OBC list to be sub-categorised

In News

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to set up a commission which will examine the issue of sub-categorisation of the Other Backward Classes (OBC).

  1. It has to examine the “extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation” among various castes and communities that come under the Central OBC list.
  2. The committee also has to work out the mechanism, criteria and parameters for the actual sub-categorisation. The actual reservation will continue to be 27% and within this the committee will have to do the re-arranging. For example, if the committee comes to the conclusion that in the last many years Yadavs have benefited far more than Khatiks or Sainis then the amount of reservation for them will be increased vis-à-vis the Yadavs.
  3. The third task is bringing order to the Central list of OBCs by removing any repetitions.
  • The National Commission for Backward Classes had recommended it in 2011 and a standing committee too had repeated this.
  • Already 11 States, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Jammu region have such a categorisation in State government jobs.
Creamy layer cap raised
  • The Union Cabinet also increased the “creamy layer” ceiling for the Other Backward Classes to RS. 8 lakh per annum from the existing RS. 6 lakh for Central government jobs.
  • This means that the umbrella of reservation is widened and those earning up to RS. 8 lakh per annum would now get the benefits.
  • In 1992 too the Supreme Court had in a judgment given a similar recommendation.
  • The OBC Commission as well as the standing committee have favoured this.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation


MasterCard mulls using blockchain tech

In News

Mastercard is looking to incorporate blockchain technology into its operations and would like a clear regulatory framework in India that lays down what blockchain can be used for.

What is a Blockchain Technology

  • Blockchain is the technology behind crypto-currency such as Bitcoin, which is a purely electronic currency that can also be traded on exchanges.
  • It is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.
  • Each block contains typically a hash pointer as a link to a previous block,a timestamp and transaction data.
  • By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to modification of the data.
  • Functionally, a blockchain can serve as an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.
  • For use as a distributed ledger a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks.
  • Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and a collusion of the network majority.

About Regulation

  • In India, an inter-ministerial committee is currently looking at how best to regulate blockchain technology, if it is allowed at all.
  • One of the proposals is to bring it under market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
  • Another option that could be considered is bringing blockchain regulation under the proposed Payments Regulatory Board in the Reserve Bank of India.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights

RERA rules CREDAI’s London meet

Why In News

A recent meeting of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI) in London was dominated by discussions over the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act 2016, better known as RERA, with industry representatives voicing their concerns particularly over the legislation’s impact on ongoing projects.


  • RERA, brought in to protect the interests of home buyers, and codify the running of the sector (with the aim of boosting investment in real estate over the long term) came into force on May 1, with individual States required to declare the rules within a 90 day period.
  • Under the law, developers have 90 days to register ongoing projects.
  • It will help weed out unscrupulous developers and set higher standards.
  • Its members are concerned about the provisions regarding ongoing projects, warning that it could have long term, negative reverberations for the industry, ultimately hitting supply and pricing.
  • Part of the problem lies around the lack of clarity on what constitutes an ongoing project .
  • Argued that the law, when it comes to ongoing projects, is actually unimplementable in several ways ranging from.
    • The treatment of common areas in buildings to the defect liability period,
    • To the legislation’s requirement that 70% of proceeds from the project be placed in a separate account.
  • Developers have been struggling to meet the 90-day registration process, leaving them potentially in breach of the legislation, and unable to market or sell their projects.
  • In the legislation there is no place where we can go as developers, if we don’t get a completion certification in time for a completed project, there is no provision if developers don’t get the electricity connection, the water for my completed project.


Topic : Development Studies

Source : The Hindu



Centre likely to differ with J&K on Article 35A

What is the issue

Centre is likely to take a divergent opinion from that of the Jammu and Kashmir government on Article 35(A), on the grounds that it discriminates against women who marry outside the State from applying for jobs or buying property, which is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

Article 14  : says the “State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India, Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Article 35(A) : which prohibits a non-J&K resident from buying property in the State and ensures job reservation for J&K residents.  Denies property rights to native women who marry from outside the State. The denial of these rights extend to her children also. It also empowers the State’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other States or any other right under the Constitution.

Conflict between Article 14 and Article 35A

Source : The Hindu

Topic : Polity

French index says India worst for retirement now

Why in News ?

In a global retirement index of 43 countries, India has ranked the lowest. The index by French asset management company Natixis Global, ranks countries on the basis of four factors

  1. The material means to live comfortably in retirement.
  2. Access to quality financial services to help preserve savings value and maximize income.
  3. Access to quality health services.
  4. A clean and safe environment.

What is the ranking of India

  • On all four, India has ranked the lowest. Switzerland, Norway and Iceland topped the ranking.
  • The index ranks 43 countries which include International Monetary Fund (IMF) advanced economies, members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
  • India ranks 43rd in this year’s GRI and has the same score compared to last year but its sub-indices all rank in the bottom five.
  • Compared to last year’s report, India declines in the Material Well-being (41st) and Health (43rd) sub-indices but gains ground in Finances (39th) and Quality of Life (43rd).

Of course, the index ranks mostly advanced economies, not comparable to India. But India also ranks the lowest among the BRIC economies.

Source : Economic Times

GS II : Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Health Ministry set for 2nd round of National Deworming initiative to tackle Worm Infections in children

Why in News?

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is all geared up for its 2nd  round of National Deworming Day (NDD) 2017 on 10thAugust in 33 States/UTs followed by mop-up activities on 17th August targeting 31 crore children.

About the Program

  • The NDD program has been launched in 2015 as WHO estimates that 220 million children below 14 years of age are at risk of STH infections in India.
  • National Deworming Day is organised twice in a year covering all the children from 1-19 years of age except the States of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where deworming is carried out once in a year.
  • The Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) prevalence in these two States is less than 20%.
  • All the children are provided deworming tablet in schools and anganwadis.
  • The deworming has the potential to improve nutritional status of children.
  • The deworming tablet called ‘Albendazole’ is a safe and efficacious drug for controlling worm infestation.

This is one of the largest public health programs reaching large number of children during a short period. The first NDD round of 2017 implemented in February covered 26 crore children with a coverage of 89%

Source : The Hindu

GS II :  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

ISRO to develop full-fledged Earth observation satellite

In news

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) says it plans to launch a full-fledged niche Earth observation (EO) satellite — called the Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite or HySIS — using a critical chip it has developed.

Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite or HySIS

  • A new set of future satellites called hyperspectral imaging satellites is set to add teeth to the way India is gleaned from about 600 km in space.
  • Hyperspectral or hyspex imaging is said to be an EO trend that is being experimented globally.
  • It can be used for a range of activities from monitoring the environment, crops, looking for oil and minerals all the way up to military surveillance all of which need images that show a high level of differentiation of the object or scene.
  • ‘Hyspex’ imaging is said to enable distinct identification of objects, materials or processes on Earth by reading the spectrum for each pixel of a scene from space.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

NITI Aayog selects 3 States for transformative change in Health & Education sectors

In News

NITI Aayog, announces partnership with three States each to radically transform their Health and Education sectors, major push to competitive, cooperative federalism.


  • NITI Aayog has selected Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Karnataka to improve healthcare delivery and key outcomes in these States.
  • In Education, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand have been selected for support to better learning outcomes.
  • The six States have been chosen after a rigorous competitive process based on comprehensive metrics to determine potential for impact and likelihood of success.

How is the process ?

  • States were called to, first, express intent of collaborating with NITI Aayog to better their Health and Education indices.
  • States then made presentations for each sector which was assessed by a committee comprised of senior members of NITI Aayog and Health and Education ministries.
  • The States highlighted the initiatives undertaken by them thus far, their willingness to accelerate improvement and justified why they should be selected for the institutional support being offered by NITI Aayog.

Evaluation of states

  • On thorough technical evaluation, the chosen States have committed to time-bound, governance reforms in both sectors.
  • A Program Management Unit to push for efficiency and efficacy in governance structures and service delivery will now be available in the six chosen States for a period of 30 months.
  • It is expected that these three years of focussed attention and support from the premier think tank will lead to a marked transformation and also provide a model for other States to replicate and adapt.

Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital 

This three-way partnership between NITI, State Governments and a knowledge partner for each of the sectors is part of the Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) initiative of NITI Aayog.

NITI Aayog has launched SATH, a program providing ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human capital’ with the State Governments. The vision of the program is to initiate transformation in the education and health sectors. The program addresses the need expressed by many states for technical support from NITI .

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Bloomberg Billionaire Index reveals the rise of inequality in India

Why in the news

The data released by the Bloomberg Billionaire Index reveals statistics about the rise of inequality in India.

What is the data shows ?

  • It showed that the top 20 industrialists in India added a staggering $50 billion to their combined wealth in the first seven months this year,
  • Taking their total valuation to $200 billion roughly 10 percent of India’s $2 trillion economy.

Other report

  • Oxfam report released this year revealed that 57 billionaires in India own as much as the bottom 70 percent of the population.
  • The richest one percent holds 58 percent of the country’s total wealth higher than the global average of 50 percent.

Concern on equality

Therefore, inequality is no longer a first-world phenomenon. It is very much at our shores, but the moot question remains if the trend is undesirable at all. Shows the redistributive means needs improvement.

Source : The Hindu

GS III : Inclusive growth and issues arising from it

Southeast Asia, China adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea

In News

Foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea. But critic seen it as tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

What is the reason for dispute ?

  • The region hold a wealth of untapped oil and gas reserves and besides roughly more than $3 billion of ship-borne trade passes every year.
  • China claims 90% of the South China Sea.
  • Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also contest China’s claims to islands and reef systems closer to their territory than China.
  • China says it follows a historical precedent set by the nine-dash line that it drew in 1947 following the surrender of Japan.
  • The line has been included in subsequent maps issued by government.

What is the current framework seeks for ?

  • Framework seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea.
  • This was ignored by claimant states, particularly China, which has built seven manmade islands in disputed waters, three of which are equipped with runways, surface-to-air missiles and radars.
  • The framework is only an outline for how the code will be established.
  • Some nations wanting mention of a dispute resolution mechanism and respecting “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction”. Sovereign rights cover entitlements to fish and extraction of natural resources.
  • Several ASEAN countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, have said they still favour making the code legally binding, that China is unlikely to agree to.

How the critic seen the framework ?

  • The failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding and enforceable or have a dispute resolution mechanism, raises doubts about how effective the pact will be.
  • China’s sudden interest in the code after 15 years of delays is to drag out the negotiating process to buy time to complete its strategic objectives in the South China Sea, through which more than $3 billion of ship-borne trade passes annually.

Source : Economic Times

GS II : Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

Focus is on chemicals in firecrackers

In news

The Supreme Court ban on the use of antimony, lithium, mercury, arsenic and lead in the manufacture of firecrackers to prevent air pollution has turned the focus on what chemicals are used to produce spectacular visual effects and noise.

Concern over firecracker

No standards have been laid down by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) with regard to air pollution caused by the bursting of firecrackers.

Effect of firecracker

  • Aluminium powder, sulphur and potassium nitrate go into noise-making crackers, while barium nitrate (green) and strontium nitrate (red) emit light.
  • Aluminium powder is used in sparklers.
  • Chinese crackers, which use chlorate are, therefore, banned in India.
  • Colours in FIRECRACKER
    Red Strontium salts (Nitrates, carbonates and sulphates of strontium)
    Orange Calcium salts (Carbonates, chlorides and sulphates of calcium)
    Yellow Sodium salts ( Nitrates and oxalates of sodium)
    Green Barium salts (Nitrates, carbonates, chlorides and chlorates of barium)
    Blue Copper salts (Carbonates and oxides of copper)
    Purple A combination of copper and strontium compounds
    White he burning of metals like magnesium, aluminium and titanium)

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources, issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Venkaiah Naidu becomes India’s new vice-president

Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu has been elected as India’s 15th Vice-president who was a Former Union Minister.

Vice President Election

  • Unlike the presidential election held recently, in which the electoral college also includes MLAs of all state assemblies and union territories, only MPs of the two Houses can vote in the vice-presidential election.

1. It consists of both elected and nominated members of the Parliament

2. It does not include the members of the state legislative assemblies

  • Qualification

1. He should be a citizen of India.
2. He should have completed 35 years of age.
3. He should be qualified for election as a member of the Rajya Sabha.
4. He should not hold any office of profit under the Union government or any           state government or any local authority or any other public authority.

  • Functions 

1. He acts as the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha
2. He acts as President when a vacancy occurs in the office of the President

Source : In General News

GS II : Polity

Proxy voting raises many complex issues

Why in News

 Union Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to amend the electoral laws to let NRIs nominate04ki vote persons to vote on their behalf in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.The Centre’s nod for `proxy’ voting rights for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) as a major step towards full democratic empowerment.

Need for Proxy voting

For millions of Indians working abroad the Cabinet decision, if implemented after getting Parliament approval, would be a major achievement.

Concerns over the proxy system

  • The proxy voting would lead to gross electoral abuse, particularly in the traditionally small-margin Assembly constituencies.
  • The nomination system would help parties to `buy votes’ from the NRIs’ nominees.

Alternative method instead of Proxy

  • Mahe residents have for long been voting online in the French elections.
  • The government to make Aadhaar mandatory for all, including the NRIs, for voting. And, the NRIs should be allowed to do e-voting from their workplaces overseas using the Aadhaar number.

Source : The Hindu

GS II : Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation