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September 2021

Needed: A tribunal for CAPF


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Security Force Court

Mains level : Paper 3- Tribunal for CAPF


There have been numerous cases of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers overstaying leave. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to issue orders to the CRPF headquarters to “include the provisions of Security Force Court (SFC), for initiating disciplinary action against the delinquent officers.

Departmental enquiries Vs SFC

  • The SFC is a purely judicial process where the guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt and the charged official is at liberty to engage a legal practitioner to defend him.
  • Departmental enquiry is a quasi-judicial proceeding where the mere element of the preponderance of probability is enough to determine guilt.
  • Though the Central Reserve Police Force Act of 1949 provides for conducting judicial trial by a Commandant in his capacity as a Magistrate, seldom is it exercised as it gets into the realm of the judicial process.
  • Hence, the conduct of a departmental enquiry is the better option.

What leads to delay in departmental enquiries against gazetted officers?

  • CRPF rules lay down the procedure for the conduct of departmental enquiries against non-gazetted ranks, and in normal circumstances, the departmental enquiries are completed within three to six months.
  • But when gazetted officers are charge-sheeted, the time taken to order the enquiries is longer.
  • Delay due to getting the views of other institutions: In the case of a gazetted officer, the other institutions like the Union Public Service Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission, the Department of Personnel and Training, and the MHA are also roped in for their views and legal opinion.
  • Dealy due to postponement: When the delinquent officers appear before the inquiring authority presence of the presenting officer and the defence assistant of the charged official is also required.
  • Even if one of them fails to appear for the hearing, the conduct of enquiry must be postponed.
  • Procedural delay: Often, the enquiry is conducted ex parte (without the presence of the charged official), so the recorded statements and other documents must be sent to the charged official.
  • Quite often, delays occur in providing certain prosecution documents to the charged official who may demand them for preparing his own defence.
  • Postal delays further aggravate the matter.
  • Since most officers are busy with operational matters, which gain priority over everything else.

Way forward

  • Appoint retired officers as inquiring authorities: The solution lies in appointing retired officers as inquiring authorities, who can afford to devote their time to the conduct of enquiries as is being done in most departments of the government.
  • Tribunal for CAPF: With increasing cases being filed in the High Courts across the country in service matters, it is high time the government considered the setting up of tribunals for the CAPFs on the lines of the Armed Forces Tribunal for defence services.
  • Retired officers of the rank of Inspectors General and Additional Directors General from the CAPFs could be part of these tribunals along with retired judges of High Courts.


Taking the steps suggested here would ensure the speedy delivery of justice and reduce the burden of the High Courts.

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The economic reforms — looking back to look ahead


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : HRC

Mains level : Paper 3- Reforms to deal with the issues after 1991 reforms


The economic reforms, so far, have been more focused on the technical nature of the economy than the system, process and people. The fundamentals need to be set right with a focus on human capital, technology readiness and productivity.

Benefits and limits of economic reforms of 1991

  • Economic reforms of 1991 — and from time to time, subsequent interjections for liberalisation of economy and trade — have enabled some credible gains for the country.
  • Benefits: Foreign exchange reserves (over $600 billion), sustained manufacturing contribution in GDP, increased share in global exports (from 0.6% in the 1990s to 1.8%), robust software exports, and sustained economic growth in the range of 6%-8% are clear indicators of its success.
  • Limits: Primary drivers of the economy — human capital, technology readiness, productivity, disposable income, capital expenditure, process innovation in setting up businesses, and institutional capacity — have not got enough recognition.

Issues affecting the Indian economy

1) Lack of Human resource capital formation

  • The human resource capital (HRC) formation, a good determinant of labour productivity, has been missing over the entire period of reforms.
  • The HRC rank for India stands at 103; Sri Lanka is at 70, China at 34, and South Korea at 27, as brought out by the Global Human Capital Report, 2017.
  • Factors responsible for low HRC: The lack of quality education, low skilled manpower, and inadequacies in basic health care have resulted in low HRC.

2) Low disposable income

  • The World Bank database on GDP for 2019 indicates the low per capita GDP in India, at $2,104 (at $6,997 in PPP terms, ranked 125th globally) against the world average of $11,429 (at $17,678 in PPP terms).
  • Low per capita GDP has direct links to low per capita family income.
  • Low wages: The report by Deloitte (Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index in 2016) reflects that the hourly wages in India have been $1.7; they are $38, $24, $20.7, and $3.3 for the United States, Japan, South Korea, and China, respectively.
  • Low wages have a direct bearing on the disposable income of families, affecting demand.

3) Low R&D expenditure

  • India’s research and development expenditure stand at 0.8% of GDP, for other fast-emerging economies such as South Korea, it is (4.5%), China (2.1%), and Taiwan (3.3%).
  • Reduced technology readiness: This low expenditure is resulting in lower capacity for innovation in technologies and reduced ‘technology readiness’, especially for manufacturing.

4) Low labour productivity: Result of low HRC and lack of technology readiness

  • The lack of HRC and low technology readiness have impacted labour productivity adversely.
  • World Bank publication of 2018 indicates that India’s labour productivity in manufacturing is less than 10% of the advanced economies including Germany and South Korea, and is about 40% of China.
  • Low productivity has unfavourable consequences for competitiveness, manufacturing growth, exports and economic growth.

5) Long time and more cost in setting up a business

  • There are difficulties in acquiring land for businesses, inefficient utilization of economic infrastructure, and in providing business services.
  • This results in a long time and more cost in setting up enterprises, resulting in a loss of creative energy of entrepreneurs.

Way forward

  • Investment in human capital and technology: First, to attract large investment in manufacturing and advanced services, at a basic level, investment in human capital and technology is a prerequisite.
  • Technology readiness: The reports by McKinsey and the World Economic Forum on advanced manufacturing suggest that Industry 4.0 will be defined by new technologies such as robotics, 3-D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), etc.
  • Consequently, efforts for technology readiness are very essential to stay competitive.
  • It demands enhancing public research and development expenditure to 2% of GDP over the next three years.
  • Strategies to enhance per capita income: There is a need to work on strategies to enhance per capita income by more wages for workers through higher skills and enhancing minimum wages, besides improving the social security net.
  • Promote business-centric approach: Using insights from the work of Nobel laureate (1993) Douglass C. North, it is necessary to build the capacity of public institutions to create a good environment for business and industry.
  • Policy reforms should lay an emphasis on process innovation and promote a business-centric approach to create a friendly ecosystem and for efficient internal supply chain management to integrate with the global supply chain.
  • Innovative nature in public policymaking: The future of the economy should be particularly viewed in the backdrop of a significant and irreversible shift in terms of reliance on the global supply chain as a result of the knowledge-intensive nature of businesses and exponential effects caused by advanced technologies under Industry 4.0, since the 2010s.
  • Therefore, the strategies adopted since the 1990s till now may not ensure adequate returns and call for innovative approaches in public policymaking.

Consider the question “The economic reforms, so far, have been more focussed on the technical nature of the economy than the system. This resulted in fundamental deficiencies. Suggest the way forward to deal with these deficiencies.”


In sum, it necessitates a systemic approach for policy reforms for setting the economic fundamentals right and to achieve higher growth.

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G20 : Economic Cooperation ahead

India appoints Sherpa for G20 Summit


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G20, G7 and its members

Mains level : G20

The government has appointed a union minister as Sherpa for the G20 summit.

Who is a Sherpa (in IR context)?

  • A sherpa is the personal representative of a head of state or government who prepares an international summit, particularly the annual G7 and G20 summits.
  • Between the G7 summits, there are multiple sherpa conferences where possible agreements are laid out.
  • This reduces the amount of time and resources required at the negotiations of the heads of state at the final summit.
  • The name sherpa—without further context—refers to sherpas for the G7 summit, but the designation can be extended to different regular conferences where the participation of the head of state is required.
  • The sherpa is generally quite influential, although they do not have the authority to make a final decision about any given agreement.
  • The name is derived from the Sherpa people, a Nepalese ethnic group, who serve as guides and porters in the Himalayas, a reference to the fact that the sherpa clears the way for a head of state at a major summit.

About G20

  • Formed in 1999, the G20 is an international forum of the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies.
  • Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85 percent of the Gross World Product (GWP), 80 percent of world trade.
  • To tackle the problems or address issues that plague the world, the heads of governments of the G20 nations periodically participate in summits.
  • In addition to it, the group also hosts separate meetings of the finance ministers and foreign ministers.
  • The G20 has no permanent staff of its own and its chairmanship rotates annually between nations divided into regional groupings.

Aims and objectives

  • The Group was formed with the aim of studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
  • The forum aims to pre-empt the balance of payments problems and turmoil on financial markets by improved coordination of monetary, fiscal, and financial policies.
  • It seeks to address issues that go beyond the responsibilities of any one organization.

Members of G20

The members of the G20 consist of 19 individual countries plus the European Union (EU).

  • The 19 member countries of the forum are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The European Union is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.

Its significance

  • G20 is a major international grouping that brings together 19 of the world’s major economies and the European Union.
  • Its members account for more than 80% of global GDP, 75% of trade and 60% of population.

India and G20

  • India has been a member of the G20 since its inception in 1999.

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Industrial Sector Updates – Industrial Policy, Ease of Doing Business, etc.

Govt. mulls allowing local sales by SEZ units sans import tag


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SEZs, Baba Kalyani Committee

Mains level : Read the attached story

The government is considering a proposal to allow producers in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to sell their output to the domestic market without treating them as imports.

What are SEZs?

  • A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is an area in which the business and trade laws are different from the rest of the country.
  • SEZs are located within a country’s national borders, and their aims include increasing trade balance, employment, increased investment, job creation, and effective administration.
  • To encourage businesses to set up in the zone, financial policies are introduced.
  • These policies typically encompass investing, taxation, trading, quotas, customs, and labor regulations.
  • Additionally, companies may be offered tax holidays, where upon establishing themselves in a zone, they are granted a period of lower taxation.

SEZs in India

  • The SEZ policy in India first came into inception on April 1, 2000.
  • The prime objective was to enhance foreign investment and provide an internationally competitive and hassle-free environment for exports.
  • The idea was to promote exports from the country and realizing the need for a level playing field must be made available to the domestic enterprises and manufacturers to be competitive globally.
  • Subsequently, the SEZ Act 2005, was enacted to provide the umbrella legal framework, covering all important legal and regulatory aspects of SEZ development as well as for units operating in SEZs.

Who can set up SEZs? Can foreign companies set up SEZs?

  • Any private/public/joint sector or state government or its agencies can set up an SEZ.
  • Yes, a foreign agency can set up SEZs in India.

What is the role of state governments in establishing SEZs?

  • State governments will have a very important role to play in the establishment of SEZs.
  • A representative of the state government, who is a member of the inter-ministerial committee on private SEZ, is consulted while considering the proposal.
  • Before recommending any proposals to the ministry of commerce and industry (department of commerce), the states must satisfy themselves that they are in a position to supply basic inputs like water, electricity, etc.

Are SEZs controlled by the government?

  • In all SEZs, the statutory functions are controlled by the government.
  • The government also controls the operation and maintenance function in the central government-controlled SEZs. The rest of the operations and maintenance are privatized.

Are SEZs exempt from labor laws?

  • Normal labor laws are applicable to SEZs, which are enforced by the respective state governments.
  • The state governments have been requested to simplify the procedures/returns and for the introduction of a single-window clearance mechanism by delegating appropriate powers to development commissioners of SEZs.

Who monitors the functioning of the units in SEZ?

  • The performance of the SEZ units is monitored by a unit approval committee consisting of a development commissioner, custom, and representative of the state government on an annual basis.

What are the special features for business units that come to the zone?

  • Business units that set up establishments in an SEZ would be entitled to a package of incentives and a simplified operating environment.
  • Besides, no license is required for imports, including second-hand machinery.

How do SEZs help a country’s economy?

  • SEZs play a key role in the rapid economic development of a country.
  • In the early 1990s, it helped China and there were hopes that the establishment in India of similar export-processing zones could offer similar benefits – provided, however, that the zones offered attractive enough concessions.
  • Traditionally the biggest deterrents to foreign investment in India have been high tariffs and taxes, red-tapism, and strict labor laws.
  • To date, these restrictions have ensured that India has been unable to compete with China’s massively successful light-industrial export machine.

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Monetary Policy Committee Notifications

Crypto is not currency, must regulate it as asset: Former RBI DG


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cryptocurrencies and Legal Tender Currency

Mains level : Issues with Cryptocurrencies

Former RBI Deputy Governor R. Gandhi made a case for treating and regulating crypto as a separate asset class with a view to enabling governments around the world to effectively deal with illegal activities associated with virtual currencies.

Why in news?

  • After quite a lot of debate over the years, people have fully understood that crypto cannot be a currency because the fundamental element of a currency that it should be a legal tender is missing in this case.
  • The general consensus among many policymakers is that it should be deemed as an asset, not as a currency, not as a payment instrument, and not as a financial instrument as there is no clear identified issuer.

What are Cryptocurrencies?

  • A cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger existing in a form of a computerized database.
  • It uses strong cryptography to secure transaction records, control the creation of additional coins, and verify the transfer of coin ownership.
  • It typically does not exist in physical form (like paper money) and is typically not issued by a central authority.
  • Cryptocurrencies typically use decentralized control as opposed to centralized digital currency and central banking systems.

How does it work?

  • Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called the blockchain.
  • Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across many computers that manage and record transactions.

What is Blockchain Technology?

  • Simply, blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and public digital ledger.
  • Blockchains are a new type of network infrastructure (a way to organize how information and value move around on the internet) that creates ‘trust’ in networks by introducing distributed verifiability, auditability, and consensus.
  • Blockchains create trust by acting as a shared database, distributed across vast peer-to-peer networks that have no single point of failure and no single source of truth.
  • No individual entity can own a blockchain network, and no single entity can modify the data stored on it unilaterally without the consensus of its peers.

Also read

Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021

Back2Basics: Legal Tender Money

  • A legal tender is a coin or a banknote that is legally tenderable for discharge of debt or obligation.
  • Coin of any denomination not lower than one rupee shall be legal tender for any sum not exceeding one thousand rupees.
  • Fifty paise (a half rupee) coins shall be legal tender for any sum not exceeding ten rupees.
  • While anyone cannot be forced to accept coins beyond the limits mentioned above, voluntarily accepting coins for amounts exceeding the limits mentioned above is not prohibited.
  • Every banknote issued by the Reserve Bank of India unless withdrawn from circulation shall be legal tender at any place in India.
  • ₹1 notes issued by the Government of India are also Legal Tender.

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Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

[pib] What is Pollen Calendar?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pollen Calender

Mains level : NA

Chandigarh now has its first pollen calendar, which can identify potential allergy triggers and provide a clear understanding for clinicians as well as allergy sufferers about their causes to help limit their exposure during high pollen loads.

What is a Pollen Calendar?

  • Pollen calendars represent the time dynamics of airborne pollen present in a particular geographical area.
  • They yield readily accessible visual details about various airborne pollen present throughout the year in a single picture.

Is this a new concept in India? Where else in the west has this calendar been used?

  • Though the concept is not essentially new, this is one of the major environmental concerns that had not been addressed for the Indian cities.
  • Such calendars are location-specific, as pollen concentrations are closely related to locally distributed flora.
  • Europe, UK and the US are using regional pollen calendars in a big way to prevent and diagnose allergic rhinitis/hay fever and predict the timing and severity of the pollen season.

Why is it important to study pollen?

  • Pollen grains are male biological structures with the primary role of fertilization, but when inhaled by humans, they may strain the respiratory system and cause allergies.
  • Pollen found suspended in air can cause widespread upper respiratory tract and naso-bronchial allergy with manifestations like asthma, seasonal rhinitis, and bronchial irritation.
  • About 20-30 percent of the population suffers from allergic rhinitis/hay fever in India, and approximately 15 percent develop asthma.
  • Pollen is considered a major outdoor airborne allergen responsible for allergic rhinitis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis in humans.

What were the key findings?

  • The study highlights the variability of crucial pollen types in different seasons.
  • Spring and autumn are two seasons when airborne pollen dominate.
  • The findings will enhance the understanding of pollen seasons, which will in turn help minimize pollen allergies.

How will a pollen calendar benefit people, especially those who have respiratory issues?

  • A pollen calendar provides a clear understanding for clinicians, as well as people with allergies to identify the potential allergy triggers and help to limit their exposure during high pollen load season.
  • The early advisories can be prepared and disseminated through media channels to the citizens so that they can use protective gear during the period when the concentration of allergic pollen will be high.

Does the study infer that gardens and parks in the city contribute to the pollen and thus there must be proper scientific tree plantation?

  • It is important to involve experts while designing parks.
  • We should try to plant trees/shrubs that release no or little pollen.
  • Trees such as palms, nettle, safeda, white mulberry (shahtoot), congress grass, pine, have a high incidence of pollen.

What kind of trees must be grown alongside our roads or in parks?

  • Plant monoecious plants (male and female flowers on the same plant).
  • Hibiscus, lilies, and holly that are grown widely in Chandigarh are examples of such plants.
  • Cucumbers and squashes are also monoecious. Select plants with low to moderate pollen production.
  • Non-allergic or entomophilous plant species should be chosen to provide an allergen-free atmosphere.
  • Examples of such plants include rose, jasmine, salvia, Bougainvillea, Raat Rani, and sunflower.

With inputs from:

Indian Express

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Oil and Gas Sector – HELP, Open Acreage Policy, etc.

Places in news: Gulf of Mexico


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gulf of Mexico

Mains level : NA

An oil spill spanning at least 10 miles has been captured by satellite imagery in waters off the Louisiana coast near the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf of Mexico

  • The Gulf of Mexico is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, largely surrounded by the North American continent.
  • It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States; on the southwest and south by the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo; and on the southeast by Cuba.
  • The US states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, which border the Gulf on the north, are often referred to as the “Third Coast” of the United States (in addition to its Atlantic and Pacific coasts).
  • It is covered with a tangle of pipes, wells and other energy infrastructure, much of it no longer used, as a result of generations of oil extraction there.

Its formation

  • The Gulf of Mexico took shape approximately 300 million years ago as a result of plate tectonics.
  • Its floor consists of sedimentary rocks and recent sediments.
  • It is connected to the part of the Atlantic Ocean through the Florida Straits between the US and Cuba, and with the Caribbean Sea via the Yucatán Channel between Mexico and Cuba.
  • Because of its narrow connection to the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf experiences very small tidal ranges.

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