Oct. 31, 2023

Mains Article
31 Oct 2023

Indians Are Choking on Pollution. How Can It Be Stopped?


  • In a recent report from the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), it was estimated that the average Indian is losing 5.3 years of life expectancy due to the adverse health effects of air pollution.
  • Beyond the grim statistics of early deaths, air pollution also inflicts a heavy toll in the form of disability and chronic illnesses. This is a serious impact on public health in India.

The Situation of Air Pollution in India

  • Dire Situation in Delhi - the National Capital
    • The situation is even worse in Delhi, where the estimated loss of life expectancy due to air pollution is a staggering 11.9 years.
    • Delhi consistently ranks as one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world, often sharing this unfortunate distinction with Wuhan and Lahore, which occasionally take the spotlight for their high levels of carbon pollution.
  • Widespread Problem in Indian Cities: In a 2022 list of the 50 most polluted cities put out by IQAir, a Swiss air quality information platform, 39 of them are from India.
  • Even Rural Areas Are Not Free of Air Pollution: Because of dust from unpaved roads and smoke from burnt biomass fuels, rural areas too are not free of pollution.
  • Gangetic Plains Have the Highest Pollution Levels
    • Geographically, the landlocked Indo-Gangetic plain has the highest levels of pollution as it lacks the dispersal that sea breeze brings to coastal areas.
    • The problem is worsened during the harsh winter as cold air does not flow easily to disperse pollutants.
    • When agricultural crop residue is burnt during this period or when garbage is burnt by the urban poor to keep warm, a harsh winter follows with very high AQI levels. 

Monitored Air Pollutants to Asses the Air Quality and Associated Health Concerns

  • Monitored Air Pollutants
    • There are several pollutants that are regularly monitored to assess air quality.
    • These include particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5), nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, ammonia, and lead.
    • These pollutants are known to have various health and environmental impacts.
  • Cadmium as an Air Pollutant is a toxic heavy metal that can have severe health effects when inhaled or ingested.
    • Cigarette smoke is a known source of cadmium exposure, and it contributes to the health risks associated with smoking.
  • Fine Particulate Pollution refers to particles smaller than 2.5 microns suspended in the air.
    • These fine particles are a significant concern because they can penetrate deep into the respiratory system and cause various health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular issues.
  • Ultra-Fine Particles are even smaller, with a diameter of less than 0.1 microns.
    • The ability to bypass the body's natural defence mechanisms(such as the respiratory system and potentially enter the bloodstream)makes these particles more dangerous.
    • This could lead to more widespread health issues as these particles may have systemic effects.
  • Benzene and formaldehyde from wildfire emissions can lead to cancer.
    • This is an important health concern, as exposure to these chemicals is associated with a higher risk of cancer development.
    • Wildfires are significant sources of air pollution in many regions.

Broader Health Concerns Arising from Air Pollution

  • Acute Effects
    • Acute effects like burning eyes, irritation of nose and throat, cough and feeling of choked breath are irritating.
    • Serious harm can arise such as heart attacks and brain strokes caused by atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels are disrupted by the pollutants, thereby triggering blood clots.
  • Health Concerns Due to Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution
    • It is now known that long-term exposure to air pollution can raise blood pressure (hypertension), lead to cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and peripheral vascular disease etc.
    • Inflammation stoked by air pollution can damage many organs and lower immunity to infections. PM 2.5 has been found in maternal placenta and foetal brains.
  • Effect During Pregnancy
    • Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, low birth weight babies and birth defects.
    • Children chronically exposed to air pollution have repeated respiratory infections, susceptibility to asthmatic attacks, lower learning ability and impaired physical growth.

An Analysis of India’s National Air Quality Standards with WHO Standards

  • National air quality standards in India are less rigorous than the WHO’s standards. For PM 2.5, the WHO sets a limit of 5 microns while India’s limit is 40 microns.
  • India’s AQI has six categories: Good, satisfactory, moderately polluted, poor, very poor and severe.
  • An AQI of 0-50 is rated as good, while severe represents an AQI of 401-500.
  • Delhi is presently rated as poor (201-300), with predictions of further worsening when crop burning commences.
    • Even when Delhi reports a level of 126, it far exceeds national and WHO standards.

Ways Ahead to Improve the Air Pollution Levels in India

  • Bring National Air Quality Standards Close to WHO Standards
    • It must be recognised that health harms from air pollution occur at even lower levels than the national standard.
    • Prolonged exposure to air pollution even at AQI levels declared as satisfactory will have adverse health effects.
    • India must aim to bring them as close to the WHO standards as possible.
  • Assessment of Emission Source Distribution and Population Exposure
    • Air pollution in India has diverse sources, both outdoors and indoors.
    • Outdoor pollution is primarily due to particulate matter, originating from vehicles, power plants, factories, garbage dumps, etc.
    • Diesel emissions and dust from roads and construction sites are constant contributors, while seasonal factors like stubble burning exacerbate the issue.
    • Household air pollution primarily results from the use of biomass fuels and open fire-cooking stoves.
    • Emission sources vary significantly across different regions of India and between urban and rural areas, making the problem complex and location-specific.
    • Sources of both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor) air pollution are well recognised.
    • Therefore, emission source apportionment and population exposure assessments are important for context-relevant control strategies.
  • Boader Measures Required than Mere Personal Protections
    • Personal protection measures have only a limited impact. Air purifiers work only in a closed room and may be best used to protect persons who are confined there because of severe illness or disability.
    • More than these measures, the protection will come from clean transport (like EVs), increased use of public transport in place of personal vehicles, rapid transition to renewable energy sources from fossil fuels, cessation of stubble and garbage burning, good construction practices and efficient debris disposal.
    • Household air pollution is being addressed through the substitution of biomass with natural gas and better ventilation of kitchens.


  • If a significant number of Indians are to avoid being restricted to their homes or hospitals due to the detrimental effects of outdoor air on their health, it is imperative to address ambient air pollution with heightened determination.
  • This requires proactive public policies, efficient enforcement, vigilant monitoring, and adaptable innovations that respond to consistent and accurate data streams.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
31 Oct 2023

Citizens right to know subject to reasonable restrictions - Centre to SC on electoral bonds

Why in news?

  • A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by CJI will start hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre’s electoral bonds scheme from October 31.
  • In response to these petitions, the Centre's affidavit told the apex Court that citizens' right to know is subject to reasonable restrictions.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Electoral Bonds

What are Electoral bonds (EBs)?

  • About
    • Electoral bonds are a financial instrument introduced by the Government of India in 2018 to facilitate anonymous political donations.
    • An electoral bond is a bearer instrument, like a promissory note, that is payable to the bearer on demand to donate their contributions to political parties.
  • Who are eligible to receive electoral bonds?
    • Only registered political parties are eligible to receive electoral bonds.
    • However, there are certain criteria that political parties must meet to be eligible to receive electoral bonds. These are:
      • Recognition: The political party must be registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
      • Recent Election Performance: The party must have secured at least 1% of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or State Assembly election.
  • Available denominations
    • The Government of India has specified various denominations for electoral bonds, ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1 crore.
  • Authorized bank
    • SBI is the only bank authorised to sell these bonds.
  • Working
    • A citizen of India or a body incorporated in India is eligible to purchase the bond.
    • EBs are issued/purchased for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1,00,000, Rs 10,00,000 and Rs 1,00,00,000 from the specified branches of the State Bank of India (SBI).
    • EBs have a life of only 15 days during which it can be used for making donation only to the registered political parties.
    • The bonds shall be available for purchase for a period of 10 days each in the months of January, April, July and October as may be specified by the Central Government.
    • The bond can be encashed by an eligible political party only through a designated bank account with the authorised bank.
    • The political parties have to disclose the amount to the Election Commission.

What is the Rationale behind the introduction of EB?

  • Encouraging Digital Transactions:
    • The electoral bond scheme was intended to promote a shift from cash-based political donations to digital transactions.
    • By facilitating donations through banks, the government aimed to reduce the use of unaccounted or black money in political funding.
  • Anonymity of Donors:
    • It aimed to provide anonymity to donors. The donor's name is not mentioned on the bond.
      • Donors who contribute less than Rs 20,000 to political parties through purchase of electoral bonds need not provide their identity details such as PAN, etc.
    • It was argued that this would protect individuals or entities from potential backlash or reprisals due to their political affiliations.
  • Formalizing Political Contributions:
    • The introduction of electoral bonds aimed to formalize political contributions by channelling donations through the banking system.
    • This move aimed to establish a documented trail of donations, making the process more transparent and accountable.
  • Enhancing Transparency:
    • While the donors' identities remain anonymous, the electoral bond scheme aimed to enhance transparency in political funding.
    • It does so by mandating political parties to disclose the details of electoral bond donations in their financial statements.

Criticisms of Electoral Bond

  • Lack of Transparency:
    • While the scheme requires political parties to disclose the amount of donations received through electoral bonds, the identity of the donors remains anonymous.
  • Potential for Money Laundering:
    • Critics argue that the anonymity provided by electoral bonds can be misused for money laundering or routing black money into the political system.
  • Unequal Advantage to Ruling Parties:
    • The fact that such bonds are sold via a government-owned bank (SBI) leaves the door open for the government to know exactly who is funding its opponents.
    • This, in turn, allows the possibility for the government of the day to either extort money, especially from the big companies, or victimise them for not funding the ruling party.
  • Bypassing Election Commission Scrutiny:
    • Unlike other forms of political funding, electoral bonds do not require ECI approval or verification, which can undermine the ECI's oversight role in regulating political funding and ensuring a level playing field.
  • No upper limit on funding
    • Before the electoral bonds scheme was announced, there was a cap on how much a company could donate to a political party: 7.5 per cent of the average net profits of a company in the preceding three years.
    • However, the government amended the Companies Act 2013 to remove this limit, opening the doors to unlimited funding by corporate India.
  • Concerns raised by RBI and EC
    • RBI and the ECI have raised concerns about electoral bonds. They said that electoral bonds could:
      • Increase black money circulation, money laundering, cross-border counterfeiting, and forgery;
      • Set a bad precedent by encouraging money laundering and undermining faith in Indian banknotes;
      • Erode a core principle of central banking legislation;
      • Legitimize opacity in how elections are funded;
      • Become vehicles for money laundering for shell companies and foreign donations.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
31 Oct 2023

What the rapid ice melt in West Antarctica means

Why in news?

  • According to a new study, rapid melting of West Antarctica’s ice sheet due to warm waters around it is now unavoidable, no matter how much carbon emissions are cut.
    • The study, ‘Unavoidable future increase in West Antarctic ice-shelf melting over the twenty-first century’, was published by the journal Nature last week.
  • If lost completely, the ice sheet would raise the global mean sea level by 5.3 metres or 17.4 feet.
    • If this happens, it would be a potentially devastating consequence for millions of people living in vulnerable coastal cities across the world, including in India.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Ice Sheet
  • News Summary

What is an ice sheet?

  • An ice sheet is essentially a mass of glacial ice that covers more than 50,000 square kilometres of land — roughly large enough to blanket Uttarakhand in ice.
  • There are two major ice sheets in the world today: Greenland ice sheet and Antarctica ice sheet. Together, they contain about two-thirds of all the freshwater on Earth.
  • This means that over time, when ice sheets gain mass, they contribute to a fall in global mean sea level, and when they lose mass, they contribute to a rise in global mean sea level.

How is the West Antarctic ice sheet melting?

  • There are various processes through which ice sheets melt. One of them is when warm ocean waters melt ice shelves — the edges of an ice sheet which floats on the ocean.
  • Ice shelves stabilise the land-based glaciers just behind them.
  • If an ice shelf thins or disappears, these glaciers tend to speed up, discharging more ice into the ocean and causing sea level rise.
    • Both ice shelves and ice sheets are different from sea ice, which is the free-floating ice that surrounds the polar regions.
    • Sea ice is created by sea water freezing.
  • The same process is taking place in West Antarctica. For decades, the region’s ice shelves have been depleting, glaciers have been flowing faster towards the ocean and the ice sheet has been shrinking.

News Summary: What the rapid ice melt in West Antarctica means

What are the findings of the study?

  • The study shows significant and widespread future warming of the West Antarctica Sea and increased ice shelves melting.
  • This will most likely lead to an increased sea level rise, which will affect coastal communities across the world, including in India.
    • India has a long coastline and a dense population and is therefore vulnerable to sea level rise.
    • If coastal communities cannot afford to defend against the rising seas, for example by building walls, the people would have to move elsewhere or become refugees.

Way forward

  • According to the researchers, the melting West Antarctic ice sheet is just one contributor to sea level rise, which is just one impact of climate change.
  • There are many other impacts which we can still avoid or limit: like the loss of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, or the severity of heatwaves, droughts, and extreme rainfall.

Mains Article
31 Oct 2023

Goa Maritime Conclave 2023: ‘Might is Right’ has no Place in Rule-based Maritime Order

Why in News?

  • In his keynote address at the 4th edition of the Goa Maritime Conclave, the Defence Minister of India said ‘might is right’ has no place in a ‘free, open and rule-based’ maritime order.
  • Stressing the need for establishing multi-national collaborative frameworks to effectively tackle common maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), he said a free, open and rule-based maritime order is a priority for all of us. 

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is the Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC)?
  • Key highlights of the Defence Minister of India’s Speech
  • Significance of the GMC 2023

What is the Goa Maritime Conclave (GMC)?

  • The GMC is the Indian Navy's outreach Initiative providing a multinational platform to harness the collective wisdom of practitioners of maritime security and the academia towards garnering outcome-oriented maritime thought.
    • The previous editions of the biennial event were held in 2017, 2019, and 2021.
  • The 4th edition of GMC is being held from 29-31 October by the Indian Navy under the aegis of Naval War College in Goa.
  • At the GMC-23, Admiral R Hari Kumar (Chief of the Naval Staff) would be hosting chiefs of navies/ heads of maritime forces/ senior representatives from 12 Indian Ocean littorals.
    • This includes Bangladesh, Comoros, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
  • The Defence Minister of India (Rajnath Singh) will be the Chief Guest and will deliver the keynote address.
  • The theme for this year's edition of GMC - "Maritime Security in the Indian Ocean Region: Converting Common Maritime Priorities into Collaborative Mitigating Frameworks".
  • The theme has been derived keeping in mind the necessity of synergising and collaborating efforts in the maritime domain towards achieving maritime security in the IOR.
  • As part of the conclave, visiting delegates would get an opportunity to -
    • Witness India's Indigenous shipbuilding industry at the “Make in India” exhibition and
    • Witness the indigenous warships as well as the capabilities of the Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV).

Key highlights of the Defence Minister of India’s Speech:

  • Might is right has no place in a ‘free, open and rule-based’ maritime order.
  • Adherence to international maritime laws, as enunciated in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, must be our guide.
    • UNCLOS embodies in one instrument traditional rules for the uses of the oceans and at the same time introduces new legal concepts and regimes and addresses new concerns.
    • The Convention also provides the framework for further development of specific areas of the law of the sea.
  • Narrow immediate interests may tempt us to flout or disregard the well-established international law, but doing so would lead to the breakdown of our civilised maritime relations.
  • Our common security and prosperity cannot be preserved without all of us committing to cooperatively adhering to the legitimate maritime rules of engagement.
  • Fair rules of engagement are crucial for fostering collaboration and ensuring that no single country dominates others in a hegemonic manner.
  • Our problems are common. We call them problems without a passport - piracy, drug trafficking, terrorism, arms smuggling, and to tackle such problems, we need cooperation and collaboration.
  • A multi-national collaborative effort is needed for compilation and sharing of surveillance data to tackle Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
    • It will help in identifying actors with irregular or threatening behaviour, which will have to be countered resolutely.
    • IUU fishing endangers ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries and also threatens our economic security and regional and global food security.

Significance of the GMC 2023:

  • It comes amidst growing concerns about China expanding its footprint in the Indian Ocean Region in recent times.
  • The aim of the forum is to find regional solutions to regional problems.
    • While there are larger constructs such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), BIMSTEC, sometimes at larger constructs, it is difficult to reach a consensus.
    • When the numbers are smaller, it is easier to arrive at a workable solution in a smaller time frame.
  • On climate change, the collaborative mitigation framework can involve the countries working together to reduce carbon emissions and transition to sustainable practices.
Defence & Security

Mains Article
31 Oct 2023

Commodity Outlook would Darken If West Asia Conflict Escalates: World Bank

Why in the News?

  • The World Bank has published the Commodity Markets Outlook report.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About CMO Report (Objective, Key Highlights of October edition)
  • Conclusion

Commodity Markets Outlook Report:

  • Commodity Markets Outlook report provides market analysis for major commodity groups - energy, metals, agriculture, precious metals, and fertilizers.
  • The report forecasts prices for 46 key commodities.
  • It is published by the World Bank in April and October, every year.

Key Highlights of the CMO Report (October edition):

  • Overall Outlook:
    • As per the report, the global economy is in a much better position than it was in the 1970s to cope with a major oil-price shock.
    • However, an escalation of the latest conflict in the West Asia—which comes on top of disruptions caused by the Russian-Ukraine war—could put global commodity markets into difficult situation.
    • The report provides a preliminary assessment of the potential near-term implications of the conflict in West Asia for commodity markets.
  • Commodity Prices Likely to Fall:
    • Overall commodity prices are projected to fall 4.1% next year.
    • Prices of agricultural commodities are expected to decline next year as supplies rise.
    • Prices of base metals are also projected to drop 5% in 2024.
    • Commodity prices are expected to stabilize in 2025.
  • If the Conflict Worsens in West Asia:
    • The outlook for commodity prices would darken quickly if the conflict were to escalate.
    • The effects would depend on the degree of disruption to oil supplies. In a “small disruption” scenario, the global oil supply would be reduced by 500,000 to 2 million barrels per day—roughly equivalent to the reduction seen during the Libyan civil war in 2011.
      • Under this scenario, the oil price would initially increase between 3% and 13% relative to the average for the current quarter—-to a range of $93 to $102 a barrel.
    • In a “medium disruption” scenario—roughly equivalent to the Iraq war in 2003—the global oil supply would be curtailed by 3 million to 5 million barrels per day.
      • That would drive oil prices up by 21% to 35% initially—to between $109 and $121 a barrel.
    • In a “large disruption” scenario—comparable to the Arab oil embargo in 1973— the global oil supply would shrink by 6 million to 8 million barrels per day.
      • That would drive prices up by 56% to 75% initially—to between $140 and $157 a barrel.
    • Impact on Food Security:
      • Food security is defined when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
      • At the end of 2022, more than 700 million people—nearly a tenth of the global population—were undernourished.
      • An escalation of the latest conflict would intensify food insecurity, not only within the region but also across the world.


  • The fact that the conflict has so far had only modest impacts on commodity prices may reflect the global economy’s improved ability to absorb oil price shocks.
  • Since the energy crisis of the 1970s, the report says, countries across the world have bolstered their defenses against such shocks.
  • They have reduced their dependence on oil—the amount of oil needed to generate $1 of GDP has fallen by more than half since 1970.
  • They have a more diversified base of oil exporters and expanded energy resources, including renewable sources.
  • Countries such as India, USA, China have established strategic petroleum reserves, set up arrangements for the coordination of supply, and developed futures markets to mitigate the impact of oil shortages on prices.
  • These improvements suggest that an escalation of the conflict in West Asia might have more moderate effects than would have been the case in the past.

Oct. 30, 2023

Mains Article
30 Oct 2023

How we Tame Food Inflation, And at Whose Cost


  • With state elections approaching, the central government is making significant efforts to control food price increases.
  • While the government aims to prevent inflation from becoming an issue in election campaigns, it is crucial to analyse the methods used to control food inflation and assess the impact of policies. 

The Government’s Decision to Put an MEP on the Export of Basmati Rice

  • Minimum Export Price (MEP)is the price below which an exporter is not allowed to export the commodity from India.
    • It is a kind of quantitative restriction to trade imposed in view of the rising domestic retail / wholesale price or production disruptions in the country.
  • In August, the government decided to prohibit the export of basmati rice at a price lower than USD 1,200 per tonne.
    • The government argued that the decision was to prevent potential unauthorized exports of regular white non-basmati rice disguised as premium basmati rice.
  • On an average, India has been exporting about 4.5 million tonnes (MT) a year over the last five years or so.
  • This is a premium rice consumed by the upper middle class and the rich in India, and is exported to Gulf countries, some European countries and also the US. Punjab and Haryana are the primary producers.
  • The export price normally hovers between $800 to $1,000/tonne. By putting an MEP of $1,200, practically, much of the basmati export is restricted.

Possible Implications of Putting a MEP on Exports

  • Sharp Fall in Exports of Basmati Rice: If this MEP continues India’s basmati exports this year will register a sharp fall.
  • Farmers’ Income Loss
    • In many mandis of Punjab-Haryana, traders were reluctant in buying basmati and as a result, prices for farmers have been low compared to what they were when exports were fully open.
    • So, the losers are ultimately the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, while the gainers would be the domestic upper income urban class.
  • Adverse Effect on Export Markets: It takes years to develop export markets, and by putting such a high MEP, India is basically handing over its export markets to Pakistan, who is the only other main competitor of basmati rice.

A Report on India’s Restrictive Export Policy Decisions

  • A report shows that India has often imposed export control measures during periods of high global prices.
  • During the 2007-08 and 2010-11 food price crises India banned export of rice, mostly non-basmati rice, for extended periods.
  • With global markets disrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine starting in February 2022, India initially imposed a wheat export ban, fearing domestic inflation and rising import demand from the rest of the world.
  • The restrictive export policies are not just limited to basmati rice. They cover even broken rice, non-basmati white rice, parboiled rice, either through complete export bans or export duties.
  • India’s restrictive export policy has expanded to an export duty of 40 percent on onions, and so on.

Consequences of India’s Restrictive Export Policies

  • Can Adversely Affect India’s Reputation
    • It is well known that India is the largest exporter of rice in the world accounting for about 40 per cent global exports in 2022-23.
    • Much of the non-basmati rice goes to several African countries, who pressed the panic button when India announced ban on exports of non-basmati white rice.
  • That does not give India a good image of a leader of the Global South.
  • Will Make it Difficult to Double Agri-Exports
  • With such a restrictive export policy, the task of doubling India’s agri-exports - a target set out by the government, cannot be achieved.
  • In 2013-14, India’s agri-exports touched $43.27 billion, up from $8.67 billion in 2004-05. This is almost a five-fold growth in 10 years.
  • If the same momentum had been maintained during last 10 years, agri-exports should have touched $200 billion. But it may not touch even $50 billion this year (2023-24).

Way Forward

  • Need to Revisit the MEP: For immediate relief to farmers and traders, there is a need to revisit and revise this MEP as soon as possible, preferably fixing it at $800 to $850/tonne range.
  • Formulation of a Stable Export Policy
    • Changes in export policies should not be abrupt or reactive but instead should be well-thought-out and predictable.
    • Stable policies create an environment in which both exporters and importers can make informed decisions and plan their actions accordingly.
    • The government should understand the importance of a stable export policy and not rely on knee-jerk reactions to manage country's exports.
  • Government Should Move on From Urban Consumer Bias
    • The major explanation of restriction of exports is to benefit domestic consumers but at the expense of farmers.
    • This approach exhibits a clear bias toward urban consumers and imposes a substantial hidden burden on farmers.
    • Such a strategy is undoubtedly not the ideal approach to crafting agricultural export policies.
    • If domestic consumers need to be helped, it should be through domestic income policy, targeted towards only the vulnerable sections of society.
  • Nurture Export Markets Rather than Employing Restrictive Export Policies
    • Restrictive exports policies do not appear to be a conscious decision and by formulating these restrictive policies India’s trade policymakers do not know what damage they are doing to agri-exports.
    • Export markets are premium markets and need to be developed and maintained over years.
  • Boost Investment to Make India’s Agri-Sector Competitive
    • Agriculture exports also reflect how competitive India’s agriculture as compared to the rest of the world, and how much surplus it can generate.
    • Competitiveness results primarily from increasing productivity and getting more from less.
    • It requires massive investments in agriculture R&D, seeds, irrigation, fertilisers, better farming practices including precision agriculture.
    • India’s overall investment in agriculture R&D, both of the Centre and of states together, hovers around 0.5 per cent of the agri-GDP.
    • It needs to be immediately doubled, if not tripled, if India is to become a powerhouse of agricultural production as well as agri-exports.
  • Put a Halt on Revdi Culture (Doles)
    • Populism peaks during election times that leads to more subsidies, be it a food subsidy of more than Rs 2 lakh crore for consumers or a fertiliser subsidy of another Rs 2 lakh crore for farmers.
    • On top of this, many states announce loan waivers, free power, and many other “revdis” (doles).
    • There is no dearth of money being spent on agriculture or consumers to have food security.
    • But the manner in which that money is spent is suboptimal. Achieving significant results with such poorly designed policies is quite challenging.


  • The government must start thinking whether this policy decision to restrict exports is a conscious one since the policy could have significant consequences.
  • The government must keep in mind how to tame inflation and at whose cost, while formulating polices.
  • A nation’s power will be reflected in its capacity to innovate, produce, and export to the world at competitive prices and India must rise to this challenge.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
30 Oct 2023

Developed Countries to Overshoot Emission Goals: Study

Why in the News?

  • According to a study published last week by the Council for Energy Environment and Water (CEEW), developed countries will end up emitting 38% more carbon in 2030 than they have committed to, going by current trajectories.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About the Study (Objectives, Major Findings, Significance)

About the Study:

  • Council for Energy Environment and Water (CEEW) is a Delhi-based thinktank.
  • The CEEW published a report with the objective of tracking developed countries’ Emission Trajectories.
  • The study aimed to find out whether the developed countries, responsible for over 75 per cent of historical emissions, are taking deep emission reductions at an adequate pace?
  • The study aimed to analyse the emission trajectories of developed countries, covering historic and projected emissions in the six decades spanning 1990–2050.

Major Findings of the Study:

  • The key findings of the study include:
    • By 2030, developed countries will overshoot carbon emission targets by 38 per cent.
    • Only two developed countries—Norway and Belarus—are on track to achieve their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
    • Even with post-2030 reductions, developed countries' total emissions would still threaten 1.5°C target.
  • Developed countries are projected to collectively emit around 3.7 giga tonnes extra carbon dioxide in 2030, against the reduction goals expressed in their NDCs under the 2016 Paris Agreement.
    • This represents a 38 per cent emission overshoot, with the United States, European Union, and Russia responsible for 83 per cent of this.
  • Further, only two developed countries—namely Norway and Belarus—are on track to achieve their reduction commitments by 2030.
    • The mitigation efforts of developed countries impact the carbon budget available to developing nations, which need sufficient carbon space to address their economic and social development challenges and ensure a just transition.
  • Further, currently, developed countries’ NDCs for 2030 collectively represent a 36 per cent reduction in emissions from their 2019 levels.
    • This is less than the global average of 43 per cent that is required to keep the 1.5°C target alive.

Significance of these Findings:

  • The report makes it clear that even in this critical decade (2020-30), developed countries are not projected to meet their 2030 NDC targets.
  • This failure has implications for the limited global carbon budget available now, especially for developing countries like India.
  • The projections also reveal that developed countries rely on drastically ramping up emission reductions after 2030.
    • Even if all developed countries were to reach net zero by 2050, they would require more than four times the average annual reductions they achieved from 1990 to 2020.
  • The study recommends that instead of relying on future events, developed countries should define clear year-on-year reduction plans to meet their targets in this critical decade.
  • Further, to build trust, developed countries need to be reliable and stay committed to the Paris Agreement.



Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
30 Oct 2023

The Vision India@2047: India to become $30-trillion economy by 2047

Why in News?

  • India is estimated to be a $30 trillion developed economy by 2047, preliminary results from the Centre's vision document - The Vision India@2047,which is being prepared by Niti Aayog have shown.
  • The document is likely to be released by the Indian PM after going through some fine-tuning before the draft vision document is ready by December.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • India’s Vision and Progress Towards 2047
  • What is the Current State of the Indian Economy?
  • What will be Included in the Vision India@2047?
  • Preliminary Results from the Vision India@2047
  • Challenges Ahead in Implementing the Vision India@2047

India’s Vision and Progress Towards 2047:

  • In his 2021 Independence Day speech, the Indian PM paid homage to the freedom fighters and shared his vision for Amrit Kaal and 2047, when the country would celebrate 100 years of independence.
  • He had given a call to make India a developed nation by 2047 - Viksit Bharat@2047 - and had urged CMs of states to work towards it with a Team India approach.
  • Expounding on the PM’s vision, the Union Finance Minister (in her Budget 2022-2023 speech) shared that during the Amrit Kaal (India at 75 to India at 100), the government aims to -
    • Complement the macro-economic level growth focus with a micro-economic level all-inclusive welfare focus.
    • Promote digital economy and fintech, technology-enabled development, energy transition, and climate action.
    • Rely on a virtuous cycle starting from private investment with public capital investment helping to crowd-in private investment.
  • Elaborating more on the goals for 2047, the Union Budget 2023-2024 re-emphasised that Jan Bhagidari through Sabka Saath, Sabka Prayas is essential and delineated the Saptarishi principles:
    • Inclusive Development;
    • Reaching the Last Mile;
    • Infrastructure and Investment;
    • Unleashing the Potential;
    • Green Growth;
    • Youth Power;
    • Financial Sector.

What is the Current State of the Indian Economy?

  • By 2022, the size of Indian GDP had already become larger than the GDP of the UK and also France.
  • India is currently estimated to be the fifth largest economy with a GDP of $3.7 trillion.
  • Several estimates show that India's GDP is expected to overtake Japan and Germany by 2030. According to the Ratings agency S&P, India's nominal GDP will rise from $3.4 trillion in 2022 to $7.3 trillion by 2030.
  • This rapid pace of economic expansion would result in the size of the Indian GDP, making India the second largest economy in the Asia-Pacific region.

What will be Included in the Vision India@2047?

  • The exercise to draw up the Vision India@2047 document was started in (December) 2021.
    • 10 groups of secretaries across sectors such as rural and agriculture, infrastructure, social vision, welfare, technology, governance, security, foreign affairs, etc., were constituted for the purpose.
  • The document will outline the structural changes and reforms needed to reach the objective of becoming a 30-trillion dollars developed economy by 2047 with a per-capita income of $18,000-20,000.
  • It will include government process re-engineering, reforms and cut down on duplication of work by different ministries and departments.
  • It is also expected to have details about the country's global engagement on trade, investment, technology, capital, research and development entities.
  • The document is also expected to outline which Indian companies would be global leaders and also the strategy for creating an ecosystem needed to achieve the goal.
  • It will also have details about creating human capital to achieve the vision, how to leverage the country's market size and how to address regional disparities.
  • The vision document will also detail the roadmap where India will be in 2030 and in 2047.

Preliminary Results from the Vision India@2047:

  • The economy will need to post an annual average economic growth of 9.2% between 2030-2040, 8.8% between 2040-2047 and 9% between 2030 to 2047.
  • The preliminary results predict that India’s exports will be valued at $8.67 trillion in 2047 while its imports will be valued at $12.12 trillion.
  • India’s apex policy think tank (Niti Aayog) also predicts India’s average life expectancy to jump to 71.8 from 67.2 in 2021 and its literacy rate to 89.8% from 77.8% in 2021.

Challenges Ahead in Implementing the Vision India@2047:

  • Aligning states’ vision documents with the national vision document:
    • NITI Aayog is helping Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh prepare their vision documents.
    • While other states like UP, Tamil Nadu, Goa, and Uttarakhand are preparing their documents independently.
  • Middle-income trap:
    • The strategy will have measures to ensure that the economy does not fall into the "middle-income trap".
    • The middle-income trap refers to a situation whereby a middle-income country is failing to transition to a high-income economy due to rising costs and declining competitiveness. (World Bank)

Mains Article
30 Oct 2023

China-Bhutan boundary talks and its significance

Why in news?

  • China and Bhutan held their 25th round of boundary talks in Beijing.
  • Both the countries signed a Cooperation Agreement on the Responsibilities and Functions of the Joint Technical Team (JTT) on the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Bhutan-China Boundary.
  • This advances their 3-Step Roadmap initiated in 2021 for border resolution, building on the positive momentum since their last talks in 2016.

What’s in today’s article?

  • China - Bhutan Border Dispute
  • News Summary

China - Bhutan Border Dispute

  • Bhutan shares a 477 km-long border with China, which claims certain territories from Bhutan:
    • In the north –Pasam-lung and Jakar-lung valleys; and
      • Both of these places are culturally vital for Bhutan.
    • In the west -Doklam, Dramana, and Shakhatoe, Yak Chu and Charithang Chu, and Sinchulungpa and Langmarpo valleys.
      • These places are pasture-rich and strategically located in the Bhutan-India-China trijunction, lying precariously close to India’s Siliguri Corridor.
    • In 2020, China made new claims on Bhutan’s East in the Sakteng sanctuary.
      • Surprisingly, there has been no mention of Eastern Bhutan in the previous rounds of boundary negotiations held between the two countries.
      • Hence, addition of Eastern Bhutan in the list of disputed territories has baffled Bhutan.
      • This eastern sector of Bhutan has a large Bhutanese population, traditional Dzongs (Medieval fortified monastery) and two Bhutanese districts since time immemorial.

News Summary: China-Bhutan boundary talks and its significance

Why are the recent talks significant?

  • The Boundary talks between Bhutan and China were held after a gap of seven years and indicate significant progress.
  • Bhutan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region share a contiguous border to Bhutan’s north and west of about 470 km.
  • Since 1984, Bhutan and China had held 24 rounds of talks to resolve the disputes until 2016.
  • But the 25th round appeared to have been held up after the Doklam Standoff between Indian and Chinese armies in 2017, and then the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019-2021.
  • However, the two sides used the pause to hold talks at other levels in rapid succession, especially after China threatened to open a new front for a border dispute to Bhutan’s east.
  • Since then, the Expert Group of diplomats on both sides met in 2021 to agree on a 3-step roadmap, and the first boundary delimitation technical talks were held in August 2023.

What is the 3-Step Roadmap?

  • Bhutan and China donot have diplomatic ties, as Bhutan has avoided diplomatic relations with all the United Nations Security Council permanent members.
  • The 3-Step Roadmap involves:
    • agreeing to the border on the table;
    • then visiting the sites on the ground; and
    • then formally demarcating the boundary.

Why India is keeping an eye on the developments related to China-Bhutan boundary dispute?

  • For India, given the breakdown in its ties with China over the standoff at the LAC from 2020, any hint of closer ties between China and Bhutan is a cause for worry.
  • More specifically, New Delhi is watching the demarcation discussions over Doklam.
    • Amongst the proposals China has placed on the table is an agreement to swap areas in Doklam under Bhutanese control with areas in Jakarlung and Pasamlung which China claims.
    • This is significant as India views Chinese presence near Doklam as a major security concern close to the strategic Siliguri corridor.
  • China has also staked claim to a wildlife sanctuary in Bhutan near the border with Arunachal.
  • This assumes significance as, in December 2022, Indian and Chinese army troops clashed along the LAC in the Tawang Sector of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • India’s worry is over China’s demand for full diplomatic relations with Bhutan, and opening an Embassy in Thimphu.
    • Given India’s challenges with Chinese projects and funding in other neighbouring countries, any Chinese presence in a small country like Bhutan would be problematic.
    • However, Bhutan’s leadership has thus far said that all decisions would consider India’s interests and has always consulted India on issues of concern.

What are the challenges in solving the border dispute between China and Bhutan?

  • Bhutan-China border dispute is not a bilateral issue
    • The first challenge is to see if China would be keen on discussing the trijunction areas with India.
    • For this, China will have to shun its decades-old policy of treating the Bhutan-China border dispute as a bilateral issue and involve India as well.
  • Increasing Chinese expansion in the Western disputed regions
    • India has briefed and sensitised Bhutan of China’s increasing inroads on multiple occasions.
    • Bhutan lacks the material capability and presence to avert these continuing intrusions. Despite this, it stays reluctant to seek more Indian assistance, fearing more Chinese assertiveness.
  • China is keen on establishing diplomatic relations with Bhutan
    • China’s solution to border disputes has often been inclusive of establishing diplomatic relations with Bhutan.
    • Such demands from Beijing will only intensify as its tensions with the US and India increase.




International Relations

Mains Article
30 Oct 2023

Kerala blast - Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses

Why in news?

  • Two people were killed and scores injured after a series of blasts at a Sunday prayer convention of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect near Kochi.
  • Dominic Martin, an estranged member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who is now in police custody, posted a video on social media taking responsibility for the act.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses

Who are Jehovah’s Witnesses?

  • A Christian sect
    • Jehovah’s Witnesses are a Christian sect, but do not believe in the Holy Trinity.
      • The Holy Trinity doctrine says that God exists in three equal persons of the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit.
  • Origins of the sect
    • The origins of the sect lie in a Bible Student movement started in the 1870s by American pastor Charles Taze Russell.
    • Today, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is located in Warwick, New York.
  • Gods they worship
    • They worship Jehovah as “the one true and Almighty God, the Creator”, who is “the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus”.
    • They believe Jesus Christ to be the “King of God’s Kingdom in heaven”, but not as the Almighty God.
  • Religious text
    • They base their beliefs only on the text of the Bible, which they see as the word of God.
  • Festivals
    • They don’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, because they believe such festivals to be inspired by Pagan traditions.
      • Paganism describes a group of contemporary religions based on a reverence for nature.
      • These faiths draw on the traditional religions of indigenous peoples throughout the world.
  • Known for their evangelical work
    • Evangelical work- Believing that religious ceremony is not as important as belief in Jesus Christ and study of the Bible.  For this they go door to door, to spread “The Truth”.
    • They believe the end of the world is near, and the Kingdom of God will replace human governments and accomplish God’s purpose for the earth.

Jehovah’s Witnesses in India

  • Presence
    • Jehovah’s Witnesses have been present in India since 1905.
    • They established an office in 1926 in Bombay (now Mumbai), and obtained legal registration in 1978.
  • SC verdict and Jehovah’s Witnesses
    • A landmark case involving the sect in India was Bijoe Emmanuel vs State Of Kerala.
    • The Supreme Court, in its 1986 verdict, granted protection to three children belonging to the sect, who did not join in the singing of the National Anthem at their school.
    • The court held that forcing them to sing the Anthem violated their fundamental right to religion under Article 25 of the Constitution.


History & Culture

Oct. 29, 2023

Mains Article
29 Oct 2023

UN General Assembly adopts Gaza resolution

Why in news?

  • The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce between Israel and Hamas and demanding aid access to Gaza.
  • A total of 120 countries voted in favour of the resolution, 14 countries voted against including Israel and the United States, while 45 others, including India, abstained.
  • India’s abstention in the vote exemplified the balancing act it has adopted on the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Broad takeaways from the proceedings at the UNGA
  • Main elements of the Indian statement at the UNGA

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)

  • It was established in 1945 under the Charter of the United Nations and is headquartered in New York City.
  • It is one of the six principal organs of the UN and serves as the main policy-making organ of the Organization.
  • It provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Each of the 193 Member States of the United Nations has an equal vote.

Special sessions of UNGA

  • The United Nations Charter (Chapter IV, article 20) provides for the General Assembly to meet in special sessions as occasion may require.
  • Special sessions are convened by the Secretary-General at the request of the Security Council or of a majority of the Members of the United Nations.

Emergency special sessions of UNGA

  • An emergency special session of the UN is an unscheduled meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to make urgent recommendations on a particular issue.
  • If the General Assembly is not in the session, the UN Charter allows it to meet in emergency special session within twenty-four hours of the request therefor.
  • The procedure to call an emergency special session are laid out in the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly.
    • Emergency special session is called if requested by the Security Council on the vote of any seven members, or by a majority of the Members of the UN.
  • So far, only 11 such emergency session of the General Assembly have been held since 1950.

Implications of resolutions passed by the special emergency sessions

  • These resolutions are not legally-binding. These are symbolic of the world opinion on the crisis and carry political weight as they represent the will of the entire UN membership.

News Summary: UN General Assembly adopts Gaza resolution

  • The 193 members of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) met in a resumed 10th Emergency Special Session.
    • The 10thEmergency Special Session is related to Israeli-Palestine conflict. It was first held in April 1997.
    • The current session resumed the 10th Emergency Special Session.
  • They voted on the draft resolution submitted by Jordan and co-sponsored by more than 40 nations.

Broad takeaways from the proceedings at the UNGA

  • The resolution
    • The resolution titled "Protection of civilians and upholding legal and humanitarian obligations" was adopted with 120 nations voting in its favour.
    • India joined Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom in the group of 45 countries that abstained on the resolution.
    • Israel and the United States, were among the 14 members who voted against the resolution.
  • Attempt to fix the responsibility of Hamas
    • The amendment proposed by Canada and co-sponsored by the US, sought to fix the responsibility of Hamas in the crisis.
    • The amendment explicitly condemned Hamas for its October 7 terrorist attack on Israel and demanded the immediate release of hostages seized by the group.
    • India went with the majority (87) on this vote, while 55 member states voted against it, and 23 abstained.
    • However, this amendment could not be adopted.
  • Resolution not binding
    • Unlike resolutions of the UN Security Council, resolutions of the UNGA are not legally binding.
      • It only carries incredible weight and moral authority.
    • Therefore, despite the comprehensive defeat, Israel and the US are not obliged to act on the resolution.
  • Balanced position taken by India
    • The balanced position taken by India was in line with the one that it has maintained in the other ongoing conflict in the world: the Russia-Ukraine war.
    • The diplomatic toolkit of hedging and balancing between the warring sides has been a consistent feature of New Delhi’s approach.

Main elements of the Indian statement at the UNGA

  • It condemned violence, especially the October 7 attacks by Hamas, conveying its support for Israel.
  • It then balanced out its support with a statement on the plight of the people of Gaza.
    • It welcomed the international community’s de-escalation efforts and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.
    • India too has contributed to this effort.
  • India expressed concern at the security situation and urged all parties — which would include both Israel and its rival Iran, as well as groups like Hezbollah — to exercise restraint and responsibility.
  • New Delhi reiterated its principled position on the Israel-Palestinian issue.
    • India has always supported a negotiated Two-State solution to the Israel-Palestine issue.
    • India believes in establishment of a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine living within secure and recognized borders, side-by-side in peace with Israel.
  • India counselled diplomacy and dialogue.
    • India urged the parties to de-escalate, eschew violence and work towards creating conditions for an early resumption of direct peace negotiations.




International Relations

Mains Article
29 Oct 2023

16 Indian Antiquities from US to be Returned Back

Why in the News?

  • From a terracotta plaque depicting a standing figure with two attendants to a bronze sculpture depicting Lord Krishna, there are around 105 antiquities that were returned back to India from the United States two weeks ago.
  • Process is on to bring back 16 more antiquities that were smuggled to the US.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About Antiquity (Definition, International Conventions, Indian Laws, etc.)
  • News Summary 

What is an Antiquity?

  • The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act (1972), defines “antiquity” as –
    • any coin, sculpture, painting, epigraph or other work of art or craftsmanship;
    • any article, object or thing detached from a building or cave;
    • any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages;
    • any article, object or thing of historical interest.
  • The minimum time for any of the above mentioned items to be considered as antique is 100 years.
    • For “manuscript, record or other document which is of scientific, historical, literary or aesthetic value”, this duration is “not less than 75 years.”

International Conventions w.r.t. Antiquities:

  • The UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property is an international treaty.
  • The convention urges States Parties to take measures to prohibit and prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural property.
  • It provides a common framework for the States Parties on the measures to be taken to prohibit and prevent the import, export and transfer of cultural property.
  • To date, the Convention has been ratified by 143 states (including India).
  • In 2000, the General Assembly of the UN and the UN Security Council in 2015 and 2016 also raised concerns on the issue.
  • An INTERPOL report in 2019 said that almost 50 years after the UNESCO convention, “the illicit international traffic of cultural items and related offences is sadly increasingly prolific.”

Indian Laws w.r.t. Antiquities:

  • In India, Item-67 of the Union List, Item-12 of the State List, and Item-40 of the Concurrent List of the Constitution deal with the country’s heritage.
  • Before Independence, an Antiquities (Export Control) Act had been passed in 1947 to ensure that “no antiquity could be exported without license.”
  • Post-independence, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 was enacted.
  • Further, the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 (AATA) was implemented in 1976.
    • Under the AATA, no person carry on the business of selling or offering to sell any antiquity except in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence.
    • This licence is granted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

What is ‘Provenance’ and How is the Ownership of an Antiquity Checked?

  • Provenance includes the list of all owners from the time the object left its maker’s possession to the time it was acquired by the current owner.
  • The first thing in order to prove the ownership is the complaint (FIR) filed with the police.
  • Under the UNESCO 1970 Convention, a requesting party has to furnish the documentation and other evidence necessary to establish its claim for recovery and return.

How to Check for Fake Antiquities?

  • Under section 14(3) of the AATA, “Every person who owns, controls or is in possession of any antiquity” shall register such antiquity before the registering officer “and obtain a certificate in token of such registration.
  • So far, the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities, launched in March 2007, has registered 3.52 lakh antiquities among the 16.70 lakh it has documented, to help in “effective check” of illegal activities.
  • This is a very small portion of the total number of antiquities in the country (estimated to be around 58 lakh).

Can India bring back Antiquities?

  • There are three categories –
    • Antiquities taken out of India pre-independence;
    • Those which were taken out since independence until March 1976, i.e. before the implementation of AATA; and
    • Antiquities taken out of the country since April 1976.
  • For items in the first two categories, requests have to be raised bilaterally or on international fora.
  • Antiquities in the second and third categories can be retrieved easily by raising an issue bilaterally with proof of ownership and with the help of the UNESCO convention.

News Summary:

  • In an RTI response filed by the Indian Express, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) confirmed that “105 antique art objects have been repatriated in the month of August 2023 from USA. Cases of repatriation of antiquities with other countries are in progress”.
    • Most antiquities depict gods and goddesses such as Shiva, Lakshmi, Ganesh, Vishnu, Surya, Kubera and Krishna, besides two Tirthankaras.
    • Sources said most of the returned antiquities (27 of 105) are estimated to be from 2nd-3rd century CE, 16 from 6th-7th century CE, 13 from 12th-13th century CE, and 15 from 15th-17th century CE.
    • Four of the youngest antiquities from this lot are from 18th-19th century CE.
  • Process is on to bring back 16 more antiquities, which were returned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met).
  • Besides the 105 antiquities, over 250 artefacts, categorised as “non-antiquities”, are expected to arrive in India soon.
  • Over the last few years, several antiquities have been retrieved from different countries including the US, Australia and Germany, among others.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
29 Oct 2023

The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act (CrPI): Challenges in Implementation and Way Ahead

Why in News?

  • The CrPI Act 2022 enables police and central investigating agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scans of arrested persons.
  • Though the rules that would govern the Act were notified, the Act is yet to be implemented fully as the nodal agency - NCRB, is still preparing the guidelines and SOP to implement the legislation.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why was the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act (CrPI) Brought In?
  • What is the role of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)?
  • What are the Challenges in the Implementation of the CrPI Act?
  • Way Ahead and Conclusion

Why was the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act (CrPI) Brought In?

  • The CrPI Act repealed the British-era Identification of Prisoners Act 1920 whose scope was limited to -
    • Collecting and recording finger impressions, footprint impressions and photographs of certain category of convicted persons and
    • Impressions of non-convicted persons on the orders of a Magistrate.
  • The new Act made provisions for the use of modern techniques to capture and record appropriate body measurements.

What is the role of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)?

  • The central body - NCRB, which operates under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has been entrusted with the task to store, process, share, disseminate and destroy records of measurements.
  • Impressions taken at any police station will be stored in a common database maintained by the NCRB.
  • The database could be accessed by authorised police and prison officials across the country.
  • The NCRB will prescribe -
    • The specifications of the equipment or devices to be used for taking measurements in digital and physical format,
    • The method of handling and storing measurements by the State police in a format compatible with the NCRB database and
    • Also, the information technology system to be used for taking the measurements.
  • Police and prison officials have been authorised to take measurements and the Act expanded the scope to also allow -
    • Any person skilled in taking the measurements or
    • A registered medical practitioner or
    • Any person authorised to take such measurements.
  • The records are to be stored for 75 years.

What are the Challenges in the Implementation of the CrPI Act?

  • Collection of DNA samples: Though the Act and rules do not distinctly mention collection of DNA samples and face-matching procedures, the NCRB has said that these measures will be rolled out in around 1,300 locations across the country.
    • Also, the type of DNA samples that could be collected by the police have not been defined yet.
  • Shortage of devices:
    • Police across States have been trained to record finger impressions through the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS).
      • NAFIS, also under the NCRB, is a separate project that was launched in 2022.
      • It assigns a unique 10-digit National Fingerprint Number (NFN) to all suspects arrested by the police.
      • NAFIS integrates the data on a common platform, enabling the police to run a countrywide search to match fingerprint impressions lifted from a crime scene.
    • However, several police officials said the iris scanners and devices that would enable capturing of DNA and facial-recognition systems are yet to be provided.
  • Violates fundamental rights, including the right to privacy: With plans to include DNA samples and facial-recognition technology, questions arose about the protection of such data.
  • Lack of awareness: Though the rules state that measurement of persons detained or arrested under prohibitory and preventive sections of law are not to be recorded, not many officers are aware of it.
  • Onus of destruction and disposal of records on an individual falsely implicated: For such a disposal/destruction, the request will have to be made to the nodal officer.
    • This would impact people from sections of society who do not have access to the law and would therefore be unable to apply for deletion.

Way Ahead and Conclusion:

  • The provision should be read in terms of the Right to be Forgotten and should not be at the mere discretion of the Nodal Officer.
  • Handling DNA samples requires proper training and the misuse of the database can be prevented by ensuring identification and deployment of appropriate safeguards allowing only designated officials to access the data in real time.
  • Issue of connectivity must be addressed because police in smaller States have been unable to fulfil the requirement of secured Internet leased lines.
  • According to the Central government, the privacy and data protection related concerns are addressed in the Rules formulated under the legislation and through model Prison Manuals that States can refer to.
  • The immediate future of this law is unclear. A writ petition has been filed challenging the constitutionality of the law before the Delhi HC. The court has issued notice to the Central government for filing a reply.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
29 Oct 2023

Govt Sets Minimum Export Price for Onions

Why in news?

  • Recently, the government issued a notification and set the minimum export price (MEP) for onions at $800 per metric tonne.
    • This comes after the 40 per cent export duty imposed on onions in August 2023.
  • This has been done to ensure sufficient availability of onion for domestic consumers and keep the prices for the produce at affordable levels.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Production of Onion in India
  • News Summary

Production of Onion in India

  • Background
    • India is the second-largest onion-growing country in the world. The Indian onions are famous for their pungency and are available round the year.
    • The choice of season depends on the region's climate and the onion variety being cultivated. Onions are more commonly associated with the Rabi season.
  • Varieties
    • India cultivates various onion varieties, with the most common ones being red onions and white onions.
    • There are certain varieties of yellow onion which are suitable for export in European countries.
  • Cultivation Practices
    • Onions are primarily grown through seeds, although bulb-to-bulb planting is also practiced.
    • The crop requires well-drained soil and is often cultivated in sandy or loamy soils.
    • Adequate irrigation is essential, and farmers may use drip irrigation systems to conserve water.
  • Onion producing states
    • The Major Onion producing states are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Telangana.
    • Maharashtra ranks first in Onion production.
  • Export
    • The country has exported 2,525,258.35 MT of fresh onion to the world, worth Rs. 4,522.79 crores during the year 2022-23.
    • Major Export Destinations (2022-23):Bangladesh, Malaysia, UAE, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Indonesia.

News Summary: Govt Sets Minimum Export Price for Onions

  • Trying to rein in soaring onion prices, the central government imposed a steep Minimum Export Price (MEP) of $800 per metric tonne.
  • The MEP would be in place till December 30, 2023.

Rationale behind this step

  • Onions from the buffer stock have been disposed continuously from August second week in major consumption centres across the country. As a result, the quantity of stored onions is declining.
    • Till date, about 1.70 lakh metric tonnes of onions have been disposed of from the buffer.
    • The continuous procurement and disposal of onion from the buffer are undertaken to moderate its prices for consumers while ensuring remunerative prices to the onion farmers.
  • Hence, the measure has been taken to maintain sufficient availability of onion for domestic consumers at affordable prices.
  • The central government would also procure an additional 2 lakh tonnes as buffer stock in addition to the 5 lakh tonnes already procured last year.

Rising Onion Price

  • Onion prices, however, have been on the rise ever since and have started touching the sky in October.
    • The first two weeks of October witnessed the average wholesale price of onions in the key Lasalgaon APMC in Maharashtra increase more than 60%.
  • The recent price rise is attributed to low stock and late arrival of the new crop.
  • Earlier this year, farmers had lost around 60 per cent of their summer crop to untimely hail and rain.
  • The kharif crop, which is transplanted in June-July, was delayed due to the delay in monsoons. The long break in August has also affected the crop.
  • The new crop, which normally arrives early October, is delayed and would arrive only mid-November. Prices will remain on the higher side till the new crop arrives.

Oct. 28, 2023

Mains Article
28 Oct 2023

Remedy Worse Than Malaise: Striking a Balance Between Privacy and Security is a Difficult Challenge


  • Politics and misinformation have been interconnected for a long time and with elections around the corner, addressing political misinformation will remain a policy priority.
  • Amidst complexities surrounding political misinformation, it is important to focus on the potential consequences and controversies associated with Rule 4(2) of the 2021 Information Technology (IT) Intermediary Guidelines, which seeks to counter the growing problem of political deep fakes.

Why is Misinformation a Cause of Concern?

  • Rising Fake Synthetic Media in Politics: Misinformation in politics is nothing new, but recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have made it easier to create convincing deep fake images, videos, and voices.
  • Synthetic Media Can Influence Voter’s Actions: These synthetic media pieces can be employed both intentionally and maliciously, posing a significant risk by potentially misleading users and influencing their actions, particularly in the context of elections.

Steps Under Consideration by the Government to Counter Misinformation

  • The central government is planning to rely on the Rule 4(2) of the 2021 IT Intermediary Guidelines to counter political deep fakes.
  • The Rule 4(2) demands that all significant social media messaging entities must have the capability to identify the first originator of the information on their platform.
  • Originator requests can then be invoked either under a court order or by the government using its powers to intercept, monitor or decrypt information.

Controversies Surrounding the Rule 4(2) of IT Intermediary Guidelines 2021

  • Meant to Target End to End Encryption
    • The provision is primarily meant to target end-to-end encrypted platforms like WhatsApp.
      • End-to-end encryption ensures that when one user messages another, only those two individuals will have the keys to unlock the message.
      • Neither the company nor a government agency can ordinarily do so. This makes encryption a powerful tool for preserving communications privacy.
    • For the same reason, law enforcement agencies view end-to-end encryption as a threat to their functioning and keep trying to look for ways to undermine it.
  • Triggered a Debate on Privacy vs Security
    • An imperfect analogy can be drawn between the demand for a "movement tag" for every citizen stepping out of their house and the potential invasion of privacy through Rule 4(2).
      • It can be assumed that a portion of the people who leave their houses every day will commit a crime.
    • To check against these crimes, the government wants a tag attached to every occasion a citizen steps out of their house.
    • They are not asking for the contents of the bag that you were carrying at the time. But privacy would already be in danger with the movement tag of each and every citizen being amassed by a corporation and made accessible to the government on demand.
    • While the stated purposes of this rule are to prevent serious offenses like threats to sovereignty, state security, public order, and sexual crimes with imprisonment exceeding five years, it can still be misused by the government.
  • Unclear Grounds for Implementation
    • The listed grounds, particularly the maintenance of public order, leave room for broad interpretation by courts and the government.
    • The example of public order restrictions imposed in various contexts highlights the potential for misuse and overreach in implementing the rule.
    • A report on the use of Section 144 of the CrPC in Delhi, highlights that public order restrictions imposed in contexts like flying drones, using metallic manjhas for kites and carrying tiffin boxes inside cinemas.
    • Thus, it is not hard to imagine why tracing encrypted messages to prevent such instances would be an excessive intrusion.
  • Unclear Definition of First Originator
    • The term first originator remains undefined which can lead to ambiguity in the application of the rule.
    • For instance, someone who copies and pastes an existing message may unintentionally become a new originator, while malicious actors can easily evade it by spoofing identities, making traceability both disproportionate and ineffective.
  • Logistical Challenges and Privacy Concerns
    • Traceability relies on the maintenance of logs for the origin of every message. This compromises the privacy of all messaging users in the pursuit of identifying a few.
    • The footprint of the rule will compromise the privacy of all messaging users in the hope of being able to deter and penalise a few of them.
    • This does not meet the proportionality requirements of the fundamental right to privacy. 
    • Experts also argue that traceability techniques are not only privacy-invasive but also impractical.

Legal Challenges Faced by the Rule 4(2) of IT Intermediary Guidelines 2021

  • Praveen Arimbrathodiyil vs. Union of India
    • A Petition was filed in the HC of Keralachallenging Rule 4(2)on the grounds that it violates the right to encryption of citizens as a subset of the right to privacy protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
    • The challenge highlights that the traceability provision puts unreasonable restrictions on the ability of intermediaries, thereby, violating the right to freedom to trade and profession under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India.
  • Anthony Clement vs. Union of India
    • The issue of co-existence of traceability of users with end-to-end encryption was raised in the Madras HC.
    • To address the issue, a suggestion was made that tracing of originator can be done by adding information of the originator with each message and displaying the same during decryption.
  • WhatsApp vs. Union of India (2021)
    • WhatsApp Inc. and Facebook have filed two separate petitions in the HC of Delhi challenging the Rule 4(2).
    • The petitions state that the provision breaks end-to-end encryption and undermines the fundamental right to privacy.
    • It is violative of the law laid down in K.S. Puttaswamy vs. Union of India (2017) and goes against the principles of proportionality, necessity, and minimisation.
  • Recent Tripura HC Order
    • It recently stayed an order demanding the origin of a fake resignation letter by the state’s CM from WhatsApp.
    • This was on the ground that the trial court had not established the threat to public order while making the order. 

The Government’s Stance on the Rule 4(2) of IT Intermediary Guidelines2021

  • No Intent to Violate Right to Privacy
    • The government says that it recognises the right to privacy as a fundamental right but it is the Government’s duty to ensure law and order and national security.
    • It has reiterated that the traceability provision will not impact the right to privacy.
    • The fundamental rights are not absolute in nature and are subject to reasonable restrictions, the traceability provision being a reasonable restriction.
  • Rule 4(2) Qualifies the Proportionality Test: The cornerstone of this test is whether a lesser effective remedy exists.
  • Traceability is Essential in Abiding with Public Interest
    • The MeitY has argued that Rule 4(2) is important because it serves public interest.
    • It is in public interest that who started the mischief leading to such crime must be detected and punished.


  • The debate over Rule 4(2) and its implications for political deep fakes and election integrity continues to intensify. For all these reasons, Rule 4(2) is currently under challenge before courts.
  • Striking a balance between privacy and security is a difficult challenge, and finding a remedy that truly mitigates the problem without causing further harm remains a pressing concern.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
28 Oct 2023

Dark pattern sales deemed cybercrime

Why in news?

  • Many people have complained about airlines and online travel websites tricking them into buying things they did not mean to, for example seats, when booking flights.
    • A government official even called it a cybercrime.
  • Because of these complaints, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has told the low-cost airline IndiGo to fix its website.
  • This has, once again, highlighted the menace of dark patterns. A government official even called it a cybercrime.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Dark pattern – About, examples, regulation in India
  • News Summary

What are Dark Patterns?

  • Dark patterns refer to deceptive design techniques used in user interfaces to manipulate or deceive users into taking certain actions or making specific choices online.
  • Such patterns are unethical user interface designs that deliberately make Internet experience harder or even exploit the users.
  • These patterns exploit cognitive biases and behavioural tendencies to trick or mislead users, often for the benefit of the platform or business implementing them.
  • These tricks can include creating a false sense of urgency, making people feel bad for not doing something, forcing them to take certain actions, trapping them into subscriptions, or constantly bothering them.

How do companies use dark patterns?

  • Social media companies and Big Tech firms such as Apple, Amazon, Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Google use dark or deceptive patterns to downgrade the user experience to their advantage.
  • Amazon
    • It came under fire in the EU for its confusing, multi-step cancellation process for the Amazon Prime subscription.
  • LinkedIn
    • LinkedIn users often receive unsolicited, sponsored messages from influencers.
    • Disabling this option is a difficult process with multiple steps that requires users to be familiar with the platform controls.

Regulation of dark patterns in India

  • In September 2023, Department of Consumer Affairs has sought public comments on Draft Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns.

Key highlights of the draft guidelines

  • Objective
    • To clearly identify and define tactics as dark patterns so that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs can act against platforms indulging in this under Section 18 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • Defines dark patterns
    • The document defines dark patterns as:
      • deceptive design patterns using UI/UX (user interface/user experience) interactions on any platform;
      • designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend or want to do;
      • by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice;
      • amounting to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights.
    • For instance, false urgency is a dark pattern under which the online seller makes false claims of limited stock (“hurry, only two items left!”).
      • This misleads the user/buyer into making an immediate purchase or act immediately.
    • The draft guidelines propose prohibitions against engaging in dark patterns.
  • Applicability
    • The draft guidelines, once notified, shall apply to all platforms systematically offering goods or services in India, advertisers and sellers.
  • Specifies 10 types of dark patterns

News Summary: Dark pattern sales deemed ‘cybercrime’

  • An analysis of airline websites, apps and online portals by a leading media house in India showed that dark patterns were widely prevalent.

Case Study: Use of dark pattern by Indigo airlines

  • IndiGo’s website deploys a technique known as false urgency.
    • Under this, the airline gives consumers booking an air ticket the impression that they have to pay an extra fee of ₹99 to ₹1,500 to buy a seat to complete the purchase, as all free seats are shown as unavailable.
    • Sometimes, there will be four or five free seats available but they are relegated to the bottom of the aircraft cabin and can be harder to locate and navigate to on the webpage.
    • The passengers can hit the skip button at the end of the seat selection page.
    • However,they are not informed in a transparent manner that free seats will be auto-assigned to them if they do not wish to pay the extra sum.
  • Indigo has also been found indulged in a practice known as interface interference.
    • Interface interference is a situation where the website design highlights certain specific information and deliberately obscures other information.
    • On IndiGo’s mobile application, the option to skip is placed in the top right corner and displayed in a tiny font.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
28 Oct 2023

India-Maldives Bilateral Relationship

Why in the News?

  • Maldives has started discussion with India for the removal of the latter's military presence in the region.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • India – Maldives bilateral relations (Background, political, bilateral, defence, tourism factors)
  • News Summary

India – Maldives Bilateral Relationship:

  • India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links and enjoy close, cordial and multi-dimensional relations.
  • India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country.

Maldives’ Strategic Significance for India:

  • Maldives’ proximity to the west coast of India (it is barely 70 nautical miles away from Minicoy).
  • The country is situated at the hub of commercial sea-lanes running through the Indian Ocean.
  • Also, it has the potential to allow a third nation’s naval presence, for example China, in the area.

Political Relations:

  • Bilateral relations have been nurtured and strengthened by regular contacts at the highest levels.
  • India’s relationship with the Maldives is free of any politically contentious issues.
  • India’s prompt assistance during the 1988 coup attempt, led to development of trust and long-term and friendly bilateral relations with the Maldives.
    • Under Operation Cactus the Indian Armed Forces helped the Government of Maldives in the neutralization of the coup attempt.
  • India First’ has been a stated policy of the Government of Maldives.
  • On international issues Maldives has consistently supported India in multilateral fora, such as the UN, the Commonwealth, the NAM (Non-Alignment Movement) and the SAARC (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation).

Bilateral Trade:

  • India and Maldives signed a trade agreement in 1981, which provides for export of essential commodities.
  • Growing from modest beginnings, India-Maldives bilateral trade in 2020 stood at US$ 213.91 million with trade balance heavily in favour of India.
  • State Bank of India has been playing a vital role in the economic development of the Maldives since 1974 by providing loan assistance for promotion of island resorts, export of marine products and business enterprises.

Defence Cooperation:

  • India provides the largest number of training opportunities for Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), meeting around 70% of their defence training requirements.
  • A Comprehensive Action Plan for Defence was also signed in April 2016 to consolidate defence partnership.

Indian Community:

  • Indians are the second largest expatriate community in Maldives with an approximate strength of around 22,000.
  • About 25% of Doctors and Teachers in Maldives are Indian nationals.


  • Tourism directly accounts for about quarter of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Maldives and indirectly for a much larger proportion of GDP.
  • India remained the top market for Maldives tourism in 2022 dominating over 14% with 240,000 arrivals.

News Summary:

  • Maldives has started discussion with India for the removal of the latter's military presence in the region.
  • Around 75 Indian military officials are currently based out of the country and maintain New Delhi-sponsored radar stations and surveillance aircraft.
  • Indian warships help patrol Maldives’ exclusive economic zone.
  • Reason behind Discussions on Removal of India’s Military Presence in Maldives:
    • The removal of foreign troops had been one of the key poll promises from Maldives’ new President-elect Mohamed Muizzu.
    • During a heated Presidential elections, he had accused incumbent Ibrahim Solih of allowing India unchecked sway over Maldives’ internal affairs.
    • He also claimed that the current leader had surrendered the country’s sovereignty by allowing Indian troops to be stationed in the area.
  • Government of India’s Response:
    • India is yet to officially address the calls for removal of troops and has merely voiced hope for constructive engagement with the incoming administration.
International Relations

Mains Article
28 Oct 2023

Three Bill to Replace Existing Criminal Laws: Parliamentary Panel Withholds Draft Report on Bills Replacing Criminal Laws

Why in News?

  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affair postponed its adoption of a draft report on three Bills seeking to replace the existing criminal laws, after pressure from the Opposition seeking more time to examine it.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Three Bill to Replace Existing Criminal Laws
  • The Parliamentary Panel’s Consultations on the Three Bills
  • Some Concerns Raised by the Members of the Parliamentary Panel

Three Bill to Replace Existing Criminal Laws:

  • The Union Home Minister introduced the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023 and the Bharatiya Sakhshya Bill 2023 in the Lok Sabha in August 2023 (Monsoon Session of Parliament).
    • The Indian Penal Code 1860 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill 2023.
    • The Criminal Procedure Code 1973 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill 2023, and
    • The Indian Evidence Act 1872 will be replaced by the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023.
  • These three Acts which will be replaced, were made to strengthen and protect the British rule and their purpose was to punish, not to give justice.
  • Hence, the soul of these three new laws will be to protect all the rights given by the Constitution to the Indian citizens.
    • The objective will not be to punish anyone but to give justice and in this process punishment will be given where it is required to create a sense of prevention of crime.

The Parliamentary Panel’s Consultations on the Three Bills:

  • Consultation on the Hindi names of the Bills:
    • One of the key points of contention, the Hindi nomenclature of the Bills, has not been accepted in the draft reports circulated so far.
    • The panel’s report on the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023, states that since the text of the Bill is in English, it does not violate the provisions of Article 348 of the Constitution.
    • Article 348 says that the language to be used in the Supreme Court and High Courts as well as for Acts, Bills, and other legal documents shall be English.
  • Redrafting key provisions that were brought to tackle organised crime:
    • The Bharatiya Nyana Sanhita 2023, which seeks to replace the IPC, introduced new provisions to define and penalise “organised crime”.
    • Section 109 of the proposed law defines an organised crime syndicate to include a “gang, mafia or (crime) ring” involved in “gang, criminality, racketeering and syndicated organised crime.”
    • The deliberations by the panel are likely to lead to a recommendation to re-draft this provision.
    • It is learnt that while the panel feels that the provision is a very effective addition, many terms used must be clearly defined to avoid uncertainty.
    • It is learnt that the scope of organised crime in the proposed law is much wider, even when compared with the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) 1999.
  • Bringing back the provision criminalising adultery:
    • There is a view leaning in favour of bringing back the provision criminalising adultery (Section 497 of the IPC) and non-consensual ‘unnatural sex’ (Section 377 of the IPC) which have been removed in the new Bills.
    • The SC, in a landmark ruling in 2018, had decriminalised adultery. Some have raised concerns that there is a need to keep the provision in order to safeguard the sanctity of the institution of marriage.

Some Concerns Raised by the Members of the Parliamentary Panel:

  • Few members urged the panel to stop bulldozing these Bills for short-term electoral gains.
    • Hurrying through the Bills would amount to mocking the process of “legislative scrutiny”.
    • The Bills need extensive consultations with the governments and stakeholders in the States.
  • The panel’s chairman told the members that the draft reports slated to be adopted at the meeting as per the circulated agenda would be withheld.
    • However, he did not state the reason for doing so. This drew sharp criticism from the members.
  • The Hindi nomenclature of the Bills is exclusionary for a large section of the country.
  • The Bills are largely a copy of the existing codes which could have been amended instead of bringing in new legislation.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
28 Oct 2023

The centrality of natural gas in ties between India and Qatar

Why in news?

  • The death sentence given to eight former personnel of the Indian Navy by a court in Qatar presents the biggest challenge yet to India’s historically friendly ties with Doha.
  • This situation is particularly concerning due to the pivotal role of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the trade partnership between the two nations.
  • LNG constitutes nearly half of India's total imports (in terms of value) from Qatar, amplifying the complexity of the challenge at hand.

What’s in today’s article?

  • News Summary

News Summary: The centrality of natural gas in ties between India and Qatar

Nature of trade relationship between India and Qatar

  • In the case of India and Qatar, the balance of trade is tilted heavily in the latter’s favour.
  • It is India’s largest source of LNG — gas that has been super cooled to liquid form so that it can be transported by sea.

Gas import dependency

  • India’s import dependency in natural gas is around 50%, and given the government’s concerted push to increase natural gas consumption, imports are only likely to rise in the coming years.
  • Government-owned Petronet LNG, India’s largest LNG importer, has a long-term contract with Qatar for the import of 8.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG.
  • In addition, Qatari gas has a sizable share in India’s LNG purchases from the spot market.

Demand for natural gas in India

  • India has set itself an ambitious target to increase the share of natural gas in the primary energy mix to 15% by 2030 from a little more than 6% at present.
  • This is bound to result in a rapid increase in LNG imports over the next few years.
  • Natural gas is seen as a significantly cleaner alternative to conventional petroleum fuels like diesel and petrol, and is usually cheaper than crude oil.
  • For India, which has an import dependency of over 85% in crude, gas is both more affordable and a better transition fuel in the energy transition pathway.

India, Qatar, and LNG

  • India’s import from Qatar
    • India’s total imports from Qatar in FY2022-23 were valued at $16.81 billion, of which LNG imports alone were worth $8.32 billion.
    • While Indian LNG importers continue to make efforts to diversify sourcing, it could be years before the high reliance on Qatar can be reduced.
  • India’s export to Qatar
    • India’s exports to Qatar were valued at just $1.97 billion in FY2022-23.
    • The major exports include cereals, copper articles, iron and steel articles, vegetables, fruits, spices, and processed food products.

The global LNG market

  • The global LNG market is a seller’s market after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions that have disrupted Russian natural gas supplies to Europe.
  • After the war broke out, prices, particularly of LNG spot cargoes, surged globally.
  • Compared with term contracts (such as the one Petronet has with Qatar), the spot LNG market is prone to higher price volatility.
    • In a supply glut, spot prices tend to fall more steeply than term contracts, as pricing in the latter is based on an agreed formula between the buyer and the seller.
    • And when supplies are tight, spot prices tend to rise much more than term contract rates.
  • The extreme price volatility of the past couple of years in global LNG markets has established that term contracts are the more viable option to secure supplies at a reasonable and stable price.
  • This has pushed LNG importers all over the world, including India, to scout for long-term contracts with major suppliers, of whom Qatar is the foremost.
    • Over the past few weeks, Doha has announced 27-year LNG supply deals with French, Dutch, and Italian energy majors.
    • In the preceding months, it had signed long-term contracts to supply LNG to China and Germany.
    • Petronet’s term contract runs out in 2028, and negotiations for an extension are currently under way.
      • India is also looking to sign more long-term LNG contracts.

Future of LNG Market

  • Analysts and industry experts predict that the global LNG market is likely to turn into a buyer’s market over the next few years.
    • A buyer's market refers to a market condition in which there are more goods or services available than there are buyers for them.
    • In such a market, buyers have the advantage because there is a surplus of supply, giving them greater negotiating power.
  • This is due to a surge in new LNG export projects coming onstream.
  • This scenario, however, is still a few years away. And even then, a large chunk of this new LNG export capacity is expected to come onstream in Qatar itself.


International Relations

Oct. 27, 2023

Mains Article
27 Oct 2023

Arguments from Both Sides on the Supreme Court Verdict on Same-Sex Marriage


  • The Supreme Court recently issued its much-anticipated decision rejecting requests to legalise same-sex unions and went into greater detail about the Special Marriage Act of 1954's provisions.
  • As all five judges have chosen to leave it to the legislature to enact such a law, which has been a subject of deliberation since the verdict was pronounced, it is imperative to understand both sides of the argument. 

The SC Verdict on the Same-Sex Marriage

  • Chief Justice of India’s (CJI) and Justice Kaul's Opinion
    • The two senior-most judges of the apex court, CJI and Justice Kaul, issued separate but concurring opinions.
    • They held that there was no fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples.
    • However, they granted declarations and issued directions to alleviate the hardships faced by same-sex couples living together.
  • The Dissenting Opinion
    • The remaining three justices on the Bench (Justices Ravindra Bhat, Hima Kohli, and P S Narasimha) disagreed with the declarations and directions issued by the first two senior-most judges.
    • However, they also held that there was no fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples.
  • The Majority Opinion
    • There is no unqualified right to marriage except that recognised by statute or custom;
    • Legal recognition of the right to a union can only be through enacted law;
    • Courts cannot enjoin or direct the creation of a legal or regulatory framework resulting in the conferment of legal status on same-sex couples, nor can same-sex couples be granted the right to adopt;
    • It is not possible to read provisions in existing statutes governing marriage in a gender-neutral manner;
    • The constitutional challenge to the Special Marriage Act1954, the Hindu Marriage Act1955, and the Foreign Marriage Act 1969 is rejected;
  • Directions to Alleviate Hardships: Despite rejecting same-sex marriage as a fundamental right, the Court issued separate directions to the Union of India to set up a high-level committee to address the difficulties faced by same-sex couples living together, including discrimination.

Arguments Questioning SC’s Verdict

  • SC Has Set Precedents in Addressing Socio-Political Matter
    • The SC’s role is critical in shaping the socio-political landscape of India through its judgments, particularly through mechanisms like public interest litigation (PIL).
    • The Court's proactiveness in addressing various social and environmental issues has been celebrated, showcasing its transformative power in Indian society.
    • Many changes resulted from the Court's interpretations of the Constitution rather than existing laws.
      • For example, from directing the serving of mid-day meals to ordering the use of CNG to combat air pollution, the SC has intervened to ensure a better life for the common person.
      • None of these directions existed in law but were fashioned by the courts through an interpretation of multiple provisions of the Constitution.
  • The Court’s Decision to Rely on Judicial Restraint is Puzzling
    • Considering the Court's historical role in addressing injustices and promoting social change, the court’s decision to adopt a philosophy of judicial restraint is puzzling.
    • The majority refused to recognise the right to a civil partnership and the right of queer couples to adopt, despite acknowledging the discrimination faced by the LGBTQIA+ community.
    • In the face of such discrimination and injustice, the Court did not take a more proactive role in ensuring LGBTQ+ rights.
    • The judgment acknowledges the need to address the deprivation faced by the LGBTQIA+ community but places the onus on the legislature to rectify these issues.
    • This stance is problematic, especially given the history of parliamentary inaction in addressing LGBTQ+ rights.
  • The Court Has Overlooked Its Duty to Protect the Fundamental Right of Queer Community
    • The Court's reluctance to interpret the Constitution to provide rights to the LGBTQ+ community is inconsistent with its role in promoting justice.
    • This is because it was the failure of the Parliament to address these issues that led to the petitions in the first place.
    • Court’s Decision to Place Onus on Legislature in Morally and Legally Incorrect
    • When the judiciary confronts systemic injustices and deprivations, it is not simply empowered but constitutionally obligated to intervene and provide relief.
    • This is not an instance of the judiciary overstepping its bounds but rather a constitutional duty.
    • Hence, the Court's endorsement of the government's stance is legally and morally incorrect.
  • Verdict Goes Against the Idea of Framers of the Constitution
    • The framers of the Constitution were aware of the multiple forms of discrimination that existed in the country at the time of Independence.
    • They were also aware that electoral politics, while essential in a democracy, was not the surest way to achieve justice for all.
    • Therefore, the ultimate task of defending the fundamental rights of all citizens was placed upon the constitutional courts of the country.
    • The SC has been explicitly mandated to strike down laws which violate any fundamental right (Article 13).
    • Any person has the right to petition the Court for enforcement of her fundamental rights by filing a petition under Article 32, a provision that B R Ambedkar referred to as the heart and soul of the Constitution.

Arguments Supporting the SC Verdict

  • Marriage Has Its Roots in Heterosexual Unions
    • The importance of marriage has existed almost since the beginning of human civilisation, but on the understanding that marriage is heterosexual: A union between man and woman; two persons of the opposite sex.
    • The premises supporting the concept of marriage were and remain fundamental:
      • That the human race must procreate in order to survive.
      • Procreation occurs only through sexual relations between a man and woman committed to a bond.
      • Over the centuries, society has recognised that bond as marriage.
  • Same-Sex Marriage is Only a Recent Phenomenon
    • The same-sex marriage is a recent concept, it has gained popularity and legal recognition in several countries, particularly in North and South America and Western Europe.
    • It is legally recognised in at least 34 countries, which collectively make up only 17% of the world's population.
    • The distribution of same-sex marriage laws is uneven, with South Africa and Taiwan being the only representatives in their respective continents.
  • Granting Marriage Equality is Beyond SC’s Power
    • Under India’s Constitution, the people of India, through their representatives in Parliament and in state legislatures are free to accept marriage as including a union of same-sex couples.
    • But as a matter of constitutional law, neither a Constitution Bench of five Judges, nor even the full complement of 34 judges of the SC, have the authority to do the same.
    • Under India’s Constitution, the power to make laws including laws as to marriage vest exclusively either with Parliament at the Centre or with a state legislature in a state:
      • By reason of provisions contained in Article 245 (1) and Article 246(2) of the Constitution read along with Item 5 in the Concurrent List.

A Comparative Analysis of US SC and India’s SC’s Verdict on Same-Sex Marriage

  • US Supreme Court's Perspective (Obergefell v. Hodges)
    • In the Obergefell case, the US Supreme Court, with a majority opinion, ruled in favour of same-sex marriage. Chief Justice Roberts and three other colleagues dissented.
    • Chief Justice Roberts emphasised the need for the democratic process, arguing that the decision to recognise same-sex marriage should be made by elected representatives.
  • Supreme Court of India's Perspective (Supriya Chakraborty v Union of India)
    • With a majority opinion of three out of five judges, the SC held that the question of whether same-sex marriage should be accepted in India rests with the country's Parliament and state legislatures.
    • It has not been recognised in any law so far.


  • The verdict in the Supriya Chakraborty case reflects a complex and divided legal landscape regarding same-sex marriage in India.
  • The Constitution establishes a delicate balance to protect the rights and liberties of all citizens.
  • For now, the LGBTQIA+ community has to abide by the Court’s direction that the government should form a committee to decide the rights and entitlements of queer couples.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
27 Oct 2023

Union Government Launches Bharatiya Beej Sahkari Samiti Limited (BBSSL)

Why in News?

  • Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah has established a new cooperative society, Bharatiya Beej Sahkari Samiti Limited (BBSSL), to boost domestic production as well as exports of certified seeds.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About PACS (Meaning, Objectives, Benefits, etc.)
  • News Summary (Home Minister Amit Shah’s Address)

What Is a Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS)?

  • PACS are village level cooperative credit societies that serve as the last link in a three-tier cooperative credit structure headed by the State Cooperative Banks (SCB) at the state level.
    • Credit from the SCBs is transferred to the District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs), that operate at the district level.
    • The DCCBs work with PACS, which deal directly with farmers.
  • Since these are cooperative bodies, individual farmers are members of the PACS, and office-bearers are elected from within them. A village can have multiple PACS.
  • PACSs provide short-term, and medium-term agricultural loans to the farmers for the various agricultural and farming activities.
    • The first PACS was formed in 1904.
  • Currently, there are more than 1,00,000 PACS in the country with a huge member base of more than 13 crore farmers. However, only 63,000 of them are functional.

Benefits/Advantages of PACS:

  • The attraction of the PACS lies in the last mile connectivity they offer.
  • For farmers, timely access to capital is necessary at the start of their agricultural activities.
  • PACS have the capacity to extend credit with minimal paperwork within a short time.
    • With other scheduled commercial banks, farmers have often complained of tedious paperwork and red tape.
  • For farmers, PACS provide strength in numbers, as most of the paperwork is taken care of by the office-bearer of the PACS.
  • In the case of scheduled commercial banks, farmers have to individually meet the requirement and often have to take the help of agents to get their loans sanctioned.
  • Major Drawback of PACS –
    • Since PACS are cooperative bodies, however, political compulsions often trump financial discipline, and the recovery of loans is hit.
    • Chairpersons of PACS participate in electing the office-bearers of DCCBs.
    • Political affiliations are important here as well.

News Summary:

  • Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah addressed the “National Symposium on Production of Improved and Traditional Seed through Cooperative Sector”.
  • It was organized by Bharatiya Beej Sahkari Samiti Limited (BBSSL).
  • BBSSL will have a huge contribution in making India self-reliant in the field of seed conservation, promotion and research in the coming days.

Key highlights of the speech

  • Scientifically designed and prepared seeds are not available to every farmer in the country.
  • India is one of the few countries in the world where agriculture was systematically introduced and that is why our traditional seeds are most suitable for quality and physical nutrition.
  • The traditional Indian seeds have to be conserved and passed on to the coming generations, so that the production of healthy grains, fruits and vegetables continues and this work will be done by BBSSL.
  • There is a huge market for export of seeds in the world and India's share in it is less than one percent currently.
    • A time-bound target should be set for a vast and agriculture-oriented country like India to gain a larger share in the global seed market.
  • BBSSL will also connect Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS) with seed production like all other types of cooperative societies including agriculture, horticulture, dairy, fisheries.
  • Through PACS, every farmer will be able to produce seeds in his field. These seeds will be certified and after branding, BBSSL will contribute in delivering these seed not only to the entire country but also to the whole world.
  • Today, the requirement of seeds in India itself is about 465 lakh quintals, out of which 165 lakh quintals are produced through government system and the production through cooperatives is less than 1 percent. BBSSL has been set up to change this ratio.



Mains Article
27 Oct 2023

Legal Provisions Related to Surrogacy in India

Why in News?

  • The Supreme Court has protected the right of parenthood of a woman, suffering from a rare medical condition, by staying the operation of a law which threatened to wreck her hopes to become a mother through surrogacy.
  • In this context, this article analyses the legal provisions with respect to surrogacy in India.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Salient Provisions of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021
  • What was the Recent Case, and Why did the Woman Approach the SC?
  • The Petitioner’s Arguments
  • The Government's Argument
  • The SC’s Verdict

Salient Provisions of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021:

  • What is surrogacy?
    • The Act defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand it over to them after the birth.
    • It is permitted only for altruistic purposes or for couples who suffer proven infertility or disease.
    • Surrogacy is prohibited for commercial purposes including for sale, prostitution or any other forms of exploitation.
  • Status of child born:
    • Once the child is born, it will be deemed to be the biological child of the couple for all intents and purposes.
    • Abortion of such a foetus is allowed only with the consent of the surrogate mother and the authorities and must adhere to the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
  • Who can avail of surrogacy?
    • Under the Act, a couple should procure certificates of eligibility and essentiality in order to have a child via surrogacy.
    • The couple is deemed ‘eligible’ if they have been married for five years, the wife is aged between 25-50 years and the husband is between 26-55 years.
    • The couple must not have any living child (biological, adopted or surrogate.) A child with mental or physical disabilities or one suffering from a life-threatening disorder or illness has been exempted from the above criterion.
  • Who can issue an ‘essential’ certificate?
    • The couple can get an ‘essential’ certificate if suffering from proven infertility of either partner certified by a District Medical Board, and an order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child, passed by a Magistrate’s court.
    • They must also have insurance coverage for 16 months for the surrogate mother, covering any postpartum complications.
  • Who can be a surrogate?
    • A surrogate mother has to be a close relative of the couple, a married woman with a child of her own, aged between 25-35 years, who has been a surrogate only once in her life.
    • She must also possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy.
  • Who regulates surrogacy?
    • The Centre and State governments are expected to constitute a National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and State Surrogacy Boards (SSB) respectively, within 90 days of the passing of the Act.
    • This body is tasked with enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics, investigating breaches and recommending modifications.
    • Further, surrogacy clinics need to apply for registration within 60 days of the appointment of the appropriate authority.
  • Offences under the Act: Include commercial surrogacy, selling of embryos, exploiting, abandoning a surrogate child, etc. These may invite up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakhs.

What was the Recent Case, and Why did the Woman Approach the SC?

  • The woman has the Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser (MRKH) syndrome. Medical board records showed she has absent ovaries and absent uterus, hence she cannot produce her own eggs/oocytes.
  • The couple had begun the process of gestational surrogacy, through a donor, last year.
  • However, a government notification (on March 14 this year) amended the law, banning the use of donor gametes.
    • It said “intending couples” must use their own gametes for surrogacy.
      • Gametes are reproductive cells that are used during sexual reproduction to produce a new organism. They are also known as sex cells.
      • In animals, female gametes are called ova or egg cells, and male gametes are called sperm.
    • The petition was filed in the SC challenging the amendment as a violation of a woman’s right to parenthood.

The Petitioner’s Arguments:

  • She had begun the surrogacy process months before the amendment, which cannot be implemented retrospectively.
  • The amendment to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Rules 2022 ruled out the use of donor eggs and made it impossible for her and her husband to continue with the process of surrogacy in order to achieve parenthood.
  • The amendment contradicts the Surrogacy Act 2021 which recognised the situation when a medical condition would require a couple to opt for gestational surrogacy in order to become parents.
  • The Surrogacy Rules listed the medical or congenital conditions owing to which a woman could choose to become a mother through gestational surrogacy.
    • They included having no uterus or missing uterus or abnormal uterus or if the uterus is surgically removed due to any medical condition such as gynaecological cancer.
    • The Surrogacy Rules made it clear that the choice was solely that of the woman.

The Government's Argument: The process of surrogacy cannot be availed under the law unless the child was “genetically related” to the intending couple. This exempted the use of donor eggs.

The SC’s Verdict:

  • The amendment is prima facie contrary to what is intended under the main provisions of the Surrogacy Act both in form as well as in substance.
  • The law permitting gestational surrogacy was “woman-centric”.
    • The decision to have a surrogate child was entirely based on the woman’s inability to become a mother owing to her medical or congenital condition.
    • Such a condition included the absence of a uterus or repeatedly failed pregnancies, multiple pregnancies or an illness which makes it impossible for her to carry a pregnancy or would make the pregnancy life-threatening.
  • The amendment cannot contradict Rules which specifically recognises the absence of a uterus or any allied condition as a medical indication necessitating gestational surrogacy.
  • Addressing the government’s contention that the surrogate child should be “genetically related” to the couple, the court pointed out that the child would be related to the husband
    • In this regard, it may be noted that the expression ‘genetically’ related to the intending couple has to be read as being related to the husband.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
27 Oct 2023

One nation, One Student ID initiative

Why in news?

  • Recently, several state governments requested schools to seek parental consent for the creation of a new student identity card.
  • The new ID card, known as the Automated Permanent Academic Account Registry- APAAR, is part of the ‘One nation, One Student ID’ initiative of the Union government.

What’s in today’s article?


What is APPAR ID?

  • It is envisioned as a special ID system for all students in India, starting from childhood.
  • Under the initiative, each student would get a lifelong APAAR ID, making it easy for the learners, schools, and governments to track academic progress from pre-primary education to higher education.
  • APAAR would also serve as a gateway to Digilocker.
    • Digilocker, a digital system where students can store their important documents and achievements, such as exam results and report cards, digitally, making it easier to access and use them in the future.


  • The goal behind introducing APAAR is to make education hassle-free and reduce the need for students to carry physical documents.
  • This initiative was launched as part of the National Education Policy 2020 by the Education Ministry.
  • The vision is to create a positive change, allowing state governments to track literacy rates, dropout rates, and helping them make improvements.
  • APAAR also aims to reduce fraud and duplicate educational certificates by providing a single, trusted reference for educational institutions.
    • Only first party sources that issue certificates will be allowed to deposit credits into the system, ensuring authenticity.

Working of APAAR ID

  • Every individual will have a unique APAAR ID, which will be linked to the Academic Bank Credit (ABC).
    • ABC is a digital storehouse that contains information of the credits earned by students throughout their learning journey.
  • With the APAAR ID, students would be able to store all their certificates and credits, whether they come from formal education or informal learning.
  • When a student completes a course or achieves something, it is digitally certified and securely stored in his/her account by authorised institutions.
  • If the student changes schools, whether within the state or to another state, all related data in the ABC gets transferred to the new school just by sharing the APAAR ID.

What do students have to do to get their single ID created?

  • To sign up for APAAR, students will have to provide basic information such as name, age, date of birth, gender, and a photograph.
  • This information will be verified using their Aadhar number.
  • Students will need to sign a consent form, and they can choose to either accept or decline sharing their Aadhar number and demographic information with the Ministry of Education for creating the APAAR ID.
  • For minors, parents will have to sign the consent form, allowing the Ministry to use the student’s Aadhar number for authentication with UIDAI.
  • Registration for creating APAAR ID is voluntary, not mandatory.

Concerns surrounding APAAR

  • Sharing of Aadhar details and issue around security
    • Parents and students worry that their personal information could be leaked to outside parties.
    • The government, however, says that the information shared by students will be kept confidential and will not be shared with any third party except for entities engaged in educational activities.
    • These entities include the Unified District Information System for Education Plus (UDISE+) database, scholarships, maintenance academic records, educational institutions and recruitment agencies.
      • UDISE+ database is the government’s catalogue that contains data related to schools, teachers and students.
  • Processing of information
    • At any given time, students have the option to stop sharing their information with the mentioned parties, and their data processing will be halted.
    • However, any personal data already processed will remain unaffected if consent is withdrawn.
  • Burden on teaching faculties
    • School authorities have raised the issue of already pending Aadhaar verification of students, which is kept optional.
    • The addition of the APAAR registry can increase the administrative burden on the teaching faculty.
Social Issues

Mains Article
27 Oct 2023

Qatar court sentences 8 Indian Navy veterans to death

Why in news?

  • Eight former personnel of the Indian Navy, who were detained in Doha in 2022, have been sentenced to death by a Qatari court.
  • They were arrested by Qatari authorities on August 30, 2022 and have since been under solitary confinement.

What’s in today’s article?

  • India – Qatar Bilateral Relation
  • News Summary

India – Qatar Bilateral Relation

  • High-level visits
    • The two countries have had friendly relations for decades.
    • Since PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to Qatar in November 2008, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, the relationship has burgeoned.
    • The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, visited India in 2015, and PM Modi went to Qatar in 2016.
    • The late Sushma Swaraj became the first Indian Foreign Minister to visit Qatar in 2018.
  • Bilateral trade
    • In 2021, India was among the top four export destinations for Qatar; it is also among the top three sources of Qatar’s imports.
    • The bilateral trade is valued at $15 billion, which is mostly LNG and LPG exports from Qatar worth over $13 billion.
  • Defence co-operation
    • Defence co-operation has been officially described as a “pillar” of Indian-Qatar ties.
    • The India-Qatar Defence Cooperation Agreement, signed during PM Singh’s November 2008 visit, was a significant turning point. The agreement was extended for another five years in 2018.
    • Indian Naval and Coast Guard ships regularly visit Qatar. QENF delegations participated in two maritime exercises in India in 2021.
    • Two editions of a joint naval exercise called Zair Al Bahr have been held.

Challenges in the relationship

  • BJP spokesperson’s derogatory references to the Prophet on a TV show
    • The first big challenge to the relationship came in June 2022 over BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s derogatory references to the Prophet.
    • Qatar was the first country to object, and demand a “public apology” from India soon after the controversy erupted.
  • Jailing of the eight ex-Navy personnel
    • The development blindsided New Delhi in a country where 800,000 Indians live and work. Indians are the largest expatriate community in Qatar.
    • Its 210-strong delegation at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas event in Indore last year was the second biggest, next only to the Mauritius delegation.
  • The boil over the Israeli bombardment of Gaza
    • The news of the death penalty for the Indians has come at a time when the Middle East is on the boil over the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
    • Qatar, which is deeply sympathetic to the Palestinians, has mediated the release of two American hostages from Hamas captivity in Gaza, and the country’s diplomats are said to be working as a regional mediator in the crisis.

News Summary: Qatar court sentences 8 Indian Navy veterans to death

  • The officers were jailed on charges that have not been made public.
  • Responding to the development, the Ministry of External Affairs expressed shock over the verdict and said India will take up the matter with Qatari authorities.

Who are these Indians and what were they doing in Qatar?

  • The eight former Navy personnel were working at Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a defence services provider company.
    • Most of the arrested men had been working at Dahra for four to six years at the time of their arrests.
    • Commander Purnendu Tiwari (retd), who was Managing Director of the company, received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2019 for his services in furthering the bilateral relationship between India and Qatar.
  • The company is owned by an Omani national, Khamis al-Ajmi, a retired squadron leader of the Royal Oman Air Force.
    • This man too, was arrested along with the eight Indians, but he was released in November 2022.
  • The company’s old website, which no longer exists, said it provided training, logistics and maintenance services to the Qatari Emiri Naval Force (QENF).

When were the men arrested by the Qatari authorities, and why?

  • The men were picked up by the State Security Bureau, the Qatari intelligence agency. The Indian Embassy first learnt about the arrests in mid-September last year.
  • On September 30, the men were allowed “brief telephonic contact” with their family members.
  • The first consular access — a visit by an official of the Indian embassy — was granted on October 3, more than a month after they were taken into custody.
  • The charges against the men were never made public, but the fact they were put in solitary confinement led to speculation that they had been detained in connection with a security-related offence.

India’s stance

  • The Ministry of External Affairs has been closely monitoring the situation, and has extended every possible support to the arrested sailors.
  • The matter has been taken up at various diplomatic and political levels
  • In addition to the GoI’s efforts, the families of the former Navy personnel have also filed a Mercy Plea to the Emir of Qatar, who is known to grant pardons during Ramadan and Eid.



International Relations
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