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Day: October 13, 2017

All news available date-wise and month-wise. Click on the date to revise news.

October 2017
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[13 Oct 2017 | Low Priority News Items of the Day]

Low Priority Items of the Day:

Bar on online cracker purchase

The Delhi Police have said the Supreme Court’s ban on sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the NCR region applied to online sale and purchase too. Action will be taken against those who try to sell or purchase firecrackers online, they said.

Important news for general public, but not important for the UPSC exam. We have written many newscards on this, you can go through them for better understanding of the issue.


No conclusive evidence against the duo: HC

The Allahabad High Court, in its verdict on Thursday acquitting the dentist-couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the 2008 murder of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj, dismissed the trial court’s contention that since nobody else but the parents were present in the house on the night of the killings, only they were likely to have committed the crime.

It is a very popular case. But popularity doesn’t matter for the UPSC exam. Just stick to the syllabus and eliminate unnecessary things(from the UPSC exam perspective).


The house on Primrose Hill

On October 14, 1956, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism during a massive public ceremony held in Nagpur, at a place thereafter named Deeksha Bhoomi . He took Buddhist vows in order to reject his Hindu birth at the very bottom of the caste order, and because, as he declared: “I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.” More than 400,000 people, most of them born Dalit, underwent the conversion, along with him, on that historic day 61 years ago.

The Op-Ed talks about Dr BR Ambedkar. He is a very important personality, of the Indian Modern History. But this article is about the personal point of view of the writer, on Ambedkar. Personal point of views are not important for the exam. So, you can skip this article.

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Air Pollution Conservation & Mitigation

[op-ed snap] The wrong approach to environmental regulation

Image Source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Not much

Mains level: The recent decision decision of the SC on Diwali crackers is a hot topic of discussion these days. It is important to go through the issues related to this judgement.



  1. The article talks about the recent SC order banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), which has expectedly turned into a controversy

There are two distinct issues that need to be separately analysed:
a) the scope of the state’s regulatory power vis-à-vis a religious celebration

  1. On this account, the matter is relatively clear
  2. The bursting of firecrackers releases a heavy dose of carcinogens in the atmosphere, presenting a public health challenge for the entire city
  3. As soon as it is clear that bursting of firecrackers by one person presents a health challenge to another, any argument of religion cannot reign supreme in a constitutional, secular republic

b) the agency of the state that such regulation should vest with

  1. The more difficult question is the choice between regulation
  2. The decision requires numerous inputs from scientific organizations, regulatory institutions, public policy experts and civil society
  3. Since a court of law does not have in-house expertise in these domains, it should leave such matters to the executive
  4. The Supreme Court delivered its arguments in the broader framework of the “right to breathe clean air” and the “right to health”
  5. But it went about dismissing the commercial considerations of the firecracker industry.
  6. These considerations could have equally been framed in terms of the right to livelihoods of thousands who depend heavily on the sale of firecrackers during Diwali

Possible harm to the credibility of the SC

  1. Bans are rarely effective
  2. It is difficult to imagine that no firecracker sale will happen in the entire territory of Delhi and NCR as a result of the SC order
  3. If the police fail to enforce the order, the credibility of the SC, particularly in cases of environmental regulation, will suffer immensely

Dealing of this matter by the SC

  1. The manner in which the SC has dealt with this particular case also raises a number of concerns
  2. It first passed an order on 11 November 2016 (after Diwali) banning the sale of firecrackers
  3. Then it partially lifted the ban on 12 September 2017
  4. To make matters worse, the court has ordered suspension of all the temporary licences issued after its 12 September 2017 verdict which allowed the grant of these licences

These kind of issues are not new

  1. In an earlier instance, the SC had increased the entry tax on trucks entering Delhi without factoring in the demand elasticity of goods (carried in those trucks) transported to Delhi

The way forward

  1. The elected government is in the best position to elicit scientific and economic inputs and take a call, even if it involves expending political capital
  2. The governments at the Centre and the states should involve different agencies like the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation and the pollution control boards and invest in setting regulatory standards
  3. This can solve environment issues, better than Judiciary
RBI Notifications Finance and Banking

RBI floats draft norms for setting up ETPs for fin instruments

Image Source


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ETPs

Mains level: Trading on electronic platforms is being encouraged across the world as it enhances pricing transparency, processing efficiency and risk control. It will be beneficial for the Indian Economy.


Electronic Trading Platforms (ETPs)

  1. The RBI today floated draft directions for setting up of ETPs for financial market instruments regulated by it
  2. It is aimed at ensuring transparency
  3. As per the draft direction, an ETP operator will be incorporated in India with full managerial and operational control exercised within India

What is an Electronic trading platform?

  1. In finance, an electronic trading platform also known as an online trading platform or electronic trading exchange, is a computer system running a software program that can be used to
    (1) place orders
    (2) store trading data and information pertaining to traded products
    (3) authenticate users and perform other operations of a trading exchange operating in electronic domain
  2. Various financial products can be traded by the trading platform, over a communication network with a financial intermediary or directly between the participants or members of the trading platform
  3. This includes products such as stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, derivatives and others, with a financial intermediary, such as brokers, market makers, Investment banks or stock exchanges
  4. Electronic platforms provide several benefits in terms of transparency in pricing, processing efficiency in terms of transaction time and cost, improved risk controls and help in market surveillance by addressing market abuse and unfair trading practices
  5. These platforms have the potential to positively impact the market structure by broadening market access, increasing competition and reducing dependency on traditional trading methods

Draft Framework

  1. It includes detailed eligibility criteria, technology requirements and reporting standards
  2. Existing electronic trading platforms would also be required to obtain authorisation under these directions, within six months from the date of issue of these directions.
  3. The RBI has sought comments from market participants and other interested parties on its draft framework by November 10

India’s hunger problem is worse than North Korea’s: global hunger index report


Mains Paper 3: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Hunger Index

Mains level: Problem of hunger and malnourishment in India




  1. The article discusses the recently released report of the International Food Policy Research Institute. The report talks about the global hunger problem.


What is Global Hunger Index?

 The GHI score is a multidimensional index composed of four indicators

  1. proportion of undernourished in the population,
  2. prevalence of child mortality,
  • child stunting, and
  • child wasting.

On the severity scale, a GHI score of less than 10 means “low” prevalence of hunger while a score of more than 50 implies an “extremely alarming” situation.


Key points of the Global Hunger Index report-

  1. India ranks 100 among 119 countries. It has a scores 31.4 on the Global Hunger Index (GHI). India is at the high end of the “serious” category.
  2. More than one-fifth of Indian children under five weigh too little for their height and over a third are too short for their age
  3. Comparison with other nations: Although India ranks above Pakistan, it performs dismally with other such as Nepal (72), Myanmar (77), Bangladesh (88), Sri Lanka (84) and China (29).
  4. India is the world’s second largest food producer, yet it is also home to the second highest population of under-nourished in the world.
  5. According to the GHI report, more than a fifth (21%) of children in India suffer from wasting (low weight for height)—up from 20% in 2005-2006. 
  6. India’s poor score is one of the main factors pushing South Asia to the category of the worst performing region on the GHI scale this year.
  7. Best performers amongst Developing nations: Chile, Cuba and Turkey have a GHI score of less than 5 and ranked the best among developing nations.
  8. Worst performers:nations like Chad and Central African Republic fare the worst with a score of 43.5 and 50.9, respectively.



Data for Essay and GS

  1. According to the GHI report, one in nine people still go hungry around the world.
  2. According to the GHI report, the country’s top 1% own more than 50% of its wealth.
  3. With a GHI score that is near the high end of the serious category, it is obvious that a high GDP growth rate alone is no guarantee of food and nutrition security for India’s vast majority.


Lawyers as Seniors: Supreme Court frames rules for itself, 24 High Courts


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary


Prelims: Permanent Committee and Permanent Secretariat

Mains level: It’s an important topic for mains and this article highlights the recent move by the SC to usher transparency in the process of designating senior lawyers.




  1. Days after it announced that it would put online reasons behind appointments and transfer of judges, the Supreme Court took another step towards transparency, this time in its process of designating senior lawyers. 
  2. It laid down guidelines for itself and 24 High Courts to govern the exercise of designating lawyers as seniors and ordered setting up of a permanent committee headed by the Chief Justice of India assisted by a secretariat.

The Permanent Committee

  1. The permanent committee will comprise the Chief Justice of India and two seniormost companion judges, Attorney General of India and a representative from the bar nominated by the first four members.
  2. For the HCs, it will have the Chief Justice of the respective HC and the Advocate General of the state in place of CJI and Attorney General.
  3. The Committee will interview the candidate and make an overall evaluation on the basis of his/her number of years of practice, judgments (reported and unreported) which indicate the legal formulations advanced by the Advocate concerned in the course of the proceedings of the case, pro bono work done by him/her, domain expertise of the applicant in various branches of law and publications by the advocate.
  4. After a name is considered and approved by the permanent committee, it will be put before the Full Court which will include SC/HC judges as the case may be and will further decide to accord senior designation to an advocate either unanimously or by majority, through secret ballot.
  5. The Full Court may also recall the senior designation of a lawyer if it feels he is guilty of conduct that disentitles him to the same.

The Permanent Secretariat

  1. The  applications including proposals from the judges will be submitted to the permanent secretariat
  2. It will compile the relevant data and information with regard to the reputation, conduct, integrity of the Advocate(s) concerned including his/her participation in pro bono work; reported judgments in which the concerned Advocate(s) had appeared; the number of such judgments for the last five years.
  3. It will also publish the proposal of designation of a particular Advocate in the official website of the Court concerned inviting the suggestions and views of other stakeholders in the proposed designation.
  4. The cases will then be put up before the Permanent Committee for scrutiny.

The Senior Advocate

  • Supreme Court rules say that the Chief Justice and the judges may with the consent of the advocate, designate an advocate as senior advocate if –

In their opinion by virtue of his ability; standing at the Bar or special knowledge or experience in law distinction.

  • It was contended that this was not transparent.

[op-ed snap] Saving child brides


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Role of Women & Women’s organisation


The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: POCSO, 2012

Mains level: This article lists down the positive effects of recent SC ruling criminalizing sex with wife below 18 years of age and also mentions the concerns regarding the practical implications of the judgement.




The recent Supreme Court Ruling that criminalises sex with wife below 18 years of age

  1. By ruling that marriage cannot be a licence to have sex with a minor girl, the Supreme Court has corrected an anomaly in the country’s criminal law.
  2. Earlier, the age of consent under the IPC was raised in 2013 from 16 to 18 to bring it in line with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012. However, the age above which marriage is an exception to rape was retained at 15, as fixed in 1940.
  3. Under the Indian Penal Code, it is an offence to have sex with a girl below 18 years of age, regardless of consent.
  4. In other words, what was statutory rape is treated as permissible within a marriage.
  5. By reading down the exception to limit it to girls aged 18 and older, the court has sought to harmonise the various laws in which any person under 18 is a minor.
  6. Child marriage is a socil evil and a serious infringement of child rights.
  7. It adversely affects the physical and mental health of children, denies them opportunities for education, infringes on their bodily autonomy and deprives them of any role in deciding on many aspects of their lives.

 The practical implications of the judgment are worrying because

  1. It is  not clear yet whether all men married to girls between the ages of 15 and 18 to be condemned to face criminal cases as rapists.
  2. Given the prevalence of child marriage in this country, it is doubtful whether it is possible or even desirable to implement the statutory rape law uniformly in the context of marriages.
  3. It is not clear what it means for those married under Muslim personal law, which permits girls below 18 to be married.
  4. POCSO criminalises even consensual teenage sexual activity and the latest ruling has brought this into the domain of marriage.
  5. A teenager could be prosecuted for a sexual offence under POCSO even if he was just a little above 18. 
  6. Significantly, if boys under 18 but over 16 are charged with penetrative sexual assault under POCSO or rape under the IPC, which can be termed ‘heinous offences’, they could face the prospect of being tried as adults, according to the juvenile law as it stands now.
  7. Treating all below 18 as children may be good for their care and protection, but whether 18 is the right age for consent in this day and age remains a moot question.


The state’s argument that given the widespread prevalence of child marriage it is not possible to remove the exception may be flawed from a formal standpoint, but its concerns about the implications of the verdict must not be underestimated.

Issues related to Economic growth

[op-ed snap] Why the economic slowdown, and how to fix it?


Mains Paper 3: Government Budgeting, Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth and development, employment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fiscal stimulus, expansionary policy

Mains level: How to revive the economy




  1. The article puts forward a case for increased spending by the government and lowering of interest rates by the RBI. The author argues that fiscal stimulus is the only logical way to pull the economy out of slowdown.


Current state of the economy-

  1. Data from 107 companies from the organised sector (excluding IT & financial services) indicate that number of persons employed by them has decreased by 2% between Mar-2016 and Mar-2017.
  2. The latest RBI Consumer Confidence Survey concludes that there is significant dip in the consumer confidence and business sentiment in manufacturing.


Background of the slowdown-

  1. The period 2003/04-2007/08 witnessed the most rapid sustained GDP growth in India at 8% per annum, riding on the boom in the world economy.
  2. Then came the bust, as growth dropped to 3.9% in 2008-09.
  3. Surprisingly, GDP growth rose to 5% per annum during 2009/10-2010/11. This recovery was attributable to counter-cyclical macroeconomic policies among other things.
  4. But the resilience did not last long. Growth slowed to 4% per annum during 2011/12-2013/14, as fiscal imbalances mounted, inflation quickened, and the current account deficit in the balance of payments widened.
  5. In 2015-16 and 2016-17 the GDP growth rate averaged 7.5% owing to one thing only- sharp drop in world oil prices, from more than $110 per barrel to less than $50 per barrel. This led to decrease in current account deficit and fall in inflation.


Reasons for slowdown-

Demonetisation and introduction of GST have led to decrease in output in mainly unorganised sectors. But these are not the real reasons for the current slowdown in the economy.

The real reasons for slowdown are structural-

  1. Rural distress: GDP per capita in the agricultural sector has been less than one-tenth GDP per capita in the non-agricultural sector for 25 years. Employment creation is negligible. The outcome is rural distress.
  2. Low share of manufacturing: The share of manufacturing in GDP and employment is lower than it was 25 years ago. India’s share in industrial production and manufactured exports in the world economy has declined steadily.
  3. Thus, GDP growth is supported largely by the services sector, while employment growth in the economy has been sustained essentially by construction activities and the informal services sector both of which have been hurt by demonetization.
  4. RBI’s reluctance to cut interest rates: Between 2013-14 and 2015-16, the RBI repo rate, which sets interest rates in the economy, was reduced by a mere 1.25 percentage points although inflation came down by almost 5 percentage points in terms of the consumer price index. The opportunity to stimulate investment by dropping interest rates sharply was missed out altogether
  5. Appreciation of rupee leading to erosion of export competitiveness: Between January 2014 and June 2017, the rupee appreciated by 10% in nominal terms and 15% in real terms.



  1. Government should undertake fiscal stimulus by increasing spending and reviving demand. The government need to break free from the 3.5% fiscal deficit target and increase it to 4.0%. It is to be noted that borrowing is bad for the economy only when it is used for paying debts. But if it is used for creation of infrastructure and investment then it is actually god for the economy.
  2. RBI should lower the interest rates by 2 percentage points: It has to be noted that the inflation in economy was controlled not due to lowering of interest rates but because of the fall in global crude oil prices.



  1. Fiscal Deficit: A Fiscal Deficit occurs when government’s total expenditures exceed its total revenues (excluding borrowings).
  2. Fiscal Stimulus: Increasing government spending on infrastructure etc in order to lift investor sentiment, increase money supply in the market and increase demand in the economy.
  3. Expansionary monetary policy: This refers to  a monetary policy by a central bank in which interest rates are cut in order to ease money supply in the economy.
Air Pollution Conservation & Mitigation

Simply put: How firecrackers work, impact your health

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Pollution Control Board, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA), Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), Yanshui Festival, Guy Fawkes Night

Mains level: Air pollution and various aspects related to it



  1. Citing toxins in the air, Supreme Court has banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR this Diwali
  2. In November 2016, as a great smog enveloped Delhi for days after Diwali, the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) told the Supreme Court that the capital’s terrible air quality had been “compounded” by the burning of firecrackers

Document available for impact of fireworks

  1. The only official document on the ‘known health impact’ of fireworks is a compilation of findings of surveys, put together by Central Pollution Control Board
  2. This was also done after the court ordered the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, to study the harmful effects of firecrackers following the EPCA’s submission
  3. The CPCB did not carry out the detailed study that the Supreme Court asked for
  4. Why? It said the competence lay with the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), the explosives regulator under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry

Existing guidelines

  1. The CPCB affidavit refers to four types of explosive firecrackers — atom bombs, Chinese crackers, garland crackers and maroons — for which guidelines exist
  2. According to these guidelines, the sulphur content must not exceed 20%, nitrates 57%, and aluminium powder contents, 24%
  3. The guidelines were silent on heavy metals such as cobalt, copper and magnesium, extremely toxic compounds of which are widely used as colouring or regulating agents
  4. In July 2016, the Supreme Court ordered that “no firecrackers manufactured by the respondents shall contain antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead”

How firecrackers impact health

  1. Studies in Europe, Canada and China have found links between increases in the concentration of fireworks, and variations in air quality
  2. Most of these studies have focused on festivals such as the Yanshui Festival in Taiwan, Montreal International Fireworks competition, Lantern Festival in Beijing, Guy Fawkes Night in the UK, etc
  3. According to 2014 study, ‘Potential Impact of Fireworks on Respiratory Health’, in Lung India, “Adults exposed to high levels of ambient air pollution have shown increased prevalence of chronic cough, phlegm, and breathlessness and are, therefore, at an increased risk of developing respiratory symptoms, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergic rhinitis, lower respiratory tract infections, and lung cancers.”
  4. A 2007 study, ‘Recreational Atmospheric Pollution Episodes: Inhalable Metalliferous Particles from Firework Displays’, had found that children were susceptible in particular since their defenses against particulate matter and other gaseous air pollutants were weaker


Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO)

  1. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) formerly Department of Explosives, Nagpur is the nodal Organization to look after safety requirements in manufacture, storage, transport and use of explosives and petroleum
  2. This Organisation comes under, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Government of India
  3. As a statutory authority, PESO is entrusted with the responsibilities under the Explosives Act, 1884; Petroleum Act, 1934; Inflammable Substances Act, 1952, Environment (Protection Act), 1986

Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA)

  1. It is a Central Government constituted committee for the National Capital Region in compliance with the Supreme Court order dated January 7, 199893
  2. It was constituted under subsection (1) and (3) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 by MoEFCC
  3. This authority was constituted with sole objective of assisting SC for protecting and improving the quality of environment and preventing, controlling and abating air pollution in Delhi NCR

Fatah, Hamas sign reconciliation accord


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From the UPSC perspective the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Hamas, Fatah, Rafah Crossing(read the B2B)

Mains Level: This agreement may not be directly effecting India’s interests but it is important for Global Peace.


Reconciliation deal

  1. Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal
  2. This deal came after Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the key Rafah border crossing

Particulars of the deal

  1. The deal was brokered by Egypt
  2. It will bridge a bitter gulf between the Western-backed mainstream Fatah party and Hamas, an Islamist movement designated as a terrorist group by Western countries and Israel
  3. The agreement calls for Mr. Abbas’s presidential guard to assume responsibility of the Rafah crossing on November 1
  4. And for the full handover of administrative control of Gaza to the unity government to be completed by December 1


  1. Hamas and Fatah agreed in 2014 to form a national reconciliation government but the deal soon dissipated and Hamas continuing to dominate Gaza

Will this deal be successful?

  1. According to the analysts, the deal is more likely to stick than earlier ones given Hamas’s growing isolation and realisation of how hard Gaza was to govern, after its economy damaged by border blockades and infrastructure shattered by wars with Israel



  1. Hamas (Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah Islamic Resistance Movement) is a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist organization
  2. It has a social service wing, Dawah, and a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
  3. It has been the de facto governing authority of the Gaza Strip since its takeover of that area in 2007
  4. During this period it fought several wars with Israel
  5. It is regarded, either in whole or in part, as a terrorist organization by several countries and international organizations, most notably by Israel, the United States and the European Union


  1. Fataḥ, formerly the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, is a Palestinian nationalist political party and the largest faction of the confederated multi-party Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
  2. Fatah is generally considered to have had a strong involvement in revolutionary struggle in the past and has maintained a number of militant groups
  3. Fatah had been closely identified with the leadership of its founder Yasser Arafat, until his death in 2004. Since Arafat’s departure, factionalism within the ideologically diverse movement has become more apparent
  4. In the 2006 parliamentary election, the party lost its majority in the Palestinian parliament to Hamas.
  5. However, the Hamas legislative victory led to a conflict between Fatah and Hamas, with Fatah retaining control of the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank

Rafah Border Crossing

  1. The Rafah Border Crossing or Rafah Crossing Point is the sole crossing point between Egypt and Gaza Strip
  2. It is located on the Gaza–Egypt border, which was recognized by the 1979 Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty
  3. The original crossing point was named Rafah land port
  4. Only passage of persons takes place through the Rafah Border Crossing
  5. All traffic of goods is diverted to the Kerem Shalom border crossing
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