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J&K – The issues around the state

Explained: The Kashmir Pandit tragedyExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Kashmiri Pandits and the hurdles in their rehabiliation


 

It is 30 years since the “exodus” from the Valley of its minority Hindu Kashmiri Pandit community.

The run-up: 1980s to 1990

  • Sheikh Abdullah had died in 1982, and the leadership of the National Conference passed on to his son Farooq Abdullah, who won the 1983 election.
  • But within two years, the Centre broke up the NC, and installed dissident Ghulam Mohammed Shah as Chief Minister. This led to huge disaffection and political instability.
  • The Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) stepped up its activities, and the hanging of the militant leader Maqbool Bhat in 1984 added to the sense of foreboding.
  • In 1986, after the Rajiv Gandhi government opened the Babri Masjid locks to enable Hindus to offer prayers there, ripples were felt in Kashmir too.
  • In Anantnag, the constituency of then Congress leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, there was a series of attacks on Hindu temples, and shops and properties of Kashmiri Pandits, blamed on separatist and secessionists.
  • Pandits had begun to be targeted. Eminent persons of the community were being shot dead.

The night of January 19, 1990

  • Matters came to a head on January 19. By then, the Farooq Abdullah government had been dismissed and Governor’s Rule imposed.
  • According to accounts published by many eminent Kashmiri Pandits, there were threatening slogans over loudspeakers from mosques, and on the streets.
  • Speeches were made extolling Pakistan and the supremacy of Islam, and against Hinduism. Finally, the Kashmiri Pandit community decided to leave.

The Gawkadal Massacre

  • On January 20, the first stream began leaving the Valley with hastily packed belongings in whatever transport they could find. A second, larger wave left in March and April, after more Pandits were killed.
  • On January 21, the CRPF gunned down 160 Kashmiri Muslim protesters at the Gawkadal Bridge, which has come to be known as the worst massacre in the long history of the conflict in Kashmir.
  • The two events — the flight of the Pandits and the Gawkadal massacre — took place within 48 hours.

How many Pandits left?

  • According to some estimates, notably by the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS), of 75,343 Kashmiri Pandit families in January 1990, more than 70,000 fled between 1990 and 1992 and continued until 2000.
  • The KPSS has placed the number of Kashmiri Pandits killed by militants from 1990 to 2011 at 399, the majority during 1989-90.
  • Some 800 families have remained in the Valley through these three decades.

Role of the administration

  • The other contentious question about the exodus is the role played by the administration, and more specifically that of the J&K Governor, Jagmohan.
  • Newly appointed, he had arrived in Srinagar on January 19.
  • The Kashmiri Muslim view of the exodus is that he encouraged the Pandits to leave the Valley and thus gave a communal colour to what was until then a non-religious Kashmiri cause.
  • The Kashmiri Hindu view is that this is a disingenuous interpretation.
  • They believe that Kashmiri Muslims, with whom they had lived amicably for centuries, drove them out with a vengeance in a frenzy of Islamism that they could not have imagined even months earlier.
  • The truth, many commentators have concluded, may have been somewhere in the middle.

The question of return

  • Those who had means rebuilt their lives elsewhere in the country — Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad have Pandit populations, also Jaipur and Lucknow — or went abroad.
  • The fleeing Pandits did not think they would never return to the Valley. But as the situation in Kashmir spiraled into a full-blown militancy, return began to look remote if not impossible.
  • The longing to return to the Valley did not diminish over the years, though it may have become more an idea than a real ambition.
  • Successive governments have promised that they will help this process, but the situation on the ground in Kashmir has meant this remains only an intention.
  • There is an acute realization in the community that the Valley is no longer the same that they left behind in 1990.
  • In many cases, their properties were either immediately vandalised or sold quickly by the owners to Kashmiri Muslims. Many fell into disrepair.
Monsoon Updates

Explained: What new monsoon dates meanExplained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Monsoon: Its onset and retreat

Mains level : Various factors causing uncertainty in monsoon predictions


 

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had decided to revise the normal onset and withdrawal dates for the monsoon in some parts of the country from this year.

Onset of Monsoon

  • The four-month southwest monsoon season, which brings as much as 70 per cent of the country’s annual rainfall, officially begins on June 1, with the onset over Kerala, and ends on September 30.
  • It takes about a month and half after onset on the Kerala coast to cover the entire country; and about a month, beginning from the northwestern parts of the country on Sept. 1 to withdraw completely.
  • Although the June 1 date for the onset of the monsoon on the Kerala coast is unlikely to be changed, the dates for onset in many other parts of the country are expected to be revised.
  • Mumbai, for example, expects to start getting rain from June 10 the revision is likely to push this date back by a few days.
  • Effectively, the monsoon is now expected to have later arrival and withdrawal dates in most parts of the country.

Why was this revision needed?

  • The main reason for the revision in the normal dates is the changes in precipitation patterns that have been taking place over the last many years.
  • In the last 13 years, for example, only once has the onset over the Kerala coast happened on June 1.
  • While two or three days of earlier or later onset falls within the yearly variability in several years the onset happened five to seven days late.
  • Similarly, the commencement of withdrawal has happened in the first week of September only twice during this period, and last year, the withdrawal started as late as October 9 — and was completed in around just a week.

Recent peculiarity with the exam

  • One of the significant changes being noticed is that rainfall is getting increasingly concentrated within a narrow band of days within the monsoon season.
  • So, there are extremely wet days followed by prolonged periods of dry days.
  • IMD data show that over several previous years, nearly 95 per cent of monsoon precipitation in 22 major cities of the country had happened over a period of just three to 27 days.
  • Delhi, for example, had received almost 95 per cent of its monsoon rainfall over just 99 hours. And half of Mumbai’s monsoon rain had fallen over just 134 hours, or five and a half days, on average.

Regional variations

  • Patterns of regional variations in rainfall are also changing
  • Areas that have traditionally received plenty of rainfall are often remaining dry, while places that are not expected to get a lot of monsoon rain have sometimes been getting flooded.
  • Climate change could be one of the factors driving these changes, but there could be other reasons as well.

What will be the impact of IMD’s move?

For Farmers

  • The revisions are meant to reflect the changes in precipitation patterns in recent years.
  • New dates will likely nudge farmers in some parts of the country to make slight adjustments in the time of sowing their crops.
  • It would definitely have an impact on our agriculture practices — when to start sowing, when to harvest.
  • So, even if there is a delay in the arrival of monsoon by three to four days over a region, it would not matter much if there is a fairly good rainfall distribution thereafter.
  • The change in dates would affect water management practices as well.

For Industries

  • The planning that goes to beat the heat — several cities execute heat action plans — just ahead of the monsoon would have to factor in the need to be prepared for longer periods of heat.
  • Rajeevan said many other activities including industrial operations, the power sector, or those using cooling systems, would also need to change their behaviour.
  • The power grid can, for example, have more realistic planning for peak periods of electricity consumption in certain months.

Way Forward

  • The changed dates are expected to be announced in April, when the IMD makes its first forecast for the monsoon.
  • Agro-meteorologists, however, agree that more than the onset, it is the information about the spatio-temporal distribution of rainfall that will be more helpful for farmers.
  • Ultimately, the change in normal dates of the onset and withdrawal of the monsoon would help people understand when to expect rains, and to plan their activities accordingly.
Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Explained: What is the NIA Act, and why is Chhattisgarh challenging it?Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIA Act

Mains level : Policing Issues with NIA


The Chhattisgarh state govt. moved the Supreme Court against the 2008 National Investigative Agency (NIA) Act, stating it is violative of the Constitution. In its civil suit, the government told the apex court the NIA should have no power over state policing matters.

What is the NIA Act, 2008?

  • The NIA Act, 2008 governs the functioning of India’s premier counter-terror agency.
  • It was introduced by then home minister P Chidambaram in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks and was passed in Parliament with very little opposition.
  • The Act makes the NIA the only truly federal agency in the country, along the lines of the FBI in the United States, more powerful than the CBI.
  • It gives the NIA powers to take suo motu cognizance of terror activities in any part of India and register a case, to enter any state without permission from the state government, and to investigate and arrest people.

Objections made by CG

  • In its petition, the Chhattisgarh govt. said the Act is “ultra vires the Constitution” and “beyond the legislative competence of the Parliament”.
  • According to the state, the 2008 Act allows the Centre to create an agency for investigation, which is a function of the state police.
  • ‘Police’ is an entry in the State List of the Constitution’s 7th Schedule.
  • The petition says the 2008 Act takes away the state’s power of conducting an investigation through the police, while conferring unfettered, discretionary and arbitrary powers” on the Centre.
  • The provisions of the Act leave no room of coordination and pre-condition of consent, in any form whatsoever, by the Centre from the State govt. which clearly repudiates the idea of state sovereignty as envisaged under the Constitution.

Changes made to the NIA’s powers last year

  • The 2019 NIA Amendment Act expanded the type of offences that the investigative body could investigate and prosecute.
  • The agency can now investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
  • The amendment also enables the central government to designate sessions courts as special courts for NIA trials.
  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA), also passed in 2019, allows an NIA officer to conduct raids, and seize properties that are suspected to be linked to terrorist activities without taking prior permission of the DG of Police of a state.
  • The investigating officer only requires sanction from the Director General of NIA.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Article 131, on which Kerala has based its challenge to the CAAExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 131, 32, 226

Mains level : Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts


  • The Kerala government moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act becoming the first state to challenge the law.
  • It filed a petition under Article 131 of the Constitution and asked for the law to be declared unconstitutional and in violation of Articles 14 (equality before law), 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) and 25 (freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion).

What is Article 131 of the Constitution?

  • The Article vests the Supreme Court with original jurisdiction over disputes occurring between states or between states and the Centre.
  • The original jurisdiction of a court means the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, in which the court reviews the decision of a lower court.
  • Unlike the original jurisdiction under Article 32 (which gives the top court the power to issue writs, etc.), the jurisdiction in Article 131 is exclusive, meaning it is only the Supreme Court which has this authority.
  • Under Article 226, the High Courts too have the power to issue writs, directions etc.

Original jurisdiction

  • Article 131 reads, “Original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. — Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Supreme Court shall, to the exclusion of any other court, have original jurisdiction in any dispute —

(a) between the Government of India and one or more States; or
(b) between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
(c) between two or more States,
if and in so far as the dispute involves any question (whether of law or fact) on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends:

  • The said jurisdiction shall not extend to a dispute arising out of any treaty, agreement, covenant, engagement, sanad, or other similar instrument which, having been entered into or executed before the commencement of this Constitution.
  • However they continue in operation after such commencement, or which provides, that the said jurisdiction shall not extend to such a dispute.

What kinds of disputes are covered under Article 131?

  • In ‘State of Rajasthan vs Union of India’, 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that the existence or extent of a legal right is a precursor before a suit under Article 131 is entertained. But mere wrangles between governments have no place in the scheme of that Article.
  • Similarly, in the 1978 case, ‘State of Karnataka vs Union of India’, which involved the Centre’s authority to order an inquiry into a state Chief Minister’s conduct, jurisdiction under Article 131 was held valid.
  • In the present case filed by Kerala, central legislation (CAA) is being challenged. In 2011, a two-judge Supreme Court Bench in ‘Madhya Pradesh v Union of India’ had held such a suit was not maintainable.
  • Later in 2013, another two-judge Bench in ‘State of Jharkhand v State of Bihar and Another’ disagreed with the previous verdict and referred the matter to a larger Bench. Kerala’s plaint relies on the 2013 verdict.
Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Explained: Commissionerate SystemExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Police Commissionerate System

Mains level : Read the attached story


The UP Cabinet has approved the Commissionerate system of policing for state capital Lucknow, and Noida.

The Police Commissionerate System

  • The system gives more responsibilities, including magisterial powers, to IPS officers of Inspector General of Police (IG) rank posted as commissioners.
  • Under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, ‘Police’ is under the State list, meaning individual states typically legislate and exercise control over this subject.
  • In the arrangement in force at the district level, a ‘dual system’ of control exists, in which the Superintendent of Police (SP) has to work with the District Magistrate (DM) for supervising police administration.
  • At the metropolitan level, many states have replaced the dual system with the commissionerate system, as it is supposed to allow for faster decision-making to solve complex urban-centric issues.

Additional powers to Police

  • In this system, the Commissioner of Police (CP) is the head of a unified police command structure, is responsible for the force in the city, and is accountable to the state government.
  • The office also has magisterial powers, including those related to regulation, control, and licensing.
  • The CP is drawn from the Deputy Inspector General rank or above, and is assisted by Special/Joint/Additional/Deputy Commissioners.

Where is the system in force?

  • Previously, only four cities had the system: Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai.
  • However, with rapid urbanisation, states felt an increasing need to replicate the system in more places.
  • The sixth National Police Commission report, which was released in 1983, recommended the introduction of a police Commissionerate system in cities with a population of 5 lakh and above, as well as in places having special conditions.
  • Over the years, it has been extended to numerous cities, including Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. By January 2016, 53 cities had this system, a PRS study said.
  • Depending on its success, the policing system may gradually be implemented in other districts as well.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Doctrine of ‘Presumption of Constitutionality’ExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Doctrine of ‘Presumption of Constitutionality’

Mains level : Read the attached story


Recently the Supreme Court declined urgent hearing on a plea seeking to declare the CAA as constitutional and said that there was already a “presumption of constitutionality” to a law passed by Parliament.  CJI has said that the court’s role was to examine the validity, and not declare a law constitutional.

Doctrine of Presumption of Constitutionality

  • The term ‘presumption of constitutionality’ is a legal principle that is used by courts during statutory interpretation — the process by which courts interpret and apply a law passed by the legislature, such as Parliament.
  • In the 1992 Supreme Court case ‘ML Kamra v New India Assurance’, Justice K Ramaswamy said: “The court ought not to interpret the statutory provisions, unless compelled by their language, in such a manner as would involve its unconstitutionality.
  • The legislature of the rule making authority is presumed to enact a law which does not contravene or violate the constitutional provisions.
  • Therefore, there is a presumption in favour of constitutionality of a legislation or statutory rule unless ex facie it violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.
  • If the provisions of a law or the rule is construed in such a way as would make it consistent with the Constitution and another interpretation would render the provision or the rule unconstitutional, the Court would lean in favour of the former construction. ” (“ex facie” meaning ‘on the face’)

When does this apply?

  • It is a cardinal principle of construction that the Statute and the Rule or the Regulation must be held to be constitutionally valid unless and until it is established they violate any specific provision of the Constitution.
  • Further it is the duty of the Court to harmoniously construe different provisions of any Act or Rule or Regulation, if possible, and to sustain the same rather than striking down the provisions out right.
  • The presumption is not absolute, however, and does not stand when there is a gross violation of the Constitution.

Limitations to the doctrine

  • A three-judge Bench in ‘NDMC v State of Punjab’ (1996) spoke of the limitations to the doctrine.
  • The Bench observed that the Doctrine is not one of infinite application; it has recognised limitations.
  • The Court has consistently followed a policy of not putting an unnatural and forced meaning on the words that have been used by the legislature in the search for an interpretation which would save the statutory provisions.
Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

Explained: The fundamentals of the Indian EconomyExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fundamentals as mentioned in the newscard

Mains level : Fundamentals of Indian Economy


PM Modi highlighted the strong absorbent capacity of the Indian economy while referring to certain fundamentals. He emphasized the strength of these basic fundamentals in absorbing the shocks of ongoing economic slowdown.

What are the ‘fundamentals of an economy’?

  • The PM has reiterated a phrase of reassurance — underscoring the strong fundamentals of the Indian economy — that has been often used by policymakers in the past when the economy is seen to be faltering.
  • When one talks about the fundamentals of an economy, one wants to look at economy-wide variables such as the overall GDP growth, the overall unemployment rate, the level of fiscal deficit, the valuation of a country’s currency against the US dollar, the savings and investment rates in an economy, the rate of inflation, the current account balance, the trade balance etc.
  • There is intuitive wisdom in looking at these “fundamentals” of an economy when it goes through a tough phase.
  • Such an analysis, when done honestly, can give a sense of how deep the strain in an economy run.
  • It can answer the question whether the current crisis just an exaggerated response to a sectoral problem or is there something more “fundamentally” wrong with the economy that needs urgent attention and “structural” reform.
  • To be sure about the broader health of the economy, one looks at the broader variables. That way, one reduces the chances of getting the diagnosis wrong.

Their relevance

  • The first advance estimates of national income for the current financial year, released earlier in the week, found that nominal GDP was expected to grow at just 7.5% in 2019-20.
  • This is the lowest since 1978. Real GDP is calculated after deducting the rate of inflation from the nominal GDP growth rate.
  • So, if for argument sake, the inflation for this financial year is 4%, then the real GDP growth would be just 3.5%.
  • Just for perspective, the Union Budget presented in July 2019 expected a real GDP growth of 8% to 8.5% and a nominal GDP growth of 12% to 12.5%, with a 4% inflation level.

So, what is the current state of the fundamentals?

The data on most variables that one may call as fundamentals of the Indian economy are struggling.

  • Growth rate — both nominal and real — has decelerated sharply; now trending at multi-decade lows. Gross Value Added, which maps economic growth by looking at the incomes-generated is even lower; and its weakness in across most of the sectors that traditionally generated high levels of employment.
  • Inflation is up but the consolation is that the spike is largely due to transient factors.
  • However, a US-Iran type of conflagration could result is a sharp hike in oil prices and, as such, domestic inflation may rise in the medium term.
  • Unemployment is also at the highest in several decades.According to some calculations, between 2012 and 2018, India witnessed a decline in the absolute number of employed people — the first instance in India’s history.
  • Fiscal deficit, which is proxy for the health of government finances, is on paper within reasonable bounds but over the years, the credibility of this number has come into question. Many, including the CAG, has opined that the actual fiscal deficit is much higher than what is officially accepted.
  • Bucking the trend, the current account deficit, is in a much better state but trade weakness continues as do the weakness of the rupee against the dollar; although on the rupee-dollar issue, a case can be made that the rupee is still overvalued and thus hurting India’s exports.
  • Similarly, while the benchmark stock indices have run up, and grabbed all attention, the broader stock indices like the BSE500 have struggled.
Goods and Services Tax (GST)

Explained: Voting at the GST CouncilExplainedPriority 1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GST Council

Mains level : Functioning of the GST Council


  • Breaking the tradition of consensus-based decisions in its 37 earlier meetings, the GST Council voted for the first time in its 38th meeting held on December 18.

GST Council voting rules

  • As per The Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016, in case of a voting, every decision of the GST Council has to be taken by a majority of not less than three-fourths of the weighted votes of the members present.
  • The vote of the central government has a weightage of one-third of the total votes cast, and the votes of all the state governments taken together have a weightage of two-thirds of the total votes cast in that meeting.
  • As of now, out of the total 30 states and UTs (excluding J&K), 20 are ruled by the NDA.
  • This essentially means that a vote in the Council could largely be an academic exercise — unless a number of the BJP’s allies switch sides.

Impacts of imbibing Voting

  • With the precedent of voting now established, consensus at the Council could be challenged again in the future.
  • The rules of voting in the GST Council are such that the odds are stacked in favour of the Centre in the normal course.
  • However, in case of a vote, any disagreements within the ruling coalition at the Centre may bring its support below the three-fourths majority that is needed for the passage of a decision.

Way Forward

  • Differences of opinion are likely to crop up on proposals to raise rates, especially of the lower slabs, in the future — a concern that made most states rule out an immediate rate hike in the last Council meeting, even as they were in agreement over a broader overhaul of the GST structure.
  • So far, even if states voiced their differences over a proposal in the Council, all decisions had been taken by consensus in the meetings of the GST Council.
  • With a departure from the consensus approach having been made, there could be more instances of voting exercises going forward — especially as revenue-raising measures come up in future meetings.

Back2Basics

GST Council

  • The GST Council is a federal body that aims to bring together states and the Centre on a common platform for the nationwide rollout of the indirect tax reform.
  • It is an apex member committee to modify, reconcile or to procure any law or regulation based on the context of goods and services tax in India.
  • The GST Council dictates tax rate, tax exemption, the due date of forms, tax laws, and tax deadlines, keeping in mind special rates and provisions for some states.
  • The predominant responsibility of the GST Council is to ensure to have one uniform tax rate for goods and services across the nation.

How is the GST Council structured?

  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is governed by the GST Council. Article 279 (1) of the amended Indian Constitution states that the GST Council has to be constituted by the President within 60 days of the commencement of the Article 279A.
  • According to the article, GST Council will be a joint forum for the Centre and the States. It consists of the following members:
  1. The Union Finance Minister will be the Chairperson
  2. As a member, the Union Minister of State will be in charge of Revenue of Finance
  3. The Minister in charge of finance or taxation or any other Minister nominated by each State government, as members.

Terms of reference

  • Article 279A (4) specifies that the Council will make recommendations to the Union and the States on the important issues related to GST, such as, the goods and services will be subject or exempted from the Goods and Services Tax.
  • They lay down GST laws, principles that govern the following:
  1. Place of Supply
  2. Threshold limits
  3. GST rates on goods and services
  4. Special rates for raising additional resources during a natural calamity or disaster
  5. Special GST rates for certain States
Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

Explained: First Advance Estimates (FAE)Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GDP, GNP, GVA etc.

Mains level : First Advance Estimates


The First Advance Estimates (FAE) were recently released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI).

The First Advance Estimates and their significance

  • The First Advance Estimates (FAE) extrapolate a variety of data, such as the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), the financial performance of listed companies, first advance estimates of crop production etc., for the first 7 to 8 months to arrive at the annual figure.
  • The significance of the FAE is that this is the final bit of official data before the government presents its next Budget.
  • The sector-wise Estimates are obtained by extrapolation of indicators like-
  1. IIP of first 7 months of the financial year,
  2. financial performance of Listed Companies in the Private Corporate sector available upto quarter ending September, 2019
  3. 1st Advance Estimates of Crop production,
  4. accounts of Central & State Governments, information on indicators like Deposits & Credits, Passenger and Freight earnings of Railways, Passengers and Cargo handled by Civil Aviation, Cargo etc., available for first 8 months of the financial year”.

Estimates for 2018-19

  • It estimated India’s GDP will grow by just 5 per cent in the current financial year (2019-20). Last financial year, 2018-19, the Indian economy grew at 6.8 per cent.
  • The gross value added (GVA), which maps the economic activity from the income side as against the GDP which maps it from the expenditure side, is expected to grow by 4.9 per cent in 2019-20 as against 6.6 per cent in 2018-19.

Drivers of the GDP

There are four main drivers of the GDP:

  • One, the private consumption expenditure – that is the expenditure that you and I make in our personal capacity. This category has grown by just 5.7 per cent in 2019-20 while it grew by 8 per cent last financial year.
  • The second driver is the expenditure made by the Government. This grew by 10.5 per cent, which is higher than the rate of growth (9.2 per cent) in the last financial year.
  • But the most disappointing number is the deceleration in business investments in the economy.
  • This driver, which is the key to sustainable long-term growth, grew by less than 1 per cent; last financial year it grew by 10 per cent.
  • This shows that while the private consumption demand is tepid, businesses have completely turned off the tap on new investments despite the government making a once-in-generation cut in corporate taxes.

Performance in terms of GVA

  • The GVA data provides a detailed picture. Given that the overall GVA has decelerated sharply, almost all sectors have witnessed slower growth in economic activity.
  • Only “Public Administration, Defence and Other Services,“ which essentially measures how the government did, grew by 9.1 per cent.
  • All other sectors saw a GVA growth that was slower than the average growth in the last financial year.
  • The worst performing sectors are ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing’, ‘Mining and Quarrying’, ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Construction’, which are expected to see a GVA growth of 2.8 per cent, 1.5 per cent, 2.0 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively.

Back2Basics

Real vs. Nominal GDP

  • GDP is the total market value of all goods and services produced in the economy during a particular year, inclusive of all taxes and subsidies on products.
  • The market value taken at current prices is the nominal GDP.
  • The value taken at constant prices — that is prices for all products taken at an unchanged base year (2011) — is the real GDP.
  • In simple terms, real GDP is nominal GDP stripped of inflation.
  • Real GDP growth thus measures how much the production of goods and services in the economy has increased in actual physical terms during a year.
  • Nominal GDP growth, on the other hand, is a measure of the increase in incomes resulting from rise in both production and prices.
Wetland Conservation

Explained: India’s policies for ‘Urban Lakes’Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Urban lakes in India

Mains level : Wetland conservation in India


Context

  • Historically, cities were built along waterways or lakes.
  • Over time, human settlements near water bodies and lakes have transformed the natural environment into the towns and cities we see today.
  • Urban lakes are an important part of city ecosystems as they play a major role in providing environmental, social and economic services.

Famous Urban Lakes in India

Carambolim (Goa), Chilika (Odisha), Dal (Jammu and Kashmir), Deepor Beel (Assam), Khabartal (Bihar), Kolleru (Andhra Pradesh), Loktak (Manipur), Naini (Uttrakhand), Nalsarovar (Gujarat), and Vembanad (Kerala)

Threats to these Lakes

These lake ecosystems are presently endangered due to anthropogenic disturbances caused by Urbanisation as they have been heavily degraded due to pollution from disposal of untreated local sewage or due to encroachment, resulting in shrunken lakes.

Why conserve them?

  • Lakes in urban areas provide us with prime opportunities for recreation, tourism and domestic purposes.
  • They hold historical and traditional values and at places are a source of water supply for a municipality.
  • Appropriate lake function can ease the impact of floods and droughts by storing large amounts of water and releasing it during shortages.
  • Lakes also help in replenishing groundwater level as they are essential receptors for groundwater recharge, positively influencing water quality of downstream watercourses and preserving the biodiversity and habitat of the surrounding area.
  • Lakes in urban areas are also used as a source of water for industries, irrigation and agriculture.

Defining Urban Lakes

  • There is no specific definition for ‘urban lakes’ in India.
  • According to the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP), a water body having a minimum depth of three metres, spread over more than 10 hectares, and having no or very little aquatic vegetation, is considered as a lake.

The definition provided by NLCP is based on broad hydrological and morphometry criteria of a lake:

  • The apparent definition of urban lakes seems to those located entirely within city limits (census town) and directly surrounded by urban developments, with some recreation facilities limited to the shoreline area (parks, playgrounds).

OR

  • The lakes which are predominantly affected by urban human populations and their drainage basin is dominated by urbanisation, rather than geology, soils or agriculture. Such lakes are situated only partially within city limits, or attached but not necessarily surrounded, entirely by city development.

Issues with the definition

  • One of the obstacles for effective protection of these interlinked lakes in cities is the lack of a clear definition of an ‘urban lake’ in the Indian context.
  • The definition provided under the guideline of NLCP acknowledges only broad hydrological criteria to define a water body as a lake.
  • This definition ignores the fact that the water depth and spread keep changing every year, depending on various environmental factors.
  • In fact, there are very few urban lakes that fit into this definition since most of them occupy a small area (<10 ha), are seasonal and shallow.

Various policy measures

Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act in 1974

  • Planning interventions for water bodies started as early as 1927.
  • In the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act in 1974, directions were given to control the flow of sewage and industrial effluents into water bodies.

Ramsar Convention

  • The need for lake conservation was felt when India became a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 1982.
  • The Convention called for the conservation and wise use of wetlands (including water bodies).
  • Twenty-six Ramsar sites, covering an area of 689,000 ha, were identified in India.

National Wetland Conservation Programme

  • The Indian government operationalised the Programme in closed collaboration with concerned state governments during 1985-86 under the MoEFCC notification.
  • Recognising the importance of lakes, the Ministry launched NLCP, a centrally sponsored scheme exclusively aimed at restoring the water quality and ecology of lakes in different parts of the country.
  • Under the programme, 115 wetlands were identified, which required urgent conservation and management initiatives.
  • The selection of lakes was on hydrological (Lake size over 10 acres or 3 acres if of religious and cultural importance and lake depth more than three metres), scientific and administrative criteria.
  • The scheme was approved by the Union government during the Ninth Plan (June 2001) as 100 per cent central grant.
  • From 100 per cent central funding, the costs are now shared according to a ratio of 70:30 between the Union and the concerned state government.

Repair, Renovation and Restoration of Waterbodies’ Scheme

  • In continuation with the NLCP, the Centre had launched this Scheme in 2005,
  • The objectives of the scheme were comprehensive improvement and restoration of traditional waterbodies, including increasing tank storage capacity, ground water recharge, etc.

National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA)

  • Later, in 2016, the National Lake Conservation Plan was merged with National Wetlands Conservation Programme to form NPCA.
  • The principal objectives of NPCA are holistic conservation and the restoration of lakes and wetlands through an integrated and multidisciplinary approach with a common regulatory framework.
  • All lakes that were a part of NLCP, were brought under this scheme, and are being restored till date.

Why Urban Lakes still needs more attention?

  • Even after 26 years of pollution abatement works, only ten per cent of waste water generated in the country is treated.
  • The rest collects as cess pools or is discharged into the 14 major, 55 minor and several hundred other rivers.
  • It is quite clear that the overall status of quality of water in rivers, lakes and its links to groundwater has not been adequately addressed.
  • Out of the 43 Indian guidelines passed by the central and state government, 41 per cent of those talk about conservation and restoration of waterbodies but only 10 per cent exactly describe the conservative measure.
  • Only 22 per cent of the guidelines are on subjects related to policies to be adopted by state government, urban local bodies etc.
  • This clearly identifies the missing links and marks the future prospects that India should adopt for the preparation of better and sustainable lake management plans.

Need for a comprehensive Lake Management Plan

  • ‘Lake management planning’ is an approach for different stakeholders to come together with a common interest in improving and protecting their lake.
  • Focusing on planning process rather than quick-fix solutions makes lake rejuvenation a manageable process.
  • Moreover, it guides how time and resources are utilised, keeping future sustainability of the lake in account.  It includes:
  1. Encourages partnerships between concerned citizens, special interest groups, government body and water resources management practitioners
  2. Identifies the concerns regarding the catchment/watershed of the lake
  3. Sets realistic goals, objectives, and (short, medium and long-term) actions, and identifies needed funds and personnel.

Conclusion

  • Under the Jal Shakti mission and AMRUT, the revival /rejuvenation of water bodies is in piecemeal approach, with short-term measures like beautification, enhancing recreational activities, addressing immediate solid waste dumping into waterbody etc.
  • Although cities have initiated to work towards water bodies’ rejuvenation, the long-term approach is still missing.

Way Forward

  • Since a lake is a reflection of its catchment area, it is essential to first understand the significant changes or trends concerning the primary land uses within the catchment area / watershed draining into the lake.
  • There is no approach which defines the planning process for preparation of short, medium and long-term action plans for lake rejuvenation, considering its watershed area.
  • It is essential to have a document with clear understanding of the lake’s watershed area, with specific goals, objectives, producing time-bound action plans.
  • Conservation of Lakes and wetlands through an integrated and multidisciplinary approach with a common regulatory framework should be carried out.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Preamble to the Constitution of IndiaExplained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Preamble

Mains level : Preamble: It features, significance and amendments


In the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, many have held up the Preamble as reflective of the essence of the Constitution of India for Secularism.

Preamble

  • The Preamble to the Constitution of India is a brief introductory statement that sets out guidelines, which guide the people of the nation, and to present the principles of the Constitution, and to indicate the source from which the document derives its authority, and meaning.
  • The hopes and aspirations of the people are described in it.
  • The preamble can be referred to as the preface which highlights the entire Constitution.
  • It was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and came into effect on 26 January 1950, celebrated as the Republic day in India.

Resolution and discussion

  • The Preamble is based on the Objective Resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on December 13, 1946.
  • The Resolution was adopted on January 22, 1947.
  • On October 17, 1949, the Constituent Assembly presided by Rajendra Prasad took up the Preamble for discussion.

The heart and soul

  • In the Berubari Case (1960) Supreme Court held the view that Preamble cannot be a part of the constitution but later in Kesavananda Bharati Case (1973), the Supreme Court gave a comprehensive verdict.
  • It said that Preamble is part of the Constitution and is subject to the amending power of the parliament as are any other provisions of the Constitution, provided the basic structure of the Constitution is not destroyed.
  • It has been clarified by the Supreme Court that being a part of the Constitution, the Preamble can be subjected to Constitutional Amendments exercised under article 368, however, the basic structure cannot be altered.
  • Therefore it is considered as the heart and soul of the Constitution.

Amendments

  • The original Preamble, adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, declared India a “Sovereign Democratic Republic”.
  • By the 42nd Amendment of 1976, enacted during the Emergency, the words “Socialist” and “Secular” were inserted; the Preamble now reads “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”.
Higher Education – RUSA, NIRF, HEFA, etc.

Explained: How Indian govt set up IITs with help from several countriesExplained


  • Recently a German student at IIT Madras was asked to leave the country “immediately”, days after he attended protests against the CAA and the proposed NRC.
  • As it happens, IIT Madras was established with the help of West German technical expertise more than six decades ago.
  • Apart from Madras, the Bombay, Kanpur, and Delhi IITs were also founded with assistance derived from foreign collaborations.

Why did India decide to rope in foreign countries for setting up IITs, and which countries helped?

  • The idea of developing modern engineering education took shape after British rule ended.
  • Then PM Jawaharlal Nehru implemented the blueprint with the first IIT, established at Kharagpur in the eastern part of India in July 1951.
  • Nehru wanted Indian engineering schools to be among the best in the world, so he enlisted some of the leading higher education institutions of the West to develop them.
  • Seeking external technical and financial help was also inevitable as national resources were inadequate for the task.
  • Help from different countries also meant a diversified engineering and technical education system would result.
  • Politically, such an amalgamation fit with Nehru’s vision of nonalignment with any superpower.

The First IIT

  • The first IIT at Kharagpur in West Bengal established in 1951 drew faculty members from the US, UK, Ireland, France, USSR, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Poland.

IIT Bombay – USSR

  • For the second IIT at Bombay, the UNESCO arranged the donation of equipment and technical expertise from the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries in 1956.
  • The institute has received substantial assistance in the form of equipment and expert services from the USSR through the UNESCO from 1956 to 1973.
  • Under the bilateral agreement of 1965, the Government of USSR provided additional assistance to supplement the Aid Programme already received by the institute through UNESCO.

IIT Madras – West Germany

  • The third IIT was set up in 1959 after the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) offered assistance to set up the institute during PM Nehru’s visit to the country in 1956.
  • Subsequently, an Indo-German agreement was signed at Bonn in 1959 which provided for the services of German professors and training facilities for Indian faculty members and the supply of scientific and technical equipment.

IIT Kanpur – USA

  • Established in 1959, this IIT was developed under collaboration with American researchers as part of the Kanpur Indo-American Programme.
  • During the period 1962-72, the Institute received technical assistance under KIAP from a consortium of nine leading Institutions of USA.
  • Under the program, faculty members from these Institutions assisted the Institute in the setting up of the academic programs and development of laboratories for instruction as well as research.

IIT Delhi – UK

  • This was the fifth IIT, established in 1961.
  • The GoI negotiated with the British Government for collaboration in setting up an Institute of Technology at Delhi.
  • The British Government agreed in principle to such a collaboration, but were inclined initially to start in a modest way.
  • It was therefore agreed that a College of Engineering & Technology should be established at Delhi with their assistance.
  • Later H.R.H. Prince Philips, Duke of Edinburgh, during his visit to India, laid the foundation stone of the College at Hauz Khas on January 28, 1959.

Back2Basics

Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)

  • The IITs are autonomous public institutes of higher education governed by the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961.
  • This act has declared them as institutions of national importance and lays down their powers, duties, and framework for governance.
  • Each IIT is autonomous, linked to the others through a common council (IIT Council), which oversees their administration.
  • The Minister of Human Resource Development is the ex officio Chairperson of the IIT Council.
  • The resident of India is the most powerful person in the organizational structure of Indian Institutes of Technology, being the ex officio Visitor and having residual powers.
  • In the 2019 QS World University Ranking, IIT Bombay ranked highest at 162, followed by IIT Delhi (172), IIT Madras (264), IIT Kanpur (283), IIT Kharagpur (295), IIT Roorkee (381) and IIT Guwahati (472).
Citizenship and Related Issues

National Population Register (NPR)Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NPR, NRC, Census

Mains level : Debate over CAA


 

The Union Cabinet has approved a proposal to conduct Census 2021 and update the National Population Register (NPR). While the Census will be conducted in 2021, the NPR update will take place from April to September 2020 in all the States/UTs except Assam.

This has sparked debate another debate about privacy. The NPR intends to collect many details of personal data on residents.

What is the National Population Register (NPR)?

  • The NPR is a register of usual residents of the country. It is mandatory for every usual resident of India to register in the NPR.
  • It includes both Indian citizens as well as a foreign citizen.
  • The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country.
  • The first NPR was prepared in 2010 and updating this data was done during 2015 by conducting door to door survey.
  • The next update of the NPR will take place next year from April to September with the Houselisting phase of the Census 2021.
  • It is being prepared at the local (Village/sub-Town), sub-District, District, State and National level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

What is the meaning of usual resident?

  • According to the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, a usual resident is a person who has resided in a local area for the past 6 months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next 6 months or more.

What is the Census?

  • The Census is the enumeration of the population of the country.
  • It is being conducted at an interval of 10 years.
  • The Census 2021 will be 16th census in the country since the first census happened in 1872. However, it will be 8th census after the Independence.
  • For the first time, the Census 2021 will use the Mobile App for data collection. It will also provide a facility to the public for self-enumeration.

What is the difference between NPR and NRC?

  • The NPR is different from the National Register of Citizens which excludes the foreign citizens.
  • According to the Citizenship Rules 2003, a Population Register is ‘the register containing details of persons usually residing in a village or rural area or town or ward or demarcated area (demarcated by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration) within a ward in a town or urban area.
  • Whereas, the ‘National Register of Indian Citizens’ is a register containing details of Indian Citizens living in India and outside India.

What is the link between NPR and NRC?

  • The Citizenship Act empowers the government to compulsorily register every citizen and maintain a National Register of Indian Citizens. A nationwide NRC — if undertaken — would flow out of NPR.
  • This does not necessarily mean that an NRC must follow NPR — no such register was compiled after the previous NPR in 2010.
  • After a list of residents is created, a nationwide NRC — if it happens — could go about verifying the citizens from that list.

Issues with the states

  • Citizenship, aliens and naturalization are subject matters listed in List 1 of the Seventh Schedule that fall exclusively under the domain of Parliament.
  • Legally, the states have no say in implementing or ruling out NPR.
  • However, given that the manpower is drawn from the states, the defiance could potentially result in a showdown.

MHA’s clarification

  • It issued a statement denying any proposal to conduct a nationwide NRC based on the NPR data.
  • The NPR is among a host of identity databases such as Aadhaar, voter card, passport and more that Home Minister Shah said he would like to see combined into one card.
Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: What connects the NPR, NRC and Census?Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NPR, NRC, Census

Mains level : Read the attached story


  • Protests are widespread all across the country against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the proposed NRC.
  • Meanwhile few states such as West Bengal and Kerala suspended work related to the preparation and update of the National Population Register (NPR) in their respective States.
  • The NPR, a register of residents of the country with demographic and biometric details, was supposed to be prepared between April 2020 and September 2020 ahead of the Census slated for 2021.
  • Preliminary work on the NPR has already begun in several States.

What is the National Population Register (NPR)?

  • The NPR is a database containing a list of all usual residents of the country.Its objective is to have a comprehensive identity database of people residing in the country.
  • It is generated through house-to-house enumeration during the “house-listing” phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years.
  • A usual resident for the purposes of NPR is a person who has resided in a place for six months or more, and intends to reside there for another six months or more.
  • Once the basic details of the head of the family are taken by the enumerator, an acknowledgement slip will be issued. This slip may be required for enrolment in NPR, whenever that process begins.
  • And, once the details are recorded in every local (village or ward), sub-district (tehsil or taluk), district and State level, there will be a population register at each of these levels.
  • Together, they constitute the National Population Register.

Why NPR is under fire?

  • Various groups have been protesting against the compilation of the NPR alleging that it had nothing to with the Census, but the “first step to initiate the NRC”.

How NPR is different from Census?

  • The census involves a detailed questionnaire — there were 29 items to be filled up in the 2011 census — aimed at eliciting the particulars of every person, including age, sex, marital status, children, occupation, birthplace, mother tongue, religion, disability and whether they belonged to any SC or ST.
  • On the other hand, the NPR collects basic demographic data and biometric particulars.
  • While the census is legally backed by the Census Act, 1948, the NPR is a mechanism outlined in a set of rules framed under the Citizenship Act, 1955.

What is the legal basis for the NPR?

  • Section 14A was inserted in the Citizenship Act, 1955, in 2004, providing for the compulsory registration of every citizen of India and the issue of a “national identity card” to him or her.
  • It also said the Central government may maintain a “National Register of Indian Citizens”.
  • The Registrar General India shall act as the “National Registration Authority” (and will function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration). Incidentally, the Registrar General is also the country’s Census Commissioner.
  • The NPR is the first step towards establishing the NRIC.

Is there any link between the NPR and Aadhaar?

  • Better targeting and delivery of benefits and services under the government was one of the early objectives of the NPR.
  • During the early days of the NPR enrolment, under the UPA regime, the UIDAI scheme for issuance of Aadhaar numbers was also concurrently on.
  • There was a conflict between the Union Home Ministry, which administers the NPR, and UIDAI, leaving the impression that there was duplication of work, as both involved gathering personal particulars, including biometric data.
  • Ultimately, they agreed that both databases will exist with different objectives, and that each will use the other’s biometric data.
  • Those already enrolled for Aadhaar need not give their biometric details again during NPR.
  • At the same time, data captured for NPR would be sent to UIDAI for “de-duplication”.
  • In case of discrepancy between Aadhaar and NPR data, the latter would prevail. The present regime decided to update the NPR originally created after the 2011 Census.

How are NRIC and NPR related?

  • Out of the NPR, a set of all usual residents of India, the government proposes to create a database of “citizens of India”.
  • Thus, the “National Register of Indian Citizens” (NRIC) is a sub-set of the NPR.
  • The NRIC will be prepared at the local, sub-district, district and State levels after verifying the citizenship status of the residents.
  • The rules say the particulars of every family and individual found in the Population Register shall be verified and scrutinized by the Local Registrar.

Is the NRIC complete after this step?

  • A draft of the Local Register of Indian Citizens shall be published to invite objections or claims for inclusion or corrections.
  • Any objection or request for inclusion must be made within 30 days of the publication of the draft. The sub-district or taluk registrar shall summarily dispose of the objections within 90 days.
  • Thereafter, the entries in the Local Register will be transferred to the National Registrar.
  • Any person aggrieved by an exclusion order can appeal to the District Registrar within 30 days, and the appeal should be disposed of within 90 days.
  • In case, the appeal succeeds, the names of those concerned would be added to the NRIC.

Many State governments have said the NPR would not be implemented. Is this possible?

  • As of now, this is a political decision. Kerala and West Bengal have put on hold activities related to NPR work.
  • Most State governments would have, by now, re-issued a Central government notification on the initiation of work to update the NPR.
  • As the house-to-house enumeration is a part of the Census operation, it is unlikely that the NPR process can go ahead without State governments agreeing to deploy their staff for the purpose.
  • The legal position is that while the Centre is in charge of the census, the State governments are expected to provide staff whenever required.
  • In practical terms, it may not be possible for the process to be undertaken without the State government’s cooperation at the local level.

What is the relationship between the NPR and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act?

  • There is no direct link. But remarks by the Home Minister that the CAA would be followed by the NRC have given rise to fears.
  • People fear that when they are excluded from the final citizenship register, the CAA may help non-Muslims take the CAA route to apply for citizenship, and leave Muslims with no option.

Explained: Bangladesh provisions for citizenship and freedom of religionExplained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Comparison of Indian concept of secularism with other countries


Among the three countries from where certain categories of migrants have become eligible for Indian citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act, Bangladesh is significant.

A look at the laws under which Bangladesh grants citizenship and what its Constitution says on freedom of religion:

The Bangladesh Constitution

  • The Bangladesh Constitution, adopted by the Constituent Assembly on December 4, 1972, refers to its war of liberation as “historic war” and establishes the independent sovereign People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
  • The original preamble mentioned ‘Nationalism, Democracy, Socialism and Secularism’ as fundamental principles.
  • Unlike India’s Constitution, the Bangladesh Constitution’s commitment to socialism is explicitly mentioned.
  • The preamble says the fundamental aim of the state is to realise through democratic process socialist society free from exploitation —a society in which rule of law, fundamental HR and freedoms, equality and justice, political, economic and social will be secured to all citizens.
  • The expression “rule of law” is not used in the Indian Constitution.

State religion is Islam

  • In 1977, the military dictator Ziaur Rahman removed the term “secular” from the Constitution.
  • In 1988, President Hussain Muhammad Ershad got Article 2A inserted, which says the state religion of the republic is Islam but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony.
  • The amendment was struck down by the Bangladesh High Court in 2005 and the Supreme Court in 2010.
  • The SC said that in spite of Islam being the state religion, the Constitution remains secular. On June 30, 2011, the Constitution was amended and the term “secular” reinserted.
  • The amendment also removed the expression “absolute faith and trust in Allah” from the preamble but retained, above the preamble, the expression “in the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful” that had been added in 1997.
  • To accommodate other religions, it also mentions “in the name of our Creator, the merciful”.

How does the idea of a state religion coexist with that of secularism?

  • While Islam is the state religion, other religions have been given “equal status” and “equal rights” by the Constitution and their followers have been given an equal right to freely practise their religions.
  • This seems to be a contradiction as it is not in line with classical secular formulation.
  • Article 8(1) of the Bangladesh Constitution mentions secularism along with nationalism, democracy and socialism as the fundamental principles of state policy.
  • Article 12 was revived by the 15th Amendment and in a way this, unlike the Indian Constitution, explains the essential ingredients of secularism and how it will be achieved.
  • It says the principles of secularism shall be realised by elimination of communalism in all forms, granting of political status in favour of any religion, abuse of religion for political purposes and any discrimination against, or persecution of, persons practicing a particular religion.
  • With such a progressive provision, the charge of religious persecution has no legs to stand on as far as the text of the Constitution is concerned, just because Islam is the state religion.
  • Unlike Pakistan’s Constitution, there is no Muslim qualification required for the office of President or other constitutional offices.

How is freedom of religion defined?

  • Article 41 of the Bangladesh Constitution says every citizen “subject to public order and morality” has the right to profess, practice or propagate any religion.
  • In India, Article 25 guarantees religious freedom in a narrower sense — in addition to “public order and morality”, it is also subject to “health” and “other fundamental rights”,
  • And the state can also restrict freedom of religion in respect of any economic, financial, political or other secular activity associated with religious practices, and can also do so in the name of social reforms.
  • But in another sense, India’s religious freedom is broader as it is not confined to just citizens.
  • Like India’s Article 26, Bangladesh’s Article 41(b) gives every religious community or denomination the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.
  • Like India’s Article 28, Article 41(c) in Bangladesh lays down that no person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction or anything if that relates to a religion other than his own.
  • The difference is that while India does not permit any religious instruction in any institution that is maintained out of state funds or is recognised by the government, Bangladesh permits religious instruction but only of one’s own religion.

What are the laws on citizenship?

  • Article 6 of the Constitution says citizenship in Bangladesh shall be regulated by law and people shall be known as “Bengalees as a nation”.
  • The 1972 Provisions conferred citizenship from March 26, 1971 on anyone who, or whose father or grandfather, was born in the territories then comprising Bangladesh and who was a permanent resident on March 25, 1971 and continued to be a resident.
  • Any person who, for studies or employment, was in territories within a country at war or engaged in military operation (Pakistan), and was being prevented from returning to Bangladesh, would also be citizen.
  • The Bangladesh government, like Pakistan, may grant citizenship to a person who is citizen of Europe, North America or Australia or any other state. But knowledge of Bangla would be necessary.
  • Foreign women married to Bangla men can also get citizenship after two years’ residence. Irrespective of place of birth, if one’s parents are Bangladeshi, citizenship would be given.
  • In 2017, it was provided that anyone who invests $150,000 can get citizenship.

Does Bangladesh grant citizens to non-Bangla-speaking residents?

  • Many Urdu-speaking people who had supported Pakistan in the war became stateless with the creation of Bangladesh as the law did not give citizenship to those who sided with the enemy country.
  • There were some 10 lakh such people in 1972. Under an agreement among India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, 1,780,969 were repatriated to Pakistan, followed by about 1 lakh more subsequently, but 2.5 lakh remained.
  • In 2008, the Supreme Court in M Sadakat Khan reaffirmed the citizenship of all Urdu-speaking citizens.
  • The 1951 Citizenship Act of Pakistan also remained in force. In 2016, a draft citizenship law was prepared that gave dual citizenship but was criticised for other provisions like termination of citizenship.
Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Explained: How Section 144 CrPC worksExplained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Section 144

Mains level : Section 144 : Circumstances of its use and abuse


Various state governments have sought to ease down on the anti CAA demonstrations by issuing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.  The entire state of Uttar Pradesh is under this provision since few days.

What is Section 144?

  • Section 144 CrPC, a law retained from the colonial era, empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate or any other executive magistrate specially empowered by the state government in this behalf to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance.
  • The magistrate has to pass a written order which may be directed against a particular individual, or to persons residing in a particular place or area, or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place or area.
  • In emergency cases, the magistrate can pass these orders without prior notice to the individual against whom the order is directed.

What powers does the administration have under the provision?

  • The magistrate can direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take a certain order with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management.
  • This usually includes restrictions on movement, carrying arms and from assembling unlawfully.
  • It is generally believed that assembly of three or more people is prohibited under Section 144. However, it can be used to restrict even a single individual.
  • This is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquility, or a riot, of an affray.
  • However no order passed under Section 144 can remain in force for more than two months from the date of the order, unless the state government considers it necessary.
  • Even then, the total period cannot extend to more than six months.

Why is the use of power under Section 144 criticised so often?

  • The criticism is that it is too broad and the words of the section are wide enough to give absolute power to a magistrate that may be exercised unjustifiably. T
  • he immediate remedy against such an order is a revision application to the magistrate himself.
  • An aggrieved individual can approach the High Court by filing a writ petition if his fundamental rights are at stake.
  • However, fears exist that before the High Court intervenes, the rights could already have been infringed.
  • Imposition of Section 144 to an entire state, as in UP, has also drawn criticism since the security situation differs from area to area.

How have courts ruled on Section 144?

  • The first major challenge to the law was made in 1961 in Babulal Parate vs State of Maharashtra and Others.
  • A Bench of the Supreme Court refused to strike down the law, saying it is “not correct to say that the remedy of a person aggrieved by an order under the section was illusory”.
  • It was challenged again by Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya in 1967 and was once again rejected, with the court saying “no democracy can exist if ‘public order’ is freely allowed to be disturbed by a section of the citizens”.
  • In another challenge in 1970 (Madhu Limaye vs Sub-Divisional Magistrate), a seven-judge Bench headed by then CJI M Hidayatullah.
  • It ruled that the power under Section 144 is not an ordinary power flowing from administration but a power used in a judicial manner and which can stand further judicial scrutiny”.
  • The court, however, upheld the constitutionality of the law.
  • It ruled that the restrictions imposed through Section 144 cannot be held to be violative of the right to freedom of speech and expression, which is a fundamental right because it falls under the “reasonable restrictions”.

Does Section 144 provide for communications blockades too?

  • The rules for suspending telecommunication services, which include voice, mobile internet, SMS, landline, fixed broadband, etc, are the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
  • These Rules derive their powers from the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, Section 5(2) of which talks about interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.
  • However, shutdowns in India are not always under the rules laid down, which come with safeguards and procedures.
  • Section 144 CrPC has often been used to clamp down on telecommunication services and order Internet shutdowns.
Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

Explained: Is India facing stagflation?Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various keywords mentioned

Mains level : Signs of economic slowdown in the country


With fast decelerating economic growth and sharply rising inflation, there is a growing rumor about India facing stagflation.

What is Stagflation?

  • Stagflation is a portmanteau of stagnant growth and rising inflation. The term was coined by Iain Macleod, a Conservative Party MP in UK, who while speaking on the UK economy in the House of Commons in November 1965.
  • Typically, inflation rises when the economy is growing fast. That’s because people are earning more and more money and are capable of paying higher prices for the same quantity of goods.
  • When the economy stalls, inflation tends to dip as well – again because there is less money now chasing the same quantity of goods.

When does stagflation occur?

  • Stagflation is said to happen when an economy faces stagnant growth as well as persistently high inflation.
  • That’s because with stalled economic growth, unemployment tends to rise and existing incomes do not rise fast enough and yet, people have to contend with rising inflation.
  • So people find themselves pressurized from both sides as their purchasing power is reduced.

Why is everyone asking about Stagflation in India?

  • Over the past six quarters, economic growth in India has decelerated with every quarter. In the second quarter (July to September), for which the latest data is available, the GDP grew by just 4.5%.
  • In the coming quarter (October to December), too, GDP growth is likely to stay at roughly the same level. For the full financial year, the GDP growth rate is expected to average around 5% – a six-year low.
  • In fact, the October inflation was a 16-month high and the November inflation, at 5.54%, is at a three-year high. Inflation for the rest of the financial year is expected to stay above the RBI’s comfort level of 4%.
  • So, with growth decelerating every quarter and now inflation rising up every month, there are growing murmurs of stagflation.

So, is India facing Stagflation?

Although it appears so at the first glance, India is not yet facing stagflation. There are three broad reasons for it:

GDP hasn’t declined

  • Although it is true that we are not growing as fast as we have in the past or as fast as we could, India is still growing at 5% and is expected to grow faster in the coming years.
  • India’s growth hasn’t yet stalled and declined; in other words, year on year, our GDP has grown in absolute number, not declined.

Food Inflation is predictable

  • It is true that retail inflation has been quite high in the past few months, yet the reason for this spike is temporary because it has been caused by a spurt in agricultural commodities after some unseasonal rains.
  • With better food management, food inflation is expected to come down.

Retail inflation is under control

  • Lastly, retail inflation has been well within the RBI’s target level of 4% for most of the year.
  • The core inflation – that is inflation without taking into account food and fuel – is still benign.
  • A sudden spike of a few months, which is likely to flatten out in the next few months, it is still early days before one claims that India has stagflation.

Back2Basics

Types of Inflation

  • Creeping or mild inflation is when prices rise 3% a year or less.
  • Walking inflation is strong, or pernicious, inflation between 3-10% a year.
  • Galloping inflation occurs when inflation rises to 10% or more.
  • Hyperinflation is when prices skyrocket more than 50% a month.
  • Deflation occurs when there is a general fall in the level of prices
  • Disinflation is the reduction of the rate of inflation
  • Stagflation is a combination of inflation and rising unemployment due to recession

Explained: Strength of Lok SabhaExplained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Composition of Lok Sabha


Former President Pranab Mukherjee has said that the number of seats in Lok Sabha should be increased to 1,000 from the present 543, and advocated a corresponding increase in the number of MPs in Rajya Sabha and state legislatures.

Why need more MP’s?

  • The composition of the Lower House has remained more or less the same for four decades.
  • This argument has been made by several political leaders in the past that the number of Lok Sabha seats should be rationalized on the basis of population.
  • Every MP currently represents an average 16-18 lakh Indians — too large a number to be kept in touch with in a meaningful way.

Anglo-Indians  are now excluded

  • Under Article 331, the President could nominate up to two Anglo-Indians if he/she felt the community was inadequately represented in the House.
  • However, The Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament last week, while extending the reservation for SC/STs, did away with the provision for nomination of Anglo Indians.
  • This has brought the strength of Lok Sabha down to 543 now.

The strength of Lok Sabha

  • Article 81 of the Constitution defines the composition of the House of the People or Lok Sabha.
  • It states that the House shall not consist of more than 550 elected members of whom not more than 20 will represent UTs.
  • At present, the strength of the Lok Sabha is 543, of which 530 have been allocated to the states, and the rest to the UTs.

Rationale of the present 543 Seats

  • Article 81 also mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as possible, the same for all states.
  • This is to ensure that every state is equally represented. However, this logic does not apply to small states whose population is not more than 60 lakh.
  • So, at least one seat is allocated to every state even if it means that its population-to-seat-ratio is not enough to qualify it for that seat.
  • As per Clause 3 of Article 81, population, for the purpose of allocation of seats, means “population as ascertained at the last preceding Census of which the relevant figures have been published” — in other words, the last published Census.
  • However, as a result of an amendment to this Clause in 2003, the “population” now means population as per the 1971 Census — and will be so until the first Census that is taken after 2026.

What led to changes in number of seats?

  • The strength of Lok Sabha hasn’t always been 543 seats.
  • Originally, the Article 81 provided that the Lok Sabha shall not have more than 500 members. The first House constituted in 1952 had 497 members.
  • Since the Constitution provides for population as the basis of determining allocation of seats, the Lower House’s composition has also changed with each Census up to 1971.

Delimitation

  • Delimitation is the process of redrawing the boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in the population.
  • A temporary freeze was imposed in 1976 on ‘delimitation’ until 2001.

Reorganization of states

  • The composition of the House did not change only with the delimitation exercises of 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002. There were other circumstances as well.
  • For instance, the first change in the composition of Lok Sabha happened in 1953 after the reorganisation of the state of Madras.
  • After a new state of Andhra Pradesh came into existence, 28 of Madras’s 75 seats went to Andhra Pradesh. The total strength of the House (497) did not change.
  • The first major change took place after the overall reorganization of states in 1956, which divided the country into 14 states and six UTs.
  • This meant subsequent changes in the boundaries of existing states and hence, a change in the allocation of seats to the states and UTs.
  • Subsequently, the Lower House’s composition changed when the state of Haryana was carved out of Punjab in 1966, and when Goa and Daman and Diu were liberated in 1961 and merged with the Indian Union.

Other reasons

  • There have been a few occasions that have called for readjustment in the number of Parliament and Assembly seats allocated to a state.
  • These include statehood attained by Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1986, the creation of a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the creation of new states such as Uttarakhand.

When it was frozen?

  • As per Article 81, the composition of the Lok Sabha should represent changes in population. But it has remained more or less the same since the delimitation carried out based on the 1971 Census.
  • The population-to-seat ratio, as mandated under Article 81, should be the same for all states.
  • Although unintended, this implied that states that took little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in Parliament.
  • The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced.
  • To allay these fears, the Constitution was amended during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001.

Reasons for the freeze

  • Although the freeze on the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Assemblies should have been lifted after the Census of 2001, another amendment postponed this until 2026.
  • This was justified on the ground that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026.
  • So, the last delimitation exercise which finished in 2008 — was conducted on the basis of the 2001 Census, and only readjusted boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly seats and reworked the number of seats reserved for SCs and STs.
  • With the total seats remaining the same since the 1970s, it is felt that states in North India, whose population has increased faster than the rest of the country, are now underrepresented in Parliament.
  • It is frequently argued that had the original provision of Article 81 been implemented today, states like UP, Bihar, and MP would have gained some seats and those in the South would have lost some.
Electric and Hybrid Cars – FAME, National Electric Mobility Mission, etc.

Explained: Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV)Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Hydrogen- Oxygen Fuel Cells

Mains level : Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV)


The Supreme Court has asked the government to look into the feasibility of hydrogen-based tech to deal with vehicular air pollution in New Delhi. India is looking closely at Japan, which has made progress in this field.

How does hydrogen fuel cell work?

  • At the heart of the fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) is a device that uses a source of fuel, such as hydrogen, and an oxidant to create electricity by an electrochemical process.
  • Put simply, the fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to generate electric current, water being the only byproduct.
  • Like conventional batteries under the bonnets of automobiles, hydrogen fuel cells too convert chemical energy into electrical energy.
  • From a long-term viability perspective, FCEVs are billed as vehicles of the future, given that hydrogen is the most abundant resource in the universe.

So is an FCEV a conventional vehicle or an electric vehicle (EV)?

  • While the fuel cells generate electricity through an electrochemical process, unlike a battery-electricity vehicle, it does not store energy and, instead, relies on a constant supply of fuel and oxygen.
  • It works in the same way that an internal combustion engine relies on a constant supply of petrol or diesel, and oxygen.
  • In that sense, it may be seen as being similar to a conventional internal combustion engine.
  • But unlike the combustion engine cars, there are no moving parts in the fuel cell, so they are more efficient and reliable by comparison. Also, there is no combustion onboard, in the conventional sense.

Classification of EVs

Globally, EVs are bracketed under three broad categories:

  • Battery electric vehicle or BEVs such as the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S, which have no internal combustion engine or fuel tank, and run on a fully electric drivetrain powered by rechargeable batteries.
  • Conventional hybrid electric vehicles or HEVs such as the Toyota Camry sold in the country combine a conventional internal combustion engine system with an electric propulsion system, resulting in a hybrid vehicle drivetrain that substantially reduces fuel use. The onboard battery in a conventional hybrid is charged when the IC engine is powering the drivetrain.
  • Plug-in hybrid vehicles or PHEVs, such as the Chevrolet Volt, too have a hybrid drivetrain that uses both an internal combustion engine and electric power for motive power, backed by rechargeable batteries that can be plugged into a power source.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of fuel cells?

  • Fuel cells have strong advantages over conventional combustion-based technologies currently used in many power plants and cars, given that they produce much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases and none of the air pollutants that cause health problems.
  • Also, if pure hydrogen is used, fuel cells emit only heat and water as a byproduct. Such cells are also far more energy-efficient than traditional combustion technologies.
  • Unlike battery-powered electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles do not need to be plugged in, and most models exceed 300 km of range on a full tank. They are filled up with a nozzle, just like in a petrol or diesel station.

Limitations of Fuel Cells EVs

  • While FCEVs do not generate gases that contribute to global warming, the process of making hydrogen needs energy — often from fossil fuel sources.
  • That has raised questions over hydrogen’s green credentials.
  • Also, there are questions of safety — hydrogen is more explosive than petrol.
  • Opponents of the technology cite the case of the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg airship in 1937.
  • The other major hurdle is that the vehicles are expensive, and fuel dispensing pumps are scarce.

Progress in India

  • In India, so far, the definition of EV only covers BEVs; the government has lowered taxes to 12%.
  • At 43%, hybrid electric vehicles and hydrogen FCEVs attract the same tax as IC vehicles.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has been supporting various such projects in academic institutions, research and development organisations and industry for development.

Explained: Anglo-Indian quota, its history, MPsExplained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Art. 331, 333

Mains level : Read the attached story


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

Who are Anglo-Indians?

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

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

What is the Anglo-Indian population?

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

Provisions for reservation

Lok Sabha

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

Legislative Assemblies

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

Membership

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