A study ‘Linking farmers to futures market’ published on 8th August by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) highlighted the need to link small farmer organizations with futures market. Even the Finance Minister’s budget speech this year announced plans to create 10,000 new farmer producer organisations .... Read More
The Ministry of Agriculture has prepared an amendment law to the Seeds Act, 1966 recently.
Features of the Amendment
It aims to bring uniformity to the process of seed quality regulation.
The current law provides for regulation of the quality of ‘certain’ seeds for sale. The new Bill removes the word “certain”, and .... Read More
On 13th August, 2019 two major schemes — credit guarantee scheme for NBFCs/ Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) proposed in the Union Budget and priority sector status for bank lending to NBFCs for on-lending to agriculture, small units and housing were notified.
Credit Guarantee Scheme for NBFCs
Under the scheme, banks can purchase .... Read More
Finance Minister on 23rd August 2019 announced and called upon the need to set up a development bank to boost the economy.
Development banks or development finance institutions are financial institutions that provide long-term credit for capital-intensive investments spread over a long period and yielding low rates of return, such .... Read More
Union Finance Minister announced a slew of measures on 23rd August to stimulate the slowing economy.
State of the Economy
India’s GDP growth in January-March slid to a near five-year low of 5.8% and the growth in April-June quarter is expected to falter even further.
Domestic passenger vehicle sales, a key economic indicator, .... Read More
On 13th August 2019, a government-constituted high-level committee submitted its recommendations. The panel was set up in October 2018 under the chairmanship of Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas to review the existing CSR framework and make recommendations on strengthening the CSR ecosystem, including monitoring implementation and evaluation of outcomes.
Corporate Social .... Read More
On 21 August, 2019 a report on the micro-credit culture in India highlighted certain flaws in microcredit transactions which have led to reduced outcomes in the lives of its beneficiaries in a meaningful way.
It refers to the granting of very small loans to poor borrowers, to enable them for self-employment .... Read More
On 29 July the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019 has been passed by the parliament. The Bill seeks to prevent unregulated entities from collecting deposits and duping the poor and the gullible of their hard earned savings. It seeks to amend three laws, namely, the Reserve Bank of .... Read More
RBI on 26th August approved the transfer of Rs 1.76 lakh crore dividend and surplus reserves to the government. This amount will help government in stimulating the slowing economy without widening fiscal deficit. The excess reserve transfer is in line with the recommendation of former RBI governor Bimal Jalan-led panel .... Read More
In the last session of Parliament, the government acknowledged that only one-fourth of the air routes granted under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) or UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) have become operational. Flights have commenced so far on merely 186 out of 705 RCS routes it had offered to .... Read More
The automotive industry has been facing a slowdown in India. As per Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) data, there was a 26% dip in car sales in May 2019 versus last year, and consequently a nearly 8% fall in overall vehicle production. The current sales of vehicles have been .... Read More
On 21 August 2019, the Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship launched the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index-SARAL.
About the SARAL Index
The SARAL evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. It is the first of its kind .... Read More
On 14th August, 2019, the Union Textiles Ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding with 16 State governments to offer skill training programmes under the Samarth scheme (Scheme for capacity building in the textiles sector).
Benefits of the Agreements
Initially, the Ministry has allocated over 3.5 lakh targets to the agencies nominated by .... Read More
On 22 July, Ministry of Labour and Employment notified the Pradhan Mantri Laghu Vyapari Yojana, a pension scheme for retailers and traders. The scheme is an extension of the PM Shram Yogi Maan-dhan Yojana.
Features of the Scheme
It will make all beneficiaries eligible for a monthly pension of Rs 3000 after .... Read More
The Ministry of Finance has declared to merge 10 public sector banks into four.Indian Bank will be merged with Allahabad Bank (anchor bank - Indian Bank)PNB, OBC and United Bank to be merged (PNB will be the anchor bank)Union Bank of India, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank to be merged .... Read More
The Bimal Jalan Committee has recommended the alignment of the financial year of RBI (July to June) with the fiscal year of the government (April to March) from the financial year 2020-21.
Benefits according to the Committee
The RBI would be able to provide better estimates of the projected surplus transfers to .... Read More
On 10th August, 2019 Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry announced that the state-run oil marketing companies would procure the entire supply of biodiesel produced from used cooking oil for a three-year period.Biodiesel plants using used cooking oil as their raw material have been assured that their entire production will be .... Read More
On 1st August, a joint venture company namely Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL) was set up with the participation of three CPSUs namely, National Aluminium Company Ltd.(NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd.(HCL) and Mineral Exploration Company Ltd. (MECL). Its objective is to ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to .... Read More
Changes in FDI Policy
The Union Cabinet has introduced changes in foreign direct investment (FDI) regulations, including easing rules for overseas single-brand stores and permitting FDI through the automatic route in contract manufacturing and all areas of coal mining.
100% FDI under automatic route. Earlier only 100% in manufacturing; no specific .... Read More
Recently, most of the monuments at the World Heritage Site of Hampi were flooded with the release of water from Tungabhadra reservoir in Karnataka.
Group of Monuments at Hampi
The grandiose site of Hampi comprises mainly of the remnants of the Capital City ofVijayanagara Empire (14th-16th Cent CE), located in the Tungabhadra .... Read More
From 17th-25th August 2019, Aadi Mahotsav (National Tribal Festival), a joint initiative of Ministry of Tribal Affairs & Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) was celebrated at Polo Ground, Leh-Ladakh.
Theme of the festival was : “A celebration of the spirit of Tribal Craft, Culture and Commerce”.
The event had .... Read More
On 15th August Prime Minister announced the new Post of Chief of Defence Staff from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
Chief of Defence Staff
It is the post of combined head of Army, Navy and Airforce.
The scope of responsibility of the CDS is being worked out.
He would also provide major inputs .... Read More
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 5, 2019 by the Minister of Home Affairs and subsequently passed in Lok Sabha on 6th Aug 2019. The Bill provides for reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into the Union Territory of .... Read More
The Lok Sabha Passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019 on August 5, 2019. It defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.
Regulation of Surrogacy: It .... Read More
On 6th August, Parliament passed the Consumer protection bill 2019, which aims to protect the rights of consumers by establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ dispute and will replace the Consumer Protection Act of 1986.
It defines the “consumer” as a person who buys any .... Read More
Against the backdrop of rising cases in the Supreme Court, President of India has given assent to the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill 2019 to increase the strength of judges in the top court from the present 31 to 34, including the Chief Justice of India. At present, .... Read More
On 31st July, Lok Sabha passed the Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to amend the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956. It aims to speed up the resolution of long-festering inter-state water disputes by establishing a single central tribunal in place of the numerous existing ones.
Interminable Delay: .... Read More
On 7th August, President of India gave assent to the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2019 which is aimed at ushering in mega reforms in the medical education sector.
Salient Features of the Act
Repeals the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and dissolves the Medical Council of India.
Sets up National Medical Council .... Read More
The Rajasthan legislative assembly passed ‘The Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019’ on 5th August. With this, Rajasthan became the second state after Manipur to have a law against mob lynching.
Makes mob lynching a cognisable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence punishable with life imprisonment and a fine up to Rs .... Read More
The Rajasthan Assembly on 6th August passed The Rajasthan Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances in the Name of Honour and Tradition Bill 2019 against ‘Honour Killing’ with death penalty or life imprisonment for murdering couples in the name of family honour.
Punishment of death penalty or life .... Read More
Karnataka State Geographical Indications Policy aims to promote and market the more than 40 registered GI products from the State.
It has been initiated keeping into perspective certain facts:
Some GI handicrafts like Udupi sarees, Navalgund durries etc have only a few families to carry on the craft due to shift amongst .... Read More
The Safe Cities Index (SCI) 2019 by Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked 60 countries worldwide across five continents and measured the multi-faceted nature of urban safety, with indicators categorised as digital, infrastructure, health and personal security.
Mumbai has been ranked as the 45th safest city while Delhi stood at the 52nd .... Read More
The Himachal Pradesh Assembly has passed Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019 which will repeal the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2006.
It prohibits conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage or any fraudulent means. Any marriage for the sole purpose of conversion will also be declared .... Read More
NISHTHANISHTHA (National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement) is an initiative of Union Human Resource Development Ministry to improve learning outcomes at the elementary level.The basic objective of this massive training programme ‘NISHTHA’ is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students. .... Read More
Under the 100-days agenda of the newly elected government, Ministry of Health has decided to provide Rotavirus vaccine, (Rotavac), which wasintroduced in Universal Immunisation Programme in March 2016 on pilot basis, to every child across all 36 states and UTs by September, 2019.
It aims to end morbidity and mortality in .... Read More
On 22nd August the Union Minister for Textiles launched Project SU.RE, a move towards sustainable fashion.
SU.RE stands for ‘Sustainable Resolution’ – which is the first holistic firm commitment from the apparel industry to move towards fashion that contributes to a clean environment and to set a sustainable pathway for the .... Read More
The India child well-being report has been released on 27th August 2019, by World Vision India, one of the largest Child-focused NGO and IFMR LEAD, a research organisation based in India.
About the Index
It is a multi dimensional approach towards measuring Child Well Being going beyond mere income and uses 24 .... Read More
On 22nd August, 2019 the Vice-President of India completed his 5-day official tour to the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The visit was aimed at strengthening the bilateral engagements with the three nations, besides giving the relationships a fresh impetus in the context of a changing global .... Read More
PM paid two day visit to Bhutan on 17th-18th August 2019. This was his first visit to Bhutan after being re-elected as the PM.
Key Highlights of the Meeting
The PM congratulated the people of Bhutan for its graduation to the category of a Middle-Income country while simultaneously preserving its rich .... Read More
Indian PM has been invited by Russian President as the Chief Guest at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) meeting to be held between 4–6 September in Vladivostok, Russia. The summit will focus on economic cooperation between India and Russia in the area of Russian Far East.
Eastern Economic Forum (EEF)
The EEF .... Read More
In July, 2019 US asked the WTO to rethink its classification of developing countries (which can avail of special trade protections). It threatened to pull out from the WTO if the trade body does not treat the US fairly.
US targeted India and China in particular for “taking advantage” of .... Read More
India on 7th August, 2109 signed United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements (UNISA).
The UNGA adopted the UNISA on 20th December 2018 which was open to signature at a signing ceremony to be held on 7thAugust 2019 in Singapore and would be known as the “Singapore Convention on Mediation” (the .... Read More
On 7th August an agreement was signed between the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to initiate a skill development programme for different levels of beneficiaries in the solar thermal energy sector. NISE and UNIDO will engage national and international experts to .... Read More
During the recent visit of Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu six Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were exchanged between India and Zambia.
Indian military will be training Zambian armed forces. To increase the capacity of Zambian armed forces, Indian military and airforce training team will be stationed in Zambia.
India will also provide .... Read More
The Financial Action Task Force’s Asia Pacific Group (APG) has placed Pakistan on the lowest rung, or ‘blacklist’ for non-compliance and non-enforcement of safeguards against terror financing and money laundering.
The placing does not bring any new punitive measures on Pakistan; it will mean quarterly reporting to the group on improvement .... Read More
Chinese government has built accommodation facilities, called reception centres, at various points of the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage which entails a difficult trek to the high altitude Kailash Manasarovar, the Hindu holy site in Tibet.
The reception centres, each with about 150 beds, have rooms with charging points, a common kitchen and .... Read More
The PM attended the 45th Annual G7 summit in Biarritz, France from August 24 to 26 concluded under an overarching theme, ‘Fight against Inequalities’. French President invited; four partner countries, which promote democracy and have significant regional influence (Australia, Chile, India and South Africa); five African partners and civil society .... Read More
During 14-16 August, 2019 the BASIC countries (a grouping of Brazil, South Africa, India and China) held their 28th Ministerial meeting on Climate Change in Sao Paulo, Brazil. India was represented by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Highlights of the Meeting
BASIC countries expressing concern about the adverse effects .... Read More
There might be life on the Moon after all: thousands of virtually indestructible creatures that can withstand extreme radiation, sizzling heat, the coldest temperatures of the universe, and decades without food. These terrifying-sounding beings are not aliens but instead microscopic Earthlings known as tardigrades, who likely made it out alive .... Read More
Several meteor showers can be seen around the year. Among the brightest and best known of them is the Perseid Meteor Shower, which has been active from July to was observed August 26. The showers peaked on the night of the 19th and 20th August.
The Perseids occur as the .... Read More
Space effectively acts as a time machine - the further away we look, the further back in time we’re seeing as it also takes a greater amount of time for the light to reach our eyes. Using NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as a sort of time machine, researchers plan .... Read More
The daily exchange of data between antennas on Earth and those on NASA spacecraft at Mars is about to get much quieter for a few weeks because of Mars solar conjunction. For NASA’s spacecraft, this will happen between August 28 and September 7.
During Mars solar conjunction, Mars and Earth .... Read More
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has initiated the work to notify malaria in the capital, after the instruction by the Union Health Ministry to make Malaria and Dengue Notifiable diseases.
What is a Notifiable Disease?
Notified by Law: A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be .... Read More
India on August 4th, successfully test-fired a Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QRSAM) with 30-kilometre range from a test range off the Odisha coast. The missile successfully engaged its target during the flight test and met all the desired parameters.
Features of the Missile
Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), .... Read More
Treating drug-resistant tuberculosis — multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) — got a shot in the arm on August 14 when the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug Pretomanid. Pretomanid is only the third new anti-TB drug approved for use by FDA in more .... Read More
The ‘Deep Ocean Mission (DOM)’ to be led by the Union Earth Sciences Ministry will commence from October 31. A five-year, Rs. 8,000-crore plan to explore the deepest recesses of the ocean has finally got the green signal from the government.
About the Mission
Extract Polymetallic modules: One of the main aims .... Read More
Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) have completed the whole genome sequencing of a rare bacteria capable of producing antifungal and insecticidal compounds.
Bio Control its Applications
Biological control is a component of an integrated pest management strategy. It is defined as the reduction of .... Read More
TechEx – technology exhibition at IIT Delhi, was recently organized to demonstrate products and prototypes developed under the two flagship schemes of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) namely IMPacting Research, INnovation and Technology (IMPRINT) and UchhatarAvishkar Yojana (UAY).
Significance of this Exhibition
Provides Platform: TechEx is a unique effort, which .... Read More
India will launch its first human genome mapping project by October, a move that will help researchers get closer to developing effective therapies for treating diseases such as cancer.
In the first phase of the initiative called the Genome India project, the genomic data of 10,000 Indians will be catalogued. .... Read More
The Maharashtra Government cleared an Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) for Mumbai. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway will be the first stretch of road in Maharashtra to get an Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS).
Intelligent Traffic Management System
The system will comprise of a series of radar-based sensors and cameras to capture speed and .... Read More
Scientists have characterised the first potentially habitable world outside our own solar system located about 31 light-years away.
The super-Earth planet named GJ 357 d was discovered in early 2019 owing to NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a mission designed to comb the heavens for exoplanets.
The exoplanet is more .... Read More
On July 15, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) launched India’s first large-scale trial for two new tuberculosis (TB) vaccines. The new vaccines that are being put through the trials offer a chance to contain the accelerating spread of multi-drug resistant TB.
There are two vaccines being tested in .... Read More
NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission has obtained unprecedented high-time resolution multipoint particle and field measurements of an interplanetary shock event.
Interplanetary shocks are a type of collisionless shock — events where particles transfer energy through electromagnetic fields instead of directly bouncing into one another. These shocks are a phenomenon found .... Read More
The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on August 3rd, laid the foundation stone for the Space Situational Awareness Control Centre in Bengaluru.
The control centre would host a range of activities related to the protection of Indian space assets from inactive satellites, pieces of orbiting objects, near earth asteroids and .... Read More
India’s hyperloop dream moved one step closer to reality with the Maharashtra government approving the Virgin Hyperloop-DP World (VHO-DPW) consortium as the “original project proponent” of the proposed hyperloop track between Mumbai and Pune.
The hyperloop train (pod, to be specific) would reduce the travel time between Mumbai and Pune .... Read More
ISRO & CNES to build Satellite-based AIS
The world’s first space-based automatic identification system (AIS) to track merchant ships on a real-time basis will be built and operated jointly by India and France.
The French space agency National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have signed an .... Read More
On August 12, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed a year in service. It is part of NASA’s “Living with a Star” programme that explores different aspects of the Sun-Earth system.
Importance of the Mission
The mission’s central aim is to trace how energy and heat move through the Sun’s corona and to .... Read More
India’s proposal to upgrade the protection of star tortoises (Geochelone elegans), the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and small-clawed otters (Anoyx cinereus) in CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora) have been approved. These species have been listed under Appendix I of CITES and will .... Read More
A researcher has discovered a new species of marmoset, a type of primate in the Brazillian Amazon, even as its habitat is facing a flood of ‘developmental’ activities.
Habitat: The new marmoset was discovered by Rodrigo Costa Araújo of the National Institute of Amazonian Research in Brazil’s Pará state, which lies .... Read More
A new species of burrowing frog has been confirmed in Jharkhand’s Chhota Nagpur Plateau. The frog was first discovered in 2015. Its existence was verified and confirmed recently and published in the journal records of the Zoological Survey of India.
Name: It has been named as Spahaerotheca Magadha and will .... Read More
Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India have discovered two new species of freshwater fish from the north-eastern and northern parts of the country.
Region of Discovery: While Glyptothorax gopii, a new species of catfish was found in Mizoram’s Kaladan river, Garra simbalbaraensis was found in Himachal Pradesh’s Simbalbara river.
Features: .... Read More
Chennai has been lit for a couple of days now over the bright blue waves that are washing up on its beaches. The phenomenon is called sea sparkle.
Cause of this Phenomenon
This was caused by sea algae called Noctiluca scintillans, commonly referred to as sea sparkle. These are organisms that live .... Read More
According to data shared in Parliament by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, a quarter of India’s geographical area (24.49 per cent) is under forest and tree cover.These assessments are done by the Forest Survey of India, whose findings are published in the India State of Forest Report .... Read More
Record fires are raging in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, with more than 2,500 fires currently burning. They are collectively emitting huge amounts of carbon, with smoke plumes visible thousands of kilometers away.
Why does the amazon matter?
Biodiversity hot spot: The Amazon - 60% of which is in Brazil - is the world’s .... Read More
The Ministries of Earth Sciences and Agriculture have launched a mobile application that will provide location, crop and livestock-specific weather-based agro advisories to farmers in local languages. It has been developed by experts from the India Meteorological Department and Indian Institute of Tropical meteorology and the Indian Council of Agricultural .... Read More
A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents the most recent evidence on how the different uses of land — forests, agriculture, urbanisation — are affecting and getting affected by climate change.
The Land-Climate Link
Land use, and changes in land use, have always been an integral part .... Read More
World Biofuel Day is observed every year on 10th of August to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels and highlight the various efforts made by Government in the biofuel sector.
This year the theme of the World Biofuel Day is “Production .... Read More
Gogabeel, an ox-bow lake in Bihar’s Katihar district, has been declared as the state’s first ‘Community Reserve’. The water body was notified as a 57 hectare Community Reserve and a 30 hectare ‘Conservation Reserve’ on August 2, 2019.
Gogabeel is formed from the flow of the rivers Mahananda and Kankhar .... Read More
Student activist Greta Thunberg’s school strike movement marked its first anniversary on 20TH August after a year that has seen the schoolgirl rise from a solitary protester to a leading figure in the fight against climate change. After a two-week sail across the Atlantic, youth climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived .... Read More
International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
The Union Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval for the establishment of an International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) along with its supporting Secretariat Office in New Delhi.
The CDRI will serve as a platform where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of .... Read More
The Environment Ministry has unveiled a draft plan that will dictate how prospective infrastructure projects situated along the coast ought to be assessed before they can apply for clearance. The draft Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) is part of a World Bank-funded project.
Highlights of the Project
Guidelines for Coastal States: .... Read More
Union HRD Minister launched ‘Samagra Shiksha-Jal Suraksha’ drive on 9th August 2019 to create awareness about Water Conservation among all school students in the country.
Five Major Objectives
1.To educate students learn about conservation of water
2.To sensitize Students about the impact of scarcity of water
3.To empower Students to learn to protect the .... Read More
According to a new study, tiny particles of plastic, known as microplastics, have been found in the Arctic region and the Alps, carried by the wind. The study called for an urgent assessment of the risk of inhalation of the microplastics.
Microplastics are particles less than 5 mm in size butit .... Read More
According to an analysis of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) data released by environmental NGO Greenpeace, India has more than 15 percent of all anthropogenic sulphur dioxide (SO2) hotspots in the world detected by the OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) satellite.
Major Hotspots in India
The major SO2 emission hotspots in India .... Read More
According to the first-ever global assessment of forest biodiversity by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), there has been a 53 per cent decline in the number of forest wildlife populations since 1970.
Highlights of the Report
The new findings were based on the Forest Specialist Index, developed following the Living Planet .... Read More
Nigeria became the fourth African country to join the Global Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators on July 25, 2019.
About the Organisation
The organisation was formed three years ago, to follow up on the findings of IPBES Assessment on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production, which found that many of the world’s .... Read More
Civil Services Chronicle: Achieving top slot in the Judicial Services Examination is no small feet; accept our heartiest congratulations on your splendid success.Neha Saini : Thank you so much.CSC: Can you recall the exact moment when you realized the importance of Judicial Services?Neha: My father is a judicial officer. So, .... Read More
Former Minister of External Affairs of India Sushma Swaraj has passed away.
She was the second woman to hold this office, after Indira Gandhi.
At the age of 25 in 1977, she became the youngest cabinet minister of Haryana.
She also served as 5th Chief Minister of Delhi for a .... Read More
National Sports Awards are given every year to recognize and reward excellence in sports.
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Given for the spectacular and most outstanding performance in the field of sports by a sportsperson over a period of four years.
Arjuna Award: Given for consistently outstanding performance for four years.
Dronacharya Award: .... Read More
Wing Commander Shaliza Dhami became the first woman officer of the Indian Air Force to become the Flight Commander of a flying unit. Flight Commander is the second in command of the unit.
Wing Commander Dhami, serving for 15 years now, has been flying choppers. She became the first woman .... Read More
VG Somani has been appointed as Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
DCGI heads the Indian drug regulatory body the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), whose functions include ensuring the quality of drugs and cosmetics sold in the country, approval of new drugs and regulating clinical trials.
Chandrima Shaha .... Read More
After seeing the increasing number of tigers in Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) the Bihar government has initiated to develop second tiger reserve in Kaimur forests.
Kaimur forests are surrounded by three states - Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
Indonesia’s capital city is to be relocated to the province of .... Read More
NABCONS to Study Climate Change and its Impact on Goa
The Goa government has roped in the consultancy services of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to do a comprehensive study on the impact of climate change in Goa and recommend an action plan to combat the same.
Government .... Read More
Composite Water Management Index 2.0
NITI Aayog has released the second round of Composite Water Management Index (CWMI 2.0).
It first launched and conceptualized the Composite Water Management Index in 2018 as a tool to instill the sense of cooperative and competitive federalism among the states. CWMI 2.0 ranks various states for .... Read More
World Youth Conference for Kindness
The first World Youth Conference on Kindness was organised by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and Ministry of Human Resource Development on the theme ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: Gandhi for the Contemporary World: Celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’ .... Read More
‘Order of Zayed’
President of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan honoured Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the prestigious Zayed Medal for boosting relations between the Emirates and India.
The ‘Order of Zayed’ is the highest civil decoration instituted by the UAE. It consists of a collar cantered by a .... Read More
Persons of limelight
Sumit Nagal became only the fourth Indian — after Somdev Devvarman, Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni —to win a set in the main draw of a Grand Slam in the last 20 years.
He won the first set against Roger Federer, a colossal figure with 20 Grand Slams .... Read More
Urabanisation is the process of growth of urban centers, due to migration of people from rural areas and inherent rise in the population of cities. According to census 2011, India is urbanising at a fast pace and level of urbanisation in India is around 32%. Moreover, it is expected that .... Read More
—By Manisha Kukreti
Recently, India’s Nuclear doctrine was once again under debate over Defence Minister’s remark in Pokhran that India’s adherence to the principle of ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons is not sacrosanct and its future course would depend on the exigencies of the time.
Genesis of the Nuclear Doctrine
Post the .... Read More
As fires rage in the Amazon more than 15,000km away, Indians may feel that they’re unaffected. Nothing could be farther from the truth. India, where millions rely on natural resources and on the monsoon for sustenance, is especially vulnerable.
If India is to successfully tackle climate change—both in terms of mitigation .... Read More
During colonial times, India was infested with frequent droughts and famines that resulted in widespread hunger and mortality. It forced post independent India to adopt self-sufficiency in food grain production at high priorityand ushered measures such as Green revolution, which was largely successful asevident by record food grain production of .... Read More
Food processing industry is a sunrise sector in India,which is expanding at a rate of 15% annually. Food processing refers to various techniques and operations by which raw foodstuffs are transformed into food that are suitable for consumption (value addition), cooking, or storage (to increase shelf life).
Input and production are .... Read More
On 24 May 2019 at least 22 students were killed and several others injured in a fire at a coaching centre in Surat, Gujarat. On 12 February, 2019 massive fire at a hotel in Delhi claimed 17 innocent lives. These are glaring examples of lawlessness and fire safety mismanagement that .... Read More
There are increasing incidences of mob lynching and “Cow Protectionism” in India these days more so after the ban on beef. You are SP of a district where such cases are increasing day by day. One day you received a tip about a group of cow protectors which is smuggling cows for money. On further investigation you came to know that they also have protection from various reputed politicians because of which this group is engaged in smuggling activity. Additionally they have the support of local public as they are considered protectors of cows.Also, there is a possibility of communal .... Read More
Recently a Government Sponsored Shelter home in Bihar was in news as its owner whose spouse is a public authority in Ministry of Social Justice, was accused of raping and sexually abusing several underage inmates. The report was submitted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences which had inspected 110 government funded shelter homes in Bihar in 2018. Examples of abuse and violence, in varying degree and form, were found in almost all the shelter homes in the state. This has put a question mark not only on the NGO but also the Social Welfare Department of Bihar. The state social .... Read More
India generates 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste annually, of which 40 per cent remains uncollected and 43 per cent is used for packaging, most of which is single-use, a new study has revealed. Uncollected plastic waste eventually ends up in the natural environment — in our seas and oceans or is piling up on our lands. Like much of the world, India is struggling to dispose its growing quantities of plastic waste given how ubiquitous it has become — from our tooth brushes to debit cards. The 2016 Plastic Waste Management Rules are an attempt to improve legislation, and .... Read More
India’s biggest cities may be losing up to $22 billion annually to traffic congestion, and its commuters are bearing the burden. On average, travelers in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata spend 1.5 hours more on their daily commutes than their counterparts in other Asian cities during peak traffic times, according to a recent study. In fact, peak-hour congestion, in these four Indian cities is estimated at 149%, much higher than the Asian average of 67%. Traffic congestion is partly attributable to India’s large population and high population density, as well as an under-developed public transportation network, especially rail-based transport.
Q. Suppose, .... Read More
Central agencies have been charged with allegedly pursuing all kinds of cases against political leaders, or people connected to them, who are in opposition to the ruling governments. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department have played stellar roles in pursuing such inquiries. You are an investigating officer in the CBI and enjoy good rapport among your seniors for your efficient performance. One day you are asked by one of your seniors to carry out a sting operation on an opposition party leader as he is supposedly involved in corruption cases. However, .... Read More
The UN’s ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine is the enabling principle that first obligates individual states and then the international community to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It gives the power and justification to countries for carrying out armed humanitarian interventions in other countries in order to protect foreign country natives from atrocities. India is actively involved in UN Peacekeeping Operations and contributes its troops for such UN mandated humanitarian interventions (UN intervention in Mali in 2014).
Q. Highlight the ethical issues involved in such interventions. Do you think such interventions and India’s support .... Read More
India embarked on the process of economic liberalisation in 1980s and subsequently started the opening up of the economy which reached the zenith with Liberalization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG) reforms of 1991. It marked a clear shift in the ideology of Indian economic policy which is evident in the transition from virtual state monopoly to a more market-friendly regime. Structural reforms were incorporated to improve the efficiency and international competitiveness, by removing the rigidities in various segments of the economy. The government initiated variety of policies which fell under three heads viz. liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.
Deregulation of Industrial Sector Industrial .... Read More
Planning is an organised and coordinated effort to achieve certain well defined objectives within a fixed time frame, through optimal utilisation of community resources, so as to promote its general well being. Post-independent India, which was largely an agricultural economy, adopted Soviet style planning system with Planning Commission as the leading institution entrusted with the role of plan formulation and execution.
It was largely a successful exercise which transformed the colonial economy of India into a mixed economy with sound institutional base. The financial crisis of 1991 and liberalisation adopted thereafter, has transformed India from a planned economy to a market .... Read More
Recent data released by Labour Ministry shows 6.1 percent unemployment rate in India. It was based on periodic labour force survey (PLFS) from July 2017 to June 2018 and claimed joblessness at a 45-year high. As last National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) employment-unemployment surveys (EUS) was held in 2011, Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) had been started as a 2 year pilot project with a primary aim to generate reasonably accurate indicators of labour market at a short span of every quarter, from April 2017 to April 2019.
Overall unemployment rate-6.1%
Reasons for High Unemployment
Large Population size has created a .... Read More
The WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) defines Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) as creations of the mind like inventions, literary and creative works, symbols, names images and designs used in commerce. It confers special rights to individuals or organizations regarding specific innovation or invention in products or processes for a certain amount of time. They exist in the form of patents, trademarks, Geographical Indicators (GIs), copyrights, etc. and ensure recognition or monetary benefit to creator, inventor or innovator. By striking the right balance between the interests of innovators and also the wider public interests, IPRs are critical to incentivizing innovation, which, .... Read More
Tax reforms can be differentiated under two sub heads i.e. indirect tax reform and direct tax reform.
A. Indirect tax reform - GST
Recently GST law has completed two years of it’s implementation. It has increased the formalization of economy, expanded and unified goods and services market and reformed the indirect tax regime of nation (one nation one tax regime).
Inspite of these achievements key shortcomings and challenges observed in the operationalisation of GST law are as follows:
High complexity due to multiple tax slabs and associated administering challenges such as of auditing, accounting, etc.
Issues related to e-way bill for interstate movement such .... Read More
Land is a scarce resource and burgeoning demographic load demands its sustainable and integrated use. Colonial legacy of defective land tenure systems such as Zamindari system (permanent settlement), Ryotwari system and Mahalwari system, had resulted in inequitable distribution of land as manifested by the report of Royal Commission on Agriculture 1926 (86%cof the land was held by 12% people).
Important characteristics of the agrarian structure at the dawn of independence
Absentee land ownership
Subinfeudation and proliferation of intermediaries
Exploitation of tenants through high rents and insecurity of tenure
Unequal distribution of land
Tiny and fragmented holdings
Lack of adequate institutional finance to agriculture
Land reforms refer to reogranisation .... Read More
— by Swastika Singh
The world’s 7.6 billion people represent just 0.01% of all living things, according to a study. Yet since the dawn of civilisation, humanity has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of plants, while livestock kept by humans abounds.
The transformation of the planet by human activity has led scientists to the brink of declaring a new geological era – the Anthropocene. The farmed poultry today makes up 70% of all birds on the planet, with just 30% being wild. The picture is even more stark for mammals – 60% of all mammals on .... Read More
Migration is not a new phenomenon. The movement of populations in various forms has been part and parcel of the history of humanity. Migration has often been the cause or consequence (or both) of conflict and violence. Large migratory flows have also been driven by natural disasters, adverse climatic and weather events, and natural resource constraints.
However, there is also a fundamentally positive side to migration. Human mobility has always been an essential component of economic, social and human development and has contributed to the progress of communities and societies. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize migration as one of .... Read More
Rural development is a complex and slow process of under taking diverse range of activities for welfare of masses which are deprived of luxury and comfort of developed cities. It requires a great amount of coordination between various sectors, with the impact of external environment posing a challenge due to its tendency to change rapidly. The change comes from internal as well as external processes such as privatization and globalization and over the years, the focus of the rural development programmes has shifted towards the overall economic and social upliftment of rural areas, through a sound strategy.The past five decades .... Read More
Economic theory argues that free trade leads to an increase in the aggregate real income for countries engaging in trade only under ideal conditions. The literature on international trade often refers to a situation wherein the ‘gainers bribe the losers’.
As a result, state needs to design a compensation mechanism which implies that the state will tax the gainers and transfer enough to compensate the losers. Even if trade benefits a nation in aggregate measures and promises long-run benefits, affected groups would continue to suffer if enough compensation is not made available to them to cope with short-run adjustments. For instance, .... Read More
Global Commission on the Future of Work in its “Work for a Brighter Future Report” opined that technological advances like artificial intelligence,automation and robotics will create new jobs, but those who lose their jobs in this transition may be the least equipped to seize the new opportunities. Moreover today’s skills will not match the jobs of tomorrow and newly acquired skills may quickly become obsolete. Further, the greening of our economies will create millions of jobs with adoption of sustainable practices and clean technologies but other jobs will disappear as countries scale back their carbon- and resource-intensive industries. Thus the .... Read More
For hundred years, conventional fossil-fueled power plants were at the core of power systems around the world. Electricity grids of the twentieth century were designed to distribute power from large, centralized coal, gas, nuclear, and hydro generating plants to far-flung end users.
But the renewable sources of energy are different. To harness the benefits of renewable energy, there is requirement of rethinking and reengineering of institutions, the redefinition of policies, the re-tuning of power grids and related systems, and the replacement of old mental inertia with new ones.
The question is why do we need this inertial change? Is it out of .... Read More
The concept of democracy as visualized by the Indian Constitution pre-supposes the representation of the people in Parliament and State legislatures by the method of election. The Supreme Court has held that democracy is one of the inalienable basic features of the Constitution of India and forms part of its basic structure. Voting is a basic process which enables people with the right to elect their representatives.
However, time and again, it has been an issue of discussion, do Indian voters know the nitty-gritty of the government’s day to day functioning; what shall be the parameters on which they should base .... Read More
Data is the new oil as it has gradually evolved as a valuable commodity that can be bought and sold, and serves as a strategic resource for nations. Indeed, digital assets now matter far more than physical ones. The Internet, it has become clear, is not so free, after all as users are paying in the form of personal information, which is collected by “data brokers” and sold to third parties.
In 2018, news broke out that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested personal data from tens of millions of Facebook users and sold it to political campaigns. The .... Read More
People get left behind when they lack the choices and opportunities to participate in and benefit from development progress. Various reports and studies, in general, indicate that across countries, a common trend is that vulnerable groups such as women and children, people in rural areas, indigenous peoples, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, and older persons are disproportionately among those who have been left behind.
In general, people are left behind when they lack the choices and capabilities that enable others to participate in or benefit from development processes. Reasons for these could be numerous, to name a few, .... Read More
The advent of twenty-first century has witnessed the rise of populist parties and their governments in the western world. Many argue that their rise is coupled with changing socio-political landscape in terms of rejection of liberal values; inward-looking sentiments vis-à-vis open markets and international cooperation and many others.
Populism means different things to different groups, but all versions share a suspicion of and hostility toward elites, mainstream politics, and established institutions. It sees itself as speaking for the forgotten “ordinary” person and often imagines itself as the voice of genuine patriotism.
No one exemplifies that trend better than U.S. President Donald Trump. .... Read More
Ans: Federalism is the system of government in which power is divided between the centre and the constituent states. “Asymmetric federalism” is federalism based on unequal powers and relationships in administrative, political and fiscal agreements spheres between the units which constitute a federation. It is found in a federation in which different constituent states possess different powers. One or more of the states has considerably more independence than the other sub states, though they have the same constitutional status. This is opposite to a symmetric federation, where no distinction is made between constituent states.
Generally ‘Asymmetric federalism’ is preferred when different .... Read More
Ans: With the abrogation of Article 370, the vexed question of Article 35A has also come back to the spotlight. Article 35A used to give carte blanche to J&K state legislature to decide the permanent residents of the state and grant them special rights and privileges in state government jobs, acquisition of property, scholarship and other public welfare schemes.
Before 1947: J&K was a princely state ruled by Maharaja Hari Singh and its subjects were not under British control.
1927: Hari Singh passed the Hereditary State Subject Order which granted state subjects exclusive rights over government jobs, land use and ownership.
Oct, .... Read More
Ans: The word Swaraj means self-rule but Gandhiji equated it to an integral revolution encompassing all spheres of life. On individual scale it meant the rule which self exercises over itself. Politically Swaraj is self government independent of government control, whether it is foreign government or national. Economically, Swaraj means full economic freedom for the toiling millions
Gandhi’s initial reaction to the issue of Swaraj was ethical and idealistic rather than practical, pragmatic, and utilitarian. This was reflected in his belief in the goodness of the British sense of fair play in the formative years of his political career. However, after .... Read More
Ans: Ayushman Bharat scheme aims to reduce the financial burden on poor and vulnerable groups arising out of catastrophic hospital episodes and ensure their access to quality health services. It also seeks to accelerate India’s progress towards achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Sustainable Development Goal - 3 (SDG3).
It has following two components:
1. Health and Wellness Centre: Nearly 1.5 lakh Sub-Centres and Primary Health Centres would be transformed as Health & Wellness Centres by 2022 to provide comprehensive and quality primary care services close to the community along with free essential drugs and diagnostic services.
2. Ayushman .... Read More
Ans: The slow resolution of economic and commercial cases is one of the biggest stumbling blocks in reviving the investment cycle in the country. This is not surprisinggiven the 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system. Much of the problem is concentrated in the district and subordinate courts.
1. Pendency: Out of total 3.53 crore pending cases, District and Subordinate courts (D&S courts) account for 87.54 per cent of them.
2. Lower Productivity and efficiency: Low Case Clearance rate(CCR, the ratio of the number of cases disposed of in a given year to the number of cases instituted in that year, .... Read More
Ans: There has been an exponential increase in fake news in recent times which poses a security challenge as well as Privacy challenge as it creates fear psychosis and limits government’s action at the same time.
Lack of clear definition of fake news makes it difficult to identity and curb fake news
Lack of specific law to deal with it
Diffused nature of fake information spread across geographical boundaries as well as social media platforms makes it difficult to invoke laws if any.
Lack of accountability with respect to bot generated information, paid news etc.
In addition to social media, society is also equally .... Read More
Ans: In India, five lakh children die every year due to vaccine-preventable diseases; 95 lakh are at risk because theyare unimmunised or partially immunised. But immunization coverage had slowed down and it increased at the rate of 1% per year between 2009 and 2013.ToacceleratethiscoverageMissionIndradhanushwasenvisagedandimplementedsince2015torapidly increase the full immunization coverage to 90%.
Limited capacities of staff (vacant positions and lack of training), particularly in poor-performing states and at the field level, andgaps in key areas such as predicting demand, logistics and cold chain management , which result in high wastage rates.
India lacks a robust system to track vaccine -preventable diseases. Vaccination coverage .... Read More
Ans: Certain tribes have been characterised as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) (earlier known as Primitive Tribal Groups) on the basis of their greater ’vulnerability’ even among the tribal groups (Government has categorized 75 tribal groups as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) . PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands on the basis of pre-agricultural technology, stagnant or declining population, extremely low population and subsistence level of economy.
Reasons for their Backwardness
Shrinking Habitats and Threat to livelihood: PVTGs depend on various livelihoods such as food gathering, Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP), hunting, livestock rearing, shifting cultivation and artisan .... Read More
Ans: To strike a balance between the rights of forest dwellers and issue of development government has taken following measures:
1. National Forest Policy, 1988 recognises the symbiotic relationship between forests and forest-dwelling communities
2. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, was enacted to protect the marginalised socio-economic class of citizens and balance the right to environment with their right to life and livelihood.
3. ‘Mechanism for Marketing of MFP through MSP and the Development of Value Chain for MFP’ as a social safety measure for the MFP gatherers, who are primarily members of the .... Read More
Ans: Recently, there has been an increase in attacks on witnesses like Asaram Bapu case, Unnao Rape Case which has made it imperative to have a Witness Protection Scheme in place. In December 2018, Supreme Court provided the legal sanctity to the draft Witness Protection Scheme until Parliament/state legislature enacts a law on the matter.
Need of Witness Protection Scheme
Justice:To ensure free and fair trial without intimidation of the witnesses. It will also help in strengthening the Criminal Justice System and improve national security scenario.
Rights of Witness: While offenders have range of constitutional and legal rights, witnesses have limited rights and .... Read More
Ans: With a population of more than 10.2 crores, India has the single largest tribal population in the world. This constitutes 8.6 per cent of the total population of the country (Census of India, 2011).
Status of Tribal Education in India
Low Literacy Level: As per census 2011 literacy rate of STs is 59% which is too low than the national average of 73.36%.
Interstate disparity: Wide Interstate disparity exists across the states e.g. in Mizoram and Lakshadweep STs literacy is more than 91% whereas in Andhra Pradesh it is 49.2%. In fact, in most of the north eastern states like Meghalaya, Mizoram .... Read More
Ans: The first Indian official secrets act was enacted in 1889 to muzzle the voice of nationalist publications. Subsequently is was amended during the time of Lord Curzon( 1899-1904) in 1904 and made more stringent. The Indian official secrets act of 1923 replaced it and is being uses till now act with certain requisite amendments.
Arguments in favour
National Security: Section 3 provides the framework for dealing with espionage, sedition, and other potential threats to the integrity of the nation.
Deterrence: Section 5 deals with sharing of information that can be in the form of “any sketch, plan, model, article, note, photographs, document .... Read More
Ans: Indian economy recorded a growth of 6.8% in 2018-19 and 7.2 % in 2017-18 which were one of the highest growth rates in the world. Between 2010 and 2016, for example, annual real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in India averaged 6.7% despite a relatively weak post-crisis global economy that averaged only 2.7% annual gains.
However, at the same time, this phenomenal growth was not able to translate into over all well being as it was limited to a few richer sections of the population. This could be corroborated from the following facts:
Nearly 300 million people continue to experience multidimensional .... Read More
Ans: Fiscal federalism deals with the division of governmental functions and financial relations among levels of government. In India, fiscal federalism implies distribution of finances and financial powers (power to collect taxes) between the centre, states and local bodies.
Need of Fiscal Federalism
Regional and local differences can be taken into account by devolution of powers to federal units i.e. states. This takes care of micro level needs and realities.
Lower planning and administrative costs as the work is distributed at many levels.
Competition among local governments favours organizational and political innovations
More efficient politics as grassroots citizens have more influence.
Some instances .... Read More
Ans: India has slipped one notch in the World Bank’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rankings in 2018, and is now the seventh-largest economy with the United Kingdom and France ahead of India. India’s GDP is $2.72 trillion currently and it has set the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy in GDP terms by 2024, and a $3 trillion economy in the current financial year. The slip in rankings highlights the challenges India will have to face in achieving its targets.
Requirements for achieving the target of $ 5 trillion
The country will need to grow by 9% every year for five .... Read More
Ans: Farm loans may be crop loans or investment loans taken to buy farm equipment. However, many times farmers demand a waiver on their loans due to their incapacity to pay back the loans.
Demand of Loan Waivers
The reasons behind demand of loan waivers may be many.
Failure of rains: Due to bad weather or draught many crops fail as 52% of the total farm area in the country is still devoid of irrigation and dependant on rainfall. Also, less than 24% of the gross cropped area (against a target of 40%) is covered under government-run crop insurance schemes.
Market failure and crashing .... Read More
Ans: Blue economy is all about economic activities dependent on marine resources. The concept is envisaged as the integration of Ocean Economy development with the principles of social inclusion, environmental sustainability through innovative, dynamic business models.
India boasts a vast and open coastline of almost 7,500 kilometres and is close to important international sea lanes of communication. Sustainable management of ocean based resources can help in boosting the economy of the country in general and of coastal states in particular.
Significance of Blue Economy for Economic Growth
Sea Borne Trade: Blue Economy remains a critical aspect of India’s economic development agenda as more .... Read More
Ans: Energy is vital for development and prosperity of any economy. India, however, lags behind significantly in energy usage. The energy poverty prevalent in India can be highlighted by the following facts:
(a) Despite accounting for 18% of world’s population, India uses only around 6% of the world’s primary energy.
(b) 53% people could not access clean cooking in 2017 due to unavailability of clean fuel.
(d) India’s per capita energy consumption is a lowly 24 Giga Joules (in 2017) with an HDI of 0.64. Increasing consumption to 100 GJ would propel HDI to 0.8 making India a high human development economy.
Benefits of .... Read More
Ans: The Indian banking system is overburdened with non-performing loans with much of the problem lying within the public sector banks, but private sector banks like ICICI and Axis Bank have not been immune to this contagion. The difficulties in even some private banks suggest that straight forward solutions like privatizing all public sector banks may not be a solution to the problem.
Steps to Tide over the Crisis
There is a need to recognise that ownership is just one contributor to poor governance, and the solution lies in evolving pragmatic ways to improve governance across the board.
De-risk banking by encouraging Risk .... Read More
Ans: The contribution of manufacturing sector to GDP in 2018 was only about 16%, a stagnation since the economic reforms began in 1991. When compared to other Asian economies, Malaysia roughly tripled its share of manufacturing in GDP to 24% during the same period, Thailand’s share increased from 13% to 33% (1960-2014).
Productivity levels in manufacturing are much higher than in either agriculture or services. Manufacturing is an engine of economic growth as it offers economies of scale, embodies technological progress and generates forward and backward linkages that create positive spillover effects in the economy. The United Nations Conference on Trade .... Read More
Ans: Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the National Mineral Policy 2019. The policy aims to bring in further transparency, better regulation and enforcement, balanced social and economic growth as well as sustainable mining practices across the country.
Effect of New Policy on Mining Ecosystem
Status of industry: Policy proposes to grant status of industry to mining activity to boost financing of mining for private sector and for acquisitions of mineral assets in other countries by private sector.
Inter-generational equity: The policy introduces the concept of Inter-Generational Equity that deals with the well-being not only of the present generation but also of the .... Read More
Ans: Global competitiveness is the ability of a country to drive its productivity and economic success in a competitive and challenging world. In the most recent World Economic Forum’s (WEF) global competitiveness index,2018, India has been ranked 58thamong 140 countries.
Although India’s rank this year is 18 down from the previous year but this is due to change in calculation methodology. Going by the older method, India has gained by five ranks. As per WEF, this is the largest gain among all G20 economies and India is the leader among the South Asian economies.
Strengths for India
Following sectors boosted India’s competitiveness:
(a) India’s .... Read More
Ans: The Economic Survey 2018-19 highlights acute challenges faced by the Indian economy like the severe agrarian crisis; the troubles of loss-making and debt-ridden public sector units (PSUs); and the issues plaguing public sector banks.
In this wake, the model followed by Newly Industrialized Economies (NIEs) of East Asia (Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan) has been touted as a panacea for the ills of Indian economy. A newly industrialized country is one whose economic development is between developing and highly developed classifications.
India’s aspiration to become a global economic powerhouse through the East Asian model is admirable, but the government .... Read More
Ans: Recently a UNDP report highlights that India achieved fastest absolute reduction in the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) value during the period 2005-06 to 2015-16. Poverty during this period climbed down to 27.5% from 55.1 %, indicating that the number of poor people in India fell by more than 271 million within ten years.
The factors which helped in achieving this feat are multidimensional:
Rural Housing: PM Awaas Yojana aims at providing free housing to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in rural areas and main targets would be the households of SC/STs.
Food and Nutrition Security through schemes like National Food Security .... Read More
Ans: The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), is a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 10 ASEAN member states and their 6 FTA partners namely India, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and Republic of Korea.
Benefits of RCEP to India
(a) RCEP is vital for India as it accounts for 25 per cent of global GDP, 30 per cent of global trade, 26 per cent of FDI flows, and 45 per cent of the total population.
(b) The agreement is expected to provide market access for India’s goods and services exports and encourage greater investments and technology into India.
(c)It would also facilitate India’s .... Read More
Ans: Geo-politics in the close vicinity of India and beyond is changing fast and presents new challenges for India. Interests of Pakistan, China and Russia have been gaining co-linearity in domestic and international arena and are often found antithetical to India’s posture.
Challenges to India
National sovereignty: China and Pakistan violate India’s sovereignty as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through the PoK which India considers its integral part. Even Russia has not supported India in this case and considers it a border issue between the three countries.
Afghanistan crisis: China, Russia and Pakistan have openly supported and administered meetings with Afghan .... Read More
Ans: Recently, representatives of China, Russia, and the US held their 3rd consultation on the Afghan peace process in China following which they also requested Pakistan to join for a surprise quadrilateral meeting. The three countries believe that Pakistan can play an important role in facilitating peace process in Afghanistan. However, India was excluded from the peace deliberations.
Afghan Quadrilateral and India
The quadrilateral grouping and its strategy differ from Indian thinking in following ways:
The quadrilateral has allowed active involvement of Taliban in Afghan peace talks and considers it to be the legitimate political representative of Afghanistan. India maintains an arm’s length .... Read More
Ans.India is one of the first countries in the world to develop a comprehensive Cooling Action plan which has a long term vision to address the cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help to reduce the cooling demand. Cooling requirement is cross-sectoral and an essential part for economic growth and is required across different sectors of the economy such as residential and commercial buildings, cold-chain, refrigeration, transport and industries
The India Cooling Action seeks to
(i) reduce cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25% by 2037-38,
(ii) Reduce refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by 2037-38,
(iii) Reduce cooling .... Read More
Ans: The Sundarbans comprises hundreds of islands and a network of rivers, tributaries and creeks in the delta of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh. Located on the southwestern part of the delta, the Indian Sundarbans constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area. It is the 27th Ramsar Site in India, and with an area of 4,23,000 hectares is now the largest protected wetland in the country.
Importance of this Status
Experts believe that while the Ramsar status may bring in international recognition to the Indian Sundarban, the .... Read More
Ans. Flooding occurs during the time of heavy rainfall in India and results in large scale damage and deaths. India witnesses flood due to notably recorded rainfalls, overflow of rivers and dams. Floods are an annual occurrence in India, with little changing in terms of disaster management from year to year. Almost 15% of India is prone to flooding. And annually, 2,000 lives are lost and 80 lakh hectares of crop land are damaged at a cost of about Rs 1,800 crore.
Reluctant Dam Managers
In Kerala, as elsewhere, more flooding was caused by emergency releases from dams that were full. .... Read More
Ans. Overuse of plastic is the main cause of plastic pollution. Plastic is cheap and widely available, but people frequently dispose of plastic items. It does not decompose, andreleases an incredible amount of toxins into the air on burning.
Used Almost Everywhere: Plastics are the most affordable and easily available items in the world currently. They are cheap and easy to make and are equally durable. They also get discarded easily. These qualities are the ones making plastics a huge pollution menace.
Urbanization and Population Growth: Increasing urbanization and population growth rate are considerably accountable for plastic pollution as they increase .... Read More
Ans. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a source of both enthusiasm and skepticism, albeit in different measures. With humans and machines joining forces now more than ever before, AI is no longer confined to innovation labs and is being hailed for its immense transformational possibilities.
Issues Concerning AI
Provability: Organisations involved in AI cannot demonstrate clearly why it does and what it does. No wonder AI is a “black box”. Provability – the level of mathematical certainty behind AI predictions – remains a grey area for organisations. There’s no way they can prove or guarantee that the reasoning behind the AI system’s decision-making .... Read More
Ans. Genetically engineered (GE) foods have had their DNA changed using genes from other plants or animals. Scientists take the gene for a desired trait in one plant or animal, and they insert that gene into a cell of another plant or animal. The process to create GE foods is different than selective breeding. This involves selecting plants or animals with desired traits and breeding them. Over time, this results in offspring with those desired traits.
The possible benefits of genetic engineering include:
More nutritious food
Disease- and drought-resistant plants that require fewer environmental resources (such as water and fertilizers)
Less use of .... Read More
Ans: A blockchain is a growing list of records, called blocks that are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data.
Need for Blockchain Technology
By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”.
For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks.
Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be .... Read More
Ans. The Bharat Stage norms are standards instituted by the government to regulate emission of air pollutants from motor vehicles. The norms were introduced in 2000. With appropriate fuel and technology, they limit the release of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, particulate matter (PM) and sulphur oxides from vehicles using internal combustion engines. As the stage goes up, the control on emissions become stricter. Thus Bharat Stage VI norms are two stages ahead of the present Bharat Stage IV norms in regulating emissions.
Differences between Two Stages
The extent of sulphur is the major difference between Bharat Stage .... Read More
Ans. The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.
The Bonn Challenge
It was launched in 2011 by the Government of Germany and IUCN, and later endorsed and extended by the New York Declaration on Forests at the 2014 UN Climate Summit.
Underlying the Bonn Challenge is the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach, which aims to restore ecological integrity at the same time as improving human well-being through multifunctional landscapes.
It is an implementation vehicle for national priorities such as water and .... Read More
Ans: Gaganyaan, India’s maiden human spaceflight programme, is an indigenous mission that would take Indian astronauts to space.
Objectives of the mission
It is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft that is intended to send 3 astronauts to space for a minimum of seven days by 2022, as part of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.
The spacecraft, which is being developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), consists of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as the Orbital Module.
It will be for the first time that India will launch its manned mission to space, making the country fourth in line .... Read More
Ans: Recently, India has benn unanimously chosen as co-chair of the Consultative Group (CG) of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) for the fiscal year 2020.
Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery
GFDRR is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change.
GFDRR is a grant-funding mechanism, managed by the World Bank, that supports disaster risk management projects worldwide.
It is presently working on the ground with over 400 local, national, regional, and international partners and provides knowledge, funding, and technical assistance.
Role played by India
This will give the country .... Read More
Benefits of Such Infrastructure
Ans: India is the third worst-affected country due to climate- induced natural disasters. Its coastal regions, in particular, are highly vulnerable because of rapid urbanisation, high population densities and related economic activities such as agriculture, aquaculture, tourism, industries and trade.
Climate Resilient infrastructure
The defining feature of climate-resilient infrastructure is that it is “planned, designed, built and operated in a way that anticipates, prepares for, and adapts to changing climate conditions. It can also withstand, respond to, and recover rapidly from disruptions caused by these climate conditions.
Challenges to such Infrastructure
Liberalisation of Coastal Zone Regulations: Since India’s coastline is .... Read More
Ans: India is facing one of its major and most serious water crisis. According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the NITI Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.
Water challenges in Urban India
Pressure on Water Sources: Rising demand on water means rising pressure on water sources, especially in cities. According to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, 48% of urban water supply in India comes from ground water. Ground water exploitation for commercial .... Read More
Ans: A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets.
Arguments in favour of legalisation
Blockchain – Decentralized book-keeping: Cryptocurrencies are transparent because the transactions take place on the public blockchain ledger. Transactions are approved and verified by nodes before they get carried forward. This rules out scope for financial malfeasance or fraud.
Cryptocurrency market’s capacity for growth: Cryptocurrency is a newfound haven in an era where government backed currencies do not offer the promise .... Read More
Ans: Data localisation is the act of storing data on any device physically present within the borders of a country. As of now, most of these data are stored, in a cloud, outside India. In April 2018, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had issued a circular which mandated payment system operators to store entire data related to financial data only in India.
Issues concerning Data localization in India
Lack of Infrastructure: At present, India does not have the well-developed infrastructure to ensure the security of data. On the other hand, developed countries already have an efficient infrastructure. So, rushing towards data localisation .... Read More
Ans: Objectivity is the principle which implies that decisions and actions should be rational and based on observable facts instead of emotions or personal prejudices. Compassion is the understanding or empathy for the suffering of others. This is a feeling that gives rise to a desire to help others and alleviate their suffering. Although these two qualities appear antithetical but in essence they work in unison as can be substantiated by following examples.
Once a poor old woman reached the treasury office of her village to seek monetary help for the cremation of her son. But she reached there after the .... Read More
When the president of the United States says “America first”, although he is making his voters happy there are global ramifications of it as everything is interconnected in today’s globalised world.
Secular ethics is a branch of moral philosophy in which ethics is based solely on human faculties such as logic, empathy, reason or moral intuition,and not derived from super natural revelation or guidance—the source of ethics in multiple religions. It is any ethical system that does not draw on the supernatural and includes humanism, secularism and freethinking.Secular ethical systems comprise a wide variety of ideas to include the normativity of .... Read More
Ans: Indian economy recorded a growth of 6.8% in 2018-19 and 7.2 % in 2017-18 which were one of the highest growth rates in the world. Between 2010 and 2016, for example, annual real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in India averaged 6.7% despite a relatively weak post-crisis global economy that averaged only 2.7% annual gains.However, at the same time, this phenomenal growth was not able to translate into over all well being as it was limited to a few richer sections of the population. This could be corroborated from the following facts: Nearly 300 million people continue to experience .... Read More