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26 Feb, 2020

10 Min Read

India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership

GS-II : International Relations U.S.A

India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the visit and its highlights; cooperation in various sectors

News: US President Donald Trump concluded his maiden 2-day visit to India.

Key highlights

  • India and the U.S. resolved to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership that will include issues such as defence, security cooperation and revitalisation of the Indo-Pacific quadrilateral dialogue consisting of Japan, the U.S., India and Australia.

  • Both sides also called upon Pakistan to rein in cross-border terror threats and sought justice for the victims of the 26/11 attack and the Pathankot terror attack of 2016.

  • They called for concerted action against all terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, TTP, D Company, and all their affiliates.

  • Both sides also took note of the efforts of the ASEAN region to create a code of conduct in the South China Sea region. They also agreed to undertake development activities in third countries and intensify cooperation in the space domain

  • Both sides had resolved to maintain the Internet as a free and secure arena. India and the United States recognised the need for an innovative digital ecosystem that is secure and reliable and facilitates the flow of information and data.

  • Both countries were also working on cybersecurity and counter-terrorism issues.

Source: The Hindu

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI)


Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, Regulatory and various Quasi-judicial Bodies.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move and its significance; about IRDAI

News: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is considering the possibility of allowing life insurance companies to offer health policies despite opposition from general insurance companies.


  • The IRDAI move follows intense lobbying by private life insurance companies for an entry into the fast-growing health insurance segment.

  • IRDAI (Health Insurance) Regulations 2016 allow life insurance companies to offer benefit based health insurance products only. Representations have been received from life insurance companies to allow them to offer indemnity products as well.

  • Insurance Act, 1938 vide Insurance Laws (Amendment) Act 2015 recognised health Insurance as a separate class of business. Historically, health insurance is recognised as one of the important elements of healthcare and health insurance premiums have been registering a significant compounded annual growth of around 20 per cent in the preceding 10 years in India.

About the move

The regulator has set up a nine-member committee to study the feasibility of allowing life insurers to offer indemnity-based health policies.

Present scenario

As of now, only general insurance firms and specialised health insurance companies are allowed to offer indemnity-based health policies.

Opposition to the move

  1. The General Insurance Council, the apex body of general insurers, has opposed the proposal.

  1. Another complaint against life insurers is mis-selling. The indemnity based health insurance business needs enormous claims handling capacity and that too under very tight time lines which life insurance companies don’t have capability and experience of.

What is an indemnity-based health insurance plan?

  • According to insurance experts, in an indemnity-based health insurance plan, the policyholder is reimbursed the cost of medical expenses. These plans will reimburse the policyholder with the actual amount incurred as expenses during a hospitalisation stay up to the sum insured under the policy. If a policyholder chooses a sum insured amount of Rs 5 lakh and is presented with a hospitalisation bill amounting to Rs 2 lakh, the insurance company will pay out Rs 2 lakh to the policyholder. The policyholder is required to submit hospital bills detailing the expenses incurred during the hospital stay.

  • On the other hand, a fixed benefit health plan is one where a fixed amount of funds (the sum insured) is paid out to cover expenses for a predetermined illness or condition that has been insured.

Health insurance Premium

  • During FY 2017-18, insurance companies collected Rs 37,029 crore as health insurance premium registering a growth of 21.8 per cent over the previous FY 2016-17. The share of group health insurance was the highest at 48 per cent, followed by individual business (41 per cent) and the government business (11 per cent).

  • Five states — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Delhi UT and Gujarat — contributed 68 per cent of total health insurance premium. As per IRDAI Annual Report 2017-18, the insurance sector has covered 48 crore number of lives under health insurance, out of which 36 crore number of persons are covered under various government schemes.

  • The industry has processed 1.6 crore number of health insurance claims during that year. The PMJAY scheme launched in September 2018 had 18 lakh plus pre-authorizations approved amounting to over Rs 2,400 crore as on March 31, 2019. Another major concern in health insurance business is skewed distribution of health business across various states and union territories.


It is an apex statutory body that regulates and develops insurance industry in India. It was constituted as per provisions of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999. It is headquartered in Hyderabad.


  • Protect the rights of insurance policy holders.
  • Provide registration certification to life insurance companies
  • Renew, modify, cancel or suspend this registration certificate as and when appropriate; promote efficiency in conduct of insurance business
  • Promote and regulate professional organisations connected with insurance and reinsurance business; regulate investment of funds by insurance companies
  • Adjudication of disputes between insurers and intermediaries or insurance intermediaries

Source: Indian Express

Arab Spring

GS-II : International Relations West Asia

Arab Spring

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Prelims and Mains focus: on the Arab Spring and its features

News: Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian leader who for nearly 30 years was the resolute face of stability in the Middle East, died on 25th February, ending his days after a swift and ignominious tumble from power in the Arab world’s pro-democracy upheaval.

  • Though Tunisia’s president fell before him, the ouster of Mr. Mubarak was the more stunning collapse in the face of the Arab Spring shaking regimes across the Arab world.

What was the Arab Spring?

  • The Arab Spring was a series of pro-democracy uprisings that enveloped several largely Muslim countries, including Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bahrain.

  • The events in these nations generally began in the spring of 2011, which led to the name. However, the political and social impact of these popular uprisings remains significant today, years after many of them ended.

  • When protests broke out in Tunisia in late 2010 and spread to other countries, there were hopes that the Arab world was in for massive changes.

  • The expectation was that in countries where people rose, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria, the old autocracies would be replaced with new democracies.

  • But Tunisia is the only country where the revolutionaries outwitted the counter-revolutionaries. They overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorship, and the country transitioned to a multi-party democracy.

  • But except Tunisia, the country-specific stories of the Arab uprising were tragic.


  • The Arab uprising was originally triggered by a combination of factors.

  • The economic model based on patronage was crumbling in these countries.

  • The rulers had been in power for decades, and there was popular longing for freedom from their repressive regimes.

  • More importantly, the protests were transnational in nature, though the targets of the revolutionaries were their respective national governments.

  • The driving force behind the protests was pan-Arabist anger against the old system. That’s why it spread like wildfire from Tunis to Cairo, Benghazi and Manama.

  • They may have failed to reshape the Arab political order, but the embers of the uprisings appear to have survived the tragedy of ‘Arab Spring’.

Source: Indian Express

Central Vista Redevelopment project


Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the project; about EAC

News: The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), an apex environmental screening committee has deferred a decision on clearance to the Parliament redevelopment project.


  • This has been done on the grounds that there was a dispute, being heard in the Delhi High Court, regarding the land on which some of the proposed structures were to come up.

  • The petitioner in the Delhi High Court has pleaded that no environment clearance be given, as the alterations which are proposed will involve land-use change not in conformity with Delhi’s Master Plan.

  • The petitioner also prayed that no permission be granted to cut trees for the expansion and renovation of the Parliament building,

About Parliament redevelopment project

  • It is part of the Central Vista Redevelopment project and involves redeveloping the 3-km stretch from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the India Gate in Lutyens’ Delhi.

  • The revamp, which was announced in September, envisages a new triangular Parliament building that is targeted to be constructed by August 2022, when the country will be celebrating its 75th Independence Day.

Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Environment Ministry

  • Recommendations of EACs, expert committees appointed by the Environment Ministry play a crucial role in the Ministry’s decision to clear a developmental/infrastructure project.

  • The EACs’ primary role in the environmental clearance (EC) process is to give recommendations to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on project proposals after considering the potential impacts of the project.

  • Based on these recommendations, the MoEFCC either rejects the proposal or grants a clearance with conditions which would mitigate the impacts or compensate for the same.

What is the process of getting an Environmental Clearance (EC)? What kinds of projects require one?

  • The Central Government issued a Notification under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 on 14 September, 2006 requiring certain categories of projects to obtain an EC prior to commencing any project work. This Notification is popularly referred to as the EIA Notification 2006 as EIA studies form an important part of the EC process.

  • The categories of projects that require a prior EC, listed in the Schedule to the EIA Notification, include thermal power projects, river valley power/irrigation projects, mining, industries, airports, highways, solid waste management projects, etc. Depending on the size and capacity of these projects, the EC is either sought from the MoEFCC or from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), which is constituted by the Central Government in each state for this purpose.

  • The EC process begins with the project proponent submitting an application with relevant information about the proposed project to the relevant regulatory authority (the MoEFCC or the SEIAA). The next stage is the issuance of detailed and comprehensive Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the preparation of an EIA report by the project proponent. The EACs may intervene to amend standardised ToRs to address specific issues with regard to particular projects.

  • The draft EIA report prepared by the project proponent, based on the ToRs and other relevant documents, is then made available in the public domain (offices of local and regional authorities and official websites) for public consultation. Certain projects are exempt from the public consultation process, and these are listed in the EIA Notification. The outcome of the public consultation is sent to the project proponent who is expected to respond to the material concerns raised and finalise the draft EIA report.

  • The final EIA report, the outcome of the public consultation (including minutes and video recording of the hearing), and other relevant documents are then appraised by an EAC. The EAC is expected to undertake a detailed scrutiny of the documents and the project proponent’s presentation, and then recommend the proposal for grant (or rejection) of EC or recommend additional studies before making a final decision. Based on the EAC’s recommendations, the MoEFCC issues its final decision. The MoEFCC normally accepts these recommendations, but it could disagree and ask the EAC to reconsider its recommendations.

Source: The Hindu

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