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December 2018

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[op-ed snap] Citizen-led employment generation is what’s needed


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & employment

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Alternative ways to generate employment in India


Migration a cause of social tensions

  1. Social tensions are rising as “two Indias” emerge from a demographic perspective
  2. The north and east have high fertility rates, low labour force participation and high marginal employment
  3. In contrast, the west and south have low fertility rates and, in some instances, is showing the shortage of manpower
  4. This is resulting in interstate migration, creating social tensions
  5. The west and south are resentful when they see “outsiders” stream in on packed trains
  6. The north and east are likely to experience increasing social strife when a digitally alive population fails to fulfil their aspiration
  7. Of every 100 additional employment requirement for the country in the coming decade, 80 will be in the 10 large states in the north and east where demography is still in its surge phase

Need for large-scale employment

  1. Creating large-scale local employment will be essential for inclusive growth, and is a key agenda for the country over the coming decade
  2. Employment opportunities will require a focus on smaller districts that house a majority of our population and still remain rural or semi-urban and in some cases tribal
  3. Employment generation requires district-level effort for job creation that links local entrepreneurs to markets, with solutions that use local resources

Approach to large-scale employment

  1. Employment generation is the task of citizens, society, and the private sector, not just the government
  2. Employment generation starts with the strengths, resources and capabilities of that region
  3. These resources require market connects, which generate revenues for a local entity, or which can highlight local assets, as with tourism
  4. This approach addresses the challenge of creating large-scale employment as an opportunity for inclusive growth
  5. The approach takes local leaders, local resources as the starting point of employment generation
  6. For instance, agro-processing, dairy, non-timber forest product, local tourism are resources that are specific to a region or a district and should be a starting point for employment generation

Taking forward this approach

  1. Underlying this approach is a change in mindset
  2. Most narratives for our 1.3 billion democracy sees citizens as passive consumers
  3. The approach starts by looking at citizens and local entrepreneurs as producers not mere consumers
  4. It then creates an enabling ecosystem that shifts the focus of economic value creation from larger cities to smaller towns using local resources from that area
  5. It uses market connects as the starting point
  6. Connecting local entrepreneurs to the market using local capabilities of that district is a key feature
  7. An initial assessment of districts understands which local resources will be of use to the regional, national and international markets
  8. The nature of the processing, manufacturing or in some cases services interventions are identified given this market connect
  9. The platform also identifies local entrepreneurs who are able to create and man the units, and strong finance connects are also facilitated
  10. The result is local direct job creation in those local enterprises as well as indirect job creation as local produce is collected, processed and exported

Way forward

  1. This approach can drive efficiency in the economy with lower cost, wider sourcing structures while providing employment to a large number of people in smaller districts
  2. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build India, keeping the citizen at its centre and utilizing the bountiful resources of our smaller districts where employment is most needed

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[op-ed snap] Dam Safety Bill: its objective, the objections


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dam Safety Bill, 2018, Artice 252

Mains level: Status of dams in India and need for ensuring their safety


Dam Safety Bill, 2018

  1. The government has introduced the Dam Safety Bill, 2018 in Lok Sabha
  2. The Bill provides for “surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of specified dams for prevention of dam failure related disasters and to provide for an institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning”

Why dam safety?

  1. Of India’s 5,254 large dams, some 75% are over 25 years old, and 164 more than 100 years old
  2. There have been 36 dam failures
  3. There has been a lack of a uniform law and an administrative regime for dam safety
  4. While the Central Water Commission (CWC) has made efforts through National Committee on Dam Safety, Central Dam Safety Organisation and State Dam Safety Organisations, these agencies do not have statutory powers and can only make recommendations

History of the bill

  1. The Dam Safety Bill was first introduced in Lok Sabha in 2010
  2. It sought to mandate the Centre, state governments and individual owners of dams to establish a mechanism for safety
  3. It was to be initially applicable only to Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and the Union Territories; the two states had passed resolutions under Article 252(1) of the Constitution requesting Parliament to make a law
  4. The Speaker referred the Bill to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which submitted its report in 2011
  5. It suggested that provisions be added for punishing the owner in case of dam failure and fixing liability for compensating affected people and that an independent regulatory authority on safety measures and a national-level early warning system be set up
  6. On June 13, 2018, the Cabinet approved the draft of the Dam Safety Bill, 2018
  7. Most of the recommendations of the standing committee were incorporated in the draft

Regulatory structure for dams

  1. The legislation provides for a National Committee on Dam Safety, to be headed by the CWC chairperson and with members nominated by the Centre
  2. There will be representatives of the Centre and states (through rotation) as well as dam safety experts
  3. The committee will formulate policies and regulations, which are to be implemented by a centrally appointed National Dam Safety Authority, headed by an officer of at least Additional Secretary rank
  4. The authority will also resolve issues between State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs) or between an SDSO and any individual dam owner, lay down regulations for dam inspection and for accreditation to construction and designing agencies
  5. The Bill provides for a safety unit in each dam to be set up by individual dam owners

Opposition to the bill

  1. In cases where a dam is owned by one state and located in another, or extends over multiple states, or is owned by a central public sector undertaking, the Bill provides that the National Dam Safety Authority will act as the SDSO
  2. This provision is the primary reason for opposition from Tamil Nadu
  3. Tamil Nadu’s Mullaiperiyar, Parambikulam, Thunakkadavu and Peruvaripallam dams are owned, operated and maintained by the Government of Tamil Nadu by virtue of Inter-state Agreements, but are located in a neighbouring state Kerala
  4. The government has argued that Article 252 empowered the Centre to legislate for two or more states by consent
  5. The states have pointed out that water is listed as a state subject
  6. As regulation of the safety of dams has not yet been declared by Parliament to be expedient in public interest, it would be prudent to believe that Parliament has no powers to make law for the state or for that matter by the Union Government at this juncture

Surrogacy in India

[op-ed snap] Surrogacy Bill, then & now


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

Mains level: Various laws for the protection of women from exploitation


Surrogacy bill passed

  1. Lok Sabha has passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016
  2. Cleared by the Cabinet in 2016, the Bill was subsequently referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee (Health & Family Welfare) before its passage

What does the Bill aim to do?

  1. Drafted keeping in mind the “Indian ethos” the Bill allows only altruistic surrogacy (by relatives) for married couples
  2. It seeks to put an end to commercial surrogacy — payment to a surrogate mother is punishable by up to five years imprisonment — and also has safeguards built in against sex selection of the baby
  3. The Bill proposes to allow altruistic, ethical surrogacy to intending infertile Indian married couples between the ages of 23-50 (female) and 26-55 (male)
  4. It limits the option to only legally married childless couples who have been trying for a child for at least five years
  5. The commissioning couple cannot have a surviving child either biological or adopted, except when they have a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from a life-threatening disorder with no permanent cure

Need of the bill

  1. There have been several reports about the exploitation of surrogate mothers, women who are kept confined in “hostels” during pregnancy and not allowed to meet their families, women who do it repeatedly for a paltry amount thus putting their own bodies at risk. The Bill seeks to put an end to that
  2.  Ballpark estimations by the Indian Council of Medical Research are around 2,000-odd babies per year through commercial surrogacy — when a woman is paid a pre-fixed sum for renting her womb
  3. CII figures say surrogacy is a $2.3 billion industry fed by lack of regulation and poverty
  4. The 228th report of the Law Commission had recommended prohibition of commercial surrogacy
  5. The Bill now requires all surrogacy clinics to be registered
  6. Clinics can charge for these services but the surrogate mother cannot be paid
  7. The national and state surrogacy boards will be the regulating authorities

Differences in the two versions of the bill

  1. There are changes, including a reduction of punishment
  2. The earlier version provided for a minimum jail term of 10 years for some offences; the present one sets a maximum of 10 years
  3. The present Bill forbids the surrogate mother to use her own gametes (eggs), gives her the option to withdraw before the embryo is implanted, and puts a condition for obtaining a “certificate of essentiality” that the intending couple needs —they must provide 16-month insurance coverage for the surrogate mother including postpartum complications

Standing committee recommendations

  1. Pointing out that the Supreme Court has recognised live-in relationships, the Standing Committee had recommended that the government “broadbase the eligibility criteria in this regard and widen the ambit of persons who can avail surrogacy services by including live-in couples, divorced women/ widows”
  2. It had countered the “altruistic surrogacy for married couples” argument and recommended that compensation be the norm and the word altruistic should be replaced with compensated
  3. Altruistic surrogacy, it observed, is tantamount to exploitation

Digital India Initiatives

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NSM

Mains level: India’s technological advancement in recent years


  • French IT services firm Atos has won a three-year contract to build the first phase of supercomputers under India’s Rs 4,500-crore National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

  1. The Mission envisages empowering national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities.
  2. These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN).
  3. The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network.
  4. The Mission includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.
  5. India looks forward to create a cluster of machines for weather forecasting, drug discovery and data mining.

Agencies involved

  1. The Mission would be implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) over a period of seven years.
  2. The tender to build these high performance computers (HPC) had been floated by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
  3. Atos would be deploying its energy efficient Direct Liquid Cooled Bull Sequana supercomputers in India.

Implementation Phases

  1. The NSM is divided into two key tracks, build and buy, which are being spearheaded by the C-DAC and Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science respectively.
  2. Atos has won the contract for the ‘build’ part of the NSM for which it will partner CDAC in all three phases of the project.
  3. While Phase I involves assembling of the supercomputers, in Phase II, certain components like the motherboards would be manufactured locally, and in the third phase, the supercomputer would be designed in India by C-DAC.
  4. In Phase II, it will be an aggregate of 10 petaflop, but the number of computers is yet to be decided.
  5. In the first phase, IIT-Kharagpur will have a 1.3 petaflop machine and IISER Pune and IIT-BHU will have a 650 teraflop computer each.

(One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system)

Start-up Ecosystem In India

[pib] States’ Startup Ranking 2018


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: States’ Start-up Ranking 2018

Mains level: Boosting the startup ecosystem in India


  • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) announced results of the first ever States’ Start-up Ranking 2018.

States’ Start-up Ranking

  1. The DIPP launched an exercise to rank states and union territories on the basis of measures being taken by them to promote startups, and added that it was consulting states for their ranking framework.
  2. DIPP began this exercise from January, 2016.
  3. The State Startup Ranking Framework is aimed at bringing to fore progress made by States/UTs for promoting startup ecosystem.
  4. The report intends to foster competitiveness and propel the states/UTs to work proactively while facilitating states/UTs to identify, learn and replicate good practices.

Performance of the States

  • Best Performer: Gujarat
  • Top Performers :Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha, and Rajasthan
  • Leaders: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Telangana
  • Aspiring Leaders : Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal
  • Emerging States: Assam, Delhi, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Uttarakhand
  • Beginners: Chandigarh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Sikkim, and Tripura

[pib] International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography at INCOIS, Hyderabad


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ITCOocean, INCOIS, RIMES

Mains level: Importance of the oceanographic research for IOR


  • The UNESCO Category 2 Centre – International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography (ITCOocean) Complex is established as a training facility at Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad.


  1. The Ministry of Earth Sciences had established ITCOocean at INCOIS, Hyderabad to provide training to scientists/ researchers/government officers/disaster managers/decision makers, etc in 2013.
  2. Accordingly, it started conducting short term training programmes for wide variety of participants from India and abroad.
  3. Later, in order to assist UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) India offered to establish the ITCOocean as a UNESCO Category 2 Centre.
  4. The General Conference of UNESCO approved the offer of Government of India to establish ITCOocean as a UNESCO Category 2 Centre in November 2017.


  1. The mission of the Centre is to assist the Member States of IOC/UNESCO in developing oceanographic scientific base, related technology and information systems.
  2. It aims to create a pool of trained ocean scientists, technologists and managers to cater the growing demands of operational oceanographic services and better management of oceans.
  3. It will give an opportunity to the South Asian and African states bordering the Indian Ocean and the small island nations in the Pacific to benefit from the expertise and experience of INCOIS in the areas of ocean science and management.

Activities under INCOIS

  1. INCOIS is already playing its part as a leading operational oceanography institute in the region.
  2. Tsunami early warnings from the institute are delivered to 25 countries on the Indian Ocean Rim on real-time basis, since IOC/UNESCO designated the Centre as Regional Tsunami Service Provider (RTSP) in October 2012.
  3. Under the aegis of Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES), INCOIS is also providing ocean state forecast and other related warnings to 5 countries (Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles, Madagascar and Cameroon).

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

[pib] Asiatic Lion Conservation Project


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Asiatic Lions and their habitat

Mains level: Conservation of Asiatic Lions


Asiatic Lion Conservation Project

  1. The MoEFCC has launched the “Asiatic Lion Conservation Project” with an aim to protect and conserve the world’s last ranging free population of Asiatic Lion and its associated ecosystem.
  2. The project will be funded from the Centrally Sponsored Scheme- Development of Wildlife Habitat (CSS-DWH) with the contributing ratio being 60:40 of Central and State share.
  3. The conservation of Asiatic Lions has always been a priority of Government of India.
  4. The Ministry in the past has supported Asiatic Lion in Gujarat by including it in list of 21 critically endangered species under the species recovery component of CSS-DWH.

Objectives of the project

  1. The project activities is envisaged in a manner to cause habitat improvement, scientific interventions, disease control and veterinary care supplemented with adequate eco development works for the fringe population in order to ensure a stable and viable Lion population in the Country.
  2. The project will strengthen the ongoing measures for conservation and recovery of Asiatic Lion with the help of state-of-the –art techniques/ instruments, regular scientific research studies, disease management, Modern surveillance/ patrolling techniques.


Asiatic Lions conservation in India

  1. Asiatic lions that once ranged from Persia (Iran) to Palamau in Eastern India were almost driven to extinction by indiscriminate hunting and habitat loss.
  2. A single population of less than 50 lions persisted in the Gir forests of Gujarat by late 1890’s.
  3. IUCN Red List Status: Endangered
  4. With timely and stringent protection offered by the State Government and the Center Government, Asiatic lions have increased to the current population of over 500 numbers.
  5. The last census in the year 2015 showed the population of 523 Asiatic Lions in Gir Protected Area Network of 1648.79 sq. km. that includes Gir National Park, Gir Sanctuary, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary adjoining reserved forests, Protected Forests, and Unclassed Forests.

[pib] ICAT Certification


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: ICAT, ICAT certification

Mains level: Certification of motor vehicles for various safety and security standards


  • International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) launched the Certification with high security features in order to prevent use of forged certificates in New Delhi.

About ICAT

  1. International Centre for Automotive Technology is located at Manesar in Gurugram district of Haryana state of India.
  2. ICAT is the premier certification agency authorized by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) for providing testing and certification services to the vehicle and component manufacturers situated within India and abroad.
  3. In addition to the certification services, ICAT is providing extensive testing services for product development and validation.

ICAT Certification

  1. This is a first of its kind initiative taken by any automotive certification agency in India for enhancing the security of the Central Motor Vehicles Rule certificates.
  2. These certificates include Type Approval Certificates (TAC) and Conformity of Production (COP) Certificates for vehicles, engines and components.
  3. The new ICAT certificate format consists of nine new and unique security features incorporated in the certificate.
  4. The most important security feature is the paper itself on which the certificate is to be printed as it is a special paper which is made especially according to ICAT’s specific requirements.
  5. The unique features in the certificate are as listed below:
  • High security paper
  • Printing using the ultraviolet ink
  • Troymark
  • Microprint
  • Pantograph
  • Reverse Pantograph
  • Secure code
  • Print code
  • Digitally printed stamp and seal of ICAT

Unique Features

  1. While some of the security features are generic in nature, the other features are specific for each certificate i.e. the contents or the information covered through these features will be specific for that particular certificate.
  2. Some of the features are visible only through ultraviolet light.
  3. The certificates will be printed using special printers which have been imported by ICAT for this very purpose.
  4. With the new high security features it will become difficult to forge or counterfeit the ICAT certificate.

Civil Services Reforms

[pib] Integrated Government Online Training Programme (iGOT)


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: iGOT

Mains level: Certified training of Civil Servants


  • The iGOT (Integrated Government Online Training Programme) developed by Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, was launched.

Why such move?

  • The National Training Policy-2012 mandates that all civil servants will be provided with training to equip them with the competencies for their current or future jobs.
  • The current structure of training for Government servants including domestic and foreign training is mostly available to very small section of the government servants.
  • The outreach of the existing training setup is very limited in view of the large workforce employed in various States/UT Governments.

IGOT Programme

  1. Aim: To provide a broad training eco-system creating synergies across various premier training institutes of the country and to cater the training needs which can encompass all the officials in the entire hierarchy of Central and State Governments.
  2. The IGOT will augment the existing training mechanism with online module-based training coupled with certification on flexitime basis.
  3. The training will be focussed and targeted to the requirement of the officials.

What is included in IGOT Programme?

  1. The e-Learning mode provides unparalleled opportunities for training to a large number of civil servants scattered all over the country.
  2. The latest technologies make available vast resources of learning material and online courses, providing the individuals enormous choices and flexibility in learning.
  3. It will provide a single point of access to the repository of training resources.
  4. The training courses under this programme will be accessible through DoPT’s web portal.
  5. The initiative aims at “Competent Civil Services for Good Governance”.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] RTI Portal on Judgments/Orders of various courts


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  About the Portal

Mains level: Transparency of Judicial Processes


RTI Portal on Judgments/Orders of Supreme Court, High Courts and CIC

  1. The RTI Portal on Judgments/Orders of Supreme Court, High Courts and CIC has been developed by Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM), New Delhi.
  2. This Portal will provide a learning environment for all stakeholders under which a repository on the landmark cases on the RTI will be available at one place.
  3. The Portal also makes available the gist of the replies given by Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs), First Appellate Authorities as well as the Supreme Court.
  4. It will be helpful in learning the latest trends of implementation of RTI Act as the judgments/orders given by Central Information Commission, High Courts and Supreme Court are always a crucial source to track the developments on this subject.