September 2018
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[op-ed snap] The crackdown on civil society


Mains Paper 2: Governnance | The role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups & associations, donors, charities, institutional & other stakeholders

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need for civil society organizations in the flourishing of democracy


Recent incidents of authoritarian governance

  1. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the modern democratic state, armed with technologies of surveillance and control, possesses the kind of power that has never ever been exercised by any other state in history
  2. There is no one more vulnerable and more helpless than our rights-bearing citizen if the, otherwise, the democratic state decides to terrorise, kill and drill fear and trepidation in the mind of the body politic
  3. The only sphere that stands between the individual and the omnipresent and omnipotent state is civil society

The need for civil society organizations

  1. Civil society is a plural sphere, and all manners of associations find space for themselves here, from football clubs to reading groups to film fan societies
  2. Associations have the capacity to challenge the brute power of the state through petitions, protests, dharnas and ultimately judicial activism
  3. Given unresponsive political parties, citizens can access centres of power and privilege only through a vibrant civil society
  4. Civil liberty and human rights groups are an essential precondition for human well-being

Rise of civil society in India

  1. Every political revolution in the world has begun with the rights to life and liberty
  2. Some Indian citizens were randomly and arbitrarily imprisoned during the Emergency (1975-77) and the fundamental rights of others were truncated
  3. In the aftermath of the Emergency, the civil liberties movement made a dramatic appearance on to the scene of Indian politics
  4. The movement which developed into, or acted in concert with, the human rights movement took on an extremely significant task, that of protecting the fundamental right to life and liberty granted by the Indian Constitution

Role played by civil society

  1. Human rights groups have become the custodian of the Fundamental Rights chapter of the Indian Constitution
  2. They have investigated cases of arbitrary imprisonment, custodial deaths, deadly encounters and coercion of any citizen who dares to speak up against the state or dominant groups
  3. These organisations have carefully documented the causes and the triggers of communal and caste violence and established an excellent archive on the abuse of power by governments
  4. They have protected the rights of vulnerable sections of society i.e. Adivasis, the Dalits and Muslims

Are all civil society organizations good?

  1. Not all civil society groups are involved in good work
  2. Some are in the sole business of getting funds from the state or others
  3. Today there are few organisations that articulate the right not to be lynched, or who struggle for the right to life and liberty

Way Forward

  1. The well-known Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci, jailed by the Mussolini government in the 1920s, set out to answer a crucial question that ‘Why had a revolution occurred in semi-feudal Tsarist Russia, and not in the Western capitalist world as predicted by Marx?’
  2. He concluded that revolutions only happen when the government directly and unashamedly exercises brute power, as in Russia
  3. They do not happen in countries which possess civil societies, for here projects of domination and resistance can be played out
Human Rights Issues

[op-ed snap] India and the U.S. — it’s complicated


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 2+2 talks

Mains level: India-US partnership in recent years


2 + 2 dialogue

  1. The first round of the India-U.S. 2+2 talks at the level of External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister of India and their counterparts Secretary of State and Defence Secretary of the US is scheduled for September 6 in Delhi
  2. It appears perfectly logical when seen against the two-decade-old trend line of India-U.S. relations
  3. The trend line has not been smooth but the trajectory definitively reflects a growing strategic engagement

Strategic convergence between India & the US

  1. The end of the Cold War provided an opportunity to both countries to review their relationship in the light of changing global and regional realities
  2. With the opening of the Indian economy, the American private sector began to look at India with greater interest
  3. Another factor is the political coming of age of the three-million-strong Indian diaspora

Defense dialogues & cooperation

  1. The defence dialogue began in 1995 with the setting up of the Defence Policy Group at the level of the Defence Secretary and his Pentagon counterpart and three Steering Groups to develop exchanges between the Services
  2. The strategic dialogue covering nuclear issues shifted gears following the nuclear tests of 1998 and imposition of sanctions by the U.S.
  3. A decade later, this was formalised and enlarged into the India-U.S. Defence Framework Agreement which was renewed for 10 years in 2015
  4. Today, the U.S. is the country with which India undertakes the largest number of military exercises which have gradually evolved in scale and complexity
  5. In 2016, India was designated as a ‘Major Defence Partner’ country
  6. Another step forward in the middle of this year was the inclusion of India in the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) category, putting it on a par with allies in terms of technology access

Foundational agreements remain a challenge

  1. Acquiring U.S. high technology comes with its own set of obligations in terms of ensuring its security
  2. These take the form of various undertakings often described as foundational agreements
  3. The first of these was GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) which India signed in 2002
  4. The other three related to logistics support, communications compatibility and security, and exchanges of geospatial information
  5. Now the India-specific Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) is likely to be signed
  6. It makes it possible to install high-end secure communication equipment on U.S. platforms that we have been acquiring

Further challenges

  • The first is the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) enacted last year which enables the U.S. government to sanction countries that engage in ‘significant transactions’ with Russian military and intelligence entities
  1. The proposed purchase of the S-400 missile defence system would attract CAATSA sanctions
  2. A waiver provision has now been introduced to cover India, Indonesia and VietnamIt requires certification by the U.S. that the country concerned is gradually reducing its dependency on Russian equipment and cooperating with the U.S. on critical security issues
  3. Indian concerns on this need to be addressed
  • The second relates to U.S. sanctions on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal
  1. Iranian crude imports have grown significantly in recent years and India also stepped up its involvement in developing Chabahar port
  2. The port provides connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia
  3. The Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act (2012) contains a waiver provision in case of activities for reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan, which is a U.S. priority too

Way Forward

  1. Creative thinking will be needed in the 2+2 dialogue to overcome these challenges
  2. In order to realise the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region (2015), both countries will have to nurture the habit of talking and working together to diminish some of the prickliness in the partnership
Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

[op-ed snap] The sedition debate


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code

Mains level: Demand for abolishing the sedition clause and how justified it is


Misuse of sedition clause

  1. Rulers everywhere tend to treat trenchant criticism as attempts to excite disaffection and disloyalty
  2. That is perhaps the only reason that Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, enacted under colonial rule, remains on the statute book
  3. There have been repeated instances of its misuse
  4. Regimes at the Centre and the States have invoked the section against activists, detractors, writers and even cartoonists

Law Commission recommendation

  1. The Law Commission, for the third time in five decades, is now in the process of revisiting the section
  2. Its consultation paper calls for a thorough reconsideration and presents the various issues related to it before the public for a national debate
  3. In particular, it has raised the pertinent question: how far is it justified for India to retain an offence introduced by the British to suppress the freedom struggle when Britain itself abolished it 10 years ago?

Why opposition of sedition clause?

  1. The foremost objection to the provision on sedition is that its definition remains too wide
  2. Under the present law, strong criticism against government policies and personalities, slogans voicing disapprobation of leaders and stinging depictions of an unresponsive or insensitive regime are all likely to be treated as ‘seditious’, and not merely those that overtly threaten public order or constitute actual incitement to violence
  3. The core principle enunciated by the Supreme Court — that the incitement to violence or tendency to create public disorder are the essential ingredients of the offence — has been forgotten while using this clause multiple times

Way Forward

  1. As long as sedition is seen as a reasonable restriction on free speech on the ground of preserving public order, it will be difficult to contain its mischief
  2. There can only be two ways of undoing the harm it does to citizens’ fundamental rights:
  • It can be amended so that there is a much narrower definition of what constitutes sedition
  • The far better course is to do away with it altogether
Freedom of Speech – Defamation, Sedition, etc.

Kathmandu Declaration to Root out Terror


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: BIMSTEC, Kathmandu Declaration

Mains level: Importance of Kathmandu Declaration



  1. The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is a regional grouping comprising India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.
  2. The regional grouping’s Kathmandu Declaration focuses on backing of terror by state and non-state actors, apart from connectivity among the member nations.

Kathmandu Declaration

  1. Describing terrorism as a “great threat” to international peace and security, India and six other BIMSTEC nations on called for identifying and holding accountable states and non-state entities that encourage, support or finance terrorism, provide sanctuaries to terrorists and falsely extol their virtues.
  2. The Kathmandu Declaration deplored terror attacks in all parts of the world, including in BIMSTEC countries, and stressed that there could be no justification for any act of terrorism.
  3. The declaration did not name any specific country, but Pakistan is often comes to light for providing safe havens to terrorists.

Other Details of the Declaration

  1. The declaration underlined the importance of multidimensional connectivity, which promotes synergy among connectivity frameworks in the region, as a key enabler to economic integration for shared prosperity.
  2. The MoU signed provides for optimisation of using energy resources in the region & promotion of efficient & secure operation of power system.
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Nepal

Census 2021 to collect OBC data, use maps


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Census of India

Mains level: Read the attached story


Census 2021 to count OBCs

  1. The decennial exercise will involve 25 lakh trained enumerators and the use of maps/geo-referencing at the time of house listing is also under consideration.
  2. The decision to count the OBCs in the next Census is to get a correct perspective on the social status in the country.
  3. The enumerators will start “house listing” in 2020 and the headcount will begin from February 2021.

Socio-economic Caste Census of 2011

  1. The 2011 caste data collected as part of the SECC is yet to be released by the Centre.
  2. The National Commission for Backward Classes says there are 2,479 entries on the Central list of the OBCs.
  3. The 2011 Census collected information in 29 categories that included a separate column for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes.
  4. The OBCs would be an option in the column in 2021.

First Digital Census

  1. Presently, the “schedules” (a tabular form containing details of individuals), carried by enumerators to households was being stored in a physical form at government’s storehouse in Delhi.
  2. It is based on these schedules that the relevant statistical information on population, language, occupation, etc, are sorted from and published.
  3. The data collected during 2021 Census would be stored electronically, also a first.

Way Forward

  1. The Home Minister emphasized the need for improvement in the Civil Registration System.
  2. This was especially on registration of birth and death in remote areas, and strengthening sample registration system for estimating the data namely, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio and fertility rates.
Digital India Initiatives

No need for uniform civil code now, says law panel


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these scheme

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UCC

Mains level: Arguments in favor/against of Uniform Civil Code



The Law Commission of India said a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is neither necessary nor desirable at this stage.

A Unified Nation doesn’t need Uniformity

  1. The commission said secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country.
  2. The commission argued that cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.
  3. A unified nation does not necessarily need to have “uniformity.”
  4. Efforts have to be made to reconcile our diversity with universal and indisputable arguments on human rights, the commission said.
  5. Difference does not always imply discrimination in a robust democracy, the government’s topmost law advisory body said.
  6. The term ‘secularism’ has meaning only if it assures the expression of any form of difference.
  7. This diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority, the commission said.
  8. At the same time, it said, discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy.

Codify all personal laws

  1. It said the way forward may not be UCC, but the codification of all personal laws.
  2. This will bring to light the prejudices and stereotypes in every one of them would come to light and can be tested on the anvil of fundamental rights of the Constitution.
  3. By this, one can arrive at certain universal principles that prioritize equity rather than imposition of a Uniform Code, which would discourage many from using the law altogether.
  4. It said that matters of marriage and divorce can also be settled extra-judicially.
  5. It suggested certain measures in marriage and divorce which should be uniformly accepted in the personal laws of all religions.

Key Suggestions

  1. The panel asked for amendments in personal laws includes fixing the marriageable age for boys and girls at 18 years.
  2. This helps them marry as equals, making adultery a ground for divorce for men and women and to simplify divorce procedure.
  3. The commission said the filing of Section 498A IPC (dowry harassment) cases is actually done by women wanting a quick exit from a difficult marriage.

Polygamy- a criminal offence

  1. It suggested that nikahnamas make it clear that polygamy is a criminal offence and this should apply to “all communities.
  2. This is not recommended owing to merely a moral position on bigamy, or to glorify monogamy, but emanates from the fact that only a man is permitted multiple wives, which is unfair.
Uniform Civil Code: Triple Talaq debate, Polygamy issue, etc.

[pib] Law commission submits report on “Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies”


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICCPR, Provisions against Wrongful Prosecution

Mains level: Need for Compensation against Wrongful Prosecution.



  1. The Law Commission of India submitted its report titled ‘Wrongful Prosecution (Miscarriage of Justice): Legal Remedies’ to the Government of India.
  2. The Delhi HC in its Order in the case of Babloo Chauhan expressed grave concern about the state of innocent persons being wrongfully prosecuted, incarcerated for crimes that they did not commit.
  3. The Court highlighted the urgent need for a legislative framework for provided relief and rehabilitation to victims of wrongful prosecution, incarceration.

Global Scenario on Wrongful Prosecution

  1. Internationally, the issue is identified as ‘miscarriage of justice’ that takes place after a person has been wrongfully convicted but is later found to be factually innocent basis a new fact / proof coming to light.
  2. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’, ratified by India) also creates an obligation on the State parties to enact a law to compensate the victims of such miscarriage of justice.

Wrongful Prosecution

  1. The panel recommended ‘wrongful prosecution’ to be the standards of miscarriage of justice, as against ‘wrongful conviction’ and ‘wrongful incarceration’.
  2. ‘Wrongful prosecution’ would include cases where the accused and not guilty of the offence, and the police and / or the prosecution engaged in some form of misconduct in investigating and / or prosecuting the person.
  3. It would include both the cases where the person spent time in prison as well as where he did not; and cases where the accused was found not guilty by the trial court or where the accused was convicted by one or more courts but was ultimately found to be not guilty by the Higher Court.

Panel Asks for Remedial Measures

  1. The Report gives an overview of the remedies available under the existing laws and discusses their inadequacies.
  2. The panel recommends provision of relief to the victims of wrongful prosecution in terms of monetary and non-monetary compensation
  3. This may include counseling, mental health services, vocational / employment skills development etc. within a statutory framework.
  4. The Report enumerates the core principles of the recommended framework-
  • defining ‘wrongful prosecution’ i.e., cases in which claim for compensation can be filed,
  • designation of a Special Court to decide these claims of compensation,
  • nature of proceedings – timeline for deciding the claim, etc.,
  • financial and other factors to be considered while determining the compensation,
  • provisions  for interim compensation in certain cases,
  • removal of disqualification on account of wrongful prosecution / conviction etc.
  1. A draft Bill, articulating the aforesaid, is annexed with the Report as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Judiciary Institutional Issues

[pib] Environment Minister Releases India’s National REDD+ Strategy


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: REDD+

Mains level: The newscard discusses India’s initiative to fulfill its commitment towards Paris Agreement.


REDD+ Strategy

  1. In simple terms, REDD+ means “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”, conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.
  2. REDD+ aims to achieve climate change mitigation by incentivizing forest conservation.
  3. The strategy seeks to address drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and also developing a roadmap for enhancement of forest carbon stocks and achieving sustainable management of forests through REDD+ actions.
  4. The National REDD+ Strategy will soon be communicated to the UNFCCC.

Involving Tribal Cooperation

  1. MoEFCC has emphasized that the cooperation and involvement of the tribals, other forest dwelling people and the society as a whole, is crucial for the implementation of the REDD+ strategy.
  2. India’s National REDD+ strategy is one of the tools to achieve   India’s commitment to Paris Agreement.
  3. The REDD+ strategy will help the country to fulfill its NDC commitments and will also contribute to the livelihood of the forest dependent population.

Governing under REDD+

  1. A National Governing Council of REDD+ chaired by the Union Environment Minister at  the national level and two technical committees are being established for supporting the REDD+ implementation in the country.
  2. The REDD+ actions at the State level will be coordinated by the committee headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) & Head of Forest Force (HOFF) of the States.
  3. Paris agreement on climate change also recognizes role of forests in climate change mitigation and calls upon country Parties to take action to implement and support REDD+.

India’s NDC

  1. India has communicated in its Nationally Determined Contribution under Paris Agreement, that it will capture 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.
  2. India’s first biennial update report to UNFCCC has revealed that forests in India capture about 12% of India’s total GHG emissions.
  3. Thus, forestry sector in India is making a positive cost effective contribution for climate change mitigation.
  4. Complying with the UNFCCC decisions on REDD+, India has prepared its National REDD+ Strategy.
  5. The strategy includes India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, Green India Mission and India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to UNFCCC.
Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

[pib] IWAI Makes India’s First Standardized Modern Ship Design for Ganga a Reality


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NWAI

Mains level: The newscard talks about development of shipbuilding industry and waterways thereby reducing load of logistics and transportation from Roadways.


Boosting Domestic Shipbuilding and Navigation

  1. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) made public 13 standardized state-of-the-art ship designs suitable for large barge haulage on river Ganga.
  2. It will help overcome the unique navigation challenges river Ganga throws due to its complex river morphology, hydraulics, acute bends, shifting channels, meanders and current.
  3. It will serve as an enabler for domestic shipbuilding industry working on inland vessels and open huge possibilities for cargo and passenger movement on National Waterway-1.

Improving Carrying Capacity

  1. The Government is implementing Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on NW-1 (Varanasi-Haldia stretch) with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank.
  2. The specially designed vessels will navigate on low drafts with high carrying capacity and at the same time, environment friendly.
  3. It is specialised in low draft and high carrying capacity vessels.
  4. The new designs will translate into a savings of Rs 30-50 lakhs in the building of a vessel.
  5. The new designs will obviate the dependence of Indian Ship builders on foreign ship designs for IWT and prove to be a boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.

Freely Available Design for all

  1. Available free on the IWAI website, the designs will remove ambiguity on the class and type of vessels that can sail on river Ganga with efficient maneuverability.
  2. They will help shipyards build vessels of standardized dimensions and capacity and make them available off the shelf besides developing the ‘sale and purchase’ market for inland vessels.
  3. The designs will lead to reduced fuel costs and in turn lesser logistics costs.

Details of the Design

  1. The new designs for various categories of dry and liquid bulk carrier, Ro-Ro vessels, car carrier, container carrier, LNG carrier, Tug Barge flotilla (Table below) have been made by M/s DST, Germany.
  2. These vessels will sail even in depths of about two metres carrying about 350 cars on a five deck car carrier.
  3. Some of the designs would enable movement of bulk cargo carriers with capacity of 2500 tonnes at three metres depth.
  4. Thus it will help removing almost 150 truckloads of pressure from the road or one full rail rake with the plying of just one such vessel.
Inland Waterways

[pib] Krishna Kutir, a home for 1000 widows inaugurated


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Krishna Kutir

Mains level: Welfare measures for helpless, shelterless Women in India.



The Minister for Women & Child Development, along with CM of Uttar Pradesh, inaugurated the widows’ home ‘Krishna Kutir’ at a function at Vrindavan, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Krishna Kutir

  1. Krishna Kutir is a special home for 1000 widows set up by the Ministry of WCD under Swadhar Greh scheme of the Ministry and is the largest ever facility of its kind created by a government organization.
  2. The Ministry took cognizance of this shocking condition of widows living in Vrindavan who refused to go back to their native place or their home.
  3. In order to provide dignified and humane living conditions to them, the Ministry, as a special case, constructed this Krishna Kutir at the temple town of Vrindavan with all the required facilities
  4. Widows will be a part of various committees which will be formed to manage the widows’ home.

Particulars of the Krishna Kutir

  1. Krishna Kutir has been constructed on 1.4 hectare of land through National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) with a capacity of 1000 inmates.
  2. It has beautifully made 100 rooms/dormitories.
  3. The design of the Home has been prepared in consultation with Helpage India and is old age friendly.
  4. The facility is also equipped with a large modern kitchen and a skill cum training centre.

Why shelter for Widows?

The widows’ home has been constructed by the WCD Ministry to mitigate the plight of widows living in pathetic condition in Vrindavan.

Other Initiatives

  1.  UP Government has become the first State to link the women’s helpline 181 to the One Stop Centres.
  2. UP has also provided rescue vans for women in distress in every district.


Swadhar Greh Scheme

To read more about Scheme, navigate to this Page-

Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education