Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 20th December 2018

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  • December 20, 2018
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Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 20th December 2018



‘Strategy for New India @75’

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Government policies and interventions and issues arising out of their design and implementation; Indian economy and related issues

In news:

  • NITI Aayog released a vision document – ‘Strategy for New India @75’
  • It contains comprehensive national strategy to build New India by 2022 and propel India towards a USD 5 trillion economy by 2030.
  • Niti Aayog through this vision document attempts to bring innovation, technology, enterprise and efficient management together, at the core of policy formulation and implementation.
  • ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ has identified 41 different areas that require either a sharper focus on implementing the flagship schemes already in place or a new design and initiative to achieve India’s true potential.
  • The forty-one chapters in the document have been disaggregated under four sections: Drivers, Infrastructure, Inclusion and Governance.

To download, visit – http://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/Strategy_for_New_India.pdf

Some of the key recommendations –

According to the vision document,

  • A growth rate of 9% is essential to generate enough jobs and achieve universal prosperity.
  • In order to the economy’s size in real terms from $2.7 trillion in 2017-18 to nearly $4 trillion by 2022-23, India should target 8% growth over the period 2018-23.
  • In order to boost economic growth, the document identified few key steps – increase the country’s investment rate, increase the tax-GDP ratio, boost both private and public investment.
  • Recommends to rationalise direct taxes for both corporate tax and personal income tax.
  • There is a need to ease the tax compliance burden and eliminate direct interface between taxpayers and tax officials using technology.

In Agriculture sector,

  • Emphasis must shift to converting farmers to ‘agripreneurs’ by further expanding e-National Agriculture Markets (e-NAMs) and replacing the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act with the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (APLM) Act.
  • The creation of a unified national market, a freer export regime and abolition of the Essential Commodities Act are essential for boosting agricultural growth.
  • The document also called for a strong push towards ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ (ZBNF) techniques that reduce costs, improve land quality, and increase farmers’ incomes.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2018/12/20/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_01/6697186c_2606335_101_mr.jpg

Commercial surrogacy to be banned?

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social/Welfare issue; Health issue; Women issue

In news:

  • Lok Sabha passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, which bans commercial surrogacy in India.
  • In 2009, Law Commission of India in its 229th report recommended a prohibition on commercial surrogacy.
  • Commercial surrogacy is a procedure by which a woman accepts a fee to carry an embryo to term for another couple.

Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016

  • India has become a hub for commercial surrogacy and several incidents of women being exploited had come to light.
  • The law seeks to end such exploitation and regulate non-commercial or “altruistic surrogacy”.
  • The law bans women from accepting payment to become surrogates.
  • The Bill says no money can be paid except “the medical expenses incurred on surrogate mother and the insurance coverage for the surrogate mother”.
  • The Bill states that an Indian infertile couple, married for five years or more, can go in for ‘altruistic surrogacy’.
  • The Bill allows only close relatives to be surrogate mothers.
  • Bioethical problems of allowing commercial surrogacy – woman body is treated as a commodity in the marketplace.

Limitations banning Commercial Surrogacy:

  • The Bill fails to consider same- sex couples or LGBT community (who are now accepted to be a part of the mainstream after Supreme Court decriminalised Section 377).
  • In a country like India, an outright prohibition of commercial surrogacy will only push the business underground, into the black market. This may lead to women being exploited even more.

Do you know?

  • Commercial surrogacy in India was legalized in India in 2002.
  • The availability of medical infrastructure and potential surrogates, combined with international demand, has fueled the growth of the industry.
  • The economic scale of surrogacy in India is unknown, but study backed by the United Nations in July 2012 estimated the business at more than $400 million a year, with over 3,000 fertility clinics across India.

President’s Rule in J&K

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Indian Polity; Centre and State Relations

  • We know that J&K has separate Constitution.
  • According to its Constitution, Governor’s rule is imposed under Section 92 for six months after an approval by the President.
  • Under the Governor’s rule, the State Assembly is either kept in suspended animation or dissolved. If it is not possible to restore the state machinery before the expiry of the six-month period, the provision is extended.
  • In current case since the Assembly was not dissolved within six months, President’s rule under Article 356 is extended to the State.

Do you know?

  • In all states of India, the state government’s failure results in President’s rule. Only in J&K Governor’s rule is imposed for six months, but only after the consent of the President of India.
  • Matters related to defence, foreign relations, communication and finance of Jammu and Kashmir are under jurisdiction of the Constitution of India.

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – International affairs; Security concerns

In news:

  • US President Donald Trump, in October this year, had announced the US’ decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
  • Russia announced that it would take retaliatory measures if the US were to station missiles in Europe that threatened their security.

Do you know?

  • INF treaty was signed by then Soviet Union Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan in 1987.
  • The agreement is deterrent in nature and was largely designed to prevent prospects of a full-scale nuclear war in Europe.

Norway witness a boom in electric cars

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Ecology; Pollution

In news:

  • In Norway approximately 30% of all new cars are electric cars, compared with 2% across Europe overall and 1-2% in the U.S.
  • Norway’s success has one key driver — the government.
  • The government offered big subsidies and perks that it is now due to phase out, but only so long as electric cars remain attractive to buy compared with traditional ones.
  • The move is towards the commitment to have only sell zero-emissions cars sold in Norway by 2025.
  • The plan supports Norway’s CO2 reduction targets under the 2015 Paris climate accord, which nations agreed to ensure emissions goals are met.
  • To help sales, the Norwegian government waived hefty vehicle import duties and registration and sales taxes for buyers of electric cars. Owners don’t have to pay road tolls, and get free use of ferries and bus lanes in congested city centres.



TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Social empowerment
  • Social issues
  • Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Transgender Persons Bill, 2018: Rights, revised

In news:

  • Lok Sabha has passed a new Bill to protect transgender persons.
  • The current Bill is an improved version of the legislation introduced two years ago, but concerns remain.

The below article assesses whether the current Bill is a progressive step towards extending constitutional protection to the highly marginalised community.

Positives in new Bill

Addresses some of the shortcomings of earlier draft

  • The Bill seeks to address the shortcomings of earlier draft, which was widely perceived as falling short of the expectations of stakeholders and not adequately rights-based.
  • This was also envisaged by the Supreme Court in its landmark decision on transgender rights in 2014.
  • Standing Committee of Parliament on Social Justice and Empowerment and other experts had also criticised the original definition of ‘transgender persons’ for violating the right to self-determined identity.

Revised definition

  • The current Bill provides a revised definition that omits the reference to a ‘neither male nor female’ formulation, and covers any person whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth, as well as transmen, transwomen, those with intersex variations, the gender-queer, and those who designate themselves based on socio-cultural identities such as hijra, aravani, kinner and jogta.

No need to go through screening committee after sex reassignment surgery

  • The earlier draft had a provision of mandatory certificate from a district screening committee to prevent misuse (i.e., no provision for self-identification)
  • The current Bill omits the need to go through the district screening committee to get a revised certificate after a transgender has sex reassignment surgery, but the medical certification requirement remains.

Concerns in the revised Bill

There are legitimate concerns in the revised Bill –

  • One refers to the bar on forcible separation of transgender persons from their families, except through court orders.
  • It has been revised to cover transgender children.
  • Earlier it covered adults as well, but the committee had noted that it was within the family that many transgender persons faced harassment and abuse, and often felt driven to flee their homes.
  • Another concern is that the Bill criminalises begging by making it an offence for someone to compel or entice a transgender person into seeking alms.
  • When begging itself is no more seen as an offence, it may harm the community if such a means of livelihood in the absence of employment is criminalised.

Way forward

  • The Bill, unfortunately, does not give effect to the far-reaching directive of the Supreme Court to grant backward class reservation to the transgender community.
  • The Standing Committee’s concerns about recognising civil rights in marriage, divorce and adoption among them has not been addressed.
  • There is much good intention behind the welfare provisions, but social legislation is much more than high-minded clauses.
  • It needs to be followed up with zealous implementation and framing of deadlines to achieve specific objectives.

Connecting the dots:

  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018 is a step in the right direction and was much due in the Indian social context. Discuss.


TOPIC:General studies 3

  • Environment and Ecology
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
  • Environmental impact assessment

Achieve uninterrupted flow and unpolluted flow for Clean Ganga


  • The government is simply focusing on Swachh Ganga (Clean Ganga) and has missed to aim for uninterrupted flow and unpolluted flow.
  • The whole focus of the Clean Ganga project has been on setting up sewage treatments plants and cleaning ghats and banks. However, the main issue, which is that the river does not have adequate flow of water, has been ignored.
  • In other words, river Ganga’s uninterrupted flow is as important as making the river pollution free if the Ganga rejuvenation drive has to show desired results.

Major concerns: Fragile region

River Ganga is becoming increasingly fragile with severe pollution destroying the river, and more and more developmental projects (especially hydropower and irrigation projects) critically affecting its flow.

  • Several hydropower projects are mushrooming at the source of the river, which is the Garhwal range of the Himalayas.
  • Unlike other ranges, the Garhwal is narrow. It is from here that many rivers and tributaries of the Ganga basin emerge. These spring- or glacier-fed rivers join one another at different points to form an intricate riverine ecosystem in the Himalayas.
  • The entire basin falls in the seismic zone 4-5, and is highly prone to landslides and land subsidence.

How developmental activities such as construction of hydropower projects affect the riverine ecosystem?

  • As said earlier, several hydropower projects are mushrooming at the source of the river.
  • To construct a hydropower project, large sections of land are cleared of forests. Deforestation is taking place in an already fragile mountain area.
  • Impacts – loss of agriculture, drying of water sources as the water is diverted into tunnels, landslips, severe distress to aquatic life and the river bed is no longer even wet in certain stretches.
  • The irony is that even after all this devastation, electricity is not generated as per the intended capacity.
  • This is because there is too much silt and flow of debris during the monsoon and reduced flow of water in winters. And as glaciers continue to retreat, the silt in the rivers is only going to increase.
  • Therefore, the flow of debris and silt was stopped by barrages constructed around these hydropower projects. (This also escalates the impact of disaster. For ex, 2013 disaster)
  • As the reason for diminished output is natural and not technical, and therefore cannot be remedied, this is only going to cause more problems for future projects.
  • In the case of the Ganga, these projects also prevent sediments from going downstream. This affects the fertility of the delta downstream and also destroys the unique self-purifying properties of the Ganga.

Reports of committees

  • Twenty government committees and reports warn about the anthropogenic activities in these fragile areas and recommend conservation of these areas for food and water security.
  • When the late G.D. Agarwal, crusader of the Ganga, fasted to invoke the government to act against these projects, the government proposed an e-flow notification for the Upper Ganga River Basin.
  • It specified that during the dry season (November-March), 20% of monthly average flow has to be maintained, and during the monsoon season, 30% has to be maintained.
  • The notification stated that existing hydel projects that do not meet e-flow norms must comply within three years.
  • The 20% recommendation is less than the scientific recommendation of 50%.
  • Also the E-flow implementation process is dubious.


  • If the government intends to rejuvenate the river, it should have specified that 20% e-flows norms are only for existing projects, rather than extending it to several such new projects.
  • Also the understanding that hydropower projects mean development needs to change.
  • What is required is a credible roadmap to clean the Ganga and restore its flow.

Connecting the dots:

  • River Ganga’s uninterrupted flow is as important as making the river pollution free if the Ganga rejuvenation drive has to show desired results. Comment.


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Q.1) Which of the following are the features of Zero Budget Natural Farming?

  1. Inter-cropping
  2. Mulching
  3. Seed treatment
  4. Replenishment of water bodies

Select the correct answer using code below

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 1, 2 and 3
  3. 3 and 4
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q.2) Consider the following statements regarding the features Jammu and Kashmir Constitution

  1. It declares the State of J&K to be an integral part of India
  2. It provides for Governor’s rule as appointed by President of India
  3. It clarifies that the permanent residents of the state are entitled to all rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3

 Q.3) Consider the following statements:

  1. Governor’s rule is imposed on Jammu and Kashmir only, while the President rule on the rest of India.
  2. President Rule is not extended to Jammu And Kashmir State as Governor’s rule is imposed if the constitutional machinery fails in the state.

Choose the correct code from below:

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2


Metropolis of the mind: how Delhi has become a shadow of its old self

The Hindu

 Befriend thy neighbour 

The Hindu

 The besieged sanctuary

Indian Express

Policeman, train thyself

Indian Express

Preserving the real value of the Constitution 


India’s 1st step towards EVs raises concerns too


 For big business, ethics is becoming redundant


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