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May 3 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm



Legislative efforts for menstrual leave in India have seen advocacy through Private Member Bills, with varying provisions aimed at recognizing menstruation as a natural process and promoting gender equality. 

About Menstrual Leave: 

Menstrual leave refers to the provision of paid or unpaid leave from work or school for individuals experiencing menstruation-related discomfort or challenges. 

  • Purpose: It aims to address the unique needs of individuals during menstruation and promote gender equality by recognizing menstruation as a natural biological process. 
  • Legislation Efforts: Various legislative efforts have been made globally and within India to institutionalize menstrual leave as a right for women. 

Legislative Efforts in India 

  • Private Member Bills: Several Members of Parliament (MPs) in India have introduced Private Member Bills advocating for menstrual leave, including S. Jothimani, Ninong Ering, Shashi Tharoor, and Hibi Eden. 
  • Content of Bills: These Bills typically propose provisions such as paid leave for a specified number of days, rights to menstrual hygiene management facilities, and penalties for refusal of leave. 
  • Supreme Court Response: The Supreme Court of India has deemed menstrual leave as a policy matter within the government’s domain, declining to entertain a public interest litigation seeking direction on the issue. 

Progressive States and International Comparisons 

  • Kerala’s Initiatives: Kerala has a historical precedent for menstrual leave dating back to 1912 and has continued to implement progressive measures, including introducing menstrual and maternity leave for students above 18. 
  • Asian Countries: Several Asian nations, such as Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, have implemented menstrual leave policies, demonstrating international recognition of menstrual health as a priority. 
  • Global Advocacy: International organizations like the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have advocated for menstrual leave as a women’s right, urging nations to recognize and address menstrual health issues. 


  • Equality & Non-discrimination (Articles 14, 15): 
  • Equal Treatment: Women are guaranteed equal treatment before the law (Article 14). 
  • Anti-discrimination: Discrimination based solely on sex is prohibited (Article 15(1)). 
  • Affirmative Action: The state can take steps to uplift women by making positive discrimination policies (Article 15(3)). 
  • Equal Opportunity (Article 16): Women have equal rights to government jobs and cannot be discriminated against on the basis of sex. 
  • Right to Dignity (Article 21): This article protects a woman’s right to be treated with respect and decency. 
  • Anti-Trafficking (Article 23): Prohibits human trafficking, including the exploitation of women through prostitution. 


  • Article 39 mandates that the State ensures parity in remuneration for men and women performing similar tasks. 
  • Article 42 obliges the State to establish fair and compassionate working conditions, alongside maternity support. 
  • Article 44 instructs the State to implement a uniform civil code across the nation, guaranteeing women equal rights in personal affairs like marriage and inheritance. 
  • Article 45 requires the State to deliver early childhood care and education, including for female children, until they turn six. 

Government Initiatives for Period Health 

India implements various programs to improve menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for adolescent girls and women. These initiatives address education, access to sanitary products, and sanitation facilities. 

  • Education and Awareness: The Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) lays the groundwork for integrating MHM education into school curriculums. Additionally, guidelines by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation promote awareness campaigns. 
  • Sanitary Products: The National Health Mission’s Scheme for Promotion of Menstrual Hygiene provides subsidized sanitary napkins to adolescent girls in rural areas. 
  • Sanitation Infrastructure: Programs like Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission) and Swachh Bharat: Swachh Vidyalaya (Clean India: Clean Schools) focus on building toilets and handwashing facilities in schools and communities, crucial for proper MHM. 

Need for Greater Gender Sensitivity and Policy Solutions 

  • Gender Inequality: Policy solutions addressing gender inequalities should consider the differentiated experiences of women due to socio-cultural and biological factors, including menstruation. 
  • Taboo Reduction: Discussions and policies surrounding menstruation contribute to breaking taboos and promoting a more gender-sensitive society that acknowledges previously marginalized issues. 
  • Political Recognition: Political parties acknowledging menstrual leave in their manifestos signify a crucial step towards promoting women’s rights and gender equality in the public domain. 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. Regarding the Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) program, which of the following statements accurately reflects the program’s eligibility and coverage?
  1. All expectant mothers and mothers who are breastfeeding are eligible. 
  1. Only mothers over 19 years old qualify, and the benefit applies to their first two births. 
  1. The program is directly administered by the central government. 

Choose the correct code: 

  1. Only 1 and 3 
  1. Only 2 
  1. Only 2and 3  
  1. All of the above  



The Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a maternity benefit scheme, and pregnant and lactating women aged 19 years or above, for their first two live births, are eligible for its benefits. Statement 1 is incorrect. 

The scheme excludes women in regular employment with the Central Government, State Government, or Public Sector Undertakings, as well as those receiving similar benefits under other laws. Statement 2 is correct. 

Additionally, the scheme operates under different cost-sharing ratios depending on the region, with a 60:40 ratio for most states and a 90:10 ratio for North-Eastern States and three Himalayan States. Union Territories without a Legislature receive 100% central assistance. Statement 3 is incorrect. 



India’s flagship health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat PMJAY, has shown some success but faces challenges in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) due to limitations in its design and implementation. 

Challenges of PMJAY: 

  • Hospital capacity: Not enough empanelled hospitals, especially in some states, leading to burden on existing ones. 
  • Payment Delays: Hospitals facing delays in claim reimbursements from the government. 
  • Claim rejections: Hospitals rejecting claims due to technicalities or documentation errors. 
  • Public vs. Private care: Patients preferring private hospitals despite potential for unnecessary procedures due to perceived better quality compared to public options. 
  • Focus on hospitalization: PMJAY primarily covers hospitalization costs, neglecting outpatient care, diagnostics, and medicines. 

Design Flaws: 

  • Lack of network adequacy: Unlike other insurance schemes, PMJAY doesn’t ensure sufficient hospitals are available near beneficiaries. 
  • Fragmented healthcare landscape: PMJAY operates as an additional layer on top of existing public healthcare systems, potentially increasing complexity. 

Alternative Solutions: 

  • Strengthening public health system: Investments needed to improve public hospitals and regain patient trust. 
  • Pooling government health funds: Combining central and state government health expenditures for a more significant impact. 
  • Focus on outpatient care: Expanding coverage to include diagnostics, medicines, and preventive care. 
  • Public sector purchaser-provider split: Implementing a system where the government sets budgets and holds public hospitals accountable for performance. 


Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY (Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana) is a government-funded health insurance program launched in India in 2018.  

  • It’s known for being the world’s largest scheme of its kind. 

What does it cover? 

  • PM-JAY provides families with an annual health insurance coverage of Rs. 5 lakh. 
  • This covers expenses related to secondary and tertiary care hospitalization, including surgeries, medical and day care treatments, medications, and diagnostics. 

Who benefits? 

  • The program is designed to be accessible to those who need it most.  
  • Beneficiaries are identified through the latest Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data.  
  • However, states have flexibility to include additional families with similar socio-economic backgrounds. 

Funding and Management 

  • Funding for PM-JAY is shared between the central government and states/UTs. The National Health Authority (NHA) oversees the program’s implementation in collaboration with state governments.  
  • State Health Agencies (SHAs) are responsible for executing the scheme within each state. 

Key Points: 

  • PMJAY has helped reduce out-of-pocket expenditure but hasn’t achieved universal health coverage. 
  • The current design may not be sustainable due to limitations and challenges. 
  • Strengthening public healthcare and reforming financing models are crucial for long-term success. 

Advantages of Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY: 

  • Financial Protection: Offers significant financial security for low-income families by covering hospitalization costs up to Rs. 5 lakh per year. 
  • Universal Coverage: Aims to provide health insurance to a large portion of the population, reducing the burden of out-of-pocket medical expenses. 
  • Improved Access to Healthcare: Encourages utilization of secondary and tertiary healthcare services, which might have been previously unaffordable. 
  • Reduced Out-of-pocket Expenditure: By covering hospitalization costs, PM-JAY helps families avoid financial burdens associated with medical emergencies. 
  • Prevents Debt: Mitigates the risk of families falling into debt due to unexpected medical bills. 
  • Increased Treatment Options: Empowers beneficiaries to seek necessary medical care without worrying about financial constraints. 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. Regarding the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, consider the following statements:
  1. Both private and public hospitals are required to adopt it. 
  1. With the goal of achieving universal health coverage, every Indian citizen should eventually be included in it. 
  1. It offers seamless portability nationwide. 

Which of the statements above is/are correct? 

  1. 1 and 2 only 
  1. 3 only 
  1. 1 and 3 only 
  1. 1, 2, and 3 




  • Participation in the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) by healthcare facilities or institutions is voluntary and is determined by their respective management (whether government or private). Therefore, Statement 1 is incorrect. 
  • While the vision of the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission is to establish a national digital health ecosystem supporting universal health coverage, obtaining an Ayushman Bharat Health Account (ABHA) Number is not mandatory for all citizens. Individuals who choose to participate in the mission and desire their records to be digitally accessible may opt to create an ABHA Number. Statement 2 is incorrect. 
  • The Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission offers seamless portability nationwide. This means that beneficiaries can avail of healthcare services across different states and regions without any hindrance, ensuring continuity of care regardless of their location. Statement 3 is correct. 



India’s National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is helping Namibia develop a modern payment system. NPCI’s international arm signed a deal with the Bank of Namibia to create an instant payment system similar to India’s UPI. 

  • This will allow Namibia to upgrade its financial infrastructure and potentially improve accessibility for its citizens. 

Unified Payments Interface (UPI):  

  • The UPI is a digital payment method launched in India in 2016 
  • Developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), it allows for quick and easy money transfers between bank accounts. 

Making Payments a Breeze: 

  • Goodbye Account Numbers: Forget complex bank details! UPI uses simpler identifiers like a mobile number, QR code, or Virtual Payment Address (VPA) to send money. 
  • Security at Your Fingertips: No need to remember multiple passwords for different apps. UPI uses a single, secure PIN for all transactions, offering 24/7 accessibility. 
  • Seamless Transactions: UPI acts as a neutral platform, ensuring smooth interactions between banks, merchants, and customers. There are also no transaction fees for users. 

More than Just Transfers: 

  • Flexibility for All: UPI goes beyond basic transfers. It facilitates both sending (push) and receiving (pull) payments. 
  • Offline Transactions: Need to pay at a store? UPI works for in-person payments using QR codes or barcodes. 
  • Recurring Payments Made Easy: Schedule and pay regular bills, subscriptions, or fees conveniently through UPI. 
  • Person-to-Person Requests: Easily request money from friends or family, allowing them to pay at their convenience. 

Underlying Technology: 

  • UPI leverages existing infrastructures like Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) and Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AEPS) to ensure smooth and secure money transfers between accounts. 

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI): Powering India’s Retail Payments 

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is a key player in India’s financial landscape. Established in 2008, it functions as an umbrella organization overseeing retail payment and settlement systems across the country. 

A Collaborative Effort: 

  • Born out of a joint initiative by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), NPCI’s creation was authorized by the Payment and Settlement Systems Act of 2007. 
  •  This act aimed to build a robust infrastructure for payments and settlements within India. 

Strong Foundations: 

  • NPCI is a not-for-profit company with ten major promoter banks, including industry giants like State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, and ICICI Bank.  
  • Its objective is to provide the entire Indian banking system with the infrastructure needed for efficient electronic and physical payment processing. 

Innovation at the Core: 

  • NPCI prioritizes driving innovation in retail payment systems. By leveraging technology, they strive to streamline operations and expand the reach of payment options for all Indians. 

Challenges to Address: 

  • Cybersecurity Concerns: The global surge in cybercrime poses a threat to the banking and financial services industry, including UPI. Examples include malware like Cerberus targeting vulnerabilities. 
  • Fraudulent Activities: Issues like fraudulent claims, chargebacks, fake accounts, and promotion abuse necessitate robust security measures. 
  • Account Takeover and Identity Theft: Protecting user accounts and data from unauthorized access remains crucial. 
  • Payment Card Frauds: UPI needs to stay vigilant against card detail theft and triangulation frauds, where stolen card information is used for fraudulent transactions. 

Additional Negatives to Consider: 

  • Limited Reach: While growing, UPI penetration in rural areas might still lag behind urban centers. 
  • Reliance on Internet Connectivity: Transactions require a stable internet connection, potentially excluding users with limited access. 
  • Digital Literacy Gap: Bridging the digital literacy gap is essential to ensure everyone can benefit from UPI. 

Multiple choice question: 

  1. Consider the following statements and observe the correct statements? 
  1. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) falls under the regulatory purview of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). 
  1. UPI LITE serves as a payment solution optimized for processing low-value transactions, typically under rupees two hundred, by leveraging advanced technology. 
  1. UPI simplifies banking interactions by enabling access to multiple bank accounts through a single mobile app. 

Which of the statements above is/are correct? 

  1. 1 and 2 only 
  1. 2 and 3 only  
  1. 1 and 3 only  
  1. 1, 2and 3 only  



Statement 1 is incorrect. UPI is developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) but regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 

Statement 2 is correct. UPI LITE serves as a payment solution specifically designed to handle low-value transactions, typically below rupees two hundred.  

Statement 3 is correct. UPI simplifies banking interactions by enabling access to multiple bank accounts through a single mobile app. Users can link multiple bank accounts to a single UPI ID and perform transactions seamlessly without the need to switch between different banking apps. 



Several countries are investigating popular Indian spice brands over ethylene oxide contamination, a potential health risk.  India is taking steps to address the issue and ensure the safety of its spice exports. 

Safety Concerns Over Indian Spice Exports 

  • Multiple Countries Investigate Ethylene Oxide Contamination 
  • Singapore, Hong Kong, and the US are investigating MDH and Everest spice mixes for exceeding permitted levels of ethylene oxide (EtO), a toxic chemical used as a food stabilizer. 
  • These countries have either suspended sales or recalled the products. 

Health Risks of EtO Contamination 

  • Excessive EtO use can leave residues that form carcinogenic compounds. 
  • Long-term exposure to EtO has been linked to cancers like lymphoma and leukemia. 

History of US Rejections of Indian Food Products 

  • The US FDA has previously rejected Indian food imports due to salmonella contamination, mislabelling, and other issues. 
  • MDH and Everest have faced past recalls in the US for similar reasons. 

India’s Response 

  • The Spices Board has begun mandatory testing of spice exports to Singapore and Hong Kong. 
  • They are investigating the root cause of contamination and proposing corrective measures to exporters. 
  • The FSSAI is testing major spice brands for EtO presence. 

Challenges to Food Safety in India 

  • Diverse food production and lack of standardized record-keeping make it difficult to trace ingredients and manage risk. 
  • Uneven distribution of food testing labs and resource constraints hinder effective enforcement. 
  • Lack of transparency in FSSAI operations creates challenges in meeting safety standards. 

Potential Impact 

  • Stricter regulations in importing countries could significantly reduce India’s spice exports. 
  • This could hurt not only spice companies but also farmers who rely on exports for income. 



The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bengaluru captured footage of the moon passing in front of Antares, a red supergiant star also known as Alpha Scorpii. 

  • Antares is the brightest star in the Scorpius constellation and ranks 15th in brightness among all stars in the night sky. 
  • It is an immense red supergiant, shining 10,000 times brighter than the Sun and boasting a diameter 700 times larger, capable of engulfing the orbit of Mars if it were at the center of our solar system. 
  • Despite its massive size, Antares has an extremely low overall density, less than one-millionth that of the Sun. 
  • Despite its size, Antares is relatively cool, with a surface temperature of about 6,100 degrees F (3,400 degrees C), which gives it its distinctive ruddy color. 
  • Antares lies approximately 600 light-years away from Earth, making it one of the most prominent stars visible from our planet. 

About Red Supergiant Stars 

  • Red Supergiant Stars are large stars in the later stages of their stellar life cycle. 
  • They have a radius several hundred to 1500 times that of the Sun, indicating their immense size. 
  • Despite their size, they have a relatively low surface temperature, which gives them their characteristic red colour. 
  • Red Supergiant Stars are highly luminous, emitting a vast amount of energy. 
  • Most of these stars are variable, meaning their brightness fluctuates as observed from Earth. 
  • They are actively losing mass, often surrounded by nebulae formed from the expelled material. 



Kutch Ajrakh, a traditional textile craft, has received the Geographical Indication (GI) certificate from the Controller General of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks. 


  • Originating from the vibrant region of Kutch in Gujarat, Ajrakh holds deep cultural significance in Gujarat, particularly in areas like Sindh, Barmer, and Kutch, where its legacy spans millennia. 
  • The Ajrakh craft involves a meticulous process of hand-block printing on treated cotton cloth, resulting in intricate designs infused with rich symbolism and history. 
  • The name “Ajrakh” derives from “Azrak,” meaning indigo, a key dye used to achieve the characteristic blue color in Ajrakh prints. 
  • Traditionally, Ajrakh prints incorporate three main colors: blue symbolizing the sky, red symbolizing the land and fire, and white symbolizing the stars. 
  • Textiles are treated with vegetable and mineral colors, and the fabric undergoes multiple washing cycles, sometimes up to eight times, to achieve the desired hues and patterns. 
  • Introduced to the region over 400 years ago by Sind Muslims, Ajrakh is deeply intertwined with the cultural identity of nomadic pastoralist and agricultural communities like the Rabaris, Maldharis, and Ahirs, who often wear Ajrakh-printed cloth as turbans, lungis, or stoles. 



Red Colobus monkeys, found across Africa, are essential indicators of biodiversity and are categorized as a rare and imperilled species. 


About Red Colobus monkeys: 

  • They belong to the colobine group of monkeys, which primarily feed on leaves, distinguishing them from the omnivorous cercopithecines. 
  • Besides Africa, colobines also include langurs from South and Southeast Asia. 
  • Red Colobus monkeys inhabit forests from Senegal to the Zanzibar Archipelago but face significant threats to their survival. 
  • The majority of red colobus species are at risk of extinction, with over half of them classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. 
  • Threats to their survival include hunting for trade and local consumption, as well as habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation due to various human activities such as logging, mining, and agriculture. 
  • To address these challenges, the Red Colobus Conservation Action Plan was initiated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group and the African Primatological Society. 
  • The action plan aims to prioritize the conservation of red colobus monkeys to safeguard Africa’s tropical forests and reduce unsustainable hunting practices. 
  • It involves the formation of a Red Colobus Working Group (RCWG) to implement the action plan and a Red Colobus Conservation Network (RCCN) to facilitate communication, capacity-building, and monitoring of conservation efforts. 



The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully tested the Supersonic Missile-Assisted Release of Torpedo (SMART) system. 

About SMART system: 

  • Developed by DRDO, the system was launched from a ground mobile launcher off the coast of Odisha, India. 
  • The SMART system enables the launch of lightweight torpedoes targeting submarines at distances beyond conventional ranges. 
  • It is designed for immediate action upon detecting enemy submarines, particularly in situations where other assets are unavailable. 
  • The canister-based missile system incorporates advanced subsystems including two-stage solid propulsion and precision inertial navigation. 
  • It carries an advanced lightweight torpedo missile as a payload, equipped with a parachute-based release mechanism. 
  • The test validated several state-of-the-art mechanisms such as symmetric separation, ejection, and velocity control. 
  • Overall, the SMART system enhances India’s defence capabilities by providing an effective means to target submarines from significant distances, contributing to maritime security and defence readiness. 


May 3
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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