August 2018
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Explained: Thermal Battery

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Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Thermal Battery working

Mains level: Alternative source of clean energy and storage.



  1. India became home to the world’s first-ever thermal battery plant that was inaugurated in Andhra Pradesh.
  2. This plant aims to create a new energy storage form that is expected to have commercial applications, while also maintaining a low carbon footprint, and being less dependent on external factors like weather.
  3. The thermal battery facility is to be owned by Bharat Energy Storage Technology Private Limited (BEST) could provide energy solutions for electrical grids, transport and telecom services.
  4. At the initial stage of commercial operations, set for May 2019, BEST plans to create a battery capacity of 1000MW. This is expected to be upgraded to a 10GW capacity by 2025.

Thermal battery technology

  1. Thermal battery technology was patented in India by Dr Patrick Glynn in 2016.
  2. Conventional battery technology is based on the system of charging/discharging cycles that are driven by electricity. Ex: Lithium-ion battery.
  3. Thermal batteries use thermal energy to operate, i.e., the energy created by temperature differences.
  4. The energy transfer in thermal batteries helps store heat when heat travels from one part of the battery setup to the other.
  5. For that to happen, a thermal battery consists of two parts: a cool zone known as sink, and a hot source called source.
  6. Both these sides consist of compounds known as phase-changing materials (PCMs), which can change their state of matter on the basis of a physical/chemical reaction.
  7. When the sink of a thermal battery receives heat, it transforms physically or chemically, thereby storing energy, while the source cools down.
  8. During operation, the sink is cooled down, so it releases the stored energy, while the source heats up.
  9. Depending on the nature of the battery, the system can derive heat from any source, which makes a thermal battery very versatile.

Integration with power grids

  1. Given the positives from thermal battery technology, its main application lies in the possible integration with power grids, that can help industrial demand, while also supporting public transport systems and telecom grids.
  2. In the field of power transmission, thermal batteries will be able to function as long as there is a heat source to drive their operation.
  3. This could help solve power issues in remote areas, and also address rising energy requirements from regional or national grids.
  4. Power-intensive industries will also be major beneficiaries, and the transformation will mean reduced dependence on fossil fuels for energy.
  5. Telecom infrastructure is also a target area, as thermal batteries will help maintain signal strength and network connectivity.
  6. This, in turn, could also improve internet penetration and ultra-fast mobile services.

Easing roadmap for E-vehicle manufacturing

  1. Another area that could receive impetus from thermal batteries is that of electric vehicles.
  2. Currently, Tata and Mahindra are the only domestic firms working on such transport systems.
  3. With thermal battery technology, car makers could consider going green, and deploy clean energy at minimal maintenance costs.
  4. At the same time, e-vehicles could also derive charging power from stations that run on thermal batteries.
  5. In AP plant, BEST aims to setup an electric truck that can run up to 800kms on a single charge.
Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] One District One Product


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ODOP

Mains level: The newscard discusses the aspiring project of UP govt. which can be taken as a trial for implementing such project at a national level.


One District One Product (Ek Zila – Ek Utpadan) Scheme

  1. Under this scheme, UP govt. will provide Rs. 25000/- to local craftsmen and entrepreneurs in the upcoming 5 years.
  2. The primary objective of this scheme is to focus on a particular product and raise its quality to compete in the international market.
  3. This scheme is aimed to provide job opportunities to 25 lakh unemployed candidates across the state of UP.
  4. One District One Product Scheme will raise the GDP of the state up to 2 percent.
  5. Each district will be assigned a product under Ek Zila – Ek Utpadan Scheme.
  6. Ex: Kannauj- Perfume, Agra- Leather etc.
Make in India: Challenges & Prospects

[pib] National Energy Storage Mission


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the proposed Mission

Mains level: Need of storage for Renewable sources of energy.


National Energy Storage Mission (NESM)

  1. Energy Storage is one of the most crucial & critical components of India’s energy infrastructure strategy and also for supporting India’s sustained thrust to renewables.
  2. The Expert Committee constituted by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has proposed a draft NESM.
  3. The objective of this mission will be to strive for leadership in energy storage sector by creating an enabling policy and regulatory framework that encourages manufacturing, deployment, innovation and further cost reduction.
  4. NITI Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute’s joint report on India’s Energy Storage Mission has proposed three-stage solution approaches:
  • creating an environment for battery manufacturing growth;
  • scaling supply chain strategies; and
  • scaling of battery cell manufacturing.

Key areas for energy storage application include:

  • integrating renewable energy with distribution and transmission grids;
  •  setting Rural microgrids with diversified loads or stand-alone systems; and
  •  developing Storage component of electric mobility plans.
Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

[pib] Train Captain Service


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Train Captain

Mains level: Not Much


Train Captain

  1. Ministry of Railways has introduced the concept of Train Captain.
  2. He will be the single person/leader responsible for coordinating the entire team and facilitating all services during the complete journey of the train.
  3. In trains like Rajdhani/ Shatabdi/ Duronto and other trains where a Train Superintendent (TS) is on end to end basis, TS shall be nominated as “Train Captain” and made responsible for all the facilities on train.
  4. In all other trains, where TS is not present, Zonal Railways are to nominate the senior most ticket checking staff as Train Captain.
Railway Reforms

[pib] NITI Aayog to join hands with CII to develop a roadmap for Global Innovation Index


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Innovation Index

Mains level: India’s position in innovation and measures required to promote innovation culture.


Boosting Innovation in India

  1. The India Innovation Index was launched by NITI Aayog, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) along with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
  2. India’s rank on the Global Innovation Index (GII) has improved from 60 in 2017 to 57 in 2018
  3. India has been consistently climbing the GII ranking for the past two years.

Importance of GII

  1. It provided an opportunity to look at examples from similar economies from across the world and understand how they effected change in their countries.
  2. We can also draw a distinction between Innovation and Invention and emphasized the role of pure science in building scientific temper in the country.
  3. Ratan Watal, Principal Adviser of NITI Aayog underlined the need to-
  • Transform India’s Innovation Ecosystem by formulating a New Innovation Policy to attract R&D investment into cutting edge technologies and build appropriate infrastructure and institutions
  • Tap Global hotspots of Innovation in latest technologies like AI, Blockchain and Robotics etc.
  • Connect Tinkering labs in schools with start-ups, business and high end educational institutions
  • Target efficient, productive and outcome driven R&D in the Government Sector


Global Innovation Index

  1. The Global Innovation Index (GII) is an annual ranking of countries by their capacity for, and success in, innovation.
  2. It is published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization, in partnership with other organizations and institutions.
  3. It is based on both subjective and objective data derived from several sources, including the International Telecommunication Union, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.
  4. The index was started in 2007 by INSEAD and World Business, a British magazine.
  5. The GII is commonly used by corporate and government officials to compare countries by their level of innovation.
Innovation Ecosystem in India

[pib] Serious Fraud Investigation Office


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SFIO

Mains level: Curbing corporate frauds in India.


Serious Fraud Investigation Office

  1. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) is a fraud investigating agency in India.
  2. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India.
  3. The SFIO is involved in major fraud probes and is the co-ordinating agency with the Income Tax Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation.
  4. It is a multi-disciplinary organization having experts from financial sector, capital market, accountancy, forensic audit, taxation, law, information technology, company law, customs and investigation.
  5. These experts have been taken from various organizations like banks, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Comptroller and Auditor General and concerned organizations and departments of the Government.
  6. Based on the recommendation of Naresh Chandra Committee on corporate governance in the backdrop of stock market scams as also the failure of non-banking companies resulting in huge financial loss to the public.
  7. Agency headquarters is in the Indian capital, New Delhi, with field offices located in major cities throughout India. The SFIO draws most of its officers from the IAS, ICLS, IPS and IRS.
Internal Security Architecture Shortcomings – Key Forces, NIA, IB, CCTNS, etc.

[op-ed snap] Time for economic policy vigilance


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues being faced by Indian economy and what can be done to maintain growth momentum


Growth in economy picking up

  1. The Indian economy is gaining momentum
  2. The annual assessment recently released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) showed that it expects the Indian economy to grow at 7.3% in the current, and 7.5% in the next, fiscal
  3. India is contributing 15% to global growth
  4. Some of the recent structural reforms, such as the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), along with liberalization of foreign direct investment and improvement in the ease of doing business, will help improve economic activity

Risks being faced by the economy

1. External Sector

  • On the external front, there are risks such as high crude prices and the tightening of global financial conditions
  • India’s current account deficit widened to 1.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017-18 and is expected to go up to 2.6% of GDP in the current year
  • The widening of the current account deficit is getting reflected in the depreciation of the rupee, which has fallen over 7% since the beginning of the year
  • External sector risks are getting amplified by the tightening of financial conditions in global markets

2. Domestic front

  • On the domestic front, there are risks such as the delay in addressing the twin balance sheet issue and possible revenue shortfall owing to GST implementation issues
  • The resolution of the twin balance sheet problem is a real challenge
  • Resolution or liquidation of distressed assets could result in large haircuts for banks
  • This will possibly increase the capital requirement of public sector banks and the government, with fiscal constraints, may find it difficult to spare resources
  • While the collection from GST is improving, it is still running below the desired rate of ₹1 trillion per month
  • Any compression in capital expenditure as a result of revenue shortfall will affect growth

Further measures required

  1. Even as important reforms have been implemented, more will be needed in areas like land and labour
  2. Labour market reforms could complement the GST in terms of promoting the formal economy and creating fiscal space for needed social and infrastructure spending
  3. Factor market reforms and greater formalization of the economy will push growth and generate higher tax revenue
  4. For now, the government should work on smoothening the IBC and GST and not allow electoral compulsions to affect fiscal management
Economic Indicators-GDP, FD,etc

[op-ed snap] The anti-trafficking Bill is necessary


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: Global Slavery Index

Mains level: Various laws against trafficking and their effectiveness in curbing it


Human trafficking in India

  1. According to the Global Slavery Index, India has more than seven million victims of modern slavery
  2. It is an alarmingly high number, even for a large country like India

Why increase in trafficking?

  1. The cases of trafficking that enter the criminal justice system are just the tip of the iceberg
  2. The number of victims is increasing each year, while the conviction rate of perpetrators continues to be abysmally low
  3. Traffickers are not scared of being penalized for the brutality and violence they subject their victims to
  4. The natural outcome of all this is that trafficking is one of the lowest risk crimes, not just in India, but all over the world

India’s steps towards curbing trafficking

  1. The Lok Sabha has recently passed a new Bill for countering human trafficking
  2. Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code defines trafficking and penalizes offenders
  3. There exists the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), 1956, which deals with cases of sex trafficking, and the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, which deals with offences of forced labour

Problems with current provisions

  1. Except for certain provisions of the ITPA, no law has provided any relief or rehabilitation to the victims of the offence
  2. With no witness/victim protection mechanism and no rehabilitation schemes, prosecutions suffer for lack of evidence
  3. This handicaps the criminal justice system’s efforts to secure convictions

Changes in the new bill

  1. The new Bill has been drafted with a victim-centric approach
  2. The new law focuses solely on the trafficked persons
  3. The focus is on the protection and rehabilitation of the victims
  4. It does not encourage the institutionalization of victims. Rather, it encourages reintegration, with provisions to ensure the protection of vulnerable survivors and that they are not re-trafficked
  5. The new Bill has a robust framework in place to ensure the human agency of trafficking survivors is not snatched away; their dignity has been given prime importance
  6. The Bill also calls for the creation of specialized units within the criminal justice system
  7. This is a proven method worldwide when it comes to increasing the efficiency of efforts to combat crimes like human trafficking

Socioeconomic causes behind crimes

  1. Most crimes have their roots in socioeconomic problems
  2. Poverty and unemployment make people vulnerable to being trafficked

Way forward

  1. Human trafficking is an extremely serious offence
  2. Its enormity calls for a stringent mechanism to counter it
  3. New Anti-trafficking law is not a perfect law, but it certainly is a better law than before
Human Rights Issues

[op-ed snap] Perils of historical amnesia: on Article 35A


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions & basic structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Article 35A

Mains level: Special status being enjoyed by J&K and efforts to remove it


Article 35A challenged in Supreme Court

  1. The controversial Article 35A of the Constitution is currently being challenged in the Supreme Court
  2. Its critics have argued that the Article affords Jammu and Kashmir undue powers, particularly by preventing non-State residents to own land in the State
  3. In reality, the fundamental purpose of Article 35A was the exact opposite: instead of giving the state a “special status”, it was designed to take autonomy away from it

History of Article 35A

  1. The Article was introduced in May 1954 as part of a larger Presidential Order package, which made several additions to the Constitution (not just Article 35A)
  2. The overall gist of this Order was to give the Government of India enormously more powers over the State than it had enjoyed before
  3. For the first time, India’s fundamental rights and directive principles were applicable to Jammu and Kashmir and the State’s finances were integrated with India
  4. The Order also extended the Indian Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over certain aspects of Jammu and Kashmir

Delhi Agreement

  1. In 1952, after the international clamour for an immediate plebiscite had somewhat subsided, Jawaharlal Nehru invited Sheikh Abdullah (then PM of Kashmir) to discuss how India and Jammu and Kashmir could be more closely integrated
  2. The result was the 1952 Delhi Agreement but it could not come into force

J&K is less autonomous than before

  1. It took 70 years for successive governments to steadily chip away at Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy to bring it to today when the only meaningful “special status” that it enjoys is Article 35A
  2. Almost all of State’s other autonomous powers have been subsumed by New Delhi
  3. Abolition of Article 35A should be seen as part of this larger decades-long process of the State’s integration into India, sometimes through legal means and sometimes through outright fiat

Way Forward

  1. The whole project of federal nation-building requires constant negotiation between the nation-state and its components
  2. Such efforts need to have an underpinning of at least some kind of transparent democratic process
  3. If Article 35A is to be removed, it must be removed as an expression of the will of the people, through a political process which includes the people of Jammu and Kashmir in the discussion
J&K – The issues around the state