September 2019
« Aug    

Cabinet relaxes NELP, pre-NELP pact rules


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: HELP, NELP

Mains level: India’s energy security concerns and measures taken to overcome them.


Eased levy terms

  1. The Union Cabinet approved the policy framework to streamline production sharing contracts signed in the pre-New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) and NELP periods.
  2. Key decisions under the framework include increasing the exploration period granted for blocks in the northeast, and easing the sharing of royalties with the developers of the blocks.
  3. Based on recommendations in ‘Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for North East’, it has extended timelines for exploration and appraisal period in operational blocks of NE region considering geographical, environmental and logistical challenges.

Pricing freedom

  1. The exploration period has been increased by two years and appraisal period by one year.
  2. The Centre has also allowed marketing, including pricing freedom for natural gas to be produced from discoveries which are yet to commence production as on July 1, 2018.
  3. The government has created an enabling framework for sharing of statutory levies including royalty and cess in proportion to the participating interest of the contractor in Pre-NELP Exploration Blocks, and the same has been made cost recoverable with prospective effect.


New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP)

  1. New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) was conceptualized by the Government of India, during 1997-98 to provide an equal platform to both Public and Private sector companies in exploration and production of hydrocarbons.
  2. It provided for establishment of Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) as a nodal agency for its implementation.
  3. It was introduced to boost the production of oil and natural gas and providing level playing field for both public and private players.
  4. India has an estimated sedimentary area of 3.14 million km2. consisting of 26 sedimentary basins, of which, 57% (1.79 million km2.) area is in deepwater and remaining 43% (1.35 million km2.) area is in inland and shallow offshore.
  5. At present 1.06 million km2 area is held under Petroleum Exploration Licenses in 18 basins by national oil companies viz. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), OIL India Limited (OIL) and Private/Joint Venture companies.
  6. Before implementation of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) in 1999, a mere 11% of Indian sedimentary basins were under exploration, which has now increased extensively over the years.

Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP)

  1. It is a policy adopted by Government of India on 10.03.2016 indicating the new contractual and fiscal model for award of hydrocarbon acreages towards exploration and production (E&P).
  2. HELP is applicable for all future contracts to be awarded.
  3. HELP replaces the present policy regime for exploration and production of oil and gas, known as New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), which has been in existence for 18 years.
  4. Features of HELP:
  • Uniform License: It provides for a uniform licensing system to cover all hydrocarbons such as oil, gas, coal bed methane etc. under a single licensing framework, instead of the present system of issuing separate licenses for each kind of hydrocarbons.
  • Open Acreages: It gives the option to a hydrocarbon company to select the exploration blocks throughout the year without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government.
  • Revenue Sharing Model: Present fiscal system of production sharing contract (PSC) is replaced by an easy to administer “revenue sharing model”. The earlier contracts were based on the concept of profit sharing where profits are shared between Government and the contractor after recovery of cost.
  • Marketing and Pricing Freedom: It has been granted, subject to a ceiling price limit, for new gas production from Deepwater, Ultra Deepwater and High Pressure-High Temperature Areas.

[pib] Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)



From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CARA, Hague Adoption Convention

Mains level: Problem of Child Trafficking


  1.  Emphasizing child safety and adoption, the Minister of Women and Child Development drew the attention to compulsorily register all the child care institutions in the State and link them with CARA for proper monitoring.
  2. This is done in the ambit of rising incidences of Child Trafficking and illegal adoptions.

Central Adoption Resource Authority

  1. Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is a statutory autonomous body of Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.
  2. It functions as the nodal body for the adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
  3. CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993, ratified by Government of India in 2003.
  4. CARA primarily deals with the adoption of the orphan, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated /recognised adoption agencies.


Hague Adoption Convention

  1. The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is an international convention dealing with international adoption, child laundering, and child trafficking.
  2. The Convention was developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the preeminent organization in the area of private international law. It was concluded on 29 May 1993 and entered into force on 1 May 1995.
  3. It is an effort to protect those involved from the corruption, abuses, and exploitation which sometimes accompanies international adoption.
  4. The Convention has been considered crucial because it provides a formal international and intergovernmental recognition of intercountry adoption to ensure that adoptions under the Convention will generally be recognized and given effect in other party countries.
  5. 96 countries including India has signed and ratified this convention. Whereas Nepal, South Korea and Russia are yet to ratify it.
Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

President clears Assam Bill against witch-hunt


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mission Birubala

Mains level: Curbing atrocities in the name of superstitious witchcraft hunting.


Mission Birubala

  1. President Kovind has given his assent to the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015 against witch-hunting that the Assam Assembly passed three years ago.
  2. Birubala Rabha has been campaigning against witch-hunting after a quack almost killed her son in 1996.
  3. She stood her ground despite the threat of excommunication by the local shaman and went on to rescue over 50 women from being branded as witches before launching Mission Birubala against the menace.

Provisions of the Bill

  1. The legislation has made every offence a cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable.
  2. The Act prescribes a prison term of up to seven years and up to ₹5 lakh in fine for calling a person witch.
  3. It also has provisions to come with Section 302 of the IPC (punishment for murder) if someone is killed after being branded a witch.
  4. The punishment for leading a person to suicide may be extended to life imprisonment and up to ₹5 lakh in fine.
Human Rights Issues

Centre increases CVs’ load carrying capacity


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: FASTags

Mains level: Reducing logistics cost in Road Transport


Trucks can ferry 20-25% more weight

  1. The Transport Ministry has raised safe limits for axle weight for transport vehicles by 20-25%.
  2. The revised axle limits will be applicable to new vehicles.
  3. The move will help reduce logistics costs by 2% and attempts to bring norms at par with international standards.
  4. The Ministry has also proposed to dispense with fitness certificate for new vehicles and make it mandatory to have vehicle tracking system and FASTags for electronic toll collection for all commercial vehicles in its draft amendment to the Commercial Motor Vehicles Act.
  5. The amendments also proposed that a driving license and pollution certificates can be carried in physical or digital form.



  1. FASTag devices employ Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to make toll payments from the prepaid account directly linked with it.
  2. The windscreens of the vehicles are fitted with it.
  3. It enables the four-wheelers to drive through the toll plazas without having to wait for cash transactions at the toll.
  4. A separate lane will be dedicated for such FASTag users.
Roads, Highways and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

BrahMos tested in extreme weather conditions


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: BrahMos missile

Mains level: Read the attached story


BrahMos passes extreme weather test

  1. The supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was successfully test-fired under extreme weather conditions, as part of the service life extension programme for the Army.
  2. The missile followed the designated trajectory and the key components functioned perfectly.
  3. BrahMos has again proved its all-weather capability, flying in sea state 7, with waves as high as nine meters. (Sea state is the degree of turbulence at sea, generally measured on a scale of 0 to 9 according to average wave height).



  1. BrahMos is a joint collaboration between India and Russia and is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against the surface and sea-based targets
  2. It has a strike range of around 290 km and is described as the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile.
  3. The range of the supersonic missile was initially capped at 290 km as per the obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime
  4. Since India’s entry into the club, the range has been extended to 450 km and the plan is to hit 600km.
  5. The Army and the Navy have already inducted the missile, while the air-launched variant is undergoing trials.
Indian Missile Program Updates

U.N. agrees first-ever global compact for migration


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the compact

Mains level: Problem of illegal migration


“Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” is underway

  1. For the first time ever, United Nations member states, except the U.S., have agreed on a deal to better manage international migration, address its challenges, strengthen migrant rights and contribute to sustainable development.
  2. The agreement will be formally adopted by world leaders in Morocco in December 2018.
  3. It held more than a year of discussions and consultations among member states, local officials, civil society and migrants themselves.
  4. It does not encourage migration, nor does it aim to stop it. It is not legally binding.
  5. This comprehensive framework comprises a range of objectives, actions and avenues for implementation, follow-up and review, all aimed at facilitating safe, orderly and regular migration while reducing the incidence and impact of irregular migration.

The new horizon of multilateralism

  1. It reflects the shared understanding by governments that cross-border migration is an international phenomenon and that effective management of this global reality requires international cooperation to enhance its positive impact for all.
  2. It also recognises that every individual has the right to safety, dignity and protection.
  3. It does not dictate. And it fully respects the sovereignty of States.
  4. This compact demonstrates our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration, however complicated and contentious they may be.
  5. The implementation of the Compact will bring safety, order and economic progress to everyone’s benefit.
Rohingya Conflict

Upgraded Vikas engine will soon boost ISRO’s rockets


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Vikas Engine

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view.


Adding more thrust

  1. The Vikas engine will improve the payload capability of PSLV, GSLV and GSLV Mk-III launch vehicles.
  2. The space agency has improved the thrust of the Vikas engine that powers all of them.

Main beneficiary: GSLV Mk III

  1. The main beneficiary of the high-thrust Vikas engine is said to be the heavy-lifting GSLV-Mark III launcher, which ISRO expects will now put 4,000-kg satellites to space.
  2. This would be the third Mk-III and the first working one to be designated Mk III Mission-1 or M1.
  3. The first MkIII of June 2017 started with a 3,200-kg satellite and the second one is being readied for lifting a 3,500-kg spacecraft.
  4. The Vikas engine is used in the second stage of the light lifting PSLV; the second stage and the four add-on stages of the medium-lift GSLV; and the twin-engine core liquid stage of Mk-III.

Soon to be replaced

  1. ISRO will phase out Vikas by replacing it first in Mk-III with a cleaner and safer semi-cryogenic engine.
  2. The semi-cryo engine is ready for trial; its stage has just been approved
ISRO Missions and Discoveries

In knotty problems


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country

Prelims level: Jute Cultivation in India, I-CARE programme

Mains level: The news card highlights the need for revitalizing the labour intensive Jute Industry in India


Jute Sector is declining

  1. The outcry and ban against plastic bags and single-use plastic packaging holds potential for the jute sector.
  2. But more than the 100-year-old sector, supporting five million families at the farm and the industry-level, may not be in a position to benefit from this opportunity.
  3. The availability of quality raw jute and shrinking acreage on the one hand and the failure of most jute mills to modernise has left the sector dependent on government-support like packaging reservations.
  4. Primitive, labour-intensive cultivation methods and retting (drenching raw jute in water to extract the fibre) — a crucial determinant in raw jute quality — creates problems.

The Jute Foundation (TJF)

  1. It is trying to address many issues pertaining to the environment-friendly product.
  2. It is trying to engage all stakeholders –farmers, workers, mills, research organisations and consumers.
  3. TJF initiative is being introduced for the industry to work jointly with research and development agencies like IJIRA (Indian Jute Industries’ Research Association) and others to develop thin and slim jute shopping bags.

Jute Production in India

  1. West Bengal is India’s single largest raw jute cultivator producing almost 75 % of the crop in Nadia, Dinajpur, Murshidabad and North 24 Parganas districts.
  2. But acreage had stagnated amid low productivity and falling prices of the cash crop.
  3. The I-CARE programme unveiled by the National Jute Board and the Jute Corporation of India in 2015 seeks to address this issue by introducing a pilot project on retting technologies aimed at increasing farmers’ returns.
Plantation Agriculture – RISPC, Tea Act, etc.

Be cautious in shifting to DBT, RBI tells States


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Issues with DBT


Central bank’s report details benefits, pre-conditions for implementation

  1. Acknowledging the problems that have been experienced by three Union Territories (UTs) in the implementation of direct benefit transfer (DBT) for food subsidy, the RBI has advised States that are planning to shift to cash transfer to be cautious while effecting the migration.
  2. As for the processes to be followed by States prior to DBT execution, the RBI has referred to certain pre-conditions mentioned in the Central government’s 2015 food subsidy rules.
  3. The pre-conditions include complete digitisation and de-duplication of the beneficiary database and seeding of bank account details and Aadhaar numbers in the digitised database.

Problems outlined by RBI

  1. In its report on State finances, the RBI referred to problems such as inadequacy of transfers to maintain pre-DBT consumption levels, insufficiency of last-mile delivery mechanisms and a weak grievance redressal system.
  2. At present, three UTs — Puducherry, Chandigarh and urban areas of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli — are implementing the mode of cash transfer.
  3. The beneficiaries have the choice of buying food grains from the open market.
  4. In view of complaints of the poor finding it difficult to get rice under the DBT, the Puducherry government, early this year, approached the Centre to permit it to revert to the old system of supplying rice.

Benefits of DBT

  1. On the question of whether cash transfer is an alternative to the public distribution system (PDS), the RBI has stated that the cash transfer mode reduced the need for large physical movement of food grains.
  2. Further, given the wide inter-State and intra-State variations in food consumption habits, the DBT provides “greater autonomy” to beneficiaries to choose their consumption basket, apart from enhancing dietary diversity.
  3. Another reason for promoting the concept of DBT is to reduce the leakage in the PDS, as the Central government has to absorb a huge food subsidy bill under the National Food Security Act (NFSA)
Direct Benefits Transfers

[op-ed snap] Beyond Section 377


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Section 377

Mains level: The newscard highlights the issue of India’s sexual minorities that need not only decriminalization but rights and protections.


Same-gender sex

  1. It remains a crime in the country ever since the constitutional validity of Section 377 of the IPC was upheld in Suresh Kumar Koushal (2013) Case
  2. What is Section 377: It criminalises sexual activities that are “against the order of nature”, including consensual sex between couples who are from the LGBTQI community(lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex)

Reconsideration by Supreme Court

  1. The Supreme Court is presently hearing a clutch of petitions to strike down Indian Penal Code Section 377, which criminalises same-sex relations between two consenting adults in private
  2. One of the lowest moments for human rights in India came in 2013 when the Supreme Court reversed the progressive 2009 judgment of the Delhi High Court reading down Section 377.
  3. Though supportive in its initial observations, surprisingly, the Supreme Court has also said that it will concern itself only “with the question of the validity of Section 377, and examine the correctness of the Supreme Court’s 2013 judgment”.

Old judgement, defies Constitutional Validity

  1. This reconsideration tries to interpret a broader human rights and justice issue as a matter of pure constitutional validity.
  2. The law is not abstract and it’s important to consider how insufficient law impacts the lived experiences of human beings.
  3. Instead of focusing on the question of validity alone, the Court also needs to concern itself with how current laws impact the lives of the LGBTQI community.
  4. This judgment stands as a reminder that rights that ensure inclusiveness, equality, and freedom are the fundamental values of this republic.

Court favors Individual Privacy: Puttaswamy vs. Union of India Case

  1. There is also the matter of the Court’s own precedent in another recent ruling — one that found in favour of individual privacy — in the case of Puttaswamy vs. Union of India which terms “sexual orientation” an essential attribute of “identity” and “privacy”.
  2. It terms discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as deeply offensive to the “dignity and self-worth of the individual”.
  3. It terms the rights of India’s sexual minorities as those “founded on sound constitutional doctrine” effectively making Section 377 unsustainable.
  4. In principle, it maintains that sexual orientation must be protected and lies at the heart of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 15 and 21.

Freedom in the absence of protection

  1. Court needs to expand the ambit of this discussion to include other issues such as the right to form partnerships, inheritance, employment equality, protection from gender-identity-based discrimination, and so on.
  2. Instead of merely considering the petition as a narrow legal matter, it should examine the issue from the perspective of an institution that is committed towards ensuring equality for all.
  3. Without these rights, sexual minorities will continue to face unequal treatment, abuse, discrimination in workplaces and housing, violence, and denial of recognition.
  4. The Court should also consider closely the fact that individual dignity and freedom cannot be achieved without equal rights.

Battling Patriarchy

  1. There is sufficient evidence to show that suicide rates are higher among sexual minorities.
  2. Moreover, this lack of rights and protections feeds a homophobic culture that overemphasises and further empowers patriarchy and masculinity.
  3. Because of widespread homophobia, gay men and women create and inhabit sub-cultures of self-hate, internalised homophobia, and oppression.
  4. Public health evidence also indicates a clear relationship of a lack of social acceptance and legal rights with substance abuse, violence, isolation, and mental illness.

Way Forward

  1. A rights-based framework is intricately tied up with India’s quest for social and economic development.
  2. It’s time the Court recognised that India’s sexual minorities need not only decriminalization but rights and protections that help them build productive lives and relationships irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation.
  3. They need an anti-discrimination law that empowers them and places the onus on the state and society to change.
LGBT Rights – Transgender Bill, Sec. 377, etc.

Indian shipping companies headed for troubled waters


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ROFR Clause

Mains level: The newscard highlights the drawbacks of scrapping the RORR clause. However it will provide more options to Government for less expensive shipping thus reducing the overall logistics cost.


Scrapping of Right of First Refusal (ROFR) clause

  1. A proposed move by the Centre to abolish the ROFR clause for transportation of Indian cargo by Indian-flagged vessels, the only benefit available to Indian shipping companies is threatening the existence of the domestic shipping industry.
  2. Indian shipping companies have a combined fleet of 1,372 ships with a total capacity of 12.35 million Gross Tonnage (GT).

What is a Right of First Refusal?

  1. Right of first refusal is a contractual right, but not obligation, to enter into a business transaction with a person or company before anyone else can.
  2. If the entity with the right of first refusal declines to enter into a transaction, the owner of the asset who offered the right is free to open the bidding up to other interested parties.

Benefiting Foreign Shipping?

  1. The government is preparing ground to do away with the ROFR clause which ensures Indian-registered ships carry Indian bulk dry/liquid cargo of Indian public and private sector companies at the lowest rate.
  2. This rate is to be quoted by a foreign shipping line by matching the price.
  3. Thus, while it does not add any extra cost to the importer or exporter, it provides assured business to the national fleet but at a rate quoted by a foreign line.
  4. Hence Indian Shipping firms are de-registering their vessels from India and flag them in tax havens of Panama and Bahama to survive and compete with foreign lines.
  5. Currently, 92% of India’s export import trade is carried by foreign flag ships. And the 8% that is assured to Indian ships is likely to go if the ROFR is scrapped.

Domestic shipping is Costlier

  1. Since foreign flag vessels do not pay any tax in India while Indian companies are costlier since they have to pay multiple taxes.
  2. In 2017 alone, Indian shipping companies have made investments of around ₹4,700 crore in assets in anticipation of business.
  3. To heal this, Shipping Ministry issued orders that permitted foreign flag vessels to transport export import-laden containers, agri products, horticulture, fisheries, animal husbandry commodities and fertilizers between two or more Indian ports without obtaining a licence from the Directorate General of Shipping.
  4. This means that an Indian flag vessel, if available, has lost the opportunity of doing this business.

What concerns Indian firms ?

  1. Indian shipping companies said this move is being contemplated without any consultative process.
  2. Also, the integrity and security of transportation of critical cargo in times of war or economic sanctions seem to have been completely ignored.
  3. The right of first refusal is the only incentive to the Indian flag, which suffers from many disadvantages versus foreign flags.
  4. De-registering of vessels from the Indian flag will be a strategic blow to Indian security as merchant naval fleet always acts as a second line of defence for coastal security.

Way Forward

  1. Some experts feel the objective of the government is to shift cargo movement from railways and roadways to the waterways to reduce logistics costs and ensure faster movement of cargo, which the domestic lines have failed to deliver.
  2. This move should not be looked at in isolation.
  3. The government wants to build volumes and see a large-scale shift of cargo movement to waterways which foreign lines can provide as we do not have a strong domestic shipping industry.
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

NCPCR moots model for school fees


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NCPCR and its new propositions

Mains level: Reforms in Education System


Regulating the Admission Fee

  1. The apex body for child rights, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has prepared guidelines for regulating admission fee levied by private unaided schools.
  2. The Commission has also recommended setting up a district-level body which will consult parents and teachers while determining school fee on a case-by-case basis.
  3. The Commission has studied regulations framed by various States over a period of six months and has included best practices in its model framework.
  4. As per the procedure laid down by the NCPCR, every school will have to submit its fee proposal online by October 31 for the next academic session, following which an algorithm will calculate the minimum and maximum fee a school can charge.

District Level Panel to decide fees

  1. This would be then analysed by the DFRC, which will consult representatives from the school as well as its Parent-Teacher Association before arriving at the final decision.
  2. NCPCR took suo motu cognisance of the problem of exorbitant school fees after it received several complaints on the matter.
  3. The guidelines recommend setting up a District Fee Regulatory Committee (DFRC) in each district.
  4. The body will be headed by the Collector or District Magistrate.

Stringent for private schools

  1. The fee finalised thus will be applicable for three academic years.
  2. If a school fails to submit its proposal, it may face a ban on new admissions for the entire academic session or withdrawal of its formal recognition.
  3. If a school is not satisfied with the DFRC decision, it can appeal to the State Appellate Authority whose decision will be final.


National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  1. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament
  2. NCPCR is a statutory body under the CPCR Act, 2005 under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India.
  3. The Commission’s mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  4. It defines Child as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.
Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[pib] Bansagar Canal Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bansagar Canal Project, Mapping of Son River

Mains level: Not Much


  1. PM Modi  dedicated the Bansagar Canal Project to the Nation.
  2. This project will provide a big boost to irrigation in the region, and will be greatly beneficial for the farmers of Mirzapur and Allahabad districts of Uttar Pradesh.

Bansagar project

  1. Bansagar or Ban Sagar Dam is a multipurpose river Valley Project on Son River situated in the Ganges Basin in Madhya Pradesh, India with both irrigation and 435 MW of hydroelectric power generation.
  2. It was commissioned in 2008.
  3. The project was called “Bansagar” after Bana Bhatt, the renowned Sanskrit scholar of the 7th century in the court of Harsha (who also wrote Harshacharita).
  4. After 2014, this project was made a part of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, and all efforts were made to complete it.
  5. Bansagar will irrigate an area of 2,490 km² in Madhya Pradesh, 1,500 km²; in Uttar Pradesh and 940 km² in Bihar.

About Son River

  1. Son River of central India is the second largest of the Ganges’s southern tributaries after Yamuna River.
  2. The Son originates near Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh just east of the headwater of the Narmada River, and flows north-northwest through Madhya Pradesh state before turning sharply eastward where it encounters the southwest-northeast-Kaimur Range.
Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

[pib] Institute of Cost Accountants of India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  ICAI

Mains level: Not Much


ICAI recently completed 70 years

Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI)

  1. The Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI), previously known as the Institute of Cost & Works Accountants of India (ICWAI), is a premier statutory professional accountancy body in India.
  2. It was established by Cost and Works Accountants Act 1959 as an autonomous professional Institute.
  3. Its objectives are promoting, regulating and developing the profession of Cost Accountancy.
  4. The headquarters of ICAI is situated in Kolkata, and operates through its four regional councils located at Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai, 94 chapters in India and 78 chapters abroad.

Function of ICAI

  1. It is the only licensing cum regulating body of Cost & Management Accountancy profession in India.
  2. It recommends the Cost Accounting Standards to be followed by companies in India to which statutory maintenance of cost records applicable.
  3. ICAI is solely responsible for setting the auditing and assurance standards for statutory Cost Audit to be followed in the Audit of Cost statements in India.
  4. It also issues other technical guidelines on several aspects like Internal Audit, Management Accounting etc. to be followed by practising Cost Accountants while discharging their services.
  5. It works closely with the industries, various departments of Government of India, State governments in India and other Regulating Authorities in India e.g. Reserve Bank of India, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, Securities and Exchange Board of India etc. on several aspects of performance, cost optimisation and reporting.

Role of ICAI

  1. As global manufacturing evolves and as manufacturing in India gets a boost over the coming decade – with the maturing of our Make in India programme – cost accountants will have a bigger and bigger role.
  2. It will be Cost accountants’ mandate to ensure that products and services are delivered at a competitive price but without compromising on quality.
Make in India: Challenges & Prospects

Coming home to jail: on the Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, UN Model Agreement on the Transfer of Foreign Prisoners and Recommendations on the Treatment of Foreign Prisoners 1985, Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad, Council of Europe’s Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Repatriation of Prisoners Act 2003

Mains level: Repatriation status of Indian nationals in various countries and mechanism available for it


Problems faced in the repatriation of Indian nationals

  1. Two cases of repatriation of Indian nationals, the first being 52-year-old Ismail Samma of Gujarat, and the second, of a sick 21-year-old, Jetendaera Arjanwara of Madhya Pradesh, highlights the tribulations of being imprisoned in a foreign prison
  2. Ismail’s imprisonment in Karachi, Pakistan, came to light last January after being given up for dead for nine years by his family
  3. Jetendaera’s case became known in May after five years of detention
  4. Both men had accidentally crossed the border with Pakistan and were sentenced for illegal entry
  5. They were detained well past their terms as a result of delayed consular attention and nationality verification

Global conventions related to repatriation

  1. The right to return to one’s home country is assured under Article 12(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
  2. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, provides for information to consulate, consular protection and consultation upon arrest, detention and during trial in a foreign country including entitlement to travel documents
  3. Similarly, the UN Model Agreement on the Transfer of Foreign Prisoners and Recommendations on the Treatment of Foreign Prisoners 1985, lays emphasis on the social rehabilitation of foreign prisoners through early repatriation to their home countries to serve their remaining sentence
  4. The legacy of transfer of sentenced prisoners lies in the post-war humanitarian exchange of prisoners of war and in two UN Conventions of 2004 (against transnational organised crime and against corruption) which have laid emphasis on the issue of inter-country transfer of prisoners
  5. Both anticipate, under Articles 17 and 45, respectively, that state parties may consider entering into bilateral or multilateral agreements for transfer to their territory of persons sentenced to imprisonment or other forms of deprivation of liberty for completion of their sentences

Repatriation of Prisoners Act

  1. In consonance with these international humanitarian commitments, most countries have legislated on a Repatriation of Prisoners Act
  2. The transfer framework under the Act is premised on the principles that an offence committed abroad is also an offence in the home country and the sentence implemented upon transfer shall not be aggravated
  3. India legislated its Repatriation of Prisoners Act in 2003, which came into force on January 1, 2004
  4. The first part deals with the transfer of sentenced foreign national prisoners from India, while the second deals with the transfer of sentenced Indian nationals into India
  5. It explains the eligibility for transfer, the transfer process and obligations upon the transferring and receiving states with regard to consent, communication and custody of a prisoner
  6. Every sentenced foreign prisoner in an Indian prison and every Indian national in a prison abroad is technically eligible for repatriation to a prison in their home country under these conditions:
  • they are willing
  • have no pending appeals
  • the offence is not an offence under military law
  • the sentence is not a death sentence
  • they have at least six months of their sentence still left to serve, and
  • their transfer has the consent of both treaty countries

Importance of act for India

  1. The Act is significant for India which sees considerable outflow and inflow annually by blue- and white-collar workers, fishermen, students, stateless persons and other groups
  2. Several come into conflict with the law
  3. More than 2,095 Indian nationals (2017) were known to be sentenced abroad
  4. They would be eligible for repatriation subject to nationality verification

Implementation by India

  1. India has taken steps for reciprocal transfers under the Act
  2. It has developed a Standard Draft Agreement and signed 30 bilateral transfer agreements
  3. It also entered into transfer arrangements with signatories of the Inter-American Convention on Serving Criminal Sentences Abroad and the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

Status of repatriation

  1. Between 2003 and March 2018, only 63 of 171 prisoner applicants abroad have been transferred to India

Way Forward

  1. Effecting transfers under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act presents a win-win situation for India as it need not spend unduly on the housing of foreign national prisoners
  2. It can also save the cost of providing consular services abroad by bringing back Indian prisoners
  3. It can simultaneously satisfy the public expectation of bringing nationals home and the meeting of international humanitarian commitments
Human Rights Issues

[op-ed snap] The whole picture


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hybrid pixel detector technology (Medipix3), Large Hadron Collider

Mains level: LHC experiment key findings and avenues that it has opened up for further research


The next wave in medical imaging

  1. The hybrid pixel detector technology which the Large Hadron Collider used to track accelerated particles has been used to produce the first three-dimensional colour images of the human body
  2. A chip of the Medipix family developed by CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, has been used to take colour see-through images of body parts which are a generation ahead of the currently available technology

Current technologies and their shortcomings

  1. The traditional radiological practices are complementary
  2. Techniques based on X-rays suffer from the deficit that they can sharply visualise only hard tissues
  3. The shadows of soft tissues are less precise
  4. Blood vessels and other conduits are imaged with invasive dyes
  5. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides a slightly different picture, based on the difference in water and fat content in tissues
  6. Positron emission tomography (PET) finds widest use in oncology

New Technology and its advantages

  1. The Medipix3 promises a single solution superior to its predecessors
  2. Using algorithms to model very accurate spectroscopic data in three dimensions, it shows all tissues with equal clarity, in colour
  3. In the case of a fracture, for instance, not only would it show physical damage to a bone — which is what an X-ray depicts — but it would also reveal trauma to surrounding tissue and reveal if blood and nerve supply is compromised
  4. Also, it would depict structures exactly as they are, and not all of us are built exactly the same
  5. In the near future, when medical care will be customised to the individual, this exactitude would make a difference to the efficacy of care
  6. If a complete image of a human were taken by a future iteration of this technology, it might even be possible to 3D print a lost limb or a malfunctioning organ
  7. Researchers have already used Medipix to image cancerous tissue, bones and joints and the blood supply to the heart
Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Year since Group of Ministers nod, draft national women’s policy stuck


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: Not much

Mains level: National Policy for Women and its key provisions


National Policy for Women pending approval

  1. This month marks a year since the draft National Policy for Women is pending approval of the government
  2. The policy, mooted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, was passed with some modifications by the Group of Ministers in July 2017

Changed perspective

  1. The draft policy is a revision of the first National Policy for Women, firmed up in 2001
  2. It marks a shift from the previous policy’s view of women as welfare recipients to taking a rights-based approach
  3. The policy recommends for 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, and at least 50 per cent quota in all local bodies
  4. The provision for greater representation for women in the political arena was to be a significant part of such an approach to creating an enabling environment through affirmative action

Key proposals

  1. The draft talks of promoting women’s presence in all three branches of the government — the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary — as also in corporate boardrooms
  2. It mandates one-third reservation for women in the police force and also details the need to look at policies across all ministries through a gendered lens
  3. A key recommendation in the draft policy is making it mandatory for every ministry to maintain sex-disaggregated data on all schemes and programmes
  4. Noting that India’s data system has remained largely gender neutral, it states that for better policy formulation, data has to be disaggregated as per gender especially on issues concerning poverty, economic participation, violence, environment, health, education, governance, and media
  5. It also asked for qualitative data on the impact on men of policies regarding paternity leave, gender-based violence, and gender equality
  6. It focuses on emerging gender issues, such as those relating to single women, a segment that has grown by 39 per cent between 2001 and 2011, or the growing incidence of cybercrime

Implementation of the policy

  1. The policy was to be operationalised and its implementation monitored through an inter-ministerial committee headed by Women and Child Development (WCD)
  2. Similar state-level committees were to be set up, headed by the respective chief ministers
Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

Proposed DNA bank will not store data permanently


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Particulars of the DNA Bill.

Mains level:  Addressing concerns related to the Bill.


Data will be erased once case ends

  1. India’s proposed DNA databank, to be used during an investigation into crimes or to find missing persons, will not permanently store details of people.
  2. The DNA details will be removed, subject to judicial orders.
  3. The DNA Profiling Board, according to the proposed legislation, is supposed to be the regulatory authority that will grant accreditation to DNA laboratories.
  4. The Board, in consultation with members of the judiciary, will frame rules on how long the DNA details of an entrant on a crime index would be maintained.
  5. The rules will come after Parliament approves the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018, framed by the Department of Biotechnology in 2015.

Proposed DNA Data Bank

  1. The aim of that draft legislation was to establish an institutional mechanism to collect and deploy DNA technologies to identify persons based on samples collected from crime scenes or to identify missing persons.
  2. The Bill envisages a DNA Profiling Board and a DNA Data Bank.
  3. To help in investigations, there would be a central databank as well as regional ones, and these would store DNA profiles under various heads, such as a ‘crime scene index’ or ‘suspects index’ or ‘offenders index.’

What were the concerns raised by the Bill?

  1. It necessitated a Law Commission analysis —whether the databanks were secure enough to protect the privacy of those from whom DNA details were collected.
  2. It also deliberated on how, and who were authorised, to collect such information.
  3. An important thing that the Bill achieves is to ensure that private laboratories don’t proliferate and work without scientific validation.

Global Scenario on DNA Data Storage

  1. In France, for instance, the profiles of convicted persons are kept for 40 years after conviction. Crime scene stains are deleted forty years after they have been analysed.
  2. In the United Kingdom, the profiles of convicted persons and suspects are retained indefinitely, and crime scene stains are kept until they have been identified.


DNA Based Technology (Use and Regulation) Bill, 2017

  1. DNA technology is being increasingly relied upon in investigations of crime, identification of unidentified bodies, or in determining parentage.
  2. It seeks to establish regulatory institutions and standards for DNA testing, and supervise the activities of all laboratories authorised to carry out such tests.
  3. It prohibits the collection of any “bodily substance” from an arrested individual (for the purposes of a DNA test) without his/her consent, except if the individual is arrested for certain specific offences.
  4. The penalty for misuse of data remains a prison term of up to three years and a fine up to Rs 1 lakh, a reference to a minimum prison term of one month has been removed.
  5. The Bill seeks to set up two new institutions — a DNA Profiling Board and a DNA Data Bank.
  6. The Board, with 11 members, is supposed to be the regulatory authority that will grant accreditation to DNA laboratories and lay down guidelines, standards and procedures for their functioning.
  7. A national databank of DNA profiles is proposed to be set up, along with regional databanks in every state.
Right To Privacy

[op-ed snap] Spirit Of Sendai


Mains Paper 3: Disaster Management | Disaster & disaster management

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai Framework

Mains level: Disaster vulnerability of India & Asia as a whole and steps that can be taken to mitigate disaster risks


Asia’s vulnerability to disasters

  1. No other region in the world illustrates the now chronic nature of displacement caused by extreme weather events and climate change more than Asia and the Pacific
  2. Asia accounted for almost 50 per cent of the worldwide loss of life from disasters last year
  3. Last year, 18.8 million people were forced to run for their lives from floods, storms and earthquakes in 135 countries across the globe
  4. 11.4 million people were from across East and South Asia and the Pacific islands
  5. Reports suggest that a million people have been displaced by heavy monsoon rains, floods and landslides in India and Bangladesh, where the cyclone season also threatens

Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction

  1. It was held in Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia, early July
  2. The conference has been convening every two years since 2005
  3. The focus of the discussions was on the clear need for accelerated implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030
  4. It is the global plan to reduce disaster losses that was adopted in Japan three years ago

About Sendai Framework

  1. It sets out seven targets for
  • reduction in loss of life,
  • numbers of people affected,
  • economic losses and damage to infrastructure through enhanced international cooperation,
  • better risk information and
  • early warning systems

The plan also sets a deadline of 2020 for a substantial increase in the number of countries with national and local strategies for disaster risk reduction

Disaster risk mitigation

  1. Both India and Mongolia have adopted national strategies aligned with the Sendai Framework’s priorities
  2. Both are investing in developing and maintaining national disaster loss databases, which are essential to guide risk-informed investment at the local level in critical infrastructure such as housing, schools, hospitals, public utilities and transport links
  3. Their example must be emulated by many other countries across the region because it is at the local level that the work of prevention and risk reduction starts to pay a dividend in terms of resilience
  4. It is also at the local level that most progress can be made on ensuring an inclusive approach to disaster risk management, one which includes the insights and experiences of those who may be marginalised and disproportionately affected by disaster events
  5. Women, girls, youth, older persons, persons living with disabilities and indigenous people should be actively recruited as agents of change in their communities

Way forward

  1. Rapid scale of urbanisation across the region is an opportunity to do development in a risk-informed, resilient way that avoids creating future disasters
  2. More than anything, it is the human cost of disasters that is the most compelling argument for action
  3. Real progress will bring down the numbers of families and people internally displaced by disasters
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[op-ed snap] India needs to focus on water efficiency


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Composite Water Management Index (CWMI)

Mains level: Impending water crisis in India and ways to tackle it


Water scarcity in India

  1. Over the past few months, concern and awareness about water resources have reached an unprecedented high
  2. Two successive events have led to such a watershed change in discussion on water resources
  3. First, the news came in that Shimla is running out of water and was forced to turn away tourists that drive the city’s economy during summer
  4. Second, NITI Aayog released the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) in June

Findings in CWMI

  1. The CWMI is a pioneering exercise that seeks to identify, target and improve key water resources-related indicators
  2. The index has a set of 28 key performance indicators (KPIs) covering irrigation status, drinking water and other water-related sectors. Critical areas such as source augmentation, major and medium irrigation, watershed development, participatory irrigation practices, sustainable on-farm water use practices, rural drinking water, urban water supply and sanitation
  3. This index highlighted the current plight, showing how low-performing states house approximately 50% of India’s population, and how 21 major cities may run out of the groundwater by 2021

Water usage pattern in India

  1. Presently, irrigation water use accounts for 80% of the available water, i.e. 700 BCM
  2. Within the limited availability of 1,137 BCM, we need to cater to the growing demand of the population, including domestic water requirement, industrial requirement, ecology sustenance, and power generation requirement
  3. The present level of irrigation efficiency for surface and groundwater is 30% and 55%, respectively

Measures that need to be taken

First, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Telangana and other water-deficient states should promptly move towards micro-irrigation systems

  • Conventional surface irrigation provides 60-70% efficiency, whereas, higher efficiency of up to 70-80% with sprinkler and 90% with drip irrigation systems can be achieved

Second, the states should continue to focus on command area development (CAD)

  • This is now part of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) which focuses on “more crop per drop”
  • CAD will play a critical role in bridging the gap between irrigation potential created (IPC) and irrigation potential utilized (IPU)

Third, the cropping patterns in the states should be changed as per the agro-climatic zones

  • Improper cropping patterns affect both crop productivity and irrigation efficiency
  • Now it is time to focus on more nuanced aspects of water-use efficiency and agriculture productivity

Fourth, we need to address the issue of fragmentation in farming

  • There are two measures to tackle this issue
  • States can expedite the adoption of the Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, 2016—which can lead to consolidation of small farms
  • The second option may provide early gains—creating and ramping up farmer producer organizations (FPO)
  • FPOs provide a sense of ownership to farmers and encourage community-level involvement with lower transaction costs
  • Almost 70% farmers in India are marginal farmers and the average farm size is 1.15 hectares. Therefore, there is a huge opportunity in forming the FPOs
  • This will lead to economies of scale on farm produce, water-usage and cost of production

Way Forward

  1. The above measures have huge scope for changing the landscape of water efficiency in the irrigation sector, which accounts for the majority of water resource consumption in India
  2. Doubling farmers income by 2022 is a noble vision, but preserving water resources for the sustainable growth of India is as critical
Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.