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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 February 2020 (India needs a ground-up growth model for an inclusive economy (Mint))

India needs a ground-up growth model for an inclusive economy (Mint)

Mains Paper 3:Economy
Prelims level: Dominant school of economics
Mains level: Ground up growth model for an inclusive economy


  • The country needs new ideas to uplift people in villages even if blinkered economists have little time for our rural multitudes
  • It is clear they agree that the Indian economy is not doing well. And that they do not agree upon what the remedy is.

Differences in opinion:

  • One group of economists is fixated on interest rates and fiscal deficits as the levers to improve the health of the economy.
  • This will impact on economic growth of decimal point differences in interest rates and ratios of fiscal deficit to gross domestic product.
  • Another group of “trade economists" sees opportunities for India in greater integration with global trade. These economists are alarmed by the weakening of the spirit of the 1991 reforms and the return of protection of domestic industries.
  • A large group of economists is concerned that governments are interfering with the “magic" of the market.
  • They accept that the market is poisoned by a concentration of market power.
  • In economies where the “business of business must be only business" and where private participants are expected to pursue their self-interest, self-regulation is an oxymoron.
  • They reluctantly accept that governments must shape the rules of the game for the market to work its magic.

Thought from the dominant school of economics:

  • They has concentrated on framing regulations (and their reduction) to make economies attractive for investors.
  • It measures an economy’s health by the size and growth of GDP. Countries, including India, have seen their GDP grow by adopting this ideology and the rules that flow from it.
  • At the same time, the wealth of investors at the very top has grown much faster than the incomes and wealth of citizens in the lower half of the pyramid.
  • This has fuelled the rise of anti-establishment, “anti-expert" populist movements around the world. 
  • Citizens are asking whose interests these economists, or the policymakers who accept their advice, serve.


  • Some economists question the dominant paradigm. They view economies “bottom-up" and “inside out" from the perspective of people at the bottom.
  • Unlike the dominant school which takes a “top-down" and “outside in" view from investors’ perspectives.
  • The ruling school derides them as “socialists" and “anti-growth". First grow the pie, they say, before you redistribute it.
  • Whereas the bottom-up, people-first school’s view is that to grow the pie, there must be human development alongside, with significant public investment in education and health.


  • Economists of all hues now agree that structural reforms are necessary to revive the Indian economy.
  • Fundamental reforms cannot be delivered by a finance minister in one budget. Nor by any government within a five-year term. Because deep reforms will require changes in economic structures that have been built up over decades.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 February 2020 (Are mega bank mergers well thought out? (The Hindu))

Are mega bank mergers well thought out? (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3:Economy
Prelims level: Bank mergers
Mains level: Effect of delaying the bank mergers


  • The government’s plan to merge 10 public sector banks into four, in order to create stronger entities, seems to be getting delayed. This has raised questions again over the usefulness of the whole idea.

Effect of delays:

  • It seems issuance of the enabling notification may be delayed, as a result of which the declared schedule of getting the balance sheets merged by April 1 may not be adhered to.
  • Since the primary need is to get things right as you go along, some delay may not be a bad thing.
  • The losses of the merged entity can even be higher than the sum of the parts.
  • The weak banks know that they are going to lose their independent identity, their staff can feel orphaned. Then, the efforts to recover dues lose momentum.
  • The losses of BoB will reflect the asset classification norms followed by it, which can be different from that of the two weak banks.

Size doesn’t matter:

  • Merging the weak with the strong can initially lead to a big loss recorded by a hitherto profitable, strong bank.
  • This is really par for the course (BoB’s latest quarter loss is because of higher provisioning).
  • If the political masters are worried over the red on the books of a hitherto strong BoB, then the far bigger question is whether they properly understood what such mergers are all about. To clarify the issues at stake, it is necessary to go back to the basics.
  • The government had somewhat simplistically assumed that the problem of weak banks could be solved by merging them with strong banks.
  • The latter would thereby become bigger and more capable to fend for themselves. Also, those who want to see India big on the global stage (the current political masters are foremost among them) want it to be able to flaunt a few names which are prominent in the global banking pecking order.
  • There is nothing intrinsically great about a bank being big. If a big bank has loads of large non-performing assets, then it is no better off than a small, weak bank.
  • All size does is give a bank some balance-sheet strength, on the basis of which it makes large loans to large corporates. 

Addressing the problem:

  • If they can be given a new professional top management have them write off unrecoverable loans and recapitalise them.
  • But if the government does not have the patience to go through this whole process of restructuring and nurturing, then it is better for the weak smaller banks to be liquidated. The weak part of their loan portfolio can be transferred to a holding company created for taking over such assets.


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 February 2020 (Artificial Human (Indian Express))

Artificial Human (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3:Science and Tech
Prelims level: NEON
Mains level: Robo technology and artificial human development


  • Samsung backed STARLabs has recently introduced what it calls the world’s first ‘Artificial Human’called NEON - the word derives from NEO (new) + humaN.
  • NEON is described as a computationally created virtual being that looks and behaves like a realhuman, with the ability to show emotions and intelligence.
  • Currently, NEONs don’t have a physical embodiment, but rather, are digitally composed nextgeneration artificial intelligent entities.
  • Even though NEONs are virtual, they can exhibit the most important aspects of human capabilities:the ability to communicate with human affect, the ability to learn from experiences, and the ability toform new memories.

Difference from Virtual Assistants:

  • NEON is not a virtual assistant or a bot which gives answers to questions like what’s the weather.NEONs are also not androids, surrogates, copies of real humans or an interface to the Internet to askfor cricket updates or to play one’s favourite music.
  • Virtual Assistants now learn from all the data they are plugged into, while NEONs will be limited towhat they know and learn. Their learning could potentially be limited to the person they are cateringto and maybe their friends — but not the entire Internet.
  • They will be built to become friends, collaborators, and companions, continually learning, evolving,and forming memories from their interactions.

Functioning of Neons:

  • There are two core technologies behind NEONs. First, there is the proprietary CORE R3 technologywhere R3 stands for Reality, Realtime and Responsive.
  • CORE R3 leapfrogs in the domains of Behavioral Neural Networks, Evolutionary GenerativeIntelligence and Computational Reality, and is extensively trained on how humans look, behave and interact. But in the end, it is like a rendition engine, converting the mathematical models to look likeactual humans.
  • CORE R3 can computationally create lifelike reality that is beyond normal perception to distinguish.With a latency of less than a few milliseconds, CORE R3 makes it possible for NEONs to react andrespond in real-time.
  • The next stage will be SPECTRA, which will complement CORE R3 with the “spectrum of intelligence,learning, emotions and memory”. But SPECTRA is still in development, and is not expected until laterthis year.
  • StarLabs does not want NEONs to have collective memory, or to share data among themselves. So, what is known to one NEON cannot be useful for another. The idea is to have a small network that can live independently.
  • Further, no one except the person and the NEON can ever have access to the interactions, and theprivate data will never be shared without permission.
  • Although Artificial Humans may borrow the likeness of or are modelled after real people, each NEONhas his or her own unique personality and can show new expressions, movements, and dialogs.
  • In the near future, one will be able to license or subscribe to a NEON as a service representative, afinancial advisor, a healthcare provider, or a concierge and over time, NEONs are meant to work asTV anchors, spokespeople, or movie actors.

Way Ahead:

  • The plan is to continue developing the CORE R3 engine, and to beta launch NEON in the real world withselected partners from around the world but a physical embodiment for NEONs is not envisioned anytime in the near future, as the technology is not in the realm of the possible atleast for the next 25-30years.
  • In the long run however, it is expected that NEONs will integrate with the world and serve as newlinks to a better future, a world where humans are humans and ‘machines are humane.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 February 2020 (Conquering the green frontier(Indian Express))

Conquering the green frontier(Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3:Economy
Prelims level: Twin transformation
Mains level: Requirement of green transformation needed in Indian Economy


  • The forces of liberalisation and globalisation have transformed the Indian economy in the past three decades.
  • Union government has accelerated these trends by implementing a set of far-reaching reforms, which have led to macro-economic stability, a robust safety net for all and strong growth.
  • It now have one of the most open market economies in the world and are poised to get to $5 trillion in GDP in the next few years.

Need to effective use the resources:

  • India must have globally leading companies across a range of key sectors such as financial services and manufacturing.
  • India must also adopt a resource-efficient, low-carbon development pathway to utilise scarce natural resources effectively.
  • There is no other way. Apocalyptic air pollution, dire water shortages, rising temperatures, and extreme climate events have already brought us to the brink of an environmental crisis.
  • The world needs India’s leadership to achieve the 2 degree Celsius global warming target.

Twin transformation:

  • No nation has ever attempted these twin transformations — high competitiveness and long-term sustainability — simultaneously.
  • The traditional development model has been a farm-to-factory development model with economies transitioning from traditional agriculture to resource-intensive, urban manufacturing.
  • India has to forge a different development model — one that will shift India’s workforce from agriculture to globally leading, resource-efficient businesses.
  • Also, these companies must use the most advanced green technologies and business models.
  • India’s development model will, therefore, need to take the Indian economy from “the farm-to-green frontier”.

Three focus areas for transformation:

1. To achieve green target:

  • To specific and stable policy goals need to be established to set detailed green targets for various sectors. A macro-economic model that factors in current skills, sectoral connections, relative emissions, and financial constraints is necessary to inform such targets going forward.
  • Decarbonisation approaches in the green frontier scenario will drive the growth of green industries, green jobs, green skills, green entrepreneurs and green finance.
  • Investments in green assets will only be possible if there is sanctity of contracts, pricing stability, and consistent policies that are backed up by the full force of law.
  • These specific and stable policy goals need to be implemented urgently to avoid lock-in with high-carbon assets.

2. Develop institutional framework for environmental governance:

  • India may need to revamp its existing institutional framework for environmental governance in order to align it with the country’s green transformation.
  • As demonstrated by global best practices, a comprehensive institutional framework could include four levels — super sovereign, sovereign, state/province and city.
  • An independent council or board may also be required to monitor, report, and verify green targets.

3. Improve waste management:

  • Indian policymakers and entrepreneurs will unleash market forces that will drive the growth of waste management, solar panels, electric vehicles, super-efficient appliances, recyclable food packaging, clean coal, etc.
  • These green industries will require massive investments and appropriate financing capacity will have to be created to support their growth. Preliminary estimates suggest that India’s green transformation may require an average investment of $95 billion to $125 billion per year, aggregating over $1 trillion in the next decade.
  • A “green super fund” could be established to jumpstart green investments by pooling together international and domestic capital. Such a financial institution could play a dual role in mediating and mitigating risk for global capital, as well as identifying sectoral project pipelines.

Way ahead:

  • Indian financial institutions have been very successful in building up new industries (such as microfinance, EdTech, and affordable healthcare), which have delivered both financial and social returns;
  • However, financial support for green industries will have to be orders of magnitude larger.
  • The “green super fund” may have to be able to invest across the capital structure (debt plus equity) as well as across the company lifecycle (early stage, growth capital, infrastructure investments, and so on).


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 22 February 2020 (Non-veg joke (Indian Express))

Non-veg joke (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 1:History
Prelims level: Harappan Civilisation
Mains level: Evolving the food habit from ancient times


  • Economists generally hesitate to draw inferences even from the medieval period, when large parts of the world were dominated, regrettably, by robber barons and mad monks.


  • All nations have vegetarians, but India is unique in also harbouring non-vegetarians, a term which is unknown elsewhere.
  • The collision of this nutritional thesis and antithesis has dogged national politics, and has now cast a judgemental shadow over an interesting but problematic prehistoric feast arranged at the National Museum, which had partnered with a private body to recreate an Indus Valley kitchen.
  • Under the onslaught of nameless but familiar forces, the non-veg dishes have vanished from the menu.

Food habit consequences:

  • They had sounded interesting if occasionally transgressive — bati with dried fish, quail roasted in sal leaves, offal pot, fish in turmeric stew (peace, Bengalis, peace!) and the mysterious “meat fat stew”.
  • But trying to recreate Harappan cuisine is problematic, because the chef must rely exclusively on archaeological evidence.
  • With no textual sources, it is a shot in the dark. Besides, trying to eat like the ancients can have unexpected consequences.
  • Our culture and beliefs have changed repeatedly over the last five millennia, since the Indus Valley civilisation flourished.
  • The contents of middens that have been excavated, people ate food that could invite provoke in the present day.

Why this fascination for ancient cuisines?

  • The enthusiasm for “Vedic foods” was masochistic enough, since a three-course Vedic meal closely resembles three kinds of porridge.
  • The medieval cultural exchanges and European adventurism have brought us foundational elements of modern Indian cuisine, such as South American potatoes, tomatoes and chillies, apart from stalwart creations like the samosa. The Harappans did not know of such things.
  • Enjoy your chilli potato in the present. It’s fully imported, and so scrumptious that you may not care that “meat fat stew” has vanished from an archaic menu.

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(The Gist of Science Reporter) Air Pollution Reduces Life Expectancy in Children [JUNE-2019]

(The Gist of Science Reporter) Air Pollution Reduces Life Expectancy in Children [JUNE-2019]

Air Pollution Reduces Life Expectancy in Children

  • Air pollution is reducing the life expectancy of children in South Asia as they breathing in toxic air. Globally, air pollution has become a greater health risk factor than tobacco, smoking and malnutrition.
  • According to a special report on global exposure to air pollution and its disease burden — State of Glohal Air (SOGA) 2019 — in 2017 the highest mortality burden in ten countries including China. India, Pakistan, Indonesia. Bangladesh, Nigeria, US, Russia, Brazil and the Philippines was attributed to air pollution.
  • As per the report, air pollution is the leading environmental risk factor which ranked fifth among the global health risk factors for mortality in 2017 with approximately 4.9 million deaths and 147 million years of healthy life lost.
  • The report estimated the effect of air pollution on life expectancy which shows that toxic air has reduced the life expectancy globally by 20 months burning of solid fuels; dust from roads, construction and other activities; industrial and power plant burning of coal; brick. production; transportation, and diesel powered equipment were the major PM2.5 sources in India.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 91% of the world's population resides in regions where air quality exceeds WHO guideline targets.
  • As air quality improves, life expectancy will also increase. If global air quality meets WHO’s interim targets for air quality guideline for PM2.5 (10/µg/m3), life expectancy would increase by an average of about seven months.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of Science Reporter) Green Flame Retardants – Keeping out Fires [JUNE-2019]

(The Gist of Science Reporter) Green Flame Retardants – Keeping out Fires [JUNE-2019]

Green Flame Retardants – Keeping out Fires

Flame Retardant Polyester Textiles

  • Polyester fabrics and blends have re-emerged with improvements in weaving quality, finishing, strength and durability. Currently they meet the increasing demand for aesthetic finishing at a cheap price, and their demand is continuously growing in the fashion, interior furnishings, sportswear and protective clothing industries.
  • But polyester is not characteristically a good flame suppressing material because it melts and drips when it burns due to its simple linear structures. It can be made flame retardant, however, by using either co-monomeric modifications or by introducing additives during polymerisation or fibre extrusion stages.
  • Fabrics are treated with additives based on their chemical composition and their thermal characteristics to make them flame retardant.
  • The conventional flame retardant additives are Borax and Boric acid and its hydrated salts, Al2O3, Ca2O3, Na2SiO3, calcium carbonate, thiourea, etc.
  • They are either added at the time of spinning processes performed on synthetic fibers or are deposited on the synthetic or natural fabric surfaces.
  • Their insulating layer brings the temperature below the pyrolysis temperature and prevents combustion as it releases water vapour and produces a foamed glassy coating on the fibre surface.
  • However, these additives are generally toxic pollutants and direct or indirect exposure to them can have adverse effects on the health of children, pregnant women and workers in particular.

Eco-friendly Flame Retardants

  • Common Halogenated flame retardants release toxic dioxins and furans during the burning process. Some escape into the atmosphere, mix with dust and causes indoor air pollution.
  • There are others that cause cancer, reproductive problems, impaired foetal brain development, as well as decreased fertility.
  • So, alternative eco-friendly phosphorus-based chemicals are now being developed. They do not accumulate in the food chain, have a low toxicity profile and eventually mineralize in nature posing no harm to the environment. Phosphorus-based flame retardants are made of inorganic or organic compounds.
  • They can be reactive products which are chemically hound into the polymer or can be additive products. The reactive products are used in polyester fibres and also as coatings on textiles with water-resistant flame-retardant finishing.
  • Phosphorus containing flame retardants are quite versatile in their flame retardant action. They follow condensed phase mechanisms by disrupting the combustion cycle.
  • This process involves thermal decomposition which produces phosphoric acid that cross links with hydroxyl containing polymers thereby altering the pyrolysis temperature to yield less flammable by-products.
  • Phosphorus-containing polyesters behave as flame retardants by removing heal from the flame zone during melt dripping. But, serious melt dripping can lead to immediate burning, secondary damage, and can increase the risk of fire.
  • Therefore, phosphorus based flame retardants require high add-on percentage on the textile surface for which larger quantities of toxic chemicals have to be used.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) PM condoles demise of Girish Karnad [JUNE-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) PM condoles demise of Girish Karnad [JUNE-2019]

PM condoles demise of Girish Karnad

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences on the demise of Veteran playwright and actor Girish Karnad at the age of 81 after a prolonged illness in Bengaluru.


  • Girish Raghunath Karnad (1938 – 2019) was an Indian actor, film director, Kannada writer and playwright.
  • He was an eminent playwright with works such as “Nagmandala”, “Yayati” and “Tughlaq” to his credit. His plays, written in Kannada, have been translated into English and several Indian languages.
  • He also acted in several plays and movies that have received critical acclamation.
  • Karnad served as the director of the Film and Television Institute of India from 1974–1975 and chairman of the Sangeet Natak Academy from 1988–1993.

Awards and Honours:

  • He was a recipient of Jnanpith Award In 1998, the highest literary honour conferred in India.
  • He was also conferred the Padma Shri in 1974 and the Padma Bhushan in 1992.
  • He was also a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University, in the 1960s that earned him his Master of Arts degree in philosophy, political science and economics.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) E-Governance Initiatives for ST Welfare Schemes [JUNE-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) E-Governance Initiatives for ST Welfare Schemes [JUNE-2019]

E-Governance Initiatives for ST Welfare Schemes

  • Arjun Munda, Union Minister for Tribal Affairs launched the “e-governance initiatives for ST Welfare schemes”.


  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs has developed online portals namely DBT Tribal and NGO Grants Online Application and Tracking System for bringing in greater e-Governance in implementation of welfare schemes for STs.
  • DBT Tribal portal ( In this portal, there are 3 main modules for Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarship.
  • NGO Grants Online Application and Tracking System ( This portal has been developed for implementing scheme of Aid to Voluntary Organizations working for the welfare of STs. The portal has been re-opened on today for FY 2019-20 for NGOs and States for online application.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 [JUNE-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 [JUNE-2019]

Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  • In a major move aimed at making Aadhaar making people friendly, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved “The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019” to replace the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019.
  • The amendments proposed are the same as those contained in the Ordinance promulgated by President on 2nd March, 2019. The Bill will be introduced in ensuing session of Parliament.
  • The decision is expected to go a long way in meeting the people friendly and citizen centric nature of Aadhaar.


  • The decision would enable UIDAI to have a more robust mechanism to serve the public interest and restrain the misuse of Aadhar.
  • Subsequent to this amendment, no individual shall be compelled to provide proof of possession of Aadhaar number or undergo authentication for the purpose of establishing his identity unless it is so provided by a law made by Parliament.
  • For the convenience of general public in opening of bank accounts, the proposed amendments would allow the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.


  • The salient features of the amendments are as follows—
  • Provides for voluntary use of Aadhaar number in physical or electronic form by authentication or offline verification with the consent of Aadhaar number holder;
  • Provides for use of twelve-digit Aadhaar number and its alternative virtual identity to conceal the actual Aadhaar number of an individual;
  • Gives an option to children who are Aadhaar number holders to cancel their Aadhaar number on attaining the age of eighteen years;
  • Permits the entities to perform authentication only when they are compliant with the standards of privacy and security specified by the Authority; and the authentication is permitted under any law made by Parliament or is prescribed to be in the interest of State by the Central Government;
  • Allows the use of Aadhaar number for authentication on voluntary basis as acceptable KYC document under the Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002;
  • Proposes deletion of section 57 of the Aadhaar Act relating to use of Aadhaar by private entities;
  • Prevents denial of services for refusing to, or being unable to, undergo authentication;
  • Provides for establishment of Unique Identification Authority of India Fund;
  • Provides for civil penalties, its adjudication, appeal thereof in regard to violations of Aadhaar Act and provisions by entities in the Aadhaar ecosystem.


  • The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 was considered by the Cabinet in its meeting held on 28th February, 2019 and the Ordinance was promulgated by the President on 2nd March, 2019.
  • The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 amongst other things envisaged strengthening of the Aadhaar Act as per the directions of the Supreme Court and recommendations of Justice B.N.Srikrishna (Retd) Committee.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) President’s (not Governor’s) Rule in J and K [JUNE-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) President’s (not Governor’s) Rule in J and K [JUNE-2019]

President’s (not Governor’s) Rule in J and K

  • Based on the prevailing situation in the state as stated in the report of Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the extension of President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir for a further period of six months with effect from 3rdJuly, 2019, under article 356(4) of the Constitution of India.


  • The decision implies that the President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir will be extended for a further period of six months with effect from 3rd July, 2019.
  • The present term of President’s Rule is expiring on 2nd July, 2019and the Governor has recommended that the President Rule in the State may be extended for a further period of six months with effect from 3rd July, 2019.


  • A resolution seeking approval of parliament for the same will be moved in both the houses of parliament during the forthcoming session.


  • The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir issued a proclamation on 20.6.2018 under Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir with the concurrence of the President of India, thereby assuming to himself the functions of the Government and Legislature of the State and making some incidental and consequential provisions. The State Assembly, initially kept in suspended animation was dissolved by the Governor on 21.11.2018.
  • The proclamation issued by the Governor on 20.6.2018 ceased on 19.12.2018 after six months. Under Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, there is no provision for further continuation of such Proclamation after six months.
  • Hence, on the recommendation of Governor and having regard to the prevailing situation in the State, President issued a proclamation promulgating President’s Rule in J and K under article 356 of the Constitution of India. Subsequently, a Resolution approving the subject Proclamation by President was passed in the Lok Sabha on 28.12.2018 and in the RajyaSabha on 3.1.2019.
  • The present term of President’s Rule is expiring on 2nd July, 2019and the Governor has recommended that the President Rule in the State may be extended for a further period of six months with effect from 3rd July, 2019.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Cyclone Vayu Warning for Gujarat Coast: Orange Message [JUNE-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Cyclone Vayu Warning for Gujarat Coast: Orange Message [JUNE-2019]

Cyclone Vayu Warning for Gujarat Coast: Orange Message

  • ‘VAYU’ (pronounced as VAA’YU) has been categorised as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm.
  • It is very likely to move north-northwestwards for some time and then northwestwards skirting the Saurashtra coast with wind speed 135-145 kmph gusting to 160 kmph.


  • The criteria followed by Meteorological Department of India (IMD) to classify the low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal and in the Arabian Sea as adopted by World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) are as under:

Type of Disturbances (and Associated Wind Speed in the Circulation):

  • Low pressure Area: Less than 17 knots (<31 kmph)
  • Depression: 17 to 27 knots (31 to 49 kmph)
  • Deep Depression: 28 to 33 knots (50 to 61 kmph)
  • Cyclonic Storm: 34 to 47 knots (62 to 88 kmph)
  • Severe Cyclonic Storm: 48 to 63 knots (89 to 118 kmph)
  • Very Severe Cyclonic Storm: 64 to 119 knots (119 to 221 kmph)
  • Super Cyclonic Storm: 119 knots and above (221 kmph and above)

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Cabinet approves New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019 [JUNE-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Cabinet approves New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019 [JUNE-2019]

Cabinet approves New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019

  • Making India as the hub of International Arbitration has been one of the pioneering initiatives of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi led NDA Government.
  • Setting up of an independent an autonomous regime for institutionalized domestic and international arbitration are a step in this direction.
  • The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approvedtoday the Bill New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Bill, 2019 for introduction in the ensuing session of Parliament.


  • The benefits of institutionalized arbitration will be manifold for the Government and its agency and to the parties to a dispute.
  • This will result in quality experts being available in India and also an advantage in terms of cost incurred.
  • It will facilitate India becoming a hub for institutional arbitration.


  • The Bill provides for setting up of an independent an autonomous body for institutional arbitration and to acquire and transfer the undertakings of International Centre For Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR) to New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC)w.e.f a specified date 2nd march, 2019.


  • The Bill replaces the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Ordinance, 2019, promulgated by President on 02.03.2019 for the creation of an independent and autonomous regime for institutionalized domestic and international arbitration and establishing India as an International Hub of Arbitration.
  • The Bill provides for the repeal of the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Ordinance, 2019 and saves all the actions done or taken under the Ordinance which will be deemed to have been done or taken under the provisions of this Bill.


  • It has been the endeavor of the Government of India to establish an independent and autonomous institution for resolving International and domestic commercial disputes expeditiously by Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
  • In this regard, a High-Level Committee (HLC), headed by Mr. Justice B.N. Srikrishna, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, was constituted in the year 2017.
  • The HLC recommended that the Government may take over the International Centre For Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR), an existing institution which has been established in the year 1995 using the public funds and develop it as an Institution of National Importance.

Aims and objectives of NDIAC :

  • To bring targeted reforms to develop itself as a flagship institution for conducting international and domestic arbitration
  • To provide facilities and administrative assistance for conciliation, mediation and arbitral proceedings;
  • To maintain panels of accredited arbitrators, conciliators and mediators both at national and international level or specialists such as surveyors and investigators;
  • To facilitate conducting of international and domestic arbitrations and conciliation in the most professional manner;
  • To provide cost effective and timely services for the conduct of arbitrations and conciliations at Domestic and International level;
  • To promote studies in the field of alternative dispute resolution and related matters, and to promote reforms in the system of settlement of disputes; and
  • To co-operate with other societies, institutions and organisations, national or international for promoting alternative dispute resolution.

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(The Gist of PIB) SVEEP Nodal Officers from across the country meet to deliberate upon the blueprint for the next five years [JUNE-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) SVEEP Nodal Officers from across the country meet to deliberate upon the blueprint for the next five years [JUNE-2019]

SVEEP Nodal Officers from across the country meet to deliberate upon the blueprint for the next five years

  • A two-day National Conference of SVEEP Nodal Officers was organized by the Election Commission of India to deliberate upon the blueprint for the next five years.


  • Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program.
  • It is the flagship program of the Election

Commission of India.

  • Voter education, spreading voter awareness and promoting voter literacy in India.
  • SVEEP began with the introduction of planned IEC (Information, Education, and Communication) interventions in the Jharkhand elections of end-2009, which was subsequently revamped in 2010 and given its present name.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Cabinet approves Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 Bill to be introduced in the ensuing Parliament Session [JUNE-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Cabinet approves Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 Bill to be introduced in the ensuing Parliament Session [JUNE-2019]

Cabinet approves Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 Bill to be introduced in the ensuing Parliament Session

  • Reforms in the field of Medical education so as to give a push to the goal of a quality health coverage to the citizens of India has been one of the major pillars of the NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Keeping the spirit alive and to fulfil yet another promise of the Government, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved theIndian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2019 to replace the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2019 through an Act of Parliament. The Bill will be introduced in the ensuing session of the Parliament.
  • The move will ensure transparency, accountability and quality in the governance of medical education in the country.


  • The New Bill provides for supersession of MCI for a period of two years w.e.f. 26.09.2018.
  • During this period, the Board of Governors shall exercise the powers and functions of MCI asassigned under the IMC Act, 1956.
  • The number of members in the Board of Governors will be increased from existing 7 to 12.


  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had come across certain arbitrary action by MCI in disregard to the provisions of the IMC Act, 1956 and regulations made thereunder.
  • Further, the Oversight Committee constituted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to oversee the functioning of MCI had also cited instances of non-compliance of their instructions and subsequently, all members of the Oversight Committee tendered their resignation.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 February 2020 (Time to Care (Mint))

Time to Care (Mint)

Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level: Oxfam report
Mains level: Highlights of the Oxfam report


  • Oxfam International has published its report that underlines what has been said repeatedly by governments, research organisations and a range of multilateral bodies over the past decade or more —that economic inequality, “is out of control”, with extremes of wealth existing alongside great poverty.

Highlights of the report:

Gap between the Richest and the Rest:

  • As per the report, India’s richest 1% hold more than four times the wealth held by the 953 million who make up for the bottom 70% of the country’s population and the world’s richest 1% have more than twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people.
  • Nearly half the world is trying to survive on $5.50 a day or less and many people are just one hospital bill or failed harvest away from destitution.
  • Taxation System Aiding Inequality: One reason for these outsized returns is a collapse in taxation of the super-rich and the biggest corporations because of falling tax rates and deliberate tax dodging.
  • At the same time, only 4% of global tax comes from taxation of wealth and studies show that the super-rich avoid as much as 30% of their tax liability.
  • Extremely low corporate taxation helps them cream the profits from companies where they are the main shareholders. This is evident in the fact that between 2011 and 2017 average wages in G7 countries increased by 3%, while dividends to wealthy shareholders grew by 31%.

Women are worse off than Men:

  • Economic inequality is also built on gender inequality, and the majority of those at the bottom of the economic pyramid are women.
  • Women and girls are more likely to be found in poorly paid and precarious employment, and they do the bulk of unpaid and underpaid care work.
  • The dominant model of capitalism actively exploits and drives traditional sexist beliefs that disempower women and girls, counting on them to do this work, but refusing to value them for it.

Leaders are failing to Act:

  • Despite the evidence of the corrosive effects of the divide between rich and poor, most world leaders are still pursuing policy agendas that drive a greater gap between the haves and the have nots.
  • They are offering policies like tax cuts for billionaires, obstructing measures to tackle the climate emergency, or bolstering racism, sexism and hatred of minorities.

Way ahead:

  • Feminist economics and gender equality are fundamental to a human economy and a core part of this new, fairer, human economy is to fully address the role of unpaid and underpaid care work.
  • Building national care systems with the full participation of civil society, and in particular women’s rights groups, is a fundamental step in this direction.
  • Further, actions to redistribute care work should be part of a comprehensive approach of redistributive policies in order to close the gap between rich and poor.
  • The policies should include progressive taxation, free public services and social protection systems and policies to limit the influence of corporations and the super-rich.
  • Extreme wealth is a sign of a failing economic system, hence Governments must take steps to radically reduce the gap between the rich and the rest of society and prioritize the wellbeing of all citizens over unsustainable growth and profit, to avoid a world that caters only to a privileged few and consigns millions of people to poverty.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 February 2020 (Bring an Ordinance to End Provision of Mercy Petition (Mint))

Bring an Ordinance to End Provision of Mercy Petition (Mint)

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Mercy Petition
Mains level: Arguments in favour and against by abolishing Mercy Petition


  • After the dismissal of the curative pleas by the Supreme Court (SC) of the Nirbhaya accused, they filed Mercy petition before the President. Article 72 of the Indian Constitution deals with the power of President to grant pardons, to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.
  • The similar powers are also enjoyed by the Governor under the provisions of Article 161.
  • Further, the law laid down in Bachan Singh (1980), upheld the validity of the death penalty and provided that death penalty should be awarded only in the rarest of rare cases. Around 59 countries have still retained the death penalty. India is one of them, even if it does not employ it as frequently as countries such as Iran, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the USA.

Arguments in favour of Death Penalty are as follows:

  • In 1962, the Law Commission (35th Report) supported the death penalty stating that India’s particular circumstances were such that it could not experiment with its abolition.
  • Further, in 1991, the SC cited its use in defending law and order as the reason for its continuance.
  • India’s neighbourhood is not peaceful, unlike Scandinavia. On the contrary, every day vested interests attempt to destabilize the very idea of our nation from across every border it shares. Moreover, cases of violent terror are constant reminders of the need to protect national stability.
  • A punishment cannot be judged by its impact on criminals but by its impact on those who are still innocent. Thus, there is a moral support for the death penalty.
  • Those who defend the death penalty often do it on the basis of retributive justice.
  • The judiciary has already circumscribed the application of death penalty by stating that it must only be imposed where the alternative option is unquestionably foreclosed.
  • The death penalty is imposed only in rarest of rare cases that shock the conscience of society.
  • This is reflective in the fact that in the last 13 years, only four people have been executed.

The Arguments against use of Death Penalty are as follows:

  • The death penalty is criticized mainly on three counts i.e. arbitrariness, irreversibility and human rights.
  • The moral foundation of judicial killing has been questioned and it has been judged untenable in many countries.
  • Implementation of the death penalty has also been deeply problematic. As the recent Death Penalty India Report by the National Law University, Delhi indicates the structural flaws in our criminal procedure and criminal justice system are most pronounced in death penalty cases.
  • There has been an arbitrary manner/ application in which death penalty is awarded by different judges (judge-centric variations) and the way public discourse influences such decisions.
  • In recent times, public outrage, the need for deterrence and the clamour for a befitting punishment to render substantial justice have dominated the discourse. Whereas, individual cases the decision on death penalty should depend on the nature of the crime, its gravity, cruelty and the number of fatalities.
  • The Supreme Court itself spoke of the extremely uneven application of norms laid down in Bachan Singh. The same was also endorsed by Law Commission of India in its 262nd Report and asserted that there exists no principled method to remove such arbitrariness from capital sentencing.
  • The death penalty has refused to consider the Reformative theory of punishment that focuses on reforming the individual.
  • No study has shown that the death penalty deters murder more than life imprisonment. The evidence is all to the contrary. For deterrence to work, the severity of the punishment has to coexist with the certainty and swiftness of the punishment.
  • Due to biases in criminal investigations, the marginalized, whether by religious and caste denominations or class are disproportionately subject to the death penalty. Over 3/4th of prisoners on death row belong to backward classes and religious minorities. Also 93.5 % sentenced for terror are Dalits or minorities.
  • In 2007, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the administration of the death penalty.

Way Forward:

  • The SC has covered considerable ground in limiting the scope to the rarest of rare case. Post-appeal reviews and curative petitions are routinely admitted. Review petitions are now heard in open court.
  • The treatment of death row prisoners has been humanized and there is scope for judicial review even against a sovereign decision denying clemency.
  • If there still prevails a perception of arbitrariness in the way death sentences are awarded, the only lasting solution is their abolition after due analysis.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 February 2020 (All India Judicial Service no panacea (Indian Express))

All India Judicial Service no panacea (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: All India Judicial Service
Mains level: Requirement of the establishment of All India Judicial Service


  • The idea of an AIJS has been deliberated since Independence. In fact, the First law commission’s 14th Report on ‘Reform of Judicial Administration’ suggested the need for creating a separate All India service for judicial officers.
  • Moreover, the vision document titled Strategy for New India @ 75, released by the NITI Aayog, amongst other things, proposed creation of an AIJS akin to the other central services like the IAS and the IPS.

Argument for creation of AIJS:

  • It will ensure that subordinate court judges are paid salaries and given perks at parity with government bureaucrats, thereby incentivizing the option of the state judiciary as a viable career prospect.
  • The quality of judges will improve as the best legal talent across the country would be selected on the basis of merit.
  • The AIJS is also being proposed as a panacea to cure the chronic vacancy crisis plaguing the Indian subordinate judiciary.
  • An All India service will offer a more streamlined and regularized recruitment process for the vacancies for District judges in the country.
  • The Article 312 of the Constitution permits the Rajya Sabha to create an All India Services. Presently, the appointments to the subordinate judiciary are made under Articles 233 and 234 of the Constitution.
  • However, the Article 312 commences with a non-obstante clause, thus will override these provisions.
  • Furthermore, Entry 70 of the Union List provides Parliament exclusive authority to enact a law creating such an AIJS and all connected matters. Thus, AIJS creation is constitutionally permissible.
  • Lastly, the efficiency and efficacy of judiciary would be increased and the issue of corruption, nepotism etc. would be strongly dealt with.

Arguments against creation of AIJS:

  • As the Constitution only permits the appointments of District Judges to such a prospective AIJS, it will not magically remedy the shortage of judges at the subordinate level.
  • The idea of an AIJS has been significantly contentious within the legal fraternity and other concerned stakeholders. The idea has been vehement disagreed by almost half the High Courts.
  • Many states see this as an attempt by the central government to encroach is state’s domain. Thus, it will be another ground for conflict between the Union and other federal units.
  • If the control over State judiciary is transferred to Union government by removing control of High Court as currently provided under Article 235, the independence of judiciary would be undermined.
  • The judges appointed by the All India process will need to familiarize themselves with the local languages, customs and laws of the State.

Way forward:

  • Besides creation of AIJS, it will also be prudent to investigate the reasons and causes for the large number of vacancies in lower judiciary so that the timely corrective steps can be taken.
  • Moreover, even after the selection, a Judicial service officer need to be provided sufficient training to handle the job. Thus, a meritocratic judiciary is the need of the hour.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 February 2020 (Iran Parliament introduces motion to leave nuclear proliferation treaty (Mint))

Iran Parliament introduces motion to leave nuclear proliferation treaty (Mint)

Mains Paper 2: International
Prelims level: Nuclear proliferation treaty
Mains level: Various agreements and their mandate


  • A motion for Iran to withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was introduced in Iran’s parliament. So far it is not clear when parliament might vote on the motion.
  • To become a law, the proposal would have to be passed by lawmakers in two readings and then ratified by the Guardian Council, a body that is in charge of ensuring bills do not contradict religious laws or Iran’s constitution.
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic, has the final say on all state matters like Tehran’s nuclear policy.

NPT: A Success:

  • With the adherence of 190 countries out of 195, the NPT is close to universal world participation.
  • It remains unique as there is no other international agreement based on a bargain between nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon states. The Treaty facilitates cooperation on peaceful applications of nuclear technology under the watch of the IAEA.
  • It can be credited with embedding the non-proliferation norm that is responsible for keeping the number of countries armed with nuclear weapons lower than ten.

NPT: Failed To Prevent the Spread of Nuclear Weapons:

  • NPT in its present form tries to prevent horizontal proliferation but cannot prevent vertical proliferation. Failure to prevent horizontal spreading can be seen in case of Iran, Libya and N Korea.
  • There are still almost 16,000 nuclear weapons in existence, many of them on hair-trigger alert and far more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
  • There is no truthful adherence to the treaty. Many countries even after joining NPT continued clandestine nuclear programmes including Brazil, South Africa, Iran and Iraq.
  • Today NPT has been reduced to a treaty which protects the rights of five nuclear weapon state. These states are contributing to the vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons.
  • Failure by China and the United States to resolve the North Korea nuclear and missile problem, and a collapse of the JCPOA, makes it much more difficult for the NPT members to maintain unity in tackling non-proliferation challenges.


  • NPT is a discriminatory treaty which divides the world into nuclear haves and have not. In the absence of truthful adherence, it does not make world safer from the threat of nuclear weapons.
  • It is believed that Treaty is at risk of becoming obsolete and eventually collapsing, because of proliferation challenges and disputes about disarmament.
  • It is high time to formulate a global, time bound, verifiable & non-discriminatory treaty to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, which has been India’s consistent position since the beginning.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 21 February 2020 (On Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill (The Hindu))

On Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Polity
Prelims level: Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill
Mains level: Significance of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill


  • The Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation (ART) Bill, which was cleared by the Union Cabinet this week, came after the Surrogacy Bill that it should have preceded.


  • Together, the ART Bill; the Surrogacy Bill; the amendment to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act; and the older Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act present a bouquet of legislation that will have a positive impact on the reproductive rights and choices of women in India.
  • The ART Bill to regulate clinics offering fertility treatments has been long in the works, and was first presented publicly way back in 2008.
  • ART measures help couples unable to conceive naturally to bear children with the aid of state-of-the-art technology to achieve pregnancy, leading to safe delivery.

History of the Assisted Reproductive Technology:

  • India has a rich history of employing ART, though the initial years went officially undocumented at that time. In the late 1970s, only months after the birth of Louise Brown, the first ‘test tube baby’, Kolkata-based doctor Subhas Mukherjee announced the birth of the world’s second test tube baby.
  • Subsequently, the industry saw phenomenal growth, as infertility rates went up.

Why regulation is important?

  • A market projection (by Fortune Business Insights) said the size of the ART market is expected to reach $45 billion by 2026. Among Asian countries, India’s ART market is pegged at third position.
  • A lack of regulation and the consequent laxity in operations drove a lot of traffic from other nations to India.
  • This, in turn, along with the relatively low costs, led to the mushrooming of ART clinics across the country. Undoubtedly, this also led to a plethora of legal, social and ethical issues.

Way ahead:

  • It is at this juncture that the ART Bill has seen a fitting revival, egged on by legislators who facilitated the passage of the Surrogacy Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
  • It seeks to regulate and monitor ART procedures, and mandates the establishment of a National Board and State Boards to lay down rules for implementation, and also honours a long-pending demand — creation of a national registry, and registration authority.
  • While the rules will handle the bells and whistles, the Bill already sets a comprehensive framework to operate on.
  • Most significantly, the Bill recommends punishment, even jail time, for violations of the provisions.



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