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National Population Register

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Why in the news?

The government has decided to prepare a National Population Register (NPR) by September 2020 to lay the foundation for rolling out a citizens’ register across the country.

What is the National Population Register?

  • The NPR will be a list of usual residents of the country.
  • Once the NPR is completed and published, it is expected to be the basis for preparing the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), a pan-India version of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC).
  • For the purpose of NPR, a usual resident is defined as a person who has resided in a local area for past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more.
  • It is being prepared at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  • The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.



Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Why in the news?

Union Human Resource Development Minister  inaugurated theTechEx – technology exhibition at IIT Delhi today. TechEx was organized to demonstrate products and prototypes developed under the two flagship schemes of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) namely IMPacting Research, INnovation and Technology (IMPRINT) and Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY). 

What is IMPRINT?

  • IMPRINT is a first-of-its-kind Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a (a) New Education Policy, and (b) Roadmap for Research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in selected domains needed by the country.
  • The ten domains represent the most important areas relevant to our country in order to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance. The first phase of IMPRINT is dedicated to creating a policy document defining the scope, strategy and mandate for pursuing engineering challenges in the country and not developing a specific technological product or process. The real engineering pursuit will ensue in the second phase.
  • The Domains and Coordinators of IMPRINT, steered by IIT Kanpur (as the national coordinator), are: (i) Health care: IIT Kharagpur (ii) Information and Communication Technology: IIT Kharagpur (iii) Energy: IIT Bombay (iv) Sustainable Habitat: IIT Roorkee (v) Nano-technology Hardware: IIT Bombay (vi) Water Resources and River systems: IIT Kanpur (vii) Advanced Materials: IIT Kanpur (viii) Manufacturing: IIT Madras (ix) Security and Defense: IIT Madras (x) Environmental Science and Climate Change: IISc, Bangalore
  • IMPRINT 2 is the next phase of the IMPRINT initiative. In this knowledge will be translated into viable technology. It will be jointly funded and steered by MHRD and Department of Science and Technology (DST).

What is Uchchatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY)?

  • The Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) was launched to promote industry-specific need-based research so as to keep up the competitiveness of the Indian industry in the global market. 
  • All the IITs have been encouraged to work with the industry to identify areas where innovation is required and come up with solutions that could be brought up to the commercialization level.


Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Why in the news?

  • The Commerce Secretary led a delegation to the 8th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial meeting held in Beijing on 2-3 August 2019. During the meeting he highlighted India’s contribution in shaping the RCEP negotiations till date.  He advocated a spirit of understanding accommodation and flexibility towards reaching a balanced outcome in the negotiations. 
  • India’s concerns regarding market access and other issues leading to imbalanced trade between some of the partner countries was specifically flagged during the meetings.
  • On the side-lines of the Ministerial meeting, the Commerce Secretary held bilateral meetings with his counterparts from China, Thailand, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and ASEAN Economic Ministers.

What is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership?

  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed mega-regional Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 16 Asia-Pacific countries including the 10-member ASEAN countries, China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The RCEP negotiations were launched at the Phnom Penh at a summit between the leaders of ASEAN and its six partners who occupies the remaining member of the RCEP on 20 November 2012.
  • Objective of RCEP negotiations is to “achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement among the ASEAN Member States and ASEAN’s FTA Partners. RCEP will cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement and other issues.” (from the Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).
  • It covers the entry level trade liberalization effort on goods and widens to services though the extent of service trade engagement is keenly watched. At the same time, the RCEP makes negotiations on higher order liberalization issues like intellectual property rights, competition and ecommerce. The usual issues like investment and dispute settlement are also part of negotiations. In this context, the RCEP has a deep coverage matching to the several other West – bound RTAs

What are the outstanding issues for India in RCEP?

  • China is highly industrialized and is a trade powerhouse. India has more development objectives while connecting with trade. Japan and South Korea are innovation economies that excelled in the world. Thus there is a mismatch that is not necessarily complementary.
  • There are differences about the extent of trade liberalization. China want more commodities and higher tariff cuts. India on the other hand, prefers some restrictions as the country’s industrial sector is at the beginning state of development. Overall, most of the partners have a notion that China may dominate the RCEP because of its huge size economy and competitive industrial sector advantages. This can hurt Make in India.
  • Also, India has been demanding access to easier access for movement of skilled professionals. Considering the surplus skilled manpower that India has, this is a cause of concern for the other nations which fear displacement of their own workforce due to easy migration laws.
  • Moreover, taking  up issues like intellectual property rights (IPR) is a cause for concern for India, as the standards can be set up higher than WTO based TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights)  agreement which can negatively affect IP rights and their usage in India.

What is ASEAN?

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (more commonly known as ASEAN) is an intergovernmental organization aimed primarily at promoting economic growth and regional stability among its members.
  • There are currently 10 member states: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • ASEAN was founded in 1967 by the five Southeast Asian nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. This was during the polarized atmosphere of the Cold War, and the alliance aimed to promote stability in the region. Over time, the group expanded to include its current 10 members.
  • In 2015, it established the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), a major milestone in the organization’s regional economic integration agenda. The AEC envisions the bloc as a single market with free flow of goods, services, investments and skilled labour, and freer movement of capital across the region.
  • If ASEAN were a country, it would be the seventh-largest economy in the world, with a combined GDP of $2.6 trillion in 2014. By 2050 it’s projected to rank as the fourth-largest economy.
  • Home to more than 622 million people, the region has a larger population than the European Union or North America. It also has the third-largest labour force in the world, behind China and India.


Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missiles

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Why in the news?

Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight-tested its state-of-the-art Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missiles (QRSAM) against live aerial targets from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur.

What is QRSAM?

  • The missile is all-weather, all-terrain missile with electronic counter measures against jamming by aircraft radars. 
  • The missile can be mounted on a truck and is stored in a canister. QRSAM uses solid-fuel propellant and has a range of 25-30 km
  • The systems are equipped with indigenously-developed Phased array radar, Inertial Navigation System, Data Link & RF seeker.


Genome Scanning

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Why in the news?

  • The Department of Biotechology (DBT) plans to scan nearly 20,000 Indian genomes over the next five years, in a two-phase exercise, and develop diagnostic tests that can be used to test for cancer.
  • The first phase involves sequencing the complete genomes of nearly 10,000 Indians from all corners of the country and capture the biological diversity of India
  • In the next phase, about 10,000 “diseased individuals” would have their genomes sequenced. These vast troves of data sets would be compared using machine learning techniques to identify genes that can predict cancer risk, as well as other diseases that could be significantly influenced by genetic anomalies.
  • The programme is expected to formally launch in October, with an estimated budget of ₹250-350 crore for the Phase-1
  • While 22 institutions, including those from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the DBT would be involved in the exercise, the data generated would be accessible to researchers anywhere for analysis. This would be through a proposed National Biological Data Centre envisaged in a policy called the ‘Biological Data Storage, Access and Sharing Policy’, which is still in early stages of discussion.

What is a genome?

A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In humans, a copy of the entire genome—more than 3 billion DNA base pairs—is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.