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Daily Current affairs 12 NOVEMBER 2018

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

Paper 1:

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.


UNESCO Asia-Pacific award for conservation


What to study?

  • For Prelims: About the awards, awardees and important sites in India.
  • For Mains: Significance of these sites and challenges in conservation of these sites.


Context: UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation have been announced.


Various awardees:

  • Award of Distinction: Restoration of LAMO Center from a state of partial ruin in Ladakh.
  • Honourable Mention: Rejuvenation of iconic Rajabai Clock Tower and Ruttonsee Muljee Jetha Fountain in Mumbai, along with a project in China.
  • Award of Excellence: Shijo-cho Ofune-hoko Float Machiya, of Kyoto, Japan.
  • New Design in Heritage Contexts: Kaomai Estate 1955, Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Harts Mill, Port Adelaide, (Australia).


Facts for Prelims:

Mumbai has won 19 recognitions since the inception of the awards in 2000 – the most for any city in India.


About the award:

  • Launched in 2000, Unesco Asia-Pacific awards for cultural heritage conservation programme is aimed at acknowledging the efforts taken to restore and conserve historical structures without affecting their heritage value in the region comprising 48 countries.
  • The awards are classified under four categories — Award of Excellence, Awards of Distinction, Awards of Merit and Award for New Design in Heritage Context.
  • They are being given to encourage the efforts of all stakeholders and the public in conserving and promoting monuments and religious institutes with rich heritage in the Asia-Pacific region.


Sources: pib.


Paper 2:

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.


Competition Commission of India


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: CCI- features, composition, functions and significance, Key features of the Competition Act.


Context: Ashok Kumar Gupta has been appointed as the chairperson of the Competition Commission of India (CCI). It was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).


About Competition Commission Of India:

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Act, and was duly constituted in March 2009. Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.


The following are the objectives of the Commission:

  • To prevent practices having adverse effect on competition.
  • To promote and sustain competition in markets.
  • To protect the interests of consumers.
  • To ensure freedom of trade.


Functions of the commission:

  • It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
  • The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.


The Competition Act:

The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.


Sources: the hindu.

Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies and issues related to health.


National body set up to study Monogenic diabetes


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Monogenic diabetes- symptoms, causes, categories, spread and prevention.


Context: A National Monogenic Diabetes Study Group has been formed to identify cases of monogenic diabetes across the country. Supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) and Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMDSC) will be the national coordinating centre for the study group.


What is Monogenic Diabetes?


Monogenic diabetes is a group of disorders where mutation of a single gene causes diabetes; the three commonest forms being – Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (MODY), Neonatal Diabetes Mellitus (NDM) and Congenital Hypoglycaemia.


Factors of Monogenic diabetes:

  • Monogenic diabetes is usually passed on in an autosomal dominant gene, (a sex independent gene that’s inherited from one of the parents). This means only one copy of the mutation is needed to develop diabetes.
  • There is usually a strong family history of diabetes and in multiple generations, (although it’s possible for someone to have a spontaneous mutation). Diagnosis, therefore, involves genetic testing for these diabetes-causing gene mutations that disrupt insulin production.
  • Monogenic diabetes patients are also usually antibody negative, (though there are cases where low levels of antibodies have been detected). Once treatment for the diabetes begins, the antibodies usually resolve.


In addition to blood sugar issues, some of the forms of Monogenic diabetes involve metabolic issues such as:

  • Growth problems.
  • Impaired glycogen storage in the liver.
  • Impaired fatty acid metabolism.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.


Sources: the hindu.


[op-ed snap] Time for the government to reassess its position



Mains Paper 3: Economy | Indian Economy Issues relating to planning

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Unjustified borrowing demand of government from RBI and its implications


Government’s demand for capital from RBI

  1. The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have not been able to find a middle ground to resolve outstanding issues
  2. One of the contentious issues is that of the central bank’s reserves
  3. The government believes that the RBI is holding excess reserves and a part should be transferred to it
  4. However, the RBI is of the view that it needs reserves to attain its policy objectives

Urgency behind reforms questionable

  1. If the government believes that RBI is holding excess reserves, or is looking at its capital more conservatively, what explains the urgency to “fix” it?
  2. The issue can be amicably settled by constituting an expert committee
  3. Such a committee would be in a better position to look into the matter in detail and recommend the appropriate level of capital for the central bank and, if necessary, also suggest ways to transfer reserves to the government
  4. This will make the process more transparent and financial markets will be in a better position to understand the issue

Risk of fiscal slippage

  1. The fiscal deficit reached 95.3% of the full year target in the first six months of the financial year
  2. Therefore, it is po ssible that because of lower than expected indirect tax collection, the government might have to cut capital expenditure, which will affect growth
  3. It would want to avoid this in an election year
  4. This is also the main reason why it is aggressively pushing for a relaxation in the prompt corrective action framework and improving liquidity in the non-banking financial space
  5. A large transfer by RBI will, at best, optically improve the fiscal position and give some room to the government to increase spending in an election year
  6. But any reduction in the size of the RBI balance sheet will affect the flow of dividend in the future

RBI’s role as seat belt

  1. Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has explained what RBI does with the analogy of a seat belt
  2. The driver—in this case, the government—has the option of not putting on the seatbelt, but in case of an accident, the damage could be severe
  3. The government undoubtedly needs such a safety measure, as the road ahead for the Indian economy is likely to be bumpy
  4. Financial condition in global markets will continue to tighten and growth is likely to soften
  5. With volatility in global crude prices and the uncertainty of domestic elections, policy reliability in one quarter will provide some comfort to financial markets
  6. Continued confrontation, or pushing the central bank too far on regulatory issues, will affect investor confidence in financial markets and the ensuing uncertainty will impact growth

Way forward

  1. A one-time transfer from the RBI will not structurally improve fiscal dynamics and is unlikely to impress investors or rating agencies
  2. On the contrary, it will be seen as an erosion of RBI’s operational autonomy and affect capital flows in the medium to long run
  3. The government and the RBI board would do well to carefully examine the longer-term cost of their decisions



[op-ed snap] A nuanced understanding of the NBFC sector



Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues related to NBFC sector & why its functioning is important for economy


NBFC sector in crisis

  1. Events revolving around the multi-notch downgrade of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS) last month have caused a liquidity squeeze for the entire non-banking financial company (NBFC) sector
  2. Risk aversion in debt markets has heightened to an extent that the market has lost its ability to make a distinction across NBFCs, bracketing all of them in the same risk category, irrespective of the underlying nature of their assets and liabilities

Is the whole NBFC sector at risk?

  1. The reality is that the sector is very heterogeneous and constitutes different types of companies with different business models addressing very different underlying borrower segments.
  2. The differences in business models and the diverse target segments of NBFCs are stark
  3. This nuance needs to be seen, understood and acknowledged for markets to resume normalcy

Types of NBFCs

  1. NBFCs can broadly be divided into three segments—asset financing, personal loans and business loans
  2. The predominant asset financing NBFCs are commercial vehicle financiers
  3. The remaining NBFCs provide a range of personal and business loans with widely varying business models
  4. Housing finance companies (HFCs), which provide housing loans, can be considered as specialized NBFCs that have a separate regulator
  5. Within these broad classifications, there are further differentiation based on the borrower segment the NBFCs target

Risk aversion for NBFCs

  • Asset-liability mismatch (ALM)
  1. Short-term funding is being used to finance long-term assets
  2. The asset side duration for these businesses is very short ranging from eight to eighteen months
  3. On the liabilities side, the duration either mirrors the asset side, or is longer, and generally ranges from one to two years
  4. Thus, the small- to mid-sized NBFCs run a positive ALM mismatch
  5. This is further aided by low leverage and high capital adequacy
  • Refinancing or rollover of short-term capital market borrowings
  1. This concern is linked to the ALM issue discussed above as smooth rollover of shorter duration liabilities when assets are of longer duration is key for business continuity
  2. Commercial paper funding (of up to 90 days) for NBFCs from mutual funds has increased from ₹50,000 crore in March 2016 to ₹1.2 trillion in September 2018
  3. Recently mutual funds have withdrawn from the market for NBFC paper
  4. This has led to heightened refinancing risk for those who are dependent on such funding
  5. It is estimated that NBFC and HFC debt of about ₹2.5 trillion is due for roll-over in the next six months
  • Asset quality
  1. This primarily pertains to NBFC exposure to the real estate sector—either as builder funding or loan against property (LAP)
  2. Builder funding is non-existent in the loan book of NBFCs
  3. In the case of LAP portfolio of affordable housing financiers or small business loan financiers, the asset quality continues to be above par as the sourcing of these loans has been outside the ultra-competitive urban LAP market
  4. The property underlying the LAP loans is typically self-occupied and not purchased for investment purposes

Measures required

  1. For NBFCs with sound fundamentals that are caught in the current situation, a short-term squeeze on funding can be managed by curtailing growth

Way forward

  1. Over the years, NBFCs have played an important role in providing growth capital to various sectors of the economy
  2. What is required is a concerted effort across stakeholders to prevent a market contagion that can cut off the critical supply of capital to the grassroots of the nation



[op-ed snap] Protect the little helpers



Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IPBES, Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators,

Mains level: Importance of various species in agricultural processes and need for their conservation


Role of pollinators in agriculture

  1. Across India’s agrarian plains, plantations and orchards, millions of birds, bats and insects toil to pollinate crops
  2. In 2015, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) found that pollinators lead to huge agricultural economic gains
  3. The report estimated pollinator contribution in India to be $0.831-1.5 billion annually for just six vegetable crops
  4. This is an underestimation considering that nearly 70% of tropical crop species are dependent on pollinators for optimal yields

Risks to the survival of pollinators

  1. Many of these thousands of species may be in dangerous decline
  2. At the turn of the millennium, many countries, particularly the U.S., observed with some anxiety the phenomenon of bees deserting their hives
  3. Large tracts of natural habitats have been cleared for monoculture cultivation, while the use of pesticides and fertilisers is pushing out nature’s little helpers
  4. In a series of studies at the University of Calcutta, researchers have shown that native Indian bees, when exposed to multiple pesticides, suffer from memory and olfactory impairment, lower response rates, and oxidative stress which damages cells

Visible effects of low pollination

  1. In Kashmir, researchers have pinned lowering yields of apple trees on the declining frequency of bee visits
  2. In north India, lowering yields of mustard cultivation may be caused by disappearing pollinators

Steps taken by the global community

  1. After the IPBES report, almost 20 countries have joined the Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators
  2. The EU Pollinators’ Initiative was adopted in June
  3. The U.S. has established a Pollinator Health Task Force and a national strategy that focussed on increasing the monarch butterfly population and planting native species and flowers
  4. The U.K. developed 23 key policy actions under its National Pollinator Strategy

Way forward for India

  1. Apart from promoting organic farming and lowering pesticide usage, landscape management is key
  2. India can adopt a policy of direct payment support to farmers to provide buffer strips for pollinators for nectar- and pollen-rich plants
  3. India has millions of hectares of reserve forests, some of which have been converted to pulpwood plantations. Much of this can be restored to become thriving homes for pollinators
  4. Fallow areas and government land can be used to plant flowering species for pollinators


Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

  1. IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body, established by member States in 2012
  2. It provides policymakers with objective scientific assessments about the state of knowledge regarding the planet’s biodiversity, ecosystems and the benefits they provide to people, as well as the tools and methods to protect and sustainably use these vital natural assets
  3. IPBES does for biodiversity what the IPCC does for climate change
  4. IPBES currently has 128 member States. A large number of NGOs, organizations, conventions and civil society groupings also participate in the formal IPBES process as observers
  5. The work of IPBES can be broadly grouped into four complementary areas:
    – Assessments: On specific themes (e.g. “Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production”); methodological issues (e.g. “Scenarios and Modelling); and at both the regional and global levels (e.g. “Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services”)
    – Policy Support: Identifying policy-relevant tools and methodologies, facilitating their use, and catalyzing their further development
    – Building Capacity & Knowledge: Identifying and meeting the priority capacity, knowledge and data needs of our member States, experts and stakeholders
    – Communications & Outreach: Ensuring the widest reach and impact



Long cohabitation is presumed marriage: SC



Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Legal status of live in relationship in India


Court Favors Maintenance

  1. The Supreme Court has upheld the presumption that a couple who live together as husband and wife are legally married and the woman can claim maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC.
  2. The bench observed that it is fairly well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a number of years.
  3. Citing past judgments the Bench quoted that where a man, who lived with a woman for a long time and even though they may not have undergone legal necessities of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay the woman maintenance if he deserts her.

Legal Loopholes

  1. The man should not be allowed to benefit from the legal loopholes by enjoying the advantages of a de facto marriage without undertaking the duties and obligations.
  2. Any other interpretation would lead the woman to homelessness and destitution which the provision of maintenance in Section 125 is meant to prevent.
  3. The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a woman against a Karnataka High Court decision of June 2009.
  4. The High Court set aside a family court order, directing the man she lived with since 1998, and had two children by, to pay maintenance.
  5. The family court had ordered him to pay the woman ₹3000 and the children ₹2500 each on a monthly basis.
  6. The court said they were accepted as husband and wife by society.



Decoding the Central Board of the RBI



Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about RBI Board of Directors

Mains level: RBI-Govt tussle


  • The Central Board of Directors of the RBI has recently been a topic of much discussion in the light of both the recent public tussle with the Finance Ministry and the second anniversary of demonetization.

Why has the RBI Board been in the news?

  1. The RBI Board recently entered the news during the public spat between the central bank and the Finance Ministry.
  2. One of the reasons for the disagreement was the government’s alleged threat of invoking Section 7 of the RBI Act.
  3. Section 7 basically empowers the government to supersede the RBI Board and issue directions to the central bank if they are considered to be “necessary in public interest”.

RBI Board

  1. The RBI Board is a body comprising officials from the central bank and the Government of India, including officials nominated by the government.
  2. According to the RBI, the general superintendence and direction of the affairs and business of the RBI is entrusted to the Central Board.
  3. The Board exercises all powers and does all acts and things that are exercised by the RBI.
  4. The Board is also to recommend to the government the design, form and material of bank notes and also when and where they can serve as legal tender.


  1. The Board consists of official directors, who include the Governor and up to four Deputy Governors.
  2. Non-official directors include up to ten directors from various fields and two government officials and one director from each of four local boards of the RBI.
  3. The Governor and Deputy Governors hold office for not more than five years, the ten directors nominated by the government hold office for four years.
  4. The government officials are to hold a term on the RBI Board as long as the government sees fit.
  5. According to the RBI Act, the director of the RBI Board cannot:
  • be a salaried government official (except for the ones specifically nominated by the government)
  • be adjudicated as insolvent or have suspended payments to creditors
  • be an officer or employee of any bank (again, this does not include the government nominee), or, ,
  • if found lunatic or becomes of unsound mind


  1. The Governor has to call a Board meeting at least six times in a year, and at least once each quarter.
  2. A meeting can be called if a minimum of four Directors ask the Governor to call a meeting.
  3. The Governor or, if for any reason unable to attend, the Deputy Governor authorised by the him to vote for him, presides the Board meetings.
  4. In the event of split votes, the Governor has a second, or deciding vote.



Defeating pneumonia



Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: U5 mortality in India and measures to prevent them



  1. The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health summit is to be hosted by India in December.
  2. In 2016, pneumonia was the leading cause for under-five deaths in India, and more than 25 million children under the age of two were found not immunized

Menace of Pneumonia

  1. A report by Save the Children (“Fighting for Breath”) showed that pneumonia kills two children in this age group every minute — more than malaria, diarrhoea and measles combined.
  2. More than 80% of victims have weakened immune systems caused by malnutrition or insufficient breastfeeding and unable to fight the infection.

Indian Case

  1. The “Fighting for Breath” report says that globally, a million children are dying from pneumonia annually, even though it can be treated with antibiotics costing as little as ₹26.
  2. In 2016, pneumonia was the leading cause for under-five deaths in India, and more than 25 million children under the age of two were found not immunized with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
  3. While the Indian government has taken several steps to improve the health of children, India continues to top the world ranking in the number of deaths due to the disease
  4. The number of unvaccinated children in the 0-2 age range in developing countries is estimated to be at around 170 million, with India dominating.

Caused by air pollution

  1. Air pollution is a major risk factor for pneumonia.
  2. The sources of pollution vary across and within countries.
  3. Outdoor air pollution, which is associated with emissions from factories, the burning of rubbish and coal, and traffic, is a growing concern.
  4. Children living in urban slum environments often face high levels of exposure to these sources of pollution.

Indoor Pollution is worsening the Situation

  1. Indoor air pollution is a major contributor of respiratory infection in many high-burden pneumonia countries, where the burning of biomass for cooking, heating and lighting are the common sources of pollution.
  2. According to the International Energy Agency’s Energy Access Outlook 2017 report, over 63% of households in India use biomass energy sources.
  3. Research shows that that the association between pneumonia and air pollutant exposure is particularly strong during the first year of life.

Way Forward

  1. It is a well known that exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months acts as an effective vaccine and continued breastfeeding with the gradual introduction of complementary food is another risk-reducer.
  2. Defeating pneumonia necessitates multi-sectoral action plans.
  3. Concerted action by the government, backed by civil society, corporates and communities can help save children’s lives, but we need to move fast.

Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

[pib] INSPIRE 2018



Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspectives, following things are important:

Prelims level: INSPIRE 2018

Mains level: Promoting innovation ecosystem for efficient energy systems in India


  • The second edition of International Symposium to Promote Innovation & Research in Energy Efficiency (INSPIRE) is being organised by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)and World Bank.


  1. INSPIRE 2018 has been organised in collaboration with the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI), ADB, UNEP, and the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI).
  2. The three-day symposium will focus on enhancing grid management, e-Mobility, financial instruments and technologies for energy efficiency in India.
  3. The event is bringing together policy-makers, innovators and various stakeholders to deliberate on key energy policies, market transformation strategies, and sustainable business models.
  4. This will help leverage the full potential of energy efficiency and bring its multiple co-benefits to the fore.

Innovate To Inspire Challenge

  1. The #InnovateToINSPIRE challenge was organized by EESL and World Resources Institute (WRI).
  2. The challenge invited participants to submit sustainable and scalable solutions to seven specific challenges spanning grid management, e-Mobility, energy efficient technologies and financial instruments.
  3. The winning entries received an award of Rs. 5 lakhs each along with mentoring and guidance from EESL to help them bring their solutions to market.

Energy Efficiency Revolving Fund (EERF)

  1. To support investments in new, innovative and scalable business models, EESL and ADB signed an agreement for a GEF grant of USD 13 million to establish an EERF.
  2. EERF aims to expand and sustain investments in the energy efficiency market in India, build market diversification, and scale up existing technologies.

Other Agreements

  1. During INSPIRE 2018, EESL and GAIL, a wholly owned subsidiary of GAIL (India) Limited signed a MoU.
  2. The MoU is aimed to develop natural gas based cogeneration and tri-generation projects in Commercial & Industrial Sectors in India.
  3. This MoU is set to benefit industries such as Hotels, Hospitals, Airports, Commercial Malls, Commercial/Government Buildings and other infrastructure with the advantages of Combined Heat & Power technology.


Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL)

  1. EESL under the administration of Ministry of Power is working towards mainstreaming energy efficiency and is implementing the world’s largest energy efficiency portfolio in the country.
  2. EESL aims to create market access for efficient and future-ready transformative solutions that create a win-win situation for every stakeholder.
  3. EESL has pioneered innovative business approaches to successfully roll-out large-scale programs that allow for incentive alignment across the value chain and rapidly drive transformative impact.
  4. EESL aims to leverage this implementation experience and explore new overseas market opportunities for diversification of its portfolio.
  5. As on date, EESL has begun its operations in UK, South Asia and South-East Asia.



[pib] SIMBEX-18 kicks off at port Blair between India and Singapore



Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

The following things are important from the UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: SIMBEX 2018

Mains Level: India-Singapore strategic relations



  1. The 25th edition of the India-Singapore bilateral naval exercise, SIMBEX, has begun at the tri-services command in Port Blair.
  2. Started as Basic ASW exercises in 1994, today these exercises have graduated to complex maritime combat drills including missile and torpedo firings and shore based intensive professional exchanges.
  3. Started as basic Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercises in 1994, today these exercises have graduated to complex maritime combat drills, including missile and torpedo firings, and shore-based intensive professional exchanges.
  4. Seven ships from the Indian Navy and five ships from the Singapore Navy along with an Archer class submarine and a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle will take part in the exercise.
  5. The number of missiles and torpedo firings being undertaken are in fact unprecedented and perhaps the largest the Indian Navy has undertaken with any foreign Navy till date.

Recent Collaborations

  1. The two countries have vastly expanded their military cooperation in recent years under India’s Act East policy.
  2. Late last year, the two countries signed a naval agreement which has a provision for mutual logistical support and gives India access to the Changi naval base.
  3. India and Singapore are working on a trilateral exercise with an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) country, likely Thailand, and eventually plan to scale it up to a multilateral format.