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Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. South India’s earliest Sanskrit Inscription found in AP.

2. Swami Shraddhanand.


GS Paper 2:

1. Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).

2. Illegal cultivation of Bt brinjal.

3. Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandan Yojana (PMVVY).


GS Paper 3:

1. SnowEx

2. Western Dedicated Freight Corridor.


Facts for Prelims:

1. National Anthem.


GS Paper  : 1

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

South India’s earliest Sanskrit Inscription found in AP

What to study?

For Prelims: Latest inscriptions, Saptamatrikas, Satavahanas.

For Mains: Significance of these findings.

Context: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.

  • This is also an earliest epigraphic evidence (Epigraphy is the study of ancient inscriptions) for the Saptamatrika cult.
  • The discovery was made in Chebrolu village in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. 

About the inscriptions found:

  • It is in Sanskrit and in Brahmi characters.
  • It was issued by Satavahana king Vijaya in 207 A.D.
  • The inscription records construction of a prasada (temple), a mandapa (a pavilion for public rituals) and consecration of images on southern side of temple by a person named Kartika for merit of king at temple of Bhagavathi (Goddess) Saktimatruka (Saptamatrika) at Tambrape (which is the ancient name of Chebrolou).
  • Chebrolu inscription of Satavahana king Vijaya issued in his 5th regnal year (207 A.D.) is also the earliest datable Sanskrit inscription from South India so far. Until now the Nagarjunakonda inscription of Ikshavaku king Ehavala Chantamula issued in his 11th regnal year (4th century A.D.) was considered the earliest Sanskrit inscription in South India.

The place also yielded another inscription which is in Prakrit language and of Brahmi characters and belongs to 1st century A.D.

  • This is thus the earliest epigraphic reference to Mutts and records gift of a cloister mandapa and chaitya to bhavatho (Lord) of the Gadasa Mutt by a person hailing from Tabaava.

Who are Saptamatrikas?

They are a group of seven female deities worshipped in Hinduism as personifying the energy of their respective consorts.

They are Brahmani (wife of Brahma), Maheshvari (wife of Shiva), Kaumari (wife of Kumara), Vaishnavi (wife of Vishnu), Varahi (wife of Varaha, or the boar, an avatar [incarnation] of Vishnu), Indrani (wife of Indra), and Chamunda, or Yami (wife of Yama).

There are references of Saptamatrika worship in early Kadamba copper plates as well as early Chalukyas and Eastern Chalukya copper plates.


  • They are an ancient Indian dynasty based In the Deccan.
  • They established their independent rule after the decline of the Mauryas.
  • Their rule lasted for about 450 years.
  • They were also known as the Andhras.
  • The Puranas and the Nasik and Nanaghad inscriptions remain important sources for the history of Satavahanas.
  • The Satavahana kingdom mainly comprised the present-day Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. At different times, their rule extended to parts of modern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. The dynasty had different capital cities at different times, including Pratishthana (Paithan) and Amaravati (Dharanikota).
  • The founderof the Satavahana dynasty was Simuka.
  • The greatest ruler of the Satavahana dynasty was Gautamiputra Satakarni.
  • They patronized Buddhism and Brahmanism.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered: Important personalities.

Swami Shraddhanand

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About Swami Shraddhanand- contributions, Arya Samaj- objectives.

Context: On December 23, 1926, Arya Samaj missionary Swami Shraddhanand was assassinated by a man called Abdul Rashid.

Who was Swami Shraddhanand?

Born on February 22, 1856 at village Talwan in Jalandhar district in Punjab province.

In the early 1880s, he came into contact with Swami Dayanand, the founder of the Arya Samaj.

He wrote a book called “Hindu Sangathan”.

He called untouchability a “curse” and a “blot” on the reputations of the Hindus.

What is Arya Samaj? 

It is a Hindu reform movement that was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay.

The movement believes in the infallible authority of the Vedas.

The central objectives of Arya Samaj is to, “eradicate Ignorance (Agyan), Indigence or Poverty (Abhav) and Injustice (Anayay) from this earth.

Members of the Arya Samaj believe in one God and reject the worship of idols.

Sources: the Hindu.

GS Paper  : 2

Topics Covered: Role of civil services in a democracy.

Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About IRMS ans Railway Board- composition and functions.

Context: Cabinet has approved the merger of its eight services into one — the Indian Railway Management Service (IRMS).

The decision to merge the services is to ensure that officers put railways first instead of their service which had become the case under the present system.

This is in line with the recommendations of numerous committees, notably Rakesh Mohan (2001) and the Bibek Debroy panel (2015).


  1. Railway Board composition: The Chairman along with four members responsible for infrastructure, operations and business development, rolling stock and finance respectively will form the Railway Board. 
  2. Roles and functions: The Chairman shall be the cadre controlling officer responsible for Human Resources (HR) with assistance from a DG (HR).
  3. The Board will also have some independent non-executive members, who will be highly distinguished professionals with deep knowledge and 30 years of experience including at the top levels in industry, finance, economics and management fields. The independent members will help Railway Board in setting a strategic direction.


Now, just like aspirants to the Union Public Service Commission, candidates aspiring to get into railways will have to appear for their prelims after which they will indicate their preference for IRMS under five specialities — four of them engineering specialities for ‘technical’ operations comprising of civil, mechanical, telecom and electrical, and one ‘non-technical’ speciality which will recruit officers for accounts, personnel and traffic.

Sources: the Hindu.


Topics Covered:

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

2. Agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.

Illegal cultivation of Bt brinjal

What to study?

For prelims and mains: bt crops- need, concerns, challenges in preventing their cultivation and measures needed.

Context: Illegal Bt brinjal cultivation in Haryana have been confirmed recently.


India banned Bt brinjal in 2010. 

Need of the hour- the GEAC should:

  1. Visit the farms and conduct tests.
  2. Identify the source of seeds.
  3. Destroy GM crops.
  4. Compensate losses incurred by farmers.
  5. Penalise distributing companies.
  6. Form a mechanism to avoid such incidents in the future.

What is a GM crop?

A GM or transgenic crop is a plant that has a novel combination of genetic material obtained through the use of modern biotechnology.

  • For example, a GM crop can contain a gene(s) that has been artificially inserted instead of the plant acquiring it through pollination.
  • The resulting plant is said to be “genetically modified” although in reality all crops have been “genetically modified” from their original wild state by domestication, selection, and controlled breeding over long periods of time.

Do we need GM crops?

Yes and why?

  1. Higher crop yields.
  2. Reduced farm costs.
  3. Increased farm profit.
  4. Improvement in health and the environment.

No and why?

Lack of clarity: The scientific community seems uncertain about the GM technology. While there are many in this community who feel that the benefits outweigh the risks, others point to the irreversibility of this technology and uncontrollability of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) once introduced in the ecosystem.

Threat to domestic crops: Globally, there is a clear view that GM crops must not be introduced in centres of origin and diversity. India also has mega biodiversity hotspots like the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats which are rich in biodiversity yet ecologically very sensitive.


 There is also a potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops and the risk of these toxins affecting nontarget organisms. There is also the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods.

Sources: Down to Earth.


Topics covered: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandan Yojana (PMVVY)

What to study?

For Prelims: PMVVY- key features.

For Mains: Significance of PMVVY.

Context: Centre has made Aadhaar (the unique 12-digit biometric identity number) mandatory for subscribers of Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY).

In cases where scheme beneficiaries Aadhaar authentication fails due to poor biometrics- the Department of Financial Services (under Finance Ministry) through its implementing agency will make provisions to help beneficiaries get Aadhaar number.

About PMVVY:

It is a Pension Scheme exclusively for the senior citizens aged 60 years and above.

The Scheme can be purchased offline as well as online through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India which has been given the sole privilege to operate this Scheme.

Key features of the scheme:

  1. Scheme provides an assured return of 8% p.a. payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30% p.a. effective) for 10 years.
  2. Pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase.
  3. The scheme is exempted from Service Tax/ GST.
  4. On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, Purchase price along with final pension installment shall be payable.
  5. Loan upto 75% of Purchase Price shall be allowed after 3 policy years (to meet the liquidity needs). Loan interest shall be recovered from the pension installments and loan to be recovered from claim proceeds.
  6. The scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical/ terminal illness of self or spouse. On such premature exit, 98% of the Purchase Price shall be refunded.
  7. On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the Purchase Price shall be paid to the beneficiary.


Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper  : 3


Topics Covered: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.


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Overview and significance of the campaign and SnowEx.

Context: NASA has launched a seasonal campaign — part of a five-year programme called SnowEx, initiated in 2016-17.

What is SnowEx? 

It is a five year program initiated and funded by NASA.

Objective: To address the most important gaps in snow remote sensing knowledge and thus lay the groundwork for a future snow satellite mission.

It focuses on airborne campaigns and field work, and on comparing the various sensing technologies, from the mature to the more experimental, in globally-representative types of snow.

The mission will utilize a suite of airborne instruments such as Lidar, SAR, Passive Microwave, Multi-spectral/hyperspectral VIS/IR, and others, as well as ground measurements, to study Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) in forested areas.


  • develop/test algorithms for measurement of SWE in forested and non-forested areas by providing multi-sensor observations of seasonally snow-covered landscapes.
  • develop/test energy balance models and snow distribution models of beneath-canopy snowpack using appropriate field measurements.
  • explore how best to combine sensing technologies with modeling and data assimilation methods to produce the most accurate products.

What are the SnowEx outcomes and International Engagement?

SnowEx will provide key insights into optimal strategies for mapping global SWE with remote sensing and models, which will enable a competitive proposal for a Decadal Survey “Earth System Explorer” mission.

The systematic assessment of methods for mapping water and energy components of seasonal snow in SnowEx is fully aligned with the objectives of the NASA Terrestrial Hydrology Program and the Earth Science Division as well as the ESDS.

Why have this campaign?

  • More than one-sixth of the world’s population (~1.2 billion people) relies on seasonal snowpack and glaciers for their water supply.
  • Snowmelt-generated water supply is likely to decrease this century. Snow is also a critical component of Earth’s cold regions ecosystems where wildlife, vegetation and snow have strongly interconnected fates.
  • Besides, to understand the time and space variation in the snow’s energy and mass balances along with the extensive feedbacks with the Earth’s climate, water cycle, and carbon cycle, it is critical to accurately measure snowpack.

Sources: Indian Express.


Topics Covered:Infrastructure- railways.

Western Dedicated Freight Corridor

What to study?

For Prelims: Maps of proposed DFCs, DFCCIL.

For Mains: DFCs- significance, need and challenges in construction.

Context: The Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCIL) has opened the more than 300-km section between Rewari, Haryana to Madar, Rajasthan, for commercial trial runs. This is the first section to be opened on the under-construction 1,500-km western freight corridor.

For Prelims:

About Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC):

  • It is a broad gauge corridor.
  • The 1,504-km western freight corridor begins at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and stretches till the country’s largest container port — Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, near Mumbai.
  • In October 2006, a dedicated body, the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) has been established to carry out the project.
  • The project will be funded by a soft loan of $4bn provided by Japan International Cooperation Agency under special terms for economic partnership (STEP).

Important places in this route:

  1. It passes through Vadodara,Ahmedabad, Palanpur, Phulera and Rewari.
  2. Passing through P., Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.


  • The western DFC will separate freight and passenger traffic to increase the speed of freight movement.
  • It will be used to transport fertilisers, food grains, salt, coal, iron & steel and cement.
  • The project will eventually be linked to the Eastern DFC to form four hubs known as India’s Golden Quadrilateral including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

Why do we need DFCs?

Increased burden: Covering a total of 10,122 km, these corridors carry the heaviest traffic and are highly congested. The route carries 52% of passenger traffic and 58% of freight traffic, according to the Make-in-India report of 2017. Also, these routes are highly saturated, with line capacity utilisation reaching as high as 150%.

Rise in demand: Considering increased transport demands, overtly congested routes and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with road transport, these freight corridors will help reduce the cost and allow faster transportation.

Revenue generation: They will open new avenues for investment, as this will lead to the construction of industrial corridors and logistic parks along these routes.

About Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL):

The DFCCIL is a corporation run by the Ministry of Railways (India) to undertake planning & development, mobilisation of financial resources and construction, maintenance and operation of the Dedicated Freight Corridors. DFCC has been registered as a company under the Companies Act 1956 on 30 October 2006.


Sources: the Hindu.


Facts of Prelims

National Anthem:

Context: On December 27, 1911, the National Anthem was first sung at the Calcutta session of the Congress.

Key facts:

‘Jana Gana Mana’ was adopted as the country’s National Anthem by the Constituent Assembly of India on January 24, 1950, the last day of its last session.

Reverence to the National Anthem is a Fundamental duty as per Article 51A (a) of the Constitution.

Originally written in Bengali, it is the first of five stanzas of a poem written and later set to notations by Rabindranath Tagore.