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Daily Current affairs 20 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair







Green shoots of economic growth



Centre rejects SEBI plea on transfer of reserves 



Inclusion over exclusion



Ecstasy and the agony



RBI’s Das, PSB chiefs discuss rate cut






Green shoots of economic growth (The Hindu Page 10)


GS III - Economic development


Agriculture sector


Now the author highlights the vision of Blue-sky thinking that was given in the recently released economic survey. Now in simple terms blue sky thinking means finding new and creative ideas to solve problems. 
So as we know the economic survey has said that investment in particular private investment would be the key driver of economic growth. It is through investment driven economic model that India can achieve a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25. 
However, according to the author, a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25 cannot be achieved without improving the economic growth in agricultural sector.

Economic growth in India has mainly been seen due to contribution from services and industry and not agricultural sector.
However, it is the agriculture sector that can have the largest impact in helping in reducing poverty, hunger and malnutrition and ensuring better income distribution.
BRIC nations has shown that a 1% growth in agriculture is at least two to three times more effective in reducing poverty than similar growth in non-agricultural sectors. 

Within that context, the author has highlighted several creative new ideas to improve investment in the agricultural sector. Now these creative ideas can be considered the blue sky thinking of the author.

Enabling both public and private investment in agricultural sector in particular agro-processing and exports, agri-startups and agri-tourism.
Agri-tourism can be undertaken by integrating the existing tourism circuit with a relatively new area of agri-tourism where glimpses of farm staff and farm operations are displayed to attract tourists. This would also generate in-situ employment.
Improve quality of agri-education and research in-particular to demonstrate resource conservation and sustainable use through organic, natural and green methods, and zero budget natural farming.
India has the highest livestock population in the world, investment should be made by employing next-generation livestock technology which increases productivity, conservation of indigenous germplasm, disease surveillance, quality control, waste utilisation and value addition. This would lead to a sustained increase in farm income and savings with an export-oriented growth model.
Investment in renewable energy generation (using small wind mill and solar pumps) on fallow farmland and in hilly terrain would help 
Farm business organisation is another source of routing private investment to agriculture. Linking these organisations with commodity exchanges would provide agriculture commodities more space on international trading platforms
Data is the key driver of modern agriculture which in turn can power artificial intelligence-led agriculture, e-markets, soil mapping and others. 
Centralised institutional mechanism to help maintain farm level-data available for real time (virtual) assessment.
Investment in behavioural farm research sets for ensuring resource conservation through behavioural change, thereby nudging farmers for conservation in fertilizer use, irrigation and electricity consumption. 
Public expenditure for agricultural investment can be ensured by targeted pruning of public expenditures on subsidies, kind transfers, loan waivers and populist measures.
India requires ‘patient capital’, as financial returns to investment are unlikely to materialise in the initial years. An inclusive business model facilitating strong investor-farmer relations should be created, with a legal and institutional framework for governance. Expanding institutions is essential to accommodate the developmental impacts of foreign agricultural investment.



Centre rejects SEBI plea on transfer of reserves  (The Hindu Page 15)


G.S. II in Polity




The market regulator maintains a general fund to which all the income received by Sebi is credited. However, the new amendments to the SEBI Act 1992 in the latest Finance Bill 2019 proposes that the regulator create a reserve fund. 

The total corpus received into the general fund will be divided into two parts: 75% will be transferred to the government while the rest will be credited to the reserve fund, which can be used for SEBI's expenses. This fund shall not exceed the total of annual expenditure of preceding two financial years.



The intent seems to be to prevent SEBI from accumulating material reserves, or proceeding with major expenditure plans, without the Centre’s go-ahead.

CAG has also said that India’s financial regulators are without strong reasons sequestering their surpluses from the Consolidated Fund of India, as this undermines Parliamentary scrutiny of public money. 


SEBI's response:

It will affect the regulator's autonomy and hamper the securities market functioning.

SEBI’s revenues mainly originate from its own regulatory actions. Penalties and settlement fines it collects already flow into the Centre’s coffers, with only the subscription, registration and renewal fees levied on market participants retained by it. 

Forcing SEBI to disgorge the bulk of its reserves would therefore materially dent its income, impairing its ability to invest in regulatory capacity-building.

SEBI does not have any mandate to raise revenue for the government wherein SEBI generates its own funding.

CFI amounts to the fee levied by SEBI becoming a kind of additional tax on market participants.

SEBI will have to seek government approval for capital expenditure, which can range from setting up IT infrastructure, expanding the organisational capacity, or any other physical and soft infrastructure that SEBI may require.SEBI may indirectly become a part of the department of Finance Ministry & thereby lose its autonomy and independent reputation.



Inclusion over exclusion  (The Hindu Page 10)


G.S. II in Governance  




Why in the news?

The updated National Register of Citizens in Assam nearing its deadline of July 31, however both the Central and State governments have sought an extension. The Supreme Court has insisted on sticking to the timelines, but would hear the matter on July 23. 


Foreigners tribunal

Assam suffers from huge problem of illegal migrants from Bangladesh.
Now on directions of the Supreme Court, the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, under the Union Home Ministry, published the final draft list of the National Register of Citizens on July 30, 2018. 
NRC is meant to segregate Indian citizens living in Assam, from those who had illegally entered the Assam from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971.
However, nearly 40 lakh people were excluded from the final draft. In the course of the year, 36 lakh people filed claims against the exclusion; the remaining four lakh did not apply. These claims which are filed are heard by the Foreigners Tribunal. 100 Foreigners Tribunals currently exist across across the State. 

Now, final list of NRC is to be published by July 31 and to give a proper hearing to those excluded from the final list and to handle the influx of applications, the Ministry of Home Affairs sanctioned 1,000 additional F.T. to be setup in Assam. Of these, 400 will come up in the next one month before the final publication of the list.

FT is headed by a member appointed under the Foreigners Tribunal Act, 1941 and Foreigners (Tribunal) Order, 1984. Specific guidelines are issued by the government from time to time. A member can be a retired judicial officer of the Assam Judicial Service, a retired civil servant not below the rank of Secretary and Additional Secretary with judicial experience, or a practising advocate not below the age of 35 years and with at least seven years of practice. The member is also required to have a fair knowledge of the official languages of Assam (Assamese, Bengali, Bodo and English) and the State’s historical background giving rise to the foreigners’ issue.



Ecstasy and the agony  (The Hindu Page 11)


G.S. II in Social Justice & GS III in Security


Govt. intervention for protection against drugs



The users are mostly students who are barely out of school and college student who have easy access of drugs, peer patronage, mobile phone-aided access to dope networks, and lack of care from family or society are causing drug epidemic among students.

Cheaper drug in form of ganja continues to be easily available since it is cheap & easier to smuggle from neighbouring States by local drug cartels. Ganja has also become a gateway drug.

Heavier drugs are being smuggled by international drug cartels from Malaysia and other South East Asian countries due to the large sea trade of Kerala.

The Supreme Court court order that the informant and the investigation officer should not be the same person has further dented the enforcement drive of the Excise Department which is already affected by manpower shortage. 

The liquor ban in Kerala in 2015 had shifted the majority focus towards containing smuggling of illegal liquor and therefore by 2016 when the ban was lifted, drug cartels had grown stronger.


Solutions undertaken:

Operation Holiday with a focus on students who stayed back in hostels during the summer vacation, and Operation Monsoon to sensitise newcomers at the start of the new academic year. Help is taken from students to find and close down drug networks.

Student Police Cadet is an initiative of the Kerala police wherein one of their major tasks is to ensure that the immediate vicinity of their schools is tobacco-free. These cadets also pass on information about substance abuse among their peers to teachers to ensure timely & corrective intervention.

A campaign named Our Responsibility to Children is undertaken for early detection of children vulnerable to drugs. Teachers have been trained to detect potential victims early on, intervene where correction is needed, and ensure their integration into the mainstream. Psychiatrists and psychologists are also associated with the programme.



RBI’s das PSB chiefs discuss rate cut (The Hindu Page 15)


G.S. II in Economic Development


Repo Rate


Repo Rate
• It is the rate at which the banks borrow money from the RBI by selling G-SECs
with an agreement to repurchase the G-SECs at a future date.
• The rate at which the banks repurchase the G-SECs is referred to as "Repo
• The RBI decreases the repo rate in order to inject money into the economy
and increases the repo rate to suck out excess liquidity.



Relevant articles from PIB:

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.


Schemes to support organic farming in the country


What to study?

For prelims and mains: Organic farming in the country, significance, challenges and schemes in this regard.


Context: Government of India has been encouraging/ promoting organic farming under two dedicated Schemes, namely, Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) and Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) since 2015.

  • Organic Farming has also been supported under other Schemes viz Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), Network Project on Organic Farming under ICAR. Third party certification of organic farming is promoted by Agriculture Processed Food and Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce.



  1. Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has launched this Central Sector Scheme named “Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region” (MOVCDNER) for implementation in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
  2. The scheme aims at development of certified organic production in a value chain mode to link growers with consumers and to support the development of entire value chain starting from inputs, seeds, certification and creation of facilities for collection, aggregation, processing, marketing and brand building initiative.
  3. The assistance is provided for cluster development, on/off farm input production, supply of seeds/planting materials, setting up of functional infrastructure, establishment of integrated processing unit, refrigerated transportation, pre-cooling/ cold stores chamber, branding, labelling and packaging, hiring of space, hand holdings, organic certification through third party, mobilization of farmers/processors etc.



Total farm area currently under Organic Certification is taken up in an area of 27.70 lakh hectares in the country including 5.98 lakh hectares under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) , 0.639 lakh hectares under Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) , 19.38 lakh hectares under National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) of APEDA and 1.70 lakh hectares under other initiatives.

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance, e-applications, models, successes, limitations and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


Government e Marketplace (GeM)


What to study?

For Prelims: About GeM and it’s features.

For Mains: Significance and the need for GeM.


Context: A government meeting was recently held to review and formulate an action plan for Government e Marketplace (GeM) to achieve a target for Rs. lakh crore Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) on GeM in FY 2019-20.


About GeM:

What is it? GeM is a state-of-the-art national public procurement platform of Ministry of Commerce and Industries, that has used technology to remove entry barriers for bonafide sellers and has created a vibrant e-marketplace with a wide range of goods and services.

Aim: GeM aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.

Features: It facilitates online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organisations / PSUs. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate the government users, achieve the best value for their money.

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

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


Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019


What to study?

For prelims: key features of RTI, amendments proposed and the need.

For main: significance of RTI, issues present and measures to address these issues.


Context: The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 that amends the Right to Information Act, 2005 has been introduced in Lok Sabha.


What does the RTI Act do?  

Under the RTI Act, 2005, Public Authorities are required to make disclosures on various aspects of their structure and functioning. 

This includes: (i) disclosure on their organisation, functions, and structure, (ii) powers and duties of its officers and employees, and (iii) financial information. 



The intent of such suo moto disclosures is that the public should need minimum recourse through the Act to obtain such information. The intent behind the enactment of the Act is to promote transparency and accountability in the working of Public Authorities.  


Who is included in the ambit of ‘Public Authorities’? 

‘Public Authorities’ include bodies of self-government established under the Constitution, or under any law or government notification.  For instance, these include Ministries, public sector undertakings, and regulators.  It also includes any entities owned, controlled or substantially financed and non-government organizations substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the government.


How is the right to information enforced under the Act?

The Act has established a three tier structure for enforcing the right to information guaranteed under the Act

Public Authorities designate some of their officers as Public Information Officers

The first request for information goes to Central/State Assistant Public Information Officer and Central/State Public Information Officer, designated by the Public Authorities. These Officers are required to provide information to an RTI applicant within 30 days of the request.  

Appeals from their decisions go to an Appellate Authority


Information Commissions:

Appeals against the order of the Appellate Authority go to the State Information Commission or the Central Information Commission. 

These Information Commissions consists of a Chief Information Commissioner, and up to 10 Information Commissioners.


What does the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 propose?

The Bill changes the terms and conditions of service of the CIC and Information Commissioners at the centre and in states. 

The Bill states that the central government will notify the term of office for the CIC and the ICs.

The Bill states that the salaries, allowances, and other terms and conditions of service of the central and state CIC and ICs will be determined by the central government.


Mains Question: The Right to Information (RTI) has emerged as an effective tool for citizen’s dispute resolution. Should the ambit of RTI be expanded to politicians and Judiciary too? Give your opinion with substantial justification.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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


Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019


What to study?

For prelims and mains: AERA- key features, composition, functions and recent amendments proposed.


Context: Rajya Sabha recently passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2019

The Bill amends the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008



The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008 established the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA)

Functions: AERA regulates tariffs and other charges for aeronautical services provided at civilian airports with annual traffic above 15 lakh passengers.  It also monitors the performance standard of services across these airports. 


Why was AERA created, and what is its role? 

To ensure that private airport operators do not misuse their monopoly, the need for an independent tariff regulator in the airport sector was felt. Consequently, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008 (AERA Act) was passed which set up AERA.  


What changes are being proposed in the Bill?

The Bill seeks to do two things:

  1. Definition of major airports: Currently, the AERA Act defines a major airport as one with annual passenger traffic over 15 lakh, or any other airports as notified by the central government.  The Bill increases the threshold of annual passenger traffic for major airports to over 35 lakh.  
  2. Tariff determination by AERA: Under the Act, AERA is responsible for determining the: (i) tariff for aeronautical services every five years, (ii) development fees, and (iii) passengers service fee.  It can also amend the tariffs in the interim period.  The Bill adds that AERA will not determine: (i) tariff, (ii) tariff structures, or (iii) development fees, in certain cases.  These cases include those where such tariff amounts were a part of the bid document on the basis of which the airport operations were awarded.  AERA will be consulted (by the concessioning authority, the Ministry of Civil Aviation) before incorporating such tariffs in the bid document, and such tariffs must be notified. 


Why is the Act getting amended?

The exponential growth of the sector has put tremendous pressure on AERA, while its resources are limited.  Therefore, if too many airports come under the purview of AERA, it will not be able to perform its functions efficiently. 


How would the Bill affect the regulatory regime?

Currently, there are 32 major airports (annual traffic above 15 lakh), and AERA regulates tariffs at 27 of these.  As per the Bill, AERA will regulate 16 major airports (annual traffic above 35 lakh).  The remaining 16 airports will be regulated by AAI.  Till 2030-31, air traffic in the country is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 10-11%.  This implies that in a few years, the traffic at the other 16 airports will increase to over 35 lakh and they will again fall under the purview of AERA.  This may lead to constant changes in the regulatory regime at these airports.  The table below provides the current list of major airports:


Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to health.


Chandipura virus:


What to study?

For prelims and mains: About the virus, symptoms, effects and prevention.


Context: Chandipura virus detected in Gujarat.


What is it?

Named after the Maharashtra village where the virus was first discovered, the likely vector (carrier) of the virus is the female phlebotomine sandfly. It has been detected in sand flies in Senegal and Nigeria, apart from India. The virus is known to cause inflammation of the brain, and progresses rapidly from an influenza-like illness to coma and death.

Chandipura virus (CHPV) belongs to the Rhabdoviridae family in the order Mononegavirales of the genus Vesiculovirus. Interestingly, its continuing mutating trend has enhanced its lethality to cause human infections, unlike its genetic cousin, the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV).



  • Sudden high fever accompanied by headaches and altered consciousness.
  • Convulsions.
  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Unconsciousness


Key facts:

The virus predominantly infects children between the ages of 2-16, spreading through the bite of a sandfly, and in some cases, even the mosquito during the monsoon and pre-monsoon season.
It is distantly related to the virus that causes rabies and is known to have a case fatality between 55-75 per cent.


Sources: the Hindu.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

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


Protection of Human Rights (Amendments) Bill, 2019


What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of the bill, NHRC and SHRC.

For Mains: Human Rights related issues.


ContextProtection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019 passed in Lok Sabha.

The bill aims to accelerate the process of appointment of chairperson and members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).


Salient Features of the Bill:

The Bill amends the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The Act provides for a National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), State Human Rights Commissions (SHRC), as well as Human Rights Courts.

Composition of NHRC: Under the Act, the chairperson of the NHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  The Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or a Judge of the Supreme Court will be the chairperson of the NHRC. 

Inclusion of woman member: The Act provides for two persons having knowledge of human rights to be appointed as members of the NHRC. The Bill amends this to allow three members to be appointed, of which at least one will be a woman. 

Other members: Under the Act, chairpersons of various commissions such as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and National Commission for Women are members of the NHRC.  The Bill provides for including the chairpersons of the National Commission for Backward Classes, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, and the Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities as members of the NHRC.

Chairperson of SHRC: Under the Act, the chairperson of a SHRC is a person who has been a Chief Justice of a High Court.  The Bill amends this to provide that a person who has been Chief Justice or Judge of a High Court will be chairperson of a SHRC.  

Term of office: The Act states that the chairperson and members of the NHRC and SHRC will hold office for five years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.  The Bill reduces the term of office to three years or till the age of seventy years, whichever is earlier.  Further, the Act allows for the reappointment of members of the NHRC and SHRCs for a period of five years.  The Bill removes the five-year limit for reappointment.   

Powers of Secretary-General: The Act provides for a Secretary-General of the NHRC and a Secretary of a SHRC, who exercise powers as may be delegated to them.  The Bill amends this and allows the Secretary-General and Secretary to exercise all administrative and financial powers (except judicial functions), subject to the respective chairperson’s control.
Union Territories: The Bill provides that the central government may confer on a SHRC human rights functions being discharged by Union Territories.  Functions relating to human rights in the case of Delhi will be dealt with by the NHRC.             



  1. The Amendment will strengthen the Human Rights Institutions of India further for effective discharge of their mandates, roles and responsibilities.
  2. Moreover, the amended Act will be in perfect sync with the agreed global standards and benchmarks towards ensuring the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual in the country.
  3. The amendment will also make National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) more compliant with the Paris Principle concerning its autonomy, independence, pluralism and wide-ranging functions in order to effectively protect and promote human rights.


Sources: the Hindu.

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

Conservation related issues.


IUCN Red List of Threatened Species


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Categorization of IUCN red list, features and criteria, recent additions from India to the list.


Context: The latest update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species shows that more and more species assessed are being threatened with extinction.

  • The IUCN Red List assesses 1,05,732 species. The current update breaks the 1,00,000 species barrier, making it the largest such assessment of species.
  • According to the new updated list, 28,338 species are threatened with extinction


Key findings:

  1. Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinction is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.
  2. According to the global assessment, one million animal and plant species are under extinction. Moreover, thousands of these would extinct within decades.
  3. The new list brings out an alarming rate of decline of freshwater and deep-sea species. For example, over 50 per cent of Japan’s endemic freshwater fishes are under extinction. The main drivers of this decline are the loss of free-flowing rivers and increasing agricultural and urban pollution.


About IUCN red list of threatened species:

  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species.
  • It uses a set of quantitative criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species. These criteria are relevant to most species and all regions of the world. With its strong scientific base, The IUCN Red List is recognized as the most authoritative guide to the status of biological diversity.


The IUCN Red List Categories:

The IUCN Red List Categories define the extinction risk of species assessed. Nine categories extend from NE (Not Evaluated) to EX (Extinct).

Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) and Vulnerable (VU) species are considered to be threatened with extinction.


The IUCN system uses a set of five quantitative criteria to assess the extinction risk of a given species. In general, these criteria consider:

  • The rate of population decline.
  • The geographic range.
  • Whether the species already possesses a small population size.
  • Whether the species is very small or lives in a restricted area.
  • Whether the results of a quantitative analysis indicate a high probability of extinction in the wild.



The IUCN Red List brings into focus the ongoing decline of Earth’s biodiversity and the influence humans have on life on the planet. It provides a globally accepted standard with which to measure the conservation status of species over time.

Scientists can analyze the percentage of species in a given category and how these percentages change over time; they can also analyze the threats and conservation measures that underpin the observed trends.


Sources: the hindu.


Facts for prelims:


Nag- Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM):

Context: Indian Army has successfully conducted summer user trials of NAG, 3rd Generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM).

Key facts:

  • The NAG missile is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile, which has top attack capabilities that can effectively engage and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night.
  • It uses an imaging infrared seeker in lock-on-before-launch mode.
  • It is launched from NAG missile carrier (NAMICA) which is capable of carrying up to 6 combat missiles.
  • Range:  Minimum-500 metres and Maximum- 4 kilometres.
  • Developed by DRDO.


Tiangong 2: 

  • It is a space station launched by China. It is part of China’s plan to establish a manned space station around 2022.
  • It is placed at 380 kilometres above Earth. There are two astronauts on board. Tiangong 2 will be used to test space technology and conduct medical and space experiments.