Liquor Policy of States

Explained: Delhi Excise Policy Scam


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Delhi Excise Policy Scam

Delhi Excise Policy Scam

Central Idea

  • A Delhi court has remanded a member of Rajya Sabha in Enforcement Directorate (ED) custody in the Delhi Excise Policy Scam.
  • This has created a big furore among people over the alleged involvement of a hardliner political party which was established solely to fight political corruption.

About Delhi Excise Policy Scam

  • Background: Both individuals face corruption allegations related to the formulation and implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22, which came into effect but was later scrapped.
  • Procedural Lapses: The allegations stemmed from a report submitted by Delhi Chief Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor in July 2022. The report pointed to procedural lapses in the policy’s formulation.
  • Financial Losses: The report claimed that “arbitrary and unilateral decisions” led to estimated “financial losses to the exchequer.”
  • Alleged Irregularities: It alleged that leaders received “kickbacks” from businesses for preferential treatment, such as discounts, license fee waivers, and relief due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. These funds were purportedly used for electoral influence.

Involvement of the Enforcement Directorate (ED)

  • ED’s Role: Following the CBI’s FIR, the ED asserted that the alleged proceeds of crime required investigation to establish the modus operandi.
  • Investigation Details: The ED alleged that the “scam” involved irregularities in the wholesale liquor business, margin-fixing, and receiving kickbacks. It claimed that the policy was designed with “deliberate loopholes” to benefit key figures.
  • Financial Transactions: The ED also alleged that individuals, acting as intermediaries, received substantial sums from a group, allowing them access to various businesses.

Differences in the Delhi Excise Policy

  • Policy Goals: The Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 aimed to exit the state from the liquor business, eliminate black marketing, increase revenue, enhance consumer experiences, and ensure equitable distribution of liquor vends.
  • Private Operation: Under the policy, Delhi was divided into zones, each with liquor vends operated by private licensees. Licensees had the freedom to offer discounts and set prices.

Issues and Reversals

  • Deviation from Procedures: A report in July 2022 highlighted deviations from established procedures in the policy formulation.
  • Market Distortions: The report pointed out that discounts offered by liquor retailers were causing market distortions.
  • Policy Reversals: It noted policy reversals, leading to questions about the justification for such changes.
  • Blanket Relaxations: The report flagged blanket relaxations granted for default in license fee payments.

ED Chargesheets and Allegations

  • Campaign Funding: The ED has alleged financial improprieties related to campaign funding.
  • Conduit for Financial Transactions: Individuals are alleged to have acted as intermediaries in financial transactions.
  • Involvement of Key Figures: The ED has claimed the involvement of certain individuals in meetings and interactions related to the case.


  • The scam has led to arrests and legal proceedings involving corruption allegations and procedural lapses.
  • Allegations of financial improprieties and irregularities in the policy’s implementation have created a complex legal landscape.
  • The involvement of the Enforcement Directorate adds to the intricacies of the case, while ongoing investigations seek to establish the veracity of the allegations.

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Civil Aviation Sector – CA Policy 2016, UDAN, Open Skies, etc.

Go First crisis: What is Cape Town Convention?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cape Town Convention

Mains level: Aviation Sector Crisis

Cape Town Convention

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) issued a notification exempting aircraft-related transactions from certain sections of the IBC, aligning Indian regulations with the Cape Town Convention (CTC).
  • The notification eliminates the automatic moratorium on aircraft, engines, airframes, and helicopters, allowing lessors to repossess planes during airline insolvency.

Understanding the Go First Crisis

  • Bankruptcy: Go First, a prominent budget airline in India, filed for bankruptcy, becoming the second Indian airline to do so in recent years, following Jet Airways’ bankruptcy in 2019.
  • Debt and Lessors: Go First faced substantial debt, including over ₹2,600 crore owed to various aircraft lessors.
  • Engine Supplier Blame: The airline attributed its crisis to engine supplier Pratt & Whitney, claiming that faulty engines led to flight disruptions and significant financial losses.

Dispute between Indian Airlines and Aircraft Lessors

  • Dependency on Foreign Lessors: Indian airlines heavily rely on foreign lessors to finance aircraft acquisitions, with approximately 80% of India’s 800 commercial aircraft under lease.
  • Legal Barriers: Legal proceedings in Indian courts have prevented lessors from repossessing Go First’s aircraft, potentially intensifying disputes between lessors and Indian airlines.
  • Higher Risk Premiums: Experts anticipate that lessors may charge higher risk premiums to mitigate future turbulence with Indian airlines, leading to increased business costs and potentially higher airfares for passengers.

About Cape Town Convention (CTC)

Establishment 2001, Entered into force on March 1, 2006.
Purpose Facilitates aircraft financing and leasing, establishing global standards and legal framework.
Global Registry International registry for aircraft and equipment ownership interests, enhancing transparency.
Leasing CTC simplifies aircraft leasing operations by allowing quick deregistration and repossession.
Priority Rules Determines the priority of interests in aircraft, crucial in cases of default or insolvency.
Default Remedies Outlines procedures and remedies in case of default, including repossession rights.
Coverage Encompasses aircraft and aircraft equipment (engines, avionics), offering comprehensive legal guidelines.


CTC and India

  • India is a signatory to the CTC since 2018.
  • Despite being a party to the CTC, Indian laws have often prevailed over CTC provisions in cases of conflict, impacting lessors’ rights.

Government’s Vision for Aircraft Leasing in India

  • Hub for Aircraft Leasing: The Indian government aims to establish the country as a hub for aircraft leasing, attracting global lessors.
  • Alignment with International Norms: To achieve this vision, alignment with international aviation conventions like the CTC is crucial.

Lessors’ Current Challenges

  • Prospective Impact: The MCA notification is effective prospectively and may not immediately assist Go First’s lessors in repossessing aircraft.
  • Sub-Judice Matters: The matter of repossession is currently under judicial consideration.
  • Previous Attempts: Lessors had applied to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to repossess planes from Go First before the NCLT’s admission of insolvency.
  • Pending Legislation: The government had planned legislation to prioritize CTC provisions over conflicting Indian laws, but it has not been tabled in Parliament.

Need for CTC Legislation in India

  • Current Status: India is a CTC signatory but lacks the necessary legal protection, resulting in conflicts between existing laws and CTC norms.
  • Fueling Aviation Growth: Legalizing CTC provisions is essential to support the aviation market’s growth and facilitate smoother aircraft leasing operations.
  • Impact on Passengers: Without proper legislation, higher premiums by lessors could lead to increased airline costs, ultimately affecting passengers through higher ticket prices.


  • The urgent enactment of the Cape Town Convention (CTC) Bill in India is crucial to harmonize legal provisions, protect lessors’ rights, and ensure the sustainable growth of the aviation industry without burdening passengers with escalated airfares.

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Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Uterus Transplants: Procedure, Challenges, and Future Prospects


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Uterus Transplants

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • In the UK, doctors at the Churchill Hospital Oxford conducted the nation’s first uterus transplant.
  • The procedure involved removing a uterus from a 40-year-old woman and transplanting it into her 34-year-old sister, who faced reproductive challenges due to a rare medical condition.

Why discuss this?

  • While the transplanted womb is functional, its success can only be confirmed by a live birth in the future.

Understanding Uterus Transplants

  • Not Life-Saving: Unlike heart or liver transplants, uterus transplants are not life-saving procedures. Instead, they are akin to limb or skin transplants, significantly enhancing individuals’ quality of life.
  • Addressing Uterine Infertility: Uterus transplants offer hope to women facing uterine factor infertility, enabling them to fulfill their reproductive aspirations.

Pioneering Success in Sweden

  • Historical Context: In 2014, Sweden achieved a milestone by witnessing the first live birth following a uterus transplant. This success paved the way for addressing uterine factor infertility.
  • Affordability Challenge: Efforts are ongoing to make uterus transplants more accessible, especially in countries like the UK, where the National Health Service estimates the procedure’s cost at GBP 25,000 (Rs 25.26 lakh).

Uterus Transplants in India

  • Indian Achievement: India joined the ranks of countries with successful uterus transplants, alongside Turkey, Sweden, and the United States. The country celebrated its first uterine transplant baby’s birth on October 18, 2018, approximately 17 months after the recipient underwent the procedure.
  • Affordable Option: The cost of uterine transplant surgery in India currently ranges from Rs 15-17 lakh, making it a more cost-effective choice for many.

Step-by-Step Procedure

  • Recipient Evaluation: Before transplantation, recipients undergo thorough evaluations to assess their physical and mental health.
  • Donor Assessment: Whether the donor is living or deceased, their uterus undergoes viability checks before qualifying for donation. Live donors also undergo comprehensive gynecological examinations, including imaging scans and cancer screenings.
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Uterus transplants do not connect the uterus to the fallopian tubes, necessitating IVF to create embryos. These embryos are then cryopreserved until the transplanted uterus is ready for implantation.
  • Harvesting and Transplantation: The donor’s uterus is carefully removed, with the procedure becoming less invasive due to advancements in robot-assisted laparoscopy. The uterine vasculature and other critical connections are meticulously re-established during transplantation.

Pregnancy after Transplant

  • The success of the transplant is assessed through three stages: the first three months focus on graft viability, followed by six months to one year for monitoring uterine function.
  • Only after this period can the recipient attempt conception.

Issues with such transplants

  • Challenges and Risks: Pregnancy after a uterine transplant entails a higher risk of rejection, spontaneous abortion, intrauterine complications, low birth weight, and premature birth. Close monitoring and follow-ups are essential.
  • Immunosuppressant Use: Recipients must take immune-suppressing drugs to prevent rejection of the transplanted uterus. These drugs are selected to ensure they do not harm foetal development but can cause side effects such as kidney toxicity, bone marrow issues, and an increased risk of diabetes and cancer.
  • Long-Term Follow-Ups: Post-uterus removal, recipients are advised to undergo regular follow-ups for at least a decade to monitor potential long-term effects of immunosuppressant drugs.

Exploring Artificial Uteri

  • Future Possibilities: Successful uterus transplants have opened doors to exploring artificial uteri. These bioengineered organs, grown from stem cells on 3D scaffolds, could eliminate the need for live donors and ethical concerns. However, research is still in its early stages, and it may take about a decade before artificial uteri becomes efficient and safe for human use.
  • Inclusivity Considerations: Artificial uteri could benefit not only women but also members of the LGBTQ+ community. However, certain complications, such as hormone-related considerations for trans-women recipients, remain to be addressed.


  • Uterus transplants represent a remarkable medical advancement offering hope and possibilities for individuals facing uterine factor infertility.
  • While challenges persist, ongoing research and technological progress continue to expand the horizons of reproductive medicine.

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Aadhaar Card Issues

Concerns of using Aadhaar in Welfare Schemes


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Privacy issues related to Aadhaar


Central Idea

  • Moody’s Investor Service released a report titled ‘Decentralised Finance and Digital Assets,’ advocating for decentralized digital identity systems over centralised biometric systems like India’s Aadhaar.
  • The report raises concerns about security and privacy vulnerabilities associated with Aadhaar (being managed by Govt of India) and questions its effectiveness.

India’s Response to Moody’s Report

  • In response to Moody’s report, the Indian government strongly defended Aadhaar, asserting that it is “the most trusted digital ID in the world.”
  • The government highlighted Aadhaar’s integration with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) database, emphasizing that workers can receive payments without biometric authentication.

Aadhaar: Rationale and Objectives

  • Unique Identification: Aadhaar is a unique identification number provided to all Indian residents by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). It collects demographic details, biometric fingerprints, and iris scans during enrolment, aiming to create a unique identity for residents.
  • Fighting Corruption: Aadhaar’s primary objectives include curbing corruption in accessing welfare programs by eliminating “ghost” and “fake” individuals who fraudulently claim benefits.

Aadhaar’s Role in Welfare Programs

  • Ration Distribution: Aadhaar is used to authenticate individuals accessing rations under the Public Distribution System, ensuring that beneficiaries receive their entitled portions.
  • Government-to-Citizen Transfers: The government employs Aadhaar for various cash transfer programs, claiming substantial savings by eliminating fraudulent beneficiaries.

Aadhaar in Cash Withdrawals

  • Authentication Process: To enable payments through Aadhaar for MGNREGA, three steps are involved: linking Aadhaar to job cards, linking Aadhaar to bank accounts, and linking Aadhaar correctly with the National Payments Corporation of India for payment processing.
  • AePS Platform: Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS) allows individuals to withdraw money from Aadhaar-linked bank accounts using biometric authentication.

Concerns Surrounding Aadhaar

  • Quantity Fraud: Critics argue that Aadhaar fails to address issues like quantity fraud, where beneficiaries receive less than their entitled share. This type of corruption remains prevalent, with Aadhaar unable to detect or prevent it.
  • Authentication Challenges: Rural areas face authentication challenges due to unreliable internet, fading fingerprints, and inadequate phone connectivity for OTPs. Vulnerable groups, such as older women and people with disabilities, face exclusion.
  • Lack of Data Transparency: Information regarding authentication attempts and failures is not publicly available, hindering transparency.
  • Payment Failures: Errors at any stage of Aadhaar-based payments can lead to payment failures. Mismatches in data between job cards and Aadhaar databases can result in authentication failures.
  • Misdirection of Payments: Misdirected payments through Aadhaar are difficult to detect and resolve, creating issues when Aadhaar numbers are linked to the wrong bank accounts.
  • Financial Exclusion: Critics argue that Aadhaar-based authentication requirements can lead to financial exclusion for certain groups.

Security Concerns

  • AePS Accountability: Banking correspondents using AePS operate without accountability frameworks, leading to potential misuse and unauthorized access to bank accounts.
  • Multiple Authentications: Some banking correspondents ask individuals to authenticate multiple times, providing them access to individuals’ bank accounts without consent.
  • Fraud and Scams: Several reports highlight instances of money withdrawal and enrollment in government programs without individuals’ knowledge through AePS.

Current Impasse

  • Resistance to Mandatory Aadhaar: The government’s efforts to make Aadhaar-based payments mandatory in MGNREGA have faced resistance from workers and field officials.
  • Deletion of Job Cards: Reports indicate that the job cards of active rural workers have been deleted on grounds of being “ghosts,” raising concerns about data accuracy.
  • Apprehensions: Critics express apprehensions based on their experience with Aadhaar in welfare programs, emphasizing the need for pilots and evidence-based decision-making.


  • The debate between centralized biometric systems like Aadhaar and decentralized digital identity solutions remains ongoing, with concerns regarding security, inclusivity, and transparency at the forefront of discussions.

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

Duarte Agostinho Case: A Youth-led Climate Lawsuit


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Duarte Agostinho Case

Mains level: Climate Justice and Reparations

Duarte Agostinho Case

Central Idea

  • On September 27, a historic legal battle in the climate action movement commenced at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
  • This courtroom showdown featured 32 European governments, including the UK, Russia, and Turkey, facing off against six young individuals from Portugal, aged 11 to 24.

Why discuss this?

  • Youth-led climate lawsuits are reshaping climate litigation.
  • These lawsuits assert that uncontrolled carbon emissions infringe on fundamental rights, threaten the well-being of young generations.
  • This highlight the centrality of climate science in combating misinformation and denialism.

Understanding the Duarte Agostinho Case

[A] Origins of the Lawsuit:

  • The Duarte Agostinho and Others v. Portugal and Others case was initiated in September 2020.
  • It was in response to the devastating wildfires in Portugal’s Leiria region in 2017, resulting in 66 casualties and the loss of 20,000 hectares of forests.
  • This legal action highlights the urgency of adhering to the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting global warming to below 1.5°C.

[B] Concerns raised

  • The Portuguese youths assert that European nations have failed to meet climate emissions goals, exceeding global carbon budgets compatible with the Paris Agreement’s objectives.
  • Scientific evidence will be presented, demonstrating that if current emission trends persist, global temperatures will rise by 3°C during the plaintiffs’ lifetimes.
  • Such actions are alleged to breach fundamental rights protected under the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to life, freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment, privacy, family life, and freedom from discrimination.

Lawsuit’s Demands

  • Rapid Emission Reduction: As these 32 countries contributed to climate catastrophes and threatened young people’s futures, the lawsuit contends that these nations must urgently intensify emissions reductions. The recommended measures include curbing fossil fuel production and addressing global supply chain sustainability.
  • Emissions Reduction Targets: The European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change (ESABCC) suggested that countries should aim for emissions reductions of 75% below 1990 levels, a more ambitious target than the EU’s current 55%. The lawsuit argues that European countries have overstated their carbon budgets, emphasizing the need for greater reductions.

Climate Crisis Impact on Human Rights

  • UNICEF characterizes the climate crisis as a “child rights crisis” due to unhindered carbon emissions and extreme weather jeopardizing access to education, health, nutrition, and the future.
  • Research links air pollution to adverse birth outcomes and increased risks of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
  • Heatwaves exacerbate mental health issues, ultimately affecting academic performance and school attendance.

Government Responses and Challenges

  • Cause and Effect Denial: Many countries have dismissed any direct relationship between climate change and its impact on human health. Greece, for instance, argued that climate change effects do not directly affect human life or health, despite experiencing massive wildfires.
  • Portrayal as Future Fears: Governments like Portugal and Ireland have downplayed climate change concerns as “future fears,” asserting that there is no immediate risk to lives.
  • Policy Reversals: Some nations, like the U.K., have showcased proactive climate policies, such as a 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. However, these policies have been reversed, raising concerns about policy consistency and legality.


  • The Duarte Agostinho case represents a pivotal moment in the climate action movement, with young activists challenging their governments to protect their future against the looming climate crisis.
  • This legal battle underscores the critical intersection of climate change and human rights, shaping a path toward increased accountability and transformative climate governance.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Maldives

Maldives Presidential Elections: Geopolitical Implications


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Maldives Presidential Elections


Central Idea

  • The Maldives’ presidential election run-off is set to “safeguard the country’s independence and sovereignty” amidst strong ties with India.
  • In addition to the presidential election, Maldivians will vote in a referendum next month to decide whether to switch to a parliamentary system of governance.

Key Points and Geopolitical Significance

[A] Electoral System

  • French-Style System: The Maldivian electoral system resembles France’s, requiring a candidate to secure over 50% of votes for victory. A runoff occurs if no candidate surpasses this threshold in the first round, with the top two candidates competing.

[B] History of Maldivian Presidency

  • Executive Presidency: The Maldives adopted the Executive Presidency in 1968. Initially, it operated as a single-party system until 2008 when political reforms led to a multi-party system.
  • Abdul Gayoom’s Era: Maumoon Abdul Gayoom served as President for 30 years, from 1978 to 2008, during which he faced political protests and thwarted a coup attempt with India’s assistance in 1988.
  • Political Reforms: In 2004, Gayoom initiated political reforms, leading to the registration of political parties in 2005 and the adoption of a new Constitution in 2008, enabling presidential elections every five years.

India’s Relations with Maldives

  • Mixed Relations: India’s engagement with Maldivian politics has seen fluctuations. President Solih’s government has had the most favourable relations with India thus far.
  • Gayoom and Nasheed Eras: India closely worked with Abdul Gayoom for three decades. When Nasheed assumed power in 2008, India supported his government initially. However, Nasheed later leaned toward China, cancelling a major infrastructure project with India in 2012.
  • Yameen’s Pro-China Stance: Abdulla Yameen, who took office in 2013, pursued a pro-China foreign policy, including joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative. India’s reluctance to provide loans due to human rights concerns led Yameen to turn to Beijing.
  • Solih’s Election: President Solih’s victory in the 2018 elections was a relief for India, signifying a shift in bilateral relations. PM Modi attended Solih’s swearing-in ceremony.
  • Stronger Ties: India provided rapid assistance, including vaccines, during the COVID-19 pandemic, further strengthening relations. Bilateral projects in Maldives have multiplied, and defense cooperation has expanded, with India training Maldivian security personnel and providing military equipment.

Current Election Landscape

  • Solih’s Challengers: President Solih is facing competition from Opposition candidate Mohamed Muizzu, who emerged as the consensus candidate after former President Abdulla Yameen’s disqualification.
  • Proxy for Yameen: Muizzu is seen as a proxy for Yameen and has made statements raising concerns for India. He has threatened to terminate agreements with foreign countries and withdraw Indian troops stationed in the Maldives.
  • Low Turnout: The election has seen a lower voter turnout compared to previous ones, with 79% participation in the first round. This low turnout is a concern in the context of Maldives’ democratic transition.

Geopolitical Ramifications

  • China’s Influence: Under President Abdulla Yameen’s rule from 2013 to 2017, the Maldives aligned with China, participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (i.e. String of Pearls) and receiving substantial loans, including funding for major infrastructure projects.
  • India’s Concern: India has a keen interest in maintaining influence in its “backyard” in the Indian Ocean and keeping Chinese influence at bay. India has invested heavily in Maldivian infrastructure and deepened security cooperation, which has raised concerns of establishing a strategic military presence.
  • Western Nations’ Watchful Eye: Western nations, including the US, UK, and Australia, are closely monitoring the election as part of their efforts to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region. The opening of embassies by these countries in the Maldives underscores its strategic significance.


  • Geopolitical Implications: The Maldivian presidential runoff and the country’s relationship with India and China hold significant geopolitical implications. The outcome will shape the nation’s foreign policy direction.
  • India’s Interests: India’s interests in Maldives include defense cooperation, economic partnerships, and maintaining regional stability. The election’s result will be closely monitored to assess its impact on these interests and the future trajectory of Maldives’ foreign relations.

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Status of Dumpsite Remediation across India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dumpsite Remediation, Methane Pollution

Mains level: Solid Waste Management

Dumpsite Remediation

Central Idea

  • Dumpsite remediation in India holds immense significance due to its profound impact on the environment, public health, and overall quality of life.
  • These unregulated dumpsites release harmful gases, pollute air and water, and pose severe health risks to nearby communities.

Dumpsite Remediation: Government Initiatives and Progress

  • Govt Commitment: The Indian government aims to remediate all dumpsites in the country by 2025 under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) 2.0.
  • Progress Overview: Over 82.7 million tonnes of waste have been remediated, reclaiming 3,477 acres of land.
  • State Progress: Mizoram has fully remediated its waste, while states like Chandigarh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat have addressed 50-60% of their legacy waste.

Challenges and Complexities

  • Topographical Challenges: States with mountainous terrains like Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Ladakh, and Jammu & Kashmir face difficulties in waste transport and utilization.
  • Economic Viability: Some states struggle to find economically viable disposal options for combustible fractions and fine soil-like material.
  • Waste Composition: Around 8% of legacy waste comprises combustible fractions.
  • Limited Co-Processing Units: India has 54 co-processing units, with only 13 states having operational units.

Benefits of Recovered Material

  • Construction and Filling Solutions: Repurposed fine soil-like material can be used in road construction and to stabilize flood-prone areas.
  • Improving Engineering Properties: Fine soil enhances roadbed engineering.
  • Elevation and Stabilization: Fine fraction elevates and stabilizes low-lying areas.

Another aspect: GHGs Emissions from Waste

Methane Emission Sources

  • Wastewater’s High Contribution: Wastewater treatment is a major source of methane emissions.
  • Organic Matter Decomposition: Methane is produced during organic matter decomposition in wastewater and solid waste disposal.
  • Solid Waste Disposal: Methane is generated in landfills, open dumps, and waste disposal sites.

Overall Methane Emissions in India

  • India’s Methane Emissions: In 2016, India emitted 409 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent methane.
  • Sector-Wise Breakdown: Agriculture contributed 73.96%, waste 14.46%, energy 10.62%, and industrial processes 0.96%.
  • Key Contributors: Open dumpsites and landfills are significant sources.

Lost Opportunities and Climate Impact

  • Persistent Methane Emissions: Even capped landfills emit methane due to biochemical reactions.
  • Untapped Energy Resource: Methane emissions represent missed energy opportunities.
  • Biogas Potential: 1 TPD of biodegradable waste can produce 80-100 cubic meters of biogas.
  • Environmental Harm: Disposing of biodegradable waste in landfills releases methane, a climate pollutant.

Harnessing Methane for a Sustainable Future

  • Bio-Methanation: Implementing bio-methanation processes can capture methane for various applications.
  • Beneficial Applications: Captured methane can be converted into bio-CNG, electricity, or other fuels.
  • Material Suitability: Recovered material must meet engineering and environmental standards.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Compliance with local regulations is essential.


  • Navigating Waste Remediation: India faces challenges and opportunities in dumpsite remediation. Addressing topographical barriers, ensuring economic viability, and maximizing material utilization are critical.
  • A Missed Opportunity: Dumpsites emit methane, a valuable energy resource. Proper waste management can mitigate climate impacts and unlock economic benefits.

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Fertilizer Sector reforms – NBS, bio-fertilizers, Neem coating, etc.

Challenge of Phosphorus Scarcity and Pollution: A Need for Innovative Solutions


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Phosphorus

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • Phosphorus scarcity poses a growing challenge to global agriculture, with critical implications for food production and environmental sustainability.
  • While the history of land fertilization dates back to ancient agricultural practices, the advent of synthetic fertilizers in the 19th century transformed modern agriculture.
  • However, today’s reliance on synthetic fertilizers, particularly phosphorus, raises concerns about its scarcity and environmental impact.

Age-Old Challenge of Soil Fertilization

  • Historical Origins: The challenge of fertilizing land dates back to the dawn of agriculture. Early human societies recognized the need to replenish soil nutrients depleted by repeated cycles of cultivation and harvest.
  • Ancient Fertilization: Indigenous communities worldwide devised fertilization techniques, including the use of fish remnants and bird droppings (guano), to restore essential nutrients to the soil.

Revolutionizing Agriculture with Synthetic Fertilizers

  • 19th Century Advancements: The 19th century witnessed significant progress in chemistry, leading to the creation of synthetic fertilizers. It also marked the identification of key nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the foundation of modern chemical fertilizers.
  • Green Revolution’s Impact: The mid-20th-century Green Revolution accelerated the adoption of high-yield crop varieties and intensive fertilizer use, revolutionizing global food production.

About Phosphorus

Need Essential nutrient for plant growth, involved in photosynthesis, energy transfer, and root development.
Impact of Deficiency Leads to stunted growth, reduced flowering, and poor fruit or seed development in plants.
Types – Superphosphate

– Triple Superphosphate (TSP)

– Diammonium Phosphate (DAP)

Application Applied through broadcasting, banding, or direct placement with seeds during planting.
Benefits Promotes strong root development, better flowering, fruiting, and overall plant health.
Environmental Considerations Efficient use is required to prevent runoff and environmental issues like eutrophication.
Balanced Fertilization Maintain a nutrient balance (N-P-K) in soil to avoid both deficiency and excess of phosphorus.

Phosphorus Predicament

  • Phosphorus Scarcity: Phosphorus is a finite resource primarily found in specific geological formations. It’s not only depleting but also causing environmental pollution when it enters water bodies, leading to algal blooms and eutrophication.

Geopolitical Complexities

  • Global Phosphorus Reserves: Today, a small group of countries, including Morocco and the Western Sahara region, controls the majority of the world’s phosphorus reserves. This geopolitical control raises concerns.
  • Cadmium Contamination: Phosphorus often coexists with cadmium, a heavy metal harmful to health. Cadmium-laden fertilizers can contaminate crops, posing health risks.
  • Largest Importer: India is the world’s largest importer of phosphorus, primarily from cadmium-rich deposits in West Africa.
  • Cadmium Susceptibility: Staple crops like paddy in India are vulnerable to cadmium absorption, potentially causing health issues.

Challenge of Phosphorus Disposal

  • Loss and Wastage: Only a fraction of mined phosphorus is consumed through food; a significant amount is lost to water bodies due to excessive fertilizer application.
  • Sewage Contamination: Most phosphorus consumed ends up in sewage. Inadequate sewage treatment allows phosphorus to accumulate in water bodies, fueling algal blooms and depleting oxygen.

Exploring Phosphorus Alternatives

  • Precision Agriculture: Reducing chemical fertilizer use through precision agriculture offers one solution to address phosphorus scarcity without compromising yield.
  • Circular Water Economies: Urban sewage can become a valuable source of phosphorus. Two key strategies:
    1. Source Separation Toilets: Collect urine, a concentrated waste stream rich in phosphorus, and convert it into local fertilizer.
    2. Recycling Wastewater and Sludge: Recover nutrients, including phosphorus, from sewage sludge through innovative methods like sludge mining.

Incentive Challenges

  • Overuse of Fertilizers: In rural India, powerful farmers often sell fertilizers, encouraging smaller farmers to overuse them. This requires better extension services and awareness campaigns.
  • Perceptions of Sewage: In urban India, sewage has historically been stigmatized, affecting regulations and wastewater treatment practices.

Rethinking the Approach

  • Systemic Change: Fundamental changes are needed, including lowering sewage mining costs, allowing urban-mined phosphorus in agriculture, and shifting utility incentives from discharge standards to nutrient recovery.
  • Multi-Beneficial Solution: Such changes can tackle multiple challenges, including geopolitical dependency, affordable fertilizers, improved water bodies, and public health benefits.


  • The phosphorus dilemma is a pressing challenge with far-reaching consequences for agriculture, geopolitics, and the environment.
  • As we grapple with dwindling phosphorus reserves and its environmental pollution, innovative solutions must be embraced.
  • Precision agriculture and circular water economies, including source-separating toilets and sewage recycling, offer promising avenues to alleviate the scarcity issue.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

How the Sikh migration to Canada began?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Sikh Diaspora

canada sikh

Central Idea

  • Canadian PM recently shared evidence with India, alleging the involvement of Indian agents in the killing of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
  • This claim triggered a diplomatic stand-off between Canada and India, with India accusing Canada of sheltering Khalistani terrorists and extremists.

Sikh Diaspora in Canada

  • Significant Population: According to the 2021 Canadian census, Sikhs account for 2.1% of Canada’s population, making Canada home to the largest Sikh population outside India.
  • Historical Migration: Sikhs have been migrating to Canada for over a century, primarily driven by their involvement in the British Empire’s armed services.
  • Expansion of the Empire: Wherever the British Empire expanded, Sikhs migrated, including countries in the Far East and East Africa.

Early Years of Sikh Migration

  • Queen Victoria’s Jubilee: Sikh migration to Canada began in 1897 during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Kesur Singh, a Risaldar Major in the British India Army, is considered one of the first Sikh settlers to arrive in Canada that year.
  • Laborers and Sojourners: The first significant wave of Sikh migration to Canada occurred in the early 1900s, with most migrants working as laborers in British Columbia’s logging industry and Ontario’s manufacturing sector.
  • Intent to Remit: Many of the early Sikh immigrants were sojourners, intending to stay for only a few years and remit their savings back to India.

Challenges and Pushback

  • Hostility and Prejudice: Sikh migrants faced hostility from locals who perceived them as job competitors. They also encountered racial and cultural prejudices.
  • Tightened Regulations: Due to mounting public pressure, the Canadian government imposed stringent regulations, such as requiring Asian immigrants to possess a specified sum of money and arrive only via a continuous journey from their country of origin.
  • Komagata Maru Incident: In 1914, the Komagata Maru incident occurred, where a ship carrying 376 South Asian passengers, mostly Sikhs, was detained in Vancouver for two months and then forced to return to Asia. This incident resulted in fatalities.

Turning Point after World War II

  • Relaxing Immigration Policy: After World War II, Canada’s immigration policy shifted for several reasons, including a commitment to the United Nations’ stance against racial discrimination, economic expansion, and a need for laborers.
  • Importance of Human Capital: Canada turned to third-world countries for the import of human capital, leading to a decline in European immigration.
  • Points System: In 1967, Canada introduced the ‘points system,’ focusing on skills as the main criterion for non-dependent relatives’ admission, eliminating racial preferences.


  • The history of Sikh migration to Canada spans over a century, marked by challenges, prejudice, and policy changes.
  • Today, Canada is home to a thriving Sikh community, showcasing the transformative journey from early struggles to a more inclusive and skill-based immigration system.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Canada

Trade relations, and India’s agri imports from Canada


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India-Canada Trade

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • India and Canada are currently facing escalating diplomatic tensions, with India suspending visa services in Canada and Canada making adjustments to its staff presence in India.
  • Amidst this backdrop, let’s take a closer look at the trade ties between these two nations.

Understanding India-Canada Trade

  • Trade Volume: In the last fiscal year (2022-23), India’s total trade with Canada amounted to $8 billion, which represents approximately 0.7% of India’s total global trade valued at $1.1 trillion.
  • Balance in Bilateral Trade: Bilateral trade between the two countries has been relatively balanced. For instance, in 2022-23, both imports and exports were approximately $4 billion each, resulting in a modest trade surplus of $58 million for India.


Key Imports from Canada

  • Mineral Fuels and Oils: India’s primary imports from Canada include mineral fuels, mineral oils, and related products, which account for nearly half (46%) of the total import value.
  • Wood Pulp and Paper Waste: Wood pulp and paper waste are another significant category of imports from Canada.
  • Edible Vegetables: Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers also make up a substantial portion of India’s imports from Canada.

Key Exports to Canada

  • Pharmaceutical Products: India primarily exports pharmaceutical products to Canada.
  • Articles of Iron and Steel: Articles made of iron or steel constitute another major category of exports.
  • Machinery and Mechanical Appliances: Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery, and mechanical appliances are among India’s top exports to Canada.

Critical Agricultural Imports from Canada

  • Muriate of Potash (MOP): Canada is a crucial supplier of muriate of potash (MOP) to India, a widely used fertilizer. Canada’s share in India’s MOP imports has been substantial.
  • Masur (Red Lentil): Canada is also India’s largest supplier of masur or red lentil, a significant pulse crop.
  • Impact on Masur Imports: The ongoing India-Canada standoff has raised concerns, especially regarding masur imports. Masur has become a substitute for arhar/tur (pigeon-pea), with implications for prices and trade dynamics.
  • Yellow/White Peas: India used to import yellow/white peas as a substitute for chana (chickpea), primarily from Canada, until 2017-18.

Current Challenges and Crop Size Concerns

  • Geopolitical Worries: The diplomatic tensions have led to concerns about the availability and size of Canada’s masur crop. The 2023 crop is smaller than the previous year’s, impacting landed masur prices.
  • Yellow/White Peas: Yellow/white peas, once a significant import, have faced fluctuations in trade volumes with Canada.


Others: Indian Students in Canada

  • Since 2018, India has been the largest source country for international students in Canada.
  • In 2022, their number rose 47 percent to nearly 320000, accounting for about 40 % of overseas students, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
  • It also helps universities and colleges provide subsidised education to domestic students.


  • Trade Dynamics: India and Canada maintain a balanced trade relationship, with certain critical imports like MOP and masur playing pivotal roles in India’s agricultural sector.
  • Impact of Diplomatic Tensions: The ongoing diplomatic tensions could potentially affect trade dynamics, especially in the case of masur imports, raising concerns about supply and prices.
  • Trade Relationships Evolving: India-Canada trade relations continue to evolve, and the resolution of diplomatic tensions will influence the future direction of this trade partnership.

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Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

Explained: Immunity of Legislators from Bribery Charges


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parliamentary Immunities

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • Important Question: The Supreme Court of India is trying to answer a significant question: Can lawmakers be prosecuted in criminal courts for taking or offering bribes despite the legal protection they enjoy under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution?
  • Background: This question arises from a need to re-evaluate a past Supreme Court ruling in the 1998 PV Narasimha Rao vs. State case, which said that lawmakers can’t be prosecuted for bribery related to their speeches or votes in Parliament.

Understanding Lawmaker Immunity

  • Constitutional Safeguard: Constitution provides special protection for lawmakers through Articles 105(2) and 194(2). These articles deal with the powers and privileges of Parliament and state legislatures, and they say that lawmakers can’t be taken to court for anything they say or vote on in these bodies.
  • What It Means: This means lawmakers are safe from legal action for their words and actions inside the Parliament or state legislatures. For example, they can’t be sued for defamation for something they say during a debate.

Current Case in the Supreme Court

  • How It Started: This matter began when, a member of Jharkhand politician, was accused of taking a bribe in exchange for her vote in the 2012 Rajya Sabha elections.
  • Legal Journey: Soren asked for her case to be dropped, saying she was protected by Article 194(2). But the Jharkhand High Court disagreed in 2014. So, she approached the Supreme Court.
  • Referral to a Bigger Panel: During the case, it was clear that the issue was very important. In 2019, a Supreme Court Bench suggested that it should be heard by more judges (a larger Bench) because it relates to the 1998 Narasimha Rao decision.
  • What the Supreme Court Just Did: On September 20, 2023, a five-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, decided to send this issue to a seven-judge Bench for a fresh look. They said it’s vital to reconsider the PV Narasimha Rao ruling because it impacts our country’s politics.

Why Lawmaker Immunity Matters

  • Protecting Lawmakers: Articles 105(2) and 194(2) aim to make sure lawmakers can speak and vote freely in Parliament and state legislatures without worrying about legal trouble.
  • Not a Get-Out-Of-Jail Card: But remember, these rules don’t mean lawmakers are above the regular laws of our country. They just make sure lawmakers can do their job without fear.

Reviewing the 1998 PV Narasimha Rao Decision

  • The Big Case: The PV Narasimha Rao case is all about the 1993 JMM bribery scandal. The politician, who is related to the petitioner in this case, and some MPs were accused of taking money to vote against a no-confidence motion.
  • Different Opinions: Some judges thought immunity shouldn’t cover bribery cases. But most judges thought lawmakers should be protected to make sure they can talk and vote freely.
  • What Happened: The 1998 ruling in the Narasimha Rao case made it hard to prosecute lawmakers for bribery linked to their work in Parliament.


  • Big Legal Question: The Supreme Court’s decision to send this issue to a seven-judge Bench shows how important it is. They want to decide if lawmakers can be prosecuted for bribery without affecting their ability to do their job.
  • Keeping Democracy Running: Articles 105(2) and 194(2) are here to make sure our Parliament and state legislatures work smoothly. They let lawmakers speak without fear, but they don’t mean lawmakers can break the law.
  • Balancing Act: What the bigger Bench decides will shape how lawmakers can be prosecuted for bribery, a matter that’s incredibly important for India’s democracy.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Canada

India- Canada Diplomatic Face-Offs over Khalistan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Canadian support for Separatism in India under Free Speech


Central Idea

Background of Diplomatic Face-Offs

  • India has accused the Canadian government of inadequate action against pro-Khalistan supporters, perceiving it as an attempt to court the Canadian-Sikh community.
  • Canada has denied these allegations and called it instead an exercise of Freedom of Speech and Individual Liberty.

Pro-Khalistan stance of Trudeau Govt

  • These recent tensions echo a long history of strained relations.
  • In 1998, Canada recalled its high commissioner to India following India’s nuclear tests.
  • Disagreements began as early as 1948 when Canada supported a plebiscite in Kashmir.

Recent Discord

  • Leadership Clashes: Trudeau’s appointment of four Sikhs to his 30-member Cabinet in 2015, boasting more Sikhs than Modi’s ministry, stirred controversy over his proximity to Khalistan sympathizers.
  • Diplomatic Incidents: Tensions escalated when then Punjab CM refused to meet Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan in 2017, accusing him of associating with separatists. Trudeau’s 2018 visit to India received a cool reception, further souring relations.
  • Atwal Controversy: India expressed dismay when Jaspal Atwal, convicted of attempting to assassinate an Indian Cabinet minister in 1986, was initially invited to dine with Trudeau during the same visit. The invitation was later rescinded.
  • Brief Respite: Relations appeared to improve when Canada mentioned ‘extremism’ and Khalistan in its 2018 ‘Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada.’ Both countries established an anti-terrorism cooperation framework in 2018.
  • Reversal: In 2019, Canada removed all mentions of Khalistan and Sikh extremism from the report, drawing criticism from Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, who had provided Trudeau with a list of extremists, including Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Current Perspective: G20 Humiliation 

  • Canada’s Viewpoint: Canadian officials assert that their efforts to improve relations with India through trade and commerce are hindered by India’s focus on Khalistan. They argue that the separatist movement is relatively insignificant and that the Khalistan referendums organized by Sikhs for Justice are legal.
  • India’s Concerns: During the recent G20 summit, PM Modi conveyed “strong concerns” about “continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements” in Canada.

Historical Roots of Canadian Interference

  • Long-standing Connection: Canada’s association with the Khalistan cause dates back. Surjan Singh Gill established the ‘Khalistan government in exile’ office in Vancouver in 1982, even issuing Khalistani passports and currency. However, he garnered limited local Sikh support.
  • Militancy’s Impact: Militancy in Punjab during the early 1980s had repercussions in Canada. In 1982, then PM Pierre Trudeau declined to extradite Talwinder Singh Parmar, accused of killing two police officers in Punjab. The Air India Kanishka bombing in 1985, orchestrated by the Babbar Khalsa, led to 331 civilian deaths in Canada’s worst act of terrorism.

Changing Governments and Influences

  • Political Fluctuations: The Khalistan movement’s trajectory often mirrors India and the subcontinent’s changing politics. Relations improved during the Vajpayee government, with hints of reconciliation.
  • Strong Relations: During Stephen Harper’s tenure as Canadian PM (2006-2015), Canada and India enjoyed strong relations, marked by numerous high-level visits and cooperation.
  • Community Influence: With over 7.7 lakh Sikhs in Canada, the Sikh community wields substantial political influence, with 18 Sikh MPs in the Canadian parliament in 2019, surpassing those in India.

Repercussions of the spat

(1) Migration Trends:

  • The ongoing tensions and the Khalistan movement have led to a 246% increase in asylum claims by Indian nationals in Canada.
  • Experts suggest this may be a tactic employed by immigration agents.

(2) Shift in Interest:

  • Interest in the Khalistan movement in Canada has waned, with the issue being less prominent.
  • Supporters are often second-generation Canadians influenced by pro-Khalistani social media and music/ rap-culture, rather than direct experiences in Punjab.

(3) Trade and Economy:

  • In 2022, the trade between India and Canada exceeded $13.7 billion, making India Canada’s 10th largest two-way merchandise trade partner.
  • However, recent developments have led to the pause of trade talks and the cancellation of a planned trade mission to India.


  • The complexities surrounding India-Canada relations, exacerbated by the lingering specter of Khalistan, continue to evolve.
  • Historical antecedents, political transitions, and diaspora dynamics all contribute to the intricate dance between the two nations.
  • While challenges persist, the potential for cooperation remains, provided both countries navigate the path toward common ground with sensitivity and diplomacy.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Transformations and Trends in the Indian Parliament over 75 Years


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Trends in Indian Parliament

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • India’s parliamentary journey spanning 75 years reflects a dynamic and evolving landscape of political representation, legislative processes, and societal changes.
  • From shifting demographics to parliamentary practices and electoral dynamics, this retrospective analysis sheds light on the fascinating facets of India’s parliamentary evolution.

Key Trends in Indian Parliament

Youth Representation
  • Despite a growing youth population, the number of MPs aged 35 and below in the Lok Sabha is at a record low.
  • In the First Lok Sabha, there were 82 such MPs, but in the 17th Lok Sabha, there are only 21.
  • This decline contrasts with India’s youthful demographic, where around 66% of the population is under 35.
Women’s Turnout and Representation
  • Women’s voter turnout has consistently risen since 1962, even surpassing male turnout in 2019.
  • Number of women candidates has increased, from 45 in 1957 to 726 in 2019.
  • However, women’s representation in the Lok Sabha remains low, with just 14.36% of the total seats occupied by women in 2019.
  • Women’s reservation Bill, aimed at increasing women’s representation to 33%, has faced hurdles in passing.
Missing Deputy Speaker
  • 17th Lok Sabha is set to become the first in independent India without a Deputy Speaker, breaking from tradition.
Declining Parliamentary Sittings
  • Between 1952 and 1974, the Lok Sabha consistently held over 100 sittings annually, but this trend has declined.
  • Pandemic in 2020 led to a significant decrease in sittings.
  • Average sitting time per day has also decreased over the years.
Bills Passed and Ordinances Issued
  • Both Houses of Parliament are passing fewer bills compared to earlier decades.
  • Highest number of bills passed occurred during the Emergency in 1976, while the lowest was in 2004.
  • An increase in ordinances issued by the Union government has coincided with fewer parliamentary sittings.
Voter Enrollment and Parties in the Fray
  • Number of voters has increased six-fold from 1951 to 2019, resulting in a higher number of polling stations.
  • Nos. of parties participating in Lok Sabha polls has multiplied over the years, with 673 parties in 2019 compared to 53 in 1951.
  • Number of contestants has also grown significantly.
Vote Share and Majority Trends
  • Out of 17 Lok Sabha elections held so far, 10 have resulted in clear majorities, while 7 have been fractured mandates.
  • Recent trends show that the winning party typically receives a higher vote share than the runner-up since 2004.
Changing Focus on Questions
  • Time allocated for questions in the Lok Sabha has decreased over the years.
  • First Lok Sabha dedicated 15% of its time to questions, whereas the 14th Lok Sabha allocated only 11.42%.
  • Data for the 15th, 16th, and 17th Lok Sabhas is not available for comparison.


  • As India’s Parliament embarks on its journey of 75 years, these trends provide a fascinating glimpse into the evolving dynamics of the nation’s highest legislative body.

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

Why Dominant Caste are Demanding Reservation in India?

maratha quota

Central Idea

  • A Maratha activist has been on a 17-day hunger strike demanding reservation for the Maratha community in jobs and education.
  • The demand for a Maratha quota is expected to gain momentum as Lok Sabha and Assembly elections approach.

Historical Context of Maratha Reservation Demand

  • Maratha Background: The Marathas, historically identified as a “warrior” caste, comprise mainly peasant and landowning groups, constituting nearly one-third of Maharashtra’s population. They have been a politically dominant community in the state.
  • Demand for Reservation: The demand for Maratha reservation dates back to the early 1980s when Mathadi Labour Union leader Annasaheb Patil led the first protest rally in Mumbai.

Recent Developments

  • OBC Status: The Marathas seek to be identified as Kunbis (Farmers), which would entitle them to benefits under the quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). This demand arose after the Supreme Court, in May 2021, struck down the quota for Marathas under the state’s Socially and Educationally Backward Class (SEBC) Act, 2018.
  • Bombay High Court Decision: In June 2019, the Bombay High Court upheld the Maratha quota under the SEBC Act but reduced it to 12% in education and 13% in government jobs, in compliance with the 50% reservation limit set by the court.
  • Supreme Court Ruling: In May 2021, the Supreme Court declared the Maharashtra law providing reservation to Marathas unconstitutional, citing it breached the 50% reservation cap set in the Indra Sawhney (Mandal) judgment of 1992.
  • Impact on EWS Quota: Following the SC’s decision on the 10% quota for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), the Maharashtra government stated that poor Marathas could not benefit from the EWS quota until the Maratha reservation issue was resolved.
  • Government Response: In response to protests and clashes, the government issued a Government Resolution (GR) promising Kunbi caste certificates to certain Maratha community members and referred to an older GR from 2004 pledging reservation for eligible Maratha-Kunbis and Kunbi-Marathas.

OBC Opposition to Maratha Demand

  • OBC Organizations: OBC organizations have opposed the Maratha demand for OBC reservations due to quota shrink. They argue that Marathas, as a dominant community, should not share the OBC quota, which is already limited in Maharashtra compared to the national quota.
  • Reservation Distribution: Currently, reservations in the state are divided among various categories, including Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, Special Backward Classes, and others.

Political Impact

  • Polarization: The Maratha reservation issue has led to a sharp Maratha-OBC polarization in politics. Traditionally, Marathas leaned towards the Congress and NCP, while the BJP and Shiv Sena garnered OBC support.
  • Changing Dynamics: Recent political developments, including splits within parties and alliances, have complicated the political landscape, making the issue even more complex.


  • The Maratha reservation issue remains a highly contentious and politically charged topic in Maharashtra, with implications for both social and political dynamics in the state.

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

India and Saudi’s Push for the West Coast Mega Refinery Project


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: West Coast Mega Refinery Project

Mains level: Not Much

Central Idea

  • India and Saudi Arabia have renewed efforts to accelerate the long-pending 60-million-tonnes-per-annum (60 mtpa) west coast mega refinery project, which had faced multiple hurdles.

West Coast Mega Refinery Project

  • The ambitious project to build a mega oil refinery and petrochemicals facility in Maharashtra’s Konkan belt, with participation from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, was first proposed in 2015.
  • The project is stipulated to be established at Barsu village in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.
  • IOC, BPCL, and HPCL, had already incorporated a joint venture (JV) — Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals (RRPCL) — to implement the project.
  • It faced resistance from locals due to environmental concerns and shifting political equations in the state.
  • Despite initial agreements and cost estimates of Rs 3 lakh crore, the project failed to take off as foreign partners hadn’t acquired stakes in the joint venture.

Recent Developments

  • Around 15,000 acres of land had to be acquired for the project across 17 villages in the area.
  • A joint monitoring committee will track the project’s progress, signaling renewed commitment.
  • India and Saudi Arabia are keen to implement the project, which has earmarked funds of $50 billion.

Significance of the Project

  • India is a significant consumer of crude oil, and its demand for petroleum products and petrochemicals is expected to grow substantially.
  • India aims to increase its refining capacity from 250 mtpa to 450 mtpa, making it a key player in the global oil demand landscape.
  • For Aramco and ADNOC, the project offers diversification, global expansion, risk mitigation, and access to a major oil market.

Future Options

  • Realistic alternatives include scouting for alternative coastal sites in Maharashtra or considering another coastal state.
  • A more drastic alternative is to split the proposed mega refinery into smaller units.

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Languages and Eighth Schedule

Hindi Diwas and the Making of India’s Official Language


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hindi Diwas

Mains level: National Language Debate

hindi diwas

Central Idea

  • Hindi Diwas, celebrated on September 14th each year, holds a special place in India’s cultural and linguistic tapestry.

Hindi Diwas

  • Official Language Selection: After gaining independence, India recognized the need for a unifying official language to facilitate communication between government departments and the public. On September 14, 1949, Hindi was chosen as the official language, as stipulated in Article 343 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Pioneering Advocates: Leaders such as Seth Govind Das, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Kaka Kalelkar, and Beohar Rajendra Simha were instrumental in championing Hindi as the nation’s official language. Beohar Rajendra Simha’s birthday on September 14 became synonymous with Hindi Diwas.

Language Debate in the Constituent Assembly

  • RV Dhulekar Advocates for Hindi: RV Dhulekar, a representative from Uttar Pradesh, passionately argued that Hindi should not only be the official language but also the national language. He asserted that Hindi had triumphed in a race among languages and deserved recognition.
  • Frank Anthony’s Case for English: Frank Anthony, representing Central Provinces and Berar, made a compelling case for English. He emphasized that the knowledge of English, acquired over two centuries, was a valuable asset for India on the international stage.
  • Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra’s Push for Sanskrit: Pandit Lakshmi Kanta Maitra, who represented Bengal, advocated for Sanskrit as the national and official language. He argued that it was a revered language with rich heritage.
  • Qazi Syed Karimuddin’s Support for Hindustani: Qazi Syed Karimuddin, also from Central Provinces and Berar, highlighted Mahatma Gandhi’s endorsement of Hindustani. He proposed that Hindustani, written in both Devanagari and Urdu scripts, should be the national language.
  • T A Ramalingam Chettiar’s Perspective on Hindi: T A Ramalingam Chettiar, representing Madras, accepted Hindi as an official language due to its widespread use but questioned its claim as the national language. He argued that India had several national languages, each deserving equal recognition.

The Munshi-Ayyangar Formula

  • The Constituent Assembly engaged in extensive deliberations over three days, resulting in the Munshi-Ayyangar formula.
  • It was a compromise named after the drafting committee members K M Munshi and N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar.
  • According to this formula, Article 343 of the Constitution adopted in 1950 stated that the official language of the Union would be Hindi in the Devanagari script.
  • However, English would continue to be used for official purposes for fifteen years from the Constitution’s commencement.

Back2Basics: Article 343

  • Article 343 (1) of the Constitution provides that Hindi in Devanagari script shall be the official language of the Union.
  • Article 343 (3) empowered the Parliament to provide by law for continued use of English for official purposes even after January 25, 1965.
  • This provision was included to ensure a smooth transition, as English was widely used in India at the time of independence.

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Electronic System Design and Manufacturing Sector – M-SIPS, National Policy on Electronics, etc.

India vs. China in Smartphone Manufacturing


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India vs. China in smartphone manufacturing

china mobile

Central Idea

  • India’s smartphone manufacturing industry has reached a noteworthy milestone with the production and launch of the iPhone 15.
  • This development raises the question of whether India is on the path to becoming a rival to China in smartphone manufacturing.
  • While India has made substantial progress, certain factors still set it apart from China.

Why discuss this?

  • India has become the second largest mobile-producing nation as locally made mobile phone shipments crossed the 2 billion cumulative mark in the 2014-2022 period, registering a 23% growth compounded annually, according to a new report.
  • The ramp up in local manufacturing came on the back of huge internal demand, increasing digital literacy, and government push.

A Shift in iPhone Manufacturing

(1) Historical Context:

  • iPhones have been assembled in India since 2017.
  • Previously, India’s assembly lines lagged behind global launches.

(2) The iPhone Breakthrough:

  • India’s Foxconn plant in Chennai produced the iPhone 15 a month before its global launch.
  • This signifies India’s transition into a parallel manufacturing market alongside China.

Comparing India and China

(1) Not Yet Equals:

  • India’s achievement is commendable, but it hasn’t completely caught up with China.
  • Base iPhone 15 assembly takes place in India, while Pro iPhones are still produced elsewhere.
  • Established supply chains in China pose a challenge for India.

(2) The Challenge of Supply Chains:

  • Supply chain operations in India aren’t as seamless as in China.
  • Bridging this gap is expected to take at least two more years.

Understanding Smartphone Manufacturing in India

(1) High-Level Assembly:

  • Key components like cameras, displays, and chips are imported.
  • India primarily serves as a high-level assembly destination.
  • In contrast, China’s fabs (chip and display plants) provide a manufacturing advantage.

(2) Skill Development:

  • Smartphone manufacturing has become highly automated.
  • India’s workforce is being upskilled to operate sophisticated assembly lines.
  • Supply chain considerations impact Apple’s decision to not assemble Pro iPhones in India.

Pricing Dynamics and Future Prospects

(1) Pricing Paradox:

  • India isn’t inherently a cheaper manufacturing destination compared to China.
  • Apple’s iPhone sales in India are growing, potentially by nearly 40%.
  • Apple doesn’t need to lower prices due to continued growth.

(2) Potential Price Revisions:

  • India experiences a pricing disparity compared to the US and UAE.
  • Price revisions may become necessary once iPhone shipments exceed 10 million units annually.

India’s lacunae

(1) High-End Manufacturing:

  • India aspires to host high-end smartphone and electronics manufacturing.
  • However, this goal is distant due to the country’s limited volume in this segment.
  • To make this transition viable, firms would need to export around 500 million units annually, a target that seems distant.

(2) Semiconductor Fabrication:

  • Semiconductor fabrication, a critical aspect of electronics manufacturing, remains outside India’s grasp.
  • Moving semiconductor fabrication to India isn’t currently feasible for companies due to the lack of scale and infrastructure.


  • India’s ascent in smartphone manufacturing, exemplified by the production of the iPhone 15, is a significant achievement.
  • While challenges remain, such as supply chain scale and workforce upskilling, India’s progress underscores its potential to compete with China in the future.
  • As smartphone sales continue to surge, pricing dynamics and local manufacturing may undergo further transformations, benefiting both the industry and consumers.

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How fraternity in India is different from the idea enshrined in the Constitution


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Values enshrined in Constitution

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • In the context of India’s independence struggle and the subsequent establishment of a constitutional democracy, the interplay of liberty, equality, and fraternity was deemed crucial for a diverse society on the brink of independence.
  • This essay delves into the historical origins of fraternity, its journey through different civilizations, and its significance in India’s socio-political landscape.

Understanding Fraternity

  • The concept of fraternity, often overshadowed by liberty and equality, plays a pivotal role in the realm of politics.
  • Philosopher Angel Puyol, in his book “Political Fraternity: Democracy beyond Freedom & Democracy,” argues that fraternity is central to the emancipation and empowerment of people.

Origins of the Concept

  • Ancient Greece: The roots of fraternity can be traced back to ancient Greece, where philosophers like Plato emphasized the importance of sharing knowledge and wisdom among individuals. This early discourse hinted at the notion of political fraternity.
  • Medieval Europe: In the Middle Ages, fraternity found expression primarily through religion, especially within the context of Christian society in Europe. It began to evolve from a religious concept to a political one.
  • French Revolution: The concept of fraternity gained prominence during the French Revolution of 1789, symbolized by the revolutionary triptych of ‘liberte, egalite, fraternite.’ Fraternity, in this context, became a fundamental principle of civic-political friendship.

Friendship among Equals

  • Integral Value System: Fraternity thrived within community ties, with a foundation built on integral values. It prioritized the collective over the individual, gradually giving way to religious morality and a ‘way of life.’
  • Shared History: For fraternity to flourish, individuals must share a harmonious past. This shared history should be amicable, free from ideological divisions rooted in social inequalities among different communities.

Fraternity in India’s Context

  • Unique Societal Landscape: India’s fraternal bonds face unique challenges due to its history of social hierarchies and caste divisions. The shared history is marred by the caste system, hindering the principles of equality and liberty.
  • Secular Conception: To foster fraternity in India, it must be rooted in politics, where caste privileges can be challenged. Fraternity should be cultivated through political conditioning, separate from moral considerations.

Role in Indian Constitution

  • Constitutional Objective: The Indian Constitution recognizes the significance of fraternity in a society marked by various hierarchical social inequalities. It considers fraternity, along with liberty and equality, as a foundational political objective.
  • Affirmative Actions: Measures like affirmative actions, including the reservation system, aim to establish equality among diverse social groups in terms of access to social and economic resources.

Limits to Fraternity

  • Ignoring Inequalities: Fraternity loses its meaning if it overlooks social inequalities and promotes social solidarity built on animosity towards others. Such solidarity often perpetuates the status quo and reinforces privilege at the expense of the marginalized.
  • Nationalism vs. Fraternity: Belligerent nationalism can replace the call for fraternity, casting religious minorities as enemies. This has historically led to social and political discrimination against religious minorities in India.
  • Fundamentalism’s Impact: Fundamentalism, in any form, contradicts the essence of fraternity, as fanaticism is incompatible with true fraternity.


  • In India, the coexistence of caste and political fraternity, given the prevailing social milieu, presents challenges. To foster political fraternity, it is imperative to address social inequalities and caste divisions.
  • The future of Indian politics will determine whether fraternity or caste consciousness prevails, as the two are often incompatible.
  • Achieving true political fraternity requires navigating these complexities while prioritizing the principles of equality, liberty, and solidarity across diverse social groups.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-Sri Lanka

India urges Sri Lanka to fulfill commitments for Tamil aspirations


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 13th Amendment Provisions

Mains level: Tamil Minority issue in Sri Lanka


Central Idea

  • India has expressed its concerns about the slow progress made by Sri Lanka in fulfilling its commitments to address the aspirations of the Tamil community.
  • India’s representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva emphasized the inadequacy of progress.

Tamil issue in Sri Lanka

  • Violent persecution against the Tamil population erupted in the form of the 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981, and 1983 anti-Tamil pogroms in Sri Lanka.
  • Over 13 years since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, in which tens of thousands of civilians were killed and disappeared, survivors continue demanding justice and accountability for war-time crimes.
  • In the post-war years, Sri Lanka’s human rights defenders have frequently flagged concerns over persisting militarisation, especially in the Tamil-majority north and east; repression, and the shrinking space for dissent.

Why discuss this?

  • Reconciliation and Human Rights: Despite the war’s conclusion, the country still faces challenges in reconciling its ethnic divisions and ensuring the protection of human rights.
  • Economic Crisis: In addition to its unresolved conflict, Sri Lanka has experienced a severe economic crisis that began in the previous year, leaving a significant portion of its population vulnerable. The crisis has led to increased poverty levels and food insecurity for many households.

UN Human Rights Council’s Concerns

  • Political and Democratic Reforms: The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighted the delay in implementing political and democratic reforms, even a year after a significant protest movement.
  • Food Insecurity: UNHRC pointed out that approximately 37% of households in Sri Lanka face acute food insecurity, indicating the extent of the economic challenges.
  • Political Participation: Delays in holding local government elections and reconstituting Provincial Councils have limited citizens’ political participation and free expression.
  • Land Acquisition: The UN official raised concerns about escalating tensions in Sri Lanka’s north and east due to land acquisition for military installations, conservation efforts at Hindu or Muslim sites, and forestry protection.

India’s Position

  • Power Devolution: India reiterated its support for the aspirations of the Tamil community for equality, justice, dignity, and peace.
  • Limited sovereignty: It also emphasized its commitment to the unity, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of Sri Lanka by implementing the 13th Amendment.

UN Review and Sri Lanka’s Response

  • The UN Human Rights Council is currently reviewing Sri Lanka’s commitments, and there will be no vote on a resolution at this session.
  • While acknowledging Sri Lanka’s initiatives in truth-seeking and reconciliation, the High Commissioner’s report emphasized the need for urgent confidence-building measures for genuine reconciliation and transitional justice.
  • The Sri Lankan government rejected the report and labelled previous Council resolutions as intrusive and polarizing.


  • India’s call for Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitments to address Tamil aspirations reflects ongoing concerns about the progress of reconciliation and human rights in the country.
  • The economic crisis and delays in political reforms have further complicated the situation, necessitating meaningful actions to promote genuine reconciliation and transitional justice.
  • The review at the UN Human Rights Council serves as an important platform for monitoring Sri Lanka’s efforts in this regard.

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

India’s shift away from Diesel: Implications and Policy Proposals


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India’s Pushback against Diesel


Central diIdea

  • Recent remarks by Road Transport Minister have sparked discussions about India’s transition away from diesel-powered vehicles and the potential imposition of an additional 10% GST as a “pollution tax.”
  • While these remarks have stirred concerns in the automotive sector, the government’s commitment to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions remains a key driving force in this shift.

India’s Pushback against Diesel

  • Policy Shift: Minister’s comments align with a broader policy shift aimed at reducing India’s reliance on diesel. The government aims to produce 40% of the country’s electricity from renewables and achieve net-zero emissions by 2070.
  • Diesel Consumption: Diesel currently accounts for approximately 40% of India’s petroleum products consumption, with the transport sector being a significant consumer.
  • High Taxation: The government already imposes a 28% tax on diesel cars, coupled with additional cess based on engine capacity, resulting in a nearly 50% tax rate.

Impact on Diesel-Run Cars

  • Industry Response: Several automakers have scaled back their diesel portfolios. Maruti ceased diesel vehicle production in 2020, citing the high cost of upgrading to meet BS-VI emission norms.
  • Emissions Concerns: Diesel engines emit higher levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), contributing to environmental concerns. The Volkswagen scandal in 2015 further tarnished diesel’s reputation globally.
  • Fuel Economy: While diesel engines offer better fuel economy and torque, the price difference between diesel and petrol has diminished since the decontrol of fuel prices in 2014.

Reasons for Individual Diesel Preference

  • Fuel Efficiency: Diesel engines offer higher energy content per liter and inherent efficiency, making them preferred for heavy vehicles and haulage.
  • Cost Consideration: Historically, diesel was significantly cheaper than petrol, driving a preference for diesel-powered vehicles. However, this price gap has narrowed.

Reasons for Carmakers’ Retreat from Diesel

  • Emissions Challenges: Diesel engines tend to emit higher levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), making them environmentally less favourable compared to petrol engines.
  • Volkswagen Scandal: The 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, where the company manipulated emissions controls during lab tests, tarnished diesel’s reputation globally, affecting perceptions in India as well.
  • BS-VI Emission Norms: The rollout of the BS-VI emission norms from April 1, 2020, posed a significant challenge for diesel vehicles. Meeting these stringent standards required complex and costly upgrades.
  • Economic Viability: Upgrading diesel engines to comply with BS-VI norms involved installing three crucial components: a diesel particulate filter, a selective catalytic reduction system, and an LNT (Lean NOx trap). This technological overhaul resulted in high costs for car manufacturers, making diesel options economically unviable.

Impact on Diesel Buyers

  • Changing Economics: The historical price advantage of diesel over petrol has diminished since the decontrol of fuel prices in 2014. The price difference now stands at approximately Rs 7 per liter, significantly reducing the economic incentive for diesel vehicles.
  • Consumer Shift: Diesel cars, once preferred by Indian consumers, have seen their market share decline steadily, accounting for less than 20% of overall passenger vehicle sales in 2021-22.

Policy Implications

  • Phasing Out Diesel: Globally, many countries are moving towards phasing out diesel vehicles in alignment with environmental goals.
  • Challenges in India: Implementing a total ban on diesel vehicles in India poses challenges due to substantial investments made by carmakers and oil companies in transitioning to BS-VI standards. Additionally, the commercial vehicles segment heavily relies on diesel, making an immediate ban disruptive.
  • Alternative Fuels: Experts emphasize the importance of technology-agnostic policies that prioritize stringent operational standards, including emissions norms. Transitioning to alternative fuels like liquefied natural gas (LNG) and exploring electric vehicles (EVs) can play a pivotal role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Hydrogen Potential: The Energy Transition Advisory Committee report highlights the potential of hydrogen as a motive fuel, which could reduce emissions and transform the logistics market.
  • Environmental Initiatives: Oil marketing companies have taken steps to reduce the environmental footprint of diesel, including lowering sulphur levels and introducing biodiesel specifications.


  • India’s transition away from diesel is driven by environmental concerns, emissions reduction goals, and changing fuel economics.
  • While a pollution tax on diesel vehicles remains speculative, it reflects the government’s commitment to cleaner and greener alternatives.
  • This shift has implications for both the automotive industry and individual vehicle owners, emphasizing the need for cleaner and more sustainable transportation options.

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