Dec. 30, 2023

Mains Article
30 Dec 2023

Order At Sea: Indian Navy in a Threatening Red Sea


  • In recent times, the Yemen-based Houthi rebels have emerged as a significant threat to Red Sea merchant shipping.
  • From India’s perspective, it becomes imperative to delve into the critical importance of maritime security, focusing on the Indian Ocean's strategic significance and the complex dynamics of the ongoing Yemeni civil war.

An Overview of India’s Role/Contribution in Global Trade and Shipping

  • Global Trade and Shipping: Backbone of the Global Economy
    • Shipping, as the most cost-effective and efficient method of transporting goods over long distances, serves as the backbone of the global economy.
    • 80% of the world's oil and 10 trillion tons of cargo are transported annually by nearly 1,00,000 merchantmen which underscores the magnitude of reliance on maritime trade for sustaining the economic health of nations globally.
  • India's Role in Global Shipping
    • Amidst the vast international shipping network, India maintains a modest merchant fleet of about 500 vessels, with approximately 1.5 lakh Indian sailors serving on foreign-flagged ships.
    • This reflects India's active participation in the global shipping industry.
    • Moreover, it emphasises the interconnectedness of economies and the necessity for maritime nations to actively engage in securing sea routes for mutual economic benefit.

Strategic Importance of the Indian Ocean

  • Hub for Global Trade
    • The Indian Ocean is a vital hub for global trade, connecting Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
    • It serves as a primary route for nearly 1,00,000 merchantmen annually.
    • The sheer volume of international shipping passing through the Indian Ocean emphasises its strategic importance for the smooth functioning of the global economy.
  • Critical Choke Points
    • The Indian Ocean is characterised by several narrow passages known as choke points.
    • These include the Malacca Strait in the east, the Hormuz Strait at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, and the Bab al Mandab Strait at the mouth of the Red Sea.
    • Choke points constrict shipping traffic, making it vulnerable to interdiction by states, pirates, and terrorists.
    • The security of these choke points is paramount for ensuring the free flow of international trade.
  • A Strategic Zone for India
    • India's location along the Indian Ocean gives it a strategic advantage, and India has recognised the imperative to actively engage in maintaining good order at sea.
    • The Indian Navy's self-assigned role as a preferred security partner in the region aligns with the acknowledgment that ensuring maritime security is not only in India's interest but also a commitment to international stability and trade.

Maritime Security Challenges in Indian Ocean Region

  • Jurisdiction Complexities
    • The concept of flag states, where the state in which a ship is registered holds exclusive jurisdiction and this concept adds complexity to maritime security efforts.
    • In peacetime, the primary responsibility for security and law enforcement on ships falls on the flag state.
    • Warships from other states, even when wanting to board a merchant vessel for security reasons, require the consent of the flag state or the ship's master.
    • This legal framework poses challenges in swiftly responding to emergent threats at sea.
  • Evolving Nature of Drone Warfare
    • The emergence of drone warfare poses new challenges for maritime security and while larger drones are detectable by radar and can be targeted, smaller, low-flying drones are harder to spot and engage.
    • Counter-drone measures are crucial, and soft-kill measures, such as jamming or corrupting radio signals, become primary tools for defence.
    • However, the evolving nature of drone technology requires continuous adaptation and innovation in security protocols.
  • Ongoing Saudi Arab-Iran Proxy Clash in Yemeni Civil War
    • The ongoing Yemeni civil war is often viewed as a proxy clash between regional powers, primarily Saudi Arabia and Iran.
    • This adds a layer of complexity to the conflict, turning it into a multilateral struggle.
    • The involvement of countries like Jordan, UAE, Qatar, Sudan, Bahrain, and organisations like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah underscores the geopolitical dimensions of the conflict.
  • Complex Geopolitical Landscape
    • The conflict has transformed into a multilateral struggle with various external actors participating or supporting one side or the other.
    • The U.S., for example, has engaged in targeted killings in Yemen through drone attacks.
    • The intricate geopolitical landscape contributes to the challenges in understanding the underlying reasons for specific actions, such as the Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.
  • Houthi’s Ideological Objectives and Challenges
    • The Houthi rebels, also known as Ansar Allah, claim ideological objectives for their actions and unlike traditional pirates seeking ransom, the Houthis assert a broader goal related to ideological motives.
    • Their attacks on shipping are aimed at pressurizing Israel to end its indiscriminate bombardment of Gaza, citing a humanitarian cause, and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
    • The challenge lies in the Houthi group's claim to target only ships flying the Israeli flag or those bound to and from Israeli ports or somehow linked to Israel.
    • The difficulty in identifying and avoiding ships falling into these categories raises concerns about the potential collateral impact on innocent vessels and the need for a reliable mechanism to enforce such distinctions.

Responses at International Level and Role Played by India

  • Operation Prosperity Guardian
    • The U.S. launched Operation Prosperity Guardian with the aim of safeguarding Red Sea shipping, particularly in response to Houthi attacks.
    • However, its perceived goal faced scepticism from France, Italy, and Spain, who deemed it unnecessarily provocative and potentially escalatory considering Iran.
  • India's Strategic Deployment
    • India's response, deploying four to five warships to the Red Sea, demonstrates its commitment to being a key player in regional security.
    • The deployment serves as a show of naval presence, reinforcing India's self-assigned role as a preferred security partner in the region.
    • This not only aligns with its national interests but also contributes to maintaining international maritime order.

Ways Ahead for India to Maintain Peace and Security in IOR

  • Leverage Diplomatic Relations
    • India's diplomatic leverage with both Iran and Israel positions it as a potential mediator in the Yemeni conflict and the associated maritime threats.
    • With deep ties to both nations, India can play a crucial role in urging moderation and restraint.
    • The goal is to prevent the Yemeni conflict from further escalating and spilling over into the Indian Ocean, which could have far-reaching consequences for regional stability and global trade.
  • Balance Interests
    • Navigating the complexities of regional geopolitics, India must strike a delicate balance between safeguarding its maritime interests and contributing to broader international stability.
    • By diplomatically engaging with all relevant parties, India can work towards finding common ground and promoting dialogue.
    • It will reinforce its commitment to maintaining peace and security in the strategically vital Indian Ocean region.


  • The multifaceted challenges in maritime security demand nuanced responses, blending military readiness, diplomatic finesse, and adaptability to evolving threats.
  • India, with its strategic deployment, diplomatic standing, and commitment to regional stability can play a crucial role in shaping the outcome of this complex scenario.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
30 Dec 2023

Core sectors’ growth skids to 6-month low in November

Why in news?

  • The output of eight core infrastructure sectors expanded 7.8% in November.
    • That is the slowest pace of growth recorded since May, when the eight sectors cumulatively grew 5.2%.
  • The Index of Core Industries (ICI) was down 3.34% from October levels, and stood at 150.3, its lowest level since March 2023.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Index of Core Industries (about, component and weightage, significance)
  • Index of Industrial Production (about, components and weightage, significance)
  • News Summary

Index of Core Industries (ICI)

  • About
    • ICI is a production volume index which is released on monthly basis.
    • The index measures combined and individual performance of production in selected eight core industries.
    • The base year of the ICI has been revised to 2011-12 from 2004-05.
  • Institutions involved
    • The Office of Economic Adviser, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade under Ministry of Commerce & Industry is mandated with releasing the Index.
  • Eight Core Industries of the Index
    • The eight core industries are: Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement and Electricity.
    • Weight carried by individual industries are:
      • Coal (weight: 10.33%), Crude Oil (weight: 8.98%), Natural Gas (weight: 6.88%), Petroleum Refinery (weight: 28.04%),
      • Fertilizers (weight: 2.63%), Steel production (weight: 17.92%), Cement production (weight: 5.37%), Electricity generation (weight: 19.85%)

Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

  • About
    • The IIP number measures the industrial production for the period under review, usually a month, as against the reference period.
    • There is a lag of six weeks in the publication of the IIP index data after the reference month ends.
    • It is currently calculated using 2011-2012 as the base year.
  • Institution involved
    • National Statistical Organisation (NSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) releases the IIP data.
  • IIP Index Components
    • IIP is a composite indicator that measures the growth rate of industry groups classified under:
      • Broad sectors, namely, Mining (14.4%), Manufacturing (77.6%) and Electricity (8%)
      • Use-based sectors, namely Basic Goods, Capital Goods and Intermediate Goods etc.
    • These Eight Core Industries mentioned in above section comprise 40.27 percent of the weight of items included in the IIP.

News Summary: Core sectors’ growth skids to 6-month low in November

  • The output of eight key infrastructure industries slowed to a six-month low of 7.8 per cent in November on the back of a high base and festival holidays.
  • According to data released by the Ministry, growth in the output of refinery products (12.4 per cent) accelerated in September vis-à-vis the preceding month, while output of crude oil (-0.4 per cent) and cement (-3.6 per cent) contracted.
  • Output growth in all other sectors, including coal (10.9 per cent), natural gas (7.6 per cent), fertilisers (3.4 per cent) steel (9.1 per cent), and electricity (5.6 per cent) decelerated.



Mains Article
30 Dec 2023

ULFA signs peace accord with Centre, Assam govt

Why in news?

  • The pro-talks faction of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) signed a peace accord with the Central government and the Assam government.
    • In the last five years, 9 peace and border-related agreements have been signed across Northeast.
    • In November 2023, a peace agreement was signed with the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) in Manipur, a Meitei separatist group.
  • With this Memorandum of Settlement, the ULFA faction has formally agreed to shun violence and join the mainstream.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Insurgency in Assam
  • News Summary

Insurgency in Assam

  • Assam has seen insurgency by various tribal militant groups, particularly from the 1980s onwards.
    • This was even after Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh were carved out of Assam.
  • The core demand of most of these groups has been greater political autonomy, primarily through separate statehood demands.

Reasons behind the insurgency in Assam

  • Ethnic minefield
    • The Assam region has a long history of tensions between the indigenous ethnic groups.
    • There are 15 recognised tribes in the autonomous districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills and 14 recognised tribes in the rest of the state.
    • Of these, the major tribes are Bodo (35% of the state’s tribal population), Mishing (17.52%), Karbi (11.1%), Rabha (7.6%), Sonowal Kachari (6.5%), Lalung (5.2%), Garo (4.2%), and Dimasa (3.2%).
    • Of these, the most sustained and violent movement for autonomy has been carried out by Bodo groups.
    • However, there have also been Karbi and Dimasa groups that waged militant operations over the decades.
  • Immigration
    • The large-scale immigration of Bengali-speaking Muslims from the neighboring country of Bangladesh has been a major source of tension in the region.
    • The Assamese people see this immigration as a threat to their identity, culture, and economic well-being.
  • Political factors
    • This region saw movements which ask for recognition of sub-regional aspirations.
    • These movements often came in direct conflict with the State Governments or even the Autonomous Councils.
      • E.g., All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU) stepped up the movement in 1987 for a separate state of Bodoland on the North Bank of the Brahmaputra.
  • Economic factors
    • The isolation of the region after partition was a big blow to the economy of the region.
    • The perception of exploitation of NE resources by the government in Delhi boosted insurgency.

The Insurgent Groups in Assam

  • United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA)
    • Formed in April 1979, ULFA was founded on the ideology of Assamese nationalism.
    • It pledged to liberate Assam and establish a Swadin Asom (Independent Assam) comprising the ethnic Assamese speaking people.
  • Bodo Movement in Assam
    • The demand for the creation of a homeland for the Assam plains tribal communities in the shape of Udyachal was a significant plank of the Bodo political movement in the 1960s.
    • The All-Bodo Students Union (ABSU) was formed in 1967 to represent the Bodo cause.
      • The movement for separate Bodoland was revived through the ABSU after the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985.
      • It soon came to be backed by Bodo armed groups with the formation of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
      • This led to the emergence of an insurgency situation in the region.
    • Three accords were signed with Bodo militant groups in 1993, 2003, and 2020.
      • The first Bodo Accord was signed with the ABSU in 1993 and paved the way for the Bodoland Autonomous Council.
      • The second Accord in 2003 with the Bodo Liberation Tigers subsequently led to the formation of the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC), with jurisdiction over the Bodo Territorial Autonomous District (BTAD).
      • The third Bodo Accord of 2020 was essentially a truce with four factions of the militant NDFB.
      • The third accord extended provisions already in effect through the previous accords by providing more legislative, administrative, executive and financial powers to the BTC.
      • It also gave the power to alter the area of the BTAD and notified the Bodo language as an associate official language in the state.
  • Karbi
    • There were five major militant groups of Karbi Anglong:
      • Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger,
      • People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri (PDCK),
      • Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF),
      • Kuki Liberation Front (KLF), and
      • United People’s Liberation Army (UPLA).
    • The insurgency by these groups revolved around the demand for an autonomous state and had taken off in the 1980s.
    • In 2021, a settlement was arrived at with the above-mentioned five militant groups of Karbi Anglong.
      • The settlement provided for greater autonomy and special packages for the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council.
      • It also provided a special development package of Rs 1,000 crore over five years.
  • Dimasa
    • The DNLA, with which a tripartite agreement was reached recently, was the newest group to take up arms in Dima Hasao district.
    • The settlement signed with the DNLA now has similar provisions along the lines of the settlement arrived at with the five Karbi Anglong groups two years ago.

News Summary: ULFA signs peace accord with Centre, Assam govt

  • The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA)’s pro-talks faction signed a tripartite Memorandum of Settlement with the Centre and the Assam government.
    • The ULFA pro-talks faction was led by its chairperson Arabinda Rajkhowa.
      • This faction joined peace talks with the government on September 3, 2011, after an agreement for Suspension of Operations was signed between it and central and state governments.
    • The hardline faction of the ULFA headed by Paresh Baruah is still not part of the peace accord.
      • Baruah reportedly lives along the China-Myanmar border.
  • A major development package will be given to Assam under the agreement with ULFA.
Defence & Security

Mains Article
30 Dec 2023

Interim Leader of the Party in the Houses of the Parliament

Why in News?

  • Rajya Sabha chairperson rejected the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) request to appoint its MP (Raghav Chadha) as the interim leader of the party in the Upper House.
  • The AAP wants him (Chadha) to replace Sanjay Singh who is in judicial custody in the Delhi liquor scam case.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why did the Rajya Sabha Chairperson Reject the Request?
  • What does the Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognised Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act 1998 Say?

Why did the Rajya Sabha Chairperson Reject the Request?

  • Recently, AAP national convener and Delhi CM wrote to Rajya Sabha chairperson proposing (Chadha’s) name for the party’s interim leader.
  • But sources in the Rajya Sabha secretariat said the request was rejected as there was no provision for the appointment of an interim leader of a party under the -
    • Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognised Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act, 1998.

What does the Leaders and Chief Whips of Recognised Parties and Groups in Parliament (Facilities) Act 1998 Say?

  • The Act deals with facilities to be provided to leaders and chief whips of recognised parties and groups in Parliament.
  • It defines a “recognised group” as every party that has -
    • A strength of not less than 15 members and not more than 24 members in the Rajya Sabha, and
    • A strength of not less than 30 members and not more than 54 members in the Lok Sabha.
  • According to the Act, a “recognised party” must have a strength of not less than 25 members in Rajya Sabha and not less than 55 five members in Lok Sabha.
  • According to the Act, each leader, deputy leader and each chief whip of a recognised group and a recognised party shall be entitled to telephone and secretarial facilities.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
30 Dec 2023

India’s Lithium Deal with Argentina

Why in News?

  • India is on the brink of securing a significant deal for five lithium blocks in Argentina, with negotiations reportedly in the final stages.
  • This strategic move could be a game-changer in reducing India's reliance on China for critical minerals.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About Lithium (Properties, Applications, Availability, Top Producers, etc.)
  • News Summary

About Lithium:

  • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal.
  • Lithium is a special metal in many ways. It's light and soft — it can be cut with a kitchen knife and so low in density that it floats on water.

Applications of Lithium:

  • The most important use of lithium is in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles (EVs).
    • Lithium is often dubbed as “white gold” for electric vehicles.
  • Lithium metal is made into alloys with aluminium and magnesium, improving their strength and making them lighter.
    • Aluminium-lithium alloys are used in aircraft, bicycle frames and high-speed trains.
  • Lithium has no known biological role. It is toxic, except in very small doses.

Where is Lithium Found Naturally?

  • Lithium makes up a mere 0.0007 per cent of the Earth's crust and it's only found locked up in minerals and salts.
  • With 9.3 million tonnes, Chile has the world’s largest known lithium reserves.
  • Chile is followed by Australia (6.2 million tonnes).
  • In 2023, the Geological Survey of India, found that 9 million tonnes have been found in Salal-Haimana area of Reasi district of J&K.
    • India now has the third largest resource of lithium globally, but it will take time to convert it to reserves.
  • India is followed by Argentina (2.7 million tonnes) and China (2 million tonnes).
  • Global lithium production surpassed 100,000 tonnes for the first time in 2021, quadrupling from 2010. Currently, Australia alone produces 52% of the world’s lithium.

Future of Lithium Production:

  • As the world produces more batteries and EVs, the demand for lithium is projected to reach 1.5 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) by 2025 and over 3 million tonnes by 2030.
  • Based on the above demand projections, production needs to triple by 2025 and increase nearly six-fold by 2030. 

News Summary:

  • The Union Ministry of Mines, through the state-owned Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), has entered into a draft exploration and development agreement with Argentinean miner CAMYEN.
  • This agreement is for possible acquisition and development of five-odd lithium blocks.
  • The company has also entered into a non-disclosure agreement with Chilean miner ENAMI for “possible exploration, extraction, processing and commercialisation” of the mineral.
  • It has also appointed consultancy major PwC for identification of investable projects in Australia.

Acquisitions in Argentina:

  • India has over the last one year upped its search for critical mineral, especially lithium.
  • Lithium is a cornerstone in India’s switch to green energy thereby reducing its carbon footprints.
  • Argentina, with its enormous lithium deposits and low production costs, is ideally positioned to supply this demand.
  • As of September 2023, Argentina has two active lithium mines. There are 14 lithium projects under construction or in the advanced exploration stage in Argentina.
    • Argentina is expected to become one of the world’s leading lithium producers once these projects become operational.
  • The KABIL board had approved the ‘Draft Exploration and Development Agreement” earlier and a proposal for opening of Branch Office in Catamarca, Argentina was subsequently cleared by the Ministry.
International Relations

Dec. 29, 2023

Mains Article
29 Dec 2023

India’s Stationary Course in the Shipping Value Chain


  • India has had historical advantage in ship-owning and modern shipbuilding but there has been a shift in the narrative post-1980s, with China outpacing India in maritime development.
  • Therefore, it is important to explore the maritime trajectories of China and India, with a focus on the Yangtze River's role in China's maritime prowess and India's challenges and opportunities in the shipping industry.

The Significance of Yangtze River in China’s Maritime Success Story

  • Yangtze: China’s Heartbeat
    • The Yangtze River has been China’s heartbeat through its long history.
    • Tradition, legend, myth, culture, as well as commerce and industry are integral to the Yangtze tradition.
  • Modern China’s Lifeline
    • In present-day China, the Yangtze River serves as a vital lifeline, seamlessly blending modernity with its ancient essence.
    • The Three Gorges project has further enhanced its importance, as one approaches the Yangtze from the sea, it is easy to hear the melodic tunes of Chinese opera or, more contemporarily, the sounds associated with Kung Fu Panda.
    • At the same time, it is impossible to ignore the presence of large merchant ships, often moving in groups of two or three, navigating in and out of the river.
  • Unique Characteristics of Yangtze Compared to Global Counterparts
    • The modern engineering and shipping marvels of Suez or even the Panama Canal see a convoy of ships, one behind the other.
    • The Yangtze often sees multiple convoys steaming in parallel and, in between, smaller barges criss-cross the river, much like the autorickshaws on Indian roads.
    • It is an incredible sight, a story of expert seamanship, logistical planning, and piloting skills.
    • The ships are either bringing in raw materials from across the world including from far away Chinese-owned mines from Peru and Africa or leaving with finished products to all over the world.
    • Some vessels are new, built in shipyards that stand cheek by jowl at every bend in the river. Many are repaired in those same yards and dry docks.
  • China Surpassing India by a Considerable Margin
    • The Yangtze River serves as a classic example of the often-repeated narrative highlighting the difference in progress between China and India.
    • This narrative is based on statistics to demonstrate that India and China were in similar situations until the late 1980s.
    • However, it is more of a China’s story as to how China has made significant leaps forward since then, surpassing India by a considerable margin.

A Comparative Analysis Between India and China in Maritime Industry

  • Historical Background
    • India had a head start in the maritime sector until the late 1980s and the country had a tradition of modern ship-owning,
    • This was exemplified by a former Indian Navy officer who commissioned giant oil tankers, marking a unique contribution to the global maritime landscape.
    • On the other hand, China was a late entrant to the global merchant shipping scene.
    • However, by the end of 2020, it had emerged as the builder of half of all ships worldwide, a remarkable feat driven by a dedicated government plan to boost shipbuilding and ownership.
  • Shipbuilding and Ownership
    • While India had private players entering the shipping industry, the focus was primarily on expanding the seafarer population.
    • However, ship owning, chartering, financing, and building remained largely out of reach for Indian entities.
    • The state-owned Shipping Corporation of India faced challenges, impacting the order books of Indian shipyards.
    • And China, driven by a government-led plan, became a global leader in shipbuilding and by 2020, it was producing half of the world's ships.
    • Chinese shipowners played a pivotal role, often building most of their ships at state-owned government yards.
  • Labour and Seafarer Contribution
    • India's main source of growth and foreign exchange earnings in the maritime sector has been the supply of labour.
    • Indian seafarers, known for their proficiency in English, became a routine presence in global shipping.
    • The UPA government decentralised maritime training, leading to institutions across the country producing seafarers of various grades and competencies.
    • While specific data on Chinese seafarer contribution is not provided, India's seafarers and their management companies were estimated to bring in around $6 billion in foreign exchange annually, showcasing a significant contribution to the country's economy.
  • Government Role and Industry Strategy
    • Successive Indian governments have primarily focused on expanding the seafarer population.
    • However, ship owning, chartering, and building have not seen significant progress, with state-owned entities facing challenges.
    • On the other hand, China's success in shipbuilding is due to a dedicated government plan.
    • The state played a crucial role in supporting shipbuilding activities, and Chinese shipowners largely built their ships at state-owned yards.

Reasons Behind India’s Negligible Share in Shipbuilding and Owning

  • Vague Roadmap of the Maritime Agenda 2020
    • The UPA government came up with a Maritime Agenda 2020 that sought to increase India’s share of global shipbuilding from less than 2% to a modest 5% in a decade.
    • The agenda proposed a vague road map that included Sops to achieve it.
    • However, by 2020 India’s share in global shipbuilding had dropped to practically zero, instead of going up.
  • Similar Approach by Current Government’s Maritime India Vision 2030
    • The current government’s Maritime India Vision 2030 has outlined 10 key themes that include logistics, environment concerns, port infrastructure and increase in seafarer growth and training.
    • The vision document does not mention any plan for shipbuilding and owning.
    • There is talk of Sagarmala but the yards are seeing only naval ship orders.

Way Forward: Make Shipbuilding and Owning an Integral Part of Maritime Vision

  • In India, with a long coastline and a strategic location as the geographic pivot of global shipping, shipbuilding would be an integral part of any serious attempt to speed up manufacturing capacity and deepen strategic power.
  • Shipbuilding and owning would give India a seat at the table not only in the global maritime industry but also enhance its presence in the international trade scene too.
  • Just as overall industrial might is integral to military might, shipbuilding is integral to a strong naval base as well.
    • For example, in the movie Oppenheimer, there is a discussion about the selection process for the Japanese cities to be targeted with atomic bombs.
    • However, the film does not explicitly mention that Nagasaki was chosen because the naval shipyard there was actively producing naval boats and needed to be eliminated.
    • Ironically, the bomb missed the shipyard and instead obliterated a civilian area.
    • Despite this, the Nagasaki shipyard has managed to persist and thrive, evolving into an advanced merchant shipyard that is still operational today.


  • The Yangtze River stands as a testament to China's maritime success, blending tradition with modernity.
  • In contrast, India's maritime narrative reflects a historical advantage eroded by challenges in shipbuilding and ownership.
  • Recognising the strategic importance of shipbuilding, India must develop a comprehensive plan to revitalise its shipbuilding industry, not only for economic growth but also for a stronger presence in the global maritime and trade arenas.



Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
29 Dec 2023

Pegasus infection found on Indian journalists’ phones after Apple alert

Why in news?

  • The Washington Post and Amnesty International report claims that Pegasus spyware targeted journalists in India.
    • This includes the founder editor of The Wire and the South Asia editor of the Organised Crime and Corruption Report Project (OCCRP).
  • The intrusion was detected in October 2023 after Apple warned users, including MPs, of potential ‘state-sponsored attacks’ on. their iPhones.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
  • Pegasus spyware
  • Zero click exploit
  • News Summary

Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

  • About
    • The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project is a global network of investigative journalists with staff on six continents.
    • Founded in 2006, it specializes in organized crime and corruption.
    • It publishes its stories through local media and in English and Russian through its website.
  • Recent works
    • The entity was involved in the coverage of Pegasus spyware as well as Panama Papers leak.
    • The OCCRP conducted research and published a report on the Adani Group (AG).

Pegasus Spyware

  • About
    • Pegasus is a malware/spyware developed by Israel’s NSO Group.
    • The spyware suite is designed to access any smartphone through zero-click vulnerabilities remotely.
    • Once a phone is infiltrated, the spyware can access entire data on that particular phone.
    • It also has real-time access to emails, texts, phone calls, as well as the camera and sound recording capabilities of the smartphone.
  • Working

Zero-click exploit

  • About
    • A zero-click exploit refers to malicious installed on a device without the device owner’s consent.
    • More importantly, it does not require the device owner to perform any actions to initiate or complete the installation.
  • Specific exploit used in the present case involving Indian journalists
    • The specific exploit allegedly in use on the two devices is called BLASTPAST (previously identified as BLASTPASS).
    • It plays out in two phases.
    • In the first, the attack attempts to establish a link with the Apple HomeKit - which gives users a way to control multiple smart devices - on the target’s device.
      • The purpose of the first phase could be to determine how the device can be exploited or to keep it in sight for further exploitation in the future.
    • In the second, some malicious content is sent via the iMessage app to the target.
      • This phase is the one that delivers the full spyware payload.

News Summary

  • A new forensic investigation by Amnesty International and The Washington Post has shown the use of the Israeli Pegasus spywareto surveil high-profile Indian journalists.

What does the report say?

  • Background
    • The journalists had received an alert from Apple that they were being targeted by state-sponsored hacking.
    • Following which, these journalists provided their phones to Amnesty International’s Security Lab for testing.
  • Report
    • At the end of their examination, they reported finding traces of Pegasus’s activity on their respective devices.
    • Security Lab concluded that a message to facilitate a zero-click exploit had been sent to these phones over his iPhone’s iMessage app.
Defence & Security

Mains Article
29 Dec 2023

Qatar commutes 8 former Indian Navy men’s death sentence

Why in news?

  • The Court of Appeal of Qatar commuted the death sentence of eight former Indian Navy personnel.
  • These personnel were arrested last year in connection with an alleged case of espionage.

What’s in today’s article?

  • India – Qatar Bilateral Relation
  • Background of the case

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.
    • 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, or 49.5%.
      • Qatar is India’s largest source of liquefied natural gas (LNG)
    • 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.
  • 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.
      • Experts at that time described the agreement as just short of stationing troops.
    • 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.
  • Indian migrants in Qatar
    • Qatar has around 8 lakh Indian migrants, who send remittances back home.
    • In FY 2021-22, it sent the eighth-highest amount of remittances among all countries.

Challenges in India – Qatar Bilateral Relation

  • 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 on a TV show.
    • 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 jailing of the eight ex-Navy personnel is the second big challenge of recent years.
    • The development blindsided New Delhi in a country where 800,000 Indians live and work. Indians are the largest expatriate community in Qatar.
  • 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 commutes 8 former Indian Navy men’s death sentence

  • Qatar has commuted the death sentence awarded to eight former Indian Navy officers over charges of espionage.

Background of the case

  • Arrest of eight navy personnel
    • On August 30, 2022, eight former Indian Navy personnel, along with two others, were arrested on undeclared charges.
      • They were put in solitary confinement.
    • These personnel were working at Al Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a defence services provider company.
      • As per different sources, the Indians had been working in their private capacity with the company to oversee the induction of Italian small stealth submarines U2I2.
      • The company’s old website,which no longer exists, said it provided training, logistics and maintenance services to the Qatari Emiri Naval Force (QENF).
  • Charges against the men
    • The officers were jailed on charges that have not been made public.
    • However, as per the media reports, the eight Indians had been charged with spying for Israel.
  • Navy veterans were awarded death penalty
    • In March 2023, the last of multiple bail pleas filed for the veterans was rejected.
    • The trial began later that month and on October 26, 2023, the death sentence was handed to all eight men.
  • Appeal filed by India
    • In November 2023, the MEA announced it had filed an appeal and that its legal team had details of the charges.
    • The Indian ambassador in Doha also met them in prison on December 3.
    • This consular access came days after PM Modi met Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on the sidelines of the COP28 summit in Dubai on December 1.

What avenues have been available to India?

  • One has been the legal challenge, which has been admitted and helped reduce the sentence for now as a first step.
  • At the same time, India has been employing diplomatic channels to reach out to the Qataris.
  • The families also filed a mercy plea with the Emir of Qatar, who is known to give out pardons during Ramadan and Eid.
    • This was also being pursued by the Indian government’s help.
International Relations

Mains Article
29 Dec 2023

Debate on Artificial Intelligence & Copyright

Why in News?

  • The New York Times has sued OpenAI – the firm behind generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform ChatGPT – and Microsoft for unlawful use of the paper’s copyrighted content.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About OpenAI (ChatGPT, How it Works)
  • OpenAI vs NYT Debate
  • News Summary

About OpenAI:

  • OpenAI is an Artificial Intelligence research company.
  • The company is best known for creating ‘ChatGPT’, which is an AI conversational chatbot.
  • Users can ask questions on just about anything to ChatGPT and the chatbot will respond accurately with answers, stories and essays.
  • It can even help programmers write software code.

Debate over ChatGPT’s Source for Data:

  • Software products like ChatGPT are based on what AI researchers call ‘Large Language Models’ (LLMs).
    • LLMs require enormous amounts of information to train their systems.
  • If chat bots or digital assistants need to be able to understand the questions that humans throw at them, they need to study human language patterns.
  • Tech companies that work on LLMs like Google, Meta or OpenAI are secretive about what kind of training data they use.
  • Tech companies use software called ‘crawlers’ to scan web pages, hoover up content and put it together in a dataset that can be used to train their LLMs.
  • This led to news outlets like the New York Times (NYT) voice concerns over copyright violations. The NYT and other news outlets blocked a web crawler known as GPT bot.
    • Through GPT bot, OpenAI used to scrape data.
  • The outlets told OpenAI that the company can no longer use their published material and their journalism, to train their chat bots.

Reason Behind News Outlets’ Decision:

  • Search engines like Google or Bing also use web crawlers to index websites and present relevant results when users search for topics.
  • However, these search engines represent a mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Google, for instance, takes a snippet of a news article (a headline, a blurb and perhaps a couple of sentences) and reproduces them to make its search results useful.
  • And while Google profits off of that content, it also directs a significant amount of user traffic to news websites.
  • On the other hand, OpenAI provides no benefit, monetary or otherwise, to news companies.
  • It simply collects publicly available data and uses it for the company’s own purposes.

News Summary:

  • The New York Times (NYT) has become the first major news publisher to sue OpenAI and Microsoft, the creators of ChatGPT and other popular artificial intelligence (AI) platforms, citing “unlawful” use of copyrighted content.
  • The lawsuit says the defendants largely scrape the NYT’s original content to build their models and manufacture responses.
  • The NYT accuses OpenAI and Microsoft of using content “without payment to create products that substitute for The Times and steal audiences away from it”.
    • Microsoft has a sizable investment in OpenAI.
  • Earlier this year, two US authors had also sued OpenAI, claiming in a proposed class action that the company misused their works to “train” ChatGPT.

What is NYT’s main Contention against OpenAI and Microsoft?

  • The lawsuit contends that millions of articles published by the NYT were used to train automated chatbots which now compete with the news outlet as a source of reliable information.
  • The publication also alleges that OpenAI and Microsoft’s large language models, which power ChatGPT and Copilot, “can generate output that recites Times content verbatim, closely summarises it, and mimics its expressive style.”
  • This “undermines and damages the Times’ relationship with readers, while also depriving it of “subscription, licensing, advertising, and affiliate revenue.”



Social Issues

Mains Article
29 Dec 2023

Roadmap for Public Issuance of ‘Zero Coupon Zero Principle’ Instruments by NPOs

Why in News?

  • The SEBI unveiled a roadmap for public issuance of ‘zero coupon zero principle’ instruments by not-for-profit organisations (NPOs) and listing of such instruments on the Social Stock Exchange (SSE).

What is Today’s Article?

  • What is the Social Stock Exchange (SSE)?
  • What are Zero Coupon Zero Principal (ZCZP) Instruments?
  • Roadmap for Public Issuance of ZCZP Instruments by NPOs 

What is the Social Stock Exchange (SSE)?

  • SSE is a separate segment of the existing Stock Exchange that can help Social Enterprise(s) to raise funds from the public through the stock exchange mechanism.
  • SSE will act as a medium between Social Enterprises and fund providers and that can help them to select those entities that are creating measurable social impact and reporting such impact.
  • Certain types of Social Enterprises i.e Not-for-profit organisations (NPOs) that meet the registration criteria can register on SSE and undertake to make continuous disclosures on their social impact.
    • Such NPOs may or may not choose to raise funds through SSE, however, would continue to make disclosures including on social impact to stock exchanges.
    • A NPO after registering with SSE may raise funds on SSE through
      • Issuance of Zero Coupon Zero Principal Instruments [through private placement or public issuance
      • Donations through Mutual Fund Schemes [as shall be specified by SEBI]
      • Development Impact Bonds
      • Any other means that SEBI may specify in future

What are Zero Coupon Zero Principal (ZCZP) Instruments?

  • These instruments are not stocks or bonds but instruments for donating money to the NPOs listed in the SSE.
  • As the name indicates, ZCZP neither offers interest nor returns the principal.
  • As it is a donation to the entity, not a loan or investment, the money will not be returned to the donor.
  • In 2022, the government declared ‘zero coupon zero principal instruments’ as securities.

Roadmap for Public Issuance of ZCZP Instruments by NPOs:

  • According to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), such instruments will be issued in dematerialised form only, and are not transferable.
  • The minimum issue size has been set at Rs 50 lakh, the minimum application size at Rs 10,000 and the minimum subscription required to be achieved will be 75% of the funds proposed to be raised through the issuance of such instruments.
  • An NPO, through the lead manager, is required to file the draft fundraising document with the SSE and an application seeking in-principle approval for listing the instrument on the SSE.
  • The SSE will provide its observation on such documents to the NPO within 30 days from the filing of the papers or receipt of clarification, if any, sought by the exchange from the NPO.
  • NPO will incorporate the observations of the SSE in a draft document and file the final papers to the SSE prior to opening the issue.
  • The SSE will have to specify the details to be incorporated in the fundraising document.



Dec. 28, 2023

Mains Article
28 Dec 2023

Growth Charts — WHO Standards Versus India Crafted


  • High levels of child undernutrition have been a persistent problem in India.
  • India, like most other countries, uses the globally accepted World Health Organization (WHO) Growth Standards to measure malnutrition.
  • However, there is an emergent debate on several issues related to the use of these growth standards in India.

WHO Growth Standards

  • The WHO standards are based on a Multicentre Growth Reference Study (MGRS) that was conducted in six countries between 1997 and 2003 (Brazil, Ghana, India, Norway, Oman, and the United States).
  • The purpose was to determine the pattern of growth (from birth to five years) of children who did not face any known deficiencies in their environments.
  • The references that were previously used (WHO-National Centre for Health Statistics references) were based on children only from the U.S., many of whom were not breastfed but formula-fed. 

Debate on WHO Growth Standards

  • The Prescriptive Approach of MGRS
    • The MGRS took a prescriptive approach, with the specific aim of setting growth standards which means how children ought to grow, provided they have a healthy environment and.
    • It did not provide growth references which means how children of the reference group grow.
  • Sampling Concerns
    • The sample for India in the MGRS was drawn from a set of privileged households living in South Delhi.
    • These children met all the eligibility criteria for the study including having a favourable growth environment.
  • Potential Overestimation of Undernutrition in India: There are concerns about potential overestimation of undernutrition when comparing MGRS standards with other datasets due to differences in sampling criteria and methodologies.
  • Concerns Around Genetic Growth
    • Another important set of issues about using the MGRS standards is the difference in genetic growth potential of Indians with respect to others and the influence of maternal heights on child growth.
    • At an individual level, maternal height is undeniably a non-modifiable factor for the growth of her child.
    • Therefore, there is a question of how much improvement is possible in one generation.
    • However, low average maternal heights are themselves a reflection of the intergenerational transmission of poverty and poor status of women.
    • Therefore, a measure of an environment of deprivation, an appropriate indicator of a deficient environment, such as stunting, needs to capture this deprivation as well.
  • Misdiagnosis and Overfeeding
    • WHO standards raise concerns about inappropriately high standards leading to misdiagnosis and potential overfeeding of children under government programs targeting undernutrition.
    • This is a worry, given the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India.

Challenges in Comparing WHO Standards with Large Scale Indian Surveys (NFHS)

  • Sample Representation
    • Equivalent samples meeting all criteria for a favourable growth environment, as defined by the MGRS, are challenging to find in large-scale surveys in India.
    • This difficulty is attributed to high levels of inequality and the underrepresentation of the rich section in these datasets.
    • For instance, even among children (six-23 months) in households of the highest quintile in National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 (2019-21), only 12.7% meet the requirements of a ‘minimum acceptable diet’ as defined by WHO.
    • While almost all mothers in the MGRS sample had completed more than 15 years of education (in 2000-01), 54.7% of women in NFHS-5 had completed 12 or more years of schooling.
  • Methodological Differences
    • There are methodological differences between the WHO-MGRS and other prevalence studies which implies that the MGRS included a counselling component to ensure appropriate feeding practices.
    • This component was missing in surveys like NFHS or Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey, potentially affecting the comparability of the data.
  • Prescriptive Standards vs. Prevalence Studies:
    • Understanding the purpose of the MGRS sample, which was to set prescriptive standards, can help resolve many sampling concerns.
    • This implies that the MGRS was designed with a different objective compared to prevalence studies like NFHS.
  • Absence of Data Collection Make It Difficult to Make a Comparison
    • Importance of considering the context and purpose of the data collection is necessary when making comparisons.
    • It means that comparing standards without recognising the differences in study norms may lead to misleading conclusions.

Are WHO Standards Still Useful in Indian Context?

  • Yes, WHO Standards Have Been Useful in Many Countries
    • Several countries with similar or even poorer economic conditions, including those in the South Asian region, have shown higher improvements in stunting prevalence using the same WHO-MGRS standards.
    • Regional differences within India, both in the prevalence of stunting as well as increases in adult heights, also indicate that some States such as Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala are achieving much faster reductions than others.
  • Unique Growth Trajectories and Interpretation
    • What these standards are used for are mainly to understand population trends.
    • Using the appropriate standards is also important for international comparisons and intra-country trends, an advantage that would be lost with any new country-specific standard.

ICMR recommendation

  • Amid these discussions, the Indian Council of Medical Research has constituted a committee to revise the growth references for India.
  • This committee has recommended a detailed rigorous study to be conducted across the country to examine child growth with the purpose of devising national growth charts, if necessary.


  • Acquiring newer, and more precise information on child growth is a welcome move considering India’s high aspirations of reaching development to every person by 2047.
  • At the same time, it seems logical to stick to the aspirationally high but achievable standards suggested by the WHO-MGRS, considering the gaps in Indian large-scale surveys and standards.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
28 Dec 2023

PM JANMAN scheme can help Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups

Why in news?

  • On November 29, the Union Cabinet approved the Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM JANMAN).
  • The Scheme is aimed at providing PVTG households and habitations with:
    • basic facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation,
    • improved access to education, health and nutrition,
    • road and telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.
  • In addition, saturation will also be ensured for schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), Sickle Cell Disease Elimination, TB Elimination, 100% immunisation, PM Poshan, PM Jan Dhan Yojana, etc.
  • This initiative is part of the Pradhan Mantri-PVTG Development Mission announced in India’s 2022-23 Union Budget.
    • The govt has allocated Rs 15,000 crore over three years to develop them.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
  • What does PM-JANMAN do differently?

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

  • About
    • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups.
    • In 1960-61, the Dhebar Commission identified disparities among Scheduled Tribes, leading to the creation of the “Primitive Tribal Groups” (PTG) category.
    • In 2006, this category was renamed Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • Numbers and spread
    • In 1975, the Government of India declared 52 tribal groups as PVTGs on the recommendation of Dhebar commission.
    • Currently, there are 75 such groups in 22,544 villages across 18 states and one Union Territory of India, totalling about 28 lakh individuals.
    • Odisha has the highest number (more than 2.5 lakh) of PVTGs.
  • Characterised by
    • Population – stagnant/declining
    • Technology – pre-agricultural
    • Literacy Level – extremely low
    • Economy – Subsistence level
  • Variance in population
    • Population sizes vary significantly, from under 1,000 in some groups, such as the Great Andamanese (around 50) and the Onge (around 100), to over 1 lakh in others, such as Maria Gond of Maharashtra and Saura in Odisha.
    • Some tribes in central India, like Birhor, face stagnation, while the Onge and Andamanese are experiencing a decline.
  • Challenges in their development
    • PVTGs are severely marginalised due to their isolation, low population, and distinct socio-economic and cultural traits.
    • They struggle with limited access to basic services, social discrimination, and vulnerability to displacement from development and natural disasters.
    • They have little political representation, hindering their participation in decision-making.
    • Mainstream society often overlooks their traditional knowledge and practices, and stereotypes about their backwardness are prevalent.
    • They are also battling loss of traditional livelihoods and resource rights, lack of market knowledge for Non-Timber Forest Produce, and exploitation by middlemen, threatening their traditional occupations.
  • Schemes floated by the govt for them
    • These schemes collectively aim for the holistic development of tribal areas.
    • The PVTG Development Plan provides education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities while preserving traditional knowledge.
    • The Pradhan Mantri Janjatiya Vikas Mission (PMJVM) focuses on market linkages and Minor Forest Produce (MFP) procurement at Minimum Support Prices.
    • Other significant schemes include the Pradhan Mantri Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana, Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP).
  • Other measures include:
    • Eklavya Model Residential Schools,
    • Land titles under the Forest Rights Act 2006,
    • Support to Tribal Research Institute (STRI) scheme,
    • Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989,
    • The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act 1996, and
    • Direct recruitment through reservations further aid in education, self-governance, and protection against discrimination.

What does PM-JANMAN do differently?

  • Proper identification and recognition
    • The criteria for identifying PVTGs have been criticised for being outdated.
      • Some PVTGs are not recognised as Scheduled Tribes in certain states, and the list containing repetitive names has led to confusion and exclusion.
      • A 2014 report by Dr.Hrusikesh Panda, Secretary of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, and a 2015 report by Virginius Xaxa highlighted these concerns.
    • Baseline surveys have only been conducted for about 40 PVTG groups, emphasising the need for targeted development planning.
    • The government’s initiative to create a Human Development Index for PVTGs is a significant step towards addressing these vulnerabilities.
  • Participatory bottom-up approach
    • To help PVTGs effectively, the scheme abandons the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach in favour of customised strategies that respect their unique needs and priorities.
    • It actively involves PVTGs in decision-making, addressing land rights, social inclusion, and cultural preservation.
  • Livelihood promotion
    • Providing skills training and resources, like land and credit, will help in sustainable livelihoods.
    • Implementing the Forest Rights Act by granting land titles secures access to forest resources.
    • Section 3(1)(e) of the FRA specifically supports the rights of primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities.
    • Additionally, encouraging traditional technologies and skill enhancement through industry partnerships will help maintain cultural heritage while promoting sustainable development.
  • Health, nutrition and education
    • Outreach strategies like Mobile Medical Health Units will be crucial for providing healthcare in remote areas.
    • Incorporating their culture and language into the curriculum, providing transportation, and training teachers about PVTG cultural contexts can enhance education accessibility.
  • Infrastructure development:
    • The habitations of PVTGs often don’t meet the criteria for schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Jal Jeevan Mission due to factors like population requirements or lack of surveys.
    • Guidelines for infrastructure schemes, thus, have been relaxed to improve access to housing, water, sanitation, electricity, and connectivity.



Social Issues

Mains Article
28 Dec 2023

Hurriyat chief’s outfit declared unlawful association under UAPA

Why in news?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has declared the Muslim League Jammu Kashmir (Masarat Alam faction) as an unlawful association.
  • The organisation has been declared unlawful under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for five years.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Unlawful Activities Prevention Act – About, key provisions, 2019 amendment, sanctions to prosecute under the act
  • News Summary

The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967

  • About
    • Enacted in 1967, UAPA is the primary counter-terror law in India.
    • It was enacted to outlaw and penalise unlawful and terrorist activities, which pose a threat to the integrity and sovereignty of India.
    • These activities include:
      • Aiding and abetting terrorists
      • Funding terrorists
      • Inciting anti-national feeling in the masses
      • Other unlawful activities against the state
  • Key provisions of UAPA
    • Wide ranging powers to Central Govt
      • It provides wide-ranging powers to the Central Government to designate organisations as terrorist organisations and
      • It also prescribes the penalties for taking part in the activities of such organisations.
    • Applicability
      • It is also applicable if the offences are committed outside India. Both Indian and foreign nationals can be charged.
    • Timeline
      • A charge sheet can be filed in maximum 180 days after the arrests.
      • The investigation has to be completed within 90 days.
      • If investigation is not completed with the stipulated time, the accused is eligible for default bail.
    • Special court
      • The act establishes a special court designated to conduct trials.
  • Sanction to prosecute under UAPA
    • Section 45(1) of the UAPA says no court shall take cognizance of any offence under the Act without the previous sanction of the central or state government or any officer authorised by them.
    • Under Section 45(2), the sanction for prosecution has to be given within a prescribed time only after considering the report by the competent authority.
    • The authority is expected to make an independent review of the evidence gathered by the investigation agency before making a recommendation to the government for the sanction.
  • Few important sections of UAPA
    • Section 13 - Punishment for unlawful activities
    • Section 16 - Punishment for terrorist act
    • Section 17 - Punishment for raising funds for terrorist act
    • Section 18 - Punishment for organising of terrorist camps
    • Section 22 - Punishment for threatening witness

2019 Amendment of UAPA

  • The original act was amended in the years 2004, 2008, 2013, and 2019 to increase its scope and ambit. 2019 amendment changed the following:
  • Who may commit terrorism:
    • The amendment additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
  • Approval for seizure of property by NIA:
    • The Amendment adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the NIA, the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.
  • Insertion to schedule of treaties
    • The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.
    • The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979).
    • The Amendment adds another treaty to the list. This is the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).

News Summary: Hurriyat chief’s outfit declared unlawful association under UAPA

  • The MHA banned the Masarat Alam faction of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim League under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for five years.
  • As per the MHA, this organization and its members are involved in anti-national and secessionist activities in J&K.
    • They are involved in supporting terrorist activities and inciting people to establish Islamic rule in J&K.
  • The outfit was declared an unlawful association under Section 3 (3) of the UAPA for five years.

Who is Masarat Alam?

  • He is the successor of the late Syed Ali Shah Geelani and incumbent Hurriyat Conference chairman. The Muslim League Jammu Kashmir (a separatist organisation) is led by him.
  • In 2010, Alam was among the main organisers of anti-India protests in the Valley.
  • Following the protests, he, along with other leaders, was arrested under PSA (Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act), but later released in 2015 by the Mehbooba Mufti-led government.
  • Masarat Alam is currently in Jail and has been under detention for almost 13 years now.


Defence & Security

Mains Article
28 Dec 2023

Trend and Progress of Banking in India

Why in News?

  • The Gross Non-Performing Assets (GNPA) ratio of Indian scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) went on improving in the 2nd quarter of this financial year.
  • According to the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) report titled ‘Trend and Progress of Banking in India’, the GNPA ratio of SCBs fell to a decadal low of 3.9% at end-March 2023 and further to 3.2% at end-September 2023. 

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What are Non-Performing Assets (NPAs)?
  • Comprehensive Measures by the Government and RBI to Reduce NPAs
  • Highlights of the ‘Trend and Progress of Banking in India’ Report

What are Non-Performing Assets (NPAs)?

  • Definition: A NPA is a loan or advance for which the principal or interest payment remained overdue for a period of 90 days.
    • For banks, a loan is an asset because the interest paid on these loans is one of the most significant sources of income for the bank.
    • When customers, retail or corporates, are not able to pay the interest, the asset becomes ‘non-performing’ for the bank because it is not earning anything for the bank.
    • Therefore, the RBI has defined NPAs as assets that stop generating income for banks.
    • Banks are required to make their NPAs numbers public and to the RBI as well from time to time.
  • Classification of assets: As per the RBI guideline, banks are required to classify NPAs further into -
    • Substandard assets: Assets which have remained NPA for a period less than or equal to 12 months.
    • Doubtful assets: An asset that has remained in the substandard category for a period of 12 months.
    • Loss assets: It is considered uncollectible and of such little value that its continuance as a bankable asset is not warranted, although there may be some recovery value.
  • NPA Provisioning: Provision for a loan refers to a certain percentage of loan amount set aside by the banks.
    • The standard rate of provisioning for loans in Indian banks varies from 5-20% depending on the business sector and the repayment capacity of the borrower.
    • In the cases of NPA, 100% provisioning is required in accordance with the Basel-III norms.
  • GNPA and NNPA: There are primarily two metrics that help us to understand the NPA situation of any bank.
    • GNPA: It is an absolute amount that tells about the total value of gross NPAs for the bank in a particular quarter or financial year as the case may be.
    • NNPA: Net NPAs subtracts the provisions made by the bank from the gross NPA. Therefore, net NPA gives the exact value of NPAs after the bank has made specific provisions for it.
  • NPA Ratios: NPAs can also be expressed as a percentage of total advances. It gives us an idea of how much of the total advances is not recoverable. For example,
    • GNPA ratio is the ratio of the total GNPA of the total advances.
    • NNPA ratio uses net NPA to find out the ratio to the total advances.

Comprehensive Measures by the Government and RBI to Reduce NPAs:

  • Government has implemented a comprehensive 4R’s strategy, consisting of -
    • Recognition of NPAs transparently,
    • Resolution and recovery of value from stressed accounts,
    • Recapitalisation of PSBs, and
    • Reforms in PSBs and the wider financial ecosystem for a responsible and clean system.
  • Change in credit culture has been effected, with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016 (IBC) - fundamentally changing the creditor-borrower relationship.
  • The Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act 2002 has been amended to make it more effective.
  • National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited (NARCL) has been set up as an asset reconstruction company with an aim to resolve stressed assets above Rs. 500 crores.
  • PSBs have also created Stressed Asset Management Verticals for stringent recovery, segregated pre-and post-sanction follow-up roles for clean and effective monitoring.
  • The RBI proposed that lenders should classify a borrower as a “wilful defaulter” within 6 months of their account being declared a NPA.

Highlights of the ‘Trend and Progress of Banking in India’ Report:

  • The GNPA ratio of SCBs fell to a decadal low of 3.9% at end-March 2023 and further to 3.2% at end-September 2023.
    • During 2022-23, about 45% of reduction in GNPAs of SCBs was contributed by recoveries and upgradations.
  • The consolidated balance sheet of banks grew by 12.2% in 2022-23 - the highest in 9 years.
  • The share of PSBs in the consolidated balance sheet of banks declined from 58.6% at the end of March 2022 to 57.6% at the end of March 2023, while private banks gained a share from 34% to 34.7%.
  • At the end of March 2023, PSBs accounted for 61.4% of total deposits and 57.9% of total advances.
  • With inflation remaining above target, monetary policy could stay in restrictive territory for longer.
  • Given the increasing interconnectedness between banks and NBFCs, the latter should focus on broad-basing their funding sources and reduce overdependence on bank funding.
  • The central bank has also raised concerns over banks’ lending to borrowers who can influence the lender’s decision as it involves moral hazard issues leading to compromise in pricing and credit management.
  • The Indian banking system is well positioned to improve further, with better asset quality, high capital adequacy and robust profitability.
    • The financial indicators of NBFCs are also set to strengthen further.



Mains Article
28 Dec 2023

How Japan’s Moon-landing Attempt will Affect India’s Chandrayaan-4

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Background (Context)
  • About SLIM Mission (Objective, Features, Comparison with Chandrayaan-3, Significance)


  • On 25th December, 2023, Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft entered into the orbit around the moon after a months-long journey.
  • Its planned moon-landing attempt is scheduled for 19th January, 2024.
  • If the attempt succeeds, Japan will become only the fifth country to soft-land a robotic craft on the natural satellite, months after India succeeded with its Chandrayaan-3 mission in August, 2023.
  • Perhaps more importantly, SLIM’s success or failure will also affect the upcoming Chandrayaan-4 mission.

About SLIM:

  • SLIM is a spacecraft built and launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on September 7, 2023, from the Tanegashima spaceport.
    • It weighed only 590 kg at launch, which is almost one-seventh of Chandrayaan-3, which weighed 3,900 kg at launch.
  • SLIM was launched together with XRISM, a next-generation X-ray space telescope, onboard an H-2A rocket.
  • On December 25, SLIM entered into an elliptical orbit around the moon. Its apogee (farthest point) in this orbit is 4,000 km and perigee (closest point) is 600 km above the lunar surface.
  • SLIM will also mark the second Japanese attempt this year to soft-land on the moon.
    • The HAKUTO-R M1 lander crashed in late April after its engines shut down too soon during the landing.

Comparing Trajectories of SLIM &Chandrayaan-3:

  • Compared to Chandrayaan-3, SLIM is lighter because it carries less fuel.
    • Of Chandrayaan-3’s 3.9 tonnes, the propulsion module alone weighed 2.1 tonnes.
    • This is why the mission was launched on July 14 and could reach the moon less than a month later, by following a route called the Hohmann transfer orbit.
    • On the other hand, SLIM took four months because it followed a longer but more fuel-thrifty route based on weak-stability boundary theory.
  • Once it got close to the moon, Chandrayaan-3 applied its brakes – which consumes fuel in space – so that it could slow down enough to be captured by the moon’s weaker gravity.
    • SLIM got near the moon, instead of slowing down and being captured by the moon’s gravity, it allowed itself to be deflected in the moon’s direction even as it shot past lunar orbit, deeper into space.
    • This deflection is the result of the combined forces exerted by the earth and the moon.

What will SLIM do on the Moon?

  • On January 19th, the SLIM mission will try to land within 100 metres of its chosen landing site.
    • This is an unusually tight limit given the history of moon-landing missions.
    • For example, the ‘Vikram’ lander of Chandrayaan-3 was designed to descend in an elliptical area that was 4 km long downrange and 2.5 km wide cross-range.
  • SLIM, in effect, will set the record on January 19 for attempting to soft-land with the smallest ever area tolerance on the moon.
  • Just before it lands, SLIM will deploy two small rovers called Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV) 1 and 2.
  • LEV-1, LEV-2, and SLIM will together study the lunar surface near the landing point, collect temperature and radiation readings, and attempt to study the moon’s mantle.

How will SLIM affect Chandrayaan-4?

  • Scientists are interested in the moon’s south pole region at large because parts of some of the craters here are always in shadow.
    • These parts contain water-ice, and a lunar surface mission could potentially explore these sites and attempt to extract water.
  • When ISRO successfully executed its Chandrayaan-3 mission by soft-landing a robotic craft on the moon’s surface, on August 23, it also concluded the second phase of its lunar exploration programme.
  • The first mission of its third phase is the Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) mission, a.k.a. Chandrayaan-4.
  • LUPEX/Chandrayaan-4 will be an Indian-Japan joint enterprise (however, while JAXA has approved LUPEX, India is yet to) with an earliest launch date in 2026.
  • It will explore an area closer to the moon’s south pole than Chandrayaan-3 did.
  • The technologies JAXA will test with SLIM, but especially a feature-matching algorithm and navigation systems, will be crucial for LUPEX/Chandrayaan-4.
  • For now, JAXA is expected to provide the launch vehicle and the lunar rover while India will provide the lander module.
  • The landing site is yet to be fixed; to compare, the ‘Vikram’ lander of Chandrayaan-3 mission landed 600 km from the south pole.
Science & Tech

Dec. 27, 2023

Mains Article
27 Dec 2023

There is No Substitute for An Industrial Policy


  • India has had successes of liberalisation but the fact remains that India failed to build a manufacturing base, and prematurely de-industrialised and no country in the world has industrialised only by deregulation. 
  • Industrial policy is necessary for the structural transformation of the economy and well-chosen import restrictions can be a part of that policy mechanism.

The Make in India Campaign and Its Objectives

  • Make in India Campaign
    • The campaign was officially launched by Prime Minister in September 2014.
    • Make in India is an initiative with the aim of promoting manufacturing, attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), fostering innovation, and creating jobs within the country.
  • Objectives of Make in India Campaign
    • Promoting Manufacturing
      • The initiative seeks to boost the manufacturing sector in India, making it a global manufacturing hub.
      • This involves encouraging both domestic and international companies to set up manufacturing units in the country.
    • Attracting Foreign Investment: Make in India aims to attract foreign direct investment by simplifying the business environment, easing regulatory norms, and offering incentives to foreign companies to invest in India's manufacturing sector.
    • Improving Infrastructure: The campaign emphasises the development of infrastructure such as roads, ports, and logistics to facilitate the smooth operation of manufacturing units.
    • Skill Development
      • Make in India recognises the importance of a skilled workforce for a thriving manufacturing sector.
    • The initiative includes efforts to enhance the skill sets of the Indian workforce to meet the demands of modern manufacturing.
    • Innovation and Technology: The campaign focuses on promoting innovation and the use of modern technology in the manufacturing processes to increase efficiency and competitiveness.

Contrast Between Make in India (MII) and Past Policies

  • The MII campaign launched in 2014 is a very different policy package from the doctrine of self-sufficiency that India embraced in the 1970s.
  • MII does not, by any stretch, bring back recollections of the license raj, self-sufficiency, import-substituting industrialisation, and the like.
  • It is vastly dissimilar, although fears have been raised about the manner in which MII is being implemented in some sectors, particularly by raising tariff duties to provide protection to encourage the setting up of domestic industry.
  • Fears of this protectionist tendency spreading to other sectors may be exaggerated, but are not unfounded, especially for those who have lived through the 1970s and 1980s. 
  • Those years of reckless protection created shortages, black markets, and rampant rent-seeking, all in the name of the poor and distributive justice.
  • The producers who benefitted from the protection, loved it and actively lobbied for the regime’s longevity.
  • After all, on average, a mobile phone made on our shores has around 80-85 per cent of imported content (India Cellular and Electronics Association, 2022).
  • The point, empirically, is that MII is very different from self-sufficiency, there is a need to move on from this baseless comparison. 

An Assessment of Promises and Performance of Make in India

  • Large Home Market is No Substitute for Competitive Exports
    • MII has at least two other derivatives, Made in India and Make for India. MII is the mother policy and the fundamental one; the other two are, at best, academic distractions.
    • Make for India involves production for consumption in India itself and focuses on manufacturing for the domestic market.
    • However, a large home market is not a substitute for being competitive in exports. Every country that has taken off before us has been export competitive.
    • Japan, Korea, and China come immediately to mind but there are several others.
  • An Effective MII Operation is Needed: Made in India is a branding strategy to promote manufacturers born out of Indian factors of production — land, labour, capital, entrepreneurship, technology, etc., and can only succeed on the back of an effective MII operation.
  • National Manufacturing Policy (NMP 2011) and MII
    • India launched MII as a sequel to earlier initiatives (NMP, 2011) designed to create a robust and competitive manufacturing sector.
    • The NMP 2011 stated that inadequate physical infrastructure, a complex and (corrupt) regulatory environment, and inadequate availability of skilled manpower had constrained its growth.
    • It sought to raise the contribution of manufacturing in GDP from the stagnant 15 per cent since the beginning of the 1980s to at least 25 per cent and to create 100 million additional jobs.
    • MII, has, in addition to the dynamic objectives of NMP 2011, aimed to transform India into a global design and manufacturing export hub, in other words, MII for the world.

Need for Additional Industrial Policy Measures with ongoing PLI Implementation

  • Articulation in Diverse Sectors is Needed Beyond Production Linked Incentive (PLI)
    • An additional industrial policy is required for sectors like toys, readymade garments, and footwear, beyond the scope of the PLI scheme.
    • There is a requirement for a more detailed articulation of industrial policies tailored to the specific needs of diverse sectors.
  • Focus on Job Creation
    • Industrial policy should prioritise job creation, particularly in a country with abundant labour but mediocre educational attainments and skills.
    • There is a need for policies that shape productive job opportunities, especially for women, and labour-intensive manufacturing.
  • Address Jobless Growth Narrative
    • Addresses the criticism of jobless growth by asserting that the absence of reasonable quality jobs with social protection has contributed to this narrative.
    • Industrial policies should be focused on mass job creation, considering job quality and social protection.
  • Address the Challenges of Devising Inclusive Policies
    • The government should address the complexity of devising industrial policies for mass job creation, especially when compared to policies exclusively aimed at exports.
    • Therefore, there is a need for inclusive policies that align with the overarching goal of creating quality jobs and social protection.
  • Treat Job Creation as the Touchstone
    • The success of industrial policies should be measured against the touchstone of mass job creation in India.
    • It reinforces the importance of addressing the jobless growth narrative and prioritising policies that generate inclusive and quality employment opportunities.
  • Address the Labour Market Challenges
    • India’s labour market research points towards the presence of low-paying, subdued productivity, and mostly informal jobs in the unorganised sector.
    • Over 99 per cent of India’s 63 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are in the unorganised sector with very little flexibility for productive job creation.
    • It is important to assess how MII, that embraces several other complementary policies, along the way has fared in this respect.
    • This is an important question for India and not easy to scrutinise primarily because of a absence of official data at frequent and short intervals.
    • In the absence of such data, policy making is like shooting darts blindfolded and it should be addressed.


  • The government will require careful analysis of the country’s circumstances and capabilities. India needs an industrial policy where the benefits of laptops are for more than the laptop class.
  • However, it is crucial to remember that the discussion of industrial policy shouldn't be held captive by showmanship, theoretical simplicity, or misleading historical analogies.
  • The global context requires India to establish a serious industrial policy and takes manufacturing seriously because there is no substitute for an industrial policy.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
27 Dec 2023

Veer Bal Diwas2023

Why in news?

  • Recently, PM Modi said India is now coming out of the mindset of slavery and has full faith in its people, their abilities and heritage.
  • He made those remarks while speaking at a 'Veer Bal Diwas' event to commemorate the martyrdom of two sons of Guru Gobind Singh.
    • This was the second celebration of the Veer Bal Diwas.

What’s in today’s article?

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

What is Vir Bal Diwas?

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

Sacrifices made by the sons of Guru Gobind Singh

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

Who was Guru Gobind Singh?

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

What are notable works of Guru Gobind Singh?

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

News Summary: Veer Bal Diwas 2023

  • Recently, PM Modi addressed the ‘Veer Baal Diwas’ celebrations.

Key highlights of the speech

  • India is now coming out of the mindset of slavery and has full faith in its people, their abilities and heritage.
    • The world only took notice of Indian heritage when Indians gave it its due respect.
  • The next 25 years will bring huge opportunities for the country’s youth and the government has a clear roadmap and a vision to fulfil their unlimited dreams.
  • Veer Bal Diwas is a symbol of the never-say-die attitude for the protection of Bhartiyata (Indianness).
  • India was playing a key role in solving the global problems of economy, science, research, sports and diplomacy.
  • This is India’s time. The next 25 years will showcase India’s capabilities. There is need to follow panch pran and not waste even a single moment.
History & Culture

Mains Article
27 Dec 2023

T+0, Instant settlement cycle

Why in news?

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has proposed the introduction of a facility for clearing and settlement of funds and securities on T+0 (same day) and instant settlement cycle on an optional basis.
  • The facility will be in addition to the existing T+1 (trade plus one day) settlement cycle in the secondary markets for the equity cash segment.

What’s in today’s article?

  • T+1 settlement cycle
  • News Summary

T+1 settlement cycle

  • Background: Trade settlement
    • Settlement is a two-way process which involves the transfer of funds and securities on the settlement date.
    • A trade settlement is said to be complete once purchased securities of a listed company are delivered to the buyer and the seller gets the money.
  • Current cycle of trade settlement
    • SEBI has shortened the settlement cycle to T+3 from T+5 in 2002 and subsequently to T+2 in 2003.
    • Currently, Indian stock market follows the cycle of T+1.
      • The migration to the T+1 cycle came into effect in January 2023.
      • India became the second country in the world to start the T+1 settlement cycle in top-listed securities after China.
  • About T+1 Settlement Plan
    • The T+1 settlement cycle means that trade-related settlements must be done within a day, or 24 hours, of the completion of a transaction.
    • For example, under T+1, if a customer bought shares on Wednesday, they would be credited to the customer’s demat account on Thursday.
  • Benefits
    • In this format, if an investor sells a share, he/she will get the money within a day, and the buyer will get the shares in her demat account also within a day.
    • A shorter settlement cycle reduces the exposure to counterparty risk, as the parties involved in the trade settle their obligations more quickly.
    • A T+1 settlement cycle not only reduces the timeframe but also reduces and frees up capital required to collateralize that risk.

News Summary:T+0, Instant settlement cycle

Proposal of SEBI

  • A shorter settlement cycle may be introduced
    • In addition to the existing T+1 settlement cycle, a shorter settlement cycle may be introduced as an option.
    • It proposed to implement it in two phases:
      • Phase 1: T+0 Settlement Cycle and
      • Phase 2: Instant Settlement Cycle.
  • Phase 1: T+0 settlement cycle
    • An optional T+0 settlement cycle (for trades till 1:30 PM) is envisaged, with settlement of funds and securities to be completed on the same day by 4:30 PM.
  • Phase 2: Instant Settlement Cycle
    • An optional immediate trade-by-trade settlement (funds and securities) may be carried out. In the second phase, trading will be carried out till 3.30 pm.

Rationale behind the introduction of a shorter settlement cycle

  • Over the last few years, Indian securities markets have seen tremendous growth, both in terms of volumes, value, as well as number of participants.
  • This increase puts a greater onus on the regulator to make markets more efficient and safer for its participants, with a special focus on retail participants.
  • The average Indian has rapidly embraced UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and instant payment platforms. This flexibility can be extended to equity dealing as well.
  • Also, in today’s age, reliability, low cost and high speed of transactions are key features that attract investors to particular asset classes.

Benefits of instant settlement mechanism

  • Eliminate the risk of settlement shortages
    • An instant settlement mechanism would enable instant receipt of funds and securities, vis-a-vis existing pay-out on T+1 day.
    • It would eliminate the risk of settlement shortages since both funds and securities will be required to be available before placing the order.
  • Enhanced Liquidity
    • Faster settlement can improve liquidity in the market, as investors can access their funds sooner after selling securities.
  • Lower Margin Requirements
    • Traders may require lower margin or collateral when they know that settlement will occur rapidly, potentially reducing the cost of trading.
  • Reduced Market Risk
    • As the market price of the security is less likely to change significantly between the trade execution and settlement.
  • Strengthened investor protection
    • By enhancing the control of the investor over the securities and funds.
    • This is because as funds and securities would be credited into the client’s account directly for those who are trading through blocked amounts using the UPI facility (UPI Clients).
  • Will help establish Indian equities as an asset class
    • Instant settlement will help establish Indian equities as an asset class with the features of resilience, low cost and time for transaction, superior in all ways to emerging claimants of alternative asset classes.






Mains Article
27 Dec 2023

INS Imphal | Capabilities, Strategic Significance of Vishakhapatnam Class of Destroyers

Why in News?

  • INS Imphal (Pennant D68), the third of four warships of Project 15B that together form the Visakhapatnam class stealth-guided missile destroyers, has been commissioned into the Indian Navy on 26th

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About Project 15B (History, Purpose, Specifications)
  • About INS Imphal (Details, Strategic Significance)

About Project 15B:

  • Between 2014 and 2016, the Indian Navy commissioned three guided missile destroyers of Kolkata class under a project codenamed ‘15A’.
  • The Visakhapatnam-class destroyers, also classified as the P-15 Bravo class, or simply P-15B, is a class of guided-missile destroyers currently being built for the Indian Navy.
    • The Destroyers come next only to an Aircraft Carrier (INS Vikramaditya) in terms of their reach and endurance.
    • The Visakhapatnam class is an upgraded derivative of its predecessor, the Kolkata class, with improved features of stealth, automation and ordnance.
  • A total of four ships are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), under the Make in India
    • These four ships are Visakhapatnam, Mormugao, Imphal, Surat.
  • The first vessel of the class, INS Visakhapatnam was commissioned in November 2021. The second ship INS Mormugao in December 2022.

About INS Imphal:

  • These ships are equipped with BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles and long-range Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM).
  • The ship has several indigenous weapons systems like medium range Surface-to-Air Missile (SAMs), indigenous torpedo tube launchers, anti-submarine indigenous rocket launchers and 76-mm super rapid gun mount.
  • The class also has a total atmospheric control system (TACS) that offers protection to the crew from chemical, biological and nuclear threats.
  • It can operate two multi-role helicopters, including Sea King or HAL Dhruv.

Significance of INS Imphal:

  • The ship measures 163m in length, and 17m in breadth with a displacement of 7,400 tonnes and is amongst the most potent warships built in India.
  • Technically, destroyers are a category of warships that have high speed, maneuverability and longer endurance.
  • They are designed to be part of naval formations like a fleet or a carrier battle group also known as carrier strike group.
  • The modern destroyers that are swift, sleek and difficult to detect, primarily protect the fleets and carrier battle groups from the short-range attackers from surface, air and sub-surface.
  • The guided-missile destroyers are the destroyers that are armed with guided missiles for anti-aircraft warfare, anti-surface operations and anti-submarine warfare.
  • Because of the speed, maneuverability and striking capability, the guided missile destroyers are a key asset in various types of naval operations, mainly offensive.
  • Being a follow-on of the Kolkata class, the Visakhapatnam class incorporates not just the feedback and suggestions from the Navy but also several new features.
  • The state-of-the-art stealth feature makes Visakhapatnam class have the radar signature of a very small ship. A very high indigenous component gives this platform a strategic edge.
Science & Tech

Mains Article
27 Dec 2023

Grounded Charter Flight Return to Mumbai: What Rules Face Those Who Stayed Back in France

Why in News?

  • A charter plane grounded in France for a human trafficking investigation reached Mumbai with 276 Indians aboard. 

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What Happened at the French Airport?
  • What Benefits does France Offer Asylum-Seekers?
  • Some Key Changes the Bill Brings In
  • Key Takeaways from the New Law

What Happened at the French Airport?

  • The passengers had been heading to Nicaragua but their flight was stopped at the Varty airport in France, where it had stopped for refuelling on its journey from Fujairah in the UAE to Managua, Nicaragua.
  • It is not yet clear why the Indians were flying to Nicaragua, and if their final destination was the US or Canada, which people often enter illegally from South American countries.
  • 25 of the passengers did not return to India, instead requesting asylum in France and were transferred to a special zone in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport for asylum-seekers.

What Benefits does France Offer Asylum-Seekers?

  • France has had a generous system for asylum-seekers, providing them up to 300 euros a month while they wait for their papers to be processed.
  • They can apply for housing in the hundreds of asylum-seeker housing projects across the country, and cheap meals are often easily available at food banks.
  • They also get free health insurance while their application is being reviewed. Foreign residents get social security benefits, which includes assistance in paying rent, childcare, etc.
  • However, all of this is set to change with a new, tougher law on immigration, which was cleared in the French Parliament recently.

Some Key Changes the Bill Brings In:

  • Longer wait for non-EU migrants to get welfare:
    • People not from EU countries who are working in France will have to show they have been in the country for 30 months before they can receive social welfare benefits.
    • Those not working will have to wait five years.
  • Review of medical care access: Over the coming year, the government will review current legislation that provides illegal residents unlimited access to government-funded medical care.
  • Asylum-seekers can be detained: Asylum seekers whose behaviour constitutes a threat to public order can be placed in preventive detention, notably if there is a risk that the asylum seeker would flee.
  • Tougher citizenship rules:
    • Children of foreigners born in France will no longer get French citizenship automatically. They will have to request citizenship once they turn 16.
    • The French nationality of dual-nationals can be revoked if they are convicted of the voluntary homicide of a police officer or government representative.
  • Students have to make a deposit: Foreign students requesting a student residency permit, unless they have financial needs or excellent academic results, will have to make a refundable deposit to cover potential “sending back” costs.
  • ‘Easier’ permits for sectors seeing labour shortage:
    • Non-EU foreigners working in areas with a labour shortage, such as hospitality, construction and farming, can apply for a residency and work permit.
    • This would allow 7,000 to 10,000 undocumented migrant workers a year to obtain residency permits.


International Relations

Dec. 26, 2023

Mains Article
26 Dec 2023

Why Terrorist Activity Has Shifted from Kashmir to Poonch-Rajouri


  • While the Kashmir zone, the traditionally more volatile area, is relatively quiet, in recent months, it is the Pir Panjal (South) in the Jammu sector which has witnessed more operational activity and presence of terrorists.
  • The recent encounters in the depth areas of the Poonch-Rajouri sector have resulted in more losses for the Army than the terrorists.

Possible Reasons Behind the Terrorist Presence and Activity in the Poonch-Rajouri Sector

  • Terrorists Find it a Path of Least Resistance
    • Terrorism is like water and it takes the path of least resistance. Kashmir has become a challenging environment for terrorist activities due to a robust counter-infiltration and counter-terrorism grid.
    • Moreover, this grid makes it difficult for Pakistan to execute proxy operations, a strategy integral to its doctrine of proxy hybrid war.
  • Issues in Kashmir
    • The challenges in Kashmir include its contested status and the strength of its counter-terrorism measures.
    • These factors hinder Pakistan from making a strong statement about its relevance and capability to calibrate in the region.
    • Because of this reason terrorists have shifted their focus to Poonch-Rajouri Sector.
  • Poonch-Rajouri Sector's History of Support of Proxy Operations
    • The focus has shifted to the Poonch-Rajouri sector, which has a history of local support for proxy operations.
    • Although, there has been a decline in support over time, there has been effort to re-cultivate support, particularly among the Gujjar community.
    • The terrain which is mostly forested and rocky tracts of the Pir Panjal (South), is seen as conducive to proxy activities.
  • Article 370 Abrogation Impact
    • The abrogation of Article 370 is another factor making Kashmir less conducive to separatist trends.
    • Since terrorists are finding it difficult to operate in Kashmir zone, they have moved towards Poonch-Rajouri sector to keep the proxy war alive.
  • Troop Redeployment
    • There is a potential impact of troop redeployment on the dilution of optimum deployment in the Poonch-Rajouri sector.
    • Some troops were shifted to the Ladakh sector since May 2020 but the Rashtriya Rifles troops from the Poonch-Rajouri sector were not disturbed.
    • But HQ Northern Command has been watchful of these developments and the basic principle of re-deploying and creating other reserves.

Similar Past Experiences of Indian Army and How it’s Been Handled

  • Background on Past Experience (1999-2001)
    • The move of the Army’s 8 Mountain Division from North Kashmir to Kargil in June 1999 opened wide spaces for the entry of terrorists from across an unfenced Line of Control.
    • This shift created vulnerabilities along the Line of Control (LoC), allowing terrorists to enter from across the unfenced LoC.
  • Tactics Adopted by Terrorists: Terrorists adopted suicide attacks on Army and police camps during this period and there were rumours of involvement by elements from the Pakistan Army in providing field leadership to these attacks.
  • Military Response and Redeployment
    • The Indian Army engaged in significant contacts and battles with terrorists for about 18 months.
    • In response, the Army redeployed and created the Kilo Force to address the situation.
    • This highlights a flexible and adaptive approach by the Indian Army to counter-terrorism operation.

Assessment of the Current Situation (Poonch-Rajouri)

  • No Significant Loss of Operational Space
    • There is no significant loss of tactical or operational space in the Poonch-Rajouri sector.
    • Moreover, the overall capability of Pakistan to sustain any success is considered limited.
  • Government's Demonstrated Capability for Retaliation: The Indian government's demonstrated capability for retaliation, especially when an undetermined threshold is crossed, serves as a deterrent, and keeps Pakistan cautious.

Way Forward

  • Focus on Drills, SOPs, and Tactics
    • Questions arise whether the current situation necessitates a focus on drills, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and minor tactics.
    • This indicates a consideration for fine-tuning the military response to the evolving security scenario.
  • Acknowledgment of Weaknesses
    • The Army needs to accept the need for a review of identified weaknesses, including convoy security, operational vehicle hardening, and the size of movement for reinforcements.
    • This will further improve the willingness to reassess and improve upon existing strategies.
  • Historical Learning and Adaptability
    • During 2007-08 period, ambushes in the Valley prompted a comprehensive review of movements, SOPs, and response drills.
    • This highlights the Army's capacity for self-learning and adaptability based on past experiences.
    • It needs to be done again in as far as Poonch-Rajouri sector is concerned.
  • Recommendation for Brigade-Sized Operations
    • Conducting brigade-sized operations in the lower reaches of the Pir Panjalwith drone support will be a proactive approach to security.
    • The foliage cover being lowest at that time can be a strategic consideration of terrain.
  • Public Outreach
    • There is a need for strong public outreach, like that done in the Kashmir Valley.
    • This reflects an understanding of the importance of building trust and cooperation with local communities as part of the broader security strategy.
  • Uncompromised Post-Event Investigations
    • Thorough investigations into post-event happenings should be timely and in an uncompromised manner.
    • The unfortunate deaths of three local civilians under questionable circumstances should be investigated thoroughly.
    • Transparency in inquiry and appropriate disciplinary actions are essential.
  • Caution in Utterances and Media Speculation from Senior Army Personnel
    • Senior commanders, political figures, and civil society leaders should be cautious in their statements, and be mindful of the potential impact of their words on the situation.
    • The media should refrain from speculation and focus on accurate reporting.
  • Address Emotional Impact on Local Communities: Because of the possible emotional impact on local populations in Pir Panjal South, there is an urgent need for a drive to address these feelings through direct contact and interaction.
  • Continuous Anticipation of Future Challenges
    • The recent incident of the gunning down of a former SSP at Baramulla suggests that there may be more challenges to come.
    • There is a need for all time preparedness to counter potential exploitation by adversaries.


  • In the past 33 years, there have been several moments of significance that have arisen and passed.
  • It is essential for the nation to consistently find reassurance in the government and the Army's capability to navigate through these moments.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
26 Dec 2023

Railway officers to be trained in disaster management

Why in news?

  • The Ministry of Railways has made training in disaster management mandatory for railway officers.
  • The National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR), Vadodara, and the Indian Railway Institute of Disaster Management (IRIDM), Bengaluru, would work together in imparting the comprehensive training programme.

What’s in today’s article?

  • National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR)
  • Indian Railway Institute of Disaster Management (IRIDM)
  • Commissioner of Railway Safety

National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR)

  • NAIR is a training institute for Indian Railways (IR) officers.
  • It was established in 1930 as the Railway Staff College and moved to its current location in Vadodara, Gujarat in 1952.
  • Recently, the Railway Board has ordered NAIR to hand over all its assets, including buildings and other infrastructural facilities, to the Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya (GSV).
    • GSV is a central university in Vadodara, Gujarat, India.
    • It was established in 2018 as the National Rail and Transportation Institute (NRTI) and upgraded to a central university in 2022.
    • The university is sponsored by the Ministry of Railways and is mandated to work across railways, shipping, ports, highways, roads, waterways, and aviation.

Indian Railways Institute of Disaster Management (IRIDM)

  • IRIDM is a national institute in Bengaluru that offers disaster management courses and training.
  • IRIDM envisioned in High Level Committee (HLC) on Disaster Management in Indian Railways, was Commissioned in the year 2019.
  • In the year 2021, it was brought under Indian Railways Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineers (IRIMEE), Jamalpur, a century old Centralized Training Institute.

Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS)

  • About
    • CRS is a statutory body. It is headed by the Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety.
    • It deals with matters related to safety of rail travel and operations, as laid down in the Railways Act, 1989.
    • Investigating serious train accidents is one of the key responsibilities of the CRS. The commission also makes recommendations to the government.
  • Headquarters: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Administrative control
    • The CRS does not report to the Ministry of Railways of the Railway Board.
    • It is, in fact, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).
    • The reason is to keep the CRS insulated from the influence of the country’s railway establishment and prevent conflicts of interest.

News Summary: Railway officers to be trained in disaster management

Reasons behind this step

  • Investigation into the Odisha train tragedy highlighted the need of faster disaster response
    • The move comes after investigation into the devastating Odisha train tragedy that the disaster response could have been faster.
      • In June 2023, three trains collided in Balasore district in Odisha which left about 290 passengers dead and scores injured.
    • In the recent floods in southern districts of Tamil Nadu, a Superfast Express was stopped at Srivaikuntam railway stations after the railway track got breached a few hundreds of metres ahead.
    • The first help arrived several hours later after the Indian Air Force helicopters hovered over the railway station and dropped food packets.
  • The report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety
    • More emphasis on disaster management was laid following the report of the Commissioner of Railway Safety, Eastern Circle.
    • As per this report, Railway Board should review the system of disaster response in the Zonal Railways.
  • Reliance on the State administration and Central agencies for relief and rescue operations
    • The railways have Accident Relief Trains stationed at major junctions across the railway network with adequate manpower and equipment to reach accident sites or any scene of disturbance.
    • However, the focus would be more on restoring rail traffic.
    • The railways rely more on the State administration and Central agencies for relief and rescue operations.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
26 Dec 2023

Women Participation in NREGS Continues to Rise, 59% this Fiscal

Why in News?

  • Women participation in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was the highest in 10 financial years.

What’s in Today’s Article?

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

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

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

Salient Features of the Scheme:

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

Performance of the Scheme in last 3 years:

  • In 2022-23, 6.19 crore households availed work under the scheme.

Challenges/Loopholes in the Scheme:

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

News Summary:

  • Women participation in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) was the highest in 10 financial years.
  • The rates of participation of women in the MGNREGS, defined as women person-days out of the total in percentage, stood at 57.47% in 2022-23 and 54.82% in 2021-22.
  • Data on NREGS portal shows of the total 238.62 crore person-days under the NREGS during 2023-24 till December 24, the figure of women person-days was 141.37 crore or 59.25%.
  • As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the female Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has increased in the country in recent years.
  • The rise was sharp in rural areas. In rural areas, the female LFPR, defined as the percentage of persons in the labour force among the persons in the population, increased to 30.5% in 2022-23 (July-June) from 18.2% in 2017-18.
  • The female unemployment rate has declined to 1.8% in 2022-23 from 3.8% in 2017-18.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
26 Dec 2023

Rohingya Refugees: UNHCR thanks India for Taking Care of 142 Rohingyas Intercepted in Andaman

Why in News?

  • The UNHCR expressed gratitude to Indian authorities at Andaman and Nicobar Islands for taking care of 142 Rohingya refugees, whose boat was intercepted by coastal security agencies near Shaheed Dweep a day ago.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Rohingya Refugee Issue
  • News Summary Regarding Rohingya Refugees in India 

About the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

  • The UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution.
  • Headquartered in Geneva (Switzerland), UNHCR assists in the voluntary repatriation of refugees, their local integration or resettlement to a third country.
  • UNHCR was created in 1950 to address the refugee crisis that resulted from World War II.
  • The 1951 Refugee Convention established the scope and legal framework of the agency's work, which initially focused on Europeans uprooted by the war.

Rohingya Refugee Issue:

  • Rohingyas as refugees in India:
    • India hosts the biggest number of refugees in the entire South Asia.
    • According to the Indian government's estimate, over 40,000 of about 1,68,000 Rohingyas who had fled Myanmar since 2012, have entered India illegally.
    • In legal terms, a person living in India can be either a citizen or a foreigner defined under the Foreigners Act, 1946.
    • India has also not been a signatory of the 1951 UN Convention or the 1967 Protocol - both relating to the Status of Refugees and included in the UNHCR statute.
  • Issues with Rohingyas in India:
    • According to the Indian government, many Rohingyas have acquired documents meant for Indian citizens (like Aadhaar, PAN and Voter-ID).
      • This raises the concern of naturalisation of illegal migrants by fraudulent means.
      • Given the socio-economic complexities of Indian society and politics, identifying and monitoring Rohingyas will be difficult.
      • Since intelligence agencies have warned that terrorist organisations are looking to exploit the vulnerability of Rohingyas this could jeopardise India's national security.
    • Till now the successive governments have dealt with refugee questions on a case-by-case basis.
      • In 2015, a Private Member's Bill titled the Asylum Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
      • The Bill seeks to provide for the establishment of a legal framework to deal with the refugee problem.
      • But the Bill has not yet been taken up for consideration.

News Summary Regarding Rohingya Refugees in India:

  • The Port Blair police control room received a call from the local intelligence about suspicious boat movement (carrying Rohingya refugees) near Shaheed Dweep (previously known as Neil Island).
  • Multiple coastal security agencies (including the navy, coast guard and marine police) swung into action and located it.
  • The boat was towed to Shaheed Dweep by the marine police, as it developed some technical snag and was unfit for further journey.
  • All of the Rohingya refugees were taken to Port Blair and kept in a temporary shelter by the local administration.
  • UNHCR thanks the Indian Coast Guard and the authorities for saving desperate human lives. This noble act of humanity brings relief to those in distress.


International Relations

Mains Article
26 Dec 2023

Disinvestment in India - Centre likely to miss disinvestment target yet again in FY 2024

Why in news?

  • As the upcoming general elections approach, the government is slowing down its push for privatization.
  • They are cautious about criticism for selling valuable assets and are choosing to sell only a portion of their ownership on stock exchanges instead of fully privatizing.
  • As a result, the disinvestment target for current fiscal year is again likely to be missed.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Disinvestment in India
  • News Summary

What is Disinvestment?

  • About
    • Disinvestment means sale or liquidation of assets by the government, usually Central and state public sector enterprises, projects, or other fixed assets.
    • In some cases, disinvestment may be done to privatise assets. However, not all disinvestment is privatisation.
      • In complete privatisation, 100% control of the company is passed on to the buyer.
  • Objectives
    • Reducing the fiscal burden on the exchequer
    • Improving public finances
    • Encouraging private ownership
    • Funding growth and development programmes
    • Maintaining and promoting competition in the market

Evolution of Disinvestment in India

  • Disinvestment in India began in 1991-92 when 31 selected PSUs were disinvested for Rs. 3,038 crores.
    • The term ‘disinvestment’ was used first time in Interim Budget 1991.
  • Later, Rangarajan committee, in 1993, emphasised the need for substantial disinvestment.
  • The policy on disinvestment gathered steam, when a new Department of Disinvestment was created in 1999, which became a full Ministry of Disinvestment in 2001.
  • But in 2004, the ministry was shut down and was merged in the Finance ministry as an independent department.
  • Later, the Department of Disinvestments was renamed as Department of Investments and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) in 2016.
    • Now, DIPAM acts as a nodal department for disinvestment.

Benefits of Disinvestment

  • Helps government with the money
    • Govt also uses disinvestment proceeds to finance the fiscal deficit, to invest in the economy and development or social sector programmes.
  • Beneficial for long term growth of the country
    • As it allows the government and even the company to reduce debt.
  • Encourages private ownership of assets and trading in the open market.
    • Private ownership of assets often brings efficiency and increases the profitability.
      • E.g., Hindustan Zinc was acquired by Vedanta in 2022. Since then, it has seen 100 fold increase in profits on the back of six fold expansion in capacities.
  • Often releases large amount of public resources
    • Disinvestment releases large number of public resources (tangible & intangible both) such as manpower, assets etc.
    • These resources can be re-deployed in high priority social sector.

Criticism of disinvestment

  • Loss of regular payments to the government
    • Profit making PSUs pay dividend to the govt at regular interval.
  • Can create private monopoly
    • Disinvestment might create private monopoly in place of public monopoly.
      • E.g., Disinvestment of VSNL to TATA, IPCL to Reliance
  • Vague classification of strategic and non-strategic sectors
    • Many proponents claim that govt should retain its presence in strategic sector while going for disinvestment in non-strategic sectors.
    • However, the classification of strategic and non-strategic sector is not done properly.
    • E.g., Strategic disinvestment in Oil sector might threaten the energy security of India.
  • Faulty model
    • Using disinvestment funds to bridge the fiscal deficit has been termed as a faulty model by many analysts.
    • It is equivalent to selling family silver to meet short term goals.

News Summary: Disinvestment in India - Centre likely to miss disinvestment target yet again in FY 2024

  • Plans to privatize major entities like Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), and CONCOR have been put on hold.
  • Experts believe that substantial privatization may only resume after the general elections in April or May.

Key highlights: Centre likely to miss disinvestment target yet again in FY 2024

  • Target and achievements so far in the current fiscal
    • In the current fiscal, out of the budgeted amount of Rs 51,000 crore, about 20 per cent or Rs 10,049 crore has been collected through minority stake sales.
      • According to the recently release Economic Survey report, about ₹4.20 lakh crore has been realised as disinvestment proceeds in the past ten years.
      • So far, different central governments over the last three decades have been able to meet annual disinvestment targets only six times.
  • Multiple challenges in 2023
    • After the successful privatisation of the then loss-making Air India to Tata group and NINL to TSLP in 2022, the government was hopeful of going ahead with more CPSE divestments and reaching a quick conclusion.
    • However, 2023 has no good news on the strategic sale front.
    • The difficulties involved in the strategic sale process, with the involvement of multiple stakeholders, make the task at hand a long drawn affair.
  • Principle followed by the govt
    • A fundamental principle behind the government's policy in the post-2014 period has been the engagement with the private sector as a partner in the development process.
    • The government's disinvestment policy has been revived in the last eight years with stake sales and the successful listing of Public Sector Enterprises on the stock market.
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