Mains Test Series

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PM renews call for debate on simultaneous polls


  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for widespread consultation on simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha during NITI Aayog meeting.
Simultaneous elections:


  • Simultaneous elections is a proposal by the prime minister to hold the elections of Lok Sabha and the state legislative elections on the same dates.

Arguments in favour :

1-    It will help in reduction of government expenditure.

2-    It would ensure consistency, continuity and efficiency in the governance.

3-    Frequent electoral cycles disrupt normal public life by impacting the delivery of essential services.

4-    Better utilitzation of resources.

5-    Enforcing the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during the election period is detrimental in implementation of development programmes.

6-    Curb corruption and build a more conducive socio-economic ecosystem.

7-    Simultaneous polls would free central armed forces and manpower that is deployed at regular intervals for election duty.

Argument against:

It would involve amendments to the Constitution.

Critics argue that people are well adopted to the present system of elections.

Due to large illiteracy prevail in the country a new measure can create confusion among the masses.

There can be unhealthy competition between the National parties and state parties which is not good for our democracy.

Important facts:

  1. Apart from simultaneous elections, other points on which PM Modi emphasized:
  • Amending terms of reference of the 15th Finance Commission, the current population as per 2011 census should the basis.
  • PM has asked the states to give “fresh ideas” for incentivizing outcome based allocations and expenditure correction.
  • Finance commission devolution formula has to take cognizance of the relative backwardness and low per capita incomes of some states.
  • However, the states like Andhra Pradesh have demanded that 1971 census be ued as reference for 15th Finance Commission.
  • PM asked states(Delhi, Goa, J&K, Odisha, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura) which did not represent in the meeting to fix “ambitious growth target”
  • Committee on seven Chief Ministers from states (MP, Bihar, Sikkim, Gujarat, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, UP), to be set up to make recommendations on leveraging MGNREGA in the agriculture sector.
  • Explore opportunities to increase corporate investment in agriculture.
  • Challenge before India is to take economic growth to double digits.



Battle ready: Dhanush artillery gun clears final trials


  1. The indigenously upgraded artillery gun Dhanush has successfully completed final user trials and is ready for induction into the Army.

Important facts:

2.This was third and final phase of user exploitation firings in which six Dhanush guns were fired in battery formulation at the Pokhran field firing range.

3.The first phase of trials was conducted between July and September 2016.

4.The second phase was conducted between October and December 2016 at the Siachen base camp with three guns.

5.A total of 1,520 rounds have been fired in all the three phases.


  • Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured by India in the mid -1980’s.
  • With this test, Dhanush artillery gun has been tested in all terrains.
  • It is also called desi Bofors.
  • It is 155mm x 45mm calibre artillery gun. It has been developed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Kolkata based on requirements of Indian Army and manuanufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF).

7.Next step:

  • The next step was completion of general staff (GS) evaluation after which Bulk Production Clearance (BPC) will be accorded.
  • The Ordnance Factory Board, OFB  has an indent from the Army for 114 guns and will start supplying the guns on receipt of the BPC.
  • The OFB has already supplied six guns for battery firing during the user trials.
  • Another 12 guns will be issued within a year on receipt of the BPC.
  • The entire order of 114 guns is to be delivered within four years.
  • As of now, the gun has over 80% indigenous content.
  • The imported systems include the power pack, parts of the electronic suite, and some seals and bearings.

MCLR, base rate merger proves elusive.


  1. RBI has not yet issued instructions for banks to allow its customers to shift base rate to MCLR, despite promise.

Important Facts

  1. Base rate is the erstwhile loan pricing mechanism which was replaced by MCLR — the Marginal Cost of funding based Lending Rate — from April 1, 2016.
  2. With the Introduction of MCLR it was expected that the bank would migrate from existing base rate-linked credit exposures to MCLR system.
  3. This would benefits large number of customer as the one-year MCLR of bank is lower than base rate
  • For example, SBI’s base rate is 8.7% while its one-year MCLR is 8.25% — a difference of 45 basis points.
  1. But bank shown reluctance to migrate.
  2. This led RBI to intervene.
  3. RBI announce that base rate would be linked to MCLR from April 1, 2018. But RBI has not issued instructions regarding this till now
  4. This is because RBI in its internal study found that if public sector banks offer their customers a lower interest rate, they will incur a loss of 40000cr.

Ennore port expansion gets green nod


  1. An expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has recommended granting of Environmental Clearance and CRZ clearance for the Phase-III expansion of the Kamarajar Port Ltd (KPL) in Ennore.


Important facts:

2. The expansion proposals of KPL include an automobile export/ import terminal, container terminal, bulk terminal, multi cargo berth and marine liquid terminal

3. As per the latest map, no development zone shall be maintained 100 m on either side of the Kosasthalaiyar river , noted by EAC while recommending the project for clearance.

4. The clearance is based on the latest draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP).

5. However, the EAC’s clearance is subject to the final outcome of cases filed against the expansion at the National Green Tribunal.

6. As per the CRZ notification, 2011, all proposals have to be evaluated as per the approved Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP).

7. As per the original map, this is an inter-tidal zone and as per the 2011 notification, no development activities can happen in this zone

8. Criticisms:

  • Environment activists argued that a project cannot be recommended for clearance based on a’ wrong map’ that has not been notified by the Ministry
  • They termed it illegal as the writ petition against the draft CZMP was pending in the Madras High Court.

Parched or polluted


  1. Acute water stress prevails in most of India according to the Composite Water Management Index developed by NITI Aayog.

Important facts:

  1. Key highlights of the index:
  • 70% of the water resources are identified as polluted.
  • Nearly 600 million Indians faced high-to-extreme water stress and about 2,00,000 people died every year because of inadequate access to safe water.
  1. Criteria for ratings:
  • Based on performance of states in augmenting water resources and watershed.
  • Investment in infrastructure.
  • Providing rural and urban drinking water.
  • Encouraging efficient agriculture use.
  1. This approach will foster ‘competitive and cooperative federalism’.
  2. State-wise assessment:
  • Best states: Gujarat, MP, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
  • Worst state: Jharkhand, Haryana, UP and Bihar.
  • Tamil Nadu, although perform well on augmentation of water resources, but not able to perform upto mark in ensuring sustainable use of farming.
  • Among North Eastern and Himalayan states, Tripura has been adjudged number one in 2016-17 followed by Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam.
  1. Measures:
  • Augmentation of watersheds, which led to store more water for use in agriculture.
  • The Committee on Restructuring the Central Water Commission and the central ground water board, chaired by Mihir Shah called for user-centric approach to water management. The committee advocates:-
  1. Decentralisation of irrigation commands.
  2. Offering higher financial flows to best performing states through National Irrigation Management Fund.
  • Ground water extraction patterns need to be better understood through robust data collection.
  • New Management paradigm due to steady urbanization.
  • Augmenting source of clean drinking water supply.
  • Pollution can be curbed by levying suitable cost.
  • Need revamped national and state institutions and updated laws.
  • However, such approaches will not solve inter-state river disputes like Cauvery issue.
About CWMI:

  •   Its objective to create awareness among people and governments about the realities of water crisis in the country.
  •  The index provide useful information for the states and concerned central ministries and departments enabling them to formulate and implement suitable strategies for better management of water resources.


New health scheme flawed: IMA


  1. The Indian Medical Association has sought the review of National Health Protection Scheme- Ayushman Bharat.

Important Facts:

  1. The Indian Medical Association said that the National Health Protection Scheme has conceptual deficits and operational flaws.
  2. Concerns raised by Indian Medical Association:
  •  Rates quoted by the government for various procedures are inadequate and impractical.
  • Rate quota do not cover approx. 30% of the cost of the procedure.
  • Cost cutting will led to serious compromise of patient safety and exposing them to danger.
  • IMA pointed out that the policy change will end up strengthening the insurance business.
  • The government will lose around ₹400 crore to private health insurance companies who will manage the scheme.
  • IMA pointed out that the NHPS fails to create any new national asset.
  • IMA said if same money invested in public hospitals would have brought secondary and tertiary care closer to poor in government hospitals.
  1. Demand of Indian medical Association
  • The IMA demanded that the costing undertaken should be made transparent and be put in public domain.
  • District hospital should be allocated with 2 crore for better infrastructure and healthcare facility.
  • IMA has suggested the government that NHPS should be modelled as healthcare purchase directly from the provider hospitals removing the insurance companies and third party administrators.
  • These intermediaries take off 40% of the budgeted money and are breeders of corruption and unethical practices
  1. Currently, Twenty States have signed MoUs with the Union Health Ministry to implement the government national health protection mission.
  2. The mission aiming to provide a cover of ₹5 lakh per family annually to ten crore vulnerable families.


‘New auto policy may be finalised in three months’


  1. The central government is planning for new National auto mobile policy.

Important Facts:

  1. The draft Policy seek for emission-linked taxation on automobiles and a technology- agnostic green mobility.
  2. Objective of the new national auto mobile policy.
  • The policy calls for establishing a single nodal regulatory body for the automobile industry.
  • The draft policy had recommended rationalization of the GST structure for automobiles.
  • The Policy vision for green mobility and reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • The draft policy recommended the vehicle length-based classification which will target reduction in vehicular congestion and CO2 emissions.
  • The current automobile policy is based on length, engine displacement, and engine type and ground clearance.
  1. For the faster adoption of eco-friendly automobile technologies government is planning to strengthen the FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric & Hybrid Vehicles)
  2. As the final draft of the policy get ready it will be circulated among departments concerned.
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