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Table of Contents:


GS Paper 2:

1. Cooperative banks under RBI.

2. Select Committee recommendations on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill.

3. Supreme Court panel recommends several prison reforms.


GS Paper 3:

1. Soil Health Cards (SHC) scheme.

2. International IP Index 2020.

3. Vadhavan port.


GS Paper  : 2


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

Cooperative banks under RBI

What to study?

For Prelims: Cooperative banks- composition, functions and regulations.

For Mains: The issue of dual regulation and ways to address it.

 Context: Union Cabinet has approved to bring regulation of cooperative banks under Reserve Bank of India. In order to achieve this, the Cabinet approved amendments to Banking regulation act.

The amendments will apply to all urban co-operative banks and multi-state cooperative banks.

As per the changes:

  1. Cooperative banks will be audited according to RBI’s norms.
  2. RBI can supersede the board, in consultation with the state government, if any cooperative bank is under stress.
  3. Appointments of chief executives will also require permission from the banking regulator, as is the case for commercial banks.

Why this was necessary?

This was felt necessary in the wake of the recent Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank crisis.

Cooperative banks have 8.6 lakh account holders, with a total deposit of about ₹5 lakh crore.

Besides, Urban cooperative banks reported nearly 1,000 cases of fraud worth more than ₹220 crore in past five fiscal years.

How cooperative banks are regulated?

Cooperative banks are currently under the dual control of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and RBI. While the role of registrar of cooperative societies includes incorporation, registration, management, audit, supersession of board and liquidation, RBI is responsible for regulatory functions such maintaining cash reserve and capital adequacy, among others.

What are co-operative banks?

Co-operative banks are financial entities established on a co-operative basis and belonging to their members. This means that the customers of a co-operative bank are also its owners.

Sources: the Hindu.


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

Select Committee recommendations on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features, changes and significance.

Context: 15 major changes have been suggested in a report presented by the Select Committee on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill.

The bill prohibits commercial surrogacy and allow only altruistic surrogacy.


The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in August 2019, but had to be referred for re-assessment to the select committee in November 2019, as several Rajya Sabha members found certain clauses contentious such as allowing only altruistic surrogacy with a near relative as a surrogate.

Key Recommendations:

  1. Keep an option for compensating the surrogate mother beyond medical expenses and insurance coverage that includes taking care of her nutritional food requirements, maternity wear, etc. that is vital for the wellbeing and upkeep of the surrogate mother.
  2. The controversial clause of “close relative” has been done away with and instead the committee has recommended the term to be replaced with a “willing woman”.
  3. Who can opt? Single women, including a widow and divorcee, between the ages of 35 and 45 years, should be able to opt for surrogacy.
  4. Increase insurance cover for the surrogate mother from the 16 months proposed in the Bill to 36 months.
  5. In order to protect the interests of the child born through surrogacy, the order regarding the parentage and custody of the child, issued by a Magistrate, shall be the birth affidavit for the surrogate child.

Need for regulation:

India has emerged as a surrogacy hub for couples from other countries and there have been reports concerning unethical practices, exploitation of surrogate mothers, abandonment of children born out of surrogacy, and rackets involving intermediaries importing human embryos and gametes. The 228th report of the Law Commission of India has recommended prohibiting commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy by enacting suitable legislation.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.

Supreme Court panel recommends several prison reforms

What to study?

For Prelims: Committee constituted for the purpose.

For Mains: Prison reforms- need, concerns, challenges and reforms suggested.

Context: Supreme Court panel recommends several prison reforms.

Key recommendations:

  1. Every new prisoner should be allowed a free phone call a day to his family members to see him through his first week in jail.
  2. Modern cooking facilities, canteens to buy essential items and trial through video-conferencing should be made available.
  3. Speedy trial remains one of the best ways to remedy the unwarranted phenomenon of over-crowding.
  4. There should be at least one lawyer for every 30 prisoners, which is not the case at present.
  5. Special fast-track courts should be set up to deal exclusively with petty offences which have been pending for more than five years.


The court had in September 2018 appointed the Justice Roy Committee to examine the various problems plaguing prisons, from overcrowding to lack of legal advice to convicts to issues of remission and parole.

The decision was in reaction to a letter written by former Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti highlighting the overcrowding of prisons, unnatural deaths of prisoners, gross inadequacy of staff and the lack of trained staff.

Need for reforms:

  1. NHRC figures show that prisoners cut off from family and friends had a 50% more chance of committing suicide than those outside. The average suicide rate in prisons is over 50% more than in normal conditions.
  2. Indian prisons face three long-standing structural constraints: overcrowding, understaffing and underfunding. The inevitable outcome is sub-human living conditions, poor hygiene, and violent clashes between the inmates and jail authorities.
  3. In the absence of adequate prison staff, overcrowding of prisons leads to rampant violence and other criminal activities inside the jails.

Way ahead:

Indian jails have often been dubbed as a university for grooming criminals due to pathetic and inhumane conditions. In the absence of a robust Whistleblower Protection Act and structural changes to address the issues of overcrowding and understaffing, India’s prisons will continue to be heaven for politically connected criminals and hell for socio-economically disadvantaged undertrials, some regular media uproars notwithstanding.

Fundamental rights of prisoners cannot be placed in the back-burner and the Centre and the states need to be more pro-active in sensitising staff about the need to treat prisoners as humanely as possible.

Facts for Prelims:

‘Prisons/persons detained therein’ is a State subject under Entry 4 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.

Sources: the hindu.


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Soil Health Cards (SHC) scheme

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key features, objectives and significance of the scheme.

Context: In the second phase of the scheme’s implementation, 11.69 crore Soil Health Cards were distributed to farmers in two years.

And the scheme has led to a decline of 8-10% in the use of chemical fertilizers and also raised productivity by 5-6%.

About the scheme:

Launched in 2015.

Under the scheme, the government plans to issue soil cards to farmers which will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilisers required for the individual farms.

This will help farmers to improve productivity through judicious use of inputs.

About the Soil Health Card:

  1. A Soil Health Card is used to assess the current status of soil health and, when used over time, to determine changes in soil health that are affected by land management.
  2. It displays soil health indicators and associated descriptive terms. The indicators are typically based on farmers’ practical experience and knowledge of local natural resources.
  3. The card lists soil health indicators that can be assessed without the aid of technical or laboratory equipment.

What it contains?

It will contain the status of his soil with respect to 12 parameters, namely N,P,K (Macro-nutrients); S (Secondary- nutrient); Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn, Bo (Micro – nutrients); and pH, EC, OC (Physical parameters). Based on this, the SHC will also indicate fertilizer recommendations and soil amendment required for the farm.

Sources: pib.


Topics Covered: IP related issues.

International IP Index 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: About the IIP Index and performance of India and its neighbours.

For Mains: Performance analysis of India and challenges ahead, measures needed to ensure transparency and enhance protection.

ContextThe International IP Index 2020 has been released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC).

What is IIP index?

Released by GIPC, the Index evaluates the IP infrastructure in each economy based on 45 unique indicators, which are critical to the growth of effective IP systems.

The indicators encompass 8 categories of IP protection: patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, commercialization of IP assets, enforcement, systemic efficiency, and membership and ratification of international treaties.

Performance of India:

  1. Ranked 40 out of 53 global economies.
  2. Last year India was ranked at 36th position out of 50 countries.
  3. India also continues to score well in the Systemic Efficiency indicator, scoring ahead of 28 other economies in these indicators.

Observations made on India:

  1. Since the release of the 2016 National IPR Policy, the Government of India has made a focused effort to support investments in innovation and creativity through increasingly robust IP protection and enforcement.
  2. Implementation of the policy has improved the speed of processing for patent and trademark applications, increased awareness of IP rights among Indian innovators and creators.
  3. India has made significant progress towards establishing stronger IP protections—but the “job is not yet done”.
  4. In 2019, the Delhi High Court used dynamic injunctions to disable access to copyright-infringing content online, resulting in an increase in India’s score on two of the copyright-related indicators. As a result, India scores ahead of 24 other economies in the copyright indicators.

Way ahead for India:

To continue this upward trajectory, much work remains to be done to introduce transformative changes to India’s overall IP framework and take serious steps to consistently implement strong IP standards.

GIPC has identified several challenges for India. Prominent among them being patentability requirements, patent enforcement, compulsory licensing, patent opposition, regulatory data protection, transparency in reporting seizures by customs, and Singapore Treaty of Law of TMs and Patent Law Treaty.

Global performance:

Top five economies: The US, the UK, Sweden, France and Germany.

The need for protection of IP rights:

  1. Intellectual Property Creates and Supports High-Paying Jobs.
  2. Intellectual Property Drives Economic Growth and Competitiveness.
  3. Strong and Enforced Intellectual Property Rights Protect Consumers and Families.
  4. Intellectual Property Helps Generate Breakthrough Solutions to Global Challenges.
  5. Intellectual Property Rights Encourage Innovation and Reward Entrepreneurs.

Sources: the hindu.


Topics Covered: Investment models.

Vadhavan port and landlord model

What to study?

For Prelims: Major ports in India and about landlord model.

For Mains: Need for and significance of this model.

Context: The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to set up a major port at Vadhavan near Dahanu in Maharashtra with a total cost of ₹65,545 crore.

Key facts:

  1. This will be 13th major port in India.
  2. With the development of this port, India will become one of the countries in the top-10 container ports in the world.
  3. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be formed with Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) as the lead partner, with equity participation equal to or more than 50% to implement the project.
  4. The port will be developed on the landlord model.

How many major ports are there in India currently?

Currently, India has 12 major ports at Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), VO Chidambaranar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia).

What is landlord model?

  1. In the landlord port model, the publicly governed port authority acts as a regulatory body and as landlord while private companies carry out port operations—mainly cargo-handling activities.
  2. Here, the port authority maintains ownership of the port while the infrastructure is leased to private firms that provide and maintain their own superstructure and install own equipment to handle cargo.
  3. In return, the landlord port gets a share of the revenue from the private entity.
  4. The role of the landlord port authority would be to carry out all public sector services and operations such as the award of bids for cargo terminals and dredging.


  • Currently, most major port trusts in India carry out terminal operations as well, resulting in a hybrid model of port governance.
  • The involvement of the port authorities in terminal operations leads to a conflict of interest and works against objectivity.

The neutrality of the landlord port authority is a basic requirement for fair competition between port service providers, particularly the terminal operators.

Sources: pib.