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InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically. 


Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

1. India Smart Cities Awards 2020

2. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (URBAN)


GS Paper 2:

1. The Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949

2. African swine fever

3. Nuclear site images won’t be shared with IAEA: Iran



GS Paper 3:

1. How Small and Medium Companies will benefit from higher thresholds? 

2. India faces numerous challenges in its bid to ban single-use plastics


Facts for Prelims:

1. Dragon Man

2. Bengal monitor

3. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay

GS Paper  :  1


Topics Covered:  Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. 

India Smart Cities Awards 2020


The Union ministry of housing and urban affairs has released the list of India smart cities awards (ISCA) 2020


The awards were announced to commemorate six years of the central government’s three initiatives to spur urban development: 

  1. Smart Cities Mission (SCM)
  2. Atal Mission for Urban Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
  3. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U). 


Performance of various States and cities: 

  1. Uttar Pradesh emerged on the top among all states, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. 
  2. Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Surat (Gujarat) won the award jointly for their overall development. 
  3. Ahmedabad bagged the ‘Smart Cities Leadership Award’ and Chandigarh, the award for union territories, while Indore won the “Innovative Idea Award”. 


Parameters used for ranking: 

  • These rankings were arrived at by the government on the basis of several parameters such as social aspects, governance, culture, urban environment, sanitation, economy, built environment, water, urban mobility. 
  • For the year of the pandemic, additional parameters of sustainable business model of Integrated Command and Control Centres and innovation in Covid-19 management were also counted for the awards. 


Smart Cities mission: 

  • GoI launched the smart cities mission in 2015. 
  • The objective is to integrate city functions, utilize scarce resources more efficiently, and improve the quality of life of citizens. 
  • It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. 

Smart city is envisaged to have four pillars: 

  1. Social Infrastructure. 
  2. Physical Infrastructure. 
  3. Institutional Infrastructure (including Governance). 
  4. Economic Infrastructure. 




  1. Do you know about Global Smart City Index? Read Here(Briefly)
  2. Do you remember the City Innovation Exchange (CiX)? Read Here 



Prelims Link: 

  1. About the Smart Cities Mission. 
  2. India smart cities awards (ISCA)- latest edition. 
  3. Parameters used for ranking. 
  4. About the AMRUT mission. 


Mains Link: 

Discuss the significance of the Smart Cities Mission. 


Sources: the Hindu 


Topics Covered:  Population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies. 

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (URBAN) 


Anniversary event- Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U) was launched on 25th June, 2015. 


About PMAY- Urban: 

Launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) in Mission mode. 

It envisions provision of Housing for All by 2022, when the Nation completes 75 years of its Independence. 


The Mission seeks to address the housing requirement of urban poor including slum dwellers through following programme verticals: 

  1. Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource. 
  2. Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker sections through credit linked subsidy. 
  3. Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sectors. 
  4. Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction /enhancement. 

Credit linked subsidy component will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme while other three components will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS). 


Ownership of houses: 

Houses are to be allotted in the name of adult female members or in joint name and all houses to have toilet facility, drinking water and power supply. Preference is given to persons with disabilities, ST/ SC/ OBCs, minorities and transgender. 



A total of 1.12 crore houses have been sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (U), of which 82.5 lakh houses have been grounded and around 48 lakh have been completed. 



  1. Do you know about Housing rights in International Law? Read Here
  2. Can you recollect the Differences between centrally sponsored schemes and central sector schemes? Read this



Prelims Link: 

  1. PMAY Urban vs Rural. 
  2. Key features. 
  3. Implementation. 
  4. Eligibility. 


Mains Link: 

Write a note on PMAY- URBAN. 


Sources: PIB 


GS Paper  :  2

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

The Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949


The Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949 is being challenged before the Gujarat High Court, more than seven decades after it came into effect as the Bombay Prohibition Act. 


The Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949: 

Introduced by the then Bombay province as Bombay Prohibition Act, 1949 to overhaul the law relating to intoxicating drugs and narcotics total prohibition. 

  • It is an Act relating to the promotion and enforcement of alcohol prohibition in the Bombay State. 
  • The Bombay state was divided into the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat in 1960. 
  • Gujarat adopted the prohibition policy in 1960 and subsequently chose to enforce it with greater rigidity. 
  • In 2011, it renamed the Act as Gujarat Prohibition Act. 

Please note, the first hint at the prohibition of liquor was through the Bombay Abkari Act, 1878. This Act dealt with levying of duties on intoxicants, among other things and aspects of prohibition via amendments made in 1939 and 1947. 


Rationale behind this law: 

The state government says that it is “committed to the ideals and principles of Mahatma Gandhi and firmly intends to eradicate the menace of drinking liquor.” 


How does the act rule? 

  • Under the Act, a permit is mandatory to purchase, possess, consume or serve liquor. 
  • The Act empowers the police to arrest a person for purchasing, consuming or serving alcohol without the permit with punishment ranging from three months to five years in prison. 


What are the main grounds raised against prohibition of liquor and in favour of prohibition? 

  1. The right of privacy is violated, which was given voice by the Supreme Court in 2017 in Puttaswamy judgment. The Right is associated with the citizens’ right to eat and drink as per their choice. 
  2. Ground of manifest arbitrariness: The law grants health permits and temporary permits to out-of-state tourists. The petition says there are no intelligible differences in the classes thus being created by the state on who gets to drink and who does not and violates the Right to Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution. 


The following arguments indicate that such ban was the need of the hour: 

  1. The Constitution places a responsibility on all state governments to “at least contain, if not curtail, consumption of alcohol” (Article 47). 
  2. Strict state regulation is imperative to discourage regular and excessive consumption of alcohol. 
  3. Alcohol denudes family resources and reserves and leaves women and children as its most vulnerable victims. A social stigma at least as far as the family unit is concerned is still attached to the consumption of alcohol. 
  4. Vulnerable persons, either because of age or proclivity towards intoxication or as a feature of peer pressure, more often than not, succumb to this temptation. 



Do you remember the Doctrine of Reasonable Classification? Read Here(Briefly)



Prelims Link: 

  1. Key Provisions. 
  2. Exceptions. 
  3. Punishments. 
  4. Other states that have banned sale of alcohol. 


Mains Link: 

Discuss the Concerns associated with Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949. 


Sources: Indian Express. 



Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

African swine fever 


African Swine Fever (ASF) was first reported in Manipur in December 2020 and there have been no cases since. Illegal import of pigs might have introduced the infection to the state, officials of the state veterinary department suspect. 

  • Recently, four districts of Mizoram have been declared as epicentres of the African swine fever (ASF). 


About African Swine Fever (ASF): 

  • ASF is a highly contagious and fatal animal disease that infects domestic and wild pigs, typically resulting in an acute form of hemorrhagic fever. 
  • It was first detected in Africa in the 1920s. 
  • The mortality is close to 100 per cent, and since the fever has no cure, the only way to stop it spreading is by culling the animals. 
  • As of now, there is no approved vaccine, which is also a reason why animals are culled to prevent the spread of infection. 



Insta Curious: 

Do you know the differences between African Swine fever and Classical swine fever? Read here 



Prelims Link: 

  1. Can swine fever affect humans? 
  2. Is it a viral disease? 
  3. Where was it first discovered? 
  4. Which countries have been affected by this in 2020? 
  5. Is there any vaccine available against this? 


Mains Link: 

Write a note African Swine Fever, symptoms and its spread. 


Sources: Down to Earth


Topics Covered:  Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate. 

Nuclear site images won’t be shared with IAEA: Iran


Iran’s Parliament has said that it will never hand over images from inside of some Iranian nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a monitoring agreement with the agency has expired. 



IAEA and Tehran struck the three-month monitoring agreement in February to cushion the blow of Iran reducing its cooperation with the agency. The agreement was extended by a month on May 24. 



  • The announcement could further complicate talks between Iran and six major powers on reviving a 2015 nuclear deal

Three years ago, former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact and reimposed crippling sanctions on Tehran; Iran reacted by violating restrictions.


About IAEA: 

  • Set up as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” organization in 1957 within the United Nations family. 
  • Reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. 
  • Headquarters in Vienna, Austria. 



  • Works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. 
  • Seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. 



  1. Program of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT). 
  2. Human Health Program. 
  3. Water Availability Enhancement Project. 
  4. International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles, 2000. 


2015 Nuclear Deal: 

  1. In 2015, Iran with the P5+1 group of world powers – the USA, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany agreed on a long-term deal on its nuclear programme. 
  2. The deal was named as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and in common parlance as Iran Nuclear Deal. 
  3. Under the deal, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activity in return for the lifting of sanctions and access to global trade. 
  4. The agreement allowed Iran to accumulate small amounts of uranium for research but it banned the enrichment of uranium, which is used to make reactor fuel and nuclear weapons. 
  5. Iran was also required to redesign a heavy-water reactor being built, whose spent fuel could contain plutonium suitable for a bomb and to allow international inspections. 



1.Did you know that the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other treaties against the spread of nuclear weapons entrust the IAEA as the nuclear inspectorate? Read more about IAEA Safeguards here

2. Do you remember the 123 Agreement and Hyde Act? Read Here (Briefly)



Prelims Link: 

  1. What is IAEA? Relation with the UN. 
  2. Members of IAEA. 
  3. Programs of IAEA. 
  4. Board of Governors- composition, voting and functions. 
  5. What is Uranium Enrichment? 


Mains Link: 

Discuss the need for bringing back the Iran nuclear deal. 


Sources: the Hindu


GS Paper  :  3


Topics Covered:  Inclusive growth and issues related. 


How Small and Medium Companies will benefit from higher thresholds? 


The Corporate Affairs Ministry has expanded the turnover and borrowing thresholds for Small and Medium sized Companies (SMC). 


What is the change? 

  • The Corporate Affairs Ministry has increased the turnover threshold for SMCs to Rs 250 crore from Rs 50 crore, and the borrowing threshold to Rs 50 crore from Rs 10 crore. 
  • SMCs are permitted to avail a number of exemptions under the Company (Accounting Standards) Rules 2021 to reduce the complexity of regulatory filings for smaller firms. 



  1. Banks, monetary establishments, insurance coverage firms and listed firms can’t be labelled as SMCs. 
  2. Any firm which is both the holding firm and subsidiary of an organization that’s not an SMC can’t be labelled as an SMC. 


Significance of the move: 

The move would promote ease of doing business for the firms that would now be included under the definition of SMC. 


What are the exemptions available to SMCs that are not available to other firms? 

  1. SMC are completely exempted from having to file cash flow statements and provide a segmental break up of their financial performance in mandatory filings. 
  2. They can also avail partial reporting exemptions in areas including reporting on employee benefits obligations such as pensions. 
  3. They are exempted from having to provide a detailed analysis of benefit obligations to employees, but are still required to provide actuarial assumptions used in valuing the company’s obligations to employees. 
  4. SMCs are also allowed to provide an estimated value in use of assets carried on their balance sheets, and are not required to use present value techniques to arrive at the value in use of assets. 
  5. They are also exempted from having to report diluted earnings per share in their filings. 


Share of MSMEs in India: 

  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have always played a vital role in the Indian economy. 
  • Not only do the 6.3 crore MSMEs in India contribute one-third to the GDP of the country but also provide employment to large sections of society. 
  • Moreover, the sector is a critical source of livelihood and provides nearly 110 million jobs. 



Do you know that MSMEs are now referred to as Udyam and the registration process as Udyam Registration? Do you know the basic criteria for MSME classification ? Read here



Prelims Link: 

  1. Share of MSME sector in India’s GDP and exports. 
  2. The basic criteria for MSME classification. 
  3. Classification of MSMEs. 
  4. What is V- shaped recovery? 
  5. SDGs on MSMEs. 


Mains Link: 

What is the potential of India’s MSME sector? Discuss the challenges and concerns associated with the growth of MSME sector in India. 


Sources: Indian Express


Topics Covered:  Conservation related issues. 


India faces numerous challenges in its bid to ban single-use plastics


The Indian government is planning to phase out single-use plastics leading to complete elimination. But concerns revolve around the availability of alternatives and plastic waste management systems. 



In 2019, the Union government in a bid to free India of single-use plastics by 2022, had laid out a multi-ministerial plan to discourage the use of single-use plastics across the country. 


The strategy: 

A government committee has identified the single use plastic (SUP) items to be banned based on an index of their utility and environmental impact. It has proposed a three-stage ban: 

  1. The first category of SUP items proposed to be phased out are plastic sticks used in balloons, flags, candy, ice-cream and ear buds, and thermocol that is used in decorations. 
  2. The second category, proposed to be banned from July 1, 2022, includes items such as plates, cups, glasses and cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays; wrapping and packing films used in sweet boxes; invitation cards; cigarette packets; stirrers and plastic banners that are less than 100 microns in thickness. 
  3. A third category of prohibition is for non-woven bags below 240 microns in thickness. This is proposed to start from September next year. 


Challenges ahead: 

  1. It is not going to be an easy task given that close to 26,000 tons of plastic waste is generated across India every day, of which more than 10,000 tons stays uncollected. 
  2. A significant amount of plastic ends up in rivers, oceans and landfills. 


What needs to be done? 

  1. The government has to do a thorough economic and environmental cost-benefit analysis. 
  2. The plan has to take into account social and economic impacts for the ban to be successful. 
  3. We need better recycling policies because resources are poor and there needs to be a much broader strategy. 



Do you know about Plastic eating Bacteria? Can it solve the rising problem of Plastic pollution? Read Here



Prelims Link: 

  1. What are single use plastics? 
  2. Uses. 
  3. India’s targets. 
  4. Other countries which are planning to phase out the use of single use plastics. 


Sources: the Hindu



Facts for Prelims:

Dragon Man: 

  • Researchers from China have claimed to have found an ancient human skull that could belong to an altogether new species of humans. 
  • The skull was found in north-east China’s Harbin city. 
  • It has been dubbed the “Dragon Man” or Homo longi, a name that has been derived from the Long Jiang or Dragon river in the Heilongjiang province of China where the city of Harbin is located. 
  • They could be over 146,000 years old.

Bengal monitor: 

  • The Bengal monitor or common Indian monitor (Varanus bengalensis) is a large lizard that is mainly terrestrial. 
  • The monitors are carnivorous and non-poisonous. 
  • The monitor lizard is protected under Schedule I of WPA but is regularly killed for its meat, blood and oil. 
  • The species is listed under the ‘Least Concern’ category on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List


Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay: 

  • He was a Bengali poet and writer. 
  • He wrote the national song Vande Mataram. 
  • His novel Anandamath — which was set in the background of the Sanyashi Bidroho (rebellion of monks in late 18th century) — is considered to be one of key works on Bengal’s nationalism. 
  • His first Bengali fiction is called ‘Durgeshnondini’ published in 1865. 
  • He also wrote other famous novels like Kapalkundala in 1866, Mrinalini in 1869, Vishbriksha in 1873, Chandrasekhar in 1877, Rajani in 1877, Rajsimha in 1881 and Devi Chaudhurani in 1884. 
  • He brought out a monthly magazine called Bangadarshan in 1872. 
  • His first fiction to appear in print was the English novel Rajmohan’s Wife. 


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