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September 2020

Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

Financing economic recovery

The article analyses the issue of socioeconomic disruption caused by the pandemic and response by regionally coordinated response to it.


  • With continued lockdown measures and restricted borders, countries in Asia and the Pacific have been experiencing sharp drops in foreign exchange inflows due to declines in export earnings, remittances, tourism and FDI.

Financing 3 key areas by the U.N.

  • The United Nations is contributing through a global initiative, Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond.
  • The initiative aims at comprehensive financing strategy to safeguard the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Governments are united to ensure that adequate financial resources are available to steer an inclusive, sustainable and resilient post-COVID-19 recovery.
  • In the Asia-Pacific region, several countries have already adopted financing plans in following three key areas.
  • 1) To address the challenge of diminished fiscal space and debt vulnerability 2) To ensure sustainable recovery, consistent with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda 3) To harness the potential of regional cooperation in support of financing for development.

Regional Conversation series by ESCAP

  • The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has recently launched its first-ever Regional Conversation Series on Building Back Better.
  • In this series ministers, decision-makers, private sectors and heads of international agencies participate.
  • Their participation results in sharing of collective insights on sharing pathways to resilient recovery from health pandemic and economic collapse.

Debt Service Suspension initiative

  • To manage high levels of debt distress global initiatives like the Debt Service Suspension initiative is timely.
  • Central banks can continue to keep the balance of supporting the economy and maintaining financial stability.
  • This further involves enhancing tax reforms and improving debt management capacities, while using limited fiscal space to invest in priority sectors.
  • Exploring sustainability-oriented bonds and innovative financing instruments options such as debt swaps for SDG investment should be explored further.
  • Policy paradigm must mainstream affordable, accessible and green infrastructure standards.
  • We should also scale up the use of digital technology and innovative applications.
  • The financing support of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises must go hand in hand with these national job-rich recovery strategies.

Role of regional cooperation

  • Regionally coordinated financing policies can restart trade, reorganise supply chains and revitalise sustainable tourism in a safe manner.
  • Across Asia and the Pacific, governments must pool financial resources to create regional investment funds.
  • Role of egional cooperation platforms to ensure  all countries receive an equitable number of doses of the vaccine is essential.


Through ESCAP, we can scale these efforts across the region, working closely with our member states, the private sector and innovators to build a collective financing response to mobilise the necessary additional resources.

Indian Missile Program Updates

Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ramjet, Scramjet

Mains level : Indian missile program

The DRDO has successfully demonstrated the hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology with the flight test of the Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle (HSTDV).

Take note of close dissimilarities between Ramjet and Scramjet engines.


  • HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet vehicle with a capability to travel at six times the speed of sound.
  • The scramjets are a variant of a category of jet engines called the air-breathing engines.
  • The ability of engines to handle airflows of speeds in multiples of the speed of sound gives it a capability of operating at those speeds.
  • Hypersonic speeds are those which are five times or more than the speed of sound.
  • The unit tested by the DRDO can achieve upto six times the speed of sound or Mach 6, which is well over 7000 km per hour or around two km per second.

Its development

  • The DRDO started on the development of the engine in the early 2010s.
  • The ISRO has also worked on the development of the technology and has successfully tested a system in 2016. DRDO too has conducted a test of this system in June 2019.
  • The special project of the DRDO consisted of contributions from its multiple facilities including the Pune headquartered Armament and Combat Engineering Cluster.

Back2Basics: Ramjet V. Scramjet

  • A ramjet is a form of air-breathing jet engine that uses the vehicle’s forward motion to compress incoming air for combustion without a rotating compressor.
  • Fuel is injected in the combustion chamber where it mixes with the hot compressed air and ignites.
  • A ramjet-powered vehicle requires an assisted take-off like a rocket assist to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust.
  • Ramjets work most efficiently at supersonic speeds around Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) and can operate up to speeds of Mach 6.
  • However, the ramjet efficiency starts to drop when the vehicle reaches hypersonic speeds.
  • A scramjet engine is an improvement over the ramjet engine as it efficiently operates at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Thus it is known as Supersonic Combustion Ramjet or Scramjet.

History- Important places, persons in news

In news: Malabar Rebellion


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Malabar Rebellion

Mains level : Not Much

A report submitted to the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) in 2016 has termed the Malabar Rebellion leaders as ‘rioters’.

Try this question from CSP 2015:

Q. Which amongst the following provided a common factor for a tribal insurrection in India in the 19th century?

(a) Introduction of a new system of land revenue and taxation- of tribal products

(b) Influence of foreign religious missionaries in tribal areas

(c) Rise of a large number of money lenders, traders and revenue farmers as middlemen in tribal areas

(d) The complete disruption of the old agrarian order of the tribal communities

What is the Malabar Rebellion?

  • The Malabar Rebellion in 1921 started as resistance against the British colonial rule and the feudal system in southern Malabar but ended in communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.
  • There were a series of clashes between Mappila peasantry and their landlords, supported by the British, throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • It began as a reaction against a heavy-handed crackdown on the Khilafat Movement, a campaign in defence of the Ottoman Caliphate by the British authorities in the Eranad and Valluvanad taluks of Malabar.
  • The Mappilas attacked and took control of police stations, British government offices, courts and government treasuries.

Why is it contentious?

  • It largely took the shape of guerrilla-type attacks on janmis (feudal landlords, who were mostly upper-caste Hindus) and the police and troops.
  • Mappilas had been among the victims of oppressive agrarian relations protected by the British.
  • But the political mobilization in the region in the aftermath of the Khilafat agitation and Gandhi’s non-cooperation struggle served as an opportunity for an extremist section to invoke a religious idiom to express their suffering.
  • There were excesses on both sides — rebels and government troops. Incidents of murder, looting and forced conversion led many to discredit the uprising as a manifestation of religious bigotry.
  • Moderate Khilafat leaders lamented that the rebellion had alienated the Hindu sympathy.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Chushul Valley and its Significance


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chushul Valley

Mains level : India-China border skirmishes

The Chushul sub-sector has come into focus in the standoff between the Indian and PLA troops.

Tap to read more about Himalayan River System

What is the Chushul Valley?

  • The Chushul sub-sector lies south of Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.
  • It comprises high, broken mountains and heights of Thatung, Black Top, Helmet Top, Gurung Hill, and Magger Hill besides passes such as Rezang La and Reqin La, the Spanggur Gap, and the Chushul valley.
  • Situated at a height of over 13,000 feet close to the LAC, the Chushul Valley has a vital airstrip that played an important role even during the 1962 War with China.

What is its strategic importance to India?

  • Chushul is one among the five Border Personnel Meeting points between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army of China.
  • It enjoys tremendous strategic and tactical importance because of its location and terrain, which make it a centre for logistics deployment.
  • This sector has plains that are a couple of km wide, where mechanized forces, including tanks, can be deployed. Its airstrip and connectivity by road to Leh add to its operational advantages.
  • Indian troops have now secured the ridgeline in this sub-sector that allows them to dominate the Chushul bowl on the Indian side, and Moldo sector on the Chinese side.
  • They also have a clear sight of the almost 2-km-wide Spanggur gap, which the Chinese used in the past to launch attacks on this sector in the 1962 War.

How is Chushul important to China?

  • Simply put, Chushul is the gateway to Leh. If China enters the Chushul, it can launch its operations for Leh.
  • After the initial attacks, including on the Galwan valley by the Chinese in October 1962, the PLA troops prepared to attack Chushul airfield and the valley to get direct access to Leh.
  • However, just before the attacks were launched, the area was reinforced by the 114 Brigade in November 1962, which also had under its command two troops of armour and some artillery.

What are the challenges in this area?

  • An immediate challenge is of a flare-up as troops of the two countries are deployed within a distance of 800 to 1,000 metres of each other at Black Top and Reqin La.
  • Logistics also pose a major challenge. There is a need to carry water and food to the top which soldiers cannot do.
  • The harsh winter that lasts for eight months of the year poses a big challenge.
  • It is very difficult to dig in and make shelters on the ridgeline. The temperature falls to minus 30 degrees Celsius, and there are frequent snowstorms.

Start-up Ecosystem In India

[pib] Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP)

Mains level : Not Much

The SVEP is propelling enterprises in rural areas and building rural entrepreneurs during this pandemic.

Try this PYQ 2015:

How does the National Rural Livelihood Mission seek to improve livelihood options of rural poor?

  1. By setting up a large number of new manufacturing industries and agribusiness centres in rural areas.
  2. By strengthening ‘self-help groups’ and providing skills development
  3. By supplying seeds, fertilizers, diesel pump-set sand micro-irrigation equipment free of cost of farmers.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

About SVEP

  • The SVEP is implemented by Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana –National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development, as a sub-scheme since 2016.
  • Its aims are to support the rural poor come out of poverty, supporting them set up enterprises and provide support till the enterprises stabilize.
  • SVEP focuses on providing self-employment opportunities with financial assistance and training in business management and soft skills while creating local community cadres for promotion of enterprises.
  • It addresses three major pillars of rural start-ups namely – finances, incubation and skill ecosystems.

Key elements of SVEP

  • Create a Block Resource Centre – Enterprise Promotion (BRC-EP); The BRC should act as a nodal centre to implement SVEP. Block Level Federation (BLF) to come up under NRLM could be one of the institutional platforms for BRC.
  • Cluster Level Federation (CLF) /VOs shall hold the entity till BLF comes into existence. BRC should follow a self-sustaining revenue model.
  • BRC to be assisted by CRP-EP and the Bank Coordination System (Bank Mitra). BRC to provide resource and reference material including videos, manuals etc.
  • Help enterprises get bank finance using tablet-based software for making the business feasibility plan, doing credit appraisal and tracking business performance.
  • Use the Community Investment Fund (CIF) to provide seed capital for starting the business until it reaches a size where bank finance is needed.