1. Telangana tops in Rurban Mission
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | Mains – GS Paper III – Economy, Infrastructure
Sub Theme: RURBAN Mission |NITI Aayog’s Recommendations | UPSC
Context: Telangana stood first in the implementation of the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) that was
launched four years ago to stimulate local economic development, enhance basic services and create well-planned
clusters. Sangareddy and Kamareddy districts stood in the first two positions among the 300 clusters across the country
where the programme was being implemented.
Important Highlights – RURBAN Mission
• The Mission is implemented by the States with facilitation from the Central Government. The institutional
framework includes crucial involvement of Gram Panchayats in planning and implementation of Cluster
• Cluster level interventions reflect an integrated approach of development across the economic, social and
• The objective of the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) is to stimulate local economic
development, enhance basic services, and create well planned Rurban clusters.
• A ‘Rurban cluster’, would be a cluster of geographically contiguous villages with a population of about 25000 to
50000 in plain and coastal areas and a population of 5000 to 15000 in desert, hilly or tribal areas. As far as
practicable, clusters of village would follow administrative convergence units of Gram Panchayats and shall be
within a single block/tehsil for administrative convenience.
• Rurban clusters would be developed by provisioning of training linked to economic activities, developing skills &
local entrepreneurship and by providing necessary infrastructure amenities. The Mission recommends fourteen
desirable components for an ideal Rurban cluster.
• The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM) follows the vision of development of a cluster of villages
that preserve and nurture the essence of rural community life with focus on equity and inclusiveness without
compromising with the facilities perceived to be essentially urban in nature, thus creating a cluster of “Rurban
• Large parts of rural areas in the country are not stand-alone settlements but part of a cluster of settlements,
which are relatively proximate to each other. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have
economic drivers and derive locational and competitive advantages.
• These clusters once developed can then be classified as ‘Rurban’. Hence taking cognizance of this, the
Government of India has proposed the Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM), aimed at developing
such rural areas by provisioning of economic, social and physical infrastructure facilities.
Identification of Clusters
• Undertaken by the Union Ministry of Rural Development, the SPMRM focuses on cluster-based integrated
development through Spatial Planning.
• Rurban clusters are identified across the country’s rural areas showing increasing signs of urbanization –
o increase in population density
o high levels of non-farm employment
o presence of growing economic activities and
o other socioeconomic parameters
• The larger outcomes envisaged under this Mission are:
i. Bridging the rural-urban divide-viz: economic, technological and those related to facilities and services.
ii. Stimulating local economic development with emphasis on reduction of poverty and unemployment in
iii. Spreading development in the region.
iv. Attracting investment in rural areas.
Infrastructure planned in these clusters includes (Cluster Components)
2. Piped Water Supply
3. Solid and Liquid Waste Management
4. Village Street Lights and Electrification
5. Access to Village Streets With Drains
6. Inter Village Roads Connectivity
7. Public Transport
8. Skill Development Training Linked to Economic Activities
9. Agri-Services Processing and Allied Activities
12. Digital Literacy
13. Citizens Service Centres
14. LPG Gas Connection
16. Employment Generation and SHG Formation
17. Tourism Promotion
18. Sports Infrastructure
19. Social Infrastructure
20. Rural Housing
21. Social Welfare
• Economic amenities in a cluster comprise various thematic areas in the sectors of
o Agri Services and Processing,
o Tourism, and
o Skill Development to promote Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
Funding for Rurban Mission
• SPMRM is a Core Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
• The Mission has two fund streams:
1. Convergence through various Central sector schemes, centrally sponsored schemes, State sector/
sponsored schemes/ programmes, CSR funds – (70%)
2. Critical Gap Funds (CGF) – (30%)
• It provides for CGF upto Rs. 30 crore per cluster for Non-tribal clusters, and upto Rs. 15 crore per cluster for
Tribal and Hilly State clusters.
• Institutional Framework – The implementation framework has been designed keeping States as the anchors and
facilitation support at National Level. The involvement and engagement of Gram Panchayats for planning and
implementation is considered key to the success of the Mission.
Progress of the mission so far
Under the Mission, presently there are 109 tribal clusters and 191 non-tribal clusters under different stages of
development across states and UTs.
• To achieve the objective of having ‘sustainable planned development of rural habitat on spatial perspective, a
spatial planning platform has been developed in collaboration with Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space
Applications and Geo-informatics and Ministry of Panchayati Raj.
• NITI Aayog, while evaluating the implementation of SPMRM, found that “SPMRM growth clusters are playing a
role reducing urban migration by ensuring that basic infrastructure, utilities are provided and industrialization is
Challenges Highlighted by NITI Aayog
• Ambiguities in Cluster Formation – While progress has been made on laying out spatial planning guidelines,
there are ambiguities in the cluster identification and planning process as the States follow the clauses of
Panchayati Raj Act, which is still evolving.
• Convergence of funds – While the implementation framework proposes 70% funding through convergence of
various schemes of the Government, there is a significant challenge in mobilizing funds, and inconsistency in
interpretation of schemes thereby preventing utilization of schemes to their full potential.
• Implementation Framework – In the implementation design, the evaluation has highlighted that there is a need
for better bottom-up institutional capacity building, cluster level governance and social inclusion. There are
insufficient institutional mechanisms for participation of PRIs, and engagement of the community at large. There
are knowledge gaps among the grass-root implementers that pose a risk to the sustainability of scheme
outcomes. With regards to the Operations and Maintenance, the implementers at block and district level are not
equipped with the knowledge to ensure future quality of the assets, thereby limiting the impact of
infrastructural investments and amenities created under SPMRM.
Suggestions – NITI Aayog
• Rural areas are experiencing transformative forces of globalization, demographic shifts and technological
innovations, which is leading to diversity in their economic profiles. In order to adapt to these transformative
forces, NITI Aayog proposes a new perspective to define clusters: a perspective of appreciation (as opposed to
deficit) which will primarily seek answer to what exists as opposed to what lacks. With this, the programmatic
interventions could be designed to build on resources and opportunities that exist in the rural areas.
• To build a Mission that is truly embedding the gender empowerment and responsive approaches, as well as built
around inclusion of all stakeholders, especially the weaker and vulnerable sections
• Innovative solutions to social and environmental change, including green technology, circular economy etc. are
duly incorporated in all the plans.
• The enforcement and governance of these plans is embedded within the ambit of the Panchayati Raj Acts and
strengthening of local power devolution.
• Useful nodes for convergence are regularly identified and partnerships so developed with various Ministries are
duly implemented in the Clusters.
• The Rurban Cluster development’s key themes and components are aligned with the SDGs, larger national goals
as well as the 29 subjects devolved to the Panchayati Raj Institutions under the 11th Schedule of the
• There is collaborative integration and synergy with the GPDPs falling within the Rurban Clusters as well as the
larger Block, District plans and the nearby Urban Areas Master Plans.
• Tracking of the investments being made in the region by various public resources and schemes are duly tracked
by integrating all the concerned databases – through live and dynamic reporting.
• Rurban Mission also becomes a platform for collaborative innovation and research with various universities and
• Productive and proactive participation of private sector is leveraged for the Rurban clusters
2. Call to give Tai Khamti resistance its due
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: History & Culture
Sub Theme: Tai Khamti | Buddhism| UPSC
Tai Khamti war against British (1839)
• It was a mutiny against the British power to resist colonisation.
• 80 British soldiers, including Col. Adam White, were killed in the resultant conflict.
The Tai-Khampti Tribe
• Arunachal – The Tai-Khampti is one of the major tribe of Arunachal Pradesh and inhabits the district of Namsai.
The word ‘Khampti’ means ‘a land full of gold’ (Khamp: gold; ti: place).
• Religion – The Tai-khampti people are very strong believers of Theravada(Hinayana) Buddhism. The community
is greatly orthodox and all its socio-cultural activities are religious.
• Script – The Tai-Khampti is the only tribe in the state to be known to have their own script which the people call
it Tai script (Lik-Tai).
• Art & Culture – Khampti dance is a dance-drama that reflects the rich culture of the Buddhists in the territory
and unfolds the myths and stories of moral values. It marks the celebration of Buddhist festivals such as
Khamsang, Sangken, Potwah, Poi Lu kyong, Poi Lu Kyong kammathan etc. In Arunachal Pradesh, Khampti dance
is also known as Ka Pung.
• Weapons – Armoury is a part of the life, representing the aura of their skill as warriors. Their weapons include
poisoned bamboo spikes (panjis), bow and arrows, spear, sword and shields. The Khampti also have firearms,
resembling ancient flint muskets and horse pistols.
• Settled Agriculturists – practice both jhum and settled agriculture and produce food grains, vegetables and cash
• Divisions in Society – The society is divided into classes, each signifying a distinct status in the social hierarchy.
The chiefs occupy the highest positions, followed by the priests, who wield considerable influence over all ranks.
3. Study of distant magnetar reveals facets of the exotic star
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: General Science | Mains – GS Paper III – Science & Technology
Sub Theme: Magnetar| Neutron Star | UPSC
Context: An international group of researchers has succeeded in measuring for the first time the characteristics of a flare on a distant magnetar.
About the recent study
- The studied magnetar is about 13 million light years away, in the direction of the NGC 253, a prominent galaxy in the Sculptor group of galaxies. Its flare spewed within a few tenths of a second as much energy as the Sun would shed in 100,000 years.
- It was captured accidentally on April 15, 2020, by the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor instrument (ASIM) of the International Space Station. This is the first study to characterize such a flare from so distant a magnetar.
What is a Magnetar?
- A magnetar is a rare compact type of neutron star with extremely high energy and magnetism. It many times more massive than the Sun.
- Extremely high magnetic field powers the emission of highly energetic X-rays and gamma rays.