TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. GS1 Related B. GS2 Related GOVERNANCE 1. Atal Bihari Vajpayee 2. ‘No creamy layer norm for SCs/STs’ C. GS3 Related SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY 1. Scientists to test land for LIGO ECONOMY 1. NPCI unveils ‘more secure’ UPI with overdraft facility D. GS4 Related E. Editorials HEALTH 1. NHPM and its challenges POLITY 1. Nehru’s legacy being challenged F. Tidbits 1. Pay up, says green panel to U.P. govt 2. Why Turkey’s crisis feels familiar for emerging markets 3. Steel imports from Japan, South Korea surge 4. Tea exporters see competitive opportunity in rupee weakness 5. India’s oil import bill to jump by $26 bn G. Prelims Fact 1. Odisha to showcase its biodiversity 2. Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary 3. Lohagarh Fort H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
A. GS1 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
B. GS2 Related
1. Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Vajpayee Ji was a man who had a singular quality of someone who enjoyed existence, the marvel called human nature, the warmth of human relationships, in their fullness without regard to strategic considerations. He achieved lightness of being, of a person not weighed down by malice or resentment, by antipathies or animosity, or a desire to control. He achieved bipartisan acclaim, generated immense personal affection, elicited trust because he exuded an air of true fakiri. He always gave the impression he was in it for the enjoyment, not the success.
· He served as the Prime Minister of India, first for a term of 13 days in 1996, for a period of eleven months from 1998 to 1999, and then for a full term from 1999 to 2004.
· Mr. Vajpayee was elected 10 times to the Lok Sabha from four different States, the first time in 1957 from Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh, and was twice member of the Rajya Sabha.
Raising India’s GDP
· He took India to the new heights by introducing economic reforms. Under his tenure from 1998 to 2004, India maintained a GDP rate of eight per cent, the inflation level came down to four per cent and foreign exchange reserves were flourishing.
· Although India faced catastrophic events during his tenure, including earthquake (2001), two cyclones (1999 and 2000), a horrible drought (2002-2003), oil crises (2003), the Kargil conflict (1999), and a Parliament attack, yet he maintained a stable economy.
Foreign and Security Policy
· Nuclear tests in May 1998, a peace-making bus ride to Lahore in February 1999, the Kargil war a couple of months later, a transformative visit to China in June 2003 and a peace deal with Pervez Musharraf in January 2004.
· With Pakistan, Mr. Vajpayee made two roller-coaster efforts at peace – one with Nawaz Sharif and the second with Pervez Musharraf. He also responded to infiltration in Kargil and ordered a massive mobilisation of Indian troops after the 2001 attack on Parliament House before agreeing to a peace deal with General Musharraf in Islamabad.
· The most ambitious road projects in India were launched by him, including the Golden Quadrilateral and the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna.
· The Golden Quadrilateral made transportation easy, connecting metropolitan cities — Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai — through a network of highways.
· Pradhan mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna connected distant villages across the country with a network of all-weather roads.
Some Gems from Vajpayee
· Vajpayee will be remembered for his tolerance, humour, and large-heartedness. He will also be evoked for balancing two ideas of India — the Nehruvian liberal and a Hindu nationalist.
2. No creamy layer norm for SCs/STs
- The government has told the Supreme Court that the creamy layer concept could not be applied to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, who have suffered for centuries.
- Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal argued that SC/ST are a homogeneous group and any action to regroup them based on economic or social advancement would not be apt.
- Venugopal said rigorous modalities were prescribed for inclusion of communities in the list of SCs/STs. For inclusion of communities in the list of the SCs, one of the important determinants is the traditional practice of untouchability.
- The government wants a larger Bench of the Supreme Court to set aside its 2006 judgment in the Nagaraj case.
- This verdict mandates that the government cannot introduce quota in promotion for SC/ST persons in public employment unless they prove that the particular Dalit community is backward, is inadequately represented and such a reservation in promotion would not affect the overall efficiency of public administration.
- The opinion of the government should be based on quantifiable data, too.
- The government has argued that the judgment was a roadblock to its authority to introduce quota in promotions in favour of SC/ST communities as per Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution.
- It is not disputed that the members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are specified in the notifications issued under Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution and, therefore, they must be deemed to be scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
- There is an intense investigation before the notification under Articles 341 and 342 is issued. The inquiry identifies the people who have suffered for centuries and hence, by applying the ‘creamy layer’ concept, they should not be deprived of the benefits which accrue to them.
- Nagaraj verdict destroyed the very essence of Article 16 (4A) by imposing on the State the need to bring to the table quantifiable data to justify its decision to promote SC/ST officers in public employment.
C. GS3 Related
1. Scientists to test land for LIGO
- The Environment Ministry has allowed scientists to test the suitability of land in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district to host the India wing of the ambitious Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) project.
- This is a key step to establishing the one-of-its-kind astronomical observatory.
- The project involves constructing a network of L-shaped arms, each four kilometres long, which can detect even the faintest ripples from cosmic explosions millions of light years away.
- The discovery of gravitational waves earned three U.S. scientists the Nobel for physics in 2017.
- The scientists were closely involved with LIGO. Hosting such a detector in India will improve the odds of detecting more such phenomena.
- The construction of such a large, sensitive device — there are only three of its kind in the world — requires an extremely flat surface.
- The LIGO-India consortium, made up of physicists from several institutes, had submitted a proposal to prospect 121 hectares of forest land in Dudhala village, Hingoli.
- Typically, mining companies prospect a region by sinking boreholes to get a sense of the geology of the site and ascertain availability of required minerals and metals.
- In the case of the LIGO project, it is to check if the land can be made perfectly level at a reasonable cost.
- The consortium is yet to formally declare the Dudhala site as the host of the interferometers.
- The prospecting permission, according to the minutes of the forest clearance committee meeting of the Union Environment Ministry, was only for sinking boreholes in 0.375 hectares and separate permission would be needed at a later stage for constructing the observatory.
Network of detectors
- The LIGO project operates three gravitational-wave (GW) detectors. Two are at Hanford in the State of Washington, north-western USA, and one is at Livingston in Louisiana, south-eastern USA.
- Currently these observatories are being upgraded to their advanced configurations.
- The proposed LIGO-India project aims to move one Advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India.
- The LIGO-India project is an international collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory and three lead institutions in the LIGO-India consortium: Institute of Plasma Research, Gandhinagar; IUCAA, Pune; and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore.
- The LIGO lab would provide the complete design and all the key detector components.
- Indian scientists would provide the infrastructure to install the detector and it would be operated jointly by LIGO-India and the LIGO Lab.
- The project, piloted by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST), reportedly costs Rs.1,200 crore and is expected to be ready by 2025.
1. NPCI unveils ‘more secure’ UPI with an overdraft facility
- The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has upgraded the unified payments interface (UPI) with enhanced security features and overdraft facilities.
- Unveiling the UPI 2.0, RBI Governor Urjit Patel said that the upgraded UPI was the result of the calibrated approach adopted by RBI in the initial years as a developer and in the later years as a catalyst and facilitator.
- Its high volume, low cost and highly scalable architecture built on an open source platform is key to India’s transformation to a digital payment economy.
- Linking of overdraft account: In addition to current and savings accounts, customers can link their overdraft account to UPI. Customers will be able to transact instantly and all benefits associated with overdraft account shall be made available to the users. UPI 2.0 will serve as an additional digital channel to access the overdraft account.
- One-time mandate: UPI mandate could be used in a scenario where money is to be transferred later by providing commitment at present. UPI 2.0 mandates are created with one-time block functionality for transactions. Customers can pre-authorise a transaction and pay at a later date. It works seamlessly for merchants as well as for individual users. Mandates can be created and executed instantly. On the date of actual purchase, the amount will be deducted and received by the merchant/individual user.
- Invoice in the inbox: According to NPCI, this feature is designed for customers to check the invoice sent by merchant prior to making payment. It will help customers to view and verify the credentials and check whether it has come from the right merchant or not. Customers can pay after verifying the amount and other important details mentioned in the invoice.
- Signed intent and QR: This feature is designed for customers to check the authenticity of merchants while scanning QR or quick response code. It notifies the user with information to ascertain whether the merchant is a verified UPI merchant or not. This provides an additional security. Customers will be informed in case the receiver is not secured by way of notifications.
D. GS4 Related
Nothing here for today!!!
1. NHPM and its challenges
NHPM and its challenges
- National Health Protection Mission -It is a Centrally Sponsored program called Ayushman Bharat -National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM)
- It is anchored in the MoHFW.
- The scheme has the benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year. The target beneficiaries of the proposed scheme will be more than 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population.
- AB-NHPM will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes -RashtriyaSwasthyaBimaYojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).
- Government has recognized the linkages between health care and economic development.
- But the political parties have not yet made the right to health a campaign issue, and the National Health Policy does not recommend such a right since it cannot be fulfilled.
- But there is increasing awareness that it is unsustainable for a country of 1.3 billion people to rely on household savings to pay for health care.
Features and Challenges
- Treatment cost through a transparent consultative process is vital for a smooth and steady rollout.
- A large-scale Information Technology network for cashless treatment should be set up and validated.
- Since a majority of the families will be rural, and the secondary and tertiary public hospital infrastructure suffers from severe efficiency and accountability problems.
- State governments should upgrade the administrative systems.
- The population size, disease burdens and the development levels of different regions.
- Clearly, the NHPM has a problem with the distribution of hospitals, the capacity of human resources, and the finances available for cost-sharing.
- The immediate challenge is addressing these through the planned increase in public health spending to touch 2.5% of GDP, and 8% of State budgets.
- With steady economic growth, meeting that policy commitment through higher investments will be a test of political will.
- Its opportunity as well as a challenge to tap into a large labor pool for the new jobs that will be created, and to raise skill levels.
- Reducing the cost of universal health coverage is imperative, and it requires parallel investments in the neglected public sector.
- There are limitations to private insurance which can only be a short-term option.
- Less ethical institutions have been found ordering unnecessary treatments to claim insurance compensation.
- A body to deal with complaints from NHPM users should be a priority.
- The Centre should extend the scheme to all children and senior citizens, and cover outpatient consultation
- Essential drugs to sharply reduce out-of-pocket spending.
- While the RSBY may have received a positive stroke from the Centre.
- The tussle between the Centre and the states is yet to begin.
1. Nehru’s legacy being challenged
Why is the issue in news?
- Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) is in the news because the idea of setting up a museum for all Prime Ministers (PMs) in the Teen Murti Bhavan complex is opposed.
- Some feels that other than Jawaharlal Nehru, no one deserves a place in Teen Murti.
- Others feel that institutional arrangements, not location, is the issue.
- The NMML is an autonomous body with the PM as its President.
- The property belongs to the government, which decides to set up a museum for PMs.
- Nations set up museums to preserve collective memory for future generations.
- Democracies are more about institutions than individuals.
- But the individuals are more under limelight than the institutions.
- Public museums in democracies should serve larger collective purposes, not personal ones.
Purpose of NMML
- India’s freedom struggle
- The museum itself is focussed more on India’s freedom struggle than Nehru’s life.
- The NMML is famous globally because its library, reprography and manuscript sections house the best collection of journals, books, photos and personal papers of individuals and institutions.
- It is invaluable to researchers on modern and contemporary Indian history.
- Nehru’s legacy does not stand scrutiny, if introducing other PMs, and making provision for future ones.
- Nehru is just one of the thousands in the NMML and Teen Murti house whose documents and photos are displayed
- A substantial portion of the Teen Murti Estate has been diverted to other public uses.
- A private body set up a planetarium in the 1980s, named after Nehru, which it transferred to NMML in 2005.
- Role of the Prime Minister in Indian democracy is an overwhelming one.
- Teen Murti was selected in 1948 as the residence of the PM, not of Nehru.
- Hence there is a museum, also a residence of the PM in the Teen Murti estate.
- Teen Murti is the most suitable location for the new museum and the resident of the PM.
- Nehru’s legacy is not so weak that it would be threatened by making a museum for 15 PM and still to come, in Teen Murti.
- Following survey reports that indicated highly contaminated groundwater in Uttar Pradesh, the National Green Tribunal has directed the State government and the polluting industries to bear the cost of treatment for those who have been affected.
- The directions came while the green panel was hearing a plea by NGO Doaba Paryavaran Samiti seeking directions against industries running illegally in some districts of U.P. including Meerut, Baghpat and Ghaziabad.
- It had been alleged that after consumption of polluted water from rivers Kalinadi, Krishna and Hindon, residents had developed several diseases including liver damage, cancer and kidney failure.
- The green panel further suggested the formulation of appropriate schemes both by the State government and the Central Pollution Control Board.
- Those who have been victims of the diseases on account of polluted water cannot be ignored and must be given a treatment at the cost of polluters.
- This should also be a part of the action plan so that persons who had suffered diseases are provided treatment first from the State funds and the amount recovered from the polluters.
- Apart from monetary compensation, the State may consider giving employment to a dependent of such victims.
- Water is to be made available not only to few who can afford bottled water and mineral water but also to every citizen of the country.
- The State is under constitutional obligation to ensure that potable water is available to every citizen and very stern action is taken against any individual responsible for such contamination.
- For nearly 10 years now, the flood of cash from global central banks has financed shopping malls in Istanbul, booming cities in China and 100-year bonds in Argentina.
- According to the Bank for International Settlements, a forum for central banks, the total amount of dollar-based loans has jumped from $5.8 trillion in the first quarter of 2009 to $11.4 trillion today.
- Of that, $3.7 trillion has gone to emerging markets, more than doubling during that period.
- Today, many of the malls are empty, property developers in China are riddled with debt, and Argentina has just submitted to a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
- Now, the borrowing binge that fuelled rapid growth in emerging markets and piled up returns for their investors is looking like a problem.
- Financial experts worry that the turmoil in Turkey, which for the better part of a year has been contained, will spread, following the path of other emerging market meltdowns like those in Mexico in 1994 and Asia in 1997.
- The crisis in Turkey has been made worse by a diplomatic dispute with the U.S. and the mercurial moods and questionable policy positions of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but the combination of heavy international borrowing and a fall in the national currency is the same scenario that could undermine other emerging economies.
- Due to super-low interest rates, investors have been on the hunt for yield — until this year. Now they will be blindsided by the risks.
- A research has pointed to South Africa, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Chile and Mexico as having the most vulnerable economies.
- The build up in cheap dollar credit could ultimately threaten South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and even China, whose currency, the renminbi, weakened further against the dollar.
- Perhaps the most arresting statistic in support of the view that Turkey is the canary in the coal mine is the vast amount of cheap dollar-based loans that have accumulated worldwide since global central banks began their rescue operations in early 2009.
- India is being hit by a wave of steel from producers in Japan and South Korea as mills there redirect supply after U.S. President Donald Trump slapped an import duty on the alloy earlier this year.
- The United States imposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imports in March.
- During the first quarter of the fiscal year starting in April, India’s steel imports from South Korea rose 31% from a year earlier, while those from Japan climbed 30%.
- With the increase, the South Asian nation has now passed the United States as South Korea’s third-largest market for steel.
- South Korea was the fourth-biggest steel exporter to the U.S. and Japan the tenth largest.
- The flood of imports is so big that the government in New Delhi is considering measures to control imports.
- Under World Trade Organization rules, safeguards are temporary restrictions on imports of a product to protect a domestic industry.
- Indian steel manufacturers are also impacted by the tariffs and the country will retaliate with duties on products from the United States that will take effect from September.
- However, renewed government measures would take place despite India’s domestic steel industry being unable to meet the country’s demand for high-end steel products needed for railroads and structural steel used in construction projects.
- Tea growers see an opportunity to boost the competitiveness of Indian tea in the global market, riding on the rupee’s recent weakness.
- This would help Indian exporters enhance their competitiveness vis-a-vis African countries where the tea season begins in September.
- Besides China and Sri Lanka, African countries like Kenya are among India’s main competitors in the international tea market.
- India’s crude oil import bill is likely to jump by about $26 billion in 2018-19 as the rupee’s drop to a record low has made buying of oil from overseas costlier.
- Besides, the rupee hitting a record low of 70.32 to a U.S. dollar in opening trade will also lead to an increase in the retail selling price of petrol, diesel and cooking gas (LPG).
- India, which imports more than 80% of its oil needs, spent $87.7 billion on importing 220.43 million tonnes (MT) of crude oil in 2017-18. For 2018-19, the imports are pegged at almost 227 MT.
- The rupee has been among the worst performing currencies in Asia, witnessing an 8.6% slump this year.
- Fanned by a higher oil import bill, India’s trade deficit, or the gap between exports and imports, in July widened to $18 billion, the most in more than five years.
- Trade shortfall puts pressure on the current account deficit (CAD), a key vulnerability for the economy.
- Rupee depreciation will result in higher earnings for exporters as well as domestic oil producers like Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) who bill refiners in U.S. dollar terms.
- But this would result in rise in petrol and diesel prices, with full impact likely to be visible later this month.
- Though oil firms fix retail selling price of petrol and diesel on a daily basis, the inputs for that fixation are an average of previous fortnight. So today’s rate is based on average benchmark of international oil prices and the exchange rate of August 1-15.
- And since the rupee in the beginning of the month was at 68.3 to 68.6 a dollar, the exact impact of today’s depreciation is not visible.
G. Prelims Fact
- The Odisha government is setting up a world-class interpretation centre at Dangamal near Bhitarkanika National Park to showcase its efforts in protecting crocodiles and preserving its rich mangrove diversity.
- The project, which has been approved under the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project, will be taken up at an estimated cost of Rs.3 crore.
- The plan is to develop the centre both as a tourist attraction and a place for students to learn about the environment.
- Experts are being consulted for adding value to the project.
Bhitarkanika National Park
- It is located in Kendrapara district of Odisha.
- Bhitarkanika, one of the State’s finest biodiversity hotspots, receives close to one lakh visitors every year. The tourist inflow has seen an increase lately.
- The park is famous for its green mangroves, migratory birds, turtles, estuarine crocodiles and countless creeks.
- It was designated as national park in 1998 and as a Ramsar site in 2002.
- It is said to house 70% of the country’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.
- In 1999 when coastal Odisha was battered by Super Cyclone, the rich mangrove forests had then acted as a bio-shield. There was very little impact of the cyclone in the mangrove-forested regions.
- In fact, Kalibhanjdia Island spread over 8.5 square km, a place in Bhitarkanika, has attracted the attention of foreign scientists as its possesses 70% of the total mangrove species of the world.
- Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary that hosts thousands of birds, especially during the winter season.
- Over 230 species of birds are known to be resident.
- It is also a major tourist centre.
- It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971.
- It is also a World Heritage Site.
- It is a man-made and man-managed wetland.
- It was designated as a Ramsar site under the Wetland Convention in 1981.
- Lohagarh Fort (Iron fort) is situated at Bharatpur in Rajasthan, India.
- It was constructed by Bharatpur Jat rulers.
- Maharaja Suraj Mal used all his power and wealth to a good cause, and built numerous forts and palaces across his kingdom, one of them being the Lohagarh Fort (Iron fort), which was one of the strongest ever built in Indian history.
- The inaccessible Lohagarh fort could withstand repeated attacks of British forces led by Lord Lake in 1805 when they laid siege for over six weeks.
- Of the two gates in the fort, one in the north is known as Ashtdhaatu (eight metalled) gate while the one facing the south is called Chowburja (four-pillared) gate.
- Monuments in the fort include are Kishori Mahal, Mahal Khas and Kothi Khas.
- Moti Mahal and towers like Jawahar Burj and Fateh Burj were erected to commemorate the victory over the Mughals and the British army.
- The Gateway has paintings of huge elephants.
H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam
Question 1. Match the following important pre-Congress organizations with their leaders.
- East India Association, London i) Pherozshah Mehta
- Indian Association, Calcutta ii) Dadabhai Naoroji
- Poona Sarvajanik Sabha iii) Surendranath Banerjee
- Bombay Presidency Association iv) Justice Ranade
Which of the above is/are the ill effects of the Green Revolution?
1-ii), 2-iii), 3-iv), 4-i)
1-i), 2-ii), 3-iii), 4-iv)
1-i), 2-iii), 3-iv), 4-ii)
1-ii), 2-iv), 3-iii), 4-i)
Question 2. Given below are two statements, one labeled as Assertion (A) and the other labeled as Reason (R). Select the correct answer from the codes given below:
Assertion (A): Fundamental Duties are non-justiciable.
Reason (R): They are supposed to inculcate a sense of patriotic and sensible citizenship.
- Both (A) and (R) are true and (R) is the correct explanation of (A).
- Both (A) and (R) are true, but (R) is not the correct explanation of (A).
(A) is true, but (R) is false.
(A) is false, but (R) is true.
Question 3. Latitude is the angular distance of a point on earth’s surface measured from the:
- Centre of the earth
- Prime meridian
Question 4. Which of the following factors are considered as determinants in ‘Land Use Pattern’?
Human population and technology
Availability of water
Which of the above statements are true?
i, ii & iv only
ii, iii, iv & v only
- i, ii, iii & iv only
i, ii, iii, iv & v
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions
- Give reasons for regionalization of world politics.
- Globalization has led to triple burden on Indian women. Discuss.
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