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Daily Current affairs 16 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair






A test of law and Justice



A WASH for healthcare.              



A hand to mouth Budget



Creating a fair digital payments market



12 Indian beaches in the race to crest the ‘Blue flag’ challenge




1. A test of law and Justice (The Hindu, Page 10)     


Mains: GS Paper II – Polity & Governance    




Context: The article highlights that judicial challenges made to 103rd constitutional amendment present a more difficult examination than usual in the context of providing reservation to a deprived section of the society. 

  • The proposed reservation of 10% will be over and above the existing 50 per cent reservation enjoyed by the members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the Other Backward Classes. This will take the total reservation to 60 per cent.             

  • The proposed reservations intends to include such members who do not avail the benefits of reservation, This includes members in the general category as well as members of the minority communities including Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christian and other communities who do not enjoy any kind of reservation.    

  • The following are the criteria to avail the benefits of reservation of 10 per cent: 

  • Persons whose family has gross annual income of less than Rs. 8 lakh per annum. 

  • Persons possess less than 5 acres land 

  • Have agricultural land of less than 5 acres

  • Have a house smaller than 1,000 square feet

  • In a municipality – a residential plot smaller than 100 yards

  • In a non-notified municipality – a residential plot of less than 200 yards.      

Note* "Economically Weaker Sections" shall be notified by the State from time to time on the basis of family income and other indicators of economic disadvantage.’ 

Let us first understand about the new provisions added through Constitution 103rd Amendment Act, 2019 – Article 15(6) and Article 16(6). 

Article 15 (6)  

  • State can make any special provision for the advancement of any “economically weaker sections of citizens” 

  • State can make any special provision for the advancement of any “economically weaker sections of citizens” relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State.  

  • However, such reservation will not apply to minority educational institutions. 

  • Reservation to such educational institutions would be in addition to the existing reservations and subject to a maximum of 10 per cent.           


Article 16 (6)  

  • State may make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any economically weaker sections of citizens in addition to the existing reservation and subject to a maximum of 10 per cent. 

Grounds of Challenge

The Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019 may be challenged on the following grounds:

  • That it breaches the 50% reservation cap as set by nine Judge Constitution Bench in the case of Indra Sawhney.      

  • Violation of doctrine of basic structure on grounds of equality    


  • Nine Judge Constitution Bench in Indira Sawhney had put a 50% cap on reservation and had struck down reservations for economically backward categories.    

  • Further the Constitution Bench clearly mentioned that backward class cannot be determined solely on the basis of economic criteria. Economic criteria may be a consideration or basis along with and in addition to social backwardness, but cannot be the sole criteria. 

  • Thus, the Court upheld reservation of 27% for the socially and economically backward classes and struck down reservation of 10% in favour of other economically backward classes.

  • Constitution Bench in M. Nagraj v Union of India ruled that EQUALITY is part of the BASIC STRUCTURE of the Indian Constitution. It said the 50% ceiling, among other things, was a constitutional requirement without which the structure of equality of opportunity would collapse. 

  • Thus, in this way the issue of equality may be raised in a Court of law on the exceeding limit of reservation provided beyond 50 per cent.    

  • Another issue is whether reservations can go to a section that is already adequately represented in public employment. Thus, the government has to show quantifiable data to determine the rationality of providing reservation to the general category that they are not adequately represented.         



The article argues that Court has to go beyond the legal issues and has to delve on social and educational deprivation along with proportional justice which must be administered seeking the present contemporary reality of a large section of the society which has been deprived from the economic benefits. 

The principle of reservation is primarily to reduce caste bias and enable the deprived to travel towards equality as a principle embodied in Indian constitution. Historically speaking, caste bias has had a more societal impact with respect to deprivation from mainstream than class bias. Thus, reservation acts as a governmental tool to undo historical wrongs and undo the injustice done culturally and historically on such section of the society. Keeping the above said words in mind, constitution through an amendment provided for Article 15(4) [added by Constitution 1st Amendment] to provide reservation to socially and educationally backward citizens and Article 16(4) to provide reservation to any backward class of citizens  of the society in public employment. 

Even the constituent assembly debates hinged on providing these backward sections of the society including members of SC/ST reservation in government services as it would have helped them not only in joining the mainstream but also to come out of social and economic deprivation. So, it was believed that by providing a more proportionate distribution of the share in administration, the programme of reservations would end at least some of caste-based domination of jobs, particularly of employment in the public sector as Dalits and Adivasis were traditionally denied access to equal status for thousands of years. Thus, Supreme Court in State of Kerala v. N.M. Thomas (1975) held that reservations based on social and educational backwardness, far from being an exception ought to be seen as an intrinsic facet of the idea of equality.  


Granville Austin, the eminent scholar of the Indian Constitution had prescient comments on the philosophy of the Indian Constitution. He found it in three strands:

  1. Protecting and enhancing national unity and integrity; 

  2. Establishing the institutions and spirit of democracy; and 

  3. Fostering a social revolution to better the mass of Indians

The three strands are mutually dependent and inextricably intertwined. The state is mandated to promote the welfare of its citizens by securing and protecting as effectively as possible a social order in which there is social, economic and political justice. Government plays a vital role in the social and economic upliftment of the nation’s citizenry by espousing equitable distribution of resources and creating equal opportunities. These are ideals that are meant to guide and govern State action. The State’s commitment to improve welfare is manifested through the measures and programmes which it pursues. 

The matter as of now is sub-judice, so let us wait for the final order of Supreme Court of India. 

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2. A WASH for healthcare.              (The Hindu, Page 11)   


Mains: GS Paper II -  Social Issues    




Context: The article highlights the need of integrating WASH(water, sanitation and hygiene amenities) with the healthcare initiatives to make it more effective. 



  • Healthcare facilities are many and varied. Some are primary, others are tertiary. Many are public, some are private. Some meet specific needs, whether dentistry or occupational therapy, and some are temporary, providing acute care when disaster strikes.

  • Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) amenities, including waste management and environmental cleaning services, are critical to their safe functioning 

  • Healthcare facility lacks adequate WASH services, infection prevention and control are severely compromised. 

  • This has the potential to make patients and health workers sick from avoidable infections. As a result (and in addition), efforts to improve maternal, neonatal and child health are undermined. Lack of WASH facilities also results in unnecessary use of antibiotics, thereby spreading antimicrobial resistance.


Present Status 

  • A joint report published earlier this year by the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) outlines, WASH services in many facilities across the world are missing or substandard. 

  • According to data from 2016, an estimated 896 million people globally had no water service at their healthcare facility. More than 1.5 billion had no sanitation service. 

  • One in every six healthcare facilities was estimated to have no hygiene service (meaning it lacked hand hygiene facilities at points of care, as well as soap and water at toilets), while data on waste management and environmental cleaning was inadequate across the board.


Primary healthcare 

  • Improving WASH services was deemed essential to enhancing the quality of primary healthcare services, increasing equity and bridging the rural-urban divide.

  • A World Health Assembly Resolution passed in May is hoping to catalyse domestic and external investments to help reach the SDG targets. 

  • These include ensuring at least 60% of all healthcare facilities have basic WASH services by 2022; at least 80% have the same by 2025; and 100% of all facilities provide basic WASH services by 2030.

  • For this, member states should implement each of the WHO- and UNICEF-recommended practical steps. 

  • First, health authorities should conduct in-depth assessments and establish national standards and accountability mechanisms. 

  • Across the region, and the world, a lack of quality baseline data limits authorities’ understanding of the problem. 

  • As this is done, and national road-maps to improve WASH services are developed, health authorities should create clear and measurable benchmarks that can be used to improve and maintain infrastructure and ensure that facilities are ‘fit to serve’.

Educating health Workers 

  • Second, health authorities should increase engagement and work to instil a culture of cleanliness and safety in all healthcare facilities. 

  • Alongside information campaigns that target facility administrators, all workers in the health system — from doctors and nurses to midwives and cleaners — should be made aware of, and made to practise, current WASH and infection prevention and control procedures (IPC). 

  • To help do this, modules on WASH services and IPC should be included in pre-service training and as part of ongoing professional development. In addition, authorities should work more closely with communities, especially in rural areas, to promote demand for WASH services.

  • And third, authorities should ensure that collection of data on key WASH indicators becomes routine. 

  • Doing so will help accelerate progress by promoting continued action and accountability. 

  • It will also help spur innovation by documenting the links between policies and outcomes. 

  • To make that happen, WHO is working with member states as well as key partners to develop a data dashboard that brings together and tracks indicators on health facilities, including WASH services, with a focus on the primary care level.


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3. A hand to mouth Budget.  (The Hindu Page 10)


Mains: GS Paper III – Economy 




A hand to mouth Budget 

Context : The article highlights that Fiscal position of the government is not in the right shape. 

Tax revenue 

  • CAG report highlighted that The Central government’s tax revenues for the financial year ending March-end 2019  fell short of the Interim Budget’s estimates in February by 0.9% of GDP. 

  • figures show that direct tax collections for 2018-19 fell short by ₹74,774 crore while those of indirect tax collections were by ₹93,198 crore.

  • The new Budget estimate for gross tax revenue is ₹90,936 crore lower than what was projected in the Interim Budget.

  • The new Budget estimates show that the government does not expect to improve its performance on tax collections in the current year: Gross tax revenue-GDP ratio is budgeted to slip from 11.9% in 2018-19 to 11.7% in 2019-20. While the direct tax-to-GDP ratio is expected to go from 6.4 to 6.3, the indirect tax-to-GDP ratio will reduce from 5.5 to 5.3.


What is government doing to improve its revenue situation?

  • As a percentage of GDP, non-tax revenue is budgeted to grow from 1.3% in 2018-19 to 1.5% in 2019-20.

  • The expenditure estimates show that the money the government is raising from assets, through disinvestment and extracting from the PSEs through dividends, is not going towards significantly expanding public investments. This is because much of it is getting spent on revenue expenditure, providing for salaries, pensions, subsidies and interest payments on past borrowings.

  • The revenue expenditure is budgeted to grow to ₹24,47,780 crore in 2019-20, an increase of 14.3% over the revised estimate for the previous year.

  • Revenue expenditure represents the cost of running Government. Further this expenditure is not used for creation of assets or infrastructure. Thus governments normally seek to reduce this component of expenditure to improve the Fiscal deficit. 

  • However as is visible from the above data government is channeling its important resources on revenue expenditure. 

  • The government’s interest payments for past borrowings, the largest component of the revenue expenditure, are budgeted to grow in nominal terms, from 11.1% in 2018-19 to 12.4% in 2019-20, or faster than even the estimated GDP growth.

  • capital expenditure is projected to grow at a rate slower than the projected rate of GDP growth. This is significant since the government has termed this budget as a 'pro-investment' budget. 



4. Creating a fair digital payments market.     (The Hindu Page 11)      


Mains: GS Paper III – Economic Issues 


Digital Economy   


Context: This article discusses about the need to encourage level playing field in the world of digital payments as it will encourage local firms to compete against corporate giants like Facebook which has started Whatsapp Pay.     

  • WhatsApp Pay relies on the Indian government’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system to facilitate inter-bank transactions. However, the Indian government has asked WhatsApp Pay to localise all its data processing related to payment transactions in India. 

  • This simply means that all transactions through WhatsApp Pay must be done from the territory of India and not from United States of America where the server of Facebook is located. 

  • This decision of the Indian Government is in line with India’s Technology Vision for the digital economy as well as RBI Circular on data localisation.  


RBI acknowledged the considerable growth in the payment ecosystem in the country. Such systems are also highly technology dependent and needs appropriate adoption of safety and security measures, which are best in class, on a continuous basis.  RBI in this regard highlighted the need and importance to have unfettered supervisory access to data stored with these system providers along with their service providers / intermediaries/ third party vendors and other entities in the payment ecosystem. Thus accordingly, RBI under Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007 issued a circular which mandated for the following measures:

  • All system providers shall ensure that the entire data relating to payment systems operated by them are stored in a system only in India. This data should include the full end-to-end transaction details / information collected / carried / processed as part of the message / payment instruction.

  • System providers shall ensure compliance of above within a period of six months and report compliance of the same to the Reserve Bank latest by October 15, 2018.

  • System providers shall submit the System Audit Report (SAR) on completion of the above mentioned task. The audit should be conducted by CERT-IN empanelled auditors certifying completion of activity of re-locating of payment servers in India. 

  • The SAR duly approved by the Board of the system providers should be submitted to the Reserve Bank not later than December 31, 2018.

Need for Regulating WhatsApp Pay

  • WhatsApp’s owner Facebook has come under scrutiny for harmful content, lack of privacy, and data misuse in recent years. Facebook has been accused of using private data to serve business and political ends. 

  • In response, Facebook has rolled out a new plan to reinvent its business, which is to build a new privacy-focused platform that integrates WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger. 

  • This will provide end-to-end encryption for consumers and business services along with direct payment options. 

  • This decision of Facebook will make it a powerhouse in digital payments market especially in India and will give them a data ready platform to promote its business.  

  • Facebook through WhatsApp Pay has made India its focal destination because of its relative inexperience in digital payments market in USA where PayPal has the largest consumer base. 

  • The digital payments market, with 800 million mobile users in India of which more than 430 million have Internet access, is estimated to grow to over $1 trillion by 2025. 

  • Considering India’s internet penetration, the decision to allow WhatsApp Pay in India can catapult Facebook into the big league in the global digital payments market where companies like Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat are making waves.     


  • The article highlights that local firms in India can share space in digital payment ecosystem along with other corporate giants like WhatsApp Pay, Google Pay and Amazon Pay. 

  • With the right policy incentives, local firms can capture large shares of digital payments market to become e-commerce players on a global scale as China’s experience shows. 

  • In China, domestic enterprises were strategically enabled to use the local market to emerge as global champions.  


  • Even if WhatsApp agrees to set up data localisation in India, the localisation requirement of the government is limited to payments data only.  

  • As a result, Facebook will still have access to metadata on all payment transactions, which can be matched with the data that the company already has access to on Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp for the same users.    

  • With all of that, Facebook will be able to match user profiles on its social media websites with the user profiles that are authenticated by the UPI system in India. 

  • This would not only make Facebook the second biggest identification issuer in India after the Indian government, it would also make Facebook the best repository of data covering all areas of life – social, financial and personal. 

Way Forward – Such kind of data pooling by Facebook can have national security concerns as well as privacy concerns. It will also encourage behavioral economics through nudging on specific products and services which private companies which to vigorously promote. Thus, government must come up with specific legislation on key areas of digital payments including financial and privacy details with a view to promote competition, enable local firms, protect consumer welfare and promote data sovereignty. Data storing and processing payments must also be clearly laid down as guidelines. All these steps will help to promote cashless economy. 





5. 12 Indian beaches in the race to crest the ‘Blue flag’ challenge (The Hindu Page 13)     


Prelims: Environment  


Waste management 


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Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Infrastructure- waterways.




What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features, need for and significance of the programme.


Context: Government on Monday said it has created about 10,000 jobs under its ambitious ‘Sagarmala’ initiative during the last three years.


About Sagarmala:

What is it?

  • The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
  • The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
  • It aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
  • Nodal ministry:The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
  • To implement this, State governments would set up State Sagarmala committees, headed by the chief minister or the minister in charge of ports.
  • At the central level, a Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) will be setup to provide equity support to assist various special purpose vehicles (SPVs) setup for various projects.


The Sagarmala initiative will address challenges by focusing on three pillars of development, namely:

  1. Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions and providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and ministries/departments/states’ collaboration for integrated development.
  2. Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports.
  3. Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.


Why is it important?

India is located along key international trade routes in the Indian Ocean and has a long coastline of over 7,500 km. Yet, capacity constraints and lack of modern facilities at Indian ports tremendously elongates the time taken to ship goods in and out of the country and has held back India’s share in world trade.

Developing rivers as inland waterways can also help save domestic logistics costs too.

Sagarmala could boost India’s merchandise exports to $110 billion by 2025 and create an estimated 10 million new jobs (four million in direct employment).

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Infrastructure- energy and conservation related issues.


Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) Initiative


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: SATAT initiative- key objectives, significance and brief overview on CNG and CBG.


Context: The government has said that the SATAT initiative has the potential of addressing environmental problems arising from landfill emissions, farm stubble burning, etc. and also bring down dependency on oil/gas import.  Till June, 2019, Oil Marketing Companies and Gas Marketing Companies have awarded Letter of Intent (LoI) for 344 plants for production and supply of CBG.


About the initiative:

The initiative is aimed at providing a Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) as a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs.

Compressed Bio-Gas plants are proposed to be set up mainly through independent entrepreneurs.

CBG produced at these plants will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of OMCs for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative.

The entrepreneurs would be able to separately market the other by-products from these plants, including bio-manure, carbon-dioxide, etc., to enhance returns on investment.

This initiative is expected to generate direct employment for 75,000 people and produce 50 million tonnes of bio-manure for crops.


There are multiple benefits from converting agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste into CBG on a commercial scale:

  1. Responsible waste management, reduction in carbon emissions and pollution.
  2. Additional revenue source for farmers.
  3. Boost to entrepreneurship, rural economy and employment.
  4. Support to national commitments in achieving climate change goals.
  5. Reduction in import of natural gas and crude oil.
  6. Buffer against crude oil/gas price fluctuations.



Bio-gas is produced naturally through a process of anaerobic decomposition from waste / bio-mass sourceslike agriculture residue, cattle dung, sugarcane press mud, municipal solid waste, sewage treatment plant waste, etc. After purification, it is compressed and called CBG, which has pure methane content of over 95%.


What is CBG?

Compressed Bio-Gas is exactly similar to the commercially available natural gas in its composition and energy potential. With calorific value (~52,000 KJ/kg) and other properties similar to CNG, Compressed Bio-Gas can be used as an alternative, renewable automotive fuel.


Way ahead:

The potential for Compressed Bio-Gas production from various sources in India is estimated at about 62 million tonnes per annum. Going forward, Compressed Bio-Gas networks can be integrated with city gas distribution (CGD) networks to boost supplies to domestic and retail users in existing and upcoming markets. Besides retailing from OMC fuel stations, Compressed Bio-Gas can at a later date be injected into CGD pipelines too for efficient distribution and optimised access of a cleaner and more affordable fuel.


GS Paper 1 and 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Women related issues.
  2. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


Guidelines for crèches at workplaces


What to study?

For Prelims: Maternity Benefit Act- key features, Guidelines on crèches at workplaces.

For Mains: Significance of the act and challenges in its implementation, what needs to be done?


Context: Data on provision of mandatory crèche services at establishments is not maintained centrally. The complaints received for violation of provision of the Act by respective Governments are dealt with as per the provisions of the Act.


Legal provisions:

In March 2017, Parliament passed the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017, enhancing paid maternity leave from a period of 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The law is applicable to all institutions with 10 or more employees. It also makes it mandatory for every organisation with 50 or more employees to have a crèche.


The guidelines include:

  • A crèche be either at the workplace or within 500 metres of it. Alternatively, it could also be in the beneficiaries’ neighbourhood.
  • The facility should be open for eight to 10 hours and if the employees have a shift system, then the crèche should also be run accordingly.
  • A crèche must have a minimum space of 10 to 12 square feet per child to ensure that she or he can play, rest and learn. There should be no unsafe places such as open drains, pits, garbage bins near the centre.
  • The crèches should have at least one guard, who should have undergone police verification. There should also be at least one supervisor per crèche and a trained worker for every 10 children under three years of age or for every 20 children above the age of three, along with a helper.
  • No outsiderssuch as plumbers, drivers, electricians be allowed inside the crèche when children are present.
  • crèche monitoring committeewith representations from among crèche workers, parents and administration should be formed.
  • There should also be a grievance redressal committeefor inquiring into instances of sexual abuse.


The Maternity Benefit Act:

The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, applies to establishments employing 10 or more than 10 persons in factories, mines, plantation, shops & establishments and other entities.

The main purpose of this Act is to regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after child birth and to provide maternity benefit and certain other benefits.

The Act was amended through the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.


The amendment has brought in major changes to the law relating to maternity benefits. These are:

  • It extends the period of maternity benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeksof which not more than eight weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery. This exceeds the International Labour Organisation’s minimum standard of 14 weeks and is a positive development. However, a woman who has two or more surviving children will be entitled to 12 weeks of which not more than six weeks can precede the date of the expected delivery.
  • Women who legally adopt a child below the age of three months or a “commissioning mother” will be entitled to maternity benefit for 12 weeks from the date on which the child is handed over to her. A commissioning mother is defined as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman.
  • It gives discretion to employers to allow women to work from home after the period of maternity benefit on mutually agreeable conditions.
  • It introduces a provision which requires every establishment to intimate a woman at the time of her appointment of the maternity benefits available to her.


Mains Question: Maternity benefit Act has increased the entry barrier for women in Labour Force. Discuss. 

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.


Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: The scheme- features, significance, need and potential.


Context: 30,85,205 Persons Enrolled in PM-SYM as on July 10, 2019.


About Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana:

Launched by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment. The scheme was announced in the Interim Budget 2019.

PM-SYM is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme that will engage as many as 42 crore workers in the unorganised sector.



The unorganised sector workers, with income of less than Rs 15,000 per month and who belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years, will be eligible for the scheme.

Those workers should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).

He or she should not be an income tax payer.



Minimum Assured Pension: Each subscriber under the scheme will receive minimum assured pension of Rs 3000 per month after attaining the age of 60 years.

In case of death during receipt of pension: If the subscriber dies during the receipt of pension, his or her spouse will be entitled to receive 50 percent of the pension as family pension. This family pension is applicable only to spouse.

In case of death before the age of 60 years: If a beneficiary has given regular contribution and dies before attaining the age of 60 years, his or her spouse will be entitled to continue the scheme subsequently by payment of regular contribution or may even exit the scheme.


Contribution to the scheme:

Contribution by the Subscriber: The subscriber is required to contribute the prescribed contribution amount from the age of joining the scheme till the age of 60 years.

Medium of contribution: The subscriber can contribute to the PM-SYM through ‘auto-debit’ facility from his or her savings bank account or from his or her Jan- Dhan account.

Equal contribution by the Central Government: Under the PM-SYM, the prescribed age-specific contribution by the beneficiary and the matching contribution by the Central Government will be made on a ‘50:50 basis’.


Need of the hour:

  • Along with the social security, Government should ramp up skilling of the workforce, take steps to generate more jobs in the formal sector, change labour laws to include informal workers.
  • It will in effect provide wage protection, job security, social security to the workers and ultimately alleviate the hardships they face.
  • Eventually it will boost the overall economic growth of the country.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered: 

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


In News- ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’


What to study?

For Prelims: ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’- features.

For Mains: GST and its implications, issues associated and reforms to resolve them.


About Seva Bhoj Yojana:

Union Ministry of Culture has launched- ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’– a scheme to reimburse central share of CGST and IGST on food, prasad, langar or bhandara offered by religious and charitable institutions.

The scheme seeks to reimburse the central government’s share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on purchase of raw items such as ghee, edible oil, atta, maida, rava, flour, rice pulses, sugar and jaggery, which go into preparation of food/prasad/langar/bhandara offered free of cost by religious institutions.

The main objective of the scheme is to lessen the financial burden of such charitable religious institutions, which provide free of cost without any discrimination to the general public and devotees.



The charitable religious institutions including temples, gurudwara, mosque, church, dharmik ashram, dargah, monasteries, which fulfill the following criteria are eligible for the grant:

  1. The institutions that have been in existence for at least five years before applying for financial assistance/grant.
  2. The institutions that serve free food to at least 5000 people in a month.
  3. The institutions covered under Section 10(23BBA) of the Income Tax Act or those registered as Society under Societies Registration Act (XXI of 1860) or as a Public Trust under any law for the time being in force of statuary religious bodies constituted under any Act or institutions registered under Section 12AA of Income Tax Act.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered: 

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill 2019


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the Bill, about NIA and the need for enhanced powers.


Context: The Lok Sabha has passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill 2019



Key features of the Bill:

  • The Bill amends the NIA Act, 2008 and provides for a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences).  
  • It allows for the creation of Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences which include offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. 
  • As per the Bill, the NIA will now have the power to investigate the following offences, in addition: (i) human trafficking, (ii) offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes, (iii) manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, (iv) cyber-terrorism, and (v) offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.       
  • Jurisdiction: The officers of the NIA have the same powers as other police officers in relation to the investigation of such offences, across India. In addition, officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries. 
  • The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases, as if the offence has been committed in India.  The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases.
    The Bill states that the central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. The central government will need to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning, before designating it as a Special Court.  When more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, the cases will be distributed among the courts by senior-most judge.
  • The state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences. 


Relevant articles from various news sources:


GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Awareness in space.


Thirty Meter Telescope


What to study?

For prelims and mains: TMT- objectives and significance, location.


Context: Thirty Meter Telescope Set to Begin Construction.


The mega telescope completed its design and development phase in 2009, but legal challenges from Native Hawaiian activists — who treasure Mauna Kea for cultural and religious reasons — have hounded the telescope.


About TMT:

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large telescope (ELT).

It is an international project being funded by scientific organisations of Canada, China, India, Japan and USA.

Planned locationMauna Kea on the island of Hawaii in the US state of Hawaii. 

The TMT is designed for near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared observations, featuring adaptive optics to assist in correcting image blur.



TMT will enable scientists to study fainter objects far away from us in the Universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the Universe.

It will give us finer details of not-so-far-away objects like undiscovered planets and other objects in the Solar System and planets around other stars.


Sources:  Down to Earth.

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.


Why Rajasthan HC judges don’t want to be called ‘My Lord’?


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Evolution of the issue and why censure it?


Context: Rajasthan High Court resolved to censure the salutations “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” from courtroom protocol – a practice that has been inherited from British rule.


Why censure?

As the words “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” are relics of a Colonial past, it is proposed to incorporate the above rule showing respectful attitude to the Court.


Customs in other countries:

In UK, judges of the Court of Appeals and the High Court are to be addressed in court as “My Lord” or “My Lady”, Circuit judges as “Your Honour”, Magistrates as “Your Worship”, or “Sir” or “Madam”, and District judges and Tribunal judges as “Sir” or “Madam”.

In US, “Mr.” is only used in addressing the Chief Justice. Others are referred to as “Justice Scalia,” “Justice Ginsburg,” or “Your Honor.”

In Singapore, the Judge/Registrar can be addressed as “Your Honour”.

In Australia as well, in the High Court and the Federal Court, the judges are to be addressed as “Your Honour”.


Sources: Indian Express.

Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Infrastructure- Energy.


Why power costs vary, and uniform national rate is difficult to implement?


What to study?

For prelims and mains: How power tariffs are determined? Need for uniform national rate and challenges therein.


Context: Few lawmakers have suggested that power tariffs should be uniform across the country so that affordable power is available to all.


How do states decide power tariffs?

The electricity tariff paid by consumers in each state is directly reflective of the cost of power procurement by the power distribution companies (discoms) in the state.

There are state-specific factors for this.


Is the idea of having a flat countrywide rate feasible?

The State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) decide on the power tariff after utilities file their cost of power with the regulators. Because power tariffs entail a number of state-specific factors, a uniform nationwide tariff is a proposition that would be difficult to implement.



  1. States such as Jharkhand or Odisha or Chhattisgarh, which have had coal-fired thermal capacity, would typically have lower tariffs because of the base-load capacities that they possess.
  2. States such as Himachal or Uttarakhand would have low tariffs because of hydropower capacities that are either fully or partially depreciated, and from which the home state, under the Ministry of Power’s Tarif


Ayush Singh - 17 Jul 2019

Excellent work