Dec. 30, 2022

Mains Article
30 Dec 2022

Strengthening India’s Eastern Arm: Transforming the region with a major infrastructure upgrade


  • The state of West Bengal and the eastern Indian recently got its first Vande Bharat Express train connecting Howrah to New Jalpaiguri, which will bring down travel time between Kolkata and Siliguri - the gateway to the Northeast India, considerably.
  • As a result, the article concentrates on the Purvodaya program, which aims to upgrade important infrastructure in Eastern India in order to support national progress.

Vande Bharat Express

  • Also known as Train 18, it is a semi-high-speed, intercity, electric multiple-unit train operated by the Indian Railways.
  • Its advanced version is much lighter and capable of reaching higher speed in shorter duration, i.e., accelerates to 100 km per hour in just 52 seconds.

Purvodaya - Accelerated Development of Eastern Region

  • Background: The Eastern region of India is rich in resources like coal, bauxite with locational advantage with the presence of major ports such as Paradip, Haldia, Vizag, Kolkata.
    • But it lags behind other states in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) per capita and Human Development Index (HDI) majorly due to poor infrastructure, lack of governance and connectivity.
  • Mission Purvodaya: It was kickstarted in 2020 to accelerate the development of Eastern India with the establishment of an integrated steel centre in Kolkata, West Bengal.
    • It was focused on the eastern states of India, namely Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, and northern Andhra Pradesh, which own chromite, bauxite, and dolomite reserves.
  • Focus area: Mission Purvodaya has now become a framework to transform logistics, infrastructure and multi-modal connectivity in the eastern part of India.
    • For example, projects like the freight corridor, Bharatmala for roadways, and Sagarmala for waterways will further drive economic growth and employment opportunities in the eastern region.
  • The outlay for projects: In the state of West Bengal, Rs 10,262 crore has been earmarked in FY 22-23 which is more than double compared with Rs 4,380 crore on average between FY 2009-10 and FY 2013-14.
  • Progress: The progress is evident as West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha combined have more than 4,700 km of railway track commissioned and 7,277 km of railway lines electrified in the last eight years.
    • Also, 37 world-class stations being developed in the eastern region will revolutionise the transportation of people and goods in tune with the surge in future demand.
    • Also, the highest number of terminals are planned in the Kolkata-Haldia stretch. 

A rising east

  • Logistics growth: Bharatmala Pariyojana will develop 2,500 km of new, greenfield, access- controlled expressways in the eastern region in the next three to four years.
    • Around 1,200 flyovers over rail and underpasses are facilitating seamless road movement.
  • Maritime India Vision (MIV) 2030: Under this, ports on the east coast and Ro-Ro services will bring new economic opportunities and benefit the local farming community across West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand by transporting goods like mango, milk, silica sand and fish.
    • MIV 2030 visions an overall investment of INR 3 lakh– 3.50 lakh crore across ports, shipping, and inland waterways categories.
  • Boosting digital connectivity: Robust digital infrastructure networks are being envisioned in eastern states to ensure full saturation of telecom services in India.
    • Bharat Net implementation strategy was also revised to improve the internet connectivity in the Northeast states.
    • It includes creation, operation, upgradation, utilisation and maintenance of digital infrastructure in India’s inhabited villages and other remote places.
  • Infrastructure development: 100 lakh crore infrastructure investment was announced by the Government in 2020 for the next 5 years.
    • It will result in an additional boost to construction and infrastructure through various initiatives such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Housing), Jal Jeevan Mission (Piped drinking water), etc.

Way ahead

  • Boosting cooperative federalism:
    • Each region owing to its inherent potential and its unique set of resources need distinct infra-development that sets the base for unleashing the latent potential inherent to these areas.
    • Eastern India offering abundant human and natural resources, has many economic and trade opportunities. But its development depends on the state governments’ participation and cooperation with the union government.
    • The states can thus facilitate it through prompt support in land acquisition and better law and order situation to avoid unfortunate delays in critical infrastructure projects.
  • By creating a free, competitive marketplace for businesses to thrive, the GSDP of these states can be further boosted.
  • Enabling local policies, good governance, the rule of law and dynamic and resilient infrastructure can hence ensure all-round development of these states.


  • In India’s march towards a $5 trillion economy, the eastern states can play a major role by improving the GDP of eastern India and enable the India’s vision ‘Purvodaya’ to become a ‘Sarvodaya’ (Progress for all).
  • India thus must live up to the democratic value of cooperative federalism to remain a bright spot and these eastern states could emerge as torchbearers, leading the path for Aatmanirbhar Bharat to emerge as a developed nation in 2047.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
30 Dec 2022

The pharmaceutical industry in India

Why in news?

  • Uzbekistan has claimed that at least 18 children in the country have died after allegedly taking an India-manufactured cough syrup.
  • The health ministry of Uzbekistan said that the children who died had consumed cough syrup Dok-1 Max - manufactured by Noida-based Marion Biotech.
  • After the incident in Gambia, the current incident may harm the India’s reputation as the pharmacy of the world.

What’s in today’s article:

  • The pharmaceutical industry in India
  • News Summary

The pharmaceutical industry in India

Notable achievements

  • The Indian Pharmaceuticals industry plays a prominent role in the global pharmaceuticals industry.
  • India ranks 3rd worldwide for production by volume and 14th by value.
  • India is the largest provider of generic medicines globally, occupying a 20% share in global supply by volume.
    • The pharmaceutical industry in India offers 60,000 generic brands across 60 therapeutic categories.
  • It is the leading vaccine manufacturer globally. 60% of the world’s vaccines comes from India.

Industry scenario

  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
    • 100% FDI in the Pharmaceutical sector is allowed under the automatic route for greenfield pharmaceuticals.
    • 100% FDI in the pharmaceutical sector is allowed in brownfield pharmaceuticals; wherein 74% is allowed under the automatic route and thereafter through the government approval route.
  • Market Size
    • The pharmaceutical industry in India is currently valued at $50 bn. It is expected to reach $65 bn by 2024 and to $120 bn by 2030.
  • Export
    • India is a major exporter of Pharmaceuticals, with over 200+ countries served by Indian pharma exports.
    • India supplies over 50% of Africa’s requirement for generics, ~40% of generic demand in the US and ~25% of all medicine in the UK.
    • For the period 2021-22, export of drugs and pharma products stood at $24.6 bn compared to $24.44 bn as of 2020-21.
    • The Indian pharma industry witnessed exponential growth of 103% during 2014-22 from $11.6 bn to $24.6 bn.
  • Support by the govt
    • The Indian pharmaceuticals market is supported by the following Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Schemes.
    • PLIs are aimed to boost domestic manufacturing capacity, including high-value products across the global supply chain.

News Summary

  • India has launched an inquiry into the alleged role of cold and flu syrup manufactured by Noida-based Marion Biotech, in the recent deaths of 18 children in Uzbekistan.
  • The Uzbek health ministry alleged that the kids died after drinking Dok1 Max and it contains unacceptable amounts of Ethylene Glycol (EG).
  • The Uzbekistan tragedy comes weeks after a similar incident was reported from Gambia.

Tragedy in Gambia

  • It was alleged that 69 children died in the African nation after consuming cough syrup exported by an Indian firm.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a medical product alert in the matter stating that samples of the cough syrup had been found to contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants.
  • India, however, slammed the WHO saying the deduction that India-made cough syrup was responsible for the death of children in Gambia was premature.

India’s image might take a hit

  • Experts believe that repeated reports of such incidents may harm the country’s reputation as the pharmacy of the world.
  • Therefore, renewed efforts are being made by the government to strengthen regulatory mechanisms for drug manufacturers.
  • Recently, the government said it had prepared an action plan for nationwide inspection of manufacturing units which are identified to be at the risk of manufacturing Not of Standard Quality (NSQ)/adulterated/spurious drugs.



Mains Article
30 Dec 2022

Financial Stability Report

Why in News?

  • Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released its biannual Financial Stability Report.
  • As per the report, asset quality of the banking system has improved with Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) ratio declining to the lowest in 7 years.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About FSR (Purpose, Components, Significance, etc.)
  • Key takeaways from latest FSR

What is the Financial Stability Report?

  • Financial Stability Report is released by the RBI twice a year.
  • As the name suggests, details the state of financial stability in the country, and it is prepared after taking into account the contributions from all financial sector regulators.
  • As part of the FSR, the RBI also conducts a Systemic Risk Survey (SRS), wherein it asks experts and market participants to assess the financial system on five different types of risks – Global, Financial, Macroeconomic, Institutional, General.


  • Reading the FSR tells us how robust or vulnerable our financial system — especially our banking system — is to the changes in the economy.
  • As a corollary, it also tells us whether and to what extent will our banks and other lending institutions (such as Non-Banking Finance Companies and Housing Finances Companies) be able to support future growth.
  • For instance, if the FSR reveals that the percentage of NPAs or bad loans in the banking system is high and also shows that the government fiscal deficit is also high then it means that not only will the banks struggle to function effectively (and fund future growth) but also that if banks were to falter then the government may find it tough to bail them out.

Key takeaways from the latest FSR:

  • Gross NPA –
    • Non-Performing Assets (NPA) are loans and arrears lent by banks or financial institutions whose principal and interests are delayed beyond 90 days.
    • As per the report, the GNPA ratio has declined to a seven-year low of 5 per cent in September, 2022.
    • The GNPA ratio estimate is based on the macro-stress test performed to assess the resilience of banks’ balance sheets to unforeseen shocks.
  • Capital to Risk (Weighted) Assets Ratio
    • CRAR is the ratio of a bank's capital to its risk-weighted assets and current liabilities.
    • The higher a bank's CAR, the more likely it is to be able to withstand a financial downturn or other unforeseen losses.
    • As per the report, the CRAR of 46 major banks is 15.8 per cent which is way higher than the minimum capital requirement which is 9 per cent.
  • Performance of NBFCs –
    • A Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) is a company registered under the Companies Act, 1956 engaged in the business of loans and advances.
    • As per the report, the NBFC sector too has recovered strongly in the wake of the second wave of Covid, with asset quality showing a continuous improvement.
  • Financial Markets –
    • As a result of the interplay of multiple shocks, financial conditions have tightened and there is a heightened volatility in the financial markets.
  • Insurance Sector –
    • For both life and non-life insurance companies, the consolidated solvency ratio remained above the prescribed minimum level.

Mains Article
30 Dec 2022

National Geospatial Policy 2022

Why in News?

  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has notified a National Geospatial Policy 2022, with the goal of making India a world leader in the global geospatial sector. 

What’s in today’s article:

  • What is Geospatial Technology?
  • About the National Geospatial Policy, 2022 

What is Geospatial Technology?

  • Geospatial Technology is an emerging field of study that includes Geographic Information System (GIS), Remote Sensing (RS), and Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • It has applications in almost every domain of the economy ranging from -
    • Agriculture to industries,
    • Development of urban or rural infrastructure,
    • Administration of land,
    • Economic activities of banking and finance, resources, mining, water, disaster management, social planning, delivery services, etc.
  • It enables government systems, services, and initiatives to be integrated using ‘location’ as a common and underpinning reference frame.
  • Geospatial data is now widely accepted as a critical national infrastructure and information resource with proven societal, economic and environmental value.

The National Geospatial Policy, 2022:

  • Background:
    • In 2021, the DST issued “Guidelines for acquiring and producing Geospatial Data and Geospatial Data Services including Maps”.
    • The Guidelines deregulated the Geospatial sector by liberalising Geospatial data acquisition/ production/ access, with an aim to promote private sector participation through continued enhancements of Ease of Doing Business in the sector.
    • The 2022 Policy takes it further by laying down an overarching framework for holistic development of the Geospatial ecosystem.
    • It comes at a time when India's geospatial economy is expected to cross Rs 63,000 crore by 2025 at a growth rate of 12.8%
  • About: It is a citizen-centric policy that seeks to strengthen the Geospatial sector to support national development, economic prosperity and a thriving information economy.
  • Vision and goals:
    • To make India a World Leader in Global Geospatial space with the best in the class ecosystem for innovation.
    • To develop a coherent national framework in the country and leverage it to move towards a digital economy and improve services to citizens.
    • To develop Geospatial infrastructures, Geospatial skill and knowledge, standards, Geospatial businesses.
    • To promote innovation and strengthen the national and sub-national arrangements for generation and management of Geospatial information.
  • Following are the milestones (2025, 2030 and 2035) in the journey towards realisation of the aforesaid vision:
    • Year 2025: Put in place an enabling policy and legal framework that supports liberalisation of the Geospatial sector and democratisation of data for enhanced commercialization with Value Added Services.
  • National Digital Twins of India's major cities and towns by 2035: The digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical asset, process or service that lies at the core of the new digital revolution.
    • This facilitates policymakers to understand how infrastructure will function in different situations such as increase of population or during natural disasters.
  • Institutional framework:
    • A Geospatial Data Promotion and Development Committee (GDPDC, will be a 17-member body) at the national level shall be the apex body for formulating and implementing strategies related to promotion of the Geospatial sector.
    • GDPDC would replace and subsume the functions and powers of the National Spatial Data Committee (NSDC) constituted in 2006 and GDPDC constituted in 2021.
  • Significance:
    • To make geospatial technology and data as agents of transformation for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
    • Bringing efficiency in all sectors of economy and instilling accountability and transparency at all levels of governance.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
30 Dec 2022

Remote voting for migrant workers

Why in news?

  • The Election Commission (EC) announced that it is ready to pilot remote voting for domestic migrants, so they don’t have to travel back to their home states to vote.
  • For this, the commission has developed a prototype for a Multi-Constituency Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM).
  • The ECI will demonstrate the functioning of the remote EVM on January 16 to the eight national and 57 state political parties.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM) – About, working etc.
  • News Summary

What is Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM)?

  • In order to enable remote voting for domestic migrants, a technological solution was proposed in the form of Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM).
  • RVM relies on the creation of a robust electoral roll and identification mechanisms (to stop duplicate voting), and allow voters to vote remotely, in a safe and controlled environment.
  • It was developed with the assistance of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL). It is based on the currently used EVM system.

How does RVM work?

  • The RVMs are stand alone, non-networked systems, effectively providing the voter the same experience as currently used EVMs.
  • They will be set up in remote locations outside the state under similar conditions as current polling booths.
  • The unique feature of RVMs is that a single Remote Ballot Unit (RBU) will be able to cater to multiple constituencies (as many as 72) by using a dynamic ballot display board instead of the usual printed paper ballot sheet on EVMs.
  • The Ballot Unit Overlay Display (BUOD) will show the requisite candidates based on the constituency number read on the voter’s Constituency card.
  • A barcode scanning system will be used to read these cards.

What will be the voting process under RVM?

  • The voting process will be as follows: after verifying a voter’s identity, their constituency card will be read with a public display showing the constituency details and candidates.
  • This will also be displayed privately, on the BUOD in the RVM’s RBU.
  • The voter will then vote and each vote will be stored constituency-wise in the control unit of the voting machine.
  • The VVPAT system is expected to work along the same lines with the new technology.

News Summary

Why EC is keen on remote voting for domestic migrants?

  • Migration based disenfranchisement is indeed not an option in the age of technological advancement.
  • The voter turnout in General Elections 2019 was 67.4 % and the Election Commission of India is concerned about the issue of over 30 Crore electors not exercising their franchise and also differential voter turnout in various States/UTs.
  • One key reason for low voter turnout could be migrants not going home to exercise their franchise.
    • As per Census 2011, 45.36 crore Indians, or 37% of the population are migrants, but 75% of them are migrants on account of marriage or other family-related reasons.
  • The poll panel proposes to address this by using technology so that migrants can vote remotely and also stay connected with their roots.

What will be the benefits of RVM?

  • Many times, migrants are reluctant to get themselves enrolled at their place of work for various reasons such as:
    • frequently changing residences,
    • not enough social and emotional connect with the area of migration,
    • unwillingness to get their name deleted in electoral roll of their home/native constituencies as they have permanent residence/property etc.
  • The remote voting initiative, if implemented, can lead to a social transformation for the migrants and connect with their roots. It will also result in better voter turnouts.

What are the different challenges that would be faced by RVM?

  • There is no accurate number of migrants. Also, in 2017, the ECI had told the SC that it was not feasible to track movement of domestic migrants to allow remote voting.
  • Also, migrants are not a uniform and defined class, with fluid identities, locations and situations.
Polity & Governance

Dec. 29, 2022

Mains Article
29 Dec 2022

India must build awareness on population control


  • The article emphasises that India's focus should be on strengthening public health infrastructure and creating awareness about the need for population control rather than on forced population control measures.


  • A private members’ Bill aimed at population control was introduced in the Lok Sabha recently.
  • The bill came up after the United Nations raised a concern that the population of India can surpass China, becoming the world’s most populous country.
  • It stated that population rise is the most significant reason for India’s slow rate of development and argued for an immediate need for population control.

Objective to bring Population Control Bill

  • It aims to amend Article 47 by adding Article 47A to the Indian Constitution.
  • It proposes that -
    • The State shall promote small family norms by offering incentives in taxes, employment, education, etc., to its people who keep their family limited to two children.
    • The State shall withdraw every concession from and deprive such incentives to those not adhering to small family norm, to keep the growing population under control.

Key provisions of Population Control Bill

  • Two-child policy: It proposes to introduce a two-child policy per couple.
  • Incentivizing adoption: Through various measures such as educational benefits, taxation cuts, home loans, free healthcare, and better employment opportunities.
  • Birth spacings: It also proposes to ensure healthy birth spacing through measures related to augmenting the availability, accessibility and affordability of quality reproductive health services.
  • Penalties for couples: Couples not adhering to the two-child policy will be debarred from contesting in elections; becomes ineligible for government jobs, subsidies on various facilities, goods given by the government, etc.

Criticism of the Bill

  • Undesirable ramifications: The coercive population control measures will further encourage sex-selection and unsafe abortion because of the collective desire for a male child, jeopardizing women health and increasing illegal practices.
  • Ultravires to Constitution: Breaches the rights guaranteed by Article 16 of the Constitution (fair opportunity in terms of public employment) and Article 21 of the Constitution (protection of life and liberty).
  • Against UN resolution: Article 22 of the 1969 UN Declaration on Social Progress and Development ensures that the couples have a right to choose freely and responsibly the number of children they will have.
    • Thus, to regulate the number of children in a family is a gross violation of human rights - the right to self-determination and an individual’s reproductive autonomy.
  • Ambiguity: The bill is unclear as what would happen to a person who had a third child after being in a government job or if, for some reason, a person with two children remarried and had a third child.
  • Unwanted childs: If a family is penalised for having more than two children, the third child may develop a sense of alienation, believing that s/he is an unwanted child.
  • Discourage women participation: The biggest victim would be women who would be debarred in political participation.
  • A validation of the majoritarian politics: The new bill argued that there has been a difference in Hindu and Muslim population growth rate in various states, underlining the view that a minority community is to blame for the population explosion.
    • The bill is also being seen to strengthen political polarisation and facilitate the politics of majority appeasement.

Data disapproving the above argument

  • NFHS data: It indicates that although the total fertility rate (TFR) of Muslims is higher than Hindus, the gap between the two has shrunk substantially.
    • For example, in 1992-93, the gap between the Hindu and Muslim fertility rate was 1.1, which now has reduced to 0.35.
  • Census data: For instance, in UP, with around 20% Muslim population, the TFR declined from 5.8% in 1981 to 2.7% in 2011.
    • In Assam, where the Muslim population is about 33%, the TFR is 1.9%.
    • Similarly, in Jammu and Kashmir, where the Muslim population is the majority, the TFR fell from 4.5% in 1981 to 1.4% in 2011.
    • Data also show that Muslims have adopted better family planning measures than Hindus.

Earlier attempts at population control

  • India was among the first nations to address its population problem as early as 1951, raising awareness about the ills of overpopulation.
  • Population Control Bill or Two Child Policy has been introduced in the Parliament 35 times since independence, but not passed yet.
  • In 2017, the Assam government passed the ‘Population and Women’s Empowerment Policy’.
    • It specified that individuals with two children would only be eligible for public employment, and that present government employees had to adhere to the two-child family standard.
  • In 2021, the Law Commission of Uttar Pradesh came up with a proposal where any person having more than two children will be barred from getting government subsidies. The draft bill in this regard is still under consideration.

Steps taken by government for population control

  • Mission Parivar Vikas: For substantially increasing access to contraceptives and family planning services in high fertility districts with TFR of 3 and above.
  • New Contraceptive Choices: g., Injectable contraceptive and a new method of IUCD (Intrauterine Devices) insertion immediately after delivery i.e., post-partum IUCD has been introduced.
  • Awareness building: The packaging for Condoms, emergency contraceptive pills, etc., has been redesigned so as to increase their demand alongside 360-degree media campaign.
  • Compensation scheme for sterilization acceptors: Health Ministry provides compensation for loss of wages to the beneficiary and also to the service provider (and team) for conducting sterilizations.
  • Scheme for Home delivery of contraceptives by ASHAs: At doorstep of beneficiaries.
  • Family Planning Logistic Management and Information System (FP-LMIS): A dedicated software to ensure smooth forecasting, procurement and distribution of family planning commodities across all the levels of health facilities.
  • National Family Planning Indemnity Scheme (NFPIS): The clients are insured in the eventualities of death, complication and failure following sterilization.


  • India’s TFR that was around 5.9% in 1950s dropped to 2% (NFHS 5) and slipped below the replacement level fertility (which is 2.1 children per woman) in 2021.
  • This is a significant advancement in population control parameters, demonstrating that India does not requires a law for forced population control.
  • Forced population control measures have not shown promising results and have led to demographic imbalance in China.
  • Thus, India should focus should be on strengthening public health infrastructure and raising awareness about the need for population control.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
29 Dec 2022

Dispute resolution between states in India

Why in news?

  • The border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is intensifying, with both states hardening their stance.
  • Recently, both Houses of the Maharashtra Assembly passed a unanimous resolution to support a legal battle to resolve the dispute.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute
  • News Summary

Maharashtra-Karnataka border dispute

Historical Background:

  • The Maharashtra and Karnataka boundary dispute has its origins in the reorganisation of states along linguistic lines via the State Reorganisation Act, 1956.
    • This Act, which took effect from 1 November, 1956, divided states on linguistic lines.
  • Since its creation on May 1, 1960, Maharashtra has claimed that 865 villages, including Belagavi (then Belgaum), Carvar and Nipani, should be merged into Maharashtra.
    • Maharashtra claims that these are the regions where Marathi is the dominant language, should remain in Maharashtra.
  • Karnataka, however, has refused to part with its territory.

Mahajan Commission:

  • In October, 1966, the Centre constituted the Mahajan Commission headed by the then Supreme Court Chief Justice Meher Chand Mahajan, at the insistence of Maharashtra.
  • Commission’s recommendations –
    • While rejecting Maharashtra’s claim over Belagavi (then Belgaum), the commission recommended 247 villages/places, including Jatt, Akkalkote and Solapur, to be made part of Karnataka.
    • It also declared 264 villages /places, including Nippani, Khanapur and Nandagad, to be made part of Maharashtra.
  • However, the commission’s report was outrightly rejected by Maharashtra, and in 2004, it moved the Supreme Court.

News Summary:

How are disputes between states resolved in India?

  • Centre as a neutral mediator
    • Attempts are often made to resolve inter-state disputes with the cooperation of both sides, with the Centre working as a facilitator or a neutral mediator.
    • For example, in current case between Maharashtra and Karnataka, Union Home Minister met both the Chief Ministers and asked them to form a six-member team to address all boundary issues.
    • If issues are resolved amicably, Parliament can bring a law to alter state boundaries.
      • Eg., Bihar-Uttar Pradesh (Alteration of Boundaries) Act of 1968 and the Haryana-Uttar Pradesh (Alteration of Boundaries) Act of 1979 was brought in similar fashion.
  • Judicial redressal
    • The Supreme Court in its original jurisdiction decides disputes between states.
      • Article 131 of the Constitution allows SC to have original jurisdiction in any dispute:
        • between the Government of India and one or more States; or
        • between the Government of India and any State or States on one side and one or more other States on the other; or
        • between two or more States.
  • Inter-state Council
    • Article 263 of the Constitution gives powers to the President to set up an Inter-state Council for resolution of disputes between states.
    • The Council is envisaged as a forum for discussion between the states and the Centre.
    • In 1988, the Sarkaria Commission suggested that the Council should exist as a permanent body, and in 1990 it came into existence through a Presidential Order.
    • In 2021, the Centre reconstituted the Inter-state Council and the body now has 10 Union Ministers as permanent invitees.
      • The standing committee of the Council has been reconstituted with Home Minister as Chairman.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
29 Dec 2022

Road Fatalities in India

Why in News?

  • According to a report published by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, at least 8 out of every 10 occupants, nearly 83%, killed in accidents across India were not wearing seatbelts.

What’s in today’s article:

  • About the Report (Purpose, Major Highlights of the Report)

Road Accidents in India 2021 Report:

  • The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has published the annual report ‘Road accidents in India — 2021’.
  • The purpose of this report is to present an in-depth analysis and overview of the road accidents in India.
  • The report provides information on various facets of road accidents in the country during the calendar year 2021.
  • This report is based on the data/information received from police departments of States/Union Territories collected on calendar year basis.

Major Highlights of the Report:

  • As per the report, there were 4.12 lakh unfortunate incidences of road accidents during 2021 which claimed 1,53,972 lives.
    • Young adults in the age group of 18-45 years accounted for 67.6% of victims during 2021.
  • During the previous year 2020, country saw an unprecedented decrease in accidents, fatalities and injuries.
    • This was due to the unusual outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and resultant stringent nation-wide lockdown particularly during March-April, 2020.
  • Major indicators related with accidents have performed better in 2021 when compared to 2019.
  • Road accidents decreased by 8.1 percent and injuries decreased by 14.8 percent in 2021 compared to 2019.
    • Fatalities, however, on accounts of road accidents increased by 1.9 percent in 2021 corresponding to the same period in 2019.
  • State-wise data –
    • Uttar Pradesh accounted for the largest share of fatalities at 13.8%, followed by Tamil Nadu (10%), Maharashtra (8.8%), Madhya Pradesh (7.8%), and Rajasthan (6.5%).
    • Of these, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have seen a rise in their share of fatalities as compared to 2019.
  • Death due to not wearing Helmets/Seatbelts –
    • At least 8 out of every 10 occupants, nearly 83%, killed in accidents across India were not wearing seatbelts.
    • Uttar Pradesh reported the maximum deaths of car occupants for not wearing seatbelts.
    • Also, 2 out of every 3 who died in road crashes on two-wheelers were not wearing helmets.

Mains Article
29 Dec 2022

City Finance Rankings 2022

Why in News?

  • Recently, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) launched guidelines for a new finance-based ranking of cities - City Finance Rankings 2022, which would evaluate urban units on 15 key parameters.
  • The Ministry also launched a separate ranking - ‘City Beauty Competition’, to evaluate cities on beautification. 

What’s in today’s article:

  • Issues that have impacted development goals of several cities
  • About the City Finance Rankings 2022
  • About the ‘City Beauty Competition’
  • Other initiatives for urban development in India

Issues that have impacted development goals of several cities:

  • Meagre revenue from municipal bodies own sources such as property tax and user charges.
    • Currently, the own revenues generated by the municipal entities in India are barely 0.15% of the GDP compared to 0.6% in developing countries and 2.1% in developed nations.
    • This led to the high dependence on funding from the state and central exchequer.
  • Poor management of finances.
  • Delay in audit of financial reports.
  • The Centre has been maintaining that robust finances of urban local bodies are crucial to emerge as a viable third tier of government.

About the City Finance Rankings 2022:

  • It aims to -
    • Evaluate, recognise and reward India’s cities (Urban Local Bodies/ULBs) on the basis of the quality of their current financial health.
    • Help ULBs to improve over time in financial performance.
    • Motivate city/state officials and decision makers to implement municipal finance reforms.
  • The participating ULBs will be evaluated on 15 indicators across three key municipal finance assessment parameters, namely -
    • Resource Mobilization
    • Expenditure Performance and
    • Fiscal Governance
  • The cities will be ranked at the national level on the basis of their scores under any one of the following four population categories - Above 4 million, Between 1-4 million, 100K to 1 million, less than 100,000.
  • Significance:
    • At a state and national-level, the rankings will provide critical insights to key policy makers into the state of finances of ULBs.
    • ULBs will be able to self-evaluate their own performance vis-à-vis other cities, which can help them in self-improvement in future.
    • All 4500+ cities / ULBs across all states/UTs would be encouraged to participate in the City Finance Rankings 2022.
    • It would create a conducive environment for developing a robust municipal finance ecosystem for promoting financially healthy, transparent and sustainable cities.

About the ‘City Beauty Competition’:

  • It aims to encourage, recognise and felicitate the transformational efforts made by cities and wards in India to create beautiful, innovative and inclusive public spaces.
  • Wards and public places of cities would be judged against the five broad pillars -
    • Accessibility
    • Amenities
    • Activities
    • Aesthetics and
    • Ecology

Other initiatives for urban development in India:

  • Some of the single sector interventions are, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), etc.
  • On the other hand, the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) is based on integrated planning and implementation.



Mains Article
29 Dec 2022

India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement

In News:

  • The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) comes into force from today.
  • The aim of this agreement is to double the bilateral trade to $50 billion in five years and ease movement of people, goods and services across borders.

What’s in today’s article:

  • India-Australia Bilateral Relation
  • News Summary

India-Australia Bilateral Relation: In Brief

  • India and Australia established diplomatic relations in the pre-Independence period, with the establishment of India Trade Office in Sydney in 1941.

Strategic Relationship

  • In 2009, India and Australia established a ‘Strategic Partnership’, including a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.
  • This cooperation has been further elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in 2020.
  • The Australian foreign policy blueprint released in November 2017 sees India in the front rank of Australia’s international partnerships.
  • In order to pursue the CSP, Foreign and Defence Ministers of both countries agreed to meet in a ‘2+2’ format biennially.

Economic and Trade Relationship

  • As part of its efforts to develop strong economic relationship with India, the Australian Government commissioned the India Economic Strategy to 2035 in July 2018.
  • This was done to define a pathway for Australia to unlock opportunities offered by Indian Economic growth.
  • Bilateral Trade:
    • India had a trade deficit of $8.5 billion with Australia in FY22, with $8.3 billion worth of exports and $16.8 billion worth of imports.
    • Total bilateral trade is expected to cross $45-50 billion in five years from $ 5 billion at present after the free trade deal comes into force.
    • India was the 8th largest trade partner of Australia with trade in goods and services representing 3% share of the total Australian trade in FY 2019-20.

Civil Nuclear Cooperation

  • A Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between the two countries was signed in September 2014 during the visit of then PM Tony Abbott to India.
  • The agreement provides the framework for substantial new trade in energy between Australia and India.

Defence Cooperation

  • During PM Modi's visit to Australia in November 2014, both sides decided to extend defence cooperation to cover research, development and industry engagement.
  • Arrangement concerning Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA) and Implementing Arrangement concerning cooperation in Defence Science and Technology were concluded during the Virtual Summit held in June 2020.
  • India and Australia conduct their bilateral naval exercise 'AUSINDEX' since 2015.
    • In 2018, Indian Air Force participated for the first time in the Exercise Pitch Black in Australia.
    • In October-November 2020, the Australian Navy participated in Malabar Exercises.

Repatriation of Indian Cultural Artifacts:

  • A number of artifacts have been successfully repatriated to India in recent years. They include:
    • Bronze Idol of Nataraja from Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) (2019),
    • Nagaraja stone sculpture (2020),
    • two Dwarpala stone sculptures (2020).

News Summary

  • The India-Australia ECTA comes into force from today. The trade deal is seen to be strategic given the increased engagement between the two countries in recent years.
  • In April 2022, India and Australia signed an Economic Co-operation and Trade Agreement (ECTA).

Significance of ECTA For Australia

  • Many analysts described the ECTA as an antidote for Australia’s China trouble as it will give exporters duty-free access to India.
    • India is the second-largest market after China.
  • In 2020, China punished Australia economically after the Canberra government supported an international inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.
  • Since then, Australia has witnessed sustained trade sanctions from its top trading partner, China.

Significance of ECTA For India

  • Labour-intensive sectors
    • The major boost would be in its labour-intensive sectors, which are currently subject to import duty of 4-5% by Australia.
    • Now, it will gain immediate duty-free access.
  • Manufacturing sector
    • Exports of textiles and apparel, leather and footwear, furniture, sports goods, jewellery, machinery, railway wagons and select agricultural and marine products are seen to be the top beneficiaries in addition to pharma.
    • Australia is the largest importer of garments in the southern hemisphere.
      • While China’s share of import of apparel into Australia is more than 70%, India’s share in imports is less than 5%.
      • With the ECTA getting operationalised, India will have a slight duty advantage over Vietnam and Indonesia for imports in the Australian market.
  • Power sector
    • Coal accounts for three-fourths of Indian imports from Australia.
    • LNG, alumina, and manganese are other vital imports. The Indian power sector will gain from cheaper coal.
  • Service sector
    • There are major gains on the services side too.
    • Australia has committed to facilitate India’s services in IT, ITeS, business services, health, education and audio-visual, among others.
    • It has agreed to provide a post-study work visa of 2-4 years for Indian students and a work and holiday visa for youth.
    • It has also offered a quota for entry of 1,800 Indian chefs and yoga teachers.
International Relations

Dec. 28, 2022

Mains Article
28 Dec 2022

A retelling of the Indian migrant worker’s plight


  • The article raises concern that India, although being the largest migrant-sending and remittance-receiving country, has yet to develop a comprehensive migration policy. It thus prioritised the wellbeing of Indian migrants for the government and policymakers.

Statistics related to migration

  • According to the International Organisation of Migration’s (IOM) World Migration Report 2022,
    • There were 281 million international migrants globally in 2020, with nearly two-thirds being labour migrants.
    • While there were 169 million labour migrants in 2019, the figure touched 164 million in 2020.
    • In the larger pool of migrants, South Asia’s share is nearly 40% and South Asia-Gulf Migratory corridor being the world’s largest migrant corridor.
  • Factors responsible for migration: Long-term data on international migration show that migration is shaped by economic, geographic, demographic and other factors, resulting in distinct migration patterns, such as migration corridors developed over many years.

Events triggering large scale migration worldwide

  • Infectious disease outbreak by Covid-19 pandemic
  • Taliban takeover of Afghanistan
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
  • Worsening poverty in the sub-Saharan region
  • Climate change

Issues faced by migrant labourers abroad

  • Long-term problems: Irregular payment, non-payment of wages, abuse at the workplace, etc. These have been prevailing more in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
  • Persistent issues: Poor working conditions, negation of labour rights, absence of a proper grievance redress mechanisms, access to a transparent judicial system, etc.
  • During COVID-19: The appalling underpayment of migrant workers was more widespread as businesses encountered financial pressures and vast numbers of workers were repatriated without payment of their wages.

Campaign for securing labour justice

  • Justice for wage theft’ campaign: Led by the South Asian countries, including their civil society organisations, scholars and migrant activists, it is aimed for the disbursement of the pending salary benefits and other related dues of labour.
    • Also, countries such as the Philippines have been taking up the issue of wage theft of their migrants legally.
  • Global Compact for Safe, Orderly Migration and Regular Migration: This UN led non-binding resolution recognises the challenges migrant labour faces across the world.

India’s case

  • A document tabled in Parliament recently revealed around 9 million Indian migrants working in the GCC countries presently.
    • As per Kerala government data, some 1.7 million Keralites returned from abroad during the pandemic between June 2020 and June 2021 and 1.5 million had suffered job losses.
  • There have also been recent cases of Indian engineers from Tamil Nadu trafficked to Myanmar to work for a crypto-scam and Indian nurses trafficked to the UAE for fake job offers.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed the exploitative nature of the Kafala system in GCC countries.
    • Kafala, a sponsorship system that regulates the relationship between employers and migrant workers, has invariably resulted in the mass retrenchment of the labour force.
    • According to Centre for Indian Migrant Studies (CIMS) data, a total of ₹62.58 crore has been denied to the 397 returnees during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting stark wage theft.

Regulatory framework in India

  • India’s Emigration Act, 1983: It provides the regulatory framework for emigration of Indian workers for contractual overseas employment and seeks to safeguard their interests and ensure their welfare.
    • The act also mandated registration and certification of recruiting agents with the Protector General of Emigrants, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), to avoid deception.
    • It also directed employers to recruit only through registered recruiters.
    • It placed ceiling limits on service fee that can be charged by recruiters to the migrant workers.
    • It also called for review of documents before travel is authorized and monitors the flow of illegal emigrants, inspect conveyances, and enquire about their residence in foreign countries.
  • Draft National Policy on Migrant Workers: The policy proposed by NITI Aayog promotes a rights-based approach to migrant workers and also recommends the creation of a migration resource center in high migration areas.

The Draft Emigration Bill of 2021

  • Background:
    • Migration in India has witnessed sea changes, in the last 40 years and the 1983 act has been criticised as falling short in addressing large-scale emigration and its wide geo-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic impact in the current times.
    • Thus, in 2021, the MEA came up with the Draft Emigration Bill of 2021, to address the loopholes in the existing act.
  • Key features of the Bill:
    • It seeks to create two authorities -
      • Bureau of Emigration Policy and Planning (BEPP): It seeks to prepare policies on matters related to the welfare of emigrants and negotiating labour and social security agreements with destination countries.
      • Bureau of Emigration Administration (BEA): It seeks to maintain a database of Indian emigrants, and implementing measures and programmes for the welfare of emigrants.
    • A Central Emigration Management Authority will oversee welfare of Indian citizens living and working abroad and will have powers of a civil court.
    • The Bill seeks to digitize records of Indian migrants and conduct pre-departure orientation to make the workers aware of their rights under the law.
    • It also offers insurance covers, skill upgradation and training for those aspiring for overseas employment opportunities.
    • It also proposes stronger mechanisms to regulate recruiters by maintaining and updating lists of blacklisted and fraudulent agencies, providing accreditation, and giving ratings to employers, etc.
    • The bill also envisions penalties for agencies, individual recruiters as well as migrant workers who lack valid permits to travel to work and settle abroad and impose fines up to Rs. 50,000.

Way forward

  • Attention needs to be given on the women migrant workforce, largely limited to GCC countries and also to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries to some extent.
  • The Government should comprehensively assess the situation of migrant women and create women-centric, rights-based policies.


  • The COVID-19 pandemic has rerouted global migration patterns, restructured migratory corridors, and exposed the untold vulnerabilities and miseries of international migrant labour.
  • Hence, the Government of India should revisit its policies in the post-pandemic migratory scenario by engaging all stakeholders and by passing the Emigration Bill 2021.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
28 Dec 2022

Online Gaming in India

Why in news?

  • According to an official gazette, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) is now the nodal ministry regulating online gaming.
  • MeitY will soon publish rules for online gaming platforms and start public consultation on the regulations.

What’s in today’s article:

  • The online gaming in India – Type, market size
  • News Summary

The online gaming market in India:

What are the different types of online gaming?

  • e-Sports: These are video games that were played privately or on consoles in video game stores in the 1990s, but are currently played online in a structured manner between professional players, either individually or in teams.
  • Fantasy sports: These are games in which the player selects a team of real sports players from several teams and earns points based on how well the players perform in real life. For example,
  • Online casual games:
    • These could be skill-based, where the outcome is heavily impacted by mental or physical skill or chance-based(outcome is heavily influenced by some randomised activity, such as rolling a die).
    • A game of chance may be considered as gambling if players bet money or anything of monetary value.

How big is the online gaming market in India?

  • The online gaming industry grew exponentially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The revenue of the Indian mobile gaming industry is expected to exceed $1.5 billion in 2022, and is estimated to reach $5 billion in 2025.
  • The industry in the country grew at a Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38% between 2017-2020, as opposed to 8% in China and 10% in the US.
  • India’s percentage of new paying users (NPUs) in gaming has been the fastest growing in the world for two consecutive years, at 40% in 2020 and reaching 50% in 2021.

What are the challenges faced by online gaming sector?

  • Lack of regulatory oversight:
    • Online gaming exists in a regulatory grey area and there is no comprehensive legislation with respect to its legality or its boundaries.
    • Also, there is currently no regulatory framework to govern various aspects of online gaming companies such as -
      • Having a grievance redressal mechanism, Protection of data and intellectual property rights, and Prohibiting misleading advertisements.
  • Online gaming is a state subject (Under Entry 34, List II 'Gambling' and 'Betting'):
    • However, state governments have stated that it is extremely difficult for them to implement some restrictions, such as geo-blocking specific apps or websites within their state's borders.
    • Also, state governments (unlike the Centre), lack the necessary blocking authority to issue blocking orders for offshore betting sites.
    • There is also concern that legislation passed in one state may not be relevant in another, resulting in inconsistencies across the country.
  • Societal concerns:
    • A number of reported incidences of persons losing big amounts of money on online games, resulting to suicides in various parts of the country. 

What are the steps taken by the government to regulate this sector?

  • An inter-ministerial task force was set up by the MeitY to propose contours of a national-level legislation to regulate online gaming. It submitted its report in October 2022.
    • It suggested that MeitY may act as the nodal ministry to regulate online gaming, except for the e-sports category on which the Department of Sports can take the lead.
    • Among other things, it also recommended:
      • the creation of a central regulatory body for the sector,
      • clearly defining what games of skill and chance are, and
      • bringing online gaming under the purview of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
  • In December 2022, the Union Minitry of Finance announced that the online gaming would attract 28 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has been made the nodal ministry regulating online gaming.
  • These decisions are in line with the government’s initiative to push for the growth of the animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) sector and making India a global hub for online gaming.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
28 Dec 2022

Green hydrogen

Why in News?

  • In a bid to cut emissions and become a major export player in the field, India is planning a ₹180-billion ($2.2 billion) incentive programme for the green hydrogen industry.

What’s in today’s article:

  • What is green hydrogen?
  • Applications of green hydrogen
  • India in green hydrogen race
  • News Summary

What is green hydrogen?

  • Hydrogen gas can be used as a fuel and it does not release greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions such as carbon dioxide when it is burned. Hence, a potential clean alternative to fossil fuels.
    • Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical element in the universe, however, it does not naturally exist as a gas in usable quantities, occurring almost entirely in compounds, such as water.
    • Therefore, hydrogen must be produced using industrial methods like reforming natural gas (a fossil fuel), electrolysis (in an electrolyser) - an electric current is used to split water into its basic components: hydrogen and oxygen.
    • In a fuel cell (device that converts the energy of a chemical into electricity), hydrogen gas reacts with oxygen to produce electricity and water vapour.
  • Green hydrogen is the name given to hydrogen gas that has been produced using renewable energy, such as wind or solar power, which create no GHG emissions.
  • Comparing with grey and blue hydrogen:
    • While hydrogen gas does not emit GHGs when burned, the electricity used to produce it, may have been generated by fossil fuels. This is commonly known as ‘grey hydrogen’, which currently accounts for 95% of the total production.
    • Hydrogen produced using electricity generated by burning fossil fuels, but paired with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, which prevent GHGs from entering the atmosphere, is labelled ‘blue’.

Applications of green hydrogen:

  • Globally, most of the hydrogen produced today is used in the refining and industrial sectors - to make ammonia for the fertiliser industry, has applications in the steel industry.
  • In developing countries such as India, which is investing in the National Hydrogen Mission, hydrogen could be used in transportation, power generation and industry.
  • By the end of the decade, the International Energy Agency (IEA) anticipates that hydrogen will find a host of new applications, including powering grids and fuelling the building and transportation sectors.

India in green hydrogen race:


News Summary:

  • Current scenario in India:
    • Indian oil refineries and fertiliser and steel plants annually use 5 million tonnes of hydrogen made from natural gas, called grey hydrogen.
    • Higher gas prices have pushed the Indian grey hydrogen price to about ₹200 per kg from ₹130 a year ago.
    • Recently, the U.S.-based Ohmium International commissioned India's first green-hydrogen factory in Bengaluru.
  • Proposal:
    • The green hydrogen proposal is likely to be called "Strategic Intervention for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT)."
    • It will be split into ₹45 billion for electrolyser manufacturing for five years and ₹135 billion for green hydrogen and green ammonia production for three years. The incentive for making green hydrogen is likely to be ₹50 per kg for three years.
    • India aims to sell 70% of the production to countries such as South Korea, Japan and in the European Union, and derivatives, including green ammonia, had an equally strong demand.
    • The Indian aid could be announced in the February 1 Budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1.
  • Significance of the incentive: It aims to reduce the production cost (from current ₹300 - ₹400 per kg) of green hydrogen by a fifth over the next five years, by increasing the scale of the industry.
  • Announcements and expectations:
    • Earlier, the government announced plans for India to make 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2030, a figure that could be doubled, depending on international demand - estimated to exceed 100 million tonnes by 2030, from just under 75 million tonnes now.
    • The government also plans for the country to achieve electrolyser manufacturing capacity of 15 gigawatts in phases by 2030. That would be almost 10 times the current global capacity.
    • The Indian government expects industry to invest ₹8 trillion in green hydrogen and its derivative green ammonia by 2030. Adani had said recently that along with France's TotalEnergies, it would create the "world's largest green hydrogen ecosystem".
Science & Tech

Mains Article
28 Dec 2022

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

Why in News?

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has called for extending the ‘pre-packaged’ insolvency resolution process to large borrowers.
  • The current process is focused primarily on resolution and requires a majority of creditors to accept a deal before approaching the insolvency court.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Background (Meaning of Insolvency, why IBC is needed)
  • About IBC 2016 (Purpose, Mandate, Process, Timeframe, etc.)
  • News Summary (SARFAESI Act features) 


  • In a growing economy like India, a healthy credit flow and generation of new capital are essential, and when a company or business turns insolvent or “sick”, it begins to default on its loans.
  • In order for credit to not get stuck in the system or turn into bad loans, it is important that banks or creditors are able to recover as much as possible from the defaulter and as quickly as they can.
  • The business can either get a chance, if still viable, to start afresh with new owners, or its assets can be liquidated or sold off in a timely manner.
  • This way fresh credit can be pumped into the system and the value degeneration of assets can be minimised.

What is the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)?

  • In 2016, at a time when India’s Non-Performing Assets and debt defaults were piling up, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) code was introduced to overhaul the corporate distress resolution regime in India and consolidate previously available laws to create a time-bound mechanism.
    • Insolvency resolution in India took 4.3 years on an average.
    • In comparison, countries such as UK and USA took 1 year and 1.5 years, respectively.
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 was implemented through an act of Parliament.
  • The Code aims to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interests of all the stakeholders.

What is the mandate of the IBC?

  • When insolvency is triggered under the IBC, there can be two outcomes: resolution or liquidation.
  • All attempts are made to resolve the insolvency by either coming up with a restructuring or new ownership plan and if resolution attempts fail, the company’s assets are liquidated.
  • Companies have to complete the entire insolvency exercise within 180 days under the IBC.
  • For smaller companies including startups with an annual turnover of Rs 1 crore, the whole exercise of insolvency must be completed within 90 days.

Who regulates the IBC proceedings?

  • Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India has been appointed as a regulator and it can oversee these proceedings.
  • IBBI has 10 members; from Finance Ministry, Law Ministry and the RBI.

News Summary:

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has called for extending the ‘pre-packaged’ insolvency resolution process to large borrowers.
  • The process refers to an insolvency resolution mechanism where there is an understanding between the debtors and creditors on how to move forward.
    • Once two-third of the creditors accept a resolution plan, the parties approach the insolvency court for its implementation.
    • The Government had introduced the pre-pack insolvency resolution for MSMEs and other small businesses.
  • Speaking in favour of the IBC, the RBI stated that the IBC has helped lenders recover close to 201% of the liquidation value until September 2022.
  • The RBI has also acknowledged that Debt Recovery Tribunals (DRTs) and the Securitisation & Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI), 2002 continue to remain as effective as the IBC.

What is the SARFAESI Act?

  • Sarfaesi Act was passed by the Parliament on the basis of recommendations made by the Narasimham Committee – II in 1998.
    • The committee was formed to review the progress of the implementation of the banking reforms since 1992 with the aim of further strengthening the financial institutions of India.
  • The Act Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act came into existence in December, 2002.
  • The primary objective of the Act is to enable the Banks and Financial Institutes to recover its money advanced quickly.

Salient Features of the Act:

  • The Act empowers the Banks and FI’s to auction the property mortgaged with them to recover such outstanding dues which is not paid for years despite repeated follow-ups’.
    • In 2013, the Act was amended to include co-operative banks formally under the definition of banks eligible to use it.
  • The Act provides for the establishment of Asset Reconstruction Companies to acquire assets from Banks and other Financial Institutions.
  • The ARCs take over a portion of the debts of the bank that qualify to be recognised as NPAs.

Mains Article
28 Dec 2022

Russia – Ukraine War

Why in news?

  • Recently, Ukraine President Zelenskyy had a telephonic conversation with prime minister Narendra Modi.
  • During the conversation, Zelensky emphasised that as the current president of the G20, India should support his 10-point peace plan to end the war with Russia.
    • Ukrainian President had laid out the “Peace Formula” at the G-20 summit, held in November 2022, at Bali.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Russia – Ukraine War
  • News Summary

Russia – Ukraine War

  • On February 24, 2022, Russia launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea. This was the biggest attack on a European state since World War II.
  • So far, Moscow has been denied the swift victory it anticipated, and has failed to capture major cities across the country, including Kyiv, the capital.
  • Still, Russia has superior military might, and Putin has indicated that his ultimate goal is to capture Kyiv, topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government, and subsume the country into Russia’s orbit.

Why Russia invaded Ukraine?

  • Russia wants a guarantee that Ukraine can never join NATO
    • Russia's main demand is a commitment from NATO to end its further expansion into former Soviet republics — especially Ukraine.
      • Russia wants NATO to rescind a 2008 promise that Ukraine could someday join the defense alliance.
  • Russia wants NATO arms out of Eastern Europe
    • Russia wants NATO to stop deploying its weapons and forces in countries in Central and Eastern Europe that joined the alliance after 1997.
  • Russia wants a ban on NATO missiles within striking distance
    • Russia has nervously watched as NATO has demonstrated it can deepen its involvement in Ukraine — providing weapons and training.
    • NATO missiles on Ukrainian soil might pose serious threat to Russia’s security.
  • Russia wants autonomy for eastern Ukraine
    • Russia says Ukraine must meet its obligations under 2015 agreements.
      • The peace deal, known as the Minsk agreements, was signed to end the fighting between Ukraine's army and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
      • The Minsk agreements also provided additional autonomy to the separatist Russian-speaking territories in the Donbas.

News Summary: Peace Formula

  • Radiation & Nuclear Safety
    • Russia’s nuclear arsenal has fuelled worries amid the war. Also, there is a growing concern regarding attack near the Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.
    • Zelenskyy is seeking demilitarisation and guarantees against attacks on Zaporizhzhia and other Ukrainian nuclear plants.
  • Food Security
    • A global food crisis triggered by the war led to an unprecedented agreement in the form of Black Sea Grain Initiative.
      • The agreement, brokered in July by the UN and Turkey , allows Ukraine to export its agricultural products from Black Sea ports via a protected corridor.
      • It also allows Russian food and fertilisers to reach global markets.
    • The agreement is an ad-hoc measure that requires renewal every 120 days.
    • Hence, Ukraine is seeking a lasting solution to enable it to safely ship agricultural consignments without the need for periodic deals with Moscow.
  • Energy Security
    • Russia has destroyed at least 40% of Ukraine’s energy facilities since the war began and has stepped up attacks against such targets with the onset of winter.
    • Zelenskyy wants an assurance that Russia will not hamper or further hurt his country’s ability to provide energy to the people.
  • Release Of All Prisoners of War, Deported Persons
    • Zelenskyy has called for the return of all prisoners of war and deportees held by Russia.
  • Implementation Of UN Charter, Restoration Of Territorial Integrity, World Order
    • Zelenskyy has sought that territory annexed by Russia should be restored to Kyiv’s control.
  • Withdrawal Of Russian Troops, End Of Hostilities
  • Justice, War Tribunals And Reparations
    • Ukrainian officials said in September they had documented 34,000 potential war crimes committed by Russian forces.
    • They also claimed that mass burial sites had been found across territory wrested from Russian control.
    • Ukraine wants the war tribunals to look into the matter.
  • Countering Ecocide
    • Zelenskyy has sought to highlight the loss to the environment as a result of the war.
  • Security Guarantees
    • Zelenskyy is seeking guarantees that will ensure it does not have to live in constant fear of further Russian aggression.
  • Confirmation Of War’s End - To assure the world that the war is really over.
International Relations

Dec. 27, 2022

Mains Article
27 Dec 2022

ChatGPT and AI: Are we ready to face the change new tech is bound to bring about?


  • Recently, ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot crossed one million users in less than a week since it was officially made available to the public.
  • The article explains the meaning, significance and limitations of this new development.

About ChatGPT

  • ChatGPT is language-generation software that’s been designed to carry conversations with people.
  • The tool has been developed by OpenAI, a research institute founded in 2015, by a group of entrepreneurs and researchers, including Elon Musk, Sam Altman, and Greg Brockman.
    • The company is best known for Dall-E — the AI-based text-to-image generator
  • It is based on the company’s GPT 3.5 series of language learning models (LLM).
    • GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3 and this is a kind of computer language model that relies on deep learning techniques to produce human-like text based on inputs.
  • Some of its features include the following:
    • Answering follow-up questions
    • Challenging incorrect premises
    • Rejecting inappropriate queries and even admitting its mistakes, etc.
  • It is trained on an enormous amount of text data (from archived books, Wikipedia, etc.) and learned to recognize patterns that enable it to produce its own text mimicking various writing styles.
  • It is a part of the larger generative AI, which refers to the ability of computers to automatically create text, videos, photos and other media using cutting-edge machine learning technologies.
  • This chatbot powered by AI, makes use of Reinforcement Learning from Human Feedback (RLHF) technology.
    • This technology produces different answers for the same question in the future since it improves over time and understands queries better through machine learning.

Language-generation software

  • It is a software that generates a sequence of words as output that are conceptually connected to the words given as input.
  • In practical terms, it means that it can perform tasks like answering questions and carrying on a conversation with humans.
  • It is often used in natural language processing (NLP) applications, such as speech recognition, automatic translation, and text generation.
  • There are a few other language models like BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers), LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications) from Google.

Natural language processing (NLP)

  • A component of AI, NLP is the ability of a computer program to understand human language as it is spoken and written, referred to as natural language.
  • There are two main phases to natural language processing as follows:
    • Data preprocessing: It involves preparing and "cleaning" text data for machines to be able to analyze it.
    • Algorithm development: Once the data has been preprocessed, an algorithm is developed using linguistic rules and statistical methods through repeated processing and learning.

Significance of ChatGPT

  • ChatGPT’s ability to learn and adapt quickly to new information means that it can be trained to handle new topics and tasks without the need for extensive retraining.
  • Many experts believe that ChatGPT’s advanced capabilities will be a valuable asset for companies in fields such as customer service, online education, and market research.
  • It can respond to a large range of questions while imitating human speaking styles, e.g., answering customer service queries, help debug a code, etc.
  • It is being seen as a replacement for the basic emails, party planning lists, CVs, and even college essays and homework.
  • It can also do creative tasks such as writing a story and can explain scientific concepts and answer any question that needs factual answers.
  • ChatGPT is much more than a chat bot. For example, it can be asked to write a program or even a simple software application.
  • It is also capable of reviewing and writing codes in seconds, making the future of coders grim.
  • ChatGPT has also been trained to decline ‘inappropriate’ requests, presumably those which are ‘illegal’ in nature.

Limitations of ChatGPT

  • The ChatGPT displayed racial and sexist biases, which remains a problem with almost all AI models.
  • Though it gives grammatically correct and read well answers but few users have pointed out that these lack context and substance and are more generalized.
  • It also overuses certain phrases due to biases in the training data.
  • It also occasionally produces inaccurate information and that its knowledge is restricted to global events that occurred before 2021.
  • It is also unable to provide answers to country-specific questions.


  • So far, the response to ChatGPT has been overwhelmingly positive, with many praising its advanced capabilities and ease of use.
  • It remains to be seen how ChatGPT will be used in the coming years, but it’s clear that it has the potential to be a major player in the world of natural language processing.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
27 Dec 2022

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)

Why in news?

  • Digitally capturing the attendance of workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS) has been made universal by the Centre from January 1, 2023.

What’s in today’s article:

  • About MGNREGS (History, Purpose, Features, Performance, Challenges, etc.)
  • News Summary

About Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS):

  • The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) was notified in September, 2005.
  • In 2009, an amendment was made in the NREGA Act to change the name of the Act to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
  • Mandate:
    • To provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (Mahatma Gandhi NREGS) was created as directed in Mahatma Gandhi NREGA and the means to implement the Act so that the guarantee comes into effect.
  • MGNREGS is a Centrally-Sponsored Scheme i.e. the scheme is jointly funded by the Central government and the State governments.
  • Concerned Ministry: Ministry of Rural Development

Salient Features of the Scheme:

  • Legal Right to Work:
    • The MGNREGA provides a legal guarantee for wage employment.
    • Every rural household has the right to register under MGNREGA.
    • Also, at least one-third of the beneficiaries of the scheme have to be women.
    • There are legal provisions for allowances and compensation both in cases of failure to provide work on demand and delays in payment of wages for work undertaken.
  • Demand-Driven:
    • It is a demand-driven programme where provision of work is triggered by the demand for work by wage-seekers.
  • Decentralized mode of implementation:
    • The State governments have powers to make rules and amend the concerned State scheme.
    • Gram Panchayats (GPs) are to implement at least 50 per cent of the works in terms of cost.
    • Plans and decisions regarding the nature and choice of works to be undertaken, the order in which each work is to be triggered, site selection etc. are all to be made in open assemblies of the Gram Sabha and ratified by the GP.
  • Annual Report tabled in the Parliament:
    • An Annual Report prepared by the Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC), on the outcomes of MGNREGA is required to be presented annually by the Central Government to Parliament.
      • CEGS is a statutory body set up under Section 10 of the MGNREGA.
      • It is chaired by the Union Minister for Rural Development.
  • The MGNERGA covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have a hundred percent urban population.

Performance of the Scheme in last 3 years:

  • As per the data available on the scheme portal, 7.55 crore families availed the scheme during 2020-21.
  • However, the number came down marginally to 7.26 families during 2021-22.
  • In the current financial year 2022-23, 5.21 crore families have availed the scheme till November 26, 2022.

Challenges/Loopholes in the Scheme:

  • Fund Misappropriation –
    • Over the last four years, Social Audit Units (SAU) under Rural Development Departments (RDD) across India have found financial misappropriation of Rs 935 crore under various schemes of the MGNREGA.
    • Only about Rs 12.5 crore of this amount — 1.34% — has been recovered so far.
  • Delay in Payments –
    • The Union Ministry of Rural Development considers wages paid once the FTO (Fund Transfer Order) is signed by the second signatory.
    • However, delays take place even in the processing of signed FTOs, for which the Management Information System (MIS) does not calculate compensation.
  • Banking Puzzle –
    • The rural banks are highly understaffed and thus always remain hugely overcrowded.
    • The workers normally have to visit the banks more than once to withdraw their wages.
    • Often, the workers do not get their wages during times of need due to the hassle and the cost involved in getting wages from the bank.

News Summary:

  • Digitally capturing the attendance of workers employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGREGS) has been made universal by the Centre from January 1, 2023.
  • The Union government, arguing for transparency and accountability in May 2021, had started a pilot project to capture attendance via a mobile application, the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS).
    • From May 16, 2022, capturing attendance via the app was made compulsory for all worksites with 20 or more workers.
  • In the latest order, dated December 23, the Ministry has ordered that digitally capturing attendance is now mandatory for all worksites, regardless of the number of workers engaged.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
27 Dec 2022

Denotified, nomadic, semi-nomadic tribes

Why in News?

  • The Parliamentary panel on Social Justice and Empowerment has pulled up the Union government over the very slow process to categorise over 260 denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes (DNTs) under either the SC/ST/OBC lists.
  • This has led to delay in the approval of benefits under the SEED (Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs) scheme.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Who are DNTs?
  • Status in India
  • Development and Welfare Board for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities (DWBDNCs)
  • About the SEED scheme
  • News Summary

Who are DNTs?

  • The term 'De-notified Tribes' stands for all those communities which were once notified under the Criminal Tribes Acts, enforced by the British Raj between l87l and I947.
  • These Acts were repealed by the Government of India in l952, and these communities were "De-Notified".
  • A few of these communities which were listed as de-notified were also nomadic - social groups who undertook seasonal physical movement as part of their livelihood strategy in the recent past.
  • The term semi-nomad is mostly used to describe those sections of nomads whose duration, distance and frequency of movement is comparatively less than others.

Status in India:

  • More than 10 crore Indians from over 1,400 communities are either denotified (settled in various States of the country), nomadic (continue to be largely nomadic) or semi-nomadic.
  • The Government of India in 2014 had constituted National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT)/Idate Commission for a period of 3 years -
    • To prepare a State-wise list of castes belonging to Denotified and Nomadic Tribes and
    • To suggest appropriate measures in respect of Denotified and Nomadic Tribes that may be undertaken by the Central or the State Government.
  • The NCDNT/Renke Commission (2008) was earlier commissioned to identify and list the DNT communities.

Development and Welfare Board for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities (DWBDNCs):

  • The Idate commission recommended the setting up of a permanent commission for these communities.
  • But since most DNTs are covered under SC, ST or OBC, the government felt setting up a permanent commission would be in conflict with the mandate of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), NCST and NCBC.
  • The government therefore set up the DWBDNCs (in 2019, under the chairmanship of BR Idate) as a society under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the purpose of implementing welfare programmes.

The SEED (Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs) scheme:

  • About:
    • The scheme was launched in (February) 2022 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, with an allocation of ₹200 crore, to be spent over five years from FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26.
  • Components:
    • Educational empowerment: Providing free competitive exam coaching for DNT candidates.
    • Health: Health insurance (through PM Jan Arogya Yojana).
    • Livelihoods: Through National and State Rural Livelihood Missions (NRLM and SRLMs).
    • Land and Housing: Financial assistance for construction of houses through PM Awas Yojana.
  • Implementation: The DWBDNCs has been tasked with the implementation of this scheme.
  • Beneficiaries: The DNT communities whose family income from all sources is 2.50 lakhs or less and who are not availing benefits under any other central/state schemes are eligible.

News Summary:

  • The panel’s report:
    • It flagged the inability of the Department Social Justice and Empowerment to take necessary action on the speedy and accurate categorisation of these communities.
    • Delay in locating them would increase their suffering and they would not be able to get benefit of the prevailing Schemes meant for the welfare of SC/STs.
    • As of now, a total of over 5,400 applications have been received under the SEED scheme, none of which have been approved and no amount has been sanctioned.
    • The panel expected that the government would expedite this exercise and finish it in a time-bound manner and sought detailed timelines for the same.
  • Department’s response:
    • The Idate Commission had categorised 1,262 communities of 1400 under SC/ST/OBC lists and 267 communities were left uncategorised.
    • The communities categorised by the Idate Commission are not accurate with many communities appearing in SC lists in one State or district and on the ST list in others.
    • The Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) has submitted reports on categorisation of 48 DNT communities so far and is expected to finish studying the remaining communities by the end of 2022.
    • According to the DWBDNC,
      • The SEED scheme was launched along with a system for online applications and live status-tracking.
      • However, with many DNT communities unable to navigate the online system themselves, officials have been conducting camps across the country with community leaders to help the applicants sign up on the web portal.
      • But unless the bureaucratic exercise of their accurate categorisation is completed, the application will not be processed.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
27 Dec 2022

Vir Bal Diwas

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Prime Minister Modi participated in a historic programme marking ‘Veer Bal Diwas’ at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in Delhi.
    • This was the first celebration of the Veer Bal Diwas.
  • On this occasion, PM Modi said that concocted narratives were taught in the name of history to infuse inferiority.
  • He stressed upon the fact that any country with such a glorious history must be full of self-confidence and self-respect.
  • For this, there is the need to be freed from the narrow interpretation of the past.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Vir Bal Diwas – About, sacrifices made by the sons of Guru Gobind Singh
  • Guru Gobind Singh (about, notable works)

What is Vir Bal Diwas?

  • On 9th January 2022, the day of the Prakash Purab of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the Prime Minister had announced that 26th December would be observed as ‘Veer Bal Diwas’.
  • This was announced to mark the martyrdom of sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh - Sahibzadas Baba Zorawar Singh Ji and Baba Fateh Singh Ji.

Sacrifices made by the sons of Guru Gobind Singh

  • While two of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons were killed fighting the Mughals, two other sons were bricked alive on the orders of Aurangzeb’s governor of Sirhind.
    • The two younger sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh ji, attained martyrdom after being sealed alive in a wall.
  • Incomparable sacrifice and patriotism of the four Sahibzadas and Mata Gujri to protect the country and religion is the heritage of the country.
  • Veer Baal Diwas is observed on the same day the two younger sons, Sahibzada Zorawar Singh ji and Sahibzada Fateh Singh ji, attained martyrdom.

Who was Guru Gobind Singh?

  • Guru Gobind Singh, born as Gobind Rai, was the tenth Sikh Guru, a spiritual leader, warrior, poet and philosopher.
    • He was born on January 5, 1666 in Patna Sahib, Bihar in the Sodhi Khatri family of the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur and his wife Mata Gujri.
  • He formally became the leader and protector of the Sikhs at the age of nine after the death of his father.
    • His father was killed by Aurangzeb for refusing to convert to Islam.

What are notable works of Guru Gobind Singh?

  • Organised the Sikh community
    • He was responsible for institutionalising the Khalsa, who played a significant role in protecting the Sikhs after his death.
      • The Khalsa warriors had to follow a code of discipline that was introduced by Guru Gobind Singh.
    • He commanded the Sikh to wear five items all the time which includes Kesh, Kangha, Kara, Kachera, and Kirpan.
  • The Sikh Scriptures
    • The fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan compiled Sikh scripture by the name of Adi Granth. It contained the hymns of the previous Gurus and may saints.
    • Guru Gobind Singh in 1706 released a second edition of the religious scripture with the addition of one salok, dohra mahala nine ang, and all the 115 hymns of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur.
      • The rendition was now called Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
    • Guru Gobind Singh proclaimed that he was the last of the personal Gurūs.
      • From that point forward, the Sikh Gurū was to be the holy book, the Ādi Granth.
    • He declared Guru Granth Sahib as Sikhism's holy scripture in 1708, before his death.
History & Culture

Mains Article
27 Dec 2022

Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) Promotion Task Force report

Why in News?

  • The Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) Promotion Task Force has submitted its report to the government for consideration.


  • An announcement was made in the Union Budget 2022-23 for setting up an Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) Promotion Task Force to promote the AVGC sector in the country.
  • In pursuance of this announcement, an AVGC Promotion Task Force was constituted in April 2022 by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • Headed by Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, the Task Force had members from other ministries as well.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • AVGC sector in India
  • News Summary

AVGC sector in India

What are the opportunities for AVGC sector in India?

  • AVCG sector has witnessed phenomenal growth in recent years.
  • India's expanding AVGC sector has propelled the country into the global Top 5 in the gaming business.
    • India today contributes about $2.5-3 billion of the estimated $260-275 billion worldwide AVGC market.
  • The number of online gamers increased by 8% between 2020 and 2021, and by 2023 it is predicted to reach 45 crores.
  • The AVGC sector in India has the potential to capture 5% ($40 billion) of the worldwide market by 2025, with yearly growth of 25-30% and the creation of approximately 1,60,000 new employments.

What are the factors responsible for the high growth of AVGC sector?

  • The demand has expanded with the unprecedented growth in kids broadcasting viewership, availability of low-cost internet access and growing popularity of OTT platforms.
  • Animation and Visual effects (VFX) sectors have become an integral part of the media and entertainment industry.
  • In the entertainment sector, movies like Hanuman, The Lion King, Life of Pie etc. are some of the movies that have become blockbusters at the Indian box office.
  • Similarly, use of animation and graphics in education sector make teaching and learning processes more interesting.
  • These trends have facilitated a decent growth of this sector in India.

What are the challenges faced by AVGC sector?

  • This sector is yet to be streamlined by the government through a national policy framework in order to build capacities and to enhance global positioning of AVGC sector in India.
  • Although, it is growing at a faster rate, it has not yet been formalised.
  • Legal uncertainty further creates a drag on this sector. Due to this, various State governments have dragged these companies to court over allegedly being akin to gambling.
    • Eg., the Karnataka High Court struck down substantial provisions of the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021, which prohibited online gambling and skill-based gaming platforms.

What are the steps taken by the government?

  • An announcement was made in the Union Budget 2022-23 for setting up an Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) Promotion Task Force.
  • In April 2022, the task force was constituted which submitted its report recently.
  • As part of the 75th anniversary of India's independence, the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister recently unveiled Azadi Quest, online educational mobile games.
    • It was created as part of the government's efforts to boost the animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) sector.
  • The Government of India has prioritized this sector by identifying it as one with potential to become the torch bearer of “Create in India” and “Brand India”.
  • In 2021, the Ministry of I&B agreed to build a Centre of Excellence in gaming and other relevant sectors in collaboration with IIT Bombay.

News Summary

Key Highlights of the report

  • A national AVGC-Extended Reality Mission
    • It has proposed the creation of a national AVGC-Extended Reality Mission with a budget outlay for integrated promotion and growth of the sector.
  • Awareness generation and attracting FDI
    • “Create in India” campaign with an exclusive focus on content creation;
    • An international AVGC platform aimed at attracting foreign direct investment, co-production treaties and innovation in collaboration with international counterparts;
    • National and regional centres of excellence for skill development;
  • Books and curriculum relevant to AVGC
    • The report said that the Ministry of Education may advise NCERT to create books focusing on subjects relevant to AVGC.
    • A University Grants Commission (UGC)-recognised curriculum for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees has also been suggested.
    • The Task Force has proposed standardisation of admission tests for AVGC-related courses.
  • Internship opportunities
    • The report suggested signing of Memorandum of Cooperation between India and other developed global AVGC markets for providing internships (six months to a year) to Indian AVGC professionals
  • Other recommendations
    • Establishment of AVGC accelerators and innovation hubs in academic institutions;
    • Democratising AVGC technologies by promoting subscription-based pricing models for MSME, start-ups and institutions;
    • Indigenous technology development through incentive schemes and Intellectual Property creation; and
    • Setting up a dedicated production fund for domestic content creation from across India to promote the country’s culture and heritage globally.
  • Special incentives for women entrepreneurs
    • The report said there should be special incentives for women entrepreneurs in the sector.
    • It further emphasised on the promotion of local children’s channels for raising awareness on the rich culture and history of India among children and youth.
    • It also suggested the establishment of a framework to ensure protection of child rights in the digital world.


Polity & Governance

Dec. 26, 2022

Mains Article
26 Dec 2022

Constitutional silences, unconstitutional inaction (Governor withholding assent to state legislation)


  • The article covers the Governor's powers regarding assent given to bills enacted by the State legislature and how they are abused by Governors sitting on bills indefinitely and delaying legislation passed by popular will (State legislature).


  • When the Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly (November 26, 1949), deliberate voids were left in it, to enable a future Parliament to modify and amend the Constitution that was in accordance with the aspirations and the will of the people.
  • However, it resulted in a Constitution with obvious gaps. For example, one of such gaps is implied in Article 200 of the Constitution that does not prescribe a timeline for the Governor to provide assent to Bills sent by a State Legislative Assembly.
  • As a result, Governors of several Opposition-ruled states have used this to confuse the mandate of democratically elected governments.

Constitutional scheme

  • Article 200 of the Constitution: It provides for four alternative courses of action for a Governor when a Bill after being passed by the legislature is presented to him/her for his/her assent.
    • Give his assent straightaway
    • Withhold his assent
    • Return the Bill to the legislature with the request to reconsider the Bill or any particular provision of the Bill.
      • However, if the legislature again passes the Bill with/without accepting any of the amendments suggested by the Governor s/he is constitutionally bound to give assent to the Bill.
    • Governor may also reserve it for the consideration of the President
      • In this case the assent is given or withheld by the President (Article 201). However, there is no timeline prescribed for even the President, to decide on the outcome of the Bill.
  • Objective behind empowering the Governor to grant assent to Bills:
    • An independent Governor would act as a check and balance and to avoid the state-enacted law being repugnant to the Union laws.
    • It was also to act as a safety-valve against hasty legislations and by Governor action’s enable the State Government and Legislature to have a second look at it.

Recent controversies owing to stalling of bills by the Governor:

  • In Tamil Nadu alone, almost 20 Bills are awaiting assent by the Governor. The Governor also forwarded the Bill for exemption from the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) to the President after considerable delay.
    • The TN government submitted a memorandum to President seeking removal of the Governor.
  • In Kerala, the Governor publicly announced that he would not give assent to the Lokayukta Amendment Bill, 2022 and the Kerala University Amendment Bill,

Supreme Court observations

  • Purushothaman Nambudiri vs State of Kerala (1962): A Constitution Bench clarified that the Constitution does not impose any time limit within which the Governor should provide assent to Bills.
    • However, it maintained that the Governor must honour the will of the Legislature and can act only in harmony with their Council of Ministers.
    • SC also observed that Governor withholding assent to a law validly passed by the Legislature, amounts to directly attacking the federal edifice of the Constitution.
    • It also noted that causing delay to assent Bills will be an arbitrary exercise, which in itself is against the spirit of the constitution
  • Shamsher Singh vs State of Punjab (1974): A 7-judge Constitution Bench said that the President and Governor shall exercise their formal constitutional powers only upon and in accordance with the advice of their Ministers save in a few well-known exceptional
  • Nabam Rebia case (2016): The SC cited the observations of B R Ambedkar as follows:
    • The Governor, according to the Constitution, has no function that s/he can execute on his or her own, but does have certain duties to perform, and the House would be wise to keep this distinction in mind.
    • It also ruled that Article 163 of the Constitution does not give the Governor a general discretionary power to act against or without the advice of his Council of Ministers
  • Rajiv Gandhi assassination case (2018): The SC voiced its displeasure with the delay, citing the Governor's failure to act on the release of the seven convicted prisoners for more than two years.

Call for reforms: Streamlining Governor’s action with popular will

  • National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC): It recommended that there should be a time-limit, say a period of six months, within which the Governor should take a decision whether to grant assent or to reserve a Bill for consideration of the President.
  • Sarkaria Commission: It suggested that delay from the side of the Governor in granting assent can be avoided by streamlining the existing procedures, by making prior consultation with the Governor at the stage of the drafting of the Bill itself, and by prescribing time-limits for its disposal.
  • Punchhi Committee: It argued for a provision for impeachment of the Governor by the state legislature.
  • The Speaker of TN Assembly: He recently called for setting a binding timeframe within which Bills should be assented to or returned or reserved for the consideration of the President of India by the Governors.
  • Global practices: For example,
    • In the United Kingdom, it is unconstitutional for the monarch to refuse to assent to a Bill passed by Parliament.
    • Similarly, in Australia, refusal of assent to a Bill by the crown is considered repugnant to the federal system.

Way forward

  • Though the executive power of the State vests in the Governor, s/he being a nominal head of the State, is expected to exercise that power as per the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, headed by the Chief Minister of the State.
  • Unreasonable delay in granting administrative sanction would be violative of the rule of law, implying the necessity for the Governor to grant assent or decline the bill within a ‘reasonable time’.
  • The 'reasonable time' (such as 3 months) should be weighted according to what is required, under the circumstances, to do conveniently what the duty needs in a particular case.


  • The Governor’s assent is the most crucial act in the whole law-making process and his/her duty is only to ensure that an elected government is working within the parameters of the Constitution.
  • While there may be disagreements with respect to the contents of a Bill, they should not use their powers to stall legislation unpalatable to them.


Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
26 Dec 2022

Zero Covid policy and COVID-19 surge in China

Why in news?

  • Since the initial outbreak in 2019 in Wuhan, China, the world has seen multiple repeated waves of COVID-19 infections over the past few years.
    • This was largely driven by the emerging variants of concern (VOCs) of the causative virus, SARS-CoV-2.
  • However, until recently, China remained successful in containing the spread of the disease owing to its zealous “zero-COVID” policy.
  • As a result of the abrupt lifting of the policy, the country is now facing a surge of COVID-19 cases.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Zero-COVID policy – about, working, impact
  • News Summary

Zero-COVID Policy

What is Zero-COVID policy?

  • The policy involves complete control and maximum suppression for the elimination of the virus by using aggressive public health measures, such as contact-tracing, social isolation, mass testing, and lockdowns.
  • Under this policy, Chinese cities are directed to impose stringent lockdowns and follow strict measures of social isolation even if only a small number of cases are reported.
  • The objective of the strategy is to ensure there are no new infections and the virus is eliminated so that the nation can resume its usual social and economic affairs.

How does the Zero-COVID policy work?

  • Dynamic-zero is two-pronged - prevention and containment.
  • Prevention
    • Prevention focuses on early detection through regular PCR tests, especially in cities, where a recent negative result can be a requirement to enter a business or public facility.
    • Potential or suspected cases are isolated at home or placed under quarantine at a government-supervised facility.
  • Control
    • Control tactics, aimed at swiftly cutting off transmission chains to forestall outbreaks, involve quarantining cases at government-supervised facilities and locking down buildings, communities or even entire cities.
    • Since March 2020, China's borders have remained shut to most visitors.
    • Arrivals of all nationalities are subject to seven days of quarantine at a facility and three days of home isolation.

What were the impacts of such policy?

  • To eliminate the virus, draconian measures were getting implemented such as separating families after testing positive and placing people in isolation.
  • These measures created emotional turmoil among the general public as post-separation.
  • The essential medical treatments were not prompt due to administrative flaws. This extended the period of separation.
  • This strategy seems to have failed due to evolving nature of the virus. With new coronavirus variants becoming more transmissible, complete elimination is impossible and hence the zero Covid policy falls short to achieve its goal.
  • Also, the initial success of this policy made the authorities relaxed which in turn led to under-vaccination of masses and under-prepared medical infrastructure.
  • In other words, the zero Covid policy has now become a victim of its success.

News Summary

  • Currently, China is witnessing a surge of COVID-19 cases. The highly transmissible BF.7 strain of the Omicron variant seems to be behind the latest surge in Covid infections.
  • China, Japan, South Korea, US and Brazil have seen a spike in cases. Four cases of Omicron sub-variant BF.7 have been detected in India so far.

What is BF.7 variant?

  • 7 is an abbreviated form for BA. It is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and is highly transmissible.
  • The variant is also referred to as Omicron Spawn.
  • It has an R-value of 10-18. This means an infected person can transmit the virus to an average of 10 to 18 other people. The Omicron variant had an R-value of 1-5.

Can India avoid the current wave caused by the BF.7 variant?

  • Due to its Covid-zero policy, China has not faced waves of infections like India. The three waves witnessed in India naturally immunised millions of people.
    • The Chinese population has not been exposed to natural infection and the authorities did not use the time to vaccinate the elderly.
  • According to experts, most Indians have acquired hybrid immunity, which means immunity developed through vaccines and also natural infection protecting them from different Covid variants.
  • 7 is a sub-variant of Omicron and most of its symptoms are similar. The third wave in India mostly saw Omicron cases and a vast majority of the population has been naturally immunised against the virus.
  • In India the vaccination coverage is very high.
    • India's vaccination rates are nearly 95% of eligible population for at least one doze, and over 88% for both doses.
    • A section of the eligible population has also received a third dose.
  • The efficacy of domestically-made vaccines used in India have been widely acknowledged and the majority of the population can be presumed to be well protected.
    • This contrasts sharply with China, that has used 7 vaccines so far for its mass inoculation such as Sinovac and Sinopharm.
    • The protection these vaccines provide are suspect, only two of the 7 are WHO-listed.
  • Hence, experts believe that India is unlikely to see a fourth wave.
Science & Tech

Mains Article
26 Dec 2022

New Prime Minister of Nepal

Why in news?

  • Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has been appointed Nepal's new prime minister for a third time.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Electoral system in Nepal
  • News Summary

Electoral system of Nepal


  • The new constitution passed in 2015 declared Nepal a federal state with three levels of government: federal, provincial and local.
  • Adult franchise and periodic election have been categorically stated in the preamble to the Constitution.
  • The Constitution provisioned different types of electoral system at local, provincial and federal level:
    • first past the post (FPTP) system for the election of Local Level, and
      • In FPTP system, the candidate with the highest number of votes in a constituency is declared the winner.
      • The system of allocation of seats on the basis of the votes secured by political parties is the proportional electoral system.
    • the mixed electoral system of first past the post and proportional representation for the election of State Assembly and House of Representatives.
      • The use of two different electoral systems at the same time is known as mixed electoral system.
      • This system has mixed the merits of plurality/ majority or other electoral systems and proportional representation electoral system.

Federal election

  • There are 334 members in the Federal Parliament, out of which the House of Representatives (HoR) has 275 members and the National Assembly (NA) has 59 members.
  • For federal election, Nepal has selected the mixed electoral system:
    • The first past the post electoral system within plurality/majority electoral system and
    • List-based proportional electoral system within the proportional electoral system.
      • Political parties submit the list of candidates to the election management body (the Election Commission in case of Nepal).
      • Political parries select the winning candidates based on the number of seats secured by them.
  • Members of the House of Representatives are elected as follows:
    • 165 members are elected through the first past the post electoral system;
    • 110 members are elected from political parties through a proportional representation electoral system.


  • Each voter will be given two ballot papers for the two methods (FPTP and PR).
  • A party has to cross the election threshold of 3 percent of the overall valid vote to be allocated a seat under the PR method.

Forms of government

  • Federal parliament (HoR+NA) will elect a prime minister, who is the real executive head.
    • The leader of the party that wins a simple majority is invited to form the government. A party or a coalition needs 138 seats for a clear majority.
    • Members of the HoR are elected for a five-year term.
  • The National Assembly (NA) is a permanent body.
    • 56 members chosen by an electoral college consisting of PA members and village and municipal executive members.
    • Three members are nominated by the president.
    • It has a term of six years, with one-third of its members retiring every two years on a rotational basis.
  • The president and vice president are constitutional posts with nominal power.
    • They are elected by an electoral college formed by the HoR, NA and Provincial Assembly (PA) members.
  • The members of the PA choose chief ministers to run the respective provinces.
  • A total of 753 local units, spread across 77 districts in seven provinces, have been elected to run the village and municipal administration.

News Summary

  • Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has been appointed as the new Prime Minister of Nepal.
  • He joined hands with rival K P Sharma Oli, chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), and other smaller parties.
    • Prachanda has claimed the support of 170 parliamentarians in the 275-member House.
  • Prachanda and Oli have reached an understanding to lead the government on rotation basis, and Oli agreed to make Prachanda Prime Minister in the first round.


  • Elections in Nepal, held on November 20, failed to produce a clear winner. It saw the ruling coalition of prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba (of Nepali Congress) lose its majority.
  • After the election, the Nepali Congress became the single largest party with 89 seats, while CPN-UML and CPN-MC got 78 and 32 seats respectively.

What does this mean for India?

  • Both Prachanda and Oli are seen as pro-China.
  • Prachanda has in the past said a new understanding with India needed to be developed on the basis of “changed scenario” in Nepal and after addressing all outstanding issues.
    • Outstanding issues between the two countries include revision of the 1950 Friendship Treaty and resolving Kalapani and Susta border disputes among others.
  • On the other hand, Oli, in 2021, claimed that efforts were being made to oust him after his government redrew Nepal’s political map by incorporating three strategically key Indian territories.
    • Nepali Parliament, in 2020, unanimously approved the new political map of the country featuring Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura areas which India maintains belong to it.
International Relations

Mains Article
26 Dec 2022

What are Dark Patterns?

Why in News?

  • Countless popular websites and apps, from retailers and travel services to social media companies, make use of so-called “dark patterns,” or gently coercive design tactics that critics say are used to manipulate peoples’ digital behaviours.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Background (Context, Origin of the term dark patterns)
  • About Dark Patterns (Meaning, how it works, Examples, Way Ahead, India’s Approach)


  • The term “dark patterns” was coined by Harry Brignull, a U.K.-based user experience specialist and researcher of human-computer interactions.
  • He used the term to describe the ways in which software can subtly trick users into doing things they didn’t mean to do.
  • He has been working to catalogue such patterns and the companies using them since around 2010.

How does these patterns work?

  • Dark patterns refer to a user interface that has been crafted to trick or manipulate users into making choices that are detrimental to their interest.
    • It is mostly prevalent while buying a product or service online.
  • A consumer is tricked into buying a more expensive product, paying more than what was initially disclosed, sharing data or making choices based on false or paid-for reviews by deploying ‘dark patterns’.

Examples of Dark Patterns:

  • Social media companies and Big Tech firms such as Apple, Amazon, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Google use dark or deceptive patterns to downgrade the user experience to their advantage.
  • To understand how dark patterns work, the following examples will be helpful:
    • Amazon came under fire in the EU for its confusing, multi-step cancelling process in Amazon Prime subscription.
      • After communicating with consumer regulators, Amazon this year made its cancellation process easier for online customers in European countries.
    • LinkedIn users often receive unsolicited, sponsored messages from influencers.
      • Disabling this option is a difficult process with multiple steps that requires users to be familiar with the platform controls.
    • As Meta-owned Instagram pivots to video-based content to compete against TikTok, users have complained that they are being shown suggested posts they did not wish to see and that they were unable to permanently set preferences.
    • Google-owned YouTube nags users to sign up for YouTube Premium with pop-ups, obscuring final seconds of a video with thumbnails of other videos — a way of disrupting what should have been an otherwise smooth user experience.

How does this affect users?

  • Dark patterns endanger the experience of Internet users and make them more vulnerable to financial and data exploitation by Big Tech firms.
  • Dark patterns confuse users, introduce online obstacles, make simple tasks time-consuming, have users sign up for unwanted services/products, and force them to pay more money or share more personal information than they intended.
  • In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] has taken note of dark patterns and the risks they pose.
  • In a report released in September this year, the regulatory body listed over 30 dark patterns, many of which are considered standard practice across social media platforms and e-commerce sites.
    • These include “baseless” countdowns for online deals, conditions in fine print that add on to costs, making cancellation buttons hard to see or click, etc.

Way Ahead:

  • Dark and deceptive patterns don’t just stop with laptops and smartphones.
  • The FTC report has warned that as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platforms and devices grow in usage, dark patterns will likely follow users to these new channels as well.
  • Internet users who are able to identify and recognise dark patterns in their daily lives can choose more user-friendly platforms that will respect their right to choose and privacy.

India’s Approach:

  • Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body of the advertising industry in India, recently said that it wants to expand its code to address concerns around ‘dark pattern’s in digital advertising.
  • ASCI said nearly a third of advertisements it processed in FY22, were disguised by influencers as regular content, which is also a part of dark patterns in advertising.
  • The ASCI has formed a task-force to look into the issue.
Science & Tech

Mains Article
26 Dec 2022

Namami Gange Programme

Why in News?

  • The Prime Minister of India recently highlighted the global appreciation for the country’s flagship Namami Gange Programme for Ganga rejuvenation, giving credit to people’s participation in the programme.
  • The United Nations (UN) has recognised the initiative as one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagships and awarded it on 14th December 2022 - the World Restoration Day, at the COP15 to the CBD in Montreal, Canada. 

What’s in today’s article:

  • About Namami Gange Programme
  • Why is the Namami Gange programme needed?
  • Key achievements under the programme

About Namami Gange Programme:

  • It is an integrated conservation mission, approved as ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in 2014 with budget outlay of Rs.20,000 Crores.
  • It is administered by the Ministry of Jal Shakti's Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, to accomplish the twin objectives of -
    • Effective abatement of pollution,
    • Conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
  • The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organisations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
    • NMCG is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council (NGC, which replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority).
    • NGC was created in 2016 under the River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Authorities Order, 2016, and is headed by the PM.
  • In order to implement the programme, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of:
    • A high-level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at the national level,
    • State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at the state level and
    • District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
  • Its implementation has been divided into -
    • Entry-Level Activities (for immediate visible impact),
    • Medium-Term Activities (to be implemented within 5 years of time frame) and
    • Long-Term Activities (to be implemented within 10 years).

Why is the Namami Gange programme needed?

  • Rising in the Himalayas and flowing to the Bay of Bengal, the river traverses a course of more than 2,500 km through the plains of north and eastern India.
  • The Ganga basin - which also extends into parts of Nepal, China and Bangladesh - accounts for 26% of India's landmass.
  • Thus, River Ganga has significant economic, environmental and cultural-spiritual value (one of India's holiest rivers), whose significance transcends the boundaries of the basin.

The key achievements under the programme are:

  • Creating Sewage Treatment Capacity: 98 sewage projects have been completed in the states of UK, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, etc.
  • Creating River-Front Development: The projects for the construction, modernisation, and renovation of 267 Ghats/Crematoria and Kunds/Ponds have been initiated.
  • River Surface Cleaning: River Surface cleaning for collection of floating solid waste from the surface of the Ghats and River and its disposal are afoot and pushed into service at 11 locations.
  • Biodiversity Conservation: Cadre of volunteers (Ganga Praharis) have been developed and trained to support conservation actions in the field
  • Public Awareness: Ganga Praharis and Ganga Doots are engaged in spreading awareness through planting trees, cleaning ghats, Ganga Aarti, painting and poems.
  • Industrial Effluent Monitoring: Regulation and enforcement through regular and surprise inspections of Grossly Polluting Industries (GPIs) is carried out for compliance verification against stipulated environmental norms.
  • Deploying best available knowledge and resources across the world: Countries such as Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, Israel, etc., have been collaborating with India for Ganga rejuvenation
Polity & Governance
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