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Daily Current affairs 21 January 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair


New Delhi must grant dual citizenship to its diaspora Editorial 21st Jan’19 HindustanTimes

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention:

  • The 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) convention is taking place in Varanasi from 21-23 January, 2019.
  • The theme of PBD Convention 2019 is "Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India".
    • Note: A diaspora is a large group of people with a similar heritage or homeland who have since moved out to places all over the world.
  • Nearly 6,000 overseas delegates are participating to celebrate their Indian connection for three days.
  • During the Convention, selected overseas Indians are also honored with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians) to recognize their contributions to various fields both in India and abroad.
  • It is another opportunity to look at the evolving relationship between India and its diaspora across the world.


Large Indian diaspora across the world:

  • The migration of Indians is said to be more than 2,000 years old.
  • Indian diaspora is 31.2 million strong, living in 208 countries across the globe.
  • About 70% of them live in nine countries, the US being home to 4.46 million, followed by Saudi Arabia (4 million), Malaysia (2.4 million), and the United Arad Emirates (2.8 million).
  • 'Old Diaspora' or bonded labour:
    • In 1834, the British began exporting bonded labour from India to Mauritius and its other colonies.
    • Known as the old diaspora, these overseas citizens of India (OCIs) number about 18 million, and are citizens of the countries they live in.
  • Voluntary migrants:
    • The remaining 13.2 million are those who migrated from the mid-1960s.
    • Most of them retain their Indian citizenship, and are called non-resident Indians (NRIs).

They are doing very well:

Globally, the Indian diaspora wields enormous political influence and economic power.


  • 28 of them have gone on to become heads of state or government in 11 countries.
  • Pravin Jugnauth (Mauritius), Mahathir Mohamad (Malaysia), António Costa (Portugal), and Leo Varadkar (Ireland) are among them.
  • Dozens with Indian roots are and have, in the past, been ministers, more than 130 are parliamentarians, and a score are mayors in over two dozen countries.


  • Indian diaspora send home $70 billion annually — more than of any other country in the world.
  • Their collective investible assets are at least one trillion dollars — more than a third of India’s GDP.
  • In the US, the Indian diaspora constitutes the wealthiest community and will continue to remain so for decades to come.
    • An average median Indian household in the US has an annual income of $100,000 — twice the amount an average American household makes



How can India use this valuable asset (diaspora) adequately?

LM Singhvi committee recommendations on Indian diaspora:

  • In 2000, the then Prime Minister set up the LM Singhvi-led high level committee on Indian diaspora.
  • It made many recommendations in 2002, including granting conditional dual citizenship.
  • Only some implemented: 
    • Some of them were accepted and are being implemented, but in a diluted form.

Much more needs to be done:

  • A lot more needs be done to engage the diaspora in India’s growth story in every which way.
  • Prime Ministers have been inviting them and encouraging them to participate in India’s development programmes.
  • Now, India needs to take its relationship with the diaspora to the next level.

Some proposals can be considered to engage the Indian diaspora better

  1. Dual Citizenship:
  • 114 of the 194 United Nations member countries have allowed dual citizenship (being a citizen of two countries).
  • The US, the UK, France, Russia, Germany, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Maldives are among them.
  • India should also consider granting dual citizenship to its diaspora.
    • India so far does not allow it. Any citizen who takes citizenship of another country automatically stops being citizen of India.
  1. Electronic voting:
  • The diaspora is allowed to vote in 115 countries.
  • India allows NRIs to vote too, but expects them to fly to India to exercise their franchise at their own expense.
  • Barely 10 to 12 thousand of them vote.
  • In this day and age, when billions of dollars get electronically transferred from one country to another, India should allow its diaspora to participate in elections through electronic voting.
  1. Representation in the Legislatures:
  • There are a dozen countries, including France, that give representation to their diaspora in the Upper House of their Parliaments.
  • India could do this, too.
  • India should evolve a suitable mechanism to enable its diaspora to pick and send their representatives to the Rajya Sabha and state legislative councils.


China leveraged its Diaspora for development:

  • The diaspora’s contribution to China’s stupendous rise is a fine example.
  • When China's then President Deng Xiaoping launched economic reforms (around 1978), the Chinese diaspora provided the lion’s share of inward foreign investment.
    • Entrepreneurs from among the diaspora served in the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress, cultivating relationships all the way up to Deng.
  • China’s ability to grow at double digits became possible by building an export machine based on foreign investment. Over half of China’s foreign direct investment during the first two decades came mostly from its diaspora.


Way forward:

  • If the Chinese diaspora could contribute in making China the superpower that it is today, there is no reason why India too cannot pull off a similar miracle with its diaspora’s participation.
  • India can learn from China and other countries on how they are using the communities in their diaspora to achieve their economic goals.
  • India wants to double its GDP to $5 trillion in the next six or seven years.
  • This can happen faster if the diaspora is actively involved.



GS Paper II: International Relations

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Section : Editorial Analysis


This Word Means: Saturn’s rings

The News

  • According to a new analysis of gravity science data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, the rings of the Saturn are formed between 100 million and 10 million years ago, and are thus much younger than the Saturn (formed 4.5 billion years ago).

Missions to Saturn:

  • Pioneer 11: Launched in 1973, it took the first ever close up pictures of Saturn, and discovered a previously unknown ring.
  • Voyager 1: It passed by the planet in 1980 and sent back a torrent of pictures of Saturn and its rings. It was also able to make a flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan.
  • Voyager 2: It reached Saturn in 1981. It also made flybys of Saturn’s moons Enceladus, Tethys, Hyperion, Iapetus, Phoebe and several others.


Cassini- Huygens:

  • The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency.
  • Cassini went into orbit around Saturn in 2004.
  • Significance:
  • It was the first mission to orbit Saturn.
  • It made the first human-made-object landing in the outer solar system - Cassini carried the European Huygens probe to the Saturn system and it landed on on Saturn's moon Titan in 2005.
  • Cassini-Huygens revealed Titan to be one of the most Earth-like worlds we’ve encountered and shed light on the history of our home planet.
  • It revealed the processes that likely shaped the development of our solar system.
  • Cassini’s long mission enabled us to observe weather and seasonal changes on another planet.
  • Cassini showed us the complexity of Saturn’s rings and the dramatic processes operating within them

The Rings of the Saturn:

  • The rings consist of a large number of small particles that orbit Saturn.
  • They are about 400,000 km which is equivalent to the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
  • Saturn has many rings (between 500 to 1,000) and there are also gaps within them.


How did the scientists calculated the age of rings ?

  • The finding comes from Cassini’s final trajectory in September 2017.
  • As the spacecraft was running out of fuel, it performed 22 dives between the planet and the rings.
  • The dives allowed the spacecraft to act as a probe, falling into Saturn's gravity field, where it could feel the tug (pull) of the planet and the rings.
  • Radio signals sent to Cassini from the antennas of NASA's Deep Space Network and the European Space Agency relayed the spacecraft's velocity and acceleration.
  • Based on the strength of their gravitational pull calculated, scientists made the first accurate estimate of the amount of material in Saturn’s rings.
  • Calculations based on this led to the conclusion that the rings are relatively recent, having originated less than 100 million years ago and perhaps as recently as 10 million years ago.

Note: Also, the final close passes by the rings and planet enabled scientists to measure the length of a day on Saturn:10 hours, 33 minutes and 38 seconds.

Way Forward

  • This new discovery will help further in figuring out the formation of rings.

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Section : Science & Tech


State armed with triple-drug therapy to fight elephantiasis

The News

  • In a step towards elimination of lymphatic filariasis, the WHO-recommended 3-drug regimen is rolled out in Nagpur district of Maharashtra on a pilot basis.


About Lymphatic Filariasis

  • Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is a parasitic disease caused by infection with roundworms of the family Filarioidea. 
  • There are 3 types of filarial worms which cause elephantiasis, namely Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori.
  • About 90% of cases reported are due to infection by Wuchereria bancrofti.
  • The worm blocks the lymphatic system which causes swelling in the legs and other part of the body, making them look large, puffy and elephant-like.
  • Culex, Aedes and Anopheles mosquitoes serve as vector for W.bancrofti worm in transmission of the disease. 
  • Besides, it is transmitted by blood-feeding black flies.
  • Further, Lymphatic Filariasis infection starts mostly in childhood even though the disease manifestations are seen later in adulthood.
  • According to WHO, about 1 billion people in over 54 countries are at a risk of developing the disease.
  • It is classified as a neglected tropical disease with India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Bangladesh contributing to about 70% of the infection worldwide.
  • Each year, nearly 120 million people get infected by filariasis, over 40 million get severely disfigured and disabled


  • Infected people can be treated with diethylcarbamazine that kills the microscopic worms circulating in the blood.
  • However, it does not completely eliminate microfilaria.
  • Thus, a Mass Drug Administration was introduced by WHO.
  • The MDA includes a 2-drug regimen which is 99% effective in removing microfilariae from the blood after one year of treatment.
  • The WHO is now rolling out 3-drug regimen called IDA including (ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine and albendazole) on a trial basis in 5 countries which could potentially help in eradicating the disease.

Lymphatic Filariasis in India

  • Lymphatic filariasis is a public health problem in India accounting for about 40% of world disease burden.
  • It is endemic to 17 states and 6 union territories with 4 most endemic states namely Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.
  • Bihar has highest endemicity with over 17%.
  • The total disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost in India due to Lymphatic filariasis is around 2.06 million.

Steps to eradicate Lymphatic Filariasis

  • India has set the ambitious target of eradicating filariasis by 2020.
  • India has a National Filaria Control Programmesince 1955. 
  • The mass drug administration program has been underway in India since 2004.
  • Further "Hathipaon Mukt Bharat" is a creative project initiated by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare along with the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to deliver preventive medications to high-risk communities.
  • Lapses in India:
    • While MDA programme has been effective in countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Solomon Islands, India has not been able to achieve its desired objective because of
  • Lack of leadership
  • Convoluted multi-step drug regimen
  • Lack of drug providers
  • Logistical challenges and supply chain issues
  • Poor quality control
  • Diagnostic limitations
  • Currently Maharashtra has pioneered in rolling out the 3-drug regimen IDA in high-prevalent districts starting from Nagpur.

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Section : Social Issues


The Bt cotton dispute in Delhi HC and SC

The news

  • The Supreme Court has set aside an order of the Delhi High Court which had invalidated Monsanto’s patent on technology used in Bt Cotton seeds.


  • BT cotton is the only genetically modified crop that is commercially allowed in India from 2002.
  • BT cotton grown in India is genetically modified for developing resistance to the bollworm pest in the crop.
  • The genetically modified Bt cotton seeds are developed by US-based Monsanto Technology using protein fusion technology.
  • In India, Nuziveedu Seeds had signed a 10-year agreement to develop the genetically modified Bt cotton seed using Monsanto technology for a licence fee and commercially exploit it.
  • Following a dispute over payment of licence fee, Monsanto terminated the agreement in 2015.
  • Consequently, Monsanto filed a civil suit in Delhi HC against Nuziveedu Seeds over infringement of patent rights.
  • Further, it sought the Court to impose as injunction on Nuziveedu Seeds from using the seeds during the civil suit.

Highlights of the case

  • In response, a 1-judge bench of the Delhi HC passed an interim judgment.
  • Accordingly, during the pendency of the case, both parties would have to abide by obligations under their original agreement.
  • In effect, Monsanto would be paid the licence fee by Nuziveedu Seeds for use of BT cotton seeds.
  • However, this order was set aside by another bench of the Delhi HC.
  • Further, the Delhi HC also invalidated Monsanto’s patent claim under Section 3(j) of the Patents Act.

Highlights of the SC judgment

  • Now the Supreme Court has restored the order of the 1-judge bench imposing the injunction on Nuziveedu Seeds from using the patented technology of Monsanto.
  • This means that the single judge will now hear the matter of patentability.

Row over Protein-Fusion Technology in BT Cotton

  • The protein fusion technology involves insertion of Nucleic Acid Sequence into a plant which confers the trait of insect tolerance to cotton plants.
  • Monsanto claims both product and process patent of the Bt cotton seeds.
  • The NAS is a man-made DNA construct according to Monsanto and thus claims product patent
  • According to Monsanto, the protein fusion protein is only technology that allows a cotton plant to become insect-tolerant and thus owns even the process patent of the product.
  • However Nuvizeedu Seeds claims that it did not violate patented rights.
  • Accordingly to Nuziveedu Seeds, the hybrid plants that resulted from cross-pollination of Bt Cotton seed and Nuziveedu’s seeds are its own proprietary.


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Section : Economics


The search for a Lokpal

In News:

  • Recently, the Supreme Court has requested a search committee to suggest a panel of names for appointment of the country’s first Lokpal, an anti-corruption ombudsman by the end of February 2019.

About Lokpal

  • They are ombudsmen at the Centre tasked with looking into complaints of corruption and maladministration against public servants
  • The concept of an ombudsman is borrowed from
  • The term "Lokpal" was coined by L.M.Singhvi in 1963.
  • Functions: To address complaints of corruption, to make inquiries, investigations, and to conduct trials allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
  • Jurisdiction: It covers a wide range of public servants including Prime Minister, ministers and MP, to groups A, B, C and D officers of the central government.
  • Exceptions:
    • It does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegation against the Prime Minister relates to international relations, external and internal security, public order, atomic energy and space.
    • Complaints against the Prime Minister are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of inquiry and at least 2/3rds of the members approve it.

Note: Lokayukta is similar to the Lokpal, but functions on a state level. Maharashtra was the first state to have a Lokayukta law in 1971.

Need for Lokpal

  • India ranks as low as 81 out of 180 countries and territories on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2018.
  • India's low ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, reveals that despite attempts to combat corruption, India is moving too slowly in its effort and made little progress.


The Lokpal Bill: A backgrounder

  • The first Lokpal Bill was passed in the 4th Lok Sabha in 1969 but could not get through in the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013 with amendments in parliament, following the Jan Lokpal movement led by Anna Hazare.
  • Despite the enactment, the Government is yet to appoint a Lokpal (major part of the delay caused due to lack of a recognized "leader of the opposition" in the Parliament and the consequent legal issues).
  • Also, under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, a Lokayukta is to be appointed in every state within one year of the passing of the Act, but several states are yet to appoint such an institution.
  • An NGO had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, and later a contempt petition, over the delay.
  • In September, 2018, the search committee was constituted, chaired by retired SC Justice Ranjana Desai.
  • In January, 2019, the Supreme Court requested the search committee to prepare its panel by the end of the February 2019.
  • After the submission of search committee's recommendation for the Lokpal and its members, a Selection committee will consider those names and forward them to the President for his consideration.

Note: Selection Committee consists of

  • Chairman: Prime Minister
  • Other Members:
  • Lok Sabha Speaker
  • Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
  • The Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him, and
  • an Eminent Jurist as nominated by the President.

Why delay in Lokpal appointment till now?

  • One of the members on the selection committee for appointing the Lokpal is the leader of the opposition.
  • Since the post is vacant (no opposition party won the requisite 10% of Lok Sabha seats in 2014), the government has said it cannot appoint a Lokpal till the law is amended to include the leader of the single largest opposition party.
  • However, the Supreme Court has asked the government to go ahead with the appointment despite the absence of the LoP.

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Section : Polity & Governance


Prelims Program: Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)

Implementing Ministry: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW)


About the scheme

  • It is deemed as the world's largest government-funded healthcare programme covering over 50 crore beneficiaries.
  • It is an umbrella of two major health initiatives, namely Health and wellness Centres and National  Health Protection Scheme.
  • Ayushman Bharat - National Health Protection Mission will subsume the on-going centrally sponsored schemes - Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) and the Senior Citizen Health Insurance Scheme (SCHIS).


Health and Wellness Centres

  • Under this 1.5 lakh existing sub centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people in the form of Health and wellness centres. 
  • These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.


What is Ayushman Bharat?

  • The Ayushman Bharat is a scheme that aims to provide health assurance to 10 crore families or around 50 crore Indians, who will be given up to Rs 5 lakh cover per year.
  • The scheme targets the poor, deprived rural families and identifies an occupational category of urban workers' families, 8.03 crore in rural and 2.33 crore in urban areas, as per the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.
  • The health ministry has included 1,354 packages in the scheme under which treatment for coronary bypass, knee replacements and stenting among others would be provided at 15-20 per cent cheaper rates than the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS).
  • The scheme will provide cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiary at the point of service. Eligible people can avail the benefits in government and listed private hospitals.
  • One of the core principles of Ayushman Bharat - National Health Protection Mission is to co-operative federalism and flexibility to states.


Major Impact

  • Ayushman Bharat - National Health Protection Mission will have major impact on reduction of Out of Pocket (OOP) expenditure on ground of:
  1. Increased benefit cover to nearly 40% of the population, (the poorest & the vulnerable)
  2. Covering almost all secondary and many tertiary hospitalizations. (except a negative list)
  3. Coverage of 5 lakh for each family, (no restriction of family size)
  • This will lead to increased access to quality health and medication. 
  • In addition, the unmet needs of the population which remained hidden due to lack of financial resources will be catered to. This will lead to timely treatments, improvements in health outcomes, patient satisfaction, improvement in productivity and efficiency, job creation thus leading to improvement in quality of life. 


Who can avail and how?

  • The entitlement is being decided on the basis of deprivation criteria in the SECC database. The beneficiaries are identified based on the deprivation categories (D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, and D7). For the urban areas, the 11 occupational criteria will determine entitlement.
  • In addition, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY) beneficiaries in states where it is active are also included.
  • There is no cap on family size and age in the scheme.
  • Aadhaar card is not mandatory. One would only need to establish one's identity to avail benefits under the scheme which can also be done through election ID card or ration card.
  • In case of hospitalisation, members of the beneficiary families do not need to pay anything under the scheme, provided one goes to a government or an empanelled private hospital.
  • Each empanelled hospital will have an 'Ayushman Mitra help desk' where a prospective beneficiary can check documents to verify the eligibility and enrolment to the scheme.



  • According to health ministry officials, the 71st round of National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) revealed that 85.9% of rural households and 82% of urban households have no access to healthcare insurance/assurance.
  • More than 24% households in rural India and 18% population in the urban area have met their healthcare expenses through some sort of borrowing. The Ayushman Bharat intends to change this status quo.
  • The current fiscal the burden on the Centre is likely to be around Rs 3,500 crore, which is why it is being termed as the world's largest healthcare scheme.
  • It will be funded with 60 per cent contribution coming from the Centre and remaining from the states.


Related facts

  • The National Health Agency (NHA) is the apex body implementing the AB-NHPM.
  • Niti Aayog member VK Paul is the chief architect of the scheme.
  • The helpline number for Ayushman Bharat is 14555.
  • The total number of beneficiaries from Ayushman Bharat is more than the population of America, Canada and Mexico combined.


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Section : Miscellaneous