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December 2019

Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

[oped of the day] Not many lessons learnt from water planning failures


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Jal Shakti Abhiyan

Mains level : Analysis of JSA


The Central government launched the Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA), a time-bound, mission-mode water conservation campaign to be carried out in two phases, across the 255 districts having critical and over-exploited groundwater levels. 

Jal Shakti Abhiyan

  • This campaign was not intended to be a funding programme and did not create any new intervention on its own. 
  • It only aimed to make water conservation a ‘people’s movement’ through ongoing schemes like the MGNREGA and other government programmes.
  • The JSA is modelled and driven by success stories such as NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh’s experiment in Alwar, Rajasthan and Anna Hazare-led efforts in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra. 
  • These projects primarily involved building tanks and ponds to capture rainwater and building recharge wells to recharge groundwater. 
  • It is unclear whether they were based on reference to watershed management or groundwater prospect maps.

Planning scientifically

  • Hydrological units – Water planning should be based on hydrological units, namely river basins. Political and administrative boundaries of districts rarely coincide with the hydrological boundaries or aquifer boundaries. 
  • JSA’s units – JSA was planned based on the boundary of the districts, and to be carried out under the overall supervision of a bureaucrat. This divided basins/aquifers into multiple units that followed multiple policies. 
  • Data – There was no data on basin-wise rainfall, no analysis of run-off and groundwater maps were rarely used. One never came to know whether water harvested in a pond in a district was at the cost of water in adjoining districts.
  • Water-stressed basins – Most of India’s water-stressed basins are facing closure, with the demand exceeding supply. Groundwater recharge happened at the cost of surface water and vice versa. The absence of autonomous and knowledge-intensive river-basin organisations is a problem.

Current Status & Limitations of data

  • The JSA’s portal displays impressive data, images and statistics. It claims that there are around 10 million ongoing and completed water conservation structures; 7.6 million recharge structures. 
  • It also says that one billion saplings have been planted and that six million people participated in awareness campaigns. 
  • Missing data – The data displayed on JSA portal do not speak anything about the pre-JSA water levels, the monthly water levels and impact of monsoon on the water levels across the 255 districts with critical and over-exploited blocks. 
  • They also don’t convey anything about the quality of the structures, their maintenance and sustainability. 
  • Even if the water levels had been measured, it is unknown whether the measurement was accurate. 
  • The results for a 2016 study conducted by the Central Groundwater Board showed that water levels always increase post-monsoon. It requires long-term monitoring of water level data to determine the actual impact of a measure like JSA. 
  • Lack of parameters – There is no such parameter to measure the outcome of such a mission-mode campaign.

Facile assumptions

  • Common people – it assumes that common people in rural areas are ignorant and prone to wasting water. They are the ones who first bear the brunt of any water crisis. 
  • Distorted allocation – The per capita water allocation to those living in rural areas is 55 liters, whereas the same for urban areas like Delhi and Bengaluru is 135-150 liters.
  • Urban waste – the sewage generated from towns and cities pollutes village water sources such as tanks, ponds, and wells.
  • Poor quality – Most of the farm bunds built with soil can collapse within one monsoon season due to rains and/or trespassing by farm vehicles, animals and humans. 
  • Supervision – there are issues like lack of proper engineering supervision of these structures, involvement of multiple departments with less or no coordination, and limited funding under MGNERGA and other schemes.
  • Water-intensive crops – no efforts were undertaken to dissuade farmers from growing water-intensive crops such as paddy, sugarcane, and bananas. Agriculture consumes 80% of freshwater.


Jal Shakti Abhiyan

Govt. to start Jal Shakti Abhiyan for 255 water-stressed districts

Citizenship and Related Issues

[op-ed snap] In the name of a majority


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : CAB and its analysis


The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) promises to give the protection of citizenship to non-Muslims who fled to India to escape religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. 

Reasonable – unreasonable

  • Religious persecution is a reasonable ground for protection. 
  • Not all communities – However, CAB does not include all communities that suffered religious persecution.
  • Muslims – It explicitly excludes Muslims who suffered persecution in the specified countries and other non-Muslim majority countries like Myanmar.


  • This is a majoritarian notion of religion-based citizenship.
  • It is not shared by the majority of people in this country.
  • Such a view is alien to the constitutional consensus which emerged in 1950.
  • Inclusive citizenship – the CAB changes completely the idea of equal and inclusive citizenship promised in the Constitution.

Arguments in support

  • It is non-discriminatory and its objectives are justifiable.
  • Moral imperative – The need of correcting a perceived past wrong — the Partition. 

Changes in citizenship law

  • With NRC – The CAB must be seen in tandem with the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and other changes in the citizenship law.
  • NRC – NRC protects the country against illegal migrants and the CAB protects refugees. 
  • Against the intent – This is incommensurate with the election speeches made by BJP leaders. Eg., Amit Shah had promised an NRC in West Bengal, but only after the passage of the CAB to ensure that no Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain and Christian refugee is denied citizenship for being an illegal immigrant.
  • The Home Minister declared that a nationwide NRC would follow soon.


  • The CAB and the NRC have become conjoined in their articulation of citizenship. 
  • The two represent the tendency towards jus sanguinis in the citizenship law in India, which commenced in 1986, became definitive in 2003, and has reached its culmination in the contemporary moment. 
  • ‘Illegal migrants’ – In 2003, the insertion of the category ‘illegal migrants’ in the provision of citizenship by birth became the hinge from which the NRC and the CAB emerged.
  • The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules of 2003 – made the registration of all citizens of India, the issue of national identity cards, the maintenance of a national population register, and the establishment of an NRC by the Central government compulsory. 
  • Registrar General of Citizen Registration is to collect particulars of individuals and families, including their citizenship status, through a ‘house-to-house enumeration’. 
  • Assam exception –Assam has followed a different procedure of ‘inviting applications’ with particulars of each family and individual and their citizenship status based on the NRC 1951 and electoral rolls up to the midnight of March 24, 1971. 
  • The purpose of the NRC is to sift out ‘foreigners’ and ‘illegal migrants’, who were referred to at different points as ‘infiltrators’ and ‘aggressors’, and a threat to the territory and people of India.

Exempting minority groups

  • Minorities – The second strand emerging from the 2003 amendment has taken the form of the CAB, which exempts ‘minority communities’, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and Christians, from three countries — Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan — from the category of ‘illegal migrants’. 
  • Inline with past exemptions – CAB brings the citizenship law in line with exemptions already made in the Passport Act 1920 and Foreigners Act 1946 through executive orders in September 2015 and July 2016. It sets a cut-off date of December 31, 2014 as the date of eligibility of illegal migrants for exemption.


  • Change in date – A PIL filed by the Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha pending before the Supreme Court has contested the deviation in the cut-off date set for Assam by the Citizenship Amendment Act 1986, March 24, 1971, from the date specified in Article 6 of the Constitution, i.e., July 19, 1948, which applies to the rest of the country. 
  • Forward cutoff – The CAB is applicable to entire India, and takes the cut-off date forward by several years.

Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC)

  • ‘Persecuted minorities’ – constitutional experts advised JPC to use a broader category, ‘persecuted minorities’, to protect the Bill from the charge of violating the right to equality in Article 14. 
  • Religious basis – The CAB uses the category ‘minority communities’ and identifies them on the ground of religion. The notifications of 2015 and 2016, which changed the Passport and Foreigners Acts, had mentioned the term ‘religious persecution’. 
  • Religious persecution – if it is the basis for making a distinction among persons, as per JPC, it could not be discriminatory, because the distinction was both intelligible and reasonable. It satisfies the standards laid down in the Supreme Court judgment in State of West Bengal vs. Anwar Ali Sarkarhabib (1952) to affirm adherence to Article 14.

Test of reasonableness

  • Supreme court laid down substantive conditions in the same verdict. 
  • Applying criteria – the criteria of intelligibility of the differentia and the reasonableness of classification, must satisfy both grounds of protection guaranteed by Article 14, i.e., protection against discrimination and protection against the arbitrary exercise of state power. 
  • Further test of reasonableness – In 2009, the Delhi High Court judgement in Naz Foundation vs. Government of NCT of Delhi referred to “a catena of decisions” to lay down a further test of reasonableness. It requires that the objective for such classification in any law must also be subjected to judicial scrutiny. 
  • Restraint – The restraint on state arbitrariness was to come from constitutional morality. B.R. Ambdkar declared that it is the responsibility of the state to protect the constitutional morality.


  • Government wishes to change the citizenship law to address the problem of refugees. 
  • The JPC refers to standard operating procedures for addressing the concerns of refugees from neighbouring countries.
  • SoPs – for refugees from the erstwhile West Pakistan, the standard operating procedure was the grant of long-term visas leading to citizenship. 
  • This law will put them through an arduous process of proving religious persecution. 
  • Immediately after Partition, ‘displaced persons’ constituted an administrative category, and citizenship files of 1950s show that process of preparation of electoral rolls was expedited.

Judicial Reforms

[op-ed snap] We need to invest in four wings of criminal justice system — police, prosecution, judiciary, prisons


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Instant justice; Criminal Justice system and need for Rule of Law


The changes in the law and procedure post the December 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder case could not curb the predators of further crime. The nation thus welcomed recent encounter of the 4 accused in the crime.

Criminal Justice -> Instant justice

  • The clamor for quick action stems from the fact that the criminal justice system has failed in the country. 
  • Delay in trials – Even if a criminal is convicted, the appeals that follow lead to a further delay of more than five years. Citizens lose faith in the law and they hero-worship officers who “encounter” these criminals. They cite examples of the Delhi 2012 accused still in Tihar and Ajmal Kasab, who was hanged six years after the gruesome killing of innocent citizens in Mumbai. 
  • Witnesses – due to the delay in trials, the witnesses lose interest or do not attend hearings. Documents are lost, seized weapons are not traceable. 
  • Officials – The investigating officers get transferred and thus can not monitor trials. The complainant gives up.
  • Conviction rate – the poor conviction rate may not attract the immediate attention of citizens but reinforces a general feeling of lawlessness.

Way ahead

  • Police investigation and presentation by the prosecutors need to improve. 
  • Session courts – Session courts need to finish cases at one go, within a week or fortnight, and not hear them in a piecemeal manner. They need to clamp down heavily on adjournments. 
  • Appeal timeline – Higher courts must dispose of appeals within a fixed time frame. 
  • Staff – Expenses for more judicial officers and their staff should be met by the Centre and state governments jointly. 
  • For a rape accused who is sentenced, his final appeal has to be disposed of within a year.
  • Organised communication – For police, medical officers, forensic experts, prosecutors, and judicial officers to work together as a team, the formal interactive sessions between them have to be organised. 
  • Training – Regular training workshops will lead to an exchange of information, knowledge-sharing and mutual trust among different wings of the criminal justice system. 


We have to invest in all four wings of the crumbling criminal justice system — police, prosecution, judiciary and prisons. India, after more than 70 years of Independence, needs to be the lighthouse for the rule of law.

Explained: Anglo-Indian quota, its history, MPs


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 331, 333

Mains level : Read the attached story

Parliament has passed the Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill, extending the reservation for SC/STs but doing away with the provision for the nomination of Anglo Indians to Lok Sabha and some state Assemblies.

Who are Anglo-Indians?

In the present context, Article 366(2) of the Constitution Of India states: “An Anglo-Indian means a person whose father or any of whose other male progenitors in the male line is or was of European descent but who is domiciled within the territory of India and is or was born within such territory of parents habitually resident therein and not established there for temporary purposes only…”

  • The Anglo-Indian community in India traces its origins to an official policy of the British East India Company to encourage marriages of its officers with local women.
  • The term Anglo-Indian first appeared in the Government of India Act, 1935.

What is the Anglo-Indian population?

  • The number of people who identified themselves as Anglo-Indian was 296, according to the 2011 Census.
  • The All India Anglo-Indian Association, on the other hand, has objected to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s claim that the community has just 296 members.

Provisions for reservation

Lok Sabha

  • Provision for nomination of two Anglo-Indians to Lok Sabha was made under Article 331 of the Constitution.
  • It says: “Notwithstanding anything in Article 81, the President may, if he is of opinion that the Anglo-Indian community is not adequately represented in the House of the people, nominate not more than two members of that community to the House of the People.”
  • The idea of such nominations is traced to Frank Anthony, who headed the All India Anglo-Indian Association. Article 331 was added in the Constitution following his suggestion to Jawaharlal Nehru.

Legislative Assemblies

  • Article 333 deals with representation of the Anglo-Indian community in Legislative Assemblies.
  • It says: “Notwithstanding anything in Article 170, the Governor of a State may, if he is of opinion that the Anglo-Indian community needs representation in the Legislative Assembly of the State and is not adequately represented therein, [nominate one member of that community to the Assembly].”
  • Currently 14 Assemblies have one Anglo-Indian member each: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, TN, Telangana, UP, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
  • The 126th Amendment does away with this as well.


  • According to the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, Anglo-Indian members of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies can take the membership of any party within six months of their nomination.
  • But, once they do so, they are bound by their party whip.
  • The Anglo-Indian members enjoy the same powers as others, but they cannot vote in the Presidential election because they are nominated by the President.

Right To Privacy

Keywords in Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various keywords mentioned in the Bill

Mains level : Personal Data Protection: Prospects and challenges

The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill, 2019, introduced in Lok Sabha this week, has been referred to a joint select committee. Here are some terms described in the Bill:

  • Data: Information that is represented in a form that is more appropriate for processing.
  • Cross-border transfer: The movement of data across nation borders
  • Data localisation: Restrictions on the transfer of data outside national borders.
  • Data processing: The analysis of data to glean patterns, turning raw data into useful information
  • Personal data: Data that identifies an individual
  • Non-personal data: Data that is anonymised, most probably because it is presented in an aggregated or summary form
  • Data principal: The individual whose data is being collected and processed
  • Data fiduciary: The entity that collects and/or processes a data principal’s data
  • Data processor: The entity that a fiduciary might give the data to for processing, a third-party entity
  • Notice: The fiduciary gives the principal a notice of the collection, including the purpose, the type of data, fiduciary contact details, the principals’ rights, and more
  • Right to correction and erasure: Principal’s right to correct and erase their data
  • Right to data portability: The right to receive the data from the fiduciary in a machine-readable format
  • The right to be forgotten: The right to restrict continuing disclosure of personal data
  • Privacy by design: Developing the product and business with privacy concerns in mind
  • Significant data fiduciaries: The Data Protection Authority labels certain as this depending on its data processing, such as volume of data, sensitivity of data, company turnover, risk of harm, and newer technologies.
  • Data protection impact assessment: The fiduciary’s internal assessment
  • Data protection officer: A representative of the fiduciary that coordinates with the Authority
  • Critical personal data: The government decides the definition from time to time and it cannot be taken outside of India at all.
  • Adjudicating officers: Officers in the DPA with the power to call people forward for inquiry into fiduciaries, assess compliance, and determine penalties on the fiduciary or compensation to the principal. Adjudication decisions can be appealed in the appellate tribunal.

Sensitive personal data

  • Data related to finances, health, official identifiers, sex life, sexual orientation, biometric, genetics, transgender status, intersex status, caste or tribe, religious or political belief or affiliation.
  • This data can only be sent abroad with Authority approval.

Data Protection Authority

  • A government authority tasked with protecting individuals’ data and executing this Act through codes of practice, inquiries, audits and more
  • The authority has four groups of tasks. In adjudication, the DPA receives grievances and handles enforcement.
  • In monitoring, it oversees internal assessments and external audits of the fiduciaries, as well as tracks data security breaches.
  • In policy, the DPA defines sensitive personal data, reasonable purposes for processing, forms of consent, and the lawful transfer of data outside of India. Finally, the Authority conducts research and awareness building about data protection.

Substance abuse in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Substance abuse in India

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has informed the Parliament about substance abuse trends in the country.

These figures were determined by a National Survey conducted in 2018 to collect state-wise data on the Extent and Pattern of Substance Use.

Substance abuse in India

  • India has 30 lakh individuals in the age group 10-17 years who consume alcohol, with a prevalence of 1.3 per cent.
  • In the same age group, 20 lakh individuals use cannabis, a prevalence of 0.9 per cent, while 40 lakh users (1.8 per cent) use opioids.
  • Sedatives and inhalant users number 20 lakh (0.58 per cent) and 30 lakh (1.17 per cent) respectively.
  • Additionally, there are over 4 lakh Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS) users (0.18 per cent), followed by 2 lakh cocaine users (0.06 per cent) and 2 lakh users of hallucinogens (0.07 per cent).
  • The ministry has formulated and is implementing a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR) for 2018-25.

Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting System (GRAF)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GRAF

Mains level : Need for accurate weather forecasting

The global IT giant IBM plans to make a high-resolution weather forecast model. It will also rely on user-generated data to improve the accuracy of forecasts available in India.


  • It is the acronym for Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting System (GRAF).
  • It is the forecast system is called, can generate forecasts at a resolution of 3 kilometres.
  • This is a significantly higher resolution than the 12-kilometre models used by the IMD to generate forecasts.
  • These weather forecast techniques rely on dynamic modelling and collect a trove of atmospheric and ocean data crunch it in supercomputers and generate forecasts over desired time-frames — three days, weekly or fortnightly.


  • Weather forecasts will be available to individuals for free download and can be used by farmers.
  • The forecast engine will also be used to provide custom forecasts for energy companies, consumer brands, insurance businesses and satellite imagery analysts.

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Trakea software for criminal investigation


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trakea

Mains level : Police and investigational reforms

Haryana Police has adopted unique bar-coding software Trakea to ensure tamper-free criminal investigation.

Why need such a system?

  • As per the conventional practice all over the country, the crime exhibits are labeled with complete details, including the case FIR number; the police station; and the names and addresses of the victim, accused, medical officers, etc.
  • With these details available, the crime exhibits can be easily traced and tracked by virtually anyone.
  • The crime exhibits could include DNA samples, documents, and reports of ballistics examinations, serology, biology, toxicology, lie-detection, etc.
  • From the time the sample is collected to the time when forensic experts draw their final conclusion, there are multiple stages where the accused can use their influence to tamper with the sample in order to get a favourable forensic report.

Trakea software

  • Essentially, it is a forensic evidence management system that helps in automation of the entire procedure, right from the stage when forensic experts collect vital samples from the scene of crime.
  • Trakea is aimed at ensuring security and a tamperproof tracking system for forensic reports. It streamlines the functioning of Forensic Science Laboratories.
  • Even the selection of forensic teams is done randomly through this software.
  • Trakea ensures foolproof security of the samples collected from the scene of crime, and the forensic analysis reports, and is different from traditional methods that the state police force has been following for decades.
  • Haryana Police claims it is the country’s first police force to have introduced this unique bar-coding for forensic reports.

Its development

  • The software was originally designed by a prisoner who was lodged in Bhondsi jail for 13 months.
  • A software engineer by profession, the man was facing charges of having murdered his wife, but was ultimately acquitted by the trial court.
  • The same software engineer had earlier designed a software digitizing data pertaining to prison inmates and prison operations across all 19 jails of Haryana.
  • Using this software, the judiciary too will be able to track the forensic examination report during the trial, significantly cutting down on delays.

Actual working

  • The system includes features of two-stage bar-coding to maintain the secrecy of the samples, sent along with a strong, unbroken biometrically authenticated chain of custody trial.
  • It is coupled with features to eliminate chances of pick-and-choose by automated case allocation to the scientists, followed by report-generation and real-time tracking of the status of cases through automated e-mail and SMS notifications.
  • Also, there will be no case details mentioned on the crime exhibits/samples/parcels except the unique bar code that can only be read through the biometric system.