Zero tillage good for cotton cultivation

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?

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 Kolleru

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 soon

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 Bharat

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 deficit

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 impact

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 teachers

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, 2018

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 Index

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 care

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 Announced

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 firms

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 listings

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.

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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 games

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

Mother and Child Health – Immunization Program, BPBB, PMJSY, PMMSY, etc.

PM’s maternity scheme benefits 23.6 lakh

Note4students

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: PMMVY

Mains level: Hurdles in implementing PMMVY


News

Programme picking up after a slow start +  Huge Backlog

  1. After initial hiccups in implementing the maternity benefit programme Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), the government has finally made some headway and provided cash incentives to nearly 23.6 lakh beneficiaries out of an estimated 51.6 lakh a year.
  2. However, until January 2018, the government programme had covered only 90,000 women — a mere 2% of the target.
  3. However, due to a huge backlog from last year, the government needed to provide cash benefits to over 100 lakh estimated beneficiaries by the end of the financial year 2017-18.

States are yet to come on board

  1. Many States like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal have not yet come on board to implement the scheme.
  2. These States account for nearly 25% of the total beneficiaries
  3. These states have their own maternity benefit schemes and have been reluctant to implement the PMMVY
  4. But they were bound to comply because the scheme was a by-product of the National Food Security Act.

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Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)

  1. The maternity benefits under PMMVY are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM) except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law.
  2. The scheme is being implemented on a 60:40 cost-sharing basis with the State governments.
  3. It is for first living child of the family as normally the first pregnancy of a woman exposes her to new kind of challenges and stress factors.
  4. The Government of India has approved Pan-India implementation of PMMVY in all districts of the country under which the eligible beneficiaries get Rs. 5,000/- under PMMVY
  5. The remaining cash incentive as per approved norms towards Maternity Benefit under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) after institutional delivery so that on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6000/-
  6. The objectives of the scheme are:
  • Providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentives so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery of the first living child; and
  • The cash incentives provided would lead to improved health seeking behaviour amongst the PW&LM. 
  • However, to address the problem of malnutrition and morbidity among children, the Anganwadi Services Scheme, which is universal, is available to all PW&LM including the second pregnancy.
  • Further, in order to address the malnutrition and morbidity during pregnancies a number of interventions are provided to the pregnant women viz. universal screening of pregnant women for Anaemia and Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) supplementation, Calcium supplementation in pregnancy, Deworming in pregnancy, Weight gain monitoring and Counselling on nutrition, family planning and prevention of diseases. 

Monsoon Updates

What caused the Dec. 1, 2015 Chennai downpour?

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Important Geophysical phenomena, geographical features and their location- changes in critical geographical features

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Cold Pool Theory

Mains level: This sought to be a better explanation for the floods in some unexpected regions.


News

IISc researcher answers this by linking the Eastern Ghats and rain-bearing clouds

  1. In December 2015 Chennai and its surrounding regions experienced an unprecedented, heavy rainfall.
  2. In a region where the average rainfall during the season is expected to be 8-10 mm per day, one of the rain gauges in the city recorded an abnormally high, 494 mm rainfall in over 24 hours that day.
  3. This led to death of nearly 250 people, and Chennai was declared a ‘disaster zone’.

Cold Pool Theory

  1. When clouds give out water droplets, the droplets evaporate mid-air, as they fall down. This cools the surrounding air, forming a cold pool of air which sinks down and flows horizontally
  2. The gusty cold wind that heralds an approaching thunderstorm is nothing but a cold pool, which plays a pivotal role in cloud dynamics.
  3. Unlike the Western Ghats, which run close to the west coast of India, the Eastern Ghats are nearly 200 km away from the coast.
  4. Therefore, the link between the mountains orography and the rainfall over the region is crucial.
  5. The cold pool was obstructed by the Eastern Ghats from flowing downward; hence it piled up and remained stationary over the Chennai region.
  6. The reason for the clouds remaining stationary was that there was a balance between the piling of cold pool along the mountain and the winds from the bay.

Dust storms: Aandhis in North India are too caused by ‘Cold Pool’

  1. Cold pools are known to play an important role in the dust storms (Aandhi) that form in northern India.
  2. They form by the evaporation of raindrops.
  3. This process is more efficient in the drier and warmer environment as there is lot of scope of evaporation.
  4. So, the cold pools that form in these conditions, are deeper and more vigorous.
  5. As pre-monsoon conditions in north India are very dry and warm, cold pools that accompany the pre-monsoon thunderstorms there are far more destructive, causing widespread damages.

The Way Forward

  1. For the first time, this study links cold pools and the mountain structure to explain rainfall over south India.
  2. Though the primary aim of the study is to explain the anomalous rainfall over Chennai on December 1, 2015, the understanding gained from this analysis can be useful for improving the general weather forecast over this region.

Foreign Policy Watch- India-Central Asia

India, Uzbekistan to route their trade though Chabahar

 

Image source

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: Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Mains level: India-Uzbekistan Bilateral Relation and its importance.


News

Growing engagement with resource-rich Central Asia

  1. India and Uzbekistan are set to route their trade through the Iranian port of Chabahar as part of India’s growing engagement with resource-rich Central Asia.
  2. On the sidelines of the summit of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), both nations hoped to supplement their connectivity through the establishment of industrial parks and an investment zone in Uzbekistan.

India keen on Central Asian ties

  1. India has gone the extra mile to engage with the four Central Asian Republics at the ongoing SCO summit, highlighting the critical importance of this resource-rich region in shaping Eurasia.

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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

  1. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a Eurasian political, economic, and security organization
  2. The organization, formed in 2001, aims to boost cooperation in economic and security matters between China, Pakistan, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan
  3. India and Pakistan joined SCO as full members on 9 June 2017 at a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan
  4. Iran, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Belarus have been granted observer status in SCO
  5. In 2017, SCO’s eight full members account for approximately half of the world’s population, a quarter of the world’s GDP, and about 80% of Eurasia’s landmass

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s PRL scientists discover an ‘EPIC’ planet

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PRL, PARAS Spectograph, EPIC

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


News

India in elite planet-spotting club

  1. A team from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, has spotted for the first time a distant planet six times bigger than Earth and revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away.
  2. EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236.
  3. With this discovery India has joined a handful of countries which have discovered planets around stars,” PRL’s parent ISRO has announced.
  4. The discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet.

About EPIC

  1. EPIC was found circling very close to the Sun-like star, going around it once in about 19.5 days and unlikely to be inhabitable because of its high surface temperature of around 600°C.
  2. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune.
  3. Its mass is about 27 times Earth’s and six times that of Earth at radius.
  4. The scientists estimate that over 60% of its mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron.

Spectrograph Studies at PRL

  1. The spectrograph is the first of its kind in the country which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star.
  2. Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the USA and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements.
  3. They measured the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed PARAS (PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search).
  4. This spectrograph is integrated with the 1.2-metre telescope located at PRL’s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

Intellectual Property Rights in India

[pib] Declaration by the Government of Republic of India relating to Article II and III of the Appendix to the Paris Act (1971)

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: World Intellectual Property Organization, Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

Mains level: India’s IPR policy and its compliance with global norms


Ratification of the Berne Convention

  1. The World Intellectual Property Organization has notified a declaration referring to the deposit by the Government of India, on October 7, 1974, of its instrument of ratification on the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of September 9, 1886
  2. The Government of India availed itself of the faculties provided for the Article II and III of the Appendix to the Berne Convention
  3. The said declaration shall enter into force, with respect to the territory of the Republic of India, on March 28, 2018

Benefits to India

  1. The Article II of the Appendix would enable the Republic of India to substitute for the exclusive right of translation of a work, which has been published in printed or analogous forms of reproduction, granted by the competent authority, only for the purpose of teaching, scholarship or research
  2. The Article III of the Appendix would enable the Republic of India to Substitute for the exclusive right of reproduction of a work, which has been published either in printed or analogous forms of reproduction, or in audio-visual form of lawfully made audio-visual fixations, to publish an edition which has not been distributed / on sale for a period of six months, except when either the translations is not published by the owner of the right of translation or with his authorization, or when the translation is not in a language general in use in India

Back2Basics

Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

  1. The Berne Convention deals with the protection of works and the rights of their authors
  2. It is based on three basic principles and contains a series of provisions determining the minimum protection to be granted, as well as special provisions available to developing countries that want to make use of them
  3. The three basic principles are the following:

    (a) Works originating in one of the Contracting States (that is, works the author of which is a national of such a State or works first published in such a State) must be given the same protection in each of the other Contracting States as the latter grants to the works of its own nationals (principle of “national treatment”)

    (b) Protection must not be conditional upon compliance with any formality (principle of “automatic” protection)

    (c) Protection is independent of the existence of protection in the country of origin of the work (principle of “independence” of protection). If, however, a Contracting State provides for a longer term of protection than the minimum prescribed by the Convention and the work ceases to be protected in the country of origin, protection may be denied once protection in the country of origin ceases

  4. India has been the Member of Berne Convention since 28th April 1928