21 December, 2019

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GS-I : Indian Society Population, Urbanization, Globalization
After Bengal, Kerala govt puts NPR on hold

Syllabus subtopic: Role of women and women's organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.


Prelims and Mains focus: about National Population Register (NPR), its significance and the controversy around it


News: THE CPI(M)-led government in Kerala on Friday ordered a ‘stay (on) all the activities connected with the updation of National Population Register (NPR) in the state forthwith’.


  • Earlier this week, the TMC government in West Bengal had put on hold the NPR updation process amid fears that it was the ‘first step’ to the National Register of Citizens (NRC).


  • Citing similar fears, the order in Kerala, issued by the General Administration Department, said the decision was taken ‘considering the apprehension among the general public about the conduct of National Population Register-related activities lead(ing) to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act.’


About National Population Register (NPR):

  • It is a Register of usual residents of the country.
  • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  • Definition: A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.
  • The NPR database would contain demographic as well as biometric details.
  • As per the provisions of the NPR, a resident identity card (RIC) will be issued to individuals over the age of 18. This will be a chip-embedded smart card containing the demographic and biometric attributes of each individual. The UID number will also be printed on the card.



The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.



  • The NPR updation is to be done across India (except Assam) from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020, along with the next Census enumeration.
  • The first phase of Census operations, which includes house listing, house census and updation of NPR, was slated to take place in April-May next year.

Source: Indian Express

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ICC to investigate alleged war crimes in Palestinian territories

Syllabus subtopic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


Prelims and Mains focus: about ICC and its powers; difference between ICC and ICJ; Israel-Palestine dispute


News: The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said on Friday she will launch a full investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, which could include charges against Israelis or Palestinians.

The preliminary examination into alleged war crimes, opened in 2015, had rendered enough information to meet all criteria for opening an investigation.


Israel’s stand

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said the ICC has no jurisdiction to investigate in the Palestinian territories. The ICC only has jurisdiction over petitions submitted by sovereign states. But there has never been a Palestinian state.


About ICC


Difference between ICC and ICJ








Official court of U.N, commonly known as “World Court”.

Independent. Not governed by U.N. Can receive referrals from UNSC. Can initiate prosecution without UN action.


Peace Palace , Hague



U.N Member states. Can give advisory opinions to UN bodies. Cannot try individuals. Applies International Law

Individuals accused of international crimes. Uses International Law, as war crimes violate Geneva Convention.


Sovereignty, boundary disputes, maritime disputes, trade, natural resources, human rights, treaty violations, treaty interpretation, etc.

Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of aggression.


States that ratify the U.N. Charter become parties to the ICJ Statute. Non-UN member states can also become parties to the ICJ by ratifying the ICJ Statute.

Rome Statute


ICJ decision is binding. UNSC can review if states do not comply.

Appeals Chamber, according to Rome Statute.


U.N funded

contribution from state parties to the Rome Statute; voluntary contributions from the U.N; voluntary contributions from governments, international organizations, individuals, corporations and other entitie


Source: Indian Express

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GS-II : International Relations U.S.A
India, US conclude Industrial Security Annex

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India's interests

Prelims and Mains focus: about Industrial Security Annex and its significance in Indo-US relations, 2+2 dialogue


News: India and the US have concluded the Industrial Security Annex agreement, which will facilitate collaboration between defence industries by supporting the secure transfer of key information and technology.


Industrial Security Annex

  • ISA will enable smooth transfer of classified technology and information between private entities of the U.S. and India.
  • The ISA is a part of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), which India signed with the U.S. long back.


Indo-US 2+2 dialogue

  • The ‘2+2’ dialogue is a meeting between the India Ministers for External Affairs and Defence, and the US Secretaries of State and Defence to focus on “strengthening strategic, security and defence cooperation” between the two countries.


Other agreements signed during the 2+2 dialogue are

  • Finalisation of Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which will harmonise the two side’s processes for identification, development and execution of projects under the DTTI.


  • Tiger Triumph Exercise: It has been decided to hold the India-U.S. joint tri-services and amphibious exercise ‘Tiger Triumph’ on an annual basis. It was first held in November 2019 as a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise.


  • Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI): USA announced its commitment to being the founding member of the CDRI whose headquarters will be located in India.


Tough task at hand

India and the US have concluded an important defence pact, and have called for Pakistan to act against terrorism. While these are positive outcomes, the two sides tried to underplay the lack of progress on trade deal and the concern in Washington on the recent political turmoil. Delhi and Washington have a tough task at hand to keep their ties from not being affected by these challenges.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-III : Economic Issues Banking
Bond yields see steepest fall in two months on Reserve Bank’s Operation Twist

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Prelims and Mains focus: About Operation Twist and its significance; RBI: structure and functions


News: The yield on the 10-year government bond fell 15 basis points on Friday, its steepest fall in two months, after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) conducted a special open market operation—simultaneously buying long tenor bonds and selling short-tenor government bonds—dubbed ‘Operation Twist’ by the market.



The concept was drawn from US Federal Reserve’s Operation Twist that was announced in September 2011 and ran through end-2012 to make long-term borrowing cheaper and spur bank lending. The Fed had swapped short-term bonds for longer-term debt. The policy was effective as the term premium dropped to a low of 33 bps in mid-2012, from around 70 bps.


Objective of Operation Twist

The simultaneous sale and purchase operation has a two-pronged objective:

  • Lowering the steep term premium at the longer end of the yield curve despite the RBI’s accommodative monetary policy, and
  • Surplus systemic liquidity and correcting yields at the shorter end, which had dropped below the benchmark rate of 5.15%.

The yield on the 2029 benchmark bond fell as much as 15 bps to 6.604%, the steepest fall since 9 October. While the yield on the 14-year government paper slid 20 bps, the yield on the 2020 bond jumped 5 bps. One basis point is a hundredth of a percentage point.

The RBI on Thursday said it will purchase Rs.10,000 crore of the 10-year benchmark bonds, and sell an equal amount of debt maturing in 2020 through an auction on 23 December, making Operation Twist liquidity-neutral.


Significance of the move

  • Operation Twist was aimed at bringing longer term yields lower. Despite the 135 bps repo rate cut in the current cycle (between February and December 2019), the spread between 10-year bond yield and the repo has widened to 170 bps, much higher than the average spread of 55 bps during the 2015-2017 easing.
  • The so-called twist announced will supply more securities to the market in the tenor segment where liquidity was influencing buying interest (up to 1 year), and purchase segments where market liquidity wasn’t converting to risk capital.
  • RBI announced the special open  market operation to boost transmission, akin to a ‘twist’ to change the maturity profile of its holding of government bonds .
  • The policy stance is accommodative to support growth. Bonds have been under pressure over the past few sessions after S&P warned that it may downgrade India’s debt, and indications of a pause by the RBI after an aggressive rate cut cycle. Between 4 December, the day before the policy statement, and 19 December, the 10-year bond yield had jumped over 30 bps.


Way ahead

Analysts will now await the Union budget to see if the government is able to meet its fiscal deficit targets.

While the current operations of the RBI may temporarily start reining in term spreads, the government also needs to actively court foreign capital to part-finance its deficit, at least in the near term. This can be rule-based to avoid risk of excesses, but must be done for now given the stark paucity of domestic savings.


About RBI

  • Prior to establishment of RBI, the functions of a central bank were virtually being done by the Imperial Bank of India. RBI started its operations from April 1, 1935. It was established via the RBI act 1934, so it is also known as a statutory body. Similarly, SBI is also a statutory body deriving its legality from SBI Act 1935.


  • RBI did not start as a Government owned bank but as a privately held bank without major government ownership. It started with a Share Capital of Rs. 5 Crore, divided into shares of Rs. 100 each fully paid up. In the beginning, this entire capital was owned by private shareholders. Out of this Rs. 5 Crore, the amount of Rs. 4,97,8000 was subscribed by the private shareholders while Rs. 2,20,000 was subscribed by central government.


  • After independence, the government passed Reserve Bank (Transfer to Public Ownership) Act, 1948 and took over RBI from private shareholders after paying appropriate compensation. Thus, nationalization of RBI took place in 1949 and from January 1, 1949, RBI started working as a government owned bank.



Hilton Young Commission

Hilton-Young Commission was the Royal Commission on Indian Currency and Finance set up by British Government of India in 1920s. In 1926, this commission had recommended to the government to create a central bank in the country. On the basis of mainly this commission, the RBI act was passed.


Headquarters of RBI

Original headquarters of RBI were in Kolkata, but in 1937, it was shifted to Shahid Bhagat Singh Marg, Mumbai.


Main functions of RBI
  • To work as monetary authority and implement its Monetary Policy
  • To serve as issuer of bank notes
  • Serve as banker to central and state governments
  • Serve as debt manager to central and state governments
  • Provide ways and means advances to the state governments
  • Serve as banker to the banks and lender of last resort (LORL) for them
  • Work as supervisor and regulator of the banking & financial system
  • Management of Foreign Exchange Reserves of the country
  • Support the government in development of the country

Source: mint

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Pinaka missile system successfully flight-tested

Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


Prelims and Mains focus: About Pinaka missile system and its role in India’s defence system


News: India successfully conducted test firing of the indigenously developed Pinaka missile system for the second consecutive day on Friday from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur off the Odisha coast.

Both the missiles were fired to engage a target located at 20-kilometre range and high accuracy was achieved.


About Pinaka missile system

  • Pinaka rocket systems are developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The rocket system was named after Pinaka, the bow of Lord Shiva.
  • It was initially a 30 to 40 km range rocket. Its range was increased 70 to 80 km with Pinaka Mark II.



About DRDO

  • The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) was established in 1958 by amalgamating the Technical Development Establishment and the Directorate of Technical Development and Production with the Defence Science Organisation.
  • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India headquartered in New Delhi.
  • It works with a network of 52 laboratories, which are engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, land combat engineering, life sciences, materials, missiles, and naval systems.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III : Economic Issues Others
Land area requirements norms for SEZs relaxed

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.


Prelims and Mains focus: about the recent amendment and its objective; about SEZs and its significance in boosting India’s economy


News: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Friday amended the existing legal framework for special economic zones (SEZ) in India, in a move expected to make it easier to attract investments and boost exports.


About the amendment

  • The amendments simplify and relax the minimum land area requirement to set up an SEZ and their categorization.


  • Consequent to three recent amendments, the minimum land area required for setting up a multi-product SEZ has been revised to 50 hectares (ha) from 500 ha earlier.


  • In case an SEZ is to be set up in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Goa or in a union territory, area shall be 25 ha or more.


  • Minimum built-up area requirements for services have also been significantly reduced.


  • Following the amendments, all existing and new SEZs become multi-sector SEZs, thereby enabling coexistence of a SEZ unit from any sector along with any other SEZ unit.



  • The Parliament passed the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2019 earlier this year.
  • It amends the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005 and replaces an Ordinance that was promulgated on March 2, 2019. 
  • The Act provides for the establishment, development and management of Special Economic Zones for the promotion of exports.
  • Definition of person:  Under the Act, the definition of a person includes an individual, a Hindu undivided family, a company, a co-operative society, a firm, or an association of persons.  The Bill adds two more categories to this definition by including a trust, or any other entity which may be notified by the central government.


About SEZs

  • Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are geographically delineated ‘enclaves’ in which regulations and practices related to business and trade differ from the rest of the country and therefore all the units therein enjoy special privileges.


  • The basic idea of SEZs emerges from the fact that, while it might be very difficult to dramatically improve infrastructure and business environment of the overall economy ‘overnight’, SEZs can be built in a much shorter time, and they can work as efficient enclaves to solve these problems.


  • The SEZ Act, 2005, provides the legal framework for establishment of SEZs and also for units operating in such zones.


  • The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy in India first came into inception on April 1, 2000. The prime objective was to enhance foreign investment and provide an internationally competitive and hassle free environment for exports. The idea was to promote exports from the country and realising the need that level playing field must be made available to the domestic enterprises and manufacturers to be competitive globally.

Source: The Hindu

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