February 2019
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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] What stops rural women from getting involved in entrepreneurship?op-ed snapPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Biz Sakhi

Mains level: Empowerment of Rural women by promoting entrepreneurship



Women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country. Women in rural areas face multiple barriers to pursuing income-generating activities, with patriarchal family and societal norms being the primary hurdle.

Initiatives Improving Rural Women’s participation in workforce

  • The need to improve women’s participation in the economy has been a long-standing priority and is also crucial towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
  • In recent years, entrepreneurship has emerged as an ideal way for rural women to contribute, by taking a few hours out of their day they can engage in small businesses and bring home additional income.
  • There are multiple programmes which offer support to such women such as the Start and Improve Your Business Program (SIYB) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the government’s Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD).
  •  Hero MotoCorp Ltd and the Government of Haryana too seeks to positively impact the lives of 14,000 underprivileged wome.
  • However, Recent data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation shows that women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country.

Reasons for low participation of women in businesses

  • Through its pilot programmes with rural women under the Disha Programme, UNDP India has come to realise that one of the reasons for this lack of uptake is the absence of mentorship for women entrepreneurs. 
  • Women in rural areas face multiple barriers to pursuing income-generating activities, with patriarchal family and societal norms being the primary hurdle.
  • Other issues include lack of awareness about opportunities, difficulty in accessing formal financing and poor customer management skills.

Positive efforts towards an inclusive workfoce through Biz Sakhis

  • Trained by Disha Project – a partnership between UNDP India, IKEA Foundation and India Development Foundation, the Biz Sakhis are women from rural communities who guide budding female entrepreneurs through multiple processes and provide both practical and psychological support to them.
  • They encourage rural women to start their own businesses by making them aware of entrepreneurship as a realistic opportunity, and, by informing them of the benefits of starting their own small businesses.
  • Biz Sakhis are instrumental at this point in helping them access formal banking channels for loans, by providing them information about schemes such as the Mudra Yojana Scheme of the government.
  • Biz Sakhis provide inputs to help women access market linkages and introduce them to a variety of business models and ideas to help them scale up.
  • They also work with small business owners to develop their communication skills, and to be able to persuade and negotiate with stakeholders within the ecosystem of their businesses.
  • The most important role that Biz Sakhis play in the lives of rural entrepreneurs, is to be the source of emotional and psychological support.


Often, family pressures and societal norms discourage women from engaging in such activities or cause them to abandon their business in the wake of community backlash. Being from the community themselves, Biz Sakhis can effectively engage with women and the community at large to counter such barriers and empower rural women to sustain their businesses.

Skilling India – Skill India Mission,PMKVY, NSDC, etc.

[op-ed snap] A human-centric approach to unlock growthop-ed snap


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic concepts behind of Artificial Intelligence

Mains level: Article gives a clear picture of Jobs and skilling challenges related to Artificial Intelligence



  • Industry 4.0 is a double-edged sword.
  • On one side, we have an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven $15.7 trillion game-changer that is unfolding.
  • On the other side, it’s this (cutting-edge technologies such as AI) that will disrupt 70% of market leaders across industries in the next 10 years.
  • The availability of relevant talent (or the lack of it) will decide which way industries (and nations) will go.
  • Countries have started to put in place national digital skills strategies, including in Asia.

Changes in Jobs due to the advent of AI

  • it’s about time we put to rest the fear-mongering narrative of job losses and underpinned the real issue—the global skill crisis.
  • Smart machines will replace millions of jobs worldwide, but, newer jobs will be created in greater numbers.
  • The World Economic Forum estimates 75 million jobs may be displaced, but 133 million new roles may emerge globally in a few years.
  • These new jobs will be different and will require higher application of cognitive skills alongside working with deep technologies.

Is Indian IT doing enough towards re-skilling?

  • Many companies have their own learning platforms that are being used extensively.
  • Others are tapping into their partner networks and massive open online courses.
  • Also, as an industry, we need to have deeper engagements with academia, CoEs and research labs to reach our optimum potential.
  • Indian IT is taking convincing strides to sustain its position as the preferred transformational partner for global clients.
  • Towards this, investments of about 10,000 crore oave been earmarked for re-skilling.

Competition from other countries

  • Other nations, such as Singapore, China, France, Canada, and Egypt, have begun to invest significantly towards creating digital talent.
  • As many as 20 countries across the globe have adopted AI National Strategy.
  • Governments worldwide recognise the inevitable shift and are adopting AI, analytics, and allied technologies to deliver citizen-centric services, including rthe eal-time response.

Indian Government’s Response

  • The government doubled its Digital India budget to $480 million in 2018-19, which will be used for research and training in deep tech.
  • In the interim budget this year, the announcement of the National AI Centre, AI portal, and the identification of nine areas to be driven by technology are positive steps towards evangelisation.
  • Karnataka government along with Nasscom has launched a CoE for data science and AI.

Other areas that need reforms

  • Universities will have to re-train to ensure students are employable in the digital era.
  • We produce 2.6 million STEM graduates annually, but their employability is considerably low.
  • Investment in research is another area where we lag. Sponsored research in our top institutions is between $120-140 million annually, while comparable estimates in the American colleges are between $1-1.5 billion.
  • Increasingly, universities will require great access to patient capital.


  • This industry has never been constrained by demand. We have to ensure that we get the supply side of the equation right in real quick time, and policies and strategies must translate into immediate action.
  • The choice is no more about being the bigger fish —but being the faster one.


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

[pib] HOPE PortalPIB


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ayushman Bharat scheme, NABH, HOPE Portal

Mains level: Standardization of Healthcare facilities in India


  • National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations (NABH) has revamped Entry-Level Certification Process of hospitals to make it simpler, digital, faster and user-friendly.

Why NABH Certification?

  1. HCOs and small HCOs that want to avail benefits associated with IRDAI and Ayushman Bharat.
  2. NABH accreditation provides assurance of quality and care in hospitals at par with international benchmarks.
  3. NABH has designed an exhaustive healthcare standard for hospitals and healthcare providers that have been accredited as per global standards.

HOPE Portal

  1. The revamped certification process is driven through a new portal called HOPE – Healthcare Organizations’ Platform for Entry-Level-Certification.
  2. It is an online platform for smooth and secure registration which provides a self-explanatory questionnaire to be filled by the HCO/SHCOs.
  3. It ensures quality at nascent stages by enrolling a wide range of hospitals across the country including Healthcare Organizations (HCOs).
  4. HOPE also enables them to comply with quality protocols, improve patient safety and the overall healthcare facility of the organization.



  1. NABH, a constituent body of QCI, has been working to ensure reliability, efficiency and global accreditation in Indian healthcare sector.
  2. It uses contemporary methodologies and tools, standards of patient safety and infection control.

About QCI

  1. Established in 1997 Quality Council of India (QCI) is an autonomous organization under the DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  2. It is the Quality Apex and National Accreditation Body for accreditation and quality promotion in the country.
  3. The Council was established to provide a credible, reliable mechanism for third party assessment of products, services and processes which is accepted and recognized globally.
Start-up Ecosystem In India

[pib] Second edition of States’ Ranking on Startup InitiativesPIB


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development and Employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: States’ Start-up Ranking 2019

Mains level: Boosting the startup ecosystem in India


  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has released second edition of Startup Ranking for 2019.

States’ Start-up Ranking

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

About 2019 Framework

  1. The Ranking Framework 2019 comprises of 7 pillars and 30 action points.
  2. DPIIT has prepared the framework after several rounds of consultation with State and UT Governments.
  3. DPIIT also proposes to recognise States and UTs for their exemplary performance in seven pillars of the ranking framework:
  • Institutional support
  • Simplifying regulations
  • Easing public procurement
  • Incubation support
  • Seed funding support
  • Venture funding support
  • Awareness and outreach related activities
Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Operation Digital BoardPIB


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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Op Digital Board

Mains level: Raising standard of teaching and learning in India


  • The Ministry of HRD launched Operation Digital Board to leverage technology in order to boost quality education in the country.

Operation Digital Board

  1. It is a revolutionary step which will make the learning as well as the teaching process interactive and popularize flipped learning as a pedagogical approach.
  2. The digital board will be introduced all over the country in government and government aided schools from class 9th onwards as well as in higher education institutions.
  3. The process will begin from the coming session of 2019 itself.


I. In Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

  • UGC will be the implementing agency for ODB in HEIs.
  • UGC will put in place a Portal for all the public funded HEIs to log-in and opt for the scheme giving details of this facility.
  • This can be implemented as a Central scheme under a loan from HEFA.

II. In Schools

  • Digital / SMART board will be provided in all Government and Government – aided schools having Secondary and Sr. Secondary classes.
  • Nearly 1.5 lakh Secondary / Sr. Secondary schools will be covered under the scheme in collaboration with the State and UTs


  1. ODB aims at converting a class room into a digital class room.
  2. It will make available e-resources at any time and at any place to students.
  3. It will also help in provisioning of personalized adaptive learning as well as Intelligent Tutoring by exploiting emerging technologies like Machine Learning, AI & Data Analytics.

Other technological initiatives

  1. The MHRD has launched of e-Pathshala, DIKSHA, NROER, NPTEL, E-PGpathshala SWAYAM and SWAYAM-Prabha DTH Channels etc.
  2. These have provided adequate content of high quality which can be taken to every classroom.
  3. These pedagogical interventions have raised the standards of teaching, irrespective of the location of the Schools and Colleges.
Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

[pib] Development and Welfare Board for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic CommunitiesPIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Idate and Renke Commission Recommendations, NCDNT

Mains level: Welfare measures for the stigmatized de-notified and nomadic tribes


  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for constitution of Development and Welfare Board for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Communities (DNCs).


  1. These communities once branded as criminals under the colonial Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, the communities were ‘denotified’ in 1952.
  2. They continue to face stigma till this day.
  3. To this end, the condition of the denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities merits special attention.
  4. The communities which have not been categorised as SC/ST/OBC do not get access to any welfare schemes.
  5. The earlier commissions — Renke and Idate — had tried to identify and list these communities but their major recommendations have not been implemented till date.

Welfare Board for DNTs

  1. The Government has decided to set up a Development and Welfare Board under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  2. While most DNTs are spread across the SC, ST and OBC categories, some DNTs are not covered in any of these.
  3. These communities are hard to reach, less visible, and therefore frequently left out.
  4. It has, therefore, approved the setting up of a Committee under the Chairpersonship of Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog.
  5. It will complete the process of identification of the Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DNCs) that have not yet been formally classified.


National Commission for DNTs

  1. The Government in July 2014 had constituted National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) for a period of three years to prepare a State-wise list of castes belonging to DNTs.
  2. The Commission recommended for the setting of up a Permanent Commission for these communities.
  3. Since most of the DNTs are covered in SC, ST or OBC, constitution of a Permanent Commission will not be very effective in implementing development programmes.
  4. Rather it will look at grievance redressal and will therefore be in conflict with mandate of existing commissions for SCs, STs and OBCs.
Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

National Policy on Electronics 2019Prelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NPE 2019

Mains level: India’s ESDM sector


  • The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the National Policy on Electronics 2019 (NPE 2019), proposed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology .

National Policy on Electronics 2019

  1. The Policy envisions positioning India as a global hub for Electronics System Design and Manufacturing – by encouraging and driving capabilities in the country.
  2. It facilitates for developing core components, including chipsets, and creating an enabling environment for the industry to compete globally.
  3. The Policy replaces the National Policy of Electronics 2012 (NPE 2012).

Salient Features

  1. Provide incentives and support for manufacturing of core electronic components
  2. Provide special package of incentives for mega projects which entail huge investments, such as semiconductor facilities display fabrication, etc.
  3. Promote Industry-led R&D and innovation in all sub-sectors of electronics, including grass root level innovations and early stage Start-ups in emerging technology
  4. Provide incentives and support for significantly enhancing availability of skilled manpower, including re-skilling
  5. Special thrust on Fabless Chip Design Industry, Medical Electronic Devices Industry, Automotive Electronics Industry and Power Electronics for Mobility and Strategic Electronics Industry
  6. Create Sovereign Patent Fund (SPF) to promote the development and acquisition of IPs in ESDM sector.
  7. Promote trusted electronics value chain initiatives to improve national cyber security profile.

Major Impact

  1. The NPE 2019 when implemented will lead to formulation of several schemes, initiatives, projects, etc. for the development of ESDM sector in the country.
  2. It will enable flow of investment and technology, leading to higher value addition in the domestically manufactured electronic products.
  3. It will lead to increased electronics hardware manufacturing in the country and their export, while generating substantial employment opportunities.
History- Important places, persons in news

[pib] Guru RavidasPrelims Only


Mains Paper 1: Indian History| All Syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Guru Ravidas and associated facts

Mains level: Bhakti Movement in medieval India


Guru Ravidas Jayanti

  • Guru Ravidas Jayanti is celebrated on Magh Purnima, which is the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Magha.
  • People celebrate this day by reading the holy book Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji.
  • Some devotees also take a holy bath in Ganga to celebrate this anniversary.

Who was Guru Ravidas?

  1. While the exact year of his birth is not known, it is believed that the mystic saint was born in 1377 C.E.
  2. Although there have been no concrete details, the saint was said to have been born in the village of Seer Goverdhanpur which is located near Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi.
  3. His birthplace has now been named Shri Guru Ravidas Janam Asthan and has become a major place of pilgrimage for the followers of Guru Ravidas.
  4. He belonged to a (so called) untouchable caste and suffered a lot of atrocities as a result.
  5. However the saint chose to focus on spiritual pursuits and also penned several devotional songs which made a huge impact in the Bhakti movement during the 14th to 16th century CE.

Teachings of Guru Ravidas

  1. Guru Ravidas spoke against the caste divisions and spoke of removing them to promote unity.
  2. The Adi Granth of Sikhs, in addition to the Panchvani are the two of the oldest documented sources of the literary works of Guru Ravidas.
  3. His teachings resonated with the people, leading to a religion being born called the Ravidassia religion, or Ravidassia Dharam based on his teachings.
  4. He taught about the omnipresence of God and said that a human soul is a particle of God and hence Ravidas rejected the idea that people considered lower caste cannot meet God.
  5. He said in his teachings that the only way to meet God was to free the mind from the duality.

With inputs from:

Financial Express