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(The Gist of PIB) SC/ST promotion: SC upholds validity of Karnataka govt law [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) SC/ST promotion: SC upholds validity of Karnataka govt law [MAY-2019]

SC/ST promotion: SC upholds validity of Karnataka govt law

  • The Supreme Court upheld Karnataka government’s 2018 law, which provided for reservation in promotion and seniority to SC and ST employees.

Key highlights

  • The Karnataka Extension of Consequential Seniority to Government Servants Promoted on the Basis of Reservation (To the Posts in the Civil Services of the State) Act, 2018.
  • It received the President’s assent in 2018 and was published in the gazette in June 2018.
  • To provide reservation in promotion and seniority to SC and ST employees.
  • The Supreme Court’s verdict came on a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Act. The bench ruled that providing the reservation would not affect the efficiency of administration and was not at odds with the principle of meritocracy.

Significance of verdict:

  • With this Karnataka becomes the first State to gain from a Constitution (five-judge) Bench order of September 2018 that modified a 2006 order requiring the States to show quantifiable data to prove the “backwardness” of a SC/ST community in order to provide quota in promotion in public employment.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 19 February 2020 (India’s ‘imported’ food inflation (Indian Express))

India’s ‘imported’ food inflation (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Food and Agriculture Organisation
Mains level: Effects of food inflation in an economy


  • It is said that food inflation has made a comeback, both in India and globally.
  • The Indian food inflation may be influenced by global price movements.

Analyzing the scenario in both India and World perspective:

  • The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) food price index is a measure of the change in international prices of a basket of major food commodities.
  • With 2002-04 (100 points) as a base period to the index, it touched 182.5 points in January 2020, the highest since December 2014.
  • Also, the year-on-year inflation rate based on this index has risen steadily from 1.13% in August 2019 to 11.33% for January 2020.
  • This sharp surge in global food prices is reflected in trends in India.
  • Consumer and wholesale food inflation rates for December 2019 were the highest since November 2013 and December 2013 respectively.
  • Simply put, since October 2019, food inflation has made a comeback, both in India and globally.

Factors contributing to the inflation:

Local factors:

  • While the recent rise in domestic food prices has been blamed largely on “local” factors,
  • Poor rainfall during the monsoon season (June-July 2019)
  • Too much of rainfall thereafter till about mid-November.
  • This led to both reduced/delayed kharif sowings and damage to the standing crop at maturity/harvesting stage, some of it is also “imported”.

Foreign factors:

  • Since India imports most of its edible oil, higher international prices would have been automatically transmitted to the domestic market.
  • As global prices can be transmitted to the domestic market through exports, the government has foreclosed that possibility by restricting onion shipments since September 2019.

Period of divergence:

  • The FAO food price index and the domestic consumer food price index (CFPI) inflation rates started moving in tandem from March 2018.
  • They exhibited a significant divergence in the period prior to that.

FAO index:

  • The FAO index peaked at 240 in February 2011, but remained at 200-plus levels until July 2014.
  • Global prices crashed after that, and stayed low up to early 2016, with the FAO index dipping to 149.3 in February 2016.

Domestic food index:

  • It also fell by early 2016, as lower global commodity prices reduced the demand for Indian farm exports, even as they made imports cheaper.
  • However, the actual fall in domestic inflation took place after September 2016 which had more to do with domestic factors than global prices.
  • Between August 2016 and October 2017, the FAO index inflation exceeded the corresponding CPFI rate.

Present situation:

  • Both international and domestic food prices are showing signs of renewed hardening.
  • So the question now is how sustainable this trend is. There are at least three bearish factors currently at play.
  • The novel coronavirus epidemic that has reduced Chinese buying of everything like palm oil, milk powder, meat, etc from outside.
  • The price of crude oil is another factor.
  • The prospect of a bumper rabi (winter-spring) crop in India is the third one. The kharif harvest turned out to be not so good because of excess and unseasonal rain.
  • Against these bearish factors are the relatively “bullish” factors.
  • Global palm oil ending stocks this year are projected to be the lowest since 2009-10 and sugar is also expected to move into deficit.
  • Supply tightness is being seen both globally and in India, even in milk.
  • If Brent crude too, were to rally again, there could be uncertainty ahead.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 19 February 2020 (In U.S. trade action, an Indian counter-strategy (The Hindu))

In U.S. trade action, an Indian counter-strategy (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures
Mains level: Important of the special and differential treatment for India


  • The US has officially dropped India from the list of developing countries.
  • So, in its future countervailing duty investigations, the U.S. would treat India as a developed country.

What does the ASCM say?

  • The US designated the developing and least-developed countries for the purposes of implementing the countervailing measures.
  • These measures are provided by the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM) of World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • Developing countries can be granted higher subsidies as compared to the developed countries before countervailing duties can be imposed.

How the “developing” tag is designated?

  • Under the WTO rules, any country can “self-designate” itself as a developing country.
  • But, US employed an arbitrary methodology that took into consideration many factors to exclude India from the developing countries list.
  • Over the past years, the US has been arguing that the emerging economies like China and India have performed much better that those in the developed world.
  • Therefore, it said that they should no longer enjoy the slew of benefits that they have as developing country members of the organisation.

What are the initiatives in which US refuse India?

  • It excluded India from the lists of developing countries for the purposes of using countervailing measures.
  • It also denied the benefits of GSP (Generalized System of Preferences).
  • These are the more recent initiatives that the U.S. has taken to challenge India’s status as a developing country in the WTO.


  • A special window provided by the U.S. and several other developed countries, through which they import identified products from developing countries at concessional rates of duties.

What could be the impacts of these initiatives?

  • India would lose the ability to use the Special and differential treatment to which every developing WTO member has a right.
  • Lessens the burden of adjustment that developing countries have to make while acceding to the various agreements under the WTO.]

Important is Special and differential treatment for India:

  • Special and differential treatment has been particularly beneficial for India in two critical areas:
  • Implementation of the disciplines on agricultural subsidies,
  • Opening up the markets for both agricultural and non-agricultural products.
  • When the WTO finalises an agreement in a specific area, developing countries are allowed longer implementation periods.
  • This measure helps developing countries to introduce a new agreement in phases and thus deploy resources beyond their capacities.
  • The WTO Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) provides an elaborate discipline on subsidies.
  • Out of the three subsidies, two are virtually outside the discipline since the WTO does not limit spending on these categories of subsidies.

What is the discipline that exists in the subsidies?

  • The discipline exists in case of price support measures (minimum support price) and input subsidies.
  • This is the more common form of subsidies for most developing countries, including in India.
  • For developing countries, spending on price support measures and input subsides taken together can’t exceed 10% of the total value of agricultural production.
  • In contrast, developed countries are allowed to spend only 5% of their value of agricultural production.

Why shifting to DBT is considered?

  • India is a major user of price support measures and input subsidies.
  • So, given the constraints in AoA, the government is intending to move into the system of direct benefit transfer (DBT) for supporting farmers.
  • This shift is attractive for India since there are no limits on spending, unlike in case of price support measures and input subsidies.
  • This implies that in the foreseeable future, India would continue to depend on price support measures and input subsidies.
  • Given this scenario, the government needs the policy space to provide adequate levels of subsidies to a crisis-ridden agricultural sector.
  • Therefore, it is imperative that it continues to enjoy the benefits as a developing country member of the WTO.

Issues of tariffs:

  • The issue of market access, or the use of import tariffs, is one of the important trade policy instruments.
  • It has some key provisions on Special and differential treatment which the developing countries can benefit from.
  • The most important among these is the undertaking from the developed countries that they would not demand reciprocal tariff cuts.
  • Recently, the government of India has been extensively using import tariffs for protecting Indian businesses from import competition.
  • The 2020-21 Budget has enhanced the level of protection of the domestic players in key sectors, thus pushing the average tariffs even higher.
  • Developed country members of the WTO have generally maintained very low levels of tariffs.


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 19 February 2020 (The significance of the term ‘secular’ (The Hindu))

The significance of the term ‘secular’ (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 1: Society
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Evolution of the concept secularism


  • What value is added by the term ‘secular’ to liberal democracies, i.e. states that safeguard liberties of individuals and political freedoms of citizens?
  • For some scholars, virtually nothing. Why? Because, while secularism is against discrimination only on the basis of religion, a ‘liberal democracy’ is against all forms of discrimination. The term ‘liberal democracy’ subsumes ‘secularism’.
  • This is a fashionable view in Europe. Even some Indian scholars argue for the sufficiency of Articles 14-16 and 19 of the Constitution.

Discrimination and recognition:

  • The word ‘secular’ is important for those who claim the sufficiency of ‘liberal democracy’ must think again.
  • True, their claim has had some validity in Europe, but it is losing relevance there too. But in places like India, it is a virtual non-starter.
  • Why? Let us first get a handle on Europe’s specificity.
  • Secular states did not emerge in Western Europe in the immediate aftermath of the religious wars.
  • These wars were stopped by the establishment not of a secular but a confessional state in which people were forced to embrace the religion of the king.
  • Those who did not comply faced death or expulsion. Every European society from then on became religiously homogenous — England became Anglican; Scandinavia, Lutheran; France, Catholic.
  • Over time some dissenting groups were tolerated, but not without paying a price for their dissent.


  • When the general ethos in Western Europe witnessed the further decline of Christianity, the term ‘secular’ found itself linked to a humanist world view for which religion, whatever its private benefits, was potentially a public problem.
  • While becoming increasingly less salient, it was etched in the bitter collective memory of these societies as the source of discord from which they had mercifully escaped.
  • A religion, already on the defensive, faced greater devaluation and marginalisation. No one wanted religion-grounded recognition.
  • With this, the idea of separation of state and religion lost its normative value further.
  • These liberal states, where religion was no longer significant, granted formal equality to all citizens and called themselves liberal democratic.

Why use a specific term?

  • The point can be made differently. Why lump together all forms of discrimination and oppression under the same general term?
  • If the term ‘secular’ focuses on one specific kind of domination, why not to use it? Isn’t de-cluttering our world and helping us focus on particular features an important function of all concepts?
  • Why not call a flower ‘red’ when you have a distinguishing word for it? What point would be served by simply calling it coloured?
  • To be sure, in some contexts, this might be sufficient. For example, if our purpose is to differentiate it from all white flowers the use of the term ‘coloured’ is adequate but not if one coloured flower is to be distinguished from another.
  • Likewise, ‘secular’ helps focus on institutionalised religious domination, to demarcate it from other kinds of domination based on class, gender, ethnicity, etc. ‘Secularism’ implores us to resist it.

Way forward:

  • Here we cannot follow European habits but must embrace both liberal democracy and a form of secularism that fights religion-based misrecognition.
  • Indeed, even Europe is changing. After the migration of workers from former colonies, Europe’s new religious diversity has brought religion-based recognition to the fore.
  • Therefore, in Europe too demands for an impartial secular state (in the Indian sense) will become louder.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 19 February 2020 (It’s time to empower mayors (The Hindu))

It’s time to empower mayors (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Urban local bodies
Mains level: Role of urban local bodies in the society


  • This development may again give rise to the demand for a ‘strong mayor’ helming urban local bodies (ULBs), as the role of the Delhi Chief Minister is treated on a par with the role of a mayor of a municipal corporation.
  • With electoral politics in India becoming increasingly personality-centric, the idea of an empowered mayor may find many takers.

Indirect elections:

  • The larger issue at hand is the quality of urban governance. It is unrealistic to expect a high quality of governance as long as political parties have a complete grip over the way civic bodies function.
  • It is time policymakers and political leaders began to seriously contemplate party-less elections to ULBs.
  • It has been debated at the All India Mayors conference. But due to the unwillingness of parties to examine the concept, the idea has not taken off.
  • Already, in a majority of the States, the election for the posts of presidents and councillors of gram panchayats is done on non-party lines. At least in respect of rural local bodies (RLBs), there is some justification for the presence of political parties as, otherwise, caste alone might determine votes.
  • In ULBs, the caste factor remains subdued, especially during elections. Besides, there is no sound rationale for holding polls for ULBs on party lines as these bodies neither legislate nor frame policies.
  • Also, there is no scope for any political ideology to play a role in the affairs of ULBs. The main task of the bodies is to handle problems concerning sanitation, water supply and solid waste management.


  • Protagonists of the party system may point out that there has been a tradition of political leaders heading ULBs.
  • They may also argue that the participation of political personalities in elections to ULBs cannot be prevented. But the reality is that the calibre of the political leadership is in short supply and the issues concerning ULBs have undergone a sea change over time.
  • According to the 2011 Census, there are about 8,000 towns in India.
  • There are at least 50 cities or urban agglomerations with more than a million people, says the 15th Finance Commission.
  • These cities face challenges of pollution, ground water depletion and sanitation.
  • There are also inter-State disparities in the level of urbanisation and in the urban poverty ratio. ULBs don’t have finances, a problem ignored by the elected representatives.

Parties have nothing to fear:

  • There is also political justification for why elections to the ULBs should take place on non-party lines.
  • Under the present scheme, Chief Ministers do not want strong ULB chiefs to emerge, especially if the person happens to be from his or her party.
  • This explains why parties prefer indirect elections. On the contrary, if the polls are held on non-party lines with direct elections for chiefs of ULBs, a new crop of leaders will emerge outside the political class.
  • Well-educated and well-qualified youngsters will be encouraged to take part in the election process.
  • More importantly, municipal elections are bound to become cheaper as there will be no need for competitive spending by nominees of rival parties.
  • Even if some successful mayors emerge in the process and want to take on established parties in the Assembly or Lok Sabha polls, this will be a herculean task for them, so parties have nothing to fear.
  • In fact, parties stand to gain, as MLAs may not be villified for all the wrongdoings of local bodies.

Way forward:

  • Questions will be raised about the credentials of candidates for the post of mayor.
  • State Election Commissions can prescribe qualifications for mayors, over and above the existing ones, to address them.
  • The issue of cohesion between mayors and councils will also be raised.
  • ULBs can have meaningful empowerment only if the concept of non-party elections is adopted. This is a prerequisite for the implementation of the ‘strong mayor’ model.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 19 February 2020 (Powering the health-care engine with innovation (The Hindu))

Powering the health-care engine with innovation (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: PMJAY
Mains level: Role of the private care providers to improve the health care system in India


  • Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana scheme is currently being implemented in 32 of 36 States and Union Territories.
  • It has provided 84 lakh free treatments to poor and vulnerable patients for secondary and tertiary ailments at 22,000 empanelled hospitals, countrywide.
  • Under PM-JAY, there is one free treatment every three seconds and two beneficiaries verified every second.

Expanding the supply side:

  • As the scale of this scheme grows, a key area of focus is to expand the secondary and tertiary hospitals empanelled under PM-JAY and ensure their quality and capacity while keeping the costs down.
  • At present, there is one government bed for every 1,844 patients and one doctor for every 11,082 patients.
  • In the coming years, considering 3% hospitalisation of PM-JAY-covered beneficiaries, the scheme is likely to provide treatment to 1.5 crore patients annually.
  • This means physical and human infrastructure capacity would need to be augmented vastly. Conservative estimates suggest the we would need more than 150,000 additional beds, especially in Tier-2 and -3 cities.
  • While a comprehensive long-term strategy will focus on expanding hospital and human resources infrastructure, an effective near-term approach is needed to improve efficiencies and bridge gaps within the existing supply and likely demand.
  • A strong, yet under-tapped lever for accelerating health system efficiency and bridging these gaps is mainstreaming innovation in the Indian health system.

Transformative solutions:

  • It is estimated that there are more than 4,000 health-care technology start-ups in India.
  • Today, start-ups are working to bring innovative technologies and business models that leapfrog infrastructure, human resources, cost-effectiveness and efficiency challenges in Tier-2 and -3 cities.
  • Artificial Intelligence platforms that aid in rapid radiology diagnoses in low resource settings, tele-ICU platforms to bridge the gap in high-skilled critical care personnel, centralised drone delivery of blood, medicines and vaccines to reach remote locations cost-effectively and reliably are all no longer just theoretical ideas.
  • They are real solutions that are ready to be tested on the ground and potentially implemented.
  • It is high time for transformative solutions to make their way into our hospitals, especially in Tier-2 and -3 cities, to turbocharge the way health care is delivered at scale.

Addressing the constraints

  • One challenge is non-uniform regulatory and validation standards. Regulatory requirements, specifically for biomedical start-ups, are still evolving in India.
  • As a result, hospitals often rely on foreign regulatory certifications such as FDA and CE, especially for riskier devices and instruments.
  • It is difficult for a start-up to understand the minimum necessary validation requirements in order to qualify for procurement by hospitals.
  • Lack of standards in this area leads to a huge variation in validation requirements at States and hospitals, forcing the start-up into a spiral of piloting studies.
  • The government is now pushing ahead to overhaul Indian med-tech regulatory standards and product standards which will help bridge this trust-deficit.

Operational liquidity crunch:

  • Promoting start-ups is the operational liquidity crunch due to a long gestation period.
  • Health-care start-ups spend long periods of time in the early development of their product, especially where potential clinical risks are concerned.
  • The process of testing the idea and working prototype, receiving certifications, performing clinical and commercial validations, and raising funds, in a low-trust and unstructured environment makes the gestational period unusually long thereby limiting the operational liquidity of the start-up.

Lack of incentives and adequate frameworks:

  • Another hurdle is the lack of incentives and adequate frameworks to grade and adopt innovations.
  • Health-care providers and clinicians, given limited bandwidth, often lack the incentives, operational capacity, and frameworks necessary to consider and adopt innovations. T
  • This leads to limited traction for start-ups promoting innovative solutions.

Procurement challenges:

  • Start-ups also face procurement challenges in both public and private procurement.
  • They lack the financial capacity to deal with lengthy tenders and the roundabout process of price discovery.
  • Private procurement is complicated by the presence of a fragmented customer base and limited systematic channels for distribution.

Way ahead:

  • To accelerate this process of mainstreaming innovations within the hospital system in India, we need to focus on identifying promising market-ready health-care innovations that are ready to be tested and deployed at scale.
  • There is a need to facilitate standardised operational validation studies that are required for market adoption, to help ease out the start-up procurement process such that these solutions can be adopted with confidence.
  • This will serve the entire ecosystem of health-care innovators by opening up health-care markets for all.
  • A strong theme in mature health-care systems in other parts of the world is a vibrant and seamless interface between hospitals and health-care start-ups.
  • Through Ayushman Bharat, India has the unique opportunity to develop a robust ecosystem where hospitals actively engage with health-care start-ups by providing access to testbeds, communicating their needs effectively and adopting promising innovations.
  • Start-ups can be effective collaborators for the most pressing health-care delivery challenges faced by hospitals, as opposed to being mere suppliers of technology or services.


  • The launch and expansion of Ayushman Bharat-PM-JAY is a watershed moment for the Indian health-care service delivery ecosystem.
  • The government has taken a big step by rolling out world’s largest and most ambitious publicly funded health-care assurance programme.
  • We are now calling out to private sector health-care providers, health innovators, industry and start-ups to become equal partners in this movement.
  • The dream of an accessible, affordable and high-quality health-care system for all, will be achieved when we work in alignment to complement each other and jointly undertake the mission of creating an Ayushman Bharat.

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(The Gist of PIB) President, PM greet nation on National Technology Day [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) President, PM greet nation on National Technology Day [MAY-2019]

President, PM greet nation on National Technology Day

  • President Ram Nath Kovind today greeted the scientific community on National Technology Day (May 11, 2019) marking the anniversary of the Pokhran nuclear Tests of 1998.

Operation Shakti:

  • Pokhran-II (a.k.a Operation Shakti-98) is the name assigned to the series of five nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by India at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range in May 1998.
  • On May 11, 1998, India carried out three nuclear tests. Two days later, India carried out two more tests. Of the five detonations, the first was a fusion bomb and the remaining four were fission bombs.
  • Subsequently, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full-fledged nuclear state.
  • It was the second Indian nuclear test; the first test, code-named Smiling Buddha, was conducted in 1974.
  • The key scientists behind the triumph of ‘Operation Shakti’ were APJ Abdul Kalam, R Chidambaram, K Santhanam and Anil Kakodkar. The three top politicians in the NDA Government who decided to conduct the tests were Prime Minister AB Vajpayee; Defence Minister George Fernandes and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh.

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(The Gist of PIB) Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law [MAY-2019]

Hong Kong lawmakers fight over extradition law

  • Fighting erupted in Hong Kong’s legislature over proposed changes to the law allowing suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. Critics believe the proposed switch to the extradition law would erode Hong Kong’s freedoms under the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.


  • The principle of “one country, two systems” was first proposed by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s as way to reconcile the communist mainland with historically Chinese territories—Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau that had capitalist economies.
  • He suggested that there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau could retain their own economic and
    administrative systems, while the rest of the PRC (or simply “China”) uses the socialism with Chinese characteristics system.
  • In 1984 the concept was enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, in which the two countries agreed that Britain would hand over sovereignty of Hong Kong to China (China regained control over the former British colony in 1997).
  • It is also in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law. The Hong kong’s Basic Law states that even though Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of the People’s Republic, China’s parliament authorises it to exercise a “high degree of autonomy” to enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power.
  • China is responsible for defence and foreign affairs but Hong Kong runs its own internal security.
  • The central government is banned from interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, and the Communist Party has no official presence. Freedom of speech, press, religion and protest are all defended by law.

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(The Gist of PIB) Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) [MAY-2019]

Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR)

  • India has been unanimously chosen as co-chair of the Consultative Group (CG) of Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) for the fiscal year 2020.
  • The decision was taken during the meeting of GFDRR held in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday on the margins of the 6th Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Key highlights

  • GFDRR is a global partnership that helps developing countries better understand and reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change.
  • It is a grant-funding mechanism, managed by the World Bank, that supports disaster risk management projects worldwide.
  • According to an official release, India became a member of CG of GFDRR in 2015 and expressed its interest to co-chair during the last meeting of the group held in October 2018. India’s candidature was backed by its consistent progress in disaster risk reduction in the country and its initiative to form a coalition on disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • This will give the country an opportunity to work with the member countries and organizations with a focused contribution towards advancing the disaster risk reduction agenda during the course of the year.

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(The Gist of PIB) Macron, Ardern host Paris summit against online extremism [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Macron, Ardern host Paris summit against online extremism [MAY-2019]

Macron, Ardern host Paris summit against online extremism

  • French President Emmanuel Macron and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will launch an ambitious new initiative, “Christchurch Call”, aimed at curbing extremism online.


  • The Christchurch Call is a non-binding set of agreements that a group of governments and major tech companies will sign.
  • It is believed to be the first document of its type – one signed by both private companies and major governments.

What it does?

  • It will ask signatory nations to pledge to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content on social media and other online platforms. It asks them to adopt and enforce laws that ban objectionable material, and set guidelines on how traditional media can report acts of terrorism without amplifying them.
  • It also asks tech companies to enforce their terms of service, as well as “re-evaluate their algorithms that direct users to extremist content, and commit to redirecting people looking for extremist material”.

What it doesn’t?

  • However, the pledge does not contain any enforcement or regulatory measures, and it would be up to each individual country and company to decide how it would honour its voluntary commitments.
  • A definition of violent extremist content was not included in the pledge, and it would be up to individual companies to decide on what constituted objectionable material.

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(The Gist of PIB) 7th Economic Census 2019 [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) 7th Economic Census 2019 [MAY-2019]

7th Economic Census 2019

  • In the run up to upcoming 7th Edition of Economic Census, a National Training Workshop of the Master Trainers was organized by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI) at India Habitat Center in the national capital today.
  • Objective
  • The objective was to impart training to Master trainers (enumerators and supervisors) engaged in Seventh Economic Census (7th EC).
  • The participants were trained on the key concepts and definitions, processes, digital platform and application to be used for the enumeration (data capture and supervision) in the field.
  • The workshop was attended by Secretary, MoSPI, DG MoSPI, CEO, Common Service Centres- Special Purpose Vehicle, CSC-SPV and other senior officers of the ministry, State Governments and CSC-SPV.

Key highlights

  • 7th Economic Census -2019 is being conducted by MoSPI to provide disaggregated information on various operational and structural aspects of all establishments in the country.
  • A comprehensive training strategy has been evolved to impart training to trainers engaged in the 7th Economic Census.
  • After the National Training Workshop of Master Trainers in New Delhi today, similar exercise will be undertaken across the country.
  • Over 6000 State and District level training workshops will be organized during the month of May and June 2019.
  • MoSPI has partnered with Common Service Centres, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology as the implementing agency for 7th EC.
  • An IT based digital platform for data capture, validation, report generation and dissemination will be used in this Economic Census.
  • The fieldwork for the 7th EC will commence in June 2019. The results of the exercise will be made available after verification and validation of the fieldwork.
  • Six Economic Censuses (EC) have been conducted till date. The first Economic Census was undertaken in 1977.
  • The Second EC was carried out in 1980 followed by the Third EC in 1990.
  • The fourth edition took place in 1998 while the fifth EC was held in 2005. The Sixth edition of Economic Census was conducted in 2013.

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(The Gist of PIB) Graphite mining in Arunachal Pradesh [MAY-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Graphite mining in Arunachal Pradesh [MAY-2019]

Graphite mining in Arunachal Pradesh

  • The Geological Survey of India, GSI, has revealed that 35 per cent the country’s Graphite deposits of the country is found in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The GSI presented the data during its annual interactive meeting with the Department of Geology and Mining and Government of Arunachal Pradesh in Itanagar.
  • An official release said that India is now importing this mineral
  • from other countries. It said the State could be the leading producer of graphite in the country in future.
  • Secretary, Department of Geology and Mining, Bidol Tayeng emphasized that the survey and drilling activities of the GSI should be moved towards the lndo-China international Border.
  • China was reportedly undertaking huge mining activities across the border in Tibet.
  • The development of road towards the international border should be a boon for exploration of the mineral.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 18 February 2020 (An Indian army that can now be led by a woman (Mint))

An Indian army that can now be led by a woman (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Defense and Security
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate


  • A female general at the helm of the force is no longer beyond the realm of possibility thanks to a far-sighted ruling of the Supreme Court that finally lets women take roles of command.


  • It has been a long time in the making. But, more than half a millennium after the execution of Joan of Arc for challenging a male monopoly on warfare in Europe, a century-and-a-half after India’s own Rani of Jhansi led troops into a battle for freedom, and some 40 years after the exploits of an outlaw called Phoolan Devi showed how a brave woman could lead a squad of armed men.

Impact of the Supreme Court ruling:

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that there were no valid reasons for the Indian Army to keep its positions of command out of female reach.
  • The judgement was partly in response to complaints filed by women officers barred from roles that involved the active direction of military resources.
  • Recruited on a temporary basis, they must now be granted permanent commission if they so wish, and also be made eligible for the same promotions as their male counterparts.
  • The top court’s Monday order extends a 2010 ruling of the Delhi high court that asked for permanent appointments of women in the Indian Army and Indian Air Force.
  • Many were appointed after that, but typically not in combat units. They did not get leadership responsibilities that could have seen them ascend the hierarchy of power.
  • Now that the court has intervened squarely in favour of gender equality, it is for the army to acknowledge the hollowness of the arguments advanced on its behalf by the government in its failed attempt to retain the status quo.

Role of the government:

  • The government’s most obtuse submission in court was its reference to physiological aspects, which it claimed would limit the ability of women to perform well in roles of command.
  • That such an assertion could be made at all is appalling. There is ample evidence that the required skill sets were gender-neutral.
  • The equation of military abilities with physical masculinity draws upon false notions. It also reeks of sexism.
  • The Centre’s resistance to women in command was also mounted on the assumptions that male soldiers were not ready to obey them, given the social milieu they’re from, and that the presence of females could have an adverse impact on group dynamics within army teams.
  • Many men in uniform often argue that these considerations deserve careful consideration for entirely practical reasons.

Way ahead:

  • In the army, they say, nobody reaches a higher rank without going through the paces, and a commanding officer of a platoon must lead from the front—right into the field of battle, if need be.
  • Soldiers who are culturally hardwired to shield women are unlikely to let a woman lead a charge in a truly dangerous situation, according to them.
  • Also, they add, a lady at the helm could result in rivalry among men for her attention that could harm a unit’s solidarity.


  • The qualms that men in the army are said to have about women commanders can surely be overcome.
  • What cannot be cast aside under any circumstance is the right of every woman to pursue a career of her choice and reach the top.
  • Equality is a constitutional guarantee. And, as army Chief General M.M. Naravane recently declared, the armed forces owe their allegiance to the Constitution.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 18 February 2020 (Ascetic nationalist (Indian Express))

Ascetic nationalist (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 4: Ethics
Prelims level: M. S. Golwalkar
Mains level: Lessons from the lives and teachings of great leaders, reformers and administrators; role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values


  • Golwalkar, fondly remembered as Guruji, dedicated his life to the awakening of nationalistic sentiments rooted in the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Sri Aurobindo. Guruji made an unforgettable contribution to society and nation-building, going on to live as an ascetic.

About him:

  • Guruji is among the foremost symbols of such a selfless life. His entire journey is a tale of the umpteen sacrifices and contributions towards nation-building.
  • Born in 1906, Guruji completed his Masters from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) with a first division.
  • He then took admission in a Chennai institute for research. He was, however, compelled to give up on his research midway because of financial constraints.
  • Subsequently, he began teaching in BHU and soon he became famous as Guruji. While Golwalkar taught at BHU, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya remained deeply attached to him.
  • Guruji studied law as well but he remained unhappy with society’s mental weaknesses and the fact that India continued to remain a British colony.
  • It was because of this sadness that Guruji moved towards spirituality under the guidance of Swami Akhandananda, who was a disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa.
  • Under Swami Akhandananda’s guidance, Guruji learnt the true meaning and essence of sacrifice and detachment.
  • He realised that while many sacrifices are acceptable in the Indian tradition, the sacrifice of one’s duty is considered a sin.
  • The real sacrifice, Guruji realised, was foregoing ego and personal desires.
  • In 1937, Guruji was formally ordained by Swami Akhandananda. The same year, Swami Akhandananda gave up his body.

His influencers:

  • Golwalkar found Keshav Baliram Hedgewar as the ideal person to take forward the Sangh’s work of national and social awakening.
  • Golwalkar said of Hedgewar, “The work of the Sangh head is to prepare swayamsevaks who have the best of characters along with a commitment towards the work assigned to them. They must also be ready to sacrifice their entire lives for the nation.
  • Dr Hedgewar was one who could mould hearts in this way. In the beginning, I only found him to be a leader who worked differently. But later, I realised that he was an image of love, who existed in all three roles of mother, father and guru for his swayamsevaks.”
  • Guruji was deeply influenced by Hedgewar’s beliefs that while rousing speeches can give us short-term benefits, in the long term, the work of nation-building wasn’t possible without showing humility in speech. So, it is our duty to work for the nation by exercising a strict control over what we say and keeping intact a tenderness of heart and mind.
  • Guruji was also influenced by Sri Aurobindo’s teaching that for the creator of the universe, Ma Bhagwati, we must become virtuous souls who can spread love and positivity. From this perspective, his nationalism wasn’t one that had ego or tried to rule over people with the use of force.
  • It was a cultural nationalism imbued with spirituality. This nationalism aimed at raising the self-confidence of its people, ushering them to become the best version of themselves and taking India back to its days of glory, when it was the global leader.

His views:

  • Guruji considered staying united and powerful to be in the interest of the nation.
  • His understanding of life was immersed in sound logic even as he remained a steadfast idealist.
  • He believed in creating institutions based on the need of the hour and rejected traditions based on superstitions and those that were devoid of logic.
  • His views on patriarchy are reflected in the incident where his parents told him that what would happen to their lineage if he renounces worldly life despite being their only son.
  • To this, Guruji said that he didn’t believe in the end of family dynasties. He said his aim was the welfare of the society.
  • Guruji rejected the Varna system as an outdated idea.
  • He was a large-hearted, fearless nationalist.
  • He believed the real worship of God was in human deeds.
  • He did not believe in religious and caste divides.
  • He believed that national unity and integrity lay in people respecting the national mission, goals and cultural symbols.


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 18 February 2020 (Trump’s India visit: Rallies and realpolitik (The Hindu))

Trump’s India visit: Rallies and realpolitik (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: International Relation
Prelims level: F-15EX Eagle fighters
Mains level: Bilateral agreements between countries


  • Unlike other global leaders who enjoy the pomp and circumstance of making state visits, US President Donald Trump is a reluctant traveller.
  • But he seems to be looking forward to his India visit, describing it with typical Trumpian hyperbole and saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s already pledged to have, “five-million-to-seven-million people between the airport and the stadium” in Ahmedabad.
  • Trump’s also excited about the rally at the new Motera cricket stadium, which has the world’s biggest seating capacity.

Rallies and realpolitik:

  • With the 2020 elections looming and a large Indian-American population at home, he’s seeing this as his “Howdy Trump!” moment that will ‘trump’ all previous US presidential visits.
  • The Ahmedabad rally is tentatively called ‘kem chho Trump’ or ‘how are you, Trump?’, clearly harking back to the “Howdy Modi” rally.
  • But the optics of the rally may not be enough to paper over differences between negotiators with the US last year stripping India of its “developing country” tag, meaning Indian exports can’t have duty-free US entry.
  • The US argues that any country with over 0.5 per cent of global trade and also a G20 member, is “developed.”
  • Talks are also stumbling on US demands for India to grant more access to its farm products.
  • Already, farmers’ bodies are demanding that India not cede an inch to the US on agriculture.
  • The dairy sector is particularly worried about allowing in US produce which they argue is subsidised massively.

Way ahead:

  • On the defence front, though, the US and India appear nearer agreement with reports the navy may buy Seahawk helicopters from Lockheed Martin costing $2.6 billion. Boeing may also offer us the F-15EX Eagle fighters.
  • India is looking at buying up to 114 fighters in a deal that is potentially worth almost $18 billion, but that will take some time to conclude.
  • Also, the US has agreed to allow India to buy an Integrated Air Defence Weapon System which costs $1.9 billion.
  • Bilateral defence business reached $18 billion in 2019 and India’s now designated a ‘Major Defence Partner’.
  • Meanwhile, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has attacked e-commerce giant Amazon yet again, saying its losses don’t “look and feel and smell right.”
  • He said he hoped the government won’t have to “go down the path of finding whether anybody is breaking the law.” This, however, could please Trump as he’s no fan of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos.
  • Also, many countries have become wary of a Trump visit because he can lash out unpredictably.


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 18 February 2020 (Improved regulation of medical devices will ensure safety, quality (The Hindu))

Improved regulation of medical devices will ensure safety, quality (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: Medical Devices Rules
Mains level: Importance of the regulation of medical devices


  • The Centre brings virtually “all” medical devices under regulation for quality and safety.
  • A gazette notification was issued to this effect on February 11, bringing all devices under the scope of Section 3 (b) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which pertains to medical devices.

Present scenario:

  • At present, over 35 devices are regulated or notified under the Medical Devices Rules, which came into force two years ago.
  • The new categories of devices are likely to be notified from April this year. They will come under regulation after a period of 30-42 months.
  • The domestic industry in particular has been given this window of adjustment to meet the required standards, the grace period rising with the levels of risk of the device.
  • The nebulisers, blood-pressure monitoring devices, glucometers, disinfectants and insecticides, and digital thermometers, notified earlier as low risk devices, are likely to come under regulation from January 1, 2021.
  • The high risk devices such as implants, CT scan equipment, MRI equipment, X-Ray machines, dialysis machines, also notified earlier, may come under the new regime from April 2021.

Boosting domestic medical equipment sector:

  • In another boost to the domestic medical equipment sector, many of whom are MSMEs, the Centre has imposed a health cess on imported medical devices, with exceptions in the case of life-saving equipment.
  • Any cess is, in principle, to be opposed, a levy in this case, coupled with the application of the Medical Devices Rules across the board, is expected to improve the competitiveness of the domestic industry.
  • About 70 per cent of India’s ₹70,000-crore medical devices market is dominated by imports, with US and EU being key suppliers.

Enhance capabilities in regulation:

  • A NITI Aayog Bill is in the works for effective regulation of medical devices, in the process removing them from the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • This might be necessary in view of the fact that drugs and devices are quite dissimilar in nature. It is also worth looking at whether quality certification of imported devices is to be accepted under all circumstances, without subjecting them to trials in the Indian context.
  • The Johnson and Johnson hip transplant episode is instructive here. Norms for operational trials should be defined, and a sample size that is too small may not be reliable.
  • The penal provisions should be applied with respect to the risk of a product, and not across the board. The most serious issue with regulating medical devices pertains to the lack of data.
  • This is despite a ‘materio-vigilance programme’ having been in force since July 2015 to collect data through ‘material device adverse event monitoring centres’.


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 18 February 2020 (US-India trade deal, a threat to dairy sector (The Hindu))

US-India trade deal, a threat to dairy sector (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: US-India
Mains level: Significance of the trade deal between US-India


  • The upcoming visit of US President Donald Trump to India may see the contours of the Indo-US deal being finalised in specific sectors, which allowing for market access for US dairy products in India.
  • This move is likely to have significant adverse consequences on the prospects of the fledgling Indian dairy industry.

Highlighting the importance of the dairy sector in India:

  • The dairy sector not only provides employment to the rural workforce, but is also a significant contributor to the national economy.
  • The share of agriculture and allied sector in the gross value added (GVA) has consistently declined from 18.2 per cent in 2014 to 17.2 per cent in 2017.
  • The share of livestock to GVA has increased from 4.4 per cent to 4.9 per cent during the same period.
  • Within the agriculture and allied sector, among the key livestock products, milk and milk products have the highest share, at around 67.2 per cent in 2017.
  • The dairy sector plays a pivotal role in aiding the reduction of rural poverty and inequity, in addition to ensuring the food security of millions of rural households.
  • According to a report by the Agriculture Skill Council of India, while crop production generates employment for the rural workforce for an average of 90-120 days in a year; the dairy sector plays a major role in providing alternative employment opportunities throughout the year.
  • Milk and milk products have become the largest agricultural commodity, with their output standing at more than 20.6 per cent of the combined output of paddy, wheat and pulses.
  • Thus, there is no gainsaying the importance of the dairy sector as one of the important sectors of the Indian economy.

Trade surplus:

  • The underlying broad reasons behind India’s trade surplus with the US in dairy is elucidated as follows.
  • A glance at the product-wise trade statistics from India reveals that ‘melted butter’ (ghee) has the largest share in exports to the US at 56 per cent, followed by ‘processed cheese’ (21 per cent), butter (10 per cent), ‘other cheese’ (3.9 per cent), and ‘other fats’ and ‘oils derived from milk’ (3.5 per cent) in 2018-19.
  • India has a comparative advantage in the export of ‘melted butter’ and ‘processed cheese’ to the US because the cost of production of both these products is cheaper in India.
  • The lower average final bound duties on dairy products in the US help provide a boost to diary exports from India. According to the World Tariff Profiles, 2019, an average final bound duty on dairy products in the US is around 19 per cent, as against close to 64 per cent in India.
  • The third and most critical reason for India’s high trade surplus in dairy vis-à-vis US is attributable to ‘cultural and religious sentiments’.
  • The latter implies that the Indian authorities’ mandatory certification from the concerned US agency which states that “the source animal should not have been fed animal-derived blood meal”, weeds out significant imports from the US.
  • This mandatory certification has been stated by the Ministry of Commerce as non-negotiable, as it carries sensitive connotations for the religious sentiments of a majority of the Indian population.

Disadvantage to India:

  • If India goes ahead with the signing of the deal on allowing market access of US dairy products in the Indian market, then the former stands to lose out in a big manner.
  • In 2017, India contributed 21 per cent of the world’s milk production, thus making it the largest milk producer in the world.
  • This has been made possible by the almost 73 million marginal and landless farmers who directly work in the dairy sector and hold, on average, two milch animals per farmer.
  • Indian farmers enjoy favourable terms of trade in the dairy arena, with their share in the consumer price standing at around 60 per cent, which happens to be the highest in the world (as per the International Farm Comparison Network’s Dairy Report, 2018).
  • However, in the US, there are around 0.04 million dairy farmers holding an average of 241 milch animals per farmer.
  • Though these farmers are basically large dairy farmers who benefit from economies of scale, they only get around 43 per cent of what the consumer pays, which is 1.4 times lower than that of India.
  • According to The World Dairy Situation,2019 report, milk yield per cow in the US is the highest in the world, standing at 10,500 kg per cow as against 1,715 kg per cow in India, which is the second-lowest in the world after Pakistan.
  • A dairy farmer in the US is able to sell milk at a price 16.6 per cent above the average world market price, as compared with the similar number standing at 15.6 per cent in India.

Way ahead:

  • It is evident from the numbers that despite lower milk yield and dominance of small and marginal farmers in dairy activity, India is comfortably placed to produce milk at a cheaper rate.
  • Thus, opening market access for the sector is likely to place these dairy farmers in a disadvantaged position in relation to the large-scale dairy farmers in US.
  • The US dairy industry claims that the proposed trade pact with India has the potential to increase dairy exports to India up to $100 million.
  • As per our estimates, had the India-US trade deal in the dairy sector already been in force, India would have run up a dairy sector trade deficit of $85 million today, instead of the 2018-19 trade surplus of $14.71 million.


THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 17 February 2020 (Perspective of Dairy Industries in India (Indian Express))

Perspective of Dairy Industries in India (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Dairy Industry
Mains level: Describe the importance of Dairy Industry


  • Indian dairy sector, that includes milk production, collection, processing, distribution and marketing, plays a seminal role in rural economy, second only to agriculture.

Importance of Dairy Industry:

  • Over 71 million of 147 million households in the country depend on dairy for their livelihood.
  • Livestock sector contributes nearly 26 per cent to rural income in case of poorest households and about 12 per cent in case of overall rural income.
  • Dairying provides a remunerative outlet for family labours. Other than income generation and livelihood security, dairying also ensures nutritional security for the family.
  • Dairy sector is uniquely characterised more by ‘production by masses’ rather than ‘mass productivity’.

The Scenario:

  • Milk production in India stands at 176.3 million tons in 2017-18, but due to various socio economic factors, there exists wide inter-state variability in milk production.
  • While the per capita availability of milk is 375grams per day at all-India level, it varies between 71 grams per day in Assam to 1120 grams per day in Punjab.
  • India is world’s largest producer and consumer of milk accounting for nearly 19 per cent of the world milk production.
  • Indian dairy sector is struggling with low productivity of animals which is estimated as 1806 kg per year, as against the world average of 2310 kg.
  • But, diverse population of cattle and buffaloes offers great prospects for increasing the mill production.
  • India is blessed with a huge biodiversity of 43 indigenous cattle breeds and 13 buffalo breeds.

Steps Taken:

  • Intervention of dairy co-operatives has increased farmers’ income, created employment opportunities, eased availability of credit to poor farmers, led to empowerment of women, enhanced nutritional security, and also increased flow of new technology.
  • Women members of the dairy co-operative are also being encouraged to assume leadership roles.
  • Despite immense utility and impact, dairy co-operatives are facing several constraints and challenges mainly due to state co-operative laws. Hence, Government of India launched a central sector scheme in 2016-17 to support state co-operative dairy federations in providing a stable market access to farmers.
  • A corpus fund of Rs 300 crore has been kept in perpetuity with National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to provide soft loan as working capital to dairy federations.
  • Moving further, formation of Farmer Producer Companies in dairy sector has mobilized farmers to enhance their capacity as producers and marketing professionals.
  • In order to boost dairy processing and infrastructure, a special fund (Dairy processing and Infrastructure Development Fund, DIDF) was created for the period from 2017-18 to 2028-29. The project is being implemented by National Dairy development Board and National Dairy Development Corporation.
  • This fund is helping build an efficient milk procurement system by setting up chilling infrastructure, modernization of processing infrastructure, and adding manufacturing facilities for value added products for the milk unions and milk producer companies.
  • Beside this fund, additional cold chains and processing infrastructure is being created under Kisan SAMPADA Yojana run by Ministry of Food Processing Industries.

Key challenges faced by Dairy sectors in India:

  • Low productivity of Indian bovines,
  • Imbalanced feeding to animals,
  • Limited access of milk producers to organised sector,
  • Age old infrastructure operating on absolute technology,
  • Lack of organised credit system
  • Lack of manufacturing facilities for value added products,
  • Lack of efficient chilling infrastructure at village level,
  • Lack of penetration in smaller cities/towns in terms of milk marketing and
  • Lack of efficient cold chain distribution network.

Plans for prosperity:

  • The Union Government prepared and implemented a holistic “National Action Plan for Dairy Development for 2022” in 2018.
  • National Action Plan envisions to increase milk production to 254.55 million metric ton by 2021-22 and 300 MMT by 2023-24.
  • Recently, Prime Minister has launched ‘National Artificial Insemination Program’ to cover entire country with quality Artificial Insemination (AI) services. Various breed development interventions are being implemented under Union Government Schemes, such as National Dairy Plan (phase 1) and Rashtriya Gokul Mission.
  • Further, a National Bovine Genomics Centre for Indigenous breeds (NBGC-IB) is being set-up to pave way for systematic and fast paced improvement of the precious indigenous animal resources using highly precise gene technology.
  • Union Government also implemented a comprehensive National Dairy Plan (phase-I) during 2011-12 to 2018-19. Currently, NADB has initiated talk with the World Bank and concerned government department to launch second phase of the Plan.
  • The second Phase will primarily focus on developing milk processing infrastructure and establishment of milk quality testing equipment at critical points of procurement areas.
  • Government of India launched an ambitious ‘Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme’ with the objective to promote entrepreneurship by generating opportunities for self-employment in dairy sector. NABARD is the nodal agency.

Way Forward:

At present, India’s share in global dairy trade is just one per-cent, which needs to be enhanced by technology infusion and quality management. We need exclusive and dedicated efforts to transform Indian dairying into a globally competitive enterprise with welfare of farmers at the core.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 17 February 2020 (The Unfair Trade Practices and Remedies (Mint))

The Unfair Trade Practices and Remedies (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Agro-Based Industries
Mains level: Unfair trade practices and removal procedure in Agro-Based Industries


  • Agro based industries are a perfect example of mutually beneficial dependence between the primary and secondary sectors of an economy. It is well established that in India agro-based industries address important issues of poverty and unemployment by utilizing local resources.

Profile of Agro-based Industries:

  • Ministry of Statistics and Programme implementation’s Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) indicates that 43.6% of factories are agro-based industries. Almost a similar proportion (42.7%) of persons engaged in accounted for by agro-based industries.
  • Data collected from Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and statistics (DGCI and S) points to the fact that micro, small and medium-scale agro-based industries have been contributing to about one-fifth of India’s total exports, with exports remaining in the range of US$ 56,000 to 59,000 million in the past four years.

Unfair Trade Practices:

  • Agro-based industries lose their competitive edge due to unfair trade practices adopted by exporters of other countries. Such practices manifest in the following two forms:
  • Dumping- exporters from other countries often dump their products in Indian markets at rates cheaper than those at which they sell their products in their domestic markets.
  • Subsidies- Governments of those countries are observed to be providing subsidies to their exporters.
  • In both the cases, the competitive scenario is distorted and the domestic industry is at loss.
  • Another related issue is that sometimes the cheap imports are found to be of low quality, thereby adding to environmental problems and hygiene related issues.

Trade Remedies:

  • India’s Customs Tariff Act, 1975 and related Anti-Dumping Rules and CVD Rules, 1995 provide the legal backing to protect the domestic manufacturer against unfair trade practices.
  • The Directorate General of trade Remedies (DGTR) under Department of commerce is a quasi-judicial body.
  • On the recommendation of DGTR, the enhanced duties are put into place by Department of Revenue.
  • Another trade remedial measure distinct from an ADD or a CVD, is a safeguard measure which may be resorted to by a government when there is a surge in imports of any commodity due to which serious injury is caused to the domestic industry. In such a case, the affected country can impose a safeguard duty.


  • Given that most agro-based industries are in micro, small or medium enterprises and may not have the wherewithal to stand competition from cheaper or subsidised imports, the role of the Government becomes all the more important.
  • To assist the domestic industry, DGTR has recently set-up a Help-Desk and Facilitation centre on 23rd September 2019.
  • Awareness generation amongst agro-based industries becomes a key ingredient in successful utilization of available trade remedies and to protect them from unfair trade practices of exports of other countries.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 17 February 2020 (Outlook of an Agro Based Industries in India (Indian Express))

Outlook of an Agro Based Industries in India (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Agro-based Industry
Mains level: Overview of Agro-based Industry


  • India’s 54.6 per cent population is still engaged in agriculture and allied activities. Low income from the primary farm produce and lack of investment in the processing and agri – value chain has caused rapid reduction in farm profits and the farm occupation has now come under severe pressure.

Agro-based Industry:

  • Agro-industry encompasses not only the activities that utilize raw materials sourced from agriculture, but also those provide input for modern agronomic practices.
  • Based on the input-output linkages and the interdependence between agriculture and industry, agroindustries can be of two types- (a) processing industries or agro-based industries and (b) input supply industries or agro industries.

Why Promote Agro-Based Industries?

  • India has the world’s 10th largest arable land, 20 agro-climatic regions and 15 major climates. The harvest and post-harvest losses for agriculture commodities are very high.
  • The total estimated economic value of quantitative loss was found to be Rs. 92651 crore at average annual prices of 2014.
  • There is opportunity of an overall growth of agricultural economy as only 2 to 3 percent of agri-commodities are processed.

Government Initiatives:

(a) Food Processing and Beverages:

  • The Ministry of Food Processing Industries implements various Central Sector Scheme to boost food-processing industries. It has recently re-structured its schemes under the new Central Sector Scheme – Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojna (PMKSY).
  • The scheme components include setting up of (a) Mega Park (b) Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure (c) Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure (d) Human Resources Development and Institution.

(b) Textiles Industries:

  • The Government has rolled out a number of initiatives. These include:
  • Scheme for Integrated Textiles Park, Integrated Processing Development Scheme, Group Workshed Scheme, Common Facility Centre and Amended Technology Up-gradation Fund Scheme, Scheme for the Development of the power loom Sector (Power Tex),
  • SAMARTH – The Scheme for Capacity Building in Textiles Sector (SCBTS), Comprehensive Handloom Cluster Development Scheme (CHCDS, Rebate of State and Centre Taxes and Levies (ROSCTL) etc.

(c) Jute Industry:

  • The Govt. has attempting to modernize the jute mills by increasing their productivity and bringing in modern technology and equipment.
  • National Jute Board’s Schematic interventions, providing capital subsidy to jute mills to address their issues and challenges at hand.

(d) Khadi and Village Industry:

  • Ministry of MSME’s Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) promotes setting up of various post-harvest agro and food based micro industries like processing of pulse, cereals etc.
  • Through Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), KVIC tries to generate self-employment opportunities.


  • The inherent advantages of agri-industries are optimal utilization of local agri-resources, mobilization of investment on a large scale, creation of job opportunity, prevention of distress rural-urban migration and reduction of disparity across sectors and regions.
  • Agri-based industries confirm to the notion of competitive advantage both within and outside the country. They can play a role of a safety valve to absorb surplus rural labour and can address the problem of large scale unemployment/disguised employment in rural areas.
  • The challenge here is how effectively the government implements its schemes and policy
    interventions so as to ensure an all – round industrial growth in rural areas without undermining the identity of village, its socio – economic structure, agri-production systems and the basic agri-manufacturing characteristics.

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