Current Affairs September 2020

Delhi Law Academy




•            The Election Commission recently decided to revise the timeline for publicity of criminal antecedents by candidates concerned and by the political parties that nominate them for elections.

More on the News

•            As per the revised guidelines, the candidates as well as the political parties will publish the details of criminal antecedents, if any, in newspapers and television three times.

•            Uncontested winner candidates as well as the political parties who nominate them shall also publicize the criminal antecedents, if any.

•            This timeline will help the voters in exercising their choices in more informed manner.

Criminalization of Politics

•            It implies that the criminals are entering the election fray and contesting elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislature.

•            Post 2019 elections, 43% of Lok Sabha members face criminal charges with 29% of them are facing serious criminal charges such as murder, rape and kidnapping, while 84% have self-declared assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore.

•            Reasons for Criminalization: include- nexus between the criminals and politicians, use of money and muscle power in elections, delays in criminal justice system, lack of value-based politics, tolerance to criminal candidates, First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system doesn’t discourage criminals from contesting elections etc.

•            Impacts- law-breakers get elected as law-makers, legislatures lose their credibility and legitimacy, increased circulation of unaccounted money or black money during and after elections, dilution in the probity in public life, increased levels of corruption, introduces a culture of violence in the society and sets a bad precedence for the youth to follow.

Other steps taken by Election Commission (EC) to De-Criminalize Indian Politics

Election Commission of India has consistently undertaken certain electoral reforms on its own as well as at the direction of Supreme Court.

•            In 1997, EC directed all the Returning Officers (ROs) to reject the nomination papers of any candidate who stands convicted on the day of filing the nomination papers even if his sentence is suspended.

•            A system of flying squads has been introduced to seize black money during elections.

•            It carried out a much more intense voter awareness campaign and even initiated a campaign using celebrities exhorting voters not to sell their vote.

•            Currently, a candidate to any National or State Assembly elections is required to furnish an affidavit, in the shape of Form 26 appended to The Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, containing information regarding their criminal antecedents, if any, their assets, liabilities, and educational qualification.

o            EC amended Form 26 to comply with a Supreme Court order that required candidates to fill up forms provided by the Commission and state details of criminal cases pending against them.


•            Recently, Kesavananda Bharati of landmark Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru and Others v State of Kerala 1973 case passed away.

About the Kesavananda Bharati Case

•            The case dealt with a petition against the Kerala Government challenging the compulsory acquisition of his land by the Government under the Kerala Land Reforms Act 1963, as a violation of Fundamental Rights (FRs), as enshrined in – Articles 25, 26 and 31 of the Constitution of India.

 •           The case was heard by a Bench of 13 judges — the largest formed in the Supreme Court (SC).

•            As hearing proceeded, the scope of the case was expanded to address the following

o            interpretation of Golakhnath case

o            interpretation of the Article 368 (Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution)

o            the validity of the 24th Constitutional Amendment Act, Section 2 and 3 of the 25th Constitutional Amendment Act and 29th Constitutional Amendment Act.


•            In the Golaknath v. State of Punjab case, SC had held that

o            Article 368 merely laid down the amending procedure but did not confer upon Parliament the power to amend the Constitution.

o            There is no difference between the amending power and legislative powers of Parliament and any amendment of the Constitution must be deemed law as understood in Article 13(2) (prohibits the state to make any law taking away or abridging FRs). This essentially meant that FRs could not be amended by the parliament.

o            To amend the FRs a new Constituent Assembly would be required.

•            After the Golaknath case several constitutional amendments were made by the Parliament

o            24th Amendment: It stated that-

✓          the constitutional amendments are not ‘law’ under Article 13, thus Parliament has the power to amend any FRs.

✓          the Parliament has the power to amend any provision of the Constitution of India.

o            25th Amendment:

✓          Section 2 of the act curtailed the right to property, and permitted the acquisition of private property by the government for public use, on the payment of compensation which would be determined by the Parliament and not the courts.

✓          Section 3 gave precedence to ‘Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)’ over the FRs and took away the scope of Judicial Review for policies laid down under several DPSPs (Articles 39 (b) and 39 (c)).

o            29th Amendment: It added two land reform legislations to the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution of India (list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in courts). Outcomes of Kesavananda Bharati Case

•            Upheld the validity of the 24th amendment: SC held that Parliament had the power to amend any or all provisions of the Constitution (including FRs), with a condition that the amendments should not alter, damage or destroy the essential features or the fundamental principles of the Constitution. This came to be known as the “Basic Structure Doctrine”.

•            Corrected judgments of the Golaknath case: SC held that Article 368 contained both the power and the procedure for amending the Constitution and that amending powers and legislative powers of Parliament were different.

•            Other judgments: SC upheld the 25th and 29th Amendments except for the parts that curtailed its power of judicial review and also asserted that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and hence amendable.

Evolution of Doctrine of Basic Structure

The ‘Basic Structure’ doctrine finds no reference in the Constitution. It evolved through various court judgments-

•            The SC in cases such as Shankari Prasad Case (1951) and Sajjan Singh case (1965) had earlier held that Parliament can amend any part of the Constitution including the FRs using Article 368.

•            Golaknath case (1967): In this case SC held that FRs cannot be amended by the Parliament, implying that some features of the Constitution lay at its core and required much more than the usual procedures to change them. This laid the pathway for the ‘Basic structure doctrine’.

•            Kesavananda Bharati case (1973): The SC held that Parliament can amend any part of the constitution including FRs, given that the “basic structure of the Constitution” is not disturbed.

•            Evolution on case to case basis: The SC had since then strengthened and reaffirmed the doctrine and elaborated on the principles that constitute the ‘Basic Structure’ of Indian Constitution, in several judgments such as- Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain case (1975), Minerva Mills case (1980), S.R. Bommai case (1994) etc.

•            Some principles that are presently part of the ‘Basic Structure’ are stated below

o            sovereignty of India

o            essential features of the individual freedoms secured to the citizens

o            mandate to build a welfare state

o            supremacy of the Constitution o republican and democratic form of government

o            secular and federal character of the Constitution

o            separation of powers between the legislature, executive and the judiciary

 o           unity and integrity of the nation

o            power of Judicial review

o            harmony and balance between FRs and DPSPs etc.


•            In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha suspended question hour and private members’ business during the last monsoon session of Parliament.

Question Hour

•            This is first hour of a sitting. It is during this MPs ask questions to ministers and hold them accountable for functioning of their ministries.

•            Both Houses of the Parliament follow their own set of rules which are formulated to govern themselves.

o            At the beginning of Parliament in 1952, Lok Sabha rules provided for Question Hour to be held every day.

o            Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, had a provision for Question Hour for two days a week. A few months later, this was changed to four days a week. Then from 1964, Question Hour was taking place in Rajya Sabha on every day of the session.

o            In 2014, Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari shifted Question Hour in the House from 11 am to 12 noon to prevent disruption of Question Hour.

•            Parliament has categorized questions asked in the parliament in different types and they are:

o            Starred Questions: The answers to these questions are desired to be given orally on the floor of the House during the Question Hour.

o            Unstarred Questions: The answers to these questions which are deemed to have been laid on the Table of the House are given by Ministers at the end of the Question Hour in a written form.

o            Short Notice Questions: These questions are asked orally in the House after the Question Hour or as the first item in the agenda where there is no Question Hour at a notice shorter than that prescribed for Starred and Unstarred Questions.

▪     These must be generally of public importance to a subject-matter considered by the Speaker/ Chairman on an urgent basis.

  • Questions to Private Members: This Question is addressed to a Private Member (As per Rule 40 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha), provided that the subject matter of the question relates to some Bill, Resolution or other matter connected with the business of the House for which that Member is responsible.

Zero Hour

•            The time immediately following the Question Hour has come to be known as “Zero Hour”.

o            It starts at around 12 noon (hence the name).

•            Typically, discussions on important Bills, the Budget, and other issues of national importance take place from 2pm onwards.

•            Members wishing to raise matters during the “Zero Hour” need to give notice to the Speaker prior to the start of the daily session.

•            Zero Hour is an Indian parliamentary innovation and unlike Question Hour it is not mentioned in the Rules of Procedure. Zero hour has been in existence since 1962.


•            ADP was launched by the GOI in January 2018 to accelerate improvement in the socio-economic indicators of the most underdeveloped districts of the country.

•            Currently, the programme has been implemented in 112 of India’s 739 districts including 35 Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected regions spread across the country.

•            The programme focuses on practical and measurable social progress outcomes, in six main themes that directly impact the quality of life as well as the economic productivity of citizens. These are- Health and Nutrition, Education, Agriculture and Water Resources, Financial Inclusion, Skill Development, and Basic Infrastructure.

Best Practices across districts

•            Health and Nutrition:

o            Hailakandi (Assam): an innovative practice of gifting 5 saplings (coconut, litchi, assam lemon, guava, amla) to the parents of a new born girl child. The  would help in building immunity and warding off malnutrition.

•            Education:

o            Rajnandgaon (Chattisgarh) has ensured access to sanitation facilities for every girl child, for which toilets were installed in schools.

o            Banka (Bihar) has launched a programme, ‘Unnayan Banka – Reinventing Education using Technology’, which is an effort to leverage technology to improve the learning environment.

•            Financial Inclusion domain:

o            Gajapati (Odisha): mini banks have been opened under Odisha Livelihood Mission in panchayats that did not have banking facilities. These mini banks also functioned as common service centres and bank accounts of 27,463 SHG members were opened, while 23000 were linked with Adhaar.

•            Agriculture and water resources:

o            Kupwara (Jammu and Kashmir) introduced high density farming to improve agricultural productivity and make optimum utilisation of resources. The traditional seedling-based orchards were converted into high density orchards. This gave the producers success in cultivation of crops such as apples and walnuts and increased the harvest by up to three times.

•            Skill Development:

o            Gajapati (Odisha) started enrolment of people for skill development under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY). As a result of the efforts, 11,600 candidates were mobilised, and over 450 were trained in different crafts.

•            Basic infrastructure:

o            Kupwara (Jammu and Kashmir), a network of 176 water-harvesting tanks was strengthened that has aided in enhancing farmers income through water conservation.

o            Dahod (Gujarat), installation of solar powered community tube wells has benefitted a hundred households across five villages.



India recently conducted a virtual trilateral dialogue with France and Australia. •       The focus of the dialogue was on enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region.

About Indo- Pacific

•            The Indo-Pacific is a geopolitical construct which represents an integrated theatre that combines the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and the land masses that surround them.

•            It has gained relevance in the recent times due reasons such as presence of important sea lines of communication, maritime security concerns, rise of Asian Economy and China’s aggressive military and foreign policy.

•            Several regional and extra regional countries like India, Japan, USA, Australia, France etc. have released policies focused on the Indo-Pacific acknowledging the strategic shift towards the region.

***       While bilateral and multilateral dialogues, such as India’s 2+2 Dialogues with Australia, Japan, and the United States, Quad etc., are common phenomena in the Indo-Pacific, the recent times have seen emergence of ‘minilaterals’. There is already an India-U.S.-Japan trilateral and also an India-Australia-Indonesia trilateral is taking shape.

Factors responsible for the rise of Minilaterals:

•            Easier to strike convergence in interests: Smaller partnerships can focus on specific mutual objectives and goals.

•            Strategic rationale: The India-France-Australia trilateral is a natural fit for all three because of their stake in ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific order.

•            Moving beyond uncertainties created by certain partners: Partners of larger groupings might find in their interest to move to smaller partnerships to overcome uncertainties created by specific partners. For example unpredictability of American policies.


•            BIMSTEC Secretariat has finalized BIMSTEC charter after 23 years of its inception.

•            Charter is due to be signed in fifth summit, scheduled for January next year at Sri Lanka.


•         BIMSTEC was established in 1997 as BIST-EC with four countries: Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

•         It was named BIMSTEC in 2004 after Myanmar (1997), Nepal (2004) and Bhutan (2004) joined it.

•         1st Summit meeting was held in Bangkok in 2004.

•         Its Secretariat is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

•         BIMSTEC region is home to around 1.5 billion people which make up for around 22% of the world’s population. The region has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.8 trillion.

•         Founding principles: cooperation within BIMSTEC will be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, political independence, non-interference in internal affairs, peaceful co-existence and mutual benefit.

Significance of BIMSTEC for India

•         Economic: BIMSTEC is fast becoming a significant trade bloc in Asia-Pacific. Its intra-regional trade is significantly higher than many other economic groupings in Asia-Pacific region except perhaps EAEG (East Asia Economic Grouping) and ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations).

o            Bay of Bengal is the route for about 25 per cent of global trade and has huge untapped natural resources such as natural gas.

•         Accelerate integration of South Asia: With SAARC proving to be a “dysfunctional” grouping due to the bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan, BIMSTEC as a sub-regional grouping of South Asia provides an opportunity for India to integrate South Asia without Pakistan.

o            South Asia is one of the most densely populated but poorly integrated regions in the world. Its intraregional trade is less than 5% of the total trade of South Asian countries.

•         Connecting South Asia and Southeast Asia: BIMSTEC is a bridge between South Asia and Southeast Asia. Leveraging BIMSTEC, India focus on connectivity projects in and around the Bay of Bengal region.

o            India has already invested in the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport Project and the BIMSTEC Motor Vehicle Agreement.

o            Physical connectivity with BIMSTEC would also help India integrate itself with ASEAN’s Master Plan of Connectivity 2025.

o            All the members (except Sri Lanka) are connected by land, providing a stronger potential for greater connectivity among them.

•         Development of North eastern region: A successful BIMSTEC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) can be instrumental in developing India’s North Eastern region as a commercial and business hub for Southeast Asia.

o            The two Southeast Asian countries in the grouping, Myanmar and Thailand, have a crucial place for India’s ambitious connectivity plans for north-eastern region.

o            Sittwe port in Myanmar is closer to the northeast region than Kolkata.

•         To counter Chinese influence: China’s influence and presence in India’s neighbourhood has grown enormously through its Belt and Road Initiatives. India, through its economic engagement with Bay of Bengal littoral states will restrict Chinese influence in these countries.

•         Energy security: BIMSTEC region has huge untapped reserve of natural gas, the future of power supply.

o            India, along with other BIMSTEC countries, is exploring energy opportunities at the Rakhine coast of Myanmar in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal.


Recently, US President has authorized economic sanctions against officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their investigation into alleged war crimes by U.S. forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Afghanistan since 2003.

About ICC

•         ICC is a permanent international court established to investigate, prosecute and try individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

•         It was established by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in 1998.

o            Court has jurisdiction only over crimes committed after July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute entered into force.

•         There are 123 countries party to the Rome Statute.

o            Countries which never signed the treaty: India, China, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkey etc .

o            Countries signed but not ratified the treaty: includes Egypt, Iran, Israel, Russia, United States etc.

o            Burundi and the Philippines joined the ICC but later withdrew.

•         ICC does not replace national criminal justice systems; rather, it complements them.

•         Cases come before the court in following ways:

o            a member country can refer a situation within its own territory to the court

o            UN Security Council can refer a situation;

o            prosecutor can launch an investigation into a member state proprio motu, or “on one’s own initiative.”


India recently refused to become a signatory to the Osaka declaration on digital economy which proposes the concept of Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT).

About DFFT

•            It aims to eliminate restrictions on cross-border transfer of information by electronic means, including personal information, and storing data in foreign servers, for productivity, innovation and sustainable development.

•            It also stresses on the importance of addressing challenges such as security, data protection and intellectual property that otherwise mar public trust in digital technologies.

Need for DFFT

•            Lack of international framework to resolve cross-border data conflicts: Recent times have seen a rise in conflicts arising over a myriad of issues related to data flows, such as free speech, intellectual property, privacy, cybercrime, consumer protection, taxation, commercial regulation, and others.

•            Impact on ease of doing business: Regulatory conditions or requirements on transferring data, and data localization policies can force exporters to build or lease data centres in every country of operation. Doing so can impose prohibitively high compliance and entry costs.

•            Emergence of anticompetitive, trade-distorting actions by digital giants: due to conflicting policies and lack of comprehensive frameworks for managing data flows.

•            Moving towards “Society 5.0”: It underscores how digitalization could tackle today’s social challenges and usher in broader transformation by optimizing societal and welfare systems.

•            Significance for digital economy: Digital economy, supported by data flows, makes up a sizeable portion of global economic activity. Current data flow restrictions and data localization requirements of some countries lower their GDP by up to 0.4% and 1.7%, respectively, depending on the economy and severity of the measure.



Recently, the Government of India passed three Acts with an aim to reform agriculture in India, namely-

  • The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2020
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020

Need for these reforms:

•            Unremunerative of farming: The infographic highlights the trends of increasing indebtedness, stagnation of trade and migration patterns among others.

•            Issues with APMCs: The Standing Committee on Agriculture (2018-19) identified following issues:

o            Most APMCs have a limited number of traders operating, which leads to cartelization and reduces competition. Traders, commission agents, and other functionaries organize themselves into associations, which do not allow easy entry of new persons into market yards, stifling competition.

o            Undue deductions in the form of commission charges and market fees.

o            The Acts are highly restrictive in promotion of multiple channels of marketing (such as more buyers, private markets, direct sale to businesses and retail consumers, and online transactions) and competition in the system.


Key features of the Act:

•     Trade of farmers’ produce: The Act allows intra-state and inter-state trade of farmers’ produce outside:

  • the physical premises of market yards run by market committees formed under the state APMC Acts and
  • other markets notified under the state APMC Acts.

•     Electronic trading: It permits the electronic trading of scheduled farmers’ produce (agricultural produce regulated under any state APMC Act) in the specified trade area. An electronic trading and transaction platform may be set up to facilitate the direct and online buying and selling of such produce through electronic devices and internet.

•     Market fee abolished: The Act prohibits state governments from levying any market fee, cess or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’.


Key features of the Act

•     Farming agreement: The Act provides for a farming agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.

o     The minimum period of an agreement will be one crop season, or one production cycle of livestock. The maximum period is 5 years, unless the production cycle is more than 5 years.

•     Pricing of farming produce: The price of farming produce should be mentioned in the agreement. For prices subjected to variation, a guaranteed price for the produce and a clear reference for any additional amount above the guaranteed price must be specified in the agreement.

o     Further, the process of price determination must also be mentioned in the agreement.

  •  Dispute Settlement: A farming agreement must provide for a conciliation board as well as a conciliation process for settlement of disputes. The Board should have a fair and balanced representation of parties to the agreement.


Key features of the Act

•            Regulation of food items:  The Act provides that the central government may regulate the supply of certain food items including cereals, pulses, potatoes, onions, edible oilseeds, and oils, only under extraordinary circumstances.

These include:

(i)          war

(ii)         famine

(iii)        extraordinary price rise and

(iv)        natural calamity of grave nature.

o            The Essential Commodities Act, 1955 empowered the central government to designate certain commodities (such as food items, fertilizers, and petroleum products) as essential commodities. The central government may regulate or prohibit the production, supply, distribution, trade, and commerce of such essential commodities.

•            Stock limit: The Act requires that imposition of any stock limit on agricultural produce must be based on price rise. A stock limit may be imposed only if there is:

  • a 100% increase in retail price of horticultural produce; and
  • a 50% increase in the retail price of non-perishable agricultural food items.


•            Parliament has passed the three Labour Code bills – the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020; the Industrial Relations Code, 2020; and the Code on Social Security, 2020 in a major boost to Labour reforms.

•            In 2019, the Ministry of Labour and Employment introduced four Bills to consolidate 29 central laws. These Codes regulate:

(i)          Wages,

(ii)         Industrial Relations,

(iii)        Social Security, and

(iv)        Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions.

•            While the Code on Wages, 2019 has been passed by Parliament, Bills on the other three areas were referred to the Standing Committee on Labour. The Standing Committee has submitted its report on all three Bills. The government has replaced these Bills with new ones in September, 2020. Labour Laws framework in India

•            Labour is subject in the Concurrent List of the seventh schedule, thus allowing both the Centre and states to legislate on labour related issues.

•            Currently, there are 44 labour laws under the purview of Central Government and more than 100 under State Governments, which deal with a host of labour issues.


•            The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) revised priority sector lending (PSL) guidelines to include entrepreneurship and renewable resources, in line with emerging national priorities.

What is Priority Sector Lending (PSL) and how it works?

•            The concept of ‘Priority sector lending’ focuses on the idea of increasing the lending of the banks towards few specified sectors and activities in the economy.

•            The banks are mandated to encourage the growth of such sectors with adequate and timely credit.

Following are the key features of PSL methodology:

•            The rate of interest on bank loans is as per directives issued by the Department of Banking Regulation of RBI, from time to time. Priority sector guidelines do not lay down any preferential rate of interest for priority sector loans.

•            The provisions of PSL apply to every Commercial Bank [including Regional Rural Bank (RRB), Small Finance Bank (SFB), Local Area Bank] and Primary (Urban) Co-operative Bank (UCB) other than Salary Earners’ Bank licensed to operate in India by the Reserve Bank of India.

o            All scheduled commercial banks and foreign banks (with a sizable presence in India) are mandated to set aside 40% of their Adjusted Net Bank Credit (ANDC) for lending to these sectors.

o            Regional rural banks, co-operative banks and small finance banks have to allocate 75% of ANDC to PSL.

Priority Sector includes the following categories:

(i) Agriculture

(ii) Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

(iii) Export Credit

(iv) Education

(v) Housing

(vi) Social Infrastructure

(vii) Renewable Energy

(viii) Others


•            Recently, India’s rank improved in the Global Innovation Index (GII) by four places to 48th place in 2020 from 52nd position last year. About GII

•            It has been developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) together with top business universities like Cornell University, INSEAD etc.

•            It measures the innovative capacity and outputs of 131 economies, using 80 indicators ranging from standard measurements such as research and development investments and patent and trademark filings, to mobile phone app creation and high-tech net exports.


Namami Gange Mission

•            Prime Minister recently inaugurated 6 mega development projects in Uttarakhand under the Namami Gange Mission.

•            Six sewage treatment plants were inaugurated at Haridwar, Rishikesh, Muni-kiReti and Badrinath worth over Rs 500 crore.

o            Haridwar-Rishikesh zone contributes about 80% wastewater load into the River Ganga.

•            Ganga Avalokan Museum was also inaugurated which is the first of its kind on the River Ganga at Haridwar.

o            Museum would be a special attraction to pilgrims and it would further enhance the understanding of the heritage associated with Ganga.

Namami Gange Mission

•            It is an Integrated Conservation Mission for river Ganga, approved as ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in 2014 with budget outlay of Rs.20,000 Crore.

•            It is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterparts—State Programme Management Groups


Centre’s flagship Ayushman Bharat health insurance programme has completed two years.

•            It was launched in 2018 as recommended by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

•            It is an attempt to move from sectoral and segmented approach of health service delivery to a comprehensive need-based health care service.

•            It comprises of two inter-related components, which are –

o            Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs)

o            Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs)

•            In February 2018, the Government of India announced the creation of 1,50,000 HWCs by transforming the existing Sub Centres and Primary Health Centres.

•            These centres are to deliver Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) bringing healthcare closer to the homes of people.

•            They cover both, maternal and child health services and non-communicable diseases, including free essential drugs and diagnostic services.

Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)

•            PM-JAY is the largest health assurance scheme in the world which aims at providing a health cover of Rs. 5 lakhs per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization to over 10.74 crores poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) that form the bottom 40% of the Indian population.

o            PM-JAY was earlier known as the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) before being rechristened. It subsumed the then existing Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) which had been launched in 2008.

o            The benefits of INR 5,00,000 are on a family floater basis which means that it can be used by one or all members of the family.

•            The households included are based on the deprivation and occupational criteria of Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011) for rural and urban areas respectively.

•            PMJAY provides cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiary at the point of service in any (both public and private) empanelled hospitals across India.

o            Beneficiaries get an e-card that can be used to avail cashless services at an empaneled hospital (public or private), anywhere in the country.

o            It covers up to 3 days of pre-hospitalization and 15 days post-hospitalization expenses such as diagnostics and medicines.

o            There is no restriction on the family size, age or gender. o Public hospitals are reimbursed for the healthcare services at par with the private hospitals.

•            PM-JAY is fully funded by the Government and cost of implementation is shared between the Central and State Governments.

•            At National level, National Health Authority (NHA) has been set up to implement the scheme.

•            Treatment for COVID-19 can be availed free of cost by eligible beneficiaries.


Recently, National Medical Commission (NMC) was constituted which replaces Medical Council of India (MCI). About National Medical Commission (NMC)

•            NMC has been setup under National Medical Commission Act (NMC Act), 2019 which repealed the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.

o            It was recommended by Prof. Ranjit Roy Chaudhury committee (2015).

•            NMC will consist of 25 members, appointed by the central government. A Search Committee will recommend names to the central government for the post of Chairperson, and the part time members.

•            Functions of NMC

o            framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals,

o            assessing the requirements of healthcare related human resources and infrastructure,

o            ensuring compliance by the State Medical Councils of the regulations made under the Act,

o            framing guidelines for determination of fees for up to 50% of the seats in private medical institutions and deemed universities which are regulated under the Act.


•            Trans fat, or trans-fatty acids, are unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources:

o            Naturally occurring trans-fat come from ruminants (cows and sheep).

o            Industrially produced trans-fat are formed in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil converting the liquid into a solid, resulting in “partially hydrogenated” oil (PHO).

•            Industrially produced trans-fats are found in hardened vegetable fats such as margarine and ghee (clarified butter) and are often present in snack foods, baked goods and fried foods.

•            Manufacturers often use them as they have a longer shelf life and are cheaper than other fats.

•            They are more unhealthy than Saturated fats as they increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while lowering HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.

Steps taken by India against Trans fats

•            India has set targets to reduce the industrially produced trans-fat to less than 2% by the year 2022 in a phased manner, a year ahead of the WHO target. Currently, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) limits trans-fat content in fats and oils to 5 per cent.

•            To achieve the target, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) launched two initiatives:

o            Eat Right Movement is built on two broad pillars of ‘Eat Healthy’ and ‘Eat Safe’. It aims to cut down on salt, sugar and oil consumption by 30% in three years by educating customers.

o            Heart Attack Rewind campaign to warn citizens about the health hazards of consuming trans fats and offer strategies to avoid them through healthier alternatives.

•            Trans Fat Free logo: Food establishments which use trans-fat free fats/oil and do not have industrial trans-fat more than 0.2g/100g of food, can display “Trans-fat free” logo in their outlets and on their food products.


Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission completed six years of orbiting Mars. About Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

•            MOM was the first interplanetary mission of ISRO, launched in 2013 by PSLV-C25 and got inserted into Martian orbit in 2014 in its first attempt.

•            Its scientific objectives include exploration of Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.

•            Technological objectives included deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management.


Recently, India successfully tested the hypersonic technology demonstration vehicle.

•            The test was performed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

•            The test flight took off from the APJ Abdul Kalam Launch Complex (at Wheeler Island), off the Odisha coast, and, after separating from its launch vehicle at an altitude of 30 km, flew at Mach 6 for more than 22 seconds.

o            The launch vehicle used for this flight was the ISRO’s Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV).

•            Apart from India, only three countries have flown a vehicle at hypersonic speeds in the atmosphere- Russia, USA and China.

•            HSTDV is an unmanned demonstration aircraft used for hypersonic flight test.

•            The primary aim of the demonstration vehicle was to test the indigenously developed propulsion system- airbreathing Scramjet engine.



•            Recently, ‘Ghar tak Fibre’ Scheme was inaugurated by the Prime Minister.

•            Ghar Tak Fibre scheme will connect all 45,945 villages of Bihar through optical fibre internet service.

•            The project will lead digital services including eEducation, e-Agriculture, Tele-Medicine, Tele-law and other social security schemes in Bihar ensuring easy access to all state natives.


•            It is given each year for outstanding contributions to science and technology.

•            Disciplines covered are Biological Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Medical Sciences and Physical Sciences.

•            The award is named after the founder Director of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research.


•            Ministry of Tourism has partnered with the Quality Council of India (QCI), to assist the Hospitality Industry through an initiative called SAATHI (System for Assessment, Awareness and Training for Hospitality Industry).

•            It seeks to sensitize the industry on the COVID regulations by the government.


•            NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced their predictions about the new solar cycle, called Solar Cycle 25. It started in December 2019.

•            Sun is a huge ball of electrically-charged hot gas. This charged gas moves, generating a powerful magnetic field. The Sun’s magnetic field goes through a cycle, called the solar cycle.

o            Every 11 years or so, Sun’s magnetic field completely flips. This means that the Sun’s north and south poles switch places.

•            Scientists track a solar cycle by using sunspots. A Sunspot is an area on the Sun that appears dark on the surface as they are relatively cooler than surrounding parts.

o            Beginning of a solar cycle is a solar minimum, or when the Sun has the least sunspots. Over time, solar activity and the number of sunspots increases.

 •           During a solar cycle, giant eruptions on the Sun, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections also increases.

o            Eruptions can have a major effect on radio communications, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) connectivity, power grids, and satellites.


•            India’s second rocket launch pad is being setup in Thoothukudi (formerly known as Tuticorin) district in Tamil Nadu.

•            The project will house one launch pad exclusively for small satellite launch vehicles (SSLV).

•            India presently has one rocket port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh with two launch pads.

•            Why was Thoothukudi chosen?

o            Geostrategic Location: In polar missions, the PSLV from Sriharikota must perform a dogleg manoeuvre (deviation of rocket from straight flight path) to avoid flying over Sri Lanka, to protect it from rocket debris.

▪             Rockets launched from Thoothukudi don’t require this manoeuvre as there is no landmass along the flight path in the southward direction. It will also save the rocket’s fuel as well as improve the payload capability.

  • Proximity to critical infrastructure: Thoothukudi is around 70-100 kms away from ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) in Tirunelveli. This will save time and cost of transportation as compared to Sriharikota launch pad.


•            Recently, a workshop was conducted to mark 20 years of Himalayan Chandra Telescope.

•            It is an optical-infrared telescope that aims to study solar system bodies and star formation in external galaxies.

•            It is installed at Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO), Ladakh.

•            It is remotely operated using a dedicated satellite communication link from the Centre for Research & Education in Science &Technology, Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA).


•            According to some reports SFF, referred to as Vikas Battalion, has been instrumental in occupying some key heights on Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Ladakh.

•            SFF was raised in the immediate aftermath of the 1962 Sino-India war. It was a covert outfit which recruited Tibetans (now it has a mixture of Tibetans and Gorkhas).

o            It falls under the purview of the Cabinet Secretariat.

o            It is nicknamed Establishment 22

•            SFF units are not part of the Army but they function under operational control of the Army.


•            It is a 24×7 Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline to provide support for issues like early screening, first-aid, psychological support, distress management, mental well-being etc.

•            It will offer services in 13 languages.

•            It was launched by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.


•            Month of September every year is celebrated as RashtriyaPoshanMaah.

 •           During this month activities related to nutrition awarenessand POSHAN Abhiyaan will be carried out by all the states/UTs up to the grass root level.

•            POSHAN Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission) is India’s flagship programme, launched in 2018 to improve nutritional status of children, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers.


•            Rules are issued under Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019. Act aims to protect the rights of transgender persons by granting them recognition and making welfare provisions for them.

o            Earlier, Centre had constituted the National Council for Transgender Persons under the act.

•            Key Features are:

o            District Magistrate (DM) will certify the gender of a person based on an affidavit by the applicant, without any medical or physical examination.

o            State governments to constitute welfare boards for transgender persons to protect their rights and interests, and facilitate access to schemes and welfare measures framed by the Centre.

o            Provides for review of all existing educational, social security, health schemes, welfare measures etc. to include transgender persons.

o            State governments are required to take steps to prohibit discrimination of transgender persons in any government or private organisation, or private and public educational institution under their purview

o            Transgender-sensitive infrastructure such as separate wards in hospitals and washrooms be constructed within two years of the Rules being notified.

o            State governments have to set up Transgender Protection Cell to monitor cases of offences against transgender persons.


•            It will help in settlement of disputes through arbitrations in maritime sector, including ports and shipping sector in Major Port Trusts, Non-major Ports, including private ports, jetties, terminals and harbours.

•            It is established under Societies Registration Act, 1860 with following objectives:

o            Affordable and timely resolution of disputes in fair manner.

o            Enrichment of Dispute Resolution Mechanism with panel of technical experts as arbitrators.


•            Ministry of Panchayati Raj has launched this portal to strengthen e-Governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions across the country.

•            It aims to bring in better transparency in the decentralised planning, progress reporting and work-based accounting.

•            It provides a single window for capturing Panchayat information with the complete Profile of the Panchayat, details of Panchayat finances, asset details, activities taken up through Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) etc.

o            For 2020-21, around 2.43 lakh Gram Panchayats have finalized their GPDP on e-Gramswaraj.


•            The Convention, also known as United Nations (UN) Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation, is the first UN treaty to be named after Singapore.

•            Convention applies to international settlement agreements resulting from mediation, concluded by parties to resolve a commercial dispute.

o            It will allow businesses to seek enforcement of a mediated settlement agreement across borders by applying directly to courts of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty.

o            Currently, Convention has 53 signatories, including India, China, and US.