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Table of Contents:


GS Paper 1:

1. Supreme Court upholds changes to SC/ST atrocities law.


GS Paper 2:

1. Special category status.

2. National Deworming Day.


GS Paper 3:

1. What is CRR or cash reserve ratio?

2. Protected Special Agricultural Zone’ (PSAZ).

3. Solar Orbiter Mission.

4. Global conservation list.


Facts for Prelims:

1. Sham Singh Atariwala.

2. Chindu Yakshaganam.

3. Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC).

4. Integrated Air Defence Weapon System.

5. R.D. Tata.

6. World Pulses Day.


GS Paper  : 1


Topics Covered: Social empowerment and Indian society.

Supreme Court upholds changes to SC/ST atrocities law

What to study?

For Prelims: What is Anticipatory bail? Supreme Court Judgment, over of SC/ST atrocities law.

For Mains: Concerns over misuse, impact of Supreme Court ruling, implications and way ahead.

What’s the issue?

The Supreme Court has upheld a 2018 amendment which barred persons accused of committing atrocities against those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes from getting anticipatory bail. The Court upheld the constitutionality of Section 18A of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018. The sole purpose of Section 18A was to nullify a controversial March 20, 2018, judgment of the Supreme Court diluting the stringent anti-bail provisions of the original Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989.

Views of the Court:

  • A High Court would also have an “inherent power” to grant anticipatory bail in cases in which prima facie an offence under the anti-atrocities law is not made out.
  • Besides, a High Court, in “exceptional cases”, could also quash cases to prevent the misuse of the anti-atrocities law.
  • However, the courts should take care to use this power to grant anticipatory bail “only sparingly and in very exceptional cases”. It should not become a norm lest it leads to miscarriage of justice and abuse of the process of law.

 What’s there in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018?

  1. A preliminary inquiry is not essential before lodging an FIR under the act and the approval of senior police officials is not needed.
  2. There is no provision for anticipatory bail to the accused being charged with SC/ST Act.

 Why stringent provisions against SC/ST atrocities are necessary?

Such stringent terms, otherwise contrary to the philosophy of bail, are absolutely essential, because a liberal use of the power to grant pre-arrest bail would defeat the intention of Parliament.

The express provisions of the Constitution and statutes like the Act, meant to protect the oppressed classes, underline the social or collective resolve to ensure that “all humans are treated as humans, that their innate genius is allowed outlets through equal opportunities and each of them is fearless in the pursuit of her or his dreams”.

Way ahead:

Unless provisions of the Act (anti-atrocities law) are enforced in their true letter and spirit, with utmost earnestness and dispatch, the dream and ideal of a casteless society will remain only a dream, a mirage. The marginalisation of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities is an enduring exclusion and is based almost solely on caste identities.


In March 2018, Supreme Court diluted the stringent provisions of SC/ST Act (Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra).

The verdict saw a huge backlash across the country. The government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court and subsequently amended the 1989 Act back to its original form.

Guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and rationale behind it:

Supreme court gave the judgement on the pretext that Innocents cannot be terrorised by the provisions of the SC/ST Act and their fundamental rights need to be protected.

  • The court said that public servants could be arrested only with the written permission of their appointing authority.
  • In the case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it.
  • A preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the FIR was registered to check if the case fell within the ambit of the Act, and whether it was frivolous or motivated, the court ruled.

Why this decision?

The court referred to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2015, which said that closure reports had been filed in 15-16 percent of the complaints under the Act.

  • Over 75% of such cases taken up by the courts had resulted in acquittals/ withdrawal or compounding of the cases.
  • Therefore, there was a need to safeguard innocent citizens against false implication and unnecessary arrest for which there is no sanction under the law.


Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  : 2


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

Special category status

What to study?

For Prelims: SCS- features, implications and criteria.

For Mains: Significance, the need for and concerns associated.

Context: Andhra Pradesh has revived its demand for Special Category Status (SCS).


It was the bifurcation promise and 15th Finance Commission report that stated that ‘grant of SCS lies in the hands of the Centre’. SCS was promised to Andhra Pradesh by the then Congress government at the Centre in 2014, at the time of bifurcation which resulted in the formation of Telangana. The then Opposition party BJP too agreed to it and even stated that SCS would be extended by five more years if it was voted to power.

What is Special Category Status?

There is no provision of SCS in the Constitution; the Central government extends financial assistance to states that are at a comparative disadvantage against others. The concept of SCS emerged in 1969 when the Gadgil formula (that determined Central assistance to states) was approved.


Some prominent guidelines for getting SCS status:

  1. Must be economically backward with poor infrastructure.
  2. The states must be located in hilly and challenging terrain.
  3. They should have low population density and significant tribal population.
  4. Should be strategically situated along the borders of neighboring countries.

Benefits states confer with special category status:

  1. The central government bears 90 percent of the state expenditure on all centrally-sponsored schemes and external aid while rest 10 percent is given as loan to state at zero percent rate of interest.
  2. Preferential treatment in getting central funds.
  3. Concession on excise duty to attract industries to the state.
  4. 30 percent of the Centre’s gross budget also goes to special category states.
  5. These states can avail the benefit of debt-swapping and debt relief schemes.
  6. States with special category status are exempted from customs duty, corporate tax, income tax and other taxes to attract investment.
  7. Special category states have the facility that if they have unspent money in a financial year; it does not lapse and gets carry forward for the next financial year.

Other benefits:

Besides tax breaks and other benefits, the State with SCS will get 90% of all the expenditure on Centrally sponsored schemes as Central grant. The rest of the 10% will also be given as a loan at zero per cent interest. Usually, the ratio for general category States is 70% loan and 30% grant.

When was the first Special Category status bestowed?

First SCS was accorded in 1969 to Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland. Over the years, eight more states were added to the list — Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura and, finally, in 2010, Uttarakhand. Until 2014-15, SCS meant these 11 states received a variety of benefits and sops.

Concerns associated:

Considering special status to any new State will result in demands from other States and dilute the benefits further. It is also not economically beneficial for States to seek special status as the benefits under the current dispensation are minimal. Therefore, States facing special problems will be better off seeking a special package.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Issues related to health and management of human resources.

National Deworming Day

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: NDD- features and need, what is deworming and the need for it, and what are Intestinal parasitic worms?

Context: NDD is observed bi-annually on 10th February and 10th August in all states and UTs followed by mop-up activities.

About the National Deworming Day:

  1. The National Deworming Day is a single fixed-day approach to treating intestinal worm infections in all children aged 1- 19 years.
  2. It will mobilize health personnel, state governments and other stakeholders to prioritize investment in control of Soil Transmitted Helminth (STH) infections one of the most common infections.
  3. All the children are provided deworming tablet in schools and anganwadis. Besides the deworming tablet, various health promotion activities related to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) are organised in schools and anganwadis.
  4. The NDD program is a cost-effective program at scale that continues to reach crores of children and adolescents with deworming benefits through a safe medicine Albendazole.


India carries the highest burden of worm infestation and 64% of Indian population less than 14 years of age are at risk of Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) or worms’ infestation (WHO). Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) interfere with nutrients uptake in children; can lead to anaemia, malnourishment and impaired mental and physical development. The situation of undernutrition and anaemia which is linked to STH ranges from 40% to 70% in different population groups across the country (WHO). They also pose a serious threat to children’s education and productivity later in life.


About Intestinal parasitic worms:

They are large multicellular organisms, which when mature can generally be seen with the naked eye. They are also known as Helminths. They are often referred to as intestinal worms even though not all helminths reside in the intestines.

Why this is a cause for concern?

Parasitic worms in children interfere with nutrient uptake, and can contribute to anaemia, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development. Parasitic worms have also debilitating consequences on the health and education of children, and on their long-term earning potential.

Significance of NDD:

  • Anganwadi and school-based mass deworming program is safe, cost-effective, and can reach crores of children quickly.
  • Deworming has been shown to reduce absenteeism in schools; improve health, nutritional, and learning outcomes; and increase the likelihood of higher-wage jobs later in life.
  • Deworming with the safe and beneficial Albendazole tablet is an evidence-based, globally-accepted, and effective solution to controlling worm infections.

National Deworming Day has, thus, been designed to reach all children, regardless of socio-economic background.

Sources: pib.


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered: Indian economy related issues.

What is CRR or cash reserve ratio?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Meaning, features and significance.

Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has exempted banks from maintaining cash reserve ratio (CRR) for loans to retail and micro, small and medium enterprises for five years, if these loans are extended between January 31 and July 31, 2020.


At present, CRR is 4% of net demand and time liabilities. Banks do not earn any interest for maintaining CRR with the RBI.

What is CRR?

  • It is a certain minimum amount of deposit that the commercial banks have to hold as reserves with the central bank.
  • The percentage of cash required to be kept in reserves, vis-a-vis a bank’s total deposits, is called the Cash Reserve Ratio.
  • The cash reserve is either stored in the bank’s vault or is sent to the RBI. Banks do not get any interest on the money that is with the RBI under the CRR requirements.


Cash reserve ratio is:

  1. It is also referred to as the amount of funds which the banks have to keep with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  2. It’s a vice-versa process.
  3. If a central bank increases CRR then the available amount with the banks decreases or comes down.
  4. The CRR is used by RBI to wipe out excessive money from the system.

There are two primary purposes of the Cash Reserve Ratio:

  1. Since a part of the bank’s deposits is with the Reserve Bank of India, it ensures the security of the amount. It makes it readily available when customers want their deposits back.
  2. Also, CRR helps in keeping inflation under control. At the time of high inflation in the economy, RBI increases the CRR, so that banks need to keep more money in reserves so that they have less money to lend further.

How does Cash Reserve Ratio help in times of high inflation?

At the time of high inflation, the government needs to ensure that excess money is not available in the economy.

  • To that extent, RBI increases the Cash Reserve Ratio, and the amount of money that is available with the banks reduces. This curbs excess flow of money in the economy.

When the government needs to pump funds into the system, it lowers the CRR rate, which in turn, helps the banks provide loans to a large number of businesses and industries for investment purposes. Lower CRR also boosts the growth rate of the economy.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Protected Special Agricultural Zone’ (PSAZ)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: PSAZ- features, need for and significance.

Context: Tamil Nadu CM declares Cauvery Delta as Protected Special Agriculture Zone. A law in this regard will be enacted soon. The protected zone will include Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam districts and delta regions of Trichy, Ariyalur, Cuddalore and Pudukkottai.


PSAZ is aimed at protecting the Cauvery delta region for the future, fulfilling TN’s food requirements and ensuring the welfare of delta farmers. It has recognised farmer concerns about hydrocarbon exploration and accorded primacy to food security.

Need for:

The delta, which produces 33 lakh tonnes of grains in 28 lakh acres, has seen multiple protests for a decade over methane, hydrocarbon, oil and natural gas projects, which required acquisition of fertile lands and well drilling — proposals which triggered fears of groundwater contamination.

Challenges ahead:

Tamil Nadu now has to enact legislation to protect a vast region, largely in the coastal area, from industries that would affect farming.

The State has its challenges:

  1. In 2017, a government notification delineated 45 villages covering about 23,000 hectares in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts in the delta, as a Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region, with an eye on over ₹90,000 crore in investments. The proposed PSAZ raises a question mark on this ambitious scheme.
  2. The government may have to brave central pressure and litigation from companies which pumped in money for exploration.
  3. The decision may also have implications for the State’s investment climate.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

Solar Orbiter Mission

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Objectives, features and significance of the mission.

Context: Solar Orbiter mission was launched recently.

  • The mission is a collaboration between ESA (the European Space Agency) and NASA.
  • The spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

About Solar Orbiter:

Solar Orbiter is a mission dedicated to solar and heliospheric physics.

It was selected as the first medium-class mission of ESA’s Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 Programme.

This is the first mission that will provide images of the sun’s north and south poles using a suite of six instruments on board that will capture the spacecraft’s view. It is a seven-year mission and will come within 26 million miles of the sun. It will be able to brave the heat of the sun because it has a custom titanium heat shield coated in calcium phosphate so that it can endure temperatures up to 970 degrees Fahrenheit.



  • Solar Orbiter will be used to examine how the Sun creates and controls the heliosphere, the vast bubble of charged particles blown by the solar wind into the interstellar medium.
  • The spacecraft will combine in situ and remote sensing observations to gain new information about the solar wind, the heliospheric magnetic field, solar energetic particles, transient interplanetary disturbances and the Sun’s magnetic field.

Solar Orbiter will set about answering four top-level science questions:

  1. What drives the solar wind and where does the coronal magnetic field originate from?
  2. How do solar transients drive heliospheric variability?
  3. How do solar eruptions produce energetic particle radiation that fills the heliosphere?
  4. How does the solar dynamo work and drive connections between the Sun and the heliosphere?


Understanding the sun’s magnetic field and solar wind are key because they contribute to space weather, which impacts Earth by interfering with networked systems like GPS, communications and even astronauts on the International Space Station. The sun’s magnetic field is so massive that it stretches beyond Pluto, providing a pathway for solar wind to travel directly across the solar system.

Journey ahead:

It will take Solar Orbiter about two years to reach its highly elliptical orbit around the sun. Gravity assists from Earth and Venus will help swing the spacecraft out of the ecliptic plane, or the space that aligns with the sun’s equator, so it can study the sun’s poles from above and below. The mission will work in tandem with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which is currently orbiting the sun on a seven-year mission and just completed its fourth close approach of the star.


Solar Orbiter follows the Ulysses spacecraft, another collaboration between ESA and NASA that launched in 1990 and also flew over the sun’s poles. Ulysses completed three passes of the sun before its mission ended in 2009, but its view was limited to what it could see from the sun’s equator.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Global conservation list

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Implications and significance of the move, about CMS.

Context: India will be moving to include the Asian Elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in global conservation list- the list of species that merit heightened conservation measures.

  • The list will be debated at the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an environment treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • The COP is scheduled to be organised from February 17 to 22 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • India has been designated the President of the COP for the next three years.

Implications and significance:

Having the elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in the list — more formally known as Appendix 1 — would coax countries neighbouring India, where wild animals such as tigers and elephant foray into, to direct more resources and attention to protecting them. There are now 173 species in the Appendix 1.

About CMS:

In order to protect the migratory species throughout their range countries, a Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), has been in force, under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme.

Also referred to as the Bonn Convention, it provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats and brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.

Classification of species:

Under this convention, migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I and Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them. Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention.

CMS is only global and UN-based intergovernmental organization established exclusively for conservation and management of terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range.

What are migratory species? Why protect them?

  • Migratory species are those animals that move from one habitat to another during different times of the year, due to various factors such as food, sunlight, temperature, climate, etc.
  • The movement between habitats, can sometimes exceed thousands of miles/kilometres for some migratory birds and mammals. A migratory route can involve nesting and also requires the availability of habitats before and after each migration.

Sources: the Hindu.


Facts for Prelims


Sham Singh Atariwala:

  • Sham Singh Attariwala (1790 – 1846) was a general of the Sikh Empire.
  • Attariwala participated in many campaigns, including the Battles of Multan, Kashmir and the Frontier Province.
  • Owing to his courage and influence over the Khalsa army, Sham Singh was nominated to the Council of Regency set up by Maharani Jind Kaur for the minor sovereign Maharaja Duleep Singh.
  • During the first Anglo-Sikh war, he crossed the Sutlej, vowing to lay down his life rather than return in defeat.

Context: 174th death anniversary of Sikh General Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala observes on Feb 10th.


Chindu Yakshaganam:

Chindu Yakshaganam, a.k.a Chindu Bhagavatam is a form of theatre practised by members of the Chindu Madiga community.

  • It is a form of entertainment in villages across Telangana, with the artists skilfully depicting classic tales from the epics and entertaining the masses.
  • The art form probably started when people enacted acts of hunting, wars and other acts of valour.
  • The Chindu community has traditionally been a nomadic community.


Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC):

It is in Moscow, Russia.

Why in News?

Four Indian pilots have begun astronaut training here.

The full programme includes basic or generic astronaut training followed by activities specific to the first Indian human space mission, Gaganyaan.

At the end of all training modules in India and Russia, one or two of the four will be finally named to circle the earth in the first crewed Gaganyaan, which is planned around 2022.


Integrated Air Defence Weapon System:

  • The Integrated Air Defence Weapon System, also known as the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS), provides integrated air missile defence and is currently deployed around Washington, DC.
  • The IADWS system includes radar, launchers, targeting, and guidance systems, advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and Stinger missiles, and related equipment and support.

Why in News?

The U.S. Department of State has approved the potential sale of a $1.867 billion Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India.


J.R.D. Tata:

It was on February 10, 1929 that India got its its first pilot in Jehangir R.D. Tata, who qualified with number 1 on his flying licence, giving birth to Indian aviation.

  • R.D’s licence, then called an ‘aviators certificate’, was issued by The Aero Club of India and Burma, an associate of the Royal Aero Club of Great Britain, which was authorised to issue licences by the British Empire’s Federation Aeronautique Internationale.
  • The Aero Club of India and Burma was recognised by Federation Aeronautique Internationale as a sporting authority.
  • Though not the first to register, J.R.D was the first Indian to pass out with ‘No. 1’ endorsed on his flying licence. Purushottam Meghji Kabali is by various aviator accounts considered to be the first Indian pilot.


Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR – 2020:

Context: The fifth edition of the Joint Military Exercise AJEYA WARRIOR – 2020 between India and the United Kingdom will be conducted at Salisbury Plains, United Kingdom in February 2020.

  • The aim of this exercise is to conduct company level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorists operation in urban and semi-urban areas.
  • The first edition of the exercise was conducted in 2013 at Belgaum,


World Pulses Day:

  • Established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to recognize the importance of pulses as a global food.
  • It has been designated on February 10 each year since 2019 by the seventy-third session of the United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2018.