrition, air revitalisation, water recycling and waste recycling.

How it works?

  • Astronauts exhale carbon dioxide, which is introduced into the greenhouse, and the plants then generate oxygen through photosynthesis.
  • The water cycle begins with water that is brought along or found at the lunar or Martian landing site. Water is oxygenated, given nutrient salts, and it continuously flows across the root zone of the plants and returned to the storage system.


1. BrahMos missile achieves rare feat

What’s in news?

  • The Army carried out a successful test of the advanced BrahMos Block III Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Range: It brings the strategic Malacca straits under its control.
  • Importance: Precise capabilities of BrahMos missile for quick sea access and denial in the event of a conflict, and its testing in the Andaman Sea is a reflection of the changing dynamics in the Indian Ocean.

Key Fact:

  • BrahMos is a product of joint collaboration between India and Russia and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets.
  • The range of the supersonic missile was initially capped at 290 km as per the obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Since India’s entry into the club, the range has been extended to 450 km and the plan is to increase it to 600km.

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is a multilateral export control regime. It is an informal and voluntary partnership among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km.


1. 21,000 fine on women using mobile phones in public in U.P. village

What’s in news?

  • New prohibitory orders in a Village in Mathura: Women’s are prohibited from using mobile phones in public.
  • Fine: 2,100 for breaking the above orders. 

Who made this diktat?

  • A Muslim- dominated village panchayat.
  • The diktat is issued by male-only panchayat of Mandora village. 

Reason given: It is aimed at preventing girls from eloping with boys.

Other measures that were taken:

  • To curb cow-slaughtering:
  • Impose a penalty of ₹5 lakh on anyone found involved in cow slaughter
  • Reward of ₹51,000 was announced for those who provide information about cow slaughter.
  • The fine for drinking alcohol in the village was fixed at 2,100 and for selling alcohol at 1,11,000.

Points to be noted:

  • Cow- slaughtering banned by a Muslim- dominated village panchayat.
  • Reason for banning cow- slaughtering: It hurts the belief of our fellow Hindu brother. The biggest sin in Islam is hurting someone.

Curbs on women’s freedom: it restricts the freedom guaranteed under the Constitution.


D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for Today

Prelims worthy Factual Information
  • Rectified spirit: Rectified spirit, also known as neutral spirits, rectified alcohol, or ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin is highly concentrated ethanol which has been purified by means of repeated distillation, a process that is called rectification.
  • In some countries (e.g. India), denatured alcohol or denatured rectified spirit may commonly be available as “rectified spirit”, but this is poisonous and depending on one’s body size, ingestion can be fatal.
  • Neutral spirits are used in the production of blended whisky, cut brandy, some liqueurs, and some bitters.
  • As a consumer product, it is almost always mixed with other beverages to create such drinks as punch, or is sometimes added to cocktails in place of vodka or rum and is used in Jello shots.
  • Rectified spirits are also used for medicinal tinctures, and as a household solvent. It is sometimes drunk undiluted, however as the alcohol is very high-proof, overconsumption can cause alcohol poisoning more quickly than with more traditional distilled spirits.


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E. Concepts-in-News: Related Concepts to Revise/Learn


F. Bills/Acts/Schemes/Orgs in News
ACTS IN NEWS About the Article
Article 123. Power of President to promulgate Ordinances during recess of Parliament

(1) If at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinance as the circumstances appear to him to require

(2) An Ordinance promulgated under this article shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament, but every such Ordinance

  • (a) shall be laid before both House of Parliament and shall cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the reassemble of Parliament, or, if before the expiration of that period resolutions disapproving it are passed by both Houses, upon the passing of the second of those resolutions; and
  • (b) may be withdrawn at any time by the President Explanation Where the Houses of Parliament are summoned to reassemble on different dates, the period of six weeks shall be reckoned from the later of those dates for the purposes of this clause

(3) If and so far as an Ordinance under this article makes any provision which Parliament would not under this Constitution be competent to enact, it shall be void

SCHEMES IN NEWS About the Scheme
SAMPADA (Scheme For Agro-Marine Processing And Development Of Agro-Processing Clusters) 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for re-structuring the schemes of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) under new Central Sector Scheme – SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) for the period 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle.

Objective: to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease agri-waste.

SAMPADA is an umbrella scheme incorporating ongoing schemes of the Ministry like Mega Food Parks, Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure, Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure, etc. and also new schemes like Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters, Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages, Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities.

It includes new schemes of

  • Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters
  • Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages
  • Creation / Expansion of Food Processing & Preservation Capacities aim at development of modern infrastructure to encourage entrepreneurs to set up food processing units based on cluster approach, provide effective and seamless backward and forward integration for processed food industry by plugging gaps in supply chain
  • Creation of processing and preservation capacities and modernization/ expansion of existing food processing units.

The implementation of SAMPADA will result in

  • Creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.
  • Provides better prices to farmers and is a big step towards doubling of farmers’ income.
  • Create huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas.
  • Helps in reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level, availability of safe and convenient processed foods at affordable price to consumers and enhancing the export of the processed foods.


G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1: Recently Government of India introduced a new scheme- 
“SAMPADA”. Its primary focuses on which sector?
  1. Food Processing.
  2. Mining
  3. Women Empowerment
  4. None of the above
Question 2: The main aim of ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana’ is ___
  1. Providing irrigation facilities for organic farming
  2. Promoting sprinkler-irrigation among agriculturists in water-scarce and hill regions
  3. Promoting the utilisation of renewable energy in irrigation-intensive regions
  4. Providing some means of protective irrigation to all agricultural farms in the country

Question 3: The Right to Vote in India is _______.
  1. A constitutional right
  2. A statutory right
  3. Both a and b
  4. Neither a nor b
Question 4: Which one of the following city’s Heat Action Plan – to cope with 
heatwaves – was the first of its kind to be formulated in South Asia
  1. Adilabad
  2. Ahmedabad
  3. Hyderabad
  4. Allahabad


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