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Communicable and Non-communicable diseases – HIV, Malaria, Cancer, Mental Health, etc.

In a first, WHO recommends quadrivalent influenza vaccinePriority 1


Image result for influenza

Note4students

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

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Influenza Strain Types,  H#N# Subtypes

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

Quadrivalent vaccine approved

  1. Sanofi Pasteur’s injectable influenza vaccine (FluQuadri) containing two A virus strains — H1N1 and H3N2 — and two B virus strains — Victoria and Yamagata — for active immunisation of adults of age 18 to 64 years was approved in May last year by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
  2. The application for the paediatric indication is under review by the DCGI and final approval is expected by the end of this month.
  3. Sanofi’s quadrivalent influenza vaccine was licensed for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2013; it is licensed in 26 countries.

Why Quadrivalent vaccine?

  1. While a trivalent influenza vaccine contains both A subtype viruses, it has only one of the B subtype virus, the quadrivalent vaccine offers a greater breadth of protection as it includes both B subtype viruses.
  2. It is because of a greater breadth of protection that a few other companies too have shifted from a trivalent to a quadrivalent vaccine.
  3. Since the vast majority of influenza vaccines manufactured were trivalent till recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) used to recommend two A subtypes and one B subtype, plus an optional fourth strain (the other B virus strain).

Benefits of Quadrivalent Vaccine

  1. The quadrivalent vaccine will contain four influenza virus strains (two A subtypes and two B subtypes — H1N1 and H3N2, and Victoria and Yamagata respectively).
  2. The viruses used in the vaccine are killed and this eliminates the possibility of the virus in the vaccine itself causing infection.
  3. In India, the vaccine will be available as a single dose pre-filled syringe
  4. Eventually, it will be available in a vial for public health use.

Incidences of different Strains

  1. In the case of H1N1, there are two strains — California and Michigan — that cause influenza. In India, the Michigan strain was earlier circulating and has been replaced by the California strain.
  2. For 2018, the WHO has recommended the Michigan strain for the southern hemisphere, including India.
  3. Each year, the vaccine changes to reflect the different strains in circulation.
  4. Year-round, scientists across the globe track, analyze and classify the viral strains causing illness.

 Indian context

  1. Despite the high number of infections and mortality each year, India does not have in place a national policy for influenza immunization.
  2. Pregnant mothers, children aged below five and young people with asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure are at a greater risk of infection and death.
  3. The Ministry of Health issues only H1N1 vaccination guidelines for different vulnerable groups including healthcare workers.
  4. If we want to reduce the influenza burden in adults, then we must target children as they act as reservoirs.

Back2Basics

Influenza

Influenza is a virus that actually has hundreds of different strains. The virus mutates frequently, but the strains are classified into one of three main categories—A, B, or C.

Influenza A is the group that most commonly causes illness in humans.

  1. All influenza A viruses are further broken down into H and N subtypes. So, any influenza virus that is described as “H#N#” (such as H1N1) is an influenza A virus.
  2. There are 16 H subtypes and nine N subtypes, but only three combinations have actually caused highly contagious illness in humans.
  3. Other combinations have been found to infect other species (such as birds and pigs), but they have not caused widespread human infections.
  4. The three combinations that cause almost all outbreaks of the flu in humans are H1N1, H2N2 and H3N2.
  5. Even in these subtypes, the influenza virus can mutate and change each year. For this reason, influenza viruses are also named using:
  • The host of origin (swine, chicken, etc., or no host if it is of human origin)
  • The geographical location of origin (Hong Kong, Alberta, etc.)
  • Strain number
  • Year of discovery (or isolation)

Influenza B

  1. Influenza B is less common but still causes outbreaks of seasonal flu.
  2. One or two strains of influenza B are included in the seasonal flu vaccine every year to protect people from the strain(s) that researchers believe are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming flu season.
  3. The quadrivalent flu vaccine contains two strains of influenza B but the traditional trivalent flu vaccine only contains one.
  4. Influenza B is not broken down into subtypes like influenza A is, but it is broken down into individual strains.
  5. Typically, two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B are included in the seasonal flu vaccine. Quadrivalent flu vaccines contain two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B.
  6. Influenza B can cause outbreaks of seasonal flu but they occur less frequently than outbreaks of influenza A.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-APEC

[op-ed snap] Countering China in the Indo-Pacificop-ed snapPriority 1


Note4students

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: Shangri-La Dialogue, Malabar exercises, Rimpac (Rim of the Pacific) exercises, two-plus-two dialogue, Guam, Martabali port, Sonadia port, Trincomalee port, Malacca Straits, Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)

Mains level: Indo Pacific cooperation and its importance for India


Context

Shangri-La Dialogue

  1. At the recently concluded Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, PM Modi and the defense ministers of Japan, the US and Australia reiterated their shared commitment to the Indo-Pacific region
  2. It was closely followed by Japan-India-US Malabar exercises in Guam
  3. Japan, India, the US and Australia will also join Rimpac (Rim of the Pacific) exercises commencing on 27 June
  4. India and the US are planning to hold the first two-plus-two dialogue (between their foreign and defense ministers) in Washington

Turning cooperation into a “counter China strategy”

There are three possible ways

First, we should focus on the link between Indo-China border area and the East China Sea

  • If India cooperates with Japan and the US, it will not need to deal with all the Chinese fighter jets at once, because China is likely to keep some of its fighter jets to defend its eastern front.
  • Japan and the US are willing to support India’s efforts to modernize its defence in the Indo-China border area

Second, there is a high possibility that in the near future India will be the most influential sea power in the Indian Ocean Region

  • Japan, the US and Australia will then be able to deploy more military force in the East China Sea and the South China Sea to maintain the military balance against China
  • Therefore, these three countries should share the know-how related with anti-submarine capabilities and enhance India’s military preparedness
  • Developing infrastructure in countries of the region is useful, too
  • Bangladesh has already chosen Japan’s Martabali port project instead of China’s Sonadia port project
  • If the Trincomalee port project involving Japanese assistance in Sri Lanka succeeds, then the importance of China’s Hambantota port will decline
  • The Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), a result of Indo-Japanese cooperation, will also counter China’s growing influence in Africa

Third, Japan, India, the US and Australia can collaborate to support South-East Asian countries in the South China Sea

  • The South-East Asian countries need to beef up their military power
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are strategically important
  • These islands are near the Malacca Straits, providing an excellent location for tracking China’s submarine activities
  • Japanese investment in India’s strategic road project in the latter’s North-East region will help increase India-South-East Asia trade
  • Growing India-South-East Asia trade could reduce China’s influence in South-East Asia

Way Forward

  1. Further security cooperation among Japan, India, the US and Australia is increasingly plausible
  2. The time has come to proactively further this cooperation to ensure prosperity and stability in the whole of Indo-Pacific
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[op-ed snap] Parched or polluted: on India’s water crisisop-ed snapPriority 1


Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Composite Water Management Index, NITI Aayog

Mains level: Water crisis faced by India and how it can be toned down


Context

India’s impending water crisis

  1. According to the Composite Water Management Index developed by Niti Aayog, 70% of the water resources are identified as polluted
  2. If the water accessible to millions is contaminated, the problem is infinitely worse than that of availability
  3. The trends that the data reflect of high to extreme stress faced by 600 million people call for speedy reforms

Focus Areas

Two areas that need urgent measures are

  1. Augmentation of watersheds that can store more good water, for use in agriculture
  2. Strict pollution control enforcement

Mihir Shah Committee recommendations

  1. The Committee on Restructuring the Central Water Commission and the Central Ground Water Board, chaired by Mihir Shah, has called for a user-centric approach to water management, especially in agriculture
  2. It advocates decentralisation of irrigation commands, offering higher financial flows to well-performing States through a National Irrigation Management Fund

Way forward

  1. Groundwater extraction patterns need to be better understood through robust data collection
  2. Steady urbanization calls for a new management paradigm, augmenting sources of clean drinking water supply and treatment technologies that will encourage reuse
  3. Pollution can be curbed by levying suitable costs
  4. A legal mandate will work better than just competition and cooperation as it would make governments accountable
Indian Ocean Power Competition

India’s proposed Assumption Island deal stands cancelledPriority 1


Note4students

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: Assumption Island, SAGAR Programme, a Map-based study of Indian Ocean Region (IOR)

Mains level: India’s counter arrangements in IOR against rising Chinese presence


News

India’s plan to build a military base in Seychelles now stands CANCELLED

  1. The deal was to include a 20-year access to the base, as well as permission to station some military personnel on the ground with facilities on the island funded by India, owned by Seychelles and jointly managed by both sides.
  2. The deal to build a military base at Assumption Islands was struck in principle in 2015 during PM Modi’s visit to Seychelles

Another Security setback after the Maldives

  1. The decision by the Seychelles President to drop the deal in the face of protests over a perceived loss of sovereignty is a blow to the government’s “SAGAR” (Security and Growth for All in the Region) programme.
  2. It also comes amid India’s troubles with another IOR country, the Maldives, where the government has demanded that India withdraw two helicopters, pilots and personnel from its atolls that had been sent there to help with maritime patrols.

Attempts futile

  1. In an attempt to engage with the Opposition in the Seychelles that had led protests against the agreement, India had raised the issue with Leader of the Opposition of Seychelles.
  2. Naval officials pointed out that India’s defense maritime cooperation with Seychelles is long-standing and some of the upgrade work on Assumption Island was already underway.
  3. India has resurfaced the old airstrip on the island as part of the infrastructure development project worth over $500 million.
  4. The cancellation of the agreement in a strategically important island could have far-reaching implications.

 Back2Basics

SAGAR Programme (Security and Growth for All in the Region)

  1. SAGAR is a term coined by PM Modi in 2015 during his Mauritius visit with a focus on blue economy.
  2. It is a maritime initiative which gives priority to Indian Ocean region for ensuring peace, stability and prosperity of India in Indian Ocean region.
  3. The goal is to seek a climate of trust and transparency; respect for international maritime rules and norms by all countries; sensitivity to each other`s interests; peaceful resolution of maritime issues; and increase in maritime cooperation.
  4. It is in line with the principles of Indian Ocean Rim Association.

IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association)

  1. Established in 1997 in Ebene Cyber City, Mauritius
  2. First established as Indian Ocean Rim Initiative in Mauritius on March 1995 and formally launched in 1997 by the conclusion of a multilateral treaty known as the Charter of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation.
  3. It is based on the principles of Open Regionalism for strengthening Economic Cooperation particularly on Trade Facilitation and Investment, Promotion as well as Social Development of the region.
Festivals, Dances, Theatre, Literature, Art in News

The Vaishnav monks of Assam’s Majuli islandPriority 1States in News


Viashnav monks put on their costumes for a village performance on the Majuli island of Assam. Photos: Sankar Sridhar

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Srimanta Sankardev, Sattriya Nritya, Majuli island, Sangeet Natak Akademi

Mains level: Various art forms prevailing in India and threats posed by them


History of Vaishnavism in Assam

  1. Vaishnava saint Srimanta Sankardev came to Majuli island in the 15th century
  2. He along with his disciples, set up 65 sattras—which is said to translate to “unique monasteries”
  3. Sankardev developed an equally unique way of worship through dance and drama, called the Sattriya Nritya
  4. The neo-Vaishnavite movement, held together by Sankardev, saw a division into four sub-sects after his passing

About Sattriya Nritya

  1. It is a dazzling retelling of the Ramayan and Mahabharat—complete with comedy, action, suspense and make-up to match
  2. Until the 20th century, it was the preserve of male monks but has since brought women into the fold
  3. In the year 2000, the Sangeet Natak Akademi recognized this dance form as classical

Majuli Island

  1. It is the world’s biggest river island in the Brahmaputra River, Assam
  2. In 2016 it became the first island to be made a district in India
  3. The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north
  4. Hidden chars (temporary islands formed by sedimentary deposits) and sandbars are features of this island

Zero tillage good for cotton cultivationPriority 1


Note4students

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:  Zero Tillage

Mains level: Benefits of Zero tillage


News

Tillage is Labour intensive

  1. Most farmers do not own bullocks and can’t afford to hire a tractor for tilling to grow cotton
  2. It involves deployment of extra labourers for sowing in place of a bullock drawn plough.
  3. This will be slightly costly but it gets compensated as seed germination percentage is quite high and the crop stays healthy.

Zero Tillage

  1. Farmers in Telangana have dozen-year experience in sowing cotton in the zero tillage method and suggest that it is best suited for the cash crop and yields good results.
  2. Zero tillage involves sowing of seeds along the markers on the string which is held by two male labourers on either end of the land.
  3. The seeds sown in this fashion do not encounter the crust in the soil the way it happens in the tilling method.
  4. Also, the seeds encounter least resistance to take roots unlike the hardened crust.

Benefits

  1. While sowing seeds in furrows made by a plough requires administration of fertilisers at that stage, there is no need for Diammonium Phosphate to be administered to the seeds which are directly sown through zero tillage.
  2. The germination and health of the plant is as good as those seeds which had a fertiliser booster.
  3. The soil retains moisture which is quite beneficial for cotton plant growth.
  4. It retains organic matter and improves soil biological fertility.
Irrigation In India – PMKSY, AIBP, Watershed Management, Neeranchan, etc.

Why is Telangana’s Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project important?Priority 1States in News


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project, Rivers involved in it.

Mains level:  Read the attached story


News

What’s the project?

  1. The Kaleshwaram project is an off-shoot of the original Pranahitha-Chevella Lift Irrigation Scheme taken up by the government in 2007 when Andhra Pradesh was not divided.
  2. After conducting a highly advanced Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) survey for a couple of months, the government separated the original component serving the Adilabad area as the Pranahitha project.
  3. The project is designed to irrigate 7,38,851 hectares (over 18.47 lakh acres) uplands in the erstwhile districts of Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal, Medak, Nalgonda and Ranga Reddy.

Why is it Unique?

  1. Claimed to be the costliest irrigation project to be taken up by any State till date with an estimated cost of ₹80,500 crore.
  2. KLIP has many unique features, including the longest tunnel to carry water in Asia, running up to 81 km, between the Yellampally barrage and the Mallannasagar reservoir.
  3. The project would also utilize the highest capacity pumps, up to 139 MW, in the country to lift water.
Wetland Conservation

Blue revolution a bane of KolleruPriority 1


Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geographical Features of Kolleru Lake and its Biodiversity

Mains level: Shrinking size of Kolleru Lake and various other wetlands is a matter of concern


News

Pisciculture at Kolleru Lake is a bane

  1. The blue revolution converted the lake into a centre mainly for pisciculture.
  2. Operation Kolleru was launched to clear the lake of unauthorised fish tanks.
  3. But this would reduce the protected area of the lake from +5 to +3 contours (that is by 538 sq.km) and AP govt even had a resolution to that effect passed in the Assembly and forwarded it to the Centre.
  4. The huge yields with relatively low expenditure made it the primary destination for aquaculture making it the target of the worst kind of encroachment.

Defining the boundary

  1. The lake’s boundary varies depending on the seasonal inflows like in all inland wetlands.
  2. Towards the end of the monsoon, it used to extend right up to +10 feet contour with a water-spread area of 901 sq. km.
  3. According to the Ramsar records the lake, till contour +10 ft, is protected as per the international convention.

Issue over Boundary

  1. In the summer, the area covered by water reduces to 135 sq.km (Con.+3 ft).
  2. The present government’s decision to “denotify” 20,000 acres from the wildlife sanctuary as per the recommendations of the Sukumar Committee will lead to further encroachment of the shrinking lake and make it more vulnerable.

Centre’s stance over the issue

  1. In response to the State resolutions, the Centre appointed two expert committees — the UPA appointed the A. Azeez Committee and the NDA government the Sukumar Committee — to advise them about reducing the size.
  2. While the Azeez committee said there was very little benefit in reducing the size and recommended alternate land be provided to holders of private land.
  3. The Sukumar committee suggested that the private land be removed from the sanctuary.
  4. The present government’s decision to “denotify” 20,000 acres from the wildlife sanctuary as per the recommendations of the Sukumar Committee will lead to further encroachment of the shrinking lake and make it more vulnerable.

Back2Basics

Kolleru Lake

  1. Kolleru Lake is a freshwater lake and is known as Ramsar site no. 1209.
  2. It is located between Krishna and Godavari deltas of Andhra Pradesh
  3. As a haven for a wide variety of water birds, the Forest Department has declared 673 sq.km (Con.+5) as the Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary.
  4. It is an Important Bird Area on the Central Asian Flyway.
  5. It is important habitat for resident and migratory birds, including the grey or spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis). Many birds migrate here in winter, such as the Siberian crane, ibis, and painted storks.
Indian Missile Program Updates

DRDO turns Pinaka rocket system into guided missile, developmental trials soonPriority 1


drdo, guided missile, pinaka rocket system, defence research org, drdo latest news, indian express

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pinaka rocket system, DRDO

Mains level: India’s strides in defense technology sector and need for further development


Pinaka upgradation

  1. The indigenous Pinaka rocket system of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is being evolved into a precision-guided missile, with enhanced range and accuracy to hit its targets
  2. It is known for firing a salvo of 12 rockets in just 44 seconds

About Pinaka

  1. The rocket has been developed by the Armament cluster of the DRDO, with a lead from Pune-based Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE)
  2. Along with ARDE, the High Energy Material Research Laboratory in Pune and two DRDO establishments in Hyderabad have contributed to the development
  3. The initial version of the Pinaka rocket was Mark I, with a range of 40 km
  4. It was further developed into Pinaka Mark II, which has an enhanced range of 70 to 80 km
  5. Pinaka Mark I had been used in the 1999 Kargil conflict

Back2Basics

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

  1. DRDO is an agency of the government, charged with the military’s research and development
  2. It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India
  3. DRDO is a network of more than 50 laboratories which are deeply engaged in developing defense technologies covering various disciplines, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, combat vehicles, engineering systems, instrumentation, missiles, advanced computing and simulation, special materials, naval systems, life sciences, training, information systems and agriculture
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

20 States on board to implement Ayushman BharatPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ayushman Bharat scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme, SECC

Mains level : Universal health coverage and related issues


Note4students

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: Ayushman Bharat scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme, SECC

Mains level: Universal health coverage and related issues


News

Status of States Joining the ambitious programme

  1. Twenty States are on board to implement the Ayushman Bharat Scheme by having a MoU with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW)
  2. States that are likely to go for the insurance model are Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura. Union Territories of Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli will also opt for the insurance model.
  3. Those keen on adopting a trust model are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Lakshwadeep, Manipur, Puducherry, Telangana, Sikkim and Goa.
  4. Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu have expressed an interest to adopt the hybrid model.
  5. For example, for all payments under ₹50,000, Gujarat has proposed to opt for insurance payment and for anything above it has opted for trust-based payment.
  6. West Bengal and Delhi chose to keep away from signing the MoU.
  7. Odisha will most likely not be a part of Ayushman Bharat as it wants to launch its own state-based scheme for health insurance.

Back2Basics

Ayushman BharatNational Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM)

  • The scheme was announced in the Budget 2018
  • The scheme will provide a cover of ₹5 lakh per family per year
  • There will be no cap on family size and age
  • The benefits cover will include pre and post-hospitalization expenses
  • All pre-existing conditions will be covered from day one of the policy
  • A defined transport allowance per hospitalization will also be paid to the beneficiary
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

The rising risks to financing India’s current account deficitPriority 1


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Indian Economy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CAD, BoP

Mains level: Impact of rising crude oil prices on CAD and other vulnerabilities.


News

Higher oil prices are raising India’s CAD

  1. The higher current account deficit will put downward pressure on the rupee and it may also raise the cost of Indian borrowing abroad.
  2. The stress on BoP is already visible in Q1FY19 with the INR depreciating 4%; the RBI had to intervene to stem the depreciation.
  3. NRI flows too have proved to be volatile, especially if the rupee depreciates.

Financing CAD is risky

  1. It’s not just that the current account deficit is widening—the means of financing it also became riskier in 2017-18.
  2. On the one hand, higher oil prices are raising the current account deficit and on the other, foreign direct investment—the most stable source of financing the deficit—has come down.
  3. This has led to greater reliance on foreign portfolio inflows, particularly volatile debt inflows and also on short-term credit.

Why such Problem?

  1. This is a problem because the US Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates and has signalled more rate hikes to come.
  2. As per RBI governor the US programme of shrinking its balance sheet, coupled with increased US T-Bill issuance to fund a larger government deficit, has already led to dollar liquidity shrinking in international markets, particularly in the debt markets.
  3. This is behind the outflows from emerging market debt.

Cost of Protectionism

  1. The rapid deterioration in the trade environment as a result of protectionist policies is also likely to affect export growth, while rising investment demand will result in more imports.
  2. The UNCTAD, had in its recent World Investment report pointed to a slowdown in global foreign direct investment flows.

Dependence on FPI is dangerous

  1. Relying on portfolio flows to finance this deficit will expose the country to the vulnerabilities of uncertain international capital flows, making funding difficult particularly during risk-off episodes.
  2. Within portfolio flows, the increased reliance on debt inflows carries more risks, as unlike equity, debt has to be repaid.
  3. Earlier this month, credit rating agency Moody’s Indian affiliate, ICRA Ltd, said high global crude oil prices are likely to widen India’s CAD and pointed to slowing foreign portfolio investments as an area of concern.
Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

[op-ed snap] China’s growing role in Asian trade and its impactPriority 1


Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Trade Organization, Trade in Value-added (TiVA) database, Onshoring, Backward & forward participation

Mains level: China’s increasing participation in global trade and its implications on India as well as Asia


Context

Ongoing trade dispute between the US and China

  1. The ongoing trade dispute between the US and China is of particular concern for emerging Asian economies
  2. These economies have prospered by being active participants in regional and global value chains (GVCs)

Dependence of Asia on triad & China’s role

  1. Trade in Asia over the past 30 years has been shaped by GVCs
  2. Asia’s dependence on the triad (the US, Europe and Japan) as sources of technology, management and organization expertise—which are embodied in multinationals from these countries—as well as final export markets remains critical
  3. China has become a key assembling hub in many Asian supply chains and has played a major role in ensuring that manufactured exports from Asia have remained cost-competitive globally
  4. China has emerged as an export powerhouse and a key player in both intra-regional and extra-regional trade

China’s impact on Asian trade

  1. China has assumed an increasingly prominent role in the intra-regional trade landscape, especially after it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001
  2. China’s trade performance has had a major impact on Asia’s intra-regional trade as a whole
  3. The recent trade slowdown in Asia has been driven in part by the stagnation and contraction of rest of Asia (ROA)’s exports to China between 2012 and 2016

Backward & forward participation

  1. Backward participation is measured by the share of foreign value-added content in total gross exports
  2. East and South-East Asian economies averaged almost 30% based on the WTO’s Trade in Value-added (TiVA) database in terms of backward participation
  3. Forward participation captures the domestic value-added content embodied in the exports of other economies

Rising prospects of China

  1. With a rapid growth in per capita domestic incomes, the country is emerging as an important destination for final exports
  2. It is experiencing a transition from investment to consumption and manufacturing to services
  3. Progress in China’s technological sophistication has enabled the economy to utilize an increasing share of domestic capital and intermediate goods in export production (onshoring)

Implications for India

  1. India has not been able to fit prominently into the Asian GVCs
  2. The initial expectation was that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would be the catalyst for this to happen
  3. But it is believed that such trade agreements have been the cause of and may be part of the reason of the limited success of the much-touted “Make in India” scheme
  4. India’s anemic manufacturing performance and the inability of India to plug effectively into regional global supply chains can be attributed to the sustained supply-side distortions and rigidities as well as relatively high trade costs in India

Way forward

  1. The fourth industrial revolution appears to be disrupting and shortening GVCs
  2. India should focus on leapfrogging and getting prepared for this Industry 4.0
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

New norms for college teachersPriority 1


Note4students

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: University Grants Commission, Swayam

Mains level: Higher education governance in India and reforms required


Change in UGC regulations

  1. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has brought out a new set of regulations to alter the conditions for recruitment and promotion of college and university teachers
  2. This is done to make universities more focussed on research and colleges on the teaching-learning process

New norms

  1. Research will no longer be mandatory for college teachers for promotion
  2. College teachers will be graded on teaching rather than research
  3. They can earn grades for other activities too — like social work, helping in adoption of a village, helping students in extra-curricular activities, contributing teaching material to Swayam, the MOOCS platform for online material
  4. The regulations also make teaching hours flexible
  5. Indians who had been awarded a doctoral degree from any of the top 500 global universities would be eligible to teach in Indian universities without the requirement of any equivalence certificate or NET as soon as the regulations are notified

Back2Basics

University Grants Commission (UGC)

  1. The University Grants Commission of India (UGC India) is a statutory body set up in accordance to the UGC Act 1956 under Ministry of Human Resource Development
  2. It is charged with coordination, determination, and maintenance of standards of higher education
  3. It provides recognition to universities in India and disburses funds to such recognized universities and colleges
  4. UGC, along with CSIR currently conducts NET for appointments of teachers in colleges and universities
  5. It has made NET qualification mandatory for teaching at Graduation level and at Post Graduation level since July 2009
Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

[pib] Cabinet approves proposal for enactment of Dam Safety Bill, 2018PIBPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Particulars of the draft Bill

Mains level : The newscard talks about addressing the issue of Dam safety and unresolved points of issues between the states which share dam territory.


Note4students

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: Particulars of the draft Bill

Mains level:  The newscard talks about addressing the issue of Dam safety and unresolved points of issues between the states which share dam territory.


Context

  1. There are over 5200 large dams in India and about 450 are under construction. Plus there are thousands of medium and small dams.
  2. Due to lack of legal and institutional architecture for dam safety in India, dam safety is an issue of concern
  3. Unsafe dams are a hazard and dam break may cause disasters, leading to huge loss of life and property.
  4. The draft bill seeks to address all issues concerning dam safety including regular inspection of dams, Emergency Action Plan, comprehensive dam safety review, adequate repair and maintenance funds for dam safety, Instrumentation and Safety Manuals.

Benefits

  1. It will help all the States and UTs to adopt uniform dam safety procedures which shall ensure safety of dams and safeguard benefits from such dams.
  2. This shall also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.
  3. A case in point is the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala, which is a perennial flashpoint between the State and neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
  4. The Chennai floods of 2015 due to unusually heavy rain were thought to have been compounded by an unprecedented release of water from the Chembarambakkam dam into the Adyar.

Key Propositions

  1. The Bill provides for constitution of a National Committee on Dam Safety which shall evolve dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations as may be required for the purpose.
  2. This provides for the establishment of National Dam Safety Authority as a regulatory body which shall discharge functions to implement the policy, guidelines and standards for dam safety in the country.
  3. The Bill also provides for constitution of a State Committee on Dam Safety by State Government.

 National Dam Safety Authority

  • It shall maintain liaison with the State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSO) and the owners of dams for standardization of dam safety-related data and practices;
  • It shall provide the technical and managerial assistance to the States and SDSO
  • It shall maintain a national level database of all dams in the country and the records of major dam failures;
  • It shall examine the cause of any major dam failure;
  • It shall accord recognition or accreditations to the organizations that can be entrusted with the works of investigation, design or construction of new dams;
  • It will also look into unresolved points of issue between two states

State Committee on Dam Safety

  1. It will ensure proper surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in that State and ensure their safe functioning.
  2. It further provides that every State shall establish a “State Dam Safety Organisation“, which will be manned by officers from the field dam safety preferably from the areas of dam-designs, hydro-mechanical engineering, hydrology, geotechnical investigation, instrumentation and dam-rehabilitation.
Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[pib] NITI Aayog to launch Composite Water Management IndexPIBPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Components of Composite Water Management Index

Mains level : Read the attached story


Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Components of Composite Water Management Index

Mains level: Need for sustainable use of water


Composite Water Management Index

  1. NITI Aayog has come up with the Composite Water Management Index as a useful tool to assess and improve the performance in efficient management of water resources.
  2. This index is an attempt to inspire States and UTs towards efficient and optimal utilization of water, and recycling thereof with a sense of urgency.
  3. The index would provide useful information for the States and also for the concerned Central Ministries/Departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.

Sectors Prioritized for Water Management Index

  • Restoration of Water Bodies– Source Augmentation
  • Groundwater– Source Augmentation
  • Major and Medium Irrigation – Supply Side Management
  • Watershed Development – Supply Side Management
  • Participatory Irrigation Practices – Demand Side Management
  • Sustainable on-farm Water Use Practices – Demand Side Management
  • Rural Drinking Water
  • Urban Water Supply and Sanitation
  • Policy and Governance

Managing Water Resources

  1. In view of limitations on availability of water resources and rising demand for water, sustainable management of water resources has acquired critical importance.
  2. The index can be utilized to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources
NPA Crisis

[op-ed snap] The government needs to handle public sector banks with careop-ed snapPriority 1


Note4students

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: PCA by RBI, Recapitalization Plan, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

Mains level: The editorial discusses the difficulties in the operations of PSU Banks thereby creating NPAs


News

Low Confidence in the working of PSU banks

  1. PSU banks are grappling with a high level of bad loans, and a number of them have been put under RBI’s prompt corrective action and are not in a position to lend.
  2. In the March quarter, PSU banks booked losses in excess of Rs 62,000 crore and the total gross non-performing assets (NPAs) stood at about Rs 9 trillion.
  3. Although the government is in the process of recapitalizing state-run banks, it is likely that the current Rs 2.11 trillion PSU bank recapitalization plan will not be sufficient to put the PSU banks back on track.
  4. Since PSU banks own about 70% of banking assets, their inability to lend will have a direct impact on economic growth.

Fear of Investigation amongst CEOs

  1. Four out of 21 PSU banks have not appointed replacements for chief executive officers (CEOs) and top executives in nine more banks are expected to leave in the coming months.
  2. However, it is likely that the government will find it difficult to attract talent due to the fear of investigative agencies among bankers.
  3. A number of present and former senior executives are under investigation for past transactions ex. Chanda Kochar
  4. The government must ensure that investigations don’t become a witch-hunt, and that the issue is handled with utmost care.

Problem of Valuation of Stressed Assets and Capital Infusion Plan

  1. The government is now mulling the formation of asset reconstruction companies for faster resolution of bad loans and has constituted a committee to make recommendations in this regard.
  2. But the basic problem will be valuation of stressed assets.
  3. The ARC will need a significant amount of capital, which the government is not in a position to provide.
  4. In fact, now that India has the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in place, there is no need for the government to form an ARC. Banks should be able to resolve bad assets under this framework.

Lacking Governance reforms for PSU Banks

  1. The government has refrained from micromanaging PSU banks, but this in itself will not solve the problem.
  2. A situation where banks run without a CEO should never arise.
  3. PSU banks should be in a position to attract talent by offering competitive compensation at every level to be able to improve their operation and risk management systems.
  4. Only when banks are run by professionals will they be in a position to fund India’s growth in the long run and create value for all stakeholders, including the taxpayer.

The Way Forward

  1. At a broader level there should be clarity on the future of PSU banks.
  2. In fact, some of the banking reforms will only work if a clear roadmap is defined.
  3. For instance, if the government believes that a few banks should focus on under-banked areas, some financial support may be warranted.
  4. Perhaps banks should be allowed to focus on specific areas of strength so that they become more efficient over time and are not dependent on budgetary support for growth.
  5. It will be difficult to sustain higher growth without a strong banking system
Innovation Ecosystem in India

[pib] 3,000 Additional Atal Tinkering Labs AnnouncedPriority 1


Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Atal Innovation Mission, Atal Tinkering Labs

Mains level: Measures being undertaken to promote innovation in India


News

Expanding the reach of ATLs 

  1. NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has selected 3,000 additional schools for the establishment of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs), bringing the total number of ATL schools to 5,441.
  2. The selected schools shall receive a grant of Rs 20 lakh spread over the next five years to establish Atal Tinkering Labs for nurturing innovation and entrepreneurial spirit among secondary school children across India.
  3. ATLs will soon be established in every district of India, seeking to enable an innovation ecosystem, which will facilitate transformational change in technological innovation and pedagogy.
  4. These additional 3,000 schools will greatly expand the reach of the ATL program, increasing the number of children exposed to tinkering and innovation and providing access to the young innovators of India to technologies like 3D Printing, Robotics, IoT and microprocessors.

 What’s special in new addition?

  1. These additional schools will facilitate the creation of over One Million Neoteric Child Innovators by 2020.
  2. ATLs will function as innovation hubs for these student innovators to explore solutions to unique local problems which they come across in their everyday lives

Back2Basics 

Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

  1. Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) including Self-Employment and Talent Utilization (SETU) is Government of India’s endeavour to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship
  2. Its objective is to serve as a platform for promotion of world-class Innovation Hubs, Grand Challenges, Start-up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas
  3. The Atal Innovation Mission shall have two core functions:
  • Entrepreneurship promotion through Self-Employment and Talent Utilization, wherein innovators would be supported and mentored to become successful entrepreneurs
  • Innovation promotion: to provide a platform where innovative ideas are generated

With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India

The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.

ATL is a workspace where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands-on do-it-yourself mode, and learn innovation skills

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO offers battery technology to firmsPriority 1


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Lithium-ion battery

Mains level: Transfer of Lithium-ion know-how will help electric vehicle start ups under FAME India Scheme


News

Transfer of Lithium-ion know-how to help electric vehicle start ups

  1. An RFQ (request for quotation) issued by ISRO invites multiple qualified companies or start-ups to use its power storage technology to produce a range of Li-ion cells for many purposes, mainly EVs or electric vehicles.
  2. ISRO’s rocket sciences node Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre will transfer its in-house technology non-exclusively to each qualified production agency for a one-time fee of ₹1 crore.
  3. Currently, the batteries are imported mostly from China, South Korea and Taiwan.
  4. To drive the Indian EV dream of the coming decades, national think tank NITI Aayog has also earlier called for setting up local production

Back2Basics

FAME India Scheme

  1. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India [FAME] scheme was started with effect from 1st April 2015
  2. It has the objective to support hybrid/electric vehicles market development and Manufacturing eco-system
  3. The scheme has 4 focus areas i.e. Technology development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure
  4. The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivizing all vehicle segments i.e. 2 Wheeler, 3 Wheeler Auto, Passenger 4 Wheeler Vehicle, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses
  5. The scheme covers Hybrid & Electric technologies like Mild Hybrid, Strong Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid & Battery Electric Vehicles
Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

SEBI panel to study option of direct overseas listingsPriority 1


Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Statutory, regulatory & various quasi-judicial bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SEBI, GDR, ADR

Mains level: Market regulators and their powers


News

Companies can list abroad now only via depository receipts

  1. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has constituted an expert committee to examine the possibility of allowing unlisted Indian companies to directly list equity overseas while also allowing foreign companies to list directly on the Indian stock markets.
  2. Considering the evolution and internationalisation of the capital markets, it would be worthwhile to consider facilitating companies incorporated in India to directly list their equity share capital abroad and vice versa, SEBI said in a statement.
  3. Currently, Indian firms can only use the depository receipts route — American Depository Receipt (ADR) or Global Depository Receipt (GDR) — to list on overseas exchanges.
  4. For foreign companies wanting to list on Indian exchanges, the Indian Depository Receipt (IDR) is the only option currently.

Masala bonds, IDRs

  1. Companies incorporated in India can today list their debt securities on international exchanges (Masala bonds) but their equity share capital can be listed abroad only through the ADR/GDR route.
  2. Similarly, companies incorporated outside India can access the Indian capital markets only through the IDR route.

Back2Basics

Global Depository Receipts

  • Indian companies are allowed to raise equity capital in the international markets through the issue of GDR.
  • GDR are designated in USD / Euros or any other foreign currency.
  • The proceeds of GDR can be utilized for various purposes.

American Depository Receipts

  • These are like shares issued to US retail and institutional investors and are listed in NASDAQ/NYSE
  • They are entitled like share to bonus, stock split and dividend.
  • ADR route is taken as non-USA companies are NOT allowed to list on US stock exchanges by issuing shares
Foreign Policy Watch: India-ASEAN

Rise in India-ASEAN naval gamesPriority 1


Note4students

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: ASEAN, Java sea, CORPAT, Malabar exercise, coast of Guam, Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC)

Mains level: India’s increasing cooperation with ASEAN and need of it to counter China


Naval games with ASEAN

  1. The Navies of India and Indonesia will hold their first bilateral exercise in the Java Sea
  2. India will stage a new trilateral exercise with Thailand and Singapore soon
  3. India is instituting a series of bilateral and multilateral naval exercises with Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries
  4. This is being done as part of the increasing military-to-military cooperation
  5. India is also looking at a new multilateral exercise with ASEAN

Increasing cooperation

  1. The bilateral with Indonesia is in addition to the Coordinated Patrol (CORPAT) that the two sides conduct
  2. The bilateral with Indonesia will be held after the conclusion of the Malabar trilateral naval war games between India, Japan and the U.S. which is underway off the coast of Guam
  3. Two of the ships participating in Malabar will head to the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the world’s largest multilateral exercise, hosted by the U.S. biennially off the Hawaii islands