Answer booklet of Sachin Gupta AIR-3 (UPSC IAS 2018)

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It is a web-based software application developed and implemented by the Office of Controller General of
Accounts (CGA).
Its coverage includes Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Schemes as well as other expenditures
including the Finance Commission Grants.
It acts as a financial management platform for government schemes as well as a payment cum accounting
network. It is further integrated with the core banking system and has an interface with 170 Banks across the
country including the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).


Better monitoring of funds and transparency: It establishes a common electronic platform for complete
tracking of funds from central government to various agencies by providing real time information on
resource availability, flows and actual utilization of funds.
Better financial management: It has the potential to improve financial management by reducing the float in
the financial systems by enabling ‘just in time’ releases of Funds. It can further reduce Government
borrowings with direct impact on interest costs to the Government.
Adoption of e-governance and good governance: It would also reduce the paper work involved, promote
the use of technology in governance and increased accountability of public funds thus promoting good
Address stalling of funds and red-tapism: It would enable better monitoring and tracking of any
unnecessary parked funds by the implementing agencies, minimizing cases of delay and pending payments.
ChallengesImmense groundwork required: Massive preparatory work is required for achieving full PFMS
implementation including software/hardware up-gradation, training personnel at every level.
Skewed nature of ICT infrastructure in richer states also acts as a challenge with regard to less
technologically developed states.
Slow pace of adoption of technology in governance.


Everything you need for UPSC CSE IAS Mains GS Paper 3 (Economy,Sci,Env)


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General Studies -III (Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management) of 250 marks which may include following topics:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
  • Government Budgeting.
  • 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
  • Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.
  • Food processing and related industries in India- scope and significance, location, upstream and downstream requirements, supply chain management.
  • Land reforms in India.
  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
  • Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
  • Investment models.
  • Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
  • Disaster and disaster management.
  • Linkages between development and spread of extremism
  • Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security
  • Challenges to internal security through communication networks, role of media and social networking sites in internal security challenges, basics of cyber security; money-laundering and its prevention
  • Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism
  • Various Security forces and agencies and their mandate


All Books and material for UPSC CSE IAS History preparation(Prelims and Mains)


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Everything you need to know about the National Green Tribunal (NGT)

Most conservationists would have heard of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), and some may have already filed applications before it. This short primer explains how, when and where to approach the NGT, and looks at the fundamental difference between courts and tribunals, and the structure and jurisdiction of the NGT.
The NGT was established on October 18, 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act 2010, passed by the Central Government. The stated objective of the Central Government was to provide a specialized forum for effective and speedy disposal of cases pertaining to environment protection, conservation of forests and for seeking compensation for damages caused to people or property due to violation of environmental laws or conditions specified while granting permissions.
Following the enactment of the said law, the Principal Bench of the NGT has been established in the National Capital – New Delhi, with regional benches in Pune (Western Zone Bench), Bhopal (Central Zone Bench), Chennai (Southern Bench) and Kolkata (Eastern Bench). Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction covering several States in a region. There is also a mechanism for circuit benches. For example, the Southern Zone bench, which is based in Chennai, can decide to have sittings in other places like Bangalore or Hyderabad. Click here for a copy of the notification specifying jurisdiction of each bench. Provided below is a link to all NGT zonal benches, addresses & contact details.
The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Head Quartered in Delhi. Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts. Each bench of the NGT will comprise of at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member. Expert members should have a professional qualification and a minimum of 15 years experience in the field of environment/forest conservation and related subjects.
The NGT has the power to hear all civil cases relating to environmental issues and questions that are linked to the implementation of laws listed in Schedule I of the NGT Act. These include the following:
  1. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974;
  2. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977;
  3. The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980;
  4. The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981;
  5. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986;
  6. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991;
  7. The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
This means that any violations pertaining only to these laws, or any order / decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT. Importantly, the NGT has not been vested with powers to hear any matter relating to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and various laws enacted by States relating to forests, tree preservation etc. Therefore, specific and substantial issues related to these laws cannot be raised before the NGT. You will have to approach the State High Court or the Supreme Court through a Writ Petition (PIL) or file an Original Suit before an appropriate Civil Judge of the taluk where the project that you intend to challenge is located.
Procedure for filing an Application or Appeal
The NGT follows a very simple procedure to file an application seeking compensation for environmental damage or an appeal against an order or decision of the Government. The official language of the NGT is English. Click here for the prescribed template for filing an Application/Appeal before the NGT.
For every application / appeal where no claim for compensation is involved, a fee of Rs. 1000/- is to be paid. In case where compensation is being claimed, the fee will be one percent of the amount of compensation subject to a minimum of Rs. 1000/-.
A claim for Compensation can be made for:
  1. Relief/compensation to the victims of pollution and other environmental damage including accidents involving hazardous substances;
  2. Restitution of property damaged;
  3. Restitution of the environment for such areas as determined by the NGT.
No application for grant of any compensation or relief or restitution of property or environment shall be entertained unless it is made within a period of five years from the date on which the cause for such compensation or relief first arose.
Principles of Justice adopted by NGT
The NGT is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice. Further, NGT is also not bound by the rules of evidence as enshrined in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Thus, it will be relatively easier (as opposed to approaching a court) for conservation groups to present facts and issues before the NGT, including pointing out technical flaws in a project, or proposing alternatives that could minimize environmental damage but which have not been considered.
While passing Orders/decisions/awards, the NGT will apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principles.
However, it must be noted that if the NGT holds that a claim is false, it can impose costs including lost benefits due to any interim injunction.
Review and Appeal
Under Rule 22 of the NGT Rules, there is a provision for seeking a Review of a decision or Order of the NGT. If this fails, an NGT Order can be challenged before the Supreme Court within ninety days.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the difference between a Court and a Tribunal?
The Supreme Court has answered this question by holding that “Every Court may be a tribunal but every tribunal necessarily may not be a court”. A High court for instance, where a PIL would be filed, may have wide ranging powers covering all enacted laws (including the power of contempt) but the NGT has only been vested with powers under the seven laws related to the Environment.
2. We are trying to protect a National Park/Sanctuary from various pressures including a dam proposal and widening of a highway. Should we approach the NGT?
No. As explained above, the NGT is not empowered to hear matters pertaining to issues coming under the ambit of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which is applicable in case of National Parks, Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserves. It would be appropriate to approach either the High Court in your State or the Supreme Court. Please consult a competent lawyer for advice.
3. Can I personally argue a matter before the NGT or do I need a lawyer?
Yes. You can argue the matter yourself provided you are well acquainted with the facts and are reasonably knowledgeable about the law and procedures. The language of the NGT is English, and some guidelines related to dress apply. However, it would be best if a lawyer represents you since (s)he will be better equipped to argue and handle all procedural aspects.
4. What is the penalty for non-compliance of an NGT Order?
If a project proponent or any authority does not comply with the directions contained in an NGT order, the penalty can be imprisonment for three years or fine extending to 10 crores or both. Continued failure will attract a fine of twenty five thousand rupees per day.
5. Is there a bar on civil courts to hear /take up cases under the seven specified laws in Schedule I of the NGT Act?
Yes. With the enactment of the NGT Act, Civil courts cannot hear matters related to Environmental issues under the seven laws which the NGT is empowered to deal with.


TN Woman’s Journey From Cattle Herder to IAS Officer

C Vanmathi is an IAS officer from Tamil Nadu. However, her story is not an ordinary one.

A resident of Erode district in Tamil Nadu, Vanmath was a cattle herder who always dreamt of being a district collector.As she spent most of her time studying and tending to her family’s cattle around their village, Vanmathi only had her dreams for company, which she realised later.

According to the Better India report, Vanmathi drew inspiration from the District Collector of her hometown, whom she saw commanding respect from both young and old alike, and the TV series Ganga-Yamuna which had a lady protagonist play the role of an IAS officer in the show.

She appeared for the UPSC exam in 2015 and was among the 1,236 people who cleared the exam that year. She was in the hospital with her father, who suffered a spinal injury, when the results were announced, according to Better India.

Vanmathi attributes her success to her parents. Her parents gave her the freedom to pursue her dreams at a time when most parents marry their daughters off.

“My father works as a car driver, and my conviction that education has the power to uplift our status gave me the impetus to study further,” she told The Hindu in an interview in 2015.

She completed her training at Lal Bahadur Shastri Training Academy and her first posting was as District Collector in Maharastra.

Vanmathi is currently posted as the Assistant Collector and Project Officer for the Integrated Tribal Development Project, Nandurbar.


Significance of Regional Connectivity in Asia (GS 2, Bilateral/International Relations,UPSC IAS mains)

What is the issue?
  • India recently declined to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • But Regional connectivity projects between India and China will benefit south Asian region.
What are regional connectivity developments in Asia?
  • India, Thailand and Myanmar are working on about 1,400km long highway that would link India with Southeast Asia by land.
  • This highway will give a boost to trade, business, health, education and tourism ties among the three countries.
  • Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) –It is a development strategy proposed by China, focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries.
  • Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) – It is a motor vehicles agreement which has seen a positive development recently.
  • It proved the ambition of establishing physical connectivity among the smaller states of South Asia through India can eventually be realised.
What is the significance of regional connectivity in Asia?
  • Poor connectivity is the major reason why intra-regional trade is among the lowest in South Asia.
  • South Asia, with its 1.8 billion population, is only capable of conducting around 5% intraregional trade as connectivity remains a constant barrier.
  • Non-tariff barriers (NTBs) continue to plague the region and addressing infrastructure deficits can do away with 80% of the NTBs.
  • Thus Connectivity can significantly improve people-to-people interaction leading to better understanding, greater tolerance and closer diplomatic relations in the region.
What are the concerns with regional connectivity in Asia?
  • States in South and Southeast Asia are involved in multiple regional initiatives led by India and China but are unable to get the benefit due to their slow progress.
  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation remains moribund with little hope of it becoming functional in the near future.
  • The Bay of Bengal too remains among the least integrated regions in spite of having immense potential of enhancing trade through utilisation of its ports and waterways.
  • The India-led Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, has made little progress.
  • Thus manysmaller states are losing out and having to pay the price of missed economic opportunities due to the actions of the two Asian giants.
What is measures needs to be taken to address such issues?
  • If the BRI, BIMSTEC and BBIN were developed through coordination and consultation led by the two Asian giants, the projects under the schemes could have been implemented more efficiently.
  • With the minimum required cooperation in pursuing regional initiatives, India and China can significantly enhance trade, investment and connectivity in the region.
  • India-China has an opportunity to forge a pragmatic understanding on the efficacy of regional initiatives through greater communication, enhanced cooperation and better coordination.


Social Audit – Meghalaya Model (GS 2, Social Justice ,UPSC,IAS,Mains)

What is the issue?
  • Meghalaya is the first state to launch the social audit law.
  • The state’s experience is informative to increase awareness of entitlements.
What is Meghalaya’s social audit law?
  • In April 2017, Meghalaya became the first State in the country to pass a social audit legislation, the Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act.
  • This Act mandated social audits across 21 schemes and 11 departments.
  • Meghalaya audits had been built on traditional tribal institutions, leveraging their inherent strengths and facilitating their engagement with contemporary democratic practices.
What are the experiences of the Meghalaya from this law?
  • The Meghalaya exercise demonstrated how social audits can be developed as an ongoing process through which citizens participate in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme.
  • The audits were deliberately positioned to be a platform for
  1. Sharing information about schemes.
  2. Enhancing awareness amongst people about their entitlements.
  3. Detecting beneficiaries who were eligible
  4. Recording people’s testimonies and registering of grievances
  5. Identifying priorities for inputs for planning.
  • The Meghalaya pilots have also helped formulate a practical framework through which that can be done. Draft rules were prepared on the basis of consultation.
  • Thus these Social audits has helped to identifyand bring evidence-based policy changes.
What rest of India can learn from Meghalaya’s model?
  • In India there is a growing acknowledgement of social audits as a credible means of institutionalising citizen oversight.
  • There is therefore an urgent need to come up with a working protocol for facilitating social audits across a range of interventions.
  • The experience of Meghalaya has taught how social audit is intrinsically related to processes of community participation and grievance redress.
  • Thus Social audit is a tool of “good governance” and it is likely to spread or become robust with the participation of citizens groups.


Coral bleaching of 2016 caused severe mortality in Gulf of Mannar: study

Corals lose their beautiful colours and even die during a coral bleaching event. The corals in the Gulf of Mannar suffered severe losses during the global coral bleaching event that occurred between March and October 2016, according to new data published recently.
A joint team of researchers from Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Department of Environment of Tamil Nadu, which conducted intensive underwater surveys, has found high extent of coral bleaching and subsequent mortality. The study results have been published in journal Current Science.
Coral bleaching refers to loss of zooxanthellae which gives colour to corals. The absence of it makes corals white or bleached. Coral bleaching is a general response of corals in increased sea surface temperature. “Bleaching can happen when sea surface temperatures increase by 1 to 2 degree Celsius. Coral would recover if normal temperature returns within a short period, but if the temperature stress continues for a long term, corals will eventually die,” explained Patterson Edward, director of SuganthiDevadason Marine Research Institute, while speaking to India Science Wire.
Corals are marine animals, typically living in compact colonies, while coral reefs are the diverse underwater ecosystems built by coral colonies. Coral reefs have the highest biodiversity of any marine ecosystem, providing important and direct economic benefits to people. In the past few decades, coral reefs have undergone a dramatic degradation due to various natural and human-induced activities.
Scientists observed 24 percent coral bleaching with 16 per cent mortality and live coral cover decrease to 23 percent during March to June 2016. The water temperature was recorded between 31.2 to 32.6 degree Celsius, which started decreasing in July 2016 and it reached around 27 degree in October 2016.
The rate of mortality varied with coral species. The fast-growing species such as AcroporaMontipora and Pocilloporahave severemortality, while massive and slow growing species of corals, like PoritesFavia and Favitesareresistant to the bleaching and escaped death.
“The local annual variation of coral cover and coral bleachingoccur during the late April, when sea surface temperature rises 2 to 3 degree, but they tend to recover within a period of three months when the normal temperature returns. In general, annual bleaching event does not cause mortality. The coral bleaching and severe mortality during 2010 and 2016 are due to global coral bleaching events” said Diraviya Raja, a member of the research team. (India Science Wire.)


Do we need the office of the Governor? (Polity,GS 2,UPSC,IAS Mains)

To understand why we don’t, it is important to understand its origins in the colonial regime
Among all the players who strutted and fretted across the stage during the recently concluded Karnataka elections, it is the Governor of the State, Vajubhai Vala, who emerged with least credit to his name. His decision to first invite the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to take a stab at forming the government was perhaps a legitimate exercise of his constitutional discretion (albeit without any recorded reasons for ignoring the post-poll Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance’s claims to having an absolute majority). However, the invitation was extended at 9 p.m., and the swearing in fixed for 9.30 a.m. the next day, ostensibly to ward off any judicial challenges, and present a fait accompli.

His decision to grant B.S. Yeddyurappa 15 days to prove his majority, when the latter himself asked for only a week, was troubling enough for the Supreme Court to intervene and order an immediate floor test. So was his appointment of BJP MLA K.G. Bopaiah as Pro Tem Speaker to conduct the floor test, when the latter had been castigated by the Supreme Court in 2011 for partisan conduct (although this time the Court chose not to intervene). Each of the Governor’s actions was taken in that uncertain grey area of “discretion” — partisan enough to skew the process in favour of the BJP, but not illegal enough to warrant judicial intervention.

Short-term options

In the aftermath, some have called upon the Governor to resign; others have suggested that the post of the Governor be reserved for non-political appointees; and still others have urged the Supreme Court to lay down the law on how the Governor ought to act when an election yields a fractured verdict. All of these, however, are patchwork solutions that miss the point: the flaw lies not with the identity of the individual who occupies the post, but in the design of the Constitution itself. If we want to put an end to the continuous misuse of the Raj Bhavan for partisan political ends in a manner that threatens both federalism and democracy, we have to rethink the role of the Governor in the constitutional scheme.

To do that, it is important to understand the origins of the office in the colonial British regime. Through the course of the early 20th century, the Indian nationalist movement managed to extract gradual and incremental reforms towards responsible government from the British rulers. These reforms culminated in the Government of India Act, 1935 which established provincial legislative assemblies elected from a limited franchise.

However, in order to ensure that overriding power remained with the British, the Act retained the post of Governor (a holdover from the old, “diarchy” system), and vested him with “special responsibilities” that, in essence, allowed for intervention at will. In a searing critique, K.T. Shah (who was later one of the most articulate members of the Constituent Assembly, or CA), wrote that the Governor would inevitably be biased in his functioning, and his actions would remain at odds with those of popularly elected Ministers.

Despite the nationalist movement’s bitter experience with Governors over almost three decades, the CA chose to retain the post, and continue to vest it with discretionary power. During CA debates, it was pointed out that the Articles dealing with the powers of the Governor were almost verbatim reproductions of the 1935 Act. Defenders of the office raised two broad arguments: first, that there was a dearth of competent legislators in the States; and second, that a certain amount of centralisation of power was necessary in a nascent state such as India. Concerned members of the CA were assured that the Governor would remain only a constitutional post, and would have no power to interfere in the day-to-day administration of the State. However, when Rohini Kumar Chaudhari raised a particularly prescient concern about the Governor’s powers to “form the first Ministry” and call upon “anyone, whether he has a big majority or a substantial minority”, this was brushed aside by saying that a no-confidence motion could soon resolve such issues.

A constitutional ‘choke point’

The CA debates around the office of the Governor reveal an important point. The Constitution was the culmination of the democratic aspirations of the people, and its major pillars — universal adult suffrage, the parliamentary system, fundamental rights — are all expressions of those aspirations. But there were also moments where the framers lacked the courage of their convictions. If granting universal adult suffrage at one stroke was a leap of faith, then at other places, driven by concerns about maintaining national integrity and preventing disintegration in the teeth of the trauma of Partition, the framers pulled up short. They were committed to federalism — but not too much federalism, for fear of secession; they were committed to popular democracy, but also wanted to retain some manner of control, lest democracy unleash the kinds of passions that would trigger its own destruction. The office of the Governor represented one such “choke point” in the Constitution (ordinances and emergencies are others), where federalism and the popular will were to be kept in check from above, if the occasion ever arose.

The occasion arose very soon. Soon after the first general elections, the State of Madras went to the polls in 1952. In a 375-member Assembly, the United Democratic Front (UDF), a coalition of parties, held 166 seats. The Congress finished with 152.

The Governor, Sri Prakasa, ignored the UDF’s claim to form the government, and instead invited the Congress, which did form the government with Rajaji as Chief Minister, after engineering several splits and defections (including through offers of cabinet posts). The civil rights lawyer, K.G. Kannabiran, writes that “on this act of impropriety Rajaji became the chief minister of the first Congress government after Independence.” Rohini Kumar Chaudhari’s fears had come true, and the justification was eerily similar: the UDF’s communist orientation rendered it ineligible to govern (no matter how the people voted), and it was incumbent upon the government to ensure an orderly government. And so it has been ever thus.

The purpose of this history is not to draw an equivalence between 1952 and 2018, or to suggest that the sins of the past justify sinning in the present. It is to demonstrate that the post of the Governor, by constitutional design, acts as a check upon both federalism and popular democracy. And even though the framers insisted that it was only a “constitutional post”, Karnataka has just been the most recent example demonstrating that the Governor has enough discretion to skew the political process in the direction that the Central government desires.

Specify the rules

Perhaps we are not in a position to judge the wisdom of the framers’ choice in 1950, when they were driven by imperatives we can no longer assess. But we are certainly in a position to judge the wisdom of continuing with this in 2018: the idea of the Governor standing as a bulwark against secessionism, or providing legislative expertise to States otherwise starved of it, are no longer valid justifications. On the other hand, the Governor’s interference with the democratic process is both real and continuing. As history shows, the solution is not to tinker around the edges, or hope that the courts will come to our rescue. It is to ask whether the constitutional “choke point” of the Governor serves any valid purpose in 2018 — and if not, whether it should continue to exist. Would it not be better, for example, to clearly specify the rules governing government-formation in the Constitution itself, and reduce swearing-in to a purely ceremonial action, to be performed by the Chief Justice of the relevant High Court? This — or any other potential solution that does away with the “choke point” — is what must now be debated.