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(The Gist of PIB) Constitutional and Legislative Measures to Protect and Safeguard Land Rights of STs [FEBRUARY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Constitutional and Legislative Measures to Protect and Safeguard Land Rights of STs [FEBRUARY-2019]

Constitutional and Legislative Measures to Protect and Safeguard Land Rights of STs

  • The Scheduled Tribes (STs) have been the most marginalized, isolated and deprived population. To protect and safeguarding the land rights and other rights of Scheduled Tribes, following constitutional and legislative measure have been put in place:

Key highlights

  • “The Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006”to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation in forest land to forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.
  • “Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013” (RFCTLARR Act, 2013 in short) safeguards against displacement of Scheduled Tribes. Special provisions have been made for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under Sections 41 and 42 of the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 which protect their interests. The RFCTLARR Act, 2013 also lays down procedure and manner of rehabilitation and resettlement.
  • “The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996”, also provides that the Gram Sabha or the Panchayats at the appropriate level shall be consulted before making the acquisition of land in the Scheduled Areas of development projects and before resettling or rehabilitating persons affected by such projects in the Scheduled Areas; the actual planning and implementation of the projects in the Scheduled Areas shall be coordinated at the State Level;
  • Constitutional provisions under Schedule – V also provide for safeguards against displacement of tribal population because of land acquisitions etc. The Governor of the State, having scheduled Areas, is empowered to prohibit or restrict transfer of land from tribals and regulate the allotment of land to members of the Scheduled Tribes in such cases. Land being a State subject, various provisions of rehabilitation and resettlement as per the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 are implemented by the concerned State Governments.
  • “The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987” provides for legal services to members of Scheduled Tribes.
  • “The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989” has been introduced to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, to provide for the trial of such offences and for the relief of rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Wrongfully dispossessing members of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes from their land or premises or interfering with the enjoyment of their rights, including forest rights, over any land or premises or water or irrigation facilities or destroying the crops or taking away the produce there from amount to atrocities and are subject to punishment under the said Act.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 30 January 2020 (Strategic disinvestment does not deserve the criticism it gets (Mint))

Strategic disinvestment does not deserve the criticism it gets (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Strategic disinvestment
Mains level: Strategic disinvestment opportunities and challenges


  • State-owned Air India is on the block.

Disinvestment a good idea:

  • True wisdom lies in the use of resources, including the so-called “family silver", to meet emergent needs.
  • It is also required for better returns.
  • Even individuals and private sector organizations committed to meeting their obligations or optimizing wealth creation take such initiatives routinely.

Weakening of Indian economy:

  • This fiscal year’s second quarter growth in gross domestic product (GDP) slipped to 4.5% and the portents of a slowdown have been quite apparent.
  • Private sector investment is sagging. Gross capital formation has dipped. Aggregate demand has contracted.
  • Public sector expenditure is the single engine that’s driving economic growth.

Challenges ahead for the government:

  • There is a clamour for the government to open its purse and help out. However, its revenue growth has shrunk.
  • Direct tax collections registered a growth of only a little more than 6%.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has taken a rate cut pause, inter alia, to watch the government’s approach to the fisc.
  • The political executive seems determined to honour its commitment to low inflation and macroeconomic stability.
  • India is thus faced with a Hobson’s choice—either to significantly revise its fiscal deficit target or monetize state assets.

Market liberalisation and optimization of wealth:

  • Capital markets operate on perceptions. Valuations of public sector enterprises tend to be much lower than those of private sector companies even if their profit numbers are the same.
  • The liberalized market philosophy that the country has pursued aims at optimizing wealth creation. In case a change in ownership structure can deliver higher wealth, why should Indian society retain the current ownership frame and suffer suboptimal wealth creation?
  • Given the limits on India’s resources, it is all the more important to see that policies are geared to ensure that value is created.
  • Stake sales can achieve value creation: For a validation of this surmise, look at the rapid rise in the enterprise value of Bharat Petroleum, as indicated by its share price, since the announcement of its strategic disinvestment.
  • It is also true that not all companies in the private sector do well. However, in those cases, the losses are not funded by innocent tax payers.

Way forward:

  • The government, however, must ensure that it is not taken for a ride.
  • In a democracy, voices of dissent must always be heard and respectfully taken into consideration, but disinvestment decisions must be taken on merit.
  • The cabinet’s decisions are well justified, and pressure groups should not be allowed to hijack the country’s reform agenda.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 30 January 2020 (How to protect trade in a tug of war between nations (Mint))

How to protect trade in a tug of war between nations (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Trade war
Mains level : Effects from liberalisation of growth and issues arising from it


  • Developing countries have argued for decades that the rules governing international trade are profoundly unfair.
  • But why are similar complaints now emanating from the developed countries that established most of those rules.

Reasons behind such complaining:

  • A simple but inadequate explanation is “competition."
  • In the 1960s and 1970s, industrialized countries focused on opening foreign markets for their goods and set the rules accordingly.
  • Since then, the tide has turned.
  • One reason why emerging-market producers are competitive is because they pay workers less.
  • To replace lost manufacturing jobs, developed economies have been creating jobs in services.

Key challenges:

  • Unfortunately, not everyone in developed countries has been able to move to good service jobs.
  • The best are largely in big cities, where well-educated professionals have been able to cater to global markets, while small towns in.
  • Two factors have increased the uneasiness over international trade and investment arrangements.
  • Ordinary people in left-behind communities in developed countries are no longer willing to accept existing arrangements.
  • At the same time, emerging-economy elites want a share of the global market for services, and are no longer willing to cede ground there.\
  • Trade negotiations have become exercises in power politics, not persuasion: threats of sky-high tariffs to close off markets.
  • One important difference is that the public in emerging markets is more democratically engaged than in the past.
  • Therefore, any success that rich countries have in setting onerous rules for others today could prove pyrrhic.

Way forward:

  • It should developed countries respond to domestic pressures to make trade fairer.
  • For starters, it is reasonable to demand that developing countries lower tariffs steadily to an internationally acceptable norm.
  • Discriminatory non-tariff barriers or subsidies that favour their producers excessively should be challenged at the World Trade Organization.
  • But to go much beyond these measures to attempt to impose one’s preferences on unions, regulation of online platforms, and duration of patents on other countries—will further undermine the consensus for trade.
  • Less intrusive trade agreements today may do more for trade tomorrow.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 30 January 2020 (Examining the slowdown (The Hindu))

Examining the slowdown (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: NFDI-GDP ratio
Mains level: Performance of Indian economy after 1991


  • Indian economy is facing a structural consumption slowdown is not borne by facts.

Performance of Indian economy after 1991:

  • After the 1991 economic reforms, the Indian economy reached a higher growth plateau of 7% compared to a prior rate of 3.85%.
  • India witnessed a high growth momentum during 2003-04 and 2010-11 with a period average of 8.45% (GDP with base 2004-05) or 7% (base 2011-12).
  • The momentum lost steam in 2011-12 and 2012-13, gradually picked up again gradually to reach the 8% mark in 2015-16, and then started falling consistently to reach 6.63% in 2018-19.
  • This trend suggests that India’s current growth challenge has a structural dimension as it began in 2011-12.

Comparison with China and other countries:

  • Despite these fluctuations from 2011-12, on average, India clocked a growth rate of 7.07% from 2011 to 2019, a decent figure compared to China’s and the world’s economic growth rates.
  • Whereas, like India, the growth of the world economy was fluctuating since 2011, China’s growth declined consistently from 10.64% in 2010 to 6.60% in 2018.

Why couldn’t India’s growth momentum be sustained after 2010-11?

  • An in-depth analysis of trends in five key macroeconomic variables — consumption, investment, savings, exports, and net foreign direct investment (NFDI) inflows — was done for two different periods: 2003-04 to 2010-11 and 2011-12 to 2018-19.
  • The results reveal that compared to 2003-2011, investment and savings rates and exports-GDP ratio declined in the 2011-2019 period.
  • The investment rate declined from 34.31% of GDP in 2011-12 to 29.30% in 2018-19, caused mainly by the household sector and to some extent by the public sector, but not the corporate sector.
  • The slump in the domestic investment rate in the 2011-2019 period was compensated by increased NFDI inflows. On average, NFDI inflow was 1.31% of GDP during 2011-2019 compared to 0.89% during 2003 2011.

Declining household investment:

  • The decline in household sector investment justifies the package of measures introduced by the Central government to revive the housing sector.
  • This is the steep cut in the corporate income tax rate from 30% to 22%, aimed at boosting private investment.
  • The corporate investment rate has not eroded severely during 2011-2019, one wonders if the tax cut would help economic revival.
  • A part of the largesse offered to Corporate India could have been used to spur rural consumption.

Savings and consumption:

  • The savings rate declined almost consistently from 34.27% of GDP to 30.51% between 2011 and 2018.
  • This was also caused by a significant fall in the savings of the household sector in financial assets. Corporate savings did not fall.
  • The fall in household financial savings is alarming and needs to be arrested. Savings are required to meet the requirements of those who want to borrow for their investment needs.
  • Lower household savings imply lesser funds available in the domestic market for investment spending.
  • The decline in household savings has pushed up private final consumption expenditure consistently from 56.21% of GDP in 2011-12 to 59.39% in 2018-19.
  • This suggests that economic growth during 2011-2019 was powered by consumption, not investment.
  • In contrast, during 2003-2011, growth was powered by investments.
  • Thus, the popular view that economic slowdown was caused due to a slowdown in consumption demand needs to be re-examined. There is no concrete evidence to suggest that the economy is facing a structural consumption slowdown.

Way forward:

  • India’s exports-GDP ratio declined from 24.54% to 19.74% during 2011-2019. The decline started from 2014-15, coinciding with a similar trend in the world export-GDP ratio.
  • However, the drop in India’s exports was significantly larger than the world, a cause for concern.
  • The exports- and NFDI-GDP ratio has deteriorated sharply and consistently in China after 2006. This, together with the consistent fall in China’s GDP growth after 2010, proves that the Indian economy is doing better than China.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 30 January 2020 (The many problems of delayed data (The Hindu))

The many problems of delayed data (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2 : Governance
Prelims level : National Crime Records Bureau
Mains level : Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures


  • Publications such as ‘Crime in India’ (CII), which is brought out annually by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), offer some hope that at least some people, including researchers and discerning citizens, will give up sweeping analyses and rest their case on a rational platform.

Formidable challenges:

Lackadaisical approach of some of the States in providing data:

  • The first is the lackadaisical approach of some of the States in providing data.
  • The NCRB merely assembles the figures it receives from the State police forces and does not tinker with them to reach a predetermined conclusion.
  • It hits a roadblock when a few States either don’t bother to send the figures or send them much after the volume is published.

Questions are raised over the utility of the data:

  • The questions are raised over the utility of the data. There was a two-year delay in releasing the crime statistics for 2017. Just two months after it was published, the ‘Crime in India’ 2018 report was released.
  • These numbers are only relevant to researchers, not policymakers. It is strange that we see such delays in an age of computerisation, when we boast of efficient and swift online services.
  • Part of the blame rests on State police agencies. It is intriguing why they cannot send preliminary figures to the NCRB by mid-January every year and fine-tune the figures a few months later.
  • There is nothing sensational to report on what happened in 2018 on the crime front.
  • A less than 2% increase in the total number of cases registered under major and minor laws may be comforting, but it does not carry us far in understanding what is happening on the ground.

Lies with the police and the public:

  • The police are notorious the world over for not registering complaints. They do this so that they can present a false picture of a decline in crime.
  • This pernicious practice is often encouraged by the top leadership.
  • The public are also not very enthusiastic about reporting crimes to the police. They are fearful of being harassed at the police station or do not believe that the police are capable of solving the crime. This is a Catch-22 situation.

Crimes difficult to bury:

  • However, the problem has declined slightly over the years due to public awareness and intense media scrutiny.
  • There are a few classes of offences which are becoming increasingly difficult to bury. This is attributable to the extraordinary interest evinced by the media in reporting crime.
  • The following cases of crime are becoming difficult to bury.
  • The first category of crimes that is difficult to bury is of homicides.
  • India reports an average of 30,000 murders every year (29,017 were registered in 2018). Every murder is a matter of distress.
  • Nevertheless, the stabilisation of the figure at 30,000 is a mild assurance.
  • The corresponding figure for the period in the U.S. was around 16,200.
  • Though the U.S. has about one-third of India’s population, the reported decline in murders in many major U.S cities is worth studying.
  • The common man in India does not lag behind others in reacting strongly to attacks on hapless women and men.
  • The growth of the visual media possibly explains this welcome feature in Indian society.\
  • The nationwide outrage over the gang-rape in Delhi and the subsequent tightening of laws on sexual crimes generated the hope that attacks against women would decrease.

The issue of under-reporting:

  • In 2018, there were 33,356 rapes, a higher number than the previous year. But these figures do not fully reflect realities on the ground.
  • There is still the unverifiable suspicion that while in urban areas sexual violence cases are reasonably well-reported, the story is different in rural India.
  • Money power and caste oppression are believed to play a significant role in under-reporting.
  • What is more significant is that a substantial number of such crimes are committed by the ‘friends’ and families of victims.


  • To be fair to the NCRB, we must concede that the organisation has more than justified its existence. The CII is used extensively by researchers.
  • Need for educating the people on realities of crime and its reporting: There is scope for more dynamism on the NCRB’s part, especially in the area of educating the public on the realities of crime and its reporting.
  • Greater pressure on the States to stick to a schedule: The NCRB will also have to be conscious of the expectation that it should bring greater pressure on States to make them stick to schedules and look upon this responsibility as a sacred national duty.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 30 January 2020 (A road map for robust trade ties (The Hindu))

A road map for robust trade ties (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: India- Australia
Mains level: Bilateral trade opportunities in innovation and digital technology


  • The challenge before the two nations is transforming these people-to-people contacts into a trade relationship.

People to people relationship:

  • Soft power rather than hard economics has traditionally been the driving force behind India-Australia relations. \
  • Cricket is a dominant theme that connects the two countries.
  • The Indian diaspora in Australia is a vibrant community that plays a robust role in connecting their country of adoption with their country of origin.

Trade relationship:

  • The trade between the two countries has been at a modest $31 billion, largely composed of resources like coal and other minerals.
  • Negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement, which began in 2011, have not moved forward significantly.
  • The problems faced by the Adani Group to begin work on a coal mining project in Queensland did not go down too well with investors from India.
  • One of the most widely commended initiatives has been the Australian government’s release of an India Economic Strategy 2035 Report.
  • It observes that no single market over the next 20 years will offer more growth opportunities for Australia than India.
  • It lays down a comprehensive road map for strengthening Australia’s trade engagement with India.

Development in digital technology and role of youth:

  • Meanwhile India-Australia trade has been steadily evolving into a new architecture underpinned by developments in digital technology, the rise of a younger generation of entrepreneurs, and a noticeable shift in the trade basket from resources to services.
  • Technology and young entrepreneurship make a formidable combination and should set the agenda for the future of bilateral trade relations.
  • About 80% of the Australian small and medium-sized enterprises are managed by young professionals.
  • Young Australians, like young Indians, carry the compelling vision of 21st century globalisation, multiculturism and quality education.
  • This process is a great deal of social engineering, people-to people contacts, and knowledge partnerships. From this heady mix,
  • The young can see issues like immigration and outsourcing with far more equanimity than the older generation.
  • Young Australians are thus emerging as great champions of India-Australia trade relations.

Scope for engagement in innovation and trade relation:

  • There is also recognition that Australia is a laboratory of ideas, innovation, technology-led growth and university-industry partnerships.
  • India is a large and demographically young market with a love for innovation and an appetite for new products and services.
  • These synergies should add momentum to a growing engagement in trade relations.

A weak spot:

  • The weakest link in India’s exports to Australia is in merchandise. India needs to look at three broad areas.
  • First, despite globalisation, markets are country-specific and culturally sensitive. Indian companies will need to invest a little more in market research on Australian consumer expectations and lifestyles before their products can successfully penetrate the Australian market.
  • Second, Australia is a brand-conscious market while India has not created a single consumer brand of international acceptance. Only when India’s textiles, leather products, cars and two-wheelers, kitchen equipment and other products are visible across the world’s shopping malls and supermarkets displaying their own brands that India will be recognised as a major player in the global markets.
  • Third, innovation is emerging as the single-most important factor for sustained success in every sphere.


(The Gist of Science Reporter) First Kuiper Belt Flyby [JANUARY-2020]

(The Gist of Science Reporter) First Kuiper Belt Flyby [JANUARY-2020]

First Kuiper Belt Flyby

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) New Horizons mission team released the first detailed information of the farthest world ever explored namely the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule.
  • Its remarkable appearance highlights the processes that built the planets four and a half billion years ago.
  • Besides the farthest exploration of an object in history which is four billion miles from the Earth, the flyby of Ultima Thule was also the first investigation by any space mission of a well-preserved planetesimal, an ancient relic from the era of planet formation, noted NASA.

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(The Gist of PIB) National Youth Festival 2020 [JANUARY-2020]

(The Gist of PIB) National Youth Festival 2020 [JANUARY-2020]

National Youth Festival 2020

  • Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and State Government of Uttar Pradesh are jointly organizing the 23rd National Youth Festival (NYF) 2020 at Lucknow from 12th to 16th January 2020.

Key highlights:

  • The Government has been organizing the National Youth Festival (NYF) since 1995.
  • The objective of NYF is to provide a platform to bring the youth of the country together in an attempt to provide them the opportunity to showcase their talents in various activities.
  • The theme of the 23rd National Youth Festival 2020 is ‘FIT YOUTH FIT INDIA’
  • NYF 2020 would have around 6000 participants (volunteers from NYKS, NSS, and local youth) from each State of the country.
  • The NYF 2020 will be inaugurated on 12th January on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the great Youth icon.

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  • The inter-linkage between health and nutrition has been recognized since ages. Good nutritional status ensures that individuals can fight disease-causing agents, stay healthy, be productive to society and contribute to overall development.Under-nutrition in children, especially in fetuses during pregnancy and up to 2 years of age, can take away upto 15 IQ points.

Overview by World View:

  • A study by the World Bank has estimated that the annual cost of malnutrition in India is at least US$ 10 billion and is driven by loss of productivity, illness and premature deaths. Alongside, illnesses in an otherwise 'normal weight' person can lead to under-nutrition, which can spiral into a vicious cycle. Clearly, the challenge of nutrition is multi-layered. It is not the under-nutrition only, the over-nutrition (obesity), 'protein hunger' and 'hidden hunger' (or micronutrient deficiencies) in otherwise normal weight persons are the other dimensions. The terminology of malnutrition is commonly used to capture the under and over nutrition and the related challenges. However, in a particular setting, burden was predominately of one type of malnutrition. It is being recognized that in many settings and countries, both under and over-nutrition are increasing as an emerging challenge, described as 'Double Burden of Malnutrition (DBM). The DBM co-exist in many settings and affects the health outcomes and survival of the population. While under-nutrition continues to be a major and pressing challenge in India, the issue of overnutrition is also real. Therefore, it is time that India also shifts attention on holistic approach of targeting malnutrition with focus and appropriate strategies to tackle DBM.

Under Nutrition as Persistent Challenge:

  • India had poor health and nutritional indicators at the time of independence in 1947. Around the 1950s, the life expectancy in India was 32 years (which has increased to 68 years in 2017). The infant mortality rate (IMR) was nearly 200 per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality ratio (MMR) around 2,000 per 100,000 live births. The IMR in India in 2017 was 33/1,000 live births and MMR was 130 per 100,000 LB during the period of 2014-16. Over these years, through targeted interventions, the proportion of population living below poverty line has declined and even the food production and availability has drastically increased.
  • However, the nutritional status of population has not witnessed the commensurate decline. India has had a high rate of under-nourished population, with marginal improvement in the situation in the last 25 years. The prevalence of underweight, stunted and wasted is higher in rural than urban populations.
  • The progress on other parameters of the nutritional status such as level of anemia in population groups and birth-weight of newborns is also slow. Recognizing the challenge, India had a series of initiatives and programmes since independence which focused on improving nutritional status of the population.

Diseases Linked to Under-nutrition:

  • The nutritional status of an individual affects his/her health status and outcomes A a poorly nourished person has weak immunity and an immune defence system. An undernourished individual, including those with micronutrient deficiency, are at higher risk of majority of infectious diseases including tuberculosis, viral and all other infections. An underweight and under-nourished child is at higher risk of diarrhea and pneumonia. The chances of recovery in such children are slower.
  • They are more likely to become under-nourished after such a disease spell. While the poor nutrition affects the health outcomes in all population sub-groups, it is the women in reproductive age and newborn and children, who are most commonly and adversely affected. Public health science has generated evidence that it is a vicious cycle of under-nutrition which starts at the time of pregnancy (in mother's womb) and continues to affect the newborn for the rest of the life and for many generations.
  • Understandably, the initiatives to tackle under-nutrition are targeted/focused/prioritized for women in reproductive age groups, children and adolescent girls. There are emerging evidence that under-nourished and under-weight children are at higher risk of non-communicable diseases such as cardio vascular strokes and diabetes in adult age.

Initiatives to Improve Nutritional Status:

  • The efforts to tackle under-nutrition in India have been partially successful so far and recent and new attempts are being made to accelerate the progress. The Govt of India had launched National Nutrition Strategy in Aug 2017 and then National Nutrition Mission (NNM) in March 2018.
  • NNM aimed at 2-3 per cent annual reduction in the rate of low birth-weight, stunting, undernourishment and anaemia amongst women. NNM is now being implemented as POSHAN Abhiyaan, under Ministry of Women and Child Development, aiming for Kuposhan Mukt Bharat (Malnutrition free India) by year 2022. The programme aims at reducing levels of underweight, stunted, low birthweight and anaemia in population. As part of this POSHAN Abhiyaan, nutrition is proposed to be a Jan Aandolan or mass movement and the month of September has been designated as POSHAN Mah.
  • In addition, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandan Yojana (also known as Maternity Benefit Scheme) was announced in late 2016 and launched in 2017, aims to provide financial assistance to pregnant women for the first pregnancy and ensure good nutritional status. There is renewed attention on reducing prevalence of anaemia through Anaemia Mukt Bharat. There are a number of complementary initiatives under different ministries to focus on improved nutritional status though approaches such as Eat Healthy and Fit India initiative. The Aspirational District programme also has nutritional status as a performance indicator.


  • Health and nutrition (and education) contribute to human capital formation, and the growth and development of a nation. The malnutrition results in making people prone to various adverse health outcomes, as described in earlier section. Especially the first 1000 days of children (Nutritional status in 270 days of nine months in pregnancy and 730 days of first two years of a child's life are very crucial for health and childhood development related outcomes for rest of life). Much of the development of the brain happens either in pregnancy or first two years of life. Therefore, the poor nutrition affects the newborn for rest of life and not only physical but brain development and other social milestones as well. This is increasingly being understood and realized and a compelling reason for taking urgent actions.
  • The intergenerational effects of malnutrition can be devastating not only for affected families, but also the national productivity, growth and development. Poor maternal nutrition in pregnancy results in low birth weight, which in turn results in risk of poor growth, infections and low educational outcomes and development deficit and more prone to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in adulthood. The adverse effect of pregnant woman's (mother's) nutritional status carries with the child for rest of the life but on the next generations as well through epigenetic effects. This situation clearly demands that interventions to tackle under-nutrition in India are implemented in life cycle approach from nutritional status of women in reproductive age, pregnant women, breastfeeding and complementary feeding. In this process, the societal dimension of nutrition i.e., maternal literacy, women empowerment & prevention of child marriage etc. also need to be given due attention and interventions.
  • The need for sustaining the multi-sectoral engagement for better health & nutritional outcomes are being recognized. The nutritional status is inter-play of at least three broad factors; dietary intake contributes to 45-50 per cent, poor maternal health results in low birth-weight which accounts for another 25 per cent and illnesses amongst children such as diarrhoea for another 25-30 per cent of under-nutrition. Thus, there is a need for targeted interventions for reducing the proportion of low birth weight babies, which constitute nearly 30 percent of total newborns in India.
  • Overweight and obesity are other and increasingly recognized spectrum of malnutrition. These were earlier reported from affluent and urban populations and are now slowly extending to poor and rural counterparts as well. There are nutritional deficiencies in people who are otherwise overweight as their diet may be rich in calories but deficient in specific micronutrients. Even in 'normal body weight' people, there is a high level of body fat and reduced muscle mass indicating a nutritional imbalance that places such individuals at increased risk of obesity related diseases. No wonder we see many faces of malnutrition in our population.
  • Under-nutrition is not only cause but effect as well. Enteric infections such as diarrhea and typhoid are more common in children who are under-nourished. As well as a healthy child who gets such infections can become under-nourished afterwards. Therefore, to tackle under-nutrition, there is a need to improve water and sanitation. Similarly, the problem of stunting cannot be solved by increased access to nutritious food, it requires better housing and improved water and sanitation.

Way Forward:

  • There has been some progress on improving the nutritional status of the population in India. However, India of 2020 needs to do more than what has been done in the past.

A few suggestions are as follows, not necessarily in same order:

  • Integrated health and nutrition initiatives with closer collaboration of health, Worsen and child development and education departments. This has already started to happen through three As of AWW, ASHA and ANM (Anganwadi workers; Accredited Social Health Activists and Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) as of now but require improved performance of these mechanisms. The nutrition programme run under ICDS and school mid-day meal scheme of education department and care of mothers and children under health departments need to be interlinked with better collaboration and coordination. It will be important to share the data, have joint analysis and action plans.
  • Diversification of supply of food under government programmes including more nutritious items such as millets, eggs, milk, soybean and nutrient rich fresh foods. Mass fortification of rice, wheat, salt, edible oils and salts, with essential minerals and vitamins like iodine, iron, zinc and vitamin A and D should be optimally used. The inclusion of pulses and edible oil in Public Distribution System (PDS) as well as National Food Security Act (NFSA) has been proposed by many experts. Similarly, there is a need to increase protein and micronutrient content in mid-day meals and ICDS food.
  • Regular monitoring on real time basis: Comprehensive National Nutrition survey (CNNS 2016-18) is the most recent survey on nutritional status of Indian population. The NFHS-5 data collection has been completed and an analysed report is expected to be available soon. It will be imperative that analyzed data is made available and used to inform policy decision making. The delay in the availability of analyzed data, delay the interventions. There is a felt need for improved real time data recording and reporting systems with data flow in two directions. This is possible with the use of digital technology.
  • Promote 'Nutrition Garden' concept: Ministry of Human Resource Development has brought the concept of school 'nutrition garden' encouraging eco-club of students to help them identify fruits and vegetables best suited for topography, soil and climate. These gardens are intended to give students lifelong skills to identify fruits and vegetables for their plates. This clearly has the potential to improve the nutritional status of the population.
  • Focus on 'behavioural change' for improved nutrition: The major challenge in bringing the sustained behavioural changes are related to a continuum of 4A of awareness, assessment, analysis and action. The awareness is raised through AAAM: ASHA, AWW, ANM and Mothers. However, a balanced approach of going beyond awareness and focus on analysis of information and actions needs to be strengthened.
  • Attention on 'dietary diversification' and focus on healthy diet: The dietary diversity with balanced nutrients is the key to growth and good health across the life course. The skewed agricultural priorities due to production of cash crops, marketing tactics, food processing has resulted in the sacrifice of nutrient rich balanced diet by many people. With diet diversification in the spotlight, My Plate for the day' publication of The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), India has highlighted that the fruits and vegetables should share nearly 50 per cent of an individual’s food plate. The Expert Committee of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi has recommended that every adult should consume at least 500 g of vegetables in a day, which should include 100 grams of green leafy vegetables; 200g each of other vegetables and the roots and tubers. In addition, everyday per person 100 gram of fresh fruits should be consumed regularly. These guidelines should be widely promoted.
  • Establish more cold chain storage capacity for food items across the country: It has been recognized that while India produces a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, a significant amount is wasted during sorting/ grading, transport, storage in godowns or processing units, or with wholesalers and retailers. Therefore, establishing more cold chain stores especially in rural India can contribute to less wastage and improved availability and thus improved nutrition for Indian population.
  • Promote local production of fruits and vegetables in rural India: Contrary to common belief, the cost of fruits and vegetables in rural areas is higher than urban as the transportation cost is also factored in. Therefore, the production and consumption of locally available all kinds of vegetables, fruits including seasonal fruits in rural areas need to be promoted. As most of the government organizations in India such as Anganwadi centres, government primary and high schools and panchayat office have space around their buildings, the area can be utilized to grow locally consumed green leafy vegetables, roots & tubers and locally available fruits.
  • Educate people on health benefits of consumption of fruits and vegetables along with training in community or kitchen gardening or terrace gardening. The school and college teachers and students should be involved in the process. Training and a capacity building of both teachers and students on healthy diets should be prioritised. The younger generation should be trained in healthy diets. Junk the 'junk food' should be promoted to school students and ban on unhealthy food in school and college canteens should be actively promoted.
  • Link the overall nutrition and healthier lifestyle: The schools could be suitable platforms to call parents of children and educate them about healthy nutrition and lifestyle. The awareness about nutrition should be linked to a healthy lifestyle to prevent noncommunicable disease risk factors and adopt physical activity, healthy diet, no smoking and moderate or no use of alcohol. Schools/colleges should regularly invite nutritionists and health experts to deliver talks to parents and family members of students.
  • Engage elected representatives and civil society members in making healthy India: The nutritional outcomes of society will be dependent upon how political leaders, elected representatives contribute in making nutrition ‘Jan Andolan' and improved nutritional outcomes in India.


  • The Double Burden of Malnutrition (DBM) is a nutritional reality for many countries including India. The period of 2016-25 is the United Nations (UN) decade of nutrition, and only six years are left. The target for sustainable development goals is 2030, which has nearly a decade to achieve. Only three years are left to achieve the targets set up under the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) of India.
  • Clearly, there has to be an urgency to accelerate interventions. While till now efforts and initiatives have been focused on priority challenge of under-nutrition, the policy makers and programme managers in India, both at national and state level, need to be mindful of new nutritional reality. It is time to consider new approaches to reduce under-nutrition and obesity at the same time. The focused attention and tailor-made strategies for specifically vulnerable population groups such as women in reproductive age group, children and all rural residents would be needed. It would also require stronger collaboration and coordination between multiple departments, improved data collection and analysis for action and sustaining the political commitment and public attention on tackling nutrition challenges in India.

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(GIST OF YOJANA) BASIC Ministerial Joint Statement at UNFCCC COP 25 [JANUARY-2020]

(GIST OF YOJANA) BASIC Ministerial Joint Statement at UNFCCC COP 25 [JANUARY-2020]

BASIC Ministerial Joint Statement at UNFCCC COP 25


  • The BASIC Ministerial Joint Statement at the 25th session of Conference of Parties under the UN framework convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 25), in Madrid. Spain.

Key highlights:

  • The Ministers pledged their full support to the Chilean COP Presidency, expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom of Spain for hosting the meeting and noted that the central mandate of COP 25 is to prepare the way for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement in the post-2020 period building upon the climate action efforts under the Convention and its Protocol. They further stated that the progress on the pre-2020 agenda will be the benchmark of success for this COP.
  • The Paris Agreement, adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, represents a key milestone in the progressive development of multilateralism to enable the international community to collectively address climate change, which is of pressing global concern.
  • The Ministers stressed that this achievement will be defended and built upon and called upon the international community to focus on the comprehensive and faithful implementation of the Paris Agreement. Such implementation must be in accordance with the Convention’s goals and principles, including the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.

Ministers underlined that COP 25 should achieve outcomes as follows:

  • To conclude the negotiations related to article 6 of the Paris Agreement;
  • To mandate a 2-year Work Programme under SBI to assess the pre-2020 progress and gaps, with a view to making the necessary arrangements to fill those gaps;
  • To urge developed country Parties to fulfil their commitments on providing finance, technology development and transfer and capacity-building support to developing countries;
  • To interpret and implement the provisions of the Paris Agreement in a holistic and faithful manner.
  • Ministers underscored the importance of concluding the discussions on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, in accordance with the mandates and principles set out in the Agreement and the accompanying decision, including ensuring environmental integrity.
  • Ministers emphasized the importance of keeping a balance of the mechanisms under Article 6.2 and Article 6.4, that share of proceeds should be collected under both Article 6.2 and Article 6.4, to contribute to the Adaptation Fund. A decision on Article 6. Including its governance and a smooth transition from the Clean Development Mechanism would preserve the integrity and credibility of the multilateral system and send a strong message to the private sector on their engagement and crucial role in achieving the objectives of the agreement. Any unilateral measures and discriminatory practices that could result in market distortion and aggravate trust deficit amongst Parties must be avoided.
  • Recalling that the Paris Agreement represents a delicate political balance negotiated amongst 195 Parties with diverse levels of development and distinct national circumstances, the Ministers expressed grave concern regarding the current imbalance in the negotiations. In particular, there has been a lack of progress on the pre-2020 Agenda, adaptation and issues related to means of implementation support, in the form of climate finance, technology transfer and capacity building support, which is essential to empower developing countries to contribute their best effort to the international community’s collective response to climate change. This imbalance needs to be immediately rectified, in the interests of a successful conference outcome and achieving the global goals in the Paris Agreement.
  • Ministers reiterated that ambition of Parties is measured first and foremost by the implementation of its commitments. Commitments made by developed countries in the pre-2020 period must be honoured, because the completion of the pre-2020' Agenda is of critical importance in building the basis for mutual trust and ambition in the post-2020 period. 
  • The pre-2020 gaps with regard to mitigation, adaptation, means of implementation and reporting by developed countries must be assessed and closed, without transferring any burden to developing countries. The pre-2020 Agenda will be concluded when the pre-2020 ambition gaps have been closed and not at the end of this conference. The ambitious implementation of developed countries’ commitments to provide support to developing countries is a precondition to any discussion on progression of current commitments.
  • Ministers underscored that the periodic review of the long-term global goal under the Convention and of overall progress towards achieving it, is a mechanism with clear mandates under the UNFCCC and an important process that reaffirms the Convention as the preeminent international forum for addressing climate change.
  • Ministers stressed that the scope of the periodic review is different from the 2-year pre-2020 Work Programme and Global Stock take, since each of these processes have their specific technical arrangements. In the design of the periodic review, coordination with and requests for information to relevant bodies will to avoid duplication of work. The outcome of the 2-year pre-2020 Work Programme could feed into the periodic review as an element, and together the two processes should serve as a useful input to the Global Stock take.
  • Ministers highlighted that BASIC countries are implementing ambitious climate actions based on their national circumstances and have achieved great progress, contributing significantly to global efforts in combating climate change.
  • In 2018, China reduced carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 45.8% from 2005 levels, as well as increased the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 14.3%.
    South Africa has recently implemented a carbon tax and announced a massive renewable energy program in its latest electricity plan. India has already achieved a 21% reduction in emission intensity of GDP in 2014 compared to 2005 levels, thereby achieving its pre-2020 voluntary target.
  • In 2015, Brazil had already achieved a 58% emission reduction relative to the business as usual scenario set for its NAMAs, thereby overachieving its target of 36%-39% reductions set for 2020.
  • BASIC countries have already set forth climate policies and contributions reflecting our highest possible ambition, above and beyond our historical responsibilities. The time for action is now, and not next year or thereafter.

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(The Gist of PIB) National Productivity Week [FEBRUARY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) National Productivity Week [FEBRUARY-2019]

National Productivity Week

  • National Productivity Council (NPC), an autonomous registered society under Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • NPC is celebrating its 61st Foundation Day on 12th February with the theme “Circular Economy for Productivity & Sustainability”.
  • NPC observes foundation day as Productivity Day and the National Productivity Week from February 12-18, 2019.

Key highlights

  • This year theme represents a unique opportunity for circular business model for Make à Use à Return.
  • It presents an opportunity for long term economic prospects and regeneration of materials. Transitioning to an efficient circular economy will benefit industry and all stakeholders now and in future.
  • The inaugural session will deliberate upon contribution of circular economy to the Government’s aim of sustainable economic growth.
  • At the national level function to be organised between 12th to 18th February, panel discussions by experts has been organized to deliberate on the challenges, benefits and outcomes from implementation of circular economy.
  • It is envisaged that the session’s outcomes will be in terms of awareness and consciousness on the circular economy approaches.

Key facts about the circular economy

  • The circular economy follows the principle of preservation and enhancement of natural capital by controlling finite stocks and balancing renewable resource flows.
  • The other principles suggest optimizing of resource yields by circulating products, components, and materials at their highest utility at all times, in both technical and biological cycles.
  • Circular economy has the potential to increase productivity and create jobs, whilst reducing carbon emissions and preserving valuable raw materials.
  • It provides for a way of creating value.
  • It works by extending product life span through improved design and servicing and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning – in effect, using resources more efficiently by using them over and over.
  • The challenge lies in building circular economy knowledge and capacity.
  • To integrate circular economy principle in strategy and process, NPC has been in forefront enhancing of such efforts in enhancing productivity.
  • Through observation of this week, it aims at collaboration with business and policy makers so as Circular Economy opportunities can be highlighted.

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(The Gist of PIB) Use of Space Technology in Agriculture Sector [FEBRUARY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Use of Space Technology in Agriculture Sector [FEBRUARY-2019]

Use of Space Technology in Agriculture Sector

  • The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare is proposing a new integrated programme, called National Programme on use of Space Technology for Agriculture (NPSTA),
  • It envisaging integrated use of Space and Geospatial Tools for Mapping, Monitoring and Management of Agriculture.

Key highlights

  • The programme will have four sub-programmes catering to various themes viz. Crop Assessment and Monitoring; Agricultural Resources Management; Disaster Monitoring and Mitigation and Satellite Communication and Navigation Applications.
  • All the current running programmes, such as FASAL (for crop forecasting), NADAMS (for drought assessment), CHAMAN (for horticultural assessment and development), KISAN (for crop insurance) and Crop Intensification planning, will be subsumed under this proposed programmes.
  • In order to increase the availability of certified/quality seeds to the farmers locally, the Government has proposed to set up 500 numbers of seed production and seed processing units at Gram Panchayat Level.
  • This information was given by the Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, in reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

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(The Gist of PIB) e-AUSHADHI Portal [FEBRUARY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) e-AUSHADHI Portal [FEBRUARY-2019]


  • Minister of State (IC) for AYUSH, Shri Shripad Yesso Naik launched the e-AUSHADHI portal, for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters today at New Delhi.
  • Addressing the gathering Shri Naik said that this e-AUSHADHI portal is intended for increased transparency, improved information management facility, improved data usability and increased accountability.

Key highlights

  • The Minister informed that timelines will be fixed for processing of application through this portal with SMS and e-mail status updates at each step of the process.
  • He said that such an initiative of the Ministry of AYUSH is a reflection of our Government’s commitment towards e-governance, ease of doing business and Make in India.
  • The endeavours to come out with new initiatives and solutions to address the problems faced by practitioners, manufactures and consumers of AYUSH medicines.
  • In this direction, this new e-portal is an acronym for Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy Automated Drug Help Initiative.
  • He further added that this portal will not only aid the licensing authority , manufactures and consumers, as it will provide real time information of the licensed manufactures and their products, cancelled and spurious drugs, contact details of the concerned authority for specific grievances.

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(The Gist of PIB) Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM- SYM) [FEBRUARY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM- SYM) [FEBRUARY-2019]

Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM- SYM)

  • Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) will be rolled out by the Ministry of Labour and Employment tomorrow i.e. 15.02.2019.
  • The scheme announced in the Interim Budget was notified by the Ministry recently. As many as 42 crore workers are estimated to be engaged in the unorganized sector of the country.

Key highlights

  • The unorganised workers whose monthly income is Rs 15,000/ per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the scheme.
  • They should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Further, he/she should not be an income tax payer.

Following are the salient Features of PM-SYM:

  • Minimum Assured Pension: Each subscriber under the PM-SYM, shall receive minimum assured pension of Rs 3000/- per month after attaining the age of 60 years.
  • Family Pension: During the receipt of pension, if the subscriber dies, the spouse of the beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension received by the beneficiary as family pension. Family pension is applicable only to spouse.
  • If a beneficiary has given regular contribution and died due to any cause (before age of 60 years), his/her spouse will be entitled to join and continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or exit the scheme as per provisions of exit and withdrawal.

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(The Gist of PIB) World Integrated Medicine Forum 2019 [FEBRUARY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) World Integrated Medicine Forum 2019 [FEBRUARY-2019]

World Integrated Medicine Forum 2019

  • Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH Shri Shripad Yesso Naik, will inaugurate the 2nd World Integrated Medicine Forum 2019 on the ‘Regulation of Homeopathic Medical Products; Advancing global collaboration’ being organized from 23-25 January, 2019 in Goa.
  • The organizers of the forum are the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy, under the Ministry of AYUSH.
  • International drug regulators dealing with homeopathic/traditional medicines from various countries like France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Cuba, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Malaysia, Oman, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, etc. are expected to participate.

Key highlights

  • The themes of the forum are: Regulatory collaborations, Converging on minimum regulatory & legal standards, Advancing safety and quality standards, Regulatory trend towards standardization and minimizing complexity, Recognizing homeopathy as distinct holistic medical system and Veterinary homeopathy.
  • The regulation of homeopathic medicinal products is highly variable worldwide, ranging at a national level from highly advanced to none whatsoever. The potential benefits of regulatory collaboration and harmonization for patients and global markets are significant, but supranational collaboration is advancing only slowly due to highly disparate national situations.
  • There is a tension between different regulatory needs: on the one hand there is a need for standardization, harmonization and reducing complexity; on the other hand there is need for a pluralistic regulatory system, which respects the specific characteristics of homeopathy as a holistic, patient-centred medical system.
  • The forum will explore and illustrate the potential benefits and pitfalls of bilateral/multilateral collaboration and advance global cooperation on a synergistic basis.
  • The increasing demand for homeopathic products by patients and health care providers worldwide needs to be underpinned by appropriate regulatory frameworks which respect the national context as well as benefit from experiences and collaboration at an international level.
  • Key stakeholders and opinion leaders who will be attending the event are: Regulators from all over the world, Homeopathic pharmaceutical companies worldwide, Pharmacopoeia Committee delegates from various countries, scientific experts with relevant expertise and Presidents of major homeopathic doctor organizations.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 29 January 2020 (To prioritize employment over labour protection (Indian Express))

To prioritize employment over labour protection (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Coordinated efforts to liberalize the engagement of labour


  • The Narendra Modi government, at the start of its first term, did attempt land reforms; it promulgated nine ordinances, one after the other, which eventually lapsed after failing to get Rajya Sabha approval.
  • Recently, Parliament legislated a new labour code, amalgamating the provisions of several acts.
  • Provident Fund benefits have been extended to temporary/contract employees.

Coordinated efforts to liberalize the engagement of labour:

  • Labour reforms tend to have political consequences. The vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, while talking about labour reforms, has been clear that there would be no “hire and fire" policy.
  • While wages in India are low, the cost of labour is higher than in other Asian countries.
  • Improving labour productivity, which is a serious impediment to the expansion of manufacturing, warrants investment in technology and scaling up the size of Indian enterprises.

Indian economy scenario:

  • India’s quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) growth has fallen to 5% in the first three months of the current fiscal year, with obvious consequences.
  • The country now faces the challenge of low aggregate demand—caused, inter alia, by rising unemployment.
  • While the Code on Wages, 2017, which stipulates a national floor minimum wage, has the potential to mitigate the effects of declining demand, without large-scale employment generation, its benefits cannot be realized.

Steps taken to boost up employment:

  • Trade wars between the US and China, and Japan and Korea, have combined with demographic issues in those geographies to inspire significant shifts in manufacturing locations, particularly away from China.
  • This offers an opportunity to welcome factories to India and join global supply chains.
  • The Modi government has taken the bold step of bringing down corporate tax rates to a level comparable with other jurisdictions, especially in Asia.
  • This decision is expected to aid the economy in the medium to long term, its full benefits can be reaped only if manufacturing units move to India.

If there is no employment, whom do we protect?

  • Currently, 95% of employment in India is generated by agriculture, businesses in the informal economy, and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
  • No aspect of India’s labour protection law, except perhaps the minimum wage, applies to them.
  • This is not to suggest giving a complete go-by to labour protection laws.
  • However, employment may rise if companies could hire well beyond 300 people without worrying about restrictions on layoffs during downturns.
  • Ask an unemployed person whether he wants a job or job protection, and most likely he would want a job first.
  • Once adequate employment opportunities are created, the government can deal with welfare issues. \
  • It could create a fund from the extra tax revenues, for example, for the purpose. Simply put, the order should be reversed from “first protect and then employ" to “first employ and then create welfare measures".
  • This is exactly what China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and other Asian Tigers have done to attract global manufacturing.

Case study – China:

  • China created special economic zones and allowed businesses complete freedom to perform, with no conditions imposed.
  • This attracted hordes of investors.
  • The model has since been replicated countrywide. India’s Special Economic Zones, in contrast, have largely been tax-saving and land-grabbing exercises.
  • More than 80% of the export of manufacturing goods from China was done by enterprises that were 100% foreign owned.
  • China has benefited from the employment of Chinese labour and the value addition involved. It would be worthwhile to explore a similar approach.

Way forward:

  • The earnestness of the Modi government to enhance the economic prosperity of India is undoubted.
  • It has taken bold steps to improve the fundamentals of India’s economy.
  • However, without land and labour reforms, the speed of economic growth cannot be accelerated, nor can the country’s demographic dividend be maximized.
  • Every opportunity has a timeline. And the daring harness it optimally.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 29 January 2020 (Future generations learn can’t be left to private schools (The Hindu))

Future generations learn can’t be left to private schools (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Education
Prelims level : Public education
Mains level : Reforms in public education


  • Schools that are funded largely by tax revenues generated by the State, and run by the State through any of its bodies are called public schools, except in some countries such as the UK and India where the term could refer to private residential schools as well.
  • Such a system of schools is what constitutes public education. This commonly shared understanding is usually quite adequate.
  • However, this notion deserves closer scrutiny, with people’s expectations from education soaring and delivery falling way short.

What is “public" in public education?

  • At its core, it is about being equally available to all. It is also about people coming together to further the public good through education.
  • So, the word “public" has at least two aspects: for whom—equally for all; and, for what and why—for the public good.
  • With these meanings of “public", it becomes apparent that the State may be well suited to conduct such education.
  • Nevertheless, state education is a mechanism and not always the same thing as public education. For example, in a totalitarian state, the state school system indoctrinates students to support the regime and its grip on power.
  • This is state education, not public education, because it is not for the good of people at large.

The importance of public education for a democracy:

  • To build and keep a democracy, a society needs the capacities and commitments that arise from public education, which serve a dual and entwined purpose—of socialization for all citizens to be equal and empowered.
  • If the curriculum were to change to suit the idiosyncratic needs of certain groups, or bend to ideology, ignoring truth, public education would no longer be public, since that would not further the public good.
  • It could also get undermined insidiously, energized by notions like “education for the economy", “education for employability", and so on. In themselves, these sentiments are unexceptionable. Corrosion happens when these reflect an implicit or explicit intent to give primacy to the economic aims of education over all else.

Economic objective in public education:

  • Economic aims are important to public education.
  • For citizens to be equal and empowered, their economic well-being and capacity for achieving the same are crucial.
  • But narrowing expectations, curricula and practices to serve economic aims as the top priority gnaws away at public education.
  • It makes education serve the market and its dominant groups, not the public good.
  • In theory, a public-spirited private school can mirror public education if it follows a curriculum that is designed for the public good and is equally available to all, irrespective of socio-economic status.
  • The second condition cannot be met by private schools if they recover their costs from students, since this would exclude the economically disadvantaged.
  • This has led to the notion of publicly-funded private schools, which can then purportedly offer public education.

Missing public-spirited private schools:

  • Most private schools are profit-minded, not public-spirited.
  • For entrepreneurs, a school is just another enterprise.
  • This is natural, particularly when education by its very nature grants asymmetric power to schools over parents and students.
  • Too many abuse this power to cut every cost and enhance every revenue stream with mere lip service to education.
  • Such schools do not provide equal access to all. They also create significant social barriers of exclusivity.

Way ahead:

  • It can be anticipated if we keep sight of the fundamentals and do not get swayed by market-fundamentalism.
  • One of those fundamentals is that private entities establish and run schools, with a few notable exceptions, for private purposes—profit, prestige, and political influence—while wearing a thin veil of commitment to the public good.
  • Entities that are neither established nor run for the public good cannot miraculously produce the public good against their basic intent.
  • Private schools cannot deliver true public education.


  • So, a public education system can only be on the basis of a system of state schools.
  • A state schooling system may not always offer public education, but public education cannot happen without a sound state schooling system.
  • Since public education is foundational to all efforts at developing a good society and vibrant democracy.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 29 January 2020 (Politics should not meddle with our official statistics (The Hindu))

Politics should not meddle with our official statistics (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level : National Sample Survey
Mains level : Equilibrium between politics and statistics


  • The National Statistical Office is making headlines again; this time, over the non-release of the results of the 75th round (2017-2018) of the National Sample Survey (NSS).


  • Its report allegedly revealed a decline in average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) in real terms compared to 2011-12.
  • The government decided not to release the results, and indicated that it is examining the feasibility of conducting the next survey in 2020-2021 and 2021-22.

Issue with official data:

  • T.N. Srinivasan and others refer to as India’s downfall “from being the world leader in surveys" to a country “with a serious data problem".
  • Indeed, as S.L. Shetty pointed out, India’s “official statistical collection machinery has been in decline for more than two decades".
  • Our governments have repeatedly interfered with various official statistics.
  • The NSSs have been in the limelight because of this for almost a decade.

Introduction of NSS:

  • The NSSs are the primary means to track household consumer expenditure and poverty.
  • Led by P.C. Mahalanobis initially, several economists and statisticians contributed to the design and development of the NSSs.
  • American statistician Harold Hotelling is said to have remarked, “No technique of random sample has, so far as I can find, been developed in the United States or elsewhere, which can compare in accuracy with that described by professor Mahalanobis."
  • However, beginning with the 1970s, political interference began to corrode trust in government statistics.

Performance in the past:

  • In 1973, in the run-up to the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974–79), B.S. Minhas resigned from the Planning Commission over differences on the misuse of data to present a rosy picture of the economy.
  • This was when the National Sample Survey Organization carried out two large-scale surveys in quick succession.
  • The 27th round of 1972-73 was followed by the 28th in 1973-74, possibly because 1972-73 was a drought year.
  • The Task Force on Minimum Needs and Effective Consumption Demand relied on the 28th round, even though it might not have been able to account for seasonality.
  • Two decades later, when governments were struggling with lacklustre outcomes of economic reforms, the 55th round (1999-2000) of the NSS stirred a controversy over the lack of inter-temporal comparability of its MPCE estimates.

NSS performance in the last decade:

  • The 66th round of the NSS (2009-10) proved controversial because it showed that employment generation fell significantly short of the target of the 11th Five Year Plan.
  • Official statisticians argued that since the GDP series could not be rebased using data from an “abnormal year", another large scale survey was conducted in 2011-12.
  • The government also delayed the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey, which was eventually held after the 2014 polls.
  • A 2011 Economic and Political Weekly editorial pointed out that “A pattern seems to have emerged of the government wanting to dismiss its own data... Doubts were cast earlier on the poverty numbers, then on the inflation indices and now it is the turn of the employment...."
  • Unlike the 27th and 66th round when the results were released but superseded by fresh surveys, the Centre has gone a step further by deciding not to release the results of the 75th round of NSS.

Way ahead:

  • The NSS is not the only casualty of this government’s cavalier approach to official statistics.
  • Several other surveys and committees have seen their reports either delayed or trashed, while revisions have eroded trust in national accounts.
  • The government also delayed the release of several tables of the 2011 Census, which should have been made public by Manmohan Singh’s government.


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 29 January 2020 (On Telangana transport workers strike (Mint) )

On Telangana transport workers strike (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Transport sector reforms


  • The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation-Joint Action Committee (TSRTC-JAC) that coordinated the strike by transport unions has finally said that it is ready to call off the strike.

Steps taken by the Court:

  • The welcome move follows a High Court decision to direct the State Labour Commissioner to refer the dispute to a labour court which would also adjudicate on the legality of the strike.
  • The court refrained from declaring the strike as illegal while also refusing to direct the State government and the corporation to negotiate with the striking workers.
  • But it took a sympathetic stand about the perilous state of the workers and their families after the government had “dismissed” nearly the entire workforce and emphasised the point that the State is legally bound to look after the workers.

Highlights of the court’s observations:

  • Two dozen transport workers have died following the start of the agitations, some committing suicide due to the stress of losing their jobs. Clearly this tragic situation is untenable.
  • The High Court order provided an opening to the workers to seek to end the strike, leading to their demand that the State government should retain their services unconditionally.
  • The government is yet to respond, but it must be said that its decision to “dismiss” the workers after conciliation talks had failed, was high-handed and legally suspect.
  • The efforts to find replacement staff, in order to minimise the disruption, have not worked too well, as the erratic services and sporadic accidents in the last month-and-a-half have indicated.

Role of Corporation:

  • It is in everyone’s interest that the Telangana Rashtra Samiti-led government brings back normalcy by reinstating the workers in accordance with the court’s sage advice.
  • The Corporation had indicated to the court that it will augment its services by buying 1,035 new buses; this was one of the key demands of the striking workers who complained about the ageing fleet.
  • Reinstating the workers should pave the way for fresh negotiations between the workers and the management of the Corporation and the government to find ways to bring back sustainability in the finances and functioning of public transport in the State.
  • Modernisation of transport services with the deployment of new buses, identification of proper routes and services using information technology among other reforms are the need of the hour.


  • These should benefit not just the users of public transport but also the workers. For such reforms to be implemented, the support from the State government is imperative.
  • It is high time that the government seeks to reassure all stakeholders that it is keen on working towards these.
  • For starters, it must reverse the decisions it has taken since the agitations by the transport workers began a month-and-a-half ago.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 29 January 2020 (Crop insurance woes (Mint))

Crop insurance woes (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level : Crop insurance
Mains level : Role of PMFBY


  • First time since its inception in February 2016, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) faces the prospect of claims far exceeding the premiums collected.
  • Even as the extent of crop damage remains uncertain on the whole, reports of crop loss in Maharashtra range from 54 lakh hectares, acknowledged officially, to 90 lakh hectares, out of the 140 lakh hectares of cultivated area in the State.
  • Heavy rain also impacted Gujarat, Telangana, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, ravaging maize, pulses, paddy, cotton, soyabean, jowar, bajra, groundnut, sugarcane and horticulture crops.

Cautions over PMFBY:

  • In Maharashtra, farmers have protested paltry compensation for their losses, amidst a growing perception that the PMFBY is tilted towards insurance players.
  • It has been reported that four major private insurance players have not bid for the PMFBY this year, citing an unviable business model.
  • Over the last three years of PMFBY, insurance companies have collected more by way of premiums than they have disbursed through claims.
  • There is nothing wrong with this, if the claims themselves are low.
  • However, if the compensation, yield estimates and premiums have been miscalculated, it is a serious issue.
  • The industry has complained of issues in dealing with the local bureaucracy and political machinery. Overall, a host of implementation issues need to be fixed.

Role of PMFBY:

  • The PMFBY was meant to enhance risk cover for farmers. In 2018-19, 5.64 crore farmers enrolled under the scheme, covering a gross cropped area of 30 per cent.
  • The challenge ahead is to ensure that premiums, assessments of loss and payment of compensation work satisfactorily and transparently for all stakeholders.
  • Farmers must be aware of how their premiums are worked out, and their losses calculated. For instance, some farmers in Maharashtra are of the view that the average yield of a region, against which the actual yield is compared and the loss ascertained, is underestimated.
  • Insurance officials, however, contend that farmers at times act in collusion with State government officials in manipulating the results of crop cutting experiments (CCEs), meant to estimate actual yields; these CCEs, they argue, exaggerate the losses.
  • It has earlier reported consistently high claims of damage in the case of groundnut in Gujarat, which were not borne out by mandi arrivals.
  • These regions also fork out premiums as high as 50 per cent of the sum assured, against the nationwide norm of 18-20 per cent (with the States and the Centre bearing 98 per cent of the cost).

Way forward:


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