Daily Current Affairs IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 15th January 2019

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  • January 16, 2019
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Daily Current Affairs IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 15th January 2019



Global Housing Technology Challenge

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Social/Welfare scheme; Technology; Infrastructure; Government schemes and programmes

In news:

  • Centre to offer about ₹150 crore as a technology innovation grant to build 6,000 homes — cheaper, faster and better — using alternative technologies and materials under the Global Housing Technology Challenge (which was launched recently).
  • The pace of construction under the urban section of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana or Housing for All is too slow. It has completed just over 10% of its target as the scheme reaches its halfway point.
  • Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to invite bids and identify proven demonstrable technologies from around the world which are to be adapted and mainstreamed for use in the Indian context.
  • Apart from state and Central assistance of ₹1.5 lakh each, the Centre will offer an additional technology innovation grant of ₹2.5 lakh for each house.

Pic: https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/01/15/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_07/c65a43f0_2667996_101_mr.jpg

Do you know?

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana:

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), with two components: Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) (PMAY-U) for the urban poor and Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin) (PMAY-G and also PMAY-R) for the rural poor.
  • It is an initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor with a target of building 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022.
  • In the first phase (from 2016 to 2018 – 19) One crore houses are targeted for construction under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna – Grameen.

The Mission will be implemented during 2015-2022 and will provide central assistance to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and other implementing agencies through States/UTs for:

  • In-situ Rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers using land as a resource through private participation
  • Credit Linked Subsidy
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership
  • Subsidy for Beneficiary-led individual house construction/enhancement

Practice of devadasi custom still prevalent

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social issue; Children issue

In news:

  • More than 36 years after the Karnataka Devadasis (Prohibition of Dedication) Act of 1982 was passed, the State government is yet to issue the rules for administering the law.
  • Devadasi custom – practice of dedicating young girls to temples as an offering to appease the gods
  • Practice of devadasi custom is still prevalent in Karnataka and Goa (due to apathetic approach of the legislature and enforcement agencies)
  • Girls from socio-economically marginalised communities and special children, with physical or mental disabilities, are more vulnerable to be dedicated as devadasis.
  • The devadasi system continues to receive customary sanction from families and communities.

Other concerns:

  • Reporting of cases pertaining to the custom is very low.
  • Dedicated children are not explicitly recognised as children in need of care and protection under Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act of 2015.
  • India’s extant immoral trafficking prevention law or the proposed Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018, also do not recognise these dedicated girls as victims of trafficking for sexual purposes.

Vision 2040 for aviation sector

Part of: GS Mains III – Infrastructure; Government schemes and programmes

In news:

  • Union Ministry of Civil Aviation to unveil Vision 2040 for aviation sector at two-day global summit which will be held soon.
  • It will shortly award new regional connectivity routes under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) III.

Important Value Additions:

Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme

Key pointers:

  • The Civil Aviation Ministry launched Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) in 2017.
  • UDAN is an innovative scheme to develop the regional aviation market. It is a market-based mechanism in which airlines bid for seat subsidies.
  • This first-of-its-kind scheme globally will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns.

About the Scheme:

  • The UDAN scheme seeks to provide connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.
  • This first-of-its-kind scheme will ensure affordability, connectivity, growth and development.
  • It aims to increase ticketing volume from 80 million to 300 million by 2022.
  • Under it regional connectivity will be developed on market-based mechanism under which Airlines will bid for seat subsidies.
  • It will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns.
  • Under it, airlines will have complete freedom to enter into code sharing with larger airlines for connectivity and they will be exempted from various airport charges.
  • Airlines will have exclusive rights for three years to fly on a particular regional route.
  • On these routes for regional flights Airfares will be capped at 2500 rupees for an hour’s flight.
  • Central and State governments and airport operators will provide a financial stimulus in the form of concessions to airlines
  • The mechanism of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) will be provided to interested airlines to kick-off operations from such airports so that the passenger fares are kept affordable
  • Government will provide subsidy to airlines for first three years of operations when they will have exclusive flying rights on the selected routes.
  • Once the market in these routes gets jump started, it will operate on a commercial basis as per market forces of supply and demand.
  • The scheme has been launched by Ministry of Civil Aviation.


  • President Donald Trump threatened Turkey with economic devastation if it attacks a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia in Syria.



TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Preventing student suicides


  • There has been a considerable increase in number of cases of student suicides.
  • More youths are taking their lives due to the fear of failing in examinations, constant flak from teachers, bullying from peers, family pressure and a loss of a sense of a decent future.
  • There have been frequent news reports of suicides taking place in coaching centres that train students for medical and engineering entrance examinations.
  • The deaths of 49 students in Navodaya Vidyalaya schools in the last five years; deaths of three students preparing for the IIT entrance examinations in Kota etc. has brought the issue of youth suicides to the fore again.

Do you know?

  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau, between 2014 and 2016, 26,476 students committed suicide in India. Of them, 7,462 committed suicide due to failure in various examinations.
  • The rising number of these cases should provoke a serious discussion on the way in which outcomes of education are perceived in India.

Failure of education system to generate more jobs

  • The instrumental value of education in India is its potential in generating socio-economic and cultural capital through a promise of decent job opportunities in the future. But the education system has not been successful in generating enough job options.
  • For instance, the International Labour Organisation’s World Employment and Social Outlook Trends Report of 2018 says that in 2019, the job status of nearly 77% of Indian workers would be vulnerable and that 18.9 million people would be unemployed.
  • With their job future being so bleak, students are put under constant pressure to perform. They have failed to learn to enjoy the process of education.

Instead, the constant pressure and stress has generated social antipathy and detachment among them.

Psychological or emotional factors and social factors

  • Sociologist Emile Durkheim had famously hypothesised that suicides are a result of not just psychological or emotional factors but social factors as well.
  • With a loss of community and other social bonds, students in schools, colleges and coaching centres end up taking their lives.

Lack of trained counsellors

  • According to a study, merely one or two training sessions are included to sensitise the teachers and principals regarding safety and security of the children and to prevent suicidal tendencies.
  • Provisions under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) recognise the role of guidance and counselling services to students.
  • There has been significant decrease in providing guidance and counselling services as they are viewed as “non-productive” areas of education. (due to poor budgetary allocation)

The way forward:

  • Only setting up of expert committees and counsellors in schools have not been able to solve the problem. The deep-rooted causes must be addressed.
  • The government must undertake a comprehensive study on the reasons behind these suicides.
  • The curriculum should be designed in ways that stress the importance of mental exercises and meditation. (The Delhi government’s initiative on the ‘Happiness Curriculum’ may be a step in the right direction.)
  • Justice Roopanwal Commission had recommended for 12 measures with regards to higher education.
  • One of them stressed on making Equal Opportunity Cells with an anti-discrimination officer functional in universities and colleges.

Finally, it is high time to reinvent the educational ecosystem in ways that impregnate new meanings, new ideas of living, and renewed possibilities that could transform a life of precarity into a life worth living.

Connecting the dots:

  • The so called education hubs that prepare students for entrance examinations are turning into suicide hotspots of the country? What reasons would you attribute for this trend? Are students too stressed today? What is the solution to this problem? Discuss the need of change in societal perception of success and failure in this regard.


TOPIC:General studies 2 and 3

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests.
  • Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
  • Environment conservation – Climate change and Global warming

Environmental Agenda for 2019


The year 2018 was full of declarations. Some major policies and programmes were launched to tackle issues ranging from air pollution to plastic pollution.

At the international level two major agreements got underway—

  • the rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement was adopted and
  • the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol came into effect from January 1, 2019.

India’s agenda for 2019 should be:

1. Fulfil the international obligations

  • Government should setup the institutional and regulatory framework to implement the major programmes announced in 2018 and fulfil the international obligations.

2. Implement the National Clear Air Programme:

  • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was announced recently.
  • It is the first ever national framework for air quality management with a target of 20-30% reduction of PM2.5 and PM10 concentration by 2024.
  • NCAP has weak legal mandate and is not supported with adequate financial and institutional resources.
  • Government has to strengthen NCAP and institutionalise it for effective enforcement. Without strict enforcement, all other measures will fail.

3. Ban single-use plastics:

  • Government had pledged to ban all single-use plastics by 2022. It should be the single-most important environmental agenda and effective actions should start in 2019.
  • A national definition along with a comprehensive action plan, including the promotion of alternatives, should be put in place in 2019.

4. Strengthen Swachh Bharat Mission:

  • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is at a crucial juncture. Any laxity would jeopardise the gains made in the last four years.
  • SBM should be further strengthened so that cities are capacitated to move beyond cleanliness to sustainable waste management.

5. National and State Action Plan on Climate Change:

  • It has been a decade since India adopted its National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC). The outcome has been mixed.
  • Few missions like National Solar Mission and the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency have done very well, while other missions under NAPCC have not progressed as expected.
  • The SAPCC has not progressed beyond documentation.
  • It is time the government revisits NAPCC and SAPCC and develops a comprehensive framework to decarbonise our economy and build resilience to adapt to the changing climate.

6. Implement National Action Plan on AMR:

  • Antibiotic resistance is emerging as a major health threat.
  • National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (NAP-AMR) was adopted in April 2017 to reduce the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials.
  • But the implementation has been very slow so far. Most states have not yet developed their action plans.
  • Implementation of NAP-AMR must be a priority in 2019 as delays would mean jeopardising the lives of millions in the future.

7. Get the Forest Policy and Act right:

  • The draft National Forest Policy, 2018 (NFP-2018) needs a serious relook.
  • It has failed to address the core problems with the forestry sector.
  • Environment ministry has also started the process of amending the Indian Forest Act, 1927 (IFA), the bedrock of forestry-related regulations in the country.
  • It is imperative that country gets both of them right.
  • India needs a new forest policy and law that recognises the role and the potential of people to grow, manage, protect and use forests sustainably. This will create millions of jobs as well as protect forests better.

8. National River Revitalisation Plan:

  • All major and minor rivers are in the grip of pollution because of unsustainable withdrawal of water and untreated disposal of wastes.
  • From Cauvery to Godavari, and from Sutlej to Yamuna, most rivers in the country need a revitalisation plan.
  • ‘National River Revitalisation Plan’ should be unveiled in 2019.

9. Ban all Class I pesticides:

  • Every year, thousands of people die due to accidental intake of pesticides.
  • Highly-toxic Class I pesticides are the biggest culprit.
  • India should ban all Class I pesticides.
  • Sri Lanka banned all Class I pesticides in the 1990s, which has prevented thousands of deaths, and has not led to any negative effect on agriculture productivity. We should learn from our neighbours.

10. Control desertification:

  • In 2018, more than 50 dust storms affected as many as 16 states in northern and western India and killed more than 500 people.
  • These dust storms are a symptom of increasing desertification in large parts of western and northern India.
  • It is time that the State recognise this ecological disaster.
  • It should initiate an ecological restoration programme focusing on land management, soil conservation and afforestation to halt and reverse desertification.

11. Strengthen Pollution Control Boards:

  • Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) are ineffective, incapacitated and getting archaic with every passing year.
  • They are not designed to manage the pollution challenges of the 21st century.
  • It is time to reinvent PCBs and build their capacity for effective monitoring and enforcement.

Connecting the dots:

  • What should be the government’s agenda in 2019 to tackle issues ranging from air pollution to plastic pollution? Discuss.


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)


  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
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Q.1) Government of India has launched an ambitious scheme called Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojna. Which of the following statements regarding PMAY are correct?

  1. It aims to provide every family a pucca house with water connection, toilet facilities, 24*7 electricity supply and access.
  2. In the first phase the scheme is targeting the construction of houses in urban areas.

Select the code from following:

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

Q.2) Consider the following statements regarding ‘UDAN’ Scheme:

  1. The scheme has been launched by Railway Ministry to connect remote areas of the country with superfast tracks.
  2. The acronym ‘UDAN’ stands for ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’.
  3. The scheme UDAN envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of the above


Science and reason

The Hindu 

 Half done: on the ban on plastic

The Hindu

Where the rich got their way: on the climate change convention at Katowice, Poland

The Hindu

Raja Mandala: Alliances and strategic autonomy

Indian Express

The fire in Assam

Indian Express

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