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(The Gist of Science Reporter) Innovation Hub: Unleashing Creative Potential [JUNE-2019]

(The Gist of Science Reporter) Innovation Hub: Unleashing Creative Potential [JUNE-2019]

Innovation Hub: Unleashing Creative Potential

  • The future ability potential of any to country harness of its huge rests the young population. To foster innovation and creativity, problem-solving project-based learning will therefore play an important role.
  • Such initiatives help to link education to relevant real-life experiences which help bring joy into learning while at the same time opening doors for creativity.
  • Thus, science centres or institutions of iron-formal learning, where such activities can be undertaken, are recognised to play an important role in fostering creativity and inspiring innovation amongst the young minds. This will ultimately lead to developing a culture of innovation in the country.
  • The National Council of Science Museums, under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, has started a mission with a vision to foster the culture of innovations with the setting up of Innovation Hubs in 60 institutes across the country.
  • An Innovation Hub is a facility that provides an opportunity to nurture new ideas and develop an inquisitive perspective in the youths of today.
  • These hubs serve as springboards for innovations and thus help the society and economy face future challenges and meet rising aspirations of the growing population. Specifically, embedding such creative pedagogies in science education through Innovation Hubs will help to retain as well as enhance the potential of young minds, making them think beyond their textbooks.

The various initiatives under innovation hub include:

  • Discovery Hall: This area comprises interactive science exhibits meant for creating excitement about science through exploration and discovery of underlying principles.
  • The idea of this facility is to promote logical thinking and make scientific concepts easy to understand. It demonstrates the practical working of scientific principles and its implementation in various applications.
  • Resource Centre/Hall of Fame: This space is used to showcase innovative ideas/experiments/implements that have transformed our world or have made significant impact on the way we conduct our lives along with information about their inventors and innovators. Stories and inspirations behind such innovations are also mentioned through multimedia kiosks.
  • Besides, implements/samples of appropriate technology and traditional knowledge systems, art and craft and other areas of importance in public life in the respective regions are also exhibited.
  • Idea Lab: This lab has the necessary basic facilities to pursue creative and innovative hobbies/activities that involve model making, basic science experimentation, design & fabrication of useful gadgets of practical use. Teaching/learning kits for belter classroom interactions, testing of milk, water, food items, etc. are being carried out in this section.
  • Students are becoming aware of adulteration of food items through simple experiments for adulteration analysis that can be performed even at home without using sophisticated gadgets and chemicals.
  • Design Studio: This area offers a creative environment to design various products using 3D Solid Works software and print the innovative models using 3D printer.
  • Origami workshops are conducted to make beautiful designs and shapes from paper thus promoting hand artwork as well as reuse of paper to convert it into beautiful designs for display.
  • Robotics/Electronics Lab: Robotics lab provides students an opportunity to develop their own robots and program them to perform different tasks.
  • The modern age is going to be robot specific to carry out difficult tasks like ocean exploration, medical surgery and deep space exploration, It is important that young minds be aware about the need, significance and role of this emerging field of Science & Technology. Electronics and Mechanical labs offer facilities to carry out experiments as well as fabrication of innovative projects.
  • Tod Fod Jod (Break and Remake): In this section students learn to do things with their own hands, dismantle, reassemble and remake devices/gadgets.
  • They learn engineering behind the working of various electronic machines/gadgets. This section satisfies the inquisitiveness of students by gaining knowledge from experts available during assembling and dissembling of gadgets.
  • Idea box: The young mind is a storehouse of imaginative ideas. The Idea Box was set up to capture potential innovative ideas. Students can generate their own innovative ideas and contribute to create an idea bank.
  • The best ideas are chosen for experimentation, model making and project work. Suitable guidance, expert help and required material for the fabrication of the project is provided to give practical shape to the potential innovative ideas.


  • The Innovation Huh facility strives to provide an equal opportunity to all sections of the society for practical learning of science and inculcating technical skills in them.
  • It is trying to engage the youth in the process of Science, Technology & Innovations as well as promoting their critical thinking and practical problem-solving skills.
  • It is also looking not only to support the innovative ideas and convert their ideas to a useful product or fruitful outcome but also recognise, encourage and facilitate grassroot innovations in Science and Technology.

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(The Gist of Science Reporter) Edible Flowers: Adding a Dash of Flavour [JUNE-2019]

(The Gist of Science Reporter) Edible Flowers: Adding a Dash of Flavour [JUNE-2019]

Edible Flowers: Adding a Dash of Flavour

  • Edible flowers have been used as culinary herbs since long. Edible flowers can also complement a cut flower or herb business, providing additional opportunities for valueadded products. Currently, there is increased demand for fresh and good quality flowers for human consumption worldwide.
  • Many flowers are edible and the flowers of most culinary herbs are safe. Edible flowers are often used for their taste, colour, and fragrance. Many herbal flowers have the same flavour as their leaves, while others such as chamomile, mint and lavender blossoms, have a subtle flavour.
  • Using flowers as a part of cookery enhances the aesthetic appearance of food increasing the appetite by providing colour, taste, aroma and flavour. Flowers, as a natural resource, have been attracting more and more attention owing to their great potential values of natural antioxidants and scavenging activity of reactive oxygen radicals.
  • Being rich source of anthocyanins, flowers are correlated with higher levels of total flavonoids and are also packed full of vitamins and minerals (e.g. rose petals contain Vitamin C). However, proper identification is essential because some flowers are poisonous and should not be eaten. Many popular flowers such as foxglove, lantana, periwinkle, and marsh marigolds are poisonous.


  • Pick flowers early in the day and at their full bloom for best flavour.
  • Remove pollen-bearing parts before using in dishes.
  • Avoid unopened blossoms (except daylilies) and wilted or faded flowers because they may have a bitter or unappealing flavour.
  • Not all flowers are edible; some may be poisonous, bitter or allergic.
  • Plants exposed to viral and fungal pathogens and those sprayed with pesticides are not appropriate for consumption.
  • Avoid flowers that have been exposed to untreated animal manure or undecomposed organic manure.
  • Generally avoid purchasing flowers from florists, garden centres or nurseries. These flowers are not grown for consumption.

How to Use Edible Flowers?

  • Try a small quantity of the new flowers yourself to avoid stomach upset or to determine if there is an allergic reaction.
  • Edible petals (Calendula, Chrysanthemum, Lavender, Rose, Tulip) or entire flowers (Drumstick, Agathi) can be consumed. However, remove stems, anthers and pistils because they may be bitter. The white base of the petal in flowers like chrysanthemums, dianthus, marigolds, and roses may have a bitter taste and should be removed from flowers.
  • Many edible flowers are high in vitamin C and/or vitamin A, along with other essential nutrients (Rose petals and hips).
  • Use edible flowers as garnishes in dishes and in salads.
  • Edible flowers can be used in fallowing recipes: baking, sauces, jelly, syrup, vinegars, honey, oil, tea, flowerscented sugars, candied flowers, wine and flavoured liquors.
  • Flavoured vinegars and oils prepared al home have a limited shelf-life and should be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Pick the flowers, rinse gently with running water and place between damp paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Cultivation Practices of Edible Flowers

  • Cultural requirements: The cultural requirements for edible flowers are very similar to those of ornamental flowers. In general, edible flowers prefer fertile, well-drained soil and full sun throughout the day.
  • Growing plants in raised beds will improve drainage, reduce diseases and increase ease of harvest. A good pulverized soil with well decomposed organic matter is must for planting.
  • Harvest and storage: Fully opened edible flowers are harvested in the cool of the day during the peak of bloom. Only flowers free of insect and disease problems should be selected.
  • To maintain freshness, flowers should be cooled immediately after harvest. The stems, sepals, pistils, and stamens of most flowers are removed prior to use.
  • Pollen may detract from the flower’s flavour and may cause allergies in some people. The sepals should be removed from all flowers except violas, pansies, and Viola tricolor. In many flowers (including rose, lavender, tulip, calendula, and chrysanthemum) only the petals are edible.
  • If the petals have a white base, this area should be removed as it may have a bitter taste. For example, chrysanthemum, dianthus, marigold, and rose have bitter petal bases.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Exercise Varuna 19.1 [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Exercise Varuna 19.1 [MAY-2019]

Exercise Varuna 19.1

  • The first part of the Indo-French joint naval exercise, Varuna 19.1 will be conducted off the Goa coast from 1st to 10th May 19.
  • The upcoming 17th edition includes participation of the French Navy’s aircraft carrier FNS Charles de Gaulle, two destroyers, FNS Forbin and FNS Provence, the frigate FNS Latouche-Treville, the tanker FNS Marne and a nuclear submarine.

Crucial highlights

  • From the Indian side, the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, destroyer INS Mumbai, the Teg-class frigate, INS Tarkash, the Shishumar- class submarine, INS Shankul, and the Deepak- class fleet tanker, INS Deepak, will be participating in this exercise.
  • The exercise will be conducted in two phases.
  • The harbour phase at Goa would include cross-visits, professional interactions and discussions and sports events. The sea phase would comprise various exercises across the spectrum of maritime operations.
  • The second part, Varuna 19.2, is scheduled to be held at the end of May in Djibouti.

Aim of this exercise

  • The bilateral naval exercise initiated in 1983 and christened as ‘Varuna’ in 2001, form a vital part of the Indo-French strategic partnership.
  • Having grown in scope and complexity over the years, this exercise exemplifies the strong relations between the two nations, in line with the Joint Strategic Vision of India-French Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region signed by President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the former’s State visit to India in March 2018.
  • The Varuna exercise aims at developing interoperability between the two navies and fostering mutual cooperation by learning from each other’s best practices to conduct joint operations.
  • The exercise underscores the shared interests and commitment of both nations in promoting maritime security.

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(The Gist of PIB) All modules getting ready for Chandrayaan-2 launch [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) All modules getting ready for Chandrayaan-2 launch [MAY-2019]

All modules getting ready for Chandrayaan-2 launch

  • Chandrayaan-2, India’s second lunar mission, has three modules namely Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan).

Highlights of the project

  • The Orbiter and Lander modules will be interfaced mechanically and stacked together as an integrated module and accommodated inside the GSLV MK-III launch vehicle.
  • The Rover is housed inside the Lander. After launch into earth bound orbit by GSLV MK-III, the integrated module will reach Moon orbit using Orbiter propulsion module.
  • Subsequently, Lander will separate from the Orbiter and soft land at the predetermined site close to the lunar South Pole.
  • Further, the Rover will roll out for carrying out scientific experiments on the lunar surface. Instruments are also mounted on the Lander and Orbiter for carrying out scientific experiments.
  • All the modules are getting ready for Chandrayaan-2 launch during the window of July 09 to July 16, 2019, with an expected Moon landing on September 06, 2019.

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(The Gist of PIB) Government and IIT-Delhi to set up a Centre of Excellence for Waste to Wealth Technologies [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Government and IIT-Delhi to set up a Centre of Excellence for Waste to Wealth Technologies [MAY-2019]

Government and IIT-Delhi to set up a Centre of Excellence for Waste to Wealth Technologies

  • To commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India and Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT Delhi) have come together to bring the best of science and technology to implement waste management in India.
  • Principal Scientific Advisor to the Govt of India, Prof K. Vijay Raghavan and Director, IIT Delhi, Prof V. Ramgopal Rao signed a Memorandum of Understanding today in New Delhi for setting up a Centre of Excellence for Waste to Wealth Technologies for implementation of sustainable, scientific and technological solutions for waste management, through validation and deployment of available technologies for transformation of waste to wealth.
  • The waste to wealth mission project has been approved under the recently constituted Prime Minister’s Science Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC), which is an overarching body for assessment, creation and implementation of major scientific, technology and innovation interventions for India.
  • The partnership will provide an effective platform for stakeholders to bring together integrated approaches for effective recycle, reuse and resource recovery of waste.

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(The Gist of PIB) 750th birth anniversary of Vedanta Desikan [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) 750th birth anniversary of Vedanta Desikan [MAY-2019]

750th birth anniversary of Vedanta Desikan

  • The Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu released a postage stamp to commemorate the 750th birth anniversary of Sri Vedanta Desikan in New Delhi.


  • Sri Vedanta Desikan (1268–1369), born in present day Tamil Nadu is also known as Swami Desika, Swami Vedanta Desika, Thoopul Nigamaantha Desikan.
  • He was a multi-faceted personality – a spiritual teacher, a scientist, a logician, a mathematician, a literary genius, a linguist, a military strategist and much more. He was conferred the title of ‘Sarva-tantra-swatantra’ or master of all arts and crafts.
  • He was one of the prominent philosophers in the in the Sri Vaishnava tradition in post-Ramanuja period. One of the essential features of his philosophy was the aspect of inclusion. Anyone, irrespective of caste and creed could join the Sri Vaishnava fold.

Important works:

  • He had authored brilliant poems, prose, drama, epics, commentaries, scientific texts and philosophical treatises in Sanskrit, Tamil, Prakrit and Manipravalam (a mixture of Sanskrit and Tamil).
  • Some of his prominent works are Hayagriva Stotram, Abheethistavam, Achyutha Satakam, Bhagavat Dhyana Sopanam and Kamasikasthaka
  • He received other titles such as ‘Kavitarkika-kesari’ and ‘Kavitarkika-simham’, the lion amongst poets.
  • In July 2018, British parliamentarians cutting across party lines joined several Hindu leaders in the UK at the House of Commons complex in London to commemorate the 750th birth anniversary of Vedanta Desika.

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(The Gist of PIB) North Korea fires several short-range projectiles into the Sea of Japan [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) North Korea fires several short-range projectiles into the Sea of Japan [MAY-2019]

North Korea fires several short-range projectiles into the Sea of Japan

  • North Korea under their leader Kim Jong-un has fired several short range projectiles into the Sea of Japan.


  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gave the order of firing to increase the combat ability of the country. The purpose of the drill was to test the operating ability and accuracy of multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons by the defence units.
  • It could be Pyongang’s first short range missile launch for more than a year. Reacting to the development US President Donald Trump expressed confidence that the North Korean leader will not break his promise.

Key highlights

  • After gaining few tangible economic benefits from two summit meetings, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is now turning to a strategy followed by his father and grandfather.
  • The latest move was intended to escalate the pressure on Mr. Trump to return to the negotiating table. And as Mr. Trump heads into the 2020 election, that strategy may threaten what the president has trumpeted as a signature diplomatic initiative, depriving him of the oppurtunity to declare he brought peace where his predecessors failed.
  • In truth, the peace never got very far. The North Korea has spent the past year producing more nuclear material and fashioning an unknown quantity of it into new weapons, American intelligence agencies told Congress in late January.
  • And now what the president has described as his biggest achievement on North Korea — a suspension of all nuclear and missile testing — hangs in the balance.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 February 2020 (Restructure institutional structures managing cyber security (IndianExpress))

Restructure institutional structures managing cyber security (IndianExpress)

Mains Paper 3: Security
Prelims level: Cyberattacks
Mains level: Strengthening cybersecurity and preventing cyberattacks


  • According to a report by the Data Security Council of India, India ranks second in the list of countries affected the most by cyberattacks between 2016 and 2018.
  • There was a recent cyber-attack on the Kudankulam nuclear power plant. Hackers were also targeting the Indian Space Research Organisation as it was working on its moon mission.
  • These attacks have pointed towards a larger problem that must be addressed in terms of India’s internet governance.
  • There is need to clarify the institutions responsible for managing and addressing rising cyber threats.
  • This could then influence and inform India’s response with respect to rules governing cyberspace which so far remained modest and restrained.

Why We Need Restructuring?

  • India’s institutional apparatus on cybersecurity is diffused and fragmented. Several ministries and agencies manage cybersecurity.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Defence, the National Security Council Secretariat and the National Technical Research Organisation have their own cybersecurity units.
  • Additional specialised units include the Computer Emergency Response Team, the National Critical Information Infrastructure and the National Cyber Coordination Centre.
  • So far, Command and control has not risen as a policy priority in cyberspace.
  • Absence of a unified agency has affected India’s ability to take a principled stand on the issue of global governance of cyberspace. Till now, India has not unveiled a clear position regarding responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.


  • Unless India bolsters its domestic cyber-infrastructure, the global positions it takes will be broad and not targeted at preventing rising cyber-attacks.
  • A more robust cybersecurity posture could reveal India’s strategy when it comes to both defensive and offensive cyber operations to thwart adversaries.
  • The global cybersecurity space is in flux due to different positions taken by advance economies like US, Japan, EU, China and Russia. A new unified cybersecurity agency could provide India an opportunity to emerge as a leader in the global governance of cyberspace.
  • The Indian government is in the process of unveiling a Cybersecurity Strategy Policy (2020-25). The upcoming policy provides an opportunity to bring out much needed reform while bringing its domestic policy in line with its global aspirations.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 February 2020 (Machines are now formally part of knowledge economy (The Hindu))

Machines are now formally part of knowledge economy (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Artificial intelligence
Mains level: Copyright protection to AI-generated content


  • A recent Chinese court ruling marks a great leap forward for artificial intelligence (AI).
  • The People’s Court of Nanshan District of Shenzhen has ruled that that content created by an AI programme is protected by copyright laws, and the makers of the AI programme hold the intellectual property rights for the content.


  • This appears to be the world’s first case involving IPRs and artificial intelligence — the nuts and bolts of business of the future.
  • The court has held that Shanghai Yingxun Technology Company’s act last year of reproducing an article written by Dreamwriter AI Writing Robot, owned by tech giant Tencent, comes under the purview of copyright breach.
  • It has asked the company to pay a fine of 1,500 yuan ($216).
  • This ruling comes at a juncture in the evolution of AI when lawmakers, companies, IP rights activists and technologists from myriad geographies are engaged in intricate and intense debates over how intellectual contributions and creations from AI should be treated, especially in the content industry.

Tencent article’s eligibility for copyright cover:

  • The Shenzhen court said the article’s form of expression conforms to the requirements of written work, its structure was reasonable, the logic was clear and it had a “certain originality”.
  • The ruling also means work authored by a non-human can be or should be treated at par with a work created by human intelligence.
  • This poses a volley of philosophical and ethical questions. The advancements in deep tech, especially machine learning, have blurred lines between the creativity of humans and machines.
  • The answers will have long-lasting ramifications for society, business and policy. That the court intervention comes from China is also significant.
  • The country is an AI front-runner with its companies having applied so far for over 4,50,000 (and counting) AI patents .

Way ahead:

  • Tencent, ranked second in terms of the number of AI-related patent applications with more than 4,115 filings, has been using AI to produce content for nearly five years.
  • In all likelihood, the China court ruling will be emulated by IP courts elsewhere and the results can influence the legality, distribution and ownership of AI products and services.
  • But companies and courts must apply caution while super-imposing ‘human’ rights into AI and try to approach such issues on a case-by-case basis. The inclusive reach of technology and the greater common good must stay paramount.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 February 2020 (Adopting Blockchain Technology (Mint))

Adopting Blockchain Technology (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Core Components of Blockchain Architecture
Mains level: Highlights the Core Components of Blockchain Architecture


  • Blockchain is a foundational technology or a platform that allows designing a secure way to record transactions and circulate it among signatories, or any kind of target group with an Internet connection.
  • It's a distributed ledger technology that stores information across multiple systems in a secured manner to enable peer-to-peer transactions based on a trustworthy source. At its core, it is an extremely democratic ledger that cannot be arbitrarily manipulated and easily shareable.

Core Components of Blockchain Architecture:

  • Node - user or computer within the blockchain architecture (each has an independent copy of the whole blockchain ledger).
  • Transaction - smallest building block of a blockchain system (records, information, etc.) that serves as the purpose of blockchain.
  • Block - a data structure used for keeping a set of transactions which is distributed to all nodes in the network.
  • Chain - a sequence of blocks in a specific order.
  • Miners - specific nodes which perform the block verification process before adding anything to the blockchain structure.
  • Consensus (consensus protocol) - a set of rules and arrangements to carry out Blockchain operations.

How Does Blockchain Work?

  • Every block in a blockchain is a record of transactions and the more of the latter, the longer the chain.
  • There is minimal identifying information and every block is linked to a unique ‘digital signature’ of the transacting participants. Every block is distinguished from another through a unique code which is a string of numbers.
  • When a debit or credit card is used to make a transaction, VISA or Mastercard employ their technology to verify the bank account, connect with banks and process a transaction.
  • In blockchain applications, this verifying role is outsourced to several computers on a network where each has the exact same copy of the block.


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 February 2020 (Applications of Blockchain (Mint))

Applications of Blockchain (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Distributed Ledger Technology
Mains level: Application of Blockchain technology in India


  • Blockchain Technology (also called Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)) allows for the entire financial services industry to dramatically optimize business processes by sharing data in an efficient, secure, and transparent manner.
  • The existing capital markets infrastructure is slow, expensive, and often requires several intermediaries. The bureaucratic nature makes performing and receiving financial services difficult.
  • Many new blockchain capital market inventions are entering the market and improving work flow and helping to cut overhead dramatically, while allowing entities to deliver better, more secure and private services to businesses and individuals.

Government Services:

  • Blockchain Technology is a potential vehicle to improve government services and foster more transparent government-citizen relations. It creates a trustless environment for regulatory activity and works to combat slow, expensive multistep processes that require several intermediaries.
  • Through blockchain technology, governments can improve the way they deliver services, prevent tax fraud, eliminate bureaucracy, and reduce waste. Digital cash transactions can help reshape financial transactions between the government and its citizens. Decentralized tech offers hope that governments can achieve more streamlined operations and pare
    down back-office operations.

Health Sector:

  • Patient Record Management Blockchain based record management system can enable companies to simplify claim processing, secure medical records, monitor the pharma supply chain and collaborate with network stakeholders.

Digital Identities:

  • Blockchain technology provides the ideal engine to power digital identities. While digital identities are emerging as an inevitable part of the connected world, securing online information is coming under intense scrutiny.
  • Blockchains based identity systems can provide a solution to this issue with hardened cryptography and distributed ledgers.


  • Blockchain can be used in tracking billions of connected devices, enable the processing of transactions and coordination between devices, allow for significant savings for IoT industry manufacturers.
  • This decentralized approach would eliminate single points of failure, creating a more resilient ecosystem for devices to run on.
  • The cryptographic algorithms used by blockchains would help to make consumer data more private.


  • Cryptocurrencies provide people across the globe with instant, secure, and frictionless money and blockchains provide the permanent record storage for their transactions.
  • Prior systems required users to trust a central authority that the monetary supply and payment transfer will not be tampered with.
  • Blockchain technologies obsolete this method of payment transfer by providing a trustless environment so that there is no longer a need to rely on a third-party to ensure payment transfers, thus creating a Person-to person(Peer-to-peer) environment.

Real Estate:

  • Blockchain technology will inevitably become a foundational pillar of the real estate industry. In a mostly paper-record based industry, block chain real estate allows for an unparalleled upgrade in how records are stored and recorded.
  • Utilizing blockchain applications in essential functions such as payment, escrow, and title can also reduce fraud, increase financial privacy, speed up transactions, and internationalize markets.

Supply Chain:

  • Managing the modern, often global, supply chain is a series of intensive processes that require perfect orchestration between many moving parts and actors.

Applications of Blockchain in India:

  • Ayushman Bharat scheme extends a healthcare cover of Rs 5 lakh to up to 10 crore financially poor people and families. As the government is making huge investments in making healthcare available to all, blockchain tech can further help with this imperative initiative.
  • The healthcare industry in India lacks a definitive system that is quick in recording the extensive data, in addition to making the same easily and securely shareable. Often, a large amount of time is consumed in obtaining the same data that may otherwise be invested in extending the best of care to the patients.
  • The data thus stored via blockchain tech can further be linked with a global information network, without compromising on security and also making it available to healthcare providers across the network.
  • Banking is one amongst the foremost sectors that stands poised to be disrupted with blockchain technology. It will not only offer accuracy and security, but will also aid the government in expediting financial inclusion.
  • With blockchain, the government can establish online identities of individuals and their family associations, and allow individuals to operate bank accounts, transfer money, apply for loans, and more, thereby taking financial inclusion to a whole new level.
  • Blockchain will not only be helpful in keeping the voter’s information and identity a secret but also present a pragmatic way for casting votes, and keeping a track and count of the same.
  • When adopted, blockchain tech would completely weed out any chances of fraud or foul play, hence ensuring no hiccups in the victory of democracy.
  • The food supply chain is one characterized by asymmetry of information. The complex network comprises farmers, brokers, distributors, processors, retailers, regulators and consumers. Improved data sharing will result in stakeholders getting their dues (particularly poor farmers with small land holdings) and consumers having control on food quality.

Land Disputes:

  • Two-thirds of pending civil court cases pertain to disputed land records, title dispute is central to the mess.
  • Information on land records, exist in silos and in no uniform format which makes retrieval and sharing so very time-consuming.
  • Abysmal land records necessitate that foremost, there be a common consensus on ownership.
  • Blockchain can play a large role in resolving these issues.

Limitations of Blockchain:

  • Although the technology itself is revolutionary, there are certain blockchain limitations that have cropped up. These blockchain limitations don’t make the technology less revolutionary, but they have raised questions about its efficiency and reliability.

Signature verification:

  • Every blockchain transaction must be digitally signed and verified using a public or private key cryptography scheme. This signature verification process is very complex to compute and this consumes time.


  • In a blockchain network, for every node to be processed, it has to traverse and process every intermediate node independently to reach the target node.
  • In contrast, a centralized database system can processe nodes in parallel without any dependencies from the other nodes. Thus, the redundancy involved in blockchain technology affects its performance.

Attaining consensus:

  • In a decentralized technology like blockchain, every transaction made must ensure that every block in the blockchain network must reach a common consensus.
  • Depending on the network size and the number of blocks or nodes involved in a blockchain, the backand-forth communications involved to attain a consensus can consume a considerable amount of time and resources.


  • Like all other distributed systems, blockchain is not 100 percent resistant against bad actors who can corrupt the network.
  • For the blockchain to remain stable and to avoid corruption in a network, it needs a huge set of users and nodes connected with a robust network.

Storage issues:

  • Because a blockchain is an immutable distributed chain of blocks, the size of the blockchain grows at a very rapid pace, and this can cause serious storage concerns.

Computing Power:

  • Blockchain relies on encryption to provide its security as well as establish consensus over a distributed network.
  • This essentially means that, in order to “prove” that a user has permission to write to the chain, complex algorithms must be run, which in turn require large amounts of computing power.


  • First proposed as a research project in 1991, blockchain has seen its fair share of public scrutiny over the last two decades, with businesses around the world speculating about what the technology is capable of and where it’s headed in the years to come.
  • But with many practical applications for the technology already being implemented and explored, blockchain is finally making a name for itself and as a buzzword on the tongue of investors in various nations, it stands to change the world we are living in, in a significant way by making operations in various domains more accurate, efficient, and secure.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 20 February 2020 (The viral threat to India Inc (The Hindu))

The viral threat to India Inc (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: COVID-19
Mains level: Effects of COVID-19 on economic slwodown


  • China and other nations scramble to contain the spiralling human costs from COVID-19 infections with travel restrictions and lockdowns,
  • It is becoming increasingly evident that this outbreak is likely to extract a more severe toll on the global economy than the SARS outbreak.

Major implications of Global GDP:

  • Global forecasters, earlier predicting a single-quarter blip in China’s growth and a V-shaped recovery, are now beginning to examine worst-case scenarios where the economy could contract and recover sluggishly thereafter.
  • Current expectations are for the outbreak to trim global GDP growth by 0.2-0.3 percentage points, but that’s predicated on key Chinese business hubs restarting operations this month.
  • COVID-19 attack coinciding with the Chinese Lunar New Year has prolonged its impact, China’s growing clout in the world has magnified it.
  • Between the SARS outbreak and now, China has increased its contribution to global GDP to 16 per cent, grabbed 13 per cent of merchandise exports, and demands a third of the global output of cars, computers and luxury goods.
  • First-order impacts from Chinese tourist cancellations are already being felt by the global airline and hospitality industries.
  • Second-order impacts are harder to gauge, given that China is a critical cog in the global supply chain, functioning both as a manufacturing hub for Western consumer giants and a transit point for Eastern export powerhouses.

Implications on India:

  • India Inc, after initially exulting over export opportunities opening up due to China’s shutdown, is now beginning to fret about production-line disruptions should the shutdown continue.
  • A leading car-maker has warned that the shortage of auto parts could impede the BS-VI transition, while a two-wheeler maker has indicated a 10 per cent production cut.
  • The shut-down has exposed a major chink in the armour of Make in India:
  • The high China dependence of India’s electronics manufacturing, which is said to import over 60 per cent of its components from China.
  • Tirupur’s MSME garment exporters are worried about disrupted supplies of blended fabric and accessories while pharma firms, depending on China for 70 per cent of their active ingredients, have seen shortages spark price spirals in widely used drugs.
  • One bright spot for India Inc lies in the 10-15 per cent decline in global oil and metal prices since the outbreak, but cost savings will provide cold comfort if supply disruptions force production cuts.

Way ahead:

  • The immediate imperative is to contain the consumer impact of this disruption on essential goods such as medicines, through proactive interventions that line up alternative supplies and curb profiteering.
  • The Centre, which has been pointing to green shoots in IIP and services, may need to recognise that COVID-19 can prolong the slowdown.
  • It also needs to take stock of India’s import basket to identify key items with excessive single-origin dependence, to diversify the sources of supply.
  • For India Inc, this calamity is an object lesson that cutting corners on local value addition and over-relying on supplies from a single source based on cost considerations alone, is no way to de-risk operations against Black Swan events.

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(The Gist of PIB) President of India pays floral tributes to Giani Zail Singh on his birth anniversary [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) President of India pays floral tributes to Giani Zail Singh on his birth anniversary [MAY-2019]

President of India pays floral tributes to Giani Zail Singh on his birth anniversary

  • The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, paid tributes to Giani Zail Singh, former President of India, on his birth anniversary (May 5, 2019).


  • He was born as Jarnail Singh, but later changed his name to Zail Singh.
  • He was given the title of Giani as he was educated and learned about Guru Granth Sahib and other Sikh scriptures.
  • Prior to his presidency, he was a politician with the Indian National Congress party, and had held several ministerial posts in the Union Cabinet, including that of Home Minister.
  • He also served as the Chief Minister of Punjab (1972–77).
  • He served as the Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1983 to 1986.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Fourth Scorpene-class submarine INS Vela launched [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Fourth Scorpene-class submarine INS Vela launched [MAY-2019]

Fourth Scorpene-class submarine INS Vela launched

  • Vela, the fourth Scorpene class submarine being constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited for the Indian Navy, was launched on 06 May 2019.
  • This event reaffirms the steps taken by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) in the ongoing ‘Make In India’ programme, which is being actively implemented by the Department of Defence Production (MoD).
  • The submarine was towed to Mumbai Port Trust, for separation from the pontoon, after which she will undergo rigorous trials and tests, both in harbour and at sea before delivery to the Indian Navy.

Key highlights

  • The contract for the construction and Transfer-of-Technology for six Scorpene class submarines in series, has M/s Naval Group (formerly DCNS) of France as ‘Collaborator’ and are being built by MDL.
  • The Scorpene class of submarines can undertake multifarious tasks typically undertaken by any modern submarine which include anti-surface as well as anti-submarine warfare.
  • The transfer of technology involves appropriate technical support by Naval Group to MDL in the field of construction, integration and tests of the submarines in India which is achieved through transfer of technical data package to MDL through information system as well as on job training to MDL’s personnel on critical technologies.
  • Leveraging the experience and the transfer-of-technology of the Scorpene project, with enhanced and upgraded infrastructure, MDL, is ready for undertaking construction of the future submarines.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Initiatives by Commerce Ministry to Boost Trade with African Countries [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Initiatives by Commerce Ministry to Boost Trade with African Countries [MAY-2019]

Initiatives by Commerce Ministry to Boost Trade with African Countries

  • The Union Commerce Ministry along with Indian High Commissions and Embassies of eleven African countries held discussions with the Indian business community in Africa in order to further deepen and strengthen India-Africa trade ties.

Present status of Trade:

  • India’s total trade with the African region during 2017-18 was USD 62.69 billion (8.15% of India’s total trade with the World).
  • India’s share of exports to African countries as a percentage of India’s total exports to the world was of the order of 8.21% in 2017-18.
  • Africa region’s share in India’s total imports from the World accounted for 8.12% in 2017-18.

Trade opportunities in Africa:

  • Africa present immense opportunities for India with the world’s largest land mass, 54 countries, a population growing to be almost equivalent to that of India, huge mineral resources, oil wealth, a youthful population, falling poverty levels and increasing consumption patterns.
  • Thus, Africa has a huge demand for new business models for market entry, stable market access, entrepreneurship and investments in transport, telecom, tourism, financial services etc.
  • Indian Diaspora in Africa constitutes 9.11% of the total Diaspora of India which is playing a vital role in all fields like politics, business and education. The major issues highlighted by the Indian

Business Community in Africa are:

  • Improving the Line of Credit system and developing a facility for an affordable funding.
  • Setting up of Indian Banks/financialinstitutions in Africa.
  • Reviewing and liberalizing visa policies from both sides.
  • Need for direct flights between the India and African countries.
  • Exploring the possibility of rupee trade to address the issue of shortage of dollars in region.
  • Development of a robust trade dispute settlement mechanism.
  • Establishment of country chapters of FICCI or CII in Africa.
  • Frequent visits of policy makers, chamber of commerce and investors for familiarization with local business and investment regime for informed decisions.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Sub-categorization of OBCs [MAY-2019]

    (The Gist of PIB) Sub-categorization of OBCs [MAY-2019]

Sub-categorization of OBCs

  • The Government has constituted a Commission under article 340, on 2nd October, 2017, to examine the issues of the sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes with the following terms of reference.

Key highlights

  • To examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of Other Backward Classes with reference to such classes included in the Central List;
  • To work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such Other Backward Classes; and
  • To take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of Other Backward Classes and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
  • The Commission to Examine Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes was to initially submit its report in twelve weeks from the date of assumption of charge by the Chairperson.
  • Since considerable time was taken up in obtaining the data and thereafter in analyzing of the data, the tenure of the Commission has been extended from time to time and last till 31.05.2019 vide a Gazette Notification dated 29.11.2018 with the approval of Cabinet and President.
  • The issue of survey is under consideration in the Commission to Examine Sub-categorization of Other Backward Classes.

Scholarship for economic development

  • The Government is implementing the following educational empowerment and economic development Schemes for Other Backward Classes (OBCs)
  • Pre-Matric scholarship for Other Backward Classes.
  • Post-Matric scholarship for Other
  • Backward Classes.
  • Construction of Hostels for OBC Boys and Girls.
  • Assistance for Skill Development of Other Backward Classes (OBCs)/Denotified and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs)/ Economically Backward Classes (EBCs to voluntary organizations working for thewelfare of OBCs.Free Coaching Scheme for SC and OBC Students.
  • Dr. Ambedkar Scheme of Interest subsidy on educational loan for overseas studies for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and EBCs.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Actress Dia Mirza, Alibaba chief among 17 new SDG Advocates of UN [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Actress Dia Mirza, Alibaba chief among 17 new SDG Advocates of UN [MAY-2019]

Actress Dia Mirza, Alibaba chief among 17 new SDG Advocates of UN

  • The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed 17 global figures including Indian actress Dia Mirza and Alibaba chief Jack Ma as the new advocates to drive action and solidify global political will for the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals.

Key highlights

  • The new class of Sustainable Development Goals, SDG, Advocates are influential public figures committed to raising awareness, inspiring greater ambition and pushing for faster action on the SDGs, which were adopted by world leaders on September 25, 2015.
  • The Secretary-General has tasked the Advocates with driving that action, building that ambition, and solidifying global political will and they will leverage and build bridges between their audiences and work together to drive progress on achieving the SDGs.
  • According to a statement issued by the UN Spokesperson’s office, the Advocates represent the universal character of the SDGs, hailing from governments, entertainment, academia, sport, business and activist organizations around the world.

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(The Gist of PIB) India and China sign protocol for Export of Indian Chilli Meal [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) India and China sign protocol for Export of Indian Chilli Meal [MAY-2019]

India and China sign protocol for Export of Indian Chilli Meal

  • India and China signed a protocol for export of chilli meal from India to China.

Key highlights

  • After a meeting of Commerce Secretary of both sides, a protocol for export of Indian chilli meal to the neighbouring country was signed.
  • India and China agreed to resolve market access issues expeditiously in order promote a more balanced trade. Both the sides discussed trade-related issues of pending Indian request for clearance of agricultural products in the meeting.
  • Protocols signed between India and China on Agricultural Commodities (With years of Signing): Mango (2003), Bitter Gourd (2005), Grapes (2005), Rapeseed meal (2015), Basmati Rice (2006), Basmati Rice and Non-Basmati Rice (2018), Fish meal/ Fish oil (2018), Tobacco Leaves (January, 2019), Chilli Meal (May, 2019).

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) Exercise Group Sail [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Exercise Group Sail [MAY-2019]

Exercise Group Sail

  • IN Ships Kolkata and Shakti carried out Group Sail with naval ships of Japan, Philippines and the United States of America in the South China Sea from 03 May to 09 May 19.
  • The six-day long Group Sail had participation of six combatants from the four participating countries and included the Guided Missile Destroyer INS Kolkata and Fleet Support Ship INS Shakti of India, Helicopter Carrier JMSDF Izumo and Guided Missile Destroyer JMSDF Murasame of Japan; Frigate BRP Andres Bonifacio of Philippines and Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer USS Williams P Lawrence of USA.
  • The Group Sail was aimed to deepen the existing partnership and foster mutual understanding among participating navies.

Various exercises

  • The ships undertook various exercises en route which included formation manoeuvering, underway replenishment runs, cross-deck flying and exchange of Sea Riders.
  • The Group Sail exercise with naval ships of Japan, Philippines and United States showcased India’s commitment to operating with like-minded nations to ensure safe maritime environment through enhanced interoperability.
  • IN Ships are on return passage from their successful deployment to South and East China Seas as part of the annual Eastern Fleet Over Seas Deployment during which they visited Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, Qingdao, China and Busan, South Korea.
  • Whilst at Qingdao, both the ships had participated in the International Fleet Review (IFR) as part of the 70th Anniversary Celebration of PLA (Navy).
  • During the ships’ stay in Busan, the IN Ships took part in the Opening Ceremony of Maritime Security (MS) Field Training Exercise (FTX) under the aegis of ADMM-PLUS.


  • On departing Busan, both the ships participated in ADMM-PLUS MS FTX Phase I exercises from 01 May to 03 May 19 off South Korea with Navies of Brunei, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and the USA.
  • Group Sail progressed from 03 May to 09 May. The Phase II of ADMM-PLUS MS FTX is scheduled from 09 May to 12 May 19 in the South China Sea.
  • On completion of Phase II, all participating ships including IN Ships Kolkata and Shakti are scheduled to attend the closing ceremony of ADMM-PLUS MS and participate in the International Maritime Defence Expo (IMDEX) 2019 in Singapore.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

(The Gist of PIB) WTO Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries in New Delhi [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) WTO Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries in New Delhi [MAY-2019]

WTO Ministerial Meeting of Developing Countries in New Delhi

  • A WTO Ministerial meeting of developing countries is being hosted by India in New Delhi on 13-14 May 2019.
  • Sixteen developing countries, Six Least Developed Countries (LDC)(Argentina, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Brazil, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, China, Egypt, Guatemala, Guyana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda)and DG, WTO are participating in the meeting.
  • Ministers from Bangladesh, CAR and South Africa have confirmed their participation. Vice Ministers, senior officials and ambassadors will be representing other countries.

Key highlights of this meeting

  • The two-day meeting will be interactive in order to provide an opportunity to the Ministers to discuss various issues and the way forward.
  • On the first day, there will be a meeting of senior officers of the participating countries followed by a dinner hosted by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry for the heads of delegations.
  • On the 2nd day, the Ministerial Meeting will be held.
  • The meeting is being held at a time when the multilateral rule-based-trading system is facing serious and grave challenges.


  • In the recent past, there have been increasing unilateral measures and counter measures by members, deadlock in key areas of negotiations and the impasse in the Appellate Body, which threaten the very existence of Dispute Settlement Mechanism of the WTO and impacts the position of the WTO as an effective multilateral organisation.
  • The current situation has given rise to demands from various quarters to reform the WTO.
  • This meeting at New Delhi is an effort to bring together the developing countriesand Least Developed Countries on a platform for sharing common concerns on various issues affecting the WTO and work together to address these issues.
  • The two-day meeting also provides an opportunity to the developing countries and LDCs to build consensus on how to move forward on the WTO reforms, while preserving the fundamentals of the multilateral trading system enshrined in the WTO.
  • The deliberations will aim at getting a direction on how to constructively engage on various issues in the WTO, both institutional and negotiating, in the run up to the Twelfth Ministerial Conference of the WTO to be held in Kazakhstan in June 2020.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains


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