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The UPSC Daily


18th May 2017

-Achievers IAS Academy

Note:  The following Current affairs has been selected from AIR, PIB, PRS,BBC, The Hindu, IDSA (Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses), Live mint, Indian Express, Quora.com,Hindustan Times, Telegraph,The Times ,WTO,New Indian express , The guardian and is highly recommended for UPSC prelims and mains





In news :Union Cabinet  gave its ex-post facto approval to Pan-India implementation of Maternity Benefit Programme. The programme now has been extended to all districts of the country from 1st of January this year.

  • Ministry of Women and Child Development, formulated a scheme for pregnant and lactating mothers called Maternity Benefit Programme – a conditional cash transfer scheme.
  • The Scheme provides cash incentives to pregnant and lactating women
  • Under the scheme, all Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM), excluding the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers who are in regular employment with the Central Government or State Governments or Public Sector Undertakings or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being are eligible.
  • The cash incentive of Rs.6,000/- is payable in three instalments for the first two live births.
  • The cash transfer would be Aadhaar linked through the individual bank/post office account etc. in DBT mode
  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme and the cost sharing between Centre and States is 60:40 for all the States and UTs (with legislature), 90:10 for NER and Himalayan States and 100% GoI share for UTs without legislatures

Merits :

  • it will not only provide them compensation for the wage loss but will also provide them adequate nutrition and rest before and after delivery.
  • Mothers will have sufficient time to breastfeed the child during first six months of the birth.

Resultantly, it is expected that it will reduce mother mortality rate, IMR, under-nutrition and its adverse effects.



In news :Cabinet has approved building of ten units of indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors for India in a boost to domestic nuclear industry.

The decision will link government's goal of a strong nuclear power sector with indigenous capacity in high-end technology.

It will help generate orders of almost 70,000 crore rupees to domestic industry and add 7,000 Mega Watt capacity. The project is expected to generate more than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment.

India has current installed nuclear power capacity of 6780 MW from 22 operational plants. Another 6700 MWs of nuclear power is expected to come onstream by 2021-22 through projects presently under construction.

The approval also marks a statement of strong belief in the capability of India’s scientific community to build our technological capacities. The design and development of this project is a testament to the rapid advances achieved by India’s nuclear scientific community and industry. It underscores the mastery our nuclear scientists have attained over all aspects of indigenous PHWR technology. India’s record of building and operating PHWR reactors over the last nearly forty years is globally acclaimed.

The Cabinet’s decision reflects the Government’s commitment to prioritise the use of clean power in India’s energy mix, as part of low-carbon growth strategy and to ensure long-term base load requirement for the nation’s industrialization.

In news :Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatraya will participate in the two-day G20 Labour and Employment Ministers' Meet to be held in Germany

The G20 (or G-20 or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.

It was founded in 1999 with the aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.

In news :NITI Aayog holds first 'Samavesh' meeting

The NITI Aayog held the first meeting of the National Steering Group and other knowledge partners in New Delhi.

The meeting aimed at bringing together 32 premier educational and policy research institutions to catalyse the development process to enhance institutional capacity development and a field level interface with the community for New India 2022.

this is the first ever initiative taken in the country to bring the large number of institutions cutting across diverse domain themes to deliberate together on the way forward for inclusive development of the country.

The meeting witnessed signing of MoUs between NITI Aayog and major think tanks across the country to create an ecosphere of evidence based policy research.

This network will enable efficient knowledge sharing and information exchange among all partners to fulfil their role in transformative policy reform to achieve a sustainable and more inclusive development.

In news :The new coal linkage policy for power plants will help producers ensure fuel supplies in an organised manner.

The government’s initiatives as well as international market conditions have helped bring down price of the dry fuel and boosted domestic production. But a mechanism is required for providing coal linkages to power plants at competitive rates.

According to sources, the new policy will address this concern and put in place a proper mechanism for sourcing of the dry fuel by the power plants as per their schedules.

Named Shakti or the Scheme to Harness and Allocate Koyla (Coal) Transparently in India, it aims to auction long-term coal linkages to power companies. It is expected to immediately revive 30,000 Mw of power plants in the country, which are awaiting fuel supply.
Major beneficiaries in the private sector are Reliance Power, Adani Power, Lanco Infratech, GMR Energy, DB Power, CESC and KSK Energy. With this policy, the government also aims to reduce dependence on imported coal.
The policy was languishing for over a year now, as it was difficult to reach consensus of several stakeholders.
“Power plants would now stop procuring imported coal. Production has increased in the country to meet demand and will continue to grow. In the past three years of the (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi government, power prices have not increased. Our effort is (to ensure) they would not in future. All plants will now get coal supply in time,” said Piyush Goyal, Union minister of state (independent charge) for coal, power, mines and new and renewable energy.
Under the new policy, coal linkages would be awarded to designated state-owned power distribution companies (discoms). These, in turn, would assign linkages to state or central power generation companies via allocation, and through auction to private units.
The independent power producers (IPPs) participating in the auction will bid for discount on the existing tariff and this would be adjusted from the gross coal bills, said a government statement
Power requirement of a group of states can be aggregated; procurement of power on tariff-based bidding would be made by a designated agency. Coal linkages would be earmarked for such agencies.
Of the planned 108,000 Mw power generation after 2009, coal demand for 78,000 Mw is being met.
Coal India meets 67% demand; it will increase to 90% this financial year.
About 30,000-Mw power is yet to be allocated. Of this, 20,000 Mw of plants would come up soon, without any power-purchase agreements (PPAs). In these projects, 14,000 Mw are privately owned.
According to government calculations, the total demand from the unregulated sector is 919 million tonnes.
The future linkages for supply of coal to IPPs without PPA shall be on the basis of auction where bidding for linkage shall be done over the notified price of the coal company.
“The policy envisages power plants to give discount on their tariffs to get linkages. This could lead to under-recovery by the units. But that is still better than no fuel supply. But the dual policy to allocate linkage to state units and auction to private is against the terms of the tariff policy,” said a senior sector expert.
The policy though has brought immediate cheer for the private power units which were awaiting fuel supply. Most of the thermal power projects were on the verge of turning into non-performing assets (NPAs), as they could not sell power despite having PPAs because they lacked fuel supply.
The policy would also benefit future projects which don’t yet have any PPAs.
“We are expecting to get 100% annual contracted quantity of linkage coal supply, compared to the current levels of partial supply. This will improve the merit order dispatch position of the plants and profitability,” said a senior executive at Reliance Power.
“The linkage policy spares project developers the up-front capital costs and risks of a captive mine. The direct gains to treasury will be modest, as a result, but it’s a huge positive for state-owned coal companies who will enjoy robust volume growth,” said Kameswara Rao, leader — energy, utilities and mining, PwC India.

In news :Yemen cholera death toll mounts to 209: UNICEF

In Yemen, cholera outbreak has killed 209 people in recent weeks with 17,200 suspected cases across the war-torn country.

United Nations children's agency, UNICEF,  said that there had been an alarming increase in cholera-related deaths.


There are an estimated 3–5 million cases of cholera, a disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholera, each year. It is passed on through drinking water that has been contaminated with faeces from someone infected with the bacteria. Cholera causes vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to severe dehydration.

What are ion channels?

Ion channels are membrane proteins that, when open, allow ions (charged atoms) to pass through them into or out of the cell. Several different things can open ion channels: some ion channels open because of changes in voltage, and others open because of a chemical (ligand) binding to them. In cholera, dehydration occurs because of chloride ion channels.

A type of chloride ion channel called the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) normally allows chloride ions to flow out of cells. In small intestine cells the CFTR channel is used to adjust water levels: a higher concentration of chloride ions outside the cell will cause water to leave by osmosis. Cholera disrupts this process...... READ MORE



In news : Sri Lanka, which attended One Belt One Road conference in Beijing has backed India's concern over the Kashmir issue

India skipped the meeting due to its sovereignty concerns over the 50 billion dollars CPEC, which goes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The two-day conference in Beijing brought together leaders from 29 countries.



1.Indian teen designs 'KalamSat,' World’s lightest satellite that will be launched by NASA

2.UP CM forms ‘Maa’ committee to keep an eye on mid-day meals served to students


1.Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh has been adjudged as the cleanest railway station in category A1 followed by Secunderabad in Telangana and Jammu Tawi. This was revealed by Third Party Audit Report on Station Cleanliness released by Railway Ministry.

2.The picturesque Raneh waterfall near Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh has been awarded the Best Holiday Award-2017.

3. Anshu Jamsenpa, a native of Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh, conquered Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak on Tuesday morning for the fourth time, setting a new record.

4.Dr. Aravind Kumar Rengan has been awarded the prestigious Indian National Science Academy (INSA) medal in the Young Scientist category for 2017 for his research in cancer treatment.



Can Russia help India secure NSG berth?