For online IAS classes

For online IAS classes, Click Here, Click here.

Iron Age

Paper: General Studies 1

Topic: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Why in the news?

  • The recent excavation carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Maharashtra’s Phupgaon has revealed evidence of an Iron Age settlement in the Vidarbha region. The excavation at the site was taken up between December, 2018 and March, 2019.
  • Chronologically, the site could be placed between 7th Century BCE and 4th Century BCE. However, further detailed study of the site with chronometric dating is being taken up to reveal further aspects of Iron Age of Vidarbha.
  • The team of ASI took up an intensive survey in the region between Chandur Bazar to Dariyapur of Purna basin at Phupgaon (N 21° 24’ 00.6” E 77° 54’ 11.6”), Amravati district of Maharashtra. The site is situated in the vast meander of the river Purna, a major tributary of Tapi, which used to be a perennial river, but at present is completely dried-up due to the dam construction in the upper stream. The site is situated about 20 m away from the river bed and its one-third portion has been subjected to frequent erosion during the heavy water current in the earlier times

What evidence was recovered?

  • During the course of excavation, 4 complete circular structures were exposed. All were found encircled with post holes. These structures were found to be enclosed with a circular ditch like feature and postholes. Inside of these structure floor activity, storage bin platforms and hearths were noticed. The bin platforms are circular and they were of different sizes ranging from 90cm to 125cmin diameter..
  • The excavation also exposed antiquities like beads of agate-carnelian, jasper, quartz and agate were collected in large quantities. Iron, Copper objects have also been collected from all the trenches. Large quantity of graffiti marks had been observed on the potsherds.
  • The excavation is significant as it indicates the presence of sedentary (permanent) settlement, belonging to the Iron Age of Vidarbha.  The settlement comes under the category of a small village with evidence of a small agro-pastoral community with evidence of craftsmanship in the form of beads of agate-carnelian, jasper, quartz and also the usage of other artefacts like hopscotch, wheel and barrel shaped beads.  The finding from Phupgaon indicates its contemporaneity with other Iron Age settlements of Vidarbha like Naikund, Mahurjhari, Bhagimori and Thakalkat.

Remains of circular houses at Phupgaon


Tobacco Products Health Warnings

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Why in the news?

  • The Union Health Ministry has notified new sets of health warnings, including enlarged pictorial images and text messages, covering 85 percent of the packet area and a national toll-free number printed on them to assist the users to quit. The new warnings will come into effect on September 1, a statement by the ministry said on August 21.
  • The Health Ministry has notified the new warnings by making an amendment in the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Packaging and Labeling) Rules, 2008.
  • The text messages that will be printed on the packs are “tobacco causes painful death”.
  • The quitline number – 1800-11-2356 – will also be printed on the packs. This helps in creating awareness among tobacco users, and gives them access to counselling services to effect behaviour change.
  • As per the rules laid down under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), during the rotation period of 24 months, two images of specified health warnings as notified in the Schedule shall be displayed on all tobacco product packages and each of the images shall appear consecutively on the package with an interregnum period of 12 months, a notification issued earlier read.

Why has a quitline number been introduced?

The government had introduced a “quitline number” looking at the results of Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) report of 2017, which indicated that 62 per cent of cigarette smokers, 54 per cent of bidi smokers and 46 per cent of smokeless tobacco users thought of quitting because of pictorial warning labels on tobacco products.

What is the status of tobacco consumption in India?

There are almost 267 million tobacco users in India.

Among adults (age 15+), 28.6% of the population currently uses tobacco products (men 42.4%; women 14.2%)

  • 21.4% of adults use smokeless tobacco (men 29.6%; women 12.8%)
  • 10.7% of adults smoke (men 19.0%; women 2.0%)
  • The majority of adult smokers smoke bidis (7.7% of adults overall)

Among youth (ages 13-15)

  • 14.6% currently use some form of tobacco (boys 19.0%; girls 8.3%)
  • 4.4% smoke cigarettes and 12.5% use other tobacco products
  • 30.2% of adults are exposed to secondhand smoke in indoor workplaces, 7.4% are exposed in restaurants, and 13.3% are exposed in public transportation.
  • 36.6% of youth (ages 13-15) are exposed to secondhand smoke in public places, and 21.9% are exposed at home.

Each year tobacco use kills about one million Indians:

  • Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke kill about 926,000 people each year
  • Smokeless tobacco use kills an additional 200,000 people in India each year, accounting for 74% of the global burden of smokeless tobacco

Bidi and cigarette smokers die 6 to 10 years earlier than their non-smoking counterparts.

If current trends continue tobacco will account for 13% of all deaths by 2020.



Paper: General Studies 2

Topic:  Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Why in the news?

Union Human Resource Development Minister Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ launched the National Mission to improve Learning Outcomes at the Elementary level- NISHTHA, National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement

What is covered under the NISHTHA programme?

  • The basic objective of this massive training programme ‘NISHTHA’ is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students. 
  • Teachers will get awareness and develop their skills on various aspects related to Learning Outcomes, Competency Based Learning and Testing, Learner-centered Pedagogy, School Safety and Security, Personal-social qualities, Inclusive Education, ICT in teaching-learning including Artificial Intelligence, Health and well-being including yoga, Initiatives in School Education including library, eco club, youth club, kitchen garden, School Leadership qualities, Environmental Concerns, Pre-school, Pre-vocational Education and School Based Assessment in a joyful learning manner.
  • This integrated programme aims to build the capacities of around 42 lakh participants covering all teachers and Heads of Schools at the elementary level in all Government schools, faculty members of State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs), District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) as well as Block Resource Coordinators and Cluster Resource Coordinators in all States and UTs.
  • Standardized training modules are developed at national level for all States and UTs. However, States and UTs can contextualize the training modules and use their own material and resource persons also, keeping in view the core topics and expected outcomes of NISHTHA.
  • The training will be conducted directly by 33120 Key Resource Persons (KRPs) and State Resource Persons (SRP) identified by the State and UTs, who will in turn be trained by 120 National Resource Persons identified from National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), NavodayaVidyalayaSamiti (NVS), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Non-Government Organisations.


State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index – SARAL

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic:  Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Why in the news?

  • Shri RK Singh, Union Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, launched the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index–SARAL.
  • The State of Karnataka has been placed at the first rank in the Index that evaluates Indian states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have got 2nd, 3rd and 4th rank respectively.


SARAL has been designed collaboratively by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation (SSEF), Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and Ernst & Young (EY). It was launched during the Review Planning and Monitoring (RPM) Meeting with States and State Power Utilities. 

SARAL currently captures five key aspects –

  1. robustness of policy framework
  2. implementation environment
  3. investment climate
  4. consumer experience
  5. business ecosystem

 It encourages each state to assess the initiatives taken so far, and what it can do to improve its solar rooftop ecosystem. This will help states to channelize investments that can eventually help the sector grow.  In addition, such an exercise is likely to create a more conducive environment for solar rooftop installations, encourage investment and lead to accelerated growth of the sector.


Single Use Plastic

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Why in the news?

Ministry of Railways has directed all Railway units to enforce ban on single use plastic material, with less than 50 micron thickness from 2nd October, 2019. Emphasis is on making necessary arrangements to minimize generation of plastic waste and its eco- friendly disposal.

What is single use plastic?

  • Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. These items are things like plastic bags, straws, coffee stirrers, soda and water bottles and most food packaging. 
  • We produce roughly 300 million tons of plastic each year and half of it is disposable! World-wide only 10-13% of plastic items are recycled. The nature of petroleum based disposable plastic makes it difficult to recycle and they have to add new virgin materials and chemicals to it to do so. Additionally there are a limited number of items that recycled plastic can be used.
  • India has set the target of 2022 to eliminate the use of single use plastic.