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December 2018

Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

[op-ed snap] Breastfeeding Is Not Home Chore: A Wake-Up Call That Mindsets Need to Change


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: Not much

Mains level: The ordeal faced by new mothers in feeding their children in public and need of change in public perception


The taboo related to breastfeeding

  1. It was only last year when an Australian senator was said to have ‘made history’ when she breastfed her baby girl while addressing a Parliament session
  2. Recently, a Malayalam actress was shamed by huge number of people on social media for allowing a magazine to use a picture of her breastfeeding an infant child on its cover
  3. The larger issue of new mothers having to breastfeed their newborns in awkward spaces like changing rooms or toilets still persists
  4. The ordeal faced by many lactating mothers who are made to feel embarrassed when they breastfeed their infants in public is a clear indicator that the lack of dedicated spaces is an issue, but not the only one
  5. A much graver and larger issue is the existing perception about an absolutely natural life process

Raising a child a social process

  1. According to an African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
  2. This essentially means that it takes the efforts of an entire community of different people in order to create the right environment for a child to grow to her/his full potential
  3. The larger society needs to play a positive and conducive role in building an enabling environment for children
  4. This does not shift the responsibility of the child from the parents, but just highlights the role the society has to play – a shift in the attitude towards making public spaces child-friendly, is definitely one of them

Importance of breastfeeding

  1. For infants, breastfeeding is not only their way to deal with hunger but is also a process that helps calm them down when they are irritated or disturbed for any reason
  2. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding until babies are six months old, as children are most likely to achieve optimal growth and development at this age
  3. Depriving a child of her/his mother’s breast milk is not only likely to affect her/his nourishment but also make the child prone to longer-term health problems

Guidelines for child feeding

  1. The Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Guidelines 2016 prepared by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics say this about nursing in public (NIP): “Mothers should feel comfortable to nurse in public
  2. All efforts should be taken to remove hurdles impeding breastfeeding in public places, special areas/rooms shall be identified/ constructed or established in places like Bus stands, Railway stations, Airports etc.”
  3. In reality, however, these guidelines are often overlooked in public spaces and new mothers have to face not only rebuke and judgmental glances from people around but also major discomfort in terms of absent infrastructure

Way forward

  1. The need of the hour is to sensitise people and change mindsets, of making people understand that a baby’s hunger, nourishment or discomfort is not dependent on the availability of space or how it makes other people feel
  2. This message not only needs to be made loud and clear, but also widespread

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[op-ed snap] Farming in a warming world


Mains Paper 1: Geography | changes in critical geographical features (including waterbodies & ice-caps) & in flora & fauna & the effects of such changes

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Climate change threat to Indian agriculture and moving towards climate resilient agri practices


Climate aberrations

  1. The pervasiveness of climatic aberrations and the associated socio-economic vulnerability are now widely recognised and experienced across the globe
  2. The Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on “Global Warming at 1.5°C” distinctly propagates the need to strengthen and enhance existing coping capacity and to remain committed to the objectives of the Paris Agreement
  3. The report establishes that the world has become 1°C warmer because of human activities, causing a greater frequency of extremes and obstruction to the normal functioning of ecosystems
  4. India, with its diverse agro-climatic settings, is one of the most vulnerable countries

Impact on India’s agriculture & climate

  1. India’s s agriculture ecosystem, distinguished by high monsoon dependence, and with 85% small and marginal landholdings, is highly sensitive to weather abnormalities
  2. There has been less than normal rainfall during the last four years, with 2014 and 2015 declared as drought years
  3. Even the recent monsoon season (June-September) ended with a rainfall deficit of 9%, which was just short of drought conditions
  4. Research is also confirming an escalation in heat waves, in turn affecting crops, aquatic systems and livestock
  5. The Economic Survey 2017-18 has estimated farm income losses between 15% and 18% on average, which could rise to 20%-25% for unirrigated areas without any policy interventions

Moving towards climate resilient agriculture

There is a need to foster the process of climate adaptation in agriculture, which involves reshaping responses across both the micro- and macro-level decision-making culture

  • Micro-level interventions
  1. At the micro-level, traditional wisdom, religious epics and various age-old notions about weather variations still guide farmers’ responses, which could be less effective
  2. Corroborating these with climate assessments and effective extension and promoting climate resilient technologies will enhance their pragmatism
  3. Climate exposure can be reduced through agronomic management practices such as inter and multiple cropping and crop-rotation; shift to non-farm activities; insurance covers; up-scaling techniques such as solar pumps, drip irrigation and sprinklers
  4. There is an urgent need to educate farmers, reorient Krishi Vigyan Kendras and other grass-root organisations with specific and more funds about climate change and risk-coping measures
  • Macro-level interventions
  1. At the macro-level, climate adaptations are to be mainstreamed in the current developmental framework (which is still at a nascent stage, as acknowledged in the Economic Survey 2017-18)
  2. Though programmes of the government document the likely consequences of climate change, they lack systematic adaptation planning and resource conservation practices
  3. Mainstreaming adaptation into the policy apparatus has the potential to improve the resilience of several development outcomes
  4. The approach demands coherence across multiple policy scales as required for developing possible synergy between micro-macro levels and addressing several cross-cutting issues

Major interventions

  1. Expansion of extension facilities, improving irrigation efficiency, promotion of satellite-enabled agriculture risk management, creating micro-level agro-advisories, providing customised real-time data, and capacity building of stakeholders are some initiatives towards building greater resilience in agriculture
  2. Interventions such as the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Heath Card, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Agriculture Market, or e-NAM, and other rural development programmes are positive interventions that can address the vulnerability of farmers and rural households
  3. There are also exclusive climate and adaptation schemes being operationalised, such as the National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), the National Adaptation Fund, and the State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC)
  4. It is desirable to have a cultural change wherein some of the components under these schemes can be converged with major rural developmental programmes, which will further enhance their effectiveness at the grass-root level

Way forward

  1. A convergence of climate actions with ongoing efforts and several Central schemes with similar mandates is a must
  2. Greater expertise and consultations are required for a systematic prioritisation of actions and fiscal prudence for building climate resilient agriculture

Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

[pib] ECO Niwas Samhita 2018


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Eco Niwas Samhita

Mains level: Promoting energy efficiency standards in building and constructions


  • Giving a further fillip to India’s energy conservation efforts, Ministry of Power has launched the ECO Niwas Samhita 2018, an Energy Conservation Building Code for Residential Buildings (ECBC-R).

ECO Niwas Samhita 2018

  1. It aims to benefit the occupants and the environment by promoting energy efficiency in design and construction of homes, apartments and townships.
  2. The parameters listed in the Code have been developed based on large number of parameters using climate and energy related data.
  3. ECBC for commercial buildings was already in place and revised and updated version of ECBC for commercial buildings was launched in June 2017.
  4. Initially, Part-I of the Code has been launched which prescribes minimum standards for building envelope designs with the purpose of designing energy efficient residential buildings.
  5. The implementation of this Code will give a fillip to energy efficiency in residential sector.


  1. The Code is expected to assist large number of architects and builders who are involved in design and construction of new residential complexes in different parts of the country.
  2. Implementation of this Code will have potential for energy savings to the tune of 125 Billion Units of electricity per year by 2030, which is equivalent to about 100 million ton of Co2 emission.
  3. It is estimated that energy demand in the building sector will rise from around 350 billion units in 2018 to approximately 1000 billion units by year 2030.

National Energy Conservation Awards

  1. National Energy Conservation Day is celebrated every year on 14th December by Ministry of Power in association with Bureau of Energy Efficiency.
  2. In order to recognise the efforts of industry and other establishments towards promoting energy efficiency, on this Day, Ministry of Power organizes National Energy Conservation Awards.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[pib] Revised Guidelines for Ground Water Extraction


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WCF

 Mains level: Regulation of groundwater use, Groundwater Bill, 2017 and its provisions


Guidelines for ground water extraction

  1. In order to comply with various directions of the NGT regarding ground water extraction, the Central Ground Water Authority, Ministry of Water Resources has notified revised guidelines for ground water extraction.
  2. These will be effective from 1st June 2019.
  3. The revised guidelines aim to ensure a more robust ground water regulatory mechanism in the country.

Water Conservation Fee (WCF)

  1. One of the important features of the revised guidelines is the introduction of the concept of Water Conservation Fee (WCF).
  2. The WCF payable varies with the category of the area, type of industry and the quantum of ground water extraction.
  3. It is designed to progressively increase from safe to over-exploited areas and from low to high water consuming industries as well as with increasing quantum of ground water extraction.
  4. Through this design, the high rates of WCF are expected to discourage setting up of new industries in over-exploited.
  5. The WCF would also compel industries to adopt measures relating to water use efficiency and discourage the growth of packaged drinking water units, particularly in over-exploited and critical areas.

Other Features

  1. Other salient features include encouraging use of recycled and treated sewage water by industries, provision of action against polluting industries, mandatory requirement of digital flow meters, piezometers and digital water level recorders.
  2. It mandates water audit by industries abstracting ground water 500 m3/day or more in safe and semi-critical and 200 m3/day or more in critical and over-exploited assessment units.
  3. It also suggests for roof top rain water harvesting except for specified industries and measures to be adopted to ensure prevention of ground water contamination in premises of polluting industries/ projects.

Certain Exemptions

  1. As per the revised guidelines, exemption from requirement of NOC has been given to agricultural users, users employing non-energized means to extract water, individual households (using less than 1 inch diameter delivery pipe) and Armed Forces Establishments.
  2. Other exemptions (with certain requirements) have been granted to strategic and operational infrastructure projects for Armed Forces, Defence and Paramilitary Forces Establishments and Government water supply agencies.


Groundwater extraction in India

  1. India is the largest user of ground water in the world, extracting ground water to the tune of 253 bcm per year, which is about 25% of the global ground water extraction.
  2. Ground water extraction in India is primarily for irrigation in agricultural activities, accounting for nearly 228 BCM (Billion Cubic Meter), which amounts to 90% of the annual ground water extraction.
  3. The remaining 10% of extraction (25 BCM) is for drinking & domestic as well as industrial uses.
  4. Industrial use is estimated to account for only about 5% of the annual ground water extraction in the country.
  5. Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), constituted under the Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 has the mandate of regulating ground water development and management in the country.
  6. CGWA has been regulating ground water development for its sustainable management in the country through measures such as issue of advisories, public notices, grant of NOC for ground water withdrawal.

For Groundwater Bill, 2017, please refer :

[op-ed snap] A gathering crisis: the need for groundwater regulation

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

Govt to set up National Medical Devices Promotion Council


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NMDPC

Mains level: Functions of the proposed council


National Medical Devices Promotion Council (NMDPC)

  1. To give a boost to the medical devices industry, which is a sunrise sector, Union Govt will set up of a National Medical Devices Promotion Council.
  2. It will be an agency under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  3. The proposed national council, headed by the Secretary, DIPP, would achieve convergence as medical devices were covered under various Ministries and departments.
  4. Apart from the concerned departments, it will also have representatives from healthcare industry and quality control institutions.

Functions of the proposed NMDPC

  1. The NMDPC will undertake several activities including facilitation, promotion and development of the sector besides holding seminars and workshops to garner views of industry and understand best global practices.
  2. It would also identify redundant processes and render technical assistance to the agencies and departments concerned to simplify the approval processes involved in the sector.
  3. It will enable entry of emerging interventions and support certifications for manufacturers to reach levels of global trade norms and lead India to an export driven market in the sector.
  4. It support dissemination and documentation of international norms and standards for medical devices, by capturing the best global practices and facilitate domestic manufacturers to rise to international level.
  5. It will also drive a preferential market access policy, by identifying the strengths of the Indian manufacturers and discouraging unfair trade practices in imports.
  6. Besides, it would make recommendations to government based on industry feedback and global practices on policy and process interventions to strengthen the medical technology sector.

Why such move?

  1. The medical devices industry plays a critical role in the healthcare ecosystem and is indispensable to achieve the goal of health for all citizens.
  2. Although the industry has been growing in double digits, it is predominantly import-driven, with imports accounting for over 65 per cent of the domestic market.

Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

Telecom tribunal scraps TRAI predatory pricing norms


Mains Paper 2: Indian Polity | Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: TDSAT, TRAI

Mains level: Regulating market players in Telecom sector and the role of TDSAT



  1. The regulatory order had earlier given a new entrant 4G Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) the pricing flexibility till it acquired 30 per cent share of the market’s subscribers.
  2. The order has distorted the market, placing all other operators at a “serious disadvantage”.
  3. This is an unnecessary abdication of its regulatory powers by the TRAI.

Disputed order

  1. The rules provided “artificial protection” to a telecom operator which have had the “capability and intent” to destabilize the sector through predatory pricing before it attains ‘significant market power (SMP)’
  2. SMP means a service provider holding a share of at least  30% of total activity in a relevant market, according to TRAI rules.

TDSAT quashes the rule

  1. In a hard-hitting judgement, telecom tribunal Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) quashed TRAI rule on predatory pricing and discounted tariffs.
  2. TDSAT Bench ruled that the disputed tariff amendment order is set aside so far as it changes the concept of significant market player (SMP), non-predation and the related provisions.
  3. It had asked the TRAI to reconsider the provisions within six months.

What it means for other TSPs?

  1. The order means that other telecom operators can continue offering customized discounts to retain subscribers and therefore, need no reporting in the manner prescribed for regular tariff plans.
  2. Moreover, instead of reporting of all such discounted offers not falling within the cap of 25 tariff plans, TRAI may call for details of any segmented offer about which it may receive specific complaints.

Other suggestions

  1. TRAI has sped up process for a mobile user to port to a new telecom service provider to two days, when done within the same circle and four days when porting from one circle to another.
  2. TRAI also suggested imposing a penalty of Rs 10,000 on telecom operators every time they provide false info regarding a mobile number porting request.


Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal

  1. The TDSAT was established in 2000 to adjudicate disputes and dispose of appeals with a view to protect the interests of service providers and consumers of the telecom sector.
  2. The policy of liberalisation in the 1990s helped the Indian Telecom sector to grow rapidly. The entry of private and international players resulted in need of independent regulatory body.
  3. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act 1997 was amended to establish TDSAT.
  4. Composition
  • The office of TDSAT is located in Delhi consisting of a chairperson and two members.
  • The qualification of the chairperson of TDSAT is that she/he has to be either the chief justice of a High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • The qualification of the other 2 members are that they must have been in the post of Secretary to the Indian government for a period of 2 years or he must have extensive knowledge in the field of telecommunication, commerce, industry, and technology.
  • The chairperson and other members of the TDSAT are liable to hold office for a term of 3 years.

International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

NASA’s ICESat-2 maps Antarctic ice sheet melting: Study


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICESat-2 Mission

Mains level: Space missions and their objectives


  • NASA’s ICESat-2 launched less than three months ago has mapped melting ice sheets in Antarctica and the resulting sea level rise across the globe, which could help improve climate forecasts.


  1. The ICESat-2 stands for Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 .
  2. It is measuring the height of sea ice to within an inch, tracing the terrain of previously unmapped Antarctic valleys, surveying remote ice sheets, and peering through forest canopies and shallow coastal waters.
  3. With each pass of the ICESat-2 satellite, the mission is adding to datasets tracking Earth’s rapidly changing ice.
  4. As ICESat-2 orbits over the Antarctic Ice Sheet, the photon returns reflect from the surface and show high ice plateaus, crevasses in the ice 20 metres deep, and the sharp edges of ice shelves dropping into the ocean.

Data Collection

  1. Sea ice of different thickness and bumpiness is broken up by the cracks between floes, called leads, in this graph of photon returns from ICESat-2 as it orbits over the Weddell Sea in Antarctica.
  2. When sea ice first forms on polar oceans, before snow falls on it and wind smashes it into other floes, it is thin, flat and smooth.
  3. The first months of ICESat-2 data collected over Arctic and Antarctic sea ice reveal thin ice, thick ice, and features such as ice ridges.
  4. Areas of open water in the cracks between the ice floes, called leads, stand out in the data because of the difference in reflectivity between ice and water.

Mapping the melting glaciers

  1. By comparing the height of that water surface in the leads with the height of the ice, scientists are estimating ice freeboard and thickness.
  2. With the high precision of ICESat-2, plus the satellite’s six beams taking data simultaneously, researchers have an unprecedented understanding of the thickness of sea ice, which will be used to help improve climate modeling and forecasts.
  3. The ability to identify newly formed, thin ice will help researchers track the seasonal changes in remote polar regions, and understand the processes that drive those processes.
  4. The ice-thickness data will also help scientists improve computer models of how sea ice responds to Arctic warming, as well as forecasts of sea ice cover.

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

TN demands withdrawal of Dam Safety Bill


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: Particulars of the draft Bill

Mains level:  Dam safety and unresolved points of issues between the states which share dam territory.


Tamil Nadu disputes with Kerala

  1. That as the proposed draft Dam Safety Bill, 2018 contains clauses which violate the rights of Tamil Nadu especially with respect to the Dams constructed by it.
  2. Tamil Nadu owns dams in Mullaperiyar, Parambikulam, Thunakadavu and Peruvaripallam in Kerala.
  3. The two states have engaged in dispute over the Mullaperiyar dam.
  4. When TN wanted to increase storage of the dam, Kerala opposed it citing safety threats.

SC intervention

  1. Eventually, a Supreme Court team inspected the dam and confirmed in November 2014 that the dam was safe.
  2. In May 2014, the SC had struck down a Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act 2006 limiting the full reservoir level to 136 feet.
  3. The dispute was over the TN government’s demand to raise the water level to 142 feet and carry out repair.
  4. While that order went against Kerala, the latest move by the Centre has made TN cautious about its authority and assets.

An Unconstitutional move

  1. The aforementioned dams are operated and maintained by the Tamil Nadu government by virtue of inter-State agreements, but are located in a neighbouring State.
  2. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had upheld the rights of Tamil Nadu over the Mullaiperiyar dam in its judgment in May 2014.
  3. Therefore, to deny Tamil Nadu the right to be the Dam Safety Authority with regard to these dams and vesting the powers on the National Dam Safety Authority would tantamount to encroaching on the rights of Tamil Nadu, which is unconstitutional.

For Dam Safety Bill, please refer:

[pib] Cabinet approves proposal for enactment of Dam Safety Bill, 2018