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Daily Current Affairs for IAS & UPSC Preparation

All current affairs available date-wise and month-wise. Watchout for Back2basics and Notes4students.

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18 Jan 2017 | Prelims Daily with Previous Year Questions & Tikdams

Q.1) In the context of India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), consider the following pairs of vaccines and diseases:
1. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine: Pneumonia
2. Rubella vaccine : Measles
3. Rotavirus vaccine : Diarrhea
Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched?
a) 1 only
b) 2 and 3 only
c) 1 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3

Q.2) Consider the following statements in regard with ‘PISA – the Program for International Student Assessment’.
1. PISA is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.
2. PISA includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies, such as collaborative problem solving and emphasizes functional skills.
3. PISA is coordinated by the UNESCO, and conducted in the United States.
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1,2 and 3

Q.3) Which of the following brings out the ‘Inclusive development index’.
a) World Economic Forum
b) World Bank
c) IMF
d) OECD

Q.4) Consider the following statements about ‘Saksham – 2017′ (Sanrakshan Kshamta Mahotsav)’.
1. It is aimed to create awareness amongst masses for judicious utilization and conservation of petroleum products along with use of energy efficient appliances and switching to cleaner fuels.
2. The programme is being organized by Petroleum Conservation Research Association and other Oil & Gas PSUs under the aegis of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

Q.5) Consider the following pairs in regard with famous lakes and state:
1. Najafgarh Lake : Delhi
2. Tso Moriri Lake : Jammu and Kashmir
3. Sasthamkotta Lake : Andhra Pradesh
Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched?
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1, 2 and 3

Q.6) With reference to Rowlatt Satyagraha, which of the following statements is/are correct?
1. The Rowlatt Act was based on the recommendations of the ‘Sedition Committee’.
2. In Rowlatt Satyagraha, Gandhiji tried to utilize the Home Rule League.
3. Demonstrations against the arrival of Simon Commission coincided with Rowlatt Satyagraha.
Select the correct answer using the code given below. (CSP-2015)
A. 1 only
B. 1 and 2 only
C. 2 and 3 only
D. 1, 2 and 3

Q.7) Among the following, which were frequently mentioned in the news for the outbreak of Ebola virus recently? (CSP-2015)
A. Syria and Jordan
B. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia
C. Philippines and Papua New Guinea
D. Jamaica, Haiti and Surinam

Q.8) With reference to ‘fly ash’ produced by the power plants using coal as fuel, which of the following statements is/are correct?
1. Fly ash can be used in the production of bricks for building construction.
2. Fly ash can be used as a replacement for some of the Portland cement contents of concrete.
3. Fly ash is made up of silicon dioxide and calcium oxide only, and does not contain any toxic elements.
Select the correct answer using the code given below. (CSP-2015)
A. 1 and 2
B. 2 only
C. 1 and 3
D. 3 only


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18 Jan 2017 | Target Mains: GS Questions

Ministry of Finance : Important Updates Economic Planning

Budget 2017: Arun Jaitley likely to take the stimulus route to economic growth

  1. Union Budget 2017 is likely to significantly increase public investment in infrastructure
  2. It would offer a fiscal stimulus to boost economic growth at a time when private investment shows no signs of a pick-up
  3. There is near unanimity that the economy needs to be spurred through higher public investment, unlike last year when there was a significant divergence of opinion over the need for fiscal stimulus
  4. Last year, chief economic adviser in the finance ministry Arvind Subramanian advocated a stimulus, but the minister decided to stick to the fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), fearing a backlash from investors and rating agencies
  5. Different schools of thought have argued either in favour of fiscal consolidation and stability or for a less aggressive consolidation and for boosting growth

Note4students:

Brush up your budget basics and know what is Fiscal Consolidation, stimulus and what are the effects of stimulus.

Electoral Reforms In India Indian Polity

ECI Apps launched ahead of assembly polls

  1. The Election Commission (EC) has launched a new integrated mobile application in its push for greater transparency and voter engagement
  2. With a simplified interface, the app suite called ‘ECI Apps’ provides all the key information regarding electioneering, polling day and voter facilitation
  3. This official ECI Apps Suite aims to integrate, organize and streamline all the ECI web and mobile apps and utilities under a single mobile application with several more add-ons
  4. Given that the election season is on and polls to five states, including politically crucial Uttar Pradesh along with Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur were declared a fortnight ago, the app on the counting day of each election will show trends and results too
  5. What is interesting is it is not just for voters but also provides information for polling officials, political parties etc

Note4students:

This can be a tit-bit for prelims or an excellent example of using technology for enhancing transparency in governance or electoral reforms.

Digital India Initiatives: What’s Buzzing! Schemes, Policies & Missions

India beats US in 2016 mobile app market growth, sees most Google Play downloads

  1. Source: Research firm App Annie’s fourth annual Retrospective Report
  2. Downloads: India’s mobile app market grew sharply last year, outpacing the US, and ranked number one in terms of Google Play downloads
  3. This highlights the vibrancy of the country’s mobile ecosystem
  4. Indians downloaded over 6 billion apps in 2016, up from 3.5 billion in 2015
  5. That 71% growth was significantly higher than the overall 15% growth in app downloads around the world
  6. Smartphone Market: In 2016, India surpassed the US as the second largest smartphone market due in large part to a rise in domestically produced smartphones
  7. Prospects: India’s phenomenal progress over the past two years is even more impressive when considering its potential for further gains
  8. This is only the beginning, however, as India’s smartphone penetration is still below 30% and its overall economy is poised for massive growth

Note4students:

This can be quoted as an instance of India’s growing digital economy which can boost Digital India Initiative.

Global warming- Causes & Effects Climate Change

India’s five hottest years since 1901 came in past 15 years

  1. Source: ‘Statement on Climate of India during 2016’ released by the India Meteorological Department (IMD)
  2. Findings: 2016 was the warmest year for India in the last 116 years since 1901
  3. India’s top five warmest years since 1901 have been recorded only in the last 15 years
  4. These are: 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2002

Note4students:

This is an important info for prelims and as an instance of global warming to be quoted objectively in mains.

Foreign Policy Watch: Cross-Border Terrorism India & Neighbours

Modi says Pak. ‘must walk away from terror’ for talks to continue

  1. Who@where? Prime Minister Narendra Modi @ the Raisina Dialogue
  2. On Pak: India alone cannot walk the path of peace and Pakistan ‘must walk away from terror’ if it wants bilateral dialogue to resume
  3. On China: It is not unnatural for two large neighbouring powers to have some differences but both sides should show sensitivity and respect for each other’s core concerns and interests
  4. The rise of India and China is an unprecedented economic opportunity for the two countries, and for the whole world

Note4students:

For International Relations answers & essays, we must be aware of what our stand is, on various diplomatic issues, as some given above. Know what is Raisina Dialouge &its theme for prelims.

Back2basics:

About Raisina Dialogue:

  1. It is an annual conference held in New Delhi, envisioned to be India’s flagship conference of geopolitics and geo-economics
  2. The conference, organized like the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, is held jointly by Ministry of External Affairs, India and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), an independent think tank based in India
  3. First such conference was held in 2016
  4. The conference name comes from Raisina Hill, the elevation in New Delhi, which is the location of both the Government of India as well as the presidential palace of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, which inspired the design of the conference symbol
  5. The theme of the first dialogue was “Connecting Asia” which tries to capture the various facets of these ambition
  6. Theme of 2017 dialogue is ‘The New Normal: Multilateralism with Multipolarity
  7. Participants: This conference is structured as a multi-stakeholder, cross-sectorial conclave, involving policy and decision makers, including cabinet ministers from various Governments, high-level Government officials and policy practitioners, leading personalities from business and industry, and members of the strategic community, media and academia
Digital India Initiatives: What’s Buzzing! Schemes, Policies & Missions

Microsoft offers to collaborate with Andhra in e-governance, cyber security

  1. Microsoft also suggested that Andhra Pradesh should nurture hybrid cloud technology
  2. It will be a great leap in technology for India and Andhra Pradesh in particular
  3. Microsoft has recently acquired LinkedIn and it is working closely with the Singapore government
  4. Skill profile of the population, professionals etc are also being digitized and the same may be replicated in Andhra Pradesh

Note4students: This can be a step ahead in Digital India and e-governance. Keep the terms like ‘hybrid cloud’ in mind for prelims.

Back2basics:

About Hybrid cloud:

  1. It is a cloud computing environment which uses a mix of on-premises, private cloud and third-party, public cloud services with orchestration between the two platforms
  2. By allowing workloads to move between private and public clouds as computing needs and costs change, hybrid cloud gives businesses greater flexibility and more data deployment options
  3. Hybrid cloud is particularly valuable for dynamic or highly changeable workloads
  4. For example, a transactional order entry system that experiences significant demand spikes around the holiday season is a good hybrid cloud candidate
  5. Another application is big data processing
  6. A company, for example, could use hybrid cloud storage to retain its accumulated business, sales, test and other data, and then run analytical queries in the public cloud, which can scale to support demanding distributed computing tasks
Civil Aviation Sector Infrastructure & Energy

Domestic air passenger traffic grew 23% in 2016

  1. Source: Data released by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
  2. India’s domestic air passenger traffic grew 23.18 per cent to about 10 crore in 2016 compared with the previous year
  3. In 2016, India’s air traffic stood at 9.98 crore passengers compared to 8.19 crore in 2015 which had seen a 21 per cent growth
  4. Demonetisation didn’t impact air travel with December witnessing the highest number of passengers in a month
  5. A dip in aviation turbine fuel prices by eight per cent on an average in 2016 allowed airlines to offer fares that were lower by about 14 per cent
  6. Aviation turbine fuel cost contributes about 40 per cent of the total cost of the operations of airlines

Note4students:

Not very mainstream info but such data can bring objectivity to your answers in mains.

Innovation in Sciences and Technology Explorations in S&T

India becomes Associate member of CERN

  1. News: India became an Associate member of CERN with the Indian government completing its internal approval procedures in respect of the agreement it had signed with CERN on November 21, 2016
  2. Benefits to India: As an Associate member India will have full access to all data generated at CERN
  3. When we were not an Associate member, India could data only from those experiments where we were participating
  4. As an Associate member, India can participate in all experiments
  5. Whenever any CERN facilities get upgraded and go through maintenance, it will provide opportunities for Indian industries to participate
  6. Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts, which will allow it to work in areas of advanced technology. So the Make in India will get a boost due to CERN
  7. Since Indian scientists will become eligible for staff appointments, it will enhance the participation of young scientists and engineers in operation and maintenance of various CERN projects
  8. Indian scientists and engineers working in CERN will learn how to operate and maintain the facilities. So when they return it will be useful for India

Note4students:

This is an important issue for prelims as well as mains. For prelims, basics about CERN, India’s membership, various experiments in CERN can be asked.

Back2basics:

About CERN

  1. CERN stands for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire or the European Organization for Nuclear Research
  2. The CERN convention was signed in 1953 by the 12 founding state
  3. Currently, CERN has 22 member states
  4. Israel is the only non-European country granted full membership.
  5. Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures.

Physics@CERN

  1. At CERN, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe
  2. They use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles
  3. The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light
  4. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature
  5. The instruments used at CERN are purpose-built particle accelerators and detectors
  6. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before the beams are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets
  7. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions

WWW@CERN

  1. CERN is also the birthplace of the World Wide Web
  2. The main site at Meyrin has a large computer facility containing powerful data processing facilities, primarily for experimental-data analysis
  3. Because of the need to make these facilities available to researchers elsewhere, it has historically been a major wide area network hub

India & CERN:

  1. India has been actively involved in CERN’s scientific activities for over 50 years
  2. Indian physicists, engineers and technicians have made substantial contributions to the construction of the LHC accelerator and to the ALICE and CMS experiments, as well as to accelerator R&D projects
  3. In 1991, India and CERN signed a Cooperation Agreement, setting priorities for scientific and technical cooperation
  4. India and CERN have signed several other protocols since then
  5. Researchers from TIFR (Mumbai), Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (Indore) and other institutes built components for an accelerator (LEP) and detectors (L3, WA93 and WA89)
  6. India was granted Observer status to the CERN Council in 2002
Person In News

India loses its pioneer in black hole research work


  1. Professor C.V. Vishveshwara (77), who did pioneering work on black holes, passed away in Bengaluru
  2. About C V Vishveshwara: In the 1970s, while at the University of Maryland, he was among the first to study “black holes” even before they had been so named
  3. His calculations gave a graphic form to the signal that would be emitted by two merging black holes – this was the waveform detected in 2015 by the LIGO collaboration
  4. And it contained the so-called “quasi normal modes” – a ringdown stage that sounds like a bell’s ringing sound that is fading out
  5. He was the founding director of the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium in Bengaluru
  6. Writings: He has written several books including Einstein’s Enigma, or Black Holes in My Bubble Bath

Note4students:

Some persons in news may be important for prelims as seen in Prelims 2016 question on Ramanujan.

[op-ed snap] Cities at crossroads: Not letting it go waste

Solid Waste Management:

Management of solid waste or garbage must have three elements:

  1. The first element is segregation of biodegradable or wet waste from dry waste at source
  2. The second is that once segregation is achieved, municipal governments can use wet waste to produce compost and biogas in biomethanation plants
  3. Third is that the dry waste, after removing recyclable elements, should go to waste-to-energy plants: This will reduce the volume of waste that remains to be sent to landfills

Waste-to-energy plants:

  1. Waste-to-energy plants use incineration, Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF)-based combustion or conversion technologies such as pyrolysis and gasification
  2. There is a great deal of confusion about what the different technologies entail
  3. There are also apprehensions about the potentially damaging impact of waste-to-energy plants on the environment in general, the quality of air in particular, and consequently, on public health
  4. There are also questions about whether these plants are financially viable

Case study I:

  1. The waste-to-energy plant based on incineration of unsegregated municipal solid waste at Okhla, South Delhi
  2. It processes almost 2,000 tonnes of unsegregated municipal solid waste every day to feed into its boilers to produce 16 MW of electricity
  3. The plant came under fire initially because it did not comply with emission requirements
  4. It has been recently cleared for operations by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which has certified that it now meets the emission standards of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)

Case Study II:

  1. Waste-to-energy plant at Ghazipur, East Delhi, based on controlled combustion
  2. It produces RDF from segregated dry waste and uses the same in onsite boilers to generate electricity, performing at EU standards of emissions
  3. The plant receives 1,300 tonnes of mixed waste every day from the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, which is reduced to about 40% of the total after segregation
  4. From 550 tonnes of feedstock, the plant produces 12 MW of electricity

Incineration-based waste-to-energy plants:

  1. Rely on mass burning of municipal solid waste, which involves complete combustion of miscellaneous waste materials into ash
  2. Depending on what is being combusted, the gases generated may contain dioxins and furans, which are toxic and can be lethal
  3. These plants therefore need to put in place emission control filters of a very high standard to check the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere
  4. There is a need for continuous monitoring of emissions and sharing information openly

What’s happening globally:

  1. Singapore uses incineration with due environmental precautions in managing its municipal solid waste after recycling 60% of its waste (among the highest rates in the world)
  2. Japan and a number of European countries also rely on incineration, with due precaution, as they try to minimise the waste that needs to go to landfills
  3. US had a long free run with incineration plants, but thanks to the environmental movement, there has been a significant tightening of regulations with respect to emissions since the 1970s
  4. The abundance of land in the US led to greater recourse to landfills.

Innovation in waste-to-energy:

  1. The innovations in waste-to-energy technologies worldwide have been focusing on pyrolysis, gasification and plasma gasification
  2. This can deliver cleaner emissions but are considerably more expensive
  3. These technologies involve heating of solid waste at very high temperatures in an oxygen-controlled environment, such that the thermal reactions produce synthesis gas (or syngas)
  4. It has the advantage that it can be burned directly or transported through pipelines and/or tankers for use in electricity generation, refining, chemical and fertiliser industries
  5. While syngas can be scrubbed and converted into a clean energy source, the technologies are expensive, compromising the commercial viability of plants based on conversion technologies

Conclusion:

It is important to emphasise that electricity generation from waste is not the most efficient way of generating electricity. It is a way of resource recovery from municipal solid waste and should be considered as a by-product of waste management. Enthusiasts sometimes speak of waste-to-energy as a solution to our energy problem — this is not correct. However, if implemented to global emission standards, it could be a pathway to scientific and sustainable disposal of municipal solid waste, given the scarcity of urban land in the country, while also generating some much needed electricity.

Note4Students:

This is a good article on non-conventional energy generation methods. It can be asked in Mains directly or indirectly.

Back2Bascis:

National Green Tribunal:

  1. Recognising the need for a more empowered body that could enforce adherence to environmental regulations, the National Green Tribunal was set up in 2010
  2. It is an independent judicial body under an act by the Parliament of India
  3. NGT has, in many cases, prodded the pollution control authorities and catalysed action from State Pollution Control Boards/Municipalities, especially in waste management
  4. It has been setting the rules of the game and putting the weight of legal compensation and enforcement behind its rulings

[op-ed snap] Don’t let messengers shoot themselves

Context:

  1. Little attention is paid to serious concerns about the systems of military justice
  2. While delays in the judicial system are notorious, delays for the armed forces can turn fatal in the form of suicide and fratricide (also called “fragging” — where a serviceman kills his brothers-in-arms)
  3. BSF constable Tej Bahadur Yadav’s videos released about tasteless dal and half-burnt parathas

Case Study:

  1. In 1985, Signalman Ranjit Thakur refused food while serving 28 days’ imprisonment for overriding the hierarchy
  2. He made representations directly to senior officers about ill treatment
  3. A summary court martial was conducted for his act of disobeying the order to eat
  4. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment, dismissal from the Army, and disqualification from civilian service
  5. Fortunately for him, the Supreme Court found this sentence to be grossly disproportionate and reinstated him with full pay and benefits

Existential questions:

  1. The BSF’s woes extend much further than merely bad food
  2. The force has faced existential questions ever since it sought legislative recognition
  3. In the BSF Bill, there was a disparity between the Army and the BSF in terms of pay, service conditions, grievance redress mechanisms and deployments to forward areas
  4. Rejecting these concerns and refusing to refer the Bill to a Parliamentary Select Committee, the Bill was passed and independent India’s first paramilitary force was born
  5. The concerns of stepmotherly treatment in service conditions exist even today across all paramilitary forces in India
  6. These forces are all under the Home Ministry in contrast to the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard which are under the Defence Ministry

Armed Forces Tribunal:

  1. The Armed Forces Tribunal came into being in 2007, 25 years after the Supreme Court made scathing remarks about the military justice system
  2. For not having even one layer of judicial scrutiny, for unchecked command influence in decision-making, and for absence of recorded reasons in final judgments
  3. In 1999, the Law Commission’s 169th Report stated that disciplinary and service matters required quick resolution and proposed a special tribunal for the military and paramilitary forces
  4. However, the Armed Forces Tribunal Bill was steered through Parliament only by the Defence Ministry, leaving paramilitary forces, even the Assam Rifles and the Coast Guard, outside the tribunal’s purview

Note4Students:

The article is an analysis on the paramilitary forces, their functioning and inequality meted out to them. Note down the points for Mains answer (possibly an ethics question). Re-read the 4 points under the tribunal paragraph for a possible Prelims question.

Back2Basics:

For Border Security Force Bill, 1968, the then Home Minister, Yashwantrao Chavan, told the Rajya Sabha: “Popularly it is called Border Security Police, but its function is not policing, it is something more than that. Though it is functioning on the borders, it is not the Army. The task of this Force is such that it is something between the Army and the Police Force.”

[op-ed snap] Permission To Prosecute

Context:

  1. There are conflicting views of the SC on the precondition of “sanction” for prosecution of a public servant under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act, 1988
  2. This has created a legal vortex which could be exploited by unscrupulous public servants to stifle a criminal investigation
  3. The independence of criminal investigation from the executive is a sine qua non for success of a criminal justice system
  4. This assumes a greater significance in corruption cases where allegations are made against a public servant who is a part of the executive which controls the police

Section 19:

  1. The provision aims to balance two competing interests
  2. One is the need to ensure that an honest public servant is not hounded in the performance of his or her duties by frivolous complaints
  3. The other is that investigation into an allegation of crime isn’t stifled at the threshold due to the power wielded by a public servant
  4. Section 19 imposes a bar on the court to take “cognisance” of an offence till sanction is obtained from the government
  5. The bar is against the court to take cognisance for the purposes of trial
  6. There is no prohibition either under the PC Act or the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to start an investigation by lodging an FIR or through a court-initiated investigation

Court orders:

  1. In 2014 it was held that prior sanction is required for investigation into crimes by high-ranking public servants, was unconstitutional
  2. It was held that investigation is central to the criminal justice system and cannot be subverted by imposing a restriction on the police at the threshold itself
  3. The court held that: “If there is an accusation of bribery, graft, illegal gratification or criminal misconduct against a public servant”, the status of the offender is not relevant

Note4Students:

It is imperative that the Supreme Court render an authoritative pronouncement and correct the apparent anomalies in the state of the law on sanction. The op-ed is an insight into the investigation of cases involving officials.

[pib] Know about Mission 41k

Context:

  1. Ministry of Railways has come up with Mission 41k to save Rs. 41000 crore in the next decade in Railways’ energy costs
  2. To implement this comprehensive strategy with the participation of various stakeholders, Ministry shall look at new technologies

Reduction of energy costs:

  1. Indian Railways has set a target of 1000 MW of solar power and 200 MW of wind energy
  2. Indian Railways generates massive amounts of data and has a huge captive audience. Ability to optimally utilise these will generate additional revenue for the Indian Railways
  3. At present 70% traffic runs on electric traction. In next 6 -7 years target has been set to run 90% of the traffic on electric traction
  4. By procuring electricity through open access, the cost of electricity procurement comes down drastically which contributes 25% of the working expenses
  5. The Ministry of Railways has launched Mission Raftaar to increase the average speed of movement by 5 kmph every year
  6. Railways have about 50 % tracks electrified as of now which greatly contributes in keeping the energy bill low & reducing the carbon footprint
  7. Ministry wants to take electrification to 90% in next few years through Mission Electrification with an aim to reduce dependence on imported fuel, change energy mix, and rationalize the cost of energy for Railways
  8. Construction of Dedicated Freight Corridors would enable the Indian Railways to meet the growing demand for freight transport and induce a modal shift of freight traffic from road to rail
  9. Corridors will have more energy efficient locos powered by electric traction
  10. The completion of Dedicated Freight Corridor project would lead to higher operational efficiency, resulting in substantial energy saving and significant reduction of GHG emissions
  11. Railway has plans to change its energy mix and shall be using Green Energy
  12. Railway is going to install solar and wind plants for using green energy on its system

Note4Students:

Indian Railways has to meet its goal to serve people in a more effective and efficient manner. Make use of the points in this PIB for your Prelims and Mains both. You are less likely to get a direct question on this op-ed but some points (in bold) can be utilised for your advantage when you answer a question on infrastructure & modernisation etc.

PIB
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