Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

Donald Trump shot  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: U.S. Secret Service

Mains level: What is the difference between SPG and US secret services?

Why in the News? 

During a campaign rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump was the target of an apparent assassination attempt.

  • The suspected gunman, identified as 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks, fired up to eight shots from an AR-15-style rifle before being killed by a Secret Service sharpshooter.

What is the U.S. Secret Service?

  • The U.S. Secret Service is a federal law enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security. It was originally established in 1865 to combat counterfeiting of U.S. currency.
  • After the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, the Secret Service was given the additional responsibility of protecting the President.

 

About the Protective Mission:

  • The Secret Service is tasked with protecting the President, Vice President, President-elect, Vice President-elect, and their immediate families.
  • It also protects former Presidents and their spouses (unless remarried), as well as major presidential and vice presidential candidates within 120 days of a general election.
  • The Secret Service provides physical security for the White House, the Vice President’s residence, and foreign diplomatic missions in Washington D.C.
  • It secures major events designated as National Special Security Events, like the State of the Union address and presidential inaugurations.

What is the difference between SPG (Special Protection Group) and the US Secret Service? 

Dimensions India’s SPG  US Secret Service
Mandate and Origins The SPG was formed in 1988 to provide proximate security to the Prime Minister of India The U.S. Secret Service was established in 1865 to combat currency counterfeiting.
Scope of Protection The SPG is mandated to provide security only to the serving Prime Minister and their immediate family. The U.S. Secret Service protects the President, Vice President, their families, presidential/vice-presidential candidates, and former Presidents and their spouses for life.
Tenure and Resignation SPG personnel have a fixed 6-year tenure and are not allowed to resign during their deputation. U.S. Secret Service agents can resign freely and may be assigned to protective details for 3-5 years before being transferred.
Coordination with Foreign Agencies When the Indian PM visits the U.S., the SPG takes a backseat while the U.S. Secret Service takes over primary security responsibilities. The U.S. Secret Service coordinates with foreign agencies to protect visiting heads of state, including the Indian PM.
Operational Differences The SPG has an unblemished record, while the U.S. Secret Service has lost one President (John F. Kennedy) to assassination. SPG personnel are drawn from various paramilitary forces, while the Secret Service has its own dedicated agents.

 

Conclusion: While both the SPG and the U.S. Secret Service are elite protective agencies with distinct mandates, origins, and operational structures, they each play critical roles in safeguarding their respective leaders.

Mains PYQ: 

Indian government has recently strengthed the anti-terrorism laws by amending the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA), 1967 and the NIA Act. Analyze the changes in the context of the prevailing security environment while discussing the scope and reasons for opposing the UAPA by human rights organisations. (UPSC IAS/2019)

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

On the Jurisdiction of the CBI         

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CBI; Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946.

Mains level: Functions and Powers of CBI;

Why in the News? 

The Supreme Court upheld the West Bengal government’s suit, which accuses the Union government of “Constitutional overreach” by using the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register and investigate cases in the state, despite the state’s withdrawal of general consent on November 16, 2018.

Background

  • In November 2018, the West Bengal government withdrew its “general consent” that allowed the CBI to conduct investigations within the state.
  • However, the CBI continued to register FIRs and conduct investigations in West Bengal, leading the state government to file an original suit in the Supreme Court under Article 131 of the Constitution.
  • The suit accused the Union government of “constitutional overreach” by allowing the CBI to operate in West Bengal despite the withdrawal of general consent.

Key highlights of the verdict: 

  • Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta argued the CBI’s independence from the Union government, but the Supreme Court pointed to the DSPE Act’s provisions.
  • It highlighted the Act’s requirement for Central government control over CBI’s establishment and administration, except for cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, which the CVC oversees.

Is the CBI an Independent Agency or Under Union Government Control?

  • The Supreme Court ruled that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is not entirely independent. 
    • The CBI is constituted, administered, and has its powers extended under the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946.
  • The central government exercises superintendence over the CBI, particularly for offenses other than those under the Prevention of Corruption Act, where the Central Vigilance Commission has superintendence.
    • Therefore, the Union government is vitally concerned with the CBI’s functions and operations.

Does the CBI Need the State’s Permission to Carry Out Investigations in Its Territory?

  • The CBI derives its powers from the DSPE Act, of 1946.
    • According to Section 6 of this Act, the CBI requires the state government’s consent to extend its investigation beyond the Union Territories.
  • The Supreme Court has ruled that although the CBI is under the administrative control and superintendence of the Union government, this does not negate the requirement of state consent for investigations as per the DSPE Act.
  • There are two types of consent – General consent and Specific consent.
    • When a state gives general consent, the CBI does not need to seek permission for every case.
    • However, if the general consent is withdrawn, the CBI needs to seek specific case-by-case consent from the state.
  • Several opposition-ruled states have withdrawn their general consent for CBI investigations, which has hampered the CBI’s ability to freely investigate cases of corruption involving central government employees in those states.
    • The states that have withdrawn are- Mizoram, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and then states of Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala, and Jharkhand (2020).
    • Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Meghalaya withdrew general consent in 2022.
  • However, the withdrawal of general consent does not affect pending CBI investigations or cases where a court has ordered a CBI probe. The CBI can also approach a local court to obtain a search warrant to conduct investigations in states that have withdrawn consent.

Note: In total, 10 states have withdrawn general consent to the CBI as of 2022. This has significantly limited the CBI’s ability to freely investigate cases in these states without seeking prior permission.

Way Forward: 

  • Strengthening Federal Cooperation: Establish a clear institutional framework that promotes cooperation and coordination between the central and state governments regarding CBI investigations.
  • Legal and Administrative Reforms: Consider amending the DSPE Act to provide more clarity on the roles and powers of the CBI and the requirements for state consent.

Jurisdictional Overview and Federal Character:

The CBI operates within the context of India’s federal structure, which grants states certain powers and autonomy. The need for state consent limits the CBI’s jurisdiction, as it cannot conduct investigations in states without their general consent.

Powers and Jurisdiction of CBI

  • Offenses against Central Government Employees: The CBI has jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed against employees of the central government, such as bribery, corruption, or misconduct cases involving central government officials.
  • Interstate and International Cases: The CBI can investigate cases that have inter-state or international ramifications, including organized crime, terrorism, human trafficking, money laundering, and other offenses that require a nationwide or global perspective.
  • Specific Offences Listed in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act: The CBI can investigate offenses specified in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, including offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, crimes related to the violation of certain central laws, and cases referred to the CBI by the courts or the central government.

Mains PYQ: 

Q The jurisdiction of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding lodging an FIR and conducting probe within a particular State is being questioned by various States. However, the power of the States to withhold consent to the CBI is not absolute. Explain with special reference to the federal character of India. (UPSC IAS/2021)

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The SC ruling on the portrayal of disability in films 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Disability rights

Mains level: Effectiveness of Disability law

Why in the News?

On July 8, the Supreme Court issued guidelines against stereotyping and discriminating persons with disabilities in visual media, prompted by a plea to ban Aaankh Micholi.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court’s guidelines came in response to a plea filed by activist Nipun Malhotra challenging the alleged insensitive portrayal of differently-abled individuals in the Film ‘Aaankh Micholi’.
  • The petitioner argued that the film contained derogatory references and stereotyping of persons with disabilities.

Key Highlights of the Supreme Court Ruling:

  • Avoiding Derogatory Language: The court asked creators to avoid words like “cripple”, “spastic”, “afflicted”, “suffering”, and “victim” as they contribute to negative self-image and perpetuate discriminatory attitudes.
  • Accurate Representation: The court said stereotyping differently-abled persons in visual media and films must end, and creators should provide an accurate representation of disabilities rather than mocking or mythifying them.
  • Involvement of Persons with Disabilities: The court asked creators to practice the principle of “nothing about us, without us” and involve persons with disabilities in the creation and assessment of visual media content.
  • Training and Collaboration: The court emphasized the need for training programs for writers, directors, producers, and actors to sensitize them on the impact of portrayals on public perceptions.

What are the laws which grant disability rights?   

  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (RPwD Act), 2016: This is the primary legislation that comprehensively addresses the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities in India. It replaced the earlier Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, of 1995.
  • The National Trust Act, 1999: It provides legal support to persons with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and multiple disabilities. It focuses on enabling guardianship and providing support to those who may not have guardians.
  • Rehabilitation Council of India Act, 1992: Regulates the training of rehabilitation professionals and promotes research in rehabilitation and special education.
  • Mental Healthcare Act, 2017: While primarily focusing on mental health issues, this Act also includes provisions related to the rights and treatment of persons with mental disabilities.

Are the laws governing the ‘Rights of Differently-abled’ persons being implemented properly?  

  • Implementation Gaps: There are significant gaps between the provisions laid out in laws like the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016, and their actual implementation on the ground. Many disabled persons continue to face barriers to accessing their entitlements and rights.
  • Awareness and Sensitization: There is a lack of awareness among the general public, as well as within government bodies and institutions, about the rights and needs of persons with disabilities.
  • Infrastructure and Accessibility: Despite legal mandates for accessibility in public places, transportation, and buildings, implementation remains uneven.
  • Employment Opportunities: While laws mandate employment quotas for persons with disabilities in government and private sectors, these quotas are often not met.

What is the way forward?

  • Enhanced Monitoring and Accountability: Implement regular audits and monitoring mechanisms to ensure compliance with disability rights laws at all levels of governance and across sectors.
  • Need to Increase Awareness and Sensitization: Launch nationwide awareness campaigns targeting both the general public and stakeholders within government and private sectors to promote understanding of disability rights.

Mains PYQ: 

Q The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 remains only a legal document without intense sensitisation of government functionaries and citizens regarding disability. Comment. (UPSC IAS/2022)

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

The Yuan Challenge: How India-Russia trade gap may threaten rupee internationalization efforts    

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India-Russia Bilateral Ties;

Mains level: Benefits of Internationalization of the Rupee;

Why in the News? 

New Delhi aims to boost trade with Moscow to $100 billion by 2030, but India faces a $57 billion trade deficit due to strong oil imports from Russia.

Background

  • India’s trade with Russia has been skewed since the onset of the Ukraine war in 2022. Russia has become India’s top oil supplier, while Indian exports to Russia have struggled, resulting in a large trade deficit.
  • The trade deficit in the bilateral trade stood at $57 billion in FY24, with a total trade value of $66 billion. This deficit is primarily driven by India’s significant oil imports from Russia.

Why is the widening trade gap with Russia benefiting the Yuan?

    • Increase in Balanced Trade with China: Unlike India, China has been able to maintain a more balanced trade relationship with Russia since the Ukraine war began in 2022.
      • China’s exports to Russia have surged, with shipments increasing by 47% year-on-year to $111 billion in 2023.
      • 95% of trade between China and Russia is conducted in domestic currencies, making the yuan the most popular currency in the Russian stock market.
    • Increase in volatility of Rubble and Rupee:  Unlike the yuan, both the Indian rupee and Russian ruble have experienced considerable volatility, complicating trade in domestic currency.
      • The yuan’s relative stability compared to the rupee and ruble has made it a more attractive currency for settling Russia-India trade
  • Reluctance of Private Banks: The Indian private banks have been reluctant to facilitate trade with Russia due to fears of Western sanctions.
    • Most Indian private banks have significant business interests in Western countries and fear their branches could face sanctions if they engage with Russia.
    • As Russia prefers the yuan for payments, India’s limited exports to Russia have hindered the use of the rupee in bilateral trade.

What are the benefits of the Internationalisation of the Rupee?

  • Reduced Dependence on USD: Internationalizing the rupee would reduce India’s reliance on foreign currencies like the US dollar for international trade and financial transactions.
    • This would enhance India’s economic sovereignty and reduce exposure to currency fluctuations.
  • Enhanced Trade Efficiency: Using the rupee for international transactions can simplify trade processes and reduce transaction costs.
    • Internationalization of the rupee would eliminate the need for currency conversions, reducing transaction costs and simplifying cross-border trade.
  • Mitigating Risks: Protection from currency volatility not only reduces the cost of doing business but also enables better growth of business, improving the chances for Indian businesses to grow globally
  • Increased Global Influence: A widely accepted rupee would boost India’s economic and political influence on the global stage.

How can India internationalize the rupee?

  • The Reserve Bank of India permitted settling trade using the rupee through its circular in July 2022.
    • Trade invoicing: For the rupee to be recognized as an international currency, it needs to be increasingly used for trade invoicing.
    • Trade invoicing refers to the process of issuing invoices for goods or services exchanged between international trading partners. It includes detailing the terms of sale, such as prices, quantities, payment terms, and currencies used for settlement.
  • Increase Rupee Turnover: The rupee needs to achieve a global forex turnover share of around 4% to be regarded as an international currency, up from the current 1.6%.
  • Government Support: Strengthening industrial cooperation and addressing banking sector concerns can promote the use of the rupee.

Challenges involved:

  • Banking Sector Reluctance: Private banks are hesitant to facilitate trade with Russia due to fear of Western sanctions.
  • Rupee Settlement Mechanism: Indian exporters face difficulties using the rupee settlement mechanism due to the absence of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for banks.
    • Note: A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for banks is a formal document outlining step-by-step instructions for routine processes and activities to ensure consistency and compliance.
  • Currency Volatility: Both the ruble and the rupee have experienced considerable volatility, complicating trade in domestic currencies.
  • International Sanctions: Private banks’ significant business interests in Western countries make them wary of facilitating trade with Russia.

How are Russia and India planning to boost trade?

  • Both countries have decided to eliminate non-tariff and tariff barriers in trade.
    • Negotiations for a trade deal with the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) could ease the flow of Indian products into the EEU.
  • Cooperation in manufacturing sectors like transport engineering, metallurgy, and chemicals.
    • Implementation of joint projects in priority areas and expanding reciprocal trade flows of industrial products.
  • Discussions on a Migration and Mobility partnership agreement to facilitate trade and movement between the two countries.

Way Forward 

  • Enhanced Banking Support and Infrastructure: Develop a robust Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for banks to facilitate smoother implementation of the rupee settlement mechanism for trade with Russia.
  • Strategic Economic Diplomacy: Strengthen bilateral economic ties through high-level diplomatic engagements to mitigate banking sector reluctance and enhance trust between Indian and Russian financial institutions.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Craze for gold in Indian has led to surge in import of gold in recent years and put pressure on balance of payments and external value of rupee. In view of this, examine the merits of Gold Monetization scheme. (UPSC IAS/2015)

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Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

The PDS impact on household expenditure   

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: About PDS and its structural mandate

Mains level: Imputation of values for food and non-food items

Why in the news? 

The Household Consumption Expenditure Survey Data provides an opportunity to analyze the effects of social transfers.

About Public Distribution System (PDS):

  • The Public Distribution System (PDS) aims to ensure food security by providing subsidized foodgrains to economically vulnerable sections of society. Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population are eligible for subsidized foodgrains.
  • Foodgrains procured by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) are distributed through a network of Fair Price Shops (FPS).

Its structural mandate: 

  • Procurement and Distribution: The PDS operates through the procurement of foodgrains by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) from farmers at Minimum Support Prices (MSP). These foodgrains are then allocated to states and union territories based on their requirements and distributed to Fair Price Shops (FPS), which deliver subsidized foodgrains to eligible beneficiaries.
  • Identification and Subsidy: Beneficiaries are identified based on the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data, classifying households into Priority Households and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households. Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, eligible households receive rice at ₹3 per kg, wheat at ₹2 per kg, and coarse grains at ₹1 per kg. The system aims to ensure that food security is maintained for the economically vulnerable sections of society.

Observations made by the HCES:2022-23 report  

  • The Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) 2022-23 provides insights into the coverage of social welfare programs, including the Public Distribution System (PDS).
  • The survey highlights discrepancies between administrative data and survey estimates due to inclusion and exclusion errors, offering detailed characteristics of households benefiting from these programs.

Imputation of values for food and non-food items    

Note: Imputation of values for food and non-food items refers to the process of assigning a monetary value to items received by households for free or at a subsidised rate through social welfare programs like the Public Distribution System (PDS) in India.

  • Purpose: Imputation is done to estimate the total consumption expenditure of households more accurately. It accounts for the fact that households receive goods (such as foodgrains from PDS) without directly paying for them, thus impacting their overall consumption.
  • Methodology: The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and other agencies use statistical methods to assign a value to these items. This involves determining the modal (most common) or percentile prices of the items received, which may vary by state and rural/urban classification.
  • Types of Items Imputed: Imputation covers both food and non-food items. In the context of the PDS, it primarily includes foodgrains but can extend to other essential commodities provided through government schemes.
  • Data Sources: Data for imputation can come from surveys like the HCES, where households report receiving these items. NSSO surveys typically provide detailed guidelines on how imputation values are derived and applied in their reports.
  • Impact on Analysis: Imputing values allows analysts to compute metrics like the Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure (MPCE) accurately, reflecting the true economic status and welfare impact of households.

 Implications for Poverty

  • Economic Relief for Poorer Households: By providing foodgrains at highly subsidized rates, the PDS reduces the financial burden on poorer households, allowing them to allocate their limited resources to other essential needs.
  • Enhanced Measurement of Poverty: Imputing the value of free or subsidised items received through programs like the PDS allows for a more comprehensive assessment of household consumption. Including these imputed values in poverty measurements provides a more accurate reflection of the economic well-being of households.
  • Policy Insights and Targeting: Understanding how imputed values impact poverty metrics helps policymakers in targeting social welfare programs more effectively.
  • Diversification of Diet: Access to subsidized foodgrains from the PDS allows households to free up resources, potentially enabling them to purchase a more diverse range of nutrient and protein-rich foods such as vegetables, milk, pulses, eggs, fish, and meat

Way forward: 

  • Enhancing Efficiency and Targeting: Improve the identification and targeting of beneficiaries through updated and accurate data collection methods. Continuous validation and updating of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data can help in reducing inclusion and exclusion errors.
  • Promoting Nutritional Security and Health Outcomes: Expand the scope of subsidized items beyond basic grains to include more nutritious food options like pulses, edible oils, and fruits.

Mains PYQ: 

Q What are the major challenges of Public Distribution System (PDS) in India? How can it be made effective and transparent? (2022)

Q Food Security Bill is expected to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in India. Critically discuss various apprehensions in its effective implementation along with the concerns it has generated in WTO. (2013)

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ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s plans to venture into planetary defence 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Space Objects

Mains level: Challenges related to asteroid Apophis

Why in the news? 

Last week, ISRO Chairman S Somanath expressed the possibility of engaging with the asteroid Apophis during its close approach to Earth at a distance of 32,000 km in 2029. However, the specific manner of ISRO’s involvement has not yet been determined.

Space objects: 


The asteroid Apophis may pose a threat:

  • Initial Concerns: Discovered in 2004, Apophis initially posed a 2.7% chance of colliding with Earth, raising alarms due to its size (about 450 m wide).
  • Revised Risk: Subsequent observations ruled out immediate collision risks in 2029, 2036, and 2068, but it will pass close to Earth in 2029 at 32,000 km.
  • Potential Impact: Its size could cause significant damage if it were to collide with Earth, though recent observations suggest no imminent danger.

Other possible incoming threats from space:

  • Daily Encounters: Thousands of asteroids enter Earth’s atmosphere daily, most burning up due to friction, causing phenomena like fireballs.
  • Russian Example: In 2013, a 20-meter asteroid exploded above Russia, releasing significant energy and causing damage and injuries.
  • Detection Challenges: Some asteroids are detected only upon entering the atmosphere, especially those coming from the direction of the Sun, which can obscure detection.

ISRO’s plan: From sci-fi to reality:

  • Planetary Defense Initiative: ISRO aims to develop capabilities in planetary defense, potentially participating in missions to study and potentially deflect asteroids.
  • Collaboration: Considering sending its own spacecraft or collaborating with other space agencies, like NASA, which has already redirected a spacecraft to study Apophis in 2029.
  • Evolution of ISRO: Reflects ISRO’s evolution as a space agency, transitioning from aspirations to reality in tackling global space objectives, demonstrating growing confidence and capabilities.

Way forward: 

  • Form Partnerships: ISRO should actively seek partnerships with leading space agencies like NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and others involved in asteroid detection and planetary defense.
  • Joint Missions: Collaborate on joint missions to study and potentially mitigate asteroid threats. This could include sharing resources, technology, and expertise to maximize effectiveness and minimize costs.

Mains PYQ: 

Q What is India’s plan to have its own space station and how will it benefit our space programme? (UPSC IAS/2019)

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Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

How PM Modi’s visit to Austria sends a message both to Moscow and the West

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bordering countries of Austria and Russia

Mains level: Key dimension related to relation between Austria and India

Why in the news? 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi selected Vienna as a neutral location to convey a message to both Moscow and the Western countries.

What message it sent?

  • India’s Diplomatic Signal: Modi’s visit to Vienna after meeting Putin in Moscow underscored India’s commitment to global peace and non-violence.Statements emphasized India’s concern over civilian casualties in conflict zones and the futility of war as a solution.
  • Historical Context: Referencing Austria’s historical neutrality and diplomatic role during the Cold War, Modi’s visit reaffirmed India’s stance on maintaining strategic autonomy. Highlighted India’s support for negotiated settlements and dialogue in international disputes.

Similarity in ideologies between both countries

  • Neutrality and Non-Alignment: Both India and Austria historically maintained neutrality in global conflicts. Shared values in promoting peace, diplomacy, and non-intervention in internal affairs of other nations.
  • Historical Ties: Nehru’s role in supporting Austria’s sovereignty post-World War II reflected shared principles of neutrality and independence. Both countries value multilateralism and respect for international law.

Evolution of bilateral relations between India and Austria

  • Establishment of Diplomatic Relations: Diplomatic ties between India and Austria were established in 1949, celebrating 75 years of engagement in 2024.Historical visits by leaders from both countries have strengthened political and economic cooperation.
  • Modern Partnerships: Focus on future-oriented collaborations in infrastructure, renewable energy, technology, and trade. Continuation of bilateral engagements despite global geopolitical shifts, maintaining a balanced approach in international relations.

Key dimension related to relation between Austria and India: 

  • Political Relations: India intervened in Austria’s favor during negotiations with the Soviet Union on the Austrian State Treaty in 1953.India supported Austria on the UN-South Tyrol conventions. Austria expressed support for India’s bid for a permanent seat on a reformed United Nations Security Council.
  • Economic Relations: As of 2019, there are over 200 collaborations, including 100 technical collaborations and 60 joint ventures between Indian and Austrian firms.Bilateral trade between Austria and India was EUR 2.93 billion in 2023. Austria has received a cumulative foreign direct investment of EUR 1.159 billion from India as of 2023.
  • Cultural Relations: The Indo-Austrian cultural relations date back to the 16th century. The Austrian tradition of Indology began in the 19th century.Rabindranath Tagore visited Vienna in 1921 and 1926, fostering cultural exchange.

Way forward: 

  • Enhanced Political Dialogue: Increase high-level visits and diplomatic exchanges to deepen understanding and cooperation on global issues like climate change, terrorism, and global health.
  • Support for Multilateral Initiatives: Collaborate in multilateral forums such as the United Nations to promote shared values of peace, neutrality, and respect for international law. Work towards common positions on global challenges.

Mains PYQ: 

Q What introduces friction into the ties between India and the United States is that Washington is still unable to find for India a position in its global strategy, which would satisfy India’s National self-esteem. (UPSC IAS/2019)

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NITI Aayog’s Assessment

Release of SDG India Index 2023-24- NITI Aayog     

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SDG India Index

Mains level: Key highlights and results from the fourth edition of the SDG India Index

Why in the news?

Overall SDG score for the country is 71 for 2023-24, significant improvement from 66 in 2020-21 and 57 in 2018 (Baseline report).

About SDG India Index:

  • The SDG India Index is a comprehensive tool developed by NITI Aayog to measure the progress of India and its states/UTs towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The index tracks the progress on 113 indicators aligned with the National Indicator Framework of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

Key highlights and results from the fourth edition of the SDG India Index:     

  • Top Performers: Uttarakhand and Kerala secured the top spots with a score of 79 out of 100, showcasing strong performance across Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as poverty eradication, health, education, and environmental sustainability.
  • National Improvement: India’s overall SDG score improved from 66 points in 2020-21 to 71 points in 2023-24, indicating significant progress in achieving the SDGs nationwide. This improvement reflects efforts in poverty reduction, economic growth, and environmental conservation.
  • State-wise Variations: Bihar ranked lowest with 57 points, indicating areas needing more attention and development. States like Punjab, Manipur, West Bengal, and Assam showed notable improvements, with Punjab leading the pack with an increase of 8 points to reach 76 points.
  • Goal-specific Insights: Goals such as “No Poverty,” “Decent Work and Economic Growth,” and “Life on Land” saw the highest increases in scores, reflecting advancements in income equality, employment opportunities, and biodiversity conservation efforts.
  • Challenges and Focus Areas: Gender Equality received the lowest score at 49 points, highlighting persistent challenges in achieving parity in workforce participation, education access, and political representation. Addressing issues related to hunger and nutrition remains a priority, with the “Zero Hunger” goal scoring 52 points, emphasizing the need for nutritious food access and combating malnutrition.

How did States and UT performed?    

  • Score Ranges: States’ scores range from 57 to 79, while UTs score between 65 and 77. This indicates an improvement compared to the 2020-21 scores, where the range was 52 to 75 for States and 62 to 79 for UTs.
  • Front Runner Category: There has been a significant increase in the number of States and UTs achieving Front Runner status. In the latest edition, 32 States/UTs scored between 65 and 99, up from 22 in the previous edition. Notably, 10 new States and UTs entered the Front Runner category, including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
  • Score Improvements: Across all States and UTs, there has been improvement in composite scores ranging from 1 to 8 points since the 2020-21 edition. Leading in score improvements are Assam, Manipur, Punjab, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir, each showing an increase of 8 points.
  • Methodology: The methodology involves compiling raw data for indicators, setting 2030 targets, normalizing data to a 0-100 score, and calculating Goal scores as means of relevant indicators. The composite score represents an average of all Goal scores, excluding Goal 14 focused solely on coastal States.

Way forward: 

  • Targeted Interventions for Lagging States: Implement customized, data-driven interventions in States with lower scores, such as Bihar, to address specific challenges in poverty, health, and education.
  • Enhance Focus on Gender Equality and Nutrition: Strengthen policies and programs aimed at improving gender equality and combating malnutrition, particularly by increasing female workforce participation and ensuring access to nutritious food.

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

Why are dengue cases on the rise worldwide?     

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: How dengue spread?

Mains level: Are urbanisation and climate change fuelling dengue spread in the world?

Why in the news?

In recent weeks, there has been an increase in dengue cases, notably in Karnataka, with rising numbers also observed in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

What is the global situation of dengue?

  • Epidemiological Burden: In 2024, over 7.6 million cases of dengue were reported globally, with 3.4 million confirmed cases and significant numbers of severe cases and deaths. Dengue affects approximately half of the world’s population, with an estimated 100-400 million infections occurring annually.
  • Geographical Distribution: Dengue transmission occurs in 90 countries worldwide, predominantly in tropical and subtropical regions. The disease is endemic in more than 100 countries across WHO regions, including Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, and the Western Pacific.

Are urbanisation and climate change fuelling dengue spread in the world?

Urbanization:

  • Increased Population Density: Urban areas provide optimal conditions for the Aedes aegypti mosquito due to the availability of breeding sites like stagnant water in containers, tires, and other urban infrastructure.
  • Expansion of Cities: Rapid urbanization leads to unplanned growth, inadequate waste management, and inadequate water supply, creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • Human Movement: Urbanization facilitates increased human mobility, enabling the spread of the dengue virus through infected individuals travelling between urban centers.

Climate Change:

  • Temperature and Rainfall Patterns: Warmer temperatures and altered rainfall patterns associated with climate change create favourable conditions for mosquito breeding and survival.
  • Shifts in Geographic Distribution: Changing climate allows Aedes mosquitoes to expand their range to new regions previously unaffected by dengue, including temperate climates.
  • Extreme Weather Events: Increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods provide breeding opportunities for mosquitoes and facilitate virus transmission.

Impact:

  • Health Impact: India accounts for an estimated 33 million clinically apparent dengue cases each year, contributing to a third of the global dengue burden
  • Economic Impact: A cost analysis study in southern India estimated the direct medical costs per hospitalized dengue patient at around ₹20,000 in 2017-18, with costs soaring to over ₹61,000 for complications requiring intensive care.
  • Impact on Individuals: Dengue can cause a wide spectrum of illness, from mild flu-like symptoms to severe complications like internal bleeding, organ impairment, and potentially death if not treated promptly.

Way forward: 

  • Enhance Urban Infrastructure: Improve urban planning to include effective waste management, regular clearing of stagnant water sources, and sustainable water supply systems to reduce mosquito breeding grounds.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Launch comprehensive public awareness campaigns focusing on urban populations to promote community involvement in mosquito control measures and encourage responsible waste disposal practices.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Public health system has limitation in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that private sector can help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives do you suggest? (UPSC IAS/2015)

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

Breaking the taboo around men’s reproductive health  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: World Health Organization (WHO)

Mains level: Data related to infertility and What are the actual causes of infertility?

Why in the news? 

Following World Population Day (July 11), amidst discussions on global population dynamics, it is essential to highlight a topic often overlooked in conversations about reproductive health: male infertility.

World Health Organization (WHO) Global Perspective on infertility:

  • Prevalence: WHO estimates that 60 million to 80 million couples worldwide experience infertility.
  • Male vs. Female Infertility: Globally, male infertility accounts for approximately 50% of all infertility cases.

Issues Specific to India:

  • Data Deficiency: Unlike global estimates, specific prevalence data for infertility in India are outdated (from ICMR guidelines in 2005) and not comprehensive.
  • Male Infertility: In India, male infertility constitutes a significant portion of all infertility cases, estimated to be around 50%, mirroring global trends.
  • Contributing Factors: Unique challenges in India include environmental pollution, pesticide exposure in agriculture, lifestyle changes including late marriages and stress, which contribute to rising infertility rates.
  • Access to Treatment: Disparities in access to advanced infertility treatments exist, with urban areas having better access compared to rural regions.
  • Cultural and Social Stigma: Infertility remains stigmatized in Indian society, affecting mental health and social well-being of affected couples, and hindering open discussions and seeking timely medical help.

What are the actual causes of infertility?   

  • Male Factors: Low sperm count (oligospermia) or poor sperm motility (asthenozoospermia). Anatomical issues such as blocked sperm ducts or varicocele. Hormonal imbalances, genetic factors, and environmental influences like exposure to toxins.
  • Female Factors: Ovulation disorders, including hormonal imbalances like PCOS. Structural issues like blocked fallopian tubes or uterine abnormalities. Endometriosis, is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus.
  • Shared Factors: Age-related decline in fertility. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity. Medical conditions like cancer and its treatments, autoimmune disorders, and certain medications affecting fertility.

Treatment options

  • Semen Analysis: Essential for diagnosing male infertility, conducted after a period of sexual abstinence.
  • Medical Consultation: Vital to identify underlying causes, whether physical (e.g., blocked sperm flow, anatomical issues) or genetic.
  • Corrective Surgeries: Address issues like blocked sperm ducts, undescended testicles, or anatomical abnormalities affecting sperm production and flow.

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART):

  • Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): Effective for cases of severe male infertility where sperm count is extremely low.
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Suitable when sperm motility is good but count is low, facilitating fertilization within the uterus.
  • In vitro Fertilisation (IVF): Used when both sperm count and motility are low, involving fertilization outside the body before implantation.
  • Donor Sperm Insemination or Adoption: Options for couples where male infertility is irreparable, providing alternative paths to parenthood.

Way forward: 

  • Enhanced Data Collection and Research: Update and expand prevalence data on infertility in India through national surveys and research initiatives. This should include both urban and rural populations to understand regional disparities.
  • Public Awareness and Support Programs: Launch nationwide campaigns to raise awareness about infertility as a medical condition, debunk myths, and reduce stigma.

Mains PYQ: 

Q In order to enhance the prospects of social development, sound and adequate health care policies are needed particularly in the fields of geriatric and maternal health care. Discuss. (UPSC IAS/2020)

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Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

Future investments in India’s EV space  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EV policy

Mains level: Revised policy can align with India’s goals of enhancing local manufacturing

Why in the news? 

The government plans to expand its EV policy to include retrospective benefits, incentivizing entities that have already invested, with a formal announcement expected in August.

Why is the government considering extending the EV policy?

  • Retrospective Effect: To include a retrospective effect, extending benefits to entities that have already made investments, aiming to reward and encourage early movers in the EV sector.
  • Encouraging Global Players: The policy seeks to prompt global players to localize production and invest in the domestic ecosystem.
  • Inclusive Incentives: Earlier, entities were eligible for incentives only if they set up local facilities within three years of receiving approval. The extension aims to make these incentives more inclusive.

EV Policy of India: 

  • FAME Scheme: The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme is India’s flagship program to incentivize EV adoption. FAME-II, the current phase, provides incentives of:
    • ₹15,000 per kWh for 2-wheelers, up to 40% of the vehicle cost
    • ₹10,000 per kWh for 3-wheelers and 4-wheelers
    • ₹20,000 per kWh for electric buses
  • Phased Manufacturing Program (PMP): To boost local manufacturing, the government has implemented a Phased Manufacturing Program that gradually increases import duties on EV components over time, incentivizing domestic production.

About the New EV Policy 2024:

The key highlights of the new EV policy announced in 2024 include:

  • Reduced customs duty of 15% on imported EVs with a minimum CIF value of $35,000
  • A cap of 8,000 imported EVs per year
  • Requirement for manufacturers to invest at least ₹4,150 crore (~$500 million) and achieve 25% domestic value addition within 3 years, escalating to 50% in 5 years
  • Duty waiver capped at the investment made or ₹6,484 crore (equal to the PLI scheme incentive), whichever is lower.

How does the revised policy align with India’s goals of enhancing local manufacturing and technology adoption in the EV industry?

  • Domestic Value Addition: The policy mandates that half of the value addition in manufacturing be done domestically within five years, boosting local manufacturing.
  • Import Duty Reduction: Reducing import duty on EVs with a minimum CIF value of $35,000 from 70%-100% to 15% to make the transition commercially viable.
  • Strengthening EV Ecosystem: By encouraging local production and investment, the policy aims to strengthen the entire EV ecosystem in India.
  • Global Leadership: Positioning India as a leader in the global transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles by fostering a sustainable and technologically advanced manufacturing environment.

In what ways can the policy’s focus on localization and production volume increase competition and lower costs?

  • Economies of Scale: Higher volumes of production can lead to economies of scale, reducing the per-unit cost of EVs.
  • Healthy Competition: Encouraging competition among EV players to innovate and improve efficiency, thereby lowering production costs and prices for consumers.
  • Cost Reduction: Achieving higher production volumes and localized manufacturing will contribute to a significant decline in production costs, making EVs more affordable for Indian consumers.
  • Comprehensive Ecosystem: The focus on localization ensures the development of a robust supply chain and after-sales service network, further enhancing the viability and attractiveness of EVs in India.

Way forward: 

  • Support Local Manufacturers: Provide incentives and support for domestic manufacturers to produce critical EV components such as batteries, motors, and controllers. This will reduce dependency on imports and enhance self-reliance.
  • R&D Investment: Increase investment in research and development to drive innovation in EV technology, ensuring that India remains at the forefront of advancements in the industry.

Mains PYQ: 

Q ‘Clean energy is the order of the day.’ Describe briefly India’s changing policy towards climate change in various international fora in the context of geopolitics. (UPSC IAS/2022)

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-SAARC Nations

India hosts BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers amid raging Myanmar crisis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: About BIMSTEC Countries

Mains level: Significance of BIMSTEC and the South Asian countries

Why in the News? 

At the first BIMSTEC Foreign Ministers’ retreat, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar emphasized that BIMSTEC must address regional challenges internally, fostering collaboration among member nations.

About BIMSTEC Countries  

BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is a regional organization comprising seven member countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal. These countries are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Significance of BIMSTEC:

  • Economic Cooperation: Facilitates trade and investment among member countries.
  • Connectivity Projects: Enhances regional connectivity through road, rail, and maritime links.
  • Technical and Technological Collaboration: Promotes capacity building and technology sharing.
  • Security Cooperation: Addresses transnational crimes, terrorism, and humanitarian assistance.
  • Cultural Exchange: Strengthens cultural ties and people-to-people contacts.

India’s Stand on Myanmar Crisis

India has adopted a cautious and balanced approach to the crisis in Myanmar, emphasizing the following points:

  • Connectivity Projects: India focuses on the importance of ongoing connectivity projects for the future of BIMSTEC, which are crucial for regional integration.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: Discussions on humanitarian assistance remain limited to displaced populations and some military personnel seeking refuge in Mizoram, reflecting India’s cautious humanitarian stance.
  • Border Stability: India emphasizes maintaining stability along its border with Myanmar, considering the volatile situation and the control of trade routes by Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs).
  • Security Cooperation: Countering transnational crimes, including cyber, narcotics, and illegal arms, remains a priority, reflecting India’s security concerns.

India Pushes to Link South Asia with Southeast Asia via BIMSTEC

  • Enhanced Connectivity: Promoting infrastructure projects such as road and rail links, and port development to improve trade routes.
    • Encouraging cultural exchanges, tourism, and academic collaborations to strengthen regional bonds
  • Economic Integration: Facilitating trade agreements and economic cooperation to boost regional trade and investment.
  • Energy Cooperation: Exploring opportunities for energy trade and development, including renewable energy projects.
  • Security Collaboration: Addressing common security challenges, including terrorism, human trafficking, and maritime security.

Way forward: 

  • Establish a Permanent Secretariat: Enhance coordination and efficiency by establishing a fully functional permanent secretariat for BIMSTEC with adequate resources and authority to implement and monitor projects.
  • Promoting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Launch joint initiatives to combat climate change, focusing on disaster risk reduction, sustainable management of natural resources, and renewable energy projects, leveraging the diverse ecological systems within the member states.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Do you think that BIMSTEC is a parallel organisation like the SAARC? Waht are the similarities and dissimilarities between the two? How are Indian foreign policy objectives realized by forming this new organisation? (UPSC IAS/2022)

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

The case for a Caste Census 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Exception in fundamental Rights

Mains level: The arguments against caste Census

Why in the news? 

The Census Act, 1948 ought to be revised to mandate the inclusion of caste enumeration as a regular part of the Census process, incorporating specific questions in the questionnaire to gather this data systematically, rather than leaving it subject to discretionary decisions by the Union executive.

Why a Caste Census?

  • Social Relevance: Caste remains a significant social determinant in India, influencing access to opportunities, resources, and representation. A caste census is essential to understand and address caste-based inequalities and social stratification accurately.
  • Policy Formulation: Constitutionally mandated policies such as reservations in education, employment, and legislative bodies rely on caste-based data to ensure effective implementation. Detailed enumeration helps in identifying beneficiaries, preventing misclassification, and ensuring equitable distribution of benefits.
  • Administrative Precision: Detailed caste-wise data is crucial for administrative purposes, including planning and allocation of resources. It helps in targeting development programs and policies for specific caste groups based on their socio-economic status and needs.
  • Historical Context: India has a history of caste-based discrimination and marginalization. A caste census provides empirical evidence of existing disparities, enabling the government and civil society to design interventions aimed at promoting social justice and equality.

The arguments against caste Census

  • Social Divisiveness: Critics argue that emphasizing caste through a census could perpetuate social divisions and caste identities. They fear that highlighting caste differences could exacerbate tensions and hinder national unity.
  • Administrative Complexity: Conducting a caste census is seen as administratively challenging due to the sheer number of caste groups in India, estimated to be thousands, many of which are region-specific. Critics argue that accurately enumerating and categorizing these castes could pose logistical difficulties and lead to inaccuracies.
  • Political Implications: There are concerns that caste-based data could be misused for electoral gains and political manoeuvring. Critics argue that caste enumeration might lead to demands for increased reservations and create further divisions along caste lines in political representation and decision-making processes.

How an attempt at caste Census failed

  • Constitutional Mandate: The Constitution of India provides for reservations in education (Article 15(4)) and public employment (Article 16(4)) for OBCs. Enumerating OBCs in the Census is essential to effectively implement these constitutional provisions and ensure accurate representation.
  • Policy Implementation: Detailed caste-wise data is necessary for effective policy formulation and implementation related to reservations, social justice, and welfare schemes targeting OBC communities. It helps in identifying deserving beneficiaries and avoiding wrongful inclusions or exclusions.
  • Judicial Imperative: The Supreme Court of India, in various rulings like Indra Sawhney case (1992), has underscored the importance of accurate caste data for upholding reservation policies and ensuring social justice. The court has emphasized the need for periodically revising the OBC list based on updated census data.
  • Local Governance and Representation: Post the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution, which introduced reservations for OBCs in local bodies (panchayats and municipalities), accurate caste data at the local level is crucial for fair representation and effective governance.

How an attempt at caste Census failed

  • Poor Design and Execution: The Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC)-2011, conducted through Union Ministries of Rural Development and Urban Development, lacked the expertise and experience needed for sociological surveys
  • Legal and Administrative Challenges: The SECC-2011 was not conducted under the Census Act, 1948, which meant it lacked the legal framework and procedural clarity required for a comprehensive census.

Way forward: 

  • Amendment of Census Act: Amend the Census Act, 1948, to explicitly include caste as a parameter for enumeration. This legal revision will provide a clear mandate and framework for conducting a comprehensive caste Census, ensuring adherence to standardised procedures and data collection methodologies.
  • Expert Involvement and Public Consultation: Engage sociological and anthropological experts to develop a detailed list of caste categories specific to each state. Publish the draft list online for public review and feedback, facilitating transparency and accuracy in caste enumeration.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Caste system is assuming new identities and associational forms. Hence, the caste system cannot be eradicated in India.” Comment. (UPSC IAS/2018)

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

MSMEs need funds for tech upgrades, green transition

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: About MSME

Mains level: 6 pillars for the growth of the MSME Sector

Why in the news? 

Union Minister for MSMEs Jitan Ram Manjhi outlined six strategic pillars identified to foster the growth of the MSME sector.

What are the 6 pillars for the growth of the MSME Sector   

  • Formalisation and Access to Credit: Promoting formalization of MSMEs to enhance their credibility and access to formal financial institutions.Improving access to credit through schemes like Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE).
  • Increased Access to Market and E-commerce Adoption: Facilitating MSMEs’ access to domestic and international markets through initiatives like market linkages and export promotion schemes.
  • Higher Productivity Through Modern Technology: Encouraging MSMEs to adopt modern technologies and digital tools to improve productivity and efficiency.
  • Enhanced Skill Levels and Digitalisation in the Service Sector: Focusing on skill development and training programs to enhance the capabilities of the MSME workforce.
  • Support to Khadi, Village, and Coir Industry for Globalisation: Promoting traditional industries like Khadi and Coir by providing marketing support and international exposure.
  • Empowerment of Women and Artisans Through Enterprise Creation: Encouraging entrepreneurship among women and artisans through skill development and financial support.

How can Employment be raised?   

  • Promoting MSME Growth: Support MSMEs with policies for credit access, market expansion, tech modernization, and encourage startups for job creation.
  • Skill Development and Training: Invest in industry-aligned skill development, collaborating with educational institutions and industry partners for vocational training.
  • Infrastructure Development: Invest in infrastructure projects for job creation; develop industrial clusters and economic zones for manufacturing jobs.
  • Supporting Employment-intensive Sectors: Promote high-employment sectors like tourism, agriculture, healthcare, renewable energy; prioritize job creation in rural areas.

Indian Government steps taken for MSME 

  • Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP): It aims to create employment opportunities through the setting up of new micro-enterprises.
  • Credit Guarantee Scheme for Micro & Small Enterprises (CGTMSE): Provides collateral-free loans of up to ₹1 crore to individual Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs).
  • Financial Support to MSMEs in ZED Certification Scheme: Provides up to 80% subsidy to MSMEs to inculcate Zero Defect and Zero Effect (ZED) practices in manufacturing.
  • A Scheme for Promoting Innovation, Rural Industry & Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE): Facilitates innovative business solutions, promotes entrepreneurship, and creates new jobs at the grassroots level.

Way to Green Transition and R&D (Way forward)

  • Financial Incentives and Soft Funds: Offer MSMEs financial incentives, subsidies, and soft loans for green tech and support R&D with grants and tax incentives.
  • Policy Support and Regulatory Framework: Develop supportive policies and regulatory frameworks that encourage MSMEs to integrate environmental sustainability into their operations.
  • Capacity Building and Technical Assistance: Offer capacity-building programs and technical assistance to MSMEs to enhance their knowledge and capabilities in green technologies.
  • Promotion of Green Products and Market Access:Promote green products via marketing campaigns, certification programs, and platforms for showcasing and selling.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Economic growth in the recent past has been led by an increase in labour productivity.” Explain this statement. Suggest the growth pattern that will lead to the creation of more jobs without compromising labour productivity. (UPSC IAS/2022)

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Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Central India’s land-use patterns, roads fragmenting gaur & sambar populations, threatening genetic diversity   

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: About National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)

Mains level: Observations made by the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)

Why in the news? 

A recent study by the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) found that land-use alterations and road construction in central India affect the genetic connectivity of two prominent herbivores: the gaur and the sambar.

What is Genetic diversity?

  • Genetic diversity refers to the variety and variability of genetic material within a species or population, essential for adaptation, resilience to environmental changes, and long-term survival of organisms.

About National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)   

  • NCBS is a premier research institute located in Bangalore, India that is part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) under the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India.
  • The mandate of NCBS is to conduct fundamental research in the frontier areas of biology, ranging from the study of single molecules to ecology and evolution.

Observations made by the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS)   

  • Impact of Habitat Modification: The NCBS study underscores the significant impact of habitat loss and fragmentation on wildlife populations, particularly highlighting how expanding linear infrastructure like highways and railway lines disrupts animal movement and genetic connectivity.
  • Genetic Connectivity of Herbivores: It is the first study in India to investigate the genetic connectivity of large herbivores, specifically the gaur and sambar, at a landscape scale. The research reveals how these species are affected differently by landscape features and human activities, influencing their genetic diversity and ability to adapt to environmental changes.
  • Conservation Urgency: The study emphasizes the urgent need for conservation measures in fragmented habitats, such as Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra, where small and genetically isolated populations of herbivores require targeted interventions to ensure their survival and genetic health.
  • Methodological Advances: Using advanced genetic techniques like next-generation sequencing (NGS) and landscape genetics, the NCBS researchers demonstrated how these tools can provide crucial insights into population dynamics, genetic diversity, and the impacts of human-induced changes on wildlife populations.

Present Issues from Tiger reserves and Wildlife sanctuaries in MP and MH

  • Habitat Fragmentation and Connectivity: Both states face significant challenges related to habitat fragmentation due to expanding linear infrastructure like highways and railway lines. These developments disrupt wildlife corridors essential for the movement of animals, leading to isolated populations and reduced genetic connectivity, as observed in the NCBS study.
  • Human-Wildlife Conflict: Increasing instances of human-wildlife conflict pose a threat to both animals and human communities living near tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. Encroachment of habitat for agriculture and settlements often results in conflicts over resources and occasionally leads to casualties among both wildlife and humans.
  • Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade: Despite conservation efforts, tiger reserves and sanctuaries in MP and MH continue to face challenges related to poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Tigers and other endangered species are targeted for their skins, bones, and other body parts, driven by demand in illegal markets.
  • Resource Extraction and Mining: Mining activities and resource extraction near protected areas pose significant environmental threats. These activities not only lead to habitat destruction but also contribute to pollution and disturbance, affecting the overall ecosystem health and biodiversity of these regions.
  • Climate Change Impacts: The effects of climate change, such as erratic weather patterns and changing rainfall regimes, also impact tiger reserves and wildlife sanctuaries in MP and MH. These changes can alter habitat suitability for wildlife species, affecting their distribution, migration patterns, and ability to adapt to new environmental conditions.

Way forward: 

  • Enhanced Habitat Connectivity and Protection: Implement measures to mitigate habitat fragmentation caused by linear infrastructure. This includes creating wildlife corridors over or under highways and railways to facilitate safe animal movement
  • Integrated Conservation and Community Engagement: Foster collaboration between local communities, conservation organizations, and government agencies to address human-wildlife conflict and illegal activities like poaching.

Mains PYQ: 

Q How does biodiversity vary in India? How is the Biological Diversity Act,2002 helpful in the conservation of flora and fauna? (UPSC IAS/2018)

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Poverty Eradication – Definition, Debates, etc.

A case of people versus Population    

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Malthus Theory of Population

Mains level: Impact of Climate Change on Population

Why in the news? 

Since 1989, July 11 has been designated as World Population Day, marking the global population surpassing the five billion mark.

About Malthus Theory of Population

  • Thomas Malthus’ Theory of Population, proposed in 1798, posited that population growth would outpace food production, leading to widespread famine and poverty.
  • He believed population grows exponentially while food production increases linearly. However, advancements in agriculture and technology have prevented the catastrophic outcomes he predicted.

Present Scenario

  • Population Growth and Food Production: Despite significant population growth, currently estimated at 8.1 billion globally, advancements in technology and agriculture have enabled food production to keep pace. This disproves Malthus’ prediction of widespread famine due to population outstripping food supply.
  • India’s Demographics: India, the most populous nation with 1.44 billion people, has seen its annual population growth rate fall below 1%, with a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2, just below the replacement level. Economic growth has surged, with per capita GDP increasing sixfold from $400 to $2,400 over the past 27 years.
  • Poverty Reduction and Challenges: The percentage of Indians living below the poverty line has decreased from 43% to 11%. However, significant disparities persist, with certain states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand accounting for 83% of the nation’s poverty. Climate change remains a critical challenge, disproportionately affecting poorer populations.

Changes in India

  • Population : Population Growth has Increased from 1 billion to 1.44 billion (44% increase). The Annual population growth rate decreased from nearly 2% to below 1%. Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has declined from 3.4 to 2, below the replacement level of 2.1.
  • Economic Indicators: Per Capita GDP has rose sixfold from $400 to $2,400, signifying substantial economic growth. And percentage of people living below the multi-dimensional poverty line decreased from 43% to 11%.
  • Life Expectancy: Increased from 61 years to 70 years, indicating improvements in healthcare and living standards.

Impact of Climate Change on Population

  • Increased Vulnerability of the Poor: Climate change disproportionately affects poorer populations in developing countries like India. Inadequate housing, infrastructure, and resources make these communities more susceptible to the adverse effects of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves.
  • Agricultural Disruption: Unpredictable weather patterns and extreme climate conditions disrupt agricultural productivity, leading to food insecurity. This particularly impacts rural populations who depend on farming for their livelihoods, exacerbating poverty and malnutrition.
  • Migration and Displacement: Climate change-induced events, such as rising sea levels and severe weather, force people to migrate from their homes. This internal displacement puts additional strain on urban areas and exacerbates existing social and economic challenges, leading to overcrowding and increased competition for resources.

Agenda of Global South Population 

  • Economic Growth and Poverty Eradication: Developing nations in the Global South prioritize economic growth to reduce poverty and improve living standards. The focus is on sustainable development, ensuring that economic progress is not compromised while addressing the immediate needs of their populations. India’s aim to achieve zero poverty within the next decade exemplifies this priority.
  • Sustainable Development and Climate Responsibility: The Global South advocates for a balanced approach to climate change, emphasizing the need for developed countries (with higher historical emissions) to take greater responsibility. The G-20 New Delhi Declaration (2023) highlights the importance of the circular economy, resource efficiency, and extended producer responsibility in achieving sustainable development without hindering economic growth.

A Pathway for the Most Populous Nation (Way Forward) 

  • Balancing Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: India must continue prioritizing economic growth to alleviate poverty and improve living standards while integrating sustainable practices. Emphasizing circular economy principles, resource efficiency, and extended producer responsibility can help decouple economic growth from environmental degradation.
  • Reducing Poverty and Inequality: Targeted efforts to address regional disparities and uplift impoverished populations are crucial. Programs focusing on education, healthcare, and infrastructure development, particularly in states with high poverty levels like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand, are essential to ensure inclusive growth.
  • Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: India should implement strategies to mitigate climate change impacts, such as investing in renewable energy, enhancing disaster resilience, and promoting sustainable agriculture. While striving for net-zero emissions by 2070, India must ensure that climate actions do not compromise its economic growth and poverty eradication goals.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Critically examine whether growing population is the cause of poverty OR poverty is the mains cause of population increase in India. (UPSC IAS/2015)

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Digital India Initiatives

What is the draft Digital Competition Bill?  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: How is an ex-post framework different from an ex-ante framework?

Mains level: Why does the draft Bill encourage an ex-ante competition regulation?

Why in the news? 

In February 2023, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) established a Committee on Digital Competition Law (CDCL) to assess the necessity for distinct legislation concerning competition within digital markets.

What is an ex-post framework?

  • An ex-post framework refers to a regulatory approach where authorities intervene and enforce regulations after potentially harmful activities or behaviors have already occurred.
  • In the context of competition law, it means that enforcement actions are taken against anti-competitive practices only after they have been observed or reported.

How is an ex-post framework different from an ex-ante framework?

Timing of Intervention:

  • Ex-post framework: Intervenes after anti-competitive conduct has occurred and its effects are observed. It relies on retrospective enforcement based on complaints or identified issues.
  • Ex-ante framework: Proactively sets rules and obligations before anti-competitive behavior happens, aiming to prevent market distortions and protect competition from potential harms.

Nature of Regulation:

  • Ex-post framework: Reactive in nature, focusing on remedial measures and enforcement actions against established instances of anti-competitive behavior.
  • Ex-ante framework: Proactive in nature, establishing upfront rules and obligations to guide behavior and prevent market abuses by dominant players before they occur.

Focus and Objectives:

  • Ex-post framework: Focuses on addressing past harms to competition, ensuring fair market practices, and correcting market distortions post-occurrence.
  • Ex-ante framework: Focuses on maintaining competitive markets, promoting innovation, and protecting consumer choice by setting clear rules and preventing anti-competitive behavior from developing in the first place.

Why does the draft Bill encourage an ex-ante competition regulation?

  • Proactive Prevention: Digital markets exhibit characteristics such as rapid growth, network effects, and economies of scale that can lead to quick and irreversible market dominance. An ex-ante framework allows regulatory authorities to preemptively set rules and obligations to prevent anti-competitive practices before they occur, thereby maintaining market competition and ensuring consumer choice.
  • Timely Intervention: The existing ex-post framework under the Competition Act, 2002 is considered inadequate for digital markets, where traditional enforcement mechanisms may be too slow to effectively address evolving market dynamics and prevent potential harms to competition. An ex-ante approach enables timely intervention and regulatory oversight to curb monopolistic tendencies and promote a level playing field for all market participants.

What framework does the European Union follow?

  • The European Union follows an ex-ante competition framework under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). It regulates large digital platforms identified as gatekeepers, imposing specific obligations to ensure fair competition.
  • Objectives: To promote competition, innovation, and consumer choice in digital markets by proactively addressing potential market distortions caused by dominant players.

What are systemically significant digital enterprises (SSDEs)?

  • SSDEs are digital enterprises identified as dominant in specific digital market segments under the draft Digital Competition Bill.Identified through quantitative tests based on financial strength and user reach in India, or qualitatively based on significant influence and market impact.
  • SSDEs are required to operate transparently, refrain from anti-competitive practices like self-preferencing and data misuse, and ensure fair access to their platforms for other businesses.

Conclusion: Ensure that the criteria used to designate SSDEs are well-defined and balanced. Conduct periodic reviews to adjust these criteria based on market dynamics and technological advancements to accurately capture entities with significant market power without overly burdening smaller players.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Examine the impact of liberalization on companies owned by Indians. Are they competing with the MNCs satisfactorily? Discuss. (UPSC IAS/2013)

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Internal Security Trends and Incidents

In 2024, Maoists suffer severe setbacks in Chhattisgarh  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: In 2024, Maoists suffer severe setbacks in Chhattisgarh

Why in the news?

As of July 9, 2024, India has recorded a total of 162 Maoist fatalities this year, with Chhattisgarh alone reporting 141 deaths.

  • This marks one of the highest casualty figures for extremists in the predominantly tribal state since the establishment of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in 2004.

 

 About Left-wing extremism in India

  • Origins and Ideology: LWE in India began with the 1967 Naxalbari uprising in West Bengal, advocating armed revolution for a Maoist communist state overthrowing the Indian government.
  • Modus Operandi: Naxalites engage in guerrilla warfare, attacking security forces, extorting, intimidating, and propagandizing. They target government, infrastructure, and economic interests, and run parallel governance in controlled areas.
  • Red corridor Areas: LWE affects several states in central and eastern India, including Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, although to varying degrees.
  • Factors Contributing to LWE: Socio-economic disparities, land alienation and displacement of local communities, and issues related to Adivasi rights have contributed to the proliferation of LWE. Left-wing extremist groups have capitalized on these grievances to gain support among marginalized communities.
  • Government Response: The Government of India has taken various measures to counter LWE, including security operations, development initiatives, and rehabilitation programs. Violence related to LWE has decreased by 76% in 2022 compared to 2010, and the geographical spread of violence has also reduced.

In 2024, Maoists suffer severe setbacks in Chhattisgarh 

  • Maoist Casualties in Chhattisgarh: In 2024, Chhattisgarh reported the highest number of Maoist deaths (141) since the formation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in 2004. This spike coincided with the return of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in December 2023.
  • Historical Context and Operations: The year 2009 saw the highest number of Maoist deaths (154) following the launch of ‘Operation Green Hunt’ by the Indian government, which included military offensives involving the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Chhattisgarh police.
  • Security Forces and Civilian Casualties: While Maoist casualties have increased recently, the number of security force personnel deaths has decreased. Civilian casualties have also reduced since their peak in 2006.
  • District-Wise Insights: Bijapur district witnessed the highest number of clashes in 2024, resulting in significant Maoist casualties. This district, along with Sukma, hosts several Border Security Force (BSF) camps, indicating intense security operations.
  • Surrenders and Operations: Despite some districts being declared ‘Maoist-free’ in recent years, significant operations continue, such as the joint BSF and District Reserve Guard operation in Kanker district resulting in top Maoist commander Shankar Rao’s death.
  • Development and Insurgency: There is a correlation between the intensity of the insurgency and lower development indicators like sanitation and literacy in districts like Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma, Bastar, and Kanker. These areas are heavily forested, complicating security operations.

Way forward: 

  • Integrated Development and Security Strategy: Implement a comprehensive strategy that integrates robust security measures with accelerated development initiatives in LWE-affected regions. This approach should prioritize improving socio-economic conditions, addressing land alienation, providing livelihood opportunities, and enhancing basic infrastructure like education and healthcare.
  • Enhanced Intelligence and Targeted Operations: Strengthen intelligence-gathering capabilities to preempt Maoist attacks and disrupt their operational networks effectively. This includes enhancing coordination among security forces, intelligence agencies, and local law enforcement to gather timely and actionable intelligence.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is showing a downward trend, but still affects many parts of the country. Briefly explain the Government of India’s approach to counter the challenges posed by LWE. (2018)

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Russia

India, Russia to boost bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2030

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Military cooperation between India and Russia

Mains level: Key highlight of 22nd Annual Summit

Why in the News? 

During the 22nd Annual Summit on Tuesday, both countries agreed to elevate bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2030. This agreement includes the use of national currencies to bypass Western sanctions.

Bilateral ties between India-Russia  

  • Long-standing strategic partnership: India and Russia have enjoyed a strong strategic partnership since the Cold War era.
    • This was further strengthened with the signing of the “Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership” in 2000, which elevated cooperation in various areas including politics, security, defense, trade, and culture.
    • In 2010, the partnership was elevated to a “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership”.
  • Robust defense cooperation: Russia is India’s largest defense partner, accounting for approximately 68% of India’s military hardware imports in 2017.
    • The two countries have an Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation that meets annually.
    • Major defense projects include the MiG-21, Su-30, and the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Economic and Trade Relations: Russia is India’s 7th largest trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching $45 billion, surpassing the target of $30 billion by 2025.
    • Key areas of economic cooperation include energy, nuclear energy, and the North-South Transport Corridor.
    • Russia is also an important partner in India’s energy security, with investments in the oil and gas sectors.
  • Geopolitical coordination: India and Russia closely collaborate on matters of shared national interest at international forums such as the UN, BRICS, G20, and SCO.
    • Russia supports India’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council and its membership in the NSG and APEC.
    • The two countries also coordinate on regional issues like Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific.

Key highlights of the 22nd Annual Summit   

  • Trade and Economic Cooperation: India and Russia have set an ambitious target to increase bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2030. They plan to use national currencies for trade to bypass Western sanctions, reflecting a strategic shift in their economic engagements.
  • Defense and Strategic Partnership: The countries discussed delays in defense supplies and committed to enhancing the co-production of defense equipment.
  • Response to Ukraine Conflict: Prime Minister Modi made a plea for ending civilian casualties and the conflict in Ukraine. Both countries called for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine conflict in their joint statement, highlighting mediation efforts and adherence to international law.
  • Institutional Agreements and MoUs: Several MoUs were signed on topics including climate change, polar research, legal arbitration, and pharmaceutical certification, demonstrating broad-based cooperation.
  • Recognition and Future Engagements: Modi received Russia’s highest civilian honor, the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. Putin invited Modi to the “Extended BRICS” summit in Kazan in October 2024, emphasizing ongoing and future high-level engagements.

Russia Offers Compensation and Citizenship to Kin of Indians Killed in War Against Ukraine

  • Expedited Discharge of Indian Recruits: President Putin accepted Prime Minister Modi’s request to expedite the discharge of Indian nationals recruited by the Russian military. Approximately 40 Indians, currently at the war front, are to be discharged through diplomatic processes.
  • Compensation and Citizenship Offer: Russia has offered compensation and citizenship to the families of Indian nationals who have been killed in the conflict in Ukraine. This move aims to provide support and recognition to the families of the deceased.

New Delhi and Moscow call for ‘zero tolerance’ towards terrorism

  • Joint Statement on Terrorism: India and Russia reiterated their strong stance against terrorism, emphasizing the need for “zero tolerance” towards all forms of terrorism.
  • Commitment to International Cooperation: Both countries underscored the importance of international cooperation to combat terrorism effectively. They highlighted the necessity for a coordinated global response to address the threat of terrorism.
  • Condemnation of Terrorist Acts: The leaders condemned terrorist acts worldwide and stressed that no cause or ideology could justify the killing of innocent people. They called for the strictest measures to combat and eliminate terrorism.

Do you know – Why Western sanctions haven’t worked on Russia?

While the U.S. and some European countries have imposed extensive sanctions, enforcement has been uneven across the coalition. Some nations lack robust mechanisms to prevent violations and struggle to track and penalise offenders effectively. Russia has found ways to sidestep restrictions on critical technologies and dual-use items by re-labelling shipments, diverting products through third countries, and exploiting loopholes in regulations.  They are:

  • Collaborative evasion tactics: Russia’s partnerships with countries like China, Iran, and North Korea enable it to circumvent sanctions and sustain its military capabilities. These strategic alliances facilitate the procurement and transfer of goods, including weapons used in Ukraine.
  • Mutual economic dependence: Europe’s reliance on Russian energy, particularly natural gas, complicates the imposition of severe sanctions without causing significant repercussions for European economies.
    • Russia’s dependence on energy export revenue also makes it reluctant to disrupt energy flows to Europe.
  • Resilience of the Russian economy: Despite the sanctions, Russia’s economy has shown remarkable adaptability. It has redirected trade to China, found alternative suppliers for critical goods, and maintained robust oil and gas sales.

 

Conclusion: India should work on broadening the range of goods and services exchanged with Russia. Focusing on sectors like pharmaceuticals, information technology, and agricultural products can reduce dependency on any single industry and promote sustainable trade growth.

Mains PYQ: 

Q What is the significance of Indo-US defence deals over Indo-Russian defence deals? Discuss with reference to stability in the Indo-Pacific region. (UPSC IAS/2020)

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Climate Change Negotiations – UNFCCC, COP, Other Conventions and Protocols

India to ratify High Seas Treaty

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: What is the High Seas Treaty?

Mains level: Comparison with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change

Why in the News? 

India has chosen to endorse and formally adopt the High Seas Treaty, a global accord aimed at conserving and safeguarding biodiversity in the oceans.

  • This treaty is frequently linked to the 2015 Paris Agreement due to its extensive scope and potential influence.

What is the ‘High Seas Treaty’ agreement?

  • The agreement being referred to is the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement, also known as the High Seas Treaty.
  • Aim: To address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, which constitute about 64% of the ocean surface.
  • Objective:  To establish a framework for governing activities in these high seas areas to ensure environmental protection, regulate resource extraction, and promote equitable sharing of benefits from marine genetic resources.
    • It operates within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and aims to strengthen international cooperation and governance for the preservation of marine biodiversity.

Significance of the Treaty:

  • Conservation of Marine Biodiversity: It covers a vast portion of the global ocean- these areas are crucial for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem functions that are vital for global marine health.
  • Governance and Regulation: The treaty establishes a framework for governing human activities in the high seas, such as fishing, mining, and bioprospecting. It seeks to regulate these activities to ensure they are sustainable and do not cause irreversible harm to marine ecosystems.
  • Global Environmental Protection: Similar to the Paris Agreement on climate change, the BBNJ Agreement represents a global effort to protect and manage resources that are essential for the well-being of present and future generations.
    • Addressing threats like overfishing and habitat destruction, it contributes to global efforts towards sustainable development and environmental conservation.
  • Equitable Sharing of Benefits: The treaty includes provisions such as pharmaceutical developments. This ensures that benefits derived from these resources are shared fairly among countries and communities, promoting global equity and access to valuable resources.
  • International Collaboration: It fosters international cooperation and collaboration in ocean governance.
    • By bringing together countries it strengthens the rule of law and promotes transparency and accountability in global ocean management.

Comparison with the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change

Dimensions  High Seas Treaty- Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) 2015 Paris Agreement 
Scope and Focus Marine biodiversity conservation in the case of BBNJ Focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate impacts
Legal Framework It integrates with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Paris Agreement operates under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Approach to Governance Promotes governance structures that facilitate cooperation among nations to achieve common environmental goals. same
Implications for Global Cooperation Underscore the importance of multilateralism and collective action in addressing global environmental challenges. same

 

Conclusion: Need to establish robust mechanisms for implementing and monitoring the BBNJ Agreement at national and international levels. This includes setting up effective reporting systems, conducting regular assessments of biodiversity conservation measures, and ensuring compliance with regulations on resource extraction and marine genetic resources.

Mains PYQ: 

Q Describe the major outcomes of the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). What are the commitments made by India in this conference? (UPSC IAS/2021)

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