North-East India – Security and Developmental Issues

How the Northeast was ‘invented’, 52 years ago?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Not Much

Northeast India

Central Idea

  • On December 30, 1971, two pivotal laws were enacted, reshaping the administrative landscape of Northeast India.
  • These laws marked a transition from the traditional unit of Assam to the broader concept of ‘Northeast India’.

Formation and Composition of Northeast India

  • States in the Northeast: The region officially includes Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura, under the North-Eastern Council.
  • Pre-Independence Structure: Before Independence, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Mizoram were part of colonial Assam. Manipur and Tripura were princely states with British political officers, while Sikkim, under British paramountcy, became an independent country in 1947 and was annexed by India in 1975. Sikkim joined the North-Eastern Council in 2001.

Colonial Context and Frontier Province Dynamics

  • Assam as a Frontier Province: Colonial Assam was a frontier province in British India, akin to the North West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan).
  • Administrative Divisions: The province was divided into ‘settled districts’ (like present-day Assam and Sylhet in Bangladesh) and ‘excluded areas’ or ‘Hill areas’ (like modern-day Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Nagaland).

The North Eastern Council (NEC) is composed of the following members:

  • Governors and Chief Ministers of the Member States: Each of the eight states in the North Eastern region, including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Sikkim, Nagaland, and Manipur, is represented by their respective Governors and Chief Ministers. These members are ex-officio members of the Council.
  • Chairman: The Chairman is also a member of the Council, although the specific identity of the Chairman is not mentioned in the provided sources.
  • Three Members Nominated by the President: The President of India nominates three additional members to the Council. These members are also part of the NEC

Post-Independence Security and Administrative Shifts

  • Unique Post-1947 Challenges: After 1947, the region’s borders became largely international, with a narrow land corridor connecting it to the rest of India.
  • Creation of Nagaland: The state of Nagaland was created in 1963, following the Sino-Indian War of 1962, as part of efforts to integrate the Naga people into the Indian state.

North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act of 1971

  • Statehood and Union Territories: Manipur and Tripura were elevated to statehood, Meghalaya was formed from Assam, and Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were established as union territories, later becoming states in 1987.
  • Strategic Reorganization: This Act represented a strategic shift from the colonial frontier governance to a modern state structure.

Concept and Implications of ‘Northeast India’

  • Directional Naming and Identity: The term ‘Northeast India’ highlights the region’s distinct identity and its hierarchical relation to the Indian heartland.
  • Racial and Cultural Dimensions: The term ‘Northeasterner’ has often led to racial stereotyping and issues of identity and recognition.

Conclusion

  • Complex Administrative Evolution: The formation of Northeast India is a testament to the region’s complex history and the Indian state’s response to unique geopolitical challenges.
  • Continued Struggle for Recognition: Despite legislative milestones, Northeast India continues to face challenges in national integration, identity politics, and equitable development.

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Innovations in Biotechnology and Medical Sciences

Evolution of Genomic Medicine: Research to Mainstream Healthcare

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Genomic Medicine

Mains level: Read the attached story

genomic medicine

Central Idea

  • Over the past two decades, genomics and the use of genetic information in healthcare have undergone significant transformations.
  • Once limited to major research centers, personal genome sequencing has become widely accessible, empowering individuals with detailed knowledge of their genetic makeup.

What is genome sequencing?

  • Genome sequencing is the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome.
  • The genome is the entire set of genetic material (DNA in the case of most organisms) that provides the instructions for building, maintaining, and functioning of the organism.
  • Genome sequencing involves identifying the order of nucleotides (adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine) in an organism’s DNA.

Applications of Personal Genome Sequencing

  • Disease Risk Assessment: Personal genome sequencing can identify genetic variants associated with an increased risk of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular conditions, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Pharmacogenomics: Personal genome sequencing helps predict how an individual will respond to specific medications, allowing for the customization of drug prescriptions based on genetic factors.
  • Cancer Genomics: Personal genome sequencing of cancer cells helps identify specific mutations driving tumor growth.
  • Rare Genetic Disorders: Personal genome sequencing is a powerful tool for diagnosing rare genetic disorders, particularly in cases where traditional diagnostic methods may be inconclusive.
  • Reproductive Health: Couples planning to have children can undergo personal genome sequencing to assess the risk of passing on genetic conditions to their offspring.
  • Forensic Identification: Personal genome sequencing can be used in forensics for human identification and the resolution of criminal investigations.
  • Research and Scientific Discovery: Aggregated personal genomic data from large populations contribute to ongoing research, advancing our understanding of the genetic basis of diseases and human biology.

Case Study: Iceland’s Genetics Research

  • Iceland’s Unique Demographics: Iceland’s historical demographic isolation and early initiation of population-level genome sequencing have made it a focal point in genetics research.
  • Research on Lifespan and Genetic Variants: A study in Iceland suggested that actionable incidental genetic variants could potentially improve lifespan, with significant findings related to cancer-related genotypes.

Future of Genome Sequencing and Healthcare

  • Increasing Accessibility: As genome sequencing becomes more accessible and affordable, regular population-scale sequencing and newborn sequencing initiatives are becoming more feasible.
  • Benefits for Population Health: Widespread implementation of these programs could provide medically actionable insights, enabling proactive and effective disease treatment and prevention.
  • Advancements in Technology: Current genome sequencing technologies, often referred to as second-generation sequencing, have limitations in handling repetitive sequences and resolving structural variations. Third-generation sequencing technologies, such as single-molecule sequencing, are expected to overcome these challenges and provide longer read lengths, improving the accuracy and completeness of genome sequences.

Conclusion

  • The advancements in genomics are paving the way for a more proactive and personalized approach to healthcare, with significant potential for disease prevention and management.

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Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

How Centre plans to regulate Content on OTT and Digital Media?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OTT Regulation

Mains level: Read the attached story

ott

Central Idea

  • The Centre’s new draft Broadcasting Services (Regulation) Bill, 2023, aims to revamp the regulatory framework for the broadcasting sector in India.
  • The Bill extends regulatory oversight from conventional television services to OTT platforms, digital content, and emerging technologies.

Key Provisions of the Draft Bill

  • Single Legal Framework: The Bill seeks to establish a unified legal structure for various broadcasting services, replacing the three-decade-old Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act.
  • Mandatory Registration and Self-Regulation: It introduces mandatory registration for broadcasting services, the creation of content evaluation committees for self-regulation, and establishment of programme and advertisement codes.
  • Three-Tier Regulatory Mechanism: The Bill proposes a three-tier regulatory structure, including self-regulation by broadcasters, self-regulatory organizations, and a Broadcast Advisory Council.

Government’s Objectives and Concerns Raised

  • Ease of Doing Business: The government claims the Bill will enhance ease of doing business and update the regulatory framework to match the sector’s evolving needs.
  • Freedom of Speech Concerns: However, there are apprehensions about potential censorship and infringement on freedom of speech, especially for digital media.

Specifics of the Draft Bill

  • Intimation of Operations: The Bill requires formal registration or intimation to the government for broadcasting services, with exceptions for entities like Prasar Bharati.
  • Modern Broadcasting Definitions: It includes definitions for broadcasting, broadcasting networks, and network operators, encompassing internet broadcasting networks like IPTV and OTT services.
  • Content Quality and Accessibility: Broadcasters must adhere to yet-to-be-defined Programme and Advertisement Codes and classify their content for viewer discretion. The Bill also emphasizes accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Self-Regulation and Government Oversight

  • Content Evaluation Committees: Broadcasters must establish committees with diverse representation for content certification, except for shows exempted by the government.
  • Broadcast Advisory Council: An advisory council will oversee regulation implementation, with the power to make recommendations to the government.

Inspection, Seizure, and Penalties

  • Inspection Rights: The Centre and authorized officers can inspect broadcasting networks and services, raising concerns about government overreach.
  • Penalties for Non-Compliance: The Bill includes penalties like removal of shows, apologies, off-air periods, or cancellation of registration for non-compliance.

Concerns and Critiques

  • Digital Rights and Free Speech: Organizations like the Internet Freedom Foundation express concerns about the Bill’s impact on online free speech and creative expression.
  • Ambiguity and Rule-Making: The Bill’s numerous instances of “as may be prescribed” or “as notified by the Government” create uncertainty for stakeholders.
  • Impact on Digital Platforms: Experts highlight the need for careful consideration of the Bill’s impact on online content creators and the digital space’s dynamism.

Conclusion

  • The bill, represents a significant shift in India’s broadcasting sector regulation, aiming to encompass modern digital platforms while raising critical questions about content regulation, freedom of expression, and government oversight.

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Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Census postponed to October 2024

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Census of India

Mains level: Read the attached story

census

Central Idea

  • Initially planned for 2020, the Census exercise is now postponed to at least October 2024, considering the time required for preparatory activities post-boundary setting.
  • The delay also postpones the implementation of the law reserving 33% of seats for women in Parliament and State Assemblies, which is contingent on Census completion.

About the Census of India

  • The decennial Census of India has been conducted 16 times, as of 2021.
  • While it has been undertaken every 10 years, beginning in 1872 under British Viceroy Lord Mayo, the first complete census was taken in 1881.
  • Post 1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • All the censuses since 1951 were conducted under the Census of India Act, 1948.
  • The last census was held in 2011, whilst the next was to be held in 2021.

Background of Women’s Reservation Delay

  • 128th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2023: Known as the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, this Act mandates one-third reservation for women, effective post-delimitation based on the latest Census.
  • Presidential Assent and Delimitation: The Act, receiving Presidential assent in September 2023, awaits the delimitation exercise, which depends on the new Census data.

Census Delays and COVID-19 Impact

  • Historical Consistency: India has conducted a Census every decade since 1881, with the latest phase initially set for April 2020.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Disruption: The pandemic necessitated the postponement of the Census, leading to continued reliance on 2011 data for policy and subsidy decisions.
  • Lack of Clarity in Recent Notifications: Recent notifications have not specified reasons for the delay, moving away from earlier attributions to the pandemic.

Census Preparation and Questionnaire Status

  • Houselisting and Housing Schedule: The first phase questionnaire was notified in January 2020, including 31 questions.
  • Population Enumeration Phase: The second phase, with 28 finalized questions, awaits official notification.

Delay in Vital Statistics Reports

  • Non-Release of Recent Reports: The RGI and Census Commissioner’s office have not released reports on births, deaths, and causes of deaths for 2021, 2022, and 2023.
  • Importance of Vital Statistics: These reports are crucial for planning and evaluating health care, family planning, and educational programs.
  • Last Released Reports: The latest available reports cover up to the year 2020, including new codes for COVID-19 related deaths.

Conclusion

  • Evidence-based policymaking amidst delays: The extended timeline for the Census necessitates strategic planning to ensure accurate data collection and analysis.
  • Awaiting Women’s Reservation Implementation: The delay underscores the need for adaptive measures to implement the women’s reservation law effectively once the Census is completed.
  • Broader Implications for Governance: The postponement affects various aspects of governance and policy-making, highlighting the importance of timely and accurate demographic data.

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Ministry of External Affairs : Important Updates

Strategy and Foreign Affairs for India in 2024

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Factors shaping India's foreign policy

Central Idea

  • Contradiction in Global Aspirations: Despite calls for peace, 2023 witnessed the continuation and emergence of significant conflicts, notably between Russia and Ukraine, and in the Gaza Strip.
  • China’s Stance: Amidst its economic challenges, China’s aggressive posture remains a concern for the West and India, adding to the global tension.

2023: Strategic Realities and Challenges

Crisis in the Middle East: The Hamas attack disrupted efforts to normalize Israel-Arab relations, leading to a devastating response from Israel and derailing the reconciliation process.

  1. Stress in India-US Ties: Allegations of an Indian official’s involvement in an assassination plot have strained relations, with India promising to investigate if provided with information.
  2. Russia-Ukraine War Fatigue: The prolonged conflict sees the West grappling with funding challenges, while Russia, despite sanctions, maintains resilience, partly due to its closeness with China.
  3. India’s Maldives Challenge: The new government’s request for India to withdraw military personnel and terminate agreements reflects its proximity to China, complicating India’s strategic position.
  4. China, the Biggest Worry: The ongoing border standoff and China’s influence in the region, including its ties with Russia and the Maldives, continue to be India’s primary strategic concerns.
  5. G20 and Global South Positioning: India’s leadership in the G20 and its role in uniting the Global South reflect its aspiration to continue the legacy of Non-Alignment adapted to modern realities.
  6. Engagement in Kabul: India’s cautious engagement with the Taliban and coordination for consular services indicate a nuanced approach to Afghanistan, balancing security and diplomatic needs.

2024: Anticipating Challenges and Opportunities

  • Impact of Lok Sabha Elections: The election outcome will significantly influence India’s foreign policy, with a stronger mandate potentially leading to more assertive stances, while a weaker mandate might reflect coalition compulsions.
  • US & Canada Relationships: Navigating the complexities arising from the assassination plot allegations and maintaining robust ties with both nations will be crucial for India.
  • New Government in Pakistan: The post-election scenario in Pakistan might offer a window for re-engagement, depending on the political dynamics and India’s strategic choices.
  • Outcome in Bangladesh: India’s interest in the continuation of Sheikh Hasina’s government reflects security and connectivity priorities, with the opposition viewed with caution.
  • Continuing Deadlock with China: The border standoff and its potential escalation will be a critical factor in India’s security and diplomatic strategy, especially in an election year.
  • West Asia Dynamics: India’s evolving stance in the Israel-Hamas conflict and its implications for its position in the Global South will be closely watched, with a focus on balancing relations and principles.
  • Future of the War in Ukraine: India’s balancing act between its economic interests and international pressures, especially in its relationship with Russia, will continue to be a delicate matter.
  • Trade Pacts and Tech Partnerships: Finalizing trade agreements and enhancing tech partnerships with the West will be key areas of focus, with potential major developments expected in 2024.

Conclusion

  • Balancing Act: India’s foreign policy in the coming years will involve navigating a complex array of global conflicts, bilateral tensions, and internal political dynamics.
  • Strategic Posture: The outcomes of various global and regional conflicts, along with India’s own electoral politics, will shape its strategic and foreign policy posture, reflecting a blend of continuity and change.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Legal and Ethical Dimensions of Polygraph Tests in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Polygraph Test

Mains level: Read the attached story

polygraph tests

Central Idea

  • In the ongoing investigation of the Parliament security breach, Delhi Police sought court permission for polygraph tests on six accused to uncover their motives.
  • A polygraph test, commonly known as a lie detector test, measures physiological responses believed to differ when a person lies.

Mechanics of a Polygraph Test

  • Physiological Monitoring: The test involves attaching instruments like cardio-cuffs or sensitive electrodes to monitor blood pressure, pulse, and other variables.
  • Response Analysis: As questions are asked, responses are numerically evaluated to determine truthfulness, deception, or uncertainty.
  • Historical Origin: First conducted in the 19th century by Cesare Lombroso, an Italian criminologist, to measure blood pressure changes in suspects during interrogation.

Constitutional and Legal Provisions

  • Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution: This article protects against self-incrimination, stating that no accused shall be compelled to be a witness against themselves.
  • Infringement Concerns: Forcing an accused to undergo polygraph or narcoanalysis tests is seen as a violation of Article 20(3), making consent essential.
  • Article 21 and Human Rights: Polygraph tests are criticized for mental torture, potentially violating the right to life and privacy under Article 21.

Limitations and Challenges

  • Scientific Reliability: Neither polygraph nor narco tests are scientifically proven to be 100% accurate, raising questions about their reliability.
  • Impact on Vulnerable Individuals: These tests can adversely affect those unaware of their rights or unable to access legal advice, leading to potential abuse and media exploitation.

Legal and Constitutional Rulings

  • Selvi vs State of Karnataka & Anr (2010): The Supreme Court ruled that lie detector tests should be voluntary, with legal implications explained to the accused.
  • D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997): The Court deemed involuntary administration of these tests as potentially violating the Right to Life and Liberty and the Right to Privacy.
  • Indian Evidence Act, 1871: The results of these tests are not admissible as evidence in court.
  • National Human Rights Commission Guidelines (1999): Established consent and procedural guidelines for administering polygraph tests.

Way Forward

  • Role as Investigative Tools: While not reliable for conclusive evidence, polygraph tests can aid in complex investigations.
  • Balancing Scientific Techniques and Rights: The government should promote scientific methods in investigations while ensuring strict adherence to ethical and legal standards.
  • Consent and Decency: The administration of these tests must be consensual, respecting the dignity and rights of the individuals involved.

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Waste Management – SWM Rules, EWM Rules, etc

Understanding the Psychology and Impact of Plastic Consumption  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached story

plastic

Central Idea

  • Pervasiveness of Plastic: Plastic, with its beneficial properties like durability, has become a ubiquitous part of modern life.
  • Environmental Impact: Approximately 50% of plastic is used only once before being discarded, contributing to significant environmental issues, including ocean pollution.

Psychological Aspects of Plastic Use

  • Consumer Behavior Influence: The omnipresence of plastic shapes consumer choices and behaviors, influenced by marketing strategies, packaging design, and product aesthetics.
  • Packaging and Brand Perception: Packaging plays a crucial role in plastic use, with visual appeal and brand image significantly impacting consumer preferences.
  • Color Psychology in Packaging: The use of color in packaging design evokes specific emotions and expectations, influencing purchasing decisions.

Convenience Factor and Limited Alternatives

  • Role of Convenience: Plastic packaging’s ability to keep products fresh and hygienic has been a key driver of its market dominance.
  • Lack of Economical Alternatives: The absence of affordable alternatives for food packaging often leaves consumers with no choice but to opt for plastic-wrapped items.

Pro-Environmental Behavior (PEB) and Plastic Use

  • Understanding PEB: Limiting plastic use and purchase is an example of pro-environmental behavior, influenced by awareness, knowledge, and values.
  • Factors Influencing PEB: Concern about plastic, knowledge of its effects, and the perceived commitment of others to address its impact play roles in shaping PEB.

Market Trends and Social Influences

  • Impulsive Buying and Social Media: The growth of social media and peer pressure have been linked to increased compulsive buying behaviors, often leading to increased plastic consumption.
  • Influence of Social Norms: Social norms promoting consumption have led to an increase in plastic use, despite its environmental costs.

Stages of Behavioral Readiness in Plastic Consumption

Five Stages of Readiness include-

  1. Pre-contemplation,
  2. Contemplation,
  3. Preparation,
  4. Action, and
  5. Maintenance.

Role of Storytelling and Marketing in Plastic Awareness

  • Emotional Engagement: Storytelling in marketing can emotionally engage customers with the lifecycle of plastic items, enhancing environmental awareness.
  • Positive and Negative Impacts: Marketing power can influence consumer behavior both positively and negatively in the context of plastic use.
  • Objective vs. Subjective Knowledge: Understanding the specifics of an issue (objective knowledge) versus personal belief or awareness (subjective knowledge) influences behavior.
  • Barriers to Action: Lack of personal connection, gradual environmental impact, moral disengagement, and immediacy issues are barriers to taking action against plastic pollution.

Way forward

  • Role of Education and Design: Knowledge is crucial, but behavioural change also depends on product design that encourages environmentally friendly choices.
  • Supplier and Retailer Responsibility: Minimizing packaging, using recyclable materials, and clear recycling instructions are key steps.
  • Policy Initiatives: Policies raising awareness of plastic pollution’s effects can facilitate a sustainability-focused behavioural shift.
  • Emergence of Sustainable Brands: As consumers increasingly look to brands for sustainable options, there is a growing market for environmentally conscious products.

Conclusion

  • Critical Role of Habit Change: Altering consumer habits is essential for environmental protection, requiring a multifaceted approach involving education, policy, and market innovation.
  • Sources: Insights drawn from the Sustainability and Consumer Behaviour Report 2022 by Deloitte United Kingdom and research by Mittali Tyagi, PhD Scholar at Manav Rachna International Institute of Research and Studies.

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

Decriminalising Medical Negligence: Views from both sides of the bed

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Medical Negligence and its impact on the marginalized people

Medical Negligence

Central Idea

  • A women recently died from septic shock after a surgery in Jamshedpur, leading her brother to allege medical negligence due to unauthorized surgeon substitution and lack of postoperative care.
  • The case has ignited discussions on the legal and ethical aspects of medical negligence in India, amidst proposed changes to exempt doctors from criminal prosecution.

Understanding Medical Negligence

  • Definition and Impact: Medical negligence involves a breach of duty by healthcare professionals, leading to patient harm or death.
  • Legal Framework: Currently, under Section 106(1) of the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita (BNSS), doctors face potential imprisonment and fines if convicted of negligence, though proposed changes might alter this.

Recent Developments and Legal Provisions

  • Recent Announcement: MHA proposed exempting doctors from criminal prosecution in negligence cases, sparking debate and concern among various stakeholders.
  • Constitutional Rights: The proposed changes have to be balanced against constitutional protections like Article 20(3) and Article 21, which safeguard against self-incrimination and ensure the right to life and liberty.

Role of the Indian Medical Association (IMA)

  • IMA’s Stance: The IMA has advocated for exempting doctors from criminal prosecution for negligence, citing the increasing harassment and detrimental impact on patient care.
  • Concerns Raised: The IMA also highlighted the high number of medical negligence cases filed against doctors and the economic losses due to violence against healthcare professionals.

Ethical and Societal Implications

  • Power Dynamics: Critics argue that exempting doctors from criminal prosecution might exacerbate power imbalances in the doctor-patient relationship and lead to increased medical malpractice.
  • Marginalized Populations at Risk: There’s concern that such exemptions could disproportionately affect vulnerable groups, including women, queer, transgender individuals, and rural residents.

Legal and Ethical Conundrums

  • Good Faith Clause: BNSS clauses provide some protection for acts done in good faith, but the distinction between negligence and accident remains unclear.
  • Bioethicists’ Perspective: Experts emphasize the need for a balanced approach that considers both healthcare professionals’ challenges and patients’ rights and safety.

Way Forward

  • Nationwide Dialogue: The IMA plans to engage in discussions with the government and public to advocate for their position.
  • Need for Comprehensive Data: Critics like Geet suggest conducting a nationwide survey to understand the scope of medical negligence and inform policy decisions.
  • Legal Recourse for Patients: Ensuring that patients have access to legal recourse and justice is crucial to maintaining trust in the healthcare system and preventing violence against doctors.

Conclusion

  • Complex Decision-Making: Exempting doctors from criminal prosecution for medical negligence is a multifaceted issue requiring careful consideration of legal, ethical, and societal factors.
  • Ensuring Justice and Quality Care: Any policy changes must strive to protect patients’ rights while also considering the challenges faced by medical professionals, ensuring that the healthcare system remains just, accountable, and focused on delivering high-quality care. Top of Form

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Trade Sector Updates – Falling Exports, TIES, MEIS, Foreign Trade Policy, etc.

India-Oman to sign FTA in Jan 2024

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: FTA, CEPA

Mains level: India-Oman Trade Relations

oman

Central Idea

  • India and Oman are rapidly progressing in their negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), expected to be signed in January 2024.
  • The second round of talks was recently concluded in Muscat, indicating both countries’ eagerness to finalize the deal.

India-Oman Trade Relations

  • Export Destination: Oman is India’s third-largest export destination in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), making the FTA crucial for enhancing Indian exports.
  • Current Trade Dynamics: Over 80% of Indian goods currently enter Oman with an average import duty of 5%, and the FTA aims to reduce these barriers.

Potential Benefits of the FTA

  • Boost in Exports: The agreement is expected to significantly increase Indian exports in various sectors, including gasoline, iron and steel, electronics, and machinery.
  • Key Export Sectors: Sectors like motor gasoline, iron and steel products, electronics, machinery, textiles, plastics, boneless meat, essential oils, and motor cars are likely to benefit from duty elimination.

Economic Context and Strategic Importance

  • Oman’s Economy: With a GDP of about USD 115 billion and a higher per capita income compared to India, Oman presents a market for diversified and higher-value Indian goods and services.
  • Bilateral Trade Growth: India-Oman bilateral trade reached USD 12.39 billion in 2022-23, with Indian exports and imports showing significant growth.
  • Oman’s Position: Oman’s strategic location in the Arabian Gulf region, with key ports along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, is of utmost importance to India.
  • Historical Ties: The longstanding connection between Oman’s ruling family and India has fostered strong bilateral relations, with a significant Indian community contributing to these ties.

India-Oman Strategic Partnership

  • Defense and Security: The partnership, strengthened by a MoU signed in 2005, includes joint exercises and cooperation in maritime security.
  • Trade and Commerce: Bilateral trade and joint ventures are key pillars of engagement, with significant Indian investment in Oman.

Future Collaborations and Regional Stability

  • Space and Rare Earth Metals: Prospects for cooperation in space exploration and rare earth metals exploration are on the horizon.
  • Connectivity Projects: Oman could play a crucial role in India’s proposed connectivity corridors and infrastructure projects in West Asia.

Conclusion

  • Shared Interests: The deepening India-Oman relationship, marked by shared interests and mutual respect, positions Oman as India’s gateway to West Asia.
  • Broader Engagement: As India seeks to expand its global outreach, particularly in West Asia, Oman’s strategic importance and balanced foreign policy make it a key ally in the region.

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

Loneliness in India: A Deepening Public Health Concern

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Mental Health Issues

Central Idea

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared loneliness a significant global health threat, with an estimated 10% of adolescents and 25% of older people affected worldwide.
  • Despite being a collectivistic society with over 140 billion people, loneliness in India remains relatively understudied and unacknowledged as a public health and social issue.

Understanding Loneliness

  • Definition: Loneliness is defined as the unpleasant experience due to a deficiency in one’s network of social relations, either quantitatively or qualitatively.
  • Health Impact: Comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, loneliness can lead to severe mental and physical health issues, including heart disease, depression, and decreased longevity.

Data and Trends in India

  • Historical Data: Studies from the early 1990s to recent years show varying rates of loneliness, with a notable increase in loneliness among the elderly and the highly educated.
  • Pandemic Effect: COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns have exacerbated loneliness, particularly among young people and those living alone.

Disparities and Challenges

  • Higher Among Educated Youth: Young, highly educated individuals face disproportionately higher rates of unemployment and loneliness, indicating a structural issue in the Indian economy.
  • Cultural Stigma: In India, loneliness is often dismissed as a phase or a state of mind, and discussing mental health is stigmatized, making it challenging to address the issue effectively.

Public Health Implications

  • Rising Disease Burden: Loneliness contributes to an increased risk of various diseases, potentially inflaming India’s already rising communicable and non-communicable disease burden.
  • Inadequate Healthcare Infrastructure: India’s healthcare system struggles with inadequate staff, infrastructure, and budgetary allocation, further complicating the response to the loneliness epidemic.

The Indian Experience of Loneliness

  • Cultural Differences: Unlike Western countries, India’s collectivistic culture and socioeconomic barriers present unique challenges in understanding and addressing loneliness.
  • Marginalized Communities: Loneliness disproportionately affects marginalized identities, and addressing it requires understanding the intersection of social inequity and mental health.

Addressing Loneliness as a Structural Problem

  • Need for Targeted Interventions: Recognizing loneliness as a distinct condition can help develop interventions tailored to India’s cultural context.
  • Community-Based Solutions: Addressing loneliness may require community-focused strategies that respond to structural inequities rather than solely clinical approaches.

Conclusion

  • National-Level Surveys: Conducting comprehensive surveys in local languages can help understand the true scale of loneliness in India’s diverse population.
  • Holistic Approach: Combating loneliness in India requires a multifaceted approach that includes improving mental health literacy, enhancing healthcare infrastructure, and addressing social inequalities.
  • Continuous Engagement: As loneliness gains recognition as a public health issue, India must continuously adapt its strategies to effectively support those affected by this silent epidemic.

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Terrorism and Challenges Related To It

Kashmiri political outfit declared unlawful under UAPA

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: UAPA

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has declared the Muslim League Jammu Kashmir faction as an “unlawful association” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for five years.
  • It is a very rare occasion that any election-contesting political party has been banned under UAPA.

Government’s Stance

  • The Union Home Minister emphasized that the organization and its members are involved in anti-national and secessionist activities, supporting terrorism, and inciting people to establish Islamic rule in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • It stated that the faction is engaged in anti-India and pro-Pakistan propaganda, aiming for Jammu and Kashmir’s secession from India, its merger with Pakistan, and the establishment of Islamic rule.

About Understanding the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)

  • Purpose: The UAPA aims to prevent unlawful activities and associations in India, focusing on maintaining the country’s integrity and sovereignty. Under Section 3 of the UAPA Act, the government has powers to declare an association “unlawful”.
  • Evolution: Originally passed in 1967, the UAPA has evolved from the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), with significant amendments in 2004 to include “terrorist act” in its scope.
  • Unlawful Activities: These include actions, whether by deeds, words, or visible representation, that work towards the cession or secession of a part of India, disrupt its sovereignty and territorial integrity, or cause disaffection against the country.
  • Unlawful Association: Under Section 3 of the UAPA Act, the government has powers to declare an association “unlawful”. An association can be deemed “unlawful” if it engages in, supports, or encourages unlawful activities, as defined under Section 2(p) of the UAPA.

Unlawful Activities and Funding

  • Fundraising for Terrorism: The Ministry highlighted that the outfit has been raising funds through various sources, including Pakistan, to support unlawful activities and terrorism.
  • Stone-Pelting Incidents: The group’s involvement in stone-pelting against security forces was cited as a sign of disrespect towards India’s constitutional authority and setup.

Linkages with Terrorist Organizations

  • Terror Connections: The MHA provided evidence of the faction’s connections with banned terrorist organizations and its role in supporting terrorist activities to instill terror in the country.
  • Government’s Concerns: The Central government expressed concerns that if unchecked, the faction would continue its anti-national activities, challenging India’s territorial integrity, security, and sovereignty.

Implications of the Ban

  • UAPA Enforcement: The declaration under Section 3 (3) of the UAPA signifies a stringent approach against the group’s activities for the next five years.
  • National Security Focus: This move aligns with the government’s commitment to maintaining national security and integrity, particularly in the sensitive region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Conclusion

  • Strong Message: The government’s decision sends a clear message against any forces acting against India’s unity, sovereignty, and integrity.
  • Continued Vigilance: The ban reflects India’s ongoing efforts to combat separatism and terrorism, ensuring peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir and across the nation.

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Foreign Policy Watch: India-ASEAN

Review of ASEAN- India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITGA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITGA)

Mains level: Not Much

asean

Central Idea

  • India seeks to modernize the ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITGA) to reduce the significant trade deficit with ASEAN nations in February 2023 with a target to complete the revamp by 2025.

About ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITGA)

Details
Signing Date August 13, 2009, w.e.f. January 1, 2010.
Objectives Eliminate tariffs and liberalize trade in goods.

Facilitate economic integration between ASEAN and India.

Key Features Gradual reduction and eventual elimination of tariffs

Measures to facilitate trade and customs efficiency

Member Countries ASEAN Members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and India.
Economic Impact Growth in trade between India and ASEAN countries – Diversification of trade basket.
Recent Developments Discussions on reviewing and upgrading the agreement.
Challenges Concerns over trade imbalances.

Potential impact on certain domestic industries in India.

Strategic Significance Part of India’s “Act East” policy.

Step towards broader regional economic integration.

Need for review

  • Significant Trade Partner: ASEAN countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia, accounted for 11.3% of India’s global trade in 2022-23.
  • Existing Trade Imbalance: The current trade deficit with ASEAN stands at $43.57 billion, a substantial increase from $7.5 billion per annum when the pact was first implemented.
  • Trade Statistics: In 2022-23, India’s exports to ASEAN were valued at $44 billion against imports of $87.57 billion.
  • Rebalancing Trade: The primary goal is to address the disproportionate benefits that have favored ASEAN since the agreement’s implementation in 2010.
  • Modernization of the Agreement: The focus is on updating the FTA to reflect current global trade dynamics and include new elements like product-specific rules and trade remedies.

Key Areas of Negotiation

  • Rules of Origin (ROO): Modifications in ROO are planned to increase market access for Indian products and prevent the rerouting of goods, particularly from China, through ASEAN countries.
  • Trade Remedies: A new chapter on trade remedies will aim to protect domestic industries from unfair trade practices and import surges.
  • Exclusion of New Areas: The agreement will not expand to cover additional areas like labor, environment, MSMEs, or gender to avoid complicating the pact.

Challenges and Industry Perspectives

  • Need for Concessions: While India seeks to balance the trade deficit, concessions may be necessary to ensure mutual benefits.
  • Sectoral Focus: Industries such as chemicals, plastics, minerals, leather, textiles, and gems and jewellery are identified for potential growth in exports.

Conclusion

  • Strategic Approach: India’s efforts to modernize the AITGA reflect a strategic approach to enhance trade relations while protecting domestic interests.
  • Balancing Act: The challenge lies in negotiating terms that benefit both India and ASEAN members, fostering a more equitable trading environment.
  • Long-Term Implications: Successful negotiations could significantly impact India’s trade dynamics, potentially reducing the trade deficit and strengthening economic ties with ASEAN nations.

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Disinvestment in India

India’s Disinvestment Strategy amidst upcoming Elections

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Disinvestment

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • India’s disinvestment process, primarily focusing on minority stake sales rather than full privatisation, is expected to fall short of its fiscal year 2024 target.
  • The government’s cautious approach, influenced by the upcoming general elections, has led to a slowdown in the privatisation of major public sector undertakings (PSUs).

Disinvestment Performance and Targets

  • Past Achievements: Over the past decade, disinvestment has generated over ₹4.20 lakh crore, but the current fiscal year’s target appears challenging.
  • FY24 Target: The government set a disinvestment goal of ₹51,000 crore for FY24, a reduction from the previous year’s estimate.
  • Major PSUs on Hold: Plans for the privatisation of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), and CONCOR have been deferred.
  • Progress So Far: Approximately ₹10,049 crore, or 20% of the budgeted amount, has been raised through IPOs and OFS.
  • Pipeline Projects: Strategic sales of CPSEs like SCI, NMDC Steel Ltd, BEML, HLL Lifecare, and IDBI Bank are planned but face delays due to various procedural hurdles.

Factors Influencing Disinvestment

  • Political Considerations: Strategic disinvestment decisions are being influenced by the upcoming elections, leading to a cautious approach.
  • Challenges in Strategic Sales: The sale process involves multiple stakeholders and complex procedures, making it a lengthy affair.
  • Public and Political Resistance: Certain sectors, particularly defence and shipping, face opposition to privatisation, causing delays and policy reassessments.
  • Economic Think Tank Views: Observers note a recent slowdown in PSU stake sales, attributed to regulatory processes, global economic volatility, and shifting government priorities.

Historical Context and Government Policy

  • Post-2014 Strategy: Since 2014, the government has revived its disinvestment policy, focusing on stake sales and listing of PSEs on the stock market.
  • Union Budget 2023-24: The disinvestment target for FY24 is the lowest in seven years, with the government yet to meet the target for 2022-23.
  • Reasons for Disinvestment: The government undertakes disinvestment to reduce fiscal burdens, finance deficits, invest in development, and retire debt.
  • Types of Disinvestment: The process includes minority disinvestment, majority divestment, and complete privatisation, managed by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).

Recent Disinvestment Performance

  • Meeting Targets: The government has met its disinvestment targets only twice since 2014.
  • Challenges in Execution: Strategic sales have been complicated by various factors, including market volatility and political opposition.

Future of Disinvestment in 2023-24

  • No New Additions: The government plans to continue with the already announced privatisation of state-owned companies without adding new ones.
  • Challenges and Vision: Observers suggest that disinvestment should align with the government’s long-term vision for privatisation and sectoral presence, rather than being driven solely by revenue needs.

Conclusion

  • Strategic Policy Shifts: The government’s disinvestment strategy is evolving, balancing between raising revenues and managing political and public sentiments.
  • Impact of Upcoming Elections: With general elections approaching, the focus on disinvestment might shift, impacting the progress and priorities of stake sales.

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Textile Sector – Cotton, Jute, Wool, Silk, Handloom, etc.

India’s Textile Crisis amid Rising MMF Fabric Imports

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: India's textile sector

Central Idea

  • Major textile hubs in India, including Ludhiana, Surat, and Erode, are grappling with the surge in imports of man-made fibre (MMF) fabrics, impacting a sector worth about $60 billion.
  • Fabric processors and weavers across these hubs express concerns over the influx of cheaper imports, primarily from China, affecting their businesses.

Impact of Imported MMF Fabrics

  • Market Dominance: Imported fabrics, especially from China, are increasingly found in Indian markets, leading to unsold stocks and production cuts by local weavers.
  • Price Disparity: Indian weavers face competition from cheaper imported yarns, compelling them to import materials like viscose yarn from China to remain competitive.

Statistical Overview of MMF Fabric Imports

  • Doubling of Imports: In the last three years, MMF fabric imports have doubled, with a significant portion being knitted synthetic fabrics.
  • Import Data: Daily imports from China increased from 325 tonnes in 2019-2020 to 887 tonnes in the April-June quarter of the current fiscal year, with a notable drop in average value per kg.

Under-Invoicing and Quality Control Issues

  • Under-Invoicing Concerns: The practice of under-invoicing imported finished fabrics poses a major challenge, leading to calls for stricter customs regulations.
  • Quality Control Orders (QCOs): The government’s introduction of QCOs on MMF fibres and products, requiring BIS certification, has impacted the entire value chain.

Consequences for Local Industry and Global Trade

  • Operational Capacity: The downstream industry is reportedly operating at only 70% capacity due to these challenges.
  • Export Decline: Exports of man-made yarn, fabrics, and made-ups have seen a year-on-year decline.
  • Global MMF Trade: India’s share in global MMF trade was 2.7% in 2019, with fabrics and yarn being major export components.

Industry Perspectives and Government Policies

  • Innovation Gap: Industry experts highlight a lack of innovation in MMF products in India compared to countries like China, Thailand, and Korea.
  • Impact of QCOs: The introduction of QCOs, particularly at the fibre stage, is criticized for disrupting the industry, with calls for implementing quality controls at the garment stage instead.
  • Challenges for MSMEs: Small and medium enterprises face financial strain due to declining orders, high prices, and increased operational costs.
  • GST Issues and Financial Relief Demands
    • GST Refund Delays: The introduction of GST led to higher taxes on MMF fibre and yarn, with delayed refunds causing financial burdens for weavers.
    • Refund Controversy: Weavers contend that they are owed significant refunds due to the inverted duty structure, with the government potentially owing around ₹1,000 crore to the sector.

Conclusion

  • Need for Strategic Measures: Addressing the challenges in India’s textile industry requires a balanced approach, considering both domestic capabilities and global market dynamics.
  • Government’s Role: Effective policy measures, including rationalizing import duties and quality controls, are essential to support the industry and enhance its competitiveness.
  • Future Outlook: The textile sector’s resilience and adaptability will be key in overcoming these challenges and capitalizing on potential opportunities in the global market.

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Explained: Creating new Districts

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Districts in India

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • Amid reports that Odisha may create a few more districts before the end of the year, the Orissa High Court has directed the government not to issue any final order in this regard without its permission.

Districts in India

  • Historical Background: Districts, as local administrative units, are a legacy from the British Raj era.
  • Administrative Hierarchy: Positioned below the state and territory level, districts are crucial in India’s local governance structure.
  • Leadership and Responsibilities: A Deputy Commissioner or Collector, often from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), heads a district, overseeing administration and maintaining law and order.
  • Subdivision of Districts: Districts are further divided into smaller units like tehsils, talukas, or mandals, varying by region.

Mechanics of Creating New Districts

  • State Government’s Prerogative: The authority to create, modify, or abolish districts lies with State governments, executed via executive orders or state assembly legislation.
  • Preferred Methodology: States typically opt for the executive route, issuing official gazette notifications for these changes.

Central Government’s Role in District Reconfiguration

  • Limited Involvement: The Central government’s role is minimal in district reformation, primarily concerning name changes.
  • Procedure for Name Changes: For renaming districts or railway stations, State governments seek clearances from central entities like the Home Ministry, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Intelligence Bureau, Department of Posts, Geographical Survey of India, and the Railway Ministry.

Trends in District Formation

  • Increase in Numbers: India’s district count has risen from 593 in 2011 to 718, as per the Government of India’s Know India website.
  • Factors Influencing Growth: This increase includes new districts formed between 2001-2011 and the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in 2014.

Rationale behind Creating New Districts

  • Benefits: Districts gain from government investments in local administration and development.
  • Infrastructure and Economic Development: New districts see enhanced infrastructure, attracting investments and boosting economic activities and employment.

Challenges in District Formation

  • Limitations and Costs: The financial burden of establishing administrative infrastructure restricts rampant district creation.
  • Resource Allocation: The process involves setting up offices and deploying officers and public servants, impacting the state’s budget.

Way Forward

  • Community Engagement: Involving local populations in the decision-making process is vital to align district formation with their aspirations and needs.
  • Conflict Resolution and Inclusive Growth: This approach can help mitigate conflicts and ensure decisions contribute to the inclusive growth of the state and nation.

Back2Basics: History of Districts in India

Details
Early Administration Initiated by the British East India Company post-Battle of Plassey (1757) and Battle of Buxar (1764)
Collectorate System Introduced by Warren Hastings in 1772; District Collector as key revenue, judicial, and administrative authority
Transition to Crown Rule Post-1857 Revolt, direct British Crown rule led to formalization of district system
Role of District Collector Central figure in district administration, responsible for revenue, law, and order
Revenue Systems Implementation of Zamindari, Ryotwari, and Mahalwari systems for land revenue collection
Survey and Settlement Extensive land surveys for revenue assessment
Judicial Functions Initially, Collectors (District Magistrate) handled judicial roles; later, separate judicial offices were established
Law Enforcement Establishment of modern police system with districts as key units
Impact on Indian Society Centralized control, introduction of bureaucracy
Post-Independence Legacy Retained district system with evolved role of District Collector

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Interstate River Water Dispute

In news: Mullaperiyar Dam

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mullaperiyar Dam

Mains level: Not Much

Mullaperiyar Dam

Central Idea

  • Tamil Nadu cancelled the decision to open the spillway shutters of Mullaperiyar dam after a lull in rainfall and reduced inflow of water to the dam.

Do you know?

The Mullaperiyar dam is located in Kerala on the river Periyar but is operated and maintained by the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

John Pennycuick (the architect of this dam) sold his family property in England to mobilize money to fund the project! People of the region fondly name their children under his name a remark of reverence.

Mullaperiyar Dam

  • It is a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in Kerala.
  • It is located on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats in Thekkady, Idukki District.
  • It was constructed between 1887 and 1895 by John Pennycuick (who was born in Pune) and also reached in an agreement to divert water eastwards to the Madras Presidency area.
  • It has a height of 53.6 m (176 ft) from the foundation, and a length of 365.7 m (1,200 ft).

Operational issue

  • The dam is located in Kerala but is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu.
  • The catchment area of the Mullaperiyar Dam itself lies entirely in Kerala and thus not an inter-State river.
  • In November 2014, the water level hit 142 feet for first time in 35 years.
  • The reservoir again hit the maximum limit of 142 feet in August 2018, following incessant rains in the state of Kerala.
  • Indeed, the tendency to store water to almost the full level of reservoirs is becoming a norm among water managers across States.

Dispute: Control and safety of the dam

  • Supreme court judgment came in February 2006, has allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the level of the dam to 152 ft (46 m) after strengthening it.
  • Responding to it, the Mullaperiyar dam was declared an ‘endangered’ scheduled dam by the Kerala Government under the disputed Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006.
  • For Tamil Nadu, the Mullaperiyar dam and the diverted Periyar waters act as a lifeline for Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga, Dindigul and Ramnad districts.
  • Tamil Nadu has insisted on exercising the unfettered colonial rights to control the dam and its waters, based on the 1886 lease agreement.

Rule of Curve issue

  • A rule curve or rule level specifies the storage or empty space to be maintained in a reservoir during different times of the year.
  • It decides the fluctuating storage levels in a reservoir.
  • The gate opening schedule of a dam is based on the rule curve. It is part of the “core safety” mechanism in a dam.
  • The TN government often blames Kerala for delaying the finalization of the rule curve.

Back2Basics: Periyar River

  • The Periyar is the longest river in the state of Kerala with a length of 244 km.
  • It is also known as ‘Lifeline of Kerala’ as it is one of the few perennial rivers in the state.
  • It originates from Sivagiri hills of Western Ghats and flows through the Periyar National Park.
  • The main tributaries of Periyar are Muthirapuzha, Mullayar, Cheruthoni, Perinjankutti.

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Electoral Reforms In India

14th Amendment of US Constitution and Its Implications

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 14th Amendment of US Constitution

Mains level: Comparison of Indian Constitution

Central Idea

  • The US top court ordered the removal of former President Donald Trump from the ballot for the next Presidential elections.
  • The decision was based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, relating to Trump’s alleged role in the January 6, 2021, attacks on the US Capitol.

14th Amendment of US Constitution

Details
Ratification Date July 9, 1868
Primary Purpose To address civil rights issues following the Civil War, particularly regarding former slaves.
Key Clauses Citizenship Clause: Citizenship for all persons born or naturalized in the U.S.

Due Process Clause: Fair legal process required for all citizens.

Equal Protection Clause: Equal legal protection for all citizens.

Historical Context Response to post-Civil War issues, including the Black Codes in Southern states.
Major Significance – Extended Bill of Rights protections to state actions.

– Foundation for numerous civil rights advancements and Supreme Court decisions.

Notable Cases – Brown v. Board of Education (1954) for desegregation

– Roe v. Wade (1973) for abortion rights

Why in news? Section 3 disqualifies anyone who, having taken an oath to support the Constitution, engages in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or aids its enemies, from holding any office, civil or military, in the United States.

Applied to Donald Trump

Impact on Federalism Altered the balance of power between the federal government and states, especially in civil rights and liberties.

Similar Provisions in India

Details
Equal Protection Clause Article 14: Indian Constitution guarantees “equality before the law” and “equal protection of the laws” within the territory of India.
Citizenship Clause Articles 5 to 11: Deal with aspects of citizenship in India, including citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalization, and incorporation of territory.
Due Process Clause Article 21: Provides protection of life and personal liberty, stating “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”
Protection of Civil Liberties Article 19: Ensures the protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, assembly, etc.
Prohibition of Discrimination Article 15: Prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
Disqualification for Public Office Representation of the People Act, 1951 (Sections 8, 9, 10, 11): Lays out disqualifications for membership of Parliament and State Legislatures due to criminal convictions, corrupt practices, and certain office-of-profit positions.

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Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

Telecommunications Bill, 2023: Emphasizing National Security and Regulatory Framework

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Telecommunications Bill, 2023

Mains level: Not Much

Telecommunications Bill, 2023

Central Idea

  • The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, was introduced in the Lok Sabha focusing on the development and regulation of telecommunication services and networks.
  • The Bill aims to consolidate existing laws and adapt to the evolving nature of telecommunications, emphasizing national security and inclusive digital growth.

Telecommunications Bill, 2023

  • Replaces Existing Acts: The Bill seeks to replace the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1933, and the Telegraph Wires (Unlawful Possession) Act, 1950.
  • Focus on Modernization: Recognizing the significant changes in telecommunication technologies and usage, the Bill proposes a contemporary legal framework for the sector.

National Security Provisions in the Telecom Bill

  • Government Control in Emergencies: The Bill allows the government to temporarily take control of telecom services during public emergencies or for public safety.
  • Interception and Priority Routing: It provides mechanisms for intercepting messages or routing specific messages on priority in the interest of national security, public order, and other key areas.
  • Press Message Regulations: The Bill stipulates conditions under which press messages may be intercepted, detained, or prohibited from transmission.
  • Government Directives for Message Transmission: The government can direct telecom services to transmit specific messages in the public interest.

Implications and Significance

  • Enhanced Security Measures: The Bill’s provisions for government intervention in telecom services during emergencies highlight a focus on national security and public safety.
  • Balancing Security and Freedom: While ensuring security, the Bill also acknowledges the need to safeguard press freedom, with specific rules for accredited correspondents.
  • Modern Regulatory Framework: By replacing outdated laws, the Bill aims to create a regulatory environment that aligns with current technological advancements and societal needs.

Conclusion

  • Adapting to Changing Dynamics: The Telecommunications Bill, 2023, represents a significant step in updating India’s legal framework for telecommunications, keeping pace with global technological trends.
  • Focus on National Security: The emphasis on national security and public safety within the Bill reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring a secure and resilient telecommunications infrastructure.

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Parliament – Sessions, Procedures, Motions, Committees etc

Analysis of Declining CAG Audits Tabled in Parliament

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • In 2023, only 18 audits prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) were tabled in the Indian Parliament, continuing a trend of decreasing numbers in recent years.

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)

  • Constitutional Office: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) is an independent constitutional authority responsible for overseeing financial administration in India.
  • Key Responsibilities: As the head of the Indian Audit and Accounts Department, the CAG is the guardian of the public purse, monitoring the financial system at both central and state levels.

History of the Office of CAG

  • Origins in British India: The role of the CAG evolved with administrative reforms initiated by Lord Canning before the Mutiny of 1857.
  • Establishment and Evolution: The office was formalized under the Government of India Act 1858, with Sir Edward Drummond becoming the first Auditor General in 1860. The title ‘Comptroller and Auditor General of India’ was first used in 1884.
  • Independence and Strengthening: The Montford Reforms of 1919 and the Government of India Act 1935 further solidified the CAG’s independence and role in a federal setup.

Constitutional Provisions Related to CAG

  • Articles Governing CAG: The Constitution outlines the CAG’s appointment, duties, and powers in Articles 148 to 151.
  • Duties and Powers: The CAG is responsible for auditing all government accounts and advising on financial matters.
  • Audit Reports: The CAG submits audit reports on Union accounts to the President and on state accounts to respective Governors.

Types of Audits Performed by CAG

  • Regulatory Audit: Ensures authorized and rule-compliant expenditure.
  • Supplementary Audit: Conducted in PSUs for detecting financial leakages.
  • Propriety Audit: Focuses on the public interest and proper expenditure.
  • Efficiency Audit: Assesses optimal utilization of investments.
  • Performance Audit: Evaluates government programs for effectiveness.
  • Environmental Audit: Addresses issues related to conservation and environmental management.

Independence of the CAG

  • Constitutional Safeguards: The CAG’s independence is protected by various constitutional provisions, including security of tenure, ineligibility for further government office, and non-varying service conditions.
  • Financial Autonomy: The CAG’s administrative expenses are charged upon the Consolidated Fund of India, ensuring financial independence.

Audit Mandate Sources

  • Constitutional Basis: Articles 148 to 151 of the Constitution.
  • Statutory Framework: The Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service Act, 1971.
  • Regulations: Audit and accounts regulations as notified.

Duties and Functions of the CAG

  • Audit Responsibilities: CAG audits all government accounts, including the Consolidated Fund, Contingency Fund, and Public Account.
  • Advisory Role: Advises on financial matters and assists parliamentary committees.
  • Reporting: Submits audit reports to the President and state Governors.

Limitations on the Powers of CAG

  • Post-Facto Reporting: Audits are conducted after expenditures have occurred.
  • Exclusions: Certain expenditures like secret service expenses are outside CAG’s purview.
  • Challenges with PPP Investments: Limited authority to audit public-private partnerships.
  • Limited Audit of NGOs and Local Bodies: No provision for auditing funds given to NGOs and elected local bodies.
  • Document Accessibility Issues: Challenges in obtaining necessary documents for audits.
  • Appointment Process: The selection process for CAG lacks external transparency.
  • Undefined Audit Scope: The term ‘audit’ is not explicitly defined in the Constitution or CAG Act.

CAG Audits over the Years

  • Recent Trends: Between 2019 and 2023, an average of 22 reports were tabled annually, a significant decrease from the 40 reports tabled on average between 2014 and 2018.
  • Peak and Decline: The number of reports peaked in 2015 with 53 audits but has since declined, with four of the past six years seeing 20 or fewer reports tabled.

Factors Contributing to the Decline

  • Staffing and Budget Cuts: The decline in the number of CAG reports tabled in Parliament coincides with reductions in staff strength and budget allocations for the CAG.
  • Budget Allocation: In the fiscal year 2023-24, the allocation for the Indian Audit and Accounts Department constituted only 0.13% of the Union Budget.

Conclusion

  • Impact on Oversight and Transparency: The reduction in the number of CAG audits tabled in Parliament could have implications for governmental oversight and transparency.
  • Need for Adequate Resources: Ensuring the CAG is adequately staffed and funded is crucial for maintaining effective audit practices and upholding the accountability of government operations.

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Economic Indicators and Various Reports On It- GDP, FD, EODB, WIR etc

Hindutva Rate of Growth: Debates and Comparisons in the Indian Economy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Hindutva Rate of Growth

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • A popular orator and a Parliamentarian, introduced the term “Hindutva rate of GDP growth” during the discussion.
  • This term is distinct from the ‘Hindu rate of growth’, a phrase coined by economist Raj Krishna in 1982 to describe India’s modest growth rate of 3.5%.

Understanding the ‘Hindutva Rate of Growth’

  • Argument: The MP attributed India’s recent economic growth, including a 6.3% GDP growth rate, to the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aligning spending with ‘Dharma (the order)’.
  • Historical and Religious Context: He linked economic transformations to key events in India’s history, including the Ram Temple movement and the Supreme Court’s Babri Masjid judgment.

Comparative Analysis of Growth Rates

  • Per Capita Income Disparity: Despite high GDP growth rates, India’s per capita income remains low compared to developed countries.
  • Post-Covid Growth Calculation: 7.8% ‘Hindutva rate of growth’ refers to the average GDP growth post-Covid, excluding the year of the pandemic.
  • Comparison with ‘Hindu Rate of Growth’: Including the Covid year in calculations, the growth rate closely resembles the criticized ‘Hindu rate of growth’.

Economic Growth during Different Governments

  • Growth under Modi vs. UPA: The average GDP growth rate under PM Modi is 5.8%, compared to 6.8% under the Congress-led UPA.
  • Impact of Global Crises: Both governments faced major global crises, with the UPA dealing with the Global Financial Crisis and the Modi government facing the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Historical Growth Trends: Comparing growth rates across different eras, including PM Vajpayee’s and PM Narasimha Rao’s tenures, provides a broader perspective on India’s economic trajectory.

Conclusion

  • Similarity to Historical Growth Rates: The ‘Hindutva rate of growth’ closely aligns with historical growth rates, challenging its portrayal as a significant departure from the past.
  • Electoral Implications: The discussion raises questions about the role of economic performance in India’s electoral politics, especially in the context of the BJP’s focus on ‘Hindutva’.

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