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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 JULY 2019 (From Plate to Plough: A win-win deal (Indian Express))

From Plate to Plough: A win-win deal (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3 : Agriculture
Prelims level : Food security act
Mains level : Reasons behind rising of MSP


  • In her budget speech, the Union finance minister (FM) said: “At the centre of everything that we do, we keep gaon, garib aur kisan in mind.”
  • Here then is a small mantra for her to transform the lives of the kisan and the poor in rural areas.
  • Just streamline the food and fertiliser subsidies by converting them to direct cash transfers to identified beneficiaries.
  • This can be done through the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile). Such a measure would not only empower the poor and farmers but also usher in a policy shift that can save the exchequer least Rs 50,000 crore every year.

Steps taken by the government

  • The government can invest this in agri- R and D and better water management, in measures to ensure the country’s food security for the next 25 years and to augment farmers’ incomes.
  • The food subsidy allocation in the budget is Rs 1,84, 220 crore let us say Rs 1.84 lakh crore.
  • Pending Dues – The pending dues of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) stand at Rs 1.86 lakh crore.
  • Under-provisioning of the food subsidy- Year after year, there is under-provisioning of the food subsidy in the budget and the FCI is being asked to borrow from the banks so that the fiscal deficit can be shown under control.
  • The FCI’s loans from the banks have now crossed Rs 2.48 lakh crore (see figure).

Efficiency, equity and sustainability

  • Does 67 per cent of the population covered under the NFSA cannot afford basic food?
  • There is more than 90 per cent subsidy on rice and wheat under the PDS — the economic cost of rice hovers around Rs 35 per kg and that of wheat is about Rs 25 per kg, while rice is being sold via the PDS at Rs 3 per kg and wheat at Rs 2 per kg

Selling price is less than MSP

  • Interestingly, in rural areas in a majority of states, rice (paddy) is sold at less than the minimum support price (MSP).
  • The landless labourers and small and marginal farmers, most of whom are covered under PDS, produce these staples.
  • The government first buys paddy and wheat from rural areas and, after adding almost 50 per cent cost for procurement, stocking and distribution on top of the MSP price, sells the back most of this grain to people in rural areas.

Benefits of cash transfer to beneficiary

  • The government can achieve its ends in a much more cost-effective way if it transfers an equivalent amount of food subsidy in the form of cash to the beneficiary’s accounts.
  • The beneficiary will have the freedom to buy anything — rice, wheat, coarse cereals, pulses or even milk and eggs, which are more nutritious. Diversified diets will signal the need for diversification in farms.
  • The government can keep some stocks for strategic purposes but gradually reduce procurement and shrink the size and operations of FCI, especially in areas where the water table is depleting fast — the northwest of the country, for example.

Coverage under FSA

  • Further, the government has to think whether the coverage under PDS should be 67 per cent of the population or if it should be brought down to, say, 40 or even 30 per cent.
  • Why should the price of rice be kept at Rs 3 per kg and that of wheat at Rs 2 per kg?
  • This leads to massive diversion of PDS supplies to the open market.
  • The Shanta Kumar Panel had estimated the leakages in PDS at 46 per cent.

Fertiliser Subsidy

  • The FM has allocated Rs 80,000 crore for fertilisers in the budget.
  • The fertiliser industry says that there is massive under-provisioning.
  • The industry also claims that Rs 38,000 crore of its dues are pending with the government.

Challenges in rationalising subsidy in fertiliser sector

  • The problem is that the government does not have the will to revise the urea price, which at roughly $80 per tonne, is the lowest in the world.
  • The average cost of production of the industry is around $250 per tonne, import parity hovers around $300 per tonne and keeps fluctuating, depending on global prices.
  • The government has revived some almost dead plants (for example at Gorakhpur and Ramgundam) that produce urea at more than $400 per tonne.

Lack of economic rationale

  • It seems there is no economic rationale either in the pricing of urea for the farmers at $80 per tonne or producing urea, at the margin, at $400 per tonne.
  • This is leading to large leakages and inefficient use, besides polluting the groundwater table in fact, the environment at large.
  • Interestingly, crops do not absorb more than 25 per cent of the urea being applied in India.
  • So, basically, we are subsidising the pollution of the environment.


  • Back-of-the-envelope calculations show that the government can save about Rs 50,000 crore every year through such measures.
  • The money can be invested in agri-R and D and water management. That would be the biggest reform in agri-food space

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 JULY 2019 (Moon-bound again (Indian Express))

Moon-bound again (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3 : Science and Tech
Prelims level : Chandrayaan 2
Mains level : Impacts and challenges of Chandrayaan 2 mission


  • India’s second mission to the moon was planned for July 15, but got delayed owing to technical problems just one hour before the actual launch.
  • However, ISRO scientists identified the anomaly quickly and now, within a week, the Chandrayaan 2 mission has begun its journey towards the moon.
  • The launch of the mission on July 22, is a successful first step towards realising a larger aim of the mission, which is to ensure that India’s lander successfully makes a soft landing on the surface of the moon.
  • Subsequently, from the belly of the lander, the rover would be released for making an assessment of the elemental composition of the moon’s surface.
    About Chandrayaan 2
  • Chandrayaan 2 has been one of the most awaited missions of ISRO.
  • After the success of Chandrayaan 1 in 2008, it was expected that the second mission would get moon-bound shortly.
  • ISRO did plan the second mission for 2014.
  • However, this was supposed to be a joint mission along with Russia.
  • As per the plans, Russia was to provide the lander and rover system, but they failed to do so owing to the crisis within their space programme.

Reasons behind delaying the mission

  •   This resulted in a delay in the programme and now, after a gap of more than a decade, India’s second moon mission has begun its journey towards the moon.
  •   There is both a negative and a positive angle to this delay. The negative angle is obvious — India’s moon agenda has lagged behind significantly.]
  •   Actually, by this time, India should have progressed towards undertaking its third mission to the moon.
  •   The good part is that Russia’s non-participation made ISRO design and develop the entire lander-rover system indigenously.
  •   In the long run, this would make ISRO more self-sufficient.

Mission highlights

  • After the successful launch of Chandrayaan 2, now the wait is for the soft landing on the moon on September 6.
  • For the next one-and-a-half months, ISRO scientists would be required to ensure that the mission remains in good health. It would be a phase by phase journey, ISRO would be undertaking five to six orbit raising manoeuvres, known as earth orbit burns, to take the craft close to the moon.
  • Subsequently, they would be performing lunar orbit burns and would effectively establish the craft (orbiter) 100 km above the moon surface. This would be followed by the soft landing of the lander.
  • This landing is going to be the most critical part of this mission, which ISRO is calling “15 minutes of terror”, since they would need to drastically reduce the velocity of the lander, finally reaching zero.
  • Chandrayaan 2 would be travelling a distance of approximately 4 lakh km. Finally, after reaching there, they would view and study the moon from a distance of 100 km for one year, at the minimum.
  • But, the lander-rover system on the moon would function only for one moon day (equivalent to 14 Earth days) and during this period the rover could travel a maximum distance of 500 metres on the moon’s surface.
  • All this would cost around Rs 1,000 crore. The obvious question would be: Is the effort worth the investments?

Missions completed by the other countries

  • Chang’e-3 (2013) and Chang’e-4 (soft landing on January 3 this year).
  • The rover of Change’-4 called Yutu-2 is still functional after six months.
  • For its designed life of three months, Yutu-2 has managed to travel for 163 metres. The first Yutu rover of Chang’e-3 mission, managed to rove about 114 metres before the technical malfunction that left it unable to move.
  • This rover continued to function while stationary until mid-2016.
  • The lander for Chang’e-3 remained operational for more than 2,000 days and could even be operational today.
  • Officially, the costs towards the Chinese mission are not known, but based on available estimates, they are much more than the ISRO’s.


  • In respect of Chandrayaan 2, there is a possibility that the mission could even last for more than the designed life period.
  • India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has completed four years in its orbit on September 24, 2018, though the designed mission life was only six months.
  • Interestingly, during the 1970s, the Soviets had positioned the Lunokhod 1 rover to the lunar surface by the Luna 17 spacecraft.
  • This was the first successful rover to operate beyond earth.
  • It operated for 322 days and is known to have travelled around 10 km and sent thousands of images back. But this was the period when even humans went to the moon.

Key challenges

  • The 21st century challenges are different. Humanity is paying the price for neglecting the moon for the last five decades.
  • The technology edge of the Apollo 11 era has disappeared. Americans are reinventing the wheel to get back to the moon.
  • As the Chinese case indicates, today it is difficult to travel even a few meters on the moon successfully.
  • During the last five decades, the world has witnessed an around 50 per cent success rate for such missions.
  • Very recently, Israel’s attempt for soft landing on the moon had resulted in failure.


  • In the backdrop of all this, ISRO has planned its mission.
  • It has taken on the challenge upfront.
  • Let us all wish India’s lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan) happy-landings on September 6, and godspeed.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 JULY 2019 (Subverting the RTI regime (The Hindu))

Subverting the RTI regime (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2 : Governance
Prelims level : RTI bill
Mains level : Various constitutional amendments


  •   The recent passage of the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill by the Lok Sabha has reignited the debate on the future of important institutions in India.
  •   The Bill is being seen by many as an attempt to subvert the RTI Act and its machinery.

Highlights the bill

  •   Two of the most controversial provisions of the Bill are:
  •   a) the stipulation that the terms of office of the Central and State Information Commissioners (CIC/SIC) will be determined by the Central government as against the existing provision which guarantees a fixed term of five years or up to an age of 65 years; and
  •   b) the proposal that their salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of service will be determined by the Central government. This is contrary to the currently prescribed salaries and allowances, which are equivalent to that of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC)/Election Commissioners (ECs) for the CIC/SIC; and the Chief Secretary to the State government for the other ICs.

Equivalence with EC

  •   The object clause attached to the Bill differentiates between the status and functions of the Election Commission and the Information Commission.
  •   It thereby reasons that the conditions of service must also be correspondingly rationalised.
  •   While introducing the Bill, Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said that it was a gross anomaly to designate the CIC and ICs as equivalent to the CEC and the ECs respectively.
  •   He said this potentially equated CICs to Judges of the Supreme Court even though the order passed by CIC is liable to be challenged in a High Court.
    Prima facie
  •   Both these reasons are prima facie problematic and self-contradictory.
  •   Since information as a right is a prerequisite for an effective exercise of the right to free speech and expression, the Information Commission’s autonomy as an institution should not be viewed through the parochial lens of positioning in a statute book, but should be seen in terms of the nature of power and functions it exercises.
  •   The Supreme Court has termed the CIC and SICs as guardians of the Act and directed that CIC and ICs shall be appointed on the same terms and conditions as applicable to the Chief Election Commissioner/Election Commissioners.
  •   Interestingly, on the question of orders passed by the CIC, the fact is that even an election petition against an order of EC can be filed in the High Court and, quite evidently, this does not have any bearing on the poll body’s constitutional stature.


  •   Power has an inherent tendency to tempt governments to cajole or control institutions.
  •   Freedom from interference and pressures provide the necessary atmosphere where one can work with an absolute commitment to the cause of transparency.
  •   Discipline in life, habits and outlook facilitate a constitutional functionary to be fair.
  •   Its existence depends however, not only on idealistic and metaphysical aspects but also upon numerous mundane things security in tenure, freedom from ordinary monetary worries, freedom from influences and pressures.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 JULY 2019 (Smoking e-cigarettes is more injurious to health (The Hindu))

Smoking e-cigarettes is more injurious to health (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2 : Health
Prelims level : E-cigarettes
Mains level : Reasons behind banning the e-cigarettes


  •   The Narendra Modi government’s proposal to ban e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) needs to be welcomed as such a move will ensure that Indians, especially, children, are kept away from these pernicious products.
  •   Such a ban has also been recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which called for a “complete prohibition on ENDS and e-cigarettes in India in the greater interest of protecting public health, in accordance with the precautionary principle preventing public harm from a noxious agent.”

Steps taken by the government

  •   The Health Ministry last year issued an advisory asking the States to ensure that products like e-cigarettes and e-nicotine-flavoured hookahs are not manufactured, distributed advertised or sold.
  •   Following this, 15 States, including Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir and Mizoram, banned them.
  •   Several of the bans were under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act or the Poisons Act, under which nicotine was included as a ‘poison’.
  •   Further, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (Anti-Smuggling Unit) and the Drug Controller General of India directed all their officials to ensure compliance with the advisory.


  •   Introduced about 10 years ago in India, e-cigarettes rapidly gained popularity, especially among the youth.
  •   A misconception among students, parents and teachers that these cigarettes are free of nicotine also contributed to their appeal.
  •   The reality is that the tobacco industry, hit by the success of the state’s efforts to reduce tobacco use, had developed such products to hold on to customers who would have otherwise quit.

Study highlights about e-cigarettes

  •   Research suggests that many youngsters, who would otherwise have never started using nicotine, took up conventional smoking after being introduced to e-cigarettes.
  •   While the tobacco companies promote e-cigarettes as a ‘less risky’ smoking option, some industry documents show that their real goal is to introduce ENDS products as an alternative to quitting.
  •   One company started selling its e-cigarette brand in 2014, promising that it will give the consumers the ‘pleasure of smoking any time anywhere.’
  •   Further, even though warnings on many ENDS products clearly indicate that they are not a ‘smoking cessation product’, e-cigarettes are often promoted that way.
  •   Dozens of studies show that smokers who use e-cigarettes are less, not more, likely to quit smoking.
  •   In fact, most of them become ‘dual users’, continuing to smoke cigarettes while also taking to e-cigarettes. This makes them vulnerable to added health risks.
  •   The tobacco industry plans to expand by achieving these twin objectives attracting more youngsters and reducing quitting by adults.
  •   After all, the industry’s end goal is profit and not improvement in health indicators. The fact that the industry continues to produce and sell conventional cigarettes, its flagship product that brings it the greatest amount of profit, despite marketing e-cigarettes as an alternative is evidence enough of its sinister design.

Myths and reality

  •   A recent white paper by the ICMR and several other research studies has contradicted several claims of the industry.
  •   The industry says that ENDS products provide a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes.
  •   However, the reality is that ENDS users are almost at the same risk of contracting lung diseases and cancer as conventional cigarette users.
  •   In fact, ‘dual users’ are at greater risk of heart attacks.

Way ahead

  •   The industry claims that the sale of ENDS products does not violate any regulations despite the fact that the companies are in clear violation of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which prohibits the sale of any product that appeals to minors.
  •   The marketing of ENDS products, targeted at youth, also impacts minors and schoolchildren.
  •   The industry’s assertion that e-cigarettes are safe is contradicted by the many fires and explosions caused by devices, resulting in injuries, loss of lives and property. Further, their accidental ingestion by children has also caused some deaths.


  •   All these points make it clear that the Central government has shown great foresight in bringing out the ban proposal, a move that is likely to avoid causing another epidemic of nicotine addiction in the country.
  • The ban needs to apply to all forms of ENDS products, including all ‘heat-not-burn’ devices that profess to be an alternative to the existing tobacco products.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 23 JULY 2019 (What’s NEXT? (The Hindu))

What’s NEXT? (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2 : Governance
Prelims level : National Medical Commission bill
Mains level : Highlights and outcomes of the NMC bill


  •   In its second iteration, the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill seems to have gained from its time in the bottle, like ageing wine.
  •   The new version has some sharp divergences from the original. Presented in Parliament in 2017, it proposed to replace the Medical Council Act, 1956, but it lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.

About NMC

  •   The NMC will have authority over medical education approvals for colleges, admissions, tests and fee-fixation.
  •   The provisions of interest are in the core area of medical education. The Bill proposes to unify testing for exit from the MBBS course, and entry into postgraduate medical courses.
  •   A single National Exit Test (NEXT) will be conducted across the country replacing the final year MBBS exam, and the scores used to allot PG seats as well.
  •   It will allow medical graduates to start medical practice, seek admission to PG courses, and screen foreign medical graduates who want to practise in India.
  •   It offers a definite benefit for students who invest much time and energy in five years of training in classrooms, labs and the bedside, by reducing the number of tests they would have to take in case they aim to study further.

Key proposal of this bill

  •   There are detractors, many of them from Tamil Nadu which is still politically opposing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) who believe that NEXT will undermine the federal system, and ask whether a test at the MBBS level would suffice as an entry criterion for PG courses.
  •   The Bill has also removed the exemption hitherto given to Central institutions, the AIIMS and JIPMER, from NEET for admission to MBBS and allied courses.
  •   In doing so, the government has moved in the right direction, as there was resentment and a charge of elitism at the exclusion of some institutions from an exam that aimed at standardising testing for entry into MBBS.
  •   The government also decided to scrap a proposal in the original Bill to conduct an additional licentiate exam that all medical graduates would have to take in order to practise, in the face of virulent opposition.
  •   It also removed, rightly, a proposal in the older Bill for a bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to make a lateral entry into allopathy.

Way forward

  •   It is crucial now for the Centre to work amicably with States, and the Indian Medical Association, which is opposed to the Bill, taking them along to ease the process of implementation.
  •   At any cost, it must avoid the creation of inflexible roadblocks as happened with NEET in some States.
  •   The clearance of these hurdles, then, as recalled from experience, become fraught with legal and political battles, leaving behind much bitterness. NEXT will have to be a lot neater.

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UPSC परीक्षा ​: समसमायिकी वस्तुनिष्ठ प्रश्न, Hindi Current Affairs MCQ - 09 July 2019


UPSC परीक्षा ​: समसमायिकी वस्तुनिष्ठ प्रश्न, Hindi Current Affairs MCQ - 09 July 2019

1. पर्यावरण ,वन एवं जलवायु परिवर्तन मंत्रालय के बारे में निम्नलिखित कथनों में से कौन सा कथन सत्य नहीं है ?

a. यह मंत्रालय भारत की पर्यावरण एवं वानिकी संबंधी नीतियों एवं कर्यक्रमों के कार्यान्वयन के नियोजन , प्रशासनिक ढाँचे के अंतर्गत एक नोडल एजेंसी है
b. इस मंत्रालय का मुख्य दायित्व देश की किसानों की आय के बारे में सोचना है
c. इस मंत्रालय को बहुपक्षीय निकायों और क्षेत्रीय निकायो के पर्यावरण से संबंधित मामले भी सौपे गए है
d. यह मंत्रालय को बहुपक्षीय निकायों और क्षेत्रीय निकायो के पर्यावरण कार्यक्रम के पालन हेतु भी नोडल एजेंसी की तरह कार्य करता है

2. विश्व धरोहर समिति (World Heritage Committee) 2019 के बारे में निम्नलिखित कथनों पर विचार करे :-

1. विश्व धरोहर समिति की बैठक 30 जून से 12 जुलाई तक अजरबैजान की राजधानी बाकू में आयोजित हुई
2. विश्व धरोहर समिति के 43 वे सत्र के बाद वास्तुकला की बेहतरीन विरासत और जीवन संस्कृति के लिए राजस्थान की राजस्थान की राजधानी जयपुर शहर को यूनेस्कों के विश्व धरोहर स्थल के तौर पर चिन्हित किया गया
3. वर्ष 2017 की ऑपरेशनल गाइडलाइन्स के तहत राज्य से हर साल सिर्फ एक स्थान को हो विश्व विरासत बनाने के लिए प्रस्तावित किया जा सकता है
4. यूनेस्को की विश्व विरासत सूची में भारत के विरासत स्थलों की संख्या बढ़कर 39 हो गयी है
उपरोक्त कथनों में सही कथन का चुनाव करे ?
a. 1 एवं 2
b. 2 एवं 3
c. 3 एवं 4
d. 1 एवं 4

3. भारत के किसानो के बारे में निम्नलिखित कथनो पर विचार करे :-

1. भारत के 85 प्रतिशत किसान ऐसे है जिनके पास हेक्टेयर से भी काम भूमि है
2. नाबार्ड द्वारा किये गए सर्वेक्षण में भारतीय कृषक परिवारों के बीच असमानता काफी बढ़ी हुई है |
उपरोक्त में से कौन सा कथन सत्य है
a. केवल 1
b. केवल 2
c. 1 एवं 2 दोनों
d. न तो 1 नही 2

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UPSC परीक्षा ​: समसमायिकी वस्तुनिष्ठ प्रश्न, Hindi Current Affairs MCQ - 07 July 2019


UPSC परीक्षा ​: समसमायिकी वस्तुनिष्ठ प्रश्न, Hindi Current Affairs MCQ - 07 July 2019

1. बजट 2019-20 के बारे में निम्नलिखित में से कौन सा कथन सत्य नहीं है ?

1.1 डेढ़ करोड़ रुपये के कारोबार वाले तीन करोड़ खुदरा व्यपारियों और दुकानदारों को प्रधानमंत्री कर्मयोगी मानधन योजना के तहत पेंशन दिया जएगा
1.2 20,000 नये किसान उत्पादक संगठन बनाने का प्रस्ताव दिया गया है
1.3 पायलट आधार पर चल रही 'जीरो बजट’ खेती को देश के अन्य भागो में लागू करने का प्रस्ताव दिया गया है
a. केवल 1
b. केवल 2
c. केवल 3
d. उपरोक्त सभी

2. स्वयं सहायता समूह (SHG) के लिए 2019-20 बजट में निम्नलिखित में से कौन सा/से प्रावधान किये गये है ?

2.1. महिला एवं सहायता समूह को व्याज सहयता कार्यक्रम का विस्तार हर जिले में करने का प्रस्ताव दिया गया है
2.2. जनधन खाता धारक जो स्वयं सहायता समूह से जुडी हुई है, उनको 5,000 रूपये की ओवरड्राफ्ट सुविधा देने का प्रस्ताव दिया गया है
2.3. मुद्रा योजना के तहत प्रत्येक स्वयं सहायता समूह की महिला एक लाख तक कर्ज लेने के लिए प्राप्त होगी
a. 1 एवं 2
b. 2 एवं 3
c. 1 एवं 3
d. उपरोक्त सभी

3. बजट 2019-20 किसानो के लिए क्या प्रावधान किये गये है

a. प्रधानमंत्री मत्स्य संपदा योजना के तहत मत्स्यन के क्षेत्र में मजबूत प्रबंधन व्यवस्था स्थापित करने का प्रस्ताव दिया गया है
b. 20,000 नये किसान उत्पादक संगठन बनाने का प्रस्ताव किया गया है
c. किसानो की आय को तिगुनी करने का लक्ष्य रखा गया है
d. खाद्यनों दलहनों तिलहनों फलो और सब्जियों को स्व पर्याप्रता और आयत विशेष रूप से जोर दिया गया है

UPSC सामान्य अध्ययन प्रारंभिक एवं मुख्य परीक्षा (Combo) Study Kit


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