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December 2018

Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[op-ed snap] No time left to waste on waste


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bioremediation

Mains level: Issues related to waste management and how to tackle this problem seeing urbanization trend in India


Waste management problem in Delhi

  1. Delhi’s garbage woes have been hurtling towards some sort of an endgame ever since a portion of the landfill at Ghazipur, on the city’s eastern edge, collapsed onto an adjoining road and buried two people in September 2017
  2. A temporary ban on dumping at the site was immediately announced, but the Ghazipur garbage mountain is already nearly as tall as the Qutub Minar, as the Supreme Court caustically observed recently
  3. With the quest for another dumpsite going nowhere (as nobody wants a mound of garbage next to their neighbourhood), there is no clarity yet on what to do with the thousands of tonnes of solid waste Delhi generates every day

Garbage problem set to rise

  1. The impasse in Delhi is a reflection of India’s troubling relationship with waste
  2. India’s cities already generate over 150,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste every day, with Mumbai being the world’s fifth most wasteful city
  3. The waste heaps that dot the edges of India’s cities are set to double in size by 2025
  4. Only one-third of the waste undergoes even rudimentary treatment, according to the urban ministry and hardly any of it is segregated, which would make processing easier
  5. As India’s economic growth accelerates, the garbage problem would only get bigger, unless immediate solutions are found to delink growth from garbage generation
  6. According to the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, cities are already beginning to run out of land on which to dump their waste and have begun throwing it in the backyards of smaller towns, suburbs and villages
  7. Thus, garbage may soon become a flashpoint that sets off recurrent conflict across the urban landscape

How India plans to deal with the waste?

  1. The only big national idea on offer has been to incinerate or burn the garbage. That is what the NITI Aayog had proposed in its medium-term three-year vision for the country, which was released in August 2017
  2. By burning the waste, a small amount of energy could also be produced, at least in theory
  3. Currently, about 3% of urban India’s daily garbage output gets fed into waste-to-energy incinerators
  4. A minuscule amount of energy is generated, but there has been very little debate on whether incinerators work in the Indian context

Problems with incineration

  1. Unlike the Western world, a large chunk of India’s waste is still organic kitchen waste—almost 40% of the total volume
  2. Since segregation of waste is yet to become a reality, incineration is a highly inefficient solution
  3. In the Indian context, there is also very little certainty on whether the harmful gases, which are a byproduct of incineration, are adequately contained and treated

Using bioremediation

  1. Apart from incineration, the other big idea that several cities have tried is bioremediation, which effectively involves the use of living micro-organisms to degrade the contaminants in a landfill into less toxic forms
  2. While the technology is somewhat effective in dealing with existing landfills, in an ideal future, the waste processing chain should abolish the need for a landfill to begin with
  3. Various Indian cities have set on aim to build a “zero landfill” city
  4. Segregation and composting are a big part of the mix of solutions that are being implemented
  5. Their experience in inducing collective action among ordinary citizens to segregate waste may hold important lessons for India’s large cities

Way forward

  1. Global examples show that the national mood changes under the influence of an adequate trigger, which makes a radical change in collective behaviour possible
  2. When PM Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission, the hope was that it would serve as India’s trigger. Four years down the line, nothing much has changed
  3. Indians should start demanding clean and healthy cities as a basic right and governments must step up and deliver that basic human need

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Bangladesh

[op-ed snap] The spectre of deportation


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC)

Mains level: How NRC process can impact India-Bangladesh ties


NRC date extended

  1. The last date for filing claims and objections for Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) has been extended by the Supreme Court to December 31, from December 15
  2. This exercise of compiling the NRC in the first place has sparked a debate around its political, economic and humanitarian consequences, and its implications for India’s relationship with its neighbours, particularly Bangladesh

Are illegal immigrants only in India?

  1. There are legal as well as illegal Indian immigrants in Bangladesh too
  2. According to the latest available Bangladesh government estimates of 2009, more than 500,000 Indians were working in Bangladesh

Importance of Bangladeshi remittances

  1. Bangladesh was reported to be among the highest source of remittances to India, behind the United Arab Emirates, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.K.
  2. Many Indian citizens are securing coveted employment opportunities in Bangladesh through multinational companies, non-governmental organisations, and trading activities
  3. To put things into perspective, most of them are employed in advantageous jobs in Bangladesh while Bangladeshis in India are largely employed in low-paying jobs

Bangladesh’s silent reluctance

  1. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured the Bangladesh government that those excluded from the NRC will not be deported, Dhaka has so far been silent on the issue, terming it as an ‘internal matter of India’
  2. This is seen as a signal that Bangladesh, already stretched in terms of resources and manpower to host Rohingya refugees, would not be acceding to a request of taking back Bengali-speaking Muslims in case deportation is initiated

Neighbourhood first policy in shambles- China Effect

  1. PM Modi came to power with proclamation of a ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. Midway in the final year of his term, the reality speaks quite differently
  2. Nepal, once a time-tested ally, has tilted towards China since the 2015 Nepal blockade barring the entry of fuel, medicine and other vital supplies and holding the state to a literal siege
  3. Nepal now has been given access to four Chinese ports at Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang in addition to its dry (land) ports at Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse, as well as roads to these facilities, ending India’s monopoly to its trading routes
  4. The India-Bhutan relationship has also been strained ever since India temporarily withdrew subsidies on cooking gas and kerosene in 2013, constraining bilateral ties
  5. The Doklam stand-off in the summer of 2017 reinforced Bhutan’s scepticism towards Chinese expansionist plans across the region
  6. Simultaneously, Thimphu has been underlining the landlocked kingdom’s aspiration to affirm its sovereignty
  7. It has, for instance, stepped out of India’s diplomatic influence, as evidenced by its withdrawal from the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicles agreement
  8. The India-China power play has also cast its shadow over Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the last few years

Bangladesh’s importance

  1. Against this backdrop of China making inroads into South Asia and India’s backyard, Bangladesh has so far been the most trusted ally of India
  2. On the security front, it has cooperated in India’s crackdown on insurgents
  3. Annual bilateral trade is set to cross the $9 billion mark, making it India’s biggest trading partner in South Asia
  4. In addition, Bangladesh has facilitated connectivity with the Northeast by allowing the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports
  5. However, the Teesta water-sharing issue remains unaddressed, non-tariff barriers on Bangladeshi exports persist and border killings are yet to become a thing of the past

Way forward

  1. The NRC issue threatens to disturb the equilibrium in India-Bangladesh ties
  2. Plans for deportation of those not on the NRC list are not only politically imprudent but also risk inciting unrest across the region
  3. Previous similar exercises have not been effective and only resulted in alienating individuals from their natural rights

Indian Navy Updates

Navy to helm centre on maritime security


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IFC-IOR

Mains level: Enhancing maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region


  • The Indian Navy will formally inaugurate the Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) this week.

Information Fusion Centre (IFC)

  1. The IFC-IOR is established with the vision of strengthening maritime security in the region by building a common coherent maritime situation picture and acting as a maritime information hub for the region.
  2. The IFC has been established at the Navy’s Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurugram.
  3. IMAC is the single point centre linking all the coastal radar chains to generate a seamless real-time picture of the nearly 7,500-km coastline.
  4. All countries that have already signed white shipping information exchange agreements with us, about 21 of them, are IFC partners.

Benefits of IFC

  1. With the launch of the IFC, countries now have the option of positioning liaison officers at the IFC.
  2. Through this Centre, information on “white shipping”, or commercial shipping, will be exchanged with countries in the region to improve maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean.
  3. Establishment of the IFR-IRO would ensure that the entire region is benefited by mutual collaboration and exchange of information and understanding the concerns and threats which are prevalent in the region.

Maritime network

  1. In a related development, India has signed the ascension agreement to the Trans Regional Maritime Network (T-RMN) which facilitates information exchange on the movement of commercial traffic on the high seas.
  2. Such multilateral agreements are necessitated due to the large traffic in the Indian Ocean which cannot be entirely monitored by any one nation.
  3. The multilateral construct comprises of 30 countries and is steered by Italy.

AIS systems on ships

  1. The information is available primarily through the Automatic Identification System (AIS) fitted on merchant ships with more than 300 gross registered tonnages as mandated by the International Maritime Organisation.
  2. The AIS information comprises name, MMSI number, position, course, speed, last port visited, destination and so on.
  3. This information can be picked up through various AIS sensors including coastal AIS chains and satellite based receivers.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s GSAT-7A to add more heft to Air Force


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of GSAT-7A

Mains level:  Importance of GSAT-7A in military communication


  • Military communication satellite GSAT-7A to be launched on December 19 is expected to add a new space-based dimension to the way Indian Air Force interlinks operates and communicates with its aircraft as they fly and with command centres on ground.

Especially for IAF

  1. Although all Indian communication satellites offer capacity to the armed forces, GSAT-7A will be the first one built primarily for the IAF.
  2. It qualitatively unify its assets and improve combined, common intelligence during operations.
  3. About 70% of it would be for the Air Force and the rest for the needs of the Army.
  4. The ground force’s Army Aviation Corps operates many helicopters, uses UAVs and will acquire fixed wing aircraft in future — all for surveillance and rescue missions.
  5. The satellite using Ku band will enable superior real time aircraft-to-aircraft communication; and between planes that are in flight and their commanders on the ground.
  6. It would enhance by many times the coverage now provided by ground communication systems such as radars and stations of the Army.
  7. Out-of-sight and remote areas where ground infrastructure and signals are difficult would get into the critical information loop.

Forward leap

  1. It will be a very important step or jump towards what we call network-centric operations or warfare.
  2. GSAT 7 will enable communication and data linking at forward places and air defence centres.
  3. Pilots can communicate much better with headquarters while they fly. Headquarters can receive data in real time.

Last mission of 2018

  1. The GSAT-7A/GSLV-F11 mission will wrap up the 2018 calendar year for the ISRO.
  2. The GSLV-F11 space vehicle will release it to an eventual geostationary orbit about 36,000 km from Earth.
  3. In 2018, ISRO launched GSAT-11 on December 5 on a European vehicle from Kourou.
  4. GSAT-29 on November 14 on its GSLV-MK III vehicle from Sriharikota, and the ill-fated GSAT-6A on March 29 from Sriharikota.

Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Govt. notifies rules for in-flight, maritime mobile phone services


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018

Mains level: In-flight and maritime connectivity issues


  • People will soon be able to make calls and access internet through their phones during air travel and ship voyage within the Indian Territory as the government has notified rules for providing such services.

Flight and Maritime Connectivity Rules, 2018

  1. Indian and foreign airlines and shipping companies operating in the country can provide in-flight and maritime voice and data services in partnership with a valid Indian telecom licence holder.
  2. The in-flight and maritime connectivity (IFMC) can be provided using telecom networks on ground as well as using satellites.
  3. The services can be provided by a valid telecom licence holder in India through domestic and foreign satellites having permission of the Department of Space.
  4. In case of using satellite system for providing IFMC, the telegraph message shall be passed through the satellite gateway earth station located within India
  5. Such satellite gateway earth stations shall be interconnected with the NLD (national long distance) or access service or ISP licensee’s network for further delivery of service.
  6. The IFMC services will be activated once the aircraft attains a minimum height of 3,000 metres in Indian airspace to avoid interference with terrestrial mobile networks.
  7. The IFMC licences will be granted against annual fee of Re 1 for a period of 10 years and the permit holder will have to pay licence fees and spectrum charges based on revenue earned from providing services.

Railway Reforms

India’s 1st Railway University dedicated to nation


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NRTI

Mains level: Modernization of Railways


  •  Railway Ministry has dedicated India’s very first Railway University at Vadodara to nation.


  1. In 2014, PM Modi had announced the Railway University for the Research and Modernization of the Railway system of India.
  2. The Union Cabinet had approved the establishment of the first Rail University in Vadodara in Gujarat in Dec 2017, to promote human resource skills and capacity building.

National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI)

  1. The NRTI is a deemed university in Vadodara, had opened its doors to the first batch of students from various states in two fully-residential undergraduate courses in September this year.
  2. It has been established as a recognized University under UGC’s Honored University Institute Regulation, 2016.
  3. It is India’s first railway university and only third such in the whole world after Russia and China.
  4. In this year, two under-graduate programmes are being offered by the university in Transportation Technology and a BBA programme in Transportation Management.
  5. The university aims to start the master’s programme from 2019-20 academic sessions in areas such as Transportation and Systems Design, Transport Systems Engineering, Transport Policy and Economics, among others.
  6. The university has been working with foreign partners such as California, Berkeley and Cornell University.

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

[pib] Outcome of 24th Session of Conference of Parties


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: COP 24

Mains level:  India fulfilling its ambitious climate actions


  • The 24th Session of the of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24) was held in Katowice, Poland on 02nd– 15th December 2018.
  • During the COP, nations overcame divisions to agree global climate pact rules for limiting temperature rise to below 2°Celsius
  • However Indian participants are disappointed with the outcome.

Key issues under focus

  1. Finalization of guidelines/ modalities/ rules for the implementation of Paris Agreement
  2. The conclusion of 2018 Facilitative Talanoa Dialogue
  3. Stocktake of Pre-2020 actions implementation and ambition

Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC)

  1. The guidance on Nationally Determined Contributions preserves the determined nature of NDCs and provides for Parties to submit different types of contributions including adaptation.
  2. The guidance on adaptation recognizes the needs of developing countries and is built on the overarching principle of CBDR-RC.

Enhanced Transparency Framework

  1. India has been in favor of a robust transparency regime, and the finalized Enhanced Transparency Framework builds upon the existing guidelines while providing flexibilities for developing countries.
  2. The guidance on finance provisions operationalize the obligation of developed countries in providing means of implementation to developing countries.
  3. It recognizes the need for climate finance to be new and additional and climate specific.
  4. The framework for technology recognizes the need for enhanced support towards operationalization of the framework and comprehensively covers all stages of technology development and transfer.

Outstanding issues

  1. Key questions on whether developed countries would come good on earlier commitments to make available $100 billion annually by 2020 remained unsolved.
  2. Moreover, a fundamental tenet — that developed countries and developing countries have ‘differentiated’ responsibilities towards addressing global greenhouse gas emissions — appeared to be threatened

Issue over Global Stocktake (GST)

  1. The GST refers to a periodic appraisal by countries on where the world stands vis-à-vis emissions and what more needs to be done.
  2. This would form the basis for countries taking the call on increasing their emission cuts.
  3. The global stocktake will provide countries with the basis for strengthening their actions and submitting new national climate commitments in the two years following each successive global stocktake.
  4. Equity is specifically mentioned in Article 14 of the Paris Agreement. It is the basic principle of the Convention and the Paris Agreement.
  5. The entire GST exercise is lopsided as the process of technical assessment does not fully address equity.

Carbon credits again ignored

  1. There is the outstanding issue of what happens to carbon credits.
  2. These are essentially carbon emissions that would normally have gone into the atmosphere but were prevented, due to alternate, cleaner alternatives adopted by developing countries.
  3. Developed countries are expected to pay for such credits via market-based trading mechanisms but these have been dismantled because of concerns over whether these reductions were real and measurable.
  4. The countries are not willing to find a solution to this as it has been postponed once again.

Agendas under COP-24

[pib] 24th meeting of Conference of Parties (COP-24) to begin

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] NITI Aayog organizes the Third Edition of the Women Transforming India Awards


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WEP, WTIA

Mains level: Promoting Women entrepreneurs in India


  • The NITI Aayog has organized the Third Edition of the Women Transforming India Awards 2018 and launched the upgraded portal of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform.


  1. On November 28-30, 2017, NITI Aayog in partnership with the US govt hosted the 8th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad.
  2. To take the idea forward, CEO, NITI Aayog announced setting up of Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) to promote and support established as well as aspiring women entrepreneurs in India.

Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP)

  1. WEP is the first of its kind unified access platform which enables meeting of several stakeholders in the entrepreneurial space on a single platform.
  2. It works in collaboration with various partner organizations to provide a wide range of support services to women entrepreneurs under various service verticals of WEP.

WEP 2.0

  1. The WEP seeks to transform the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and is a one-stop resource centre for future and budding women entrepreneurs.
  2. It seeks to act as a medium for various stakeholders in the economy to come together and offer integrated services such as Incubation Support, Mentorship, Funding avenues, Compliance, Marketing Assistance etc.

Women Transforming India Awards

  1. The Awards were instituted to recognise and celebrate stories of exemplary women from across India.
  2. WTI Awards 2018 received over 2300 nominations this year.
  3. Through a highly objective and transparent screening and evaluation process have selected 15 winners from sectors such as Renewable Energy, Education, Sanitation, Art and Culture, Social Innovation and Impact to name a few.
  4. This year’s theme is “Women and Entrepreneurship”.

WEP Investment Council

  • The WEP Investment Council was established to address funding related challenges faced by entrepreneur.