May 2018
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Telangana govt launches Rs 8,000/acre investment support scheme for farmers


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the scheme

Mains level: The Rythu Bandhu scheme is a first-of-its kind scheme in India.


First-of-its kind investment support scheme for farmers in Telangana: The Rythu Bandhu scheme

  1. Farmers will get Rs 8,000 per acre every year as crop investment support
  2. About 58 lakh farmers who till over 1.42 crore acres are expected to be benefitted from the initiative

More about the scheme

  1. Farmers will directly get the financial support twice every year to maximise agricultural production and productivity
  2. The financial assistance will be for two crops each year
  3. The state government has already set aside Rs 12,000 crore in the 2018-19 budget exclusively for this scheme

Other efforts done by the state government

  1. As a proof of ownership, Rao also distributed ‘pattadar’ passbook among farmers. Land title documents were prepared after a comprehensive land survey
  2. He pointed out that the survey identified 1.42 crore acres as cultivable land in the state
  3. For seamless implementation of various agriculture-related schemes, land records have been updated and digitised
Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Govt set to expand Buddhist tourism circuit to 21 more states

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Places associated with Buddha

Mains level: Expanding spiritual tourism in India


Expansion of Buddhist Circuit

  1. Earlier envisaged by the government as mainly comprising seven major Buddhist pilgrimage sites, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the ‘Buddhist Circuit’ will now be expanded to 21 other states.
  2. The Ministry of Tourism has identified stupas and viharas in these states, around which small intra-state Buddhist zones will be developed
  3. These include states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Kerala, West Bengal, Goa, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir
  4. Under the Ministry’s Swadesh Darshan scheme, the development of Sanchi, Satna, Rewa, Mandsaur, and Dhar. will be carried out

India’s first trans-national tourist circuit

  1. The Buddhist circuit is being imagined as India’s first trans-national tourist circuit, with efforts to promote tourism starting from Lumbini in Nepal, where Buddha was born, to the sites in India he traversed, including Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Rajgir, Vaishali, Sravasti and Sankasia (in UP and Bihar)
  2. The Tourism ministry is also in talks with the World Bank and the Japanese government for funding of infrastructure projects connected with these sites
  3. The ministry also plans to involve the private sector in building tourism infrastructure pertaining to the circuit
  4. Under the plan, Sarnath would be made the hub of Buddhist tourism in India and connected to other sites through air, rail and road transport
Tourism Sector

5,000 Atal Tinkering labs to be set up by March 2019


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ATLs, AIM, etc.

Mains level: Aim of the ATLs.


Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs)

  1. The NITI Aayog will set up 5,000 Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) by March 2019 covering all districts in the country
  2. Aim: To promote innovation among students
  3. The goal of the student innovator programme is to test the innovations in the community
  4. Students will be trained on business and entrepreneurship skills, including intellectual property, effective communication, making an elevator pitch and so on

Part of the Atal Innovation Mission

  1. NITI Aayog had in December selected an additional 1,500 schools for setting up ATLs under the government’s flagship programme Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) taking the total number of such labs to 2,441

The innovation marathon

  1. The NITI Aayog had recently organised the innovation marathon to identify India’s best student innovators across six different thematic areas including clean energy, water resources, waste management, healthcare, smart mobility and agri-tech

More about the ATL labs

  1. Atal Tinkering Labs are innovation play workspaces for students between grade 8 to 12, stimulating innovations combining science and technology
  2. Their aim is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in schools, universities and industry

Atal Innovation Mission

  1. NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government of India to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country
Innovation Ecosystem in India

[op-ed snap] Sop to China or signal to Australia?


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: The Quad, Malabar exercise, etc.

Mains level: Possible effect on the Quad, after the recent decision of Indian Government of not allowing Australia to participate in the Malabar exercise.



  1. India’s refusal to let Australia participate in the upcoming Malabar naval exercise will hurt the Quad

Why this refusal?

  1. India, it seems, remains sceptical of Australia’s commitment as a strategic partner
  2. It was, after all, Australia that backed out of the Quad’s first incarnation in 2007

But it’s now high time that India updated its thinking about Australia

  1. A lot has changed since 2007
  2. In the years since, China began a much more aggressive campaign of coercion to assert dominance in its near seas, including with island-building in the South China Sea
  3. In response, Australia recalibrated its defence policies
  4. In successive policy statements, Australian governments from both major parties named China as the primary strategic challenge, drawing China’s ire each time
  5. They spoke out against Chinese provocations when few others did, including against China’s 2013 declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone, and in support of the 2016 arbitration ruling in favour of the Philippines
  6. The Australian military continues to conduct air and sea patrols of the South China Sea, which is frequently met with robust Chinese responses
  7. And it has deepened its US alliance, with the basing of Marines in Darwin

Was the denial of Australian participation in Malabar another Indian accommodation of China?

  1. The timing of the rejection suggests that Modi may have been signaling a pre-emptive sweetener for his China “reset”
  2. China’s strategic policy is to prevent regional states coordinating against it — so India slow-rolling such an alignment suits China’s interests perfectly
  3. And while the Indian military routinely exercises bilaterally with the US, Japan, and Australia, it stopped short of joining them all in a high-profile grouping which would upset China
  4. Even if India did not intend this as a concession to China, that may be the perception that gains traction around the region
  5. And, of course, perceptions have real effects

Possible effect on QUAD

  1. The denial of Australian participation in Malabar will harm the Quad
  2. At a minimum, the denial is a missed opportunity to build momentum for the Quad
  3. Worse, it may undermine the Quad’s credibility and reinforce widespread scepticism that it will ever amount to anything
  4. India’s opposition to Australia even observing this naval exercise in effect amounts to opposition to the Quad conducting any military activities, at least for now

The way forward

  1. Until India updates its views on Australia, it will further delay the efforts of like-minded powers to build a bulwark against Chinese coercion across the region
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[pib] India – Peru Relations



  • India and Peru are celebrating 55 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
  • Peruvian Prime Minister Mr.Cesar Villanueva Bardales, leading a delegation of four ministers and senior officials is in India.
  • Peru seeks production of generic medicines by Indian companies in their country and early conclusion of Free Trade Agreement.
  • Peru Says India deserves Permanent membership in UNSC in line with its global role
  • India and Peru signed an Agreement on Cooperation in New and Renewable Energy. Peru is a founder member of the International Solar Alliance, established with India taking the initiative.





[op-ed snap] In a state of energy poverty


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Discoms, “Power for all”, etc.

Mains level: The regional imbalances in electricity access, challenge from Distribution network capacity, etc.



  1. It is uncertain if the goal of electrifying all ‘willing households’ will mean universal access

Important turnarounds

  1. There is now 100% village electrification in India, an important milestone in the country’s development trajectory
  2. Another important turnaround came last year when India claimed to be a net surplus and exporter of electricity (a scenario projected to continue for at least a decade)

But do these developments mark an end to India’s energy poverty?

  1. 31 million rural households and about five million urban households are still to be connected to the grid( the highest in any single country)
  2. At the same time, a significant portion of connected rural households is yet to get adequate quantity and quality of supply

Future plans of the government

  1. The Central government has set itself an ambitious target of connecting all remaining households by the end of March 2019 and made budgetary allocations to cover the cost of electrification
  2. As part of a Centre-State joint initiative on 24×7 ‘Power for All’, State governments have already committed to ensuring round-the-clock supply to all households from April 2019

Regional imbalances in electricity access: Barriers and fallibility

  1. Seven States (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) account for 90% of un-electrified households
  2. Coincidentally, these States are ranked poorly in social development indices and house about two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line
  3. This concurrence between economic poverty and energy poverty will be a barrier to the goal of universal access

The main issue in these seven states

  1. Electricity distribution companies (discoms) in these seven States are already highly indebted, accounting for 42% of accumulated debts of all discoms as on March 2016
  2. \Their debts account for 17% of accumulated liabilities of the States
  3. Despite continued State subvention (except by Odisha), all these discoms have been consistently running at a loss, accounting for about 47% of the loss in electricity distribution business

Given the context, it is uncertain whether the goal of electrifying all ‘willing households’ by March 2019 would translate into universal access to electricity

Challenge is from Distribution network capacity: Another major challenge

  1. The distribution infrastructure in India is overburdened causing a high level of technical losses and frequent breakdowns
  2. The distribution network capacity in several States is inadequate to carry available electricity
  3. Subsequently, discoms have been resorting to load shedding while their contracted generation capacities are underutilised
  4. Adding new load to the existing fragile distribution network will only compromise the quality and reliability of supply
  5. It could result in continued blackouts for the rural poor during peak hours

Efforts done by the government: Inadequate funding

  1. The available funding support has been short of the growing requirement
  2. Current allocations under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), to augment rural and urban distribution networks, respectively, are only a fraction of the requirement
  3. Moreover, disbursement of these grants has been much slower, 17% under DDUGJY and 31% under IPDS, reflecting sluggish implementation

The way forward

  1. Low achievement of earlier electrification schemes has often been blamed on incompatibility and a lack of cooperation between the Centre and States
  2. Given that six of the seven low access States as well as the Centre are run by a single political party (and allies), there seems to be a strong political consensus on the goal of universal access
Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[pib] Rashtriya Gokul Mission 

News : 

Related Ministry/Department: Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

  • A Frozen Semen Station is being set up in Maranga, Purnea under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission with 100% contribution from the Central Government
  • Currently, the artificial insemination is being done by CMOFED (Sudha) in Bihar.
  • The artificial insemination techniques can increase milk production and productivity.


  • The Rashtriya Gokul Mission was initiated in December 2014 with an aim to conserve and develop indigenous breeds.
  • To undertake breed improvement programme for indigenous cattle breeds so as to improve the genetic makeup and increase the stock. 
  • To enhance milk production and productivity of indigenous bovines. 
  • To upgrade nondescript cattle using elite indigenous breeds like Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar, Red Sindhi.
  • To distribute disease free high genetic merit bulls of indigenous breeds for natural service