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Day: March 7, 2018

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March 2018
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India’s endangered Asiatic lion population increases to 600


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Background

Mains level: Government’s efforts for lion conservation with support of local people have yielded good results.


Significant increase in the number of Asiatic lions

  1. A recent unofficial count found more than 600 lions in the area, up from 523 in a 2015 census
  2. The population is currently growing at about two percent a year


  1. The lion was listed as critically endangered in 2000, with its population under threat due to hunting and human encroachment on its habitat
  2. The cats are cousins of the African lion — they are believed to have split away 100,000 years ago — but are slightly smaller and have a distinctive fold of skin along their bellies
  3. In the late 1960s only about 180 Asiatic lions were thought to survive but an improvement in numbers prompted conservationists to raise their assessment to endangered in 2008
RBI Notifications Finance and Banking

RBI may pay interim dividend of Rs. 10,000 cr.


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Provision under the act

Mains level: The newscard talks about an important financial relationship between the government and the RBI.


Interim dividend from the RBI

  1. The government is likely to receive an interim dividend of Rs. 10,000 crore from RBI this month
  2. According to the sources, the government expects the RBI to pay a total dividend of about Rs. 45,000 crore for financial year 2017-18

Provision under the RBI Act, 1934

  1. Under the Act, the central bank is required to pay the government its surplus, after making provisions for bad and doubtful debts, depreciation in assets, and contribution to staff and superannuation fund, among others

[op-ed snap] Indian enterprises need protection to grow


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The newscard discusses bad effects of liberalisation(of Industrial policy) on Indian Economy. It suggest possible solutions to improve condition of the Indian Industrial Sector.


What is the issue?

  1. The “Industrial policy” became a bad word with the advent of the Washington Consensus in the 1990s
  2. Countries like India that needed to grow their economies were pushed to drop all barriers to global trade
  3. The consequence of this is that India’s imports increased, especially of “value added” goods in which value is added by workers elsewhere, while exports of raw materials to feed other countries’ factories increased too

Make in India as a Solution

  1. Indian youth must be engaged in enterprises that produce stuff and services in India, and not be merely aspirants for the best stuff produced elsewhere
  2. The principal objective of Make In India policies must be to grow enterprises within India whose products and services can compete with the best in the world
  3. Many Asian countries have increased the standard of living of their people by rapid industrialization of their economies in the last 70 years
  4. For example, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and China
  5. They stimulated “make in” their countries with industrial policies that nurtured the growth of their own enterprises

India and the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) 

  1.  In 1996, the large industrial countries invited all countries to “voluntarily” join the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) of the WTO
  2. And reduce import duties on IT-related manufactured products to zero
  3. Their idealized argument was that since information technology is a fundamental backbone for economies, all countries should use the best and cheapest IT-related products
  4. India joined ITA early on, in 1997, from a position of weakness in its industry (and weakness against powerful foreign lobbies)—whereas China withheld. It joined ITA six years later
  5. Meanwhile, it built itself to be the “factory of the world” in many electronic products. By the time it joined ITA, its industries were able to compete effectively

India’s policies have failed

  1. Indian policies have failed domestic producers on both counts
  2. There is a reluctance to tune the exchange rate to support domestic production
  3. And, naïvely, import duties have been reduced too sharply to comply with demands from powerful lobbies for “free trade”

What should be done?

  1. India needs a better concept for a policy to grow competitive enterprises that will generate more employment
  2. What India needs is a “policy for building capabilities for competitive enterprises”
  3. There is a large gap between the capabilities India presently has and the capabilities it needs
  4. India has huge gaps in the skills of its people
  5. It also has large gaps in the management capabilities of its small enterprises (and many of its large ones too)
  6. India capabilities will have to be nurtured
  7. And they may have to be shielded from larger, predatory competitors until they are stronger
  8. The shields can be in the shape of import duties to compensate for the poorer infrastructure and bureaucratic hassles within, and/or a favourable exchange rate


Foreign Policy Watch: India-SAARC Nations Bilateral Relations

[op-ed snap] Make the neighbourhood first again


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), SAARC, ASEAN, BCIM corridor

Mains level: India’s dwindling relationship with neighborhood


India’s neighborhood policy

  1. India’s neighborhood policy is clearly adrift
  2. New Delhi’s connect with its South Asian neighbors is weaker than it has been for a very long time

Problems faced in regional relationships

  1. The first problem is that for various reasons other governments in the SAARC region are either not on ideal terms with New Delhi, or facing political headwinds
  • In the Maldives, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has gone out of his way to challenge the Modi government
  • In Nepal, the K.P. Sharma Oli government is certainly not India’s first choice
  • And no matter which party is in power in Pakistan, it is difficult to see Delhi pushing for official dialogue
  • In Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, elections this year and the next could pose challenges for India

2. Impact of China

  • China opened up an array of alternative trade and connectivity options after the 2015 India-Nepal border blockade
  • In Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Pakistan, China holds strategic real estate, which could also be fortified militarily in the future
  • China stepped in to negotiate a Rohingya refugee return agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh
  • It hosted a meeting of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s foreign ministers to help calm tensions and bring both on board with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connection between them
  • It also offered to mediate between the Maldivian government and the opposition

3. Use of hard power tactics in the neighborhood

  • The “surgical strikes” on Pakistan of 2016 have been followed by a greater number of ceasefire violations and cross-border infiltration on the Line of Control
  • The 2015 Nepal blockade and a subsequent cut in Indian aid channeled through the government did not force the Nepali government to amend its constitution as intended
  • Mr. Modi’s decision to abruptly cancel his visit to Male in 2015 did not yield the required changes in the government’s treatment of the opposition
  • Even in Bangladesh, the Indian Army chief, General Bipin Rawat’s tough-talking last week about immigration has drawn ire there

Use of soft power

  1. India’s most potent tool is its soft power
  2. Its successes in Bhutan and Afghanistan have much more to do with its development assistance than its defense assistance

Opposing China not the solution

Instead of opposing every project by China in the region, the government must attempt a three-pronged approach

  1. First, where possible, India should collaborate with China in the manner it has over the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic corridor
  2. Second, when it feels a project is a threat to its interests, India should make a counter-offer to the project, if necessary in collaboration with its Quadrilateral partners, Japan, the U.S. and Australia
  3. Third, India should coexist with projects that do not necessitate intervention

Learning from ASEAN

  1. SAARC needs to learn from the success of ASEAN
  2. Leaders of SAARC countries should meet more often informally
  3. They should interfere less in the internal workings of each other’s governments
  4. There should be more interaction at every level of government

Way forward

  1. The government’s challenge is to steer India towards a course where it is both feared and loved in appropriate measure
  2. And away from a situation in which it is neither feared nor loved
Genetically Modified (GM) crops – cotton, mustards, etc. Agriculture

Govt: GM soybean imports only after regulator’s approval


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DGFT, GEAC

Mains level: GM crops and issues related to it


Stop imports of GM soybeans

  1. The Union environment ministry has asked the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) to stop imports of genetically modified (GM) soybean for food or feed without the approval of the regulator for transgenic products
  2. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) had received a complaint regarding “illegal/unauthorized import of GM soybean into India from countries like the US and Ukraine

Import regulations

  1. GEAC has not authorized or approved GM soybean or any other products derived from GM soybean seeds for import or cultivation in India
  2. GM Cotton is the only transgenic crop which is allowed to be cultivated
  3. The environment ministry is yet to take a final call on allowing the commercial cultivation of GM mustard


Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

  1. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) functions in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC)
  2. As per Rules, 1989, it is responsible for appraisal of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle
  3. The committee is also responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the enviornment including experimental field trials
  4. GEAC is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT)
  5. It meets every month to review the applications in the areas indicated above
NPA Crisis Finance and Banking

Banks face $3 bn write-off from PNB scam


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NPA, Special mention accounts

Mains level: Banking frauds and provisions to deal with them


Repercussions of PNB scam

  1. The ₹12,700 crore Letters of Undertaking (LoU) fraud at the Punjab National Bank (PNB) could punch a bigger hole in India’s banking system
  2. The closure of businesses of loan-taking firms by investigative agencies is likely to result in another ₹8,000 crore of loans extended to them by banks turning into non-performing assets (NPAs)

RBI guidelines

  1. According to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) guidelines, banks have to write off the entire loan amount once a fraud has been reported

Status of loans and provisions

  1. Bankers said the loans to these companies were already in the second category of special mention accounts (SMA-2)
  2. If a loan repayment is due for over 60 days but less than 90 days, the account is accorded SMA-2 status
  3. If the dues remain unpaid for 90 days, it is classified as non-performing
International Monetary Fund,World Bank,AIIB, ADB and India Global Groupings and Conventions

India to join multilateral lender EBRD


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: EBRD

Mains level: India’s membership in various multilateral institutions and their significance


EBRD approves India’s membership

  1. India has got the go-ahead to join the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
  2. Shareholders of the London-based multilateral lender agreed to the country becoming its 69th member

Effect of the membership

  1. The membership will enable Indian companies to undertake joint investments in regions in which the EBRD operates
  2. It will also enable Indian citizens to work for the organization
  3. India’s stake will also give it a say in the direction of the EBRD’s future work


European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

  1. EBRD is an international financial institution founded in 1991
  2. Headquartered in London, the EBRD is owned by 65 countries and two EU institutions
  3. As a multilateral developmental investment bank, the EBRD uses investment as a tool to build market economies
  4. The EBRD has members from all over the world (North America, Africa, Asia and Australia), with the biggest shareholder being the United States
  5. It only lends regionally in its countries of operations
  6. Despite its public sector shareholders, it invests in private enterprises, together with commercial partners
  7. The EBRD is not to be confused with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is owned by EU member states and is used to support EU policy
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc. Climate Change

Arctic permafrost may unleash carbon within decades: NASA

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Permafrost, Arctic, Global warming

Mains level: Effects of climate change


Permafrost thawing

  1. Permafrost in the coldest northern Arctic will thaw enough to become a permanent source of carbon to the atmosphere this century
  2. The peak transition could be occurring in 40 to 60 years
  3. The region was formerly thought to be at least temporarily shielded from global warming by its extreme environment


  1. Permafrost is soil that has remained frozen for years or centuries under the topsoil
  2. It contains carbon-rich organic material, such as leaves, that froze without decaying

How does the carbon release from permafrost?

  1. Rising Arctic air temperatures cause permafrost to thaw
  2. The organic material decomposes and releases its carbon to the atmosphere in the form of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane

How growing more plants help in reducing global warming?

  1. Plants remove carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis, so increased plant growth means less carbon in the atmosphere
  2. Increased photosynthesis will balance increased permafrost emissions until the late 2100s
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