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September 2021

Textile Sector – Cotton, Jute, Wool, Silk, Handloom, etc.

Catching up on PLI scheme for textile sector


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MMF vs natural fibre

Mains level : Paper 3- PLI for textile sector


The Cabinet approved the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the textile sector that is expressly targeted at the man-made fibre (MMF) and technical textiles segments.

Why India needs to focus on Man-made fibre (MMF) in textile trade

  • Preference for MMF:  The MMF surpassed cotton as the fibre of choice in the 1990s.
  • The MMFs share in worldwide textile consumption is about 75%.
  • Dominance of natural fibre in India’s export: India’s textile and clothing exports have continued to remain dominated by cotton and other natural fibre-based products.
  • The MMF have contributed less than 30% of the country’s $35.6 billion in overall sectoral exports in 2017-18.
  • While policy makers have been cognisant of the need to bolster support for the MMF segment.

About the scheme

  • The PLI scheme has a budgeted outlay of ₹10,683 crore.
  • Incentive at two levels: The incentives have been categorised into two investment levels.
  • First level: Firms investing at least ₹300 crore into plant and machinery over two years would need to hit a minimum turnover of ₹600 crore before becoming eligible to receive the incentive over a five-year period.
  • Second level: At a second level an investment of ₹100 crore with a pre-set minimum turnover of ₹200 crore would enable qualification for the incentive.
  • Intermediate products included: The aim of the scheme is to specifically focus investment attention on 40 MMF apparel product lines, 14 MMF fabric lines and 10 segments or products of technical textiles.
  • The inclusion of intermediate products reflects the Government’s keenness to ensure the scheme ultimately delivers on the broader policy objectives.


Operational success of the scheme is likely to hinge on how new entrepreneurs and existing companies weigh the risk-reward equation, especially at a time when the pandemic-spurred uncertainty has already made private businesses leery of making fresh capital expenditure.

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Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

Why we must focus on Human Development not GDP growth?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GDP computation and various terminologies

Mains level : Growth vs Development debate

The much-anticipated estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021-22 were released on 31 August. This has seen an unprecedented decline in GDP at 24.4%.

Why debate this?

  • An increasing GDP is often seen as a measure of welfare and economic success.
  • However, it fails to account for the multi-dimensional nature of development or the inherent short-comings of capitalism, which tends to concentrate income and, thus, power.
  • The real issue thriving the Indian Economy is the relevance of GDP estimates as the sole or most important indicator of a recovery.
  • Our economy was slowing down even before the pandemic and was then devastated by it.

GDP as an indicator

  • Economic growth assesses the expansion of a country’s economy.
  • Today, it is most popularly measured by policymakers and academics alike by increasing gross domestic product or GDP.
  • This indicator estimates the value-added in a country which is the total value of all goods and services produced in a country minus the value of the goods and services needed to produce them.
  • It is common to divide this indicator by a country’s population to better gauge how productive and developed an economy is – the GDP per capita.

A brief history of Growth and GDP

  • The concept of economic growth gained popularity during the industrial revolution, when market economies flourished.
  • In the 1930s, Nobel laureate, Simon Kuznets wrote extensively about national statistics and propagated the use of GDP as the measure of the national income of the US.
  • Against the backdrop of a bloody world wars, governments were on the look for analytical tools to raise taxes to finance the newly minted war machine.
  • It was at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference that GDP became the standard tool for measuring a country’s economy.
  • Right from the classicals to the neo-classicals, the idea of development was intertwined with economic growth, i.e. accumulation of wealth and production of goods and services.

Prominence of GDP today

  • GDP as a measure of economic growth is popular because it is easier to quantify the production of goods and services than a multi-dimensional index can measure other welfare achievements.
  • Precisely because of this, GDP is not, on its own, an adequate gauge of a country’s development.
  • Development is a multi-dimensional concept, which includes not only an economic dimension, but also involves social, environmental, and emotional dimensions.

Limitations of GDP

  • One of the limitations of GDP is that it only addresses average income, failing to reflect how most people actually live or who benefits from economic growth.
  • There is also a possibility that the wealth of a society becomes more concentrated and why this is counterproductive to development.
  • If left unchecked, growing inequalities can not only slow down growth, but also generate instability and disorder in society.

Therefore, a growing GDP cannot be assumed to necessarily lead to sustainable development.

Relevance since COVID times

(a) Failure to capture informal economy

  • A decline in economic activity, as captured by GDP data, is only one part of the distress caused by the slowdown and covid.
  • GDP estimates hardly capture the extent of depressed economic activity in the informal sector.
  • This makes it irrelevant to the cause of understanding the changing fortunes of workers and others who are dependent on these activities.
  • India’s informal sector is not only a significant part of the overall economy but is crucial for generating broad demand, given the significantly large proportion of our population that depends on it.

(b) Rise in distress employment

  • Most worrisome is a reversal of the trend of non-farm diversification due to reverse migration.
  • After more than five decades, we have seen an actual increase in the proportion of workers employed in agriculture.

(c) Farmers losses

  • Farmers have fared badly. Already suffering from low output prices, the majority of farmers have seen incomes decline as input costs rose (such as on diesel and fertilizers).
  • Even though our farm sector appears relatively unaffected by covid, the ground reality of farmer incomes is at complete variance with the aggregate statistics from the national accounts.
  • The failure to capture livelihood and income losses in the informal sector is only one aspect of our GDP data inadequacy.

GDP can never account this

  • This failure to reflect the economic conditions of our population’s majority is partly a result of the way data on GDP is calculated, but also due to infirmities of the database itself.
  • But its limitations at the conceptual level are far more serious.

Alternate measures

  • One expanded indicator, which attempts to measure the multi-dimensional aspect of development, is the Human Development Index (HDI) by UNDP.
  • It incorporates the traditional approach to measuring economic growth, as well as education and health, which are crucial variables in determining how developed a society is.
  • In 2018, the World Bank launched the Human Capital Index (HCI).
  • This index ranks countries’ performances on a set of four health and education indicators according to an estimate of the economic productivity lost due to poor social outcomes.

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National Income Accounting

Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

Two decades of 9/11


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : US and the global war on terror

Twenty years later, the 9/11 terror attacks look a lot less epochal than they seemed in the heat of the moment.

Why was 9-11 a major breakthrough?

  • One major inference in the wake of 9/11 was about the power of non-state actors — demonstrated by al Qaeda’s massive surprise attack on the world’s lone superpower at its zenith.
  • Al Qaeda’s rise seemed to fit in with the age of economic globalization and the internet, which heralded the weakening of the state system and the arrival of a borderless world.
  • Two decades later, though, the system of nation-states looks quite robust after enduring the challenge from international terrorism.

Implications of the attack

  • The state system adapted quickly to the disruptions created by 9/11.
  • There was much anxiety about terror groups gaining access to weapons of mass destruction or leveraging new digital technologies to increase their power over states.
  • The state system has succeeded in keeping nuclear weapons and material away from terrorists.
  • It has also become adept at using digital tools to counter extremism.
  • If 9/11 made air travel risky, the states quickly developed protocols to de-risk it.

Humiliating end for the US everywhere

  • Marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11 days after the humiliating US retreat from Kabul and domestic turmoil might suggest that Al-Qaeda and its associates did succeed in ending America’s unipolar moment.
  • The choice of targets in the 9/11 attacks — the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — was not accidental.
  • They were designed to strike at the very heart of American capitalism and its famed military power.
  • American capitalism met its greatest threat not in 2001 but in the 2008 financial crisis that was triggered by the reckless ideology of deregulation.
  • America lost in Afghanistan and the Middle East because it over-determined the terror threat and put security approaches above political common sense.

Today’s agenda for terror

  • And the ambition of the jihadists — who organized the 9/11 attacks, to destroy America has risen to a higher extent:
  1. To overthrow the Arab regimes
  2. Unleash a war with Israel
  3. Pit the believers against the infidels
  • To be sure, terrorist organizations and the religious extremism that inspires them to continue to be of concern.

Age of ideological warfare

  • Sectarian schisms, ideological cleavages, internecine warfare, and the messiness of the real world have cooled the revolutionary ardor that the world was so afraid of after 9/11.
  • In the battle between states and non-states, the former have accumulated extraordinary powers in the name of fighting the latter.
  • All nations, including liberal democracies, have curtailed individual liberty by offering greater security against terrorism.
  • Abuse of state power has inevitably followed.

Security narratives by the US since then

  • After 9/11, President George W Bush turned his attention to confronting an imagined “global axis of evil” — Iran, Iraq, and North Korea.
  • None of the three countries was involved in 9/11.
  • And the US rewarded Pakistan with billions of dollars in military and economic assistance that actively nurtured the Taliban and succeeded in bleeding and defeating the US in Afghanistan.

Threats earned by the US

  • This blinded the US to an emerging challenger — China — on the horizon. Washington’s obsession with the Middle East gave Beijing two valuable decades to consolidate its rise without any hindrance.
  • Although America’s unipolar moment may have ended, the US will continue to remain the most powerful nation in the world, with the greatest capacity to shape the international system.

What about the jihadist agenda for the Middle East?

  • The Islamist effort to destroy the Gulf kingdoms spluttered quite quickly as the Arab monarchs cracked down hard on the jihadi groups.
  • Many Arab states do not see al Qaeda and its offshoots as existential threats.
  • They worry more about other Muslim states like Turkey, Qatar, and Iran that seek to leverage Islam for geopolitical purposes.
  • These fears have pushed smaller Gulf kingdoms towards Israel and shattered the jihadi hope to trigger the final Islamic assault on the Jewish state.
  • Developments in China and Pakistan reinforce the proposition that politics among nation-states is more significant than the power of the transcendental religious forces.

How did India Respond?

  • India has been facing the problem of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism since 1989.  Unfortunately, the USA and the UK sided with Pakistan during this time.
  • However, this changed after India’s 2nd nuclear test and the 9/11 attack in the USA. Though the USA continued to rely on Pakistan, it considered Pakistan as an unreliable partner. This was further proved when Osama bin Laden was found hiding in Pakistan.
  • Indian response to terror attacks had been that of “strategic restraint”.
  • It was limited to diplomatic actions. This was evident in attacks on the Indian Parliament (December 2001) and the Kaluchak massacre (May 2002).
  • However, now we witness that India has adopted a policy of imposing costs on Pakistan by striking across the border, e.g. Balalkot airstrikes.
  • This capacity of India has been built over its strong economy and strong global linkages. Despite the economic disaster of 1991, India emerged stronger after LPG reforms.


  • The trans-national nature of the new terror groups is now countered by better border controls and greater international cooperation on law enforcement.
  • However, in the subcontinent, as elsewhere, violent religious extremism thrives only under state patronage.
  • The answers to the challenges presented by the return of the Taliban and the likely resurgence of jihadi terrorism are not in the religious domain but in changing the geopolitical calculus of Pakistan’s deep state.


Violent Non-state actors

  • In international relations, violent non-state actors (VNSA), also known as non-state armed actors or non-state armed groups (NSAGs), are individuals and groups that are wholly or partly independent of governments and which threaten or use violence to achieve their goals.
  • VNSAs vary widely in their goals, size, and methods. They may include narcotics cartels, popular liberation movements, religious and ideological organizations, corporations (e.g. private military contractors), self-defence militia, and paramilitary groups established by state governments to further their interests.

International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

What is a Solar Storm?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Solar Storm

Mains level : Not Much

Studies have found that a powerful solar storm can cause a disruption of the internet, damage submarine cables, and communication satellites.

What is a Solar Storm?

  • A solar storm or a Coronal Mass Ejection as astronomers call it is an ejection of highly magnetized particles from the sun.
  • These particles can travel several million km per hour and can take about 13 hours to five days to reach Earth.
  • Earth’s atmosphere protects us, humans, from these particles.
  • But the particles can interact with our Earth’s magnetic field, induce strong electric currents on the surface and affect man-made structures.

History of solar storms

  • The first recorded solar storm occurred in 1859 and it reached Earth in about 17 hours.
  • It affected the telegraph network and many operators experienced electric shocks.
  • A solar storm that occurred in 1921 impacted New York telegraph and railroad systems and another small-scale storm collapsed the power grid in Quebec, Canada in 1989.
  • A 2013 report noted that if a solar storm similar to the 1859 one hit the US today, about 20-40 million people could be without power for 1-2 years, and the total economic cost will be $0.6-2.6 trillion.

Why is it a cause of concern?

  • The Sun goes through an 11-year cycle – cycles of high and low activity.
  • It also has a longer 100-year cycle.
  • During the last three decades, when the internet infrastructure was booming, it was a low period.
  • And very soon, either in this cycle or the next cycle, we are going towards the peaks of the 100-year cycle.
  • So it is highly likely that we might see one powerful solar storm during our lifetime.

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

First Dugong Conservation Reserve to be built in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dugong

Mains level : Not Much

India’s first Dugong conservation reserve will be built in Tamil Nadu for the conservation of Dugong, a marine mammal.

Try answering this PYQ:

With reference to ‘dugong’, a mammal found in India, which of the following statements is/are correct?

  1. It is a herbivorous marine animal.
  2. It is found along the entire coast of India.
  3. It is given legal protection under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1974.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 3 only


Post your answers here.

Dugong Conservation Reserve

  • The reserve will spread over an area of 500 km in Palk Bay on the southeast coast of Tamil Nadu.
  • Palk Bay is a semi-enclosed shallow water body with a water depth maximum of 13 meters.
  • Located between India and Sri Lanka along the Tamil Nadu coast, the dugong is a flagship species in the region.

Dugong: The sea cow

  • Dugong or the sea cow is the State animal of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • This endangered marine species survive on seagrass and other aquatic vegetation found in the area.
  • It is the only herbivorous mammal that is strictly marine and is the only extant species in the family Dugongidae.
  • Dugongs are usually about three-meter long and weigh about 400 kg.
  • Dugongs have an expanded head and trunk-like upper lip.
  • Elephants are considered to be their closest relatives. However, unlike dolphins and other cetaceans, sea cows have two nostrils and no dorsal fin.

Their habitat

  • Distributed in shallow tropical waters in the Indo-Pacific region, in India, they are found in the Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Palk Bay, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • Dugongs are long-living animals, that have a low reproductive rate, long generation time, and high investment in each offspring.
  • The female dugongs do not bear their first calf until they are at least 10 and up to 17 years old.
  • A dugong population is unlikely to increase more than 5% per year. They take a long time to recover due to the slow breeding rate.

Causes of extinction

  • Having being declared vulnerable, the marine animal calls for conserving efforts.
  • Studies have suggested the reasons for the extinction of the animal such as slow breeding rate, fishing, and the loss of habitat.
  • They are also known to suffer due to accidental entanglement and drowning in gill-nets.

Conservation in India

  • The conservation reserve can promote growth and save vulnerable species from the verge of extinction.
  • Dugongs are protected in India under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Act 1972 which bans the killing and purchasing of dugong meat.
  • IUCN status: Vulnerable

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Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

Festival in news: Nuakhai


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nuakhai

Mains level : Not Much

In Odisha, Nuakhai, an important agrarian festival in the State is being celebrated today.


  • Nuakhai or is an agricultural festival mainly observed by people of Western Odisha and Southern Chhattisgarh in India.
  • It is observed to welcome the new rice of the season.
  • As per the customary practice, people offer the new grains of crops to the deities before their own consumption.
  • According to the calendar it is observed on Panchami tithi (the fifth day) of the lunar fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada or Bhadraba (August–September), the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
  • This is the most important social festival of Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Simdega in Jharkhand, where the culture of Western Odisha is much predominant.
  • It is also a festival of social cohesion as all the members of the family come together to celebrate Nuakhai.

Try this PYQ:

Consider the following pairs:

Tradition                                    State

  1. Chapchar Kut Festival   —  Mizoram
  2. Khongjom Parba ballad —  Manipur
  3. Thang-Ta Dance           —   Sikkim

Which of the pairs given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2

(c) 1 and 2

(d) 2 and 3


Post your answers here.

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Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

[pib] Transport and Marketing Assistance (TMA) scheme for Specified Agriculture Products


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Transport and Marketing Assistance Scheme

Mains level : Export promotion schemes in India

The Centre has revised “Transport and Marketing Assistance” (TMA) scheme for Specified Agriculture Products’.

What is the TMA Scheme?

  • The TMA Scheme was introduced in 2019 to provide assistance for the international component of freight, to mitigate the disadvantage of higher freight costs faced by the Indian exporters of agriculture products.
  • All exporters, duly registered with relevant Export Promotion Council as per Foreign Trade Policy, of eligible agriculture products, shall be covered under this scheme.
  • The assistance, at notified rates, will be available for the export of eligible agriculture products to the permissible countries, as specified from time to time.
  • Assistance would be provided in cash through a direct bank transfer as part reimbursement of freight paid.

Following major changes have been made in the revised scheme:

  • Dairy products, which were not covered under the earlier scheme, will be eligible for assistance under the revised scheme.
  • Rates of assistance have been increased, by 50% for exports by sea and by 100% for exports by air.

List of ineligible products

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