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Motion of Thanks

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

Why in the news?

Prime Minister replied to the debate on the motion of thanks in the Lok Sabha

What is the Motion of Thanks?

  • Article 87 provides for the special address by the President. Clause (1) of that article provides that at the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year, the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons. 
  • Clause(2) of article 87 of the Constitution requires that provision shall be made by the rules regulating the procedure of either House for the allotment of time for discussion of the matters referred to in the President’s Address.   Accordingly, rules 14 to 21 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Rajya Sabha make provisions for the discussion of the Address. Under rule 15, discussion on the matters referred to in the President’s Address takes place on a Motion of Thanks moved by a member and seconded by another member. 
  • Members who are to move and second the Motion are selected by the Prime Minister and the notice of such a Motion is received through the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. 
  • The scope of the discussion on the Address is very wide and members are at liberty to speak on every matter of national or international importance and other issues. 
  • Generally, three days are allotted for the discussion on the Motion of Thanks. The discussion may also be postponed in favour of an urgent Government Bill or other business. The time allotted by the House for discussion on the Motion of Thanks is distributed amongst various parties and groups in proportion to their strength in the House. 
  • At the end of the discussion, the Prime Minister replies to the debate. Thereafter, the amendments are disposed, and then the Motion of Thanks is put to vote in the House.  If any of the amendments is accepted then the Motion of Thanks is adopted in the amended form.
  • Notices of amendments to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address can be tabled after the President has delivered his Address. Amendments may refer to matters contained in the Address as well as to matters which, in the opinion of the member, the Address has failed to mention.
  • Failure of passage of the Motion of Thanks reflects a lack of confidence in the current government and can lead to its removal via a no-confidence motion.

North-Eastern Council

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure

Why in the news?

The Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region released the third issue of Newsletter of North Eastern Council (NEC) Shillong, Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER).

What is the North Eastern Council?

  • The North Eastern Council (NEC) is not a constitutional body, but a statutory organization established under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971, as amended in 2002.
  • Initially, NEC was an Advisory Body for North Eastern Region (NER). Now NEC is mandated to function as a Regional Planning Body for the North Eastern Region. 
  • The Council comprises Governors and Chief Ministers of constituent States and three members nominated by the President.
  • It is headed by the Minister of Home Affairs as Chairman and Minister for Development of North East Region (DoNER) as vice Chairman.
  • While formulating the regional plans for the North Eastern Region, it is mandated to give priority to schemes and projects, benefitting two or more States, provided that in case of Sikkim, the Council shall formulate specific projects and schemes for that State including the review of implementation of such projects and schemes.


Healthy States, Progressive India Report

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?

  • NITI Aayog released the Second Edition of “Healthy States, Progressive India” today. The report ranks states and Union territories innovatively on their year-on-year incremental change in health outcomes, as well as, their overall performance. 
  • The Round II report focuses on measuring and highlighting the overall performance and incremental improvement over a two year period (2016-17 and 2017-18) in the States and UTs
  • The States are categorized on the basis of reference year Index score range: Front-runners: top one-third), Achievers: middle one-third, Aspirants: lowest one-third. The States are categorized into four groups based on incremental performance:  not improved (<=0 incremental change); least improved (0.01 to 2 points increase); moderately improved (2.01 to 4 points), and most improved (>4 points increase).

What are the findings of the report?

  • Among the Larger States, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh & Maharashtra ranked on top in terms of overall performance, while Haryana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand are the top three ranking States in terms of annual incremental performance. 
  • Haryana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand showed the maximum gains in improvement of health outcomes from base to reference year in indicators such as Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR), Under-five Mortality Rate (U5MR), Proportion Low Birth Weight among New-borns, Proportion of districts with functional Cardiac Care Units (CCUs), Proportion of ANCs registered within first trimester, Proportion of CHCs/PHCs with Quality Accreditation Certificates, full immunization coverage, institutional deliveries, Proportion of Specialist positions vacant at District Hospitals and Proportion of total staff (regular and contractual) with e-pay slip generated in the IT enabled Human Resources Management Information System.
  • Among Smaller States, Mizoram ranked first followed by Manipur on overall performance, while Tripura followed by Manipur were the top ranked States in terms of annual incremental performance. 
  • Manipur registered maximum incremental progress on indicators such as full immunization coverage, institutional deliveries, total Case Notification Rate of Tuberculosis, Average Occupancy of a District Chief Medical Officer for the last three years and Completeness of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) reporting of P and L forms. 
  • Among UTs, Chandigarh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli were ranked on top in terms of overall performance (Chandigarh-1 and Dadra and Nagar Haveli-2) as well as annual incremental performance (Dadra and Nagar Haveli-1 and Chandigarh-2).  These two UTs showed the highest improvement in indicators such as total Case Notification Rate of Tuberculosis, 
  • Average Occupancy of an officer (in months) for 3 Key State posts for the last 3 years, Proportion of ANMs positions vacant at Sub Centres, the Proportion of Staff Nurses positions vacant at PHCs and CHCs, Proportion of MO positions vacant at PHCs, Proportion of total staff (regular and contractual) with e-pay slip generated in the IT enabled Human Resources Management Information System, Proportion of facilities functional as FRUs, Proportion of districts with functional Cardiac Care Units (CCUs),  Proportion of ANCs registered within first trimester, Completeness of IDSP reporting of P and L forms, and transfer of National Health Mission (NHM) funds from State Treasury to implementation agency.


Sustainable Development Goal 2 : End Hunger

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Issues relating to poverty and hunger

Why in the news?

The World Food Programme in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has released a report which is the baseline analysis of the country’s progress in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) i.e. End Hunger.

What are the findings of the report?

  • Almost one in three Indian children under five years of age will be stunted by 2022 according to current trends. According to the findings of the National Family Health Survey – 4 the number stood at 38.4%
  • In states like Bihar and UP almost 1 in 2 children are stunted, while in states like Kerala and Goa, the number stands at one in five.
  • There are high rates of stunting among children in the poorest wealth quintile, SC/STs and children born to illiterate mothers.
  • The biggest reason for stunting is the lack of economic access to food even as food grain production has risen 33% over the last two decades.


What is stunting?

Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median ( according to WHO)

What are Sustainable Development Goals?

  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
  • These 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.


Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority 

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints

Why in the news?

Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA)in association with North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC) organised the second Conference cum International Buyers-Sellers Meet in Imphal, Manipur.

What is the APEDA?

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) was established by the Government of India under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act passed by the Parliament in December, 1985. 

It functions under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

In accordance with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act, 1985, (2 of 1986) the following functions have been assigned to the Authority.

  • Development of industries relating to the scheduled products for export by way of providing financial assistance or otherwise for undertaking surveys and feasibility studies, participation in enquiry capital through joint ventures and other reliefs and subsidy schemes;
  • Registration of persons as exporters of the scheduled products on payment of such fees as may be prescribed;
  • Fixing of standards and specifications for the scheduled products for the purpose of exports;
  • Carrying out inspection of meat and meat products in slaughterhouses, processing plants, storage premises, conveyances or other places where such products are kept or handled for the purpose of ensuring the quality of such products;
  • Improving of packaging of the Scheduled products;
  • Improving of marketing of the Scheduled products outside India;
  • Promotion of export oriented production and development of the Scheduled products;
  • Collection of statistics from the owners of factories or establishments engaged in the production, processing, packaging, marketing or export of the scheduled products or from such other persons as may be prescribed on any matter relating to the scheduled products and publication of the statistics so collected or of any portions thereof or extracts therefrom;
  • Training in various aspects of the industries connected with the scheduled products;
  • Such other matters as may be prescribed.


Uttarakhand Public Financial Management Strengthening Project

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment

Why in the news?

  • The Government of India, the Government of Uttarakhand and the World Bank signed here today a Loan Agreement of $31.58 million for the Uttarakhand Public Financial Management Strengthening Project that will help improve the State’s ability to manage its Financial Systems and lead to Better Utilization of Development Resources.
  • The Uttarakhand Public Financial Management Strengthening Project will support the State Government’s initiative to build and modernize the Technical and Financial Management Capabilities of its Local Bodies and the State-owned Enterprises.
  • This Project will help the State deploy relevant technologies to further streamline the management of its finances – leading to a more efficient execution of public projects. This, in turn, will help the people of Uttarakhand access more and better quality public services


UK Sinha expert committee on the MSME Sector

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

Why in the news?

An RBI setup committee on the MSME sector chaired by UK Sinha has submitted its report.

What are its recommendations?

  • The committee recommends for the creation of a distressed asset fund, with a corpus of ₹5,000 crore, structured to assist units in clusters where a change in the external environment, e.g. a ban on plastics or ‘dumping’ has led to a large number of MSMEs becoming non-performing asset (NPA)
  • The committee also suggested forming a government-sponsored Fund of Funds of ₹10,000 crore to support venture capital and private equity firms investing in MSMEs.
  • The report said that small industries face problems of delayed payments and hesitate to enforce legal provisions available to them under the MSME Development Act due to their weak bargaining power. It recommended an amendment to the Act, requiring all MSMEs to mandatorily upload from time to time all their invoices above an amount to be specified by the government to an information utility. This mechanism will entail automatic display of the names of defaulting buyers and also act as moral suasion on them to release payment to these suppliers, said the report.
  • The committee has also recommended expanding the role of the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI). SIDBI should deepen credit markets for MSMEs in underserved districts and regions by handholding private lenders, such as non-banking financial companies and micro finance institutions. Further, they must develop additional instruments for debt and equity which would help crystallize new sources of funding for MSMEs and MSME lenders.
  • Besides, the committee suggested that the PSBLoansIn59Minutes.com portal also cater to new entrepreneurs, who may not necessarily have information like GSTIN, income-tax returns and bank statement. A timeline of 7-10 days needs to be fixed for disposal of applications, which have received in-principle approval; the threshold of loan should be enhanced up to ₹5 crore. PSBLoansIn59Minutes.com is an online marketplace that enables in-principle approval of MSME loans up to ₹1 crore in 59 minutes from public sector banks. The report said the committee has learnt from entrepreneurs that obtaining regular sanctions from the banks post in-principle approval had not been smooth. As on 7 June, banks had sanctioned ₹40,156 crore to 127,000 units through this portal.
  • Other suggestions include introduction of adjusted priority sector lending guidelines for banks to specialize in lending to a specific sector, doubling the collateral-free loan limit to ₹20 lakh and providing insurance coverage to MSME employees by the government.
  • The committee said group policies for death and accident cover for MSME entrepreneurs need to be developed with insurance cover significantly higher than the cover currently offered by the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, two government-backed insurance schemes.



Proton Therapy

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

About Proton Therapy

  • Proton therapy is a type of Radiation therapy, which is also called proton beam therapy. It uses protons rather than x-rays to treat cancer. At high energy, protons can destroy cancer cells. 
  • A machine called a synchrotron or cyclotron speeds up protons. The high speed of the protons creates high energy. This energy makes the protons travel to the desired depth in the body. The protons then give the targeted radiation dose in the tumor.
  • With proton therapy, there is less radiation dose outside of the tumor. In regular radiation therapy, x-rays continue to give radiation doses as they leave the person’s body. This means that radiation damages nearby healthy tissues, possibly causing side effects.
  • It can also be combined with x-ray radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and/or immunotherapy. Like x-ray radiation, proton therapy is a type of external-beam radiation therapy.


Initiatives for Development of Naxal Affected Districts

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.


What are the initiatives?

The Government of India has a holistic, multi pronged strategy envisaged in Action Plan-2015  to combat LWE, which include development as an important prong. Apart from flagship/developmental Schemes being implemented by the line Ministries/ Departments, some specific schemes are also being implemented in LWE affected areas. Details are as follows:


  • Special Central Assistance (SCA) for filling critical gaps in public infrastructure and services of emergent nature in the most LWE affected districts.  This Scheme is for 3 years i.e. from 2017-18 to 2019-20 with an outlay of Rs.3000 crore. Rs.163.33 crore was released to Government of Bihar till now.
  • Road Requirement Plan-I: The scheme envisages construction of 5,422 km roads for LWE affected areas, of which 4,809 km have been constructed, including 674 km in Bihar. 
  • Road Connectivity Project for LWE affected Areas: The scheme envisages construction of 5,412 km roads including 1050 km for Bihar. Of which 108 km have been constructed in Bihar.
  • Skill Development in the LWE affected districts: The scheme envisages construction of 47 ITIs (01 ITI per district) and 68 Skill Development Centers (02 SDCs per district) by 2018-19, of which 09 ITIs and 12 SDCs are sanctioned for Bihar.
  • Education Initiatives: Department of School Education & Literacy has sanctioned 7 New Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and 6 new Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) in the most LWE affected districts, which did not have any KVs/JNVs. Under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), 1590 new/upgraded Schools and 349 girl’s hostels have been sanctioned in most LWE affected districts including 236 new/upgraded schools and 86 girls’ hostel in Bihar.
  • Installation of Mobile Towers in the LWE affected districts:  2335 mobile towers have been installed in Phase-I of the project including 250 mobile towers for Bihar. Under Phase-II, the Government has approved installation of 4072 mobile towers in 10 LWE affected States, including 412 mobile towers in Bihar.
  • Financial inclusion as in LWE areas: For financial inclusion 627 new bank branches & 947 ATMs have been opened in 30 most LWE affected Districts in last 4 years between 01.04.2015 and 31.03.2019. In addition 1759 Branch Post Offices have been opened since 01.04.2017 in 32 LWE affected districts. These include 108 new bank branches, 48 new ATMs and 34 new post offices in LWE affected areas of Bihar.
  • Government of India provides funds for Police Modernisation to all the States. Funds are also being provided under ‘Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS)’ for strengthening the Special Forces of the Statesand State Intelligence Branches (SIBs) to LWE affected states. Construction of 250 Fortified Police Stations in LWE affected States is also envisaged under the scheme.


Prelims Specific

  • The Indian Air Force is participating in a bilateral exercise between Indian and French Air Force named Exercise ‘Garuda-VI’ France from 01-12 Jul 19. This is the sixth edition of Exercise Garuda and is being planned at French Air Force Base Mont-de-Marsan. 
  • A new species of tortoise called Impressed Tortoise was discovered in the Yazali area of the Lower Subansiri District in Arunachal Pradesh.