Essential Facts (Prelims): 13th Feb, 2019


Category: Defence & Security

  • The Army signed a contract with U.S. for SIG716 assault rifles for front-line soldiers deployed in operational areas.
  • The broad parameters for the weapon are an effective range of 500 m and weight of less than 3 kg.
  • The new rifles will replace the Indian National Small Arms System (INSAS) rifles.
  • This is the first project to be executed through the strategic partnership policy.
  • Under this, the chosen Indian private company will team up with the Original Equipment Manufacturer to build the product in India.
  • The EoI follows the Request for Information (RFI).

India- Maldives

Category: International

  • India and Maldives exchanged an agreement to facilitate visas for travel between the two countries.
  • Under the agreement, the government will free up the visa regime for Maldives citizens who travel to India for medical reasons and for education in particular.
  • The government has also agreed to grant visas for parents and other dependants to live in India while their children attend school here.
  • The agreement will ease visas on arrival for Indian businessmen, and bring cheer to Indians applying for work in the Maldives.
  • Indians are the second largest expatriate community in the Maldives, numbering about 22,000.
  • If a child from Maldives is being educated in India, his/ her entire family will get dependent visas.
  • For Indian professionals applying for employment visa in the island country, the employers will pay the fees and will get the paperwork done within 15 days.

Lighthouse projects

Category: Social sector

  • The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has instituted a challenge for States/ UTs to select six sites across the country for constructing the Lighthouse projects under GHTC-India.
  • The winning six States/ UTs that score the highest marks across the prescribed criteria will be awarded lighthouse projects.
  • The States/ UTs will receive Central Assistance to construct these projects.


Category: Environment & ecology

  • The Gujarat forest department confirmed the presence of a tiger in the state, almost 25 years after the feline was last spotted in the forests of Dangs in the southern part of the state.
  • The Gir National Park and Sanctuary, home to Asiatic lions, is located around 500 kms from Lunawad-Santrampur forest where tiger was spotted.
  • The 1992 tiger census had reported the extinction of the animal from the state.
  • The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the ministry of environment and forests, included Gujarat in its tiger census in 2018 — the first time since 1992.
  • The Gujarat government is likely to start tiger safaris soon with a tag line, “One state in India to have both tigers and lions”.


Category: Agriculture

  • PM-KISAN scheme, which will enable cash transfers to small and marginal farmers, will be headed by a chief executive officer (CEO) and the programme will run on a centralized software platform with realtime monitoring.
  • an official familiar with the details of the initiative said on condition of anonymity.
  • To implement the scheme, the government will rely on a ‘management information system platform’, a software that will connect states, banks and farmers
  • The scheme will offer Rs 6,000 a year in three instalments to all farmers who own cultivable land parcels under two hectares.
  • The CEO will be a civil servant.
  • Cash will be transferred by the Centre to beneficiaries electronically through the “State Notional Account”, a mechanism similar to the one being used for paying beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
  • Each inclusion of beneficiaries will need to be accompanied by a self-declaration that the prospective beneficiary doesn’t fall within the criteria of those excluded from the scheme, such as taxpayers and government employees.

NUH Project

Category: Defence & security

  • Govt is to build 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH) in the country to replace the navy’s outdated fleet of French-designed Chetak choppers.
  • Defence minister-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared the NUH project under the government’s strategic partnership (SP) model that seeks to provide impetus to the Make in India programme.
  • The SP model envisages local manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian strategic partner, which will collaborate with a foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to set up production facilities in India.
  • The helicopters are expected to have an indigenous content of 60%.
  • As part of the NUH project, 16 choppers would be bought in a flyaway condition from the foreign OEM, and the remaining 95 will be built in the country.
  • The SP policy stipulates that “a minimum number of platforms, not exceeding 10-15% of the units being procured, may be manufactured on the premises of the original equipment manufacturer”.
  • The navy uses such choppers for search and rescue operations, medical evacuation, communication duties, anti-piracy and antiterrorism operations, humanitarian assistance and surveillance and targeting.