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August 2019

Make in India: Challenges & Prospects

[op-ed snap] To make India the factory of the world


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Prospects for India becoming global manufacturing hub


A golden opportunity

  • With the US-China trade war in its second year now, old business arrangements are under severe stress.
  • American companies that have long used Chinese factories to crank out low-cost products for various markets find themselves under US policy pressure to either pull out of China, or to shift key operations elsewhere.
  • US President Donald Trump might just raise tariffs on Chinese imports to 30% this October, enough to disrupt the cost calculations of the most resilient firms that make products in China.
  • This presents India an opportunity to plug a vacuum, and the government has moved in to seize it.

India’s footsteps

  • With new FDI norms, India would open the domestic field of contract manufacturing to 100% foreign ownership of ventures.
  • It is seen as a move explicitly designed to attract global players currently in search of low-cost locations for production units.
  • Coupled with the easing of local-sourcing conditions imposed on foreign single-brand retailers in India, the reform serves as a big welcome board to US firms.
  • It is one thing to issue an invitation, however, and quite another to win decisions in India’s favour.

Plugging loopholes

  • Our country does not have much of a reputation for manufacturing efficiency.
  • The sector has languished, as a proportion of the overall economic pie, even as services have leapt ahead.
  • While it is true that new investors could transform the way products are put together by bringing in practices perfected elsewhere, analysts have long expressed concerns about low productivity here.
  • Excessive red tape, which tends to raise corruption levels, has been another deterrent to foreign investment.
  • However the EODB in India has risen in recent years though, as measured by the World Bank, and inflows from overseas businesses have been rising apace.
  • In other words, the problems of the past need not persist in the future.

Replacing China

  • For India to try replacing China as the world’s factory, a prospect that holds out the dream of job generation by the million, the country would need to enhance its overall competitiveness as a manufacturer.
  • This is primarily about allowing companies to meet high quality standards at the lowest possible cost.
  • Broadly, the Chinese success formula so far has involved the large-scale use—and even diversion—of state resources to subsidize mass production, not to speak of labour conditions that some consider repressive.

Way Forward

  • In a democracy like ours, due caution should be exercised before attempting to emulate such ideas.
  • Even on keeping export price tags low, China is not a good role model.
  • Indeed, integration with global supply chains would require the Indian rupee’s value to be export-oriented, which could mean letting it slide when appropriate, but policymakers must resist currency manipulation.
  • India must make its market and democratic forces work in tandem as it sets about creating conditions that would spur efficiency and turn “Make in India” into a routine sight across the world.

[op-ed snap] Liberalism runs into national populism


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Liberalism

Mains level : Various political ideologies


Liberalism is vanishing

  • Russian President Mr. Putin has made headlines in the world media in an interview by stating that liberalism had “become obsolete”.
  • He went on to say that liberal ideas about refugees, migration and LGBTQ issues were now opposed by the overwhelming majority of the population.
  • Even some western nations had privately admitted that multiculturalism was “no longer tenable”, he said.
  • The wider question is why the Russian President is saying this now and whether he had a point.

Defining Liberalism

  • This complex term is much used in India today in various contexts of opposition to the present Union government.
  • It’s used in a derogatory sense by supporters of the government in respect of its detractors — might broadly encompass three definitions:
  1. There is economic liberalism, which ‘emphasises free competition and the self-regulating market, and which is commonly associated with globalization and minimal state intervention in the economy’.
  2. There is political liberalism, which for most commentators is founded on ‘belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human being, the autonomy of the individual, and standing for political and civil liberties’ as laid out in various UN Covenants.
  3. And then there is social liberalism, ‘linked to the protection of minority groups, and such issues as LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage’.

Idea that is losing popularity

  • Putin appeared critical of the ‘approach of some western governments by specifically mentioning immigration, multiculturalism and LGBTQ issues, and therefore seemed to focus on social and political liberalism’.
  • By no means is Mr. Putin the only world leader who dislikes this aspect of liberalism.
  • The leaders of the democratic world believe that highly centralised political systems work better for political stability and economic progress than western liberal democracies.

An ideology of West

  • Nevertheless, liberalism has been the dominant socio-political ideology in the West since the end of the Second World War, where it has been regarded as the norm until recently.
  • However, many even in the West now believe it could be in decline, as evidenced by support for Brexit in the United Kingdom, or support for populist leaders such as Trump in the U.S.
  • Many thinkers contends that voters everywhere increasingly dislike and distrust elected representatives because western democracy has ceased to work and failed to deliver, and is headed for a long-drawn-out demise.
  • The financial downturn in 2008 marked a major turning point to return to status quo globalization that allowed markets to determine everything and led to major questions of identity and culture.
  • Now globalization is heading for a backlash, leading to protection, local solutions and stronger nation states.
  • And the growing conclusion that liberalism needs urgently to justify itself by addressing issues of inequality and the loss of a sense of community.

Against migrants and migration

  • There is little doubt that America uses the immigration and minority issues, with their racial undertones, to bolster its core political support.
  • Many European countries have embraced asylum seekers from the Middle East pretesting their rights as migrants.
  • This liberal idea presupposes that nothing needs to be done because their rights as migrants have to be protected.
  • It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.
  • Nearly all European Union members are convinced that the EU has badly mismanaged the question of admission of refugees, which in turn has led to questioning the very basis of Europe’s integration project.

The Gender issue

  • Putin also deplored liberal governments dictating LGBTQ values that “millions of people making up the core population” opposed.
  • Gender parity issues are strongly promoted in the Western media and entertainment industry.
  • Nevertheless, same sex marriage is recognised only in some countries, others have the death penalty for homosexuality, and laws regarding LGBTQ rights vary widely across jurisdictions.
  • As a generality, it can be stated that they are disfavored in the vast majority of the non-western non-secularized world.

Western liberal doesn’t fit all

  • The Russian President’s position is that every country has a specific and different kind of civilization, where sovereignty trumps democracy and national unity, and stability trumps human rights.
  • Western-style liberalism that prioritizes individual rights over those of society is regarded as a ‘challenge to his style of government’, which presents an alternative model.
  • The same view is shared by China. The desire for liberty is recognised as universal, but the freedom to protest in unauthorized demonstrations and willfully shatter the economy and tourism as in Hong Kong.

Liberty has limitations

  • The freedom to blaspheme and outrage the sentiments of the devout, as in the French Charlie Hebdo case, or the freedom to bear arms as enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, are only random examples that show that liberty has limitations, even if they are self-imposed.

Way Forward

  • Russia and China, with good reason, believe that unauthorized demonstrations open the way to foreign interference and ‘colour revolutions’.
  • Similar is the Indian stance on Kashmir issue.
  • No country has found the golden mean between free-range liberalism and statism.
  • When liberal government and liberal models are under pressure even in the flagship West, it is probably ‘as good a time as any for Mr. Putin to make his case’.

World Population Projections 2019: Highlights


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Highlights of the report

Mains level : Demographic transition in India

  • World Population Prospects 2019 was released  few weeks back by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
  • Some of the key takeaways from the report are as under:

Global population trend

  • While the report projects the world population to some 9.7 billion by 2050, it says the overall growth rate will continue to fall.
  • The next 30 years will see the population add 2 billion people to today’s 7.7 billion, and reach 11 billion by the end of the century.
  • The countries expected to show the biggest increase are India, Nigeria and Pakistan.However, fertility rates are falling worldwide.
  • The average number of births per woman globally, from 3.2 in 1990, fell to 2.5 by 2019, and is projected to fall further to 2.2 births by 2050.
  • To avoid decline in a national population, a fertility level of 2.1 births per woman is necessary (in the absence of immigration).

More in 65+ bracket

  • In 2018, for the first time, persons aged 65 years or over worldwide outnumbered children under age five.
  • Projections indicate that by 2050, there will be more than twice as many persons above 65 as children under five.
  • By 2050, the number of persons aged 65 or over will also surpass the number of adolescents and youth aged 15-24.

  • In India, children under age five still outnumber the over-65 population, who are projected to overtake the under-five group between 2025 and 2030.
  • By 2050, persons over age 65 will make up about one-seventh of India’s population.
  • By then, the 15-24 group in India (13.8%), too, will outnumber the over-65 group (13.6%).
  • Children under age five are projected to constitute less than 6% of India’s population in 2050, as compared to 7% globally.

Life expectancy

  • Although overall life expectancy will increase (from 64.2 years in 1990 to 77.1 years in 2050), life expectancy in poorer countries is projected to continue to lag behind.
  • Today, the average lifespan of a baby born in one of the least developed countries will be some 7 years shorter than one born in a developed country, the report said.
  • The main reasons cited in the report are high child and maternal mortality rates, conflict and insecurity, and the continuing impact of the HIV epidemic.

Dwindling populations

  • The populations of 55 countries are projected to decrease by 1% or more between 2019 and 2050 because of sustained low levels of fertility, and, in some places, high rates of emigration.
  • The largest relative reductions in population size over that period, with losses of around 20% or more, are expected in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the Wallis and Futuna Islands.
  • Migration flows have become a major reason for population change in certain regions, the report said.
  • Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines are seeing the largest migratory outflows resulting from the demand for migrant workers.
  • Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela are the countries where the largest numbers are leaving because of insecurity or conflict.

Sex ratio

  • Males are projected to continue to outnumber females until the end of the century, but the gap will close.

Forest Fires

Why forest fires are sometimes a good thing


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Forest fires and their global impact


  • In a rainforest-like the Amazon, massive forest fires are a disaster.
  • They irretrievably destroy the habitat of tens of thousands of plant and animal species.

Loss of nutrients

  • If the rainforest burns down, all nutrients are lost because they are stored in the plants themselves, not in the soil.
  • Despite the lush vegetation and the unique biodiversity, the soils are particularly barren and poor in nutrients.
  • Thanks to the year-round warm and humid climate, fungi and bacteria immediately decompose fallen leaves or branches and the nutrients released are reabsorbed by the roots — not the soil.
  • The thin humus layer is quickly washed out after a forest fire, and within three years of the fire nothing will grow in the exhausted soil.

A fire sensitive ecosystem

  • Scientists describe tropical rainforests like those in the Amazon, the Congo Basin and Southeast Asia as “fire-sensitive ecosystems.
  • About a third of all ecosystems worldwide are considered “fire-sensitive.”
  • In the past, severe fires tended to occur less often there due to the natural humidity, vegetation and structure.
  • If there is a prolonged drought triggered for example by the El Nino climate phenomenon or in case of purposefully started fires disastrous surface fires develop quickly.
  • The plants and animals lack a natural ability to resist and recover from fires.

Cleansing properties of forest fires

  • As devastating as forest fires are in the rainforest, the destructive power of fire is necessary for the preservation of other ecosystems, where parts of the natural fauna and flora develop only thanks to the fires.
  • Regular fires give these ecosystems their distinctive structure.
  • This is true for about three-quarters of all habitats worldwide.
  • These include the Siberian taiga, the African savannahs, the South Asian monsoon and dry forests, the Californian coniferous forests, the Australian eucalyptus forests and the Mediterranean region.

How small fires are useful?

  • Rare but very intense fires are characteristic of bush landscapes or forests.
  • They consume old and diseased trees, create new habitats and ensure an ecological rejuvenation of the tree population.
  • Intervening in these ecosystems, for instance by preventing small fires in order to protect the population, can have fatal consequences.
  • Over time, more and more combustible material accumulates. Even harmless fires can quickly turn into highly destructive walls of flames.
  • This happens time and again in Australia or in the dense pine forests in the southwest of the United States, which were once grasslands.
  • When fires occur too frequently humans have to intervene even in ecosystems that depend on fires.
  • In the Siberian taiga, fires have been breaking out more and more frequently due to a rise in the population and expanded development, destroying large areas of forest and releasing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide.

Fires give new life

  • Many plants in the southern US, in the Mediterranean region or in Australia actually need fire to survive.
  • The Douglas fir, a conifer species, survives most fires thanks to its thick bark — after a fire, it will sprout new shoots.
  • The North American lodgepole pine also needs the heat of the fire to open its cones and release seeds while the Australian grass tree needs smoke to open its seed pods.
  • After a fire, without the usually dense treetops, more sunlight reaches the forest floor and the seedlings find enough nutrients because they do not have to compete with other plant species.
  • Even some insect species need the fire to survive, including the larvae of the Australian fire beetle that can only develop in freshly burnt wood.
  • Thanks to its heat-sensitive sensors, the fire beetle can detect fires from up to 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.
  • Storks and birds of prey feast on beetles and insects made sluggish by the smoke after a forest fire.

Still catastrophic

  • Climate change is bound to increase the risk of forest fires even further.
  • Forest fires cause 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than 30% of global carbon monoxide emissions, 10% of methane emissions and more than 85% of global soot emissions.
  • They contribute greatly to global warming, which in turn leads to forests becoming increasingly dry and weak.
  • This destructive cycle often makes it easy for new fires to develop.

Global Geological And Climatic Events

When did the Anthropocene Epoch begin on Earth?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Geological time scale

Mains level : Debate over the epoch

  • A committee of geologists has now proposed to mark the start of the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century, based on a striking indicator: the widely scattered radioactive dust from nuclear bomb tests in the early 1950s.

A new human age

  • Human impacts are everywhere. Our societies have changed Earth so much that it’s impossible to reverse many of these effects.
  • Examples of how human societies are changing the planet abound — from building roads and houses, clearing forests for agriculture , to shrinking the ozone layer, driving species extinct, changing the climate and acidifying the oceans.etc.
  • Some researchers believe these changes are so big that they mark the beginning of a new “human age” of Earth history, the Anthropocene epoch.

When to mark as beginning?

  • Researchers debate the utility of picking a single time line in Earth’s geological record to mark the start of human impacts in the geological record.
  • Maybe the Anthropocene began at different times in different parts of the world.
  • For example, the first instances of agriculture emerged at different places at different times, and resulted in huge impacts on the environment, through land clearing, habitat losses, extinctions, erosion etc.
  • There are multiple beginnings, scientists need to answer more complicated questions — like when did agriculture begin to transform landscapes in different parts of the world?
  • This is a tough question because archaeologists tend to focus their research on a limited number of sites and regions and to prioritize locations where agriculture is believed to have appeared earliest.
  • To date, it has proved nearly impossible for archaeologists to put together a global picture of land use changes throughout time.

Global answers from local experts

  • To tackle these questions, collaboration was held among archaeologists, anthropologists and geographers to survey archaeological knowledge on land use across the planet.
  • They mapped the current state of archaeological knowledge on land use across the planet, including parts of the world that have rarely been considered in previous studies.

With onset of agriculture

  • Archaeologists reported that nearly half (42 per cent) of the regions had some form of agriculture by 6,000 years ago, highlighting the prevalence of agricultural economies across the globe.
  • Moreover, these results indicate that the onset of agriculture was earlier and more widespread than suggested in the most common global reconstruction of land-use history, the History Database of the Global Environment.
  • This is important because climate scientists often use this database of past conditions to estimate future climate change; according to our research it may be underestimating land-use-associated climate effects.
  • Hunting and foraging was generally replaced by pastoralism (raising animals such as cows and sheep for food and other resources) and agriculture in most places, though there were exceptions.
  • In a few areas, reversals occurred and agriculture did not simply replace foraging but merged with it and coexisted side by side for some time.

More deeper roots

  • Global archaeological data show that human transformation of environments began at different times in different regions and accelerated with the emergence of agriculture.
  • Nevertheless, by 3,000 years ago, most of the planet was already transformed by hunter-gatherers, farmers and pastoralists.
  • To guide this planet toward a better future, we need to understand how we got here.
  • The message from archaeology is clear. It took thousands of years for the pristine planet of long ago to become the human planet of today.
  • To build a more robust Earth science in the Anthropocene, the human sciences must play as central a role as the natural sciences do today.


Anthropocene as Earth’s new epoch

Antibiotics Resistance

Study to check antibiotic resistance in Ganga


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anti-biotic resistance

Mains level : Microbial pollution of water bodies

  • The government has commissioned a study to assess the microbial diversity along the entire length of the Ganga.

About the project

  • The study will undertake tests entire stretches of the 2,500 km Ganga river if it contain microbes that may promote “antibiotic resistance”.
  • The aims of the research project are:
  1. To indicate the type of “contamination” (sewage and industrial) in the river and “threat to human health (antibiotic resistance surge)”,
  2. To identify sources of Escherichia coli, a type of bacteria that lives in the gut of animals and humans.
  • While largely harmless, some species have been linked to intestinal disease as well as aggravating antibiotic resistance.

What is Antibiotic resistance?

  • Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines.
  • Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant.
  • These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria.
  • Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality.
  • Antibiotic resistance is a consequence of evolution via natural selection.
  • Other factors contributing towards resistance include incorrect diagnosis, unnecessary prescriptions, improper use of antibiotics by patients, and the use of antibiotics as livestock food additives for growth promotion.

 Read this fantastic article by WHO on antibiotic resistance:

Skull ‘MRD’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MRD

Mains level : Evolution of modern man

  • A “remarkably complete” 3.8-million-year-old skull of an early human has been unearthed in Ethiopia, a discovery that has the potential to alter our understanding of human evolution.

About the Skull

  • The skull, known as MRD, was discovered not far from the younger Lucy — the ancient ancestor of modern humans — and shows that the two species may have co-existed for about 100,000 years.
  • This skull is one of the most complete fossils of hominids more than 3 million years old.
  • MRD belongs to the species Australopithecus anamensis.

Other such skulls

  • Toumai (of the species Sahelanthropus tchadensis) is around 7 million years old and is considered by some palaeontologists to be the first representative of the human lineage.
  • It was discovered in Chad in 2001.
  • Ardi (for Ardipithecus ramidus, another species of hominid) was found in Ethiopia in 1994 and is believed to be around 4.5 million years old.
  • And Lucy, the famous Australopithecus afarensis, was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 and is 3.2 million years old.
  • Australopithecus afarensis is one of the longest-lived and most studied early human species.

Why is MRD special?

  • The 3.2-million-year-old Lucy belonged to a species of hominins (which include humans and their ancestors) called Australopithecus afarensis.
  • The newly investigated skull belongs to the older species Australopithecus anamensis.
  • Previously, it was thought that the two species never coexisted, and that the older species gradually morphed into Lucy’s species.
  • The new research indicates that they did coexist, for some 100,000 years. The dating suggests that MRD’s species could have coexisted with Lucy’s because of a “speciation event”.
  • Besides identifying the species as Australopithecus anamensis, they determined the age of the fossil to be 3.8 million years by dating minerals in layers of volcanic rocks near the site.

Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

[op-ed snap] The corrosive effect of corrupt anti-corruption campaigns


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Corruption Perception Index

Mains level : Corruption - data and analysis


The crisis in the Amazon is a stark example of the damage that can be done when governments bow to business interests. It also highlights the manipulation of anti-corruption efforts to undermine democracy and advance an authoritarian political agenda.

Corruption Index

The US is 22nd on the 180-country list; among major developing and emerging economies, India is 78th, China is 87th, Brazil is 105th, and Nigeria is 144th.

Debate on corruption

  1. Some conservative economists argue that corruption can be beneficial as it enables economic actors to bypass regulations, thereby enabling markets to function more effectively. 
  2. But corruption corrodes markets, protects incumbents from competitive challenges by impeding the entry of new actors, destroys the moral fabric of society, and stunts economic development. 
  3. As Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows, there is a strong inverse correlation between development and corruption.
  4. According to the latest CPI data, the world’s least corrupt countries are Denmark and New Zealand. Both have achieved high standards of living. 
  5. The world’s most corrupt countries are Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria—all poor and mired in conflict. 
  6. Data suggests that the common belief that corruption is hardwired in some societies is not always correct. Corruption levels can and do change.
    • A couple of centuries ago, corruption was rampant in countries like the United Kingdom, which today ranks 11th on the CPI.
    • Prior to self-government in 1959, Singapore was beset by corruption. This year, it reached third place.

Addressing corruption

  1. There is a connection between corruption management and democratic compromise. This is why many leaders who come to power to control corruption end up nurturing cronyism and damaging democracy instead.
  2. Some political leaders launch a corruption “purge” that targets rivals or critics for prosecution. It is easy in countries rife with high-level corruption
  3. In countries where it is endemic, corruption can implicate even those who would prefer to operate according to the law. Corruption can proliferate easily, especially in a context where it is already an embedded part of everyday life. 


  1. The index is released by Transparency International
  2. The index ranks the countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople
  3. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clear

Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

[op-ed snap] Marine Fisheries Bill addresses a regulatory void. It needs cooperative federalism


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Marine fisheries bill


A Marine Fisheries Regulation and Management (MFRM) Bill 2019 is in the public domain for discussion.


  1. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements, India has obligations to frame laws. 
  2. The annual fishery potential of the country’s EEZ is about 5 million tonnes. 


  1. Under UNCLOS, the sea and resources in the water and the seabed are classified into three zones — the internal waters (IW), the territorial sea (TS) and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 
  2. The IW is on the landward side of the baseline including gulfs and small bays. Coastal states treat IW like land. 
  3. TS extends outwards to 12 nautical miles from the baseline — coastal nations enjoy sovereignty over airspace, sea, seabed, and subsoil and all living and non-living resources therein. 
  4. EEZ extends outwards to 200 nautical miles from the baseline. Coastal nations have sovereign rights for exploration, exploiting, conserving and managing all the natural resources therein.
  5. Since fisheries is a state subject, fishing in the IW and TS come within the purview of the states concerned. 
  6. Other activities in the TS and activities, including fishing beyond the TS up to the limit of the EEZ, are in the Union list. 
  7. No Central government, so far, has framed laws covering the entire EEZ. 
  8. The Bill attempts to make up for this. 


  1. The Bill is also a response to discussions on fisheries’ subsidies at the WTO since the Doha Round of 2001. 
  2. India has been defending the rights of developing nations for special and differential treatment. 
  3. Developed countries contend that nations without laws to manage fisheries in their respective EEZs are not serious about unregulated fishing. 
  4. MFRM Bill is India’s response to such sentiments.

Provisions – analysis


  1. The Bill prohibits fishing by foreign fishing vessels, thus nationalising our EEZ. 
  2. Bigger vessels registered and licensed under state departments will need a permit to fish. This is a welcome measure to manage the fishing sector.
  3. The Bill respects the jurisdiction of our coastal states over the TS.
  4. It proposes social security for fish workers and calls for the protection of life at sea during severe weather events. 


  1. An Indian fishing vessel that wants to fish in the EEZ, outside the TS, must obtain a permit. This requirement has been contested by small-scale operators.
  2. There is a faulty assumption that only large-scale vessels fish outside the TS. Thousands of small-scale fishing crafts regularly venture into such areas.
  3. It is not congruent with important regional fishery agreements. It is incomplete compared to the regulations in other coastal nations. 

Way ahead

  1. Exemption clauses to safeguard the livelihoods of small scale fishermen should be incorporated in the Bill.
  2. State governments, fisher associations and the fishing industry representatives should argue for greater “cooperative federalism”.
  3. Cooperative governance between them over different territories (IW, TS, and EEZ) is key to the sustainable management of marine fisheries.
  4. Fisheries should now ideally go into the Concurrent List. 
  5. Small-scale fish workers should demand to make the entire IW and TS completely free of trawling using the FAO/UN Small-Scale Fisheries. 


The Doha Development Round or Doha Development Agenda is the trade-negotiation round of WTO which commenced in 2001. Its objective was to lower trade barriers around the world and facilitate increased global trade.

RBI Notifications

[op-ed snap] Govt. needs to be prudent in using RBI’s transfer


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : RBI transferring surplus to govenrment


The debate on the sharing of reserves between the RBI and the government has settled with the Bimal Jalan committee’s report. It clarified the volume of reserves required for risk provisioning to counter a financial stability crisis if it were to arise. RBI Board accepted these recommendations and decided to transfer ₹1,76,051 crore to the government. 

RBI – government relationship

Though RBI belongs entirely to the government, the integrity of its balance sheet is important to ensure financial stability and to combat market risks.

What the committee says 

  1. It concluded that provisioning has to be more stringent than in developed countries to ensure the perception of safety as India has low sovereign rating and the Indian rupee does not have reserve currency status.
  2. It suggested a revised economic capital framework that distinguishes the economic capital of RBI between ‘revaluation reserves’ and ‘realised equity’. 
  3. Revaluation reserves are a risk buffer against market risks and not available for transfer. 
  4. It used the Expected Shortfall (ES) method to measure the market risk and adopted a stringent confidence level of 99.5% against the practice of 99% by other central banks.
  5. As per the revised framework, economic capital can be in the range of 24.5% to 20% of the balance sheet. The committee recommended the range for equity to be between 6.5 to 5.5% of the balance sheet.

RBI capital transfer – benefits government

  1. RBI decided to transfer the entire surplus of ₹1,23,414 crore earned during 2018-19. It had already transferred ₹28,000 crore as interim dividend in February 2019, the remaining amount will be transferred in the current fiscal. 
  2. The additional fund transfer from RBI provides relief to the government. 
  3. Analysis of the budget shows that the tax revenue projections are too optimistic. The actual net tax revenue collection of the centre in 2018-2019 was ₹15.9 lakh crore and to achieve the budgeted target of ₹19.78 lakh crore in 2019-2020, the net tax revenue will have to increase by almost 25%. 
  4. The expected shortfall in tax revenue for the Central government is likely to be about ₹70,000 crore.
  5. With the economy slowing down and GST not yet buoyant, the shortfall may even be higher. 
  6. The infusion of additional funds will help the government to overcome this shortfall and achieve the fiscal deficit target without affecting allocations to social sector and poverty alleviation.

Challenge to states

  1. States will have to suffer the consequence of lower-than-budgeted revenue realisations. 
  2. They presented their budgets taking into account the tax devolution based on the Central budget forecast and the shortfall in collections that will adversely impact their expenditure allocations to various sectors.

Way ahead

  1. If the tax revenue growth picks up, then the government can use the additional money to clear the dues of the Food Corporation of India and fertiliser companies.
  2. The additional funds can also be used to spend on capital expenditure.


The decision of the RBI Board must be welcomed and should help the government in combating the economic slowdown and to conform to the fiscal targets. Government should be prudent in using these funds.

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

Prohibition of E-cigarettes Ordinance 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ENDS

Mains level : Hazards of ENDS

  • The Prohibition of E-cigarettes Ordinance 2019 is being sent to a Group of Ministers as directed by the Prime Minister’s Office.

What are e-cigarettes?

  • An e-cigarette, short for electronic cigarette, is a battery-operated device.
  • One of a large variety of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), an e-cigarette emits vaporized nicotine, or non-nicotine solutions.
  • The user inhales it looking for a sensation similar to inhaling tobacco smoke, but without the smoke.
  • The pros and cons of e-cigarettes are hotly debated, with the industry refuting scientific evidence about the product being harmful, and users urging the government to legalize it.
  • India’s market for e-cigarettes, while nascent today, is projected to grow annually at more than 25 per cent in the next five years.

The draft ordinance

  • The draft ordinance was necessitated by the fact that an earlier order by the Centre asking the states to crack down against e-cigarettes could not stand judicial scrutiny.
  • However, a recent order, in which the High Court threw out a petition asking for protection from an ordinance against e-cigarettes, has emboldened the Health Ministry.
  • It now seeks legal backing for a ban (rather than just an advisory) in the form of an ordinance.
  • The ordinance makes any violation of its provisions punishable by imprisonment of one to three years, and a fine of Rs 1-5 lakh.
  • Some states have already banned use and sale of e-cigarettes, vape and e-hookah.

Why ordinance?

  • Under the Constitution, health is a state subject, so any move to ban manufacture and sale of a product on health grounds needs to come from the state government.
  • In February, the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation had written to all state drug controllers, saying they should not allow sale, online sale, manufacture, distribution, trade, import or advertisement of ENDS.
  • The Delhi HC stayed the Centre’s circular banning sale and manufacture of ENDS like e-cigarettes and e-hookah with nicotine flavour, saying as the products were not a “drug”.

The scientific position on ban

  • The use of ENDS or e-cigarettes adversely affects almost all the human body systems with impact across the life course, from the womb to tomb.
  • The cartridges used in ENDS or e-cigarettes are filled with liquid nicotine, flavouring agents and other chemicals.
  • A typical cartridge contains about as much nicotine as a pack of 20 regular cigarettes and can act as a potential source for nicotine addiction.
  • Studies on these nicotine solvents had shown a varied degree of release of potential carcinogens depending on the battery output voltage.
  • The liquid-vaporizing solutions also contain toxic chemicals and metals that have been demonstrated to be responsible for several adverse health effects, including cancers and diseases of the heart, lungs and brain.

GI(Geographical Indicator) Tags

TN’s Dindigul lock and Kandangi Saree get GI tag


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the GI tag

Mains level : Benefits of GI Indications

  • Two well-known products from Tamil Nadu — Dindigul lock and Kandangi Saree — have been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag by The Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai.

Dindigul Lock

  • The Dindigul locks are known throughout the world for their superior quality and durability, so much so that even the city is called Lock City.
  • Government institutions such as prisons, godowns, hospitals, and even temples use these locks instead of other machine-made ones.
  • The application for the lock was made by the Dindigul Lock, Hardware and Steel Furniture Workers Industrial Co-operative Society Limited.
  • More than 3,125 lock manufacturing units are limited to an area of 5 km in and around Dindigul.
  • The abundance of iron in this region is the reason for the growth of the industry.
  • There are over 50 varieties of locks made by the artisans using raw materials such as MS flat plates and brass plates procured from the nearby towns, including Madurai and Salem.

Kandangi Saree

  • The Kandangi sarees are manufactured in the entire Karaikudi taluk in Sivaganga district.
  • They are characterised by large contrast borders and some are known to have borders covering as far as two-thirds of the saree which is usually around 5.10 m-5.60 m in length.
  • Worn in summer, these cotton sarees are usually bought by customers in bulk.
  • The Amarar Rajeev Gandhi Handloom Weavers Co-operative Production and Sales Society Limited filed the application for the Kandangi saree.


Geographical Indications in India

  • A Geographical Indication is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality.
  • This tag is valid for a period of 10 years following which it can be renewed.
  • Recently the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry has launched the logo and tagline for the Geographical Indications (GI) of India.
  • The first product to get a GI tag in India was the Darjeeling tea in 2004.
  • The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) is a sui generis Act for protection of GI in India.
  • India, as a member of the WTO enacted the Act to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.
  • Geographical Indications protection is granted through the TRIPS Agreement.

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Status of Policing in India Report 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Need for Police Reforms

  • In a new report that looks at the working conditions of police in India, one key finding is about the political pressure perceived by police, and the extent to which this hampers their investigations.

About the Report

  • ‘Status of Policing in India Report 2019: Police Adequacy and Working Conditions’ has been prepared by Common Cause and the Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Key Findings

  • 28% police personnel believe that pressure from politicians is the biggest hindrance in a crime investigation.
  • Taking into account various kinds of obstacles, 2 in 5 police personnel believe that these pressures are the biggest obstacle in crime investigation.
  • The other obstacles cited were related to society, legal systems and internal working systems in police.

Popular cases

  • 38% personnel reported always facing pressure from politicians in cases of crime involving influential persons.
  • Roughly one third also reported “always” facing pressure from their seniors in the police force.
  • This proportion drops to one-fifth of the police “always” facing pressure from media, while about 14% reported that they “always” faced pressure from human rights organisations/NGOs, judiciary and the common public in cases involving influential people.

Minorities at risk

  • One in two police personnel surveyed feel that Muslims are likely to be “naturally prone” to committing crimes.
  • It also found that 35 per cent of police personnel interviewed for the survey think it is natural for a mob to punish the “culprit” in cases of cow slaughter, and 43 per cent think it is natural for a mob to punish someone accused of rape.

Global Geological And Climatic Events

Hurricane Dorian


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon

Mains level : Tropical Cyclones in India

  • The hurricane Dorian is to hit the east coast of Florida as a “major” hurricane, in Category 3 or possibly Category 4.

What do the categories mean?

  • Powerful winds are what define a hurricane, so they are named and classified based on how hard their winds are blowing.
  • To qualify as a hurricane, a storm must have sustained winds of 74 mph or more.
  • All hurricanes are dangerous, but some pack more punch than others.
  • So meteorologists try to quantify each storm’s destructive power by using the Saffir-Simpson scale placing it in one of five categories based on sustained wind speed:

Saffir-Simpson scale

Category 1, 74 to 95 mph:

  • These storms’ winds may knock down some trees and power lines and do a bit of damage to buildings.

Category 2, 96 to 110 mph:

  • These storms are likely to uproot many trees, disrupt electric power over wide areas and do significant roof and siding damage.

Category 3, 111 to 129 mph:

  • These are major storms that can take roofs off even well-constructed houses and knock out electric and water systems for days or weeks.
  • Roads will be blocked by falling trees and poles. Dorian is forecast to be at least this strong when it makes landfall.

Category 4, 130 to 156 mph:

  • These major storms do catastrophic damage, felling most trees and power poles and wrecking some buildings.
  • Affected areas may be uninhabitable for days or weeks afterward.

Category 5, 157 mph or more:

  • Storms this powerful are rare, and when they strike, they are immensely destructive.
  • Few structures will come through a direct hit unscathed, and a large percentage of frame buildings will be destroyed. Recovery may take weeks or months.


What is the difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon?

  • The only difference between a hurricane, a cyclone, and a typhoon is the location where the storm occurs.
  • In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used.
  • The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.
  • A tropical cyclone is a generic term used by meteorologists to describe a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters and has closed, low-level circulation.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CDRI

Mains level : Need for Disaster resilient infrastructure

  • The Union Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval for the Establishment of an International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) along with its supporting Secretariat Office in New Delhi.

International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

  • The CDRI is proposed to be launched at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, USA on 23rdSeptember 2019.
  • Organized by the UN Secretary General, this event will bring together the largest number of Heads of States to generate commitments for combating the effects of climate change and resulting disasters.

Components of CDRI

  • Establishment of the International ‘C.D.R.I.’ along with its supporting Secretariat office in New Delhi;
  • Establishment of the Secretariat of the CDRI as a Society under The Societies Registration Act,1860 in New Delhi as ‘CDRI Society’ or similar name as per availability.
  • The memorandum of association and by-laws of the ‘CDRI Society’ will be prepared and finalized by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Major Impact

  • The CDRI will serve as a platform where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure.
  • It will bring together technical expertise from a multitude of stakeholders.
  • In doing so, it will create a mechanism to assist countries to upgrade their capacities and practices, with regard to infrastructure development in accordance with their risk context and economic needs.
  • Economically weaker sections, the most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters will be benefitted from the improvement of knowledge and practice in creating disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • In India, the north-eastern and Himalayan regions are prone to earthquakes, coastal areas to cyclones and tsunamis and central peninsular region to droughts.
  • It will also benefit all areas with high disaster risk.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Angikaar Campaign


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vulnerability Atlas of India, About the campaign

Mains level : Disaster management

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launched “Angikaar” a campaign for change management and e-Course on Vulnerability Atlas of India.

Angikaar Campaign

  • The e-course is offered by the MoHUA in collaboration of School of Planning & Architecture (SPA), New Delhi and Building Materials & Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC).
  • It is a unique course that offers awareness and understanding about natural hazards, helps identify regions with high vulnerability with respect to various hazards (earthquakes, cyclones, landslides, floods, etc.) and specifies district-wise level of damage risks to the existing housing stock.
  • The e-course will be a tool for effective & efficient disaster mitigation & management in the field of Architecture, Civil Engineering, Urban & Regional Planning, Housing & Infrastructure Planning etc.
  • Angikaar aims for social behaviour change, focusing on issues such as water & energy conservation, waste management, health, tree plantation, sanitation and hygiene for beneficiaries of completed houses under PMAY (U).
  • For this purpose, the campaign will converge with schemes and Missions of other Ministries dealing with these subjects.
  • The convergence would especially focus on Ujjwala for gas connection and Ayushman Bharat for health insurance to the beneficiaries of PMAY (U).

Vulnerability Atlas of India

  • PM has released the Third Edition of Vulnerability Atlas of India March, 2019.
  • The third edition of Atlas brought out by BMTPC is collation of the existing hazard scenario for the entire country and presents the digitized State/UT-wise Hazard Maps with respect to Earthquakes, Winds & Floods for district-wise identification of vulnerable areas.
  • This edition contains additional digitized maps for Thunderstorms, Cyclones and Landslides.
  • The Atlas also presents the district-wise Housing Vulnerability Risk Tables based on wall types and roof types as per 2011 Census Housing data.
  • The Atlas is a useful tool not only for public but also for urban managers, State & National Authorities dealing with disaster mitigation and management.

Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

[pib] Portal for Affordable Credit and Interest Subvention Access (PAiSA)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SKOCH Award, PAiSA Portal, DAY NULM

Mains level : Impact of DAY-NULM

  • Deendayan Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM), a flagship mission under the MoHUA has been conferred the prestigious SKOCH Governance Gold Award for its PAiSA portal.

About PAiSA Portal

  • PAiSA stands for Portal for Affordable Credit and Interest Subvention Access.
  • Launched in November 2018, PAiSA is a centralized IT platform which simplifies and streamlines release of interest subvention under the DAY-NULM.
  • It has been designed and developed through the Allahabad Bank.

What it offers?

  • It offers end to end online solution for processing, payment, monitoring and tracking of interest subvention claims from banks on a monthly basis.
  • Claims for subvention are uploaded by banks through their CBS (Core Banking Solution) in respect of the beneficiaries of the Self Employment Programme, which are verified and approved by the ULB and State concerned.
  • The approved claim amount gets credited directly to the beneficiary’s loan account through DBT mode.
  • SMS is also sent to the beneficiary’s mobile number intimating the credit of subvention amount.

About SKOCH Award

  • SKOCH Award, instituted in 2003, is the highest civilian honour in the country conferred by an independent organisation.
  • It recognizes people, projects and institutions that go the extra mile to make India a better nation.
  • SKOCH Award covers the best of efforts in the area of digital, financial and social inclusion.


Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antyodaya Yojana

Tobacco: The Silent Killer

[op-ed snap] Public health versus free speech


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Benefits of pictorial warnings and challenges

History of the fight against Tobacco

  1. It is ten years since U.S. Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, but now, the Food and Drug Administration issued a rule that pictorial warnings be carried on cigarette packages and advertisements.
  2. At present, cigarette packages in the U.S. carry only text warnings and only on one side.
  3. Canada was the first to introduce pictorial warnings on cigarette packets in 2001. 
  4. By 2018, 118 countries had implemented such warnings in line with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that came into force in 2005. 

Importance of messaging

  1. Dut to their small size and placement, text warnings remain invisible and fail to convey the harmful effects of smoking. 
  2. Gory pictures are very likely to be noticed, leave a lasting impression of the varied risks of smoking. 
  3. They also convey the central message immediately and easily.
  4. A 2017 study based on modeling found that pictorial warnings could reduce the prevalence of smoking in the U.S by 5% by 2020 and up to 10% by 2065.
  5. Data from countries that introduced pictorial warnings show how powerful they can be. 
    • In Canada, there was a 12% relative reduction in smoking prevalence in 6 years after graphic images were made mandatory. 
    • Australia witnessed more than a 10% drop in prevalence between 2004 and 2008. 
    • The U.K. saw a 10% relative decline in 2009, just a year after image warnings were introduced. 

Challenges to a stricter tobacco law – lessons from the USA

  1. Stiff opposition from the tobacco industry on the ground that graphic images violate rights protecting free speech.
  2. The biggest threat that pictorial warnings pose to tobacco companies is in reducing the appeal and consumption of tobacco. 
  3. About 30% of young adults in 28 European countries and Canada reported that graphic images made them less likely to start smoking.


Pictorial warnings can turn the power of packaging — far from brand building, packages with graphic images will become a mobile medium to spread public health messages at no cost to the government.

Judicial Reforms

[op-ed snap] Reforming the Law Commission: Govt should enshrine in law, the composition, tenure, functions and work procedure of the panel


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Strengthening Law commissions


There are reports that the cabinet will take a call on reconstituting the Law Commission. 


  1. The Law Commission of India is the oldest amongst the national-level parastatal bodies.
  2. It is a legacy of the country’s colonial past. In 1833, British rulers unified the three presidencies and planned to enforce the English common law in “British India”. For this, they constituted many law commissions. 
  3. After the fourth commission completed its work towards the end of 19th century, they did not continue the exercise.
  4. The first commission was set up in 1955 for a three-year term, assumed charge on September 1 that year and vacated office on August 31, three years later. The same pattern was then irrationally adopted as the fixed term for the commission for all time to come.
  5. Each of the later commissions worked for less than three years, leaving their assigned work half way.

Ad Hoc nature of Law commission

  1. It has no fixed composition, no defined eligibility criteria for its chair and members, and no set functions as everything rests on the government’s will. 
  2. The terms of reference are specified afresh each time it is reconstituted as if it were an ad hoc body. 
  3. Three of the other national commissions for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, are now regulated by the Constitution and there are laws for each of the national commissions for human rights, minorities, women, children and safai karmcharis.
  4. Though the commission’s job requires research-oriented juristic learning, the commission has been a haven for retired judges
  5. The chairpersons of the four pre-independence Law Commissions — C H Cameron, John Romilly, Whitley Stokes and Thomas Macaulay — were eminent jurists, not judges, and so were many of their members. 
  6. Independent India initially maintained the tradition by appointing the distinguished jurist M C Setalvad as the chairman of its first Law Commission. 
  7. The policy was later changed, and with the exception of K V K Sundaram, the commission has always been headed by judges.
  8. Members of the commission are also generally drawn from the judiciary, and the member-secretary is always from the bureaucracy. 
  9. Reports of the commission are generally written individually by members including the chairman and placed before the full commission for discussion and adoption. 
  10. Few of these reports have been on the Hindu and Christian family laws, but none on the Muslim personal law. Mostly because of backlash against an all Hindu commission.

Way ahead

  1. If the commission has to work without regard for extra-legal and political considerations it must have a governing statute defining its powers and responsibilities, and limitations.
  2. It must be placed under a proper parliamentary charter. 
  3. It should be a predominantly jurists’ commission, not a retired judges’ collective.

Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[op-ed snap] Why women are still being treated as unequal to men


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Role of religion and family in gender equality


According to a study published in American Psychologist, for the first time in history, 86% of US adults have admitted that men and women are equally intelligent. In 1946, only 35% of those surveyed thought both men and women are equally intelligent. 

Status of gender equality

  1. From the days when one had to hunt for food, to the days of agricultural output and the industrial economy, the superior physical abilities of man gave him an advantage over women in work efficiency. With the arrival of the knowledge economy, the human brain has become the most important tool for work. 
  2. According to the World Employment And Social Outlook Trends For Women 2018 report, more women than ever before are both educated and participating in the labour market today. 
  3. Men’s rates of graduation remain relatively stagnant, while women across socioeconomic classes are increasingly enrolling for and completing post-secondary degrees. 
  4. The Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum says that it will take 108 years to close the gender gap and 202 years to achieve parity in the workforce. 
  5. Studies show that many admit that women are equal to men at a conscious level but many also hold many biases towards women. 

Challenges in bringing gender equality

  1. For millions of years, except in few matriarchal societies, the man has always been considered the head of the family. 
  2. The provider-role he played was always seen superior to the nurturer-role that women played in a family. 
  3. Gender parity was not a norm in families across societies.
  4. Even with the arrival of the knowledge economy and women earning better salaries, there is a tendency to “manning up and womaning down” salaries. 
    • In marriages in which women earned more, women said that they earned 1.5% less, on average, than they actually did. Their husbands said they earned 2.9% more than they did. 
    • Even among the educated, there are deep rooted biases that prevent people from admitting that the man is no longer the provider-in-chief.
  1. A study at the University of Chicago found that marriages in which the woman earned more were less likely in the first place and more likely to end in divorce. 
  2. It also found that women who out-earned their husbands were more likely to seek jobs beneath their potential and do significantly more housework and child care than their husbands to make their husbands feel less threatened. 
  3. The norms in our families act as a huge deterrent to achieving gender parity.

Role of religion

  1. Religious stories depict that male bodies are created in God’s own image and so are considered better than female bodies, which are somehow deficient and in need of purification. 
  2. All the key functions of organized religion, such as conducting religious ceremonies and heading the religious hierarchy, are reserved for men. 
  3. No organized religion treats women equal to men.
  4. The unequal treatment of women by religion has exerted a very strong influence on every society’s gender norms. 
  5. Studies establish that countries where the majority of inhabitants have no religious affiliation display the lowest levels of gender inequality, and countries with the highest levels of gender inequality are those with high levels of religious affiliation. 
  6. We cannot achieve gender parity if religion continues to turn its back on women. 


Achieving gender parity is not about organizing awareness programmes and pasting a few posters in offices. It is all about fundamentally altering beliefs upheld by the two strongest institutions of any society: the family and religion.