Mains Test Series

Download the compilation of all summaries of all the news articles here

GS 2

U.S. quits UN human rights body


  1. The United States has recently announced its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Important Facts:

  1. The United States has described UNHRC as “hypocritical and self-serving.”
  2. S. has blamed the UNHRC for bias against Israel and its refusing to eject members who violated human rights.
  3. The U.S. State Department has officially named Russia, China, Cuba and Egypt for preventing U.S. efforts to reform the Council.
  4. In 2017, U.S. has withdrawn from the U.N. climate treaty and the UNESCO.
  5. About the United Nations Human Rights Council
  • UNHRC was founded in 2006.
  • The United Nations Human Rights Council is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world.
  • The headquarters of UNHRC is in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The UNHRC has 47 members
  • USA had joined UNHRC in 2009


Kim, Xi agree on resolution of key issues


  1. The North Korean president is on a two-day trip to Beijing.

Important Facts:

  1. North Korea and Chinese President have discussed to resolve the issue of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula with the U.S.
  2. North Korea president also agreed to cooperate with Chinese officials to secure peace in the Korean peninsula.
  3. Recently, the U.S. and South Korea has announced the suspension of joint military exercise for future developments with North Korea.
  4. In the recently held meeting with the US, North Korea had agreed to hand over the remains of troops missing from the 1950-53 Korean War (Pyongyang Agreement)


Sanctions act passes, sans any waiver provision


  1. The U.S. Senate has ignored the Donald Trump administration’s request for inclusion of waiver provisions for India in the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Important facts:

  1. The CAATSA act requires the Congress to impose sanctions on countries that have “significant” defence relations with Russia.
  2. The Senate version of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) for 2019 was passed has no waiver provisions.
  3. The actual passes version of the NDAA 2019 had provisions for waiver.
  4. India Concern:
  • The NDAA 2019 provisions for waiver is inadequate to address India’s defence purchases requirements with Russia.
  • India is currently engaged in defence relation with Russia.
  • The provision allows for waivers for 180 days provided the administration certifies that the country in question is scaling back its ties with Russia.


Oli’s China visit to focus on connectivity


  1. Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli is on a visit to China.

Important Facts:

  1. Nepal has been seeking improved connectivity with China via Tibet after India was accused of blockading essential supplies across the India-Nepal border in 2015.
  2. The prime minister of Nepal visit to China will focus upon:
  • The development of  Trans-Himalayan transport corridor.
  • The Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Transport Network.
  • Study for a cross-border railway linking the countries.
  • Development of Tibet-Nepal transit.
  • Advancing cross-border connectivity including a railway, road, transmission lines and other related areas to Kathmandu.

Note: The connectivity could be extended to India in the future.

  1. The balancing act between India and Nepal:
  • According to Nepal, it follows the principal of Panchsheel for its foreign policy engagement between India and China.
  • Nepal is trying to establish a “balance” between Nepal’s ties with India and China.
  • Nepal PM has first visited India after becoming Prime Minister for the second time.
  1. On One Belt and Road Initiative:
  • Nepal had recently proposed infrastructure projects covering roads, railway, energy, transmission lines with China under the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • According to Nepal,  China and Nepal had agreed to a “long-term vision “of a multi-dimensional trans-Himalaya connectivity network under the BRI.
  • These projects would cover seaports, railways, highways, aviation, power, and communication sectors.
  • The BRI will provide conditions for an economic corridor connecting China, Nepal and India.


Right on Kashmir’s rights?


  1. India criticize  UN body’s report on Kashmir as it violates its “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Important Facts:

2.The first ever report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied published last week.

  1. The report has been in production since 2016.
  2. A new wave of violence had then hit the Kashmir Valley , after killing of Hizbul Mujhahideen militant Burhan Wani.
  3. Consequently, the OHCRC asked India and Pakistan to allow its team’s access to the State, a request that was refused.
  4. The OHCHR used “remote monitoring” from local sources to write the report.

7.The report is controversial to India because:

  • The report criticized India’s handling of the protests, alleged extra-judicial killings and hard tactics.
  • The External Affairs Minister is also upset by the terms used to describe militant in the report.(For example- Hizbul Mujhahidee, which is regarded as terrorist organsiation by India, was described in the report as an “armed group”.)
  • Report undermines the UN-led consensus on zero tolerance to terrorism.
  • The report makes specific recommendations aimed at India, including removing the Armed Forces( Special Powers) Act from areas and instituting inquiries into alleged human rights violations.
  • India has said that report violates its “sovereignty and territorial integrity” as it has used terms such as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” and “Gilgit Balistan” to describe the part of the State under Pakistani control.
  • India does not consider Pakistan’s control over a part of Kashmir as legitimate and describes the region as Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

India upset over report because the controversial terms used in the report can be interpreted as a sign of recognition of these regions as being part of Pakistan.



India’s first river interlinking project caught in U.P.-M.P. tussle


  1. Number of issues has been hindering the Ken-Betwa Project- the first river-interlinking project in India

Important facts:

  1. The project will transfer surplus water from Ken River to Betwa Basin


  1. Two phases:
  • 1st phase involves the building of Dhaudhan dam, and a 230km long canal for transferring water from the Ken River to Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • 2nd Phase: local water management projects- the Kotha barrage, Lower Orr and Bina complex
  1. Benefits:
  • Irrigate drought-prone areas of Bundelkhand Region and adjoining areas
  • Meeting drinking water needs
  1. Major Issues:
  • The dispute over water sharing
  • The dispute over water sharing between Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh during the Rabi season
  • Madhya Pradesh declined the assumptions of 2005 agreement between U.P and M.P on water sharing
  • Madhya Pradesh has demanded inclusion of local water management projects to meet the water needs. These projects are included in the 2nd phase and inclusion in the 1st phase would require fresh environmental appraisals.
  • Acquiring non-forest land; environmental concerns
  • The project involves deforesting a large portion of the Panna Tiger reserve


‘Pattiseema scheme will help revive Krishna delta’


  1. The Andhra Pradesh government has released water from Pattiseema Lift Irrigation into the Krishna Eastern Main Canal in Vijayawada.

Important Facts:

2. Issues

  • Delay in releasing water to crops in Krishna Delta due to increasing number of reservoirs and barrages in Maharashtra and Karnataka
  • As a result, crops are often destroyed due to cyclones hitting the state in November

3. Benefits of the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme:

  • Facilitate revival of  Krishna Delta which has dried up and turned saline in recent times
  • Facilitate revival of Krishna River into a perennial river
  • Address the problem of drought and drinking water shortage in the state.
  1. Future proposals:
  • A  barrage with a capacity of 10 tmcft, at Vaikuntapuram upstream the Prakasam Barrage.
  • A barrage with a capacity of 2.7 tmcft, downstream at Chodavara


Shillong bags Smart City tag


  1. Shillong has been selected as the 100th city under the Smart Cities Mission.

Important Facts:

  1. The announcement sets the end date for the mission as June 2023
  2. Every selected city will get five years to complete its projects.
  3. The first 20 cities were selected in January 2016.
  4. The selected city will require to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle to carry out the mission.
  5. Status of Smart Cities Mission:
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has said that until May 2018 about 2.5% fund (approx. Rs. 5,225 crore) has been spent on 316 completed projects.
  • Another 632 projects are under implementation at a cost of about Rs. 25,000 crore.
  • The total proposed investment in the 100 cities will be Rs. 2.05 lakh.


Defining death


  1. Journalist Anjali Thomas discusses the need for a uniform definition of death in India

Important Analysis:

2. Recently, the Kerala government has issued protocols to confirm brain death. This is expected to ensure transparency in the procedure of organ transplantation.

3. Issues with definition of death:

  • Lack of clarity in defining death
  • Traditionally, death was identified by cardio-respiratory failure i.e. when heart stops pumping blood. Lack of pulse and breath considered as signs.
  • However with medical advancement, defining death became complex. Ventilators could artificially keep the heart pumping.
  • At present, death is defined as “death of nervous system”, “coma depasse” i.e. irreversible state of coma or apnoea
  • Several cases have challenged the brain death concept and procedures in declaring so-


In USA, 13-year-old Jahi McMath was declared brain dead. However, her parents had advocated the revoke of this declaration.  In 2017, she had reached puberty while on life support. This has raised questions on procedure of declaring brain death

Issues in India

  • Inconsistency in definitions- Death differently defined in 2 Acts
  • Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 defines death as “permanent disappearance of all evidence of life, by reason of brain stem death or in a cardiopulmonary sense”
  • On the other hand, Registration of Birth and Death Act, 1969 do not include diagnosis of brain death. It defines death as” permanent disappearance of all evidence of life at any time after live-birth”.Therefore, a person on ventilator support may not be considered dead


  • Formulate clear standard operating procedures
  • Put forward a consistent, clear legal definition of death


The seeds of sustainability


  1. Sujatha Byravan, scientist , analyse how zero budget natural farming is successful in Andhra Pradesh and could be the model for the future in other states too.

Important Analysis:

2. Recently, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu announced that the State would fully embrace Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).


  • ZBNF is a farming practice that believes in natural growth of crops without adding any fertilizers and pesticides or any other foreign elements.
  • Chemical free method that would cover all farmers by 2024.

3. Andhra Pradesh will be 1ststate to implement a ZBNF policy.

4. Implementation of ZBNF  in Andhra Pradesh:

  • The agency named Rythu Sadhikara Samstha is implementing this ZBNF in the State.
  • Subhash Palekar developed the ZBNF. He identified four aspects that are now integral to his process :
  1. Seeds treated with cow dung and urine;
  2. soil rejuvenated with cow dung,
  3. cow urine and other local materials to increase microbes;
  4. Cover crops, straw and other organic matter to retain soil moisture and build humus; soil aeration for favourable soil conditions.
  • The programme ZBNF will be extended in phases.
  • This year 5 lakh farmers will be covered.
  • At least  one panchayat in each of the mandals will be shifted to this new method.
  • By 2021-22, the programme is to be implemented in every Panchyat, with full coverage by 2024.
  • For this, substantial resource mobilization for about Rs 16, 500 crore is in progress.
  • Tenant farmers and daily labourers are also being trained so that their livelihoods will be enhanced.

5. Benefits of using Model ZBNF:

  • It highlights the way to improve the welfare of farmers.
  • Reduce the cost of farm inputs.
  • Input costs are near zero as no fertilizers and pesticides are used.
  • There is reduced use of water and electricity, improved, flourishing of local ecosystems and biodiversity and no toxic chemical residues in the environment.
  • Cut toxins in food, and improve soils
  • In ZBNF, yield of various cash and food crops have been found to higher when compared with chemical farming.
  • For example, yields from ZBNF plots in the (kharif) 2017 pilot phase were found on average to be 11% higher for cotton than in non-ZBNF plots. The yield for Guli ragi (ZBNF) was 40% higher than non-ZBNF.
  • Model ZBNF farms were able to withstand drought and flooding, which are big concerns with regard to climate change.
  • The planting of multiple crops and border crops on the same field has provided varied income and nutrient sources.

6. Suggestions:

  • Vijay Kumar, retired civil servant in charge of implementing the programme, suggests the following measures for success of this programme:
  • Farmer-to-farmer connections.
  • Farmers’ collectives such as Farmer Producer Organsiations need to be established.
  • The government is providing funding through the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana.

7. Model for other states:

8. Due to having above merits and outcomes of using ZBNF programme in Andhra Pradesh, this model can be used in other states.

9. The approach taken by APPI to monitor the improvement is vital to understanding the outcomes of large scale changes that are underway; this is critical to expanding the ZBNF to other states also.

10. Resilient food systems are the need of the day due to variability in monsoons caused by global warming and declining ground water in many parts of India.

11. The Drought prone Rayalaseema region (Andhra Pradesh) is seeing drastic changes in farms with ZBNF.

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