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December 2018

North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

Government rejects separate time zone for NE States


Mains Paper 1: Geography | Geographical features & their location

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  IST system

Mains level: Issue of two time zones being raised by NE India receives a full stop.


  • A panel, formed to examine having a separate time zone for the NE States, recommended against it for “strategic reasons”.

Proposed time zones: IST-I and IST-II

  1. The custodian of Indian Standard Time (IST) proposed two time zones IST-I and IST-II for the country as follows:
  • IST-I would be same as current IST, that is, UTC +5:30
  • IST-II would be UTC +6:30 owing to the difference of one hour between eastern and western part of the country
  1. The borderline between two time zones would have been 89°52’E, the narrow border between Assam and West Bengal.
  2. States west of this line would have followed IST-I (UTC +5:30) while states east of this line (Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Andaman & Nicobar Islands) would have followed IST-II (UTC +6:30).
  3. The implementation would require the establishment of a laboratory for ‘Primary Time Ensemble II’ generating IST-II in any of the north-eastern states, which would be equivalent to the existing ‘Primary Time Ensemble-I’ at CSIR-NPL, New Delhi.

Need for two time zones

  1. India extends from 68°7’E to 97°25’E, with the spread of 29 degrees, which amounts to almost two-hours from the geographical perspective.
  2. For decades, legislators, activists, industrialists and ordinary citizens from India’s northeast have complained about the effect of IST on their lives.

Following are the factors which compelled the people from northeast to demand a different time zone:

1. Loss of daylight hours and excess electricity usage

  • Since the sun rises as early as four in the morning and in winter it sets by four in the evening, the region loses most of its daytime hours before the government offices and schools are opened.
  • This ends up with more electricity usage.
  • A different time zone would allow sunsets to take place later, allowing the citizens to better use their daylight hours.
  • A study done by Bengaluru based National Institute of Advanced Studies concluded that a separate time zone for the northeastern region could help in saving 2.7 billion units of electricity every year.

2. Effect on biological clocks of citizens

  • The longitudinal extremes of the country are assigned a single time zone which not only creates the loss of daylight hours but also creates problems relating to the biological clock.
  • The biological clock is so active that when we move from one time zone to another, it forces us to sleep at an unusual time.
  • This is commonly known as jetlag and it requires few days to resynchronize our biological clock with the local solar timings.

No need for separate Time Zone

What are the strategic reasons?

  1. The other countries that have multiple times zones in single land mass, the population density is much less compared to India.
  2. The NE is hung with mainland of India through the narrow chicken’s neck.
  3. But in India, any border between separated time zones will run through densely populated areas, creating huge chaos.
  4. Separate time zones will mean separate schedules for same trains, flights that criss-cross the country on a daily basis.
  5. Moreover, the administration in India is not known for its efficiency.

Easy Solutions against separate time zone

  1. Although India has a single time zone, it does not mean that everyone has to follow the same routine/ work shifts.
  2. The regions in the east can start and end their work day one or two hours earlier, and get all the benefits of having a separate time zone, without the chaos associated with it.
  3. Individual organisations, companies, factories, educational institutions, public sector units, state governments can fix work hours based on their geographic location.
  4. For example, an office in Kolkata can have a workday of 8 to 4, there is no bar on doing so.

Best Example

  1. In Assam, the tea gardens follow a different time zone, known as Tea Garden Time or Bagan Time which is one hour ahead of IST.
  2. Most tea gardens in the organised sector in Assam start their workday at around 7 AM.
  3. Even the administrative offices of public sector companies like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and Oil India Limited (OIL) in Assam start working at 7 AM.
  4. As long as total work hours do not exceed prescribed limits set by labour laws, there is no bar on the private sector to fix their own work timings.
  5. Likewise, several colleges in Assam start their classes at 7 AM, or even before that.

Electricity: Not a big deal

  1. While talking about the benefit of separate time zone, it is said that there will be huge savings in money due to better utilisation of daylight.
  2. In the analysis of estimated savings, the entire power bill of an organisation is taken into account.
  3. But that is the wrong approach to estimate that, because the light is not the only purpose that uses electricity, it is not even the largest user.
  4. In fact, with the advent of LED lights, the lighting takes a minuscule amount of power in a house.
  5. Most power is consumed in cooling, running computers and other equipment etc, and those uses will remain fixed no matter what the work timings are.

Global examples are misleading

  1. There is a misleading information about countries like France has 12 time zones, and Britain has 9 time zones.
  2. France and Great Britain has only one time zone each.
  3. But as both the countries have several overseas territories, a legacy of colonies they had in past, those territories have separate time zones according to their geographic locations.
  4. Those are separate land masses located at different continents, most of them being islands at oceans, hence they do not suffer from any problem that India might face with multiple time zones.


Biological / Circadian Clock

  1. The 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was awarded to Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young for their research which elucidated that plants, animals, and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with Earth’s revolution.
  2. They established that biological species are ruled by internal clocks (biological clocks) that run on a 24-h light-dark cycle in synchronization with the sun.
  3. Due to this synchronization humans fall asleep at night and plants synthesize chlorophyll in the presence of sunlight.
  4. This diagram depicts the circadian patterns typical of someone who rises early in the morning, eats lunch around noon, and sleeps at night (10 pm).

With inputs from: India Today

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Govt.’s draft rules to regulate social media echo SC orders


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of media & social networking sites in internal security challenges

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various sections mentioned in the amendment bill

Mains level: Menace of unlawful content over social media and measures to curb it


  • The draft rules proposed by the government to curb “unlawful content” on social media that make it mandatory for intermediaries to trace the “originator” of such content have drawn strong criticism.
  • However, a close look at the draft Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Amendment Rules, 2018, shows that they are in line with the Supreme Court in recent cases.

Court’s concern

  1. The court has voiced its concern over irresponsible content on social media.
  2. It has reflected in a July 2018 judgment in the Tehseen S. Poonawalla case.
  3. The court gave the government a virtual carte blanche to stop/curb dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages on various social media platforms, which have a tendency to incite mob violence and lynching of any kind.
  4. For instance, Rule 3 of the draft speaks about the “due diligence” to be observed by online platforms that have over 50 lakh users.

Norms for access

  1. It proposes the publication of rules, a privacy policy and user agreement for access to a social intermediary’s resource.
  2. Clause (1) of Rule 3 mandates that a user cannot host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, update or share information, for example, which is pornographic, pedophilic, racially or ethnically objectionable, invasive of another’s privacy, harms minors in anyway, etc.
  3. On December 6, a SC Bench, led by Justice Lokur, mentioned online giants and recorded that everybody is agreed that child pornography, rape and gang-rape videos and objectionable material need to be stamped out.
  4. The same order also noted submissions by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for WhatsApp, that they have an end-to-end encryption technology, due to which it will not be possible to remove the content.
  5. Subsequently, on December 11, the Bench ordered the Centre to frame the necessary guidelines and implement them within two weeks to eliminate child pornography, rape and gang rape imagery, videos and sites in content hosting platforms and other applications.
  6. These two orders came on a suo motu case being heard in the SC from 2015 to curb online sexual abuse.

Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Various achievements of Indian scientists in 2018


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The attached story provides a quick recap of all significant developments which were less highlighted in news


  • The year 2018 is ending with spectacular success of Indian scientists and technologists in space and defence sectors, with a series of high impact missions.
  • But that’s not all Indian scientists achieved in 2018.

Here is a collection of such stories that gives a glimpse of important developments by Indian scientists during the year.

A gel that can protect farmers from toxic pesticides

  1. Most farmers do not wear any protective gear while spraying chemicals in fields, which often leads to pesticide exposure and toxicity.
  2. Scientists at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bangalore have developed a protective gel – poly-Oxime.
  3. It can be applied on skin and can break down toxic chemicals into safe substances
  4. This will prevent them from going deep into the skin and organs like the brain and the lungs.

World’s thinnest material with novel technique

  1. Pushing the envelope in nanotechnology, researchers at the IIT Gandhinagar have developed a material that is 100,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.
  2. They synthesized a two-dimensional material of just one-nanometer thickness (a human hair is about 80,000 nanometer wide) using Magnesium diboride – a compound of boron.
  3. This is said to be the world’s thinnest material.
  4. It can find a range of applications – from next-generation batteries to ultraviolet absorbing films.

Gene editing applied to banana genome

  1. Using the gene editing technique – CRISPR/Cas9 – researchers at the National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute, Mohali have edited the banana genome.
  2. This is the first such work in any fruit crop in India.
  3. Banana is a the fourth most important food crop after wheat, rice and corn in terms of gross value of production.
  4. Gene editing could be deployed for improving nutritional quality, agronomical important traits as well as pathogen resistance in banana.

Discoveries to tackle Zika, dengue, JE and chikungunya

  1. The National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) at Manesar has figured out cellular and molecular mechanisms that show how Zika virus causes microcephaly or small head size in babies.
  2. Researchers discovered that envelop protein of Zika virus affects proliferation rates of human neural stem cells and promotes premature but faulty neuron formation.
  3. Another study led by scientist at the Regional Centre for Biotechnology, Faridabad has identified a key protein which helps dengue as well as Japanese Encephalitis viruses replication inside human body by inhibiting anti-viral cytokines.
  4. This finding could pave way for development of targeted drugs for dengue and JE.
  5. For detecting Chikungunya, a group of researchers have developed a biosensor using molybdenum disulphide nanosheets.

Faster diagnostic tests for tuberculosis

  1. Scientists at the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, Faridabad and AIIMS, New Delhi have jointly developed highly sensitive and rapid tests for detection of TB infection.
  2. The current test uses antibodies for detection of bacterial proteins in sputum samples.
  3. New tests use Aptamer Linked Immobilized Sorbent Assay (ALISA) and Electrochemical Sensor (ECS) for detection of a bacterial protein in the sputum.

Space weather warning model rules out ‘mini ice age’

  1. A team of scientists from the IISER Kolkata have dismissed the speculation that the upcoming sunspot cycle is going to be stronger, based on calculations using a model developed by them.
  2. The near-Earth and inter-planetary space environmental conditions and solar radiative forcing of climate over the upcoming sunspot cycle 25 will likely be similar or marginally more extreme.
  3. The method makes it possible to make predictions almost a decade before the next sunspot cycle activity peaks in strength.

New tool developed for autism screening

  1. In many cases, autism is misdiagnosed as mental retardation and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
  2. Early identification and interventions may help children with autistic disorders.
  3. To help this process, scientists at the GMCH, Chandigarh, have developed an Indian tool for screening children for autism.
  4. The Chandigarh Autism Screening Instrument (CASI) is designed to help community health workers to carry out initial screening for autism.

Hope for Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s

  1. Scientists at the IISc Bengaluru, have figured out the way memory deficit develops in early stages, resulting in Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. They have found that early breaking down of a protein, fibrillar actin or F-actin, in the brain leads to disruption in communication among nerve cells and consequently memory deficits.
  3. This knowledge can be used to develop early diagnosis test in future.
  4. In another study done in fruit flies, researchers at Department of Genetics at Delhi University found that it was possible to restrict the progression of Huntington’s disease by increasing insulin signaling in the brain neuronal cells.

Green technique can address Plaster of Paris pollution

  1. A team of scientists at Pune-based CSIR-NCL has developed a technique that helps recycle Plaster of Paris waste from hospitals in an eco-friendly and economical way.
  2. The new technique disinfects waste and converts it into useful products like ammonium sulphate and calcium bicarbonate.
  3. The technique can also be used to disintegrate PoP waste from idols immersed in water bodies.

Stone Age tools, genetic studies throw new light on peopling of India

  1. The Stone Age tools discovered in a village near Chennai suggest that a Middle Palaeolithic culture was present in India around 385,000 years ago.
  2. It is roughly the same time that it is known to have developed in Africa and in Europe.
  3. The discovery pushes back the period when populations with a Middle Palaeolithic culture may have inhabited India.
  4. It challenges popular theory that the Middle Palaeolithic was brought to India by modern humans dispersing from Africa only around 125,000 years ago or later.
  5. In the North, a population genetic study has revealed that the Rors who inhabit modern Haryana came to the Indus Valley when it was flourishing during the Bronze Age and inducted West Eurasian genetic ancestry.

Computing capacity for weather forecasting gets a boost

  1. During the year, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) upgraded its computing capacity for weather forecasting and climate monitoring.
  2. It took its total high performance computing (HPC) power to as high as 6.8 Petaflop.
  3. With this, India rose to the fourth position, next only to United Kingdom, Japan and USA in terms of dedicated capacity for HPC resources for weather and climate proposes.

Scientists use silk polymer to develop artificial vertebral disc

  1. Scientists at IIT, Guwahati developed a silk-based bioartificial disc that may find use in disc replacement therapy in future.
  2. The group has developed a fabrication procedure for a silk-based bioartificial disc adopting a “directional freezing technique”.
  3. The disc mimics internal intricacy of human disc and its mechanical properties too are similar to those of the native ones.
  4. The use of a silk biopolymer to fabricate a biocompatible disc can reduce the cost of artificial discs in future.

Transgenic rice with reduced arsenic accumulation, flowering mustard

  1. To address the problem of arsenic accumulation in rice grains, researchers at Lucknow- based CSIR-NBRI developed transgenic rice.
  2. They inserted a novel fungal gene, which results in reduced arsenic accumulation in rice grain.
  3. They cloned Arsenic methyltransferase (WaarsM) gene from a soil fungus and inserted it into rice genome.
  4. In another study, TERI School of Advanced Studies has developed an early flowering transgenic variety of mustard.

Civil Aviation Sector – CA Policy 2016, UDAN, Open Skies, etc.

[op-ed snap] Policy tweaks for investment in airports and roads


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Crisil InfraInvex

Mains level: The potential of the aviation sector and dealing with various issues associated with it


Booming aviation sector of India

  1. India has become the third-largest aviation market in the world
  2. For both Indian developers and international investors, this presents a huge opportunity
  3. Privatization of metro airports undertaken earlier had yielded good returns for developers
  4. A significant recent announcement was the Cabinet approval for privatization of six airports. It comes at a good time—when investment in the sector is improving
  5. The Crisil InfraInvex—an index that tracks the development and investment attractiveness of the infrastructure sector—score for the aviation sector has already risen to 6.5 in October 2018 from 6.1 a year ago (on a scale of 10, where 1 indicates least attractiveness)

Sector expanding its wings

  1. Domestic airlines will together boast of one of the largest fleets anywhere in the short to medium term
  2. As of August 2018, they have ordered 1,055 aircraft, with orders for another 100 wide-body aircraft expected over the next 12 months
  3. Airlines need to pump in close to ₹3.5 trillion for fleet expansion by 2027
  4. The fleet expansion also opens up a huge potential to develop India as a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) hub
  5. The $776 million MRO business in India is estimated to grow to more than $1.5 billion by 2020
  6. The overall investment potential for Indian aviation (airlines and airports put together) is estimated at a whopping $100 billion over the next 12-15 years

Handling privatisation 

  1. The government should make sure that all the land required for development is made available at the bidding stage itself
  2. It should provide an easier exit option on achieving the commercial operations date
  3. It should have more clarity on the bidding parameter—whether to follow a revenue sharing model, as in cases of brownfield airports or as suggested by the consultative paper, to cap the yield and make concession fee as the bidding parameter
  4. The risk should be apportioned equitably among partners
  5. A robust industry-focused tribunal should be put in place for expeditious resolution of issues

Roads sector

  1. The roads sector has seen significant policy changes in the past couple of years and the average construction done per day has quadrupled
  2. New public-private partnership (PPP) models, such as the hybrid annuity model (HAM), and asset monetisation programmes, such as toll-operate-transfer (TOT), have been set in motion and have achieved initial success
  3. The Crisil InfraInvex score for roads has risen to 7.4 (in October 2018) from 6.9, primarily because of the successful launch of the TOT programme, which brought a new class of investors into the sector
  4. Also, bringing out the next five-year-plan as envisaged in the rollout of the Bharatmala programme
  5. Increased award and construction have also helped boost the investment attractiveness of the sector

Addressing issues of road sector

  1. As in the case of airports, here too the government should be ready with all the land required for construction. In other words, it should make available shovel-ready projects for the bidders. This is important given the problems faced while acquiring land for industrial use
  2. About 50% of all projects awarded in fiscal 2018 are under HAM. Given the challenges in terms of budgetary resources, the time is ripe for getting built-operate-transfer (BOT) back in the fray. At present, the share of BOT projects is not even 10% compared with the government’s decision to execute future projects through HAM, engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) and BOT in a ratio of 60:30:10
  3. Address the banking sector’s concerns over funding of HAM projects
  4. Encourage more developers to come up with infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs), which are an excellent exit strategy tool

Way forward

  1. Both airports and roads are at an inflection point and have generated the interest of a varied category of stakeholders
  2. A continued policy push and a clear road map of development will increase stickiness among the investing community

e-Waste Management

[op-ed snap] The afterlife of e-goods


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: E-Waste Management Rules 2016

Mains level: Problem of e-waste and ways to tackle it


E-Waste problem

  1. E-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world
  2. The Global E-Waste Monitor estimates that 44.7 million tonnes (mt) of e-waste was generated in 2016
  3. India was the fourth-largest generator (2 mt) after China (7.2 mt), the US (6.3 mt) and Japan (2.1 mt) in 2016
  4. As Indians spend more on electronic items and appliances with rising incomes, e-waste is expected to continue to grow rapidly

Reasons for rising e-waste

  1. E-waste is generated when electrical or electronic equipment (EEE) is discarded, or returned within warranty, by consumers, and also from manufacturing and repair rejects
  2. Discarded laptops, desktops, cellphones and their batteries, air conditioners and television sets, cables and wires, tubelights and CFLs which contain mercury, are some examples of e-waste
  3. While technology obsolescence creates e-waste (for example, landline phones, 2G vs 4G), power supply voltage surges which damage electronics are a major factor contributing to India’s e-waste
  4. India enjoys a frugal hand-me-down culture with a long line of re-users from a younger sibling to a maid to her village. As a result, our e-waste takes a lot longer to reach end of life
  5. An additional problem arises when developed countries export their e-waste for recycling and/or disposal (legally or illegally) to developing countries, including India

Poor recycling & associated health hazards

  1. A study by ASSOCHAM and NEC finds that a mere 5 per cent of India’s e-waste gets recycled, much less than the global recycling rate of only 20 per cent
  2. 95 percent of India’s e-waste is managed by the unorganised sector (kabadiwalas, scrap dealers and dismantlers) using dangerous methods to recover metals from circuit-boards and wires
  3. Since electrical wires are almost invariably encased in PVC, which contains 57 per cent chlorine, the act of burning produces deadly dioxins
  4. The smoke from such burning is known to cause cancer, damage the nervous system, and also poses several other health hazards
  5. The National Green Tribunal has advised a ban on single-use PVC and short-life PVC products but not on wires and cables
  6. The workers themselves ignore safety measures needed for their work

Measures that can be taken

  1. Management of e-waste requires its dismantling, refurbishment or recycling and safe disposal
  2. The E-Waste Management Rules 2016 address these issues. Extended producer responsibility is mandated to ensure effective plans for the collection, setting up collection centres and buyback mechanisms or a deposit refund scheme
  3. But the Rules need to be backed by enforcement of the regulatory framework, provision of the necessary infrastructure, and an enabling environment for compliance
  4. Wire stripping units can be set up at the points of aggregation and burning, funded by wire and cable manufacturers
  5. Similarly, producers can offer attractive buyback prices for circuit boards and channelise their recycling to the formal sector
  6. Cities should organise quarterly collection drives or provide drop -off centres. Producers should set up collection centres for EEE
  7. Ideally, we should all purchase new products turning in our old ones for a discount so that dealers become aggregators for channelising e-items to authorised dismantlers

Way forward

  1. A rapidly growing e-waste crisis needs rapid official decision making and time-bound responses

Right To Privacy

[op-ed snap] On a shaky foundation


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IT Act provisions

Mains level: Section 69 of the IT Act and how it affects individual freedom


Misusing Section 69 of IT Act

  1. The Union Home Secretary has promulgated an order authorising 10 Central agencies to monitor, intercept and decrypt information which is transmitted, generated, stored in or received by any computer
  2. Under the order, an individual who fails to assist these government agencies with technical assistance or extend all facilities can face up to seven years of imprisonment or be liable to be fined
  3. The notification was reportedly issued in pursuance of powers stipulated in Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which enables government agencies to intercept personal information of citizens under certain conditions

Section 69 is now invalid

  1. Section 69 of the IT Act after K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India — ‘the right to privacy case’, in 2017 — seems to fail the litmus test of constitutionality
  2. The nine-judge bench in K.S. Puttaswamy declared that there is a fundamental right to privacy flowing from inter alia Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution
  3. In order for a restriction such as Section 69 allowing for interception of personal data on a computer to be constitutionally valid, it would not only have to pursue a legitimate state aim (say, for instance, national security) but also be proportionate, so that there is a rational nexus between the means adopted (i.e., authorisation of interception) and the aim

Problems with Section 69

  1. Section 69 of the IT Act is so broadly worded that it could enable mass surveillance to achieve relatively far less serious aims such as preventing the incitement of the commission of a cognisable offence
  2. Such surveillance could be justified to achieve relatively far less serious objectives such as a Facebook post expressing dissent against government policy which, in the state’s opinion, is offensive
  3. The state, through the powers under Section 69, can therefore justify authorising surveillance, purporting this to be a grave concern

Right to free speech under danger

  1. Under Section 69, the government can intercept personal information under any of the following conditions: when it is necessary in the interest of Indian sovereignty or integrity; security of the state; friendly relations with foreign states; public order; and for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence related to these
  2. While the first four feature in Article 19(2) of the Constitution, the last, namely preventing incitement to commission of cognisable offences, is not an enumerated restriction
  3. A restriction in the form of authorised surveillance would not be justified unless it is in order to maintain public order, a reasonable restriction under Article 19(2)
  4. While public order is characterised by public peace and tranquillity, law and order requires preventing the incitement of an offence
  5. Section 69 allows mass surveillance even when only law and order is affected while public order prevails: merely for precluding the incitement of the commission of an offence
  6. Such a broadly worded provision can have potential ramifications on free speech
  7. This is because a constant sense of being watched can create a chilling effect on online communication, crippling dissent

Against natural justice

  1. Section 69 also falls short of meeting with the principles of natural justice by failing to accommodate pre-decisional hearings
  2. The Section only makes post-decisional hearings before a review committee possible as a part of its procedure, compelling people to give up their personal information without being given an opportunity to be heard

Way forward

  1. Surveillance does not show direct discernible harms as such but rather imposes an oppressive psychological conformism that threatens the very existence of individual freedom
  2. Section 69 of the IT Act allows for disproportionate state action, and is antithetical to the right to privacy

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

NE and Himalayan states stare at climate risk


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

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: Highlights of the report

Mains Level: Sustainable development and conservation of Himalayan region


  • All the 12 Himalayan states in India are extremely vulnerable to global warming with Assam, Mizoram and J&K topping the list says a report.

Climate Vulnerability Assessment

  1. The report titles ‘Climate Vulnerability Assessment for the Indian Himalayan Region Using a Common Framework’.
  2. It is submitted by IIT Mandi and IIT Guwahati in collaboration with IISc Bangalore presents a chilling vulnerability map and assessment for the Indian Himalayan Region.
  3. The study is based on four broad indicators in each state:
  • Economic and sociological status of the people and their health,
  • Possible impact on agriculture production,
  • Forest-dependent livelihoods
  • Access to information services and infrastructure.
  1. States having low per capita income, low area under irrigation and low area under forests per 1,000 households and high area under open forests received a high vulnerability score.
  2. Assam has the least area under irrigation, least forest area available per 1,000 rural households and the second lowest per capita income among the other IHR states, and thus scores the highest vulnerability score.

Prospects of the report

  1. The Himalayan ecosystem is vital to India’s ecological and economic security.
  2. Himalayan communities have a large dependency on climate-sensitive sectors such as rain-fed agriculture and have a fragile mountain ecosystem.
  3. The communities have limited livelihood options and experience higher marginalization because physical infrastructure is limited and there is a high dependence on natural resources.
  4. Under changing and variable climate such constraints are likely to add to the vulnerability of Himalayan communities.

Policy Measures

  1. In response to the serious threats posed by climate change to the development process and the limitations, the Centre has a  National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem.
  2. Recently NITI Aayog has constituted the ‘Himalayan State Regional Council’ to ensure sustainable development of the Indian Himalayan region.

Policy Wise: India’s Power Sector

Power ministry mandates use of smart prepaid meters from April 2019


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Saubhagya scheme

Mains level: Utility of smart meters


  • The government has mandated the use of smart prepaid electricity meters in the country beginning April next year, as it looks to complete the transition over the next three years.

Utility of Smart Prepaid Meters

  1. Smart meters are a part of the overall advanced metering infrastructure solutions (AMI) aimed at better demand response designed to reduce energy consumption during peak hours.
  2. Manufacturing of smart prepaid meters will also generate skilled employment for the youth.
  3. Other benefits include:
  • Reduction in AT&C losses
  • Better health of DISCOMs
  • Incentivizing energy conservation
  • Ease of bill payments and doing away with the paper bills

Initiatives so far

  1. The government is procuring smart and prepaid meters to be deployed across the country.
  2. State-owned Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) has floated two global tenders for procuring a total of 10 million smart meters.
  3. The government also plans to install 10 million prepaid meters in Uttar Pradesh as part of the Saubhagya scheme which aims to electrify over four crore households till March 2019.

States gearing up

  1. State governments had earlier signed the Power for All documents and had agreed to supply power round the clock to their consumers.
  2. Under this, the distribution licensee shall provide 24×7 power to their consumers by 1st April, 2019 or earlier.