Weekly Gyaan with Dr. V | Priority 1 news items from 1-7 Dec 2017

#1. [op-ed snap] Stand up against torture

Importance level: HIGH

Prelims worthy: Convention Against Torture (CAT). UPSC has been asking 1-2 conventions every year in prelims and mains. Example they asked a question on ‘United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’ in 2016

Mains worthy: How lack of ratification of this convention is undermining India’s prestige in the world. How ratification of this convention will further the cause of human rights in India

Short Summary: India has been making promises of ratifying CAT but doesn’t seem intent on keeping them

The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 was a big step taken to include various forms of torture in consideration such as food deprivation, sleep deprivation, sound bombardment, electric shocks etc. which are used by Indian police force. But bill was allowed to lapse

By showing that it has no intention of combating the issues related to its own forces and of implementing its promises made to the UN, India has undermined its own prestige

Read full op-ed here:


#2 Boost for exports as Government announces more incentives

Importance level: HIGH

Prelims worthy: MEIS, SEIS, Foreign trade policy 2015-20

Mains worthy: Ease of doing business, steps taken by Government to arrest slowdown in exports

Short summary: Government announced additional incentives to help boost exports in its mid-term review of the Foreign Trade Policy 2015-2020

The mid-term review aims to promote exports by simplification of processes and enhance support to high employment sectors

Various other steps have been taken to make processes relating to trade simpler like: Self certification scheme for duty free imports, single point electronic contact to traders with the Directorate General of Foreign Trade for trade and consignment related queries and creating a logistics division in the department of commerce

Read full news here:


#3 The unfortunate consequences of GST anti-profiteering rules

Importance level: Medium

Prelims worthy: anti-profiteering rules

Mains worthy: ill-effects of anti-profiteering rules and reasons behind ill-effect

Short summary: India may adopt a product-specific approach similar to that of Australia to ensure that the full benefit of price reductions due to the goods and services tax (GST) is passed onto consumers

Australia, Malaysia, Canada and New Zealand are some countries where anti-profiteering or similar provisions have been put in place but were not successful

This happened because movement in prices is also a function of the demand-supply scenario and such provision can work only when things like raw material costs do not swing sharply

Read full news here:


#4. UAE and Saudi form new group separate from GCC

Importance level: Medium

Prelims worthy: GCC and its members

Mains worthy: Geopolitics of Middle east and its impact on India

Short summary: UAE announced it has formed a new economic and political partnership group with Saudi Arabia, separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

Known as Joint cooperation committee, it is assigned to cooperate and coordinate between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in all military, political, economic, trade and cultural fields, as well as others, in the interest of the two countries

Read full news here:


#5. [op-ed snap] From Plate to Plough: Agri-futures, like China

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: What is Agri-future?

Mains worthy: Need of agri-future in India, issues in India’s Agri-future infrastructure,lessons which India should take from China

Short Summary: In November, prices of most major kharif crops crashed below their respective minimum support prices (MSPs), triggering farm distress

Agrifutures are futures contracts in which the underlying assets come from the raising of crops and/or animals. That is, the underlying asset of an agricultural futures contract may be a direct product of the earth, such as corn or beef, or a derivative, such as high fructose corn syrup

The agri-futures market was introduced in the early 1990s in China and by 2016, it was at the top of global chart. India needs to take lessons from China in order to improve agricultural economy

Read full op-ed here:


#6. [op-ed snap] Bail-in doubts — on financial resolution legislation

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: Not much

Mains worthy: Key features of the ordinance, issues with the ordinance. How does the ordinance affects freedom of speech and expression

Short Summary: Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017, introduced in Parliament this August, has caused great anxiety about the safety of funds parked by millions of households in bank deposits

There are fears that it will enable banks to be ‘bailed in’ by depositors’ funds rather than being ‘bailed out’ by taxpayers (or potential buyers)

A bail-in is rescuing a financial institution on the brink of failure by making its creditors and depositors take a loss on their holdings. A bail-in is the opposite of a bail-out, which involves the rescue of a financial institution by external parties, typically governments using taxpayers money

Read full op-ed here:


#7. Rajasthan ordinance that sought to shield public servants from probe lapses

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: Not much

Mains worthy: Key features of the ordinance, issues with the ordinance.How does the ordinance affects freedom of speech and expression

Short summary: The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 which sought to shield judges, magistrates and public servants from investigation lapsed as it was not passed by assembly

The government in Rajasthan had promulgated an ordinance providing for prior sanction for investigation against public servants, judges and magistrates for acts done “in discharge of official duties”

As per rules, if the Assembly fails to pass the Bill, the Ordinance automatically lapses after six weeks from the date of being tabled as a Bill

Read full news here:


Further reads: Provisions related to promulgation of ordinance, powers of president and government in this regard, exceptions etc.

#8 India is biggest importer of U.S. oil refinery by-product ‘petcoke’

US exporting dirty fuel to already pollution choked India

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: What is petcoke?

Mains worthy:  Impact of Petcoke use in India and views of experts,government and SC on petcoke

Short summary: US oil refineries that are unable to sell a dirty fuel waste product (petcoke) at home are exporting vast quantities of it to India instead

Petroleum coke, the leftover from refining Canadian tar sands and other heavy crude, is cheaper and burns hotter than coal. It also contains more planet-warming carbon and far more heart and lung-damaging sulfur

The petcoke burned in countless factories and plants is contributing to dangerously filthy air in India

Read full news here:



#9. Government to enable skilled persons bag jobs abroad

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: Not much

Mains worthy: Steps being taken by Government for skilling people. Skill development has become a hot topic for UPSC.In both 2015 and 2016 mains they asked question related to skill development

Short summary: India plans to make it easier for masons, carpenters and plumbers, among other skilled persons, to get jobs overseas

Information Asymmetry exists across the globe for different skills and the basic minimum certification required for each skill in different countries

Government had announced the launch of 50 India International Skill Centres to impart training to youth under the Pravasi Kaushal Vikas Yojana. The idea was to increase the employability and acceptability of Indian youth on global platforms

Read full news here:


#10. New direct taxes code aims for lower rates, wider base

[op-ed snap] Towards a new direct tax system

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: Not much

Mains worthy: Why we need reforms in our direct tax laws.What should be the feature of new tax system

Short summary: Aim of the new direct taxes code is to get more people to pay direct taxes and to take the direct tax-to-GDP ratio to as close to 18% as possible.

The current direct tax-to-GDP ratio is 5.6%. Including direct taxes and indirect taxes, this is currently 10.8% of GDP (excluding state taxes). This is likely to increase because of the unified goods and services tax introduced this year.

Indian state has to depend a lot on indirect taxes, which are fundamentally regressive. Proportion of direct taxes in the total pool has to increase further to make the tax system more progressive.

Read full news and op-ed here:


Further reads: Direct and indirect taxes in India, authorities related to them and reasons behind low tax compliance

#11. [op-ed snap] An opportunity for India

Importance level: Medium

Prelims worthy: Not much

Mains worthy: The importance of Clinical Trials,Why India is lagging behind in clinical trials and steps taken by the government regarding the trials

Short summary: It is time India creates a favourable environment for clinical trials as it has a huge talent pool and growing demand for innovation in drugs and medical devices to address the rising disease burden

According to the Journal of Clinical Research and Bioethics, India represents 17.5% of the world’s population but conducts only 1.4% of global clinical research.  This is because the regulatory system in India for clinical research has become increasingly a deterrent for biopharmaceutical and device companies which sponsor clinical trials

The Government has proposed waiving off clinical trials for those drugs that have already proved their efficacy in developed markets. More such steps need to be taken

Read full op-ed here:


#12. [pib] Star Rating Protocol for Garbage Free Cities Introduced

Importance level: Medium

Prelims worthy: Star rating protocol for garbage free cities

Mains worthy: Urbanisation challenges

Short summary: A star rating protocol for garbage free cities has been introduced

It will focus on the issue of cleanliness of community and public toilets. There is a concerted drive to seek user feedback for CT/PTs through the Google toilet locator and Swachhata app

Local bodies will be uploading all community / public toilets in cities on Google maps under the Business listing category, integrating with Swachhata app

Read full news here:


#13. [pib] SAUBHAGYA Scheme launched in Manipur

Importance worthy: High

Prelims worthy: Saubhagya scheme, First State where the scheme is launched

Mains worthy: Significance of Saubhagya scheme,challenges in its implementation

Short summary: The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (SAUBHAGYA) was launched in Manipur

Saubhagya is a scheme launched to achieve universal household electrification in all parts of the Country by Government of India. People would get 24×7 power supply by March, 2019

For achieving this target, the Government has already given obligation to private companies to provide 24×7 power supply to every household

Read about all important government schemes here in this listicle:


#14. Instant triple talaq: Draft Law

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: Sarkaria commission

Mains worthy: Rights of Women vs minority rights; State’s role in people’s religion

Short summary: Centre has drawn up a draft law to stop the practice of instant triple talaq or talaq-e-bidat

The draft law applies to instant triple talaq in “oral, written, electronic or any other form”. Instant triple talaq or talaq-e-bidat will be a “cognizable and non-bailable” offence

In view of the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, the Centre has forwarded the draft law to states and asked them to send their views soon

Read full news here:


Further reads: Provisions in constitution and various statutes to safeguard women, Uniform civil code, various marriage acts

#15. Way to remove poll commissioners vague

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: Appointment and removal of Election Commissioners

Mains worthy: Electoral reforms,issue of vagueness in the procedure for of removal Election Commissioners and its implication on independence of E.C.

Short summary: A PIL petition pointing out the vagueness in the procedure for removal of Election Commissioners, saying it affects the Election Commission’s autonomy was filed in Supreme court

Though the proviso to Article 324 (5) of the Constitution safeguards the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) from arbitrary removal, the same provision is silent about the procedure for removal of the two Election Commissioners. It only provides that they cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the CEC

The CEC and the Election Commissioners enjoy the same decision-making powers which are suggestive of the fact that their powers are at par with each other and thus Election Commissioners should be with the same protection against arbitrary removal as the Chief Election Commissioner

Read the full news here:


Further reads: Appointment of Election commissioners, functioning of election commission

#16. Cabinet nod to nutrition mission

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: National Nutrition Mission, A question regarding this mission was also asked in UPSC Prelims 2017

Mains worthy: Steps taken by Government to counter hunger & Malnutrition in India

Short summary: The Union Cabinet approved the launch of National Nutrition Mission with a target to reduce malnutrition and low birth weight by 2% each year

The core idea behind the mission is to converge all the existing programmes on a single platform

The mission targets to bring down stunting in children and anaemia among young children, women and adolescent girls by 3% every year

Read full news here:


#17. All you need to know about the Transgender Persons Bill, 2016

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: Transgender rights bill, Private members bill, IPC

Mains worthy: Significance and issues in the current Transgender persons bill,2016

Short summary: Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha in August 2016, is set to be reintroduced in the winter session of Parliament

India’s transgender community is up in arms, since they believe the legislation meant to safeguard their interests only serves to undermine their right to life and livelihood

The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2014, was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha and had many progressive clauses and many of them have been removed or toned down in the new bill

Read the full news here:


Further reads: Private members bill, provisions related to vulnerable sections of society

#18. New Delhi caught by surprise as Maldives seals FTA with China

Importance level: High

Prelims worthy: FTA

Mains worthy: Effects of FTA between China and Maldives on India-Maldives relations

Short summary: Maldives rammed through its Free Trade Agreement with China in the Maldivian parliament in a session attended by only 30 out of 85 members

The haste with which the government decided to pass the pact is being perceived as Maldives trying to cosy up to China

This is Maldives’s first FTA with any country, and China’s second FTA with any country in South Asia after Pakistan. Maldivian government has extended invitations to establish free trade agreements with countries including Japan, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and countries of the European Union but it doesn’t name India in this list

Read full news here:


#19. [op-ed snap] Responsibility without power

Importance worthy: High

Prelims worthy: Article 239AA

Mains worthy: UPSC has asked question on this topic in 2016 mains.Limitations of article 239AA

Short summary: The problem of jurisdictional conflicts between Delhi’s elected government and the lieutenant governor (LG) is attributable to Article 239AA of the Indian Constitution

Two important questions that emanate are:

  • Whether the elected government is the final authority in respect of matters assigned to it by the Constitution?
  • Whether the LG has primacy when a difference of opinion arises between him and his council of ministers on matters of governance?

Westing of all powers in the LG in respect of matters which come within the jurisdiction of the assembly is not in conformity with the scheme of Article 239 AA.

Read full op-ed here:


Further reads: Special provisions in Constitution for some states and UTs

User Avatar

By Dr V

Doctor by Training | AIIMSONIAN | Factually correct, Politically not so much | Opinionated? Yes!


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch