May 2018
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WHO adopts resolution on digital health initiated by India


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Health Assembly, UHC, etc.

Mains level: Importance of the resolution.


Resolution on digital health

  1. The resolution on digital health brought out by India was adopted by the 71st World Health Assembly
  2. The assembly is the decision-making body of the WHO
  3. The 71st World Health Assembly was held last week in Geneva and was attended by delegations from all WHO member states

Importance of the resolution

  1. The resolution paves the path for WHO to establish a global strategy on digital health identifying priority areas including where WHO should focus its efforts and engages member states to optimize their health systems in sync with the global digital health agenda
  2. Digital health is important in the context of countries achieving health-related SDG targets

Importance of the digital health technology

  1. Digital health technology have a huge potential for supporting Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and improving accessibility, quality and affordability of health services

[op-ed snap] Paper chase: Faults in VVPAT system


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The newscard discusses the reasoning against the use of VVPAT in elections.



  1. The high incidence of glitches in the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in the recent by-elections should be a major cause of concern for the Election Commission of India
  2. The Election Commission must review the use of paper trail machines in the polling process

Issues with the VVPAT

  1. Ever since the implementation of the VVPAT system last year, machine malfunction and subsequent delays in polling have been recurring issues
  2. The ECI has suggested that these machines were more prone to malfunctioning due to their sensitivity to extreme weather conditions and exposure to light
  3. It also blamed the relative inexperience of polling officers handling them, compared to the ballot and control units for the electronic voting machines (EVMs) that have been in use for much longer


  1. The VVPAT was added to the EVM to audit the voter tallies stored in the machine
  2. Its universal implementation began in the Goa Assembly polls in 2017
  3. The implementation was deemed necessary as many political parties complained about the possible hacking of EVMs
  4. These complaints lacked any basis, but the VVPAT implementation was hastened to bring back trust in the election process

The VVPAT system has added complexities

  1. The use of these machines has added to the complexity of an otherwise simple, single programmable-chip based system
  2. And rendered it prone to more glitches

No need of VVPAT system

  1. There is enough empirical evidence to show that EVMs have eased polling and helped increase voter turnout since being put to use
  2. But in using VVPAT machines to reassure sceptics about an election’s integrity, the ECI has introduced a new element, and cost, to the process
  3. Considering these challenges, the ECI should consider deploying the VVPAT machines in a limited, statistically significant, randomly chosen set of polling booths
  4. This will reduce the possibility of glitches affecting the polling process as well-tested machines could be deployed (with enough replacements also handy) to such booths
Electoral Reforms In India

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana

News : 

  • The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a $500 million loan agreement to provide additional financing for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Rural Roads Project.
  • PMGSY is implemented by Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India, which will build 7,000 km of climate resilient roads, out of which 3,500 km will be constructed using green technologies.
  • The World Bank has supported PMGSY since its inception in 2004. 
  • So far it has invested over $1.8 billion in loans and credits mostly in the economically weaker and hill states across North India – Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It has built and improved about 35,000 km of rural roads and benefited about eight million people with access to all-weather roads.
  • The PMGSY and the Bank’s involvement under this additional financing, will emphasize on managing the rural road network through green and climate-resilient construction using green, low-carbon designs and new technologies – far beyond merely funding civil works.
  • The Additional Financing will also fill the gender gap by creating employment opportunities for women in construction and maintenance.
  • The earlier project had piloted community-based maintenance contracts through women self-help groups (SHGs) for routine maintenance of 200 km of PMGSY roads in Uttarakhand, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh.



Centre to launch tax refund drive in bid to help exporters


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CBIC

Mains level: Aim of the tax drive


A tax refund drive by the CBIC

  1. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has launched a tax refund drive in the first fortnight of June
  2. And issued instructions to swiftly settle refund claims of exporters that are held up because of mismatches in the returns filed by them

Aim of the drive

  1. The move is meant to streamline the new indirect tax regime and improve the cash flow of exporters who have been complaining that refund delays make them less competitive
  2. CBIC has been trying to reduce refund delays but mismatches in the returns filed by exporters are a key hurdle
  3. The changes in refund processing procedure and the refund drive from 31 May to 14 June are expected to address this

The drive will specifically help exporters

  1. The move will especially help exporters who were not getting refunds because of mismatches in goods and service tax (GST) returns
  2. It noted that exporters have inadvertently erred in declaring the integrated GST (IGST) paid on exports as IGST paid on interstate domestic supplies while filing their summary tax returns
  3. Some exporters also short paid taxes against the liability declared in their sales returns
  4. As a result of these mismatches, refunds could not be processed
Tax Reforms

[pib] International Conference on the TRIPS CBD Linkage

News : 

  • Government of India, along with the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and the South Centre (an inter-governmental organisation based in Geneva), are organising an International Conference on TRIPS- CBD Linkage in Geneva on 7-8 June 2018.
  • India has taken the lead in seeking to revive WTO discussions on issues related to preventing theft of traditional knowledge.
  • Brazil and South Africa are some of the other countries that have joined hands with India on this crucial initiative.


  • The Convention on Biological Diversity is a multilateral agreement on sustainable development and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resource. It has membership of 196 countries.
  • The Doha Ministerial Declaration in 2001 had tasked the TRIPS Council of the WTO to examine the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore.
  • While there has been considerable debate and deliberations on the subject no common understanding has yet been reached at the WTO.
  • TRIPS CBD Linkage is important for India and other developing countries because it seeks to address bio-piracy. 
  • It has been a long standing demand that patents should not be granted for existing traditional knowledge and associated genetic resources. 
  • The Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversityon Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits arising from their utilization came into effect in 2014. 
  • The protocol provides a legal framework for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources for research and commercialization purpose.




[op-ed snap] Green push?: The new biofuels policy


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: What are bio-fuels? (read the attached story)

Mains level: Aim and particulars of the National Policy on Biofuels.



  1. At a time when rising oil prices are putting increasing pressure on the economy, even small steps to encourage the use of biofuels are welcome

The Cabinet has recently approved a National Policy on Biofuels

  1. The policy encourages the generation and use of biofuels such as ethanol
  2. It primarily tries to address supply-side issues that have discouraged the production of biofuels within the country

Some important particulars of the new policy

  1. It allows for a wider variety of raw materials to be used as inputs to produce ethanol that is blended with petrol.
  2. Until now, only ethanol produced from sugarcane was approved for this purpose
  3. Under the new policy, feedstock for biofuels includes sugar beet, corn, damaged foodgrain, potatoes, even municipal solid waste
    Possible benefits
  4. This will likely reduce the cost of producing biofuels and improve affordability for consumers, particularly during times when oil prices reach discomforting levels

Effort made to counter availability issues

  1. In India, industrial-scale availability of ethanol so far has been only from sugar factories, which were free to divert it to other users such as alcohol producers, who would pay more
  2. The oil companies have been floating tenders for ethanol supply, but availability lags behind their needs, because the price is often not attractive enough for the sugar industry
  3. The Centre hopes the new policy will also benefit farmers, who will be able to sell various types of agricultural waste to industry at remunerative prices
  4. The production of biofuels from agricultural waste, it is hoped, will also help curb atmospheric pollution by giving farmers an incentive not to burn it
    (as is happening in large parts of northern India)

What should be done?

  1. There is also a need for caution in using surplus foodgrain to produce ethanol
  2. And while removing the shackles on raw material supply can have definite benefits,
  3. it cannot make a significant difference to biofuel production as long as the supply-chain infrastructure that is required to deliver biofuels to the final consumer remains inadequate
  4. To address this issue, the new policy envisages investment to the tune of Rs. 5,000 crore in building bio-refineries and offering other incentives over the next few years

The way forward

  1. The government should also take steps to remove policy barriers that have discouraged private investment in building supply chains
  2. Until that happens, India’s huge biofuel potential will continue to remain largely untapped
Biofuel Policy

Govt weighs linking drug prices to WPI inflation


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DPCB, Scheduled and Non-Scheduled Drugs

Mains level: Read the attached story


New move to regulate Drug Prices

1. The government is considering the feasibility of linking the permitted annual increase in prices of non-scheduled formulations to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) in a bid to regulate the prices of drugs.
2. The move, if implemented, could deal a big blow to the Pharmaindustry.
3. We currently have a situation where there are strong incentives for companies to market non-scheduled formulations to avail to automatic 10% increase.
4. Compounded over five years, the price of a non-scheduled drug goes up by over 60%.

On NITI Aayog’s Recommendation

1. The NITI Aayog has recommended an amendment to the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013, suggesting that prices of non-scheduled drugs be also be linked to WPI to regulate them like the prices of scheduled drugs.
2. It has also suggested development of a separate index for pharmaceutical products.
3. The medicine prices may be linked to pharma commodities WPI rather than general WPI for both scheduled as well as non-scheduled drugs.

Arguments by DPCO

1. According to DPCO 2013, prices of scheduled drugs are revised in line with the wholesale price index (WPI) of the previous calendar year.
2. As a corollary, the companies are even required to cut the prices if there is a decline in the annual WPI.
3. However, manufacturers of medicines not under price control are allowed to increase the maximum retail price by 10% annually.
4. According to DoP, only about 850 drugs are under price control as against the more than 6,000 medicines available in the market of various strengths and dosages.

What if recommendations are accepted?

1. Pharma lobby groups said the recommendation is without a doubt a considerable blow to an already beleaguered industry.
2. The proposed linking of the non-scheduled formulations to WPI based price changes will deal a severe blow to the industry’s innovation efforts.
3. The pharmaceutical industry earns investible surplus for innovation from exports.
4. It has suffered a major setback in the USA in 2017. The increased competition and channel consolidation have eroded their margins.
5. This has significantly impacted R&D funding for the industry. The need for investments in R&D is crucial to the future of the national pharmaceutical industry.

The Way Forward

1. Pharma lobby groups claim that the proposal is not seen as favouring the industry.
2. This proposal is a serious adverse development and has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the Indian Pharma industry.
3. Given the real annual inflation, increase based only on WPI is not at all reasonable as the industry has to deal with the rising cost of manufacturing.
4. Additionally, according to the proposal, in case of a negative WPI, mandating the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to change the ceiling price of scheduled drugs and it will not be required for individual drugs to reduce their MRPs if they are already lower than such revised ceiling price.
5. Pharma lobby groups have supported the equalization of the annual price increase between scheduled and non-scheduled drugs.

Bengal’s Chau mask acquires GI fame


Mains Paper 1: Indian Culture| the salient aspects of Art Forms

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geographical Indication, GI tagged items from W. Bengal

Mains level: Protecting marginalised communities of artisans through GI indication


GI Tag for 5 items from Bengal

1. Geographical Indication Registry and Intellectual Property India GI tag to the following 5 rural crafts:
i. Chau mask of Purulia,
ii. Wooden mask of Kushmandi, the
iii. Patachitra
iiii. Dokras of Bengal
v. Madhurkathi (a kind of mat)
2. A GI tag connects the quality and authenticity of a given product to a particular geographical origin, thereby ensuring that no one other than the authorised user can use the popular product’s name.
3. GI tags for these five rural crafts would not only help the artisans create their own brand but would also provide legal protection to artisans practising the crafts against attempts to duplicate them in other regions.

Uniqueness of Bengal

1. Out of the GI tags to 25 products, 9 are from West Bengal.
2. GI tags are given on the basis of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
3. The first product to be included in the list was Darjeeling Tea.
4. What is unique about these is that they are made by marginalised communities that, until a few years ago, found it hard to sustain themselves by producing these crafts

Colombia is first Latin American nation to join Nato as ‘global partner’


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the OECD and the NATO.

Mains level: Colombia is the only country in Latin America with this privilege of joining the NATO.


New member at the NATO

  1. Colombia has formally joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  2. Colombia joined the ranks of Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand and Pakistan

The OECD is also inviting Colombia

  1. The announcement(of joining the NATO) was made on the same day that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that Colombia would be officially invited to join the group
  2. The Paris-based economic organization(OECD) was founded in 1961 and has traditionally included industrialized nations, though in recent years it has extended its membership to emerging economies

Particulars of the NATO

  1. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries based on the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949
  2. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party
  3. NATO Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium

India opens second IT corridor in China to cash in on growing Chinese software market


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Aim and importance of the corridors


Second IT corridor in China

  1. India has launched its second IT corridor in China to get access to the growing Chinese software market
  2. The corridor is aimed at setting up local offices and assisting companies from Guiyang to establish software and IT units in India
  3. The new IT corridor in Guiyang came months after NASSCOM established its first Digital Collaborative Opportunities Plaza or SIDCOP platform in the Chinese port city of Dalian

Main focus of the corridors

  1. According to reports, Dalian corridor’s focus was on Internet of Things- IoT but the Guiyang corridor will focus on Big Data
  2. The platform in Guiyang intends to create online and offline presence to promote a “co-create culture” between India and China

India’s presence in other countries

  1. India IT firms have a presence in more than 70 countries in the world, generating employment for up to 12 million people worldwide
  2. In China, Indian IT companies are present in 10 cities around the country, with a total work-force of around 25,000 employees

Why are these corridors important?

  1. India has been demanding China to provide market access to Indian IT and pharmaceutical firms for several years to reduce bilateral trade deficit
Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[op-ed snap] The importance of green skills for green jobs


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: Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP)

Mains level: The newscard discusses issues related to employment in the Green Economy.


Report by the International Labour Organization (ILO)

  1. Ir was a global job market
  2. It has noted that achieving the Paris Agreement’s 2 degrees Celsius goal will result in a net increase of 18 million jobs across the globe by 2030

The “World Employment And Social Outlook 2018 Greening With Jobs” report

  1. The report notes that more than 300,000 workers will be employed in the solar and wind energy sectors to meet India’s ambitious goal of generating 175 gigawatts (GW) of electricity from renewable resources by 2022
  2. However, fulfilling this optimistic target will require establishing green skills training programmes

What is the issue?

  1. India ranks amongst the top 10 countries for production of renewable energy through solar, wind and biomass
  2. But the existing skill mismatch could not only pose hurdles to further growth here but also leave the poor out of the greening of the economy
  3. Closing this green skill gap is an imperative for establishing sound environmental sustainability programmes

What should be done?
FIRST: Identifying the necessary skills

  1. The initial step is identifying the necessary skills
  2. The transition to green jobs can take place along two tracks
  3. The first is a decline in the number of jobs in various industries, such as those reliant on carbon-based production
  4. Secondly, changes in skill sets can equip workers to continue working in sectors like agriculture and infrastructure as they grow greener
  5. Managing the socioeconomic disruption in the former instance and matching industry demand in the latter demands good quantitative and qualitative employment data

SECOND: The integration of green skills in formal education and training programmes

  1. Technical and vocational education and training (Tvet) programmes run by the government in India are another matter entirely
  2. Government-regulated Tvet programmes fail to align their curriculum with industry needs, thereby depriving graduates of decent jobs
  3. This is a long-standing problem and is bound to be particularly harmful when it comes to green jobs, given their rapidly evolving demands

Can the Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP) be a success?

  1. For example, Skill India mission, launched in 2015
  2. It has run out of steam, with problems ranging from poor management to a shortage of qualified trainers
  3. The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change recently launched a Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP)
  4. The programme aims to train over 550,000 people in the environment and forest sectors in the next three years
  5. If it means to succeed, it must learn the lessons of such failures
    What are those lessons?
  6. One of those lessons is the importance of partnering with the private sector—whether in designing government programmes or enabling and incentivising companies to run such programmes
  7. Prospective employers are the ones who are most well acquainted with changing skill needs and labour market shifts, after all
  8. Previous skill initiatives have often run aground here, with a lack of apprenticeship training and an inadequate industry interface

The way forward

  1. Total renewable power capacity installed in India, as of February 2018, was 65 GW, against the target of 175 GW by 2022
  2. If the government truly wants to accomplish this audacious goal, it will need to focus on much more than green energy infrastructure

[pib] Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS)

News : 

  • The Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) Vertical has shown progressive performance with over 1,65,000 beneficiaries benefitting from this Scheme during 2015-18. 
  • This is a huge jump in the number of beneficiaries from the earlier comparable interest subsidy scheme between 2008-2013 which was only 18,166. 
  • Adequate funding has been ensured for the CLSS Vertical of the Mission as Rs. 31,505 crore has been provided for the Mission (Rs.6505 crore from budgetary sources and Rs. 25,000 crore from Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR)).
  • There is a provision for additional funding beyond the Rs. 25,000 crore under EBR during this financial year.

About PMAY (U)

  • The “Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Housing for All (Urban)”, launched by the central government aims to provide housing to all urban people by 2022.
  • A remarkable feature of the PMAY is that it is a credit linked subsidy scheme. Here, interest subsidy is given to the beneficiaries when they take the housing loan.



[pib] India signs Loan Agreement with the World Bank

News : 

  • An Agreement for IBRD Credit of USD 21.7 Million from World Bank for the Strengthening of Public Financial Management in Rajasthan Project was signed here inNew Delhi.
  • The Project size is approximately USD 31 million, of which USD 21.7 million will be financed by the World Bank, and the remaining amount will be funded-out of the State Budget.
  • The Project duration is 5 years.
  • The Project objective is to contribute to improved Budget execution, enhanced accountability and greater efficiency in Revenue Administration in Rajasthan.
  • The Project involves Strengthening of the Public Financial Management Framework; Strengthening of Expenditure and Revenue Systems; and Project Management and Capacity Building among others.


‘Gaj Yatra’ honours Meghalaya’s elephant corridor effort


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gaj Yatra Initiative, Wildlife Trust of India(WTI)

Mains level: 


How it began?

  1. Expansion of human settlements have resulted in fragmented elephant habitats in the Garo Hills, leading to conflicts.
  2. In 2014, villagers in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills set aside a part of their community-owned land to create village reserve forests, giving the Right of Passage to elephants.
  3. In acknowledgement of that gesture, the MoEFCC and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) on Monday rolled out the ‘Gaj Yatra’ from Tura, the principal town of Garo Hills.

People’s initiative

  1. ’Gaj Yatra’, a “journey celebrating India’s national heritage animal”, aims at securing 100 elephant corridors across India.
  2. Four of these are in Meghalaya,including the Siju-Rewak corridor that some 1,000 elephants use to travel between the Balpakram and Nokrek National Parks in the State.
  3. The campaign has aptly been launched in the Garo Hills, where the people have created community forests for human-elephant harmony and conservation of animals such as hoolock gibbon.
  4. The event involves taking an elephant mascot across districts frequented by jumbo herds for generating awareness among the people.
  5. The role of Nokma Tribals, traditional custodians of the land, in supporting the move towards co-existence between man and animal is helping conservationists for the success of the initiative.


Gaj Yatra

  1. Gaj Yatra’, a nationwide campaign to protect elephants, was launched on the occasion of World Elephant Day (August 12,2017).
  2. The campaign is planned to cover 12 elephant range states which aims to secure 100 routes across the country for safe passage
  3. The elephant is part of India’s animal heritage and the Government celebrates this day to spread awareness about the conservation of the species.
  4. The 15 months campaign is led by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
  5. The campaign aims to create awareness about elephant corridors to encourage free movement in their habitat.


Arunachal Pradesh, where moves are afoot to keep out migrants


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of external state & non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Provisions of draft NRC, Inner Line Permit

Mains level: Issue of illegal migration


Arunachal on track with Assam

As Assam gets ready to publish the final draft of the National Register of Citizens, neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh is tightening its borders.

What happened?


  • Labourers without the Inner Line Permit (ILP) were arrested in Arunachal Pradesh.


  1. Similar drives against “ILP violators” saw people being thrown out from other districts of the State.
  2. But the drive had more to do with keeping out illegal migrants “who may create a law and order problem and disturb peace.”
  3. This is linked to the theory that Assam might end up with lakhs of stateless people after the final draft of NRC  is made public.

What is ILP?

  1. A British-era system, the ILP is a travel document Indian citizens need to possess to enter the frontier States of north-eastern India: Aruanchal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
  2. It is issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, to regulate the movement of people who do not belong to these States.
  3. The ILP is valid for a week, but can be extended.
  4. People who frequent these States for work can opt for a special ILP renewable annually.
  5. Since the ILP is mandatory for Indians and the Protected Area Permit for foreigners, the fact that the labourers ejected from Arunachal Pradesh did not possess the permit put their nationality under a cloud.

What is the concern for other NE states?

  1. The first draft of the NRC made it clear that those who were identified as foreigners after failing to make it to the list would be barred from all constitutional rights.
  2. Political commentators have said the NRC may leave 5 to 10 lakh people, mostly those with the ‘Bangladeshi’ tag, stateless.
  3. Assam’s neighbours fear some of those declared non-citizens may relocate to their territories to cash in on the demand for cheap labour.
  4. Aruanchal Pradesh CM ordered the police to strengthen vigil along the border with Assam.
  5. Around the same time, the former Nagaland Home Minister wanted to bring the State’s commercial hub Dimapur under the purview of the ILP because “illegal migrants sneak into Nagaland through the city.”
  6. The ILP is not applicable in Dimapur.

NE Fears: Migrants outnumbering the Indigenous People

  1. The sister States often blame Assam for their problems with “illegal migrants” who are ironically indispensable as skilled and unskilled workers.
  2. Nagaland even has a term for them — IBI, which expands to Illegal Bangladeshi Immigrant.
  3. Organisations such as the Naga Students’ Federation conduct a ‘census’ to keep a record on the number of non-Nagas as well as IBIs.
  4. This has triggered vigilantism against “demography-changing” migrants.
  5. Social scientists in Assam say the movement of flood- and erosion-displaced people to urban spaces usually trigger doomsday theories about illegal migrants outnumbering the indigenous people in the near future.
  6. The bulk of such people live on impermanent chars or sandbars on the Brahmaputra river system.
  7. It is believed the ‘ILP violators’ or ‘IBIs’ or the stateless-to-be will disappear — allegedly to the chars that often fall off the radar of the administration — until their need to survive meets the demand for labour.


PM highlights Ujjwala success; reaches out to women, poor, Muslims


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Ujjwala Yojana

Mains level: High success rate of the scheme


Statements by the PM on Ujjwala Yojana

  1. The PM has highlighted the success of one of his pet schemes, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, which aims to provide free cooking gas connections to poor families
  2. The scheme has not only made women self-reliant, but has also triggered their social transformation and upliftment
  3. He also urged the people to avail the benefits of other flagship schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana,
  4. and went on to explain how these schemes would benefit people from across India, without discriminating on the basis of caste, class, religion or region

High success rate in last four years

  1. Though LPG gas cylinders came to India soon after Independence (in 1955), only 130 million families had cooking gas connections in 2014
  2. In the last four years, government has given 100 million LPG connections

Maritime dialogue resumes


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of the dialogue


A sign of the efforts to improve India-Pakistan relations in recent months

  1. The heads of maritime security agencies of both sides met after a gap of two years and agreed to work on improving exchange of information regarding fishermen apprehended by each other
  2. The dialogue is held annually as per the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two agencies in 2005
  3. The meeting was chaired by Director General Indian Coast Guard Rajendra Singh and head of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, Rear Admiral Zaka Ur

Why is this important?

  1. The dialogue is significant as last year India had refused to participate in the talks following the controversy over the arrest of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistani agencies
  2. Further, both sides also agreed on the need for expeditious exchange of the information about the apprehension of fishing boats and fishermen

India’s demand

  1. During the meeting, the Indian side reiterated the need for instituting Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for immediate release and repatriation of fishermen who cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) inadvertently

Agreement on working for maritime environment

  1. The two agencies also agreed to collaborate in preservation and protection ofmarine environment
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] The wait for deep agricultural reforms


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The newscard discusses some successful steps taken by the present government in last four years(in the agricultural sector)


Four years of Government: Performance in Agricultural sector

  1. Out of the government’s four years , FY15 and FY16 were affected by drought and it did well to manage the crisis
  2. A number of welcome initiatives have been launched in the last four years, including
    (1) schemes for crop insurance, irrigation, soil testing, electronic national agricultural market (e-NAM), and (2) use of Aadhaar for the public distribution system (PDS) and purchase of fertilizer
  3. While there are several creditable achievements, it is the deeper structural reforms where expectations from a “strong” government have not been met

Controlling food inflation

  1. Helped by a downturn in the global prices of petroleum and commodities, the government took pro-active measures to rein in food inflation
    (which was 6.64% during United Progressive Alliance (UPA) I and 12.2% in UPA II)
  2. These included
    (1) release of wheat and rice from government stocks,
    (2) restrictions on exports,
    (3) small increases in MSP ,
    (4) raids on traders under the Essential Commodities Act, and
    (5) even income-tax investigations
  3. The states giving bonus on wheat and paddy were told to discontinue it
  4. In order to reduce excessive procurement of rice, the 50% levy on rice mills was also abolished

Some issues related to non-implementation of Schemes through the DBT

  1. There was no effort to deregulate urea prices and transfer subsidy to farmers directly
  2. Aadhaar-based sale of foodgrains and fertilizer is only a small step towards reform of the subsidy regime
  3. Similarly, free electricity continues to cause excessive drawal of underground water in several states
  4. No serious effort was made to persuade states to transfer electricity subsidy through DBT

Price stabilization fund

  1. To check food inflation, a price stabilization fund was set up with a corpus of Rs500 crore and onion
  2. And potato were bought by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation and Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium for release in the market when prices rose(which was a crucial issue in past)

Dependence on imported pulses has almost ended

  1. Another successful policy intervention was to offer a handsome increase in the MSP of pulses and create a buffer stock of two million tonnes
  2. Our dependence on imported pulses has almost ended and domestic production has increased from 17.20 million tonnes in FY15 to 24.51 million tonnes in FY18

e-NAM has a great potential

  1. e-NAM is another initiative by government, has the potential of freeing up the agricultural markets. It was expected to bring transparency to auctions in mandis
  2. However, we did not see the real intent of e-NAM being achieved and some states even showed procurement under MSP as e-NAM turnover
Agricultural Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

[pib] 108th session of UNWTO Executive council

News : 

  • The Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism, Shri K. J. Alphons along with a delegation of senior officials attended the 108thsession of UNWTO Executive Council held in San Sebastian, Spain. 
  • The Executive council decided that in order to address new challenge and trends, the organization will pay special attention to scaling up innovation and digitization in the sector.
  • During the three day Executive Council meeting, Sh. K. J. Alphons chaired the ‘Programme and Budget Committee’ meeting of UNWTO.
  • In the opening remarks, the Minister highlighted the role of tourism in socio-economic development through job creation, enterprise and environment development and foreign exchange earnings.
  • The Minister also brought out the impact of innovation and new technology, which have become key factor for competitiveness of every economic sector including tourism.


  • It is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
  • The UNWTO Executive Council represents the Organization’s governing body whose task is to take all necessary measures in consultation with the Secretary-General, for implementation of its own decisions and recommendations of the Assembly and report thereupon to the Assembly.
  • The Council meets at least twice a year, the next to be held in Bahrain.
  • The council consists of 30 Full Members elected by the assembly in proportion of one member for every Five Full Members, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure laid down by the Assembly with a view to achieving fair and equitable geographical distribution.


China invites Iran to attend SCO summit


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: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, P5+1 group, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Mains level: Iran nuclear deal and its implications on India


New geopolitics in Central Asia 

  1. China has invited the Iranian President to participate in the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit next month
  2. The invitation comes at a crucial time after the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal signed in 2015 between Iran, the European Union and the P5+1 group (five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany), of which China is a member
  3. The summit will be the first after the inclusion of India and Pakistan as members of the organization in 2017

Implementation of JCPOA to continue

  1. Beijing hoped the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) would continue to be implemented
  2. If the JCPoA cannot be further implemented, the normal economic cooperation between the relevant countries will be affected


Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

  1. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organization
  2. The organization, formed in 2001, aims to boost cooperation in economic and security matters between China, Pakistan, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan
  3. India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan
  4. Iran, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Belarus have been granted observer status in SCO
  5. In 2017, SCO’s eight full members account for approximately half of the world’s population, a quarter of the world’s GDP, and about 80% of Eurasia’s landmass
Foreign Policy Watch- India-Central Asia