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Author: Tanay Rathi

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March 2018
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Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc. Human Resource Development

[op-ed snap] Why the Centre must go for revision of judgment on SC/ST law


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SC/ST Act, Anti Dowry law, National Crime Records Bureau

Mains level: Provisions for ensuring the protection of vulnerable sections of society


Altering the basic structure of SC/ST Act

  1. The Supreme Court has delivered a historic judgment altering the basic structure of the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989
  2. The judgment states that public servants and private employees can only be arrested after a preliminary inquiry
  3. In the case of a public servant the appointing authority must give permission in writing and in the case of the public in general, the SSP’s permission is needed

Other changes

  1. A magistrate can extend arrest only after written permission is secured
  2. Anticipatory bail must be given unless a prima facie case of crimes is made out

Judgement fraught with caste prejudice

  1. No law should be misused, neither should it be diluted or made blunt
  2. The appointing authority is hardly expected to give in writing permission to arrest his junior
  3. If the appointing authority happens to be of the same caste or if the employee concerned enjoys a good rapport with him, he may not give permission at all
  4. Political pressure may also be brought on the appointing authority or the SSP not to give permission to arrest the accused

Is only SC/ST Act being misused?

  1. Various other laws like Anti Dowry law also face the same issue
  2. 293 out of 361 dowry cases in 2015 were wrongly applied
  3. Similarly, the law against sexual harassment is believed to have led to several cases where it has been wrongly and unfairly applied

Why making changes in SC/ST Act is a cause for concern?

  1. According to National Crime Records Bureau data, atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, in the period 2007-2017, have increased by 66 percent
  2. During this decade, six Dalit women were raped every day, besides the fact that atrocities against SC/ST occurred every 15 minutes
  3. After this judgment, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 will get further diluted

Judicial overreach

  1. The Constituent Assembly entrusted the Parliament to alone make laws and the judiciary to interpret them
  2. Currently, the judiciary is making more laws than Parliament

Way forward

  1. The changes brought in the law by SC has raised concerns amongst vulnerable groups
  2. The government should act in a direction that ensures protection for vulnerable sections and a deterrent for those who commit crimes against the weak sections of society
ISRO Missions and Discoveries Space Technology

BHEL to make Li ion cells with ISRO technology


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ISRO, BHEL, space grade lithium ion cells

Mains level: Developments in Indian space sector


Technology transfer agreement between BHEL and ISRO

  1. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has signed a technology transfer agreement with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd for the manufacture of space grade lithium ion cells
  2. These will be used for the space programme and other national requirements

Li-ion batteries use

  1. The Li-ion batteries power various applications on satellites and launch vehicles
  2. Currently, BHEL assembles and tests Li-ion batteries using imported cells
  3. Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthapuram has developed the technology to produce space grade Li-ion cells


Li-ion batteries

  1. A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery (abbreviated as LIB) is a type of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging
  2. Li-ion batteries use an intercalated lithium compound as one electrode material, compared to the metallic lithium used in a non-rechargeable lithium battery
  3. The electrolyte, which allows for ionic movement, and the two electrodes are the constituent components of a lithium-ion battery cell
  4. Generally, the negative electrode of a conventional lithium-ion cell is made from carbon
  5. The positive electrode is a metal oxide, and the electrolyte is a lithium salt in an organic solvent
  6. The electrochemical roles of the electrodes reverse between anode and cathode, depending on the direction of current flow through the cell

[Starts 1st April] 45 Days Super Intensive Prelims (SIP)

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  • Prelims Mocks: 11 FLTs (8 paper 1 TS + 3 CSAT) + 10 Dedicated CA Tests

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Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology Basic Sciences

Indian company among finalists in ‘water from air’ competition


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: XPRIZE, water from air technology

Mains level: Innovations to solve big challenges being faced across world


Technology to create water from the air

  1. Indian startup Uravu that has developed a technology to create water from the air is among the five finalists in a global competition
  2. The Hyderabad-based company will compete with four other companies in the final round of the Water Abundance XPRIZE

About the competition

  1. Los Angeles-based XPRIZE, which designs incentive competitions to solve humanity’s big challenges, is running the water abundance prize with the support of the Tata Group and Australian Aid
  2. The two-year competition is to create a device that extracts a minimum of 2,000 liters of water per day from the air using 100% renewable energy
  3. This should be done at a cost of no more than two cents per liter
Defence Sector – DPP, Missions, Schemes, Security Forces, etc. Security Issues

Draft defence production policy aims to raise FDI cap in niche tech to 74%


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Draft Defence Production Policy 2018, Make in India, FDI, Artificial Intelligence

Mains level: India’s rising defense imports and need for indigenous production


Draft Defence Production Policy 2018

  1. It aims to create an environment that encourages a dynamic, robust and competitive defence industry, as an important part of the Make in India initiative
  2. The policy proposes to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) cap in niche technology areas to 74% under the automatic route
  3. At present, the FDI cap for the defense sector is 49% under the automatic route for all categories

Why more focus on ‘Make in India’?

  1. India is currently the top importer of defense hardware in the world (according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)
  2. By giving a leg-up to defense manufacturing, Asia’s third largest economy also hopes to transform itself into a “global leader in cyberspace and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies

Proposals in the policy

  1. India hopes to achieve a turnover of Rs1.7 trillion in defense goods and services by 2025
  2. It has a goal of becoming an arms exporter to the tune of Rs35,000 crore in defense goods and services by 2025
  3. The government will list its requirements in terms of platforms and weapon systems for the next decade to help private sector companies understand the opportunities
  4. It will also simplify procedures for private firms to enter defense production, i.e., liberalize the regime by issuing licenses in 30 days and pruning no-go areas to a small ‘negative list’ for licensing
  5. The government will also do away with capacity assessment, except for critical projects
  6. In the area of taxation, the government has proposed rationalization of taxes on import of capital goods for services and inputs for defense and aims to prevent inversion of taxes

How are members elected to Rajya Sabha?

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rajya Sabha elections

Mains level: Working of the legislature and election process


Recent elections to Rajya Sabha

  1. The Rajya Sabha elections for 16 states covering 58 seats of the 245-member House were recently held

Election process for Rajya Sabha

  1. Unlike the Lok Sabha, members of the Upper House are not directly elected by the public but by elected representatives of states and Union Territories
  2. The allocation of seats for Rajya Sabha is made on the basis of the population of each state
  3. Allowing for rank-based voting, the election follows the “system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote
  4. It means that the single vote cast by an MLA is transferable from one candidate to another — in two scenarios.

What are the two scenarios for vote transfer?

  1. When a candidate obtains more than what is required for their win and therefore has an unnecessary surplus
  2. When a candidate polls so few votes that they have absolutely no chance

Vote calculation formula

  1. To win a Rajya Sabha seat, a candidate should get a required number of votes which is known as a quota or preference vote = [Total number of votes/(Number of Rajya Sabha seats + 1)] + 1
  2. For Uttar Pradesh, having 403 seats in the state assembly and 10 Rajya Sabha seats, this would come out to be: Preference vote = ([403/(10+1)]+1) = 37 votes
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc. Industries

[op-ed snap] Debunking India’s logistics myths


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sagarmala project, Logistics Performance Index

Mains level: Various issues associated with logistics sector


Logistics an important sector

  1. Logistics—moving goods and connecting producers with consumers—is a critical part of the modern economy
  2. In India, this sector comprises 14% of gross domestic product (GDP), much higher than in the US or Europe, where it is 8-9%

Initiatives for logistics sector by government

  1. Setting up a division in the Union ministry of commerce
  2. Introducing a national goods and services tax
  3. Giving infrastructure status to logistics

Myths associated with logistics sector

  1. The first myth is that direct costs are the key reason for India’s high-priced logistics
  • The reality is that indirect costs are the real culprit
  • Direct logistics costs are those incurred in the process of moving goods, such as transportation, warehousing, and value-added services
  • Indirect (or “hidden”) costs include inventory carrying costs, theft, damages, and losses in transit
  • These account for 40% of India’s total logistics costs
  • Indirect costs are caused by inefficiencies in the supply chain

2. The second myth is that increasing the use of rail can significantly reduce the cost of logistics in India

  • The reality is that given the prevalence of short-haul movement of goods in India, there is limited room for growth
  • India’s railroads carry no more than a third of the country’s freight
  • The great majority of the country’s cargo routes (about 450 out of 500) are less than 800km long
  • The rule of thumb is that rail makes economic sense only on routes longer than that

3. The third myth is that to cut logistics costs, the focus should be on major commodities, such as coal and steel

  • The reality is that streamlining the agricultural value chain matters more
  • Coal and steel account for about 12-16% of India’s total logistics costs while for agriculture this is about 25%
  • Inefficiencies in the agricultural supply chain, such as improper transportation and storage, are rife, leading to wasted food and quality control problems

4. The fourth myth is that the major issue with road transport is the poor quality of roads and trucks

  • The reality is that the quality—and number—of Indian drivers is more important
  • Roads carry more than 60% of India’s cargo and account for the majority of the total logistics costs
  • Many of India’s roads and trucks could be in better condition, of course, but benchmarking studies comparing India to other developing economies have found that the unit economics are not too bad
  • It is the scarcity of skilled drivers that is the bigger problem
  • India’s ministry of road, transport and shipping estimates suggest a 22% shortage in the number of commercial drivers

Possible solutions

  1. An initiative that could help is the government’s Rs8 trillion Sagarmala project, launched in 2015
  2. It goes in an entirely different direction, by investing in ports and coastal areas, with the goal of increasing the use of domestic shipping in moving goods
  3. If Sagarmala works as intended, we believe it could lower the cost of logistics noticeably

India’s current status

  1. The World Bank ranked it 35th (out of 160 countries) in its most recent Logistics Performance Index, which concentrates on trade-related factors, up from 54 in 2014
  2. India was the top performer among lower-middle-income countries
  3. Logistics firms are beginning to address skill development issue by opening driver training schools, boosting wages and benefits, investing in their drivers’ skills, using onboard sensors to monitor driving patterns, and then giving real-time feedback

Way forward

  1. In order to find the right solutions, it’s important to establish what the real problems are
  2. Doing better requires looking at the logistics system from beginning to end, just as companies experience it, and then strengthening each link
Black Money – Domestic and International efforts Finance and Banking

Govt asks NBFCs to report details of clients to FIU-IND


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NBFCs, FIU-IND

Mains level: Money laundering and measures to curb it


NBFCs to register with the country’s financial intelligence unit

  1. The government has asked non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to register with the country’s financial intelligence unit (FIU-IND)
  2. They have to report details of clients as per the requirements under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act

Why this move?

  1. As unregistered NBFCs remain outside the reporting ambit of FIU-IND, they pose a risk to the integrity of the country’s financial system
  2. Last month, FIU-IND had put out a list of nearly 9,500 NBFCs who were non-compliant
  3. The list has been published by FIU-IND to enable the bankers to conduct enhanced due diligence of the transactions carried out by such NBFCs


Financial intelligence unit (FIU-IND)

  1. Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) was set by the Government of India vide O.M. dated 18th November 2004 as the central national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analyzing and disseminating information relating to suspect financial transactions
  2. The main function of FIU-IND is to receive cash/suspicious transaction reports, analyze them and, as appropriate, disseminate valuable financial information to intelligence/enforcement agencies and regulatory authorities
  3. FIU-IND is also responsible for coordinating and strengthening efforts of national and international intelligence, investigation and enforcement agencies in pursuing the global efforts against money laundering and related crimes
  4. FIU-IND is an independent body reporting directly to the Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) headed by the Finance Minister
  5. FIU-IND is a multidisciplinary body with personnel being inducted from different organizations namely Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Department of Legal Affairs and Intelligence agencies
Foreign Policy Watch: India – EU

Odisha: KISS to host ‘Commonwealth Big Lunch’


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: British Council, Commonwealth Big Lunch

Mains level: India’s relationship with Britain & commonwealth countries


70 years of inception of British Council

  1. Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar, in partnership with British Council, India, is hosting the ‘Commonwealth Big Lunch’
  2. High Commissioners, Deputy High Commissioners and representatives from High Commissions of 53 Commonwealth countries and delegates from British Council will be in attendance at the event
  3. The lunch is being organized to celebrate 70 years of inception of British Council in Commonwealth countries
  4. KISS is the only organization from Asia to be selected by British Council to host the Commonwealth Big Lunch


Commonwealth Big Lunch

  1. The Commonwealth Big Lunch is an international initiative launched by UK PM Theresa May
  2. The initiative comes as the UK is set to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, bringing together up to 52 leaders from across the Commonwealth to London and Windsor from 16-20 April
  3. The motto of the programme is to encourage people to get together to celebrate their Commonwealth connections through food
Horticulture, Floriculture, Commercial crops, Bamboo Production – MIDH, NFSM-CC, etc. Agriculture

Invasive beetle threatens Japan’s famed cherry blossoms

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Aromia bungii, red-necked longhorn beetle, hanami

Mains level: Invasive species entering countries via imports and their ill effects


Invasive foreign beetle affecting cherry blossoms

  1. In Japan’s capital, delicate pink and white cherry blossoms are emerging, but the famed blooms are facing a potentially mortal enemy
  2. The alien invader is Aromia bungii
  3. In serious cases, an infestation can kill a tree
  4. The species may have entered in Japan with imported wood materials

About the species

  1. The beetles live inside cherry and plum trees, stripping them of their bark
  2. They are otherwise known as the red-necked longhorn beetle
  3. It is native to China, Taiwan, the Korean peninsula and northern Vietnam

Japan’s cherry blossom

  1. The appearance of cherry blossoms is hotly anticipated each year
  2. The blooms attract tourists but also locals who organize hanami or viewing parties in cherry-blossom hotspots
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc. Industries

Parliament passes Payment of Gratuity Bill


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

Mains level: Labour law reforms and their effects


Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill passed

  1. Parliament passed a key bill that will empower the government to fix the amount of tax-free gratuity and the period of maternity leave with an executive order
  2. The legislation will enable the government to enhance the ceiling of tax-free gratuity to Rs. 20 lakh from the existing Rs. 10 lakh for employees falling under the Payment of Gratuity Act

Other benefits

  1. The bill also allows the government to fix the period of maternity leave for female employees as deemed to be in continuous service in place of the existing 12 weeks
  2. The amendment comes in the backdrop of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 enhancing the maximum maternity leave period to 26 weeks
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Self Help Groups: What should be next for women-led entrepreneurship in rural India?


Mains Paper 2: Governnance | Development processes & the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups & associations, donors, charities, institutional & other stakeholders

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission, Kudumbashree, Jeevika schemes

Mains level: Role of SHGs in rural development


Women-led rural entrepreneurship

  1. The last few years have seen interest among policymakers in women-led rural entrepreneurship
  2. Much of it has sought to leverage the experience gathered from the estimated 46 million rural poor women mobilized through the Self Help Group (SHG) architecture
  3. These organizations, since their start in the 1990s, have been an effective vehicle, especially in providing financial intermediation solutions for unbanked rural women

SHG structure in India

  1. India has witnessed state-led promotion of SHGs through a three-tiered architecture of community institutions at group, village and cluster levels
  2. These have been via both Central schemes – the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission,  and state government initiatives such Kudumbashree in Kerala and Jeevika in Bihar
  3. There are today dedicated autonomous organizations called State Rural Livelihoods Missions or SRLMs – which nurture SHG initiatives with the support of development sector professionals and last-mile community cadre
  4. There have also been attempts at thrusting new functions – including using them as a delivery channel for government projects

Changes required in the SHG movement

  1. At present, the SRLMs are the primary institution responsible for promoting entrepreneurship by SHGs
  2. But these were vehicles built for social mobilization
  3. This calls for a new institution having a deep functional relationship with the SLRMs, to leverage the latter’s strengths of mobilization and last-mile presence
  4. Such a state-level institution could even be a not-for-profit company registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2012
  5. The internal management team of the proposed institution should be a combination of young business management professionals and experienced government line department staff on deputation
  6. Government financial support to the new promoting institution should be restricted to initial start-up costs, thus putting the onus on it to be lean in structure and generate own revenues to cover operating costs

Financial inclusion and economic development

  1. These are two different functions, even if the target group is the same poor rural women
  2. Social cohesion has been the binding factor for SHGs and vital to their success in financial intermediation
  3. Economic development is a function where collectivization can work only if the business itself favors sharing of resources
  4. States should adopt a pyramidal strategy for financial and technical assistance, based on the stage and size of enterprises

Way forward

  1. The expansion in the SHG movement’s scope, from social mobilization and financial inclusion objectives to economic development, is an organic step in the livelihoods chain
  2. The business of entrepreneurship promotion is not the same as livelihoods promotion and realising that is key to achieving the twin goals of rural growth and promotion of women’s entrepreneurship
North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues Security Issues

Govt says no decision made yet on separate time zones in India


Mains Paper 1: Geography | Geographical features & their location

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Time zones

Mains level: Demand for two time zones in India and its feasibility


Different time zones not possible

  1. The government said it has not made any decision on the demands for separate time zones in the country, especially by the northeastern states
  2. The government had set up a high-level committee in 2002 that had not recommended implementation of two-time zones in India because of complexities involved in the process

Why demand for different time zone?

  1. In a vast country like India, the sunrise and sunset timings are different in the east, west and north India
  2. In the far northeastern states, the sun rises and sets early when compared to northern and western regions of the country
  3. Having a single time zone hampers productivity in east and northeastern states

Global examples

  1. Several countries across the world have opted for multiple time zones for varied reasons, including increasing economic activity and productivity
  2. The US has seven time zones, Russia has 11, while China, like India, follows a single time zone
Minority Issues – Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc. Human Resource Development

SC/ ST Act being abused, prior sanction must for arrest, says Supreme Court


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, National Crime Records Bureau,

Mains level: Misuse of various laws made for the protection of vulnerable sections of society


Abuse of law for vested interests

  1. The Supreme Court noted that there were “instances of abuse” of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, by “vested interests” for political or personal reasons
  2. SC laid down stringent safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary enquiry” before registering a case under the Act

Guidelines of the apex court

  1. To avoid the false implication of an innocent, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the Atrocities Act and that the allegations are not frivolous or motivated
  2. If the accused is a public servant, he can only be arrested with the permission of the appointing authority
  3. And if the accused is not a public servant, prior permission of the Senior Superintendent of Police of the district will be required

Why this decision?

  1. The bench referred to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2015, which said that closure reports had been filed in 15-16 percent of the complaints under the Act
  2. Over 75 percent of such cases taken up by the courts had resulted in acquittals/ withdrawal or compounding of the cases
  3. There was a need to safeguard innocent citizens against false implication and unnecessary arrest for which there is no sanction under the law

SC view on secularism/casteism

  1. The working of the Act should not result in perpetuating casteism which can have an adverse impact on the integration of the society and the constitutional values
  2. Secularism is a basic feature of the Constitution
  3. Irrespective of caste or religion, the Constitution guarantees equality in its preamble as well as other provisions including Articles 14-16
  4. Interpretation of the Atrocities Act should promote constitutional values of fraternity and integration of the society
Surrogacy in India Human Resource Development

Cabinet clears decks for National Surrogacy Board


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, National Surrogacy Board

Mains level: Issues and laws related to surrogacy


Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

  1. The Union Cabinet gave its nod to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, paving way for the regulation of surrogacy
  2. This will be done by setting up National Surrogacy Board at the center

About the legislation

  1. The proposed legislation aims to protect the rights of surrogate mother and children born out of surrogacy and will apply to the whole of India, except for Jammu and Kashmir
  2. Once enacted by the Parliament, the National Surrogacy Board will be constituted at the central level
  3. The states and Union Territories will constitute the State Surrogacy Boards and State Appropriate Authorities within three months of the notification by the Central Government
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