12 Aug 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis


A. GS1 Related
1. Paleo-rivers predated Harappans by 35,000 years
B. GS2 Related
1. More Assembly seats for Sikkim
C. GS3 Related
1. A note to mothers
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
F. Tidbits
1. ‘Inspect mosques for noise levels at random’
2. Centre to spend Rs.10,000 crore on Northeast
3. Indian aid to SAARC nations falls
4. Genetic ‘barcodes’ reveal three frogs unreported in India
G. Prelims Fact
1. Basel papyrus
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Category: HISTORY

1. Paleo-rivers predated Harappans by 35,000 years

  • A recent study on direct dating of sediments extracted from paleochannels close to Harappan sites in the region of Sutlej-Yamuna interfluve by a team of scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (PRL) and CNRS, France, indicate that these rivers changed their course nearly 35,000 years before the Harappans came to settle there.

The study

  • The study analysed the distribution of Harappan sites along the two main rivers in the region – the Indus, which is perennial, and the Ghaggar-Hakra, which is ephemeral; examined the mineralogy of river sediments to establish their source and dated the entire sediment succession of the region using dating technique to establish the event chronology of the evolution of the region.
  • This study now provides scientific evidence that contradicts the suggestions on Harappans flourishing on the banks of the mythical Vedic rivers, Sarasvati and Drishadvati.
  • These studies provide evidence that these rivers changed their course much before the time of Harappan settlements about 5,000 years ago.
  • The discovery of several hundred Harappan sites in the Sutlej–Yamuna interfluves led archaeologists to infer that like other ancient civilisations, Harappans too flourished on the banks of mighty rivers.
  • Presence of ephemeral rivers Ghaggar-Hakra and Chautang in this area led people to suggest that these were vestiges of the once mighty glacial rivers on whose banks the Harappan civilisation was established.


  • Settlement patterns and other analysis suggest that factors other than perennial rivers dictated their settlement and major change in the river dynamics occurred between 24,000-45,000 years ago (most likely around 40,000-45,000 years ago), and since 25,000 years the landscape has not changed significantly.
  • Paleo-river features are far too old to be associated with Vedic times.
  • This inference is also buttressed by the evidences of water harvesting techniques of Harappans, the cropping patterns suggesting their dependence on seasonal monsoon rather than constant supply of water.

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. More Assembly seats for Sikkim

  • The Home Ministry has moved the Union Cabinet to increase the number of seats in the Sikkim Assembly from 32 to 40.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will soon decide on the proposal.


  • A petition was moved in the Supreme Court that Limboos and Tamangs were not adequately represented in the Assembly, and the court in 2016 directed the Home Ministry to take action.
  • The tribal community nursed a sense of deprivation of their political and fundamental rights, ever since they had been declared a Scheduled Tribe in 2003 under Article 342 of the Constitution.
  • There are 90,000 Limboo-Tamangs.
  • By the Delimitation Act, 2002, the number of seats in an Assembly can be readjusted only on the basis of the first census after 2026.
  • The Second Schedule to the Representation of People Act, 1950 and Section 5A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 have been amended to change the Assembly strength.


  • Sikkim has 12 seats reserved for Bhutias-Lepchas.
  • It is not because they are a Scheduled Tribe, but as a sequel to a political agreement in 1973 between the Government of India, the former Chogyal (King) of Sikkim and political parties.


  • The seats are being increased to accommodate the Limboo and Tamang communities, notified as Scheduled Tribes in January 2003.
  • Of the eight new seats, five will be reserved for them.
  • If approved, it will be the first expansion of the Assembly since Sikkim merged with India in 1975.


  • They are Kirati people indigenous and native to their homeland himalayas, hills, mountainous and plains regions.

Tamang people

  • Tibeto-Burman ethnic group


  • They are a community of people of Tibetan ancestry, who speak Lhopo or Sikkimese, a Tibetan dialect.
  • The Bhutias are spread out over Nepal, Bhutan, and in northern West Bengal, especially in the towns of Kalimpong and Darjeeling.
  • The Bhutias as recognized as Scheduled Tribes in the states of Sikkim, West Bengal and Tripura.


  • They are among the indigenous peoples of Sikkim.

Tendong Lho Rumfaat (Prayer of the Tendong Mountain)

  • It is a festival of the Lepcha people of eastern Nepal and north-east India.
  • The festival occurs usually in the month of August.
  • As per the Lepcha mythology, it was believed that the entire tribe was saved from 40 days and 40 nights of great deluge caused by continuous rain which drowned the entire Mayel Lyang, the modern day Sikkim.
  • During the festivities, people make a model of the Mountain in facade of their homes and worship it.
  • It is exclusively made of nine stones and the people dance and sing wearing mask to get the blessings of the almighty.

C. GS3 Related

Category: HEALTH

1. A note to mothers

  • Infant mortality is one of India’s persistent health concerns.
  • It is a well-established fact that breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend well into adulthood.
  • While the benefits of breastfeeding have been known for decades, it is only recently that the association of time-to-initiation of breastfeeding, with mortality and morbidity in children-under-5, has been assessed.

Global guidelines

  • This year, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF jointly issued a new 10-point guidance to further raise awareness on the criticality of early breastfeeding.
  • In addition, they noted that breastfeeding for the first two years would save the lives of more than 8,20,000 children annually.
  • Their report recommends that mothers start breastfeeding in the first hour after birth.


  • The early initiation ensures that infants consume the colostrum — the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth.
  • Colostrum is said to be high in antibodies, reduces the risk of death from hypothermia, helps in epithelial recovery and protects children from infectious diseases.


  • Early initiation also has numerous immunological and nutritional benefits that have been found to reduce mortality in babies under the age of 1.
  • Infants who are breastfed have a reduced risk of diarrhoea, pneumonia and other infectious diseases in comparison to infants who drink breast milk substitutes.
  • Human milk is a rich source of immune and non-immune components which resist infection and also accelerate intestinal maturation in a child.


  • Despite the significant progress made in improving child survival at the national level, infant mortality still remains high in some States in India.
  • While there are multiple factors that lead to infant mortality, breastfeeding rates too play a key role.
  • It is estimated that only one out three children are breastfed exclusively within six months, which results in a higher risk of death due to various illnesses (diarrhoea and respiratory infection).
  • Some factors that may delay early breastfeeding are caesarean delivery, use of anaesthesia, fatigue and the use of pre-lacteal feeding with formula milk.
  • Our hospitals are also in desperate need for an improvement in policies and maternity-care practices.
  • The first 24 hours of an infant’s life is considered to be a crucial period. If the child is not breastfed, it is more likely to suffer from various diseases such as asthma, diabetes, childhood leukaemia, obesity and allergies.

Way forward

  • Improving India’s breastfeeding rates requires a multi-pronged approach with its focus on educating women and health providers.
  • The challenges of limited public knowledge, social norms that trend toward formula feeding, lack of access to lactation services and education have to be addressed through consistent awareness initiatives at every level.
  • The better the breastfeeding practice, the higher the protection.
  • Even partial breastfeeding has a modest protective effect when compared to no breastfeeding.
  • Every mother-to-be should undergo proper training on breastfeeding.
  • In this, doctors and medical professionals play an important role.
  • Only mothers suffering from severe illnesses or other issues affecting early lactation should go in for bottle feeding or milk substitutes.

Government’s strategy

  • The government is making efforts to promote and organize programmes focused on maternal and infant health.
  • Their aim is to educate health-care providers and young parents on the importance of human breast milk.
  • In addition to these awareness programmes, the Health Ministry is also planning to increase the network of human milk banks across the country.
  • Hopefully, this will reduce India’s infant mortality rate.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Nothing here for today!!!

F. Tidbits

1. ‘Inspect mosques for noise levels at random’

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to conduct joint inspections of mosques in east Delhi to ascertain if they are violating prescribed noise levels.
  • The directions came while the green panel was hearing a plea moved by NGO Akhand Bharat Morcha that alleged that some mosques in the area were not complying with the prescribed decibel levels.
  • In September 2017, the NGT had noted that the DPCC and State government would conduct inspection to check the noise level from different masjids mentioned in the application and that if the noise levels were found to be exceeding the prescribed decibel, action would be taken.
  • Earlier, the green panel had disposed the plea after taking into account the State government’s submission that regular inspections would be carried out.
  • The CPCB has also been asked to file a compliance report within two months.

2. Centre to spend Rs.10,000 crore on Northeast

  • To boost connectivity in the northeastern States of the country, the Union government has announced investments worth nearly Rs.10,000 crore in the region over the next four years to implement more than 400 projects.
  • The majority of the projects will be implemented by the Department of Telecom.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT is expected to fund projects to the tune of Rs.1,397 crore, while the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region will spend Rs.411 crore.
  • The Home Ministry has committed investments of Rs.53 crore.
  • The investments from the private sector, however, are expected to be limited to about Rs.70 crore.
  • Special focus will be given to 8,621 unconnected villages in the region.
  • As part of the initiative, the first electronics manufacturing cluster in the northeastern region in Guwahati was also inaugurated.
  • The number of seats provided for the region under the rural BPO scheme has also been doubled to 10,000.

The Digital North East Vision 2022

  • The Digital North East Vision 2022 has identified a total of eight thrust areas to enhance connectivity, including telecom infrastructure, electronics manufacturing units, BPOs and cyber security, besides promotion of digital innovations.
  • The comprehensive digital plan for the Northeast emphasizes leveraging digital technologies to transform lives of people of the Northeast and enhance ease of living.

3. Indian aid to SAARC nations falls

  • India’s financial assistance to SAARC neighbours declined considerably in the past five years.
  • The startling figures were revealed in the Lok Sabha in answer to a question whether India had completed projects committed to countries in the neighbourhood.


  • The Grant Assistance (GA) actually fell from Rs.5,928.6 crore for 2013-14 to Rs.3,483.6 crore for 2017-18 for Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka combined.
  • Significantly, the drop for most SAARC countries was most steep in 2014, the year the NDA government launched its tenure with the “Neighbourhood First” slogan.
  • The one exception was the Maldives, to which Indian assistance has been consistently increasing year on year since 2013, despite the dip in bilateral ties.
  • The Maldives is the only country of the grouping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not yet visited, and despite rising tensions between New Delhi and Male over the conduct of elections this year and the crackdown on the Opposition parties by President Abdulla Yameen, Indian largesse appears to have increased ten-fold to the islands: from Rs.9.67 crore in 2013-14 to Rs.109.24 crore.


  • An assessment of fund requirement is made before each financial year, based on the progress in execution aligned with project implementation cycle.
  • Time lines fixed for projects vary, and are determined based on consultations with host governments and ground situation.
  • The GA figures did not include the lines of credit extended to Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
  • These lines of credit are given at the minimal interest rates of 1-2% compared with loans offered by China at 6-7%.
  • Financial assistance has a cyclical nature, and the GA figures for 2018-19 were expected to be higher for each of the countries involved.
  • The GA for Nepal in 2017-18 was Rs.303.26 crore, for instance, and was expected to rise this year to Rs.650 crore, provided the government in Kathmandu was able to absorb the additional aid.
  • One of the major reasons for the decline was that many projects had been completed in the neighborhood, and there were fewer projects started in the period since 2014.
  • In Afghanistan, India has shifted to work on small development projects (SDPs) rather than the ambitious highways, dams and big building projects that were started in 2008-09.
  • In Bangladesh, the main grant for land acquisition for the Akhaura-Agartala rail “last link” project has now been completed.
  • In Bhutan, which has always received the largest share of Indian assistance, the assistance required for major hydroelectric power plants like Punatsanghchu 1 and 2 and Mangdechu has been disbursed 75-90% while Indian assistance to Bhutan’s 11th five-year plan (2013-2017) has been handed over nearly fully.
  • In Sri Lanka, the decline was explained by delays in land acquisition for 15,000 homes to be built by India in the plantation areas, though the work on 45,000 homes in the north and east of the island has been completed.
  • India is still completing three main projects in Maldives: a police academy, a coastal radar project, and the refit of MNDF ship Huravee.
  • An offer to build a new Defence Ministry building is pending, which explains why the Maldives alone is the outlier to an otherwise declining trend in neighbourhood aid.

4. Genetic ‘barcodes’ reveal three frogs unreported in India

  • Each species can be recognised by its unique genetic ‘barcode’ and using this method, a team of scientists has identified three frog species not recorded in India before.
  • The researchers also found that the ornate narrow-mouthed frog — thought to be widely-distributed in Asia — is seen only in peninsular India and Sri Lanka.
  • It was the complex taxonomy of the ornate narrow-mouthed frog — it was first described in 1841 — that prompted the team to study it further.


  • They collected 62 of these frogs across India and analysed their genetic data using DNA barcoding. They compared this with available genetic data from across south Asia.
  • Unravelling complex taxonomy, the team found that India is home to not just the ornate narrow-mouthed frog but also the Nilphamari, Mymensingh and Mukhlesur’s narrow-mouthed frogs (seen in other south Asian countries).
  • The team reported Bangladesh’s Mukhlesur’s narrow-mouthed frog, for instance, from Mizoram.
  • The nocturnal Nilphamari narrow-mouthed frog, seen in Bangladesh and Nepal, has been recorded in the Western Ghats (Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra), the Eastern Ghats (Andhra Pradesh and Odisha) and central, east and northeastern India.
  • Most narrow-mouthed frogs seen in northeastern India are Mymensingh narrow-mouthed frogs.
  • The study reveals that the ornate narrow-mouthed frog is present only in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.


  • However, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently classifies the species as “Least Concern” based on the outdated information that it is widespread.
  • An assessment of threats that this species might be facing in its currently restricted range could show it to be data deficient or even threatened, thereby requiring conservation attention.


  • The study would enable IUCN to review the conservation status of this group of frogs across South Asia at the earliest opportunity.
  • These findings also increase India’s frog species tally to 400.

G. Prelims Fact

1. Basel papyrus

  • For four centuries now, Basel, in Switzerland, has been home to a mysterious papyrus (a material similar to thick paper that was used in ancient times as a writing surface).
  • With mirror writing on both sides, it has puzzled generations of researchers.
  • It now emerges that it was probably an unknown medical document from late antiquity, written by Galen, the famous Roman physician.
  • The Basel papyrus collection comprises 65 papers in five languages, which were purchased by Basel University, in 1900, for the purpose of teaching classical studies — with the exception of two papyri.
  • The secrets of the papyrus were revealed only through ultraviolet and infra-red imaging.
  • It turns out that the 2,000-year-old document was not a single papyrus at all but several layers of papyrus glued together.
  • A specialist papyrus restorer was brought to Basel to separate the sheets, enabling the ancient document to be decoded for the first time.

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Article 371J of the Indian Constitution provides for:
  1. Establishment of a separate Development Board for Hyderabad-Karnataka region.
  2. Local reservation in education and Government jobs.
  3. Both a and b
  4. None of the above


Question 2. Consider the following statements with respect to Gecko:
  1. Geckos are lizards and are found in warm climates throughout the world.
  2. Most geckos are nocturnal.
  3. Common house Gecko is found in India.

Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?

  1. i) only
  2. ii) only
  3. i) and iii) only
  4. None of the above


Question 3. Which of the following statements is incorrect?
  1. Article 342 prescribes procedure to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes.
  2. It provides for listing of scheduled tribes on an all India basis.
  3. President, after consultation with the Governor, can specify a Tribe.
  4. No community has been specified as Scheduled Tribe in relation to the State of Haryana and Punjab.


Question 4. Consider the following statements about the Wardha scheme of education:
  1. Zakir Hussain committee drafted the national scheme for basic education.
  2. Wardha scheme rejected the trickle down methodology used by Britishers.
  3. It supported vernacular education.
  4. It recommended inclusion of basic handicraft in the syllabus.

Which of the above statement/s is/are correct?

  1. II and III only
  2. I only
  3. I, II and III only
  4. All of the above



I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

  1. Caste is a product of colonial modernity. Discuss.
  2. The impact of climate change is no longer risks that exist in the distant future. Comment.


Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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