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November 2018

Communicable and Non-communicable diseases – HIV, Malaria, Cancer, Mental Health, etc.

[op-ed snap] A Matter of Dignity


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dementia, Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025

Mains level: Along with demographic dividend, the number of ageing people is also rising in India and hence an increase in diseases related to older age. How can India tackle this problem in line with global actions.


Increase in cases of dementia

  1. The rapid increase in ageing population across countries requires national strategies to deal with age-related diseases and thus dementia care is becoming a significant issue
  2. According to the WHO, it affects 50 million people worldwide; a number that is projected to increase to 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050
  3. According to some estimates, one person gets affected by dementia every three seconds

About dementia

  1. Dementia is a form of cognitive impairment that affects memory and other cognitive abilities and significantly interferes with a person’s ability to perform daily activities
  2. Data from many parts of the world reveals age as a risk factor for dementia — though the debilitating condition is not an inevitable consequence of ageing

Social stigma related to dementia

  1. Studies have revealed how the stigma attached to the disease leads to the social isolation of patients, their families and careers
  2. Research has thrown light on the deterioration in the quality of their lives
  3. Studies that draw on interactions with people affected by dementia, their families and caregivers indicate that several of the needs of such people — social, economic or those related to health — remain unfulfilled
  4. For instance, leave concessions at work, adaptable housing environments, adequate diagnostic facilities, treatment options, care provisions and risk reduction measures for people with dementia are not in place
  5. Many require psychological support, biomedical facilities, appropriate medications, counselling services and end of life care. But these are not available

WHO action plan on dementia

  1. The complexity of needs cutting across health, economic and social sector requires attention and policy responses
  2. 2018 WHO dementia plan focuses on the urgent need for a multi-phased approach and a multi-sectoral policy response to address the needs of people with dementia, their carers and families
  3. Over a year ago, the World Health Assembly in Geneva adopted the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025
  4. India endorsed the plan, confirming its commitment to improving the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families

Policy action that needs to be taken in India

  1. The country’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals — especially with respect to Goal 3 that deals with good health and well being — and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should push it into formulating a strategy to deal with this debilitating condition
  2. Such a plan should incorporate public awareness campaigns and research

Way forward

  1. As the percentage of aged people in the country increases, improving the lives of people with dementia and their families and careers must become a national priority
  2. These programmes could be aligned with existing policies and care models

Iran’s Nuclear Program & Western Sanctions

[op-ed snap] A tough balancing act between geopolitical realities and energy security


Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OPEC, INSTC

Mains level: Impact of US sanctions on Iran on the global economic and geopolitical order


US sanctions on Iran

  1. The US oil and banking sanctions against Iran will come into effect on 4 November
  2. As the deadline nears, the oil market is unusually calm
  3. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) crude price basket went down by 8.6 %, while the Brent benchmark fell by 9.4 % during the month

Effect on the economy of India as well as other countries

  1. For most of the consuming countries, it is not simply a question of finding replacement oil
  2. Crude import has to be at prices they can afford
  3. The price has already gone up
  4. The increase in oil prices is not only due to the impact of sanctions against Iran but is also driven by policies pursued by Opec and non-Opec producers to restrict crude oil production to keep the prices high
  5. The Indian crude oil basket is up by nearly 30% since last year, which would add more than ₹2 trillion to our annual oil import bill if the trend persists
  6. If rupee depreciation is factored in, the effect will be even more pronounced

Connectivity problem

  1. There are also issues of connectivity and trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia
  2. Seen against the background of worsening situation in the Af-Pak region, this factor assumes added importance
  3. India is committed to develop Chabahar Port which is in no way linked to Iran’s oil exports, which go through the Kharg terminal in the Gulf
  4. Apart from Chabahar, India also has interest in the International North-South Transit Corridor (INSTC), which runs through Iran
  5. This will improve connectivity with five Central Asian republics

Sanctions are not universal

  1. This round of sanctions is different, as it is not supported by the European Union and the United Nations
  2. Germany, France, the UK along with China and Russia continue to support the nuclear deal
  3. Iran’s compliance with the nuclear accord has been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  4. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has also ruled against the US sanctions

Options for India

  1. During the last round of sanctions against Iran, a rupee payment arrangement was evolved
  2. This involved making 45% of oil payments in rupees, which were utilized to cover Indian exports to Iran
  3. During the last round of sanctions, India reduced its crude import from Iran from 21 million to 10 million tonnes per annum
  4. For India, the only option that remains is reviving rupee payment arrangement to bring down current account deficit, and ensure continuity in Indian exports, which are largely limited to food and pharmaceuticals

Way forward

  1. India has an extremely important and growing relationship with the US
  2. It also has geopolitical compulsions, and an age-old relationship with Iran as well as its Arab neighbours
  3. India needs to maintain a fine balance between the two

Air Pollution

[op-ed snap] Choked by smog: on air pollution


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WHO air quality standards, UNEP

Mains level: Worsening air quality in most cities of India & how to tackle this problem


Winter pollution turning lethal

  1. Air pollution is choking several cities in the northern States once again, as changes in temperature and slowing winds trap soot, dust and fine particulate matter
  2. The National Capital Region is badly hit, as the burning of agricultural residue in Punjab and Haryana is releasing large volumes of smoke containing, among other pollutants, highly damaging fine particulates, or PM2.5
  3. The problem is aggravated by the burning of urban waste, diesel soot, vehicular exhaust, road and construction dust, and power generation
  4. The UN Environment Programme’s recent report titled ‘Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-Based Solutions’ has sounded a warning, pointing out that only 8% of the population in the countries of the region get to breathe air of acceptable quality
  5. One study of the degradation of Delhi’s air over a 10-year period beginning 2000 estimated premature mortality to have risen by as much as 60%

No prompt actions taken

  1. Although India has nine of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, it has not taken consistent action on pollution
  2. Tens of millions live with ambient air quality that is well short of even the relaxed parameters the country has set for fine particulates, compared with those of the World Health Organisation
  3. This year’s ‘severe’ air quality rating for Delhi and poor conditions prevailing in other cities in the Indo-Gangetic Plain should compel a decisive shift in policy

What needs to be done?

  1. The Centre and the State governments need to get into crisis mode to dramatically reduce emissions
  2. They must address the burning of carbon, which is a direct source, and emissions with oxides of nitrogen and sulphur from vehicles that turn into fine particulates through atmospheric reactions
  3. Farm stubble burning is a major contributor to the problem, and its footprint may be growing because of wider use of mechanical harvesters that is producing more waste
  4. An innovative approach could be to use climate change funds to turn farm residues into a resource, using technological options such as converting them into biofuels and fertilizers
  5. From an urban development perspective, large cities should reorient their investments to prioritise public transport, favouring electric mobility
  6. The World Bank has said it is keen to enhance its lending portfolio to tackle air pollution, opening a new avenue for this
  7. Governments should make the use of personal vehicles in cities less attractive through strict road pricing mechanisms
  8. Sharply escalated, deterrent parking fees can be implemented

Way forward

  1. Urgent correctives are needed, or lethal winter pollution will become the new normal
  2. Failure to take sustainable and urgent measures will inflict long-term harm on public health, affecting children even more by putting them at higher risk for diseases

Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

Cabinet nod for opening up of Solar Alliance to all UN countries


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance

Mains level: India’s renewable energy commitments and efforts in that direction



  • The Union Cabinet gave its approval for moving a resolution in the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to amend the framework agreement to open up its membership to all UN countries.

ISA: A Global Agenda

  1. The decision was taken to put solar energy on the global agenda with the universal appeal for developing and deploying solar energy.
  2. SA is an alliance of more than 121 countries initiated by India to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy so as to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  3. Opening the membership of the ISA will put solar energy in global agenda with the universal appeal for developing and deploying solar energy.
  4. It will make ISA inclusive, whereby all member countries that are members of the United Nations could become members.


International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  1. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
  2. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  3. The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization
  4. The alliance is also called International Agency for Solar Policy and Application (IASPA)
  5. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is to be headquartered in India
  6. The initiative was launched by PM Modi at the India Africa Summit and a meeting of member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015.

Indian Missile Program Updates

India conducts successful night trial of nuclear-capable Agni-I missile


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Agni-I missile

Mains level: Strategic importance of missile development for India



  • India has successfully conducted the night trial of the indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni-I ballistic missile off the Odisha coast.
  • The surface-to-surface missile test was test-fired as part of a user-trial from the Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.

Details of the Trial

  1. The night trial of the ballistic missile with a strike range of 700 km was first conducted in April 2014.
  2. The trajectory of the trial was tracked by a battery of sophisticated radars, telemetry observation stations, electro-optic instruments and naval ships from its launch till the missile hit the target area with accuracy.
  3. Agni-I missile has a specialised navigation system which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision.

About Agni –I

  1. Agni-I is a short-range ballistic missile developed by DRDO of India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.
  2. It is sleek single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants developed after the Kargil War to fill the gap between 250 km range of Prithvi-II and 2,500 km range of Agni-II.
  3. It was first launched on 25 January 2002 from a road mobile launcher at Integrated Test Range (ITR), Wheeler Island.
  4. Agni-I was developed by advanced systems laboratory, the premier missile development laboratory of the DRDO.
  5. Weighing 12 tonnes, the 15-metre-long Agni-I, which can carry payloads up to 1000 kg, has already been inducted into the Indian Army.

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[pib] 1st Annual Senior Care Conclave


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Senior Care Conclave   

Mains level: Various inititatives for elderly population


Senior Care Conclave 

  1. The ‘1st Annual Senior Care Conclave’ was recently organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
  2. The event marked release of a CII Report “Igniting Potential in Senior Care Services”.
  3. It urged corporates to explore opportunities of investment in the emerging field of Senior Care.

Healthcare inititatives for Ageing Population

  1. The National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE) addresses various health related issues of the elderly.
  2. The programme is State oriented and basic thrust of the programme is to provide dedicated health care facilities to the senior citizens (>60 year of age) at various levels.
  3. The basic aim of the NPHCE Programme is to provide dedicated, specialized and comprehensive health care to the senior citizens at various levels of state health care delivery system including outreach services.
  4. Preventive and promotive care, management of illness, health manpower development for geriatric services, medical rehabilitation & therapeutic intervention and IEC are some of the strategies envisaged in the NPHCE.
  5. The NPHCE was launched in 100 identified districts of 21 States and Eight Regional Geriatrics Centres in selected medical colleges as referral units during the 11th Plan period.
  6. Two National Centres for Ageing (NCA) in AIIMS Delhi and Madras Medical College, Chennai have been sanctioned to be developed as centres of excellence for geriatrics.

Railway Reforms

[pib] Railways rolls out All-India Unreserved Mobile Ticketing facility (UTS on Mobile)


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UTS on Mobile

Mains level: Digitization of Railways ticketing service



  • Ministry of Railways has introduced Unreserved Mobile Ticketing with a view to promote three C’s– Cashless transactions, Contact less ticketing and Customer convenience and experience.

UTS on Mobile

  1. Booking of unreserved tickets on all non-suburban sections across all Zonal Railways has been made available from November , 1st.
  2. It enables seamless booking of unreserved tickets all over Indian Railways which will obviate the need for passengers to wait in queues for purchasing the tickets.
  3. The facility of booking unreserved tickets, including season tickets and also platform tickets is available through the ‘UTSONMOBILE’ app available for Android, IOS and Windows phones.

Details of the app

  1. ‘UTSONMOBILE’ application is available for Android, IOS, Windows phones and can be downloaded from Google play or window store.
  2. It is developed by Indian Railway- CRIS.


  1. The process of ticket booking involves downloading the application and registration by furnishing the requisite details.
  2. After successful registration, the user is given credentials to book ticket through this application within the ticketing area and outside the Geo-fenced area.
  3. Geo-fenced area is station premises and train route within which ticket cannot be booked.
  4. The facility of making payment through all types of digital modes i.e. debit card, credit card, net-banking, UPI and other e-wallets has been introduced.


  1. Mobile Ticketing shall promote 3C’s- Cashless transactions, Contact less ticketing and Customer convenience.
  2. Seamless booking of unreserved tickets all over Indian Railways.
  3. Obviate the need for passengers to wait in queues for purchasing the tickets and enhance the experience for booking unreserved tickets – journey, season tickets, platform tickets.
  4. Environment friendly.

Women Safety Issues – Marital Rape, Domestic Violence, Swadhar, Nirbhaya Fund, etc.

[pib] Vehicle Location Tracking Devices and Emergency Buttons to be mandatory


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: Read the attached story

Mains level: Women and passenger safety


Ensuring passenger safety

  1. The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has mandated that all new public service vehicles except auto rickshaws and eRickshaws, registered on and after 1st January 2019, will have to be equipped with  Vehicle Location Tracking ( VLT )with emergency buttons.
  2. In case of older public service vehicles –those registered upto 31″December,2018, the respective State/ UT Governments will notify the date by which these vehicles have to install them.

VLT Command Centres

  1. Command and Control Centres will be setup by the State or VLT manufacturers or any other agency authorised by the State Government.
  2. These centres will provide interface to various stakeholders such as state emergency response centre, the transport department or RTOs, Transport Ministry, device manufacturers and their authorised dealers, testing agencies, permit holders, etc.
  3. These centres will also provide feed to the VAHAN data base or the relevant data base of the State with regard to the over speeding, device health status.
  4. The details of each VLT device will be uploaded on the VAHAN database by the VLT device manufacturer using its secured authenticated access.

More thrust on VLTs

  1. The VLT device manufacturers or their authorised dealers will install the VLT devices in public service vehicles and register the devices along with details of vehicle on the corresponding backend systems inreal-time.
  2. The public service vehicle owners have to ensure that the VLT devices installed in their vehicles are in working condition and regularly send required data to the corresponding backend system through cellular connectivity.
  3. VLT device manufacturers will get their devices tested for conformity of production every year after the first certification, from the testing agencies referred to in rule 126 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules,1989.
  4. The State or Union Territories will publish Internet Protocol address (IP address) and Short Message Service Gateway (SMS gateway) details of their respective emergency response system.