July 31, 2022

Mains Article
31 Jul 2022

New e-waste rules threaten jobs, collection network

In News:

  • A proposed framework by the Central government for regulating e-waste in India has upset a key link of India’s electronic waste collection system and threatens the livelihood of thousands.

What’s in today’s article:

  • E-waste in India (Statistics, E-waste management rules, 2016, Amendment, Challenges, etc.)
  • News Summary (Draft guidelines for e-waste management, Criticism)

Electronic-waste in India:

  • According to a 2020 report by the Central Pollution Control Board, India generated 10,14,961 tonnes of e-waste in FY 2019-2020 – up 32% from FY 2018-2019.
  • Of this, the report found that only 3.6% and 10% were actually collected in the country in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
  • It also said that the informal sector controls more than 90% of e-waste collection and handling processes in the country.

E-waste Management Rules, 2016:

  • The Central Government, in the exercise of the powers provided under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, had notified e-waste management rules in 2016.
    • These rules supersede the E-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011.
  • The rules aim to enable the recovery and/or reuse of useful material from e-waste, and to ensure the environmentally sound management of all types of waste of electrical and electronic equipment.
  • For the first time, the rules brought the producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), along with targets.
    • Producers have been made responsible for the collection of E-waste and for its exchange.
  • The manufacturers, dealers, e-retailers, and refurbishers have been brought under the ambit of these rules to ensure that the e-waste is effectively channelized and disposed of.
  • The urban local bodies have been assigned the responsibility of collecting back the e-waste arising from the orphan products and channelizing it to authorized dismantler or recycler.
  • The EWM Rules 2016, have prescribed strict criteria for achieving effective collection, transportation, storage, channelization, and disposal of the e-waste in an environmentally sound manner.

Amendment to EWM Rules, 2016:

  • In 2018, the EWM Rules were further amended.
  • The new E-Waste (Management) Amendment Rules, 2018 has the provision of introduction of Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) registration.
    • PRO is defined as a professional organization which can take the responsibility for collection and channelization of e-waste to ensure environmentally sound management of such e-waste.
    • PROs are now required to register with CPCB under the new Rules.
  • PROs will also have to prove that all collection is legitimate and share proofs for such collection.
  • Earlier, PROs were not able to procure waste from private and government institutions.
  • The Rules address this lack of acknowledgement of legitimate PROs by asking them to register with CPCB.

Challenges associated with E-waste Management in India:

  • Involvement of child labour:
    • In India, about 4.5 lakh child laborers in the age group of 10-14 are observed to be engaged in various E-waste related activities
  • Ineffective legislation:
    • There is absence of any public information on most SPCBs/PCC websites.
    • 15 of the 35 PCBs/PCC do not have any information related to E-waste on their websites, their key public interface point.
    • Even the basic E-waste Rules and guidelines have not been uploaded.
  • Lack of awareness & sensitization:
    • Limited reach out and awareness regarding disposal, after determining end of useful life.
    • Also, only 2% of individuals think of the impact on environment while disposing off their old electrical and electronic equipment.

News Summary:

  • In May 2022, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change announced a draft on new regulation to replace the current E-Waste (Management) Rules, 2016.
  • Proposed Changes include –
    • Addition of new items:
      • The scope of the e-waste management rules be expanded to include more electronic products, from 21 covered in the current framework to 95 in total.
    • Doing away with PROs:
      • Under the current framework, brands must take back a fraction of their products at the end-of-life stage and send it to authorised dismantlers and recyclers.
      • To do this, they can employ a producer responsibility organisation (PRO) — a company that oversees the collection, dismantling, and recycling of their products, on the brand’s behalf.
      • The new draft rules propose doing away with PROs, dismantlers, and collection centres.
      • It also proposed to revise the definition of extended producer responsibility (EPR) to shift the burden away from brands.
    • Imposition of fine:
      • Among the changes listed in the draft proposal is the introduction of fines that violators, from brands to recyclers, will have to pay if they fail to comply.
      • It also suggests that recyclers and brands be asked to upload information on how much e-waste they have managed to recycle on an online portal.
    • Recycling target:
      • The recycling target has been set at 80% for FY2024 onward.


  • Under the proposed definition of EPR, brands would no longer be responsible for the collection of e-waste, and can purchase certificates from recyclers to show they have met their targets under the rules.
  • With brands no longer responsible for a take-back system, collection will become the responsibility of recyclers, and that the concept of EPR will be reduced to just purchasing certificates from recyclers.
  • There are also worries that the rules will enable recyclers to engage further with the informal sector when it comes to collection and dismantling.
  • The increase in product types that will have to be recycled could also pose a problem for the ecosystem’s capacity to process e-waste.
    • This massive jump in product types and categories (from 21 to 95) will only make recycling that much harder.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
31 Jul 2022

Ease of justice as vital as ease of doing business: PM pushes for undertrials' speedy release

In News:

  • Speaking at the inaugural session of the first All India District Legal Services Authorities meet, the PM recently said that ease of justice is as important as ease of doing business and ease of living.
  • At the event, the PM urged the judiciary to speed up release of undertrials who are being held in jails awaiting legal counsel.

What’s in today’s article:

  • National level meet of DLSAs
  • About National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)
  • News Summary

National level meet of District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs):

  • The first-ever national level meet of DLSAs was organised from 30-31 July 2022 at Vigyan Bhawan by National Legal Services Authority (NALSA).
  • The meeting deliberated on the creation of an integrated procedure in order to bring homogeneity and synchronisation across DLSAs.
  • In every District, the District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District.
  • It is situated in the District Courts Complex in every District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district.
  • The 676 DLSAs of the country are contributing towards reducing the burden on courts by regulating the Lok Adalats conducted by NALSA.

National Legal Services Authority (NALSA):

  • NALSA has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
  • It aims to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organise Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
  • Currently, Justice N. V. Ramana, the Chief Justice of India is the Patron-in-Chief of NALSA.
  • In every State,
    • The State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA.
    • This is to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State.
    • It is headed by the Chief Justice of the respective High Court, called as the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority.
  • In every District, the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) has been constituted.
  • Through DLSAs and SLSAs, various legal aid and awareness programmes are implemented by NALSA.

News Summary - Highlights of the PM speech:

  • Concern over undertrial prisoners:
    • The PM emphasised the need to reach out to the weakest sections of society and provide them access to justice.
    • He urged the judiciary to speed up the process of release of undertrials as India prepares to celebrate 75 years of Independence.
      • According to the 'Prison Statistics India' report (2020) of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were as many as 4,88,511 prison inmates, with 76% or 3,71,848, being undertrials.
    • The DLSAs can take up the responsibility of providing legal assistance to undertrials and the district judges (chairmen of the district-level undertrial review committees) can expedite the release of undertrial prisoners.
      • DLSAs are mandated to hold weekly meetings of undertrial review committees to discuss progress.
      • It also reviews additional cases and plan next steps, including filing bail applications in High Courts and the Supreme Court if necessary.
    • The PM praised the NALSA, which has launched a campaign to give legal aid to prisoners.
  • Ease of justice is as crucial as ease of living and doing business:
    • Today, only a small percentage of India's population can access the legal system when they are in need.
      • This is due to the fact that majority lack legal awareness and necessary means to approach the courts.
    • Justice should not be restricted to socio-economically privileged classes and it is the responsibility of State actors to ensure a just and egalitarian social order.
    • In this context, access to justice serves as a tool for social emancipation.
    • The PM appealed to the judiciary to make use of technology in the justice delivery system, as India is at the centre of a digital revolution.
    • The PM credited the judiciary for embracing technology by holding -
      • Virtual courts as part of the e-Courts Mission.
      • 24-hour courts for offences such as traffic violations.
      • In addition, video conferencing infrastructure is being expanded in the courts for the benefit of the public.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
31 Jul 2022

Fast-paced anti-drugs war with zero-tolerance policy: Shah

In News:

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Centre was effectively pursuing a decisive war against the drugs menace.
  • He made those remarks while addressing the National Conference on ‘Drug Trafficking and National Security’ in Chandigarh.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • Drug menace in India
  • News Summary

Drug menace in India: Statistics

  • India is caught in the vicious circle of drug abuse, and the numbers of drug addicts are increasing day by day.
  • According to the National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India in 2019, about 2.1% of the country’s population (2.26 crore individuals) uses opioids.
  • This survey also showed that about 2.8% of Indians aged 10-75 years (3.1 crore individuals) were using cannabis as bhang, ganja and charas.

Reasons for Widespread Drug Abuse in India

  • To escape from hard realities of life
    • The disintegration of the joint family system, decline of religious and moral values etc. lead to a rise in the number of drug addicts
  • Loosening of the traditional methods of social control
    • Makes an individual vulnerable to the stresses and strains of modern life.
  • Peers pressure
    • Many youths start using drug under the pressure from their friends, seniors at educational institutions, or by members of their informal groupings.
  • Easy Availability
    • India is situated in the sense that on its west is the ‘Golden Crescent’ and on east is the ‘Golden Triangle’.
      • Golden Crescent - Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan
      • Golden Triangle - Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar
    • The usage of drugs in India is increasing, particularly in the border areas due to their porous nature.
  • Economic prosperity
    • The agricultural reforms and other industrial activity have led to increase in income in regions like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra etc. which has led to increase in its use.

Steps taken

  • Article 47 of the Indian Constitution directs the State to endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drugs injurious to health.
  • India is a signatory to
    • The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol,
    • the Conventions on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and
    • The United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
  • Legislative steps:
    • Enacted Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 and The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988.
  • The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was created in 1986 as a nodal agency to fight against this menace.
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) are involved with alcohol and drug demand reduction policies and drug de-addiction programme.

News Summary

  • Union home minister Amit Shah participated in the National Conference on ‘Drug Trafficking and National Security’ held in Chandigarh.
  • The conference was aimed at formulating strategies to root out drug abuse from the northern States.

Key highlights of the speech

  • Drugs seized during 2014-21
    • The minister pointed out that the 3 lakh kilograms of drugs worth ₹20,000 crores were seized in the country between 2014 and 2021.
  • Permanent inter-ministerial committee to prevent misuse of dual-use drugs
    • The minister said that in order to prevent misuse of dual-use drugs, a permanent inter-ministerial committee has been formed with the ministry of health and family welfare and the ministry of chemicals.
  • New initiatives to fight against drugs’
    • The minister launched the NCORD portal on the occasion.
      • During the 3rd apex level NCORD meeting, held in December 2021, Union Home Minister directed the creation of an integrated NCORD portal at the central level.
        • The Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) mechanism was set up by the MHA in the year 2016 for effective drug law enforcement.
    • The portal acts as an effective mechanism for information exchange between various institutions/agencies.
    • NCORD portal helps not only in coordination but also in knowledge management.
  • Future initiatives
    • The ministry of home affairs is working on a three-tier formula:
      • strengthening the institutional structure,
      • empowerment and coordination of all narco agencies,
      • comprehensive awareness campaigns and de-addiction.
    • The NCB is working to launch a helpline soon.
    • The minister also said that for speedy trial of drug cases the constitution of fast-track courts and exclusive courts is being discussed with the Supreme Court.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
31 Jul 2022

PM: Power loss high, so have to produce more than we need

In News:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India’s power sector losses run into double digits while developed countries have managed to keep it to single digit.
  • He was speaking at the closing function of the 'Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047' event.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047
  • News Summary

Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047

  • Ministry of Power and New & Renewable Energy, celebrated “Ujjwal Bharat Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047” initiative of the Government of India.
  • It was celebrated under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav from 25th to 30th July 2022 across the Nation in association with all Power CPSEs and State DISCOMs.
  • The event showcased the achievements in Power and Renewable Energy Sectors.
  • It also showcased the vision of India in these sectors for 2047 when India completes 100 years of Independence.

News Summary                                                            

  • Prime Minister Modi participated in the Grand Finale marking the culmination of Ujjwal Bharat, Ujjwal Bhavishya – Power @2047 through video conferencing.

Key highlights of the speech made by PM

  • Urged State governments to clear power sector companies' dues
    • PM Modi asked the State governments to clear power sector companies' dues which are estimated at around ₹2.5 lakh crore.
    • He highlighted that the State governments are yet to clear subsidy commitments amounting to ₹75,000 crore to power companies.
  • Highlighted achievements in power sector
    • The Prime Minister said that during the last eight years, about 1,70,000 MW of electricity generation capacity has been added.
    • He also added that India is among the top 4-5 countries of the world in terms of installed solar capacity and also has one of the world's largest solar plants.

Key initiatives launched by PM

  • Foundation stone of many projects laid
    • 735 MW Nokh solar project in Rajasthan,
    • Green Hydrogen Mobility Project (for vehicles) in Leh
    • Kawas Green Hydrogen Blending with Natural Gas project in Gujarat.
    • He inaugurated the 100 MW Ramagundam Floating Solar Project in Telangana and the 92 MW Kayamkulam Floating Solar Project in Kerala.
  • National Solar rooftop portal launched
    • The estimated capacity under the national solar rooftop program is 4000 MW.
    • This portal will enable online tracking of the process of installation of rooftop solar plants.
    • It will track the process starting from registering the applications to release of subsidy in residential consumers’ bank accounts after installation and inspection of the plant.
  • Launched the Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme
    • With an outlay of over Rs 3 lakh crore over a period of five years from FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26, the scheme aims to provide financial assistance to DISCOMs for modernization and strengthening of distribution infrastructure.
    • It also aims to reduce the AT&C losses to pan-India levels of 12% to 15% and ACS-ARR gap to zero by 2024-25.
      • AT&C loss is the sum total of technical and commercial losses and shortage due to non-realization of billed amount.
      • ACS-ARR gap is the gap between average cost of supply (ACS) and average revenue realised (ARR)
    • The scheme aims to achieve this target by improving the operational efficiencies and financial sustainability of all state-sector DISCOMs and power departments.




July 30, 2022

Mains Article
30 Jul 2022

MiG-21s to be grounded by ’25, starting this Sept

In News:

  • A MiG-21 Bison aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in Barmer, Rajasthan, on July 28th, killing the two pilots aboard the trainer version of the fighter aircraft.

What’s in today’s article:

  • About MiG-21 aircraft (History, Specifications, crash incidents, etc.)
  • Reasons behind frequent crash

MiG-21 aircraft


  • The MiG-21 is India’s longest-serving fighter plane. It was designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau (OKB) of the erstwhile Soviet Union.
  • The Soviet Union was willing to sell this fighter aircraft to India on extremely favourable terms and even agreed for licensed production by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • The 1962 war with China and growing hostility from Pakistan had lent urgency to efforts to rapidly scale up India’s military capability.
  • India got its first single-engine MiG-21 in 1963, and progressively inducted 874 variants of the Soviet-origin supersonic fighters.
  • The plane has seen several updates and modifications since then.

About MiG-21 Bison:

  • The MiG-21 Bison is an upgraded version of the MiG-21bis which had been first inducted into service in 1976.
    • The MiG-21 FL, which was an older version of the aircraft and which joined service in 1963, had been phased out of IAF in 2013.
  • The IAF received the first upgraded MiG-21 Bison in 2001 and the last of these upgraded fighters was received in 2008.

How many MiG-21 Bison aircraft are in IAF?

  • There are four squadrons of MiG-21 Bison aircraft currently in service in the IAF with each squadron comprising 16-18 aircraft, including two trainer versions.
  • These four squadrons will retire from service, one by one, by the end of 2025.

How many MiG-21 Bison aircraft have crashed recently?

  • Over 400 MiG-21 aircraft of the Indian Air Force have crashed in the last 60 years, claiming the lives of over 200 pilots and 60 civilians.
  • There have been six MiG-21 Bison crashes in the last 20 months, with five crashes in 2021 and one in 2022.

Why are they still in service?

  • The Indian Air Force had to keep MiGs longer in service due to delays in induction of new fighter aircraft.
  • Due to delays, the IAF is facing a crunch to maintain a certain squadron strength to guard India's skies.
  • Delays in the indigenous Tejas programme, political controversy surrounding the Rafael deal and slow-paced procurement procedure meant that MiGs had to be kept in service longer than usual.

Reasons behind frequent crash of MiG-21 aircraft:

  • Single-engine aircraft
    • The MiG-21 is a single engine fighter, and that could also be a cause for some of the crashes.
    • When a single engine fighter jet loses that engine, it needs to be re-started.
    • More often than not it re-lights but it takes a finite amount of time to re-light any engine. Hence, if one is below the minimum height, he/she has to leave the aircraft.
  • Poor engine quality
    • MiG-21 has been upgraded dozens of times since its induction into the Indian Air Force.
    • However, despite such upgrades, its engine could not be improved.
    • Most countries including Russia itself have already retired the MiG-21, but India is still using it.
  • Lack of alternatives
    • One of the reasons for the large number of crashes of MiG-21 fighter jets is the absence of any other fighter jet in the Air Force for a long time.
    • For a long time no new fighter jets were included in the Air Force, due to which the entire load remained on the MiG-21.
    • In the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, only supersonic MiG-21 fighter jets were used for pilot training.
  • Besides these reasons, high quality spare parts are easily available in the world markets for modern jets as opposed to those for the MiG-21s.


Science & Tech

Mains Article
30 Jul 2022

Regional languages essential to promote full potential of Indians: Shah

In News:

  • To mark the completion of two years of launch of National Education Policy 2020, the union Home Minister recently launched a slew of initiatives related to education and skill development.
  • At the event the Home Minister stated that promotion of regional languages is essential to unlock the full potential of Indian talent.
    • He highlighted the fact that whether it is technical education, medical education or law education, the role of mother tongue and Indian languages are important.
    • He further mentioned that there is a close relationship between research and the education system in the mother tongue.
    • One who thinks in his/her own language can do well in research because his original thinking ability is developed in his/her own language.

What’s in today’s news:

  • National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 – background, about, key takeaways
  • News Summary

National Education Policy (NEP) 2020:


  • An NEP is a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country.
  • The first education policy came in 1968 on the recommendation of the Education Commission, headed by D S Kothari.
  • The second education policy came in 1986, which was replaced by the third education policy - NEP 2020.

About NEP 2020:

  • The NEP 2020 was drafted based on the recommendations of a panel led by former ISRO chief Kasturirangan.
  • The policy is a comprehensive framework for elementary to higher education, as well as vocational training in both rural and urban India.
  • The policy aims to transform India's education system by 2040.

Key takeaways of the NEP 2020:

  • It proposes major changes including -
    • Opening up of Indian higher education to foreign universities,
    • Dismantling of the UGC and the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE),
    • Introduction of a four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate programme with multiple exit options, and
    • Discontinuation of the M Phil programme.
  • In school education, the policy focuses on -
    • Overhauling the curriculum, easier Board exams, a reduction in the syllabus to retain core essentials and thrust on experiential learning and critical thinking.
    • “5+3+3+4” design (instead of 10+2 structure), which corresponds to the age groups 3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory), 11-14 (middle) and 14-18 (secondary).
    • Teaching students (until Class 5) in their mother tongue or regional language.

News Summary:

  • Recently, Union Minister of Home Affairs participated in a ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of National Education Policy 2020.

Key Initiatives launched at the ceremony:

  • 100+ National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) aligned future skill qualifications to be developed under 6 key areas:
    • Automation in Industries (Manufacturing/Service) and Industry 4.0
    • Infrastructure Connectivity (EVs and Drones)
    • Electronics Manufacturing & VLSI
    • Technology Infrastructure including 5G & Cyber Security
    • Digital Emerging Technologies
    • Indigenous R&D
  • Vidya Amrit Portal: It is a Digital Project to scale up the micro-improvements taking place in school education in different parts of the country.
  • National Initiative for School Heads and Teachers Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA): ECCE: This is to prepare an initial cadre of high-quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Teachers in Anganwadis.
  • School Innovation Policy: National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Promotion Policy guides school education systems on various measures that may be adapted to promote a learning environment, irrespective of their age.
  • National Credit Framework (NCrF)
    • NCrF is being launched at the school level, starting from Class 5. It proposes to bring the entire education system from school onwards into the academic credit regime
    • The credit framework will give due weightage to both academic and extracurricular activities like sports, yoga and music for assessment.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
30 Jul 2022

SCO meet: EAM calls for zero tolerance on terror

In News:

  • External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar participated in the meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) – About, observers, significance
  • News Summary

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

  • SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, created in June 2001 in Shanghai (China).
  • Founding members included Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • This organization represents approximately 42% of the world’s population, 22% of its land area and 20% of global GDP.


  • Before 2021, SCO had four observer states. This included - Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia.
  • In 2021, Iran became a full member and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar were added as new observer states. Hence, currently, SCO has 6 observer states namely:
    • Afghanistan, Belarus, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar.

Significance of SCO

News Summary

  • External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar visited Tashkent (Capital of Uzbekistan) to take part in the meeting of SCO Council of Foreign Ministers.
  • The meeting discussed the preparations for the forthcoming SCO Summit of Heads of State scheduled to be held in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) on 15-16 September 2022.

Key highlights

  • India’s stand at the meeting
    • India welcomed the expansion of the SCO to include Iran next year.
    • India pushed for Chabahar port to be a conduit for trade to central Asia. It underlined the potential of the port for the SCO's economic future.
      • Chabahar Port is a seaport located in south-eastern Iran, on the Gulf of Oman.
      • This port provides India with better connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan.
      • Recently, India and Uzbekistan have agreed to do a pilot container cargo shipment from Tashkent to India.
      • This shipment would use a hybrid land-sea route via Chabahar Port.
    • EAM highlighted India's assistance to Afghanistan at the meeting. The humanitarian support includes: wheat, medicines, vaccines and clothing.
    • At the meeting, India maintained that zero tolerance for terrorism in all its manifestations is a must.
  • China’s support for the extension of CPEC into Afghanistan
    • Despite India’s reservations about involvement of third countries in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China reiterated its support for the extension of the same into Afghanistan.
  • Taliban was representing Afghanistan (observer state) at the summit
    • Indian EAM did not have a bilateral meeting with Taliban acting foreign minister, unlike his Chinese and Pakistan counterparts.
International Relations

Mains Article
30 Jul 2022

Cochin Shipyard delivers aircraft carrier to Navy

In News:

  • The Cochin Shipyard has handed over to the Navy the indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant and will likely be commissioned on August 15.
  • An aircraft carrier is a large ship that carries military aircraft and has a long, flat surface where they take off and land.

What’s in Today’s Article

  • Indigenous Aircraft Carrier - Significance, India’s earlier aircraft carriers
  • News Summary

Significance of IAC for India

  • Enable transition from Brown Water Navy to Blue Water Navy
    • A blue water navy is a navy that has the capacity to project a nation’s strength and power across the high seas.
    • A brown water navy is capable of military operations in littoral zone waters.
  • Strategic significance
    • India’s area of responsibility ranges from the east coast of Africa to the Western Pacific.
    • High percentage of India’s trade passing through the South China Sea.
    • Also, India is a dominant force in Indo-Pacific region.
    • Hence, IAC makes India a significant maritime power in the Indo-Pacific region and empowers India to counter China in the region more effectively.
      • China has two operational aircraft carriers and the third one was launched recently in June 2022.
  • India joined elite club
    • So far, only five or six nations have the capability of manufacturing an aircraft carrier.
  • Aatma Nirbhar Bharat
    • With an overall indigenous content of 76%, the aircraft carrier is a perfect example of the quest for Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.

India’s Earlier Aircraft Carriers

  • INS Vikramaditya - The Navy’s only aircraft carrier in service currently (Russian built, commissioned in 2013)
  • INS Vikrant – It was British-built HMS Hercules; Commissioned in Indian Navy in 1961. It was India’s first aircraft carrier. It played a stellar role in 1971 War with Pakistan.
  • INS Viraat - It was British-built HMS Hermes; Commissioned in Indian Navy in 1987

News Summary

  • The Indian Navy took delivery of IAC-1, the nation’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier from its manufacturer, Cochin Shipyard Ltd.
  • The carrier, after commissioning, will be called ‘Vikrant. The commissioning of this carrier is likely to take place on Independence Day.

Key highlights:

  • Features
    • The 262-metre-long carrier has a full displacement of close to 45,000 tonnes.
    • The ship would be capable of operating an air wing consisting of 30 aircraft.
    • The aircraft carrier will be initially with the western naval command.
      • The Western Naval Command is one of the three command–level formations of the Indian Navy.
      • It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • Perfect example of collaboration with private players
    • The aircraft carrier has a large number of indigenous equipment and machinery from major private players such as Kirloskar, Larsen & Toubro, etc.
    • Over 100 MSMEs were also involved in the production of this ship.
    • The indigenisation efforts have led to the development of ancillary industries besides the generation of employment opportunities.
Science & Tech

July 29, 2022

Mains Article
29 Jul 2022

India’s upcoming economic and financial hub


  • Gujarat International Finance Tech-City (GIFT City) has emerged as the country’s first Greenfield integrated city which once used to be just a barren land along the Sabarmati River.
  • It is India’s first and only International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) where banks, stock exchanges and financial services firms have set up their global operations.

About GIFT City

  • Description: GIFT City refers to the greenfield central business district and integrated hub in Gujarat with the promise of world class infrastructure to draw top global players.
    • Spread over 886 acres in Gandhinagar, GIFT City consists of a multi-service Special Economic Zone (SEZ, 261 acres), which houses India’s first IFSC and an exclusive Domestic Tariff Area (DTA, 625 acres).
  • Demarcation: The plan is to develop 62 million sq ft of built-up area, consisting of commercial space (67 per cent), residential space (22 per cent) and social space of 11 per cent.
  • Evolution: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, back in 2007 as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, conceptualised the idea of GIFT City.
  • Long-term vision: PM’s vision was to create a globally-benchmarked financial centre that can compete with the renowned financial centres in London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Singapore and Dubai.
  • Services offered in GIFT City: GIFT IFSC provides services related to capital markets, offshore insurance, offshore banking and asset management, aircraft and ship leasing, and ancillary services.
    • It also does merger and acquisition activities among trans-national corporations, risk management operations such as insurance and reinsurance, Global tax management and cross-border tax liability optimization etc.
    • It houses two international stock exchanges with a combined average daily trading volume of over $11 billion.
    • An international bullion exchange is also going to be launched on 29th July 2022.
  • Smart infrastructure: The social infrastructure in the city includes a school, medical facilities, a proposed hospital, GIFT City business club with indoor and outdoor sports facilities.
    • It also includes integrated well-planned residential housing projects making GIFT City a truly “Walk to Work” City.
    • It is the country's primary functional smart city with a sustainable master layout and world-class infrastructure.

About India's International Bullion Exchange (IIBX)

  • About bullion exchange: A bullion exchange allows buyers and sellers to trade gold and silver as well as associated derivatives.
  • IIBX description: IIBX will provide for efficient price discovery with assurance of responsible sourcing and quality. It has not only enrolled jewellers to trade on the exchange, but has also set up necessary infrastructure to store physical gold and silver.
  • Import gateway: The IIBX shall be the Gateway for Bullion Imports into India
  • Regulator: International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) is the regulator of IIBX.
  • Significance of IIBX: It offers a diversified portfolio of products and technology services at a cost which is far more competitive than the Indian exchanges as well as other global exchanges in Hong Kong Singapore, Dubai, London and New York.
    • It will give impetus to financialization of gold across the country and will also empower India to gain its rightful place at the global bullion market.
    • With the launch of IIBX, India would be able to affect international bullion prices as a principal consumer.

Need for GIFT City

  • Significance: India being one of the fastest-growing economies in the world needs to expand its economic and strategic activities globally through GIFT City.
  • Develop Indian Financial markets: IFSC in GIFT City would provide Indian corporations with easier access to global financial markets and would also complement and promote further development of financial markets in India.
    • It thus enables bringing back the financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centres by Indian corporate entities and overseas branches/subsidiaries of financial institutions (FIs) to India.
  • Promote business sentiments: The pro-business regulatory regime and a conducive ecosystem have made GIFT City an ideal place for investments and over 300 units are already operational in GIFT SEZ and DTA.
  • Entry of foreign universities: The Union Budget 2022 opened a new route for setting up of foreign universities in India and freeing them up of 'domestic regulations' through GIFT IFSC.
    • Many Australian, UK and US-based universities have shown an interest in establishing their presence in GIFT IFSC. This will promote 'internationalisation of higher education’ in India.

Regulatory norms in GIFT City

  • Unified regulator: IFSCA) has been established as a unified regulator with a holistic vision
    • IFSCA has been set up under the IFSCA Act, 2019.
    • Prior to the establishment of IFSCA, the domestic financial regulators, namely, RBI, SEBI, PFRDA and IRDA regulated the business in IFSC
    • IFSCA will also regulate/ recommend any other financial products, financial services, or financial institutions in an IFSC, which may be notified by the central government.
  • Dispute Resolution: Since GIFT City is a hub of international financial services, the International Arbitration Centre has also been set up for dispute resolution on the lines of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, or the London Commercial Arbitration Centre.

Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic globally, GIFT City continued to attract domestic and international players. In the years to come, GIFT City will be a force to reckon with in the field of financial technology, data security and finance.

Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
29 Jul 2022

Election Commission allows 17-year-olds to register in advance for voters’ list enrolment

In News:

  • The Election Commission of India recently announced that those over the age of 17 can now apply in advance to be enrolled in the voters' list.
  • They do not have to wait until they reach the age of 18 on January 1 of each year.
  • With this announcement, ECI has begun the process of incorporating the changes announced by the govt recently regarding electoral reforms.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Who is entitled to vote in India?
  • News Summary

Who is entitled to vote in India?

  • Part XV (Article 324-329) of the Indian Constitution consists of provisions to ensure free and fair elections in India and empowers the Parliament of India to regulate the electoral process.
  • In this regard, the Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1950 (and the Representation of the People Act, 1951).
    • The 1950 Act provides for allocation of seats and delimitation of constituencies for elections, qualifications of voters, preparation of electoral rolls.
    • The 1951 Act regulates the actual conduct of elections and by-elections.
      • It provides for the conduct of elections and offences and disputes related to elections.
      • It also deals with the registration of political parties, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of the Houses.
  • Persons entitled to vote in an election are those who are registered as voters under the provisions of the Indian Constitution and the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1950.
  • As per the Indian Constitution (under Article 326), all Indian citizens above the age of 18 years who have registered themselves as voters are eligible to vote.
  • Eligible voters have to register themselves in the constituency where they live, upon which they will be issued photo election identity cards.


  • The govt had issued four notifications to give effect to the electoral reforms enacted by Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021 (passed by the Parliament in late 2021).
  • The changes made by the notification were:
    • Voluntary Linking of voter ID with Aadhaar
      • The notification specified April 1, 2023 as the date on or before which every person whose name exists in the electoral rolls may intimate his Aadhaar number.
    • To ease the enrolment schedule for first-time voters
      • It allowed four qualifying dates in a year — January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 —for those above 18 years, to register themselves as voters.
    • Make voting by special procedure gender neutral
      • The notification replaced the word “wife” with “spouse” so as to allow woman Army officer’s husband to be enrolled as a service voter.
    • More power to Election Commission
      • It empowered EC to requisition premises for any purpose related to elections.

News Summary:

  • First-time voters can soon apply for inclusion of their names in the voter’s list even before they attain the minimum voting age of 18 years.
  • The new voters who complete 18 years on April 1, July 1 and October 1 of any given year, and not just January 1, will be eligible for enrolling as voters.
    • However, ECI has announced that all 17 years-plus youths who will be turning 18 on each of the four qualifying dates can submit their claims in advance.
      • They can start applying from the date of draft publication of electoral rolls.
    • E.g., the special summary revision with reference to January 1, 2023 as qualifying date has already been ordered.
    • Hence, under the new model, the 17-year-olds can start applying for inclusion in rolls starting November 9, 2022, the date of publication of draft rolls.

What was the earlier registration policy?

  • Earlier, the revision of electoral rolls was done with reference to January 1st.
    • The Representation of the People Act allowed voter registration for those who have attained the age of 18 only once.
    • Only those who have attained the age of 18 years as on January 1 of that year or before is eligible to be enrolled in the voters’ list.
    • Due to only one cut-off date, a person turning 18 years on January 2 cannot be registered and needs to wait for the next year
  • Now enrolment of first-time voters will be allowed four times a year. This was done by amending Section 20(6) of the RP Act.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
29 Jul 2022

Govt. worried about teen pregnancies

In News:

  • Recently, the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare released Family Planning Vision – 2030 document.

What’s in today’s article:

  • About Family Planning Partnership (London Summit, Purpose, FP2020)
  • National Family Planning Summit 2022 (Launch of FP2030 vision, Key takeaways, etc.)

Family Planning Partnership:

  • In July 2012, the London Summit on Family Planning was held to reignite the global commitment to meeting women’s unmet need for contraception.
  • The summit set a goal of reaching 120 million women and girls with modern contraceptives by 2020.
  • This summit also launched a new partnership and platform: Family Planning 2020 (FP2020).
    • FP2020 was launched as a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to decide, freely, and for themselves, whether, when, and how many children they want to have.
  • During 2012-20, India added more than 1.5 crore additional users for modern contraceptives thereby increasing the modern contraceptive use substantially.
  • After 2020, this pivotal partnership, centred solely on family planning, was extended in the form of FP2030.
    • FP2030 is the successor to FP2020.

National Family Planning Summit 2022:

  • Recently, National Family Planning Summit 2022 was organized by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • During the Summit, the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare unveiled the India Family Planning 2030 Vision document.
  • The Summit was organized to recognize the achievements of various states/UTs in family planning and create awareness about the importance of family planning.

Family Planning 2030 Commitments:

  • Priorities identified
    • Strategies to overcome teenage childbearing, lack of male participation in awareness programmes, migration and lack of access to contraceptives have been identified as priorities by the document.
  • Teenage Pregnancies –
    • The document highlights that there has been a steady decline in teenage childbearing, from 7.9% in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) to 6.8% (NFHS-5).
    • However, high teenage fertility in some areas still remains a cause of concern.
    • Over 118 districts reported high percentage of teenage pregnancies and are mostly concentrated in following states:
      • Bihar (19), West Bengal (15), Assam (13), Maharashtra (13), Jharkhand (10), Andhra Pradesh (7), and Tripura (4).
    • Additionally, over 44% of the districts in India reported high percentage of women marrying before they reach the age of 18.
  • Lack of Contraceptives –
    • Modern contraceptive use among married adolescents and young women, although increasing over time, has been rather low.
    • Lack of access to contraceptives had been identified as a priority challenge area.
  • Increased participation of Men –
    • The document added that participation of men will be encouraged in the family planning programme.
  • Population stabilization –
    • As per the document, the country’s population is expected to continue to grow until mid-century (due to population momentum).
    • However, the population growth will decline substantially.
    • The Central government had recently said in the Parliament that it sought to stabilise the population by 2045.


Social Issues

Mains Article
29 Jul 2022

UNSC condemns Myanmar executions

In News:

  • The Security Council released a statement condemning the executions and calling for the immediate release of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • This statement highlights a rare consensus on the post-coup crisis in Myanmar.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • Myanmar Coup – About, military constitution of Myanmar
  • News Summary

Myanmar Coup

  • In February 2021, Myanmar's military had seized power after detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders.
  • Army seized control following a general election in which Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide (80% votes)-even better than in 2015.
  • Military alleged that the recent landslide election win by NLD was marred by fraud.
  • In the past, Myanmar was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011. However, in 2011, a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule.
    • Myanmar, under military government, drafted a constitution in 2008 which formed the basis of power transition in 2011

Myanmar’s military Constitution

  • Myanmar’s constitution, farmed under the military government, ensures role and supremacy of military in national affairs.
  • Under its provisions, the military reserves for itself 25% of seats in both Houses of Parliament, to which it appoints serving military officials.
  • The constitution allows formation of a political party which is proxy to the military. In other words, indirectly, Military can contest election in Myanmar.
    • Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in Myanmar is backed by military.
  • Article 417 of Myanmar Constitution allows the military to take control over the nation in times of emergency. This clause is often termed as coup mechanism in waiting.


  • Recently, Myanmar’s military announced that it had executed four pro-democracy activists and political prisoners.
  • Out of the four persons executed, two were leading political leaders who opposed the junta. These two were executed citing counterterrorism charges.
    • Two other people were executed after they were convicted of killing a woman who they reportedly thought was a military informer.
  • The political executions of these activists were the first in many decades for Myanmar.
  • Experts believe that, through these executions, the military wants to send a message to other citizens – and to the world – that it is in charge.

News Summary

  • In a rare consensus on the post-coup crisis, the UN Security Council has condemned the Myanmar junta’s execution of four prisoners.
  • The statement was endorsed by Russia and China — the junta’s two major allies that have previously shielded it at the UN — as well as neighbouring India.

India’s stand on the execution

  • India expressed deep concern over the execution of four pro-democracy activists by Myanmar's military government.
  • It asserted that the rule of law and democratic process must be upheld in the country.
  • Many critics say that the execution has met with strong objection by the international community. However, India has so far said it is concerned about the situation in Myanmar.

Why India is careful in reacting to this situation?

  • India is in the process of establishing ties with the Myanmar junta. Criticising the junta will only push Myanmar closer to China.
  • Myanmar is strategically located with a strong China influence as it has invested heavily in infrastructure projects.
  • Also, Myanmar is geographically significant for India as it shares border with north eastern states.
  • Myanmar is the only ASEAN country adjoining India and is therefore an important gateway to South East Asia.
  • Myanmar is a key component of India’s ambitions at bridging South Asia and South-East Asia through BIMSTEC.
International Relations

Mains Article
29 Jul 2022

Suspension of MPs: the rules, and the powers of presiding officers

In News:

  • Over this week, the two Houses of Parliament have suspended 27 MPs (23 from the Rajya Sabha and 4 from the Lok Sabha MPs)
  • The Rajya Sabha suspensions are for the remaining part of this week, and those from Lok Sabha are for the rest of the session.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • Suspension of MPs – About, corresponding rules, court’s intervention
  • Disruption of Parliament – About, reasons, suspension as a solution

Suspension of MPs

  • It is the role and duty of the Presiding Officer — Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha — to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly.
  • In order to ensure that proceedings are conducted in the proper manner, the Speaker/ Chairman is empowered to force a Member to withdraw from the House.

Rules under which the Presiding Officer/Chairman acts

  • For Lok Sabha
    • Rule Number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business
      • It empowers presiding officers to direct an MP to withdraw from the House for any disorderly conduct.
      • This rule says that any Member so ordered to withdraw shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.
    • Rules 374 and 374A - To deal with more recalcitrant (uncooperative)
      • Rule 374 empowers the Presiding officers to name the legislators if the MP continues disrupting the House even after repeated warnings.
      • After that, the House can move a motion to suspend the MP for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session
      • Rule 374A was incorporated in the Rule Book in December 2001. The intention was to circumvent the necessity of adopting a motion for suspension.
        • Under this rule, the Speaker can name an MP, who shall then automatically stand suspended for five days or the remaining part of the session, whichever is less.
        • Provided that the House may, at any time, on a motion being made, resolve that such suspension be terminated.
  • For Rajya Sabha
    • Rule 255 of the Rule Book of Rajya Sabha
      • It empowers the Chairman of Rajya Sabha to direct any Member to withdraw immediately from the House for any disorderly conduct.
    • Rule 256
      • This rule empowers the Chairman to name the members who persistently disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council.
      • After that, the House may adopt a motion suspending the Member for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
    • It should be noted that, unlike Lok Sabha (under rule 374A), Rajya Sabha can not suspend its members without passing a motion for the same.

Can courts intervene in a matter of suspension of MPs?

  • Article 122 of the Indian Constitution says parliamentary proceedings cannot be questioned before a court.
  • In some cases, however, courts have intervened in the procedural functioning of legislatures.
  • For example, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly passed a resolution in its 2021 Monsoon Session suspending 12 BJP MLAs for a year.
  • The matter came before the Supreme Court, which held that the resolution was ineffective in law beyond the remainder of the Monsoon Session.

Disruption of Parliament

  • Parliament’s job of conducting discussion on pressing issues gets affected by these disruptions.
  • As per the PRS report, the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-19) lost 16% of its scheduled time to disruptions.

Terms of suspension

  • The maximum period of suspension is for the remainder of the session.
  • Suspended members cannot enter the chamber or attend the meetings of the committees.
  • He will not be eligible to give notice for discussion or submission.
  • He loses the right to get a reply to his questions

Reasons behind the disruptions

  • Over the years, the political analysts and experts have discussed and identified four broad reasons leading to disorder in legislatures. These are:
    • The lack of time available to MPs for raising important matters;
    • The unresponsive attitude of the government and retaliatory posture by Treasury benches;
    • Deliberate disruption by parties for political or publicity purposes; and
    • The absence of prompt action against MPs disrupting parliamentary proceedings.

Suspending MPs as solution to this issue

  • In order to address the issue, the presiding officers are using the tool of suspension to take prompt action against MPs disrupting the proceedings.
  • However, every instance of suspension of an MP triggers strong sentiments on both sides.
    • The ruling party of the day invariably insists on the maintenance of discipline, while opposition insists on its right to protest.
  • Hence, experts are of the opinion that a balance has to be struck, and the solution to unruly behaviour has to be long-term and consistent with democratic values.
Polity & Governance

July 28, 2022

Mains Article
28 Jul 2022

Lion’s future, cheetah’s past


  • Four male and four female African cheetahs will be imported from Namibia, and another 12 from South Africa, starting in August 2022.
  • These cheetahs are meant for soft release in a compartmentalised enclosure (500 hectare) ready at Kuno National Park (carrying capacity of 21 cheetahs) in Madhya Pradesh to establish the cheetah into its “historical range”.
  • Recently, the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has also launched the ‘Action Plan for Introduction of Cheetah in India’ under which 50 of these big cats will be introduced in the next five years, with help from the Wildlife Institute of India and the Wildlife Trust of India.


  • In May 2012, the Supreme Court had stalled the plan to initiate the foreign cheetahs into the Palpur Kino sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh citing following reasons:
    • Cheetahs may come into conflict with a parallel and a much-delayed project to reintroduce lions into the same sanctuary.
    • Whether the African cheetahs would find the sanctuary a favourable clime as far as abundance of prey is concerned.
  • In 2021, the Supreme Courtfinally lifted its seven-year-long stay to introduce African Cheetahs from Namibia into the Indian habitat.

Few Facts

  • The cheetah is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.
  • Namibia has the world’s largest population of cheetahs. The cheetah is also the world’s fastest land mammal that lives in Africa and Asia.
  • In 1952, the Indian government officially declared the Cheetah extinct in the country.
  • The cheetah is the only large carnivore to have gone extinct in India, primarily due to hunting and habitat loss.
  • The Asiatic cheetah is a critically endangered species surviving only in Iran and African Cheetah is vulnerable on IUCN Red List.

Target milestones

  • Short-term target: If all goes well, the cheetah population should reach its limit of 21 within Kuno in about 15 years.
  • Long-term vision: Once the greater Kuno landscape is secured and restored, the largest population is projected to go up to 36 cheetahs in 30-40 years.
  • Small cheetah reserves: During this period, a few other smaller cheetah reserves will be created in Rajasthan and elsewhere in MP.
  • New supply: For at least five years and up to 10 years, fresh supply of cheetahs will continue from Africa.

Mode of introduction

  • Phased releases: Once cheetahs arrive in Kuno, the plan is to keep male coalitions (groups) and individual females in separate but adjoining compartments “so that they are able to know each other” before release.
  • Strategy of cold release: Under this, the cheetahs would be kept in an enclosure called a boma and prey will be released into this enclosure for cheetahs to catch. This will ensure that the animals get accustomed to hunting Indian prey species before their release.
  • Tracking: Radio-collared male coalitions will be released first and females will be released 1-4 weeks after the males, depending on how the males settle down in the new environment.
  • Unsuited habitat: If any animal tends to get into an undesirable environment, it will be brought back.
  • Avoiding man-animal conflict: The hard boundaries of Kuno National Park adjoining human habitation will be secured through proper fencing, if needed, at least during the initial years.

Concerns of Cheetah introduction project

  • Remote patches: The project’s Population Viability Analysis has shown “high probability of long-term cheetah persistence” within populations that exceed 50
    • Hence, creating and maintaining a few small “island populations” is not quite the same as the popular idea of bringing back the cheetah that once roamed free in the Indian wild.
  • Inter-connectedness: The biggest challenge facing conservation in India is how to maintain habitat connectivity that keeps meta-populations self-sufficient (genetically viable) to perform their ecological roles.
  • Human interference: The model that will depend on human intervention for survival effectively reduces protected areas to glorified open zoos.
  • Exotic species: In the umbrella-approach of conservation, multiple species in a forest (tiger reserve, for instance) are protected in the name of a flagship species (i.e. tiger).
    • However, there has been no justification, though, as to why one must introduce an exotic replacement for an extinct species to save indigenous species.
  • Inter-species conflict: The cheetah project also promises to benefit endangered grassland species, such as the endangered Indian wolf and the near-extinct great Indian bustard (GIB). However, there are a few contradictions in this approach as follows:
    • Wolves, for example, are the keystone species in Nauradehi sanctuary (MP) and would have to compete with cheetahs.
    • The majestic GIB is a potential prey for the cheetah. The project excluded Jaisalmer’s Desert National Park because “putting the cheetah in with the bustard cannot be contemplated at all, because of the threat to the most gravely endangered bird.
  • Kuno’s existing leopard population could pose a threat to cheetah cubs.
  • Misplaced conservation priorities: The move to introduce Cheetah and not lion in Kuno National park is not about competing interests of two wild species but showcase India’s distorted conservation priorities.
    • Critics caution that India’s conservation priority should be saving what can still be saved and the longing to relive the cheetah’s past should not jeopardise the lion’s future.
  • Wilful Contempt: Many conservationists are agitated by what they term “wilful contempt of the Supreme Court” that in April 2013 set a six-month deadline for shifting lions to Kuno National park.
    • The Gujarat government has been blamed to refuse sharing lions even after its review and curative petitions were dismissed by the SC.

Way forward

  • The detailed analysis on animals’ lineage and condition should be checked in the host country to ensure that they are not from an excessively inbred stock and are in the ideal age group, so as to conform to the needs of a founding population.
  • As per experts, any experiment to build wild population, must have compelling conservation imperatives, such as building a backup stock of Asiatic lions, long isolated in Gir national park where epidemics or natural calamities may send them the cheetah way.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
28 Jul 2022

Google Street View comes to India, with data from local partners

In News:

  • Google has launched a 360-degree interactive panorama feature for 10 Indian cities as part of its Street View services, which is also known as Project Gullify.
  • This has been made possible by the new National Geospatial Policy 2021.
    • The policy allows local companies to collect this type of data and license it to others, making it the first country where Street View is primarily enabled by partners.

What’s in today’s article:

  • About the National Geospatial Policy (NGP) 2021
  • News Summary

The National Geospatial Policy (NGP) 2021:


  • NGP was launched by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology.
  • It provides a framework for the DST and its state and central partnering agencies (e.g., government departments, regulatory authorities, etc.) to enable access to and promote the use of geospatial data.
  • It aims to boost geospatial entrepreneurship for the socio-economic development of India.
  • It also aims to promote the use of geospatial products and services, generate useful insights from geospatial data and strengthen India's geospatial infrastructure and capabilities.

Salient features of the policy:

  • Geospatial Data Promotion and Development Committee (GDPDC):
    • A multi-disciplinary expert committee to shape the geospatial data ecosystem in India, GDPDC will replace the existing National Spatial Data Committee.
    • It will be tasked with working with the Survey of India to create a High Resolution National Topographic Database and will create "Lead Agencies" at the central and state level.
  • Functions of Lead Agencies:
    • The Lead Agencies will facilitate the implementation of the NGP.
    • These Lead Agencies will also provide sector specific knowledge.
    • It will assist in the compilation of data themes under the National Foundation Geospatial Data Asset and the National Thematic Geospatial Data Asset.
  • National Data Registry (NDR) and Geo-Platform:
    • NDR will be operated by the GDPDC, to enable access to and harnessing of geospatial data.
    • State and central level partnering agencies can provide data through Data Nodes.
    • The geospatial data, metadata and data from the State or central level agencies will be available through a Geo-Platform.
    • The GDPDC will designate a Partnering Agency to develop and operate the NDR and Geo-platform under its guidance and supervision.
  • Skilled workforce:
    • The NGP advocates for surveyor registration in order to promote the profession of surveying, with professional standards and accreditation comparable to that of medical and legal professionals.
    • Furthermore, it proposes that the National Skill Development Council and the geospatial industry collaborate to develop a National Skills Qualification Framework and, ultimately, a Geospatial Sector Skill Council.

News Summary:

  • About Google Street View:
    • In collaboration with Tech Mahindra and Mumbai based Genesys International, Google has launched its 'Street View' experience in India.
      • This project was relaunched a decade after it was barred from collecting data for its Street View services.
    • Called Project Gullify, Street View will begin in 10 Indian cities (including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, etc.).
    • From now, it will be available on Google Maps, with new imagery licensed from local partners. The clarity brought about by the new NGP enabled the launch.
      • The policy requires that all data be collected by local entities. As a result, the partners are the ones who collect and own the data.
      • The policy even specifies areas where data can be collected and which cannot, such as government, defense and military areas.
  • Significance:
    • Because of its integration with Google Maps, Street View is expected to have a much greater impact, assisting users in better understanding road conditions and discovering local businesses.
    • Google Maps has also announced the addition of speed limit data for Bengaluru and Chandigarh, as well as road congestion data for 9 cities.
    • It is also developing the environmental insights explorer tool, which will allow planners to better understand how to reduce emissions in cities by measuring emissions based on traffic patterns.
    • In a few cities, it will also begin to display localised street-level Air Quality Index (AQI) numbers.
    • This data will aid in infrastructure planning and will spark new use cases, such as the creation of base data for autonomous vehicles in India.
Science & Tech

Mains Article
28 Jul 2022

Over 35.5% kids stunted, govt releases target to curb malnutrition

In News:

  • Union Minister for Women and Child Development informed the Rajya Sabha that the Central government aims to reduce stunting and under-nutrition (underweight prevalence) among children under 6 years by 2% per annum.

What’s in today’s article:

  • National Family Health Survey – About, NFHS-5 Highlights
  • News Summary

National Family Health Survey (NFHS):

  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a large-scale, multi-round survey conducted in a representative sample of households throughout India.
  • The first National Family Health Survey (NFHS-1) was conducted in 1992-93. The fifth round (NFHS-5) of the survey was conducted in 2019-21.
  • The main objective of the NFHS has been to provide reliable and comparable data relating to health and family welfare and other emerging areas in India.
  • All the rounds of NFHS have been conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, as the national nodal agency.
  • Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

Major Highlights of NFHS-5:

  • The report comprises of detailed information on key domains of population, such as:
    • health and family welfare; fertility; family planning; infant and child mortality; maternal and child health; nutrition and anaemia; morbidity and healthcare; women’s empowerment etc.
  • Key results from NFHS-5
    • The Total Fertility Rates (TFR), an average number of children per women, has further declined from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level between NFHS-4 & 5.
    • Overall Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has increased substantially from 54% to 67% in the country.
    • Institutional Births have increased substantially from 79 percent to 89 percent in India.
    • Stunting has reduced from 38.4% to 35.5%, wasting from 21.0% to 19.3% and underweight prevalence is down from 35.8% to 32.1%, according to the data.
      • Stunting is defined as low height-for-age.
      • Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height.
    • Women (15-49 years) whose BMI is below normal has reduced from 22.9% in NFHS-4 to 18.7% in NFHS-5.
      • Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.

News Summary:

  • Union Minister Smriti Irani mentioned in the Rajya Sabha that the Central government aims at lowering stunting and under-nutrition (underweight prevalence) amongst youngsters below 6 years by 2% each year.
  • The Union Minister stated that the government aims to reduce:
    • low birth weight by 2% per annum, and
    • Anaemia among children between six and 59 months, as well as women and adolescent girls (15 to 49 years), by 3% per annum.
      • Anaemia is a medical condition in which the blood doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells.
  • The Union Minister also highlighted data w.r.t. NFHS-5 –
    • Meghalaya has the highest number of stunted children (46.5%), followed by Bihar (42.9%).
    • Maharashtra has 25.6% wasted children (weight for height) — the highest — followed by Gujarat (25.1%).
    • Jharkhand has the highest percentage of women (26%), between 15 and 49 years, who have a below-normal Body Mass Index (BMI).
Social Issues

Mains Article
28 Jul 2022

Cash Incentives To Tackle Farm Fires

In News:

  • The Punjab government has proposed the Air Quality Commission to provide a cash incentive of Rs 2,500 per acre to farmers for not burning stubble.

What’s in Today’s Article

  • Stubble Burning – Reasons for its prevalence, Major States practicing it, Impact of stubble burning, efforts to address the issue, suggestions
  • News Summary

Why Farmers opt for Stubble Burning?

  • Rice and wheat straws left in the field, after combine harvesting, are generally burnt by the farmers to facilitate seed bed preparation and seeding.
  • Farmers find this method as quick and cheap compared to other practices for crop residue management.
  • Since input costs of farming is going up day by day, farmers are not willing to further invest in equipments useful for crop residue management.
    • Happy Seeder (a tractor-operated machine for in-situ management of paddy stubble) continues to be an expensive method for majority of farmers.

Areas where this practice is rampant

  • Burning of agricultural residue is done on a large-scale basis in states such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and National Capital Region of Delhi.
  • This is prevalent in other states too. This includes: Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal etc.

Impact Of Agriculture Fire

  • Environmental Pollution
    • Pollutants from these fires spread across the region, triggering smog and extreme air quality situations.
    • An increase in the concentration of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10 in the atmosphere is observed in north India in October-November
  • Harmful to the health of soil
    • Burning of crop residues removes huge amount of nutrient & organic carbon content from the soil.

Steps Taken by the government to tackle this issue

  • Taken by Centre
    • A Central Sector Scheme on ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanisation for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi’ was approved for the period from 2018-19 to 2019-20. This Scheme was further extended
    • Farmers are being provided 50% of the cost of machinery/equipment as financial assistance for the purchase of such machinery.
    • Over the last 3 years, the Centre has been heavily subsidizing various agriculture machines.
    • Profit from the left-over biomass is shared with farmers.
  • Pusa Decomposer by Indian Agricultural research Institute (IARI)
    • The Pusa decomposer is a bio-enzyme developed by the IARI to decompose crop residue.
    • It decomposes stubble within 20-25 days after spraying and turn it into manure, improving the soil quality.
  • Taken by State Governments and Other agencies
    • Sensitising farmers on healthier practices.
    • Recently Punjab government decided to give incentives to industries which install paddy-straw-fired boilers.
    • It also decided to provide non-fiscal incentives to these industries in terms of availability of Panchayat land for storage of paddy straw with lease agreement upto 33 years.

Way Forward:

  • Creation of markets for crop residue-based briquettes (a compressed block of coal dust or other combustible biomass material).
  • Nearby thermal power plants must mandatorily undertake co-firing of crop residues with coal.
  • A special credit line should be established for financing farm equipment and working capital for private sector participation.
  • Alternate beneficial use of crop residues must be promoted.
    • These include: compost production, bioenergy production, biochar production, in pulp and paper industry etc.
  • There is a huge potential to convert crop residues and food/ plant wastes into bio-fuel. Government should start incentivising such

News Summary

  • As per the proposal sent to Air Quality Commission, the farmers will be provided cash incentive of Rs 2,500 per acre for not burning their paddy stubble. They are free to use technology of their choice.
  • Punjab government will give Rs 500, the Delhi government will give Rs 500 and the Central government will give Rs 1,500.
  • This proposal will be implemented only after it gets the approval from the Air Quality Commission.
Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
28 Jul 2022

SC upholds powers of arrest, raid under PMLA

In News:

  • The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, as amended from time to time.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
  • Enforcement Directorate (ED)
  • News Summary


  • The amendments were introduced to the 2002 Act by way of Finance Acts. 240 petitions were filed against the amendments.
  • These petitioners claimed that these amendments would violate personal liberty, procedures of law and the constitutional mandate.
  • They claimed that the process itself was the punishment.
  • The current judgement of SC came in response to these petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the PMLA.

Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002

  • PMLA was enacted to curb money laundering and to provide for seizure of property derived from money-laundering.
  • The act has undergone various critical changes from time to time in order to give itself more strength and meaning. The latest amendment was done in 2019
    • E.g., the definition of Money Laundering under the act was broadened via amendments done in 2012 and again in 2019.

Enforcement Directorate (ED):

  • It was established in the year 1956 as an ‘Enforcement Unit’ under the Department of Economic Affairs.
  • Later, in 1957, this Unit was renamed as ‘Enforcement Directorate’.
  • Presently, it is under the administrative control of the Department of Revenue (Ministry of Finance) for operational purposes.
  • ED is responsible for enforcement of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA), and certain provisions under the PMLA.
  • ED has the power to attach the asset of culprits found guilty of the violation of FEMA.
  • It has also been empowered to undertake, search, seizure, arrest, prosecution action, and survey, etc. against the offences committed under PMLA.

News Summary

  • SC upheld the core amendments made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
  • These amendments gave the government and the ED virtually unbridled powers which included the power of summons, arrest, and raids.
  • It also made bail nearly impossible while shifting the burden of proof of innocence on to the accused rather than the prosecution.

Key highlights of the judgement

  • Money laundering is a heinous offence which is against the sovereignty and integrity of the country. It is no less a heinous offence than the offence of terrorism.
    • Hence, the court upheld the quantum of punishment as mentioned in the act.
      • The court was also of the view that the quantum of sentence is a matter of legislative policy.
  • PMLA is a law against the scourge of money laundering
    • SC held that PMLA has not been enacted as a tool to be wielded against rival politicians and dissenters.
    • It is a law which was enacted as a result of international commitment.
  • On the issue of introduction of the amendments through Money Bills
    • The SC held that this issue would be separately examined by a larger Bench of the apex court.
  • SC order upheld ED’s power to seize & attach properties under Section 5 of the Act.
    • The value of assets attached by the ED until March 31, 2022, stood at over Rs 1 lakh crore.
    • An unfavourable verdict would have resulted in the release of the assets in question.
    • Also, the ED would have been stripped of the power to carry out similar seizures as proceeds of crime.
  • On not providing ECIR to the accused
    • SC held that it was not mandatory for the ED to provide a copy of Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) to the accused.
      • ECIR is an ED document which is widely seen as similar to the police first information report (FIR).
    • SC was also of the view that it is enough if the agency disclosed the grounds of arrest at the time of arrest.
  • SC Validates stringent bail conditions under PMLA
    • The judgment upheld the twin conditions for bail in Section 45 of the Act.
      • Section 45 of the PMLA made offences to be cognizable and non-bailable and no person accused of an offence shall be released on bail or on his own bond unless:
        • Prosecutor is given opportunity to oppose the bail application
        • There are reasonable grounds for believing that he is not guilty of such offence and that he is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.
    • These twin conditions were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2017 but revived by Parliament by way of an amendment in 2018.
  • On the validity of statements recorded during an inquiry
    • ED, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials, and not police, statements’ recorded during an inquiry are valid evidence.
  • On the reversal of usual burden of proof in criminal law under the PMLA
    • Section 24 of PMLA reverses the usual burden of proof in criminal law.
    • In a PMLA case, the judge must assume that the accused person is guilty until he disproves it. The court found this provision valid.
Polity & Governance

July 27, 2022

Mains Article
27 Jul 2022

The latest guidelines on arrests and bail orders


  • Recently Supreme Court of India in Satender Kumar Antil vs CBI laid down fresh guidelines on arrests in order to have strict compliance with the provisions of Section 41 & 41A of CrPC, 1973.
  • The Bench further said that the courts will have to satisfy themselves on the compliance of Section 41 and 41A. Any non-compliance would entitle the accused for grant of bail.
  • The Court has also emphasised upon separate legislation on the law relating to bail amid concerns of delay in bails and the plight of undertrial
  • The court in recent judgment linked the idea of indiscriminate arrests to magistrates ignoring the rule of “bail, not jail” to a colonial mindset.

About Sections 41 and 41A of CrPC

  • Section 41 of the Code provides for the circumstances in which arrest can be made by the police without a warrant and mandates for reasons to be recorded in writing for every arrest and non-arrest.
  • Section 41A of the Code provides for the requirement of a notice to be sent by the investigating agencies before making an arrest in certain conditions prescribed by the Code.

Meaning of Bail

  • Bail refers to the temporary release of an accused person awaiting trial, sometimes on condition that a sum of money is lodged to guarantee their appearance in court.
  • Bail in CrPC: The CrPC does not define the word bail but only categories offences under the IPC as ‘bailable’ and ‘non-bailable’.
    • CrPC empowers magistrates to grant bail for bailable offences as a matter of right.
    • Non-bailable offences are cognisable, which enables the police officer to arrest without a warrant and magistrate in such cases would determine if the accused is fit to be released on bail.

Types of Bail in India

  • Regular Bail: It is generally granted to a person who has been arrested or is in police custody.
  • Interim Bail: This type of bail is granted for a short period of time and it is granted before the hearing for the grant of regular bail or anticipatory bail.
  • Anticipatory Bail: It is granted either by session court or High Court. An application for the grant of anticipatory bail can be filed by the person who discerns that he may be arrested by the police for a non- bailable offence.


Supreme Court earlier observations related to arrest

  • Joginder Kumar vs state of UP(1994) verdict: The Court had stated that “arrest and detention in police lock-up of a person can cause incalculable harm to the reputation and self-esteem of a person”
  • Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar (2014): The apex Court observed that “arrest brings humiliation, curtails freedom and cast scars forever”.
  • Satender Kumar Antil vs CBI (2022): In the recent case, the Court has issued specific directions and has also called for a compliance report related to Section 41 and 41A of CrPC.

Latest SC guidelines with respect to bail

  • Specific legislation: Court pointed out that the Government of India may consider the introduction of a separate enactment, in the nature of a Bail Act (as in United Kingdom) so as to streamline the grant of bails.
    • About UK Bail Act 1976: It prescribes the procedure for granting bail and aims to reduce the size of the inmate population.
    • The Act recognises a “general right” to be granted bail and has provisions for ensuring legal aid for defendants.
    • The Act provides specific grounds for rejecting a bail. For instance, defendant on bail would not surrender to custody, would commit an offence while on bail, or would interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice.
  • Bail application: The court held that there need not be any insistence on a bail application while considering the application under certain Sections of the Code.
    • These sections relate to various stages of a trial where a magistrate can decide on release of an accused.
    • The Supreme Court held that in these circumstances, magistrates must routinely consider granting bail, without insisting on a separate bail application.
  • Adhering to Timeline: The Court clearly directed that bail applications ought to be disposed of within a period of two weeks except if the provisions mandate otherwise.
    • The Court also held that “applications for anticipatory bail are expected to be disposed of within a period of six weeks with the exception of any intervening application.
  • Compliance with earlier order: The Court said that there needs to be a strict compliance of the mandate laid out in Siddharth vs State of U.P. 2021
    • About Siddharth case : The court stated that “merely because an arrest can be made because it is lawful does not mandate that arrest must be made.”
    • The Court further stated that in case the investigating officer believes that the accused will not abscond or disobey the summons, then until and unless he has been charged for a heinous crime, the officer is not compelled to arrest him during the investigation.
  • Directions to High Courts: The High Courts have been directed by the apex court to identify undertrial prisoners who cannot comply with bail conditions and take appropriate action in light of Section 440 of the CrPC, facilitating their release.
    • About Section 440 CrPC: The amount of bond shall not be excessive, and high courts & sessions courts may reduce the amount prescribed by the magistrate or a police officer.
    • A similar exercise has been mandated under Section 436A of CrPC, under which a person imprisoned during investigation or trial shall be released on bail on completion of half of the jail term prescribed for that offence.
  • Direction to states: The SC also directed all state governments and Union Territories to facilitate standing orders to comply with the orders and avoid indiscriminate arrests.
    • The High Court in consultation with the State governments will have to undertake an exercise on the need for special courts and vacancies in the position of Presiding Officers of the special courts will have to be filled up expeditiously.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
27 Jul 2022

Can promises of ‘irrational’ poll freebies be curbed, Supreme Court asks government

In News:

  • The Supreme Court has asked the central government to inquire with the Finance Commission of India (FCI) about a way to prevent political parties from promising and distributing irrational freebies during election campaigns.
  • The hearing was held in response to a writ petition alleging that the distribution of irrational freebies amounted to bribery and undue influence over voters.

What’s in today’s article:

  • The freebies politics in India
  • News Summary 

The freebies politics in India:


  • The term "freebies" means a dole or a gift given to the general public. However, freebies can come in a variety of forms.
  • It includes expenditure under populist pressure or with elections in mind as well as expenditure in the form of subsidies to provide relief to the population.
  • The first one may be questionable, while the second one may not be unjustified, as it may be necessary for the economy to maintain its current growth rate.

Political freebies:

  • Freebies are the best gainful methods adopted by political parties to lure voters.
  • In order to secure the vote of the people, political parties promise free electricity, free water supply, as well as gadgets such as laptops, smartphones, etc.
  • The origin of freebie culture in the country can be traced to Tamil Nadu's politics. Following that, political parties across the country used this as a method of wooing voters.
  • It is not a corrupt practice under the Representation of People Act.

Previous court ruling on freebies:

  • Promise of freebies in polls a 'serious issue' says SC (Jan, 2022):
    • The SC said political parties competing with each other to announce freebies during electioneering has the potential to upset states’ finances and vitiate free and fair polls.
    • The apex court noted that freebies culture disturbs the level playing field, by giving a candidate of a political party (which announces a large number of freebies), a winning edge in the elections.
    • The court had directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to frame guidelines in this respect.
  • Political parties shouldn't promise freebies says SC (2013):
    • The apex court observed that freebies shake the root of free and fair elections to a large degree.
    • A SC bench ruled that currently the election manifesto (containing provisions for freebies) is not governed by any law.
    • Hence, it directed the Election Commission to frame guidelines for the same in consultation with all recognised parties.
    • The apex court also said that separate legislation should be made on this issue.

News Summary:

  • According to the petitioner, the debts of the states totaled more than 70 lakh crore.
  • Hence, the petitioner appealed that the Law Commission of India be asked to examine the statutes to control the distribution of unreasonable freebies.

Response of SC

  • The SC flagged the issue as serious and asked for means to control the promise of "freebies" to lure votes.
  • The SC bench asked the central government to discuss the issue with the FCI.
  • The FCI is an independent body and when allocating funds to states, can consider the debts of individual states and determine whether freebie offers are viable for them.

Stand of Election Commission of India (ECI) on the issue of freebies

  • ECI had submitted an affidavit on this issue in the court. It highlighted the following points:
    • Whether such policies are financially viable or adversely affect the economic health of the State is a question that has to be considered and decided by the voters of the State.
    • The recognition and continuation of State and national parties were based on one touchstone electoral performance.
      • This was stated by ECI in response to the petitioner’s request of seizing the election symbols of parties which promise gifts.
    • Preventing parties from promising or distributing freebies from public funds prior to elections may result in parties losing recognition even before they demonstrate their electoral performance in elections.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
27 Jul 2022

Russia To Quit ISS After ’24

In News:

  • Russia will pull out of the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 and focus on building its own orbiting outpost.

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • International Space Station
  • News Summary

International Space Station (ISS):

  • A space station is essentially a large spacecraft that remains in low-earth orbit (LEO) for extended periods of time. It is like a large laboratory in space.
    • LEO is normally at an altitude of less than 1000 km but could be as low as 160 km above Earth.
    • ISS is placed in an orbit at an altitude of about 400 km above Earth.
  • It allows astronauts to come aboard and stay for weeks or months to carry out experiments in microgravity.
  • ISS has been known for the exemplary cooperation between the five participating space agencies that have been running it. These countries are:
    • NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).


  • The ISS has been in space since 1998. It orbits the earth at an altitude of 430 km, with an inclination of 52 degree with an orbital velocity of 7.7 km/s.
  • It circles the Earth in roughly 93 minutes, completing 15.5 orbits per day.
  • For over 20 years since its launch, humans have continuously lived and carried out scientific investigations on ISS under microgravity conditions.
  • So far, the floating laboratory has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations, carrying out cutting edge research in various disciplines.

News Summary

  • Russia will pull out of ISS after 2024 and focus on building its own orbiting outpost.
  • This was announced by Russia’s new space chief amid high tensions between Moscow and the West over the fighting in Ukraine.
  • The current international arrangements for the operation of ISS will end in 2024.
    • NASA and other international partners hope to keep the space station running until 2030.
    • However, Russians have been reluctant to make commitments beyond 2024.

Why Russia is Quitting ISS?

  • Relations between Russia and West
    • Relations between the West and Russia have been going from bad to worse.
    • The US had blamed the Kremlin for carrying out the “SolarWinds” hack and interfering in the 2020 election.
  • Russian invasion in Ukraine
    • At a time, when western countries are imposing sanctions of Russia, they cannot seem to be cooperating in space.
  • Increased US – Russia space rivalry
    • US-Russia space rivalry has also been increasing.
      • In 2020, the US accused Russia of carrying out a weapons test after a projectile was said to have been fired from a Russian satellite.
      • Russia, in return, blamed the US for treating space as a military theatre.
    • US has started to use the SpaceX system, developed by Elon Musk, for transporting astronauts to the ISS.
    • Not only this ended the reliance on Russian Soyuz passenger vehicle, the Russian Space Agency also lost a major source of income.
      • Russian transport vehicle served as the only way for transporting astronauts ever since the US retired its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.
      • NASA had been paying tens of millions of dollars per seat for rides to and from the station aboard Russian Soyuz rockets.
  • Russia’s plan to launch its own space station
    • Russia is planning to build and manage its own space station, which would be launched into orbit by 2030.
    • The station will orbit the Earth at a higher latitude, enabling it to better observe the polar regions.
    • As Russia plans to develop the Arctic Sea route as the ice melts, this station will be very helpful.
    • It would also help Russia tide over challenges associated with the ageing ISS.
      • Astronauts, presently, conduct experiments and adapt the latest technology to a hardware architecture that is over two decades old.



Science & Tech

Mains Article
27 Jul 2022

Third parties joining CPEC is inherently illegal: India

In News:

  • India has slammed China and Pakistan for seeking participation of third countries in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

What’s in Today’s Article:

  • CPEC – About, different phases of CPEC, India & CPEC
  • News Summary

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

  • During an April 2015 visit to Islamabad, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif unveiled the $46 billion CPEC.
    • CPEC quickly ballooned to $62 billion in pledges—one-fifth of Pakistan’s GDP—covering dozens of envisioned high-profile projects.
  • The corridor links Xinjiang with Gwadar, and also passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) where China is investing in a number of projects.
  • Often described as a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI), the stated goal of CPEC is:
    • to transform Pakistan’s economy by modernizing its road, rail, air, and energy transportation systems;
    • to connect the deep-sea Pakistani ports of Gwadar and Karachi to China’s Xinjiang province and beyond by overland routes.

Different phases of CPEC

  • First Phase
    • Various agreements such as energy, infrastructure, port development and the railway line construction have been signed
    • i.e., first phase focused on infrastructure creation.
  • Second Phase
    • In February 2022, industrial cooperation agreement was signed.
    • The second phase primarily revolves around Special Economic Zones development and industrialisation.

India & CPEC

  • CPEC: Threat to Sovereignty of India
    • It passes through Gilgit-Baltistan area of Kashmir which is occupied by Pakistan. The corridor enters into Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass.
    • This area is a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir and claimed by India.
    • India believes that CPEC violates the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of India.
  • CPEC and Security threat to India
    • Ever since the construction of the corridor is started, the Chinese military presence in the area is also embarked.
    • In 2017, Chinese troops marched in the parade of Pakistan’s day in Islamabad.
      • This was the first time when Chinese military took part in any parade outside its country
    • Apart from the naval vessels deployed in Pakistan, eight submarines are also delivered to it by China.
    • China is planning to build its second naval base in Gwadar port after Djibouti in 2017.


  • Recently, in July 2022, the 3rd meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) was held in virtual mode.
  • During the meeting, both China and Pakistan expressed their interest in inviting other countries to make investments in the project.
  • Although, it has not been officially revealed who might be investing in the project, analysts believe that Saudi Arabia, UAE and Germany might come on board.
    • Soon after coming to power in Afghanistan last year, the Taliban had expressed desire to join the infrastructure project.

News Summary:

  • New Delhi has opposed a bid by Beijing & Islamabad to include third countries in CPEC

India’s response

  • India opposed the move by saying that the project passes through illegally occupied Indian Territory and such a move will be illegal and unacceptable.
  • Time and again, India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK).
  • As per India, the initiatives of the connectivity must be based on the universally accepted and the other recognized international norms, transparency and equality, rule of law and must respect the sovereignty and the territorial integrity.
International Relations

Mains Article
27 Jul 2022

India adds five more Ramsar sites

In News:

  • Union Government has designated five new wetlands of international importance, taking the total number of Ramsar sites in the country to 54.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Ramsar Convention – About, Ramsar site, significance of Ramsar site designation, Ramsar sites in India
  • News Summary

Ramsar Convention:

  • The Ramsar Convention, signed in 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, is the only global treaty that focuses specifically on wetlands.
  • It is an intergovernmental treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
  • Objective: To halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve, through wise use and management, those that remain.
  • Members: 170 countries are signatories to the convention.
  • A contracting party agrees to nominate at least one wetland in its territory to the List of Wetlands of International Importance based on enumerated criteria.

Ramsar Site

  • A Ramsar Site is a wetland site designated to be of international importance.
    • Wetlands include swamps, marshes, lakes, mudflats, mangroves, coral reefs, fens, or bodies of water - whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary.
  • These wetlands are protected under strict guidelines of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
  • Ramsar convention defines wetlands as “areas of marsh, fen, peat land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six meters.”

 Significance of ‘Ramsar Site’ Designation:

  • Once designated, these sites are added to the Convention's List of Wetlands of International Importance and become known as Ramsar sites.
  • In designating a wetland as a Ramsar site, countries agree to establish and oversee a management framework aimed at conserving the wetland and ensuring its wise use.
    • Wise use under the Convention is broadly defined as maintaining the ecological character of a wetland.
  • Wetlands can be included on the List of Wetlands of International Importance because of their ecological, botanical, zoological, limnological or hydrological importance.

Ramsar Sites in India:

  • India signed the Ramsar convention in February 1982.
  • There are over 2,400 Ramsar Sites around the world covering over 2.5 million square kilometres.
  • India’s tally of 49 (without including the recently designated 5 sites) designated wetlands spread over 10,936 sq. km in 18 states and two union territories is the largest network of Ramsar Sites in South Asia.
  • United Kingdom (175) and Mexico (142) have the maximum Ramsar sites in the world. 

News Summary:

  • Union Government has designated five new wetlands of international importance, taking the total number of Ramsar sites in the country to 54.
  • These are –
    • Karikili Bird Sanctuary (Tamil Nadu)
    • Pallikaranai Marsh Reserve Forest (Tamil Nadu)
    • Pichavaram Mangrove (Tamil Nadu)
    • Sakhya Sagar (Madhya Pradesh)
      • Created from the Manier river in 1918, Sakhya Sagar is located near Madhav National Park in the Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh.
    • Pala Wetland (Mizoram)
      • According to the government of Mizoram, its geographical location falls under the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot.
      • The lake is a major component of the Palak Wildlife Sanctuary.
      • Pala wetland hosts several globally threatened species, such as sambar deer, Asiatic black bear, slow loris, and Hoolock gibbon.
      • It also provides refuge and breeding ground for IUCN red-listed critically endangered species of animals.
      • This includes yellow tortoise, Southeast Asian giant tortoise and black softshell turtle.


Environment & Ecology
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