[op-ed snap] Acknowledging the crime


Mains Paper 1: History | All syllabus

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jalianwala Bagh Massacre

Mains level:Colonialism, World wars, Imperailism



Apology for Jallianwala Bagh massacre could offer a chance for Britain to atone.


  • . The massacre took place on April 13, 1919: More than 300 unarmed civilians, including a large number of women and children, were gunned down indiscriminately.
  • The protests were sparked off because the colonial state had backtracked from its promises.
  • It had agreed with the Indian National Congress and other leaders of the Indian Independence movement, to accord Dominion Status to India, far short of complete independence, but involving some amount of self-governance.
  • In return, they sought India’s support in fighting World War I. This support included payment of millions of pounds in taxes, and providing men, arms and ammunition for the “glorious empire’s” military. After the war was over, the government reneged on its promises.

British Government’s response to the tragedy

  • However, in 1919, the English government did not severely penalise the cold-blooded murder of innocents. It also rewarded General Dyer.
  • As we head towards the centenary of this great tragedy, it is pertinent to question on what authority did these erstwhile colonial powers impose higher ideas of morality, embedded in notions of the rule of law at the Tokyo Trials.

Two faced attitudes of Imperial Powers

  • While judges from the Allied nations — mainly the US, the Netherlands, and Britain — were all in favour of handing out death sentences to the Japanese war criminals for crimes against humanity, their own governments perpetrated similar atrocities for decades (or centuries) within their “colonies”.
  • it was indefensible to arbitrarily and hypocritically impose newly-created international laws on individuals who could be tried and prosecuted in their own country’s courts, especially when many people across Asia and Africa continued to reel under colonial rule and face similar violence and oppression.

Way Forward

  • While the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy cannot be reversed, an unconditional apology from the British government is long overdue and would demonstrate its recognition and remorse for this dastardly attack.
  • Reparations or an official apology from the British government should not to be viewed as a tool for empowering Indians. Instead, it offers Britons a chance to atone for the wrongs that should never have been committed or celebrated in the first place.

[op-ed snap]Life without GSP


Mains Paper 2: International relations| Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic knowledge of India-US trade relations.

Mains level: The news-card analyses the India-US trade relation in recent times, in a brief manner and impact of GSP review.



The U.S. has ultimately acted on its threat to withdraw concessions granted to Indian imports under the Generalised System of Preferences.

Emerging tensions in trade

  • India-U.S. trade tensions escalated last year when the U.S. took two consecutive decisions to increase import tariffs on steel and aluminium, and place India’s eligibility for GSP benefits under review.
  • Shortly after, India said it would impose retaliatory tariffs on imports from the U.S. and even notified the list of items on which these would apply.
  • The GSP review, however, stretched on, with the two countries holding frequent talks to address the concerns. India, for its part, postponed the deadline for the imposition of the retaliatory tariffs six times; the latest deadline is on April 1.

Reasons to review GSP status

  • Washington’s decision to review India’s GSP status stemmed from complaints from American medical and dairy industries, both of which said India was not providing “equitable and reasonable access to its market”.
  • India has said it had tried hard to cater to most of the U.S. demands and reach an understanding, but key points of difference, especially regarding India’s cultural concerns to do with dairy products, could not be accommodated.
  • The U.S. has been expressing discontent over India’s policies to do with data localisation and FDI rules in e-commerce.

India’s Response

  • Commerce Ministry said that the GSP benefits amounted to only $190 million while India’s total exports under GSP to the U.S. stood at $5.6 billion.

Options before the Indian government

  • Talks on the issue would still continue during the 60-day period after which the GSP decision would come into effect.
  • The other option the government can exercise is to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods.


  • It bears emphasis that while the actual amounts at stake are relatively small, with even India’s proposed tariffs on the U.S. amounting to just $900 million, the impact on small industries in the country could nevertheless be significant.
  • Export bodies have already said that such industries would lose their market share in the U.S. without fiscal support to help them maintain their edge. In its absence, orders meant for India could go to other GSP countries, signs of which are already evident.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

[op-ed snap]The mounting challenges of a two-speed Indian economy


Mains Paper 3: Economic Development | Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing as such.

Mains level: The news-card analyses how managing relative price of food in terms of industrial goods will be one of the biggest policy challenges for the govt, in a brief manner.



The dualism of income stagnation in the farm sector and the rapid growth in rest of the private sector is our next big hurdle.

Economic Growth

  • The latest estimates of Indian economic growth released by the government’s statistics office in the last week of February highlight the uncomfortable fact that India now has a two-speed economy.
  • Agriculture is in the slow lane while the rest of the economy is moving ahead at a much quicker pace.
  • The Indian economy lost substantial momentum in the third quarter of the ongoing fiscal year. It grew at 6.6% in those three months.
  • Economic growth in the fourth quarter is likely to be 1.7 percentage points lower than the expansion rate in the first quarter.

Two speed Economy

  • Indian private sector is growing at two speeds right now—one for agriculture and one for the other parts.
  • One important reason why the overall economic momentum has slowed is because of an indifferent rabi season this winter in farms across the country.
  • Farm incomes are now growing at perhaps the slowest pace in the past 15 years.
  • Manufacturing growth has bounced back this year. The Purchasing Managers’ Index for February 2019 shows that factories continue to hum thanks to a combination of strong production and new orders, though business optimism has begun to wane.
  • It is much the same with services in the private sector such as construction, hotels, transport, finance, and communications.
  • The rest of the private sector economy grew nearly six times faster than agriculture in nominal terms in the third quarter.

Effects Of two speed Economy on rural economy

  • new rural occupations continue to have deep links with agriculture and nearly half the Indian labour force continues to be primarily dependent on farming for its income. The poor rabi crop as well as the decline in food prices is bound to hurt.

Global Economic Situation

  • The global economy is weakening, international trade volumes have declined sharply because of the US-China trade war, and there are financial stability concerns in China.
  • Two major consequences of this—lower commodity prices and a slower pace of US monetary policy normalisation—will act like buffers.

Future prospects of Indian Economy

  • The Reserve Bank of India has already cut its policy interest rate while switching its monetary policy stance from calibrated tightening to neutral.
  • India will have three consecutive quarters of lower economic growth this fiscal year. The extent of the cyclical downturn—or growth recession—will depend on a host of factors such as the state of the global economy, the response to domestic policy easing, and the strength of the next monsoon.


  • The dualism of income stagnation in the farm sector combined with much more rapid growth in the rest of the Indian economy.
  • The terms of trade between the two continue to be one of the central challenges in Indian political economy. The two-speed economy has implications for Indian politics, as well as economics, in the months ahead.




Issues related to Economic growth

Explained: How a change in law has made election candidates more accountable


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Form 26

Mains level: Preventing money laundering by Politicians


  • Recently the Law Ministry made it mandatory for election candidates to reveal their income-tax returns of the last five years, as well as the details of their offshore assets.
  • This was done by amending Form 26, as suggested by the Election Commission of India.

Form 26

  • A candidate in an election is required to file an affidavit called Form 26 that furnishes information on her assets, liabilities, educational qualifications, criminal antecedents (convictions and pending cases) and public dues, if any.
  • The affidavit has to be filed along with the nomination papers and should be sworn before an Oath Commissioner or Magistrate of the First Class or before a Notary Public.

New changes

  • Earlier, a candidate had to only declare the last I-T return (for self, spouse and dependents). Details of foreign assets were not sought.
  • It is now mandatory for candidates to reveal their own income-tax returns of the last five years rather than only one, and the details of offshore assets, as well as the same details for their spouse, members of the Hindu Undivided Family and dependents.
  • Offshore assets, means details of all deposits or investments in foreign banks and any other body or institution abroad and details of all assets and liabilities in foreign countries

Intention behind the move

  • The objective behind introducing Form 26 was that it would help voters make an informed decision.
  • The affidavit would make them aware of the criminal activities of a candidate, which could help prevent people with questionable backgrounds from being elected to an Assembly or Parliament.
  • With the recent amendment, voters will know the extent to which a serving MP’s income grew during his five years in power.

Not so easily implemented

  • Like most recent electoral reforms in India, Form 26 was introduced on September 3, 2002, following a court order.
  • The genesis of the affidavit can be traced to the 170th Report of the Law Commission, submitted in May 1999, which suggested steps for preventing criminals from entering electoral politics.
  • One of the suggestions was to disclose the criminal antecedents as well as the assets of a candidate before accepting her nomination.
  • The then government did not act on the recommendation, leading to public interest litigation in Delhi High Court in December 1999.
  • In 2002 the Union government promulgated an Ordinance diluting the EC’s order.
  • The government subsequently also amended the Election Conduct Rules of 1961 on September 3, 2002, to prescribe Form 26 in which a candidate had to disclose the above information.
  • The SC declared the amendment null and void. The EC then issued a fresh order on March 27, 2003, seeking information on all five points mentioned in the SC order of May 2, 2002.

What happens if a candidate lies in an affidavit?

  • A candidate is expected to file a complete affidavit. Leaving a few columns blank can render the affidavit “nugatory”.
  • It is the responsibility of the Returning Officer (RO) to check whether Form 26 has been completed; the nomination paper can be rejected if the candidate fails to fill it in full.
  • If it is alleged that a candidate has suppressed information or lied in her affidavit, the complainant can seek an inquiry through an election petition.
  • If the court finds the affidavit false, the candidate’s election can be declared void.
  • The current penalty for lying in an affidavit is imprisonment up to six months, or fine, or both.
  • EC considered this as a corrupt practice.
Electoral Reforms In India

PSBloansin59minutes.com emerges largest fintech lending platform


Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy | Planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: About the Portal

Mains level: Facilitating MSMEs in India


  • According to a report by global financial firm, Credit Suisse, the recently launched fintech portal, PSBloansin59minutes.com has, within three months, emerged as the largest online lending platform.

Portal “PSBLoansin59min”

  • It is one of its kind platforms in MSME segment which integrates advanced fintech to ensure seamless loan approval and management.
  • The loans are undertaken without human intervention till sanction and or disbursement stage.
  • A User Friendly Platform has been built where MSME borrower is not required to submit any physical document for in-principle approval.
  • The solution uses sophisticated algorithms to read and analyse data points from various sources such as IT returns, GST data, bank statements, MCA21 etc. in less than an hour while capturing the applicant’s basic details.
  • The system simplifies the decision making process for a loan officer as the final output provides a summary of credit, valuation and verification on a user-friendly dashboard in real time.

Key Features

  • Majority stake of SIDBI & big 5 PSBs- SBI, Bank of Baroda, PNB, Vijaya and Indian Bank.
  • A first for MSME borrowers-Connect with multiple banks without visiting the branch.
  • Only Platform in the market with a Banker Interface which covers the Branch Level integrations (with maker-checker-approver) in tune with current systems of PSBs.
  • Only Platform that enables Bankers to create Loan Products in line with the Scoring models & assessment methods within their approved credit policy.
  • Only Platform that has an integrated GST, ITR, Bank Statement Analyzer, Fraud Check and Bureau Check.
Microfinance Story of India

India downplays impact of U.S. GSP withdrawal


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: GSP

Mains level: Impact of US withdrawal of GSP status to India


  • Recently US President referred to India as a “very-high tariff nation” and demanded for a “reciprocal tax” on goods from India
  • Now it has given a 60-day withdrawal notice to India on the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits extended by US.

GSP benefits to India

  • GSP benefits are envisaged to be non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory benefits extended by developed countries to developing countries.
  • In India’s case the GSP concessions extended by the US amounted to duty reduction of only USD 190 million per annum.

Addressing US objections

  • The US had initiated the review on medical devices and dairy industries, but subsequently included numerous other issues on a self-initiated basis.
  • These included issues related to market access for various agriculture and animal husbandry products, relaxation / easing of procedures related to issues like telecom testing / conformity assessment and tariff reduction on ICT products.

Unacceptable demands

  • On the issue of dairy market access, India has clarified that the source animal had never been fed animal derived blood meal, is non-negotiable given the cultural and religious sentiment, the requested simplified dairy certification procedure and without diluting this requirement was considered.
  • On reduction of our IT duties, India’s duties are moderate and not import stopping.
  • Any MFN duty reduction would almost entirely benefit third countries.
  • Accordingly, India extended willingness to extend duty concessions on specific items in which there is a clear US interest.

US trade deficit has also lowered

  • Due to various initiatives resulting in enhanced purchase of US goods like oil and natural gas and coal the US trade deficit with India has substantially reduced in calendar years 2017 and 2018.
  • The reduction is estimated to be over USD 4 Billion in 2018, with further reduction expected in future years on account of factors like the growing demand for energy and civilian aircrafts in India.
  • This reduction has happened in the face of a rising overall US trade deficit, including with some other major economies.
  • India is also a thriving market for US services and e-commerce companies like Amazon, Uber, Google and Facebook with billions of dollars of revenue.

Way Forward

  • The issue of Indian tariffs being high has been raised from time to time.
  • It is pertinent that India’s tariffs are within its bound rates under WTO commitments, and are on the average well below these bound rates.
  • On developmental considerations there may be a few tariff peaks, which is true for almost all economies.
  • India was agreeable to a very meaningful mutually acceptable package on the above lines to be agreed to at this time, while keeping remaining issues under discussion in the future.


Generalized System of Preferences

  • The GSP is one of the oldest trade preference programmes in the world and was designed to provide zero duties or preferential access for developing countries to advanced markets.
  • The U.S. GSP programme was established by the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 and promotes economic development by eliminating duties on thousands of products when imported from one of the 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
  • In April 2018, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it would review the GSP eligibility of India, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan.
  • The proposed review for India was initiated in response to market access petitions filed by the U.S. dairy and medical device industries due to recent policy decisions in India, which were perceived as trade.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

[pib] PM Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM) Scheme


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Shram- Yogi Maandhan Yojana

Mains level: Pension Scheme for Unorganised sector workers


  • The PM Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM) was formally inaugurated by PM Modi.

PM Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan (PM-SYM) 

  1. PM-SYM will be a Central Sector Scheme administered by the Ministry of Labour and Employment and implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India and CSCs.
  2. LIC will be the Pension Fund Manager and responsible for Pension pay out.
  3. The amount collected under PM-SYM pension scheme shall be invested as per the investment pattern specified by GoI.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. The unorganised workers mostly engaged as home based workers, street vendors, mid-day meal workers, head loaders, brick kiln workers, cobblers, rag pickers, domestic workers, washer men, rickshaw pullers, landless labourers, etc. whose monthly income is Rs 15,000/ per month or less and belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years are eligible for the scheme.
  2. They should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
  3. Further, he/she should not be an income tax payer.

Features of PM-SYM

Pension Pay out

  1. Once the beneficiary joins the scheme at the entry age of 18-40 years, the beneficiary has to contribute till 60 years of age.
  2. On attaining the age of 60 years, the subscriber will get the assured monthly pension of Rs.3000/- with benefit of family pension, as the case may be.

Family Pension

  • During the receipt of pension, if the subscriber dies, the spouse of the beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension received by the beneficiary as family pension.
  • Family pension is applicable only to spouse.

Contribution by the Subscriber

  • The subscriber’s contributions to PM-SYM shall be made through ‘auto-debit’ facility from his/ her savings bank account/ Jan- Dhan account.
  • The subscriber is required to contribute the prescribed contribution amount from the age of joining PM-SYM till the age of 60 years.

Matching contribution by the Central Government  

  • PM-SYM is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme on a 50:50 basis where prescribed age-specific contribution shall be made by the beneficiary and the matching contribution by the Central Government.
  • For example, if a person enters the scheme at an age of 29 years, he is required to contribute Rs 100/ – per month till the age of 60 years.
  • An equal amount of Rs 100/- will be contributed by the Central Government.

Enrolment Process

  • The enrolment will be carried out by all the Community Service Centers (CSCs).
  • The subscriber will be required to have a mobile phone, savings bank account and Aadhaar number.
  • The eligible subscriber may visit the nearest CSCs and get enrolled for PM-SYM using Aadhaar number and savings bank account/ Jan-Dhan account number on self-certification basis.

Facilitation Centres

  • All the branch offices of LIC, the offices of ESIC/EPFO and all Labour offices of Central and State Governments will facilitate the unorganised workers about the Scheme.
Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

[pib] SBM- Grameen confirms over 96% usage of toilets


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Swachh Bharat Mission- Grameen

Mains level: Success of SBM


  • The National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2018-19 was conducted by an Independent Verification Agency under the World Bank support project to the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G).

Key findings of NARSS 2018-19

  • 1% of households were found to have access to toilets during the survey period (the corresponding figure as per the SBMG MIS in November 2018 was 96%)
  • 5% of the people who had access to toilets used them
  • 7% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF were confirmed to be ODF. The remaining villages also had sanitation coverage of about 93%
  • 4% of the villages surveyed found to have minimal litter and minimal stagnant water

About the Survey

  • The survey used the PPS (Probability Proportion to Size) sampling methodology, which yields results within a confidence interval of 95%.
  • Data was collected using the Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) platform.
  • The survey also covered schools, anganwadis and public/community toilets in these villages.

Success of SBM-G

  • Since its launch in October 2014, the SBM, the world’s largest sanitation program, has changed the behaviour of hundreds of millions of people with respect to toilet access and usage.
  • 500 million people have stopped defecating in the open since the SBM began, down from 550 million at the beginning of the programme to less than 50 million today.
  • Over 9 crore toilets have been built across rural India under the Mission.
  • Over 5.5 lakh villages and 615 districts have been declared ODF, along with 30 ODF States and Union Territories.
Swachh Bharat Mission