January 2020
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Railway Reforms

[pib] Launching of Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) ApplicationPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SFOORTI App

Mains level: Digitization in railways


  • In a major digital initiative to help plan the traffic flows and optimize freight operations Railways has launched a new app
  • Smart Freight Operation Optimisation & Real Time Information (SFOORTI) App for Freight Managers which provides features for monitoring and managing freight business using Geographic Information System (GIS) Views and Dashboard


  • With this application, movement of freight trains on Geographic Information System (GIS) view can be tracked
  • Both passenger and freight trains can be tracked over Zones/Divisions/ Sections in single GIS View.
  • Freight business can be monitored
  • Comparative Analysis of Zonal/Divisional Traffic
  • Analysis of new traffic captured and traffic lost
  • This app provides a Bird’s eye view of all Freight Assets in a single window
  • Provides end to end Rake movement on Geospatial view
  • Expected Traffic at Interchange points to evaluate daily performance can be viewed
  • Performance of each zone and divisions with respect to loading and utilization of freight assets can be viewed.
  • Sectional performance monitoring for sections, divisions and zones shall help in traffic routing
  • Freight terminal and sidings can be better monitored to ensure better turnaround of rakes
Microfinance Story of India

[pib] Schemes for Farmer’s WelfarePIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme

Mains level: Schemes for providing credit to farmers


  • Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme meets the financial requirements of farmers at various stages of farming.


  • Providing adequate and timely credit support from the banking system under a single window with the flexible and simplified procedure to the farmers for their cultivation and other needs.
  • To meet the short-term credit requirements for cultivation of crops;
  • Post-harvest expenses;
  • Produce marketing loan;
  • Consumption requirements of farmer household;
  • Working capital for maintenance of farm assets and activities allied to agriculture;
  • Investment credit requirement for agriculture and allied activities.


  •  The facility of ATM enabled RuPay Card, one-time documentation, built-in cost escalation in the limit and any number of drawals within the limit
  • The farmers eligible under the KCC scheme include small farmers, marginal farmers, sharecroppers, oral lessee and tenant farmers
  • The Self Help Groups (SHGs) or Joint Liability Groups (JLGs) are also eligible for availing benefits under the said scheme

[pib] Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY)PIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PMVVY

Mains level: Schemes & provisions for welfare of elderly persons


Aim of the scheme

  • To provide social security during old age and to protect elderly persons aged 60 and above against a future fall in their interest income due to uncertain market conditions.
  • The scheme enables old age income security for senior citizens through the provision of assured pension/return linked to the subscription amount based on the government guarantee to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)
  • The scheme provides an assured return of 8% per annum for 10 years. The differential return, i.e. the difference between return generated by LIC and the assured return of 8% per annum would be borne by Government of India as subsidy on an annual basis
  • The scheme is exempted from Goods and Services Tax (GST)


Senior Citizens Savings Scheme

  • Senior Citizens Savings Scheme, 2014 is a deposit scheme for individuals who have attained the age of 60 years.
  • However, persons retiring on superannuation or under any Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) who have attained the age of 55 years and retiring defence personnel who have attained the age of 50 years can also open the account subject to certain conditions
Railway Reforms

[pib] Mission Raftar of Indian RailwaysPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mission Raftaar, Golden Quadrilateral

Mains level: Overhaul of railway infrastructure


  • To increase the speed of trains in Indian Railways, ‘Mission Raftaar’ was announced in the Railway Budget 2016-17
  • The mission envisages a target of doubling of average speed of freight trains and increasing the average speed of all non-suburban passenger trains by 25 kmph  in the next 5 years

Routes of Mission Raftaar

  • Six routes on Golden Quadrilateral and diagonals namely, Delhi – Mumbai, Delhi – Howrah, Howrah- Chennai, Chennai – Mumbai, Delhi – Chennai and Howrah – Mumbai
  • Golden Quadrilaterals and its Diagonal routes have been prioritized for replacement of loco hauled short distance passenger trains by MEMUs/DEMUs having better acceleration and deceleration characteristics for fast pickup and braking
Digital India Initiatives

[pib] BharatNet Phase 1: Target Achieved Through Meticulous Planning and Focused Implementation at Ground LevelPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: BharatNet

Mains level: Digital India program and its successes


  • Government has achieved a significant milestone under the BharatNet by completing Phase-1 of the project by connecting over one lakh Gram Panchayats (GP) across the country with high-speed optical fibre network
  • BharatNet network built under Phase 1 envisages delivery of high-speed broadband services in over 2.5 lakh villages benefitting more than 200 million rural Indians.

Vision & Mission

  • The project will generate massive employment opportunities both direct and indirect in the country in days to come
  • To provide affordable broadband services to citizens and institutions in rural and remote areas, in partnership with States and the private sector
  •  BharatNet infrastructure is expected to catalyse digital delivery of services for the rural poor – viz. health, education, livelihood, skills, e-agriculture and e-commerce
  • The tariff for BharatNet was also revised to attract more Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to use the infrastructure to provide high-speed broadband services in the rural areas through Wi-Fi, FTTH, and for developing utilisation models by TSPs and Common Service Centres (CSC)
FDI in Indian economy

[pib] FDI policy further liberalized in key sectorsPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: FDI, FII, FPI, DIPP

Mains level: Liberalisation in Indian economy


  • 100% FDI under automatic route for Single Brand Retail Trading
  • 100% FDI under automatic route in Construction Development
  • Foreign airlines allowed to invest up to 49% under approval route in Air India
  • FIIs/FPIs allowed to invest in Power Exchanges through primary market


  • Government approval no longer required for FDI in Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT)
  • Foreign airlines are allowed to invest under Government approval route in the capital of Indian companies operating scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services
  • Real-estate broking service does not amount to real estate business and is, therefore, eligible for 100% FDI under the automatic route.
  •  Allowing FIIs/FPIs to invest in Power Exchanges through the primary market as well.

Other Approval Requirements under FDI Policy

  • Issue of shares against non-cash considerations like pre-incorporation expenses, import of machinery etc. shall be permitted under automatic route in case of sectors under the automatic route.
  • To align FDI policy on Indian company/ies/ LLP and in the Core Investing Companies with FDI policy provisions on Other Financial Services

Competent Authority for examining FDI proposals from countries of concern

  • FDI applications for investments in automatic route sectors, requiring approval only on the matter of investment being from country of concern would be processed by Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) for Government approval


  • Now it’s been decided to amend the definition of ‘medical devices’ as contained in the FDI Policy

Restrictive conditions regarding audit firms

  • It has been decided to provide in the FDI policy that wherever the foreign investor wishes to specify a particular auditor/audit firm having the international network for the Indian investee company, then audit of such investee companies should be carried out as joint audit wherein one of the auditors should not be part of the same network
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Myanmar

[pib] Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Myanmar on Land Border CrossingPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Agreement on Land Border Crossing

Mains level: India and its neighborhood-relations


  • Approval of the Agreement between India and Myanmar on Land Border Crossing.

What will agreement do?

  • The Agreement will facilitate regulation and harmonization of already existing free movement rights for people ordinarily residing in the border areas of both countries
  • It will also facilitate movement of people on the basis of valid passports and visas which will enhance economic and social interaction between the two countries


  • The Agreement is an enabling arrangement for movement of people across India-Myanmar border.
  • It is expected to provide connectivity and enhance interaction of the people of North Eastern States of India with the people of Myanmar
  • The Agreement would give a boost to the economy of the North East and allow us to leverage our geographical connections with Myanmar to boost trade and people to people ties
  • The Agreement will safeguard the traditional rights of the largely tribal communities residing along the border which are accustomed to free movement across the land border
Inland Waterways

[pib] Cabinet approves Jal Marg Vikas Project for enhanced navigation on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1PIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)

Mains level: Inland Waterways bill and measures being taken to develop waterways


  • Approval for implementation of the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on National Waterway-1 (NW-1)

Major Impact

  • An alternative mode of transport that will be environment-friendly and cost-effective. The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country
  • Mammoth Infrastructure development like multi-modal and inter-modal terminals, Roll on – Roll off (Ro-Ro) facilities, ferry services, navigation aids
  • Socio-economic impetus; huge employment generation.

States/districts covered

  • States: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal
  • Major Districts:   Varanasi, Ghazipur, Ballia, Buxar, Chhapra, Vaishali, Patna, Begusarai, Khagaria, Munger, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Murshidabad, Pakur, Hoogly, Kolkata


National Waterways

  1. Under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 inland waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NWs) in addition to the five existing NWs
  2. The Act came into force from 12 April 2016
  3. Under Entry 24 of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the central government can make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways which are classified as national waterways by Parliament by law
  4. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India
  5. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration
Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

[pib] Draft National Policy for Women 2017 envisions participation of women as equal partners in all spheres of lifePIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Policy for Women, 2017

Mains level: Measures for women empowerment


  • The draft National Policy for Women, 2017 is being prepared in consultation with various stakeholders to deal with significant changes with regard to the status and empowerment of women.

The Draft envisions a society in which:

  1. The draft Policy addresses the diverse needs of women through identified priority areas:
  2. Health including Food Security and Nutrition;
  3. Education;
  4.  Economy (including agriculture, industry, labour, employment, soft power, service sector, science and technology);
  5.  Governance and Decision Making;
  6. Violence Against Women;
  7. Enabling Environment (including housing, shelter and infrastructure, drinking water and sanitation, media and culture, sports and social security); and
  8.  Environment and Climate Change

Way Forward

  • Draft Policy envisages that existing legislations affecting/relating to women will be harmonized in accordance with Constitutional provisions and international commitments, in order to enhance their effectiveness
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[pib] Maternity Benefits Under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana YojanaPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

Mains level: Measures for improving health indicators related to women and child


  • The maternity benefits under Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking
  • Or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force, for the first living child of the family
  • This is because normally the first pregnancy of a woman exposes her to new kind of challenges and stress factors

The objectives of the scheme are

  • Providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentives so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery of the first living child; and
  • The cash incentives provided would lead to improved health seeking behaviour amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW&LM)


  • To address the problem of malnutrition and morbidity among children, the Anganwadi Services Scheme, which is universal, is available to all PW&LM including the second pregnancy
  • Further, in order to address the malnutrition and morbidity during pregnancies a number of interventions are provided to the pregnant women viz. universal screening of pregnant women for Anaemia and Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplementation, Calcium supplementation in pregnancy, Deworming in pregnancy, Weight gain monitoring and Counselling on nutrition, family planning and prevention of diseases
Railway Reforms

[pib] Hi-Tech System To Detect Railway Track DefectsPIB


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Track Recording Cars (TRC), Oscillation Monitoring System (OMS), Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT)

Mains level: Rail accidents and ways to reduce them


  1. Indian Railways is using Track Recording Cars (TRC) and Oscillation Monitoring System (OMS) for detection of track defects in addition to manual inspection.
  2. Ultrasonic Flaw Detection is also done using Single Rail Tester (SRT) and Double Rail Tester (DRT) to check internal defects in rails
  3. Procurement of six nos. Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT) Car for detection of internal defects in rails is also planned

Other measures

  1. It has been decided to undertake a trial of Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection (UBRD) System, Rail Fracture & Intrusion Detection System using distributed optical fibre sensing and Loco-Vision Analytics and Rail Integrity Monitor system (RIM) on some stretches for detection of the broken rail
  2. Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) based rail fracture detection system is planned on trial basis on some stretches of Northeast Frontier Railway and North Central Railway
  3. The implementation of Ultrasonic Broken Rail Detection (UBRD) System, Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) based System and Loco-Vision Analytics and Rail Integrity Monitor system (RIM) shall be decided after successful completion of trial
Hunger and Nutrition Issues – GHI, GNI, etc.

[pib] Global Hunger IndexPIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to poverty & hunger.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Hunger Index, Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), National Food Security Act, 2013, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, Annapurna Scheme, National Nutrition Mission

Mains level: India’s poor performance in GHI and ways to improve position in coming years


  1. As per 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), India ranks 100 out 119 countries.

GHI scores are based on four indicators as follows:

  1. Undernourishment: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient);
  2. Child wasting: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute under-nutrition);
  3. Child stunting: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic under-nutrition); and
  4. Child mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments)

Government interventions for tackling the problem of hunger in the country and to improve the position in GHI

  1. Provision of foodgrains at highly subsidized prices to the targeted population through State Governments/ UT Administrations under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) in terms of National Food Security Act, 2013 and Other Welfare Schemes (OWS) such as Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, Annapurna Scheme etc.
  2. National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 provides for coverage of up to 70% of the rural and up to 50% of the urban population thus covering about two-thirds of the population, for receiving foodgrains at highly subsidized prices of Rs.3, 2 and 1 per Kg. for rice, wheat and coarse grain respectively under TPDS
  3. The Act also has a special focus on nutritional support to women and children.
  4. Recently National Nutrition Mission has been approved under MWCD for addressing malnutrition status of the country in a comprehensive manner
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[pib] Charges on Health ServicesPIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, Article 252 of the Constitution, National Council for Clinical Establishments

Mains level: Regulation of health sector and associated issues


  1. Health is a State subject and it is the responsibility of the State Governments to regulate hospitals including private hospitals in their States as per provisions of the Act and rules applicable in the States to provide affordable treatment to patients
  2. The Government of India has enacted Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 and notified Clinical Establishments (Central Government) Rules, 2012 for registration and regulation of the Clinical Establishments
  3. Currently, the Act is applicable in 10 States namely Sikkim, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan Uttarakhand and Assam and all Union Territories except Delhi.
  4. Other States may adopt the Act under clause (1) of Article 252 of the Constitution


  • In accordance with the Clinical Establishments (Central Government) Rules, 2012 under the said Act, one of the conditions for registration and continuation of clinical establishments is that the clinical establishments (in the States / Union Territories where the said Act is applicable) shall charge the rates for each type of procedure and services within the range of rates determined by the Central Government from time to time in consultation with the State Governments
  • The clinical establishments are also required to display the rates charged for each type of services provided and facilities available, at a conspicuous place both in the local language and English
  • The National Council for Clinical Establishments has approved a standard list of medical procedures and a standard template for costing of medical procedures and shared the same with the States and Union Territories
  • Further action lies within the purview of the State/UT Governments

Nodal Ministry: The Minister of State (Health and Family Welfare)

Innovation Ecosystem in India

[pib] India ranked 60th most innovative country on the Global Innovation Index-2017PIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Innovation Index (GII), India Innovation Index, Smart India Hackathon, IMPRINT, Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY), Start-Up India initiative

Mains level: Measures being undertaken to improve innovation ecosystem


  1. India currently ranks 60th out of 127 countries on the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2017 as compared to 66th rank on GII 2016.
  2. In order to make India an innovation-driven economy, NITI Aayog, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) together launched a mega initiative “India Innovation Index” that will rank states on Innovations through country’s first online innovation index portal that will capture data on innovation from all Indian states on innovation and regularly update it in real time.


  1. The Smart India Hackathon and Smart India Hardware Hackathon have been launched to improve the innovative abilities of the students in the Higher Education Institutions
  2. The Smart India Hackathon has received huge response when it was launched in 2017 and this would be continued as annual event

Other measures

  1. The Government is promoting research parks (RPs) and technology business incubators (TBIs) which would nurture and promote the innovative ideas till they become commercial ventures
  2. The projects for promoting research and innovation like the IMPRINT and Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) have brought focused attention of the scientific community on the need for promoting innovation
  3. The Start-Up India initiative of the Government has also put in place a mechanism for identifying and incubating the innovative ideas

[pib] Status of National Consumer HelplinePIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Consumer Helpline, INGRAM portal

Mains level: Measures being undertaken for consumer protection and welfare


  • The Government has set up a National Consumer Helpline (NCH) with a toll-free number (1800-11-4000 and a shortcode 14404) for handling consumer grievances
  • Six Zonal Consumer Helplines have also been set up at Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Jaipur, Kolkata and Patna
  • Calls received at NCH relate to sectors such as E-Commerce, Banking, Insurance, Telecom, Consumer Durables/Electronics, and Real Estate etc
  • NCH provides information and guidance to consumers
  • The grievances received either through the call centre or through online registration are entered in the Integrated Grievance Redress Mechanism (INGRAM) portal are referred to companies through a convergence platform which helps in fast-tracking resolution of consumer grievances and to Regulators/ Government Departments etc
  • The National Consumer Helpline and the Zonal Consumer Helplines cover the whole of country
North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

[pib] Cabinet approves continuation of NLCPR scheme for North East till March 2020PIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NLCPR, NESIDS scheme

Mains level: Development efforts for North-east India


  • The Union Cabinet has approved the continuation of the existing Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR) scheme
  • The Union Cabinet also approved the introduction of new Central Sector Scheme of “North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme” (NESIDS) from the Central Government to fill up the gaps in creation of infrastructure in specified sectors

Features of NESIDS

  • Physical infrastructure relating to water supply, power, connectivity and especially the projects promoting tourism
  • The infrastructure of social sectors of education and health will be created

Benefits of NESIDS:

  • The assets to be created under the new scheme of NESIDS will not only strengthen health care and education facilities in the region but will also encourage tourism thereby the employment opportunities for local youth.
  • The scheme will act as a catalyst for overall development of the region in the years to come
Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

[pib] Water circuits to be developed on the lines of power circuitsPIB


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation & irrigation systems storage

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Water circuits

Mains level: Water management


  • There is a need for river connectivity, construction of Barrages, Dams, Rubber dams and Bandhas, drip and piped irrigation in the country
  • There is also a need for water circuits in the country on the lines of power circuits for better water conservation
  • Availability of water is not the problem but we have to learn to manage and conserve it

Achieving water efficiency:

  • To double the income of farmers by the year 2022 cannot be achieved without proper water management
  • Enhancing drip and pipe irrigation will reduce wastage of water and will be cost effective for farmers
  • River connectivity programme can reduce water crisis in critical areas like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, and Maharashtra.

Why is this cause taking place?

  • Declining level of groundwater in many parts of the country
  • Per capita availability of water is also reducing


  • A definite strategy has been prepared for conservation of water resources and cleaning Ganga
Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[pib] ISA to become a Treaty-based International Intergovernmental organizationPIB


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance

Mains level: Various initiatives taken to increase usage of renewable energy


  • In terms of its Framework Agreement, with ratification by Guinea as the 15th country on 6th November 2017, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) will become a treaty-based international intergovernmental organization
  • The ISA, headquartered in India, has its Secretariat located in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy, Gwalpahari, Gurgaon, Haryana
  • The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi and the President of France on 30th November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN Climate Conference
  • Initially, 46 countries have signed and 19 countries have ratified the Framework Agreement of ISA.


  • Addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn

At the Beginning:

  • Three programmes – Scaling Solar Applications for Agriculture Use, Affordable Finance at Scale, and Scaling Solar Mini-grids – have been launched
  • These programmes will help in achieving the overall goal of increasing solar energy deployment in the ISA member countries for achieving universal energy access and speeding up economic development
  • In addition to the existing 3 programmes, ISA has initiated plans to launch two more programmes: Scaling Solar Rooftops and Scaling Solar E-mobility and Storage


  • ISA has also been developing a Common Risk Mitigating Mechanism (CRMM) for de-risking and reducing the financial cost of solar projects in the ISA member countries
  • The instrument will help diversify and pool risks on mutual public resources and unlock significant investments.

Another major initiative:

  • Establishment of Digital Infopedia which will serve as a platform to enable policy makers, Ministers and corporate leaders from ISA countries to interact, connect, communicate and collaborate with one another

[pib] Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) signs two Indian Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) in NovemberPIB


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Advance Pricing Agreement

Mains level: Measures being taken to simplify tax regime


  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into 2 Bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) during the month of November, 2017.
  • These Agreements are the first ever Bilateral APAs with The Netherlands. With the signing of these Agreements, the total number of APAs entered into by the CBDT has gone up to 186

Two Sectors are:

  • Electronics and Technology sectors of the economy.
  • Distribution, Provision of Marketing Support Services, Provision of Business Support Services, etc are the international transactions covered in these agreements.


  • To provide certainty to taxpayers in the domain of transfer pricing by specifying the methods of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance. Since its inception, the APA Scheme has been well-accepted by taxpayers

Why APA scheme:

  • The progress of the APA Scheme strengthens the Government’s resolve of fostering a non-adversarial tax regime.
  • The Indian APA programme has been appreciated nationally and internationally for being able to address complex transfer pricing issues in a fair and transparent manner


Advance Pricing Agreement

  1. An advance pricing agreement (APA) is an ahead-of-time agreement between a taxpayer and a tax authority on an appropriate transfer pricing methodology (TPM) for a set of transactions at issue over a fixed period of time (called “Covered Transactions”)
  2. APAs are generally bi- or multilateral—i.e. they also include agreements between the taxpayer and one or more foreign tax administrations under the authority of the mutual agreement procedure (MAP) specified in income tax treaties
  3. The taxpayer benefits from such agreements since they are assured that income associated with covered transactions is not subject to double taxation by the home state and the relevant foreign tax authorities
Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

[pib] Star Rating Protocol for Garbage Free Cities IntroducedPIB


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Star rating protocol for garbage free cities

Mains level: Urbanisation challenges


  • A guide Book for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) on Bulk Solid Waste Generator’s Compliance of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016, and the online database for states and cities, both pertaining to SBM Urban was launched
  • The guidebook lays out the roles and responsibilities of bulk waste generators and will handhold ULBs in implementing the SWM Rules,
  • While the online database will henceforth capture data directly from states and cities online, regarding their progress on SBM components, thereby enhancing the robustness and transparency of Mission monitoring.
  • The star rating protocol is different from the Swachh Survekshan ranking survey in that it will allow multiple cities to be awarded the same star rating, and is expected to be formally introduced by the Ministry in the next few weeks.

Major takeaways:

  • In order to enthuse cities with a spirit of healthy competition, the concept of a star rating protocol for garbage free cities was introduced during the workshop.
  • Given its potential as a developmental cum aspirational tool for cities to incrementally improve their overall cleanliness, while working towards a garbage-free status, this is expected to greatly enthuse the city administrators.
  • The focus on the issue of cleanliness of community and public toilets, there is a concerted drive to seek user feedback for CT/PTs through the Google toilet locator and Swachhata app.
  • Uploading all community / public toilets in cities on Google maps under the Business listing category, integrating with Swachhata app