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September 2019

J&K – The issues around the state

[op-ed snap] Not their business: On OIC remarks on Article 370


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : OIC

Mains level : OIC - Kashmir


The OIC’s Kashmir Contact Group issued a statement calling on India to “rescind its actions revoking Article 370”. 

Impact of the statement

  • It allows the Pakistan Prime Minister to sell the theory back at home that his trip to New York has met with some success. 
  • From the mid-1990s, when this Contact Group was formed, it has issued several statements on behalf of Pakistan. 


  • Pakistan is a member along with Turkey, Niger, Azerbaijan, and Saudi Arabia. It boasts of a membership of 57 countries
  • It is headquartered in Jeddah and receives its financial raison d’etre from its chief benefactor, Saudi Arabia.
  • Its influence on world affairs has always been marginal

Differences within OIC

  • It is doubtful if the statement issued by the Contact Group reflects the national positions of the individual member states. 
  • UAE conferred the Order of Zayed, its highest civilian award on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than a week after New Delhi’s moves on Article 370, and declared that Kashmir was India’s internal matter.
  • The OIC’s record of conflict resolution on issues between OIC member states is poor
  • Its attempts to meddle in Kashmir by appointing a so-called special envoy on Jammu and Kashmir, have amounted to nothing

Need for reforms in OIC

  • The organisation is constituted on religious lines but seeking to fulfill geopolitical interests, needs reforms from within.
  • It should ask Pakistan to change its state policy on terrorism.
  • Pakistan should abjure support to Kashmir-centric groups such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
  • India, though not a part of the OIC, has the second-largest number of Muslims in the world.
  • It can mediate between warring Saudi Arabia and Yemen.


India must demonstrate to the world that its new Kashmir policy is in the larger interest of all Kashmiris.


The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference) is the second-largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has a membership of 57 states spread over four continents.

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Making crime less dark


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Victimisation survey - efficient crime data


The absence of exact data on crime could pose serious problems. In India, crime is under-reported and under-registered.

Crime data

    • Popular perception associates many cities and states in India with a crime. Going by official statistics, the country has one of the lowest incidences of crime in the world. 
    • India’s crime rate is 379.3 per 1,00,000 persons
    • Cases of dacoity, attempt to murder, robbery, rape, and riot have gone down by 36.11%, 16.26%, 20.15%, 0.78%, and 54% respectively in 2018 as compared to the year before. 

Problems with crime data

    • The manner in which crime data are collected and compiled. 
      • Crime data in India are collected and published by NCRB
      • The data reported in this publication is based on the crime reported to local police stations
      • Police stations getting information about the crime is one thing and such incidents being recorded as an FIR is another. 
    • Challenges of a complainant – All kinds of pressures and obstacles are put on a complainant, especially when the nature of crime is that of sexual assault, domestic violence or when it involves family members, relatives or powerful people. 
    • There is enormous resistance put up by the police station personnel in registering such crimes or reducing the seriousness of the incident.
    • The NCRB data fall short of expectations in many respects. 
      • It is short on information about crime victims and witnesses
      • The official statistics miss out on several key areas such as the profile of victims, their personal characteristics, victim-offender relationship, FIR registration experiences, experiences of interacting with police, number of days and time taken in getting FIR registered, instances of intimidation, pressure experienced from the accused or associates including police, nature of injury, medical assistance, information about legal aid, compensation.

The potential of a victimisation survey

    • A victimisation survey is often seen as a solution to such shortcomings. 
    • Many countries have conducted victimisation surveys to supplement their official crime data, India has yet to make a start. 
    • Such surveys reveal details that are missed out by the local police
    • They describe how crime has impacted the lives of victims and convey their safety concerns.
    • These surveys gather information through personal or telephonic interviews with a set of people who represent the geographical and social correlates of a city or state over a period of time. 
    • The information may detail the victimisation suffered by a person but not recorded by the police for a variety of reasons. 
    • The other data include risk and vulnerability, perceptions about the local police and the views of people about the criminal justice system.
    • The data generated by such surveys are considered more reliable than the official statistics on crime. 
    • Such surveys are conducted by professionally-competent organisations and the state funds the processes involved in the generation of data.

Case studies across the world

    • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) measures the amount of crime by asking people about their experiences as crime victims.
    • In the US, the National Crime Victimisation Survey (NCVS) presents data that is collected from a nationally-representative sample of about 2,40,000 interviews on criminal victimisation.
    • The European Crime and Safety Survey (EU ICS) is the most comprehensive analysis of crime, security, and safety in the European Union.
    • The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) launched the International Crime Victimisation Survey (ICVS), which produces more comparable data across nations. 

Indian crime data – road ahead

    • India-specific yardsticks, which the NCRB does not cover, could be evolved. 
    • There could be several challenges to such surveys. People might not reveal more than what they have divulged to the police.
    • There are several methodological innovations to overcome bottlenecks.
    • It should be assigned to an institution that specialises in criminology, victimology and criminal justice administration. 
    • It should involve a nuanced understanding of the facets of crime and victimisation.



The National Crime Records Bureau, abbreviated to NCRB, is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code. NCRB is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Labour, Jobs and Employment – Harmonization of labour laws, gender gap, unemployment, etc.

Population Pyramid


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Population Pyramid

Mains level : India's demogrphic dividend


  • Population pyramids, which show the age and sex distribution of any country, help us understand how demographic transition plays out and speculate about its medium-term economic prospects.
  • The newscard provides a look at the pyramids for India and China and their implications.

Reading the Pyramid

  • Generally, males are shown on the left-hand side and females on the right.
  • Also, the convention is that age distribution is done in cohorts of five years, with the age rising as we go vertically upwards.
  • The pyramid shape changes over time due to births, deaths and net migration. A quick look above shows that India’s pyramid, like the actual pyramids in Egypt, is bottom heavy.
  • That is, the Indian population has a larger proportion of children, teenagers and young adults compared to China’s.
  • We can also observe that except for the oldest groups, India seems to have more males than females for every cohort.

What do they say about demographics?

  • India’s population for the age cohorts of 0-4, 5-9, 10-14 and 15-19 is roughly equal, whereas the numbers for older groups become progressively smaller.
  • This means that the country’s younger age groups have stopped growing in numbers now and are likely to shrink slightly soon.
  • This, however, does not mean that India’s population will also start shrinking soon—far from it.
  • On the other hand, China’s largest cohort is in its late 40s, although it is more gender balanced than its younger cohorts, suggesting that sex-selective abortions are likely to have taken off in the last few decades.

What does this have to do with economic growth?

  • If we take the 25-65 age group, India currently has around 650 million people and China 830 million.
  • By 2040, India is likely to reach 900 million, whereas China will have around 730 million.
  • In other words, India will go from having 180 million less working-age people than China today to about 170 million more—a net gain of a third of a billion in 20 years.

Achieving demographic dividend

  • Just having people in the working age is not enough. How many are in the labour force and their productivity are important.
  • People pursuing education and home-makers are mostly the ones to drop out of the labour force, women more so.
  • But after a fall in female labour force participation for 10 years or so, there are early signs of improvement.
  • On productivity, Indians about to enter the 25+ age group have almost universal literacy across both the genders and many are “digital natives” even in lower income groups.

Implications for India

  • The Indian state has to invest more, and efficiently, in human capital and infrastructure.
  • For the former, investments in health and sanitation have to be sustained and more PPP models such as vouchers and charter schools in basic education have to be explored so that tax outlays result in higher outcomes.
  • For the latter, a bigger push for affordable rental housing in cities has to be considered, along with more investments in rail connectivity.

Digital India Initiatives

World Digital Competitiveness Ranking (WDCR) 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the ranking

Mains level : Digital competitiveness in India

  • India has advanced four places to 44th position in terms of digital competitiveness in the world.

About the ranking

  • The Ranking, produced by the IMD World Competitiveness Center, measures the capacity and readiness of 63 nations to adopt and explore digital technologies as a key driver for economic transformation in business, government and wider society.
  • To evaluate an economy, WDCR examines three factors:
  1. Knowledge: the capacity to understand and learn the new technologies;
  2. Technology: the competence to develop new digital innovations; and
  3. Future readiness: the preparedness for the coming developments.

India’s progress

  • India rose from 48th place in 2018 to 44th rank this year as the country has improved overall in all factors — knowledge, technology and future readiness — as compared to the previous year’s ranking.
  • India has made improvement in terms of knowledge and future readiness to adopt and explore digital technologies, according to a global report.

Global scenario

  • The US was ranked as the world’s most digitally competitive economy, followed by Singapore in the second place.
  • Sweden was ranked third on the list, followed by Denmark and Switzerland in the 4th and 5th place, respectively.
  • Others in the list of top-10 most digitally competitive economy include Netherlands in the 6th place, Finland (7th), Hong Kong SAR (8th), Norway (9th) and Republic of Korea (10th).
  • The largest jump in the overall ranking was registered by China, moving from 30th to 22nd, and Indonesia, from 62nd to 56th.

Swachh Bharat Mission

Govt launches new framework to sustain India’s ‘100% ODF status’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SBM

Mains level : Making India ODF

  • The Union Jal Shakti Ministry’s Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), launched a 10-year national rural sanitation strategy to sustain India’s 100 per cent Open Defecation Free (ODF).

About the framework

  • The framework, to be in place from 2019 to 2029, will ensure that people sustain their usage of toilets.
  • It will also focus on proper implementation of solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) — plastic waste, organic waste, grey water, and faecal sludge — in rural areas.

 Steps to be undertaken

  • They include the retrofitting of single pit toilets to twin pits or making provisions to empty pits every five years, repair of defunct ones, and construction of soak pits for septic tanks wherever not already present.
  • A district-level training management unit (TMU) will be set up to provide oversight and support to gram panchayats (GPs) so that they ensure the operation and maintenance of sanitation infrastructure.
  • The GPs are also supposed to conduct rapid assessment of water and sanitation gaps.

Alternative financing

  • The government funding is the primary source of financing in the sanitation sector.
  • The above strategy mentioned in the framework also suggests alternative self-financing by gradual leveraging of community resources in the form of tariffs for ODF plus activities.
  • It will follow the same 60:40 financing model as being followed till now in Swachh Bharat. It will be finalised after the cabinet’s approval.

Focus on personal hygiene

  • The framework also talks about state-specific strategies on menstrual hygiene management, including menstrual waste management, which may be supported under the ODF plus strategy.

International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Accretion Disc of a Black Hole


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Accretion Disc of a Black Hole

Mains level : Black-hole theory and its relevance

  • A new visualization of a black hole, released by NASA, illustrates how its gravity distorts our view by warping its surroundings.

Accretion Disc

  • The black hole’s extreme gravity skews light emitted by different regions of the disc, producing the misshapen appearance.
  • This visualization simulates the appearance of a black hole where infalling matter has collected into a thin, hot structure called an accretion disc.
  • As magnetic fields twist through the churning gas, bright knots form and dissipate in the disc.
  • In the area closest to the black hole, the gas orbits at close to the speed of light.
  • The outer portions spin a bit more slowly.
  • This difference stretches and shears the bright knots, producing light and dark lanes in the disk.

How it is formed?

  • The black hole’s extreme gravity alters the paths of light coming from different parts of the disc, producing the warped image.
  • Exactly what we see depends on our viewing angle; the greatest distortion occurs when viewing the system nearly edgewise.
  • Glowing gas on the left side moves toward us so fast that the effects of Einstein’s relativity give it a boost in brightness.
  • On the right side, gas moving away becomes slightly dimmer.
  • This asymmetry disappears when we see the disc exactly face on because, from that perspective, none of the material is moving along our line of sight.


Black Hole

  • A black hole is an object in space that is so dense and has such strong gravity that no matter or light can escape its pull. Because no light can escape, it is black and invisible.
  • They drastically warp the fabric of space-time and anything that passes too close gets sucked into it be it a wandering star or a photon of light.
  • They exist from the size of a human cell to more massive than the sun.
  • Black holes of stellar mass are formed when a massive star collapses at the end of its life cycle.
  • After a black hole forms, it continues to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings.

Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc.



From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ranitidine

Mains level : Hazards of Ranitidine

  • India’s drug regulator this week began looking into concerns of potential cancer-causing substances contaminating popular acidity drug ranitidine.
  • The move came over a week after the US flagged the issue to American patients, some companies have suspended sales of the product worldwide, and some have ordered recalls of the product.


  • Ranitidine is an over-the-counter prescription antacid used in the treatment of acid reflux and peptic ulcer diseases.
  • It is popularly known through brand names like Aciloc, Zinetac, Rantac and Rantac-OD, R-Loc and Ranitin.
  • It is commonly used to relieve acid-related indigestion and heartburn by decreasing stomach acid production.
  • While other medicines like pantoprazole and omeprazole (omez) too treat these symptoms and are more commonly prescribed today, ranitidine is still widely used in India.

Why in news?

  • Ranitidine is a much older medication, but it was always thought to be a very safe drug because it has less side effects than the other drugs that patients use nowadays to treat these symptoms.
  • The US FDA stated in a release that it had learned that some ranitidine medicines contained “low levels” of a substance called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).
  • An environmental contaminant found in water and foods, NDMA has been classified as probably carcinogenic to humans, which means it has the potential to cause cancer.
  • This is the same impurity that the US FDA had investigated in blood pressure drugs valsartan and losartan over the last year.

How has India responded?

  • The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) wrote to state regulators asking them to direct ranitidine active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturers to verify their products and take appropriate measures to ensure patient safety.
  • DCGI asked states to inform him of action taken in this matter “at the earliest”.
  • So far, the DCGI has not called for any halting of supplies, which means the ranitidine brands marketed in the country can continue to be sold until further notice.
  • APIs are the ingredients that give a medicine its therapaeutic effect.
  • According to industry sources, most of the world’s supply of the ranitidine API comes from two Indian firms — Saraca Laboratories and SMS Lifesciences.

Should consumers be worried?

  • The DCGI has not clarified whether doctors and consumers in India should use ranitidine with caution, nor has the US FDA called for individuals to stop taking the drug at this time.
  • Although NDMA may cause harm in large amounts, the levels the FDA is finding in ranitidine from preliminary tests barely exceed amounts you might expect to find in common foods.

How have other countries responded?

  • While India and the US are still looking into the issue, regulators of around 15 countries are learnt to have called for recalls of ranitidine sold in their markets.
  • These include Singapore, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Pakistan.

History- Important places, persons in news

Dadasaheb Phalke Award


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the award

Mains level : Role of Indian cinema in cultural integration

  • Recently it was announced that veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan will be awarded the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Indian cinema’s highest honour.

The Dadasaheb Phalke Award

  • The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is part of the National Film Awards, themselves a highly coveted collection of honours in the film industry.
  • The Award is named after Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, the pioneering filmmaker who gave India its first film– ‘Raja Harishchandra’, in 1913.
  • Presented annually by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the award is considered the highest honour in the Indian film fraternity.
  • It is awarded for “outstanding contribution to the growth and development of Indian cinema”.


  • According to the website of the Directorate of Film Festivals, the award was instituted by the government in 1969, and consists of a ‘Swarna Kamal’, a cash prize of INR 10 lakh, a certificate, a silk roll, and a shawl.
  • The award is presented by the President of India in the presence of the Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, the Chairpersons of the juries and some others.
  • Amitabh Bachchan is the 50th recipient of the award. Last year, it was given posthumously to the legendary late actor Vinod Khanna.
  • The first recipient of the award was Devika Rani Roerich in 1969.

About Dadasaheb Phalke

  • Born in 1870 at Trimbak in Maharashtra, Phalke was drawn towards creative arts since childhood.
  • He studied engineering and sculpture and developed an interest in motion pictures after watching the 1906 silent film The Life of Christ.
  • Before venturing into films, Phalke worked as a photographer, owned a printing press, and had even worked with the famed painter Raja Ravi Varma.
  • In 1913, Phalke wrote, produced, and directed India’s first feature film, the silent Raja Harishchandra.
  • A commercial success, it propelled Phalke to make 95 more films and 26 short films in the next 19 years.
  • Phalke’s fortunes dwindled with the arrival of sound in cinema, and he died in 1944 at Nashik after retiring from films.

Coal and Mining Sector



From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Goldschmidtite

Mains level : Earth's interior

  • A new, curious mineral has been discovered inside a diamond unearthed from a mine in South Africa.


  • The mineral has been named goldschmidtite, after Victor Moritz Goldschmidt, the Norwegian scientist acknowledged as the founder of modern geochemistry.
  • Goldschmidtite has an unusual chemical signature for a mineral from Earth’s mantle, according to the University of Alberta, a student of which discovered it.


  • While the mantle is dominated by elements such as magnesium and iron, goldschmidtite has high concentrations of niobium, potassium and the rare earth elements lanthanum and cerium.
  • It is dark green and opaque.
  • Though the mantle makes up about 80 per cent of the Earth’s volume, very little is known about it.
  • Reaching the mantle is not easy; it is about 2,900 km thick and no attempt to drill into it has been successful.
  • Diamonds hold clues as they are found up to 160 km beneath the surface, in the upper mantle.
  • Diamonds that are unearthed were brought up closer to the surface, probably as a result of violent volcanic eruptions when the Earth was hotter, according to the Smithsonian Magazine.

[pib] CARICOM Countries


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CARICOM

Mains level : India's realtion with Caribbean countries

  • PM Modi held meeting with the leaders of the CARICOM group of countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.


  • The Caribbean Community (CARICOM or CC) is an organisation of fifteen Caribbean nations and dependencies. The organisation was established in 1973.
  • They have primary objectives to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy.
  • The secretariat headquarters is in Georgetown, Guyana. CARICOM is an official United Nations Observer.
  • Its major activities involve coordinating economic policies and development planning; devising and instituting special projects for the less-developed countries within its jurisdiction; operating as a regional single market for many of its members (Caricom Single Market); and handling regional trade disputes.


The 15 members of CARICOM include:

  • Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago.