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The Hindu 17 August 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair







‘No first Use’ nuclear doctrine is not rigid, says Rajnath Singh



ISRO arm begins search for PSL makers



India gets its first national essential diagnostics list



Paddy, tube wells and depleting groundwater



A considered step that opens up new vistas




1. ‘No First Use’ nuclear doctrine is not rigid, says Rajnath Singh (The Hindu, Page 01)


Mains: G.S. III in Security


Indian Nuclear Doctrine


India’s nuclear doctrine can be summarized as follows:

  • Building and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent which refers to the quantity of nuclear forces that India needs to deter potential nuclear adversaries.

  • A posture of "No First Use" nuclear weapons will only be used in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere;

  • Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage.

  • Nuclear retaliatory attacks can only be authorised by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority.The Nuclear Command Authority comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council. The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister. It is the sole body which can authorize the use of nuclear weapons.

  • Non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states. However, in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons;

  • A continuance of strict controls on export of nuclear and missile related materials and technologies, participation in the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continued observance of the moratorium on nuclear tests.

  • Continued commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapon free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament.


Advantages of No First Use:

  • It obviates the need for the expensive nuclear weapons infrastructure that is associated with a first-use doctrine.

  • The onus of escalation to a nuclear War is on the adversary, without preventing India from defending itself. This prevents India from shouldering the moral responsibility of initiating a nuclear War. 

  • India to keep its weapons disassembled, thus averting the need for systems such as Permissive Action Links, which are necessary to maintain control over nuclear weapons if they are stored ready to fire. 

  • NFU will prevent India from acting against an imminent nuclear attack, However,a preemptive strike would not prevent retaliation. Also, it is always possible that an adversary might decide not to launch a nuclear attack at the very last moment but that a preemptive strike will force them to retaliate.


Critique of No First Use:

  • NFU posture is only possible for a country that has extreme confidence not only in the survivability of its national nuclear forces sufficient to muster a devastating retaliatory strike, but also in the efficacy of its crisis management system. Crisis management is not India’s forte as seen during 26/11 attacks. The Indian bureaucratic system is yet to show capability of handling any emergency as dire as a nuclear strike.

  • India's NFU policy frees Pakistan from fearing an Indian nuclear attack to either terrorism or limited war. Pakistan could deploy Tactical Nuclear Weapons in limited theatres without fear that India might attack them with nuclear weapons.

  • NFU is a confidence building measure among States, however no country practically believes those that pledge NFU. China has pledged NFU yet India will not trust China's pledge and similarly, Pakistan does not believe in India's NFU pledge.

  • Countries that have pledged NFU such as India and China, while countries that havent such as Pakistan have the same deployment pattern of weapons during peace time and War time. 

  • India is a responsible nuclear power. A NFU means that India is not capable of deciding when to use nuclear weapons.


2. ISRO arm begins search for PSLV makers (The Hindu, Page 09)


Prelims: Science & Technology

Mains: G.S. III in Technology


NewSpace India Ltd & PSLV



  • The NewSpace India Ltd has recently invited expressions of interest from the Indian Companies to produce the PSLVs used by ISRO. Such an offer is open only to Indian Companies and hence it is expected to boost Make in India.


  • The NewSpace India Ltd has invited Indian Companies having sufficient knowledge and expertise in the field of space technology to come forward to manufacture the PSLVs.

  • The idea is to initially outsource the manufacture of 5 launch vehicles to the private sector entities. The companies are required to manufacture the launchers end-to-end and must cover the entire gamut of manufacturing.


How would it benefit?

  • ISRO is required to complete 59 launches by 2021 and hence such a move by NewSpace India Ltd would enable the ISRO to meet its needs of launch vehicles.

  • Enables ISRO to focus on its core job of R&D in space technology by outsourcing the manufacturing of launch vehicles to private sector.

  • Boost Make in India.


Details about NewSpace India

  • The Union Government has set up New Space India Limited (NSIL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS) in March 2019 to commercially exploit the research and development work of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Centres and constituent units of DOS.

  • It was set up to meet the ever-increasing demands of Indian space programme and to commercially exploit the emerging global space market.


Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Small Satellite technology transfer to industry, wherein NSIL will obtain license from DOS/ISRO and sub-license it to Industries;

  • Manufacture of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) in collaboration with Private Sector;

  • Productionisation of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) through Indian Industry;

  • Productionisation and marketing of Space based products and services, including launch and application;

  • Transfer of technology developed by ISRO Centres and constituent units of DOS;

  • Marketing spin-off technologies and products/services, both in India and abroad;




3. India gets its first national essential diagnostics list (The Hindu, Page 09)


Prelims: Polity & Governance

Mains: G.S. II in Polity & Governance


National Essential Diagnostics list



  • India has got its first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL) finalised by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which aims to bridge the current regulatory system’s gap that do not cover all the medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic device (IVD).

  • In Vitro Diagnostics (IVDs) are medical devices and accessories used to perform tests on samples, (e.g., blood, urine and tissue that has been taken from the human body) in order to: Help detect infection, Diagnose a medical condition, Prevent disease and Monitor drug therapies

  • With this, India has become the first country to compile such a list that would provide guidance to the government for deciding the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require.


Current System of regulation of diagnostics

  • In India, diagnostics (medical devices and in vitro diagnostics) follow a regulatory framework based on the drug regulations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945. Diagnostics are regulated under the regulatory provisions of the Medical Device Rules, 2017.


Why needed?

    • Diagnostics serve a key role in improving health and quality of life. Equitable accessibility, affordability and appropriate use of good quality diagnostics are integral to high quality health care.

    • Accurate diagnostics are indispensable for effective management of diseases, leading to better patient care and clinical outcomes, increase affordability by reducing overall therapy cost and also reduce antimicrobial resistance. 

    • Availability of quality assured diagnostics would also be helpful in optimal utilization of Essential Medicine List (EML). (Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the population. Essential medicines are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at all times in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality, and at a price the individual and the community can afford.)

  • As India is aiming for UHC which essentially means removing barriers to seeking and receiving needed care like reducing out-of-pocket expenditures, distance to health care facility, and underequipped facilities with poorly skilled health workers. Thus Essential diagnostics list (EDL) may complement the essential medicines ensuring healthy lives and eventually for achieving the goal of providing universal healthcare.

    • The current regulatory systems did not cover all the medical devices and IVD. The system is currently equipped to manage only the few notified devices. There was no set classification/ classification system in current device rules for both notified and non-notified devices category for innovative products/ technologies.  In absence of a stringent regulatory process for diagnostics in the past, various substandard poor quality diagnostics made their way into the Indian market, which impact the quality health care system.


Benefits of the List

    • Implementation of NEDL would enable improved health care services delivery through evidence-based care, improved patient outcomes and reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure; effective utilisation of public health facilities; effective assessment of disease burden, disease trends, surveillance, and outbreak identification; and address antimicrobial resistance crisis too.

    • It will also foster improved regulation in procurement, strengthened capacity of laboratories including their accreditation, establishment of nation-wide quality control systems etc.

    • The list also encompasses tests relevant for new programmes such as Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. In addition to tests, corresponding IVD products have also been recommended. 

  • WHO released first edition of essential diagnostics list (EDL) in May 2018. Even though WHO’s EDL acts as a reference point for development of national EDL, India’s diagnostics list has been customised and prepared as per landscape of India’s health care priorities.


Challenges in implementation of Essential Diagnostics List

  • Adoption by States and harmonisation with local standard diagnostic protocols and treatment guidelines

  • Presence of requisite infrastructure

    • Human resources

    • Ensuring quality of tests



4. Paddy, tube wells and depleting groundwater  (The Hindu, Page 11)


Prelims: Environment

Mains: G.S. III in Environment


Groundwater Depletion


Overexploitation of water resources due to water guzzling crops – 

    • Paddy cultivation in Punjab got a boost during the green revolution. 

    • It is preferred by farmers because of the assurance of remunerative prices as a result of MSP announced by the government. 

    • Paddy is a water guzzling crop and is leading to widespread extraction of groundwater. 

    • This groundwater extraction is further incentivized by the free electricity provided by the government of Punjab. 

    • Ideally, groundwater should be available at a depth of 50 ft to 60 ft, but in Punjab, its level has significantly dropped to 150ft to 200 ft in most places. 

    • Further, deepening of tube wells, and purchase of the powerful motors to carry out the deepening increasing the financial burden on farmers. 

    • The State government has been advocating crop diversification to save groundwater, farmers don’t seem to be keen on shifting to other crops unless they are given an assured market and a guaranteed price for their produce

    • Lack of diversification is mainly because MSP is not announced for most of the crops. 

    • Another impact of excessive irrigation is the increasing salinity in the agricultural soil. 


Salinity & industrial and domestic effluents 

    • Concerns have been raised about the deteriorating quality of groundwater due to pollution caused by urbanisation, industrialisation and an increased use of fertilisers and pesticides.

    • water quality is being impacted by untreated or inadequately treated industrial effluents and sewage that flows into rivulets and rivers in Punjab.

    • In most of the places, ponds have been filled and encroached upon while in other places, they have become a dumping ground for sewage. 

    • The problem is further compounded by the mixing of storm water and sewage in various municipal towns. 

    • The pollution and contamination of water resources due to industrial waste, sewage and excessive use of chemical pesticides in agriculture is a major cause of concern that needs immediate attention


NITI aayog report on Water crisis 

    • India is currently suffering from the worst water crisis in its history with the country ranked at 120 among 122 countries in the quality of water. 

    • According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.

    • By 2020, it said, as many as 21 major cities of India will run out of water and face ‘day zero’— a term that got popular after a major water crisis in Cape Town in South Africa, which means literally switching off most of the city’s tap for a day. 

    • The CWMI report also states that by 2030, the country's water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual six per cent loss in the country's GDP.

    • The report said 600 million people face high-to-extreme water stress, 75% of households do not have drinking water on premises and 84% rural households do not have access to piped water. 

    • Moreover, factors such as rapid climate change and ongoing over-extraction of groundwater, mainly for agriculture, are pushing the system to a breaking point, the Aayog had observed. 

    • The report has suggested desalinisation as one of the solutions for handling this situation. 

    • Countries like Israel  have been successful in using desalinated water for wide use. Currently, as much as 70% of household water comes from desalinated sea water in Israel. 

    • The Union government recently formed a new Jal Shakti (water) ministry, which aims at tackling water issues with a holistic and integrated perspective on the subject. The ministry has announced an ambitious plan to provide piped water connections to every household in India by 2024.



    • Traditional practice of rainwater harvesting — catching water where it falls provides a great opportunity for augmenting water resources. 

    • Presently India captures only eight per cent of its annual rainfall, among the lowest in the world

    • Another aspect is the treatment and reuse of wastewater. About 80 per cent of the water that reaches households, leaves as waste and pollutes our waterbodies and environment. There is a huge potential in reusing and recycling this treated wastewater at least for non-potable purposes, which is cost effective. 

    • Emphasis on behavioural change is not getting enough attention . But locals/citizens/ communities have a huge part to play. By keeping in check our own usage and actions, we can contribute.



5. A considered step that opens up new vistas (The Hindu, Page 10)


Prelims: Polity & Governance

Mains: G.S. II in Polity & Governance


Article 370


Historical Perspective to Article 370:

  • The essence of Article 370 was that it was only a temporary, transitional arrangement and was never intended to be a permanent provision.

  • Under Part XXI of the Constitution of India, which deals with ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’, the special status was conferred upon Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Maharaja Hari Singh signed The Instrument of Accession on October 26-27, 1947.

  • Article 370 was not incorporated at the time of accession. It was included in October 1949 at the instance of Sheikh Abdullah, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution. It became operative only in 1952.

  • Dr. Ambedkar was not in favour of Article 370. Pandit Nehru had asserted that Article 370 is part of certain transitional, provisional arrangements. It is not a permanent part of the Constitution. It is a part as long as it remains so.

  • Parliament in 1964 in a discussion on a private member’s bill seeking abrogation of Article 370 found near-unanimous support back then.


Conculsion of the author:

  • Article 370 had only widened the chasm between resident of J&K and rest of India. This schism has been systematically widened by vested interests whereby Article 370 has failed to benefit the people in a meaningful way, it was used by separatists to drive a wedge between those living in J&K and the rest of India.

  • Its abrogation, a total of 106 Central laws will now be extended to J&K. Some of the key pieces of legislation include the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Land Acquisition Act, the National Commission for Minorities Act, the Right to Education Act and those relating to empowering local bodies.

  • With Article 35A becoming void, the decades old discrimination against the women of J&K has been eliminated. They can now purchase and transfer property to their children, even if they get married to a non-resident.