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(E-Admit Card) UPSC CISF AC(EXE) LDCE Exam, 2020

(E- Admit Card) Central Industrial Security Force AC (EXE) LDC (Limited Departmental Competitive) Exam, 2020

केंद्रीय औद्योगिक सुरक्षा बल एसी (ईएक्सई) एलडीसी (सीमित विभागीय प्रतियोगी) परीक्षा, 2020

Exam Name: Central Industrial Security Force AC (EXE) LDC Exam (केंद्रीय औद्योगिक सुरक्षा बल एसी (ईएक्सई) एलडीसी (सीमित विभागीय प्रतियोगी) परीक्ष)

Year: 2020

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 February 2020 (Market Study on E-commerce in India (Indian Express))

Market Study on E-commerce in India (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level : Competition Commission of India
Mains level : Highlights about the market Study on E-commerce in India


  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) released a Report titled ‘Market Study on E-commerce in India:
  • The Market Study on E-commerce in India (‘the study’) was initiated by the CCI in April 2019 with a view to better understand the functioning of e-commerce in India and its implications for markets and competition.
  • The objective was also to identify impediments to competition, if any, emerging from e-commerce and to ascertain the Commission’s enforcement and advocacy priorities in light of the same.

Key findings of the study:

  • The study, a combination of secondary research, questionnaire survey, focused group discussions, one-on-one meetings, a multi-stakeholder workshop and written submissions of stakeholders, covered the three broad categories of e-commerce in consumer goods (mobiles, lifestyle, electrical and electronic appliances and grocery), accommodation services and food services.
  • 16 online platforms, 164 business entities [including sellers (manufacturers and retailers) and service providers (hotels and restaurants)] and 7 payment system providers from across India participated in the study. In addition, 11 industry associations, representing different stakeholder groups, also participated.
  • The study has helped gather useful insights and information on the key features of e-commerce in India, the different business models of e-commerce players, and the various aspects of commercial arrangements between market participants involved in e-commerce.
  • The study has also provided an opportunity to learn from business enterprises on how they are responding to the advent of digital trade and has helped gauge the key parameters of competition in digital commerce.
  • The study confirms that online commerce is gaining importance across the sectors studied. The share of online distribution and its relative importance vis-à-vis traditional channels varies significantly across products.
  • This divergence constrains construction of a unified competition narrative and points to the need for product-specific assessment of market and competition dynamics. Online commerce, as the study shows, has increased price transparency and price competition.
  • The search and compare functionalities of online platforms have lowered search cost for consumers and have provided them with a wide array of alternatives to choose from. For businesses, e-commerce has helped expand market participation by aiding innovative business models.
  • The report released today presents the key trends identified and also discusses the issues that may, directly or indirectly, have a bearing on competition, or may hinder realisation of the full pro-competitive potential of e-commerce.
  • These include the issues of lack of platform neutrality, unfair platform-to-business contract terms, exclusive contracts between online marketplace platforms and sellers/service providers, platform price parity restrictions and deep discounts.
  • The CCI is of the view that many of these issues would lend themselves to a case-by-case examination by the CCI under the relevant provisions of the Competition Act, 2002. The report outlines these issues and presents the observations of the CCI on the same without assessing whether a conduct is anti-competitive or is justified in a particular context.
  • Ensuring competition on the merits to harness efficiencies for consumers
  • Increasing transparency to create incentive for competition and to reduce information asymmetry
  • Fostering sustainable business relationships between all stakeholders

Search ranking:

  • Set out in the platforms’ terms and conditions a general description of the main search ranking parameters, drafted in plain and intelligible language and keep that description up to date.
  • Where the main parameters include the possibility to influence ranking against any direct or indirect remuneration paid by business users, set out a description of those possibilities and of the effects of such remuneration on ranking.
  • Introduction of the above-mentioned features, however, should not entail, disclosure of algorithms or any such information that may enable or facilitate manipulation of search results by third parties.

Collection, use and sharing of data:

  • Set out a clear and transparent policy on data that is collected on the platform, the use of such data by the platform and also the potential and actual sharing of such data with third parties or related entities.

User review and rating mechanism:

  • Adequate transparency over user review and rating mechanisms is necessary for ensuring information symmetry, which is a prerequisite for fair competition. Adequate transparency to be maintained in publishing and sharing user reviews and ratings with the business users. Reviews for only verified purchases to be published and mechanisms to be devised to prevent fraudulent reviews/ratings.

Revision in contract terms:

  • Notify the business users concerned of any proposed changes in terms and conditions. The proposed changes not to be implemented before the expiry of a notice period, which is reasonable and proportionate to the nature and extent of the envisaged changes and to their consequences for the business user concerned.

Discount policy:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 February 2020 (Video-based identification process (Indian Express))

Video-based identification process (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level : Video-based identification process
Mains level : Key findings about the identification process


  • The RBI amended the KYC norms allowing banks and other lending institutions regulated by it to use Video based Customer Identification Process (V-CIP), a move which will help them onboard customers remotely.
  • The V-CIP, which will be consent-based, will make it easier for banks and other regulated entities to adhere to the RBI's Know Your Customer (KYC) norms by leveraging the digital technology.


  • Last year, the government had notified amendment to the Prevention of Money-laundering (Maintenance of Records) Rules, 2005.

Key highlights:

  • With a view to leveraging the digital channels for Customer Identification Process (CIP) by Regulated Entities (REs), the Reserve Bank has decided to permit V-CIP as a consent based alternate method of establishing the customer's identity, for customer onboarding.
  • The RBI further said that the regulated entities will have to ensure that the video recording is stored in a safe and secure manner and bears the date and time stamp.
  • Also, "REs are encouraged to take assistance of the latest available technology", including artificial intelligence (AI) and face matching technologies, to ensure the integrity of the process as well as the information furnished by the customer.
  • "However, the responsibility of customer identification shall rest with the RE," the circular on master directions said.
  • The Reserve Bank said it decided to permit video based Customer Identification Process (V-CIP) as a consent based alternate method of establishing the customer's identity, for customer onboarding with a view to leveraging the digital channels for Customer Identification Process (CIP) by REs.
  • As per the circular, the reporting entity should capture a clear image of PAN card to be displayed by the customer during the process, except in cases where e-PAN is provided by the customer.
  • The PAN details should be verified from the database of the issuing authority.
  • Live location of the customer (Geotagging) shall be captured to ensure that customer is physically present in India.

Way forward:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 February 2020 (How Budget counters ‘origin fraud’ in FTAs (The Hindu) )

How Budget counters ‘origin fraud’ in FTAs (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level : Origin fraud in FTAs
Mains level : Counter mechanism to fraud in trade sector


  • Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) signed by India with any country or group of countries entitle exports from such countries to India to a preferential customs duty rate, often nil rate.
  • Budget 2020-21 has proposed a change in the Customs Act that places the onus on the importer to verify the origin of goods being imported into India using the FTA route.

Country of origin:

  • Goods from an FTA partner are eligible for benefits only if it is the country of origin (COO) of such goods.
  • A COO is one in which at least 35 per cent value addition of the good has happened. But it is difficult for India to find out how much of a good coming to Indian shores has been developed in the FTA partner country. This constraint is often exploited to commit origin frauds.

Origin frauds:

  • Origin frauds are of two types — transshipment and general assembly.
  • Under transshipment, goods originating from a third country are routed through an FTA partner into India, to take advantage of low duty rates.
  • Under general assembly, parts are separately exported from the third country to the FTA partner, where assembling happens before despatch of the goods to India.
  • In both cases, fraudsters manage to get COO certificates from the FTA partner country.\
  • For instance, the import of stainless steel from Indonesia grew from about 8,000 tonnes in year ending March 2018 to 67,000 tonnes in year ending March 2019: a spike of over 700 per cent in a single year.
  • Indonesia cannot add this much additional production capacity in a single year. The Indian Stainless Steel Development Association (ISSDA) claimed that these goods are of Chinese origin.
  • They were routed through Indonesia because China has an FTA with ASEAN (which includes Indonesia), and ASEAN has an FTA with India. India imposes customs and countervailing duty on direct import of stainless steel from China.

Artificially low prices:

  • Prices of Chinese goods are artificially low, as pointed out by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce of the Rajya Sabha in a report tabled in 2018.
  • The report has pointed out that China has been found guilty of unfair trade practices like export incentives and deep subsidies in contravention of WTO regulations.
  • China has also been long accused of manipulating its currency to maintain export competitiveness. The report mentions that maximum anti-dumping measures world over have been imposed on China.
  • It leads to under-utilisation of existing capacity and unforeseen crisis for domestic entrepreneurs. Origin frauds circumvent the country’s trade defence measures by routing Chinese goods through India’s FTA partners.
  • The problem has become especially acute in recent times due to two events: the US-China trade war and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China.
  • The US could influence other countries to go after origin frauds because of its economic might.
  • The Belt and Road Initiative gives China logistics access to many countries along the old Silk Route and the so-called maritime Silk Route. Chinese exporters can use the logistics and port infrastructure in any of these countries to export Chinese goods to India. It will be extremely difficult for India to verify the country of origin.

Preventing abuse:

  • There is zero deterrence on origin frauds, because India cannot go after foreign suppliers. As per Section 9A of Customs Tariff Act 1975, India can impose anti-circumvention duties on conduit countries.
  • However, investigations by following due process have proved to be quite lengthy.
  • Impact of origin fraud on domestic industry can be dramatic in the short-term. Hence, there is a need to implement anti-abuse checks at the point of entry.
  • Placing the onus of proof of ‘country of origin’ on the importer is normally not a sensible approach. Buyers and sellers in an open market interact on a contingent basis, and cannot be expected to know each other’s affairs.
  • But this is not an ideal situation, and this is perhaps the best action that can be taken by a destination nation to prevent abuse of free trade agreements.

Way forward:

  • In contemporary times, production process is highly technology driven. Goods differ widely on technical specifications.
  • Volume importers generally inspect the factories of their suppliers, and appoint sourcing agents for quality control.
  • They would normally be aware of the value addition to their goods in various territories.
  • Placing an onus on importers will deter them from purchasing transshipped goods.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 February 2020 (The Delhi model of education (The Hindu) )

The Delhi model of education (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Education
Prelims level : Delhi model of education
Mains level : Components of the Delhi model of education


  • In the last five years, the Delhi model of education has caught the attention of people in Delhi and beyond.
  • The AAP government in Delhi has built a model which essentially has five major components and is supported by nearly 25% of the State Budget.

Key components of the model:

Transformation of school infrastructure:

  • The first component of the education model is the transformation of school infrastructure. Dilapidated school buildings that lack basic facilities not only indicate the apathy of the government, but also significantly lower the motivation of teachers and the enthusiasm of students.
  • The AAP government sought to change this by building new, aesthetically designed classrooms equipped with furniture, smart boards, staff rooms, auditoriums, laboratories, libraries, sports facilities and so on.

To train the teachers and principals:

  • The second component is the training of teachers and principals. Apart from the fact that a forum was created to encourage peer learning among them, several opportunities were given to teachers for their professional growth.
  • They visited Cambridge University; the National Institute of Education, Singapore; IIM Ahmedabad; and other models of excellence in India. The exposure to new pedagogy and leadership training enabled Delhi to gradually move away from a uniform training model for all to learning from the best practices in India and abroad.

Reconstituting school management committees:

  • The third component involved engaging with the community by reconstituting school management committees (SMC). The annual budget of each SMC is ₹5-7 lakh. The SMCs can spend this money on any material or activity, such as even hiring teachers on a short-term basis.
  • Regular dialogue between teachers and parents was initiated through mega parent-teacher meetings. Guidelines are provided on how to engage with parents. Invitations for meetings are sent through FM radio, newspaper advertisements, etc.

Reform the curricular:

  • Four, there have been major curricular reforms in teaching learning. In 2016, the AAP government noted that there was a nearly 50% failure rate in Class 9 and admitted that the poor foundational skills of children could be the reason for it. Special initiatives to ensure that all children learn to read, write and do basic mathematics was launched and made part of regular teaching learning activities in schools.
  • Similarly, a ‘happiness curriculum’ was introduced for all children between nursery and Class 8 for their emotional well-being. Further, an ‘entrepreneurship mindset curriculum’ was introduced to develop the problem-solving and critical thinking abilities of children in Classes 9 to 12. Apart from these new curricular initiatives, the focus on existing subjects too ensured better performance in Board examinations by Classes 10 and 12.

No fee hike in private schools:

  • Fifth, there was no fee increase in private schools. While the first four components impacted nearly 34% of children in Delhi’s government schools, arbitrary fee hikes earlier impacted about 40% children who go to private schools. In the past, almost all the schools increased their fee 8-15% annually.
  • The government not only ensured the refund of about ₹32 crore to parents which was excessively charged by private schools, it also ensured that any fee hike proposal was examined by authorised chartered accountants. Thus, for two years no school was allowed to raise its fee.

Agenda 2.0

  • The syllabus of Classes 1 to 8 will be reviewed to emphasise foundational learning skills, the ‘happiness curriculum’ and the ‘deshbhakti’ curriculum.
  • Apart from ensuring that all children can fluently read, write and do mathematics, the focus will be to build emotional resilience in children and ensure that they internalise our core constitutional values by the time they complete eight years of schooling.
  • Apart from that, early childhood care and education will be deepened further through Anganwadis. There will also be nurseries in all government schools.
  • A Delhi Education Board will be set up to promote learning that encourages critical thinking, problem solving and application of knowledge among children. This will prepare them to tackle the challenges of the 21st century with an entrepreneurial mindset. Additionally, for those who have graduated from Delhi schools in the recent past, programmes like spoken English, soft skills and so on will be initiated to raise their employability opportunities.
  • Specialised schools will be created in each of the 29 zones of Delhi to nurture the aptitude and talent of children in the areas of science and technology, literature and language, visual and performing arts, and sports.

Way forward:

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 February 2020 (First call: on India-Sri Lanka ties (The Hindu) )

First call: on India-Sri Lanka ties (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level : India-Sri Lanka ties
Mains level : Highlights the relations between two countries and brief discussion about different agreements


  • Sri Lanka’s new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who visited in November, and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, after a five-day tour, have signalled hope of beginning a new India-Sri Lanka chapter.

Key highlights about the meet:

  • Mahinda Rajapaksa has also discussed extending the $400-million Line of Credit and India’s further assistance for nationwide housing.
  • Air connectivity to Sri Lanka’s north and east is already being improved — there is a flight from India to Jaffna, and another one being proposed for Batticaloa.
  • On security, Mr. Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed intelligence sharing, training and the utilisation of a special $50-million Line of Credit extended by India after last year’s Easter Sunday bombings.
  • India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives are expected to revive their trilateral on security, including joint maritime security talks and anti-terror cooperation.
  • Mr. Rajapaksa reaffirmed his belief that among Sri Lanka’s friendships, India is seen as a “relative”, given their history and culture.

Major challenges for both countries:

  • The bonhomie is palpable, but the faultlines were also visible.
  • Prime Minister Modi said India hopes that the “expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace, and respect” would be realised and that devolution of powers according to the 13th amendment would be taken forward.
  • Mr. Rajapaksa has given no commitment on this and that he favoured the 13A but not solutions that were “unacceptable to the majority [Sinhala] community”.
  • India’s case for the special status for the North and East also comes across as contrary to the Modi government’s strong stand about removal of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Mr. Rajapaksa has ruled out taking forward the MoU signed by his predecessor Ranil Wickremesinghe allowing Indian participation in energy and infrastructure projects in Trincomalee; an Indian stake in “Mattala airport” is not on the cards either.
  • However, of note is his appeal for India to help Sri Lanka deal with its debt crisis — nearly $60-billion outstanding in foreign and domestic, and about $5-billion a year in repayments.

Way forward:

(The Gist of PIB) President to present Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony [MARCH-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) President to present Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony [MARCH-2019]

President to present Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony

  • Indian President Ram Nath Kovind would be presenting the Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony to Rajkumar Singhajit Singh, Bangladesh cultural organisation Chhayanaut and Ram Sutar Vanji for the several years 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively on February 18, 2019 at Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, New Delhi.
  • The award was instituted by the Union Governing administration in 2012 to recognise the contributions produced by Rabindranath Tagore to humanity at massive with his works and tips, as aspect of the commemoration of his 150th Start Anniversary, for advertising values of cultural harmony.

Critical Highlights

  • The award is conferred yearly and carries a sum worth Rs one crore, quotation in a scroll, a plaque and a beautiful conventional handicraft and handloom product.
  • The award may well be divided between two persons or establishments who are regarded by the jury to be equally deserving of recognition in a given 12 months.
  • The jury contains the Prime Minister of India, Chief Justice of India, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha or the chief of the one greatest opposition bash in the Home and two eminent individuals.
  • The Prime Minister, who is the chairman of the jury, experienced nominated Rajya Sabha MP N Gopalaswami and Indian Council for Cultural Relations President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, as jury users for a period of time of a few years from July 16, 2018, till July 15, 2021.


  • This annual award is given to individuals, associations, institutions or organizations for their outstanding contribution towards promoting values of Cultural Harmony.
  • The Award is open to all persons regardless of nationality, race, language, caste, creed or gender.
  • Normally, contributions made during ten years immediately preceding the nomination are considered.
  • Older contributions may also be considered if their significance has become apparent only recently.
  • A written work, in order to be eligible for consideration, should have been published during the last ten years.
  • Work by a person since deceased cannot be the subject of an Award.
  • If, however, his death occurred subsequent to a proposal having been submitted to the Jury in the manner stipulated in the Code of Procedure, then a Posthumous Award may be made.
  • The Ministry of Culture, Government of India invites nominations from the categories of persons organizations in accordance with the provisions of Para I of Chapter IV of the Code of Procedure.
  • The First Tagore Award – 2012 was conferred upon Pt. Ravi Shankar, the Indian Sitar Maestro and the Second Award – 2013 was conferred upon Maestro Zubin Mehta.

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(The Gist of PIB) Urban Affairs Minister launches PMAY (U) Mobile Application [MARCH-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Urban Affairs Minister launches PMAY (U) Mobile Application [MARCH-2019]

Urban Affairs Minister launches PMAY (U) mobile application

  • Minister of State (I/C) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep S Puri on February 14, 2019 launched the PMAY (U) mobile application in New Delhi.
  • An one-minute film showcasing the impact of PMAY (U) in the lives of beneficiaries was also released on the occasion.
  • Speaking during the launch, the Minister emphasised that the mission intends to create a closer interface with its beneficiaries.

Key Highlights

  • The mobile application has been developed to bring beneficiaries directly in contact with the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) mission.
  • The mobile app will allow beneficiaries of PMAY (U) to capture and upload high-resolution photographs and videos of completed houses along with their families.
  • These photos and videos of beneficiary testimonies will be scrutinised at the state as well as at the central level.
  • The selected beneficiaries from the states and union territories would be awarded and invited as special guests for the anniversary celebration of PMAY (U).
  • The application will also allow the beneficiaries to upload selfies with their house and a 30 – 60 seconds video clip where they would share stories of owning a house under PMAY (U).
  • These stories would be an emotional recount of experiences such as increased self-esteem, sense of pride and dignity, improved social status, safety and security for the family, protected environment for the girl child and children’s education among others.

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(The Gist of PIB) Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) Scheme [MARCH-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) Scheme [MARCH-2019]

Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) Scheme

  • The Government of India is formulating a Scheme ‘Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM)’ which aims to promote use of solar energy among the farmers.

Key highlights about the proposed scheme

  • Setting up of grid-connected renewable power plants each of 500 KW to 2 MW in the rural area.
  • Installation of standalone off-grid solar water pumps to fulfil irrigation needs of farmers not connected to grid.
  • Solarization of existing gridconnected agriculture pumps to make farmers independent of grid supply and also sell surplus solar power generated to Discom and get extra income.
  • The farmers will have to tolerate only 10% of the total expenditure to acquire an install a solar pumps.
  • The Central Govt. will provide 60% cost while the remaining 30% will be taken care of by bank as credit.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 February 2020 (Lessons from how Western economies got ahead of us (Mint))

Lessons from how Western economies got ahead of us (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Economic growth and development


  • The coronavirus is a capitalist conspiracy to stop the convergence of the Chinese economy with that of the developed West" is a possible headline one of these days.
  • Regardless of whether or not it is a capitalist conspiracy against China, the outbreak of the virus and the response of all countries illustrates the risks that today’s developing countries face.
  • It could be an upper middle-income country like China, or India, which is still trying to achieve that status. They face a tougher task to converge towards high income status.

Effects of climate change:

  • Some of the workhorse models of global warming are now showing a higher degree of global warming that modellers are unable to understand.
  • They hope that this is a case of models misbehaving and that they would start behaving normally soon.
  • However, climate change concerns, threats and environmental as well as ecological degradation are occurring for developing countries well before they have caught up with the living standards in West.

How did Western nations pull away?

  • In modern times, military conflicts between existing and rising powers are rare.
  • However, war machines are fine-tuned in other areas. It could be germs and viruses, both of the biological and the cyber varieties. Actually, the West weaponized trade too.
  • When Western nations were graduating from agrarian states to industrial states, tariffs and restrictive trade practices were the norm. Once they grew and developed capacities, they batted for free trade.
  • When they became less competitive in manufacturing because wages had risen along with economic prosperity, they championed free trade in services, including in financial services.
  • Free and unrestricted capital flows became as axiomatic as free trade in goods. However, the point is that free trade in goods was never axiomatic but episodic and deployed according to convenience when the West was rising.

Way ahead:

  • India needs to learn that it cannot fight shy of adopting restrictive trade practices when needed. The Union budget for 2020-21 does it well.
  • At the same time, nurturing domestic industry should be understood as demanding performance in terms of productivity, and responsible corporate citizenship in return for protection from external competition.
  • Also, India needs to invest in state capacity at all levels. The government has begun considering lateral hiring. It is a trickle.


  • The country needs a deluge. That includes not only appointing private sector talent in civil services but also engaging them in task forces, in imagining industries and growth engines of the future and in shaping regulation for the 21st century.
  • Further, building state capacity means enforcing accountability. This means ushering in a culture of goal-setting and performance measurement.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 February 2020 (Mapping life (Mint))

Mapping life (Mint)

Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Genome India Project
Mains level: Usefulness of the Genome India Project


  • Global science would also benefit from a mapping project in one of the world’s most diverse gene pools, which would provide data useful for the mapping of the spread and migration of a range of life forms in the Old World, from plants to humans.

Genome India Project:

  • The Genome India Project, a collaboration of 20 institutions including the Indian Institute of Science and some IITs, will enable new efficiencies in medicine, agriculture and the life sciences.
  • The first obvious use would be in personalised medicine, anticipating diseases and modulating treatment according to the genome of patients.
  • Several diseases develop through metabolic polymorphisms — the interplay of the environment with multiple genes, which differ across populations.
  • For instance, one group may develop cancers and another may not, depending on the genetically-determined pathways by which they metabolise carcinogens.
  • Cardiovascular disease generally leads to heart attacks in South Asians, but to strokes in most parts of Africa. If such propensities to disease can be mapped to variations across genomes, it is believed public health interventions can be targeted better, and diseases anticipated before they develop.
  • Similar benefits would come to agriculture if there is a better understanding of the genetic basis of susceptibility to blights, rusts and pests.
  • It may become possible to deter them genetically, and reduce dependence on chemicals.

Benefit from mapping project:

  • Global science would also benefit from a mapping project in one of the world’s most diverse gene pools, which would provide data useful for the mapping of the spread and migration of a range of life forms in the Old World, from plants to humans.
  • Traversing from the world’s tallest mountain range to warm seas through multiple bio-zones demarcated by climate and terrain, India could provide much information on the interplay of species and genetic groups within them.
  • A deeper understanding of ecology could emerge from the material thrown up.


  • However, some caution must be exercised in the field of human genetics, because the life sciences sometimes stray into unscientific terrain and heighten political bias.
  • The mapping of brain regions to mental functions spun off the utterly unscientific and racist field of phrenology.
  • The work on cranial volume measurements of the physician Samuel Morton — regarded in America as the father of scientific racism— justified slavery before the US Civil War.

Way forward:

  • In India, a nation riven by identity politics and obsessed with the myths of pristine origins and authenticity, scientific work in mapping genetic groups may become grist to the political mill of the unscientific notion of race.
  • Projects in genetics generally extend over long periods of time, which should be used by makers of scientific policy to ensure that the data which emerges is not interpreted for political ends.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 February 2020 (Denying equality (Indian Express))

Denying equality (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 1: Society
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Role of women in armed forces


  • The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case for grant of equivalence in allowing posts of commanding officers to women in the armed forces.

What are the arguments behind?

  • The issue of bringing women into the armed forces has been contentious for some time, despite Nirmala Sitharaman batting strongly for equality for women, when she was defence minister.
  • The Supreme Court heard arguments in a case for grant of equivalence in allowing posts of commanding officers to women in the armed forces.
  • The government submitted an affidavit, laying out its justification for the alleged unsuitability of women officers to discharge this role: “Psychological limitations”, lower physical standards, domestic obligations and absence due to pregnancy.
  • The government argued that the “composition of rank and file being male predominantly drawn from the rural background with prevailing societal norms, troops are not yet mentally schooled to accept women officers in command of units”.
  • Stretching the argument even further to exclude women, it argued that “The non-linear battlefield has rendered the erstwhile rear areas as much vulnerable as battlefield.
  • Therefore, the induction of women officers into the Indian Army, hithertofore a male bastion, needs to be viewed in the perspective of the changed battlefield environment”.
  • The arguments are regressive and do not meet the yardstick for progressive and liberal values that any modern society ought to aspire for.
  • The government’s arguments reopen a debate which had been closed nearly three decades ago, when the women officers were first inducted into the armed forces.
  • All the arguments put forth against giving women more responsibility have been answered by the armed forces by giving women greater responsibility in uniform.
  • The IAF has allowed women to become fighter pilots, and the Army has sent them to tough UN peacekeeping missions globally.

The arguments are not only wrong, they are also misplaced:

  • The current case in the Supreme Court is not about granting a role to women in combat arms but about the denial of equal opportunity in their existing roles for promotion to higher commands.
  • Women officers are already commanding platoons and companies successfully, with male soldiers accepting orders from them as part of a professional force.
  • A professional force does not discriminate on the basis of gender, it works because of training, norms and culture.

Way ahead:

  • There is no need to give women any special dispensations but the government cannot promote discrimination on the basis of gender.
  • It must move towards gender mainstreaming in the army, and further achieve gender equality by establishing professional standards and adhering to them without any bias.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 February 2020 (How to read the AYUSH ministry advisory on coronavirus infection (Indian Express))

How to read the AYUSH ministry advisory on coronavirus infection (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: AYUSH ministry
Mains level: Role of AYUSH ministry to take preventive measures on coronavirus infection


  • The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus that has not been previously identified.
  • The Ministry of AYUSH issued an “Advisory for Corona virus”, “based on the Indian traditional medicine practices Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Unani”.

What is the advice on Ayurveda?

  • The Ayurveda advice included drinking “Shadang Paniya (Musta, Parpat, Usheer, Chandan,Udeechya and Nagar) processed water (10 gm powder boiled in 1 litre water, until it reduces to half)”, and taking “Agastya Harityaki 5 gm, twice a day with warm water”, “Samshamani Vati 500 mg twice a day”, “Trikatu (Pippali, Marich & Shunthi) powder 5 gm and Tulasi 3-5 leaves (boiled in 1 litre water, until it reduces to ½ litre…)”, and “Pratimarsa Nasya: Instill two drops of Anu taila/Sesame oil in each nostril daily in the morning”.
  • The ministry cautioned that its “advocacy is for information only and shall be adopted in consultation with registered Ayurveda practitioners only”.

What does the Ministry say on Homoeopathy?

  • The Ministry said that the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, after a meeting of its Scientific Advisory Board had recommended “that homoeopathy medicine Arsenicum album 30 could be taken as prophylactic medicine against Coronavirus infections… daily in empty stomach for three days”.

What about Unani?

  • The Ministry listed several medicines, including “Sharbat Unnab 10-20 ml twice a day”, “Tiryaq Arba 3-5 g twice a day”, “Tiryaq Nazla 5 g twice a day”, and “Khamira Marwareed 3-5 g once a day”.
  • It also advised “massage on scalp and chest with Roghan Baboona/Roghan Mom/Kafoori Balm”, and to “apply Roghan Banafsha gently in the nostrils”, among other things.

Can these measures help?

  • However, it is important to note the following about the mysterious and deadly coronavirus that has now infected 4,500 people and killed over 100, mainly in China, but elsewhere too.
  • The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus that has not been previously identified.
  • Virologists and public health officials around the world are working to identify the source of the 2019-nCoV. The virus probably originally came from an animal source, but is now spreading from human to human.
  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause illness in humans, and and some others circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. SARS was caused by a coronavirus that came from bats through civet cats, and the MERS coronavirus came from camels.
  • Global health authorities have so far not identified any effective therapy against infection by the ‘Wuhan’ coronavirus.

Advisory released by the ministry:

  • Maintaining personal hygiene.
  • Washing hands often and thoroughly.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Covering face while coughing or sneezing, and washing hands after coughing or sneezing.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 February 2020 (Decolonising healing (Indian Express))

Decolonising healing (Indian Express)

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level: Unani medicine
Mains level: Evolution of Unani medicine and its application in modern times


  • The evolution of Unani medicine itself has been as a syncretic science.

About the founder:

  • Hakim Ajmal Khan (1868-1927), born on February 11 in Delhi in a family of hakims, was an exceptional healer, a freedom fighter, and the founder of Ayurveda and Unani Tibbia College in Delhi and the Jamia Millia Islamia.
  • His contributions led to his birthday being declared Unani Day.
  • The Tibbia College was envisaged to strengthen indigenous scientific content and practice of Ayurveda and Unani by bringing them into one institution.

Evolution of Unani medicine:

  • The evolution of Unani medicine itself has been as a syncretic science.
  • It draws its roots and name from ancient Greek physicians and philosophers, Hippocrates and Galen, also the acknowledged roots of modern medicine in Europe.
  • Greek knowledge was absorbed and preserved by the Arabs through translation of Hippocratic and Galenic texts into Arabic (and later into Latin, making them accessible to Europe).
  • The Persian scientist-philosopher Ibn Sina was next in chronology to contribute much to this medical tradition.
  • Unani remains alive in practice on the Indian subcontinent.
  • As reported in 2017, there are in India 264 hospitals, over 1,500 dispensaries, 201 colleges and almost 50,000 registered Unani practitioners.
  • The Traditional Knowledge Digital Library set up by Centre in 2001 includes 98,700 Unani formulations.

Importance of the scientific approach of Unani:

  • Important to recognise is the value of the scientific approach of Unani that is diagnostic, prognostic and holistic, with a stated syncretic developmental approach.
  • All sciences grow by interacting with and assimilating from other knowledges, but most do not actively acknowledge this, instead claiming a superiority and universality of application.
  • Historically, medicine and its effectiveness has been one route to assertion of cultural superiority and political legitimacy.
  • However, Unani demonstrated a scientific humility by retaining the name that acknowledges its roots.

Way forward:

  • To strengthen this knowledge system, the Committee suggested admitting undergraduate students immediately after school for a Pre-Tibb curriculum of two-years and then a four-and-a-half year curriculum of Unani medicine and surgery;
  • The research including research on the fundamental principles and basic theories of Unani system of medicine, such as temperament.
  • The humoral theory and Tabiat Mudabra-Badan (natural healing powers); and rights, status and privileges for Unani practitioners equal to their Allopathic counterparts.
  • We still have a way to go on each of these.
  • Decolonising healthcare with confidence in fundamental principles of AYUSH systems and openness to syncretic adaptations based on sound logic and research has lessons for sustainable and effective healthcare.

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(The Gist of PIB) Protection and Promotion of Maithili [MARCH-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Protection and Promotion of Maithili [MARCH-2019]

Protection and Promotion of Maithili

  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development has decided to apply some of the recommendations of a committee constituted in 2018 for the promotion and protection of Maithili language and its scripts.

Key highlights about the accepted recommendations:

  • Establishment of a script and manuscript centre in Darbhanga either at Kameshwar Singh Sanskrit University or Lalit Narayan Mithila University.
  • Early completion of work pertaining to Unicode scripts of Mithilakshar by the Technology Development of Indian Languages.
  • Preparation of audio-visual materials for teaching the Mithilakshar scripts.

Mithilakshar Script of Maithili Language

  • Mithilakshar or Tirhuta is the script of broader cultural Mithila.
  • Mithilakshar, Bangla, Assamese, Nebari, Odia and Tibetan are a part of the same family of scripts.
  • It is an ancient script and is one of the scripts of the broader North Eastern India.
  • Mithilakshar script emerged during 10th Century AD as its oldest form was found in Sahodara stone inscriptions of 950 AD.
  • The script has been used throughout Mithila from Champaran to Deoghar.
  • The use of this script has been declining since the last 100 years, which is the primary reason for the cultural decline.

Maithili Language

  • Maithili is a language spoken in Bihar belonging to the eastern sub-group of the Indo-Aryan branch.
  • Bhojpuri and Magadhi are closely related to the language.
  • The language is claimed to have developed from the Magadhan Prakrit.
  • It was the literary language of all of eastern India during the medieval period.
  • This language was popularised in fourteenth century by poet Vidyapati and solidified the importance of the language in literature.
  • Maithili language has been accorded Constitutional status in 2003 and it became one of the 22 languages mentioned in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

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(The Gist of PIB) Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) [MARCH-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) [MARCH-2019]

Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS)

  • Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities implements a scheme titled ‘Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS)’. Crucial highlights
  • A Regional Conference for the scheme was organized on 17th January, 2019 at Nehru Centre, Mumbai covering Programme Implementing Agencies (PIAs) from the Western Region of the country.
  • This is the second of a series of Regional Conferences to be held across the country and the exercise will culminate in a National Conference in New Delhi.
  • NGOs, State Government representatives from four Western States, namely, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Goa were present at the conference.
  • Under DDRS, Grant-in-Aid is released to about 600 NGOs every year.
  • About 10% of total NGOs under DDRS, 10% of total grant and 10% of Special School for Children with Intellectual Disabilities are from Western Indian States. About DDRS
  • DDRS is a Central Sector Scheme of Government of India which is being implemented since 1999 for providing financial assistance to NGOs working for education and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.
  • This scheme was revised in 2018 and the revised scheme is being implemented since 1st April 2018.
  • This Regional Conference was organized in order to disseminate the provisions of the revised scheme and bring the Department closer to implementing agencies.
  • This conference provided a wonderful opportunity for interactions with all stakeholders from Central Government to implementing agencies.
  • An in-depth understanding of scheme would enable better outreach in terms of better facilities to end beneficiaries, i.e. persons with disabilities.

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(The Gist of PIB) Three Important Initiatives On Women’s Safety Launched [MARCH-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) Three Important Initiatives On Women’s Safety Launched [MARCH-2019]

Three important initiatives on women’s safety launched

  • The Governing administration has identified eight metropolitan areas for implementation of Harmless Town jobs in the 1st section at a expense of Rs 2,919 crore, in purchase to instil a feeling of protection in ladies in metro cities.
  • The towns consist of Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai.
  • The tasks are funded less than the Nirbhaya Fund plan. They have been prepared jointly by Municipal bodies and Town Law enforcement and mirror integrated action for the basic safety of women of all ages.
  • The safe city projects involve the creation of on-ground belongings, sources and conduct modify systems for the protection of women of all ages.
  • The projects will complement current property and meet up with citizen calls for for safe and sound eco-process for females in these metropolitan areas.

Vital attributes of assignments:

  • Identification of crime sizzlingplaces in just about every city.
  • Saturating these kinds of Warmspots with enhanced CCTV surveillance.
  • Automated Quantity Plate Reading through (ANPR) and drone-based mostly surveillance also becoming deployed in couple cities as per need.
  • Environment up females police out-posts for facilitating relieve of obtain by any aggrieved woman to report incidence or seek out guidance.
  • Patrols by females police in susceptible parts.
  • Placing up gals help desks in police stations with facility for qualified counsellors
  • Augmentation of current gals assist facilities like Asha Jyoti Kendra or Bharosa centers
  • Utilizing protection steps in buses, such as cameras.
  • Improving road lighting in recognized sizzling location regions.
  • Location up bathrooms for girls.
  • Enterprise social recognition programmes on women security and gender sensitivity.

Other Details

  • All the steps would be coordinated through an Built-in Sensible Control Home in the city.
  • In buy to aid states to watch and manage the safe metropolis projects and prevent duplication on the floor, an online Protected Metropolis Implementation Monitoring (SCIM) portal has been formulated by the Home Ministry.
  • The portal will facilitate on the web monitoring of deployment of property and infrastructure developed underneath the Safe and sound Town initiatives.
  • It will facilitate an proof-based mostly on line checking program. The details on property and infrastructure are captured together with latitude and longitude working with GPS for increased
  • The portal also creates a digital repository of property, infrastructure and social outreach systems, as nicely as finest practices realized in each town.

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(The Gist of PIB) SWAYATT Initiative and GeM Start-up Runway [MARCH-2019]

(The Gist of PIB) SWAYATT Initiative and GeM Start-up Runway [MARCH-2019]

SWAYATT Initiative and GeM Start-up Runway

  • Recently the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry has launched an initiative termed SWAYATT.

Key highlights

  • SWAYATT is an initiative to promote Start-ups, Women and Youth Advantage through eTransactions on Government e Marketplace (GeM).
  • This will bring together the key stakeholders within the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem to Government e-Marketplace the national procurement portal.
  • The government also launched GeM Startup Runway-an initiative of GeM in association with Start - up India to facilitate Start-ups registered with Start -up India to access the public procurement market and sell innovative products and services to government buyers.
  • GeM Start-up Runway seeks to support technology development, spur research and innovation by ensuring a conducive policy environment for industrial diversification and value addition to commodities.
  • GeM Startup Runway will address goals and objectives under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

About Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

  • GeM is an Online Market platform was setup in 2016 to facilitate procurement of goods and services by the government ministries, departments, public sector undertakings (PSU) etc.
  • It has been envisaged as National Procurement Portal of India.
  • It has been developed by Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (Ministry of Commerce and Industry) with technical support of National egovernance Division (Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology).
  • It functions under Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven emarketplace that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 10 February 2020 (Proper skills ecosystems are key for ‘Make in India’ in electronics (The Hindu))

Proper skills ecosystems are key for ‘Make in India’ in electronics (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: National Policy on Electronics
Mains level: Development processes and the development industry


  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s proposal to launch a new scheme to promote the manufacturing of mobile phones, semiconductors, and other electronic devices should be translated into reality quickly.


  • The focus on developing India as a manufacturing hub for exports in addition to the growing domestic opportunity is timed well.
  • The global electronics ecosystem has been looking beyond China due to various reasons, including rising labour costs and the risks associated with a possible trade war with the US.

Challenge lies ahead:

  • Since 2012, successive governments at the Centre have been trying to make India a global hub for electronics equipment, but have achieved limited success.
  • At least six schemes have already been introduced over the past few years, such as the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme, the Special Economic Zones Scheme and the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme.
  • As a result of these schemes, the number of mobile handset and accessories factories in the country has gone up from just two in 2014 to 268 units in 2019.

Highlights about the market demand:

  • Almost 95 per cent of mobile phones sold in the country are being produced domestically.
  • The value of electronic equipment manufactured in the country has increased to ₹4.58 lakh crore in 2018-19 from ₹1.90 lakh crore in 2014-15.
  • While this sounds great, what is of concern is that the local value addition is only around 7-8 per cent, as most of the critical components are imported.
  • As much as 93 per cent of revenues generated from selling locally assembled phones go back to China, from where components for the product originated.
  • With the demand for electronics hardware expected to rise rapidly to about $400 billion by 2023-24, India cannot afford to bear a huge foreign exchange outgo on the import of electronics.

Looking for a new scheme:

  • Therefore, the new scheme should look at incentivising creation of a local components ecosystem, especially semiconductor fabrication units.
  • It should also create sops for companies to create high skilled jobs in manufacturing, including in the area of research and development.
  • The National Policy on Electronics unveiled in 2019 spells out clear goals including, achieving a $400-billion turnover by 2025 and providing employment to over one crore people.
  • Under the earlier schemes, a number of proposals have been received but the actual investment flow into the components ecosystem has not been very impressive.


  • The real problem is that the manufacturing industry is caught in a vicious circle of zero-duty imports, high domestic production costs and manufacturing ecosystem challenges.
  • Instead of import duty tweaks, the focus has to be on creating an ecosystem in which the industry can be globally competitive without import protection.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 10 February 2020 (Tinkering with CRR to enhance banks’ liquidity is not without risk (The Hindu))

Tinkering with CRR to enhance banks’ liquidity is not without risk (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Net demand and time liabilities
Mains level: Liquidity in banking sector


  • As part of the sixth bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement (2019-20), the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India stated that the Monetary Policy Committee has decided to continue with the accommodative stance as long as it is necessary to revive growth, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target.

Relaxing the cash reserve ratio rate:

  • To accommodate banks, the RBI has relaxed its cash reserve ratio (CRR) prescription in an indirect way, without actually reducing the CRR rate.
  • Accordingly, scheduled commercial banks will be allowed to deduct the equivalent of incremental credit disbursed as retail loans for automobiles, residential housing and loans to MSMEs from their net demand and time liabilities (NDTL), over and above the outstanding level of credit to these segments, as at the end of the fortnight ended January 31, 2020, for the maintenance of the CRR.
  • It has been explicitly stated that this provision is prescribed to revitalise the flow of bank credit to productive sectors, which may have multiplier effects to support impulses of growth.
  • This means that instead of diverting the funds for CRR maintenance by banks, they may be used to address the credit requirement of the focussed sectors.

Implications of tinkering:

  • All scheduled banks have deposits (beyond other banks) of ₹1,35,30,581.43 crore as on January 17, 2020. The banks are supposed to maintain a CRR of 4 per cent on this amount, ie ₹5,41,223 crore.
  • As per the revised policy, banks can reduce their CRR balance from any incremental increase in credit to the focussed sectors. Hence, they can comfortably release additional funds to the tune of ₹5,41,223 crore. This is significant liquidity created by the RBI.
  • As the RBI does not pay any interest on CRR, any loans availed through this liquidity facility will increase profitability for the banks. The cost of these funds can be technically taken as zero.
  • This exemption will be available for incremental credit extended up to the fortnight ending on July 31, 2020. Hence, we may witness aggressive disbursal by banks in the coming days.

NPA risk:

  • As banks’ cost of funds will technically be zero, there will be cut-throat competition to lend, which may result in poor credit assessment. Reckless lending will lead to more NPAs piling up in the future.
  • It is not clear how the CRR will be calculated after July 31.
  • Will banks be allowed to continue to reduce the loan already disbursed up to that date for CRR requirement? Or will this exemption be totally removed?
  • If so, the sudden CRR requirement will present a big challenge for the banks.
  • Where willbanks get the funds to maintain adequate CRR, if the exemption is totally removed after July 31?


  • The CRR prescription ensures sufficient safety and liquidity for the banks.
  • Making use of the CRR to enhance lending by banks is a double whammy, as it will, on one hand, increase the banks’ vulnerability, as well as reduce the safety of banks through the CRR mechanism on the other.
  • However, quality lending under this new liquidity facility may enhance profitability for banks.

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