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February 2020

Government Budgets

[op-ed of the day] A workmanlike account


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Government budget, $5tn dollar economy


The Budget was a workmanlike exercise, more a statement of account, around which was woven many strands of intent and vision, which, read in its entirety and by connecting interlocking dots, framed a strategy of moving towards a $5 trillion economy over the next five years.

Fiscal arithmetic of the Budget

  • A clearer picture of off-balance-sheet borrowings: To a large extent, the Budget has done this, giving a much clearer picture of the off-balance-sheet borrowings, which add to the government’s debt and its obligations to pay.
    • Increasing the credibility of government: This move will enhance credibility among the investor community while taking decisions on committing capital for India’s future.
  • Possibility of nominal 10 % growth: The nominal growth projected for 2020-21 at 10 per cent is feasible, with a stretch, given the expected rise in inflation, which will add around 4 per cent to a projected 6 per cent real growth.
    • Aggressive revenue projection: The revenue projections are more aggressive, assuming a buoyancy which can be attributed in large measure to checking evasion using data analytics.
  • Disinvestment and privatisation revenue: The major boost to revenues is expected from disinvestment and privatisation of central public sector enterprises, together with asset monetisation.
    • The target is up sharply to Rs 2.25 lakh crore.
    • This initiative has been one of the core focus areas of the government, has to be lauded for-
    • The effects of increasing efficiency in operations and-
    • Restricting the losses to the public balance sheet.
    • Disinvestment revenues are likely to be augmented with higher dividend receipts, including, from higher profits of the Reserve Bank of India.
  • Optical allocation by the Govt.: Spending, which depends on revenue collection, has also been optimally allocated, with capital expenditure budgeted to increase faster than revenue.
    • High revenue expenditure: Capital expenditure is still a much smaller fraction of total expenditure compared to the committed revenue spending on interest payments, salaries and pensions and subsidies.

The slowdown in the economy and squeeze in the credit flow

  • Three aspects of the current slowdown that makes it different
  • FirstMultiple engines of growth have synchronously decelerated-
    • Consumption, investment, exports and sporadically, government spending — compared to earlier ones when one or some of these drivers were still functioning
  • Second- Demand led slowdown:
    • This is more a demand-led slowdown, versus the earlier ones, which tended to originate with a supply shock, whether from oil or foreign capital.
  • Thirdthe trigger for this episode was a financial shock-
    • NBFC lending — which tipped the weaknesses building in the system into deep deceleration.
  • Squeeze in the credit flow of the banks
    • Drastic reduction in credit flows: A telling statistic released by the RBI shows that compared to Rs 8 lakh crore of loans provided to borrowers during April-September 2018, credit flow fell to Rs 90,000 crore in the six months of 2019.
    • MSMEs worst affected by the credit squeeze: Bank credit has continued to remain very weak. In the context of the broader slowdown, credit to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) has been one of the worst affected.

Whether the slowdown is more cyclical or structural-conundrum for policymakers

  • If it is more cyclical, aggressive use of monetary and fiscal counter-cyclical policy could yield the desired result.
    • If not, then the wait is likely to be longer and will involve more sector-specific de-bottlenecking initiatives.
  • Signs of structural constraints: While there is certainly a cyclical component in the manufacturing segment- the proximate source of the slowdown- there are signs of deeper structural constraints.
  • Quintuple problem– This problem has now expanded into almost quintuple problems, encompassing the government, households, NBFCs along with the banks.
    • Overlaid on these structural impediments is a sharp weakening of consumer, investor and corporate confidence.


Implementation, as always, will be key to achieving the $5-trillion goal. The arena for the next set of reforms and actions for sustained growth is at the state level: Agriculture, land, electricity, and even labour. The Budget acknowledges this. A federal approach to tackling the slowdown, in a coordinated fashion, will probably be the most effective.



Government Budgets

[op-ed snap] Falling short of aspirations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Government budget and allocations for various sectors and schemes.


The Budget can be judged in terms of its effect on rural demand, investment and private sentiments– all critical elements for recovery. While the Budget offers hope on the last count, it leaves much to be desired on several other parameters.

Skill development allocation- 3000 Crore

  • Unmet Demand: There is a huge, unmet demand for teachers, paramedical staff and caregivers, and skilled workers.
    • Need for quality education and skills: Well-paying jobs are created in the organised services and industry but require candidates with quality education and skills.
    • Both elude India’s youth due to the poor quality of education and lack of opportunities to acquire practical skills.
    • Skilling will require massive investment and concerted efforts.
    • What could have been done? The Budget could have given tax incentives to companies to provide internships and on-site vocational training to unemployed youth.
    • The country cannot afford to let the world’s largest workforce waste this way.

On flagship welfare schemes

  • The MGNREGA is allocated ₹61,500 crore, which is less than ₹71,000 crore for the current fiscal year.
  • PM-KISAN: Going by the last year, disbursement under the PM-KISAN will also be less than budgeted, unless the beneficiary base is expanded.
  • Good schemes for increasing demand: These two schemes are good instruments for income transfers to small and marginal farmers, landless labour who spend most of their income and generate demand for a wide range of goods and services.
    • Higher disbursement under these schemes would have benefited most sectors of the economy. Budgetary allocations for health and education are also well below what is needed.
  • Micro-irrigation schemes for 100 water-stressed: Focus of schemes such as micro-irrigation schemes for 100 water-stressed districts is welcome and so is a modest increase in allocations for agriculture and rural development schemes.
  • Rural roads, cold storage, and logistical chains are crucial for the growth of income and employment in rural India, as the multiplier effects of rural infrastructure investment on growth and employment are large and extensive.
  • ₹1.7 lakh crore for transportation infrastructure: The allocation of ₹1.7 lakh crore for transportation infrastructure is also a welcome step. If the public investment infrastructure actually materialises, it will lend credence to the government’s stated commitment to revive the investment cycle –to spur job-creating growth.
  • To pull in private investment, public funding should be front-loaded in under-implementation projects.
  • Small irrigation and rural road projects are also relatively easy to complete and deliver immense benefits to several sectors.

 Bonds Market development  and startups

  • Need for the corporate bond market: The fundamental problem of infrastructure finance is the asset-liability mismatch which can be addressed only by developing a vibrant ‘corporate bond market.
  • No focus on the corporate bond market: The focus of the Budget is the multiple schemes for government bonds mainly through additional room for foreign portfolio investors and exchange-traded funds in government bonds.
    • Need for the well-developed market: Government’s moves are welcome but not enough. A well-developed bond market should draw upon-
    • Domestic insurance funds.
    • Pension funds and
    • Mutual funds-which are capable of investing in corporate bonds across different schemes.
  • Startups: The other leg of the “aspirational” Budget is the startups.
    • Some relief on the tax they have to pay and on taxation of the Employee Stock Option Plans is welcome.
    • Reluctance to abolish angel tax: But the reluctance to abolish the angel tax that results in harassment of start-ups and their investors is unfathomable.

Scheme for NBFC

  • Allowing NBFCs into TReDS: Another welcome feature is the scheme to allow the non-banking financial companies into the Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS).
    • TReDS is an ecosystem that aims to facilitate the financing and settling of trade-related transactions of small entities with corporate and other buyers, including government departments and public sector undertakings.

Changes in provisions for SMEs and their problems

  • Audit threshold increased to 5 crore: To reduce the compliance burden on small retailers, traders and shopkeepers who comprise the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) sector, the threshold for audit of the accounts has been increased from ₹1 crore to ₹5 crores for those entities that carry out less than 5% of their business transactions in cash.
  • Restructuring window increased: A provision in the budget extended the window for the restructuring of loans for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises till March 31, 2021.
  • Problems faced by the SMEs
    • Input tax rate higher for input than for the final goods: For many products produced by these enterprises, the tax rates are higher for inputs than the final goods.
    • High taxes on imports and exports: In addition, many SMEs suffer from high taxes on imports of raw material and exports of intermediary services by them.

Other provision made to revive the private sector 

  • Recognising the need to revive the dying spirit of the private sector, several provisions have been made in the budget to revive the spirit of the private sector like-
    • Decriminalisation of several civil offences by firms under the Companies Act.
    • The abolition of dividend distribution tax (DDT).
    • The assurance that tax-related disputes will be considered with compassion.
    • The scheme to reimburse to exporters assorted duties, such as excise duty on transport fuels and electricity.


Everything considered the future of the economy will turn on whether the government delivers on the promises of public investment and the promises made to different sections of society including the taxpayer and companies. When it comes to reviving private sentiments, actions will speak much louder than the budgetary promises.





Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

[op-ed snap] We should offer to safeguard the world’s telecom networks


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Cyber security in the wake of Huawei ban and concerns over cyber security in 5G age.


India should grab cybersecurity opportunities instead of focusing on smaller issues like import tariffs during Trump’s visit.

Opportunity for India in the US-China trade war

  • Technology will be an important front in the emerging trade war between the US and China.
    • It will create significant opportunities for India as global supply chains re-adjust to geopolitical pushes and pull.
    • In manufacturing: The immediate opportunity is in across-the-board manufacturing, especially if the Government puts in place a special task force to unclog the regulatory issues.
    • In cybersecurity: Beyond manufacturing, the unfolding US-China technology war is creating opportunities for India in the cybersecurity space on a scale that could match Y2K.

Balance national security and industry economics

  • The UK’s approach: It is a carefully constructed middle path.
  • Not allowing high-risk vendors: The UK decided that “high-risk vendors” will not be permitted in its core networks.
    • High regulatory and security oversight: High-risk vendors will also be subject to higher levels of regulatory and security oversight.
    • Ability to switch: Operators are expected to have the ability to switch away from such vendors should the government so require.
  • 35% restriction: The UK restricted to less than 35% of the equipment base of each telecom operator.
  • The EU approach:  The European Union is likely to adopt some variant of the British approach.
    • This means Chinese-made equipment will be deployed across EU countries but under tighter surveillance, audit and assurance regime.

How is it going to create opportunities?

  • 5G and more need for more security professionals
    • More base stations: 5G networks will employ many more base stations than existing networks.
    • The internet of things (IoT) is set to bring billions of connected sensors and devices online.
    • The requirement of security professionals: Tightening security norms will require both telecom firms and their customers to employ a lot of cybersecurity professionals in a wide range of roles, of varying levels of sophistication and sensitivity.
  • Shortage of cybersecurity professionals
    • The problem is: the world is already short of cybersecurity professionals.
    • Even before 5G networks are rolled out, estimates suggest that there are 2 to 3 million unfilled cybersecurity vacancies around the world.
    • Scrutiny of the Chinese vendors and employment opportunities: The more stringent the security regimes around Chinese vendors, the greater the demand for cybersecurity professionals security regimes around Chinese vendors, the greater the demand for cybersecurity professionals.
  • Where is the opportunity for India? The industry is responding to this shortage by employing more automation.
    • But demand for human will increase: The demand for trustworthy, reliable and competent human beings to keep an eye on cyber threats will only increase.
    • Where can hundreds of thousands of technology professionals who might be able to fill this gap come from? India and China.
    • Advantage India: Chinese firms and individuals are unlikely to be chosen to keep an eye on Chinese equipment makers and state-linked cyber attackers, it is advantage India.

Can India grab this opportunity?

  • Inadequate professionals in India: India doesn’t have adequate numbers of cybersecurity professionals either.
    • Skill initiative by the government: The government has launched a skills initiative to plug the shortage, but we’re far away from addressing our own cybersecurity needs.
    • India has all the necessary conditions to become as big a player in the global cybersecurity market.
    • India has the numbers, the companies and the market-driven economic models that can produce the skills that the industry wants.
  • Private sector’s role: During the 1990s’ information technology boom, India produced hundreds of thousands of software engineers not because of any government skills development programme, but because private firms popped up and supplied the skills that people and their employers wanted.

Way forward

  • Government to government arrangements: Unlike the Y2K days, the global demand for cybersecurity professionals has entry barriers that firms and individuals cannot easily cross on their own. Government-to-government arrangements can help Indian firms and individuals get clearances for cybersecurity roles.
  • Developing cybersecurity partnership: India will have to work on developing cybersecurity partnerships with the US, UK and the EU, focused on opening up their markets to Indian firms.
  • Win the trust: The latter, for their part, must work on gaining the trust of the West’s national security establishments.



Finance Commission – Issues related to devolution of resources

Finance Commission


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Finance Commission

Mains level : Finance Commission, Its evolving role in fiscal federalism

  • The report of the Fifteenth Finance Commission, along with an Action Taken Report, was tabled in Parliament.
  • The Commission, headed by N K Singh, had submitted its Report to the President in December 2019.
  • The government had accepted the recommendations of the Commission “in substantial measure a/c to FM.

The Finance Commission and its purpose

  • Article 280 of the Constitution requires that a Finance Commission be constituted to recommend the distribution of the net proceeds of taxes between the Centre and states, and among the states.
  • Much has changed since the First Commission was set up in November 1951 under the Chairmanship of K C Neogy, a former member of the Constituent Assembly and diwan of a princely state.
  • The President has appointed 14 more Commissions since then.

Why need Finance Commission?

  • The framers of the Constitution were seeking to address the vertical imbalance between the taxation powers and expenditure and responsibilities of the federal government and the states, and the horizontal imbalance, or inequality, between states that were at different stages of development.
  • Ensuring inclusiveness is, therefore, a key mandate of the Finance Commission.
  • That means assigning weights to things like population, the fiscal distance between the top ranked states and the others, etc.
  • It is not that the best-performing state will be allocated the highest share — even if delivery execution and governance are better — rather, the effort will be to narrow the development gap between states.

Constitution of the Finance Commission

  • The Finance Commission Rules, 1951, lay down the criteria for being members of the constitutional body.
  • Members:
  1. those having special knowledge of finance and accounts of government with wide knowledge and experience in financial matters and in administration,
  2. or with special knowledge of economics, and
  3. those who have been qualified to be appointed as a judge of a High Court

Notable members

  • In the years following the reforms of the 1990s, Commissions have been headed by reputed economists and administrators — from A M Khusro, who headed the Eleventh Finance Commission, to Chakravarthi Rangarajan, Vijay Kelkar, and Y V Reddy, who were Chairmen of subsequent Commissions.
  • Senior politicians like K Brahmananda Reddy, Y B Chavan and N K P Salve had helmed earlier Commissions.
  • Before N K Singh, an economist and career administrator who subsequently joined politics, the last politician in this role was K C Pant, who then went on to be Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.

Changing role of the Finance Commission

  • What has changed dramatically since the 1950s, when the First Commission presented its recommendations on the transfer of resources between the Centre and the states, is the scale of distribution of tax proceeds.
  • From 10% of the total tax receipts of the Centre in 1950, it rose to a record 42% after the recommendations of the Fourteenth FC headed by Y V Reddy — a share that made previous awards look conservative, and sat well with the spirit of cooperative federalism.
  • The Fifteenth FC has recommended that this allocation be reduced by a percentage point to 41% in order to meet the security and special needs of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The other significant change has been in the equation between the central and state governments as a result of the recommendations of the Twelfth FC which reshaped lending by the federal government to states.
  • The Fourteenth Commission recommended the creation of a Fiscal Council; the Thirteenth had set out detailed measures on implementing GST with a grand bargain for states.

Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

[pib] National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NM-QTA

Mains level : Quantum technology

The Finance Minister in budget 2020 has announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA).

What is Quantum Technology?

  • Quantum Technology is based on the principles of quantum theory, which explains the nature of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic level.
  • It concerns the control and manipulation of quantum systems, with the goal of achieving information processing beyond the limits of the classical world.
  • Its principles will be used for engineering solutions to extremely complex problems in computing, communications, sensing, chemistry, cryptography, imaging and mechanics.
  • This key ability makes quantum computers extremely powerful compared to conventional computers when solving certain kinds of problems like finding prime factors of large numbers and searching large databases.

What is Quantum Mechanics?

  • It is a fundamental theory in physics which describes nature at the smallest – including atomic and subatomic – scales.
  • At the scale of atoms and electrons, many of the equations of classical mechanics, which describe how things move at everyday sizes and speeds, cease to be useful.
  • In classical mechanics, objects exist in a specific place at a specific time.
  • However, in quantum mechanics, objects instead exist in a haze of probability; they have a certain chance of being at point A, another chance of being at point B and so on.

About NM-QTA

  • The mission will function under the Department of Science & Technology (DST).
  • It will be able address the ever increasing technological requirements of the society, and take into account the international technology trends.
  • The mission will help prepare next generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development.

Why such mission?

  • Quantum technologies are rapidly developing globally with a huge disruptive potential.
  • The range of quantum technologies is expected to be one of the major technology disruptions that will change entire paradigm of computation, communication and encryption.
  • It is perceived that the countries who achieve an edge in this emerging field will have a greater advantage in garnering multifold economic growth and dominant leadership role.
  • It has become imperative both for government and industries to be prepared to develop these emerging and disruptive changes.
  • It will establish standards to be applied to all research and help stimulate a pipeline to support research and applications well into the future.

Also read:

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] Draft National Logistics Policy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Logistics Policy

Mains level : Logistics sector of India

The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry reviewed the draft National Logistics Policy and the proposed action plan for implementation of the policy prepared by the Department of Logistics, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The key feature of the draft policy

  • The draft National Logistics Policy has been prepared in consultation with the Ministries of Railways, Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Civil Aviation.
  • Forty-six Partnering Government Agencies (PGAs)
  • Inputs were analysed in detail for consideration in the Policy.
  • Vision and Objectives for Logistics in India: To drive economic growth and trade competitiveness of the country through a truly integrated, seamless, efficient, reliable and cost-effective logistics network, leveraging best in class technology, processes and skilled manpower.
  • Key objectives of the national logistics policy:  Given the pivotal role of the logistics sector in the development of the economy and the need to incorporate learnings from global best practices, the policy outlines an ambitious set of objectives.

The following are some of the key objectives for logistics in India, to be achieved in the next five years:

1. Creating a single point of reference for all logistics and trade facilitation matters in the country which will also function as a knowledge and information sharing platform

2. Driving logistics cost as a % of GDP down from estimated current levels of 13-14% to 10% in line with best-in-class global standards and incentivize the sector to become more efficient by promoting integrated development of logistics

Objectives of the Logistics Policy

  • Creating a National Logistics e-marketplace as a one-stop marketplace. It will involve simplification of documentation for exports/imports and drive transparency through digitization of processes involving Customs, PGAs etc in regulatory, certification and compliance services
  • Creating a data and analytics centre to drive transparency and continuous monitoring of key logistics metrics
  • Encouraging industry, academia and government to come together to create a logistics Center of Excellence, and drive innovation in the logistics sector
  • Creating and managing on an ongoing basis, an Integrated National Logistics Action Plan which will serve as a master plan for all logistics-related development.
  • Providing an impetus to trade and hence economic growth by driving competitiveness in exports
  • Doubling employment in the logistics sector by generating additional 10-15 million jobs and focus on enhancing skills in the sector and encouraging gender diversity
  • Improve India’s ranking in the Logistics Performance Index to between 25 to 30
  • Strengthening the warehousing sector in India by improving the quality of storage infrastructure including specialized warehouses across the country
  • Reducing losses due to agri-wastage to less than 5% through effective agri-logistics
  • Providing impetus to the MSME sector in the country through a cost-effective logistics network
  • Promoting cross-regional trade on e-commerce platforms by enabling a seamless flow of goods
  • Encouraging the adoption of green logistics in the country

Policy thrust areas

This policy defines the key thrust areas for logistics in India, which will be the focus of the relevant ministries as well as act as guidance to the state governments. The prioritized focus areas for logistics are detailed below:

  • Focusing on critical projects to drive an optimal modal mix and to enable first mile and last-mile connectivity
  • Driving the development of Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs)
  • Driving interventions to reduce logistics cost and promote logistics efficiency for movement of key commodities
  • Creating a single-window Logistics e-marketplace
  • Setting up a Logistics Data and Analytics Center
  • Creating a Center of Trade facilitation and Logistics excellence (CTFL) and leveraging the expertise of multilateral agencies
  • Creating an Integrated National Logistics Action Plan and align with respective state development plans
  • Support strengthening of the warehousing sector
  • Enhancing transport and rolling stock infrastructure
  • Streamlining EXIM processes to promote trade competitiveness
  • Reducing dwell time for interstate cargo movement by road
  • Promoting standardization in the logistics sector
  • Ensuring seamless movement of goods at Land Customs Stations (LCS) and Integrated Check Points (ICP)
  • Generating employment, enhancing skilling and encouraging gender diversity in the logistics sector
  • Setting up a Startup acceleration fund

Funding for logistics initiatives

A non-lapsable Logistics fund will be created, to drive progress against the key thrust areas. The Logistics fund can be deployed for the following

  • Providing viability gap funding for select MMLP projects, first and last-mile projects and projects for poorly-serviced remote areas.
  • Incentivizing select logistics skilling programs and training institutes
  • Setting up a start-up acceleration fund to incentivize the development of new technology in logistics particularly the farm to plate space
  • Creating the Center for Trade Facilitation and Logistics Excellence (CTFL)  Setting up a big data-enabled logistics data hub and analytics centre
  • Creating a single-window logistics e-marketplace

Institutional Framework & Governance for Logistics

For this purpose, four committees/councils will be constituted:

  • National Council for Logistics, chaired by the Prime Minister
  • Apex inter-ministerial Committee, chaired by the Minister of Commerce and Industry
  • India Logistics Forum chaired by the Commerce Secretary with representation from key industry/business stakeholders and academia.
  • Empowered task force on logistics will be created, as a standing committee chaired by the head of the Logistics Wing.


Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Archimedes Principle


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Archimedes Principle

Mains level : NA

Recently, Archimedes Principle was used in Jharkhand to rescue baby elephant stuck in a well. The rescue team filled the well with water using motorized pipes, after which the struggling elephant floated to the top and was able to climb out through a ramp placed for it.

What is the ‘Archimedes Principle’?

  • In physics, the Archimedes Principle refers to the law of buoyancy (the ability or tendency of something to float in water or other fluids).
  • According to the principle, when an object is completely or partially submerged in a fluid, whether gas or liquid, it is acted upon by an upward force (buoyancy) equal to the weight of the fluid it has displaced.
  • The force acting downward on the object is the weight of the object. The upward force is the one given by the Archimedes Principle.
  • The difference between the two forces is the net force acting on the object.
  • If the buoyant force is more than the weight, the object rises; if it is less, the object sinks.
  • If the net force is zero, the object remains in place, and neither rises nor sinks.

Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Iconic sites mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Ancient Indian architecture

The Union Govt. has proposed to set up an Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation under the Ministry of Culture, and develop five archaeological sites as “iconic sites” with onsite museums in Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh), Sivsagar (Assam), Dholavira (Gujarat) and Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu).


  • Rakhigarhi in Haryana’s Hissar district is one of the most prominent and largest sites of the Harappan civilization.
  • It is one among the five known townships of the Harappan civilization in the Indian subcontinent.
  • In one of the excavations, the skeletal remains of a couple were discovered.
  • Interestingly, of the 62 graves discovered in Rakhigarhi, only this particular grave consisted of more than one skeletal remains and of individuals of the opposite sex together.


  • Excavations at Hastinapur, in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, were led by Dr B B Lal, who was at the time Superintendent of the Excavations Branch of the ASI.
  • Hastinapur finds mention in the Mahabharata and the Puranas.
  • One of the most significant discoveries made at this site was of the “new ceramic industry”, which was named the Painted Grey Ware, which as per the report represented the relics of the early Indo-Aryans.
  • The sites of Hastinapur, Mathura, Kurukshetra, Barnawa, etc., are identifiable with those of the same name mentioned in the Mahabharata.
  • If that be so, the Painted Grey Ware would be associated with the early settlers on these sites, viz. The Pauravas, Panchalas, etc., who formed a part of the early Aryan stock in India.
  • Such an association may also explain the synchronism between the appearance of the Painted Grey Ware in the Ghaggar-Sutlej valleys and the probable date of the arrival of the Aryans in that area.”


  • In Sivasagar, excavations at the Karenghar (Talatalghar) complex between 2000 and 2003 led to the discovery of buried structures in the north-western and north-eastern side of the complex.
  • Among the structural remains found at the site were ceramic assemblages including vases, vessels, dishes, and bowls, etc. Terracotta smoking pipes were also found.
  • Another excavation site in Sivasagar district is the Garhgaon Raja’s palace. Excavation at this site was conducted during 2007-2008.
  • A burnt-brick wall running in north-south orientation was found, along with the remains of two huge circular wooden posts.


  • Dholavira in Gujarat is located in the Khadir island of the Rann of Kutch, and like Rakhigarhi is one of the sites where the remains of the Harappan civilization have been found.
  • Dholavira is unique because remains of a complete water system have been found here.
  • The people who lived there for an estimated 1,200 years during the Harappan civilization are noted for their water conservation system using rainwater harvesting techniques in an otherwise parched landscape.


  • Adichnallur lies in the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu.
  • The urn-burial site was first brought to light during a “haphazard excavation” by a German archaeologist in 1876. Following this, an Englishman Alexander Rae excavated the site between 1889 and 1905.
  • Over the years, the site has gained attention because of three important findings: the discovery of an ancient Tamil-Brahmi script on the inside of an urn containing a full human skeleton, a fragment of a broken earthenware, and the remains of living quarters.

History- Important places, persons in news

Poets quoted in Budget Speech


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Not Much

Finance Minister has quoted four poets in her Budget speech: Pt. Dinanath Nadim, Avvaiyar, Thiruvalluvar and Kalidas, a sweep from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir, from ancient to contenporary India.

Dinanath Nadim

  • The Kashmiri nationalist poet Dinanath Nadim was at the centre of Kashmir’s progressive movement, especially in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
  • Nadim was born in 1916, and passed away in 1988. Nadim wrote in Kashmiri, Hindi and Urdu, and inspired a powerful tradition of Kashmiri poetry.
  • Nadim received the Sahitya Akademi award in 1986 for his opera Shuhul Kull (The Shady Tree).
  • Among his other well known works are Vitasta (Jhelum River), Safar Taa Shehjaar (The Journey And The Shade), Heemaal Taa Naaegrai (Heemaal and Naagraaj), and Bombur Taa Yamberzal (The Bumble Bee And The Narcissus Flower).


  • Avvaiyar translates to “Respected Woman”, and the title was used by several woman poets who contributed to Tamil literature during different periods of time.
  • In the Budget’s section on “Aspirational India”, Sitharaman said, “Our government shall encourage balanced use of all kinds of fertilizers including the traditional organic and other innovative fertilizers.
  • This is a necessary step to change the prevailing incentive regime, which encourages excessive use of chemical fertilisers.”
  • She quoted from Aaathichoodi’s verse 81 which translate to “first tend to till one’s land and then eat. One must eat only after work.”


  • Thiruvalluvar is fondly referred to as Valluvar by Tamils. His ‘Tirukkural’, a collection of 1,330 couplets (‘kurals’ in Tamil), are an essential part of every Tamil household.
  • It holds importance in the same way the Bhagavad Gita or the Ramayana are in traditional North Indian Hindu households.
  • He is an essential anchor for Tamils in tracing their cultural roots; Tamils are taught to learn his couplets word-for-word, and to follow his teachings in their day-to-day living.
  • FM quoted Thiruvalluvar: “Pini Inmai Selvam Vilaivu Inbam Emam Ani Enba”, which loosely translates to having the “five jewels” required for a country that is without illness, with wealth, with good crops, with happiness, as well as safety and security.


  • Kalidas, the legendary Sanskrit scholar, is believed to have lived during the middle of the fourth and early fifth centuries AD, during the reigns of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya and Kumaragupta.
  • Raghuvamsa, from which FM quoted, is one of two long epic poems written by Kalidas.
  • She mentioned the 18th verse: “Surya, the Sun, collects vapour from little drops of water. So does the King. They give back copiously. They collect only for people’s wellbeing.”

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Flame-throated Bulbul


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Flame-throated Bulbul

Mains level : NA

The flame-throated bulbul, also called the Rubigula, was chosen as the mascot of the 36th National Games to be held in Goa. It is the State bird of Goa.

Flame-throated Bulbul

IUCN status: Least Concern

  • The Flame-throated Bulbul is endemic to southern peninsular India where it is locally distributed in southern Andhra Pradesh, eastern Karnataka, Goa, Orissa, eastern Kerala and northern Tamil Nadu.
  • It prefer habitats like rocky, scrub-covered hills mostly in the Eastern Ghats and central peninsular India but also in some places in the Western Ghats.
  • It is a Schedule – IV bird under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.