08 Mar 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis


A. GS1 Related
1. Architect Balkrishna Doshi first Indian to win Pritzker Prize
B. GS2 Related
1. More stations, trains to have all-women crew
2. Technology will be strongest point of National Health Protection Scheme: Niti Aayog
1. Advanced cervical cancer needs chemo-radiotherapy, not surgery
2. Multiple vaccines don't harm immune system: study
1. India-China bilateral trade hits historic high of $84.44 billion in 2017
1. India’s proposals about exchange of prisoners approved: Pakistan Foreign Office
C. GS3 Related
1. India’s deal on import of LNG from US to be milestone in ties
2. Banks face Rs. 20,000 cr. bond losses: report
3. 7th Pay Commission: Cabinet approves 7% hike on dearness allowance
4. Cabinet approves easing spectrum cap
1. Solid waste: Supreme Court says ‘sitting on time bomb of garbage’
2. 13 cities may exceed 2C temperature rise by 2020s, say scientists
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
1. Rooftop energy
1. The fight to the finish against banking frauds
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Category: CULTURE

1. Architect Balkrishna Doshi first Indian to win Pritzker Prize

  • Ahmedabad-based architect and educator, Balkrishna V Doshi has become the first Indian to win the Pritzker Prize — regarded as the profession’s highest honour — in its 40-year history.
  • One of the most influential architects of post-Independent India, Doshi has been best known for his innovative work of designing low-cost housing, in a career spanning over seven decades.The award was announced by the Chicago-based Hyatt Foundation.
  • Pune-born Doshi worked closely with Le Corbusier, a pioneer in modern architecture, in Paris in the early 50s. He oversaw the urban planning for Chandigarh city and also worked on Mill Owner’s Association Building and Shodhan House in Ahmedabad.
  • Aranya Community Housing won Doshi the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. He has also worked with American architect Louis Kahn on the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. One of his well-known collaborations is with M F Husain on the Amdavad-ni-Gufa, a cavernous undulating gallery, where he experimented with volume and material.
  • One of his first projects in Indore, Aranya Community Housing, won him the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1995. Padma Shri awardee Doshi was the Founder-Director of the School of Architecture in Ahmedabad, which stands as the CEPT University today.
  • He established the Vastu-Shilpa Foundation for Studies and Researcher in Environmental Design in 1955. His studio Sanganth was designed at the peak of his career in 1980, where he broke all the rules, moving away from rigid geometry to create vaults submerged underground.

B. GS2 Related


1. More stations, trains to have all-women crew

  • Maharashtra’s New Amravati is going to join a fast-expanding club of railway stations in India managed only by women.
  • Also, three trains — Barkichampi-Tori Passenger in Jharkhand, Koyna Express and Deccan Queen Express from Mumbai to Pune — will have only women travelling ticket examiner (TTE). Besides, Matunga Road in Mumbai’s busy suburban section will start its operations with an all-woman team.
  • Over the last couple of weeks, small stations like Ajni near Nagpur, Chandragiri near Tirupati and Gandhinagar in Jaipur have been handed over to all-woman staff, who are discharging every duty — from that of station masters to cleaners, from guards to signalling functionaries — without fanfare.

This is how Indian Railways, which employs 91,000 women, is carving out a new image of gender equality in its gigantic operations. The list of trains and stations run only by women is set to get longer.

  • Chairman Railway Board Ashwani Lohani recently instructed that all the 68 divisional units that Indian Railways network is divided into should identify at least one station in its jurisdiction and hand it over to an all-woman crew.
  • So, at least 68 big and small stations, one in each division is expected to be run only by women by the end of this year although the wait may not be that long.
  • Small, lesser-known roadside station like Phulwariasharif in Patna and Vidarbha Express, running between Nagpur and Gondia stations, will boast all-woman staff only on Thursday. Hijli near Kharagpur will also be operated by all-woman staff.
  • Also, the Ahmedabad-Mumbai circuit will have only women TTEs in Shatabdi Express running daily. The major thrust of this exercise will be in display on March 8 that mark International Women’s Day, with formal functions and photo-ops, some of which have already begun.
  • Begumpet station of Secundrabad joined the league on Monday, while Gandhinagar (Jaipur) has already been felicitated by the Rajasthan government’s State Commission for Women. Mumbai-based Central Railway has planned around 10 kinds of initiatives to enshrine gender equality in its operations, and so on.
  • It’s not just symbolism. Ministry officials said that there was a need to make some of the less-crowded, small roadside stations more women friendly and safer, not just for women commuters but also from the perspective of the staff.

2. Technology will be strongest point of National Health Protection Scheme: Niti Aayog

  • The work on National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) is in full swing with Niti Aayog officials going through health welfare schemes of 6 states— Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
  • One of the state officials who gave presentation to Niti Aayog officials told that schemes in relatively large states are being studied.

Examples of other states

  • Rajasthan government officials said the Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana (BSBY), introduced by CM Vasundhara Raje in 2006, gives a cover of Rs 30,000 for general illnesses and Rs 3 lakh for critical illnesses and covers around 1,715 diseases.
  • The Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme in TN gives general coverage of up to Rs 1 lakh, and critical illness cover of Rs 2 lakh. Launched by the DMK in 2009 and repackaged by AIADMK, the scheme covers over 1,000 procedures.
  • UP health minister Siddharth Nath Singh said the state is focussing on getting the resources and infrastructure ready for the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana that the Samajwadi Party government had abandoned.
  • Among the other schemes being looked at is that of Maharashtra which provides benefits to 85% of its population from fourteen districts. Started as Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana, launched in July 2012, it was changed to Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana in 2017 and covers 22.3 m ration card holders.

Category: HEALTH

1. Advanced cervical cancer needs chemo-radiotherapy, not surgery

  • An eleven-year-long trial by the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH) has established that women with advanced cervical cancer should not be treated with surgery, which is widely offered the world over. Instead, a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy increases five-year survival chances.
  • The findings assume significance in India, where 60 per cent of cervical cancer cases are detected at an advanced stage. The trial highlights the need for India to vastly increase radiotherapy centres from the meagre 530 that exist today, that too mostly in metro cities.
  • The five-year disease-free survival rate in women with second-stage cervical cancer who received chemo-radiotherapy combo was 77 per cent against 70 per cent in those who underwent cycles of chemo and surgery, clearly established non-surgical treatment as the better plan. The study was published in the February edition of Journal of Clinical Oncology.
  • Apart from saving valuable time, experts said the findings should save scores of women from undergoing botched-up, unnecessary surgeries. Across India, every year, nearly 1.3 lakh women are detected with cervical cancer, while 70,000 succumb to it.

2. Multiple vaccines don’t harm immune system: study

  • Even though children are given far more vaccines than prior generations, the practice does not appear to weaken their immune systems or make them more prone to other infections, a US study said Tuesday.
  • The report in the Journal of the American Medical Association marks the first time researchers have probed a link between the current recommended immunization schedule – which includes up to 16 vaccinations – and the rate of infections and illnesses that are unrelated to vaccines among children in the United States.
  • A random sample of 193 children who had been diagnosed with respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, along with other viral and bacterial infections, were compared to a control group of 751 children who had not been diagnosed with these infections.
  • Scientists looked at levels of exposure to vaccine antigen – a protein or other substance that induces an immune response in the body – in children’s first two years of life. They total vaccine antigen exposure was not associated with an increased risk of infections not targeted by vaccines over the next 24 months of life, said the study.
  • Some parents are concerned that multiple vaccines in early childhood could damage their child’s immune system, making them more susceptible to future infections.
  • This new study suggests the theory of overloading an infant’s immune system is highly unlikely.
  • Experts urge parents to talk with their paediatrician if they have concerns about vaccine safety.


1. India-China bilateral trade hits historic high of $84.44 billion in 2017

  • The India-China bilateral trade reached $84.44 billion last year, an historic high notwithstanding bilateral tensions over a host of issues including the Doklam standoff.
  • A rare novelty of the bilateral trade otherwise dominated by the Chinese exports was about 40 per cent increase of Indian exports to China in 2017 totalling to $16.34 billion.
  • The bilateral trade in 2017 rose by 18.63 per cent year-on-year to reach $84.44 billion. It is regarded as a landmark as the volume of bilateral trade for the first time touched $80 billion, well above the $71.18 billion registered last year.
  • The trade touched historic high despite bilateral tensions over a number of issues including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China blocking India’s efforts to bring about a UN ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Masood Azhar, Beijing blocking India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as the military standoff at Doklam lasting 73 days.
  • The bilateral trade stagnated around $70 billion for several years despite the leaders of both the countries setting $100 billion as target for 2015.
  • Though it is still about $20 billion short, officials on both sides expect trade and Chinese investments in India to pick up further this year as both the governments are trying to scale down tensions and step-up the normalisation process.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit China in June this year to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Qingdao. Reciprocal visits by Chinese leaders too are expected to take place this year.
  • There were also expectations that the new commerce minister of China to be named later this week in government reshuffle was expected to visit India in the coming weeks for talks to improve bilateral trade.
  • While the bilateral trade reached a new landmark, the trade deficit too continues to remain high at $51.75 billion – registering a growth of 8.55 per cent year-on-year in 2017.
  • According to India’s trade figures, the deficit had crossed $52 billion last year. India has been pressing China to open the IT and Pharmaceutical sectors for Indian firms to reduce the massive trade deficit.
  • As per the Chinese trade data, India’s exports to China increased by 39.11 per cent year-on-year to $16.34 billion last year. India’s imports from China increased by 14.59 per cent to $68.10 billion.
  • India has emerged as the seventh largest export destination for Chinese products, and the 24th largest exporter to China.
  • Significantly, diamonds along with copper, iron ore, organic chemicals and cotton yarn contributed to the increase Indian exports to China.
  • India’s exports of diamonds grew 4.93 per cent totalling to $2.59 billion. India was the second largest exporter of diamonds to China with a market share of 33.06 per cent after South Africa.
  • Also, Indian exports of copper registered a significant increase of 115.78 per cent to reach $2.15 billion.
  • India’s cotton including yarn and woven fabric exports to China showed an increase of 1.86 per cent to reach $1.30 billion. India was the second largest exporter of cotton to China with 15.04 per cent market share last year.
  • India’s exports of Zinc to China showed a sharp increase of 802 per cent to reach $240 million.
  • China’s exports on the other hand were dominated by electrical machinery and equipment registering an increase of 28.23 percent to $21.77 billion.
  • India was the largest destination for China’s fertilizers exports registering 16.98 per cent of its total fertilizers worth $1.03 billion to India.


1. India’s proposals about exchange of prisoners approved: Pakistan Foreign Office

Pakistan said today it has approved India’s humanitarian proposals about exchange of prisoners, issuance of medical visas and revival of a judicial commission, amid tensions between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif after consulting with all the stakeholders, has approved the humanitarian proposals, which had been received from the Indian side, regarding the civilian prisoners incarcerated in both the countries, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal said.

The first proposal is about exchange of three categories of prisoners, women, mentally challenged or with special needs and those above 70 years of age and the second is about revival of the Judicial Committee mechanism.

It said that third proposal is about “facilitating the visit of medical experts from both sides to meet and examine the mentally challenged prisoners for their repatriation.

The Foreign Office said that the minister also extended two more humanitarian proposals which include: exchange of prisoners above 60 years of age and the exchange of child prisoners, below 18 years of age.

The Foreign Minister expressed the hope that India would positively reciprocate Pakistan’s proposals, in the spirit that they have been made.

It was not known when India sent the proposals but the spokesman had said at a weekly media briefing that Indian humanitarian proposals about prisoners were under consideration of Ministry of Interior.

C. GS3 Related

Category: ECONOMY

1. India’s deal on import of LNG from US to be milestone in ties

  • India’s 20-year deal on import of natural gas from the US would be a milestone in bilateral ties and go a long way in strengthening and reinforcing trade relations between the two countries.
  • State-owned gas utility GAIL India has contracted 3.5 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction facility in Louisiana.
  • GAIL had signed a sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with the US LNG exporter Cheniere Energy in December 2011.
  • The SPA went into effect March 1. Under terms of the agreement, Cheniere will sell and make available for delivery to GAIL about 3.5 million tonnes a year of LNG.
  • It is a milestone in India-US relations as American LNG for GAIL India is flagged off from US Gulf coast. The US has recently started exporting LNG and India is a major buyer. Win-win for both nations – a market for a major US industry and a reliable energy source for India.
  • This long term agreement would go a long way in strengthening the relationship between GAIL and Cheniere and reinforcing India-US trade ties.

2. Banks face Rs. 20,000 cr. bond losses: report

  • With yields on sovereign bonds climbing, Indian banks are staring at Rs. 20,000 crore losses in the bond portfolio in the January-March quarter, which is three times more than the losses incurred in the Oct.-Dec. quarter, Credit Suisse said in a note to its clients.
  • The report said banks were having huge liquidity post the demonetisation exercise of November-December 2016 and since there was no credit demand, banks invested heavily in government papers. As a result, banks hold 10% more bonds than what is mandated, which is the highest in last 12 years.
  • Banks are required to hold 19.5% of their deposits in government papers.The brokerage suggested intervention by the central bank to help banks to cut losses.

RBI must intervene

  • RBI intervention by either raising the HTM [held to maturity] threshold or buyback of treasuries may be needed to help contain the MTM [mark-to-market] hit for the banks.
  • During the January-March quarter, yield on the 10-year benchmark government paper has risen by about 48 basis points.Rising bond losses will add to concerns on the adequacy of the recap Plan.

3. 7th Pay Commission: Cabinet approves 7% hike on dearness allowance

  • The Union Cabinet increased he dearness allowance (DA) for its 48.41 lakh central government employees and dearness relief (DR) for 61.17 lakh pensioners to 7 per cent, from 5 per cent, from January 1, 2018.
  • The combined impact of the two per cent hike of DA and DR on the exchequer would be Rs 6077.72 crore per annum and Rs 7090.68 crore in the financial year 2018-19.
  • This increase is in accordance with the accepted formula, which is based on the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission, it added.
  • The cabinet also approved the continuation of Swatantra Sainik Samman Yojana (SSSY) – a scheme that provides for a monthly pension to freedom fighters, as a token of respect for their contribution to the national freedom struggle, and on their demise to their eligible dependents, spouses and thereafter, unmarried and unemployed daughters and dependent parents.

4. Cabinet approves easing spectrum cap

The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,approved relaxing the cap on spectrum holding by telcos, a move that is expected to aid mergers and acquisitions in the sector.

The Cabinet has also given telcos the option to extend the time period for payment of spectrum bought in auction to 16 years from the present 10 years.

This is likely to help with the cash flow in the short to medium term, while adding Rs. 74,446 crore till 2034-35 to the government’s kitty due to no reduction in interest rates.

The relief measures, based on the recommendations by the Inter Ministerial Group on stressed assets in the telecom sector, will facilitate investments, consolidation and enhance ease of doing business, said an official release.

The cap on overall spectrum that can be held by an operator in a circle has been raised to 35% from the current 25%. In line with earlier recommendations of TRAI, the current cap of 50% on intra-band spectrum holding has also been removed.

Instead, there will be a cap of 50% on the combined spectrum holding in the sub-1 GHz bands (700 MHz, 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands). There will be no cap on individual or combined spectrum holding in the above 1 GHz band.

The government is hopeful that this move would encourage participation in future spectrum auctions.

With the restructuring of the deferred payment liability, the cash flow for the telecom service providers will increase in the immediate timeframe providing them some relief. Revising the limit for the spectrum cap holding will facilitate consolidation of telecom licensees and may encourage the participation in the future auction.

The telecom operators will now be able to trade in excess [subject to the prescribed time limit] as well as the current spectrum held by them with other telecom operators depending upon their current spectrum holdings.


1. Solid waste: Supreme Court says ‘sitting on time bomb of garbage’

The apex court, which is hearing a matter related to the implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 across the country, had, on December 12 last year, asked the Centre to follow up on the issue of solid waste management with all states and UTs and furnish details.

  • The Centre also told the apex court that they have filed the information received from the states, UTs and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as per which State Level Advisory Body (SLAB) have been constituted in some of the states and UTs.
  • It said that meetings of SLABs have been conducted in 17 states and UTs, out of which there were only three states and UTs which have held two or more meetings. The court also asked the Centre about proposed measures like use of ragpickers to collect garbage.
  • The apex court, which is hearing a matter related to the implementation of Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 across the country, had, on December 12 last year, asked the Centre to follow up on the issue of solid waste management with all states and UTs and furnish details.

2. 13 cities may exceed 2C temperature rise by 2020s, say scientists

  • In addition, experts say that storms, floods and other extreme weather events that are related to climate change are hitting cities much harder than scientists had predicted.
  • Thirteen cities worldwide are projected to see temperature hikes that could exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6°F) over the next decade or so, according to a new report.
  • The Belgian city of Leuven faces the highest potential increase among a hundred cities that are included in a report several years in the making by the Urban Climate Change Research Network, based at Columbia University.
  • Cities that could see the steepest temperature increases during the 2020s include Geneva in Switzerland (2.5C), Shenzhen in China (2.3C) and Tsukuba in Japan (2.3C), the study showed.
  • All predictions included a lower limit too. For instance, temperatures in Leuven could increase by as little as 1.1C.
  • The new data provides foundation knowledge for cities at the forefront of efforts to rein in the effects of global warming.
  • The new findings come on the heels of a U.N. draft report already causing alarm with projections that the global temperature rise is on track to exceed a 1.5C target included in the Paris pact to curb global warming.
  • In addition, experts say that storms, floods and other extreme weather events that are related to climate change are hitting cities much harder than scientists had predicted.
  • The findings’ variance – projected increases do not exceed 1C in a handful of cases – offer a reminder that cities need to develop tailored plans to mitigate the effects of climate change, said Solecki, a professor at Hunter College in New York.
  • Planning is particularly crucial given growing pressures from urbanization, he said.
  • About half the world’s population lives in urban areas, and that figure is expected to reach 66 percent by 2050, according to the U.N.
  • The new report was launched in the western Canadian city of Edmonton, on the sidelines of a global summit where scientists and city planners are charting a roadmap for cities to fight the impact of climate change.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials


1. Rooftop energy

  • Bengaluru’s aerial mission to produce a three dimensional map of rooftop solar power potential using Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data can give this key source of power a big boost
  • The mission was done to assess how much of a city’s power needs can be met through rooftop solar installations
  • A survey helps determine usable rooftops, separating them from green spaces, and analyses the quality of the solar resource
  • With steady urbanisation, solar maps of this kind will help electricity utilities come up with good business cases and investment vehicles and give residents an opportunity to become partners in the effort
  • An initiative (like these surveys) to rapidly scale up rooftop solar installations is needed if the target of creating 40 GW of capacity connected to the grid by 2022 is to be realised
  • Domestic policy has to evaluate the impact of factors such as imposition of safeguard duty and anti-dumping duty on imports, and levy of the goods and services tax on photovoltaic modules
  • Major solar projects that connect to the grid often face the challenge of land acquisition and transmission connectivity
  • This has led to a delay in planned capacity coming on stream during 2017
  • The Centre should come up with incentives, given the enormous investment potential waiting to be tapped and the real estate that can be rented
  • The southern States and Rajasthan together host the bulk of national solar infrastructure on a large scale
  • With some forward-looking policymaking, they can continue to lead by adding rooftop capacity
  • Initiatives such as the Bengaluru mapping project can contribute to assessments of both real potential and risk
  • This is crucial for (solar power) projects on a large scale involving significant exposure for financial institutions, including banks
  • With ongoing improvements to solar cell efficiency and battery technology, rooftops will only get more attractive in the future

Category: ECONOMY

1. The fight to the finish against banking frauds

  • RBI data shows that public sector banks (PSBs) reported 8,670 cases of “loan fraud” involving Rs61,260 crore over the last five financial years up to March 2017
  • The amount will go up significantly once the recent frauds are added
  • But after the recent issuance of a new framework for the resolution of stressed assets by the RBI, the government is working on reducing the possibility of bank frauds
  • The government has done well by not letting this crisis go to waste. For instance, it has asked PSBs to inspect all bad loan accounts above Rs50 crore
  • It has also given them 15 days to address technological and operational risks
  • It has also directed PSBs to rationalize overseas operations and proposed a new law against fugitive economic offenders
  • This will give the government the power to confiscate the assets of a fugitive offender, both in India and abroad
  • It has also decided to set up a regulatory body for auditors
  • The RBI too has formed an expert committee to look into rising instances of fraud

 Three broad issues in this fight against bank frauds

  1. Government should avoid over-regulating or overburdening the banking system

Inspecting all bad loan accounts in excess of Rs50 crore, for instance, could result in excessive fear among bankers(as at some point investigative agencies will also get involved)This could affect the flow of credit in the economy

Action by investigative agencies in some of the cases related to non-performing accounts in recent years is said to have affected bank lending

Therefore, it is important that bankers are protected adequately and are able to take commercial decisions

  1. Laws by themselves don’t act as a deterrent(Indian Experience)

The government will need to build investigatory and judicial capabilities so that cases are decided in a reasonable time frame

Only time-bound closure of cases will deter fraudsters

India will also need to build institutional capabilities to be able to negotiate with foreign authorities in order to bring back fugitives and prosecute them under Indian laws

  1. PSBs need urgent governance reforms

The fraud is the consequence of a complete collapse of governance

Governance in PSBs needs an overhaul and government interference in appointments should be minimized

In this context, the P.J. Nayak committee (2014) rightly noted: “Government officers and regulators may not possess the skills to appoint the top management of commercial banks”

Therefore, the government needs to revisit the way appointments are made in PSBs, starting with the board

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Trade War:
  1. A trade war happens when one country puts up a trade barrier, like strict tariffs.
  2. It is done to protect its economy from foreign competition.

Which of the statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above


Question 2. Consider the following statements about Pritzker Prize:
  1. It is awarded annually to honor a living architect or architects.
  2. It is awarded to work which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.

Which of the statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above


Question 3. Consider the following statements about Swatantra Sainik Samman Yojana (SSSY):
  1. It is a pension to freedom fighters.
  2. It is a token of respect for their contribution in the national freedom struggle and on their demise, to their eligible dependents.

Which of the statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above



H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions

General Studies II 

  1. India is slowly losing the grip over its neighbors and needs to reinvent its Foreign Policy from Big brother to elder Brother Attitude. Voice your opinion and suggest Suitable Measures.
  2. There is need to revise, refine and improve reservation policy in India depending upon its dynamic needs. Critically Examine.


Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

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