Citizenship and Related Issues

SC tags Tripura NRC plea with Assam case


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Register of Citizens (NRC), Citizenship Act, 1955

Mains level: Updation of NRC and its implications on demography as well as security situation.


Update NRC for Tripura: SC

  1. The Supreme Court has issued notice to the government to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Tripura, as is being done in Assam, in order to detect and deport the “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh.
  2. The PIL asked the Court to direct authorities to update the NRC with respect to Tripura in terms of Rules 3 and 4 of The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 by taking July 19, 1948 as the cut-off date as provided for in Article 6 of the Constitution.

Bangladeshi Influx: An external aggression

  1. The petition contended the “influx” of illegal immigrants into Tripura amounted to ‘external aggression’ under Article 355 of the Constitution.
  2. The presence of illegal immigrants violates the political rights of the citizens of Tripura said the PIL.

Tripura facing demographic changes

  1. Uncontrolled influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to Tripura has caused huge demographic changes in Tripura.
  2. Tripura was a predominantly tribal State, but now it has become a non-tribal State.
  3. Indigenous people who were once the majority has now become a minority in their own land claimed the PIL.

[pib] ESIC wins ‘ISSA GOOD Practice Award, Asia & the Pacific 2018’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ISSA Good Practice Award, ISSA

Mains level: Not Much



  • The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has won the ‘ISSA Good Practice Award’ for Administrative Solution for Coverage Extension at the “Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific” held at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia recently.

ISSA GOOD Practice Award

The award recognizes the measures taken by ESIC for:

  • extension of coverage-SPREE (Scheme for Promoting Registration of Employers and Employees),
  • reduced rate of contribution rates for 24 months in newly implemented areas and
  • raising the wage limit for coverage under the ESI Act, etc.

Regional Social Security Forum for Asia and the Pacific

  1. This is triennial Forum is the most important social security event in the Region.
  2. For this ISSA invites submissions for the ISSA Good Practices Award for Asia and the Pacific Regions.
  3. The Forum provides unique opportunities to CEOs and Managers of ISSA Member Institutions to discuss key social security challenges and share their experiences.


International Social Security Association

  1. The ISSA is the principal international organization for Social Security Organizations, Govts. and Departments of Social Security.
  2. The ISSA was founded in 1927 under the auspices of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Geneva.
  3. It promotes excellence in social security administration through professional guidelines, expert knowledge, services and support to enable its Members to develop dynamic social security systems.
  4. The ESI Corporation hosts ISSA Liaison Office for South Asia at New Delhi.
  5. The Liasion Office coordinates with the Member countries and Social Security Institutions in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran on activities of ISSA related to social security.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Explained: How to reach a 1.5-degree world


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Highlights of the Report

Mains level:  Impacts of Global Warming


IPCC Report on Climate Change

  1. Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet.
  2. The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its gloomy report at a meeting in Incheon, South Korea.
  3. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate, the report states.

Quick recap of IPCC

  1. IPCC  is a scientific government body under the UN established in 1988 by two UN organizations, the WMO and the UNEP and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly.
  2. The IPCC produces reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is the main international treaty on climate change.
  3. IPCC reports cover the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.
  4. Membership of the IPCC is open to all members of the WMO and the UNEP.

Findings of the Report

  1. Half as many people would suffer from lack of water.
  2. There would be fewer deaths and illnesses from heat, smog and infectious diseases.
  3. Seas would rise nearly 4 inches (0.1 meters) less.
  4. Half as many animals with back bones and plants would lose the majority of their habitats.
  5. There would be substantially fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts.
  6. The West Antarctic ice sheet might not kick into irreversible melting.
  7. And it just may be enough to save most of the world’s coral reefs from dying.

The 1.5℃ Goal

  1. In 2010, international negotiators adopted a goal of limiting warming to 2°C since pre-industrial times. It’s called the 2° goal.
  2. In 2015, when the nations of the world agreed to the Paris climate agreement, they set dual goals — 2°C and a more demanding target of 1.5°C from pre-industrial times.
  3. The 1.5° was at the urging of vulnerable countries that called 2°C a death sentence.
  4. The world has already warmed 1°C since pre-industrial times, so the talk is really about the difference of another half-degree C from now.
  5. There is no definitive way to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 above pre-industrial levels.

Advantages of warming below 2

  1. The IPCC studies have looked at the physical impact on the land and ocean, as well as at the socio-economic impact, like health, malnutrition, food security and employment.
  2. Some examples:
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C could prevent around 3.3 million cases of dengue every year in Latin America and the Caribbean alone.
  • A World Bank report on Climate Change and Health, 2015 said that an additional 150 million people could be at risk from malaria if the temperature was allowed to increase beyond 2°C.
  • A study in the journal Climate Change in 2016 claimed that the world could have 25 million fewer undernourished people by the end of the century, if the 1.5°C goal was achieved.
  • A study published in PNAS in March 2017 said about 350 million additional people could be exposed to deadly heat waves if the warming increased to 2°C as compared to 1.5°C.
  • A study in Nature Climate Change in March 2018 said the 1.5°C could prevent 153 million premature deaths due to air pollution by 2100, as compared to the 2°C scenario.
  • A UNDP report in 2016 claimed that a 1.5°C strategy could create double the number of jobs in the energy sector by 2050.
  • Also, compared to the 1.5°C scenario, extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and heat waves are likely to become more severe and frequent, and freshwater supply could fall sharply, in a 2°C world.

How to reach the 0.5 ℃ target?

  1. As of now, the world is striving to prevent the temperature rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius, in accordance with the stated objective of the Paris Agreement of 2015.
  2. To meet that target, the aim is to reduce greenhouse gases by only 20 per cent, from 2010 levels, by the year 2030 and achieve a net-zero emission level by the year 2075.
  3. Net-zero is achieved when the total emissions is balanced by the amount of absorption or removal of carbon dioxide through natural sinks or technological interventions.

Is the 1.5°C target attainable?

  1. The IPCC report suggests possible pathways to attain the 1.5°C objective.
  2. Any such path would involve much sharper and quicker emission cuts by big emitters like China, the US, the European Union and India, than what these countries currently plan to do.
  3. However, their publicly declared planned actions currently are not big enough to achieve even the 2°C target.
  4. In Paris in 2015, the countries had acknowledged that if they failed to do more, annual emissions of carbon dioxide could touch 55 billion tonnes in 2030.

Problem of CO2

  1. Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, stays in the atmosphere for 100-150 years.
  2. That means even if all greenhouse gas emissions were to somehow miraculously stop all of a sudden, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would remain at the current levels for many years to come.
  3. That is why there is a significant interest these days in technologies that can physically remove the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and store it somewhere, either temporarily or permanently.
  4. Caron Dioxide Removal (CDR) would be used to compensate for residual emissions.
  5. CDR is a reference to physical removal of the stock of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reduce its concentrations.
  6. But the technologies for CDR are still undeveloped and untested.

Way Forward: Nothing is Impossible

  1. Limiting warming to the lower goal is not impossible but will require unprecedented changes
  2. To limit warming to the lower temperature goal, the world needs “rapid and far-reaching” changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use, the report said.
  3. Meeting the more ambitious goal would require immediate, draconian cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases and dramatic changes in the energy field.
  4. It is up to governments to decide whether those unprecedented changes are acted upon.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO & ROSCOSMOS to work together for first Indian manned mission


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: Gaganyaan

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space.



  1. India hopes to send its first manned mission Gaganyaan in 2022.
  2. The Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be working together on the Gaganyaan mission.
  3. A MoU was inked between ISRO and the Federal Space Agency of Russia ‘ROSCOSMOS’ for joint activities in the field of Human Spaceflight Programme.

Russian Courtesy

  1. The Russian side has offered a ride to Indian astronaut a short visit to International Space Station (ISS) on board a Soyuz spacecraft for a short training mission in 2022.
  2. Russia had agreed to supply ISRO with the Rover for the second moon mission but this has not come through and now ISRO is building its own Rover.
  3. It was also decided to set up measurement data collection ground stations of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System NavIC and the Russian Navigation Satellite System GLONASS in both countries.
  4. India-Russia space cooperation was very strong, with the Soviet Union being one of the three partners who helped India get off the ground with its space programme.
  5. The China factor has been a determining factor to the extent where India’s Chandrayaan 2 mission has been delayed significantly.

Training the Astronauts

  1. There have been debates about where India should train its astronauts.
  2. The options are of course the US and Russia and both have offered India all assistance in this regard.
  3. The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.
  4. If successful, India would be the fourth nation to send a human in space after the US, Russia and China.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

India’s first dolphin research centre to come up soon in Patna


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gangetic Dolphin and its Habitat

Mains level: Conservation status of Gangetic Dolphins


National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC)

  1. The much-awaited National Dolphin Research Centre (NDRC), India’s and Asia’s first is set to be established in Patna.
  2. It will play an important role in strengthening conservation efforts and research to save the endangered mammal.
  3. University will shift it to Bhagalpur where the number of dolphins is higher.


  1. The water level has been decreasing and the flow has slowed down. Besides, siltation is increasing in the river. All this is not favorable for dolphins.
  2. The Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal but frequently falls prey to poachers and is sometimes killed inadvertently after being trapped in plastic fishing nets and hit by mechanized boats.
  3. The mammals are being killed at an alarming rate with wildlife officials saying poachers covet them for their flesh, fat and oil.

Habitat of Gangetic Dolphins

  1. The mammal’s presence signals a healthy river ecosystem.
  2. Dolphins prefer water that is at least 5-8 feet deep. They are usually found in turbulent waters where there is enough fish for them to feed on.
  3. Gangetic dolphins prefer deep water with adjoining shallow water.
  4. They live in a zone where there is little or no current that helps them save energy. If they sense danger, they can go into deep waters.
  5. The dolphins swim from the no-current zone to the edges to hunt for fish and return.
  6. The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, India’s only dolphin sanctuary, spread over 50 km along the Ganges, is located in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district.
  7. Bihar is home to around half of the country’s estimated 3,000 dolphin population.


Gangetic Dolphin

  1. Gangetic river dolphins fall under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act.
  2. It has been declared an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  3. The Gangetic river species found in India, Bangladesh and Nepal is almost completely blind.
  4. It finds its way and prey using echoes with sound being everything for them to navigate, feed, escape danger, find mates, breed, nurse babies and play.
  5. The Gangetic river dolphin is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world.
  6. The other three are found in the Yangtze river, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Amazon river.


Indian Navy Updates

[pib] Bilateral Maritime Exercise JIMEX 18


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: JIMEX 2018

Mains level: Importance of such bilateral exercises


Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) 2018

  1. Japan and India would be participating in the third edition of Japan-India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) with the ships of Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy (IN) from 07 to 15 October 18.
  2. JIMEX-18 is aimed to enhance interoperability, improve understanding and imbibe the best practices of each other.
  3. The ships participating are INS Satpura, multipurpose stealth frigate, INS Kadmatt, Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvette, Missile Corvette and INS Shakti, the Fleet Tanker.
  4. In addition, one submarine, P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft and a number of integral helicopters would also be participating in the exercise.

Details of JIMEX 18

  1. JIMEX 18, spread over eight days, will comprise a Harbour Phase and a Sea Phase of four days each.
  2. The Harbour Phase will include professional and social interactions between ship’s crews, sports fixtures and operational planning for the Sea Phase.
  3. The Sea Phase would include Anti-Submarine Warfare Exercises, VBSS (Visit, Board, Search and Seizure) Drills, Gun Firings, Cross Deck Helo Operations and coordinated operations in Anti-Submarine/ Anti-Air threat scenarios.
  4. The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in Dec 2013 off Chennai.

Importance of the exercise

  1. The conduct of JIMEX-18 after five years is indicative of an upswing in the Indo-Japanese defence relations and the continued efforts to work closely to enhance safety and security of the global commons.
  2. It will help establishing rule based order on the IOR.

Innovation Ecosystem in India

[pib] Atal Innovation Mission & SIRIUS sign MoU for promotion of innovative cooperation between students of India & Russia


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

Mains level: India-Russia collaboration in various fields

Promoting innovation

  1. To promote innovative cooperation between students of India and Russia, a Memorandum of Understanding was exchanged between India’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and the Russian Federation’s SIRIUS Educational Foundation
  2. The MoU hopes to
  • remove cultural and language barriers between students of Russia and India
  • share the best practices in the promotion of educational, scientific, innovative achievements
  • promote innovative cooperation
  • search and develop the talented youth of both countries fostering a knowledge-driven innovation ecosystem in both the countries

AIM-SIRIUS Innovation Festival 2018

  1. To promote a spirit of collaborative innovation, young innovators of Atal Tinkering Labs and SIRIUS Educational Foundation came together at a four-day Indo-Russian ATL innovation boot-camp from October 1st to October 4th
  2. The boot-camp was organized by Atal Tinkering Labs, Atal Innovation Mission, with support from Department of Design, IIT Delhi
  3. The innovations developed across space technology, healthcare, smart mobility, clean energy and agricultural technology were showcased


Atal Innovation Mission

  1. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is NITI Aayog’s flagship initiative to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in India
  2. AIM has been established to create and promote an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship in a holistic manner through various initiatives at school, university and industry levels
  3. The Atal Innovation Mission has thus two core functions:
  • Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated.
  • Entrepreneurship promotion: Wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs at Incubation Centres

SIRIUS Educational Foundation

  1. It is a unitary, non-profit, non-standard educational organization
  2. The activities of the Foundation are aimed to identify and support children and young people who have shown outstanding abilities
  3. It provides assistance in obtaining general and additional education for such personalities, including education in the fields of arts, natural sciences, physical culture and sports

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

India, Russia sign S-400 missile deal after summit


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Challenges to internal security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of S-400 System

Mains level: Protecting Indian airspace against neighborhood threats.



  1. India and Russia concluded the contract for five S-400 ‘Triumf’ missile systems, one of the biggest defence deals in recent times.
  2. The announcement of the deal could attract sanctions from the United States, was made in a joint statement issued by both sides.

No pact on frigates

  1. The two sides failed to conclude two other major deals, for stealth frigates and assault rifles that were reportedly ready citing further negotiations.
  2. Significantly, the agreement for the estimated $5.43 billion (Rs. 40,300 crore) S-400 system was not referred to by either leader in their press statements.
  3. It was also the only agreement not included with eight others exchanged.

S-400 Coming Soon

  1. Deliveries of S-400 will begin in 24 months, at the end of 2020.
  2. India would pay about 15% in advance, likely through the rupee-rouble mechanism both countries use for trade in their own currencies.

Defying fears of US Sanction

  1. The U.S. has warned the deal would invoke sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law.
  2. It penalizes defence purchases from Russia, Iran and North Korea, as soon as the first payment is made, unless US grants a “waiver.”
  3. Any waiver for the S-400 deal would only be considered on a “transaction-by-transaction basis
  4. The negotiations for S-400 preceded CAATSA by a long period of several years.
  5. It fulfils a certain defence requirement for India and the government has taken the decision in the national interest.


S-400 Triumf

The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system, capable of destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km.

Why does India need S-400?

  1. India needs to be well-equipped against neighboring threats.
  2. Pakistan has over 20 fighter squadrons, with upgraded F-16s, and inducting J-17 from China in large numbers. China has 1,700 fighters, including 800 4-Gen fighters.
  3. A shortfall of fighter squadrons has severely affected IAF’s efforts to pose a challenge to the enemies.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

[pib] India-China Trade


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The ongoing trade war between the US and China and its latent benefits for India.



  1. Union Minister of Commerce & Industry has released a study by the Department of Commerce on India-China Trade.
  2. The report tries to analyze the magnitude, extent and plausible reasons of India’s rising trade deficit with China.

Addressing the Deficit

  1. India’s trade relationship with China is unique and no other bilateral trading relationship evokes as much interest in India as the India-China trade relationship.
  2. From being a small trading partner of India in 2001, within a span of fifteen years, China has rapidly become India’s biggest trading partner.
  3. Trade between the two countries has been expanding but India’s trade deficit with China has been growing.

Trade War Looming FTAs

  1. Most industry associations want the Government to pursue a defensive approach to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and raise tariffs on the doctrine of domestic markets for domestic producers.
  2. The global use of protectionist measures in 2018 was unprecedented with the trade wars looming between two of the largest economies of the world.
  3. This analysis helps in studying whether an FTA or tariff concessions by China to India can be beneficial in increasing India’s exports to China.

Why such a study?

  1. The idea behind this exercise has been to identify whether tariff concessions by China to other countries impede raising the share of India’s exports in the Chinese market.
  2. These lines can be taken up by India for negotiations with China under agreements like Asia Pacific Free Trade Agreement (APTA) in which both India and China are involved during the review exercise.
  3. Competing countries that have FTAs with China, limits the scope for Indian exports.
  4. This is due to higher tariffs faced by exporters as compared to competing nations who have secured tariff concessions under their FTAs.
  5. The study also underlines the opportunity available for India in increasing its services exports to China.

Other Parameters

  1. The imports of China from these countries as well as China’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) rates have been studied.
  2. Indices like Revealed Comparative Advantage (RCA) and Trade Complementarity Index (TCI) have been used to analyse the extent of India and China’s competiveness in this arena and the potential for the future.
  3. There is a separate section on the opportunities arising for India out of US – China trade standoff with a detailed analysis of specific tariff lines.
  4. The new tariffs that have been levied by China on the US amidst the ongoing trade war brings in the potential for India to fill the gaps left by America in the Chinese market.

Human Rights Issues

No trial in sewer death cases


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan

Mains level: The newscard covers important stats related to the prevalence of fatalities due to manual scavenging activities.


Most Cases Unreported

  1. A sample study of deaths due to sewer and septic tank cleaning since 1992, shows that FIRs were filed in only 35% of the cases.
  2. None led to a trial or prosecution of any sort.

Garima yet Unsecured

  1. The study was released by the Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan (RGA), an NGO partnering with the Union Ministry of Social Justice for an ongoing manual scavenging census.
  2. The Ministry has reported 323 deaths nationwide in 2017 alone.
  3. Only 31% of affected families received cash compensation, while none received the rehabilitation or alternative jobs to which they are entitled by law.

Families recount: A Case Study

  1. On the sidelines of the release event, families of victims shared the personal tragedies.
  2. A Dalit community held hartals to protest the two deaths in Uttar Pradesh’s Etawah in May 2009.
  3. Under pressure, the police registered an FIR and took the house’s owner into custody.
  4. The municipality promised compensation and permanent jobs for family members.
  5. A few months later, when the pressure died down, the owner was quietly released.
  6. The bereft family received no cash or jobs.
  7. The deceased family dint even gets a death certificate.
  8. They were not allowed to cremate him in the city because authorities wanted to avoid public outrage.

The Unanswered Question

  1. When the government builds toilets through its Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, it is not taking into account the question of who will have to clean the septic tanks.
  2. The government as an employer, so how could one file an FIR is an unanswered exclamation.

Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

India launches ‘Operation Samudra Maitri’ to help tsunami-hit Indonesia


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Op Samudra Maitri, Causes of the Tsunami

Mains level:  India’s HADR operations.


Operation Samudra Maitri

  1. India has launched a massive operation for humanitarian assistance to provide assistance to the earthquake and tsunami victims in Indonesia.
  2. It dispatched two aircraft and three naval ships carrying relief material to the country.
  3. The C-130J aircraft is carrying a medical team along with tents and equipments to set up a field hospital.
  4. The C-17 aircraft is carrying medicines, generators, tents and water to provide immediate assistance.
  5. Three Indian Navy ships — INS Tir, INS Sujatha and INS Shardul — have also been mobilised to carry out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).


What Caused Indonesia Tsunami?

  1. A chain of geological events set off by the violent quake liquefied the loose soil and possibly caused an underwater landslide, triggering a tsunami wave that may have been intensified by the shape of the bay.
  2. The quake was likely caused by movement of the Palu-Koro fault which runs almost north to south down Sulawesi on a line through Palu’s narrow bay.

  1. The Palu-Koro is a strike-slip fault, where the two sides slide past each other horizontally, unlike a thrust fault which pushes one side over the other.
  2. A thrust quake is more likely to trigger a tsunami because its vertical motion pushes a column of seawater upwards, setting a wave in motion.

  1. The fault usually shifts by 30 to 40 mm a year, with the western side heading south while the eastern edge moves north.
  2. The shaky nature of this particular quake has triggered the liquefaction, by agitating the water to such an extent that mud bubbled up from underground, weakening foundations, and uprooting trees.

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

‘1,200 km/hour’: World’s first Hyperloop passenger capsule unveiled


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hyperloop Technology

Mains level: Utility of hyperloop technology in Transportation


World’s First Hyperloop Capsule

  1. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Inc. unveiled its first full-scale passenger capsule, offering the world a peek at the future of travel.
  2. The capsule, 105 feet (32 meters) long and weighing 5 tons, was shown in Spain.
  3. Named as the Quintero One, the product is made almost entirely out of composite material.

Hyperloop Technology

  1. Hyperloop is a technology that gained popularity after billionaire Elon Musk touted it in 2013, prompting several companies to join the race to build a high-speed transportation system.
  2. It envisages moving passengers in capsules at speeds of more than 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) per hour through low-pressure tubes, in order to reduce friction.
  3. The technology will be able to propel trains faster than existing methods such as the Maglev, which uses a levitation technology to lift the train cars above a track to eliminate surface drag.

Hyperloop in India

  1. Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One held discussions in India, aiming to offer passengers in the futuristic technology fares that are cheaper than local airlines.
  2. Branson has signed a preliminary agreement in Mumbai for a broad hyperloop framework and mooted a Mumbai-Pune system that would shrink travel time to 25 minutes and save about three hours.

Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Gujarat acts to save its pride


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Viruses mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: Government’s efforts for lion conservation.



  1. The Gujarat government got stunned by the deaths of 23 lions since September.
  2. It initially considered that the lions had died due to infighting for territorial domination.
  3. It has now launched rescue efforts and also called experts from outside, including London, and imported a vaccine from the United States.

Under treatment against Deadly Virus

  1.  More than 500 lions had already been screened to detect viral infections in the big cats in the Gir forests and revenue areas.
  2. Many are battling for their lives as a deadly outbreak of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and tick-borne Babesiosis is killing the cats.
  3. According to the State Forest Department, of the 23 deaths, four lions died of CDV, and 17 were killed by a tick-borne infection.
  4. According to experts, the Gujarat government was warned in 2011, when experts analysed tissues from a 2007 Gir lion carcass.
  5. It found the presence of highly contagious Peste Des Petits Ruminants Virus (PPRV), which carries an 80%-100% chance of mortality.

Tourism Sector

Lagoon villas to come to Lakshadweep’s emeralds


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Holistic Development of Islands

Mains level: Enhancing Tourism Potential of the Islands of India


NITI Aayog Strategy to boost Tourism

  1. NITI Aayog through its plan for “holistic development of the islands” is set to boost eco tourism in Lakshadweep lagoons.
  2. It is planning to set up island water villas which in turn will be a popular alternative to leading destinations such as Mauritius and Maldives.
  3. The apex planning body, along with other stakeholders, including the Island Development Agency (IDA) is conducting a technical feasibility study for the project.

Details of the Plan

  1. The panel is identifying an island where a film city can be built.
  2. The new idea will not only attract tourists but also relieve some of the pressure on Mumbai as a filming hub.
  3. As part of the plan, the government will issue tenders for four tourism-based hospitality projects – three in Andaman & Nicobar, and one in Lakshadweep.
  4. These will mainly be eco-cottages for which private players can bid to build. The projects will add about 700 rooms.
  5. Ecological concerns and tribal-related issues are fully taken care of.

Foreign Tourists on Decline

  1. The arrival of domestic tourists in Andaman and Nicobar islands rose from over 2.02 lakh in 2011 to over 3.84 lakh in 2016.
  2. However the inflow of foreign tourists was stagnant at around 15,000.
  3. This is in spite of the fact that globally, there is a high demand for eco-tourism, adventure tourism (sea sports, game fishing) and cruise tourism.

Better Island Connectivity in A&N

  1. The Diglipur Airport (in the Andamans) is expected to be operational for civilian aircraft by December, 2018.
  2. Better connectivity to Diglipur, Port Blair, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay through smaller aircraft, supplemented with more helicopter services will boost inter-island connectivity in Andaman and Nicobar.

Monsoon Updates

For the first time, India gets its soil moisture map


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture| Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Rabi and Kharif Season, Variable Infiltration Capacity Model

Mains level: Utility of Moisture Mapping


Moisture Mapping

  1. With the Rabi season around the corner, a countrywide forecast is prepared at the end of the monsoon season.
  2. This forecast, following a joint exercise by IIT Gandhinagar and the India Meteorological Department (IMD), for the first time, provides a country-wide soil moisture forecast at seven and 30-day lead times.
  3. Soil moisture is crucial for agriculture since it directly affects crop growth and how much irrigation is required for the area.
  4. It suggests deficit soil moisture conditions are likely in Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh.

Variable Infiltration Capacity Model

  1. The experts used the ‘Variable Infiltration Capacity’ model to provide the soil moisture prediction.
  2. The product, termed ‘Experimental Forecasts Land Surface Products’, is available on the IMD website.
  3. It has been developed using the hydrological model that takes into consideration soil, vegetation, land use and land cover among other parameters.
  4. The team has been working on high-resolution soil database that is essential for soil parameters used in the modelling.
  5. However, the database is not available for the entire country currently.

Why need Moisture Map?

  1. Crucial information needed for agriculture is not revealed only through rainfall data.
  2. Even if there’s a normal rainfall, if the temperature is abnormally high, it can rapidly deplete the soil moisture.
  3. So essentially soil moisture gives us more information on what is needed for crop growth in different parts of the country.
  4. Forecasting of soil moisture holds significance for the rabi season.
  5. As per official data, the total area sown under rabi crops is around 625 lakh hectares of which wheat takes up 300 lakh hectares.
  6. Timely soil moisture forecasts will help target interventions, in terms of seed varieties for better planning in agriculture.

Leap over Kharif uncertainties

  1. In Bundelkhand, most farmers keep their land fallow or just grow some fodder crop during the kharif season since the rains are unpredictable and there could be extended dry spells after sowing.
  2. They then mainly cultivate the rabi crop using the soil moisture left behind by the monsoon rains.
  3. It is a similar trend in Bihar, in low lying areas of Seemanchal and Kosi belt, where no crop is grown during Kharif because of inundated lands.
  4. This means that if there is not enough rainfall in one or two months, these are regions which will demand heavy irrigation whether that comes from groundwater or surface water storage (reservoirs).
  5. Based on observed conditions at present, Gujarat, parts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh are deficient in terms of soil moisture right now.

Road and Highway Safety – National Road Safety Policy, Good Samaritans, etc.

President gives assent to India’s first good Samaritan Bill


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: Particulars of the bill, Article 200, 201

Mains level: Measures to curb fatalities of Road Accidents in India



  • The Karnataka Good Samaritan and Medical Professional (Protection and Regulation during Emergency Situations) Bill 2016 received the President’s assent to finally become an Act.

The Golden Hour

  1. The legislation aims to give protection to good Samaritans and ensure immediate medical assistance for road accident victims within the ‘golden hour’.
  2. In medical term the ‘golden hour’ is the first hour after a traumatic injury when emergency treatment is very crucial.
  3. It encourages people to offer first aid to victims without fear of harassment in the hands of police and investigations.

Good Samaritan Fund

  1. Under the new law, the Karnataka government will provide financial help to good Samaritans who help victims in a timely manner.
  2. They will be exempted from repeated attendance in courts and police stations.
  3. But if in case the attendance is mandatory, expenses of such “running around to courts and police stations” will be taken care through the proposed ‘Good Samaritan Fund’.

Provisions of the Bill

  1. The legislation covers the costs of “running around to courts and police stations” and grants the “Samaritans” exemption from repeated attendance in courts.
  2. It also makes it mandatory for all government and private hospitals to give first aid to accident victims. Karnataka accounted for a significantly high number of road accident fatalities in 2016 and 2015.


Governor’s power to Reserve Bills for President’s reconsideration

  1. Under Article 200, the Governor can reserve a bill passed by the legislature for reconsideration of the President.
  2. A bill can be reserved under the following circumstances:
  • if the bill is unconstitutional,
  • if it is against the larger interest of the country,
  • if it is in direct opposition to the Directive Princi­ples of State Policy,
  • if the bill passed by the state legislature is of grave national importance,
  • if it endangers the position of the High Court and
  • if the bill, deals with the compulsory acquisition of property under Article 31(3).
  1. This reservation is an alternative to his giving or refusing assent to the Bill. Indeed, in matters where reservation is compulsory, the Governor is prohibited from giving his assent.
  2. The Constitution does not specify the time-limit within which the Governor can reserve the bill and when the bill would come back.
  3. Under Article 201, when the Governor sends a bill to the President for reconsideration, the President has to declare whether he is giving or withholding his assent.
  4. In cases of non-money bills, the President, if he is not giving his assent, can ask the Governor to send the bill back to the House or Houses as the case may be.
  5. The House or Houses will reconsider this bill, sent by the President, within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such message.
  6. If it is again passed by the House or Houses, with or without amendment, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration.

Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

Odisha to launch State Food Security Scheme


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Public Distribution System – objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SFSS

Mains level: Food Security in India


Odisha Scheme for NFSA Left-outs

  1. The Odisha will launch its own State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) which would be totally funded by the state government.
  2. Over 18 lakh poor and eligible people left out under National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA) will receive their quota of 5 kg of rice at the rate of Rupee 1 per kg .

State Food Security Scheme (SFSS)

  1. The state government decided to launch its own food security scheme after the Centre did not respond to Odisha government’s request to add additional 25 lakh poor people under the NFSA.
  2. 25 lakh beneficiaries will be provided with cheap rice under the SFSS.
  3. A total of 3,26,41,800 beneficiaries were included in the NFSA as per the 2011 census.
  4. Over 73 per cent of the target for SFSS has been achieved by September 30 and rest will be covered by the second week of October.
  5. The state government on October 2, 2008 had launched the cheap rice scheme in Odisha where beneficiaries were given rice at the rate of Rs 2 per kg.
  6. Later in 2013, the price of cheap rice was reduced to Rupee 1 a kg for people living below poverty line.

59 plant species in IUCN threat categories


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IUCN Red List

Mains level: Conservation of rare plant species


Indian Study with IUCN criteria

  1. Recently, scientists identified the threat status of 59 Indian plant species based on criteria used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  2. Funding agencies consider the threat status of species provided in IUCN’s Red List to sponsor research and conservation activities to save them.
  3. The study initiated in 2012 to assign threat status to select plants, is published in Current Science Journal.

Most Indian species remain neglected

  1. Around 2,700 plant species in India are at risk but very few have been assessed by the IUCN.
  2. To bridge this gap Scientists from Lucknow and from several institutes prioritized 59 plant species that are at risk of “elimination” if the threat levels they face are not assessed soon.
  3. The threat levels of some plants have been altered as a result; for instance the palm Bentinckia nicobarica is currently listed as endangered.
  4. The study also generated data on 38 species that have never been assessed by the IUCN.


IUCN Red List

  1. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species founded in 1964, has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
  2. It uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of all species and subspecies.
  3. A series of Regional Red Lists are produced by countries or organizations, which assess the risk of extinction to species within a political management unit.
  4. The IUCN aims to have the category of every species re-evaluated every five years if possible, or at least every ten years.
  5. For plants, the 1997 Red List is the most important source.
  6. The formally stated goals of the Red List are-
  • to provide scientifically based information on the status of species and subspecies at a global level,
  • to draw attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity,
  • to influence national and international policy and decision-making, and
  • to provide information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity.

Red List Categories of IUCN

Corporate Social Responsibility: Issues & Development

Govt forms committee on Corporate Social Responsibility


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: CSR Provisions in India

Mains level: Reviewing the success of CSR activities in India and making proper modifications.



  1. The government has constituted a High Level Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility-2018 (HLC-2018) under the Chairmanship of Injeti Srinivas, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA).
  2. It is aimed to review the existing framework, guide and formulate the roadmap for a coherent policy on CSR.

Reviewing the CSR Framework

  1. According to MCA, the Committee will review the existing CSR framework as per Act, rules and circulars issued from time to time and recommend guidelines for better enforcement of CSR provisions.
  2. It will also analyse outcomes of CSR activities/programmes/projects and suggest measures for effective monitoring and evaluation of CSR by companies.
  3. Suggestions are also expected on innovative solutions, use of technology, platform to connect stakeholders, and social audit.

CSR Framework in India

  1. The provisions of section 135 of Companies Act, 2013 pertaining to CSR w.e.f 2014 with a view to promoting responsible and sustainable business through inclusive growth.
  2. As per the said section, the companies having Net worth of INR 500 crore or more; or Turnover of INR 1000 crore or more; or Net Profit  of  INR  5  crore  or  more  during  any  financial  year  shall  be  required  to  constitute  a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of the Board
  3. The four years of implementation have enabled compilation of data on the number of companies complying with CSR provisions, funds allocated and spent across various sectors, geographical spread of CSR spending, etc.
  4. The existing provisions of in Companies Act, 2013 with respect to CSR fully empower the Board of a Company to decide on their CSR Policy, approve projects and oversee implementation.

[op-ed snap] A UN for the People


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UN and its parts

Mains level: Growing feeling of isolationism across the world and the need to embrace multilateralism


Role of UN fading

  1. Many world leaders are convening in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly which is the closest that we have to a world parliament
  2. Even as heads of state and government from around the globe gather to debate the big challenges of our times, we have to face the fact that political differences are deepening
  3. A sense of common purpose, needed to find effective solutions to those challenges, is looking ever more elusive
  4. Many of the multilateral agreements that the UN has painstakingly achieved in recent decades are being seriously questioned

Key responsibilities of UN need to include current problems

  1. UN’s key role is in bringing nations together in order to get an agreement on everything from climate change to Middle East peace and from security to migrant rights
  2. One of the greatest challenges we now face is a widespread lack of trust in the political institutions established to serve all citizens but increasingly seen as favouring the select few
  3. Terrible conflicts continue inside some countries, with all of the destruction, degradation and misery that the UN was established to prevent
  4. We have to recognise that the growing inequality and joblessness is helping to fuel a real sense of frustration in rich and poor countries alike

Growing feeling of isolationism

  1. Confidence in multilateralism is decreasing and isolationism, extreme forms of nationalism and xenophobia are increasing
  2. This can be attributed to a dangerous view that individual nation states can act more effectively by themselves than in concert with others

What needs to be done?

  1. We have to acknowledge that none of the problems mentioned arises from a vacuum
  2. We not only need to show that multilateralism can be more effective but ensure that national policy-makers have the room to mitigate the forces having a devastating effect over people’s livelihoods

Way Forward

  1. The better societies we all want to see are predicated to a large degree on building virtuous circles of economic, social and physical well-being that can lift all boats
  2. There should be a focus on taking the global opinion and political leadership towards seeking solutions together