Today's news

Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (13th June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you!

1- The road from St. Petersburg

There has been a certain depressing pattern in India-Russia relations over the past decade. Annual summit-level meetings have been marked by expressions of nostalgia for the glory days of Indo-Soviet friendship , declarations of solemn intent to take contemporary relations to new heights and highlighting common perspectives even as the two countries mostly go their respective ways.

Q- In a rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape, India and Russia find a more realistic basis and more compelling reasons to work together. Discuss

Link it with GS Paper 2 (Indo-Russia Relationship)

2- More to it than MSP

The rot in farming

Agricultural distress is often viewed as a short-term phenomenon in which farmers look for support from various quarters on account of being unable to get a gainful return due to price crash, poor marketing facilities, rising credit burden, increasing cost of inputs and frequent occurrence of natural calamities.

Q- Agricultural distress has become a permanent feature due to the failure of not only policymakers but also local institutions such as community or social networks which are supposedly weakening because of increasing individualisation. Explain

3- CPI inflation slows to lowest since 2012

Retail inflation in May, at 2.18%, eased to its lowest level since the Centre began measuring it on a nationwide basis in 2012, driven in large part by cooling food prices, according to a latest government release. Separate data showed industrial output expanded by 3.1% in April.

Q- What is inflation? What is the difference between CPI and WPI inflation measurement?

4- ‘CRMs, the true future of ATMs’

Q- What is cash recycling machines (CRMs) and why are they considered futures of ATMs?

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Science and Tech)

5- Raja Mandala: Engaging an inward looking US

Q- The quest for a multipolar world has been one of the central themes of India’s foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Comment

6- Should Constitution be amended to make Freedom of Speech a direct Fundamental Right?

Q- India should amend its Constitution and include the Freedom of Press as a direct right in the chapter on Fundamental Rights, rather than a derivative freedom of the Right to Speech and Expression . Critically Examine.

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Editorials, GS-2, Uncategorized

Civil Service Reforms: Few ‘Innovations’ By NITI Aayog, If One Can Call Them So

As civil service reforms go, the Niti Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda: 2017-18 to 2019-2020, released recently, contains little that is new or innovative. The idea that policy making is a specialized activity and needs lateral entrant of specialists on fixed-term contracts to bring in competition into established career bureaucracy has been talked about for years and is a tautology today. The same goes for making the goals and progress available publicly to incentivize delivery and measure performance objectively, with high performance rewarded and poor performance reprimanded. Likewise, E-governance is no new beer, as is outsourcing of services; they’re old wine in new bottles.

The only innovation, if one can call it so, seems the plea for longer tenure of Secretaries. It creates two important inefficiencies. One, with a time horizon shorter than two years, the officer is hesitant to take any major initiatives. Two, and more importantly, to the extent that any misstep may become the cause for charges of favouritism or corruption post retirement, the officer hesitates to take decisions on any major project. This causes an inordinate amount of delay in decision-making. The inefficiencies are two-fold: (a) hesitation to take any major initiative; and (b) fear of misstep to take decisions on any major project.

It’s bemusing how these two inefficiencies can be overcome with longer tenures. For one, empirically, officers with tenures of more than 2 and going up to 3/4 years haven’t fared any better than the ones with shorter tenures. Lack of foresight and initiative aside, to be fair, they have been moved around to more than 2-3 departments/ministries, thereby not granting them the time needed to settle down and make salutary contributions. But it’s not fair to blame the system entirely for there are departments/ministries that are low/high in the mandarin’s perception/weight indices and with the long window available to them, there is the human urge for upward pecking mobility. Lobbying, jostling, networking (see the work-hours wasted here!), nepotism, and favouring the powers-that-be through subtle sleight of hand are rife. One has with growing frustration seen how people with no little knowledge/experience, but with the right “connect” and “networking”, go up and up the proverbial totem pole only because the new post figures high in the perception-cum-weighty index and is a better springboard for post-retirement sinecures. This is the nub.

Like statistics, the Niti Aayog’s eggheads conceal more than what they reveal; its platitudinous recipe is less relevant than what it shrouds: post-retirement sinecures. The heart of the problem is that no bureaucrat (apart from one-odd outliers) ever wants to retire. In a feudal mindset, retirement sucks: identity-loss after a lifetime of humongous ego-trips and condescension, vanishing into the woodwork is the hardest ask; retirement is sudden cold-blooded cremation. Hence exists the the intense urge to stay on somehow. It is also the reason why senior officers close to R-Days take calculated and “desperate” gambles to “oblige” political masters at the cost of their much vaunted “professional ethics”. In effect, the two “inefficiencies” stay. One wishes the Niti Aayog had provided answer to this endemic nettlesome syndrome that defeats every sanguine public motivation.

One wonders how practical and efficacious Niti Aayog’s suggestion for specialization and induction of lateral recruits for a fixed tenure is. No questions are asked on the need for specialists and domain experts in public policy, but the issue is: Given the bureaucratic construct, will this behemoth of bureaucracy easily admit and acknowledge the role and contribution of the newbie, especially when their own unimaginative low-performance and lassitude hitherto unquestioned will (inevitably) be shown in poor light in comparison. Though a fixed tenure might help shielding the laterals from being junked midway, will frustration not creep into their day-to-day efficiency, thereby nullifying the cross-pollination and cross-fertilization of their ideas? Will they be accorded their due for the contribution made to improve public policy and the same acted upon without bureaucratic machinations and legerdemain? Or will the ear of political masters earned by mandarins negate any such noble impulses making it a zero-sum game?Public policy issues are roiled – apart from the much-maligned and putative red-tape-worm – in time-worn vested interest, personal advancement, colonial baggage and mindset. Holistically, the answer is in tightening governance’s value system. Financial malfeasance is bad, but worse is intellectual dishonesty, subtly crafted under the guise of amnesic mnemonics, poor data analysis and obfuscating interstitial interpretation kept under wraps in grimy official records. Financial misgivings no matter how convoluted they are, still palpate; intellectual dishonesty covertly hemorrhages.

For a feudal society with a bespoke traditional mindset of grand reparative gestures to espouse and promote the biradiri cause and where the state is seen as omnipotent and where few realize power is but abuse of power, it is imperative to have an arm’s-length system.

But is that enough? Maybe not. There could be a need to actualize implication of Robert Klitgaard’s formula on dishonesty: Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion – Accountability (C=M+D-A). Even that too may not be enough. Proactive disclosure provided under Section 4 of the RTI Act 2005 will need to be sculpted into the e-governance platform. In this our Indian Gilded Age, the atmosphere is agog with ideas and impulses despite the consistent stonewalling of the established order. Citizen rants against diminishing public value are getting louder by the day.

True, in today’s battle of dialectics opacity wins, but then for how long? Over time and amid battling dialectics, society’s voice will inexorably tilt in transparency’s favour. The USA too went through the Gilded Age and the trauma of the robber barons. They came out of it triumphant through laws crafted in the teeth of opposition. For us the battle may be long and hard too but it’s time we had better see the future. I wish the Niti Aayog had the vision to sense a Eureka moment here and suggested measures to move in that direction.

Today's news

Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (12th June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you!

1- GST Council decides to lower rates on 66 items

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on Sunday decided to reduce tax rates on 66 items including cashew nuts, packaged foods such as sauces and pickles, agarbatti, insulin, school bags, children’s colouring books, cutlery, and some tractor components.

2- ‘Neighbourhood First’ in Nepal

India needs to help Prime Minister Deuba clear the way for elections under the new Constitution.

Q- India and Nepal relations have not moved forward with mere govt documents but through the heart of our peoples. Comment (200 words)

Link it with GS Paper 2 (India and its neighbourhood)

3- Six days of war, 50 years of occupation

Q- What is six days of war and discuss its impact on Arab-Israel relationship.

Link it with GS Paper 1 (World History)

4- Economic forecasting is not a science

India lost its tag as the ‘world’s fastest-growing economy’ last month as its fourth quarter GDP growth fell to 6.1%, the slowest in two years.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Income accounting)

5- How does the monsoon affect the economy?

Earlier this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted the country would get normal monsoon rains in 2017. The state-run weather body last week said India’s annual monsoon rainfall is expected to be 98% of the long-period average (LPA), up from 96% projected earlier, raising prospects of higher farm output and economic growth.

Q- Discuss about Indian Monsoon and its impact of different economic sectors of India.

6- The crops of wrath

When demonetisation happened, many, including this writer, thought the decision, taken at the start of rabi plantings in November, would significantly impact farm production. We were proved wrong. Good monsoon rains, after successive drought years, besides the timely onset of winter conducive to germination, turned out to be strong motivations for farmers to sow, even if this entailed begging or borrowing.

Q- Discuss the positive and negative impact of demonetization in India.

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Today's news

Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (10th June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you!

1- Fault lines in the fields

From a persisting cash crunch due to demonetisation to a price free fall because of a bumper produce, it’s a big bag of woes for farmers in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Mahesh Langa and Jayant Sriram report on the gathering storm as their protests for a fairer deal threaten to escalate

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Agriculture)

2- The arc to Tokyo

Describe India-Japan relationship in perspective of economic, geographical and security parameters.

3- Proper protocol

The revision of antibiotics classes by the World Health Organisation in its list of essential medicines is a welcome step in the global initiative to push back against antimicrobial resistance, the phenomenon of bacteria becoming resistant even to the most potent drugs.

Q- Within the realm of medical practice, the prescription of antibiotics is often guided by such factors as patient demand, competing alternative treatment systems, and even financial incentives. Explain

4- No proof required: Just why are farmers rioting?

It is politics that best explains the phenomena of farmer riots amidst growing prosperity.

5- Farmers will bear the brunt of climate change

By 2050, India is likely to experience a temperature rise of 1-4°C; rainfall will increase by 9-16 per cent. This will have a detrimental effect on farmers in more than half of the country

Collect facts from here to add in Essay paper.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Climate change) and Essay paper.

6- Whats the issue farmers facing

Collect facts and data from here!

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Must read topics before Prelims 2017 Exam

Dear aspirants, I hope you are prepared well for upcoming UPSC Prelims Exam 2017. Many of you must be feeling afraid due to lack of revision or completion of topics. I am assuring you, this happened with everyone (including toppers).

At this moment don’t try to read anything new stuff, no matter what someone are suggesting. No one can predict the UPSC.

But there are some topics that must be covered no matter what before prelims exam.

Before consuming any more time, I am going to list following important topics for UPSC Prelims Exam-

1- From world atlas, cover rivers and its tributaries (more concentrate on southern and North eastern rivers), mountain ranges and national parks, biosphere reserves (again southern and north eastern).

2- International organisations related with environment and their objectives like IUCN, UNDP, CITES, WWF, Bird International etc

3- International organisation like WB, WTO, IMF, WEF, IUCN, OECD, OPEC, SCO, APEC, ASEAN, EAS etc along with their reports published.

4- Constitutional bodies along with necessary article numbers like UPSC, EC, CAG.

5- Economics-  Monetary policy and tools, GST with constitutional position, Inflation, GDP/GNP/NNP etc at factor/market cost, Economic survey, inflation, Forex topics

6- Government flagship schemes: Read about their objectives, target audience and concern ministries

7- In art and culture- Temple architecture, Folk dance, Folk music

8- For Modern Indian history, go through spectrum only at this moment.

9- Environment- Pollution chapter, Biodiversity, Climate change, Ozone, GHGs (refer current issues)

10- Must go through Preamble, Fundamental rights, DPSP and Fundamental duties

11- Parliamentary committees- Only few

12- Solve mock tests based on current affairs.

Read with completed optimism. Don’t lose hope. If you are feeling that you are forgetting everything…dont worry. If you read even once, it will click during exam time after looking into the given options.

After reading questions, don’t look into options. First try to answer without looking answers and then look options. If any option is matching with your answer that will be correct answer without iota of doubt.

Try to solve at least 85 questions but don’t go after to attempt all. if you will be having enough time to complete your GS Prelims Paper 1 so always recheck your answer 2-3 times before marking the circle in your OMR sheet to avoid silly mistakes.

Good luck!

Mr Pavan K.
Director, Shiksha IAS Academy

Today's news

Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (9th June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you!

1- Electronic Health Cards for patients soon

Very soon, patients need not carry hard copies of their medical records such as doctors’ prescriptions and test reports. The doctors will be able to access their medical history on computers if the government’s plan to launch Electronic Health Records (EHR) is successful.

Link it with GS Paper 2 (e-governance)

2- Is the Paris Agreement necessary?

The U.S. withdrawal is an opportunity to make the rules of the Paris Agreement stronger and more ambitious.

Click below link to know about Paris Agreement.
The skeleton of the Paris agreement 

Q- What is Paris Agreement? Critically examine the consequences of US exit from Paris Agreement.

3- Getting back on the growth track

Q- For sustained high growth, we need new investment and policymakers must shift their focus towards employment generation. Explain.

Link it with GS Paper 3

4- Clouded coherence

As India takes its place as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Astana, many are wondering just ‘where’ Indian foreign policy stands on the basis of where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sitting, along with Russia, China, Central Asian states and Pakistan (which is also being admitted this year).

Q- As India takes its place as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). List out major advantage India would likely to gain.

5- Unease of doing business

Reacting to a series of judicial pronouncements questioning executive decisions, former minister for law and justice, Salman Khurshid, once famously observed that the judiciary must make a distinction between “honest mistakes” and dishonest ones, to avoid what the media has long dubbed “policy paralysis”.

Q- What is the difference between ‘Judicial activism’ and ‘Judicial overreach’ ? Explain, how Judicial overreach may lead to ‘policy paralysis’ sometimes.

6- The crumbling pillars of state
An issue like “Swachh Bharat” may seem remote from something as lofty as national security, but I start with it because the quintessence of national security lies in creating a long-term vision of national interests, and demonstrating the ability for resolute implementation. India’s failure to attain civilised standards of sanitation is emblematic of a serious deficiency on both counts amongst independent India’s rulers and administrators.

Q- Besieged by internal and external threats, the security establishment needs to move beyond a lackadaisical bureaucracy. Explain.

7- One Belt, One Road has no basis in China’s history

Read to know historical perspectives of OBOR.

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Today's news

Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (8th June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you!

1-  WHO revises antibiotics protocol

In an effort to curb antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the drugs into three categories — access, watch and reserve — specifying which are to be used for common ailments and which are to be kept for complicated diseases.

Q- “The rise in antibiotic resistance stems from how we are using — and misusing — these medicines,”. Comment

2- RBI holds rates to retain ‘credibility’

Watchful monetary policy committee makes the right call

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday kept the policy repo rate unchanged at 6.25% and asserted that the current state of the economy did not warrant “premature” policy action that could risk “the loss of credibility.”

3- The neutrino opportunity

India’s wait to join the elite club of countries undertaking neutrino research suffered a procedural delay in March this year when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) suspended the environmental clearance (EC) granted to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), and ordered it to file a fresh application for clearance.

Q- What is neutrino ? Write down the significance of India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (S&T)

4- Retrieving ground in Afghanistan

Link it with GS Paper 2 (International organisation)

5- Terror and the Metropolitan Police

Q- Crime is on the rise, if not statistically, at least in public perception in metro city. Enumerate causes and solutions.

6- Beware of Beijing

In Astana, Kazakhstan, this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will tick off a box that has long been on India’s wishlist — full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

Q- What is Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and critically examine the geo-strategic importance of SCO in India’s perspective.

7- Their Westminster, and ours

Q- Despite the same electoral model, there are marked differences in how polls are conducted in Britain and in India. Explain.

Link it with GS Paper 2 (comparison of Constitution)

8- The push Indian healthcare needs

One of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) articulated by the United Nations in 2015 is to “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. India is among the countries that agreed to this sustainable development agenda.

Q- What is sustainable development goals? How intellectual property rights (IPR) helps in promoting one goal of “Health for ALL” in Sustainable development goals?

9-Poverty and diabetes, twin burdens

The most worrying aspect of the new research findings on diabetes is that the epidemic is now spreading to those who can least afford to pay for its management, doctors said.

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Today's news

Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (7th June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you!

1- As July 1 nears, GST interface not ready

While the government remains committed to rolling out the GST regime from July 1, GST Suvidha Providers (GSPs), who are expected to help taxpayers cope with the transition to the new regime and its compliance paperwork, may only be operationally ready a few months down the line, say industry players.

Just read how GST interface going to work.

2- Expensive, hazardous and inequitable

By all accounts, nuclear power has had a bad year. In March, Westinghouse, the largest historic builder of nuclear power plants in the world, declared bankruptcy, creating a major financial crisis for its parent company, Toshiba.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Environment).

Q- While climate change is indeed a grave problem, it is not the only environmental problem confronting us. Nuclear power poses its own set of threats to the environment and public health, and is therefore an inappropriate tool to mitigate climate change. Comment.

3- The art of the free trade agreement

The recent and hasty unilateral termination of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) by India with many EU member countries including Germany has complicated things further, leaving many European businesses worried about investment protection in India.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Trade)

4- ‘What greater crisis do you want in our agriculture?’

Read interview for better understanding.

5- ISRO lifts India into the elite group capable of putting heavier satellites into a precise orbit

The Indian Space Research Organisation has crossed a significant milestone with the successful developmental flight of the country’s heaviest Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, the GSLV Mark-III.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Science & Tech)

6- Her career matters

Link it with Essay paper.

7- Building On Aadhaar

Aadhaar’s potential for financial inclusion

Q-  Several challenges in developing countries can be solved at speed and scale in a sustainable way, by using technology wisely, built in a way that society can take advantage. Explain.

8- Understanding Dalit assertion

Pick the facts and other important lines for Essay and GS Paper 1 (Social issues)

Q- Dalit literature played an important role in creating a sense of confidence and assertion in the community. Examine!

9- E-cigarettes: Understanding the e-puff situation in India

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Science and Tech)

10- Thinking strategically about privatization

Q- It is no secret that the public sector has been a drain on national resources rather than a source of profits for future investment. Enlist solutions to make PSUs profitable.

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Today's news

Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (6th June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you!

1- Five Arab powers sever ties with Qatar

Diplomatic mayhem

Doha isolated in Gulf: What it means for Delhi

India sees no ripple effect of Qatar boycott by Arab nations

Critically examine the relationship of India and Qatar.

Link it with GS Paper 2 (International relations)

2- India rejects Trump’s allegations on Paris pact

Read about Indian govt stand on US stand on climate change.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Climate change)

3- The case for a rate cut

No proof required: MPC — you are not in D-School any more

Did demonetisation impact the economy badly? Observers have been awaiting the growth figures for the full year, 2016-17, for a clear answer to the question. Well, the figures are out now. But the answer is not as clear as some would like to believe.

Q- What is Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and what are tool available with central bank to control inflation and boost growth?

4- ‘The President should be a voice for sanity and fairness’

Read the interview regarding President authority, importance etc.

Q- The President not only has to exercise his or her own judgment, and to recognise that within the provisions of the Indian Constitution, he or she has a much bigger role than simply rubber-stamping decisions taken by others. Comment.

Link it with GS Paper 2 (President election)

5- A passage through Europe

Q- Examine the relationship between India and Europe in terms of political, economical, environmental and security terms.

Link it with GS Paper 2 (International relations)

6- Maha farm crisis

A strike by farmers in Maharashtra continues to affect normal life, despite the State government’s announcement of an end to the strike last week. The farmers, whose demands include full waiver of farm loans, hikes in the minimum support price for agricultural produce and writing off of pending electricity bills, have been on an indefinite strike since June 1.

Q- What is agriculture-stress and provide solution to double the farm income.

7- Delhi needs to be open to several outcomes from the turbulence created by the US president

Delhi tends to use the word “transactional” pejoratively. This is particularly true of the Indian discourse on the partnership with the United States. The political elite of independent India had convinced itself that foreign policy was mostly about articulating principles. It frowned upon the idea of deal-making for mutual benefit. This approach, coupled with the inability to see the world through the lens of power politics, has meant India’s international performance has always been sub-optimal.

Q- What is transactional diplomacy ? Although pragmatism has often crept into Indian diplomacy since the end of the Cold War, it has not really overthrown the entrenched condescension in Delhi towards deal-making. Comment.

8- Philanthropy for higher education

Link it with Essay paper.

9- Why India needs more women entrepreneurs

For quite a few years now, we have known that there is a major problem with India’s labour force: the women are missing. Indian women are not only staying out of the workforce, they are doing so in increasing numbers across the board. The World Bank’s latest development update for India reiterates these trends but also draws attention to an interesting insight: Women employers tend to hire a significantly greater number of women.

Q- if India’s growth story has to translate into shared prosperity for all its people, then it cannot afford to have one half of its population sit out.  Comment

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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (5th June)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you!

1- The economy in the time of Narendra Modi

Read it only for overall understanding of last 3 years of economy.

2- GST countdown

The Goods and Services Tax Council has finalised the rates at which tax will be levied for almost all products and services under the tax regime, just four weeks before the July 1 deadline for rollout.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Indian economy- Taxation reform)

3- European variation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Germany, Spain, Russia and France brings into sharp focus the shared dilemma India and Europe face with America’s shifting policies, and the resultant flux on the world stage. Mr. Modi’s first stop in Germany came a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s strong comments aimed at President Donald Trump, that Europe could no longer ‘depend’ on traditional partners.

Link it with GS Paper 2 (International issues)

4- From plate to plough: Farm and the tax

A smooth GST regime can break inter-state barriers on movement and facilitate direct linkages between processors and farmers.

Q- What is GST and how is it going to help in increasing the agricultural income?

5- Cryogenic rocket engine has been developed from scratch: Isro chief

Q- What is cryogenic engine? Write about scramjet engine and how is it different from commercial jet engine.

Link it with GS Paper 3 (Science and tech)

6- India, Israel, and a natural ideological affinity

This year marks a quarter-century since India and Israel established formal diplomatic relations, and, in July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will become the first Indian leader to visit Israel.

Q- Write about India and Israel relationship and Israel’s contribution in India’s agriculture sector.

Link it with GS Paper 2 (Indo-Israel relations)

7- Opec can still do what it takes to prop up oil

Read about OPEC organization.