Mains Monthly Magazine: April 2022

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MAINS MAGAZINE: APRIL 2022

 

Table of Contents

 

SHORT NOTES ON ANALYSIS

FUNCTIONING OF THE ENFORCEMENT DIRECTORATE

  • Relevance:
    • GS-II Government Policies and Interventions, Non-Constitutional bodies
  • About:
    • It goes back to May 1, 1956, when an ‘Enforcement Unit’ was formed in the Department of Economic Affairs, for handling Exchange Control Laws violations under the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA).
    • The ED today is a multi-dimensional organisation investigating economic offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Fugitive Economic Offenders Act, Foreign Exchange Management Act and FERA.
    • Power:
      • When proceeds of crime (property/money) are generated, the best way to save that money is by parking it somewhere, so one is not answerable to anyone in the country.
      • Therefore, there was a need to control and prevent the laundering of money.
        • The PMLA was brought in for this exact reason in 2002, but was enacted only in 2005.
        • The objective was to prevent parking of the money outside India and to trace out the layering and the trail of money.
        • So as per the Act, the ED got its power to investigate under Sections 48 (authorities under act) and 49 (appointment and powers of authorities and other officers).
      • If money has been laundered abroad, the PMLA court (constituted as per the Act) has the right to send a letter of rogatory under Section 105 (reciprocal arrangements regarding processes) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
        • The said government can then share the documents and evidence needed by the agency.
        • The preventive part is to create a deterrent and fear in the minds of people.
    • Difference:
      • Consider the following scenario: If a theft has been committed in a nationalised bank, the local police station will first investigate the crime.
      • If it is learnt that the founder of the bank took all the money and kept it in his house, without being spent or used, then the crime is only theft and the ED won’t interfere because the amount has already been seized.
      • But if the amount which has been stolen is used after four years to purchase some properties, then the ill-gotten money is brought back in the market; or if the money is given to someone else to buy properties in different parts of the country, then there is ‘laundering’ of money and the ED will need to step in and look into the layering and attachment of properties to recover the money.
    • Other functions:
      • The ED carries out search (property) and seizure (money/documents) after it has decided that the money has been laundered, under Section 16 (power of survey) and Section 17 (search and seizure) of the PMLA.
      • On the basis of that, the authorities will decide if arrest is needed as per Section 19 (power of arrest).
      • Under Section 50 (powers of authorities regarding summons, production of documents and to give evidence etc), the ED can also directly carry out search and seizure without calling the person for questioning.
      • It is not necessary to summon the person first and then start with the search and seizure.
      • If the person is arrested, the ED gets 60 days to file the prosecution complaint (chargesheet) as the punishment under PMLA doesn't go beyond seven years.
      • If no one is arrested and only the property is attached, then the prosecution complaint along with the attachment order is to be submitted before the adjudicating authority within 60 days.

NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY STRATEGY

  • Relevance:
    • GS-III Cyber Security
  • Context:
    • Amid a surge in cyberattacks on India’s networks, the Centre is yet to implement the National Cyber Security Strategy which has been in the works since 2020.
  • Need:
    • As per American cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks’ 2021 report, Maharashtra was the most targeted State in India — facing 42% of all ransomware attacks.
    • The report stated that India is among the more economically profitable regions for hacker groups and hence these hackers ask Indian firms to pay a ransom, usually using cryptocurrencies, in order to regain access to the data.
    • One in four Indian organisations suffered a ransomware attack in 2021.
    • Indian organisations witnessed a 218% increase in ransomware — higher than the global average of 21%.
    • Software and services (26%), capital goods (14%) and the public sector (9%) were among the most targeted sectors.
    • Increase in such attacks has brought to light the urgent need for strengthening India’s cybersecurity.
  • About:
    • Conceptualised by the Data Security Council of India (DSCI), the 22-page report focuses on 21 areas to ensure a safe, secure, trusted, resilient, and vibrant cyberspace for India.
    • The main sectors of focus of the report are:-
      • Large scale digitisation of public services: There needs to be a focus on security in the early stages of design in all digitisation initiatives and for developing institutional capability for assessment, evaluation, certification, and rating of core devices.
      • Supply chain security: There should be robust monitoring and mapping of the supply chain of the Integrated circuits (ICT) and electronics products. Product testing and certification needs to be scaled up, and the country’s semiconductor design capabilities must be leveraged globally.
      • Critical information infrastructure protection: The supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) security should be integrated with enterprise security.
        • A repository of vulnerabilities should also be maintained.
      • Digital payments: There should be mapping and modelling of devices and platform deployed, transacting entities, payment flows, interfaces and data exchange as well as threat research and sharing of threat intelligence.
      • State-level cyber security: State-level cybersecurity policies and guidelines for security architecture, operations, and governance need to be developed.
  • Suggestions:
    • To implement cybersecurity in the above-listed focus areas, the report lists the following recommendations:
      • Budgetary provisions: A minimum allocation of 0.25% of the annual budget, which can be raised up to 1% has been recommended to be set aside for cyber security.
        • In terms of separate ministries and agencies, 15-20% of the IT/technology expenditure should be earmarked for cybersecurity. The report also suggests setting up a Fund of Funds for cybersecurity and to provide Central funding to States to build capabilities in the same field.
      • Research, innovation, skill-building and technology development: The report suggests investing in modernisation and digitisation of ICTs, setting up a short and long term agenda for cyber security via outcome-based programs and providing investments in deep-tech cyber security innovation.
        • Furthermore, a national framework should be devised in collaboration with institutions like the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and ISEA (Information Security Education and Awareness) to provide global professional certifications in security.
        • The DSCI further recommends creating a ‘cyber security services’ with cadre chosen from the Indian Engineering Services.
      • Crisis management: For adequate preparation to handle crisis, the DSCI recommends holding cybersecurity drills which include real-life scenarios with their ramifications.
        • In critical sectors, simulation exercises for cross-border scenarios must be held on an inter-country basis.
      • Cyber insurance: Cyber insurance being a yet to be researched field, must have an actuarial science to address cybersecurity risks in business and technology scenarios as well as calculate threat exposures.
        • The DSCI recommends developing cyber insurance products for critical information infrastructure and to quantify the risks involving them.
      • Cyber diplomacy: Cyber diplomacy plays a huge role in shaping India’s global relations.
        • To further better diplomacy, the government should promote brand India as a responsible player in cyber security and also create ‘cyber envoys’ for the key countries/regions.
      • Cybercrime investigation: With the increase in cybercrime across the world, the report recommends unburdening the judicial system by creating laws to resolve spamming and fake news.
        • It also suggests charting a five-year roadmap factoring possible technology transformation, setting up exclusive courts to deal with cybercrimes and remove backlog of cybercrimes by increasing centres providing opinion related to digital evidence under section 79A of the IT act.
  • Progress:
    • In the recent Budget session of Parliament, several MPs questioned the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MEiTy) on when the Centre plans to introduce the policy.
    • In response, the Centre clarified that it has “formulated a draft National Cyber Security Strategy 2021 which holistically looks at addressing the issues of security of national cyberspace.”
      • Without mentioning a deadline for its implementation, the Centre added that it had no plans as of yet “to coordinate with other countries to develop a global legal framework on cyber terrorism.”

INDIA'S SOLAR POWER ENERGY TARGETS

  • Relevance:
    • GS-II Government Policies and interventions; GS-III Environmental Pollution and degradation
  • Context:
    • A report, jointly prepared by two energy-research firms — JMK Research and Analytics and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis — says India will likely miss its 2022 target of installing 100 gigawatts (GW) of solar power capacity.
      • This is because of rooftop solar lagging behind, the authors say.
  • India's Solar Policy:
    • Since 2011, India’s solar sector has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 59% from 0.5GW in 2011 to 55GW in 2021.
    • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission ( JNNSM), also known as the National Solar Mission (NSM), which commenced in January 2010, marked the first time the government focussed on promoting and developing solar power in India.
      • Under the scheme, the total installed capacity target was set as 20GW by 2022. In 2015, the target was revised to 100GW and in August 2021, the government set a solar target of 300GW by 2030.
    • India currently ranks fifth after China, U.S., Japan and Germany in terms of installed solar power capacity.
      • As of December 2021, the cumulative solar installed capacity of India is 55GW, which is roughly half the renewable energy (RE) capacity (excluding large hydro power) and 14% of the overall power generation capacity of India.
      • Within the 55GW, grid-connected utility-scale projects contribute 77% and the rest comes from grid-connected rooftop and off-grid projects.
  • Report:
    • As of April, only about 50% of the 100GW target, consisting of 60GW of utility-scale and 40GW of rooftop solar capacity, has been met.
    • Nearly 19 GW of solar capacity is expected to be added in 2022 — 15.8GW from utility-scale and 3.5GW from rooftop solar.
    • Even accounting for this capacity would mean about 27% of India’s 100GW solar target would remain unmet, according to Jyoti Gulia, co-author of the report and Founder, JMK Research.
      • A 25GW shortfall in the 40GW rooftop solar target, is expected compared to 1.8GW in the utility-scale solar target by December 2022.
      • Thus, it is in rooftop solar that the challenges of India’s solar-adoption policy stick out.
    • Reasons for not meeting targets:
      • In December 2015, the government launched the first phase of the grid-connected rooftop solar programme to incentivise its use in residential, institutional and social areas.
      • The second phase, approved in February 2019, had a target of 40GW of cumulative rooftop solar capacity by 2022, with incentives in the form of central financial assistance (CFA).
      • As of November 2021, of the phase 2 target of 4GW set for the residential sector, only 1.1GW had been installed.
      • The disruption in supply chains due to the pandemic was a key impediment to rooftop solar adoption.
  • Solar power and India's commitment to mitigate climate change:
    • Solar power is a major prong of India’s commitment to address global warming according to the terms of the Paris Agreement, as well as achieving net-zero, or no net carbon emissions, by 2070.
    • Prime Minister Modi at the United Nations Conference of Parties meeting in Glasgow, in November 2021, said India would be reaching a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030 and meet half its energy requirements via renewable energy by 2030.
    • To boost the renewable energy installation drive in the long term, the Centre in 2020 set a target of 450GW of RE-based installed capacity to be achieved by 2030, within which the target for solar was 300GW.
      • Given the challenge of integrating variable renewable energy into the grid, most of the RE capacity installed in the latter half of this decade is likely to be based on wind solar hybrid (WSH), RE-plus-storage and round-the-clock RE projects rather than traditional solar/wind projects, according to the report.
      • On the current trajectory, the report finds, India’s solar target of 300GW by 2030 will be off the mark by about 86GW, or nearly a third.
      • The authors in fact speculate that the government, in the short-term, will aggressively push for expediting solar capacity addition to achieve the 100GW target by 2022 by re-allocating some of the unmet rooftop targets to utility-scale projects.

NEW BILLS AND ACTS:

1. INDIAN ANTARCTIC BILL

  • Relevance:
    • GS-III Environmental Pollution and degradation, Conservation
  • Context:
    • The Union government on Friday introduced the Indian Antarctic Bill, 2022, that aims to lay down a set of rules to regulate a range of activities on territories in Antarctica where India has set up research stations.
  • About:
    • Introduced by Union Science Minister, Jitendra Singh in the Lok Sabha, the Bill envisages regulating visits and activities to Antarctica as well as potential disputes that may arise among those present on the continent.
    • It also prescribes penal provisions for certain serious violations.
    • If the Bill were to become law, private tours and expeditions to Antarctica would be prohibited without a permit or the written authorisation by a member country.
      • A member country is one of the 54 signatories of the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 — India joined the Treaty System in 1983.
    • The Bill also lays out a structure for government officials to inspect a vessel and conduct checks of research facilities.
    • The draft also directs the creation of a fund called the Antarctic fund that will be used for protecting the Antarctic environment.
    • The Bill extends the jurisdiction of Indian courts to Antarctica and lays out penal provision for crimes on the continent by Indian citizens, foreign citizens who are a part of Indian expeditions, or are in the precincts of Indian research stations.
    • Following its first expedition to Antarctica in 1982, India has now established two standing research stations, Bharati and Maitri, at Antarctica.
      • Both these places are permanently manned by researchers.
    • The Bill also establishes a ‘Committee on Antarctic Governance and Environmental Protection.’
    • The Bill prohibits mining, dredging and activities that threaten the pristine conditions of the continent.
    • It bans any person, vessel or aircraft from disposing waste in Antarctica and bars the testing of nuclear devices.
  • Antarctic treaty:
    • The Antarctic Treaty came into force on June 23, 1961 after ratification by the 12 countries then active in Antarctic science.
    • The Treaty covers the area south of 60°S latitude.
    • Its key objectives are to demilitarise Antarctica, to establish it as a zone free of nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste, and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only; to promote international scientific cooperation in Antarctica and to set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.
    • Of the 54 signatory countries, 29 have ‘consultative’ status that give them voting rights.
    • The Treaty parties meet each year at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.
      • They have adopted over 300 recommendations and negotiated separate international agreements.
      • These, together with the original Treaty, provide the rules which govern activities in the Antarctic.
    • Collectively they are known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS).

2. AMENDING THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION ACT

  • Relevance:
    • GS-II Important international institutions; GS-III Defence 
  • Context:
    • On April 5, 2022, the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, 2022 was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
      • It was passed the next day.
    • The Bill amends the WMD and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005 which prohibits the unlawful manufacture, transport, or transfer of WMD (chemical, biological and nuclear weapons) and their means of delivery.
      • It is popularly referred to as the WMD Act.
    • The recent amendment extends the scope of banned activities to include financing of already prohibited activities.
  • Purpose of Original WMD Act:
    • The WMD and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act came into being in July 2005.
    • Its primary objective was to provide an integrated and overarching legislation on prohibiting unlawful activities in relation to all three types of WMD, their delivery systems and related materials, equipment and technologies.
    • It instituted penalties for contravention of these provisions such as imprisonment for a term not less than five years (extendable for life) as well as fines.
    • The Act was passed to meet an international obligation enforced by the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540 of 2004.
  • Amendments:
    • The Amendment expands the scope to include prohibition of financing of any activity related to WMD and their delivery systems.
    • To prevent such financing, the Central government shall have the power to freeze, seize or attach funds, financial assets, or economic resources of suspected individuals (whether owned, held, or controlled directly or indirectly).
    • It also prohibits persons from making finances or related services available for other persons indulging in such activity.
  • International Significance:
    • Preventing acts of terrorism that involve WMD or their delivery systems requires building a network of national and international measures in which all nation states are equally invested.
    • Such actions are necessary to strengthen global enforcement of standards relating to the export of sensitive items and to prohibit even the financing of such activities to ensure that non-state actors, including terrorist and black-market networks, do not gain access to such materials.
    • Sharing of best practices on legislations and their implementation can enable harmonisation of global WMD controls.
    • India initially had reservations on enacting laws mandated by the UNSCR.
      • This is not seen by India as an appropriate body for making such a demand.
      • However, given the danger of WMD terrorism that India faces in view of the difficult neighbourhood that it inhabits, the country supported the Resolution and has fulfilled its requirements.
    • It is in India’s interest to facilitate highest controls at the international level and adopt them at the domestic level.
    • Having now updated its own legislation, India can demand the same of others, especially from those in its neighbourhood that have a history of proliferation and of supporting terrorist organisations.

3. NEW CRIMINAL BILL

  • Relevance:
    • GS-II Fundamental Rights, Government policies and interventions
  • Context:
    • On March 28, Minister of State for Home Ajay Kumar Mishra introduced The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022 in Lok Sabha.
    • It is passed by both house of parliament.
    • It will allow police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scans of convicted, arrested and detained persons.
  • About:
    • The Bill seeks to repeal The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
      • The over 100-year-old Act’s scope was limited to capturing of finger impression, foot-print impressions and photographs of convicted prisoners and certain category of arrested and non-convicted persons on the order of a Magistrate.
    • The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the 2022 Bill said that new ‘‘measurement’’ techniques being used in advanced countries are giving credible and reliable results and are recognised the world over.
    • It said that the 1920 Act does not provide for taking these body measurements as many of the techniques and technologies had not been developed then.
  • Major changes:
    • It proposes four major changes.
      • First, it would define ‘‘measurements’’ to include “signature, handwriting, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, etc.”
        • It does not specify what analysis means, implying that it may also include storing DNA samples.
        • The “etc.” mentioned in the text of the Bill could give unfettered powers to law enforcement agencies to interpret the law as per their convenience, sometimes to the disadvantage of the accused.
      • Second, it empowers the National Crime Records Bureau of India (NCRB), under the Union Home Ministry, to collect, store and preserve the record of measurements for at least 75 years.
        • The NCRB will be able to share the data with other law enforcement agencies as well. Police is a State subject and NCRB works under the Union government, and experts contend this provision may impinge on federalism.
      • Third, it empowers a Magistrate to direct any person to give vital details, which till now was reserved for convicts and those involved in heinous crimes.
      • Fourth, it empowers police or prison officers up to the rank of a Head Constable to take details of any person who resists or refuses to do so.
      • The Bill also seeks to apply to persons detained under any preventive detention law.
      • The Bill also authorises taking vital details of “other persons” for identification and investigation in criminal matters.
        • It doesn't define the “other persons”, implying its ambit extends beyond convicts, arrested persons, or detainees.
      • The Bill’s stated objective is it provides legal sanction for taking such details and will make the investigation of crime more efficient and expeditious, and help in increasing the conviction rate.
  • Way Ahead:
    • Ensuring Data Protection:
      • The concern over privacy and the safety of the data is undoubtedly significant.
      • Such practices that involve the collection, storage and destruction of vital details of a personal nature ought to be introduced only after a strong data protection law, with stringent punishment for breaches, is in place.
    • Parliament Scrutiny:
      • The Bill was neither put up for pre-legislative consultation nor indicated in the session’s legislative agenda in Parliament.
      • However, it would be in the fitness of things if the bill is referred to a Standing Committee for deeper scrutiny before it is enacted into law.
    • Better Implementation:
      • Depriving law enforcement agencies of the use of the latest technologies would be a grave disservice to victims of crimes, and the nation at large. Besides better scrutiny and data protection law, measures need to be taken for better implementation of the law as well.
    • The training of the investigation officers, prosecutors, judicial officers and collaboration with doctors and forensic experts need to be prioritised too.

 

CASE STUDIES

 

GS-I

RIDING THE WAVES ON AUTISM AWARENESS DAY

  • The intellectually challenged children of Kozhikode went riding on the waves at Beypore and harvested the fruits of their labour at Kodiyathur on the World Autism Awareness Day on Saturday.
    • More than 100 intellectually challenged children, who come under the National Trust Act, with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities, took part in the programme “Njangalkkum Aavum Kadalinu Meethe Nadatham”.
  • In Kodiyathur panchayat, they harvested their crop on the 65 cent land in Kuttipoyil, on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day.
    • The children, with the help of their parents, had cultivated various crops such as ladies finger, cucumber, gourds, beans, and spinach, with the support of the grama panchayat.

Case study can be used:

  • Addressing stereotypes, breaking the social barrier and improving social access to the vulnerable section. GS-I Society; GS-II Social Justice

CASTE AND SANITATION WORK

  • According to the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, a total of 971 people lost their lives while cleaning sewers or septic tanks since 1993, the year law prohibiting employment of manual scavengers was enacted.
  • In this piece dated October 22, 2020, Raees Muhammad wrote about the problematic definitions in the law and the lack of labour safety.
  • He argued that since sanitation work is caste-ridden, it is essential to first disassociate caste from labour.
  • While civil society started a movement in the 1990s to abolish dry latrines, the focus now is on manhole deaths and provision of safety equipment to sanitation workers.
    • The movement has been demanding the abolition of the dehumanising practice of the manual removal of human excreta.
  • In 1993, the then government promulgated an Act, prohibiting the construction of unsanitary dry latrines and employing manual scavengers.
    • The government’s description of dry latrine was a problem, as it defined dry latrine as “latrine other than a water-seal latrine”.
  • Though the construction of dry latrines has reduced, the number of deaths in manholes, sewers and septic tanks continues to remain high.
    • The present government had plans to amend the 2013 Act to completely mechanise the cleaning of sewers.

Case study can be used:

  • Caste based social discrimination and disabilities. GS-I Society; GS-II Social Justice

CASTE HIERARCHIES AND MIGRATION PATTERNS

  • Among the many studies on migration and its socio-economic effects, H. Arokkiaraj’s article ‘International Migration and Caste Dynamics: Three villages in Tamil Nadu’, draws attention to the inter-connections that exist between caste and international migration.
    • It denotes how caste hierarchies and privileges enable certain castes to access better jobs, higher pays and profitable remittances through channels of international migration.
    • In this process, other castes are excluded from garnering better opportunities.
    • Even though migration is undertaken to improve one’s living standards, Arokkiaraj mentions how caste identities of migrants can influence migration patterns and the benefits attained.
    • Unlike the upper castes, who migrate voluntarily for professional reasons seeking enhanced incomes and better lifestyles, Arokkiaraj observes how for lower castes and Dalits, their dismal socio-economic conditions compel them to migrate for survival purposes.
    • From field findings based on methods of mixed sampling and semi-structured interviews (132 samples) conducted in three village panchayats — Thamarakki South, Sakkanthi, and Kottakudi Keelpathi in Sivagangai district in Tamil Nadu — this paper examines the role of caste in international migration and the differential socio-economic impact of migration on caste groups.
  • Overseas migration helped those engaged in caste-based occupations in their villages to shift to other job sectors and improve their economic positions.
    • However, most of them are able to make ends meet only because women from these communities continue to work in caste-based occupations to support the financial needs of their families.

Case study can be used:

  • Caste based social stratification and stereotyping; discrimination. GS-I Society; GS-II Social justice

ADIVASIS NO LONGER GET THE SHORT SHRIFT

  • From Kamal KM’s Pada to Ramu Kariat’s Nellu, filmmakers have been portraying lost, yet important issues of the community through impactful films.
  • Pada, film directed by Kamal KM, showcases the struggle of the adivasis and questions the apathy of successive governments and the bureaucracy.
  • The portrayals, characters and costumes of the adivasis in past films have been often caricatures.
    • The community, with 36 Scheduled Tribes in Kerala, is often moulded into one alien entity.
  • Pada might help to change the narrative as it raises serious questions on caste and oppression.

Case study can be used:

  • Changing social attitudes through art; addressing discrimination. GS-I Society

 

WORSHIP TAKES A DIGITAL TURN WITH TEMPLES GOING E-WAY

  • Worship, it seems, is also going the digital way, going by the QR Code stickers of a mobile wallet stuck on a few hundis at a major temple in Kochi for the devotees to make offerings.
    • The tech-driven method of offerings introduced at the Sree Maha Ganapathi Temple in Edappally, coinciding with the outbreak of the pandemic a couple of years ago, however, has evoked a lukewarm response. 
  • Forgot to take the wallet? Or, don’t have the spare change to drop in the temple hundi? Well, just pull out your mobile phone, scan the QR code and make an instant offering.

Case study can be used:

  • Impact of globalisation; technological upgradation on culture and tradition. GS-I Society

KUNWAR SINGH JAYANTI

  • Planned to organise the birth anniversary of the 1857 uprising hero Veer Kunwar Singh on April 23 at Jagdishpur in Bhojpur as a grand event as part of the Centre’s Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav programme to celebrate 75 years of Independence.
  • Veer Kunwar Singh had played a key role in the uprising of 1857.
    • In April 1966, a commemorative stamp was issued to honour him and a university was established in 1992 in Bhojpur in his name.
  • Kunwar Singh:
    • He belonged to a family of the Ujjainiya clan of the Parmar Rajputs of Jagdispur, currently a part of Bhojpur district, Bihar.
    • He was the chief organiser of the fight against the British in Bihar. He is popularly known as Veer Kunwar Singh.
    • Singh led the Indian Rebellion of 1857 in Bihar. He was nearly eighty and in failing health when he was called upon to take up arms.
    • He was assisted by both his brother, Babu Amar Singh and his commander-in-chief, Hare Krishna Singh. Some argue that the latter was the real reason behind Kunwar Singh's initial military success.
    • He gave a good fight and harried British forces for nearly a year and remained invincible until the end. He was an expert in the art of guerilla warfare.
    • He passed away on 26th April 1858.

Case study can be used:

  • Personalities in history. GS-I Modern Indian History

NAGAS WITHOUT BORDERS SPREADS MESSAGE OF UNITY

  • ‘Nagas Without Borders’ organised by the Zingtun Tangkhul Katamnao Long (ZTKL), a Tangkhul Naga students’ bo-dy, on its 75th anniversary at Talui in Ukhrul district.
  • About 105 km northeast of State capital Imphal, Talui is an iconic Naga village dominated by the Tangkhuls.
    • “We harbour the hope that we will be together one day, that the artificial borders cannot keep us separated.
    • We, the Nagas living in Myanmar, are still in darkness, underdeveloped and iving in sheer hopelessness.
      • Nagas living within the Indian administrative areas are more privileged,”

Case study can be used:

  • Unity beyond border; International relations; Soft power. GS-I Society and Culture; GS-II International relations

CHENNAKESHAVA TEMPLES STRIKE A NOTE OF HARMONY

  • “I have been participating in the festival for the last 50 years,” says Syed Sajjad Khaji of Dodda Meduru, who read out excerpts from the Koran to mark the beginning of the rathotsava (chariot or car festival) at the historic Chennakeshava temple in Belur.
  • The rathotsava at the 900-year-old Chennakeshava temple struck a different note by staying with the syncretic tradition.
    • The festival began only after the moulvi recited the Koran, a custom whose origins are not clearly known in the temple built by Hoysala rulers.
    • The custom is mentioned in the temple manual, which dates back to 1932. 
    • According to the chief priest, the custom began with the objective of involving people of all religions in the festival.
    • The temple regularly gives foodgrain to the families that play a role in the festival, as per the manual.
  • The festival saw around 15 Muslim shopkeepers putting up stalls in the temple premises, with civil society groups putting pressure on the authorities not to exclude them.

Case study can be used:

  • Social capital and promoting harmony. GS-I Society

CLASSROOM ON WHEELS GOES TO RURAL AREAS

  • A unique digital “classroom on wheels”, launched in Jodhpur, will provide education to the students living in villages and remote areas and address the issue of scarcity of good teachers in small towns.
  • It will also generate awareness about digital education among the students and parents.
  • The Shiksha Rath, a modified bus equipped with a digital studio, was flagged off to Jaisalmer district’s Ramdevra village.
    • The students in the village will benefit from the digital classroom comprising a smart interactive panel and high-resolution cameras and with high-speed internet connectivity.

Case study can be used:

  • Accessing education, increasing awareness. GS-I Society; GS-II Education

BRANDING INDIA

  • Why must we always listen to Ed Sheeran or Bollywood remixes in airport lounges?
  • As a nation do not seem to care too much about showcasing our rich culture and musical legacy at places where it could make a powerful first impression on outsiders, such as airports or public places that first welcome foreign tourists.
  • Instead, what we hear everywhere — from elevators to malls, salons to railway stations — are peppy Bollywood numbers or jazzed-up remixes, some with very regressive lyrics.
  • This ‘Bollywoodisation’ of pop culture is happening at a time when questions of hegemony and racism otherwise dominate discussions on art. 
  • We are not afraid to call out racism when we see it happen in other countries.
  • We have been somewhat vocal in recent times of India’s non-representation in international socio-cultural and political forums.
  • We get a little prickly that only a smattering of our artistes and cultural output get some sort of consolation prize at the international level. But we seem to highlight the issue only when we feel threatened.
  • The idea of Indian culture is often reduced to either an ethnic-wear parade or a hastily put-together agenda featuring some famous Indian artistes.
    • In these events, the bulk of representation is usually reserved for those with access and superior English language skills, which usually represents a certain class in urban India.
  • If India, as a cultural plural collective, has to be taken seriously, we must first start by adequately representing the traditionally under-served communities.
    • Public places, schools, malls and airports could perhaps have more music playing from local radio stations or by local artistes, with commentaries, talks, and engaging programming. Non-male representation in art of every region needs to be promoted.
  • Secondly, we need to push for more global representation for India and its considerable artistic heritage.
    • This need not always ride on Bollywood. Already, artistes are putting out some excellent independent work that includes many indigenous ideas and performers — from Prateek Kuhad to the Casteless Collective, from the Tetseo Sisters to the plethora of performers on YouTube.
  • Doing this requires multiple stakeholders agreeing to see things in an aligned manner. 

Case study can be used:

  • Globalisation and impact on culture. GS-I Society

 

GS-II

ANTI-DEFECTION LAW NEEDS TO BE REFORMED: VENKAIAH

  • Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu said there was a need to amend the anti-defection legislation in the country to plug existing loopholes.
  • It allows wholesale defection. But retail defection is not allowed. 
  • Stating that there was no clarity in the law about the time frame for the action of the House Chairperson or Speaker in anti-defection cases, he said: “Some cases are taking six months and some even three years.
    • There are cases that are dis-posed of after the term is over. 
  • It is also the dharma of politicians and a requirement as per the Constitution to leave the post that they are holding when they change parties.
  • Referring to the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha, he said: “I also get disgusted with the proceedings in Rajya Sabha sometimes. Wonderful debates do take place. Unfortunately, when things change, good speeches that help contribute to the legis- lative making do not happen.”
  • He also lamented that political parties starting media outlets were weakening the democracy.
  • Mr. Naidu said he had sought some kind of a regulation on social media.
    • “It is not censorship. But at a time of hatred and religious tension, Parliament has to seriously view the issue and come out with certain regulations. 

Case study can be used:

  • Anti-defection law and impact. GS-II Indian Polity, Constitution 

NO QUOTA WITHOUT QUANTIFIABLE DATA

  • No exhaustive study has been done to collect quantifiable data on the representation of different communities in education and employment.
    • The State BC (Backward Caste) Commission, in its July 2011 report to the State government in justification of 69% reservation for BC, MBC/DNCs and SC/ST under the 1994 Act, did not give any community-wise break up of representation in government services.
  • Since the apex Court has now pointed to the absence of data as a reason to annul the 10.5% quota law, the State government should commission a study to compile data on the way the benefits of reservation get distributed among different communities.
  • The concept of quota within quota is nothing new to Tamil Nadu.
    • The absence of the application of the creamy layer rule in reservation in the State has highlighted the need for internal reservation.

Case study can be used:

  • Reservation and opportunities. GS-II Indian constitution, GS-I Society

NO NEED FOR LAWS TO ENFORCE DUTIES ON CITIZENS

  • Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal said there was no need to enact specific laws to “enforce” fundamental duties on citizens.
  • Mr. Venugopal, in his capacity as a constitutional office, said the Supreme Court cannot issue mandamus to Parliament to make such laws.
  • A Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said the court had been very circumspect in entertaining a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by lawyer Durga Dutt to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens, including patriotism and unity of nation, through “comprehensive, well-defined laws”.
  • Mr. Venugopal took objection to the petitioner’s lack of research, saying had he cared to look, the Ministry of Law and Justice website would have shown him detailed accounts of the “tremendous work” done by the government to create awareness among the public of their fundamental duties.
  • Mr. Dutt had wanted to know what the government had done to comply with the Supreme Court’s direction in the Ranganath Mishra judgment of 2003 regarding the implementation of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee’s report on the “operationalisation of fundamental duties”.
    • The committee’s work was a part of a report of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution.
    • The report had urged the government to sensitise people to, and create general awareness of, their duties and the protection of minorities and freedom of religion.

Case study can be used:

  • Implementing fundamental duties.

STALIN PLANS MODEL SCHOOL IN CHENNAI ALONG THE LINES OF DELHI

  • Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said he will develop a model school in Chennai on the lines of government schools in Delhi.
    • He said this during a visit to a government school here with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
    • He also invited Mr. Kejriwal to visit the proposed school once it was set up.
  • Mr. Stalin visited Rajkiya Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, and was taken on a tour of its modern facilities.
    • He also attended a ‘Happiness class’ and ‘Deshbhakti class’ with the students to experience first-hand the new curricula introduced in all government schools in Delhi.
  • During his tour, Mr. Stalin met a team of students who were part of the Business Blasters programme.
    • The students explained to him how they used seed money of ₹2,000 each, provided by the government, to carry out an entrepreneurial project, earn a profit of ₹1.50 lakh and provide employment to 25 residents.

Case study can be used:

  • Inter-state engagements, cooperative federalism, education

 

DAM SAFETY ACT CAN END DISPUTES

  • The Supreme Court found in the Dam Safety Act of 2021 a panacea to end the “perennial” legal battle between Tamil Nadu and Kerala over the Mullaperiyar dam.
  • A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said that the new law provided for almost everything, other than how to “settle political scores”, to resolve inter- State disputes over dams.
  • The Act comprehensively postulates for surveillance, operation and maintenance of dams to prevent disasters.
  • Moreover, the Central statute, which came into force last December, mandates the setting up of two specialised bodies, National Committee on Dam Safety and National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) to evolve policies, recommend safety norms and resolve disputes between the States.
  • Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been trading charges over the safety, operation and maintenance of the Mullaperiyar dam.

Case study can be used:

  • Inter-state dispute, Dam safety. GS-II Indian Polity

OFFERING FREEBIES IS A POLICY CALL OF A POLITICAL PARTY: ECI

  • Offering or distributing freebies either before or after an election is a policy decision of a political party, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the Supreme Court.
  • The poll body was replying to a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay that the promise and distribution of “irrational freebies” by political parties amounted to bribery and unduly influencing voters. It vitiated free and fair elections in the country, the petition said.
  • But the ECI adopted a hands-off approach, saying “whether such policies are financially viable or have adverse effect on the economic health of the State is a question that has to be considered and decided by the voters of the State”.
  • The election body said it cannot regulate policies and decisions that may be taken by the winning party when they form the government.
    • “Such an action, without enabling provisions of law, would be an overreach of powers,” the ECI said in its affidavit.
  • The ECI referred to the top court’s own decision in the S. Subramaniam Balaji case that the poll body cannot intervene in promises made in election manifestos released by parties before the announcement of the election dates, after which the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) kicked in.
    • It said new MCC guidelines were framed in consultation with political parties, keeping in mind the potential influence freebies may have on a level playing field.
    • A letter from the ECI had even advised parties to submit their declarations along with copies of manifestos.
  • However, the ECI said it has been, for years, appealing to the Centre to arm it with the powers to deregister political parties.
  • In a letter to the Law Minister in July 1998, the Chief Election Commissioner had said that out of over 650 parties registered with the ECI, only 150 or so contested elections in 1998.
  • The letter was referred to in another communication in July 2004 when the ECI had sent a set of 22 proposals for electoral reforms, including powers to deregister political parties.

Case study can be used:

  • Election Commission and powers, deregistering parties, freebies.

INDIA-AUSTRALIA TRADE AGREEMENT

  • On April 2, India and Australia signed an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA).
    • The landmark bilateral trade pact is the second trade agreement India has signed this year after inking a similar deal with the United Arab Emirates in February.
  • The ECTA is expected to increase trade between the two sides to $45-50 billion over five years, from the current estimate of $27 billion, and create over 10 lakh additional job opportunities.
    • Under this agreement, India will give 85% of Australia’s exports zero-duty access to its domestic market.
    • India is expected to get zero-duty access to Australia for its goods over five years. 
  • MAIN FEATURES:
    • The ECTA is guided by a Preamble and is divided into multiple sections that will govern what is hoped to be the most expansive bilateral trade since the two countries established diplomatic ties before India attained independence.
    • It has a section on goods exports, and lays out clearly “Rules of Origin” that are aimed at creating anti-dumping measures.
      • There are also sections that are aimed at providing remedies and mechanisms for resolving trade disputes.
    • The Commerce Ministry underlined that this is the first trade deal signed by India that has a compulsory review mechanism after 15 years of implementation.
  • Under this agreement, Australia will get the opportunity to export certain varieties of agricultural produce like potatoes, lentils, and meat products with some caveats.
    • However, bovine meat is not part of the agreement.
    • Australia may also send machineries that are required for food processing under this agreement.
    • In a historic first, India may open up to a wide-range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks including Australian beer.
      • Australian wines costing over $5 may face lower import duties in the Indian market.
      • A Joint Dialogue for Wine may be created with participation from industry players and government representatives to ensure cooperation and benefits for both countries.
      • The Indian side said Australia will provide ‘preferential access’ to “all the labour-intensive sectors” of export items from India such as gems and jewellery, textiles, leather, footwear, furniture, food, engineering products, medical devices and automobiles.
      • India will also allow Australia to export raw materials under preferential terms like coal and mineral ores.
  • The Government of India has said that Australia has “offered wide ranging commitments” in around 135 sub-sectors and Most Favoured Nation in 120 sub-sectors which cover key areas of the Indian services sector like IT, ITES, business services, health, education and audio-visual services.
    • Indian chefs and yoga teachers will get specific entry quotas into Australia, while Indian students in Australia will be able to secure work visas for periods ranging from 18 months to four years on a ‘reciprocal’ basis.
    • As per the rules framed under the pact, students completing a diploma Down Under will be considered for an 18-month work visa; and those completing their undergraduation may get two years and those with a Ph.D. may be considered for a four-year visa.
  • India and Australia have agreed to enable fast track approval for patented, generic and biosimilar medicines.
    • Therapeutic Goods Regulators of both sides will have a role to play in monitoring and ensuring smooth trade in pharma products between the two sides.
    • Both sides have agreed to audits of imports that require sanitary and phytosanitary inspection as per the law of the land.
    • The importing side will ensure that plants and plant products, animal products and other goods, and their packaging are inspected through recognised methodologies.
    • If either party finds examples of non-compliance, remedial measures will be taken by both sides.
  • The rules of origin are based on the principle that they should be “wholly obtained or produced in the territory of one or both of the parties”.
    • This section ensures that waste material will not be exported by either side unless they contribute to the production of any of the items listed in the ECTA.

Case study can be used:

  • India and international relations, Indo-Pacifc engagements

BIMSTEC

  • Amid the financial crisis of 1997, leading Southeast Asian and South Asian nations came together to form the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC).
  • The underlying factor behind the grouping was that if connected together, the economic powerhouses of South Asia and Southeast Asia could deal with the challenges of pursuing free market economies in the limits imposed by local political and economic factors.
  • In its 25th year, and at its fifth summit held in hybrid format in Colombo, the organisation adopted a charter which aims at providing greater coordination among the seven members — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar and Thailand.
  • The new charter comes at a time when the need for an alternative regional-global organisation is increasingly being felt because of the moribund nature of SAARC which has not met since November 2014.
    • For long, BIMSTEC existed as a platform for policy dialogue but the global churning over sanctions on Russia after the war in Ukraine appears to have contributed towards finetuning the focus of the grouping.
    • It wants to be an organisation which can find autonomous space away from bigger trade and defence groupings and work for the development of the region around the Bay of Bengal.

Case study can be used:

  • Regional groupings and their impact on international engagements 

 

GS-III

ECONOMY MAY TAKE TILL FY35 TO OVERCOME COVID-19 LOSSES

  • The Indian economy may take more than a decade to overcome the losses caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Report on Currency and Finance (RCF).
  • “The pandemic is a watershed moment and the structural changes catalysed by the pandemic can potentially alter the growth trajectory in the medium term,” the authors observed.
    • The pre-COVID trend growth rate works out to 6.6% and excluding the slow-down years it works out to 7.1%.

Case study can be used:

  • Economic impact of pandemic, recovery and way ahead.

AS WAR DEPLETES WHEAT GRANARIES ACROSS THE WORLD, INDIA LOOKS TO FILL THE VOID

  • Russia and Ukraine account for about 25% of the world’s wheat exports.
    • However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent Western sanctions against Moscow have curtailed wheat supplies drastically.
    • As a result, many countries which were sourcing wheat mainly from these two nations are now in a dire need of alternatives.
  • India, the largest wheat producer after China, is reported to be eyeing the void.
    • The government plans to allow increased exports to cash in on the higher price of wheat in international market.
  • Food security campaigners however, emphasise the need to prioritise local prices and ensure adequate supplies for domestic consumption before deciding on the quantum of exports.
  • India, which had the second-highest wheat supply (including production, existing stocks and imports) in this period at 613 million tonnes, exported only 2% of this, with about 80% used for domestic consumption, and the rest stored.
    • In contrast, other leading exporters could sell big chunks of their supply. 

Case study can be used:

  • Indian wheat production and exports; India's international engagements- trade diversification.

LABOUR PARTICIPATION DIPS TO 40% FROM 46% IN SIX YEARS

  • Only 40% of Indians of legal working age were employed or were looking for jobs in 2021-22.
    • In comparison, the labour force participation rate was above 46% in 2016- 17, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.
  • In absolute terms, India’s labour force has shrunk from about 445 million to 435 million in the six years.
    • Currently, about 1,085 million Indians are aged 15 or above and can be legally employed.
  • Labour force participation among women, which was already in low double digits, has declined further.
    • In 2016-17, about 15% women were employed or looking for jobs. This metric dipped to 9.2% in 2021-22.
  • Among men, the partici- pation rate declined to 67%, from more than 74%.
    • The dip in the participation rate was higher in the urban areas.
  • The rate slid to 37.5% from 44.7% in urban areas — a more than seven percentage- point drop. The rate in rural areas fell to 41.4% from 46.9%.
    • Of the 24 States with data, 23 saw participation rates decline in March 2022 compared with March 2016.
    • The rate dropped in all the States, except in Rajasthan.
    • The slide was more pronounced in two southern States, which had a high participation rate to start with.
    • Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu had participation rates of 54% and 56%, respectively, in March 2016, and witnessed the sharpest declines.
    • Between 2016 and 2022, participation rates fell 20 percentage points and 17 percentage points for Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh respectively.

Case study can be used:

  • Labour participation and Indian economy

IF FREEBIE CULTURE PERSISTS, INDIA MAY FACE SRI LANKA'S FATE

  • India could end up facing a Sri Lanka-type economic crisis if it doesn’t shun the “culture of freebies” and subsidies in sectors like agriculture, NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand has warned.
  • The “mind-boggling” support measures for farmers had made agriculture extremely dependent on such crutches.
  • “Our policies and support to agriculture and many other sectors are going in a direction that if we do not put a check on it, I think a day is not far when our fate will be same as that of the Sri Lankan economy,” Mr. Chand said, blaming “self-anointed experts” for skewing the debate on farm subsidies and minimum support price (MSP) for crops.
    • India had already hit the 10% limit of government support for the sector and flagged the additional costs of implementing the MSP regime.
    • The latest number is that if we are buying anything at MSP, the economic cost comes to be 30%-35% more than the MSP and the government is not able to dispose the produce even at the MSP.
    • This means that to pay ₹100 to the farmer, it costs ₹35 to the government,” he noted, A procurement of ₹3 lakh crore thus entailed some sort of additional support of ₹1 lakh crore.

Case study can be used:

  • Indian economy and subsidies, economic crisis.

CONTAINER TRAFFIC FLOW: COLOMBO'S LOSS IS KOCHI'S GAIN

  • The economic and political turmoil in Colombo coupled with the congestion at the Colombo port has come as a blessing for ports in South India, especially the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam, Kochi, where cargo traffic has increased by over 62% in March with mother vessels calling at the Cochin port.
  • According to statistics available with the Cochin port, the transshipment volume at the ICTT has increased to 13,609 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) in March 2022 compared to 8,394 TEUs in March 2021.
  • There were reports recently that some shipping lines have started skipping Colombo for reasons beyond port congestion there.
  • The process of shifting the business to another port would take some time due to the existing contract terms of shipping lines and partner alliances with other shipping lines.

INDIA 3RD HIGHEST MILITARY SPENDER

  • World military spending continued to grow in 2021, reaching a record $2.1 trillion despite the economic fallout of the pandemic, according to new data on global military spending published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
  • The five largest spenders in 2021 were the U.S., China, India, the U.K. and Russia, together accounting for 62% of expenditure.
    • The U.S. and China alone accounted for 52%.
  • “India’s military spending of $76.6 billion ranked third highest in the world.
    • This was up by 0.9% from 2020 and by 33% from 2012.
    • Amid ongoing tensions and border disputes with China and Pakistan that occasionally spill over into armed clashes, India has prioritised the modernisation of its armed forces and self-reliance in arms production,” the report said.
  • Stating that military spending in Asia and Oceania totalled $586 billion in 2021, the report noted that spending in the region was 3.5% higher than in 2020, continuing an uninterrupted upward trend dating back to at least 1989.
    • “The increase in 2021 was primarily due to growth in Chinese and Indian military spending.
    • Together, the two countries accounted for 63% of total military expenditure in the region in 2021,” it observed.
    • “Even amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19, world military spending hit record levels,” the report said quoting Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production (MEAP) programme.
    • Russia increased its military expenditure by 2.9% in 2021, to $65.9 billion, at a time when “it was building up its forces along the Ukrainian border,” the report pointed out.
  • On Ukraine, the report remarked that as it had strengthened its defences against Russia, its military spending “has risen by 72% since the annexation of Crimea in 2014”.
  • Spending fell in 2021, to $5.9 billion, but still accounted for 3.2% of the country’s GDP, it added.

Case study can be used:

  • Military spending, Economic impact of war .

INDIA AND COAL

  • Recently, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to ensure adequate supply of coal to the power-generating units in the State.
    • In Maharashtra, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the State government planned to import coal to cope with the power crisis.
  • The other top power-consuming State in the country, Gujarat, is also planning to import coal, according to reports.
  • Decline in coal stocks and the resulting power outages in several States have spurred queries of renewable energy’s potential to fill in for the conventional resource.
  • Earlier this week, coal stocks in more than 100 thermal power plants in India fell below the critical mark (less than 25% of the required stock) while it was less than 10% in over 50 plants across India.
  • Coal crisis:
    • Coal accounts for 55% of the country’s energy needs.
    • The India Energy Outlook 2021 report of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said energy use in India has doubled since 2000, with 80% of demand still being met by coal, oil and solid biomass.
    • Pandemic-related disruptions, however, prevented the stock-up of coal.
    • Mining operations were halted to curb the spread of the virus. Despite the gradual easing into operations, mining activities were hampered during the monsoons, delaying arrival of stocks.
    • With household demand for power picking up and the arrival of summer, combined with the sudden acceleration in economic activity, it has resulted in a demand-supply mismatch.
    • The country had experienced a similar situation last October, but with peak summer approaching, the coal stock situation is more worrisome now because demand for power will be high.
    • The energy demand will go up as urbanisation and the population increase.
    • The IEA estimates that despite the shock from CO- VID-19, India’s demand is expected to grow by almost 5% a year till 2040.
  • India and renewable energy sources:
    • The report of the Central Electricity Authority on optimal generation capacity mix for 2029-30 estimates that the share of renewable energy in the gross electricity generation is expected to be around 40% by that financial year.
    • The Union government has spent ₹3,793 crore until March 14 in 2021-22 for implementing varied renewable energy-related schemes and programmes.
    • A total of 152.90 GW of renewable energy capacity has been installed in the country as on February 28, as per government figures.
      • This includes 50.78 GW from solar power, 40.13 GW from wind power, 10.63 GW from bio-power, 4.84 GW from small hydel power and 46.52 GW from large hydel power.

Case study can be used:

  • India and coal consumption; Path to renewable energy sources.

CORPORATE DEFENCE MECHANISMS AGAINST HOSTILE TAKEOVERS

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s bid to acquire Twitter was partially thwarted with the microblogging platform deploying the ‘poison pill’ mechanism.
  • The ‘poison pill’ mechanism is used to dilute shares of a company so that activist investors looking for hostile takeovers will incur a massive expenditure.
    • Besides, this will make the process cumbersome.
  • Publicly listed companies across the globe often witness threats of hostile takeovers, which take place through a back-door accumulation of shares; in other words, acquiring sizeable shares from the open market than from the management.
  • However, with time, listed companies have been able to come up with several defence mechanisms to prevent such takeovers. Some of them include:
    • The greenmail defence: The idea here is simple: pay them to go away and stop threatening the company with a hostile takeover.
      • It involves the target company repurchasing its own shares at a premium and in a quantity enough to prevent a hostile takeover.
    • The crown jewel defence: This mechanism involves the target company spinning-off its crown jewel unit, or its most valued asset, in order to make the acquisition less desirable for the acquirer.
      • The asset could be the unit that is most profitable in the company, or is important for future profitability, or produces the flagship product of the company.
    • The pac-man defence: Here one prevents a hostile takeover by initiating a reverse takeover.
      • It involves the target company making an offer to the acquire the company that commenced the takeover bid.
      • The target company could make use of its ‘war chest’ or securing finances from outside for the reverse takeover bid.
    • The white knight defence: In case a company’s board finds itself in a situation that it cannot prevent a hostile takeover, it seeks a more accommodative and cordial firm to acquire a controlling stake from the hostile acquirer.
      • The ‘White Knight’ agrees to restructure the company adhering largely to the desires of the target company’s board, also providing a fair consideration.

Case study can be used:

  • Corporate governance; ethical strategies 

E-DAR PORTAL TO SPEED UP ACCIDENT COMPENSATION CLAIMS

  • A web portal designed by the government in consultation with insurance companies will provide instant information on road accidents with a few clicks and help accelerate accident compensation claims, bringing relief to victims’ families.
  • The Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has developed the portal named ‘e-DAR’ (e-Detailed Accident Report).
    • Digitalised Detailed Accident Reports (DAR) will be uploaded on the portal for easy access.
    • The web portal will be linked to the Integrated Road Accident Database (iRAD).
    • From iRAD, applications to more than 90% of the datasets would be pushed directly to the e- DAR.
    • Stakeholders like the police, road authorities, hospitals, etc., are required to enter very minimal information for the e-DAR forms.
    • Thus, e-DAR would be an extension and e-version of iRAD.
  • The court, in its detailed order, recorded that e-DAR portal would conduct multiple checks against fake claims by conducting a sweeping search of vehicles involved in the accident, the date of accident, and the First Information Report number.
  • The portal would be linked to other government portals like Vaahan and would get access to information on driving licence details and registration of vehicles.
  • For the benefit of investigating officers, the portal would provide geo tagging of the exact accident spot along with the site map.
    • This would notify the investigating officer on his distance from the spot of the incident in the event the portal is accessed from any other location.
    • Details like photos, video of the accident spot, damaged vehicles, injured victims, eye-witnesses, etc., would be uploaded immediately on the portal.

Case study can be used:

  • Technology and governance; e-governance. 

CENTRE EXTENDS TENURE OF GREEN PERMITS

  • Easing norms for infrastructure projects, the Union Environment Ministry has extended the tenure of environmental clearances (EC) granted for existing or new projects.
    • The EC for river valley projects will now have a 13- year validity, and nuclear power projects or those involving the processing of nuclear fuel 15 years.
    • Projects and activities other than the mining and river valley projects will have their EC valid for 10 years.
  • Explaining its rationale, the Ministry said in its gazette notification that nuclear power projects and hydro power projects had “high gestation” period due to “geological surprises, delays in forest clearance, land acquisition, local issues, rehabilitation and resettlement and such other factors which are often beyond the control of project proponents and in this context, the Central government “deems it necessary” to extend the validity of Environmental Clearance (EC) for such projects.
  • An EC is a long-drawn process that is mandatory for projects beyond a certain size and often involves an environment impact assessment of a potential project and sometimes public hearings involving the local populace who might be affected by the project.

Case study can be used:

  • Environmental impact assessment, degradation and conservation measures; sustainable development.

SEA MAY INUNDATE MANY CITIES BY 2050

  • As per a study by RMSI, a Noida-based IT consulting firm, on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports for key coastal cities, due to the rising sea levels by 2050, a significant number of population, property, and infrastructure in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram along with four other cities — Mumbai, Chennai, Vi- zag, Mangaluru — will be under water.
  • The IPCC assessment report indicates that India’s sea level will rise significantly by 2050.
    • Sea-level rise in the North Indian Ocean (NIO) occurred at a rate of 1.06–1.75 mm per year from 1874 to 2004 and has accelerated to 3.3 mm per year in the past two-and-a-half decades (1993–2017).
    • RMSI used its coastal flood modelling capabilities to map the cities’ inundation (submergence) levels based on various sea-level rise forecast studies.
    • Based on inundation, it conducted an analysis to identify the number of build- ings and key infrastructure that could be potentially submerged in each of these cities.

Case study can be used:

  • Climate change and impacts, sea-level rise.

FUEL SHIP SINKS OFF TUNISIA, THREATENS MARINE LIFE

  • Tunisian authorities intensified efforts on Saturday to avoid an environmental disaster after a merchant fuel ship carrying one thousand tonnes of fuel sank off the coast of Gabes.
  • The Tunisian Navy had rescued all seven crew members from the ship, which was heading from Equatorial Guinea to Malta, and sent a distress call 11 km away from southern city of Gabes.
  • Authorities have activated “the national emergency plan for the prevention of marine pollution with the aim of bringing the situation under control and avoiding the spread of pollutants”.

Case study can be used:

  • Oil spill and marine pollution; environmental degradation.

UNEP REPORT ON NOISE POLLUTION

  • A February report commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme on the environmental challenges posed by noise, wildfires and the disruption of biological rhythms of plants, animals and ecological cycles became controversial on account of the mention of a single city, Moradabad.
  • The first chapter of the report, called Frontiers 2022: Noise, Blazes and Mismatches, deals with noise.
    • It compiles studies about noise levels in several cities around the world and illustrates a subset of 61 cities and the range of dB (decibel) levels that have been measured.
    • Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Asansol and Moradabad are the five Indian cities mentioned in this list and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh was shown as having a dB range from 29 to 114.
    • At a maximum value of 114, it was the second-most-noisiest city in the list.
    • The first was Dhaka, Bangladesh at a maximum value of 119 dB.
  • The latest 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines established a health-protective recommendation for road traffic noise levels of 53 dB.
    • The Frontiers report compiled a host of evidence, including the adverse effects of noise on public health, which range from mild and temporary distress to severe and chronic physical impairment.
    • Night-time noise disturbs sleep and affects well-being the following day.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is mandated to track noise levels, set standards as well as ensure, via their State units, that sources of excessive noise are controlled.
    • The agency has a manual monitoring system where sensors are installed in major cities and few cities have the facility to track noise levels in real time.
    • The CPCB also measures noise levels before and after Diwali in major cities, to publicise the impact of firecrackers.

Case study can be used:

  • Noise pollution, impact and measures to address

MOTHER NATURE A LIVING BEING WITH LEGAL ENTITY: MADRAS HC

  • Holding that it is the right time to confer juristic status to ‘Mother Nature’, Justice S. Srimathy of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court invoked the ‘parens patriae jurisdiction’, and declared ‘Mother Nature’ as a ‘living being’ having the status of a legal entity.
  • Justice S. Srimathy observed that the court is hereby declaring ‘Mother Nature’ a ‘living being’ having the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person, in order to preserve and conserve it.
  • The court observed that ‘Mother Nature’ was accorded the rights akin to funda- mental rights, legal rights, constitutional rights for its survival, safety, sustenance and resurgence in order to maintain its status and also to promote its health and well-being.
  • The State and Central governments are directed to protect ‘Mother Nature’ and take appropriate steps in this regard in all possible ways.
  • The court was hearing petitions filed by A. Periya- karuppan of Theni, who served in the Revenue Department.
    • He had challenged an order passed by the Revenue Department, due to which the petitioner was not allowed to retire from service but put under suspension.
    • The petitioner was then placed under compulsory retirement for issuing a patta (deed) for land that was classified as ‘Forest Land’ in Megamalai.
    • He said that he was only carrying out the orders of his superiors.
  • The judge said, indiscriminate destruction or change is leading to several complications in the ecosystem and is ultimately endangering the very existence of flora and fauna, forests, water bodies, mountains, glaciers, air and of course humans.
    • Strangely, the destruction is carried out by a few humans.
    • Any such act ought to be checked at all levels.
    • The natural environment is part of basic human rights, of ‘right to life’ itself, she added.
    • The judge modified the punishment of compulsory retirement to stoppage of increment for six months without cumulative effect.
    • The consequential monetary benefits shall be conferred on the petitioner.
    • This punishment is imposed for the act done against the ‘Mother Nature,’ the judge observed.

Case study can be used:

  • Environmnet degradation and conservation measures; judicial interpretation and safeguards ensuring sustainable development.

 

EXPLORE GREEN CREMATION METHODS

  • The National Green Tribunal has directed all States and Union Territories to switch over to environment- friendly methods of cremation and explore the viability of electric or piped natural gas (PNG) crematorium alongside wood to curb air pollution.
  • A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said air pollution took place in the course of cremation and electric or PNG crematoria can be set up as an alternative to wood-based crematoria.
    • The tribunal noted that as per religious belief, the mode of cremation by fire is considered to be pious and in one cremation, 350-450 kg of wood is burnt in the open.
    • While making it clear that it has no intention to hurt any religious belief, the tribunal said it had asked all States and UTs to consider remedial steps to prevent such pollution and educate and motivate people to switch over to environmental-friendly methods of cremation.
  • “To begin with, electric/ PNG crematoria can be set up as an option to the wood- based crematorium, and if, and to the extent, people are persuaded to do so, a wood-based crematorium can be given the go-by.
    • The report does not show serious effort on this aspect.
  • “Authorities concerned may explore viability of electric/PNG crematorium alongside wood-based cre- matorium, in the interest of environment and also less cost for those who find it difficult to afford high cost of wood-based cremation.
    • This aspect may be considered by authorities concerned of all States/UTs,” it said.
  • The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Real Anchors Developers Pvt. Ltd relating to prevention of air pollution on account of dust and emissions during cremation in the context of a crematorium operating at Shakti Khand-4 in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad.
  • The NGT directed the Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam to expedite the process of remediating the legacy waste scientifically and to ensure prompt handling and disposal of current waste, ascertaining management status in terms of waste processing and resultant gap.
  • “The GDA and Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam may file their respective reports before the next date,” it said.

Case study can be used:

  • Air pollution associated with cremation and sustainable alternatives

HEATWAVES LINKED TO MAN-MADE CLIMATE CHANGE

  • India is gripped in the throes of a long spell of heatwaves and there is compelling evidence that a significant portion of it is due to human-induced climate change, said scientists who were part of an online webinar on climate change organised as part of the TNQ-Janelia Climate Change Summit.
  • Three eminent scientists with expertise in how atmospheric, land and ocean systems were influenced by greenhouse gas emissions, drew upon their decades of research to explain how the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere exacerbated temperatures in the oceans and the land and caused increased glacier melt, heightened sea level rise and led to changes in the biosphere.
  • India could cut its pollution by half just by providing clean cooking fuel to rural household in the Indo-Gangetic plains.
    • Societal transformation, mitigating carbon dioxide emissions and adaption were all necessary to buffer against climate change.

Case study can be used:

  • Climate change and associated impacts; Heatwave and hazards 

MORE LANDSLIDES

  • Climate change could make landslides more likely to happen, by creating more extreme rain events, more powerful wildfires and rising sea levels.
  • Rain reduces the strength of soil to a point where it fails and slides away.
  • Wildfires can destroy stabilising vegetation. Rising sea levels can destabilize slopes.

Case study can be used:

  • Climate change and impacts

WEAKER ZOO CATS

  • Research has found that big cats held in captivity have less dense bones than their wild counterparts and this is likely because of their reduced movement.
  • The study is based on the bones of animals that lived in zoos around the mid-1900s, so the results may not completely translate to modern zoos with larger habitats and better enrichment programmes.

Case study can be used:

  • Loss of biodiversity, impact of captivity on wildlife

CHINESE HACKER GROUPS CONTINUE TO TARGET POWER PLANTS

  • The Union government has confirmed reports that Chinese hackers continue to target Indian power plants, especially those close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • At least two attempts by Chinese hackers were made on electricity distribution centres near Ladakh but were not successful.
  • A U.S.-based cyber security firm report had claimed that Chinese state-sponsored actors have targeted seven power grid assets, the national emergency response system and an Indian subsidiary of a multinational logistics company since September 2021.
  • The firm said it was temporarily clustering the activity of the group under the name Threat Activity Group-38 (TAG-38).
  • TAG-38 likely compromised and coopted Internet facing DVR/IP camera devices for command and control (C2) of Shadowpad malware and FRP.
  • This is not the first time, Recorded Feature has flagged such cyber intrusions.
    • In March 2021, the Massachusetts-based firm found that in the lead up to the Galwan clashes on June 15, 2020, where 20 Indian soldiers were killed, they noticed an increase in malware targeting the government, defence organisations and the public sector.

Case study can be used:

  • Cyber threats, Cross border terrorism, internal security challenges.

INDIAN ENTITIES FILED 1.38 LAKH PATENTS FROM 2015 TO 2021

  • Entities in India had filed 1,38,000 tech patents in the country and more than 9,500 patents in the U.S. from 2015 to 2021, according to India Patents Report published by Nasscom.
    • More than 60% of the patents were filed by Indian firms and start-ups while 17% of the tech patents were filed by individual inventors/ academia research outfits.
    • Some 65% of the total patents filed in the U.S. in 2020-21 by India-domiciled firms were in the technology domain, compared with 55% in 2019.
    • Some 45% of the filings had been granted technology patents.
    • Besides, more than 400 technology patents were filed by Indian start-ups from 2015 to 2021, an increase of 45% from the 280 patents in the 2015-2019 period, the study showed.

Case study can be used:

  • Research and development and India's progress, IPR

 

GS-IV

A.P. HC ORDERS 8 IAS OFFICERS TO DO SERVICE IN SOCIAL WELFARE HOSTEL

  • Justice B. Devanand of the Andhra Pradesh High Court sentenced eight IAS officers to two weeks’ imprisonment in a contempt case, but modified his order upon the officials tendering an unconditional apology for failing to discharge their duties.
    • Conceding the officers’ plea, Justice Devanand directed that they should instead do service in social welfare hostels on a particular day every month for a year.
    • It was a case in which the court pulled up the IAS officers earlier for apparently defying its order not to allow the construction of Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs), ward and village secretariats and other buildings on the premises of government schools.
      • The IAS officers should, therefore, face the punishment, the Judge ruled, prompting them to apologise for their inaction.
      • Now, the officers had to do service in the hostels and also bear the expenditure for meals provided to the inmates.

Case study can be used:

  • Model punishments, code of conduct, foundational values for civil servants

SERVE IN TRAUMA WARD, MADRAS HC TELLS YOUTH HELD FOR RACING ON ROAD

  • Youngsters zipping past rashly and negligently on their motorcycles on city roads and indulging in racing, much to the annoyance of other motorists, have begun to gain the attention of the Madras High Court.
  • While granting bail to one such youth, the court on Thursday directed him to assist the ward boys at the trauma care centre at Stanley Medical College Hospital in Chennai for 30 days and pen down his experiences daily.
    • The judge also directed him to submit to the duty doctor a one-page report about his experiences.
    • At the end of the 30th day, the Dean must forward all 30 reports to a Metropolitan Magistrate at George Town.
      • Thereafter, the petitioner must appear before the investigating officer as and when required, the judge ordered.

Case study can be used:

  • Reformative justice, ethics and moral values.

 

DATA ANALYSIS

CLIMATE EMERGENCY

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • According to data collected by NASA, activities such as burning of fossil fuels, livestock farming, and deforestation among others have resulted in the warming of the earth and brought about widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean and biosphere.
  • The production of carbon dioxide is increasing 250 times faster than it did from natural sources after the last Ice Age.
  • The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has resulted in the rise of the average surface temperature by about 1° Celsius since the late 19th-century.
  • Arctic sea ice extent and thickness have also declined significantly, with the value being the lowest in the last 15 September.
  • The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are also losing significant amounts of land-based ice.
  • In the last century, the global sea level rose about 8 inches.
  • Alarmingly, the rate at which the seal level rose has also doubled in the last two decades and is accelerating every year.
  • Further, 90% of global warming is occurring in oceans, harming the ocean ecosystem.

DECLINING LABOUR FORCE

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • India's labour force participation rate (LFPR) declined from 46% to 40% between 2016-17 and 2021-22, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.
    • This means that out of every 100 persons in the working-age population, only 40 were either working or looking for work in 2021-22.
    • The share of the population that participated in the economy either by working or looking for work dropped by 6 percentage points in 2022.
    • The decline was more pronounced in urban areas as LFPR slipped by 7% points
  • A State-wide analysis of LFPR in March 2016 and March 2022 shows that only one State, Rajasthan, recorded an overall increase in the participation rate.
  • Southern States such as Tamil Nad and Andhra Pradesh, which had the highest LFPR in March 2016, recorded the sharpest drop.

COAL CRISIS

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Barely six months have passed and India is facing yet another coal crisis.
    • In more than 100 thermal power plants in India, coal stock has fallen below the critical mark (<25% of the required stock) and in over 50 plants, it has fallen below the 10% mark.
    • Due to low levels of coal inventories, power generated from thermal plants has significantly declined.
    • This had led to power shortages in several States such as Andra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Planned power outages due to coal shortages have become a norm.
    • More worryingly, the coal crisis has hit at a time when power demand has peaked due to the summer months.

HEAT WAVE AND WHEAT EXPORT

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • At a time when India is looking to fill the world's wheat granaries depleted by the Ukraine-Russia war, two new developments in Punjab may potentially reduce its export levels this year.
    • First, evidence from Punjab shows that the wheat arrivals in mandis have been 20% lower this year compared to 2021.
      • The primary reason behind the reduction is the extreme levels of heat.
      • The average temperature in April has been consistently above the 40°C mark across Punjab.
      • This has reduced the wheat yield significantly this year.
    • Second, the local prices of wheat and wheat flour are accelerating.
  • These two factors may dampen India's wheat export plans given that India may prioritise local availability of wheat while also aiming to cool down the market prices.

RAIN AND SHINE

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • In the last six months, India has recorded both excess rainfall and extreme heat.
    • In the post-monsoon period, during the months of November and December last year, unseasonal rainfall over 60% the normal levels was recorded across India.
    • This year, in the months of March and April, the northern, northwestern and northeastern regions recorded a 5°C Increase in temperature from the usual levels on many days.

SPACE JUNK, A CAUSE FOR CONCERN

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • In the latest edition of the Space Situational Assessment report, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has ruled the increasing threat of collisions in space due to rising orbital debris.
  • Space debris is a result of tens of thousands of rocket parts from launches, past collisions, defunct satellites, and fragments after anti-satellite weapon strikes (ASAT).
  • While some have re-entered Earth's atmosphere, many others have continued to orbit Earth and collide with active satellites.
  • Given that the number of launches and payloads peaked in 2021, the crisis has only intensified.
    • Hours have to be spent monitoring the debris to plan manoeuvres to avoid collisions.
    • Also considering the extra fuel spent on such movements, it becomes a costly exercise.
  • India did 19 such corrections in 2021, the highest ever for the country.
  • The three major jumps in fragmentation debris took place because of the ASAT test on Fengyun-1C conducted by China In 2007 (1), the accidental collision between Cosmos 2251 and Iridium 33 in 2009 (2), and the Russian ASAT test in November 2021 (3).
  • Country-wise contribution:
    • The U.S. is responsible for over 9,400 orbital debris, Russia/USSR is accountable for over 8,400, and China for 4,478.
    • About 220 parts orbiting Earth are due to Indian rocket launches and the ASAT it carried out in 2019.
    • The test strike by India was criticised as an event which will increase the quantum of space debris.
      • Over 400 pieces of debris emerged from the event, but only one remains in orbit.
      • The rest re-entered Earth's atmosphere and burned.

EUROPE'S GAS FROM RUSSIA

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The European Union (EU) condemned the “atrocities” committed by Russia in many Ukrainian towns.
    • The EU vowed to prepare more sanctions against Russia.
    • However, tougher sanctions against Russian oil and gas have remained a contentious subject for countries in the region.
    • While some countries are for it, others such as Germany, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Hungary are not convinced.
    • The German Finance Minister, Christian Lindner, has on multiple occasions expressed his country's inability to stop gas supplies from Russia.
      • Germany imports 34% of its coal and 32% of its crude oil from Russia.
    • The share of imports from Russia crossed the 50% mark across many nations and energy products between 2016 and 2020.
    • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte recently said that he was not in favour of cutting off the Russian oil and gas supply.
  • These statements stem from the fact that much of the European region depends heavily on Russia for its energy needs.
    • As energy supply from renewable sources forms a small share in these nations, it is difficult for them to quickly switch to alternate sources.

HOW MANY INDIANS EAT MEAT?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • In recent months, news reports from across the country have triggered a debate on the dietary patterns of Indians.
  • Official and non-official drives and campaigns targeting vendors who sell meat have been conducted in different parts of the country.
    • South Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor Mukesh Suryan wrote to the civic body's commissioner, requesting the closure of meat shops during Navratri.
    • Hindutva organisations urged Hindus not to buy halal meat sold by Muslims in Karnataka ahead of varshathodaku or hosadodaku*.
    • Back in November 2021, the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled civic bodies in Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Junagadh in Gujarat launched a drive against vendors running non-vegetarian food joints.
  • Data from the NFHS-5 show that in over half of the 30 States/UTs analysed, more than 90% of the population consumed fish or chicken or meat daily or weekly or occasionally.
    • In 25 of them, the figure was more than 50%.
    • In none of the States/UTs was the share less than 20%.
  • Fish or chicken or meat:
    • In 16 States it was >90%, in four States/UTs it was 75-90%, in five States/UTs it was 50-75%; in four States it was 25-50% and in one it was <25%.
  • Fish:
    • In 14 States the share was >90%, in four States it was 75-90%, in six States/UTs it was 50-75%; in three States it was 25-50%, and in three States it was <25%.
  • Chicken or meat:
    • In 15 States the share was >90%, in five States/UTs it was 75-90%, in five States/UTs it was 50-75%; in four States it was 25-50% and in one State it was <25%.
  • Eggs:
    • In 15 States it was >90% in six States/UTs it was 75-90%, in five States/UTs it was 50-75% in four States it was 25-50% and in no State was it <25%.

 

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