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September 2021

Foreign Policy Watch: India-Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis poses challenges for India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SAARC Currency Swap Framework 2019-2022

Mains level : Paper 2- India-Sri Lanka relations


On 31 August 2021, Sri Lanka declared a state of economic emergency, as it is running out of foreign exchange reserves for essential imports like food.

Economic cooperation with Sri Lanka

  • India is Sri Lanka’s third-largest export destination, after the US and UK.
  • More than 60% of Sri Lanka’s exports enjoy the benefits of the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect in March 2000.
  •  India is also a major investor in Sri Lanka.
  •  Foreign direct investment (FDI) from India amounted to around $ 1.7 billion over the years from 2005 to 2019.
  • Concessional financing of about $ 2 billion has been provided to Sri Lanka through various Indian government-supported Lines of Credit across sectors like railways, infrastructure and security.
  • India’s development partnership with Sri Lanka has always been demand-driven, with projects covering social infrastructure like education, health, housing etc.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had signed a currency-swap agreement with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) under the Saarc Currency Swap Framework 2019-22.

Factors responsible for economic emergency in Sri Lanka

  • Tourism: Tourism, a big dollar earner for Sri Lanka, has suffered since the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 2019, followed by the pandemic.
  • Declining FDI: Earnings fell from $3.6 billion in 2019 to $0.7 billion in 2020, even as FDI inflows halved from $1.2 billion to $670 million over the same period.
  • Debt distress: Its public debt-to-GDP ratio was at 109.7% in 2020, and its gross financing needs remain high at 18% of GDP, higher than most of its emerging economy peers.
  •  The external debt-to-GDP ratio stood at 62% in 2020 and is predominantly owed by its public sector.
  • More than $2.7 billion of foreign currency debt will be due in the next two years.

How economic crisis may push Sri Lanka to align its policies with China

  • Reliance on Chinese credit: Sri Lanka has increasingly relied on Chinese credit to address its foreign debt burden.
  • Unable to service its debt, in 2017, Sri Lanka lost the unviable Hambantota port to China for a 99-year lease.
  • Increasing bilateral trade: China’s exports to Sri Lanka surpassed those of India in 2020 and stood at $3.8 billion (India’s exports were $3.2 billion).
  • Strategic investment by China: Owing to Sri Lanka’s strategic location at the intersection of major shipping routes, China has heavily invested in its infrastructure (estimated at $12 billion between 2006 and 2019).
  • In May, Sri Lanka passed the Colombo Port City Economic Commission Act, which provides for establishing a special economic zone around the port and also a new economic commission, to be funded by China.

Implications for India

  • Relations between India and Sri Lanka seem to have plummeted since the beginning of this year.
  • In February, Sri Lanka backed out from a tripartite partnership with India and Japan for its East Container Terminal Project at the Colombo Port, citing domestic issues.
  • Sri Lanka’s economic crisis may further push it to align its policies with Beijing’s interests.
  • India is already on a diplomatic tightrope with Afghanistan and Myanmar.
  • Other South Asian nations like Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives have also been turning to China to finance large-scale infrastructure projects.

Way forward

  • Nurturing the Neighbourhood First policy with Sri Lanka will be important for India.
  • Explore possibility through regional platforms: The BIMSTEC and the Indian Ocean Rim Association could be leveraged to foster cooperation in common areas of interest like technology-driven agriculture and marine sector, IT, renewable energy, and transport and connectivity.
  • Cooperation on private sector investment: Both countries could also cooperate on enhancing private sector investments to create economic resilience.

Consider the question “How economic troubles in Sri Lanka could impact India? Suggest the way forward.”


With its economy in deep trouble, Sri Lanka may get further pushed towards China, India has to deliver on its Neighbourhood First policy to protects itself from the adverse fallout.

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Agricultural Sector and Marketing Reforms – eNAM, Model APMC Act, Eco Survey Reco, etc.

How India’s food systems must respond to the climate crisis


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EAT-Lancet diet

Mains level : Paper 3- Food system issues


This month, the UN Secretary-General will convene the Food Systems Summit. There is a proposal to have an International Panel on Food and Nutritional Security (IPFN) — an “IPCC for food,” similar to the panel on climate change.

Issues with India’s agriculture?

  • What is a food system? According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), food systems encompass the entire range of actors involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products.
  • Effects of Green Revolution: The Green Revolution succeeded in making India food sufficient, however, it also led to water-logging, soil erosion, groundwater depletion and the unsustainability of agriculture.
  • Deficit mindset: Current policies are still based on the “deficit” mindset of the 1960s.
  • Biased policies: The procurement, subsidies and water policies are biased towards rice and wheat.
  • Three crops (rice, wheat and sugarcane) corner 75 to 80 per cent of irrigated water.
  • Lack of diversification: Diversification of cropping patterns towards millets, pulses, oilseeds, horticulture is needed for more equal distribution of water, sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture.

Issues with various elements of India’s food system

1) Changes needed in India’s agriculture

  • The narrative of Indian agriculture has to be changed towards more diversified high-value production, better remunerative prices and farm incomes.
  • Inclusive: It must be inclusive in terms of women and small farmers.
  • Similarly, women’s empowerment is important particularly for raising incomes and nutrition.
  • Women’s cooperatives and groups like Kudumbashree in Kerala would be helpful.
  • Small farmers require special support, public goods and links to input and output markets.
  • Better remunerative prices: Farmer producer organisations help get better prices for inputs and outputs for small-holders.
  • The ITC’s E-Choupal is an example of technology benefiting small farmers.
  • Innovation: One of the successful examples of a value chain that helped small-holders, women and consumers is Amul (Anand Milk Union Ltd) created by Verghese Kurien.
  • Such innovations are needed in other activities of food systems.

2) Hunger and malnutrition in India

  • The NFHS-5 shows that under-nutrition has not declined in many states even in 2019-20. Similarly, obesity is also rising.
  • A food systems approach should focus more on the issues of undernutrition and obesity.
  • Safe and healthy diversified diets are needed for sustainable food systems.
  • The EAT-Lancet diet, which recommends a healthy and sustainable diet, is not affordable for the majority of the population in India.
  • Animal-sourced foods are still needed for countries like India. For instance, per capita consumption of meat is still below 10 kg in India as compared to 60 to 70 kg in the US and Europe.

3) Ensuring sustainability of food system

  • Estimates show that the food sector emits around 30 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases.
  • Sustainability has to be achieved in production, value chains and consumption.
  • How to achieve sustainability? Climate-resilient cropping patterns have to be promoted.
  • Instead of giving input subsidies, cash transfers can be given to farmers for sustainable agriculture.

4) Health and social protection

  • Food systems also need health infrastructure.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the weak health infrastructure in countries like India.
  • Inclusive food systems need strong social protection programmes.
  • India has long experience in these programmes. Strengthening India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, public distribution system (PDS), nutrition programmes like ICDS, mid-day meal programmes, can improve income, livelihoods and nutrition for the poor and vulnerable groups.

5) Role of non-agriculture

  • Some economists like T N Srinivasan argued that the solution for problems in agriculture was in non-agriculture.
  • Reduce pressure on agriculture: Therefore, labour-intensive manufacturing and services can reduce pressure on agriculture.
  • Income from agriculture is not sufficient for smallholders and informal workers.
  • Strengthening rural MSMEs and food processing is part of the solution.


India should also aim for a food systems transformation, which can be inclusive and sustainable, ensure growing farm incomes and nutrition security.

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Renewable Energy – Wind, Tidal, Geothermal, etc.

Green hydrogen, a new ally for a zero carbon future


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pink hydrogen

Mains level : Paper 3- Green hydrogen


The forthcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from November 1-12, 2021 is to re-examine the coordinated action plans to mitigate greenhouse gases and climate adaptation measures.

How Green hydrogen as a fuel can be a game changer?

  • Hydrogen is the most abundant element on the planet, but rarely in its pure form which is how we need it.
  • High energy density: It has an energy density almost three times that of diesel.
  • ‘Green hydrogen’, the emerging novel concept, is a zero-carbon fuel made by electrolysis using renewable power from wind and solar to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  • Best solution to remain under 1.5° C: The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts the additional power demand to be to the tune of 25%-30% by the year 2040.
  • Thus, power generation by ‘net-zero’ emission will be the best solution to achieve the target of expert guidelines on global warming to remain under 1.5° C.
  • Untapped potential: Presently, less than 0.1% or say ~75 million tons/year of hydrogen capable of generating ~284GW of power, is produced.

Challenges: Production and storage cost

  • The challenge is to compress or liquefy the LH2 (liquid hydrogen); it needs to be kept at a stable minus 253° C.
  • This leads to its ‘prior to use exorbitant cost’.
  • The ‘production cost’ of ‘Green hydrogen’ has been considered to be a prime obstacle.
  • The production cost of this ‘green source of energy’ is expected to be around $1.5 per kilogram (for nations having perpetual sunshine and vast unused land), by the year 2030; by adopting various conservative measures.

Experiments in India

    • The Indian Railways have announced the country’s first experiment of a hydrogen-fuel cell technology-based train by retrofitting an existing diesel engine; this will run under Northern Railway on the 89 km stretch between Sonepat and Jind.
  • The project will not only ensure diesel savings to the tune of several lakhs annually but will also prevent the emission of 0.72 kilo tons of particulate matter and 11.12-kilo tons of carbon per annum.

Way forward for India

  • India is the world’s fourth-largest energy-consuming country (behind China, the United States and the European Union), according to the IEA’s forecast, and will overtake the European Union to become the world’s third energy consumer by the year 2030.
  • It is high time to catch up with the rest of the world by going in for clean energy, decarbonising the economy and adopting ‘Green hydrogen’ as an environment-friendly and safe fuel for the next generations.


In order to achieve the goal of an alternative source of energy, adopting a multi-faceted practical approach to utilise ‘Green hydrogen’ offers a ray of hope.

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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

NDA to admit Women: Centre


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Women in Armed FOrces

The Centre gave the Supreme Court the “good news” that it had taken a decision to allow women entry into the National Defence Academy (NDA), so far a male bastion for recruitment into the Armed Forces.

About National Defence Academy

  • The NDA is the joint defence service training institute of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the three services train together before they go on to respective service academy for further pre-commission training.
  • It is located in Khadakwasla, Pune, Maharashtra.
  • It is the first tri-service academy in the world.
  • Applicants to the NDA are selected via a written exam conducted by the UPSC every year, followed by extensive interviews by the Services Selection Board.

What was the latest development?

  • Recently, the Supreme Court upheld the right of serving Short Service Commission (SSC) women officers of the Navy to be granted Permanent Commission (PC) on a par with their male counterparts.

Women in Armed Forces: Significance

  • The court ruled that women naval officers cannot be denied the right to equal opportunity and dignity entitled to under the Constitution on specious grounds such as physiology, motherhood and physical attributes.
  • The battle for gender equality is about confronting the battles of the mind.
  • History is replete with examples where women have been denied their just entitlements under law and the right to fair and equal treatment in the workplace.

Why males have ever dominated the armed forces?

  • Militaries across the world help entrench hegemonic masculine notions of aggressiveness, strength and heterosexual prowess in and outside their barracks.
  • The military training focuses on creating new bonds of brotherhood and camaraderie between them based on militarized masculinity.
  • This temperament is considered in order to enable conscripts to survive the tough conditions of military life and to be able to kill without guilt.
  • To create these new bonds, militaries construct a racial, sexual, gendered “other”, attributes of whom the soldier must routinely and emphatically reject.

Dimensions of the Issue

Gender is not a hindrance: As long as an applicant is qualified for a position, one’s gender is arbitrary. It is easy to recruit and deploy women who are in better shape than many men sent into combat.

Combat Readiness: Allowing a mixed-gender force keeps the military strong. The armed forces are severely troubled by falling retention and recruitment rates. This can be addressed by allowing women in the combat role.

Effectiveness: The blanket restriction for women limits the ability of commanders in theatre to pick the most capable person for the job.

Tradition: Training will be required to facilitate the integration of women into combat units. Cultures change over time and the masculine subculture can evolve too.

Cultural Differences & Demographics: Women are more effective in some circumstances than men. Allowing women to serve doubles the talent pool for delicate and sensitive jobs that require interpersonal skills, not every soldier has.

Hurdles for Women

Capabilities of women: Although women are equally capable, if not more capable than men, there might be situations that could affect the capabilities of women such as absence during pregnancy and catering to the responsibilities of motherhood, etc.

Adjusting with the masculine setup: To then simply add women to this existing patriarchal setup, without challenging the notions of masculinity, can hardly be seen as “gender advancement”.

Fear of sexual harassment: Sexual harassment faced by women military officers is a global phenomenon that remains largely unaddressed, and women often face retaliation when they do complain.

Gender progressiveness could be an illusion: Women’s inclusion is criticized as just another manoeuvre to camouflage women’s subjugation and service as women’s liberation.

Battle of ‘Acceptance’: Acceptance of women in the military has not been smooth in any country. Every army has to mould the attitude of its society at large and male soldiers in particular to enhance acceptability of women in the military.

Job Satisfaction: Most women feel that their competence is not given due recognition. Seniors tend to be over-indulgent without valuing their views. They are generally marginalised and not involved in any major decision-making.

Doubts about Role Definition: The profession of arms is all about violence and brutality. To kill another human is not moral but soldiers are trained to kill.

Physical and Physiological Issues: The natural physical differences in stature, strength, and body composition between the sexes make women more vulnerable to certain types of injuries and medical problems. The natural processes of menstruation and pregnancy make women particularly vulnerable in combat situations.

Comfort Level: Most women accepted the fact that their presence amongst males tends to make the environment ‘formal and stiff’. The mutual comfort level between men and women colleagues is often very low.


  • Concern for equality of sexes or political expediency should not influence defence policies.
  • Armed forces have been constituted with the sole purpose of ensuring defence of the country and all policy decisions should be guided by this overriding factor.
  • All matters concerning defence of the country have to be considered in a dispassionate manner.
  • No decision should be taken which even remotely affects the cohesiveness and efficiency of the military.

Way ahead

  • Induction of women into armed forces should be on the basis of their abilities and not on the basis of their gender.
  • The training for both women and men should be standardized to eliminate differentiation based on physical capabilities.
  • The career aspects and opportunities for women need to be viewed holistically keeping the final aim in focus.

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Minority Issues – SC, ST, Dalits, OBC, Reservations, etc.

Domicile Based Job Quota


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 16

Mains level : Equal opportunity enshrined in Constitution

The Jharkhand Assembly has passed a Bill, which provides 75% reservation for local people in the private sector up to ₹40,000 salary a month.

Try answering this PYQ first:

Q.One of the implications of equality in society is the absence of- (CSP 2018)

(a) Privileges

(b) Restraints

(c) Competition

(d) Ideology

What is the move?

  • Every employer shall register such employees receiving gross monthly salary as wages not more than ₹ 40,000 as the limit notified by the government from time to time on the designated portal within three months of the Act coming into force.
  • Every employer shall fill up 75% of the total existing vacancies on the date of notification of this Act and subsequent thereto by local candidates with respect to such posts where the gross monthly salary or wages are not more than ₹40,000”.
  • The Bill provides for the local MLA to supervise the employment procedure and issue directions to the employer concerned as it may deem fit.

Other such states

  • Once notified, Jharkhand will become the third State in the country, after Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, to pass such law.
  • In 2019, Andhra Pradesh passed such law, while in June last, Haryana passed law, reserving 75% quota for the local people in private jobs with monthly salary less than ₹50,000.

What is Quota for Locals?

Ans. Constitutional provision for Equal Treatment

  • Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees equal treatment under the law in matters of public employment. It prohibits the state from discriminating on grounds of place of birth or residence.
  • Article 16(2) states that “no citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect of, any employment or office under the State”.
  • The provision is supplemented by the other clauses in the Constitution that guarantee equality.
  • However, Article 16(3) of the Constitution provides an exception by saying that Parliament may make a law “prescribing” a requirement of residence for jobs in a particular state.
  • This power vests solely in the Parliament, not state legislatures.

Why does the Constitution prohibit reservation based on domicile?

  • When the Constitution came into force, India turned itself into one nation from a geographical unit of individual principalities and the idea of the universality of Indian citizenship took root.
  • India has single citizenship, and it gives citizens the liberty to move around freely in any part of the country.
  • Hence the requirement of a place of birth or residence cannot be qualifications for granting public employment in any state.

But are reservations not granted on other grounds such as caste?

  • Equality enshrined in the Constitution is not mathematical equality and does not mean all citizens will be treated alike without any distinction.
  • To this effect, the Constitution underlines two distinct aspects which together form the essence of equality law:
  1. Non-discrimination among equals, and
  2. Affirmative action to equalize the unequal

Supreme Court rulings on quota for locals

  • The Supreme Court has ruled against reservation based on place of birth or residence.
  • In 1984, ruling in Dr Pradeep Jain v Union of India, the issue of legislation for “sons of the soil” was discussed.
  • The court expressed an opinion that such policies would be unconstitutional but did not expressly rule on it as the case was on different aspects of the right to equality.
  • In a subsequent ruling in Sunanda Reddy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1995), the Supreme Court affirmed the observation in 1984 ruling to strike down a state government policy that gave 5% extra weightage to candidates.
  • In 2002, the Supreme Court invalidated appointment of government teachers in Rajasthan in which the state selection board gave preference to “applicants belonging to the district or the rural areas of the district concerned”.
  • In 2019, the Allahabad HC struck down a recruitment notification by the UP PSC which prescribed preference for women who are “original residents” of the UP alone.

Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Produce

Issues related to MSP


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MSP system, Crop Seasons in India

Mains level : MSP Mechanism

The Centre has increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for various crops ahead of the upcoming rabi season harvest.

Answer this PYQ from CSP 2018

Q.Consider the following:

  1. Areca nut
  2. Barley
  3. Coffee
  4. Finger millet
  5. Groundnut
  6. Sesamum
  7. Turmeric

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has announced the Minimum Support Price for which of the above?

(a) 1, 2, 3 and 7 only

(b) 2, 4, 5 and 6 only

(c) 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7


Post your answers here.

What is the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system?

  • MSP is a form of market intervention by the Govt. of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices.
  • MSP is price fixed by GoI to protect the producer – farmers – against excessive falls in price during bumper production years.

Who announces it?

  • MSP is announced at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on recommendations by Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices(CACP) and announced by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the PM of India.

Why MSP?

  • The major objectives are to support the farmers from distress sales and to procure food grains for public distribution.
  • They are a guaranteed price for their produce from the Government.
  • In case the market price for the commodity falls below the announced MSP due to bumper production and glut in the market, government agencies purchase the entire quantity offered by the farmers at the announced MSP.

Historical perspective

  • Till the mid-1970s, Government announced two types of administered prices:
  1. Minimum Support Prices (MSP)
  2. Procurement Prices
  • The MSPs served as the floor prices and were fixed by the Govt. in the nature of a long-term guarantee for investment decisions of producers, with the assurance that prices of their commodities would not be allowed to fall below the level fixed by the Government, even in the case of a bumper crop.
  • Procurement prices were the prices of Kharif and rabi cereals at which the grain was to be domestically procured by public agencies (like the FCI) for release through PDS.
  • It was announced soon after harvest began.
  • Normally procurement price was lower than the open market price and higher than the MSP.

Crops Covered

  1. Government announces minimum support prices (MSPs) for 22 mandated crops and fair and remunerative prices (FRP) for sugarcane.
  2. The mandated crops are 14 crops of the kharif season, 6 rabi crops and two other commercial crops.
  3. The list of crops is as follows:
  • Cereals (7) – paddy, wheat, barley, jowar, bajra, maize and ragi
  • Pulses (5) – gram, arhar/tur, moong, urad and lentil
  • Oilseeds (8) – groundnut, rapeseed/mustard, toria, soyabean, sunflower seed, sesamum, safflower seed, and nigerseed
  • Raw cotton
  • Raw jute
  • Copra
  • De-husked coconut
  • Sugarcane (Fair and remunerative price)
  • Virginia flu cured (VFC) tobacco

Exception for Sugar

  • The pricing of sugarcane is governed by the statutory provisions of the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966 issued under the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), 1955.
  • Prior to the 2009-10 sugar season, the Central Government was fixing the Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) of sugarcane, and farmers were entitled to share profits of a sugar mill on a 50:50 basis.
  • As this sharing of profits remained virtually unimplemented, the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966 was amended in October 2009 and the concept of SMP was replaced by the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane.

Back2Basics: Rabi and Kharif Crops

Rabi Crops Kharif Crops
·         Rabi crops are sown at the end of monsoon or the beginning of winter. They are also known as winter crops. ·         Kharif crops are sown at the beginning of the rainy season and are also known as monsoon crops.
·         Flowering requires a long day length. ·         Flowering requires a short day length.
·         These crops need a warm climate for seed germination and cold climate for growth. ·         These crops require a lot of water and hot weather to grow. They depend on rainfall.
·         Unseasonal rainfall can damage Rabi crops. ·         Kharif crops depend on rainfall patterns.
·         The harvesting months are March and April. ·         These crops are harvested in September and October
·         Examples: Mustard, wheat, cumin, coriander etc. ·         Examples: Rice, bajra, groundnut.

Zaid Crops

  • The wide range of crops that grow in the short season between Kharif and Rabi crop seasons are known as Zaid crops. These are the months of March till July.
  • Examples: Pumpkin, cucumber, bitter gourd etc.

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Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment Centres


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Drug rehabiliation

The state government in Punjab is banking on Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment Centres (OOAT) to curb the drug menace in the state.

What are the OOAT Centres?

  • The move to set up OOAT centres in Punjab began in October 2017.
  • The centres administer de-addiction medicine, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, to the opioid-dependent people registering there.
  • Administered in the form of a pill, the treatment is primarily for addicts of opioid drugs, including heroin, poppy husk and opium.
  • There are such private and state-run centres in Punjab.

Why is the Punjab government planning?

  • Punjab is planning to open OOAT linked extension centres and clinics in rural areas to broaden the outreach of this treatment.
  • The idea is that patients get medicine nearer their place of residence.
  • It will also reduce pressure on existing OOAT centres which cater to patients from far-off places.

Administering medicine at OOAT Centres

The patients are broadly put into three categories or phases.

  • In the induction phase, the newly-registered patients are administered medicine at the OOAT centres for a week or two to manage withdrawal symptoms in the presence of the doctor and counselor.
  • In the second, stabilization, phase, which extends between two to four months.
  • The patient is put on watch for taking any opioid-based “super-imposed” illicit drug and accordingly maximum tolerated dose is administered to nullify the kick of the “super-imposed” drug.
  • In the third, maintenance, phase, the patient is given take-home medicine and it continues for a year and a half before an assessment is done to see whether the medicine can be tapered off.

Why is Punjab banking so much on OOAT therapy?

There are two major approaches to wean away opioid-dependent persons.

  • One is the abstinence approach and another alternate medication approach.
  • There are more chances of relapse in an abstinence-based approach as compared to alternate medication for de-addiction.
  • In the abstinence approach, it would have taken years to rehabilitate patients by admitting them to facilities and there would have been increased chances of relapse.
  • On the other hand, the alternate medication approach has been acknowledged as better in various scientific studies worldwide.

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Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rights of River

Mains level : River conservation

Activists have highlighted the plight of rivers as well as the support building up for according rights to them under the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers.

What constitutes the Rights of Rivers?

  • Flow: If we look at a river as an ecosystem instead of cubic metres of water, then the ambit of rights gets broadened.
  • Flora and fauna: It includes aquatic flora and fauna, the biodiversity in its catchment areas, forests, its tributaries, groundwater, the rocks and soil in its bed and banks.
  • Human settlements: The rights of rivers in a sense would mean the ecological causes and conditions making up the natural habitat. Human settlements dependent is the prime factor.
  • Economy: Such rights should not put an end to fishing or other localized, subsistence-based human needs related to the river, but rather push for a healthy relationship respecting the river as an ecosystem.

Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers

  • The declaration is a civil society initiative to define the basic rights to which all rivers are entitled, according to a note by non-profit, International Rivers.
  • This trend of granting rights to nature, taking place across the world, signals the beginnings of a radical shift from an extractive mindset to one where conservation safeguards are being extended to nature.
  • The right to recognize rivers as living entities rather than mere human property started in 2008.
  • That year, Ecuador became the first country to constitutionally recognize the Rights of Nature.

Present campaigns

  • In the one year since the declaration, rights have been recognised or declared for the Boulder Creek watershed in the US, the Magpie River in Canada, the Alpayacu river in Ecuador and the Paraná river and its wetlands in Argentina.
  • Several campaigns calling for rights to be accorded to rivers have also incorporated the declaration.
  • These include campaigns for the Lempa river in El Salvador, Tavignanu river in France, Ethiope river in Nigeria, the Indus river in Pakistan and the Frome river in the UK.
  • In 2017, a treaty agreement between the Whanganui Iwi (a Māori tribe) and the New Zealand government recognized the Whanganui River as a legal person.

Recognition of such rights in India

  • In 2017, the Uttarakhand HC ruled that the Indian rivers Ganga and Yamuna, the Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers, as well as other related natural elements are “legal persons” with all corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.
  • Subsequently, in 2018, the same high court ruled that the entire animal kingdom has rights equivalent to that of a living person.


  • Cultural practices: Activists and communities have been arguing for a need of cultural change that can bring about the ethic of care with regard to the rest of nature. Indigenous people have had such an ethic in their worldviews and ways of living.
  • Development paradigm: The most critical challenge is whether can rights be protected without changing the current development paradigm. Any paradigm shift also needs questioning of fundamental forms of injustices, including capitalism, statism, anthropocentrism, and patriarchy.
  • Cross-boundary issues: Rivers don’t necessarily follow human-made political boundaries. Indus, one of the longest that runs through China, Pakistan, and India, doesn’t flow as per political boundaries. Its contiguity demands a cross-boundary approach.
  • Cooperation deficit: There is still very limited understanding across the world on how a law on the rights of rivers can be implemented. What would be the best ways to ensure custodianship, restitution, compensation.

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

Places in news: Qeqertaq Avannarleq Island


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Qeqertaq Avannarleq

Mains level : Impact of climate change

A group of researchers who went out to collect samples off the coast of Greenland in July found themselves on a tiny, uninhabited and previously unknown island.

Qeqertaq Avannarleq

  • Measuring 60×30 metres and with a peak of three metres above sea level, it has now become the new northernmost piece of land on Earth.
  • Before this, Oodaaq was marked as the Earth’s northernmost terrain.
  • The new island is made up of seabed mud and moraine, i.e. soil, rock and other material left behind by moving glaciers, and has no vegetation.
  • The group has suggested the discovery be named ‘Qeqertaq Avannarleq’, which is Greenlandic for “the northernmost island”.

How this island came to existence?

Ans. Undoubtedly, climate change in Greenland

  • Global warming has had a severe effect on the ice sheet of Greenland.
  • The new island, which was exposed by shifting pack ice, is, however, not a direct consequence of climate change.

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