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November 2018

History- Important places, persons in news

[op-ed snap] The impact of World War I on India


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World War 1, Indian national movement

Mains level: How WW-I impacted India’s socioeconomic growth as well as its independence movement


India’s contribution in WW-I

  1. When the Lahore Division and the Meerut Division entered World War I, they were the first Indian soldiers ever to take part in a war in Europe
  2. By the time they sailed out from Marseilles 14 months later, they and their compatriots—138,608 Indians in all—had helped blunt Germany’s Schlieffen Plan
  3. Formulated by German Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen in 1905-06, the Plan envisaged a short war—a quick, decisive invasion and defeat of France via Belgium, forestalling the attritional war that would allow the superior strength of the probable Allied powers to be deployed
  4. With the 100th anniversary of the Armistice and the inauguration of monuments to Indian soldiers in France, it is a contribution worth remembering

Effect of the war on Indian national movement

  1. There was a surge of nationalism and rise of mass civil disobedience when the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms’ failed to deliver on the expectation of home rule that had led to popular support for the British war effort
  2. As the war dragged on, casualties mounted and recruitment methods grew more coercive, resentment grew
  3. It is no coincidence, perhaps, that Punjab—which supplied a large proportion of the troops thanks to the British martial races theory—turned into an epicentre of nationalism after the war
  4. Post-war military reforms to transform the Indian army into a modern force started a process that accelerated with the onset of World War II
  5. By 1946, the Indian military was a potent enough force that the prospect of its rebellion, triggered by the Royal Indian Naval Mutiny that year, was a major contributor to the British decision to fold

Socioeconomic impact

  1. Between 1911 and 1921, literacy rates (as well as the number of literate individuals) increased significantly in heavily recruited communities
  2. This effect is strongest for men of military age, which is consistent with the hypothesis that soldiers learned to read and write on their foreign campaigns
  3. A war economy is by definition a distorted one
  4. The logic of empire exaggerated this. Requisitioning of food supplies, particularly cereals, led to rampant food inflation
  5. The drain on the Indian economy in the form of cash, kind and loans to the British government came to about 367 million pounds

Rise in the domestic market

  1. Domestic manufacturing sectors such as cotton benefited from the decline in British goods that had dominated the pre-war market
  2. The steel sector—so crucial after independence—benefited as well. For instance, the ailing Tata steel mills were handed a lifeline in the form of a contract to supply rails to the Mesopotamian campaign
  3. British investment was rerouted to the UK, creating opportunities for Indian capital
  4. In short, the war economy boosted Indian capitalism in some ways at least


  1. The Indian national movement and the country’s socio-economic development did not take place in isolation
  2. World War I linked India to global events in profound ways with far-reaching consequences

Swachh Bharat Mission

[op-ed snap] Tackling India’s open defecation problem


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Swacch Bharat Mission

Mains level: Various behavioural changes required in SBM for its continued success


Success of Swacch Bharat

  1. The 2017 Swachh Survekshan survey conducted by the Quality Council of India reports that 62% of rural households now have a toilet
  2. This is an increase of over 20 percentage points since 2014
  3. The survey concludes that more than 90% of the individuals who had access to toilets were using them
  4. While the ambition behind and success to date of the Swachh Bharat mission are laudable, it is at risk of unravelling unless it can ensure that India remains permanently open defecation free

Problems in the program structure

  1. The lengthy queues, lack of water supply and the poor communication in remote and tribal populations have all resulted in low uptake in areas where it is needed the most
  2. Policymakers hoped that once enough toilets were built to declare India open defecation free, it would continue to remain so
  3. This failed to take into account that, unlike eradicating smallpox or polio, eliminating open defecation isn’t a one-off
  4. To truly make India open defecation free requires a sustainable change in societal mindset and behaviour

Adopting ‘System 2’ approach

  1. One way to bring about behavioural change is to adopt, what psychologists refer to as System 2 drivers of change
  2. These focus on spreading rational knowledge (germ theory), having explicit action plans (such as personal and political commitments to change) and using human emotions of pride and shame to change behaviour
  3. Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programmes is one such approach
  4. It promotes the mobilisation of local communities to talk openly about, appraise and analyse their defecation practices
  5. Triggers, both psychological and visual, are used to shock and disgust people in an effort to move away from such practices
  6. Maharashtra with its adoption of the ‘Good Morning Squads’, Indore with its ‘dibba gang’ and Delhi with its Gabbar posters, are all using System 2 drivers to trigger behavioural change
  7. Emphasis must be put on ensuring proper training to prevent facilitators from using tactics of public shaming and coercion

Altrnative: ‘System 1 approach’

  1. Poorly understood and inadequately adopted by policymakers, System 1 drivers play a critical role in facilitating the desired behaviour
  2. Research suggests that people tend to stick to their existing habits for tasks performed frequently and so, System 1 drivers, rather than focusing on changing habits, look to cultivate existing ones into a more positive outcome
  3. They tap into the unconscious, cue-driven behaviours that all humans have
  4. To mitigate open defecation, a simple but ingenious System 1 driver would be the building of public toilets in fields which people already use to defecate openly
  5. Leveraging India’s recent growth in mobile connectivity and growth in constructed household toilets, incentive programs for increased latrine use can also issue text message reminders, scheduled and framed to promote latrine usage at the same time and place each day

Strategic timing

  1. Strategic timing of key interventions can also go a long way in disrupting behaviour
  2. For example, promoting the use of toilets during the monsoon, when people find it difficult to defecate openly, or launching new interventions during the outbreak of a disease when people are actively thinking about hygiene, are ways to ensure a new behaviour is developed
  3. Lastly, initiatives creating an annual ritual, aligned with prevalent religious beliefs, when a village is declared open defecation free can ensure change is celebrated and thus, sustained in the long run

Way forward

  1. For India to permanently eradicate open defecation, the Swachh Bharat Mission must adopt three pillars of support
  2. The first must provide and maintain the infrastructure needed to aid toilet use
  3. The second must motivate people to change behaviour towards toilet use
  4. The third must harness cues and automatic habits to drive positive behaviour

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

[op-ed snap] Searching for an elusive peace


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Quadrilateral Coordination Group, Kabul process

Mains level: Security situation in Afghanistan and India’s role in redevelopment as well as peace process


Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan

  1. Russia hosted a regional conference on Afghanistan to nudge the reconciliation process between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities
  2. Representatives from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, the U.S. and India were also present at the meeting, making it the first time that all stakeholders were present in the same room
  3. The Taliban were represented by their political council chief
  4. With this meeting, Russia has sent a clear signal that it is back in the game in Afghanistan

Taliban reconciliation

  1. The idea of reconciliation with the Taliban has been around for over a decade
  2. As the Taliban insurgency grew 2005 onwards, the British, deployed in Helmand, soon found merit in doing side deals with local Taliban commanders by turning a blind eye to opium production in the area
  3. With the help of the Germans and the Norwegians, they began to persuade the U.S. to work for a political outcome
  4. After being elected in 2008, President Barack Obama ordered a full-scale review of the U.S.’s Afghanistan policy
  5. Operation Enduring Freedom formally ended in December 2014, handing over primary responsibility for combat operations to the Afghan security forces even as the insurgency gained ground
  6. The U.S. had realised that it had run out of options
  7. Coming to power in 2014 after a bitterly contested election, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani moved to improve relations with Pakistan, even calling on then Army Chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, at the GHQ, to push for reconciliation
  8. In December 2015, Russia publicly acknowledged that it had “communication channels with the Taliban for the exchange of information” and “a shared interest with the Taliban to counter the threat posed by the IS”
  9. A new initiative (Quadrilateral Coordination Group) involving the U.S., China, Pakistan and Afghanistan was launched in January 2016
  10. After a couple of meetings, there was a roadmap; Pakistan was to use its influence to get the Taliban to the negotiating table
  11. Mr. Ghani launched the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation, and in February, made an unconditional dialogue offer to the Taliban

Taliban continues to expand

  1. Today, the Afghan government controls barely half the country, with one-sixth under Taliban control and the rest contested
  2. Most significant is the ongoing depletion in the Afghan security forces because of casualties, desertions and a growing reluctance to join. U.S. President Donald Trump’s South Asia policy announced last August
  3. The policy aimed at breaking the military stalemate by expanding the U.S. and NATO presence, putting Pakistan on notice and strengthening Afghan capabilities has clearly failed

Way forward for India

  1. Since July 2011, India has supported an ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ peace process
  2. During Russian President Vladimir Putin’s India visit, both countries expressed their commitment to the Moscow Format
  3. India doesn’t have the leverage to play spoiler but its presence is recognition that its economic cooperation programmes make it the most widely accepted development partner
  4. Pragmatism dictates that India remain engaged with the multiple processes underway
  5. Peace remains elusive but India’s engagement demonstrates the commitment to the idea of a stable, independent and peaceful Afghanistan

Innovations in Sciences, IT, Computers, Robotics and Nanotechnology

How much is a kilogram? Here comes a new way to measure it


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about Kilogram and Weighing system, Planck’s constant

Mains level: Read the attached story.


How much is a kilogram?

  1. Over the centuries, it has been defined and redefined, with a standard in place since 1889.
  2. Called Le Grand K, a cylinder of platinum-iridium is locked up in a jar at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Paris.
  3. For nearly 130 years, the mass of this cylinder has been the international standard for the kilogram.

Redefining what constitutes 1 Kg

  1. Representatives from 57 countries will vote in Versailles, France, to redefine SI, or the International System of Units.
  2. The kilogram’s definition will be based on a concept of physics called the Planck constant.
  3. Reports worldwide suggest that the new definition is set to be voted in.

Why redefine the fundamental units?

  1. Scientists want to create a measurement system that is based entirely on unchanging fundamental properties of nature.
  2. Le Grand K, the “international prototype kilogram”, is the last physical object used to define an SI unit.
  3. It is far from unchanging as it gets dusty and is affected by the atmosphere, and when cleaned, it is vulnerable to change.
  4. The Planck constant, on the other hand, is just that, a constant, if a complex one — it is a quantity that relates a light particle’s energy to its frequency.
  5. It is described in a unit that has the kilogram built into it.

The kilogram comes next

  1. The Planck constant, which it is based on, is usually measured in joule seconds, but this can also be expressed as kilogram square metres per second.
  2. We know what a second and a metre is from the other definitions.
  3. So by adding these measurements, along with an exact knowledge of Planck’s constant, we can get a new, very precise definition of the kilogram.

New Concepts coming to Picture

  1. Since 1967, the ‘second’ has been defined as the time it takes for a certain amount of energy to be released as radiation from atoms of Caesium-133.
  2. This became the basis of all measures of time, and is used in atomic clocks. Once the second was defined, the metre fell into place.
  3. This was based on another universal constant: the speed of light.
  4. Today, the metre is defined as the the distance travelled by light in vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second (which is already defined).

Importance of Redefining

  1. The redefinition of certain aspects really helps science.
  2. Indeed, the new definition of the ‘second’ helped ease communication across the world via technologies like GPS and the Internet.
  3. This is evident from the failure of rubidium atomic clocks onboard IRNSS, the Indian version of GPS.


Time Measurement standards

  1. The second was initially based on the length of a day of 24 hours; in 1956, the standard was set to a fraction of the solar year.
  2. It was only in the middle of the 20th century that the more complex definitions began to be adoptedThe Indian measurement of time, for instance, is widely recognised as the oldest in the world.
  3. It was only in 1875, with the creation of BIPM, that measurement began to be standardised internationally.
  4. A treaty called Metre Convention was signed among 60 countries, leading to international standards.
  5. The BIPM reports to the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), to which India became a signatory in 1957. The SI system was adopted in 1960.

Fundamental Units

  1. There are seven fundamental units.
  2. Every other unit of measurement can be derived from one or more of these seven units: the unit for speed, for instance, factors in the units for distance and time.
  3. While four of the fundamental units, including the kilogram, are on the way to being redefined, the other three are already based on unchanging properties of nature.
  4. These are the second (time), the metre (distance), and the candela (luminous intensity, a measure for light’s brightness).

WTO and India

World Customs Organization’s regional meet takes off in Jaipur


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WCO and its mandate

Mains level: Role of WCO in global trade


WCO Meet

  • A four-day regional meeting of the World Customs Organisation began at Jaipur with representatives of 33 member countries of Asia attending it.

Highlights of the meet

  1. The meeting is slated to deliberate upon various issues including the steps required for the capacity building and reforms in customs.
  2. The participants would also discuss and deliberate upon the amended Kyoto Convention (no way related to Kyoto Protocol of UNFCCC), digital customs, e-commerce among other issues,
  3. A summary of various efforts made by the National Trade Facilitation Committee for trade facilitation would also be tabled in the meeting.

About World Customs Organisation

  1. The World Customs Organization (WCO) is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
  2. The WCO was established in 1952 as the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) is an independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations.
  3. The WCO maintains the international Harmonized System (HS) goods nomenclature, and administers the technical aspects of the WTO Agreements on Customs Valuation and Rules of Origin.
  4. The WCO is noted for its work in areas covering combating counterfeiting in support of IPR, drugs enforcement, illegal weapons trading, integrity promotion, and delivering sustainable capacity building to assist with customs reforms and modernization.
  5. In order to achieve its objectives, the WCO has adopted a number of customs instruments, including :
  • International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS Convention) is used as the basis for customs tariffs and for the compilation of international trade statistics.
  • International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs procedures (revised Kyoto Convention or RKC) promotes trade facilitation and effective controls through its legal provisions that detail the application of simple yet efficient procedures and also contains new and obligatory rules for its application.
  • Arusha Declaration on Customs Integrity adopted in 1993 and revised in 2003 is a non-binding instrument which provides a number of basic principles to promote integrity and combat corruption within customs administrations.
  • Columbus Program is a customs capacity building program works to promote customs modernization and implementation of their standards to secure and facilitate world trade.

[pib] NITI Aayog Constitutes Himalayan State Regional Council


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

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: Himalayan State Regional Council

Mains Level: Sustainable development of Himalayan region


Himalayan State Regional Council

  1. NITI Aayog has constituted the ‘Himalayan State Regional Council’ to ensure sustainable development of the Indian Himalayan region.
  2. Recognizing the uniqueness of the Himalayas and the challenges for sustainable development, Five Working Groups were constituted by NITI Aayog on June 2, 2017.
  3. The Council has been constituted to review and implement identified action points based on the Reports of five Working Groups, which were established along thematic areas to prepare a roadmap for action.
  4. These Working Groups were tasked with preparing a roadmap for action across five thematic areas namely:
  • Inventory and Revival of Springs in Himalayas for Water Security,
  • Sustainable Tourism in Indian Himalayan Region,
  • Shifting Cultivation: Towards Transformation Approach,
  • Strengthening Skill & Entrepreneurship (E&S) Landscape in Himalayas, and
  • Data/Information for Informed Decision Making
  1. The five thematic reports were released by the NITI Aayog in August, 2018 and framed the action points for the Terms of Reference of the Council constituted.
  2. The HSRC will be the nodal agency for the Sustainable development in the Himalayan Region which consists of the twelve States and some selected districts (includes West Bengal and Assam as well).

Terms of Reference

  1. The Council shall monitor the implementation of action points for Central Ministries, Institutions and 12 Himalayan State Governments in Indian Himalayan Region.
  2. The action points include:
  • river basin development and regional cooperation,
  • spring mapping and revival across Himalayas in phased manner for water security;
  • develop, implement and monitor tourism sector standards as well as bring policy coherence,
  • strengthen skill & entrepreneurship with focus on identified priority sectors.

Assist this newscard with:

[pib] NITI Aayog launches 5 Thematic Reports on Sustainable Development in Indian Himalayan Region

Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

[pib] NITI Aayog organizes South Asian Regional Conference on Urban Infrastructure


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Urbanization, their problems and remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Effective management of urban infrastructure


South Asian Regional Conference on Urban Infrastructure

  1. NITI Aayog partnered with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to host a South Asian regional conference.
  2. The Conference aims to review overall issues and assess the sustainability of PPPs and urban finance in South Asia, specifically India, while broadening the knowledge base and engaging on international best practices.
  3. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been one such option that enables governments to optimally share the risks associated with a project’s life cycle.
  4. The conference will emphasize the need to ensure adequate return on investments in infrastructure through properly structured Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) and de-risking of projects.

Need for De-risking

  1. Considering the quantum deficit in infrastructure implementation vis-à-vis the demand, it is urgently needed to focus on newer means of implementing and financing urban infrastructure.
  2. In India alone, until 2040, estimated investments of around $4.5 trillion are required in the infrastructure space.
  3. With respect to urban needs, the population in South Asia is expected to grow by around 250 million till 2030, while that in India is expected to reach around 590 million during the same period.
  4. There are an estimated 98 million people who reside in the slums of Indian cities and are disproportionately deprived of access to basic services and infrastructure.
  5. These gaps must be addressed, so that the cities grow equitably and in an environmentally responsible way.
  6. The South Asian regional conference is a first of its kind, with participation from across the South Asian region including leaders from the government, industry, research organizations, academia, think tanks and civil society.

Other Aspects

  1. To implement urban infrastructure in India, a deeper deliberation is required on the means of democratizing the governance at the city level.
  2. It shall provide greater operational and fiscal autonomy to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).


Food Processing Industry: Issues and Developments

[pib] 2nd Mega Food Park in Maharashtra


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Food processing & related industries in India- scope & significance, location, upstream & downstream requirements, supply chain management

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mega Food Park Scheme

Mains level: Food Processing Industry in India


Food Park in Maharashtra

  1. Union Minister for Food Processing Industries has inaugurated the second Mega Food Park in Maharashtra.
  2. A 3rd Mega Food Park has been sanctioned by the Ministry in Maharashtra and is under implementation in Wardha District while the first Park was inaugurated on 1st of March 2018 in Satara district.
  3. The Paithan Mega Food Park has been set up in 102 acre of land at a cost of Rs. 124.52 crore.

Benefits of Mega Food Park

  1. The Mega Food Park will leverage an additional investment of about Rs. 250 crore in 25-30 food processing units in the park and would eventually lead to a turnover of about Rs. 450-500 crore annually.
  2. The Park will also provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas.
  3. The modern infrastructure for food processing created at Park will benefit the farmers, growers, processors and consumers of Maharashtra and adjoining areas immensely and prove to be a big boost to the growth of the food processing sector in the State of Maharashtra.


Mega Food Park Scheme

  1. India aims to be a resilient food economy and the Food Factory of the World as the government has made Food Processing a major thrust area of ‘Make in India’.
  2. Aimed at giving a major boost to the food processing sector by adding value and reducing food wastage at each stage of the supply chain with particular focus on perishables MoFPI is implementing Mega Food Park Scheme in the country.
  3. Mega Food Parks create modern infrastructure facilities for food processing along the value chain from farm to market with strong forward and backward linkages through a cluster based approach.
  4. Common facilities and enabling infrastructure is created at Central Processing Centre and facilities for primary processing and storage is created near the farm in the form of Primary Processing Centers (PPCs) and Collection Centers (CCs).
  5. Under the Scheme, Government of India provides financial assistance upto Rs. 50.00 Crore per Mega Food Park project.

Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc.

[pib] Positive Impact of GST on Pharma Sector


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy & their effects on industrial growth

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: India’s pharma sector


Growth in Pharma Sector

  1. Turnover: Before GST, Annual Turnover as on 31.05.2017 was Rs 1,14,231 crores while after GST, the same as on 31.05.2018 touched Rs 1,31,312 crores, which is 6% higher than the Pre-GST regime.
  2. Exports: During 2016-17 Exports were Rs 2,75,852 crores while post-GST, in the year 2017-18, they were recorded at Rs 3,03,526 crores, which is 10% higher than the Pre-GST Regime.
  3. As per estimates, the export figure for the current year is likely to be Rs 3,27,700 crores, which will be almost 12% higher than the export figure of Pre-GST regime
  4. Drug Approvals: There has been a significant jump in number of Drug Approvals from 7,857 before GST to 10,446 post-GST.

How this all became possible?

  1. The GST regime removed the complexity of multiple taxes has reduced their cascading effect on the final product.
  2. GST is expected to decrease the manufacturing cost in view of merging of different taxes levied earlier and promote ease of doing business.
  3. Due to discontinuation of Central Sales Tax post-GST, it will reduce transaction costs, as inter-state transaction between two dealers will become tax neutral.
  4. Now, the pharma companies can consolidate their warehouses at strategic locations, effecting a reduction in cost of distribution.
  5. As a result, it will benefit warehouse strategy and improve supply chain efficiency in pharma sector.

Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

[pib] Network for Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific (NEDAC) sets agenda for Cooperatives Trade


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WCO and its mandate

Mains level: Increasing farmers income through cooperative trade


  • The General Assembly of Network for Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific (NEDAC) was held in New Delhi.

 ‘Cooperatives to Cooperative Trade’ partnership in NEDAC

  1. The general assembly of 22 prominent cooperative organizations from eight countries hasdecided to focus on C2C and capacity development to meet challenges of climate change as transformative cooperatives.
  2. Its aim would be to bring about an increase in farmers income and raise their economic standard by bringing cooperative trade in the mainstream and enhance cooperative professionalism.


  1. NEDAC was set up in 1991 by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
  2. NEDAC is a unique organization encompassing mix of Government and non Government organizations created by FAO for synergizing policies and programmes of government and cooperative institutions at country level.
  3. NEDAC sensitizes Governments in the region on the role of agricultural cooperatives in promoting agricultural and rural development to ensure rural food and livelihood security for millions of people in Asia and Pacific.