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Flashcards in Polity and Social Issues Deck (19):

Budget 2018-19 : Education is a top priority

Budget 2018-19 : Education is a top priority

What is the issue ?

  • Government has announced a number of initiatives in the Budget 2018-19 reiterating that a developing country like India can be propelled to greater heights by revitalising the education sector.

Initiatives that have been proposed :

1. Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) 

  • To step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, including health institutions.
  • Total investment of  Rs.1,00,000 crore in the next four years
  • Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) would be suitably structured for funding this initiative. 

2. Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship scheme:

  • 1,000 best B.Tech students will be identified from premier institutions each year and facilities will be provided to them to undertake Ph.D in IITs and IISc with an attractive fellowship. 

3. Ekalavya Residential School Scheme :

  • By the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School
  • Ekalavya schools will be treated at par with Navodaya Vidyalayas and will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture, besides providing training in sports and skill development. 


Budget 2018-19 in a nutshell

Budget 2018-19 in a nutshell

  • Budget guided by mission to strengthen agriculture, rural development, health, education, employment, MSME and infrastructure sectors
  • Government says, a series of structural reforms will propel India among the fastest growing economies of the world. Country firmly on course to achieve over 8 % growth as manufacturing, services and exports back on good growth path.
  • MSP for all unannounced kharif crops will be one and half times of their production cost like majority of rabi crops: Institutional Farm Credit raised to 11 lakh crore in 2018-19 from 8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15.
  • 22,000 rural haats to be developed and upgraded into Gramin Agricultural Markets to protect the interests of 86% small and marginal farmers. 
  • “Operation Greens” launched to address price fluctuations in potato, tomato and onion for benefit of farmers and consumers.
  • Two New Funds of Rs10,000 crore announced for Fisheries and Animal Husbandary sectors;   Re-structured National Bamboo Mission gets  Rs.1290 crore.
  • Loans to Women Self Help Groups will increase to Rs.75,000 crore in 2019 from 42,500 crore last year.
  • Higher targets for Ujjwala, Saubhagya and Swachh Mission to cater to  lower and middle class in providing free LPG connections, electricity and toilets.
  • Outlay on health, education and social protection  will be 1.38 lakh crore. Tribal students to get Ekalavya Residential School in each tribal block by 2022. Welfare fund for SCs gets a boost.
  • World’s largest Health Protection Scheme covering over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families launched with a family limit upto 5 lakh rupees for secondary and tertiary treatment.
  • Fiscal Deficit pegged at 3.5 %, projected at 3.3 % for 2018-19.
  • Rs. 5.97 lakh crore allocation for infrastructure
  • Ten prominent sites to be developed as Iconic tourist destinations
  • NITI Aayog to initiate a national programme on Artificial Intelligence(AI)
  • Centres of excellence to be set up on robotics, AI, Internet of things etc
  • Disinvestment crossed target of Rs 72,500 crore to reach Rs 1,00,000 crore
  • Comprehensive Gold Policy on the anvil to develop yellow metal as an asset class
  • 100 percent deduction proposed to companies registered as Farmer Producer Companies with an annual turnover upto Rs. 100 crore on profit derived from such activities, for five years from 2018-19. 
  • Deduction of 30 percent on emoluments paid to new employees Under Section 80-JJAA to be relaxed to 150 days for footwear and leather industry, to create more employment. 
  • No adjustment in respect of transactions in immovable property where Circle Rate value does not exceed 5 percent of consideration. 
  • Proposal to extend reduced rate of 25 percent currently available for companies with turnover of less than 50 crore (in Financial Year 2015-16), to companies reporting turnover up to Rs. 250 crore in Financial Year 2016-17,  to benefit micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • Standard Deduction of Rs. 40,000 in place of present exemption for transport allowance and reimbursement of miscellaneous medical expenses. 2.5 crore salaried employees and pensioners to benefit.

Relief to Senior Citizens  proposed :

  • Exemption of interest income on deposits with banks and post offices to be increased from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000.
  • TDS  not required to be deducted under section 194A. Benefit also available for interest from all fixed deposit schemes and recurring deposit schemes.
  • Hike in deduction limit for health insurance premium and/ or medical expenditure from Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 under section 80D.
  • Increase in deduction limit for medical expenditure for certain critical illness from Rs. 60,000 (in case of senior citizens) and from Rs. 80,000 (in case of very senior citizens) to Rs. 1 lakh for all senior citizens, under section 80DDB.
  • Proposed to extend Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana up to March, 2020. Current investment limit  proposed to be increased to Rs. 15 lakh from the existing limit of Rs. 7.5 lakh per senior citizen.
  • More concessions for International Financial Services Centre (IFSC),  to promote trade in stock exchanges located in IFSC. 
  • To control cash economy, payments exceeding Rs. 10,000  in  cash made by trusts and institutions to be disallowed and would be subject to tax.
  • Tax on Long Term Capital Gains exceeding Rs. 1 lakh at the rate of 10 percent, without allowing any indexation benefit. However, all gains up to 31st January, 2018 will be grandfathered.
  • Proposal to introduce tax on distributed income by equity oriented mutual funds at the rate of 10 percent.
  • Proposal to increase cess on personal income tax and corporation tax to 4 percent from  present 3 percent.
  • Proposal to roll out E-assessment across the country to almost eliminate person to person contact leading to greater efficiency and transparency in direct tax collection.
  • Proposed changes in customs duty to promote creation of more jobs in the country  and also to incentivise domestic value addition and Make in India in sectors such as food processing, electronics, auto components, footwear and furniture.


India's fight against polio

India's fight against polio

What is the status of polio in India?

  • No existing cases of polio in India. 
  • India became polio free in 2014.

Why is India carrying out Pulse Polio Campaigns inspite of being polio free ?

  • Polio can re-emerge at any point of time and the only way to keep it out is make sure that all the vulenrable population is immunised against it.

There are two ways in which India can be exposed to recurrence of polio:

  • Polio virus can spread into India from across the borders though Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • The second risk of resurgence comes, ironically, from OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine) itself.

How does polio spread from OPV?

  • In rare cases, Oral Polio Vaccine, which contains weakened but live polio virus, can cause paralytic polio.
  • Also, because the vaccine­ virus is  excreted by immunised children, it can move from one person to another.
  • Vaccine derived poliovirus (VDPV) is mutant of the polio virus which sticks around after OPV is administered in certain cases . VDPV, like imported wild polio, can cause outbreaks in under­immunised population

What is the alternative to OPV ?

  • Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), IPV does not cause VDPV but protects children equally well against polio.

Way forward for India:

  • Out of the three wild­types of poliovirus that cause the disease, the transmission of one, Wild Poliovirus 2 (WPV­2), was interrupted successfully more than a decade ago. 
  • The two remaining viruses that are circulating in Pakistan and Afghanistan are WPV­1 and WPV­3.
  • Once we stop these two viruses in their tracks, OPV will be phased out and replaced globally with IPV. 


Health Sub-centres to Health Wellness Centres

Health Sub-centres to Health Wellness Centres

What is the issue ?

  • In the 2018-19 budget, a Rs 1,200-crore package has been announced to convert health sub-centres into health and wellness centres as a part of the Ayushman Bharat initiative.

About the move :

  • The Union Health Ministry plans to deliver 12 types of basic healthcare services at these sub-centres ranging from mother and child care to basic ophthalmic and ENT care as well as basic management of mental healthcare.
  • For the manpower requirement, the ministry looks at Ayurveda graduates with 4.5 years of training or nursing practitioners. Another option is to recruit those who have completed a B.Sc in community medicine.
  • All of them have to undergo a six-month bridge course, taught by the Indira Gandhi National Open University.
  • Everyone above 30 will be screened for diabetes, hypertension and breast, oral and cervical cancer as the toll due to non-communicable diseases is on the rise.
  • The scheme would require Rs 25,000 crore in the next five years as each of the 1.5 lakh centres needs nearly Rs 17 lakh for training and equipment purchase.

Impact of this scheme on soceity :

  • The 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres would bring healthcare system closer to people’s homes by providing comprehensive healthcare, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.
  • They will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services.


Supreme Court : No interference from anyone when two adults marry

Supreme Court : No interference from anyone when two adults marry

What is the issue ?

  • Two adults are free to marry and “no third party” has a right to harass or cause harm to them opined the Chief Justice of India speaking against honour killings.

What are honour killings ?

  • Most often, involves the murder of a woman or girl by male family members. The killers justify their actions by claiming that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family name and prestige.

What are Khap panchayats ?

  • Khaps are caste or community groups that wield considerable influence in rural areas of north India.
  • They are known to hold kangaroo courts that dissolve marriages, dictate dress code, mostly to women, ban cellphones and even force rape victims into marrying rapists.
  • Their opposition to marriages on the basis of caste or religion has also led to murders.


Rail Development Authority (RDA) to be set up

Rail Development Authority (RDA) to be set up

What is the issue?

  • Government has given approval for the formation of the Rail Development Authority.

Composition of the body :

  • Chairman and three members.

Mandate/objectives :

  • Pricing of services commensurate with costs.
  • Suggest measures for enhancement of Non Fare Revenue.
  • Protection of consumer interests, by ensuring quality of service and cost optimization.
  • Promoting competition, efficiency and economy.
  • Encouraging market development and participation of stakeholders in the rail sector and for ensuring a fair deal to the stakeholders and customers.
  • Creating positive environment for investment.
  • Promoting efficient allocation of resources in the Sector.
  • Benchmarking of service standards against international norms and specify and enforce standards with respect to the quality, continuity and reliability of services provided by them.
  • Providing framework for non-discriminatory open access to the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) infrastructure and others in future.
  • Suggesting measures to absorb new technologies for achieving desired efficiency and performance standards.
  • Suggesting measures for human resource development to achieve any of its stated objectives.


Supreme Court : Establish children friendly courts to try children

Supreme Court : Establish children friendly courts to try children

What is the issue ?

  • The Supreme Court has asked the Chief Justice of each high court to ensure establishment of child-friendly courts in each district.

Rationale behind the move :

  • Even juveniles in conflict with law are entitled to presumption of innocence and establishing such courts is one manner in which the judiciary can respond to ease their pain and suffering.
  • Children too have Fundamental Rights and they have to enforced strongly.
  • Such courts can also be used for trials in which adult women are victims of sexual offences since they too are often traumatised by the not so friendly setting in our courts.


NITI Aayog's 'Healthy States, Progressive India' report released

NITI Aayog's 'Healthy States, Progressive India' report released

What is the issue?

  • NITI Aayog released a comprehensive Health Index report titled, “Healthy States, Progressive India”.
  • The report ranks states and Union territories innovatively on their year-on-year incremental change in health outcomes, as well as, their overall performance with respect to each other.

About the report :

  • States and UTs have been ranked in three categories namely, Larger States, Smaller States, and Union Territories (UTs), to ensure comparison among similar entities.
  • The Health Index is a weighted composite Index, which for the larger States, is based on indicators in three domains:
  1. Health Outcomes (70%) 
  2. Governance and Information (12%)
  3. Key Inputs and Processes (18%),
  • with each domain assigned a weight based on its importance.
  • The report has been developed by NITI Aayog, with technical assistance from the World Bank, and in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW),

Important take-aways from the report :

  • Among the Larger States, Kerala, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu ranked on top in terms of overall performance, while Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh are the top three ranking States in terms of annual incremental performance
  • Among Smaller States, Mizoram ranked first followed by Manipur on overall performance, while Manipur followed by Goa were the top ranked States in terms of annual incremental performance.
  • Among UTs, Lakshadweep showed both the best overall performance as well as the highest annual incremental performance.
  • The Health Index report notes that while States and UTs that start at lower levels of development are generally at an advantage in notching up incremental progress over States with high Health Index scores, it is a challenge for States with high Index scores to even maintain their performance levels.

Importance of the index :

  • Linking this Index to incentives under the National Health Mission by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare underlines the importance of such an exercise.
  • This Index is expected to nudge States towards further achieving a rapid transformation of their health systems and population health outcomes.
  • With the annual publication of the Index and its availability on public domain on a dynamic basis, it is expected to keep every stakeholder alert to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goal number 3.


Election Commission asks Supreme Court for more power

Election Commission asks Supreme Court for more power

What is the issue ?

  • Election Commission of India (ECI) in an affidavit to the Supreme Court has said it must be empowered to deregister a political party if it violates provisions of the Constitution.

What is the loophole in the system with reference to this issue ?

  • A convicted person, otherwise debarred from contesting polls, is allowed to form a political party.

What does the EC want ?

  • At present, the EC has authority only to register a party but not to de-register. Moreover, the Representation of the People Act, 1951, has no explicit provision for de-registration of a political party.
  • Election Commission of India argued that it should be given powers to de-register a political party and, further, should be authorised to issue necessary orders regulating registration and de-registration of political parties, particularly in view of its constitutional mandate

When can a party be deregistered ?

According to the SC, a political party can be deregistered under the following circumstances

  • When a political party obtained registration by fraud, if it is declared illegal by the Central government,
  • If a party amends its internal constitution and notifies the EC that it can no longer abide by the Indian Constitution.

About Election Commission of India :

  • For the conduct of free and fair elections, an independent Election Commission has been provided for in Article 324.
  • Election Commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
  • Members are appointed by the President for a term which is fixed by the President.
  • Conditions of service and tenure of office of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners are determined by an Act of parliament titled 'The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Conditions of Service) Act, 1991'.


National Productivity Council : All you need to know

National Productivity Council : All you need to know

What is the National Productivity Council ?

  • NPC is national level organization to promote productivity culture in India.
  • Established by the Ministry of Industry, Government of India in 1958.

Nature of organisation :

  • Autonomous, multipartite, non-profit organization with equal representation from employers, workers, organizations and Government, apart from technical and professional institutions and other interests.
  • NPC is a constituent of the Tokyo-based Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an Inter Governmental Body, of which the Government of India is a founder member.

Chairman/President of the organisation ?

  • The Union Minister for Industry is the President of the NPC
  • Secretary (Industrial Policy and Promotion) is its Chairman. 

Objectives :

  • With a vision to become a knowledge leader, NPC strives to provide world class services needed by Indian economy to become internationally competitive.
  • To provide modern and high-quality productivity-related services to sectors not adequately addressed by others, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises, Informal Sector, Food Processing and Post Harvest Operations etc.
  • Aims to assist the Central and State Governments, local bodies and other organizations in improving the quality and efficiency of public services.
  • Aims at propagating productivity as an evolving concept, which includes attention to issues, and concerns, relating to quality, environment, energy, HRD, Integrated Rural Development etc.


LPG Panchayat held at Rashtrapati Bhavan

LPG Panchayat held at Rashtrapati Bhavan

What is the issue?

  • The LPG Panchayat was organised by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas with an aim to provide a platform for LPG consumers to interact with each other, promote mutual learning and share experiences.
  • Over 100 beneficiaries of the government’s flagship scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana(PMUY), from 20 states will share their experiences of how the clean cooking fuel has changed their lives

What is a LPG Panchayat ?

  • Is an interactive communication platform aimed at educating rural LPG users about proper safety precautions to be taken while using LPG, its benefit to the environment, its effect on women empowerment and health.

About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) :

  • Aims to safeguard the health of women and children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.
  • Under this scheme, 5 Cr LPG connections will be provided to BPL families with a support of Rs.1600 per connection in the next 3 years. (2016-2019)
  • Ensuring women’s empowerment, especially in rural India, the connections will be issued in the name of women of the households.
  • Rs. 8000 Crore has been allocated towards the implementation of the scheme.
  • Identification of the BPL families will be done through Socio Economic Caste Census Data. 


Draft bill of India’s first anti-human trafficking law

Draft bill of India’s first anti-human trafficking law

What is the issue ?

  • India's first ever draft bill regarding anti-human trafficking law is being moulded into a strong law which protects the victims and seeks to punish the guilty without holding back.

Status of the Bill as of now :

  • The draft, Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017, was recently cleared by a Group of (Union) ministers (GoM) with “certain recommendations” after several rounds of inter-ministerial consultations held by the WCD ministry held since 2016

Drawback of existing laws with reference to trafficking:

  • The existing laws do not provide for a clear distinction between the traffickers and those trafficked.

Trafficking and its background:

  • Human trafficking is considered third-largest crime in the world and majority of those trafficked are women and young girls.
  • The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, in a 2016 report, noted that 70% of all detected trafficking victims across the globe were women and girls.

Provisions of the Bill :

  • The draft bill seeks to prevent trafficking of persons, as well as provide protection and rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking, proposing 14 years of rigorous imprisonment to those found guilty of human trafficking.
  • It proposes to treat the trafficked girls and women in the flesh trade as victims under the law and not as accused.
  • The anti-human trafficking bill recognises the safety of the victims of trafficking after rescue and extends the victims a legal right to rehabilitation.
  • It has proposed for the creation of an anti-trafficking fund for the effective implementation of the law along with the welfare and rehabilitation of the victims.
  • The proposed law also stipulates for giving new identities to victims after their rescue.
  • It stipulates for provisions to deal with the administration of hormones and drugs to those trafficked, with provisions for 10 years of rigorous imprisonment to the convicts of such crimes.
  • The bill includes forced beggary and bonded labour in the list of types of crime associated with human trafficking, proposing to make registration of all placement agencies mandatory.
  • Failure to register with the state authorities will earn such institutions a fine of Rs 50,000 under the proposed law.

What is human trafficking?

  • Human trafficking is the trade (sell and purchase) of human beings for the purpose of sexual slavery, bonded and forced labour or for any commercial sexual exploitation and prostitution. 

Constitutional and Legislative Provisions in India:

  • Trafficking in Human Beings or Persons is prohibited under the Constitution of India under Article 23 (1)
  • Protection of Children from Sexual offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, which has come into effect from 14th November, 2012 is a special law to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation.
  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA) is the premier legislation for prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Criminal Law (amendment) Act 2013 has come into force wherein Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which provide for comprehensive measures to counter the menace of human.

There are other specific legislations enacted relating to trafficking in women and children:

  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006,
  • Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976,
  • Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986,
  • Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994,
  • apart from specific Sections in the IPC


Supreme Court : More water for Karnataka

Supreme Court : More water for Karnataka 

What is the issue?

  • Supreme Court ordered that an additional intake of 14.75 TMC ft of Cauvery water for Karnataka by reducing overall quantity water for Tamil Nadu.

The judgement in numbers :

  • Increased Karnataka’s entitlement by 14.75 tmcft to 284.75 tmcft, reduced Tamil Nadu’s share to 404.25 tmcft, while keeping unchanged the allocation of 30 tmcft to Kerala and 7 tmcft to Puducherry. 

What has the Supreme Court opined ?

  • Waters of an inter-state river passing through riparian states was a 'national asset' and 'no state can claim exclusive ownership of such waters' to deprive the other states of their equitable share.
  • Karnataka being the upper riparian state has suffered the most.
  • Karnataka’s share was increased by 14.75tmcft because the tribunal had not taken into account two crucial factors
  • Availability of 10 tmcft groundwater to TN from the Cauvery basin, 4.75 tmcft water required to meet the drinking water requirements of globally renowned IT City Bengaluru.

Cauvery issue in detail :

  • 1892: Cauvery river water dispute starts between Madras Presidency (under the British rule) and the Princely state of Mysore. Madras disagrees to Mysore administration’s proposal to build irrigation systems, arguing that it would impede water flow into Tamil Nadu.
  • 1913-1916: Mysore government writes to Madras Presidency, seeking permission to build a reservoir, leading to a dispute that ends with the arbitrator giving Mysore permission to construct a dam up to 11 tmcft. The verdict is challenged.
  • 1924: The dispute comes close to being resolved when Mysore and Madras reach an agreement under which Mysore is allowed to build a dam at Kannambadi village. The agreement is to be valid for 50 years and reviewed thereafter. Based on this agreement, Karnataka builds the Krishnaraja Sagar dam.
  • 1929: An agreement is reached, meant to clarify the 1924 agreement allowing the construction of the Krishnaraja Sagar dam in Mysore and to specify exactly how much water would be released to Madras. Krishnaraja dam becomes functional in 1931 and the Mettur dam in 1934.
  • 1974: The 1924 water sharing agreement between then Madras Presidency and Princely State of Mysore (now Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) lapses after expiration of its term of 50 years.
  • 1986: Tamil Nadu approaches the centre for setting up a tribunal for disputes arising out of Cauvery water sharing.
  • 2 June 1990: A Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT), headed by justice Chittatosh Mookerjee, set up under the centre after the Supreme Court’s direction.
  • 25 June 1991: CWDT passes an interim award asking Karnataka to release 205 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu every year. It also directed Karnataka not to increase its irrigated land area from the existing 1,120,000 acres (around 4,500 km).As a result, there was widespread dissatisfaction and violence in the two states.
  • 11 December 1991: CWDT’s interim award notified by the centre after the Supreme Court struck down an ordinance issued by Karnataka and upheld the award.
  • August 1998: The Cauvery River Authority (CRA) constituted by the centre for the implementation of the interim award of the CWDT.
  • September 2002: The CRA directs Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs per day of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. The body was presided over by then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
  • 5 February 2007: CWDT passes the final award and allotted 30 tmc to Kerala, 270 tmc to Karnataka, 419 tmc to Tamil Nadu and 7 tmc to Puducherry. Additionally, 14 tmc was reserved for environmental “inevitable escapages” into the sea.
  • 19 February 2013: The centre notifies the final award of the CWDT, on the direction of the Supreme Court.
  • 19 March 2013: Tamil Nadu moves the Supreme Court, seeking directions to the water ministry for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board.
  • 28 May 2013: Tamil Nadu moves the Supreme Court, seeking Rs2,480 crore in damages from Karnataka for not following the orders of the CWDT.
  • 26 June 2013: Tamil Nadu moves SC for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board.
  • 22 August 2016: Tamil Nadu files petition in the Supreme Court, seeking direction to the state of Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu.
  • 6 September 2016: SC directs Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs a day till 15 September. Karnataka released 10,000 cusecs of water from the Krishna Raja Sagara dam to Tamil Nadu. State witnesses widespread unrest.
  • 12 September 2016: Supreme Court modifies direction, asks Karnataka to release 12,000 cusecs a day till 20 September instead of the earlier 15,000 cusecs per day till 16 September
  • 20 September 2017: Bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra and justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Amitava Roy reserve verdict in the Cauvery water dispute between the two neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

About river cauvery (important ) :

  • Cauvery rises at an elevation of 1,341 m at Talakaveri on the Brahmagiri range at Kodagu district of Karnataka.
  • The total length of the river is 800 km.
  • Cauvery basin extends over the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry.
  • Major part of the basin covered with agricultural land accounting for 66.21 % of the total area and 4.09 % of the basin is covered by water bodies.


42 Indian languages face the threat of extinction

42 Indian languages face the threat of extinction

What is the issue ?

  • 42 langauges in India are spoken by less than a few thousand people rendering them open to the threat of extinction.

Some statistics you should know : A Census Directorate report

  • In India we have 22 scheduled languages and 100 non-scheduled languages.
  • Among them 42 langauges are spoken by less than 10,000 people and are conisdered to be endangered.

The languages in danger :

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

  • Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Lamongse, Luro, Muot, Onge, Pu, Sanenyo, Sentilese, Shompen and Takahanyilang


  • Aimol, Aka, Koiren, Lamgang, Langrong, Purum and Tarao

Himahal Pradesh

  • Baghati, Handuri, Pangvali and Sirmaudi


  • Manda, Parji and Pengo


  • Koraga and Kuruba 

Andhra Pradesh

  • Gadaba and Naiki 

Tamil Nadu

  • Kota and Toda

Arunachal Pradesh

  • Mra and Na


  • Tai Nora and Tai Rong 


  • Bangani 


  • Birhor 


  • Nihali 


  • Ruga 

West Bengal

  • Toto 

What is an endandered language according to UNESCO ?

A language is endangered when its speakers cease to use it, use it in fewer and fewer domains, use fewer of its registers and speaking styles, and/or stop passing it on to the next generation. No single factor determines whether a language is endangered, but UNESCO experts have identified nine that should be considered together:

  • Intergenerational language transmission
  • Absolute number of speakers
  • Proportion of speakers within the total population
  • Shifts in domains of language use
  • Response to new domains and media
  • Availability of materials for language education and literacy
  • Governmental and institutional language attitudes and policies including official status and use
  • Community members’ attitudes toward their own language
  • Amount and quality of documentation

How does UNESCO define an 'extinct language' ?

  • When we say that a language is extinct, we mean that it is no longer the first tongue that infants learn in their homes, and that the last speaker who did learn the language in that way has passed on within the last five decades


Newborn deaths : India needs to act now

Newborn deaths : India needs to act now

What is the issue ?

  • An UNICEF report placed India at a low 12th position among 52 low middle income countries on the basis of new born deaths.

About the report :

  • Published by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)

Where does India stand ?

  • India's neonatal mortality rate at 25.4 deaths per 1,000 live births makes it 12th worst among 52 “lower middle-income countries” that pose risk for newborns.
  • India is also the only major country in the world to have a higher mortality for girls than boys.
  • Within the country as well, disparities are highly significant. While Kerala and Goa have neonatal mortality rates of ten per 1,000 live births, the figure for Bihar and Uttarakhand stands at 44 per 1,000.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan account for 46% of all births and 57% of India’s neonatal deaths.
  • India has, however, managed a 66% reduction in under-five deaths between 1990 to 2015 against the world average of 55%.

What does this mean for India ?

  • India is currently not on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goal target for neonatal mortality of 12 by 2030
  • To achieve this goal, the country will have to reduce its neonatal deaths by half in the next 12 years.

Other countries and their status :

  • Pakistan is the worst with 45.6 newborn deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • Japan, with an NMR of 0.9 deaths per 1,000 live births, has been ranked the world’s safest country in which to be born followed by Iceland and Singapore
  • The US’s newborn mortality rate (NMR) stands at 3.7, only slightly better than lower-middle income countries such as neighbouring Sri Lanka and Ukraine, and is ranked 15 among high-income countries

Important points to be noted :

  • According to UNICEF, newborn survival is closely linked to a country’s income level. 
  • Globally, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate (NMR) is 27, while in high-income countries the figure is only three.
  • Premature births counts for over 80% of newborn deaths. Complications during labour and delivery as well as infections like sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia  are also major contributors.

What can be done to improve the situation ?

  • Strengthen mother and newborn health services, including home-based care by health workers,
  • Institutional care for sick newborns
  • Promote breastfeeding,
  • Treating underweight babies, keeping the mother healthy, preventing early marriage.
  • Reduce malnutrition in adolescent girls.


Tribunal to be constituted for Mahanadi water disputes

Tribunal to be constituted for Mahanadi water disputes

What is the issue ?

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has approved the proposal for adjudication of dispute on Mahanadi River Waters. 

Mandate of the Tribunal :

  • The Tribunal shall determine water sharing among basin States on the basis of the overall availability of water in the complete Mahanadi basin, contribution of each State, the present utilization of water resources in each State and the potential for future development.

Composition of the Tribunal :

  • As per provisions of the Inter-State River Water Disputes (ISRWD) Act, 1956, the Tribunal shall consist of a Chairman and two other Members nominated by the Chief Justice of India from amongst the Judges of the Supreme Court or High Court.
  • Further, services of two Assessors who are water resources experts having experience in handling sensitive water-related issues will be provided to advise the Tribunal in its proceedings.
  • As per provisions of the ISRWD Act, 1956 the Tribunal is required to submit its report and decision within a period of 3 years which can be extended to a further period not exceeding 2 years due to unavoidable reasons.


India ranks 81st in Corruption perception index

India ranks 81st in Corruption perception index

What is the issue ?

  • India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, which named the country among the “worst offenders” in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.
  • India had been placed at 79th position out of 176 in 2016.

Which organisation has published the report ?

  • Transparency International

About Transparency International :

  • International NGO based in Berlin, Germany.
  • Publishes the Global Corruption Barometer and Global Corruption Perception Index.

About the  global corruption perception index :

  • The index uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

Important take-aways from the report :

  • New Zealand and Singapore scored the highest scores with 89 and 84 out of 100, respectively.
  • Somalia was found to be the most corrupt country in the world.
  • A majority of the world’s countries scored below 50 on the index with the global average score coming at around 43. India’s score of 40 in 2017 puts it below the global average.
  • Among the neighbouring countries, Pakistan was ranked at the 117th place with a score of 32, Bangladesh at 143th (score of 28), Myanmar at 130th (score 30) and Sri Lanka 91st (score 38).
  • Bhutan has the best score of 67 among India's neighbours and has been placed high on the index at the 26th place. China also fared better than India with a rank of 77 and score of 41. 
  • In the BRICS block of major emerging economies, South Africa is ranked the best (71st), followed by China and India, while Brazil is at 96th and Russia at 135th. 

What trends can be seen worldwide ?

  • In some countries across the region (Asia Pacific), journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies are threatened, and in the worst cases, even murdered.
  • Countries with the least protection for press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also tend to have the worst rates of corruption.
  • The 2017 index revealed that despite attempts to combat corruption, most countries were moving too slowly with their effort. In the past six years, many countries have made little to no progress.


Consumer Protection Bill 2018 : All you need to know

Consumer Protection Bill 2018 : All you need to know

About the Bill :

  • Seeks to replace the Consumer Protection Act 1986.
  • Defines 'consumer' as a person who buys any good or avails a service for a consideration.
  • The Bill covers transactions, both online and offline, and includes tele-shopping and multi-leveling marketing.
  • The definition of 'consumer rights ' in the Bill covers the right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services that are hazardous to life and property.
  • It also focusses on the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, products or services, as the case may be, so as to protect a consumer against unfair trade practices.
  • It also includes the right to be assured, wherever possible, of access to a variety of goods, products or services at competitive prices.
  • More importantly, it involves the right to seek redress against unfair or  restrictive trade practices, or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers.

Salient features of the Bill :

  • The Bill’s salient features include establishment of an executive agency to be known as the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of the consumers.
  • The Bill proposes to empower the CCPA to investigate, recall, refund and impose penalties.
  • The Bill provides for product liability action in cases of personal injury, death or property damage caused by or resulting from any product, and mediation as an alternate dispute resolution, making the process of dispute adjudication simpler and quicker.
  • The CCPA is also empowered to deal with unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements. The CCPA is to be headed by a Chief Commissioner. 
  • The Bill seeks to set up a monitoring cell, to be constituted by the president of the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to oversee the functioning of the State consumer commissions from the administrative point of view.
  • The Bill provides for a State government to establish a consumer mediation cell to be attached to each of the district commissions and the State commissions.
  • Further, the Bill proposes that the Centre establishes a consumer mediation cell to be attached to the National Commission. 


A new Bill to regulate pesticides

A new Bill to regulate pesticides

What is the issue ?

  • A spur in farmers deaths due to spurious pesticides has led the government to propose a new Bill to regulate the use of pesticides.
  • It is known as draft 'Pesticides Management Bill 2017'

About the Bill :

  • Aims at ensuring availability of quality pesticides, allow its use only after assessing its efficacy and safety, minimise the contamination of agricultural commodities by pesticide residues and take necessary measures to restrict or prohibit their use to prevent risk to human beings, animals and environment.
  • The new bill seeks to replace the 50-year-old Insecticides Act of 1968.
  • The PMB-2017 has provisions for maximum punishment of Rs 50 lakh and/or jail term up to five years for people importing or manufacturing pesticides without licence, distributing spurious pesticide or selling pesticides that are ineffective on a particular crop or has toxicity higher than the level specified.
  • The bill also retains the powers the Central government enjoys under the Insecticides Act, 1968.
  • The bill makes it mandatory for state governments to report all cases of poisoning to the Centre on a quarterly basis.