National Policy on Software Product 2019

National Policy on Software Product 2019

  • National Policy on Software Product 2019 is a basic roadmap for formulation of initiatives, schemes and other measures for the development of software products sector in India



  • It involves an initial outlay of Rs.1500 crore for various schemes till 2025.
  • Software Product Development Fund: of Rs 5000 crore with contribution from private sector to promote emerging technologies such as Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Big Data and robotics.
  • Research & Innovation fund


Five Main Missions

  • Increase share in global software products market
    • Create Indian Software products Industry of $ 70-80 billion at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of 40% by 2025.
    • Increase India’s share in global software product market by ten times.
  • Develop Software Product Eco-system
    • Nurturing of 10,000 technology start-ups in software product industry, including 1,000 in tier-II and tier-III towns.
    • Cluster-based innovation driven ecosystem by developing 20 sectoral and strategically located software product development clusters
  • Employment Generation
    • It aims create direct & indirect employment for 3.5 million people by 2025.
  • Talent Pool Creation
    • Skilling of 10 lakh IT professionals.
    • Developing 10,000 leadership professionals.
  • National Software Products Mission
    • Aimed at monitoring and evaluating scheme & programmes with participation from Government, Academia and Industry.



  • Boost export income
  • Create employment and entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Leverage opportunities available under the Digital India Programme leading inclusive and sustainable growth.
Section : Science & Tech

About Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme

About Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme

  • In 2015, Government introduced the Sovereign Gold Bonds as substitutes of expensive gold imports that impact the current account deficit (CAD).
  • The main objective of the scheme was to develop a financial asset as an alternative to purchasing metal gold, thus also aimed at changing the habits of Indians from saving in physical form of gold to a paper form with Sovereign backing.


What are Sovereign Gold Bonds?

  • Sovereign Gold Bonds is government securities denominated in grams of gold.
  • They are substitutes for holding physical gold.
  • Investors have to pay the issue price in cash and the bonds will be redeemed in cash on maturity.
  • The Bond is issued by Reserve Bank on behalf of Government of India.
  • The sovereign gold bond, gold monetisation scheme and Indian gold coin were launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015.

Alternative to physical gold:

  • The SGB offers a superior alternative to holding gold in physical form as the risks and costs of storage are eliminated.
  • SGB is free from issues like making charges and purity in the case of gold in jewellery form.
  • The bonds are held in the books of the RBI or in demat form eliminating risk of loss of scrip etc.
  • The quantity of gold for which the investor pays is protected, since the investor receives the ongoing market price at the time of redemption/ premature redemption.


  • Persons resident in India as defined under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 are eligible to invest in SGB.
  • Eligible investors include individuals, trusts, universities and charitable institutions.


  • The sovereign gold bond is denominated in multiples of one gram of gold, which is the minimum permissible investment limit.
  • A subscriber is allowed a maximum limit of 4 kilograms in case of individuals and HUFs in a financial year.
  • The upper limit of investment in case of trusts and similar entities per fiscal year is 20 kilograms.
  • The annual ceiling includes bonds subscribed under different tranches in the initial issuance and those purchased from the secondary market.

Interest rate:

  • The bonds carry a 2.5 per cent annual interest for investors and investors will get the interest payable semi-annually on the nominal value of investment.

Income tax benefit:

  • The interest on SGB investment is taxable under the Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961). However, any capital gains tax arising on redemption of the SGB to an individual has been exempted.

Maturity period:

  • Gold bonds come with a maturity period of eight years.
  • The investor gets an opportunity to exit the bond in the fifth, sixth and seventh year on the interest payment dates.


Section : Economics


News Summary:
  • From the next academic session, the Paika rebellion of 1817 will be placed in the history books as ‘the First War of Independence’.
  • So far, Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 has been regarded as the First War of Indian Independence.
  • The Paika Bidroha (Paika Rebellion) of 1817 in Odisha briefly shook the foundations of British rule in the eastern part of India.
Who were Paikas?
  • They were the peasant militias of the Gajapati rulers of Odisha.
  • During the times of war, they used to render military services to the king and during the peace time they used to perform cultivation.
Khurda region:
  • Khurda is the region at Odhisha’s coast which was capital of the rulers there for a long time. The current capital city of Bhubaneswar is located in this district.
  • Rulers of Khurda were traditionally the custodians of Jagannath Temple and ruled as the deputy of Lord Jagannath on earth.
  • They symbolised the political and cultural freedom of the people of Odisha.
  • British occupation and Paika rebellion:
  • The British occupied Odisha in 1803.
  • The Paikas were alienated by the British regime, who took over the hereditary rent-free lands granted to them, after the conquest of Khurda.
  • They were also subjected to extortion and oppression at the hands of the company government and its servants.
  • Thus, Paikas rebelled against the British.
Leader of the Rebellion:
  • The Gajapati King of Odisha, Mukunda Deva-ll was a minor then.
  • The initial resistance to the British was given by Jai Rajguru (the custodian of Mukunda Deva-II) but he was brutally killed.
  • A few years later, it was the Paikas under Baxi Jagabandhu (the hereditary chief of the militia army of the Gajapati King) who rose in rebellion, taking support of tribals and other sections of society. The rebellion started in March 1817 and spread quickly.
Large Participation:
  • Though Paikas played a larger role in the rebellion against the British, it was by no means a rebellion by a small group of people belonging to a particular class.
  • The tribals of Ghumusar (part of present day Ganjam and Kandhmal Districts) and other sections of the population actively took part in it.
  • In fact, the Paika Bidroha got the opportune moment to spread when 400 tribals of Ghumsar entered Khurda protesting against the British rule.
  • The Paikas attacked British symbols of power, setting ablaze police stations, administrative offices and the treasury during their march towards Khurda, from where the British fled.
  • The Paikas were supported by the rajas of Kanika, Kujang, Nayagarh and Ghumusar and zamindars, village heads and ordinary peasants.
  • The rebellion quickly spread to Purl, Pipli Cuttack and other parts of the province.
British response:
  • The British were initially taken aback and then tried to regain lost ground but faced stiff resistance from the rebelling Paikas.
  • In many battles rebellions were victories but the British finally managed to defeat them within three months.
  • There was a widespread suppression followed by many killings and imprisonments.
  • Some rebels fought the guerilla war till 1819 but later they were captured and killed.
  • Baxi Jagabandhu was finally arrested in 1825 and died in captivity in 1829.
Section : History & Culture

Headline : Prelims Program: Map- Middle East

Headline : Prelims Program: Map- Middle East

Details :

Middle East

  • The Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey (both Asian and European), and Egypt (which is mostly in North Africa).
  • Arabian peninsula is the largest in the world. In the eastern parts there is salt desert, western parts there is sandy desert.

Note: Egypt is often considered a part of the Middle East, as the Sinai is geologically a part of Asia. Sometimes Azerbaijan is considered a part of the Middle East, as a border region between Europe and Asia.

  • Largest Country: Saudi Arabia
  • Smallest Country: Bahrain
  • Largest Ethnic groups: Arabs, Turks, Persians, Kurds, and Azeris
  • Climate: The Middle East generally has a hot, arid climate.
  • Fertile Cresent: Nile Delta in Egypt, the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds of Mesopotamia
  • Crude Oil: Most of the countries bordering Persian Gulf have vast reserves of crude oil. More than ½ of World’s oil reserve and 40% of worlds natural gas reserve is found in this region.
  • Major rivers:

  • Lifeline of Egypt: River Nile
  • Lifelines of Iraq: River Tigris and Euphrates
  • Boundary between Israel and Jordan: Jordan river
  • Strait of Hormuz: Between Iran and UAE connects Persian gulf with Gulf of Oman and then Arabian sea.

  • Gulf of Aqaba: It connects Red Sea with Israel
  • Gulf of Suez : It connects Red sea with Mediterranean sea.


Section : Miscellaneous

About National Stem Cell Registry

About National Stem Cell Registry

  • It will be a government managed database of unrelated bone-marrow donors.
  • The database will be created by linking 5 existing stem cell registries in India.
  • It is being set up primarily to find matching donors for treating patients with blood-related disorders such as
  • blood cancers (lymphoma, leukemia)
  • thalassaemia,
  • sickle-cell anaemia,
  • haemophilia
  • The database will not contain stem cells but only buccal swab samples from cheek. (See HLA Match below)
  • The registration to the database is voluntary.


Need for National Stem Cell Registry

  • Some diseases cured only using stem-cells
    • Blood-related disorders like thalassaemia require frequent blood transfusions.
    • The only cure for blood related disorders is bone-marrow transplantation.
  • Demand-Supply mismatch
    • According to estimates, about 3.5-5.0 lakh people in India suffer from life-threatening blood-related disorders.
    • As a result, there is a demand of more than 2.5 lakh stem cell transplantations in India.
    • However, the number of matching donors is extremely low.
    • Only 30% of the patients are being treated because of sibling match. (sibling match is a perfect match)
    • Only 10-12% of the patients find donors through private registries in India.
  • High Cost
    • The global stem cell registries have very few Indians registered.
    • Thus, even if an unrelated match is found in a foreign country, the cost of transplantation becomes very high.


  • As a result a national level registry will increase the probability of finding unrelated matching donors.



Matching Donors: HLA Match

  • For bone-marrow transplantation, human leukocyte antigen match must be established between donor and patient. In simple words, the donor and patient should have exactly the same white blood cell type.
  • Siblings usually have the exact HLA match and thus suitable for bone-marrow transplantations.

Basics on Blood-Related Disorders

  • Blood-related disorders are classified under rare-diseases in India.
  • Major life-threatening blood related disorder are given below.



  • Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that reduces the production of haemoglobin (oxygen carriers) in the RBCs of the blood.
  • Effects
    • Excessive destruction of red blood cells leading to anaemia.



  • Haemophilia is a blood-related inherited disorder that restricts the ability of blood to clot.
  • Males are most likely to be affected by Haemophilia.
  • Effects
    • Prolonged bleeding


About Sickle-cell anaemia

A detailed note on Sickle-cell amaemia was provided in an earlier post:


About: South China Sea (SCS)

  • It is one of the busiest waterways of the world connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.
  • One third of global shipping, or a total of US$3.37 trillion of international trade, passes through the South China Sea.
  • Its seabed is rich with natural resources like oil and natural gas. The US Energy Information Administration estimates the area contains at least 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
  • The South China Sea also accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s fisheries, making it a key source of food for hundreds of millions of people.
  • About 80 per cent of China’s oil imports arrive via the Strait of Malacca, in Indonesia, and then sail across the South China Sea to reach China.

In Focus: South China Sea Dispute

  • The South China Sea dispute is about overlapping territorial disputes involving China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei. (remember the mnemonic- CV PM TB)
  • These accounts are based upon several historic and geographic claims.
  • China claims more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea using nine-dash line (NDL) as a geographical marker to assert its claim.
  • As per the NDL, China claims Spartly and Paracel Islands and also Scarborough Shoal.
  • Vietnam claims sovereignty over the Paracel Islands and the Spratly Islands.
  • Philippines asserts ownership of the Spratly archipelago and the Scarborough Shoal.
  • Brunei and Malaysia have claimed sovereignty over southern parts of the sea and some of Spratly Islands.

Nine- Dash Line (NDL):

  • It is a demarcation line which was used by the Republic of China for the first time on an official map in 1947. (Refer to the U-shaped Nine Dash Line in the picture)
  • It illustrates the territorial claims of the Republic of China in the South China Sea.
  • It stretches as far as 2,000km from the Chinese mainland, reaching waters close to Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • Major problems with the nine-dash-line
  • Nobody has ever defined where the actual dashes are located using exact geographic data based on longitudes and latitudes.
  • China has never clarified whether it only claims sovereignty over the islets, reefs and rocks inside the NDL or the entire area falling within the NDL.
  • Many legal experts say the NDL does not comply with international law.

Spratly Island Dispute:

  • It is a territorial dispute between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia concerning the ownership of the Spratly Islands archipelago and nearby geographical features like corals reefs, cays etc.
  • Since 1968, these nations have engaged in varying kinds of military occupation of the islands and the surrounding waters.
  • The exception is Brunei,that has contained its objections to the use of its maritime waters for commercial fishing.
  • Although the Spratly Islands are largely uninhabited, there is a possibility that they may have large reserves of untapped natural resources like oil and natural gas.

Paracel Islands Dispute:

  • The Paracel Islands is an archipelago which is a collection of 130 islands and coral reefs and is located in the South China Sea.
  • It is almost equidistant from China and Vietnam.
  • Historic Claims
  • Beijing claims Paracel islands citing historical references dating back to 14th century writings from the Song Dynasty.
  • Vietnam claims that historical texts from at least the 15th century show that the islands were a part of its territory.
  • Colonial powers of the French-Indochina further accelerated the tensions with regard to the Paracel Islands due to their colonial policies in the 20th century.
  • Dispute in Modern Times:
    • By 1954, tensions had dramatically increased between China and Vietnam over the archipelago.
    • In January 1974, China and Vietnam fought over their territorial disputes after which China took over control of the islands.
    • In retaliation, in 1982, Vietnam said it had extended its administrative powers over these islands.
    • In 1999, Taiwan jumped into the fray laying its claim over the entire archipelago.
    • Since 2012, China, Taiwan and Vietnam have attempted to reinforce their claims on the territory by engaging in construction of government administrative buildings, tourism, land reclamation initiatives and by establishing and expanding military presence on the archipelago.

About: United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 1982

  • It is an international agreement that defines the rights of countries to the world’s oceans.
  • It was signed in 1982 and came into effect in 1994.
  • UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.
  • It also demarcates exclusive economic zones where coastal states are given the right to exclusively tap fishery and fuel resources.
  • 165 nations, including the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) signed the convention. But the United States hasn’t.
  • Dispute Resolution under UNCLOS
    • All signatories of the UNCLOS have committed themselves to settle any issue peacefully.
    • One mechanism is to take a dispute to court, even if one of the contestants declines arbitration.

UNCLOS and SCS Dispute:

  • As per the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) the states can control the territorial waters within 200 nautical miles (370 km) off their shores. These are called the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
  • Where the zones overlap, as in some cases, neighbouring states need to decide on maritime borders.
  • It also states that areas that do not fall under EEZ should be international waters, shared by everyone and free for navigation.
  • Countries cannot claim sovereignty over land masses that are submerged or were submerged but that have now surfaced above high tide level because of illegal construction.

Permanent Court of Arbitration’s 2016 Judgement:

  • In 2013, Philippines challenged China’s reconstruction of seven islands on the Scarborough Shoal at a UN backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at the Hague in the Netherlands..
  • In 2016, the tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines, saying China had illegally seized its maritime territory.
  • This invalidated China’s vast historical claims to the waters based on UNCLOS
  • China refused to participate in the case and dismissed the ruling as a sham.
  • China’s Stand
  • As per China, this dispute is not about the interpretation of UNCLOS, but about territorial rights and maritime borders of SCS.
  • And these issues exceed the jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
  • Therefore, China rejected the verdict saying that the court had no authority to rule on the matter.

Follow up of the judgement:

  • According to the UNCLOS, the court’s ruling is binding on all contesting parties. Annex VII of the UNCLOS says the judgment is final and cannot be appealed.
  • Thus, in theory, both countries have to accept the court’s decision and adhere to it.
  • Nevertheless, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague has no power to enforce the verdict.
  • At most, the signatories of UNCLOS could punish China with consequences regarding its rights as a member of three UNCLOS bodies: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Seabed Authority and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
  • China could be prompted to withdraw its judge from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg. Also, cases at the International Seabed Authority affecting Chinese interests could be shelved.
  • Beyond this, UNCLOS could not deliver much in the SCS dispute.

About REITs

About REITs

  • REITs are investment vehicles that own, operate and manage a portfolio of income-generating properties for regular returns.
  • These are usually commercial properties (offices, shopping centres, hotels etc.) that generate rental income.
  • An REIT works very much like a mutual fund.
  • It pools funds from a number of investors and invests them in rent-generating properties.
  • SEBI requires Indian REITs to be listed on exchanges and to make an initial public offer to raise money.
  • Just like MFs, REITs are subject to a three-tier structure — the sponsor who is responsible for setting up the REIT, the fund management company which is responsible for selecting and operating the properties, and the trustee who ensures that the money is managed in the interest of unit-holders.


Problems with REITs in India

  • Market regulator Sebi came out with REIT guidelines two years ago, helping real estate developers list their rent-yielding assets, and also providing large and small stock market investors with an inflation indexed product.
  • REITs have been quite a hit in Asian markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong, but have stayed on the drawing board in India for the last many years.
  • Market regulator SEBI has been tweaking its norms of REITs to enable them take off successfully, but progress has been slow.
  • Countries such as the US and Singapore have seen REITs providing good returns but in India, issues such as lower rental yields and an illiquid and opaque property market have discouraged REITs.
  • In real estate sector, both rent and capital appreciation from property depend on the location, infrastructure and industrial development around that area and REITs juggle these risks through a diversified portfolio of properties.


Significance of the first REIT listing

  • With the initiation of REITs, if they take off, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the struggling real estate sector.
  • The Indian real estate sector has been facing a liquidity crunch on account of unsold inventory and low demand.
  • REITs can help cash-strapped developers to monetise their existing property.
  • Indian investors don’t have too many regular income options.
  • SEBI requires REITs to distribute a minimum 90 per cent of their income earned to investors on a half-yearly basis.
  • Similarly, 90 per cent of sale proceeds too are to be paid out to unit holders unless the amount is reinvested in another property.
  • Thus, the investor gets to receive regular income and also gets to benefit from price appreciation, thereby boosting the returns.
  • If REITs take off, one can invest in the property market with a minimum amount of ₹2 lakh, which is far cheaper than buying property.
  • REITs can be a new asset class to explore.
  • Most of the developers are bullish on this because they have already invested large amount in commercial properties which are generating good returns.
Section : Economics

In focus: Space Debris from Mission Shakti

In focus: Space Debris from Mission Shakti


  • NASA has identified that India’s A-SAT missile test has generated around 400 pieces of pace debris.
  • 60 are larger than 10cm in size and 24 are identified by NASA as potential threat to International Space Station (ISS) orbiting at the height of 410 km.

NASA’s concern: Threat to ISS

  • The A-SAT missile test produced 24 pieces of space debris that are larger than 24cm and going above the apogee (farthest point) of the International Space Station.
  • This according to NASA has increased the risk of collision with ISS to by 44% in the 10-day interval post the test.


How is ISS protected?

  • ISS is constantly at risk from space debris with over 23,000 of them moving in trajectories considered prone to collisions.
  • If an object is assessed to have the potential to enter the area of size 25 km × 25 km × 4 km around the ISS, it is considered a potential threat.
  • Every time space debris is around the aforesaid space, the ISS is maneuvered away from its normal trajectory in a process called Debris Avoidance Manoeuvres.
  • Since 1999, the ISS has undergone 25 DAMs, the last time in 2015.


India’s defense

  • India has justified its missile test saying that it chose the orbit above 300 km in order to reduce the impact of space debris.
  • Further, the number of satellites at such heights is few reducing the probability of a collision.
  • ISRO has estimated that the debris generated due to A-SAT test will decompose in a span of few weeks.
  • This is because of 2 reasons
  • Due to gravitational influence of the earth the space debris will fall on earth. Earth’s atmosphere albeit very feeble at such heights will decompose the space debris.
  • Further, if the velocity of the space debris decreases for some reason, the object will fall back on earth and burn out in its re-entry to atmosphere because of air-friction.


In brief: Space Debris


  • Inactive satellites that have passed their functional life, leftovers from a rocket or other small fragments form space debris often called as space junk.


Threat from space debris in general


  • At low earth orbits the objects including satellites are moving at high velocity of 7.8 km/sec.
  • High velocities are required for objects in order to be in orbit at such low heights due to gravitational influence of earth. (which is around 95-98% at heights of 300km as that on surface)
  • At such high velocities, the kinetic energy released in case of collision is extremely high. (1/2 mv^2)
  • As a result even objects with small sizes about 10cm can potentially damage functional satellites in low earth orbit.


Ripple effect

  • According to estimates by NASA, there are about 900000 pieces of debris of sizes above 1cm in space.
  • About 34000 are larger than 10cm in size.
  • A small collision can produce cloud of debris that can eventually trigger more collisions setting up a chain reaction of collisions.
Section : Science & Tech

About Hyper-Spectral Imaging

About Hyper-Spectral Imaging


• Hyper-Spectral Imaging is a combination of spectroscopy and digital imaging.
• The sensors or cameras, mounted on UAVs, will take images in two wavelengths of the electro-magnetic spectrum, namely ‘visible light’ and ‘infrared’.
• The images so takes will be run through ‘deep learning’ algorithms to process them into usable data.
• The data so processed is then communicated to the IAF Air Warfare Strategy Cell.

Principle of Spectroscopy and Digital Imaging

• When an electromagnetic wave shines on the surfaceof an object, some wavelengths are absorbed whileothers are reflected.
• ExampleThe colour of plant leaf is green because it absorbs red and violet light but reflects green lightwhich what we see as colour green.
• Similarly all objects absorb and reflect certain wavelengths of electromagnetic spectrum unique to that object. Thus every object has its own ‘spectral signature’.
• The sensors or cameras which are sensitive to a particular wavelength (say visible light, UV light, Infrared etc) capture the image in that wavelength.
• This ‘image’ captured in ‘visible light’ or ‘infrared’ is super-imposed and converted to usable data.


  • Military Applications: Hyper-spectral imaging is a new-gen aerial surveillance strategy with the following capabilities:
    • It can perform surveillance in areas under dense treecover along the international borders. (Due to infrared sensors)
    • Multi-sensor imaging helps to track adversary movement in day and night conditions.
    • It works effectively in all-weather conditions, be it cloud cover, dense fog or snow cover.
  • Civilian Applications
  • Crop monitoring
  • Drought monitoring
  • Mapping soil moisture
  • Mineral Prospecting etc

Note: Similar project HySIS

• In November 2018, ISRO launched HySIS advanced earth observation satellite. Click here for details.
Section : Science & Tech

In focus: Titan

In focus: Titan


  • Titan is the only moon of Saturn that has a size comparable to that of our own moon.
  • It is the second largest moon in our solar system after Ganymede of Jupiter.



  • Thick atmosphere
    • Titan is the only moon that has a thick atmosphere. (about 200 km)
    • The atmosphere is composed of 95% nitrogen, traces of methane, ethane, acetylene, ethylene and propane.
  • Composition
    • As a result of high atmospheric pressure and low temperature (-178 degree Celsius), hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane exist as liquid on Titan.
    • As a result it is the only place other than earth that has standing liquid on its surface.


Cassini Mission and its findings

  • Launched in 1997, reached Saturn in 2004
  • Joint effort of NASA, European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.
  • Final flyby in 2017.


  • Study of composition, structure, weather, origin and evolution of Saturn
  • Structure and composition of Saturn’s rings
  • Study of Titan and other small icy satellites of Saturn

Key discoveries

  • Cassini spacecraft was the first to observe Titan to have rain, rivers, lakes and seas made of hydrocarbons.
  • First to observe nitrogen-rich atmosphere.
  • Current discovery
    • Titan’s northern hemisphere has lakes 300 ft deep made of methane.
    • The lakes are on top of landforms similar to mesas or butte on earth (flatlands) in Karst topography.
    • Further there are small shallow lakes (called phantom lakes) seasonal in nature that appear in winter and evaporate in summer.
Section : Science & Tech