A recent independent World Bank assessment of the Pradhan
Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has noted that the scheme led to a shift
from farm to non-farm employment particularly among men in the habitations
studied between 2009 and 2017.
The report also noted that due to improved connectivity there
has been a positive impact on child immunisation, childbirths in
hospitals, and schooling of both boys and girls in rural areas
PMGSY was launched in 2000. The scheme is under the aegis of
Ministry of Rural Development.
It aims to provide connectivity, by way of an All-weather Road
to the eligible unconnected habitations of designated population size
(500+ in plain areas and 250+ in North-East, hill, tribal and desert
Recently, the government has approved the launch of Phase-3 of
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
Under the PMGSY-III Scheme, the government has proposed to
consolidate roads measuring 1.25 lakh km in length in the states.
Further, construction of bridges of up to 150m in plain areas
and 200 m in Himalayan and north eastern states have been proposed.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an order
prohibiting the manufacture, sale and distribution of colistin and its
formulations for food producing animals, poultry and aqua farms.
Colistin is a polypeptide antibiotic from the group of
polymyxins. It is predominantly used in veterinary medicine in the
treatment of intestinal diseases as well as other infections. The drug has
been highly misused in India’s poultry industry.
In humans, it is used as a last line therapy to treat
infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. According
to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Colistin is a “reserve”
The prohibition comes as an effort to curb the growing menace
of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). One of the major cause of AMR is the
rampant use of antibiotics in livestock animals and poultry.
A 2017 global study on antibiotic use in farm animals projected
the consumption of antibiotics through animal sources to nearly double
The study had ranked India the fourth largest consumer of
antibiotics in food animals globally after China, the United States and
Anti-microbial resistance is the ability of a microorganism
(like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an
antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and
antimalarial) from working against it.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises AMR as a serious
threat to global public health.
There have been protests in Hawaii over Thirty Meter Telescope
(TMT) – a proposed astronomical observatory with an extremely large
telescope (ELT). It is proposed to be built on Mauna Kea, a dormant
volcano and the highest point in Hawaii.
The protests are taking place as Mauna Kea is considered to be
a sacred ground by native Hawaiians. Spain’s Canary Islands is a backup
site, if the TMT cannot be built on Mauna Kea.
The Thirty Meter Telescope is called so because of its 30 m
prime mirror diameter.
The TMT is being designed and developed by the TMT
International Observatory LLC (TIO) – a non-profit international
partnership of institutions from the USA, Japan, China, India and Canada.
India will contribute about 10% of the cost of building the telescope and
The TMT will provide information about the nature of
“first-light” objects and their effects on the universe’s evolution. It
will also observe the formation and development of the large-scale
structures by looking at faint distant galaxies and the intergalactic
medium, providing information the nature of dark matter that are
inaccessible using any other techniques.
It will also help detect and investigate black holes that
reside in the center of many distant galaxies, and study in detail the
black hole in the center of Milky Way.
TMT will also help in advancing knowledge of the physical
processes that lead to star and planet formation.
The Jal Shakti Ministry has told the Parliament that only 18%
of India’s rural households have access to piped water.
The Ministry has also reiterated that it aims to supply piped
water to all rural households under its Jal Jeevan Mission.
Jal Jeevan Mission seeks to provide safe and adequate drinking
water through individual household tap connections (HarGharJal) to
all rural households by 2024
The Mission will focus on integrated demand and supply-side
management of water at the local level. It seeks to implement source
sustainability measures recharge and reuse through grey water management,
water conservation, rain water harvesting.
The Jal Jeevan Mission seeks to converge with other Central and
State Government Schemes to achieve its objectives of sustainable water
supply management across India.
ISRO has announced that Chandrayaan-2’s targeted landing date
on the lunar South Pole is September 7th. The launch of
Chandrayaan-2, which was scheduled to be launched on July 15th,
was aborted after a technical snag in the launch vehicle system- GSLV
The moon landing has been planned during the particular period
as the landing site will remain well illuminated by sunlight over the next
one month while the Lander and Rover could work and collect data. Also,
there is no lunar eclipse during this period.
The Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second lunar mission. It is a
fully indigenous mission. Chandrayaan-2 will comprise of an Orbiter,
Lander named ‘Vikram’ and Rover named ‘Pragyan’
The orbiter will circle the moon and provide information about
its surface, while the lander will make a soft landing on the surface and
send out the rover. The rover will be used mostly for in situ experiments.
The lunar mission will carry out extensive three-dimensional
mapping of the topography of the lunar South Pole region. It will also
determine its elemental composition and seismic activity.
The mission would also try to assess the abundance and
distribution of water on the lunar surface.
The Home ministry has constituted a high-level panel to suggest
ways to implement Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord.The panel is headed by
former Gauhati high court judge Justice Biplab Kumar Sarma.
The ministry had to reconstitute the panel after four of the
nine members named on the earlier panel had refused to be a part of it.
Assam Accord is a Memorandum
of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of
India and the leaders of the Assam Movement – a movement against illegal
immigrants in Assam. It was signed in 1985.
Clause 6 of the Assam Accord
envisages that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative
safeguards should be provided to protect, preserve and promote the
cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the people of Assam.
The panel will examine the effectiveness of actions taken since
1985 to implement the clause and to assess the appropriate level of
reservation of seats in Assam’s legislative assembly and local bodies for
the indigenous people.
The government has introduced Right to Information (Amendment)
Bill, 2019. The bill seeks to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act,
RTI Act 2005 sets the term of the Chief Information
Commissioner (CICs) and Information Commissioners (ICs) at the Centre and
state levels at five years (or until the age of 65, whichever is earlier).
The amendment bill 2019 proposes that the appointment will be
for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government.
RTI ACT 2005 states that salaries, allowances and other terms
of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that
of the Chief Election Commissioner, and those of an Information
Commissioner shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner.
At the state level, CIC and IC salary shall be equivalent to
election commissioner and Chief Secretary respectively.
The amendment proposes that the salaries, allowances and other
terms of service of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information
Commissioners at Centre and state level should be prescribed by the
The RTI Act 2005 provides that Public Authorities are
required to make disclosures on various aspects of their structure and
functioning. This includes: a) disclosure on their organisation,
functions, and structure, b) powers and duties of its officers and
employees, and c) financial information.
The aim of the Act is to promote transparency and
accountability in the working of Public Authorities.
Under the Act, ‘Public Authorities’ include bodies of
self-government established under the Constitution, or under any law or
According to studies, India has entered a 37 year period of
demographic dividend since 2018.
The period of demographic dividend will last till 2055. This
has been created as India’s working-age population (people between 15 and
64 years of age) has grown larger than the dependant population (children
aged 14 or below plus people above 65 years of age)
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) defines demographic
dividend as the growth potential that results from shifts in a
population’s age structure. The transition happens largely because of a
decrease in the Total fertility rate (TFR) (the number of births per woman),
after the increase in life expectancy gets stabilised.
However, it is important to note that Demographic dividend
provided by the increasing share of working age adults is a temporary
phase. To reap the benefits of demographic dividend, India should invest
in the education and health of the workforce and provide employment
opportunities to the youth.
Examples of countries who successfully reaped the benefits of
demographic dividend and experienced rapid growth because of changing
population structure include Japan, China and Singapore.
India has warned of the collapse of the World Trade
Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body.
This statement came as the US has repeatedly blocked the
selection complaining the Appellate Body failed to follow the rules in the
Dispute Settlement Understanding.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an
intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of
international trade between nations.
The WTO officially commenced in 1995 under the
Marrakesh Agreement signed by 124 nations replacing the General Agreement
on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Currently, it has 164 members and 22 observer
governments with Afghanistan and Liberia being the latest to join.
The Appellate Body of the WTO was established
in 1995 with its seat in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a standing body of
seven persons. It hears appeals from reports issued by panels in disputes
brought by WTO Members.
The Appellate Body can uphold, modify or reverse the legal
findings and conclusions of a panel. The Appellate Body Reports once
adopted by the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) must be accepted by the
parties to the dispute.
The Kerala government will set up the country’s first Space
Systems Park at the upcoming Knowledge City in
Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The project will be implemented by the State
Government’s Electronics and IT Department.
The facility will seek to attract global start-ups working in
the space sector and also make it as a major manufacturing hub for
space-related technology, research and development.
The Space Park will also house Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Knowledge
Centre and Space Museum being developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space
Centre (VSSC) as a memorial to the former President and top space
Further, other major centers of ISRO located in the city will
help create a robust ecosystem for space technology applications and
The Defence Ministry has approved the proposal to restructure
the Army Headquarters.
The aim of the restructuring of army headquarters is (a) to
enhance the operational and functional efficiency (b) optimize budget
expenditure (c) facilitate force modernisation and (d) address
The army has decided to create a new Deputy Chief (Sustenance)
who is going to look after all procurements. The Master-General Ordnance
will report to the Deputy Chief to bring all ammunition under one head.
Currently, the Army has two Deputy Chiefs, one for information
systems and training and the other for planning and systems. These
functions are being brought under one authority to avoid overlapping.
A new post of Additional Director-General (ADG), Vigilance is
being created who will report directly to the Army chief. There will be a
new position of ADG (Human Resources) who shall take proactive action on
The entire training function will move under the Army Training
Command (ARTRAC) which will be shifted from Shimla to Meerut.
Further, the Director-General, Rashtriya Rifles (RR) now based
in Delhi, will be moved to Udhampur under an Additional Director-General
where the Northern Command is located.
Finance Minister has announced in the Budget that it plans to
raise a portion of its gross borrowing from overseas markets using sovereign
A government bond or sovereign bond is a form of debt that the
government undertakes wherein it issues bonds with the promise to pay
periodic interest payments and also repay the entire face value of the
bond on the maturity date.
The Centre plans to raise around $10 billion from global
markets in the second half of FY20.However,when the government raises
funds in foreign currency, it has to bear the risk of currency movements.
NITI Aayog Vice chairman has said that the government has taken
the decision being cognisant of all the associated risks. He has said that
the government will be prudent in raising funds abroad and provision will
be made in accounts to account for currency volatility.
Further, he said that there can be major advantages in raising
long term funds because many interested players in these will be long term
pension funds, retirement funds. So government can launch 20-year papers
which will help in private investments.
This proposal along with the government’s asset monetisation
plan and the move to give up majority equity shareholding in state-owned
companies are aimed at freeing up resources for private investments.
The government has laid out a blueprint for a substantial boost
in India’s infrastructure. A key element of that is the upgrade of Indian
However, the Finance Minister has accepted that the government
did not have the fiscal space to make the kind of heavy investments that
are required to modernise the Railways.
As modernising railways requires an investment of Rs 50 lakh
crore between now and 2030.The capital outlays for Railways is just about
Rs 1.6 lakh crore per annum and even completing sanctioned projects would
Hence, the government will be inviting private companies to own
and operate trains on select routes. Further, it is also planning to
corporatise the seven production units that build coaches, engines and
A holding company called the Indian Railway Rolling Stock
Company (IRRC) will also be established.It will control and independently
manage all these factories.
Activists and former information commissioners have opposed the
Centre’s move to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The amendment proposes to empower the government to fix the
term of service of information commissioners. It also proposes to change
the salaries and allowances of CIC and IC as may be prescribed by the
However, activists have said that the amendments would dilute
the Act and curtail the independence of the Chief Information Commissioner
(CIC) and other information officers.
The activists has said that the amendment would also allow
Centre to simply transfer any authority be it the CIC or any of the SICs
in the event a case is directed against the interests of the government.
Further, former CIC have said that fixed tenure of five years
for Information Commissioners are part of basic structure of the existing
law and any amendment to these provisions undermines the basic structure
of the RTI.
Right to Information Act 2005 mandates
timely response to citizen requests for government information. The basic
objective of the Right to Information Act is to (a)empower the citizens
(b)promote transparency, accountability in the Government (c)contain
corruption and (d)make our democracy work for the people in real sense.
The CIC is an 11 member commission set up
under the Right to Information Act, 2005 as a quasi-judicial body. It is
the highest appeal body available to applicants seeking information under
the RTI Act.
The government has underlined its priorities in the first 50
days of its second term. It has aimed towards making India a $5 trillion
economy and hitting the ground running on spurring growth.
The Union Budget has outlined the roadmap for the $5trillion
economy and doubling the farmer’s income.
The budget talked of (a) electric vehicles (b) mission of
taking electricity and cooking gas to every home (c) end of angel tax and
(d) beginning of a faceless, seamless tax assessment interface.
The government has shown zero tolerance towards terrorism with
a cleanup of J&K Bank. It has also removal tainted bureaucrats across
Government has also announced the labour reforms that will
benefit 49 crore workers. It will make business smoother and less
encumbered with red tape. The registration process for businesses has been
Further, Unregulated financial schemes have also been banned to
protect honest people with the poor often falling victim to such frauds.
The government has offered more incentives for the middle class on
affordable housing by way of tax breaks.
The budget has also proposed the corporate tax slab at 25% for
companies with turnover of less than Rs 400 crore. An amount of Rs 350
crore has been marked for GST subvention for MSMEs.
Government has also taken up water conservation with the
creation of the Jal Shakti ministry. The department will urgently frame
policy for improving water security and considering measures to mitigate
There were several initiatives for farmers with hiked MSP for
Kharif crops and the proposed implementation of PM Kisan to all farmers.
The government will also spend over Rs 10,000 crore over three years on
social security cover for farmers.
The NITI Aayog had released the second edition of its State
Health Index 2019 in a report titled “Healthy States, Progressive India:
Report on Rank of States and UTs”.
The index has used estimated figures in place of reported
numbers to calculate certain health indicators. This has adversely
impacted the final index score of certain States while boosting that of
The index takes into account 23 health indicators such as
neonatal mortality rate, under-five mortality rate, proportion of low
birth weight among new-borns, proportion of districts with functional
Cardiac Care Units, full immunisation coverage among others.
The report had used an estimated number of births and
deliveries to calculate two key health outcome indicators namely full
immunisation coverage and proportion of institutional deliveries. The use
of estimated numbers instead of the reported figures resulted in a
However, NITI Aayog officials has said that the reported number
of births can vary from the actual figures as there are some inherent
problems with the Civil Registration System and experts have also
expressed reservations about using them.
The report has ranked states and UTs in three categories —
larger States, smaller States and Union Territories to ensure comparison
among similar entities.
The report has ranked Kerala as the best performing State in
the health sector among the 21 large States. Among the large states, Uttar
Pradesh was the worst performing state.
Among the smaller states, Mizoram ranked first in overall performance.
Further, Among UTs, Chandigarh ranked first in overall performance while
Dadra and Nagar Haveli improved the most.