January 2019

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[op-ed snap] Ayushman Bharat’s success will hinge on the private sector taking ownershipop-ed snap


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: Basics aspects of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana.

Mains level: The newscard analyses the issues wrt Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana and can private sector can be roped in, in a brief manner.


  • The Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (PMJAY) completed 100 days last week. The project is billed as the world’s largest state-funded health scheme.
  • The medical journal, Lancet, has praised the prime minister for prioritising universal healthcare through the PMJAY, which aims to provide cashless treatment to beneficiaries identified through the Central Socio-Economic Caste Census.


Ayushman Bharat

  • Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes – RashtriyaSwasthyaBima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS). It is an important reform and progressive step in healthcare sector.
  • Ayushman Bharat is an initiative to Address Health Holistically inPrimary, secondary and Tertiary care Systems covering both Prevention and Health Promotion. The Scheme aims to provide cashless benefits of 5 lakhs to 10 Crore Poor Families in the Country.
  • Ayushman bharat is the flagship public healthcare initiative of central government. It includes all the levels of healthcare delivery from primary to tertiary.

It has two components namely-


HWC’S will be upgraded form of primary health centres[PHC].the focus area includes non communicable diseases and infectious diseases along with neonatal and maternal care.HWC are primarily meant for early detection and prevention. This is significant in sense as burden on secondary and tertiary health system will reduce if early detection takes place, moreover rural areas will benefit as HWC will spread across India.


NHPS is an insurance scheme which covers costing up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. It will cover 10 crores poor and vulnerable families. The scheme will reduce out of pocket expenditure and offers a choice for treatment at private hospitals.

Strategy of Scheme

  • Establishment of Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission Agency at National Level and State Health Agency to ensure proper implementation of Scheme at National,State and UT levels.
  • The States and UTs can implement scheme through an insurance company or Directly through Trust/Society. This would increase Ambit of the Scheme at Ground levels.

Merits of Scheme

  • A Strong Network of 1.5 Lakhs Health and Wellness Centers across the Country would constitute Foundation of India’s new Healthcare Systems.
  • It will cover more than 10 Crore Poor and Vulnerable Families of the Society.
  • The Support from Trained Nurses and Health Workers increase the Availability near Home in Rural Areas.
  • Vulnerable Sections of the Society would have access to Healthcare to almost all medical and Surgical Conditions that can occur in Lifetime.
  • Package Rates decided by Government for Private Hospitals would help in keeping the cost low.
  • It will generate Employment Especially for Women would help in Economic Empowerment of Women.

Ground reality

  • India ranks as low as 145th among 195 countries in healthcare quality and accessibility, behind even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
  • The country spends an abysmal 1.3 per cent of its GDP on health, way less than the global average of 6 per cent.
  • Over 70 per cent of the total healthcare expenditure is accounted for by the private sector. Given the country’s crumbling public healthcare infrastructure, most patients are forced to go to private clinics and hospitals.
  • Health care bills are the single biggest cause of debt in India, with 39 million people being forced into poverty every year.

Can the PMJAY change that?

  1. Shortage of Doctors and other infrastructures
  • India falls woefully short of number of hospital beds compared to WHO standards. With over three-fourths of hospital beds being in the government sector, the private sector caters to a small segment of well-off population. So, from where will the beds for treatment under the scheme come?
  • Currently, according to a government report, one allopathic government doctor attends to a population of 11,000 — the WHO recommends one doctor for a population of 1,000.
  1. Budgetary allocations

The government has kept aside only Rs 3,000 crore for the PMJAY this year against the expected outflow of Rs 11,000 crore. How can then one expect adequate delivery of healthcare under PMJAY?

  1. The intended beneficiaries of PMJAY are masons, contract workers and farm workers who cannot afford to take off much time for treatment at government or private PMJAY-recognised hospitals. OPD treatment is not covered under the scheme. Another issue, quite unforeseen, is difficulty in locating beneficiaries.

Additional problems with healthcare delivery

  • Secondary-level hospitals like district hospitals and medical colleges have poor infrastructure, especially the former.
  • The tehsil and district hospitals have inadequate equipment and lack specialist manpower.
  • Not even one of the 20 medical colleges in India offers cardiac bypass surgery. There is also a gross shortage of tertiary care hospitals in the public sector with PGI, AIIMS, SGPGI and NIMHANS being among the few that can be relied upon.
  • However, these public hospitals are functioning beyond their capacity with waiting lists of one or two years for elective surgeries.

Can the private sector be depended upon? 

  1. Most consumers complain of rising costs, lack of transparency and unethical practices in the private sector. Moreover, these hospitals don’t have adequate presence in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and there is a trend towards super specialisation in Tier-1 cities.
  2. Under the PMJAY, the private hospitals have to get registered and fulfill the minimum requirements. They are also expected to expand their facilities and add hospital beds.
  3. Hundred days into the PMJAY, it remains to be seen if private hospitals provide knee replacement at Rs 80,000 (current charges Rs 3.5 lakh) bypass surgery at Rs 1.7 lakh (against Rs 4 lakh).

Way Forward

  1. The PMJAY has created an excellent opportunity for the country to improve its health care.
  2. While the contribution of the private sector will be the key to its success, it’s the will and zeal of the government to implement it that will make or break the scheme.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] Why SAARC is still relevantop-ed snap


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics aspects of SAARC

Mains level: The newscard discusses the relevance and issues with respect to SAARC, in a brief manner.


  • Imran Khan earned a lot of popular support in Pakistan by opening up the Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara to Sikh yatris from across the border with India. He talked of “peace and trade” and was hailed by the man in the street.
  • In fact, Prime Minister Khan was so sure of “real” public support that he began toying with the idea of mid-term polls to bag a two-thirds majority in parliament that would enable him to change the laws which obstruct his political agenda.


  1. The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has come under serious scrutiny in the last few years. Even after three decades of its existence, SAARC’s performance has been less than satisfactory, and its role in strengthening regional cooperation is being questioned.
  2. SAARC faced setback after the 19th summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan in 2016 was suspended for an indefinite period, as member countries declined to participate, pointing to what they said was the absence of a conducive regional environment.
  3. Though SAARC has established itself as a regional forum, it has failed to attain its objectives. Numerous agreements have been signed and institutional mechanisms established under SAARC, but they have not been adequately implemented.
  4. The South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) is often highlighted as a prominent outcome of SAARC, but that, too, is yet to be implemented. Despite SAFTA coming into effect as early as 2006, the intra-regional trade continues to be at a meagre five percent.

Lack of trust among the member countries

  • In the many failures of SAARC, lack of trust among the member countries has been the most significant factor between India and Pakistan. In recent times, Pakistan’s non-cooperation has stalled some major initiatives under SAARC.
  • For example, despite India’s keen interest in cooperating and strengthening intra-regional connectivity by backing the SAARC–MVA during the 18th summit of SAARC, the agreement was stalled following Pakistan’s reluctance.
  • Similarly, the SAARC satellite project that India proposed was abandoned following objection from Pakistan in 2016.

Security cooperation

  • SAARC has also faced obstacles in the area of security cooperation. A major hindrance in this regard has been the lack of consensus on threat perceptions, since member countries disagree on the idea of threats.
  • For instance, while cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan is a major concern for India, Pakistan has failed to address these concerns.

Other significant reasons for SAARC’s failures include the following:

  1. The asymmetry between India and other member countries in terms of geography, economy, military strength and influence in the global arena make the smaller countries apprehensive. They perceive India as “Big Brother” and fear that it might use the SAARC to pursue hegemony in the region. The smaller neighbouring countries, therefore, have been reluctant to implement various agreements under SAARC.
  2. SAARC does not have any arrangement for resolving disputes or mediating conflicts. Disputes among the member countries often hamper consensus building, thus slowing down the decision-making process. SAARC’s inability in this regard has been detrimental to its growth.
  3. Given SAARC’s failures, member countries have turned to bilateralism, which in turn has adversely affected the organisation. Bilateralism is an easier option since it calls for dealings between only two countries, whereas SAARC—at a regional level—requires one country to deal with seven countries.
  4. Thus, bilateralism decreases the countries’ dependence on SAARC to achieve their objectives, making them less interested in pursuing initiatives at a regional level.
  5. SAARC faces a shortage of resources, and countries have been reluctant to increase their contributions.
  6. Lack of connectivity between different SAARC countries is another reason for the lackluster performance of SAARC so far. Trade and other relations between India and Afghanistan are hampered by the fact that they don’t share any border and connectivity through Pakistan, and is dependent upon good relations between India and Pakistan.

Why SAARC is still relevant

  1. Although it has not met the expectations it has generated, but it gives opportunities for the leaders as well as the operating level officials to interact regularly and discuss issues of mutual concern is reason enough for SAARC to remain relevant.
  2. The problems faced by the SAARC countries are similar and distinct from other regions. The solutions, therefore, are best found with mutual cooperation in the region. For this reason itself SAARC continues to be relevant.
  3. There is no denying the fact that growth in trade and commerce within the region is an extremely important step in this direction. Agreements for this purpose that have been signed earlier do exist. What is required is to operationalise these. If for whatever reasons some countries are not in a position to do so, it will be better for those countries that can do so to move forward.

Way forward

  1. What is also required is for SAARC to concentrate its activities in core identified areas and not lose its direction by getting involved in too many activities. Since India is literally the pivot around which SAARC revolves, the major responsibility for making SAARC a success is upon India. It, therefore, needs to show willingness and undertake asymmetric responsibilities where required.
  2. To give momentum to this process, one or two projects at the sub-regional level could be identified and vigorously implemented within a specific time frame. These projects, if successful, can show the benefits of mutual cooperation and could persuade the doubting Thomas’s to join in.
  3. Each SAARC country also has to realize that while the political situation in individual countries may keep on changing, the economic situation does not change so rapidly and, as it exists, requires really serious efforts for improvement.
  4. At the end of the day, it is the economy which matters for the impoverished people of the region. SAARC can and should be the instrument for leaders of the region to improve the economic situation of the people of the region, even if to begin with, it is in baby steps.
  5. To make SAARC more effective, the organisation must be reformed and member countries must reach a consensus regarding the changes required. However, considering the differences that exist among the members, particularly between India and Pakistan, such a consensus will be difficult to reach. Until the member countries resolve their issues, the future of SAARC remains uncertain.


What Is SAARC & SAARC Countries?

  1. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union in South Asia.  Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  SAARC was founded in Dhaka in 1985.
  2. Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu.
  3. The organization promotes the development of economic and regional integration.
  4. It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006.
  5. SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nation as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities.

Observers Of SAARC: – 

States with observer status include Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.

Objectives Of SAARC:-

The objectives shall be:

  1. To promote the welfare of the peoples of SOUTH ASIA and to improve their quality of life.
  2. To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural developmentin the region.
  3. Toprovide all individuals with the opportunity to live in dignity and to realise their full potentials.
  4. To promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of SOUTH ASIA
  5. To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another are problems.
  6. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields.
  7. To strengthen cooperationwith other developing countries.
  8. To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interests.
  9. To cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.

SAARC Law Conference

  • It was established in Sri Lanka in 1991.
  • Since then conference has provided a platform for legal professionals from South Asian region to meet and discuss issues of mutual interests pertaining to justice, legal reforms, good governance and enforcement over a span of 25 years.
  • 14th Conference held in Colombo, SL in October 2017

With inputs from:  ORF

Aadhaar Card Issues

[op-ed snap] Aadhar Amendment Bill-How it affects you


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: Basics aspects of Aadhar.

Mains level: The newscard critically analyses the issues wrt Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, in a brief manner.


  • The Aadhaar Amendment Bill was pushed through the Lok Sabha— without any debate and no discussion.

Analysis of the proposed Aadhar Amendment Bill and how it can be interpreted in light of the recent SC judgment


  1. Alternative virtual identity
  • Along with the 12-digit Aadhaar enrolment number, an  “alternative virtual identity” generated by the UIDAI has been added when the “requesting entity” asks for verification.
  • Area of concern:  The rules of what a “virtual identity” would be or how it would be used, or even who can use it are not defined.


  1. Children can opt out
  • Section 3A introduced in the Amendment allows a person who was enroled in the Aadhaar system as a child to file an application to cancel their Aadhaar enrolment within six months of turning 18.

Area of concern: While the provision allows a child to opt out of Aadhaar on turning 18 years of age, Aadhaar will still be required for those who want to avail any benefit or subsidy from the government. Further, there is no provision to allow an adult to request cancellation of their Aadhaar enrolment.

  1. Offline verification 
  • Instead of a biometric authentication of Aadhaar number, offline verification using the Aadhaar number has been introduced.

Area of concern: 

  • Section 4 clause 4 of the Amendment Bill includes the term “an entity” which can be permitted by the UIDAI to perform Aadhaar authentication.
  • Activists and lawyers also point out that “an entity” in this clause can include private companies if the government permits them to authenticate Aadhaar. The earlier provision for allowing private entities to conduct Aadhaar authentication had been struck down by the Supreme Court.
  1. Aadhaar as purely voluntary for KYC under the Telegraph Act and under PMLA for Banking and financial services
  • Even though the Supreme Court struck down mandatory Aadhaar linking for KYC of mobile phone connections, and under PMLA for Bank accounts, the Aadhaar amendment specifies that customers can choose Aadhaar authentication, offline verification or their passport or any other form of identification that is allowed by the government.
  • The amendment proposed for the PMLA also recognises that “other reporting entities” that are not banks — i.e., financial institutions — cannot ask for Aadhaar authentication but can use offline verification or other forms of ID.

Area of concern

  • The amendment under PMLA is also slightly unclear since it allows banks to conduct Aadhaar authentication in addition to other forms of identity, which goes against the SC verdict that allowed Aadhaar authentication only for access to government subsidies and services. Also, private banks would come under the definition of “banking services”.
  • Further, the PMLA provision says that “other reporting entities” could also be given access to Aadhaar authentication if they comply with privacy and security standards.
  • This is an area of concern since it could be used to allow private service providers to access Aadhaar authentication.
  1. Civil penalties
  • The Bill also introduces civil penalties for violating Aadhaar norms and illegal access to data under chapter 6A added by the Amendment Act.
  • The proposed Section 33A says that a civil penalty of up to one crore rupees may be imposed on an entity for violating Aadhaar norms. Also, for each additional violation by the same entity, an additional penalty of up to 10 lakh rupees per day may be imposed if violation of the rules continues.
  • The inquiry for such violation will be conducted by a Joint Secretary or higher level officer appointed by the UIDAI.

Area of concern

  • Any person whose identity has been compromised cannot file a civil complaint — only the UIDAI can initiate a complaint about the violation, and the inquiry will be conducted by the UIDAI appointed official.
  • Appeals can be filed before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal by the entity on whom the fine has been imposed. However, only the UIDAI can file an appeal if the adjudicating officer takes a decision in favour of the entity.
  • Also, no complaint can be filed before a civil court. Only the Supreme Court can hear appeals against the order of the Tribunal.
  1. Enhancement of criminal penalties.
  • Criminal complaints can be filed by a person whose identity has been violated. Under Section 38 and 39, which prescribed punishment for corrupting data or accessing the central data repository, or for denying services, the punishment has been enhanced from a maximum of three years to a maximum jail term of 10 years. Under Section 42, punishment has been enhanced from a maximum of one year to a maximum of three years.
  • Also, in what will come as a relief to activists, the amendment in section 47 proposes to allow a person whose identity is violated to approach a criminal court to file a complaint under sections 34 (impersonation), section 35 (appropriation of identity to change information), 36 (unlawful collection of Aadhaar data), 37 (disclosure of identity related information), section 40 (using identity information for other purpose) and 41 (violation by enrolling agency).

Area of concern:

  • All these offences are bailable and carry a jail term of a maximum of three years. Activists had raised concerns about the danger of identity theft and violations. Stricter penalties have been imposed only under sections 38 and 39, for unauthorised access or leaking or distribution of data from the central data repository.
  • Complaints under 38 and 39 can only be made by the UIDAI.
  1. Surveillance and national security
  • Disclosure of Aadhaar data under section 33(1), including authentication of records, can now be done only on the orders of a high court judge. The Aadhaar Act had given the power to a district judge to pass such orders.
  • Also, for disclosure on court orders, both the UIDAI and the person whose data is being disclosed will now be given the opportunity for a hearing. Also, the court cannot order disclosure of core biometric information.
  • Under section 33(2), where the government could order disclosure of Aadhaar data and records “for national security”, the official required to sign off on such a request is now a secretary-level officer, higher than the previous provision of a joint secretary level official.

Area of concern: 

  • The Supreme Court had specifically struck down section 33(2) that allowed for disclosure of identity “for national security” and had said there has to be “involvement of a judicial officer, preferably a High Court judge” before such an order could be passed.
  • This suggestion has been ignored.
  • The national security provision also does not allow for any hearing from the UIDAI or the person concerned. It also does not include the provision to protect core biometrics, as has been specified under 33(1).


  • Any entity that conducts offline verification of Aadhaar cannot conduct online authentication. The collection, storage or use of Aadhaar number or biometric data cannot be done by an entity that conducts offline verification.

Area of concern: 

  • Since the “offline verification” has been introduced by the amendment, how this will actually be conducted is not clear.

Aadhaar Card Issues

Government Budgets

Explained: Off-Budget FinancingPriority 1


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fiscal deficit, Off-Budget financing, FRBM Act,

Mains level:  Deficit Financing Mechanisms


What’s the issue?

  1. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has pulled up the government for increased use of off-budget financing for schemes and subsidies in its Compliance of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act report for FY17.
  2. This practice of off- budgeting masks the true extent of fiscal and revenue deficits.
  3. The CAG of India recommended that the government to institute a policy framework for off-budget financing, which, should include a disclosure about its rationale and objective to parliament.

Why in news?

  1. In terms of revenue spending, off-budget financing was used for covering the fertilizer bills through special banking arrangements; food subsidy bills of the Food Corporation of India through borrowings.
  2. And for implementation Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme, govt. borrowed from the NABARD under the Long Term Irrigation Fund.
  3. Such off-budget financing are not part of calculation of the fiscal indicators despite fiscal implications.

Explained: Off-Budget Financing

  1. This refers to expenditure that’s not funded through the budget.
  2. For example, the government sets up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to construct a bridge.
  3. The SPV will likely borrow money to build the bridge on the strength of a government guarantee.
  4. If it’s not a toll bridge, the SPV will need government support to meet interest obligations.

Why is it Problematic?

  1. Even though the borrowing and spending is outside the budget, it has implications for the budget and for all practical reasons should be included in that document.
  2. Since it’s not, this doesn’t reflect on the fiscal deficit number as well.
  3. Governments across the world use this to escape budget controls.

Implications of Off-budget financing

  1. Off-budget financing by its nature isn’t taken into account when calculating fiscal indicators.
  2. But the cost is borne by the budget through some mechanism or the other.
  3. Such financing tends to hide the actual extent of government spending, borrowings and debt and increase the interest burden.
  4. In the above example, the borrowing by the SPV should ideally be included in the government’s debt.
  5. To the extent that this spending is backed by a government guarantee, it entails a fiscal risk.
  6. Hence, Parliamentary control on such spending is also reduced as its remains outside the budget.

CAG favors a Policy for Disclosure

  1. In order to address these issues, CAG said the government should consider putting in place a policy framework for off-budget financing.
  2. The framework should specify the rationale and objective of off-budget financing, quantum of off-budget financing and sources of fund, among others.
  3. CAG further said the government should also consider disclosing the details of off- budget borrowings through disclosure statements in Budget as well as in accounts.


Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act

  1. The objective of the Act is to ensure inter-generational equity in fiscal management, long-run macroeconomic stability, better coordination between fiscal and monetary policy, and transparency in fiscal operation of the Government
  2. FRBM became an Act in 2003 which provides a legal-institutional framework for fiscal consolidation.
  3. The rule specifies reduction of fiscal deficit to 3% of the GDP by 2008-09 with annual reduction target of 0.3% of GDP per year by the Central government.
  4. Similarly, revenue deficit has to be reduced by 0.5% of the GDP per year with complete elimination to be achieved by 2008-09.
  5. It is the responsibility of the government to adhere to these targets. The Finance Minister has to explain the reasons and suggest corrective actions to be taken, in case of a breach.
  6. The Government can move away from the path of fiscal consolidation only in case of natural calamity, national security and other exceptional grounds which Central Government may specify.
  7. The Act prohibits borrowing by the government from the Reserve Bank of India, thereby, making monetary policy independent of fiscal policy.
Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Explained: The Amendment procedurePriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions & basic structure

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Fundamental rights and their interpretation, Amendment Procedures

Mains level: EWS Quota, Amendment Procedures


  • During the Lok Sabha debate on the Constitution amendment Bill to provide a 10% quota in jobs and education for the “economically weaker sections”, it was argued that this Bill has to be passed by a two-thirds majority, and then, 50 per cent of the states have to approve it.

Argument for the Procedure

  1. The counter argument said that to amend Part III (FRs) of Article 368 of the Constitution (which describes the “Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and procedure there for”), which concerns the FRs, there is no need to go to the state legislatures.
  2. Even the amendment that added Article 15(5) to the Constitution had been approved only by the two Houses of Parliament.

How and why do procedures for the passage of Constitution amendment Bills vary?

Amendment of Constitution

  1. Part XX of the Constitution deals with its amendment.
  2. Under Article 368(2), Parliament can amend the Constitution by passing a Bill in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting.
  3. Thereafter, the Bill shall be presented to the President who shall give his assent… and thereupon the Constitution shall stand amended.
  4. Parliament cannot amend those provisions which form the basic structure of the Constitution according to the Supreme Court ruling in the landmark 1973 Kesavananda Bharati case.
  5. FRs and DPSPs are the two most important provisions that can be amended by the special majority.
  6. All provisions that do not require ratification by states, and those that come directly under the purview of Article 368, have to be amended by the special majority.

Various Procedures for Amendments

[I] Simple Majority

A large number of provisions contained in the constitution are open to change by a simple majority. These may be divided into two classes:

1.Where the text of the constitution is not altered but the law is changed

  • Article 11 confers on the Parliament power to enact a law regarding citizenship.
  • An Act made in pursuance of that power will change the law relating to citizenship without altering the text of Article 5 to 10.
  • Article 124 still refers to the Supreme Court as consisting of the Chief justice and 7 judges.
  • But in exercise of its power the Parliament has increased the strength of the judges from 7 to 25.

2.Where the text of the constitution is changed

  • Formation of new state.
  • Creation or abolition of legislative council
  • Creation of council of ministers for Union territories
  • Extending the period of 15 years fixed for the use of English in Article 343
  • Defining Parliamentary privileges
  • Salaries and allowances of President, Vice-President, Judges, etc.

[II] Special Majority

  1. Except those provisions which are amendable by an ordinary majority, the rest of the provisions require a special majority for amendment.
  2. The Amendment Bill must be passed by a majority of two-thirds of the members of each House present and voting and such majority must exceed 50% of the total membership of the House.

[III]  Special Majority and Ratification by half of the States

  1. Those provisions which relate to the federal structure of the constitution require special majority in Parliament as well as ratification by at least half of the state legislatures.
  2. This procedure is required in the following provisions:
  • Manner of election of President
  • Executive power of the Union and the State
  • The Supreme Court and the High Courts
  • Distribution of legislative power between the Union and the States
  • Representation of states in Parliament
  • Article 368 itself


Article 15 of the Indian Constitution

  1. Article 15 guarantees the FR of prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  2. Articles 15(1) and (2) broadly state that the “State” shall not discriminate “any citizen” on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
  3. It provides that there shall be no restriction on any person to access and use the public places and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly by the state or dedicated to the use of the general public.
  4. Article 15(3) onward, the Constitution lays down provisions relating to protective discrimination — the policy of granting special privileges to underprivileged sections.
  5. Articles 15(3) and 15(4) are the foundation for reservations in education and employment in the country.
  6. Article 15(3) empowers the state to make special provisions for women and children.
  7. Article 15(4) empowers the state to make special provisions for advancement of socially and educationally backwards, and SC/STs.
  8. Article 15(5) was introduced by The Constitution (Ninety-Third Amendment) Act, 2005.
  9. It is an enabling clause that empowers the state to make such provision for the advancement of SC, ST and Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) of citizens in relation to a specific subject.
Foreign Policy Watch- India-Central Asia

First India-Central Asia Dialogue to be held in UzbekistanIOCR


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: India-Central Asia Dialogue

Mains level: India’s initiatives for enhancing economic cooperation in Central Asia


First India-Central Asia Dialogue

  1. The first India-Central Asia Dialogue will be held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and will be co-chaired by India’s External Affairs Minister (EAM).
  2. The Foreign Minister of Afghanistan will participate in the dialogue as a special invitee for the session dedicated to connectivity issues in the region.
  3. While the representatives from Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan will represent their respective countries at the event.

Expected outcomes

  1. Bound together through shared history and cultural linkages, India and the Central Asian states look forward to the Dialogue as an important initiative to enhance their cooperation in wide-ranging spheres.
  2. These include exploring ways to substantially enhance India’s economic involvement in business and development sector of Central Asia.
  3. The participants will deliberate on developing viable connectivity options between India and Afghanistan and Central Asia to further facilitate trade and economic activity in the region.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Centre signs pact with 5 States on Renukaji damPrelims OnlyStates in News


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Renukaji Dam

Mains level:  Not Much


  • Union Water Resources Ministry has signed an agreement with the CMs of Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan for the construction of a Renukaji multipurpose dam project.

Renukaji Multipurpose Dam Project

  1. The dam is conceptualized as a three-way project to be constructed along the Yamuna and two of its tributaries, the Tons and Giri.
  2. The project envisages construction of 148-metre high rock-filled dam for supplying 23 cubic metres per second water to Delhi and other basin states.
  3. Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are the two states involved.
  4. The projects were conceived in 2008. Most of irrigation cost and the drinking water component of these projects will be funded by the central government.
  5. The six beneficiary states would chip in with 10 per cent of the expenditure.

Execution details

  1. The project is proposed to be executed by Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd.
  2. The project will also generate 40 MW of power and the Delhi government has agreed to fund 90% of the cost of the power plant.
  3. After the construction of the dam, the flow of river Giri will increase by about 110 per cent which will meet the drinking water needs of Delhi and other basin states up to some extent in the lean period.
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

World Gold CouncilPrelims Only


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WGC

Mains level: Effect of global trends on India’s gold trade


  • Increased market uncertainty and expansion of protectionist economic policies will make gold increasingly attractive as a hedge in 2019, says the latest report by the World Gold Council (WGC).
  • Since gold is considered a safe haven, during choppy markets, the demand for gold improves, normally.
  • Emerging markets, led by India and China–the biggest consuming markets–make up 70% of consumer demand for the metal.

About World Gold Council

  1. The World Gold Council is an association whose members comprise the world’s leading gold mining companies.
  2. Headquartered in London United Kingdom, it has offices in India, China, Singapore, Japan and the United States.
  3. It helps to support its members to mine in a responsible way and developed the Conflict Free Gold Standard.
  4. It is the market development organisation for the gold industry.
  5. It works across all parts of the industry, from gold mining to investment, and their aim is to stimulate and sustain demand for gold.
  6. WGC frequently publish research that demonstrates gold’s strength as a preserver of wealth – both for investors and countries.
  7. WGC also provide analysis of the industry, offering insights into the drivers of gold demand. They have also launched various products such as SPDR GLD and gold accumulation plans in India and China.