Mains Monthly Magazine: October 2022

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Table of Contents



The Mediation Bill, 2021

Relevance- GS- II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.


  • The Mediation Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 20, 2021, with the Parliamentary Standing Committee being tasked with a review of the Bill.
  • The committee’s report to the Rajya Sabha was submitted on July 13, 2022.
  • In its report, the Committee recommends substantial changes to the Mediation Bill, aimed at institutionalising mediation and establishing the Mediation Council of India.

Need for Mediation in India

  • While there is no standalone legislation for mediation in India, there are several statutes containing mediation provisions, such as the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, the Companies Act, 2013, the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • The Mediation and Conciliation Project Committee of the Supreme Court of India describes mediation as a tried and tested alternative for conflict resolution.
  • As India is a signatory to the Singapore Convention on Mediation (formally the United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements Resulting from Mediation), it is appropriate to enact a law governing domestic and international mediation.

Key Features of the Bill

  • The Bill aims to promote, encourage, and facilitate mediation, especially institutional mediation, to resolve disputes, commercial and otherwise.
  • The Bill further proposes mandatory mediation before litigation.
  • At the same time, it safeguards the rights of litigants to approach competent adjudicatory forums/courts for urgent relief.
  • The mediation process will be confidential and immunity is provided against its disclosure in certain cases.
  • The outcome of the mediation process in the form of a Mediation Settlement Agreement (MSA) will be legally enforceable and can be registered with the State/district/taluk legal authorities within 90 days to ensure authenticated records of the settlement.
  • The Bill establishes the Mediation Council of India and also provides for community mediation.
  • A party may withdraw from mediation after two mediation sessions.   
  • The mediation process must be completed within 180 days, which may be extended by another 180 days by the parties.
  • The Bill lists disputes that are not fit for mediation (such as those involving criminal prosecution, or affecting the rights of third parties). The central government may amend this list.

Concerns with the Bill

  • According to the Bill, pre-litigation mediation is mandatory for both parties before filing any suit or proceeding in a court, whether or not there is a mediation agreement between them.
    • Parties who fail to attend pre-litigation mediation without a reasonable reason may incur a cost.
    • However, as per Article 21 of the Constitution, access to justice is a constitutional right which cannot be fettered or restricted.
  • According to Clause 26 of the Bill, court-annexed mediation, including pre-litigation mediation, will be conducted in accordance with the directions or rules framed by the Supreme Court or High Courts.
    • However, the Committee objected to this. It stated that Clause 26 went against the spirit of the Constitution.
  • The Bill considers international mediation to be domestic when it is conducted in India with the settlement being recognised as a judgment or decree of a court.
    • The Singapore Convention does not apply to settlements that already have the status of judgments or decrees.
    • As a result, conducting cross-border mediation in India will exclude the tremendous benefits of worldwide enforceability.
  • The Mediation Council, established to regulate the profession of mediators, may not have representation of practising mediators with adequate experience. This is unlike other professional regulators such as the Bar Council of India.  

Way Forward

  • In order to enable a faster resolution of disputes, the Bill should be implemented after discussion with stakeholders.
  • If the issues of the Bill aren’t fixed, our aspirations to become an international mediation hub for easy business transactions could be crushed before they’ve even begun.

The criterion for SC status

Relevance- GS- I- Social Empowerment


  • The Supreme Court of India has sought the most recent position of the Union government on a batch of petitions challenging the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950, which allows only members of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions to be recognised as SCs.
  • When enacted, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950, initially provided for recognising only Hindus as SCs, to address the social disability arising out of the practice of untouchability.
  • The Order was amended in 1956 to include Dalits who had converted to Sikhism and once more in 1990 to include Dalits who had converted to Buddhism.
  • Both amendments were aided by the reports of the Kaka Kalelkar Commission in 1955 and the High Powered Panel (HPP) on Minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in 1983 respectively.
  • On the other hand, the Union government in 2019 rejected the possibility of including Dalit Christians as members of SCs, rooting the exclusion on an Imperial Order of 1936 of the then colonial government, which had first classified a list of the Depressed Classes and specifically excluded “Indian Christians” from it.

Why are Dalit Christians excluded?

  • Ever since the amendment to include Sikhs as SCs in 1956, the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) has been reluctant in expanding the ambit of the Order beyond members of Hinduism or Sikhism.
  • Responding to the Ministry of Home Affairs’s (MHA) 1978 request for an opinion on the inclusion of Dalit Buddhists and Christians, the RGI had cautioned the government that SC status is meant for communities suffering from social disabilities arising out of the practice of untouchability, which it noted was prevalent in Hindu and Sikh communities.
  • It also noted that such a move would significantly swell the population of SCs across the country.
  • However, the amendment to include Buddhist converts as SCs was passed in 1990, which at the time did not require the approval of the RGI — a mandate introduced in the rules for inclusion framed in 1999.
  • In 2001, when the RGI again opined against including Dalit Christians and Muslims as SCs, it referred to its 1978 note and added that like Dalit Buddhists, Dalits who converted to Islam or Christianity belonged to different sets of caste groups and not just one, as a result of which they cannot be categorised as a “single ethnic group”, which is required by Clause (2) of Article 341 for inclusion.
  • Moreover, the RGI opined that since the practice of “untouchability” was a feature of Hindu religion and its branches, allowing the inclusion of Dalit Muslims and Dalit Christians as SCs could result in being “misunderstood internationally” as India trying to “impose its caste system” upon Christians and Muslims.
  • The 2001 note also stated that Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin had lost their caste identity by way of their conversion and that in their new religious community, the practice of untouchability is not prevalent.

Is there a case for inclusion?

  • The petitions arguing for inclusion have cited several independent Commission reports that have documented the existence of caste and caste inequalities among Indian Christians and Indian Muslims, noting that even after conversion, members who were originally from SCs continued to experience the same social disabilities.
  • This was substantiated in the First Backward Classes Commission’s report in 1953, the Report of the Committee on Untouchability Economic and Educational Development Of the Scheduled Castes in 1969, the HPP report on SCs, STs, and Minorities in 1983, the Mandal Commission Report, the report of the Prime Minister’s High-Level Committee formed in 2006, a 2008 study conducted by the National Commission for Minorities, the Ranganath Misra Commission Report and several other studies.
  • In addition to this, the petitions have argued against the proposition that caste identity is lost upon conversion, noting that even in Sikhism and Buddhism, casteism is not present and yet they have been included as SCs.
  • Furthermore, the above-mentioned reports argue that caste-based discrimination continues even after conversion, hence entitling these communities to SC status.
  • However, the Union government refuses to accept the reports of the Commissions on the basis that these reports do not have enough empirical evidence to support their claims.

The issues in the Collegium’s functioning

Relevance- GS- II- Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary


  • A meeting of the Supreme Court Collegium, comprising the Chief Justice of India (CJI), and four senior-most judges, which was called for September 30 but did not take place, was subsequently “closed without there being any further deliberation”.
  • What prevented further deliberations was the fact that the Union Law Minister, by a letter dated October 7, requested Chief Justice U.U. Lalit to nominate his successor, as the latter’s tenure ends on November 8, 2022.
  • The postponement of the meeting and its subsequent closure has invited attention to the manner in which the Collegium functions.

What is a Collegium?

  • It is a group of Chief Justice of India or CJI and the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court that decides appointments to the apex court.
  • These appointments could be in the form of elevation, when High Court judges are appointed to the Supreme Court or direct appointments when experienced lawyers may be directly appointed as apex court judges.
  • High Courts too have a collegium. They are headed by the chief justice of the court. The next two senior-most judges are part of the HC collegium.
  • However, the HC collegium only makes recommendations for appointments to HC. The final decisions are taken by a collegium of the CJI and two senior-most judges of the SC.
  • This collegium of the three senior-most SC judges also decides transfers of HC judges in the country.

Functions of Collegium

  • The Collegium system, one in which a group of the senior-most judges make appointments to the higher judiciary, has been in practice for nearly three decades.
  • Its importance lies in the fact that its opinion has primacy in the matter of appointments to the high courts and the Supreme Court, as well as transfers.
  • Its legal basis is found in a series of three judgments — usually referred to as the ‘Judges Cases’ — concerning the higher judiciary.
  • Its manner of functioning has been laid down in the form of a ‘Memorandum of Procedure’.
  • The Constitution says a Supreme Court judge is appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice of India.
  • In the ‘First Judges Case’, the court held that the consultation with the CJI should be “full and effective”.
  • The Second Judges case introduced the collegium system in 1993.
  • It ruled that the CJI would have to consult a collegium of his two senior-most judges in the apex court on judicial appointments.
  • The ‘Third Judges Case’ case in 1998, which was a Presidential reference, expanded the collegium to its present composition of the CJI and four of his senior-most judges.

How does the Collegium discharge its functions?

  • The Collegium’s functioning has been criticised for being opaque.
  • Its resolutions and recommendations are hosted on the Supreme Court’s website, giving relevant information about its decisions.
  • However, the nature of the deliberations and whether there are any internal differences of opinion on the suitability of a particular candidate are unknown.
  • It functions mainly through the system of adopting resolutions and sending them to the Union Law Ministry for further action.
  • If a proposal for appointment of a judge is returned for reconsideration, the Collegium may either drop it or reiterate it.
  • When the Collegium reiterates its decision after reconsideration, it is binding on the government.

What does the Constitution say?

  • Under Article 124, the appointment of Supreme Court judges should be made by the President after consultation with such judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court as the President may deem necessary.
  • The CJI is to be consulted in all appointments except his or her own.

What does the government say?

  • The central government has not been a supporter of the collegium system. According to the government, the current system is not transparent and can be blamed for the high number of vacancies in the judiciary.
  • It has also come under fire for not being representative enough. Women, Dalits and STs are underrepresented in the higher judiciary in India.
  • In 2014, NDA government had brought National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act to accord a major role to the executive in appointing judges to the higher judiciary. But it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Tokenisation of Cards

Relevance- GS III- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.


  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has mandated the tokenisation of credit/debit cards for online merchants from October 1.
  • Till then, card details for online purchases were stored on the servers of these merchants in order to help customers avoid keying in their details every time they shopped with that merchant.

What is Tokenisation?

  • As per the RBI’s FAQ on tokenisation updated late last month, tokenisation “refers to the replacement of actual card details with an alternative code called the ‘token’, which shall be unique for a combination of card and the token requestor (i.e. the entity which accepts the request from the customer for tokenisation of a card and passes it on to the card network to issue a corresponding token).”
  • So, if we use a mobile app or a website for online purchases, the merchant can, on our behalf but only with our explicit consent, raise a request for a token with the card issuing bank or the card network such as MasterCard.

Why is tokenisation necessary?

  • When we visit a restaurant, or even an ATM machine, it is possible for card thieves to clone our card with a skimmer, a gadget that quietly reads the magnetic strip at the back of your card.
  • Similarly, hackers can also break into online websites and mobile apps that store your credit card details.
  • Such data breaches could give con artists access to millions of cards in one go which are then sold on the dark web.
  • To help lessen the chances of such fraud, some banks have mandated the use of an OTP delivered to your registered mobile number to withdraw cash at ATMs.
  • As per the RBI annual report 2021-22, in FY20 there were a reported 2,677 cases of card fraud via the internet involving ₹129 crore.
  • While in FY21, the number of cases decreased to 2,545, it further increased to 3,596 cases in FY22 with the amount involved being ₹155 crore.

Benefits of Tokenisation

  • Even if a hacker/scammer were to get their hands on one’s token number, they would not be able to make indiscriminate use of it.
  • The token generated upon request for a specific merchant is unique to a specific card number and is usable only on that particular site or mobile app. The token is useless outside of that merchant’s ecosystem.
  • The unique token generated for a specific site is only applicable on that site and nowhere else. And if an undesirable third-party gains access to that specfic token and shops within that specific website, the chances of identifying the party are more as their login and phone details would be with the site.

Considering the increase in the number of frauds in online transactions, it is important that such steps towards consumer protection are taken by the RBI.

RBI Monitoring of Banks

Relevance- GS III- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.


  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has placed Dhanlaxmi Bank under tight monitoring with the Thrissur-based private bank’s financial position coming under greater public scrutiny.
  • The RBI’s move comes in the wake of the intense court battle waged by a group of minority shareholders against the bank’s management team over inadequate financial disclosures, rising expenses, and general mismanagement of the business.
  • Dhanlaxmi Bank’s capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR) dropped to around 13% at the end of March this year from 14.5% a year ago, prompting the RBI to take stock of the financial health of the bank.
  • Under Basel-III norms, which were adopted by financial regulators across the globe in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-08 that involved major failures in the banking system, banks are supposed to maintain their CRAR at 9% or above.
  • The RBI’s move to increase its oversight on Dhanlaxmi Bank is seen as a response to the deterioration in the bank’s capital adequacy.
  • It should be noted that Dhanlaxmi Bank’s capital adequacy has dropped below the stipulated standards in the past and it has even been placed under the prompt corrective action framework (PCA) by the RBI to deal with serious deteriorations in its financial position.
  • Under the PCA, the RBI places restrictions on lending by troubled banks and keeps a close eye on them until their financial position improves sufficiently.

Siginificance of Capital Adequacy for Banks

  • Capital adequacy ratio is an indicator of the ability of a bank to survive as a going business entity in case it suffers significant losses on its loan book.
  • A bank cannot continue to operate if the total value of its assets drops below the total value of its liabilities as it would wipe out its capital (or net worth) and render the bank insolvent.
  • So, banking regulations such as the Basel-III norms try to closely monitor changes in the capital adequacy of banks in order to prevent major bank failures which could have a severe impact on the wider economy.
  • The capital position of a bank should not be confused with cash held by a bank in its vaults to make good on its commitment to depositors.
  • The CRAR, which is a ratio that compares the value of a bank’s capital (or net worth) against the value of its various assets weighted according to how risky each asset is, is used to gauge the risk of insolvency faced by a bank.
  • The riskier a type of asset held in a bank’s balance sheet, the higher the weightage given to the value of the asset while calculating the bank’s capital adequacy ratio.
  • This causes the capital adequacy ratio of the bank to drop, thus signalling a higher risk of insolvency during crises.
  • In other words, the CRAR tries to gauge the risk posed to the solvency of the bank by the quality or riskiness of the assets on the bank’s balance sheet.

What happens next?

  • Dhanlaxmi Bank has been trying to issue additional shares in the open market through a rights issue in order to deal with its capital adequacy woes.
  • Through a rights issue, the bank will be able to raise more equity capital from existing shareholders.
  • This is in contrast to an initial public offering where shares are issued to new shareholders.
  • The additional capital could help in raising the bank’s capital adequacy ratio which is necessary to comply with regulations and serve as a buffer that absorbs any losses incurred by the bank on its loan book in the case of any crisis in the future.
  • The RBI is likely to keep a close eye on Dhanlaxmi Bank over the next few months as the bank’s ability to meet capital adequacy norms comes under greater strain.
  • The central bank may even decide to intervene in case the delay of the rights issue threatens the bank’s ability to comfortably meet the capital adequacy norms recommended under Basel-III regulations.
  • In fact, Dhanlaxmi Bank could even become an acquisition target in case its management is unable to raise the required capital.
  • In such a case, an investor with the capital required to immediately boost the bank’s capital adequacy may well find favour with the RBI.

Doctrine of Pleasure

Relevance- GS II- Parliament and State Legislatures—Structure, Functioning, Conduct of Business, Powers & Privileges and Issues Arising out of these.


  • Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and the State government have major differences over multiple issues. The latest controversy has arisen after he sought the resignation of several vice-chancellors following a Supreme Court judgment setting aside the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of a technology university.
  • As a fallout of comments made by the State’s Finance Minister, K. N. Balagopal, the Governor has also sought his dismissal from his Cabinet, declaring that he has withdrawn the pleasure of having him in the Council of Ministers.

Concept of Doctrine of Pleasure

  • The pleasure doctrine is a concept derived from English common law, under which the crown can dispense with the services of anyone in its employ at any time.
  • In India, Article 310 of the Constitution says every person in the defence or civil service of the Union holds office during the pleasure of the President, and every member of the civil service in the States holds office during the pleasure of the Governor.
  • However, Article 311 imposes restrictions on the removal of a civil servant.
  • It provides for civil servants being given a reasonable opportunity for a hearing on the charges against them.
  • There is also a provision to dispense with the inquiry if it is not practicable to hold one, or if it is not expedient to do so in the interest of national security.
  • In practical terms, the pleasure of the President referred to here is that of the Union government, and the Governor’s pleasure is that of the State government.
  • Under Article 164, the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor; and the other Ministers are appointed by the Governor on the CM’s advice. It adds that Ministers hold office during the pleasure of the Governor.
  • In a constitutional scheme in which they are appointed solely on the CM’s advice, the ‘pleasure’ referred to is also taken to mean the right of the Chief Minister to dismiss a Minister, and not that of the Governor.

What did the Supreme Court say on one Vice-Chancellor’s appointment?

  • In a case challenging the appointment of Dr. M.S. Rajasree as V-C of the APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University, Thiruvananthapuram, the Supreme Court held that her appointment was contrary to the regulations of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • The particular infirmity was that the Search Committee had identified only one candidate and recommended the name to the Chancellor for appointment.
  • Under UGC regulations, a panel of three to five names should be recommended so that the Chancellor has a number of options to choose from.

Can the governor remove ministers?

  • The constitution allows the governor to “withdraw pleasure” against ministers. However, he has no power to dismiss them, say legal experts.
  • For a governor to remove a minister, the CM has to recommend it. Only if this happens can it be considered as the governor’s pleasure. Else, it will be just a thing that the governor thought of by himself.
  • The governor in appointing the CM and ministers, in the exercise of his powers under Article 164 (1), cannot act as per his discretion and is bound to act in accordance with the advice of the CM.
  • Under Article 164 (1), he has no power to dismiss a CM or council of ministers, while acting as per his discretion.
  • It should not be interpreted as giving the governor the power to act as per his whims and fancies while exercising his discretionary powers. 
  • Also, the governor is bound to act on the advice of the council of ministers with rare exceptions. For example, he/she need not accept the advice of the council of ministers while according sanction under the Prevention of Corruption Act for prosecuting a corrupt minister.

Position of the Governor in a State

  • The governor is a de jure or the “titular” head of the government, and not an active participant in the day-to-day functioning of the government.
    • This is buttressed from the rationale adopted by the Constitution drafters, who, unlike in the US, made the position of the governor a nominated (and not an elected) one.
  • In a landmark decision of the Supreme Court in Nabam Rebia (2016), the Chief Justice-led bench held that “the exercise of executive power by the governor, is by and large notional”.
  • The office of the governor has been, time and again, described as “titular” or his powers being “notional” because the Constitution framers always imagined her discretionary powers to be for a very limited purpose.
  • In NCT Delhi v. Union of India, the five-judge bench headed by the CJI underlined that our adoption of the Westminster form of government means that the real powers vests in the elected government and governor has to be just a nominal head. He reigns but does not rule.
  • As a non-negotiable axiom for governing the nation’s fate, the Supreme Court in Kesavananda Bharati (1973) held that the “republican and democratic form of government” is one of the important basic features of the Constitution.
  • The governor may exercise his discretionary powers only in certain exceptional situations.
  • Eg., when he is to invite the single-largest party or the single-largest pre/post-poll alliance to stake its claim to form the government immediately after the elections, or while he recommends to the President under Article 356 imposition of President’s rule.
    • Even this power under Article 356 is to be used sparingly.

Governor Khan’s letter, probably written in haste, hints at a dangerous trend where governors may become entrenched sparring political actors in the politics of the state. Their duty is to ensure that the popular government elected by the people who are the real sovereign of our country complete their terms in office and in cases where it appears that the incumbent government has lost the popular mandate, governors are entitled to withdraw their pleasure and proceed as per constitutional conventions.



Reserve Bank raises rates by 50 bps, brings down growth outlook to 7%

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) recently raised the policy repo rate by 50 basis points (bps) to 5.9%.
  • The Governor Shaktikanta Das cited the ‘persistence of high inflation that necessitated the withdrawal of monetary accommodation to restrain broadening of price pressures and contain second round effects’.
  • The committee also voted by a 5:1 majority to “remain focused on withdrawal of accommodation to ensure that inflation remains within the target going forward”.
  • Noting that these actions had caused tightening of financial conditions, extreme volatility and risk aversion, he asserted: “Despite this unsettling global environment, the Indian economy continues to be resilient; there is macroeconomic stability.”
  • However, given headwinds from extended geopolitical tensions, tightening global financial conditions and a possible decline in external demand, Mr. Das said the RBI projected economic growth in FY23 at 7% down from the 7.2% it had forecast earlier.
  • The MPC, however, retained the retail inflation projection for the current fiscal year at 6.7%.
  • Retail inflation is hovering at a multi-year high, having touched 7% in August and likely to have accelerated further in September.
  • That could trigger a clause in the RBI Act that requires the central bank to spell out its strategy to bring inflation down to its target of 4%, with a tolerance band of two percentage points on either side.
Case Study can be Used: GS III- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

U.S. sanctions Indian petrochemical company for Iran oil purchases

  • In a first such move against oil shipments to India, the U.S. Treasury department announced it had imposed sanctions against a Mumbai-based petrochemical company among several entities accused of selling Iranian petroleum products.
  • The company that was accused of purchasing shipments that were then sent to China, is the first Indian entity to face the U.S. designation under unilateral sanctions passed in 2018-19, after the U.S. Trump administration’s decision to walk out of the nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.
  • While India has officially refused to endorse the “unilateral sanctions” of the U.S., the Modi government agreed to end all oil imports from Iran in 2019, that made up about 11% of India’s intake.
  • Announcing the move, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it had sanctioned the “international network of companies” that were involved in the sale of “hundreds of millions of dollars” worth Iranian petrochemical products to South Asia and East Asia.
  • Neither the Ministry of External Affairs, nor the company responded to requests for a comment on the decision, that just after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar concluded his visit to the U.S.
  • The Iranian embassy said it had no knowledge of any Indian company that was “registered to deal with such businesses”.
  • According to the Treasury department, the sanctions against the companies could be reversed if Iran returns to compliance under the JCPOA pact.
  • The U.S. and Iran have also exchanged their stands via the European Union for a “final draft” on rejoining the JCPOA.
  • So long as Iran refuses a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the U.S. will continue to enforce its sanctions on the sale of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products.
Case Study can be Used: GS II- Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests

AFSPA extended in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland for another six months.
  • Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts in Arunachal Pradesh and the areas falling within the jurisdiction of Namsai and Mahadevpur police stations in Namsai district along the Assam border, are declared as ‘disturbed area’ under Section 3 of the AFSPA 1958 for a period of six months from October 1.”
  • The ministry said nine districts and 16 police stations in four districts of Nagaland were being declared as “disturbed areas” after a review of the law and order situation in the State.
  • Later the Ministry also retained the Act in some parts of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh for another six months.
  • Effective April 1, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and State governments had considerably reduced “disturbed areas” in Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland.
  • The AFSPA was applicable in the whole of Nagaland and Assam till March 31.
  • Under Section 3 of the Act, the State governments and the MHA have concurrent powers to notify areas under the AFSPA.
  • The Act gives unbridled powers to the armed forces to kill anyone acting in contravention of law, arrest and search any premises without a warrant and protection from prosecution and legal suits without the Central government’s sanction.
  • The Centre is engaged in discussions with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah) and seven Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) to find a solution to the Naga political issue.
  • The Isak-Muivah faction, the key player in the Naga peace talks, has been demanding a separate constitution and a separate flag for the Nagas and the creation of ‘Greater Nagaland’ or Nagalim by integrating Naga-dominated areas in neighbouring Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh to unite 1.2 million Nagas.
Case Study can be Used: GS III- Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas

62% rural houses have tap water connections’

  • Around 62% of rural households in India have fully functional tap water connections within their premises, according to a survey commissioned by the Union Ministry of Water Resources to assess the functioning of the government’s marquee Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • In June, the Centre reported this figure to be 52%.
  • Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, and Puducherry reported more than 80% of households with fully functional connections, while fewer than half the households in Rajasthan, Kerala, Manipur, Tripura, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim had such connections.
  • A fully functional tap water connection is defined as a household getting at least 55 litres per capita per day of potable water all through the year.
  • Close to three-fourths of households received water all seven days a week and 8% just once a week.
  • On an average, households got water for three hours every day, and 80% reported that their daily requirements of water were being met by the tap connections.
  • The water quality in some households was tested.
    • It revealed 95% of households to have within acceptable limits of pH values.
  • Over 90% of village-level institutions were getting potable water.
  • Over half (57%) of the sampled households reported purifying water before drinking.
  • However, the report mentions a concerning problem of chlorine contamination.
  • Though 93% of the samples were reportedly free of bacteriological contamination, “most of the anganwadi centres and schools, had higher than the permissible range of residual chlorine and indicated inappropriate local dosing.
  • Thus, there is a need to monitor the correct dosing of chlorine in the pipe water supply system”, the report notes.

Case Study can be Used: GS II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

U.K. firms ask India to unravel ‘frustrating’ red tape, take ‘broader’ view on lending norms

  • Legal and regulatory impediments in India continue to be a source of “frustration” for investors looking to set up or expand operations in India, even as land acquisition and “regular delays” in Customs clearances remain problematic, the U.K. India Business Council (UKIBC) has conveyed to the Government of India (GoI).
  • The Council has urged India to take a “broader view” of priority sector lending norms for foreign banks operating in India and sought equitable tax treatment, while flagging rising instances of counterfeit product sales through e-commerce platforms as a deterrent for intellectual property (IP) owners.
  • With India and the U.K. working to seal a free trade agreement (FTA) soon, the Council has said making it easier to do business is as important as the trade pact to bolster trade and investment flows.
  • Its recent submissions to the government, based on inputs from British firms operating in the country, include a laundry list of procedural, taxation and other areas that need intervention.
  • Legal and regulatory impediments remain a frustration according to businesses.
  • Duplication of regulation wherein two sets of regulations are administered by two different arms of Government on the same issue was cited as a key issue.
  • Such duplication leads to delays and costs, and are most common in areas on the Constitution’s concurrent list of legislations, such as labour, environment, food and personal care.
  • Noting that lack of enforcement of IP rights is problematic and can stifle innovation, U.K. firms have cited examples of counterfeit items in circulation, with more instances coming up in online commerce, which has assumed greater import post-pandemic.
  • While the lower corporate tax rates, including a 15% levy for new manufacturing units incentivises investments, there is a “significant disparity” between the effective corporate tax rates for foreign firms using a “branch model”, taxed at 43.68%, compared to domestic peers who are taxed at 25.17%.
  • This serves as a major disincentive for international businesses using this model, such as banks, attributing part of the problem to the abolition of the dividend distribution tax.
Case Study can be Used:- GS- II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Remove online betting ads, Centre tells TV channels, news websites

  • The Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Monday advised news websites, OTT platforms and private TV channels to refrain from publishing or broadcasting advertisements of online betting platforms or any surrogate product depicting them.
  • Stating that any violation might invite penal action, the Ministry said despite its advisory dated June 13, 2022, some online offshore betting platforms had started using news websites as surrogate products to advertise on TV channels.
  • It pointed out that betting and gambling were illegal in most parts of India, and therefore advertisements of betting platforms could not be shown.
  • In respect of the advertisements of the surrogate news websites operated by the online betting platforms, it may be mentioned that the logos of the concerned news websites are strikingly similar to the betting platform.
  • The concerned betting platforms, and the corresponding news websites, are also not registered with any legal authority under Indian laws.
  • The Consumer Affairs Department said such companies have been advertising themselves as professional sports blogs and sports news sites, etc.
  • It provided an indicative list of online betting platforms that were using news for surrogate advertising.
  • In view of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements-2022 under the Consumer Protection Act, read with the Advertising Code under the Cable TV Network Regulation Act, advertisements of the news websites that were, in fact, surrogate promotions did not appear to be in strict conformity with the laws, said the Ministry.
  • The Ministry observed that promotional content and advertisements of betting platforms were still visible on certain news and OTT platforms.
Case Study can be Used:- GS- II Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

69% houses under PMAY in rural India are owned by women, says government

  • According to the data shared by the government, as on September 29, 2022, a total of two crore houses had been constructed out of the 2.46 crore houses that were sanctioned.
  • Of this, 69% are owned partly or completely by women.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) was launched by the Prime Minister in 2016 with the aim of constructing 2.95 crore houses.
  • The idea behind the initiative is to have “women-led” development instead of “development of women”.
  • According to the government, another initiative which has helped safeguard the health of women and children was ensuring supply of clean cooking fuel under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
  • Over 9.4 crore LPG connections have been released under the Ujjwala Yojana.
  • This scheme also received global recognition from International Energy Agency, which has described it as a major achievement in improving the environment and health of women.
  • Another scheme that has helped women gain dignity and security is the Swachh Bharat Mission under which 11.5 crore toilets were constructed in the rural areas and 70 lakh were built in the urban areas.
  • As many as 93% of women reported they are no longer afraid of contracting health infections; 92% of women said they were no longer afraid of going to the toilet in the dark of night, the report said.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States

  • With limited funds to deal with the gargantuan task of restoring degraded land and reversing desertification in the country, the government is now planning to bring convergence between the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
  • According to the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas published by the Environment Ministry in 2021, at least 30% of India’s total geographical area is under the category of “degraded land”.
  • Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Goa have more than 50% of land area undergoing desertification or degradation, while States with less than 10% land degradation are Kerala, Assam, Mizoram, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Under the PMKSY, 
  • activities such as ridge area treatment, drainage line treatment, soil and moisture conservation, rainwater harvesting, nursery raising, afforestation, horticulture and pasture development are done.
  • The Union government now wants the States to undertake these activities using MGNREGS funds, which go towards both material and wage components.
  • In 2019, the government raised its target of restoration of degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030 following a commitment made during the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14).
  • Though the Ministry has been making efforts to contribute towards meeting the international commitment, the constraints posed on economy by the pandemic restricted the target to 4.95 million hectares by 2025-26. Therefore, there is a compelling reason for the Ministry to explore alternative opportunities to fulfil the commitment, the advisory read.
  • The Rural Development Ministry is now hoping that by making use of the MGNREGS, which for the financial year 2022-23 has a budget of ₹73,000 crore, the government can scale up the area to be covered.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

Centre plans cutting coal supply to plants that don’t comply on biomass co-firing

  • India has been severely lagging in ensuring that at least 5% of coal used in thermal plants was mixed with biomass despite guidelines mandating them to do so.
  • This recalcitrance by power manufacturers has prompted the Power Ministry to consider cutting coal supply to non-compliant plants, it emerged from the proceedings of an inter-ministerial meeting of the Environment, Agriculture and Power Ministries.
  • The Power Ministry in October 2021 had decreed that all thermal power plants ensure 5% compliance by October 2022.
  • Biomass pellets have the same calorific value as coal and mixing them with coal saves consumption as well as reportedly cuts emissions.
  • The meeting to review progress of biomass co-firing in thermal power plants was held in New Delhi to prepare for the coming post-monsoon season that saw farm fires in north India and worsening air pollution.
  • Biomass from stubble, which is often burned by farmers in open fields, can be used in coal plants to reduce pollution.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III-Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment

World Bank pares India FY23 growth projection to 6.5%

  • The World Bank has trimmed its estimate for India’s growth in the current fiscal year (FY22-23) to 6.5%, one percentage point lower than its previous projection in June and compared with the last fiscal year’s 8.7% pace.
  • The estimate for the current year was revised due to ‘persistent pressures’.
  • The Indian economy is expected to speed up to 7% in the next fiscal year, before settling back down to 6.1% in FY24-25.
  • The estimates were released as part of the Bank’s twice yearly South Asia Economic Focus, titled “Coping with shocks: Migration and the road to resilience”,ahead of the World Bank IMF annual meetings.
  • With Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, the devastating floods in Pakistan, and recovery from the pandemic impacted by the war in Ukraine, recovery in the region will be uneven.
  • The economies that are more services-led are expected to “maintain a reasonable recovery trend despite headwinds”.
  • Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are more at risk and will see poverty increase in 2022.
  • The slowing in India’s growth during the current fiscal year, relative to the previous one, was because most of the COVID recovery happened last year, the report said.
  • The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, global monetary tightening, high commodity prices and interest rates impacting domestic demand, contributing to this slowing.
  • Manufacturing and services have been expanding in India since January, and growing at a rate faster than the rest of the world.
  • With a relaxing of COVID restrictions, economic activity had picked up, as had demand in contact-intensive sectors.
  • Output had grown at an estimated 13.5% (year on year) in the April –June period this year, a contraction however, relative to the preceding quarter.
  • Services and construction had expanded the fastest on the production side, the report said, and private demand had grown year on year, but this was largely due to a low base effect from the second quarter of 2021 when the economy was reeling under the delta wave of COVID.
Case Study can be Used:- GS- II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

UN Council rejects debate on Xinjiang

  • The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday voted against holding a debate on alleged abuses in China’s Xinjiang region after intense lobbying by Beijing, in a major setback for Western nations.
  • India and 10 other nations abstained.
  • The U.S. and allies presented the first draft decision to the UNHRC targeting China after former UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet gave her Xinjiang report, alleging torture, detention of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.
  • Western countries thought that by going no further than simply seeking to talk about the findings, enough other nations would not block putting it on the agenda.
  • But in a moment of drama, countries on the 47-member council in Geneva voted 19-17 against holding a debate on human rights in Xinjiang, with 11 nations abstaining.
  • Amnesty International branded the vote farcical, while Human Rights Watch said it betrayed abuse victims.
  • The nations voting against a debate were Bolivia, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Gabon, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Qatar, Senegal, Sudan, the UAE, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.
  • Argentina, Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Gambia, India, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico and Ukraine abstained. The draft decision was put forward by the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Turkey, among others.
Case Study can be Used:- GS- II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Panel to study SC status of Dalits post-conversion

  • The Union government has now formed a three-member Commission of Inquiry headed by former Chief Justice of India, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, to examine whether the Scheduled Caste (SC) status can be accorded to Dalits who have over the years converted to religions other than Sikhism or Buddhism.
  • The notification for the formation of the commission was issued few days before the Supreme Court was expected to hear the Centre’s present position on a batch of petitions seeking the inclusion of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims and the removal of religion as criterion for inclusion as SCs.
  • Currently, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 provides for only those belonging to Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist communities to be categorised as SCs.
  • When enacted, the Order only allowed for Hindu communities to be classified as SCs based on the social disabilities and discrimination they faced due to untouchability.
  • It was amended in 1956 to include Sikh communities and again in 1990 to include Buddhist communities as SCs.
  • The Department of Social Justice and Empowerment has said the commission’s inquiry will also look into the changes an SC person goes through after converting to another religion and its implications on the question of including them as SCs.
  • These will include examining their traditions, customs, social and other forms of discrimination and how and whether they have changed as a result of the conversion.
  • Noting that several representatives of existing SC communities have staunchly opposed the inclusion of converts to other religions, the government has also tasked the Justice Balakrishnan Commission with examining the impact of such a decision on these existing SC communities.
  • The petitions challenging the religion criterion for inclusion have cited several independent commission reports since the First Backward Classes Commission headed by Kaka Kalelkar in 1955 that have documented the existence of caste and caste discrimination among Indian Christians and Indian Muslims, concluding that Dalit converts continued to face the same social disabilities even after leaving the Hindu fold.
  • These include the Report of the Committee on Untouchability Economic and Educational Development Of the Scheduled Castes in 1969, the HPP report on SCs, STs, and Minorities in 1983, the Ranganath Mishra Commission Report, among others.
  • In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court in November 2019, the Union government had refused to accept these reports as evidence of continued social disabilities due to caste identity.
  • The Kalelkar Commission Report and the 1983 HPP Report were the basis for amending the Order to include Dalit Sikhs and Dalit Buddhists as SCs in 1956 and 1990 respectively.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-I- Social Empowerment

India objects to recent visit of U.S. Ambassador to PoK

  • India has objected to the United States over the recent visit of the American Ambassador to Pakistan’s visit to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
  • Reacting to the visit in early October, which the U.S. referred to as “AJK (Azaad or ‘Free’ Jammu Kashmir) of Ambassador David Blome to Muzaffarabad and other areas across the Line of Control (LoC) that India recognises as its territory, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that India had objected to both the visit and the meetings Mr. Blome held there.
  • In a press release about the visit from October 2-5, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said it aimed to “promote U.S.-Pakistan partnership and highlight the two countries’ deep economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties”, detailing the U.S. projects and investments in the area.
  • No American Ambassador has been posted to New Delhi since January 2021, when the Trump administration nominee Kenneth Juster demitted office due to issues with the confirmation of the Biden nominee Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and it is unclear if the issues will be resolved before the mid-term elections in the U.S. in November, which could delay the process further.
  • To a query, the MEA spokesperson said that India’s concerns over the U.S. package on support for F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan remained, despite the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s assertion that Pakistan used the F-16s for counter-terrorism operations.
  • On the U.S. decision on September 29 to sanction an Indian company Mumbai-based Tibalaji Petrochem for the alleged import of oil from Iran, the MEA said it was a “new development” and the government was looking into it.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

IAF all set to create a new weapon systems branch, says Air chief

  • The government has approved the creation of a Weapon System branch for officers in the Indian Air Force (IAF) which will bring all weapon systems operators of the force under one roof.
  • This is the first time since Independence that a new operational branch is being created, said IAF chief Air Chief Marshal (ACM) V. R. Chaudhari.
  • The IAF also unveiled a new digital camouflage uniform for its rank and file.
  • This will essentially be for manning of four specialised streams of Surface to Surface missiles, Surface to Air Missiles, Remotely Piloted Aircraft and weapon system operators in twin and multi crew aircraft.
  • Creation of this branch would result in savings of over ₹3,400 crore due to reduced expenditure on flying training.
  • Creation of the new branch would entail unification of all weapon system operators under one entity dedicated to the operational employment of all ground-based and specialist airborne weapon systems, a Defence Ministry statement said.
Case Study can be Used:- GS- III- Various Security Forces and Agencies and their Mandate.

At ₹7.45 lakh crore, direct tax receipts cross half the target

  • India’s net direct tax collections till October 8 in the financial year 2022-23 have risen to ₹7.45 lakh crore, more than half of the Budget targets, the Union Finance Ministry said.
  • It is an increase of 16.3% over the tax inflows during the corresponding period a year ago.
  • Based on provisional data, net personal income tax collections grew 17.35%, rising faster than corporate income tax collections that were up 16.29% net of refunds.
  • Securities Transaction Tax (STT) collections combined with personal income tax receipts, grew at a more moderate 16.25%.
  • Underlining that direct tax collections continue to register a steady growth, the Ministry said tax refunds had jumped 81% over the preceding year to touch ₹1.53 lakh crore.
  • Gross direct tax collections reached ₹8.98 lakh crore by October 8, 2022, 23.8% more than in the corresponding period of 2021-22.
  • After adjusting for refunds, net direct tax revenues now constitute 52.46% of the total Budget Estimates.
  • Net direct tax collections had crossed ₹7 lakh crore by September 17 and were 23.3% higher at the time, so there appears to have been a moderation in tax inflows in the intervening three weeks.

Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

Space economy may touch $13 bn by 2025

  • The Indian space economy is set to reach $13 billion by 2025, according to a joint report prepared by EY and the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an apex industry association of space and satellite firms in the country.
  • According to the report, the space-launch segment would grow at a CAGR of 13%, spurred by growing private participation, latest technology adoption and low cost of launch services.
  • The satellite services and application segment would form the largest share of the space economy accounting for 36% of the ecosystem by 2025.
  • On the country’s satellite-manufacturing opportunity, EY and ISpA said that in 2020, it was $2.1 billion. This would reach $3.2 billion by the year 2025.
  • The growing demand for smaller satellites is set to boost satellite manufacturing in the country. It will attract global start-ups in the sector to help incubate space tech companies here, said the report released by the Indian Space Association (ISpA) and Ernst and Young.
  • Indian space launch is expected to get a boost due to the government's positive step towards the inclusion of private players in the Indian space ecosystem.
  • The availability of low-cost satellite launch vehicles coupled with mass production will lead to demand from customers around the world.
  • “It will be key to attracting global start-ups working in the space sector and help to incubate space tech companies in India,” the report added.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

IMF cuts India’s growth forecast to 6.8% this year

  • The world, including India, will experience an overall slowdown in the next year owing to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, tightening monetary conditions globally, the highest inflation in decades, and lingering effects of the pandemic, according to the International Monetary Fund.
  • India is projected to grow at 6.8% in the current fiscal year, following 8.7% growth in fiscal year that ended March 31 as per figures released in the IMF’s October 2022 World Economic Outlook: Countering the Cost-of-Living Crisis at the start of the World Bank IMF Annual Meetings here.
  • Growth rate for this year for India has been revised downward by 0.6 percentage points relative to the IMF’s June 2022 forecast, following a weaker output in the second quarter, and subdued external demand, the IMF said. The forecast for the next fiscal year remains unaltered at 6.1%.
  • Inflation in India was above the RBI’s target, Mr. Gourinchas said, adding that the fiscal and monetary policy should be “probably be on the tightening side”.
  • The IMF has projected 6.9% consumer price inflation this year and 5.1% next year.
  • For the world as a whole, growth will slow down from 6.0% in 2021 to 3.2% in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023.
  • This is reflective of a U.S. GDP contraction in first half of 2022, a Euro Area contraction in second half, extended COVID-19 outbreaks in China and a property sector crisis.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Three lakh and counting: RTI pleas pile up at information commissions across India

  • A good 17 years after India got the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the transparency regime in the country remains a mirage with nearly 3.15 lakh complaints and appeals pending with 26 information commissions across India.
  • According to a report by Satark Nagrik Sangathan, backlog of appeals or complaints is increasing in commissions every year.
  • The number of appeals and complaints pending in 2019, from data obtained from 26 information commissions was 2,18,347.
  • In 2020, the number climbed up to 2,33,384 with data obtained from 23 information commissions, in 2021 the number was 2,86,325 with data from 26 commissions and in 2022, it was 3,14,323.
  • The highest number of pending cases was in Maharashtra at 99,722, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 44,482, Karnataka at 30,358, the Central Information Commission at 26,724 and Bihar at 21,346.
  • The report says two information commissions—Jharkhand and Tripura—out of 29 across the country have been completely defunct for 29 months and 15 months respectively.
  • Only 5% of the all positions in commissions are being occupied by women.
  • Also, several information commissions, including the Central Information Commission, are working at reduced capacity with less than the stipulated number of members being in office.
  • Under RTI law, information commissions are the final appellate authority and are mandated to safeguard and facilitate people’s right to information.
  • An analysis of penalties imposed shows that the commissions did not impose penalties in 95% of the cases where penalties were potentially imposable.
  • The report shows that in several commissions a large backlog of cases has built up, resulting in a long waiting time for disposal, as governments have failed to make appointments of information commissioners in a timely manner.
  • According to a separate report by the Transparency International, one-fourth information commissioner posts are vacant and there are only 5% (only 8) women information commissioners in the country. Out of total 165 posts of information commissioners, 42 are vacant, including two chief State information commissioners.
Case Study can be Used:- GS- II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

No more indictment under Section 66A of IT Act: Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court recently ordered States and their police forces to stop prosecuting free speech on social media under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act which was declared unconstitutional by the court in a judgment seven years ago.
  • The court found it both “distressing” and “terrible” that the police had continued to pick out people and prosecute them under the draconian Section regardless of the fact that the highest court in the country had struck down the law as “vague” and “chilling”.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit directed “all Directors General of Police as well as Home Secretaries of the States and competent officers in Union Territories to instruct their entire police force in their respective States/Union Territories not to register any complaint of crime with respect to alleged violation of Section 66A”.
  • However, the court clarified that this direction would apply only to a charge under Section 66A and not extend to other offences in a case.
  • In March 2015, the Supreme Court had found the police powers of Section 66A too wide with scant respect for individual liberty and free expression on the Internet.
  • The order had come on the basis of a petition filed by law student Shreya Singhal, who had highlighted cases of young people being arrested and charged under the ambiguous provision for their social media posts.
  • Section 66A had prescribed three years’ imprisonment if a social media message caused “annoyance” or was found “grossly offensive”. The court had concluded the provision to be vague and worded arbitrarily.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

The Interpol General Assembly meeting in Delhi

  • The General Assembly of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) is meeting in Delhi for four days from October 18.
  • This is the second time since 1997 the 195 member-strong body is holding such a large conference in India.
  • Interpol
    • Set up in 1923, the Interpol is a secure information-sharing platform that facilitates criminal investigation of police forces across the globe through collection and dissemination of information received from various police forces.
    • It keeps track of the movements of criminals and those under the police radar in various regions and tips off police forces which had either sought the Interpol’s assistance or which in its opinion will benefit from the particulars available with it.
    • Aided by state-of-the art databases and computer analytics, the Interpol operates round the clock and employs some of the best minds in the area of crime analysis and technology.
    • It aims to promote the widest-possible mutual assistance between criminal police forces.
    • It is headed by the President who is elected by the General Assembly.
    • All contact of a country’s law enforcement agency with Interpol is through the highest investigating body of the land.
    • The CBI assumes this role in India with one of its senior officers heading its exclusive Interwing (the National Central Bureaus) for collation of information and liaison with the world body.
  • Red Notice
    • It is a structured communication issued by the Interpol to all member-nations notifying the name(s) of persons against whom an arrest warrant is pending in a particular country.
  • Interpol’s future challenges
    • The rising spectre of transnational, cyber and organised crime requires a globally coordinated law enforcement response.
    • Interpol has a legacy of trust and reliability. It needs to acquire powers of sanction against a country which refuses to cooperate in implementing a Red notice.
    • It is however highly unlikely that member-nations will ever agree to dilute their sovereignty and invest the Interpol with such authority.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Important International Institutions, agencies and fora – their Structure, Mandate.

MGNREGS made up for up to 80% income loss during pandemic

  • In a first providing empirical evidence, a study conducted on the impact of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) during the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that the wages earned under the Act helped people compensate between 20% and 80% of the income loss incurred because of the lockdown.
  • The report also said that around 39% all job card-holding households interested in working under the MGNREGA did not get a single day of work in the year 2020-21.
  • The study titled, “Employment guarantee during COVID-19- The Role of MGNREGA in the year after the 2020 lockdown” conducted by Centre for Sustainable Employment, Azim Premji University, collaborative Research and Dissemination (CORD), Samaj Pragati Sahyog and NREGA consortium was released recently.
  • The study was aimed at determining the extent to which working in the programme provided income support to vulnerable households during the pandemic.
  • The team surveyed a total of eight blocks in four States — Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
  • The final report of the survey that was conducted in December 2021 said, “ For households who had not worked in the pre-COVID year but did find work during the COVID year, we find that MGNREGA earnings compensated for anywhere between 20% and 100% of income lost from other sources”.
  • The study, however, also pointed out that MGNREGA was unable to meet with the actual demand from the ground.
  • Across the eight blocks on an average 39% of households did not get a single day’s work. 
  • “This means two out of five households that needed work in the COVID year did not get even a single day of MGNREGA work. And, those households that did not get a single day of work, actually wanted 77 days of work in the year on average,” the study pointed out.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

Global Hunger Index is out, India in ‘serious’ category at rank 107

  • India ranks 107 out of 121 countries on the Global Hunger Index in which it fares worse than all countries in South Asia barring war-torn Afghanistan.
  • The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is a tool for comprehensively measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and national levels.
  • GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators – undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting and child mortality. Countries are divided into five categories of hunger on the basis of their score, which are ‘low’, ‘moderate’, ‘serious’, ‘alarming’ and ‘extremely alarming’.
  • Based on the values of the four indicators, a GHI score is calculated on a 100-point scale reflecting the severity of hunger, where zero is the best score (no hunger) and 100 is the worst.
  • India’s score of 29.1 places it in the ‘serious’ category.
    • India also ranks below Sri Lanka (64), Nepal (81), Bangladesh (84), and Pakistan (99).
    • Afghanistan (109) is the only country in South Asia that performs worse than India on the index.
    • China is among the countries collectively ranked between 1 and 17 having a score of less than five.
  • India’s child wasting rate (low weight for height), at 19.3%, is worse than the levels recorded in 2014 (15.1%) and even 2000 (17.15), and is the highest for any country in the world and drives up the region’s average owing to India’s large population.
  • Prevalence of undernourishment, which is a measure of the proportion of the population facing chronic deficiency of dietary energy intake, has also risen in the country from 14.6% in 2018-2020 to 16.3% in 2019-2021. This translates into 224.3 million people in India considered undernourished.
  • But India has shown improvement in child stunting, which has declined from 38.7% to 35.5% between 2014 and 2022, as well as child mortality which has also dropped from 4.6% to 3.3% in the same comparative period.
  • On the whole, India has shown a slight worsening with its GHI score increasing from 28.2 in 2014 to 29.1 in 2022.
  • Though the GHI is an annual report, the rankings are not comparable across different years.
  • The GHI score for 2022 can only be compared with scores for 2000, 2007 and 2014.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger.

Private projects give investment boost in Q2

  • India’s private sector investment announcements soared 66% between July and September to nearly ₹5.7 lakh crore, compared to the first quarter of 2022-23, even as there was a worrying dip in the execution rate for outstanding projects already committed to.
  • Though the first quarter (Q1) of the year had reported a 20.5% sequential dip in new investments, second quarter (Q2) was boosted by super mega projects like Vedanta’s ₹1.54 lakh crore plans to produce chips in Gujarat, driving a sharp 41% jump in investment projects, investment monitoring firm Projects Today said.
  • The second quarter uptick lifted outlays announced so far this fiscal to almost ₹13.2 lakh crore, 36.6% more than a year ago, with Central government investments rising 33.7%, private capital outlays growing a more modest 24.8% and States’ public spending plans recording a sharp 120% surge from the first half of 2021-22.
  • States’ capex plans are higher than the Central projects announced so far this year, rising from ₹1.07 lakh crore in the first half of last year to ₹2.36 lakh crore.
  • Fresh Central government outlays stand at ₹1.7 lakh crore, from ₹1.27 lakh crore in the same period of 2021-22.
  • Projects Today’s latest Projex survey also shows a sharp 87% spike, quarter-on-quarter, in manufacturing sector investments at ₹4.34 lakh crore, which accounted for more than 56% of all new investment outlays in Q2.
  • However, Electricity, Mining and Irrigation projects dropped by 59.7%, 33.8%, and 2.1%, respectively.
  • Though the value of investments is up, the number of new investment projects dropped by about 4.9% from 5,251 projects between April and September 2021 to 4,996 in the same period this year.
  • The surge in mega investment projects of over ₹1,000 crore and super mega projects worth over ₹25,000 crore this year was a key factor for this.
  • However, the firm flagged a sharp ‘alarming’ decline in the country’s project execution ratio over the past year, which tracks number of investment plans announced that are under actual implementation, from 38.06% in September 2021 to 35.05% in September 2022.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

India’s coal mines are severely under-utilised amid push for new ones

  • On average, India’s coal mines use only two-thirds of the capacity, with some large ones using only 1%, says an analysis by Global Energy Monitor (GEM), a firm that tracks utilisation of the fuel-source internationally.
  • This suggests that 99 of India’s coal mine projects, expected to yield 427 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), under development are unnecessary, and opening new coal mines would not contribute to easing short-term supply-crunches.
  • At least twice last year, India experienced severe coal crises, with more than 100 of 285 thermal power plants witnessing coal stocks fall below the critical mark of 25% of the required stock.
  • In over 50 plants, it fell below 10%. This led to power shortages in several States, including Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh. 
  • Coal mines under development threaten to displace at least 165 villages and affect 87,630 families, of which 41,508 live in areas where the predominant population is tribal communities.
  • These also threaten 22,686 hectares (ha) of agricultural land and 19,297 ha of forest, and will consume at least 168,041 kilolitres of water per day, comparable to the daily water needs of over one million people, according to GEM.
  • New mines can’t make the industry’s old problems go away. The irony of this expansion is that opening new mines today could intensify the sector’s weaknesses and inefficiencies tomorrow, especially as competition from renewables and conflicts over land use continue to emerge.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III – Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

India has potential to attract $475 billion in FDI in 5 years: report

  • Even as the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflict resulted in investor uncertainty, India has the potential to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows of $475 billion in the next five years due to the focus on reforms and economic growth, according to a report by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and EY.
  • The report noted that FDI in India has seen a consistent rise in the past decade, with FY 2021-22 receiving FDI inflow of $84.8 billion despite the impact of the pandemic and geopolitical developments on investment sentiment.
  • India is seen as an emerging manufacturing hub in global value chains, as a growing consumer market and as a hub for ongoing digital transformation.
  • In addition, in a rapidly changing geopolitical environment, India’s large and stable democracy and consistent reform measures are recognized by the MNCs (multinational company).
  • The report titled, Vision — Developed India: Opportunities and Expectations of MNCs, added that 71% of MNCs working in India consider the country an important destination for their global expansion.
  • The optimism is driven by both short-term as well as long-term prospects.
  • “A majority of MNCs feel that the Indian economy will perform significantly better in 3-5 years backed by 96% of respondents being positive about overall India’s potential,” the report said.
  • The confidence in India’s potential, the report said, stems from strong consumption trends, digitisation and a growing services sector, along with government’s strong focus on infrastructure and manufacturing.
  • The Indian government’s consistent efforts to reduce regulatory barriers is also stoking the positive perception among MNCs, it said.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

At DefExpo, India to pitch military tools to Africa, IOR countries

  • India has undertaken a transformative journey from being the largest defence importer to an exporter, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at the curtain raiser event of the 12th edition of DefExpo in Gandhinagar.
  • Two major conclaves, the second edition of both the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD) and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)-plus conclave will see India pitching its military hardware to various countries.
  • The Centre has set an ambitious target to achieve a manufacturing turnover of $25 billion, or ₹1,75,000 crore, including exports of $5 bn in aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025.
  • The government has announced a series of measures in this direction.
  • The country’s defence exports which have been growing year on year in the past few years touched ₹13,000 crore for 2021-22. For this financial year, they have reached ₹8,000 crore till now.
  • 75 countries will be participating in DefExpo.
  • Over 53 African countries have been invited for IADD to be held on October 18 and 44 for the IOR+ conclave on October 19.
  • This edition has the largest participation and is spread over 1 lakh square metres with 75 countries, 33 Foreign Ministers, 1,340 companies and 10 State pavilions.
  • India and Africa have been close friends and partners and the two sides have been conducting a dialogue.
  • This includes companies discussing with them, capacity building, and participation in tackling maritime threats like piracy and drug trafficking.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

About 41.5 crore Indians out of multi-dimensional poverty since 2005-06

  • About 41.5 crore people exited poverty in India during the 15-year period between 2005-06 and 2019-21, out of which two-third exited in the first 10 years, and one-third in the next five years, according to the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) released recently.
  • The report produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) shows that the incidence of poverty fell from 55.1% in 2005-06 to 16.4% in 2019-21 in the country and that deprivations in all 10 MPI indicators saw significant reductions as a result of which the MPI value and incidence of poverty more than halved.
  • Improvement in MPI for India has significantly contributed to the decline in poverty in South Asia and it is for the first time that it is not the region with the highest number of poor people, at 38.5 crore, compared with 57.9 crore in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The report doesn’t fully assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on poverty in India as 71% of the data from the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-2021) relied upon for MPI were collected before the pandemic.
  • The global MPI constructs a deprivation profile of each household and person through 10 indicators spanning health, education and standard of living. All indicators are equally weighted within each dimension.
  • The global MPI identifies people as multidimensionally poor if their deprivation score is 1/3 or higher.
  • Bihar, the poorest State in 2015-2016, saw the fastest reduction in MPI value in absolute terms. The incidence of poverty there fell from 77.4% in 2005-2006 to to 34.7% in 2019-2021.
  • Despite the strides made, the report notes that the ongoing task of ending poverty remains daunting. India has by far the largest number of poor people worldwide at 22.8 crore, followed by Nigeria at 9.6 crore.
  • Two-third of these people live in a household in which at least one person is deprived in nutrition.
  • There were also 9.7 crore poor children in India in 2019-2021 — more than the total number of poor people, children and adults combined, in any other country covered by the global MPI.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Issues relating to Poverty and Hunger.

‘Court cannot issue direction to frame Universal Civil Code’

  • Citizens belonging to different religions and denominations follow different property and matrimonial laws which is an “affront to the nation’s unity”, the government said in the Supreme Court.
  • Article 44 (Uniform Civil Code) divests religion from social relations and personal law, it maintained.
  • The government said the power to make laws is exclusively that of the legislature. The court cannot give a “mandamus to Parliament to make certain laws”.
  • “This is a matter of policy for the elected representatives of the people to decide and no direction in this regard can be issued by the court. It is for the legislature to enact or not enact a piece of legislation,” the Ministry said.
  • The Ministry said it had requested the Law Commission to examine “various issues relating to the Uniform Civil Code (UCC)” and make recommendations considering the sensitivity and in-depth study involved of various personal laws governing different communities.
  • The 21st Law Commission had uploaded a consultation paper titled ‘Reform of Family Law subsequently in August 2018.
  • Elaborating on the common civil code, the government said the Directive Principles of State Policy “creates an obligation upon the state to endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the country under Article 44 of the Constitution”.
  • The Ministry said the purpose of Article 44 was to strengthen the object of the ‘Secular Democratic Republic’ enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II – Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary—Ministries and Departments of the Government; Pressure Groups and Formal/Informal Associations and their Role in the Polity.

Centre to promote destinations in 15 States as part of Swadesh Darshan 2

  • Prayagraj, Chitrakoot, and Gwalior are among the cities identified in 15 States across the country to be promoted as part of India’s new domestic tourism policy which moves away from theme-based tourist circuits and focuses on revving up destination tourism.
  • The initiative is being taken as part of the first phase of the ‘Swadesh Darshan 2’ which will be kicked off in January.
  • Fifteen States are part of the first phase which include Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
  • Some of the prominent places identified are Jhansi and Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, Gwalior, Chitrakoot and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh and Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra.
  • The Swadesh Darshan scheme is 100% centrally funded and has been revamped with the mantra of “vocal for local”.
  • The Swadesh Darshan Scheme was launched by the Centre in 2014-15 for the integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits. Under the scheme, the Ministry of Tourism provides financial assistance to State governments, Union Territory Administrations or Central Agencies for development of tourism infrastructure in the country.
  • From December, the revamped scheme would be launched which seeks to enhance the contribution of tourism.
  • “To create jobs including self-employment for local communities, to enhance the skills of local youth in tourism and hospitality, to increase private sector investment in tourism and hospitality and to preserve and enhance local cultural and natural resources,” the vision document said.
  • According to the third Tourism Satellite Account for 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20, the contribution of tourism to the employment is 14.78%, 14.87% and 15.34%, respectively.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

China’s total trade surplus with India ‘surpasses $1 trillion’

  • The favourable trade balance that China has enjoyed with India, since bilateral commerce began to boom in the early 2000s, has cumulatively exceeded $1 trillion, according to estimates.
  • The trade gap has particularly widened in the past decade.
  • In 2021, annual two-way trade crossed $100 billion for the first time, reaching $125.6 billion, with India’s imports accounting for $97.5 billion, pegging the imbalance at about $70 billion.
  • Trade ties began to boom since the early 2000s driven largely by India’s imports of Chinese machinery and other equipment, up from $3 billion in the year 2000 to $42 billion in 2008, the year China became India’s largest trading partner.
  • While some economists say India’s trade imbalance with China should not be viewed in isolation — for instance, pharmaceuticals that India exports to the world require ingredients that are imported from China — some said an imbalance over an extended period of time posed problems.
  • Moreover, Chinese commitments to India to import substantially more Indian goods, particularly pharmaceuticals, have not materialised, although Chinese imports of Indian seafood is one area that has recently shown robust growth.
  • The imbalance in 2022 is set to surpass even last year’s record. In the six months ended June, India’s imports from China surged 34.5% to a record $57.51 billion, China’s trade figures released in July show.
  • India’s exports to China, however, shrank 35% and accounted for only $9.57 billion of the $67.08 billion two-way trade.
  • These surpluses are consistent, and not addressed over a period of time, this leads to the problem of a current account deficit for India.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

PM launches new mission to combat climate change

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the presence of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, launched ‘Mission LiFE’ (Lifestyle For Environment), a new initiative for sustainable and healthy lifestyle at the Statue of Unity in Gujarat.
  • Listing climate change and global warming as the main challenges before the world, the Prime Minister underlined that Mission LiFE makes the fight against climate change democratic with the contribution of everyone in their own capacity.
  • Mr. Guterres unveiled the LiFE logo and tagline and released the mission document at the event in which Union Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar and Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel were present.
  • “The launch of Mission LiFE in Gujarat is important as it was the first State to initiate measures in the direction of renewable energy and climate protection,” Mr. Modi said.
  • Setting up solar power plants, installing solar panels on canals or taking steps for water conservation in drought-prone areas were meant to fight the environmental-related calamities while setting the trends for sustainable development, he said.
  • He described Mission LiFe as a global initiative by India to help the world in its fight against climate change and lead to a sustainable way of life to achieve the sustainable development goals.
  • The fight went beyond policy making and needed wider support from individuals and community, he said and advocated the concept of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

A new initiative in Chhattisgarh is helping prisoners get out of the legal maze swiftly

  • Over 450 prisoners have walked free in Chhattisgarh after Lok Adalats — a first of its kind initiative anywhere in the country according to authorities — were set up in jails across the State on October 15.
  • The Adalats will be held every working Saturday and provide relief to undertrials, and in some cases convicted prisoners, by explaining their rights and legal options such as plea bargaining and settlement.
  • Justice Goutam Bhaduri of the Chhattisgarh High Court, who is also the Executive Chairman of the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA), visited the Central Jail in Raipur and launched these Lok Adalats at all prison complexes simultaneously through the virtual mode.
  • The objective of the exercise is swift disposal of cases and also to reduce the congestion in various jails.
  • There are over 20,000 prisoners lodged in various jails in Chhattisgarh, against a sanctioned capacity of 14,000 and of these, nearly 12,500 are undertrial.
  • All undertrials, who have been named in offences in the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC) that are heard by a judicial magistrate – such as petty theft, house trespass, and cheating, are eligible for hearing in these Adalats.
    • Additionally, those who have been arrested under preventive provisions for offences such as brawl or violation of special laws such as Excise Act or Railways Act are also eligible.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

Are critically endangered Great Indian Bustards now migrating to Pakistan?

  • The recent sighting of three Great Indian Bustards (GIBs) deep in Pakistan’s Cholistan desert has given rise to speculation that the endangered birds might have flown across the international border from India’s Desert National Park (DNP).
  • GIBs are critically endangered in Pakistan because of lack of protection and rampant hunting.
  • The GIB — the State bird of Rajasthan — is considered India’s most critically endangered bird and is protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • Its population of about 150 in Rajasthan accounts for 95% of its total world population.
  • The captive breeding of GIBs was taken up in the DNP through a project executed by the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India in 2019.
  • As many as 24 GIB chicks are being reared in DNP by a team supported by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation of United Arab Emirates.
  • As Rajasthan shares the international border with Pakistan’s Sindh and Punjab provinces, it is suspected that the GIBs might have flown across to the neighbouring country’s desert amid fears that they could become easy prey for the poachers there.
  • The GIBs reaching Cholistan was a possibility if one considers the likelihood of their stoppage at several places to consume feed and replenish their energy lost in flying.
  • They would fly to that region only if there was no feed within and outside the DNP or if they felt there was less space for movement and raising their family.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Paddy pellet scheme does not account for production cost, say entrepreneurs

  • Days after the Union Environment Ministry announced a scheme to incentivise entrepreneurs to manufacture pellets from paddy stubble, beneficiaries say that the scheme does not account for the actual costs of manufacturing and is unlikely to help with reducing pollution from stubble burning.
  • Pellets, which are manufactured out of agriculture biomass, when properly made would provide much more heat, emit fewer than 50% of the particulate matter and only a fraction of the ash from burning an equivalent amount of coal.
  • Also they constitute a reliable source of income for farmers who can sell their agriculture byproducts instead of merely burning it and causing pollution.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy estimates about 270 million tonnes of such agricultural waste is annually available in India that can produce 28,000 MW of power.
  • By comparison, about 818 million tonnes of coal was consumed by thermal power plants for producing electricity in 2021-22, according to figures from Coal India Ltd.
  • A senior official in the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which manages the scheme, told that the intent of the scheme was not to entirely subsidise every plant but assist an aspirant entrepreneur.
  • The entire outlay of the government project, described as a “one-time” scheme was ₹50 crore of which ₹40 crore was for pellet plants and ₹10 crore for torrefaction plants.
  • However, according to some the narrowing the scheme down only for those who convert paddy stubble to pellets was restrictive.
    • Sugarcane biomass from western Uttar Pradesh and mustard residue from Rajasthan too could be useful but neither of them was eligible for the government grant.
    • To solve the problem of air pollution it is not enough to reduce it to rice paddy. The benefit of the scheme must come to all.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Welfare Schemes for Vulnerable Sections of the population by the Centre and States and the Performance of these Schemes

Breathing life into a dead river

  • A small river that stopped flowing 70 years ago in Odisha’s Cuttack district is set to be rejuvenated.
  • The State government has started working on its revival plan following a recent direction from the National Green Tribunal (NGT). This is probably the first serious attempt being made to restore a river to its original shape in Odisha.
  • The Sukapaika river originated from another river, the Mahanadi, near Ayatpur village. It flowed 27.5 km before meeting the Mahanadi again at Bankala.
  • In the 1950s, the State’s water resource engineers had in their wisdom closed the Sukapaika river mouth enabling development of the Taladanda Canal System, a major canal of the State.
    • This led to the river mostly drying up.
    • The process was aggravated by agricultural encroachments that had sprung up on the riverbanks.
  • Villagers realised the importance of the river when they faced a groundwater crisis a few years ago.
  • The water table wasn’t getting recharged by the Sukapaika river anymore. Agriculture was hit and the river channel turned into a garbage ground.
  • On September 28, the NGT’s Eastern Bench directed the State government to make budgetary provision for the river’s complete rejuvenation by March 2023.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Access to palliative care only for 1-2% of those in need: data

  • Only 1-2% of the population who need palliative care have access to it in India compared to the global average of 14%, according to Health Ministry data analysis released by the health unit of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).
  • The analysis shows that while India stands at number three in terms of cancer incidence in the world, most States in the country do not even have enabling legislation or policy to integrate palliative care with treatment offered to cancer patients.
  • Currently only three States (Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra) have a palliative care policy.
  • Kerala, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, and Assam report the highest overall crude incidence rates of cancers which is greater than 130 cases per lakh population.
  • As per the report on the state of cancer incidence in the country, the financial burden for cancer treatment is highest among all diseases, making it unaffordable for over 80% of the population.
  • “The government needs to undertake efforts to include palliative care packages under reimbursement schemes of government as well as private insurance plans,’’ notes the study.
  • The Health Ministry in its response had noted that an initiative for prevention, control, and screening for non-communicable diseases has been rolled out under the National Health Mission (NHM).
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Teachers’ training key to NCF implementation, say experts

  • The National Curriculum Framework for foundational age children provides an “organic” and “well-framed” road map for teaching three- to eight-year-olds, but will be difficult to implement in the absence of proper teacher training and infrastructure support, experts say.
  • Educationists who have done substantial work in elementary methods of teaching said that the NCERT or the State Boards and the SCERTs need to involve teachers as they are the primary stakeholders.
  • Shaveta Sharma-Kukreja, CEO of the Central Square Foundation, said 
  • that the timing of the NCF was right and so was the focus on early education. Now it was for the NCERT and SCERTs to identify the gaps in the current pedagogy so that the NCF could be implemented.
  • According to Vineet Nayar, founder and chairperson of Sampark Foundation, implementation would need “frugal” and “innovative” ideas that disrupt the resistance to change and resource constraints.
  • The NCF 2022 for foundational age groups favours developing an interactive curriculum for children at various levels using story-telling techniques and real-life experiences. It says board games and stories from the Panchatantra should be used to teach children in the 6-8 age group.
  • For the first three years of the foundational stage, that is three to six years, there should not be any prescribed textbooks.
  • Rather, simple worksheets are more than sufficient to meet the curricular goals, says the document.
  • It also recommends that the mother tongue should be the primary medium of instruction for children till eight years of age, in both public and private schools.
  • English could be one of the second language options, it says, without giving any time-frame for introducing the language.
  • It is here, educationists feel, that the real challenge lies. Teachers have to be trained, whether it is on using the mother tongue or thematic concepts in pedagogy. We need to activate public and private agencies and involve Corporate Social Responsibility in teacher training.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

‘India’s exports to China growing faster than inbound shipments’

  • India’s trade equation with China has been improving in recent years with outbound shipments rising faster than imports, whose growth is being driven largely by vital raw materials and to meet demand from high-growth sectors such as telecom and power, a senior government official said.
  • China is one of India’s large trading partners, with trade flows between the two countries having grown 59% from about $72 billion in 2014-15 (FY15), to $115.4 billion in FY22.
  • India’s trade equation with China has been improving in recent years with outbound shipments rising faster than imports, whose growth is being driven largely by vital raw materials and to meet demand from high-growth sectors such as telecom and power, a senior government official said.
  • China is one of India’s large trading partners, with trade flows between the two countries having grown 59% from about $72 billion in 2014-15 (FY15), to $115.4 billion in FY22.
  • Intermediate goods account for more than a third of India’s imports from China, while capital goods constitute another 19.3%, with telecom and power sector gear being key drivers, which helped meet domestic demand in these fast-expanding sectors.
  • The major items of import from China are electronic components, computer hardware and peripherals, telecom instruments, organic chemicals, industrial machinery for dairy, residual chemicals and allied products, electronic instruments, bulk drugs and intermediates.
  • The production-linked incentive schemes for different sectors will help reduce the dependence on such imports over time, even as technical regulations framed for products such as toys, electronics, chemicals and fertilizers will check sub-standard imports.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

GEAC gives its nod for commercial cultivation of GM mustard yet again

  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) that functions under the Union Environment Ministry has yet again cleared the proposal for commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) mustard.
  • Though the GEAC cleared the proposal in 2017, the Ministry vetoed it and suggested that the panel hold more studies on the GM crop.
  • The GEAC had gone through the details submitted by the applicant, Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), and gave necessary approvals for the cultivation of GM mustard.
  • This will be the second GM crop after GM cotton that can be commercially cultivated in the country now.
  • The environmental release of mustard hybrid Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11) for its seed production and testing as per existing ICAR guidelines and other extant rules/regulations prior to commercial release.
  • Considering the application of the CGMCP, the GEAC also set certain conditions for the clearance. It includes that the approval is for a limited period of four years and is renewable for two years at a time based on compliance report.
  • External experts will visit the growing sites of the crop at least once during each season.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, – Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems; Storage, Transport and Marketing of Agricultural Produce and Issues and Related Constraints; E-technology in the aid of farmers.

ISRO to boost NavIC, widen user base of location system

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working on a series of improvements to NavIC, or India’s equivalent of the Global Positioning System (GPS), so that more people are motivated to install and use it.
  • Plans are also afoot to give it a global reach, S Somanath, ISRO Chairman, said on the sidelines of the India Space Conference.
  • NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation), or the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), is a constellation of seven satellites akin to the U.S. GPS, the European Galileo and the Russian GLONASS, and can be used to track location.
  • Though available for use in mainland India and within 1,500 km around it, the system is not in wide regular use in India primarily because mobile phones have not been made compatible to process its signals.
  • The Indian government has been pressing manufacturers to add compatibility and has set a deadline of January 2023, but media reports suggest this is unlikely before 2025.
  • There are five more satellites in the offing to replace defunct NavIC satellites that would be launched in the coming months.
  • However, to make NavIC truly “global”, more satellites would need to be placed in an orbit closer to earth than the current constellation.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

India’s imports from China surge to record high in first 9 months of year

  • India’s imports from China have risen 31% for the nine months ended September, propelling two-way trade past $100 billion and the trade deficit to a record high.
  • India imported $89.66 billion worth of goods from China in the period, the highest on record for three quarters in any year. Imports stood at $68.46 billion at the end of Q3 of 2021, which was itself a record high.
  • India’s exports to China in the first nine months of this year were, however, down by as much as 36.4% at $13.97 billion, data from China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC) showed. The trade deficit in the period grew to $75.69 billion.
  • Bilateral trade is on track to surpass last year’s record figure, but so is the deficit. In 2021, trade crossed $100 billion for the first time, reaching $125.6 billion.
  • India’s imports accounted for bulk of the trade, reaching a record high of $97.5 billion, which is almost certainly set to be exceeded this year.
  • The rising trade volume this year underlines India’s continued demand for Chinese machinery and intermediate goods, such as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), despite long-running efforts to reduce reliance on China.
  • While the fall in Indian exports, the reliance on Chinese goods in some sectors, and the widening imbalance are concerns, Indian officials say the growing imports also reflect rising demand for intermediates, which is a positive.
  • The growth in exports to India was among the highest for China’s major trading partners.
  • ASEAN remains China’s biggest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching $717 billion after Q3, up 13.8%; followed by the European Union ($645 billion, up 7.9%,), and the United States ($580 billion, higher by 6.9%).
Case Study can be Used:- GS-II-Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests. 

ISRO’s heaviest rocket successfully places 36 broadband satellites in low earth orbit

  • The Launch Vehicle Mark III (LVM3) took off from the second launchpad of the country’s only spaceport in Sriharikota.
  • The LVM3-M2 mission is a dedicated commercial mission for a foreign customer OneWeb, through NSIL.
  • It is the first multi-satellite mission with 36 OneWeb Satellites to the LEO as the heaviest Payload mass of 5,796 kg. of LVM3 till date.
  • This was the first foray of any Indian launch vehicle, other than ISRO’s workhorse PSLV, into the commercial space market. With this, India also entered the heavier launch vehicle segment of the market.
  • The mission, however, was not just about India positioning itself to capture a larger chunk of the commercial space sector (currently, India accounts only for 2 per cent of the market despite being one of the foremost space-faring countries).
  • This was the first time that this launch vehicle carried multiple satellites and launched them into low earth orbit.
  • This was also the first time any of India’s rockets carried a 5.8-tonne payload to space, the heaviest payload for the space agency to date.
  • The launch has bolstered LVM3’s credentials as a dependable vehicle, with all four of its missions being successful.
  • This is crucial as the vehicle is currently being human-rated and will carry Indian astronauts to space under the Gaganyaan mission.
  • The mission assumes significance as this was LVM3’s maiden commercial mission and also NSIL’s first with the said launch vehicle.
  • The launch of a set of OneWeb satellites on an Indian rocket could be the harbinger of a greater role India will play in a commercial launch industry straining to satisfy demand.
  • Describing the simultaneous placement of 36 OneWeb satellites into orbit a week ago as a major feat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the move would strengthen digital connectivity across the country.
Case Study can be Used:- GS-III- Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.











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