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10 Mar, 2021

53 Min Read

National Social Assistance Programme

GS-I : Social issues Social inclusion

National Social Assistance Programme

  • NSAP stands for National Social Assistance Programme. NSAP was launched on 15th August, 1995. It is under Ministry of Rural Development.
  • The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) represents a significant step towards the fulfillment of the Directive Principles in Article 41 and 42 of the Constitution recognizing the concurrent responsibility of the Central and the State Governments in the matter.
  • In particular, Article 41 of the Constitution of India directs the State to provide public assistance to its citizens in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement and in other cases of undeserved want within the limit of its economic capacity and development.

Objective of NSAP

  • National Social Assistance Programme is a social security and welfare programme to provide support to aged persons, widows, disabled persons and bereaved families on death of primary bread winner, belonging to below poverty line households.

Components of NSAP

The NSAP at its inception in 1995 had three components namely

  • National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS,
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) and
  • National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS). The National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS) was subsequently transferred on 1st April, 2001 from the Ministry of Rural development to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

On 1st April, 2000 a new Scheme known as Annapurna Scheme was launched. This scheme aimed at providing food security to meet the requirement of those senior citizens who, though eligible, have remained uncovered under the NOAPS.

In February 2009, two new Schemes known as Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS) and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS) were introduced.

Presently NSAP comprises of five schemes, namely –

  • Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS): For individuals aged 60 years and above living Below the Poverty Line. They shall get Rs. 200 per month for beneficiaries aged 60-79 and Rs. 500 per month for those 80 years and above.
  • Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWPS): Widows aged 40 years and above living Below the Poverty Line. They shall get Rs. 300 per month and Rs. 500 for thoses 80 years and above.
  • Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme (IGNDPS): Individuals aged 18 years and above with more than 80% disability and living below the poverty line. They shall get Rs. 300 per month and Rs. 500 for those 80 years and above.
  • National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS): In the event of the death of a bread winner, the family will receive a lumpsum assistance of Rs. 20000. The bread winner should have been between 18-60 years of age. The assistance would be provided in every case of death of a bread winner in a household.
  • Annapurna Scheme: This scheme aims to provide food security to meet the requirement of those senior citizens who, though eligible, have remained uncovered under the IGNOAPS. Under the Annapurna Scheme, 10 kg of free rice is provided every month to each beneficiary.

Proposal to increase the pensions of NSAP

  • The Centre must increase the “meagre” pensions provided for poor senior citizens, widows and disabled people, said the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development in its report submitted to the Lok Sabha.
  • The panel also slammed the government’s “laxity in raising the amount”, pointing out that recommendations to increase the sums had been made in the last two years as well.
  • The panel pointed out that it had previously urged the increase of these miniscule pensions in its reports on the Department of Rural Development’s (DoRD) demand for grants in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

Source: TH

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act cases rose by 72% from 2015

GS-III : Internal security Internal security

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act cases rose by 72% from 2015

  • There has been over 72% increase in the number of persons arrested under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Act) in 2019 compared to year 2015, data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in the Lok Sabha show.
  • As many as 1,948 persons were arrested under the UAPA in 1,226 cases registered across the country in 2019.
  • From 2015 till 2018, the cases registered under the Act annually stood at 897, 922, 901 and 1,182 respectively, while the number of arrests was 1,128, 999, 1,554 and 1,421.
  • In 2019, the highest number of such cases were registered in Manipur (306), followed by Tamil Nadu (270), Jammu & Kashmir (255), Jharkhand (105) and Assam (87) cases.
  • The highest number of arrests in the same year were made in Uttar Pradesh (498), followed by Manipur (386), Tamil Nadu (308), Jammu & Kashmir (227) and Jharkhand (202).
  • Cases under the UAPA are investigated by the State police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA). As far as the NIA is concerned, so far 48 special courts have been constituted across the country for the speedy trial of terror-related cases.

Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967

  • Unlawful Activity refers to any action taken by individual or association whether by action/ words spoken/ written/signs to questions disrupts the territorial integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • The UAPA, an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act - POTA (repealed in 2004) was originally passed in the year 1967. It was enacted during Indira Gandhi.
  • Till the year 2004, “unlawful" activities referred to actions related to secession and cession of territory. Following the 2004 amendment, “terrorist act" was added to the list of offences.
  • The Act assigns absolute power to the central government, by way of which if the Centre deems an activity as unlawful then it may, by way of an Official Gazette, declare it so.
  • The National Integration Council (headed by PM) appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation. Pursuant to this Committee, 16th CAA, 1963 was enacted to impose, by law, reasonable restrictions in Art 19 (Speech, Asso, Assembly) in the interests of integrity and sovereignty of India. And to implement the provisions of 1963 CAA, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was enacted in 1967.

Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019

  1. It empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists if the person commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism or is otherwise involved in terrorism.
  2. This has been done as it is seen that when a terrorist organization is banned, its members form a new organization to spread terrorism.
  3. The bill also empowers the Director-General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is being investigated by the agency.
  4. Under the existing Act, the investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police (DGP) to seize properties that bear any connection to terrorism.
  5. It has been seen that many times a terror accused own properties in different states. In such cases, seeking approval of DGPs of different states becomes very difficult, and the delay caused by the same may enable the accused to transfer properties.
  6. It empowers the officers of the NIA of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
  7. The existing Act provides for investigation of cases to be conducted by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent or Assistant Commissioner of Police or above.
  8. No changes being made in arrest or bail provisions. Also, the provision that the burden of proof is on the investigating agency and not on the accused, has not been changed.
  9. The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005) has also been added in the Second Schedule through the Amendment.

UAPA, 1967

NIA Amendment Act, 2019

  1. It aims at effective prevention of unlawful activities across India and abroad.
  2. Its main objective was to provide powers to Central Agencies and States to deal with terrorist activities directed against integrity and sovereignty of India.
  3. Center may designate an organization as a terrorist organization.
  4. It is applicable across the entire country.
  5. Any Indian or Foreign National charged under UAPA is liable for punishment under UAPA, 1967.
  6. It is applicable even if the crime is committed on a foreign land, outside India.
  7. Persons on ships and aircrafts registered in India.
  1. It amended Schedule 4 of UAPA which will allow NIA to designate Individuals as terrorist.
  2. It empowers DG of NIA to seize properties (which previously required permission from DGP).
  3. It allows NIA officers (Inspector and above) to investigate the cases. Earlier only DSP or ACP and above could investigate.
  4. MHA declared 4 individuals as terrorists
    1. Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar
    2. Lashkar e Taiba - Hafiz Saeed, Rehman Lakhvi
    3. Dawood Ibrahim


  • According to NCRB data, 922 cases were reported under UAPA in 2016, which was 5% less than 2014 (976 cases).
  • India faces 1 of the highest threats of terrorism and hence, anti terrorism mechanism must be stringent.
  • NIA is a specialized agency and cannot be dependent on state police for approval of seizure of property.
  • It would quicken the delivery of justice.
  • It would address the activities done by Lone Wolf who does not belong to any organization.
  • It would also give impetus to India's demand to designate Masood Azhar and Hafiz Saeed as terrorists in International Org.
  • But on the other hand, there are concerns of misuse of unfettered powers given to investigative agencies. Opposition says it could also be used against political opponents.

National Investigating Agency

  • NIA is a Central agency established by NIA Act, 2008 (after Mumbai attacks) to combat terror in India.
  • It comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • NIA acts as the Central Counter Terrorism Law Enforcement Agency.
  • It is authorised to investigate any terror related matter without special permission of the States.
  • The founding DG of NIA was Radha Vinod Raju. Currently Y C Modi is the chief.
  • Functions
    1. To investigate terror related cases or to make strategy to combat terrorism.
    2. To study and analyse laws related to terrorism in other countries and evaluate and amend Indian laws.
    3. To investigate and prosecute offences affecting sovereignty, integrity, security of the State.
    4. To have friendly relations with Foreign countries and International org.
    5. To implement International treaties, agreements and conventions.
  • NIA has banned JeM, LeT, PLA, SIMI, Babbar Khalsa International, ULFA, NDFB (Assam), LTTE, TNLA etc.
  • NIA (Amendment), 2019
    1. Ambit of NIA increased to investigate Human Trafficking, Counterfeit currency, Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, Cyber Terrorism and Offenses under Explosive Substances Act, 1998.
    2. Jurisdiction of NIA increased. They can investigate offences committed outside India. It will be subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
    3. Center and State can designate Session Courts as Special Courts to conduct trials under NIA Act. This will be done in consultation with CJHC of the respective State.

Way Forward

  • It is important to set up a Review Committee to examine this process for fairness and objectivity.
  • There is a greater role for judiciary to carefully examine cases of misuse. Also Judicial Review.
  • There should be balance between individual freedom and state obligation to provide security.

Source: TH

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle Planned by ISRO for April, 2021

GS-III : S&T Space

  • The maiden flight of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) - ISRO’s compact launcher - will be made soon.
  • SSLV will meet the “launch on demand” requirements in a cost-effective manner for small satellites in a dedicated and ride-share mode.
  • It is a 3-stage all solid vehicle that can launch up to 500 kg satellite into 500 km Low Earth Orbit and 300 kg into Sun Synchronous Orbit.
  • With lower per kg launch cost, the mini launcher will have multiple satellite mounting options for nano, micro and small satellites.
  • SSLV can be assembled in 3 days (PSLV needs 60 days).

Source: TH

Dams on Brahmaputra River Cleared in China's 5-Year Plan

GS-II : International Relations China

  • A draft of 14th China’s new Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) has permitted first dams to be built on the lower basin of Yarlung Zangbo river (Brahmaputra’s name in Tibet), before it flows into India.
  • It calls for building a hydropower base on the lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river and clean energy bases in the Jinsha River.
  • Jinsha River is the upper course of Yangtze river in western China.
  • The project is also listed along with the Sichuan-Tibet railway and the national water network.

Brahmaputra River System




Tsangpo (meaning ‘The Purifier’)


Yarlung Zangbo Jiangin

Assam Valley

Dihang or Siong, South of Sadiya: Brahmaputra


Jamuna River

Padma River: Combined Waters of Ganga and Brahmaputra

Meghana: From the confluence of Padma and Meghna

  • The Brahmaputra (meaning the son of Brahma).
  • It is 2,900 km in length.
  • Source: Chemayungdung glacier (Kailas Range) at an elevation of about 5,150 m. It’s source is very close to the sources of Indus and Satluj.
  • Mariam La separates the source of the Brahmaputra from the Manasarovar Lake.
  • Inspite of the exceptionally high altitude, the Tsangpo has a gentle slope.
  • It receives a large number of tributaries in Tibet. The first major tributary is the Raga Tsangpo meeting the Tsangpo near Lhatse Dzong.
  • Towards the end of its journey in Tibet, its course abruptly takes a south ward turn around Namcha Barwa (7,756 m)(Syntaxial Bend).
  • Here it cuts across the eastern Himalaya through the Dihang or Siang Gorge and emerges from the mountains near Sadiya in the Assam Valley.
  • In the north-eastern parts of Assam Valley, it is joined by two important tributaries viz, the Dibang (or Sikang) from the north and Lohit from the south.
  • From Sadiya (Assam Valley) onwards, this mighty river is known as the Brahmaputra.
  • The main streams merging with the Brahmaputra from the north are, Subansiri, Kameng, Dhansiri (north), Raidak, Tista etc..
  • The Tista was a tributary of the Ganga prior to the floods of 1787 after which it diverted its course eastwards to join the Brahmaputra.
  • The river forms many islands, the most important of which is MAJULI.
  • With rainfall concentrated during the monsoon months only the river has to carry enormous quantities of water and silt which results in disastrous floods. The Brahmaputra is thus truly a River of Sorrow.
  • The river is navigable upto Dibrugarh from its mouth and serves as an excellent inland water transport route.
  • Brahmaputra bends southwards and enters Bangladesh near Dhubri.

Source: TH

Compressed Biogas Plants

GS-III : Biodiversity & Environment Sustainable development

Under the Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT) scheme, Oil and Gas Marketing Companies (OGMCs) invited entrepreneurs to procure Compressed Bio Gas (CBG).

Under this scheme, provisions are,

  • Assured price for offtake of CBG with long term agreements by OGMCs;
  • Inclusion of bio manures produced from CBG plants as Fermented Organic Manure (FOM) under Fertilizer Control Order 1985;
  • Inclusion of CBG projects under Priority Sector Lending by RBI.
  • So far, 9 CBG plants have been commissioned and started supply of CBG in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
  • Technology for a plant is chosen by the entrepreneurs depending upon various factors including feedstock techno-commercial feasibility, etc.

Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation (SATAT)

  • It was launched by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 2018.
  • It will promote the use of Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) production plants and make available CBG in the market for use in automotive fuels.
  • It will be launched in association with PSU oil marketing companies, which invites potential entrepreneurs to set up CBG plants.

Source: TH

Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre

GS-III : Internal security Cyber Security

Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre:

  • It is set up under the newly created Cyber and Information Security (CIS) division of the MHA.

It has seven components:

  1. National Cyber Crime Threat Analytics Unit
  2. National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal
  3. National Cyber Crime Training Centre
  4. Cyber Crime Ecosystem Management Unit
  5. National Cyber Crime Research and Innovation Centre
  6. National Cyber Crime Forensic Laboratory Ecosystem
  7. Platform for Joint Cyber Crime Investigation Team.


  • The I4C will assist in centralising cyber security investigations, prioritise the development of response tools and bring together private companies to contain the menace.


  1. To act as a nodal point in the fight against cybercrime
  2. Identify the research problems and take up R&D activities in developing new technologies and forensic tools in collaboration with academia / research institutes within India and abroad
  3. To prevent misuse of cyber space for furthering the cause of extremist and terrorist groups
  4. Suggest amendments, if required, in cyber laws to keep pace with fast changing technologies and International cooperation
  5. To coordinate all activities related to implementation of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) with other countries related to cybercrimes in consultation with the concerned nodal authority in MHA.

Source: TH

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN)

GS-III : S&T Health

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN)

Importance of Health

  • Health is vital for improved developmental outcomes. From an economic standpoint, better health improves productivity, and reduces losses due to premature death, prolonged disability and early retirement.
  • Health and Nutrition also directly impact scholastic achievements and have a bearing on productivity and income. Health Outcomes depend substantially on public spending on health.
  • One extra year of population life expectancy raises GDP per capita by 4%, Investment in health creates millions of jobs, largely for women, through a much needed expansion of the health workforce
  • In the budget speech 2018, the Finance Minister while announcing Ayushman Bharat Scheme, also announced replacement of existing 3% Education Cess by 4% Health and Education Cess.

Cabinet approved creation of PMSSN as a single non-lapsable reserve fund for share of Health from the proceeds of Health and Education Cess levied under Section 136-b of Finance Act, 2007.

Salient features of the PMSSN

  • A non-lapsable reserve fund for Health in the Public Account;
  • Proceeds of share of health in the Health and Education Cess will be credited into PMSSN;
  • Accruals into the PMSSN will be utilized for the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare namely,
  • Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY)
  • Ayushman Bharat - Health and Wellness Centres (AB-HWCs)
  • National Health Mission
  • Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)
  • Emergency & disaster preparedness and responses during health emergencies
  • Any future programme/scheme that targets to achieve progress towards SDGs and the targets set out in the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017.
  • Administration and maintenance of the PMSSN is entrusted to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare; and
  • In any financial year, the expenditure on such schemes of the MoHFW would be initially incurred from the PMSSN and thereafter, from Gross Budgetary Support (GBS).
  • The major benefit will be: enhanced access to universal & affordable health care through availability of earmarked resources, while ensuring that the amount does not lapse at the end of financial year.

Source: PIB

Agriculture Voltage Technology

GS-III : Economic Issues Agriculture

  • Agri-voltaic system of 105 KW capacity was developed by ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur.
  • This technology can increase the income of farmers by generation of electricity and growing of cash crops simultaneously on the same piece of land.
  • Under component-I of KUSUM scheme, there is a provision for installation of agri-voltaic system in farmers’ fields with a capacity ranging from 500 KW to 2 MW.

KUSUM Scheme:

  • Launched by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for farmers for installation of solar pumps and grid connected solar and other renewable power plants in the country.


  • The scheme aims to add solar and other renewable capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022 .


  • Component A: 10,000 MW of Decentralized Ground Mounted Grid Connected Renewable Power Plants of individual plant size up to 2 MW.
  • Component B: Installation of 17.50 lakh standalone Solar Powered Agriculture Pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.
  • Component C: Solarisation of 10 Lakh Grid-connected Agriculture Pumps of individual pump capacity up to 7.5 HP.


  • State Nodal Agencies(SNAs) of MNRE will coordinate with States/UTs, Discoms and farmers for implementation of the scheme.


  • The scheme will open a stable and continuous source of income to the rural land owners for a period of 25 years by utilisation of their dry/uncultivable land.
  • Cultivated fields are chosen for setting up solar power project, the farmers could continue to grow crops as the solar panels are to be set up above a minimum height.
  • Scheme would ensure that sufficient local solar/ other renewable energy based power is available for feeding rural pump-set loads, which require power mostly during the day time.
  • As these power plants will be located closer to the agriculture loads or to electrical substations in a decentralized manner, it will result in reduced Transmission losses for STUs and Discoms.
  • The solar pumps will save the expenditure incurred on diesel for running diesel pump and provide the farmers a reliable source of irrigation.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) was established on 16 July 1929 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • It is an autonomous organisation under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India.
  • It is headquartered at New Delhi.
  • It is the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture including horticulture, fisheries and animal sciences in the entire country.

Source: PIB

India's Satellite Man- Udupi Ramachandra Rao

GS-I : Art and Culture Persons in News

  • To commemorate the 89th birth anniversary of the former Chairman of (ISRO) Udupi Ramachandra Rao, Google Doodle featured his sketch with a background of Earth and stars.
  • Rao was an Indian space scientist and chairman of ISRO who supervised the 1975 launch of India’s first satellite — “Aryabhata.”
  • In 1991, he initiated the development of the geostationary launch vehicle GSLV and the development of cryogenic technology.

Source: TH

Covid-19 Vaccine Passport

GS-II : International Relations International issues

What is a Covid-19 vaccine passport?

  • A vaccination pass or passport is documentation proving that the individual has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
  • As more people are inoculated, there will likely be aspects of public life in which only people who have been vaccinated are allowed to participate.
  • In order to travel internationally, government and health authorities will need to know if you have been vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus.

Source: TH

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