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Table of contents:

GS Paper : 2

1. Future Skills.

2. National Population Register (NPR).

3. Chabahar Port.

4. United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).


GS Paper 3:

1. EChO Network.

2. European Green Deal.


Facts for Prelims:

1. Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP).

GS Paper  : 2

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

Future Skills

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the programme.

Context: Wipro has partnered with NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies) to launch a skilling platform called ‘Future Skills’ for 10,000 students from over 20 engineering colleges in India.

Key facts:

  • This is a part of Wipro’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme, TalentNext.
  • TalentNext aims to enhance the quality of engineering education by preparing faculty and academic leaders to train students.
  • The programme has now been extended to students directly through Future Skills.

What is Future Skills?

It is a new age platform built to bridge the industry-academia skill gap and help students keep pace with the emerging technologies — artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity and internet of things (IoT) – to make them future-ready.

The platform enables learning the skills required in emerging technologies. More importantly, it helps individuals develop an aptitude for learning.

Need for:

As a host of emerging technologies change the future of work, a massive disruption is facing the IT-ITES industry today. Of the 4.5 m people employed in the industry today, 1.5 -2 m are expected to require reskilling in the next 4-5 years. A decoupling of revenue and headcount growth is visible even today and employers and employees need to adapt themselves to the changing job environment of technological shifts and changing stakeholder expectations. The problem is too large to be handled alone. It needs a collaborative industry level response. With NASSCOM as the enabler, IT-ITeS Industry has stepped up to the challenge with the FutureSkills Initiative – a truly industry driven learning ecosystem.

Sources: pib.

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

National Population Register (NPR)

What to study?

For prelims and mains: NPR- features, composition and uses.

Context: Following the footsteps of West Bengal, the Kerala Government has decided to put on hold all proceedings for updating the National Population Register (NPR).


Because of the apprehensions among the general public about the conduct of NPR related activities would lead to national register of citizens (NRC) in the wake of citizenship amendment act 2019.

What is National Population Register (NPR)?

It is a Register of usual residents of the country.

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.

Objectives: To create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.

Who is a usual resident?

A usual resident is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.


  1. The NPR database would contain demographic as well as biometric details.
  2. As per the provisions of the NPR, a resident identity card (RIC) will be issued to individuals over the age of 18.
  3. This will be a chip-embedded smart card containing the demographic and biometric attributes of each individual.
  4. The UID number will also be printed on the card.

What is the controversy around it?

  1. Comes in the backdrop of the NRC excluding lakhs of people in Assam.
  2. It intends to collect a much larger amount of personal data on residents of India.
  3. There is yet no clarity on the mechanism for protection of this vast amount of data.

Why does the government want so much data?

  1. Every country must have a comprehensive identity database of its residents with relevant demographic details. It will help the government formulate its policies better and also aid national security.
  2. It will ease the life of those residing in India by cutting red tape. Not only will it help target government beneficiaries in a better way, but also further cut down paperwork and red tape in a similar manner that Aadhaar has done.
  3. With NPR data, residents will not have to furnish various proofs of age, address and other details in official work.
  4. It would also eliminate duplication in voter lists, government insists.

Sources: pib.

Topics covered: India and its neighbourhood- relations. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Chabahar Port

What to study?

For Prelims: Location of Chabahar port.

For Mains: Significance of the port for India, Challenges to its development.

 Context: India, Afghanistan and Iran recently met to discuss the issues in the implementation of Chabahar port in Iran.

This was the second meeting of the Follow-up Committee for implementation of the trilateral Chabahar Agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran at the level of Joint Secretary/ Director General.

Outcomes of the meet:

  1. The three countries have decided to open Mormugoa and New Mangalore Port in addition to JNPT, Mundra, Kandla and Cochin as part of designated route under the Chabahar Agreement.
  2. It was agreed to finalise the protocol to harmonise transit, roads, customs and consular matters. Till that time, the TIR Convention will continue to be used for cargo movement.


The work of the Chabahar port is being conducted by the Port Global Ltd Company.

Where is Chabahar Port?

Located on the Gulf of Oman and is the only oceanic port of the country.

Why Chabahar port is important for India?

  1. With this, India can bypass Pakistan in transporting goods to Afghanistan.
  2. It will also boost India’s access to Iran, the key gateway to the International North-South Transport Corridor that has sea, rail and road routes between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia.
  3. It also helps India counter Chinese presence in the Arabian Seawhich China is trying to ensure by helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar port. Gwadar port is less than 400 km from Chabahar by road and 100 km by sea.
  4. With Chabahar port being developed and operated by India, Iran also becomes a military ally to India. Chabahar could be used in case China decides to flex its navy muscles by stationing ships in Gwadar port to reckon its upper hand in the Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf and Middle East.
  5. Trade benefits: With Chabahar port becoming functional, there will be a significant boost in the import of iron ore, sugar and rice to India. The import cost of oil to India will also see a considerable decline. India has already increased its crude purchase from Iran since the West imposed ban on Iran was lifted.
  6. From a diplomatic perspective, Chabahar port could be used as a point from where humanitarian operations could be coordinated.

Sources: the Hindu.

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

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

What to study?

For Prelims: Key features of NAFTA and United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

For Mains: Controversies surrounding NAFTA.

 Context: The House of Representatives has passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — the replacement for NAFTA, or the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The new deal includes stronger labor and environmental provisions. American labor groups have backed the new trade deal.

About United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):

It’s basically NAFTA 2.0, with major changes on cars and new policies on labor and environmental standards, intellectual property protections, and some digital trade provisions. The changes include:

Country of origin rules: Automobiles must have 75% of their components manufactured in Mexico, the US, or Canada to qualify for zero tariffs (up from 62.5 percent under NAFTA).

Labor provisions: 40 to 45 percent of automobile parts have to be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour by 2023. Mexico has also agreed to pass laws giving workers the right to union representation, extend labor protections to migrant workers, and protect women from discrimination. The countries can also sanction one another for labor violations.

US farmers get more access to the Canadian dairy market: The US got Canada to open up its dairy market to US farmers, which was a big issue for Trump.

Intellectual property and digital trade: The deal extends the terms of copyright to 70 years beyond the life of the author (up from 50). It also extends the period that a pharmaceutical drug can be protected from generic competition.

It also includes new provisions to deal with the digital economy, including prohibiting duties on things like music and e-books, and protections for internet companies so they’re not liable for content their users produce.

Sunset clause: The agreement puts in a 16-year “sunset” clause — meaning the terms of the agreement expire, or “sunset,” after a set period of time. The deal is also subject to a review every six years, at which point the US, Mexico, and Canada can decide to extend USMCA.

What is NAFTA?

NAFTA is the initialism for the North American Free Trade Agreement, an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States that reduced or eliminated trade barriers in North America. (Since the U.S. and Canada already had a free trade agreement (signed in 1988), NAFTA merely brought Mexico into the trade bloc.)

Negotiations for the trade agreement began in 1990 under the administration of George H.W. Bush and were finalized under Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1993. The agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994.

What was the purpose of NAFTA?

  1. In 1993 the European Union (EU) created a “single market”—one territory without any internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services. This allowed every country and business in the EU to have access to more than 500 million consumers.
  2. NAFTA, which was approved that same year, was designed to have a similar effect, providing a way to allow the exchange of goods and services to flow more freely across national borders without the artificial restrictions.
  3. NAFTA provided for progressive elimination of all tariffs on any goods qualifying as North American. The deal also sought to protect intellectual property, establish dispute-resolution mechanisms, and, through corollary agreements, implement labor and environmental safeguards.

Why is NAFTA controversial?

NAFTA was controversial when first proposed, mostly because it was the first [free trade agreement] involving two wealthy, developed countries and a developing country. Some people felt that allowing free trade with a developing country provides an incentive for U.S-based business to move their operations to that country.

Since its implementation NAFTA has remained a prime target of trade protectionists (those who advocate taking measures such as taxing imports to “protect” domestic industries from foreign competition).

Sources: the hindu.

GS Paper : 3

Topics Covered: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

EChO Network

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features and significance of the Network.

Context: Indian Government has launched a network to encourage cross-disciplinary leadership- Called EChO Network.

Aim: To identify gaps in knowledge regarding environment and then train postdoctoral leaders in research and outreach on these topics, incorporating current public and private efforts.

Key features:

  • It will provide a template for cross-disciplinary leadership in India with the specific focus of increasing research, knowledge, and awareness of Indian ecology and the environment.
  • The Network would develop a national network to catalyse a new generation of Indians who can synthesize interdisciplinary concepts and tackle real-world problems in medicine, agriculture, ecology, and technology.

How it works?

  1. Through interactive sessions with citizens, industry, academia, and the government, the Network will identify gaps in knowledge regarding selected topics in human and environmental ecosystems.
  2. The program will then train postdoctoral leaders in research and outreach on these topics, while also incorporating current public and private efforts into a national network.
  3. It would then go on to establishing nation-wide awareness in these issues through public discourse and education for citizens, industry, and government with information exchange at all educational levels.

The need:

Despite concerted efforts to promote ecological and environmental research, India lacks trained scientists with interdisciplinary skills and collaborative mind-set. Educators and students need to be trained to identify and solve problems in an interdisciplinary manner.

This network will inspire an entirely new approach to Indian education and exploration necessary for the post-technological world.

Sources: pib.

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

European Green Deal

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview and features of Green Deal.

For Mains: Significance and the need for the deal.

Context: On the sidelines of recently concluded annual Madrid Climate talks, the European Union came up with an announcement on additional measures it would on climate change. It is Called the European Green Deal.

 Overview and key features of the European Green Deal:

Climate neutrality: The EU has promised to bring a law, binding on all member countries, to ensure it becomes “climate neutral” by 2050.

  • What is it? Climate neutrality, sometimes also expressed as a state of net-zero emissions, is achieved when a country’s emissions are balanced by absorptions and removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Absorption can be increased by creating more carbon sinks like forests, while removal involves technologies like carbon capture and storage.

 Increase in 2030 emission reduction target:

  • In its climate action plan declared under the Paris Agreement, the EU was committed to making a 40 per cent reduction in its emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. It is now promising to increase this reduction to at least 50 per cent and work towards 55 per cent.

 Significance of the deal:

EU with 28 member countries are together the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after China and the United States. Therefore, the announcement was hailed as a major step forward, even though it needs complementary efforts from other countries to make a significant impact.

Implications and Lessons for other countries:

  • Over the last few months, there had been a growing demand for countries to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050. The UN Secretary-General had convened a special meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly session in September to persuade countries to commit to this target. Over 60 countries had agreed to scale up their climate actions, or to the 2050 target, but these were all relatively small emitters. The EU is now the first major emitter to agree to the 2050 climate neutrality target.
  • The EU also happens to be only one among major emitters to retain the 1990 baseline for emission cuts, originally mandated under the Kyoto Protocol for all developed countries. Most other countries have shifted their baselines to 2005 or even later under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

What else is expected from developed regions like EU?

EU has not been fulfilling all its climate obligations. The Kyoto Protocol required the rich and developed countries to provide finance and technology to the developing countries to help them fight climate change. In those respects, there has been little climate money flowing out of the EU, especially for adaptation needs of developing countries, and transfer of new climate-friendly technologies has been mired in patent and ownership complications.

This is the reason why developing countries, like India and China, have been repeatedly raising the issue of unfulfilled obligations of developed countries in the pre-2020 period, that is covered by the Kyoto Protocol.

Concerns and challenges:

The Green Deal is important but inadequate in itself to achieve the emission reductions that scientific assessments say would be required to save the world from catastrophic and irreversible impacts of climate change.

There has been no signal from other big emitters, including large developing countries like China and India, that they were considering immediate scaling up of their climate actions.

  • As long as many international partners do not share the same ambition as the EU, there is a risk of carbon leakage, either because production is transferred from the EU to other countries with lower ambition for emission reduction, or because EU products are replaced by more carbon-intensive imports.
  • If this risk materializes, there will be no reduction in global emissions, and this will frustrate the efforts of EU and its industries to meet the global climate objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Sources: Indian Express.

Facts for prelims:

Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP):

Why in News? The Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) has been recognised formally by the National Department of Regulation of Medicines and Health Products of the Ministry of Public Health of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

It will also be used based on the requirement as reputable pharmacopoeia in the laboratory of medicines and health products quality.

What is IP?

IP is an officially recognized book of standards as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules 1945 thereunder.

The IP specifies the standards of drugs manufactured and marketed in India in terms of their identity, purity and strength.