About Girija Devi and Thumri

About Girija Devi

  • She was an eminent Indian classical vocalist representing the Benaras gharana.
  • She was proficient singer of different genres of Hindustani vocal music like Khyal, Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti and Kajari.
  • She is known as the ‘Queen of Thumri’.



  • She was a genius in her sphere of Indian classical vocal rendition.
  • She had been felicitated with the Padma Shree (1972), Padma Bhushan (1989) and Padma Vibhushan (2016), which are among the highest civilian awards of India.
  • The Tansen award named after Tansen (one of the nine gems in the court of Emperor Akhbar) was also conferred to her.



  • It is a Hindustani classical music.



  • It originated in the Eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, mainly Lucknow and Benares, around 18th century AD.
  • It was believed to be first patronised in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow.
  • It was developed by the famous musician Sadiq Ali Shah.



  • It is believed to have influenced by Hori, Kajri and Dadra popular in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
  • Some people consider that an older musical presentation called ‘chalika'(described in the Harivansha), to be the precursor of Thumri.



  • It is a romantic and erotic style of signing.
  • The song composition is based on the romantic-devotional literature inspired by the bhakti movement.
  • The text is usually derived from the Radha-Krishna theme and is of primary importance.


Style of singing

  • The songs are usually sung in slower tempo, giving more importance to the lyrics with short alaps.
  • They are composed in lighter ragas and have simpler talas.
  • It is primarily a vocal style of romance music written from the perspective of the woman and sung in a literary dialect of Hindi called Braj Bhasha.
  • The songs are generally written in Braj Bhasha, Khari Boli and Urdu.



  • A Thumri recital typically consists of one or two male/female vocalists accompanied by sarangi and/or harmonium, tanpura and tabla.



  • There are three main gharanas of Thumri:
  1. Benaras
  2. Lucknow
  3. Patiala


Eminent personalities

  • Qadar Piya, Sanad Piya, Lallan Piya, Kenwar Shyam, Nawaj Wajid Ali Shah are well known Thumri singers of the Lucknow Gharana.
  • Rasoolan Bai, Siddeshwari Devi and Girja Devi are exponents of the Benaras style of Thumri.
  • Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was one of the most famous singer who belonged to the Patiala gharana.
Section : History & Culture

In brief: Meteorites

In brief: Meteorites


  • Meteoroids are chunks of rocks in space just like asteroids. (only difference is size)
  • When these meteoroids strikes the earth’s atmosphere, they appear are flash of light called meteor.
  • In its travel to earth it the meteor survives it is called as meteorite.
  • Thus meteorites are inter-planetary rocks that have been formed elsewhere in the solar system but have reached the earth.

Significance of Meteorites

  • Since the meteorites have note undergone the geological processes on earth or any other planet, they are said to be pristine objects formed at the beginning of solar system.
  • Thus Meteorites are significant in revealing the origin and evolution of Solar System.
  • This is done by studying the elements they contain.


Origin of elements

  • Any star including our own sun basically survives on the fusion reaction in its core.
  • Different elements we see in nature are formed by different processes.
  • In our Sun, hydrogen atoms are undergoing fusion reaction to form helium at extremely high temperatures.
  • In massive stars (1000 times bigger than sun), the heaviest element formed due to fusion reaction is Iron.
  • Note: The maximum temperatures that can be achieved in the core of the star is only enough to make iron.
  • Elements heavier than Iron are formed are formed in various other events such as
  • Super nova explosion
  • This is because due to high pressure of explosion leads to higher temperatures making fusion of heavier elements possible
  • Solar flares
  • These are high energy pulses released by sun’s corona.
  • The solar flares are violent eruptions of sun that occur at intense magnetic fields at the corona. (called sunspots)
  • A solar flare can have as much energy as 100 trillion nuclear bombs.
  • Such high energy can result in fusion of heavier elements.

The study of Efremovka Meteorite

  • The meteorite found in Efremovka is known to be the one of the most pristine meteorites formed during early stages of solar system.
  • The early elements formed during solar flare eruptions during early ages of sun (about 5 lakh years old) are calcium and aluminium.
  • The study shows how meteorites ended up containing beryllium-10.
  • Beryllium-10 is known to form due to fission of oxygen or carbon.
  • The study of the Efremovka meteorite has revealed how beryllium-9 decayed into beryllium-7 which in turn fused to form beryllium-10 in the meateorite.


  • So far this was believed that beryllium-10 formed only during a supernova event.
  • Now the study has confirmed that the Solar flares of early sun had so much energy that it fused lighter elements into heavier ones
Section : Science & Tech

Why Soyabean is key to MP

Headline : Why Soyabean is key to MP

Details :

The Topic

  • Significance of Soyabean for Madhya Pradesh has been explained.


History of Soyabean in India

  • Malwa is India’s Midwest US and Indore its Chicago and that’s only because of soyabean.
  • Soyabean in India has an American connection.
  • The leguminous oilseed was hardly grown in the country till the mid-sixties.
  • The first yellow-seeded soyabean varieties were introduced by University of Illinois scientists, who conducted field trials at the Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya (JNKVV) in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
  • Many of these varieties — with names such as Bragg, Improved Pelican, Clark 63, Lee and Hardee — were released for direct cultivation.
  • By 1975-76, the all-India area under soyabean had touched around 90,000 hectares but the revolution took place only after that.
  • The strains imported from US Midwest had a maturity period of 115-120 days from seed to grain.
  • In 1994, JNKVV released an indigenously bred variety, JS 335 and later JS 9560 and JS 2034.


Story of Soyabeancrop in Madhya Pradesh

  • The plateau region of western MP — covering the districts of Dewas, Indore, Dhar, Ujjain, Jhabua, Ratlam, Mandasur, Neemuch, Shajapur and Rajgarh — traditionally grew only a single un-irrigated crop of wheat or chana (chickpea) during the rabi winter season.
  • Farmers mostly kept their lands fallow during the kharif monsoon season.
  • The reason was the monsoon’s unpredictability: Even if the rains arrived on time, it could be followed by long dry spells.
  • Sometimes, it rained so much that the fields would get waterlogged, damaging the standing crop.
  • The best option, then, was to allow the soil to retain water from the monsoon rain and take a rabi crop using this residual moisture.
  • The change came with the advent of tube-wells in the mid-seventies.
  • The Malwa plateau is made up of hard basaltic rocks of the Deccan Trap.
  • Since these had aquifers with unutilised groundwater in many places, it was possible to drill tube-wells and grow irrigated wheat.
  • Farmers also now felt no need to conserve rainwater during monsoon.
  • They could, instead, raise a kharif crop on this previously fallow land and that kharif crop was soyabean.

Reasons for selection of Soyabean by MP

  • It could tolerate water-logging for 2-3 days and survive dry spells for over three weeks without much yield loss.
  • Being a legume, its root nodules harboured atmospheric nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
  • When harvested, it left behind 40-45 kg of nitrogen per hectare — equivalent to nearly two 50-kg urea bags — for the succeeding crop.
  • Soyabean’s main advantage, though, was duration.
  • The indigenously bred variety, JS 335 not only matured in just 95-100 days, but yielded 25-30 quintals per hectare, which was 5-10 quintals more.
  • The crop duration fell further to 80-90 days with varieties like JS 9560 and JS 2034.
  • It could grow well in the Malwaregion’s black cotton soil and didn’t require much effort; farmers simply had to prepare the field, sow the seeds, do some basic intercultural and weeding operations, and harvest after three months.
  • Farmers were assured of a minimum yield even under waterlogged or drought conditions.
  • The relative hardiness and shorter maturity — at least 10-15 days less than jowar (sorghum) or maize — made soyabean the ideal kharif crop.


Facts regarding Soyabean production in India and MP’s share in it

  • By 1979-80, the country’s soyabean area had reached 0.5 million hectares.
  • It rose further to 2.25 mh in 1989-90 and 6 mh towards the end of the century, with MP accounting for 70 per cent.
  • Within MP, soyabean cultivation spread to other districts as well, especially in the neighbouring Vindhya plateau (Sehore, Raisen, Bhopal, Vidisha, Sagar and Guna) and the Narmadapuram division (Harda, Hoshangabad and Betul).
  • Even in 2017, Malwa’s share in MP’s 5 mh (out of India’s 10.2 mh) was well over 50 per cent.
  • Soyabean-wheat became the dominant crop cycle in this region, just as for the US Midwest or paddy-wheat in the case of Punjab and Haryana.

Significance of soyabean for Madhya Pradesh

  • In Malwa, soyabean’srelevance even shaped electoral outcomes, which may be compared to sugarcane in western Uttar Pradesh.
  • Soyabean had only 18-20 per cent oil content, as against 40-45 per cent in mustard or groundnut.
  • The real potential lay in the balance 80-82 per cent de-oiled cake and extractions, also called meal.
  • The protein-rich meal could be exported out, especially to South-East/East Asia where it was used as an ingredient for animal feed.
  • Soon the businessman spotted an export market for Indian soya-meal andstarted setting up solvent extraction plants for processing soyabean.
  • The real boom in Soyabean production in Madhya Pradesh happened only from the mid-2000s, which was when Shivraj Singh Chouhan also took over as MP Chief Minister.
  • Between 2002-03 and 2013-14, the value of soya-meal shipments from India soared from just over Rs 1,360 crore to almost Rs 14,500 crore.
  • As the fortunes of the industry rose, realisations from oil, too, went up — so did that of soyabean growers in Malwa and the neighbouring regions of MP.
  • During this period, the average price of soyabean in Indore market climbed from Rs 1,353 to Rs 3,667 per quintal.
  • All these factors provided political mileage for two consequent terms to the running Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s government.


Issues with soyabean and collapse of its boom

  • The Soyabean boom collapsed after 2013-14, along with a crash in global agri-commodity prices.
  • The period since then, coinciding with Chouhan’s third term, has seen soya-meal exports plunge to Rs 1,900 crore in 2015-16, before recovering somewhat in the following years.
  • Soyabeanrealisations have also fallen to Rs 2,900-3,000 per quintal levels.
  • The problem is not just economic, but also ecological.
  • The soyabean-wheat crop cycle has led to groundwater overexploitation, more so in Malwa.
  • The initial digging of bore-wells was a success, but now you need to dig deeper and deeper, as the top aquifers have been exhausted.
  • Moreover, soyabean itself has over the years become prone to pest and disease attack.
  • Yellow mosaic virus was once a problem confined to Northwest India but today, it has come even to soyabean in Central India and we saw it particularly in 2015.
  • There are also fungal diseases such as collar rot, rhizoctonia root rot and pod blight.
  • The pests that are increasingly causing crop damage include white fly (carrier of yellow mosaic virus), stem fly (whose larva feeds on the inner part of the stem, making it hollow), girdle beetle and tobacco caterpillar.
  • The main reason for pest and disease susceptibility is the absence of crop rotation and growing the same variety year after year.


Impact on politics

  • The collapse of soyabean boom could play out a major role in decision in the current Assembly elections.
  • It has to be seen if the ruling BJP could win the Malwa region as was in 2013.
  • However, the role of a crop grown in five mh in MP certainly cannot be ignored.


Way forward

  • Crop rotation: It would help manage organic soil fertility and also help avoid or reduce problems with soil-borne diseases and some soil-dwelling insects.
  • Herbicide/pesticide resistant crops: It would enable farmers to use certain herbicides that will kill weeds without harming their crop.
  • Appropriate support price: It could reduce the stress of farmers due to loss occurred to them.
Section : Economics

In Focus: NASA’s Mars Mission with Perseverance rover

Part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach:

  • The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of America’s larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
  • NASA is planning to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.
  • Thereafter, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis program.

In Focus: NASA’s Mars Mission with Perseverance rover

  • By February 2021, the Perseverance rover is expected on land on Mars in Jezero Crater.
  • The 2,260-pound, 10-feet long rover is the biggest and heaviest robotic Mars rover NASA has ever built.


  • The Perseverance rover’s astrobiology mission is to:
    • Explore the diverse geology of its landing site, Jezero Crater  
    • Seek out signs of past microscopic life on Mars
      • Jezero Crater is the perfect place to search for signs of ancient life.

    • Demonstrate key technologies that will help us prepare for future robotic and human exploration.


  • Perseverance is also carrying a small helicopter named Ingenuity.
  • If successful, Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to fly in a controlled way on another planet.
  • A technology demonstrator, Ingenuity’s goal is a pure flight test – it carries no science instruments.
  • Over 30 sols (31 Earth days), the helicopter will attempt up to five powered, controlled flights.
  • The data acquired during these flight tests will help the next generation of Mars helicopters provide an aerial dimension to Mars explorations – potentially scouting for rovers and human crews, transporting small payloads, or investigating difficult-to-reach destinations.

MOXIE instrument to make Oxygen:

  • The MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) instrument will attempt to demonstrate a technology that converts carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere into oxygen.
  • It could lead to future versions of MOXIE technology that become staples on Mars missions, generating oxygen that could be used by astronauts as rocket propellant and for breathing.
  • The ability to do so will be a critical consideration in planning human landings and bases on Mars.

Other Mars rovers of NASA:

  • Perseverance is NASA’s 5th rover to Mars.
  • The previous rovers were named Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity.
    • Sojourner finished its mission in 1997.  
    • Spirit was active from 2004 to 2010.
    • Opportunity’s mission was declared complete in February 2019 after 15 years of work when NASA lost contact with the vehicle.
      • Note: Spirit and Opportunity were launched on the same NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission launched in 2003 and landed on Mars in 2004.

    • Curiosity continues to explore the planet. 

In Focus: Smog @UpscExpress

In Focus: Smog

  • Very simply, smogis a type of air pollution that reduces visibility.
  • The term “smog” was first used in the early 1900s to describe a mix of smoke and fog, when smoke came from burning of fossil fuels like coal in thermal power plants.

Sulphurous Smog

  • It is also called “London smog”.
  • It results from a high concentration of sulphur oxidesin the air and is caused by the use of sulphur-bearing fossil fuels, particularly coal.
  • This type of smog is aggravated by dampness and a high concentration of suspended particulate matter in the air.

Photochemical Smog

  • Another type of smog is photochemical smog.
  • Photochemical smog is produced when sunlight reacts with nitrogen oxides (NOX) and at least one volatile organic compound (VOC) in the atmosphere.
  • Nitrogen oxides come from car exhaust, coal power plants, and factory emissions.
  • VOCs are released from gasoline, paints, and many cleaning solvents.
  • When sunlight hits VOCs and NOX, they form a combination of airborne particles and ground-level ozone which is called as smog.
  • Impact of Photochemical Smog:
    • The photochemical smog causes a light brownish coloration of the atmosphere, reduced visibility, plantdamage, irritation of the eyes, and respiratory distress. 
    • Ozone in the lower levels of troposphere can damage lung tissue, and it is especially dangerous to people with respiratory illnesses like asthma.
    • It can also cause itchy, burning eyes.
    • Smog is unhealthy to humans and animals, and it can kill plants.
    • It makes the sky brown or gray and reduces visibility.

In Focus: Smog Towers

  • A smog tower is a structure designed to work as a large-scale air purifier.
  • Smog towers are fitted with multiple layers of filters which trap fine dust particles suspended in the air as it passes through them.
  • Air is drawn through fans installed at the top of the tower, passed through filters, and then released near the ground.

Examples of Smog Towers:

  • Smog towers have been experimented with in recent years in cities of Netherlands, China, South Korea and Poland.
  • First Smog Tower of World
    • The first such tower was erected in 2015, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, created by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde.
    • It is a 7 metre-high ‘smog free tower’ which can filter 30,000 cubic metres of air per hour around it.

  • Smog Towers of China
    • Beijing has a smog tower.
    • Smog tower of Xian- The University of Minnesota has helped design a 100-metre high permanent smog tower in the Chinese city of Xian. This tower was completed in 2017, and is said to be the world’s biggest air purifier.

  • Delhi’s Smog Tower at Lajpat Nagar
    • The first ‘smog tower’ was installed at Lajpat Nagar Central Market of Delhi
    • It became operational in January 2020.
    • This smog tower has a height of around 20 ft.
    • It is estimated to purify the air within a circumference area of almost 500 meters to 750 meters. The purifier aims at treating 2,50,000 to 6,00000 cubic meter air per day and release fresh air in return.

About: Delhi’s Pollution Problem

  • Delhi and its suburbs have ranked among the most polluted cities in the world frequently since 2014, when the WHO declared Delhi the most polluted city in the world.
  • Pollution levels in Delhi increase dramatically during winter- on some days to nearly 10 times above the limits prescribed by WHO, posing a serious risk to vulnerable and also healthy populations.
  • However, an assessment by the CPCB shows that Delhi’s air quality has been improving every year since 2016, even as it remains above acceptable limits, as a result of the pollution control measures being taken
  • Causes of Air Pollution in Delhi
    • Delhi’s air pollution is largely because sources of emissions from construction work, industrial and vehicular pollution in and around the city.
    • The situation is aggravated at the start of winter by smoke from stubble-burning in northwestern states, coupled with unfavourable meteorological conditions, such as calm winds, low temperatures, and fewer sunny days.

  • Measures Taken for Mitigating Air Pollution in Delhi
    • Persuading farmers in Punjab and Haryana to use mechanical alternatives to stubble-burning.
    • Closure of thermal power stations in Delhi.
    • Making industries use piped natural gas, in addition to control measures taken under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) when pollution levels spike.

Effectiveness of Smog Towers

  • Experts have claimed that the smog towers in Delhi would create “clean air zones” in the city.
  • An estimate made of their impact on air quality shows a tower would reduce 50% of the particulate matter load in an area of 1 kilometre in the direction of the wind, as well as 200 metres each along the sides of the tower and against the direction of the wind.
  • Delhi’s Environment Department is of the view these smog towers may not be useful for the whole city, but they can be useful in creating ‘clean air area’ zones in different parts of the city.
  • Another expert panel set up by the Centre’s Department of Science and Technology had estimated that 213 smog towers may be required across the whole city of Delhi.

When Indira banked on socialism

Headline : When Indira banked on socialism

Details :

In News

  • It’s now 50 years since the Indian government nationalized the 14 biggest commercial lenders on 20 July, 1969.


News Summary:

  • The Indian financial sector underwent a massive shift 50 years ago, when the government nationalized the 14 biggest commercial lenders.
  • The official history of the Reserve Bank of India describes bank nationalization as the single-most important economic policy decision taken by any Indian government after 1947.
  • The banks that were nationalised included Allahabad Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Central Bank of India, Canara Bank, Dena Bank, Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab National Bank, Syndicate Bank, UCO Bank, Union Bank and United Bank of India.
  • Thereafter, in 1980, six more banks that were nationalised included Punjab and Sind Bank, Vijaya Bank, Oriental Bank of India, Corporate Bank, Andhra Bank and New Bank of India.
  • It was an outcome of the pursuance of the socialist doctrine which advocated public ownership of the ‘commanding heights’. What started off initially as public sector enterprises in the manufacturing sector was expanded to include banks which were the facilitators of finance for growth.


Events leading up to the nationalisation of banks:

  • Nationalization is the process of transforming private assets into public assets by bringing them under the public ownership of a national government or state.
  • Collapse of private banks:
    • The idea of nationalising banks had been around for much of the 1960s as private banks collapsed at an alarming rate.
    • More than 360 banks had failed between 1947 and 1955 — the rate of collapse was 40 banks a year. The trend continued through the 1950s and the first half of 1960s. Banks were failing largely due to speculative financial activities.
    • The collapse of banks were causing distress among people, who were losing their hard-earned money in the absence of a strong government support and legislative protection to their money.
  • Bank consolidation:
    • This had forced Morarji Desai, the then finance minister, to launch a massive bank consolidation drive. It brought down the number of banks from 328 in 1960 to 68 in 1965.

Bank Nationalisation process:

  • Opposing the idea led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of nationalisation of banks, the finance minister, Morarji Desai, a known advocate of promoting private enterprise, to quit.
  • Nationalisation was confined to the 14 largest Indian-owned banks, categorised as “major” by the RBI. These were banks with a deposit base of over Rs 50 crore, which between them accounted for 85% of bank deposits.
  • The nationalisation was challenged in the Supreme Court, which struck it down in February, 1970 on the grounds that it was discriminatory.
  • But the government overrode the SC order by bringing in a new ordinance four days later, that was subsequently replaced by the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings ) Act, 1970.


Reasons for Nationalisation

Finance Growth

  • As finance was the means to bring about growth, it was felt that this important segment had to be under the purview of the government which was also running the Five Year Plan in parallel for achieving certain socialist goals relating to growth and development.

Expansion of credit

  • To ensure that credit was available to the rural sector and high priority areas like agriculture, small industry, exports, special castes, something the private banks had failed to provide.
  • Between 1951 and 1968, industry’s share in bank loans had nearly doubled to 68%. During the period, agriculture received just around 2% of bank credit. Given that this was also the time when the Green Revolution was being pushed, it was indeed a key factor.
  • There was a feeling that these banks worked as monopolies and controlled the flow of credit. Hence, just like how the Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practice (MRTP) was used to curb the undue growth of private enterprises, nationalisation was to eradicate the same and make it more egalitarian.

Curb Regional Disparities

  • There were stark regional disparities in terms of uneven growth which had to be addressed. This was done even in the industrial sphere, where concessions were given for setting up enterprises in backward areas.
  • As an extension bank nationalisation intended to ensure the spread of banking to all states and regions and bring about balanced economic development.

Job creation

  • Expanding on bank branch network across the country, the system would also generate jobs as more manpower would be required. Hence, there would be an impetus to job creation.





Welfare Measures

  • Several programmes of the government have been driven by the PSBs by virtue of their ownership pattern.
  • For instance, the Jan Dhan programme of the government which aims at giving a basic bank account to all has been engineered and fulfilled by the PSBs as private banks do not find it attractive enough.
  • Assistance for constructing toilets under Swachh Bharat programme, Crop insurance schemes were implemented through banks.
  • Direct transfer benefit scheme meant people got subsidy benefits directly in their bank accounts.
  • All of this was possible as public sector banks enjoyed government protection for 45 years.


  • The nationalisation was a major step which helped expand banking. Bank nationalisation helped take banking to newer areas and rural areas.
  • The public sector bank (PSB) system is still dominant and accounts for two-third of the total deposits and credit in the system
  • In July 1969, at the time of nationalisation of banks, there were just 8,262 bank branches in the country. At the end of June 2018, state- owned banks alone had built a network of branches or a franchise of over 90,000 (over 29,000 in rural areas) and over 1.45 lakh ATMs while private banks had 28,805 branches.

Infra development:

  • On the economic front too, there was a substantial contribution made by these banks to the growth of infrastructure in the country.


  • Gross domestic savings almost doubled as a percentage of national income in the 1970s.
  • It led to formalisation of credit and product offerings



Political and Administrative Inference

  • Many public sector banks badly suffered due to the political interference. It was seen in arranging loan meals. It ultimately resulted in huge non-performing assets (NPA) of these banks and inefficiency.
  • Today, even after a quarter century of liberalization, state-controlled banks still control 70% of the sector’s assets. As a consequence, credit is weak, the private sector is stunted and India has to endure periodic banking crises and bailouts at taxpayer expense.


  • Banks, once nationalized, became risk-averse and hidebound, rarely lending to new firms.
  • Under-lending became chronic; manufacturers found themselves severely short of credit.
  • Bank officials did not have to care about finding and evaluating profitable firms. Instead they lent to those companies selected, for whatever reason, by their political bosses.

Reduced efficiency

  • Banking was not done on a professional and ethical grounds. It resulted into lower efficiency and poor profitability of banks.
  • In fact it converted many of the banking institutions in the loss making entities. The reasons were lethargic working, lack of accountability, lack of profit motive, political interference.

Complex rate structure

  • Credit planning also meant that the interest rate structure became incredibly complex. There were different rates of interest for different types of loans. The Indian central bank eventually ended up managing hundreds of interest rates.

Lost Decade

  • Bank nationalization was the pivot of a broader political economy strategy followed in the 1970s—a decade when economic growth barely outpaced population growth. Average incomes stagnated and it was a lost decade for India.

Misguided Economic Philosophy

  • What has remained unaltered in the last 50 years despite economic reforms is the political philosophy and belief echoed on banking — a commercial enterprise driven by a larger social purpose and political considerations.
  • It is on this that there has been a strong political consensus across successive governments irrespective of ideology, oblivious of the fact that the fundamental obligation of banks is to depositors.
Section : Economics

About GRAPES-3

About GRAPES-3

  • The Gamma Ray Astronomy PeV EnergieS phase-3 experiment is located at TIFR’s Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ooty in Tamil Nadu.
  • It is a collaboration of the Indian Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Japanese Osaka City University and the Japanese Nagoya Women’s University.
  • GRAPES-3 (Gamma Ray Astronomy PeV EnergieS phase-3) is designed to study cosmic rays with an array of air shower detectors and a large area muon detector.
  • It aims to probe acceleration of cosmic rays in the four astrophysical settings.
  • The experiment had earlier detected the effect of a solar storm that hit the earth in June 2015.
  • The muon telescope has been successfully used to study acceleration of muons during large thunderstorm events.
  • GRAPES-3 also has an important role in understanding the propagation of storms from the L1 point (Lagrange point) to its impact on the Earth.

Note: Lagrange Points are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two body system like the Sun and the Earth produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.


How potential of thundercloud was measured using GRAPES-3?

  • Clouds have negative charges along their lower side and positive charges on top and can be several kilometres thick. However, thunderstorms last only for about 15-20 minutes, which makes it difficult to calculate the potential of thundercloud.
  • Muons and other particles are produced when cosmic rays bombard air particles surrounding the earth.
  • The muons produced can have positive or negative charge.
    • When a positively charged muon falls through a cloud, it loses energy. If its energy falls below 1 giga electron volt (GeV), which is the threshold of detection of the GRAPES-3 muon telescope, it goes undetected.
    • When a negatively charged muon falls through a cloud, it gains energy and gets detected.
  • Since there are more positive than negative muons produced in nature, the two effects don’t cancel out, and a net change in intensity is detected.
  • The researchers monitored the profiles of the clouds using four ground-based electric field monitors.
  • Only the cloud that crossed on December 1, 2014, had a profile that was simple enough to simulate.
  • Using a computer simulation and the observed muon intensity variations, the researchers worked out the relationship with the electric potential of the cloud.
  • They calculated that the potential of the cloud they were studying was approximately 1.3 GV, which no one has ever measured potential, size and height of a thundercloud simultaneously.


Way ahead

  • This method in future can be used to understand the terrestrial gamma ray bursts (huge flashes of light that accompany lightnings).
  • Learning about the properties of thunderclouds can be useful in navigation of aircraft and preventing short circuits. This serendipitous discovery might provide the means to making headway in this direction.



Section : Science & Tech
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In brief: Ancient monuments in India

In brief: Ancient monuments in India

What is Ancient monument?

  • Ancient Monument means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years.
  • It includes
  • Remains of an ancient monument
  • Site of an ancient monument
  • Such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument
  • The means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument


Protecting Ancient Monuments

  • Ancient monuments in India are protected by Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
  • The Archeological Survey of India is the body entrusted with the responsibility of declaring and protecting ancient monuments in the country.
  • Currently, there are 3693 protected ancient monuments in India.
  • The states with highest number of ancient monuments include UP (745), Karnataka (506) and TN (413)


Latest addition

  • In December 2018, ASI declared the following 6 new sites as monuments of national importance
  1. Old High Court Building – Nagpur
  2. Haveli of Agha Khan – Agra
  3. Hathi Khana – Agra
  4. Neemrana Baori – Rajasthan’s Alwar district
  5. Group of Temples at Ranipur Jharail – Odisha’s Bolangir district
  6. Vishnu Temple – Pithoragarh district, Uttarkhand



In brief: Archaeological Survey of India

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is an attached office under Ministry of Culture.
  • It is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of cultural heritage of India.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India was established as a distinct department in 1871.
  • Alexander Cunningham was the first Director General of ASI.

Functions of ASI

  • Conducting archaeological explorations and excavations
  • Maintenance, conservation and protection of ancient monuments, archaeological sites and their remains
  • Implementation of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972
  • Epigraphical and numismatic (coins) studies
  • Training in Archaeology

About Ocean Energy

About Ocean Energy:

  • Oceans cover 70 percent of the earth’s surface and represent an enormous amount of energy in the form of wave, tidal, marine current and thermal gradient.
  • Deployment of ocean energy is currently limited but the sector has the potential to grow, fuelling economic growth, reduction of carbon footprint and creating jobs not only along the coasts but also inland along its supply chains.

Technologies exploring Ocean Energy:

  • Tidal Energy
    • Tidal energy is any form of renewable energy in which tidal action in the oceans is converted to electric power.
    • The tidal cycle occurs every 12 hours due to the gravitational force of the moon.
    • The difference in water height from low tide and high tide is potential energy.
    • Tidal water can be captured in a barrage across an estuary during high tide and forced through a hydro-turbine during low tide.
    • Examples: The Gulf of Cambay and the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat on the west coast have the locations in the country where potential exists.
  • Identified Potential of Tidal Energy : 12455 MW, with potential locations identified at Khambat & Kutch regions, and large backwaters, where barrage technology could be used.


  • Tidal energy is considered as an intermittent source of energy, as it can only provide electricity when the tide surges, which happen about approximately 12 hours per day on average.
  • Tidal energy facilities need to be constructed close to land, which is also the place where technological solutions that come with them are being worked on.
  • The capital cost for tidal energy power plants is very high due to high civil construction and high power purchase tariff.
  • To capture sufficient power from the tidal energy potential, the height of high tide must be at least five meters (16 feet) greater than low tide.


  • Wave Energy
    • Wave power converts the periodic up-and-down movement of the oceans waves into electricity by placing equipment on the surface of the oceans that captures the energy produced by the wave movement and converts this mechanical energy into electrical power.
    • Wave energy is generated by the movement of a device either floating on the surface of the ocean or moored to the ocean floor.
    • Different techniques for converting wave energy to electric includes:
    • Wave conversion devices that float on the surface have joints hinged together that bend with the waves. This kinetic energy pumps fluid through turbines and creates electric power.
    • Stationary wave energy conversion devices use pressure fluctuations produced in long tubes from the waves swelling up and down. This bobbing motion drives a turbine when critical pressure is reached.
      • Other stationary platforms capture water from waves on their platforms. This water is allowed to runoff through narrow pipes that flow through a typical hydraulic turbine.
    • Identified Potential of Wave Energy in India along the country’s coast: about 40,000 MW .This energy is however less intensive than what is available in more northern and southern latitudes.


  • Wave energy conversion devices are location dependent requiring suitable sites were the waves are consistently strong.
  • Intermittent power generation as the waves come in intervals and does not generate power during calm periods.
  • Offshore wave energy devices can be a threat to navigation that cannot see or detect them by radar.
  • High power distribution costs to send the generated power from offshore devices to the land using long underwater cables.
  • They must be able to withstand forces of nature resulting in high capital, construction and maintenance costs.
  • Visual impact of wave energy conversion devices on the shoreline and offshore floating buoys or platforms is also not good, which may impact tourism.


  • Ocean Current Energy
    • Ocean current energy can be harnessed using underwater turbines, also known as tidal turbines, to generate power.


  • It is location specific as it need Ocean current velocity to be fast, large and stable ocean current.
  • Equipment and suspensions corrosion caused by seawater.
  • The extremely high cost of installing and maintaining underwater turbines.
  • Opposition from trawler fishermen, who claim that the turbines compete with their fishing areas.


  • Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)
    • Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a process that can produce electricity by using the temperature difference between deep cold ocean water and warm tropical surface waters. A temperature difference of only 20°C can yield usable energy.
    • OTEC plants pump large quantities of deep cold seawater and surface seawater to run a power cycle and produce electricity.

Types of OTEC technologies:

  1. a) Open Cycle: In the open cycle system, the warm surface water is pressurized in a vacuum chamber and converted to steam to run the turbine. The steam is then condensed using cold ocean water from lower depths.
  2. b) Closed cycle: In the closed cycle method, a working fluid, such as ammonia, is pumped through a heat exchanger and vaporized. This vaporized steam runs a turbine. The cold water found at the depths of the ocean condenses the vapor back to a fluid where it returns to the heat exchanger.
  • Potential in India : OTEC has a theoretical potential of 180,000 MW in India , “subject to suitable technological evolution


  • Capital investment is very high.
  • Due to small temperature difference in between the surface water and deep water, conversion efficiency is very low about 3-4%.
  • Low efficiency of these plants coupled with high capital cost and maintenance cost makes them uneconomical for small plants.


Present Status of Ocean Energy technologies in India:

  • As on date, India does not have any installed ocean energy capacit.
  • Most types of technologies are currently at pre-research and development (R&D) or demonstration stage or the initial stage of commercialisation.
  • Basic R&D is being looked after by the ministry of earth sciences (National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai).
  • The MNRE intends to support demonstration projects of proven technologies and as approved by expert committee constituted by the MNRE.


News  Summary:

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has clarified that energy produced using various forms of ocean energy such as tidal, wave, ocean thermal energy conversion among others shall be considered as renewable energy .

Significance of the move:

  • Various forms of Ocean energy shall be eligible for meeting the non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO)

What is a Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO)?

  • RPO is a mechanism by which the State Electricity Regulatory Commissions are obliged to purchase a certain percentage of power from renewable energy sources.
  • RPO is being implemented throughout the country to create demand for renewable energy.
  • RPO is of two categories
    • Non Solar
    • Solar
  • The proportion is fixed by state power regulators.

Renewable Energy Certification (REC)

  • RECs are aimed at addressing the mismatch of renewable energy resources in the States and their RPO requirements
  • The discoms can also buy renewable energy certificates in lieu of mandated clean energy supplies, from the developers or renewable power generators.
  • In line with RPOs there are two categories of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) – Solar & Non-Solar.
  • Solar RECs include both PV and CSP technologies.
  • Non-solar RECs include renewable energy technologies such as biomass, wind, biofuel, cogeneration & small hydro and now also includes Ocean energy technologies.


Section : Economics

Explained: What ails the existing microcredit model

Headline : Explained: What ails the existing microcredit model

Details :

In News

  • Studies suggest that the existing systems of microcredit have a limited impact on the long-term wellbeing of the recipients.


About: Microcredit

  • Microcredit refers to the granting of very small loans to impoverished borrowers.


  • Loans given as microcredit are often given to people who may lack collateral, credit history, or a steady source of income.
  • The core idea is that a small loan will provide access to the larger economy to people who live outside the mainstream economy.
  • It has an aim of enabling the borrowers to use that capital to become self-employed and strengthen their businesses.


  • Microcredit agreements generally do not require any sort of collateral.
  • At times it may not even involve a written agreement, as many recipients of microcredit are often illiterate.
  • When borrowers demonstrate success in paying their loans on time, they become eligible for loans of even larger amounts.


  • Conventionally, microcredit has been used mainly for entrepreneurs to begin production and attain self-sufficiency.
  • However, there are other, mostly unexplored paths for the utilisation of microcredit for poverty alleviation and productivity-boosting measure, like:
  • Supplement rural labourers
  • Small microcredit loans can allow rural labourers to migrate to urban areas to find work during the lean season (when there is no work on farms).
  • Those who migrated temporarily during the lean season experienced increased spending in both food and non-food areas, and increased their calories consumed.
  • Address climate shocks
  • It can also be used to reduce the effects of shocks like floods and drought.
  • It can provide people with a form of insurance that both increases production before the shock and provides a safety net after.


  • An example of a microcredit institution is the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, founded in 1976 by Mohammed Yunus. It is a pioneering institution in the realm of micro finance.
  • The bank has 8.4 million followers, 97% of whom are women, and the bank has repayment success rates between 95 to 98 percent.


About: Microfinance

  • Microcredit falls under the larger umbrella of microfinance.
  • Microfinance activities usually target low-income individuals, with the goal of helping them to become self-sufficient.
  • Hence, microfinance activities have an aim of poverty alleviation as well.

News Summary:

  • Microcredit has emerged as a tool for ensuring the welfare of the most impoverished in society, and boosting development alongside.
  • However, some studies claim that certain flaws in microcredit transactions has led to limited benefits, and access to microcredit made very little difference to changing the lifestyles of borrowers.
  • As per a study, indicators like Household business profits, business expenditures, consumption, consumer durables spending etc. saw only a 5% impact when microcredit was available.

Repayment schedules main reason for low impact of microcredit:

  • To lower the risk of defaulting, microcredit lenders demand an initial repayment that is almost immediate.
  • After that, borrowers are required to follow an inflexible weekly schedule for repayments.
  • Due to this, borrowers are unable to use loans on investments that may take some time for benefits to be fully realised.
  • Hence, they are forced to use the loans on short term investments that only boost production to an extent, and the overall growth of their income remains small.


Findings of various studies on improving impact of microcredit

Initial grace period:

  • According to a study, borrowers who received an initial grace period were more likely to have started a new business.
  • Such borrowers also reported higher profits and household incomes.
  • However, there was also an increased rate of defaulting in this group.

Monthly repayment:

  • When borrowers switched from a weekly repayment schedule to a monthly one, there was an increase in incomes without the increased rate of defaulting.
  • Under a monthly repayment schedule, borrowers scored 45% lower on the Financial Stress Index.
  • Increases in income were more than double when compared to the borrowers under a weekly repayment schedule.

Mitigation of credit risk:

  • The barriers to assessing credit risk can be mitigated by using community information.
  • Communities can be an accurate source of information about credit risk for microcredit institutions.
  • However, the implementation of such processes would require the elimination of bias and incentivising accurate information.
Section : Economics