Feb. 28, 2023

Mains Article
28 Feb 2023

Unpacking the new set of e-waste rules


  • The article highlights key provisions of recently rolled out E-waste (management) rules, 2022 and draws attention to lack of recognition of informal sector in these alongside other key shortcomings.

Genesis of E-waste Rules

  • The first set of e-waste Rules was notified in 2011 and came into effect in 2012 with the introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as one of its important components.
    • Under EPR compliance, ‘producers’ are responsible for the safe disposal of electronic and electric products once the consumer discards them.
  • Thereafter, E-waste rules 2016, amended in 2018, were comprehensive and included provisions to promote ‘authorisation’ and ‘product stewardship’.
    • Product Stewardship signifies whoever designs, produces, sells, or uses a product takes responsibility for its environmental impact throughout all stages of the products' life cycle, including end of life management.
    • Other categories of stakeholders such as the ‘Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO) were also introduced in these rules.
  • The above rules placed importance on seeking authorization by stakeholders, but a weak monitoring system and a lack of transparency resulted in inadequacy in compliance.
    • Also, most of the ‘refurbishers’ or the ‘repair shops’ operating in Delhi are not authorized under the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India.
    • Further, many formal recyclers undertake activities only up to the pre-processing or segregation stage, and thereafter channelize e-waste to the informal sector, rendering a pure violation of law.
  • A new set of e-waste rules, were further notified in 2022, which will come into force from 1st April, 2023.
    • These rules highlight the EPR for e-waste management framework for those dealing in the sale, manufacture, purchase, transfer, dismantling, refurbishing, processing or recycling of e-waste including their parts and components.
    • However, these shall not apply to waste batteries, packaging plastics, micro-enterprises and radioactive wastes

Key highlights of New E-Waste Management Rules 2022

  • Registration of stakeholders: Entities like manufacturer, producer, recycler, refurbisher shall be required to apply for EPR registration.
    • Further, these entities are not allowed to deal with unregistered manufacturers, producers, recyclers and refurbishers.
  • Responsibilities and Compliances:
  • Applicability: The products on which e-waste management rules apply can be bifurcated into two categories as follows:
    • Consumer Electricals and Electronics
    • IT and Telecommunication Equipment
  • Storage of E-waste: Any manufacturer, producer, recycler or refurbisher can store the e-waste only for a period of up to 180 days are required to maintain the record of its sale, transfer or storage.
    • The CPCB has the power to extend storage period up to 365 days specifically for recycling or reuse of e-waste.
  • Reduction in use of Hazardous Substances: The producers of e-waste have been specified proportions of hazardous substances in their new products.
    • Examples of hazardous substances include Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Polybrominated Biphenyls and Hexavalent Chromium, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers.
  • Digitalized systems approach: The EPR obligations shall be discharged by producers through the online purchase of certificates from registered recyclers.
    • Standardizing the e-waste value chain through a common digital ‘portal’ may ensure transparency.
    • It is also crucial to reduce the frequency of ‘paper trading’ or ‘false trail’, i.e., a practice of falsely revealing 100% collection on paper while collecting and/or weighing ‘scrap’ to meet targets.

Shortcomings Related to New E-Waste Management Rules 2022

  • Two important stages of ‘efficient’ e-waste recycling are as follows:
    • Component recovery: It means adequate and efficient recoveries of rare earth metals in order to reduce dependence on virgin resources.
    • Residual disposal: It indicates safe disposal of the leftover ‘residual’ during e-waste recycling.
    • However, the rules do not clearly state the requirement for ensuring the ‘recovery tangent’.
  • The new notification also does away with dismantlers and vests all the responsibility of recycling with authorized recyclers, only a handful of which exist in India.
    • Thus, these recyclers will have to collect a quantity of waste, recycle them and generate digital certificates through the portal, that may cause initial turbulence, where the informal channels may try and seek benefits from.
  • The PROs are also being dismantled, which till now acted as an intermediary between producers and formal recyclers by bidding for contracts from producers and arranging for ‘certified and authorized’ recycling.
    • Fresh challenges hence might emerge as companies will no longer be required to engage with PROs and dismantlers, who partially ensured ‘double verification’ in terms of quantity and quality of recycling.
  • The new rules are also myopic as the informal sector, which plays a crucial role in e-waste handling, draws no recognition in these.
    • It is concerning as informal sector is the ‘face’ of e-waste disposal in India as 95% of e-waste is channelized to this sector.
  • Many producers in Delhi have still not set up collection centres and some brands have labelled their head office (located on the outskirts of Delhi) as the ‘only’ collection point.
  • Similarly, formal companies, low in number and clustered in the metropolises, also fail to provide doorstep collection to consumers when the quantum of e-waste is not enough to meet their overhead expenses or transport.
  • On the other hand, consumers lack awareness and information about the existence of any such services.

Way Forward

  • In order to ensure maximum efficiency, the activities of the recyclers must be recorded in the system and the authorities should periodically trace the quantity of e-waste that went for recycling vis-à-vis the ‘recovery’ towards the end.
  • The intermediate stages in hierarchical process of e-waste handling should be strategically utilised for better collection of e-waste as it does not involve any hazardous practices.
    • These intermediate stages include collection of mixed waste, segregation of e-waste, clustered accumulation of e-waste according to their type, etc.
  • The e-waste handling should also inculcate best practices to incorporate informal sector in an organized e-waste network.
    • For instance, ‘Karo Sambhav’, a Delhi-based PRO, has integrated informal aggregators in its collection mechanism.
    • Through this initiative, e-waste is entered in a safe and structured system and the informal sector also has an advantage in terms of financial and legal security.
  • In order to ensure the efficient implementation of the law, stakeholders must have the right information and intent to safely dispose e-waste.


  • Thus, simultaneous and consistent efforts are needed towards increasing consumer awareness, strengthening reverse logistics, building capacity of stakeholders, etc.
  • Also, improving existing infrastructure, enhancing product designing, rationalizing input control by defining ‘rare earth elements’ as ‘critical raw materials’, and adopting green procurement practices is the need of the hour.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
28 Feb 2023

Australia’s Deakin University to become the first foreign varsity to set up campus in India

Why in News?

  • Australia’s Deakin University is set to become the first foreign university to enter India via an independent campus in Gujarat’s GIFT City.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Norms for foreign universities to set up campus in GIFT City
  • Need for Such Norms
  • News Summary (About GIFT City)

Norms for foreign universities to set up campus in GIFT City


  • The Union Finance Minister, in her Budget 2022 speech, had said that world-class foreign universities and institutions would be permitted to offer courses in the GIFT City.
  • She also said that such institutions would be exempted from domestic regulations in order to facilitate the availability of high-end human resources for financial services and technology.
  • Later, in October 2022, the Government notified regulations allowing foreign universities to set up off-shore campuses at GIFT City.
    • These regulations were framed by the International Foreign Services Centres Authority (IFSCA).
      • Headquartered at GIFT City, IFSCA is a statutory body established in 2020 under the International Financial Services Centres Authority Act, 2019.
      • It has been established as a unified regulator with a holistic vision to promote ease of doing business in IFSC and provide a world class regulatory environment.
  • Also, in January 2023, the University Grants commission chief M Jagadesh Kumar had announced draft regulations for foreign universities setting up campuses in India.
    • The UGC rules will be applicable to all such potential projects, except those in GIFT City, where only the IFSCA guidelines will be applicable.

About the norms for foreign universities to set up campus in GIFT City

  • It allows an educational institution from the top 500 QS World Universities to visit GIFT City and commit to establishing suitable infrastructure and facilities to offer courses in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), etc.
  • It aims to address some of the barriers that foreign universities have faced in coming to India, such as fee and administrative control, reservation policy implementation and the requirement that they be a not-for-profit entity.
  • It also permits the parent entity to repatriate any profit without restriction.
  • The foreign entity's courses or programs must be identical to those offered by the parent entity in its home jurisdiction, and the same degree, diploma or certificate must be conferred.
  • The IFSCA would have the right to inspect foreign campuses set up in GIFT city.
  • If an institution withdraws or discontinues a programme it would have to provide an alternative to the affected students, including reallocation.

 What is the need for allowing Foreign Universities to set-up Campuses in India?

  • The UGC chief pointed out that in 2022 over 4.5 lakh Indian students went abroad to study, leading to outflow of estimated $28-30 billion.
  • Allowing foreign universities to set-up campuses in India will also ensure that all our students — there are around 40 million pursuing higher education — have access to global quality education.
  • The ideal of setting up foreign universities’ campuses in India is also mentioned in the National Education Policy 2020.

 News Summary:

  • Australia’s Deakin University is set to become the first foreign university to set up campus in India. The University will set up an independent campus in Gujarat’s GIFT City.
  • The Deakin University is ranked 266th in the QS World University Rankings and features among the top 50 young universities in the world.
    • The university is also placed in the 250- 300 band in the Times Higher Education World Rankings.
  • The campus at GIFT City is expected to start operations from next year. It plans to first admit students to postgraduate programmes.

What is GIFT City?

  • Gujarat International Finance Tech-City (GIFT City) is a planned business district in the state of Gujarat.
  • Features of GIFT City –
    • It is India's first operational greenfield smart city and International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
    • It is a vertical city that will optimise the land area consumption for the development.
    • It is located on the banks of Sabarmati River, connecting business capital (Ahmedabad) and political capital (Gandhinagar) of Gujarat state.
    • It has a dedicated multi-services Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for international operations for various services sector players.
  • Objective
    • To develop a new format for globally benchmarked Integrated City
    • To propose a road map for fast-track development and implementation
    • To make the city scalable in each and every aspect for a distant future
    • To derive the city format from fast changing lifestyles and new technologies
    • To achieve an image of Global city, that keeps pace with modern technologies
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
28 Feb 2023

ALMA telescope: Soon it will get a ‘new brain’

Why in News?

  • The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) is set to get software and hardware upgrades that will help it collect much more data and produce sharper images than ever before.
  • As ALMA is operated under a partnership among the US, 16 countries in Europe, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Chile, the announcement came after all the partners cleared the funding required for the improvements.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is ALMA?
  • What is Submillimetre Astronomy?
  • Why is ALMA Located in Chile’s Atacama Desert?
  • What are Some of the Notable Discoveries made by ALMA?

What is ALMA?

  • ALMA is a state-of-the-art radio-telescope that studies celestial objects at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths that can penetrate through dust clouds and help astronomers examine dim and distant galaxies and stars.
  • Fully functional since 2013, it was designed, planned and constructed by the US’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).
  • It also has extraordinary sensitivity, which allows it to detect even extremely faint radio signals.
  • It consists of 66 high-precision antennas, spread over a distance of up to 16 km in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
  • These antennas can be moved closer together or farther apart for different perspectives - like the zoom lens of a camera.

 What is Submillimetre Astronomy?

  • Light at these wavelengths comes from vast cold clouds in interstellar space (at temperatures little above absolute zero) and from some of the earliest and most distant galaxies in the Universe.
  • Astronomers can use it to study the chemical and physical conditions in molecular clouds - the dense regions of gas and dust where new stars are being born.
  • Often these regions of the Universe are dark and obscured in visible light, but they shine brightly in the millimetre and submillimetre part of the spectrum.

 Why is ALMA Located in Chile’s Atacama Desert?

  • ALMA is situated at an altitude of 16,570 feet (5,050 m) above sea level on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
  • The desert is the driest place in the world, meaning most of the nights here are clear of clouds and free of light-distorting moisture.
  • All these make it a perfect location for examining the universe, as the millimetre and submillimetre waves observed by it are very susceptible to atmospheric water vapour absorption on Earth.

 What are Some of the Notable Discoveries made by ALMA?

  • Scientists are trying to find answers to age-old questions of our cosmic origins.
  • One of the earliest findings came in 2013 when it discovered starburst galaxies and the dust formation inside supernova 1987A.
  • Next year, ALMA provided detailed images of the protoplanetary disc surrounding HL Tauri - a very young T Tauri star in the constellation Taurus, approximately 450 light years from Earth.
  • In 2015, the telescope helped scientists observe a phenomenon known as the Einstein ring, which occurs when light from a galaxy or star passes by a massive object en route to the Earth.
  • More recently, as part of the Event Horizon Telescope project - a global network of radio telescopes, it provided the first image of the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy.


Science & Tech

Mains Article
28 Feb 2023

National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

Why in news?

  • The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK), after being headless for close to a year, has finally got a chairperson, vice-chairperson and member on board.

What’s in today’s article?

  • National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) – About, background, functions, need for NCSK
  • News Summary

What is National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK)?

  • NCSK was established as an institution to investigate the conditions of Safai Karamcharis (waste collectors) in India and make recommendations to the Government.
  • It is currently a non-statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Background of NCSK

  • The NCSK was established in the year 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act 1993 initially for the period upto 31.3.1997.
    • Hence, initially NCSK was established as a statutory body.
  • Later the validity of the Act was initially extended up to 2002 and thereafter up to 2004.
    • The NCSK Act ceased to have effect from 29.2.2004.
  • After that the tenure of the NCSK has been extended as a non-statutory body from time to time through resolutions.
  • The tenure of the present Commission was up to March 2022. However, it was extended further for a period of three years.

What are the functions of NCSK?

  • The NCSK has been giving its recommendations to the Government regarding:
    • specific programmes for welfare of Safai Karamcharis,
    • study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for Safai Karamcharis,
    • investigate cases of specific grievances etc.
  • The NCSK has been assigned the work to monitor the implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
  • It is the only body keeping track of sewer deaths in the entire country.

What is the need for NCSK?

  • Deprivation among Safai Karamcharis
    • The Government has taken many steps for the upliftment of the Safai Karamcharis.
    • However, the deprivation suffered by them in socio-economic and educational terms is still far from being eliminated.
  • Sporadic instances of manual scavenging
    • As per the NCSK (2020 data), a total of 631 people have died in the country while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last 10 years.
    • Although manual scavenging has been almost eradicated, sporadic instances do occur.
    • In 2018, 29,923 people were engaged in manual scavenging in Uttar Pradesh, making it the highest in any State in India.

What are the challenges faced by NCSK?

  • NCSK does not have any powers and works as a non-statutory body on government resolution.
    • Recently, the govt mentioned in the Parliament that there is no such proposal for converting the commission into a statutory body.
  • Due to this, the commission is not able to implement its own orders or directions.
  • The chairperson and members are political appointees, so they don’t question the government or speak against their schemes.
  • The commission remains understaffed and many posts remain vacant.
  • The commission itself is running on a temporary basis, the posts in the commission are filled either through deputation or co-terminus basis.

News Summary

  • According to an office order by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the President approved the appointment of M Venkatesan as chairperson, Anjana Panwar as vice-chairperson, and Dr P P Vava as member.
  • After the current appointments, posts for four members remain vacant.
  • Due to vacancies over the past year, one consultant was looking after the works relating to sewer deaths in India.
Social Issues

Mains Article
28 Feb 2023

Delhi’s alleged liquor scam

Why in news?

  • Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding the alleged irregularities in the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 – about, features, controversy

Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22

  • Also known as the new liquor policy, the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 was implemented on November 17, 2021.
  • It changed how liquor was sold in the city — with the government withdrawing from the business and allowing only private operators to run liquor shops.
  • The main aim was to improve customer experience and stop black marketing.
  • However, after the whole controversy around the new excise policy, Delhi reverted to the old excise regime.

Key features of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22

  • Under the new liquor policy, the city was divided into 32 zones inviting firms to bid on the zones.
    • Instead of individual licences, bidding was done zone-by-zone.
  • Also, licenses for 849 retail vends were issued through open bidding by the Excise department in 2021.
    • Under the old liquor policy, Delhi had 864 liquor shops, including 475 run by the four government agencies, and 389 were private.
  • For the first time, shops were allowed to offer discounts to retail customers and reduced the number of dry days to three from 21.
  • The new policy also had a provision for home delivery of liquor. It even proposed lowering the drinking age from 25 to 21.
  • It also suggested the opening of shops till 3 am. However, these were not implemented.

The controversy surrounding Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22

  • Before the implementation, the policy had first to be examined by the Chief Secretary (CS) of Delhi Naresh Kumar.
  • The CS allegedly found procedural lapses and irregularities in the new policy.
    • In the report, Delhi Deputy CM Sisodia, who heads the excise department, was accused of making changes to the excise policy without the approval of L-G.
  • Based on the Chief Secretary’s note, the LG asked for a detailed report by the Vigilance Department.
  • After reviewing the report by the Vigilance Department, the L-G suggested a CBI probe into the matter.

Main allegations in the Vigilance Department’s report (on the basis of which the CBI has built its case)

  • Delhi liquor policy: Discounts, ‘1+1’ schemes
    • Hefty discounts being offered by liquor retailers were causing severe market distortions.
    • Licensees were issuing advertisements and promoting liquor and their shops through various means in violation of Delhi Excise Rules 2010.
      • The government failed to take penal action against licensees for this.
    • Undue benefits were given to liquor licensees by revising the rates of foreign liquor and removing the import pass fee of Rs 50 per case of beer.
      • This made foreign liquor and beer cheaper for retail, leading to a loss of revenue for the state exchequer.
  • Number of dry days
    • The new excise policy reduced the number of dry days from 21 in the 2021 calendar year to three in 2022.
    • This was done without approval from the Council of Ministers, and without seeking the LG’s opinion.
  • Extension of licences
    • The licences issued to liquor retailers were extended from April 1, 2022 to May 31, 2022, and then from June 1, 2022 to July 31, 2022.
    • Such extensions were allegedly given by Excise officials on their own, without any increase in the tendered licence fee.
    • This contravened an earlier proposal approved by the Council of Ministers, which said that the licence fee may be increased at the end of 2021-22 after considering the real time-based actual sale data.
    • No such exercise was undertaken by the officers of the department.
    • The extension of the licence period without an increase in fee prima facie led to undue benefit to the licensees without any justification.
  • Waivers, licence fees
    • The report flagged the blanket relaxation given by the Excise Department in case of default in the payment of licence fees.
    • It said licence fees worth Rs 144.36 crore were waived in January 2022 on pretext of COVID restrictions as relief to the Liquor Cartel.
    • This was done despite the Accounts Branch of the Excise Department having specifically recommended that no compensation should be allowed to licensees.
  • The link to Goa Election
    • The Enforcement Directorate (ED) accused the government in Delhi of using a part of the kickbacks from the liquor scam to fund the party’s campaign for Goa assembly election.


Polity & Governance

Feb. 27, 2023

Mains Article
27 Feb 2023

Smoke signals from the renewable energy sphere: Technical innovation in India’s renewable energy policy is worsening a highly uneven energy landscape


  • The article looks upon the formal launch of the Indian Oil Corporation’s patented solar cook-stove at the India Energy Week 2023 held recently from the point of view of India’s national energy story.
  • The pronouncement is significant as it is followed by a 99% cut in the LPG subsidy (from the 2022-23 revised estimates) to low-income households in the 2023 Budget even as international fuel prices remain high.

About IOC’s Patented Solar Cook-Stove

  • The patented solar cook-stove also known as Twin-cooktop model is a revolutionary indoor solar cooking solution.
  • It works on both solar and auxiliary energy sources simultaneously, making it a reliable cooking solution for India.
  • While PM of India claimed the stove would reach 3 crore households within the next few years, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas called it a “catalyst in accelerating adoption of low-carbon options” along with biofuels, electric vehicles, and green hydrogen.
  • The government has also claimed that the stove priced at ₹15,000 will transform cooking practices, save thousands of crores in LPG cost and forex.
  • It is also claimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions, and yield marketable carbon credits.

About India Energy Week (IEW)

  • It is a new integrated energy exhibition and conference to deliver a platform that will enable the global energy community to help India achieve its energy transition goals.
  • It was held in in Bengaluru (6th -8th February, 2023) as part of the G-20 calendar of events and aims to showcase India's rising prowess as an energy transition powerhouse.
  • The platform provides unique opportunities for international energy companies to engage directly with the key government and industry stakeholders responsible for delivering India’s future energy system.

Renewable Energy - A Quest Derived from Crises

  • The quest for renewable and decentralised technology in poor households has closely followed energy crises as depicted in the following events.
  • The government’s earliest attempt to transform household energy consumption was the solar cooker of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), fabricated in the early 1950s.
    • But it had several limitations like prohibitive price and slow cooking rate.
  • Other parallel efforts to improve the traditional stove proved similarly ineffective. For example, the Hyderabad Engineering Research Laboratories made a ‘smokeless chulha’ in 1953.
    • These stoves incorporated traditional cooking practices and locally sourced materials.
    • However, surveys documented the chulha’s limited uptake among rural women owing to its design and durability.
  • The government focus on state-led hydroelectric power generation post-independence was a response to uncertainty in food security and energy self-sufficiency, but it failed to address the household energy consumption of the rural poor.
  • The international focus on “appropriate technologies” also reinforced the belief that for the energy needs of the poor, small is sufficient.

Efforts Made Earlier to Produce an ‘Improved’ Stove

  • The oil crisis of 1973 and an emerging forest conservation movement focused government attention on stoves that used firewood and cow dung.
  • Accordingly, the government turned to “improved chulhas” (in the 1980s) in its National Energy Policy, with sole incentive to adopt them by providing 50% subsidy.
    • The programme sought to check deforestation by reducing fuelwood consumption and also benefit women’s health and finances.
    • An extensive federated system was set up, from nodal State agencies to “self-employed workers”, to fulfil targets set by the national administration.
  • The Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources (renamed as Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) claimed that the chulha had been adopted in over 32 million homes, out of a potential 120 million, by 2001.
  • However, the programme failed due to the following reasons:
    • Stove’s construction and high maintenance costs
    • Its operation also demanded to clean the chimney, break wood pellets into smaller pieces, and only a marginal reduction in smoke.
    • Alleged bureaucratic corruption
    • Little autonomy for State governments apart from meeting pre-set targets
    • Workers charged with installations were underpaid
  • Despite poor results, the program was rebranded as the "National Biomass Cookstove Initiative" in 2009, and implemented as the "Unnat Chulha Abhiyan" since 2014.
    • Unnat Chulha Abhiyan aims to develop and deploy improved biomass cook-stoves for providing cleaner cooking energy solutions in rural, semi-urban and urban areas to reduce consumption of fuel wood with higher efficiency and low emissions.

The Challenge Ahead

  • A 2004 report noted that cooking constituted 80% of a rural Indian household’s energy consumption.
  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) also found that 668 million people in India depended on biomass for cooking and lighting in 2013, making India the largest consumer of fuelwood for household use.
  • Today, despite the success of the government’s LPG scheme, unprecedented inflation in fuel prices and the gradual withdrawal of subsidies have forced women to resort to the ‘chulha’ based hazardous cooking.

Equating Government’s New Efforts for ‘Improved Cooking’ With Earlier Ones

  • The government’s boost to Indian Oil’s solar stove recently could be drawn parallel with government’s history to give thrust to improved cooking as evident by the following episodes:
    • The public-sector innovation with supposedly revolutionary impact after a fuel crisis
    • A gulf between state-subsidized schemes and its practical implementation
    • The absence of any long-term goal to improve rural incomes despite the correlation between per-capita income and type of energy consumption
  • However, there are also several contrasting upshots. The older interventions in the renewable sphere were led by the state and diverse NGOs, which provided shallow fixes to deep social problems.
    • However, the real action today is focused on public money being funnelled into heavily subsidised large-scale private projects that produce green energy largely for commercial use.
  • Despite its claims, the technical innovation in renewable energy policy today only contributes to further establish a very unbalanced energy landscape.
  • It must therefore be promoted because it promotes regional and national economic growth as well as global advantages like energy sustainability and climate change mitigation.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
27 Feb 2023

The $5 billion defence exports target

Why in news?

  • The defence ministry has set a target to raise India’s annual defence exports to $5 billion by 2024-25, from the $1.5 billion currently.
  • This was also reiterated by PM Modi at the recently concluded Aero India 2023 in Bengaluru earlier this month.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Defence exports

What are the current defence export figures?

  • As per government data, India’s defence export value till December 2022 had reached Rs 6,058 crore.
  • India’s defence exports have grown by 334 per cent in the past five years. They touched nearly Rs 13,000 crore in 2021-22.

Which defence equipment does India export?

  • The major defence items being exported are Personal Protective items, Offshore Patrol Vessels, ALH Helicopter, SU Avionics, Bharati Radio, Coastal Surveillance Systems etc.
  • In December 2022, the government told Parliament that major items exported by India in the last three years include:
    • lightweight torpedoes, weapon locating radar, fast patrol vessels, 120 mm mortar armoured protection vehicle, 0.338 Lapua magnum sniper rifle, and simulators.

What are the major defence platforms India is looking to export?

  • India is in talks with Argentina and Egypt, among other countries, to export its indigenous LCA Tejas.
  • According to the government officials, the LCA Mk 2 has seen interest from nearly 16 countries and efforts are on to identify private production agencies to ramp up manufacturing of the jet.
  • India is looking to export the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter to several countries.
    • India has signed a contract with Mauritius for the export of one Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH Mk III) for Mauritius Police Force.
    • Mauritius already operates the ALH and Do-228 aircraft, which is a multi-purpose light transport aircraft.
  • India is also in talks with Guyana to export the Dornier 228 and fast patrol vessels.
  • Last year, India signed a $375 million contract with the Philippines to export the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
    • India is looking to export the weapon system and its lighter next generation version (BrahMos NG) to over 10 countries, including South Africa, Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
  • In 2022, Armenia inked a government-to-government deal to buy the DRDO-developed Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, rockets and ammunition.

Major export destinations

  • India’s private companies and Defence PSUs currently export defence equipment to over 75 countries.
  • Major countries:
    • Italy, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Russia, France, Nepal, Mauritius, Israel, Egypt, UAE, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Poland, Spain and Chile are some of the major export destinations.
  • Top customers for India’s defence export
    • A report released by India Exim Bank stated that Mauritius, Mozambique, and Seychelles have been among the top customers for India’s defence exports between 2017 and 2021.
  • India is among the top 25 exporters of major arms
    • According to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report released last year, India is among the top 25 exporters of major arms.
    • Myanmar has been the biggest importer of Indian arms at 50 per cent during the 2017-2021 period, followed by Sri Lanka at 25 per cent and Armenia at 11 per cent.

What are the steps taken by the government to achieve self-reliance in defence?

  • Change in Defence Procurement Policy
    • The policy increased the Indigenous Content stipulated in various categories of procurement by about 10% to support the ‘Make in India’ initiative.
    • It added an additional category Buy (Indian-IDDM) as the most preferred way of defence goods acquisition.
      • IDDM - Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured.
    • Preference has been given to 'Buy (Indian)', 'Buy & Make (Indian)' & 'Make' categories of acquisition over 'Buy (Global)' category.
  • Budget 2023-24
    • Government has earmarked 75 per cent of its defence capital budget for 2023-24 towards procurements from domestic sources.
  • Negative import list/positive indigenisation list
    • So far, four positive indigenisation lists have been released.
    • The items mentioned on the lists cannot be imported by the Services and should be sourced from within the country.
  • Defence industrial corridors
    • Two defence industrial corridors are being set up in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
    • Also, there is an ongoing simplification of processes for ease of doing business aimed at boosting defence exports.
  • Defence research
    • Steps to encourage defence research are also being undertaken.
    • Eg., earmarking 25 per cent of the defence research budget for the private sector in 2022-23, for newer innovation and developing niche technology.
  • Space created for private players
    • Government has incentivised the private sector to invest in defence manufacturing.
    • In this direction, it has relied on transfer of technology, providing a platform for handholding etc.
    • The government recently corporatised the Ordnance Factory Board and converted it into seven DPSUs.


  • There has been a strong government push towards achieving self-reliance in defence, which is subsequently expected to increase India’s defence exports as well.
Defence & Security

Mains Article
27 Feb 2023

Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program: Govt plans 10 ‘Clean Plant Centres’ to boost fruit crop production

Why in News?

  • In order to increase domestic production, the Center plans to establish 10 "Clean Plant Centers" as the demand for fruits like apple, avocado and blueberry has increased over time.
  • These centers will be set up under the ‘Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program’, which was announced by the Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2023-24.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is the Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program?
  • What is the Need for the Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program?
  • News Summary Regarding the Center Plans to Establish 10 "Clean Plant Centers"

What is the Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program?

  • The Program will be launched with an outlay of 2,200 crores (in the next 7 years till 2030) to boost availability of disease-free, quality planting material for high value horticultural crops.
  • The Program will aim to -
    • Enhance the yield of horticulture crops,
    • Disseminate and adopt climate resilient varieties,
    • Protect the ecosystem through proactive virus and disease control measures.
  • The programme will be anchored by the National Horticulture Board (NHB) which in turn will set up Clean Plant Centers across the country and ensure the global competitiveness of the Indian horticulture sector.
  • The centers will work with the stakeholders so that they adopt clean plant seeds and nurseries.

What is the Need for the Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program?

  • To adopt best practices - Many advanced countries like the US, Netherlands, and Israel run clean plant programmes
  • India is a top producer of many fruits like banana, mango, pomegranate and papaya, yet its contribution in exports is not up to the mark, sometimes owing to poor quality of the produce.
    • For example, India’s share in global banana production is 27%, but the share in exports is around 1% only.
  • Boost horticulture and exports. The area under horticulture in India has increased from 23.4 to 27.5 million hectares (in the last 7 years), while the production has increased from 280.9 to 333.25 MT (18.63%).

News Summary Regarding the Center Plans to Establish 10 "Clean Plant Centers":

  • The concept of Clean Plant Centres is unique in itself and does not exist in India.
  • The 10 centres will be established for fruit crops like apple, walnut, almond, grapes, mango, pomegranate, etc., and will be fully funded by the Centre.
  • The centres will be implemented in a PPP mode in partnership with research organisations, agriculture universities and private sector partners.
  • The Clean Plant Centres will provide services of disease diagnostic, therapeutics, multiplying of plants and generation of mother plants.
  • The demand for imported planting material of various fruit plants has risen sharply over the years (for example, from 21.44 lakh apple plants in 2018 to 49.57 lakh imported in 2020).
  • The process of importing plants is very cumbersome, as the imported plants must be kept in quarantine for two years.
  • After the establishment of the Clean Plant Centres, this period will be reduced to six months.



Mains Article
27 Feb 2023

How Direct Benefit Transfer scheme has transformed social welfare in India

Why in News?

  • Transfer of subsidies to the beneficiaries through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) has reached about Rs 5.5 trillion so far in the current financial year i.e., 2022-23.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About DBT Program (Meaning, Purpose, Process, Benefits, Achievements, etc.)
  • News Summary

About Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT):

  • Government of India launched the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Program on 1st Jan 2013.
  • With DBT program, GoI aims to make payments directly into the Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of the end beneficiaries, removing any malpractices from the existing system such as diversions and duplicate payments.
  • The primary objective of the DBT program is to bring transparency and terminate pilferage from distribution of funds sponsored by Central Government.

DBT Process:

  • The following are the steps or sub-sections, which are the major checkpoints in the Direct Benefit Transfer process –
    • Public Financial Management System (PFMS) registration.
    • Examination of eligibility of the beneficiary.
    • Verification of the beneficiaries' bank account/ Aadhar Enabled bank account.
    • Initiation of the payment
  • PFMS (Public Financial Management System) is a Central Plan Monitoring System of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
    • It is used as a common platform to carry out both Aadhar and non-Aadhar e-payments for the DBT program.

Achievements of the DBT Program:

  • The first payment was made to a mother in the Puducherry for the Janani Suraksha Yojana in January 2013.
  • Since then, DBT has helped in reforming Government delivery system by re-engineering the existing process in welfare schemes for simpler and faster flow of information/funds.
  • The benefits include accurate targeting of the beneficiaries, de-duplication and reduction of fraud.
  • DBT during Covid-19 Pandemic –
    • Between March 24 2020 and April 17 2020, the DBT payments under all the central sector/centrally sponsored schemes through Public Financial Management System (PFMS) amounted to Rs 27,442 crore in the accounts of 11.42 crore beneficiaries through schemes like PM-KISAN, MGNREGS, NHM, etc.
  • By 2022, more than 135 crore Aadhaar cards have been generated, there are 47 crore beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, 6.5 lakh Bank Mitras delivering branchless banking services and mobile subscribers number more than 120 crore.
  • On the basis of this wide network, the DBT program has 318 schemes of 53 central ministries spanning across sectors.
  • In rural Bharat, DBT has allowed the Government to provide financial assistance effectively and transparently to farmers with lower transaction costs.
  • The DBT system has enabled the government to save significantly on its social-sector welfare expenditure through targeted deliveries.
  • The Government’s cumulative savings on expenditure, thanks to the DBT till FY21-end, was 2.23 trillion.
  • According to an estimate by the Central government the Aadhaar-enabled DBT platform helped in –
    • Eliminating 41.1 million fake LPG connections,
    • Eliminating 39.9 million duplicate ration cards and
    • Resulted in 10% savings on wages on account of the deletion of non-existent MGNREGS beneficiaries.

News Summary:

  • Transfer of subsidies to the beneficiaries through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) has reached about Rs 5.5 trillion so far in the 2022-23 FY.
  • Given that a lot of dues are cleared in the last month of the year, the DBT transfers are expected to surpass Rs 6.3 trillion achieved in FY 2021-22.
  • Fertiliser subsidies worth Rs 1.9 trillion have been provided to farmers so far in the current financial year.
    • This is 53% higher than Rs 1.24 trillion in the whole of FY22 as input costs and global prices of fertiliser doubled in a year or so.
  • Subsidies worth Rs 1.5 trillion were transferred to beneficiaries via foodgrains under the public distribution system (PDS) so far in FY23.
    • The food DBT through PDS will likely end the year around Rs 2.2 trillion in FY23, the same as in FY22.
    • The elevated food DBT is due to Government of India providing free ration to 81.35 crore poor people under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
  • Also, under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana-Rural (PMAY-R), the DBT benefits have reached Rs 38,638 crore.

Mains Article
27 Feb 2023

Heat Waves

Why in news?

  • In the week of February 21, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned that the maximum temperatures over northwest, west, and central India would be 3-5° C higher than the long-term average.
  • On February 21 itself, the national capital recorded its third hottest February day (33.6° C) in more than five decades.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Heat Wave

What is heat wave?

  • A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature.
  • Qualitatively, heat wave is a condition of air temperature which becomes fatal to human body when exposed.
  • Quantitatively, it is defined based on the temperature thresholds over a region in terms of actual temperature or its departure from normal.

What is criterion for declaring heat wave?

  • As per IMD, heat wave is considered if maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40°C or more for Plains and at least 30°C or more for Hilly regions.
  • IMD uses following criterion to declare the occurrence of heat wave in the region:
    • Based on Departure from Normal Heat Wave:
      • Heat Wave - Departure from normal is 4.50°C to 6.40°C;
      • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal is >6.40degree C
    • Based on Actual Maximum Temperature Heat Wave:
      • Heat Wave - When actual maximum temperature ≥ 45°C;
      • Severe Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥47
    • If above criteria met at least in 2 stations in a Meteorological sub-division for at least two consecutive days, heat wave occurrence is declared on the second day.
  • Heat Wave in coastal region
    • When maximum temperature departure is 4.50°C or more from normal, Heat Wave may be described provided actual maximum temperature is 37°C or more

Why do heat waves occur in the first place?

  • Heat waves are formed for one of two reasons: because warmer air is flowing in from elsewhere or because something is producing it locally.
    • Air is warmed locally when the air is warmed by higher land surface temperature; or
    • because the air sinking down from above is compressed along the way, producing hot air near the surface.

Origin of heat waves in Indian context

  • Direction from which air is flowing in India
    • In spring, India typically has air flowing in from the west-northwest.
    • In the context of climate change, the Middle East is warming faster than other regions in latitudes, and serves as a source of the warm air that blows into India.
  • Compression of air
    • Air flowing in from the northwest rolls in over the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    • As a result, some of the compression also happens on the leeward side of these mountains, entering India with a bristling warmth.
  • Warmer Arabian Sea
    • The air flowing in over the oceans is expected to bring cooler air, since land warms faster than the oceans.
    • However, this does not happen as the Arabian Sea is warming faster than most other ocean regions.
  • Role of upper atmospheric westerly winds
    • The strong upper atmospheric westerly winds that come in from the Atlantic Ocean over to India during spring control the near-surface winds.
    • Any time winds flow from the west to the east, the winds are blowing faster than the planet itself, which is also rotating from west to east.
    • The energy to run past the earth near the surface, against the surface friction, can only come from above.
    • This descending air compresses and warms up to generate some heat waves.
  • Declining lapse rate (the rate at which temperatures cool from the surface to the upper atmosphere)
    • It should be noted that the lapse rate is declining under global warming.
    • In other words, global warming tends to warm the upper atmosphere faster than the air near the surface.
    • Hence, the sinking air is warmer due to global warming, and thus produces heat waves as it sinks and compresses.
  • Other factors
    • The other factors that affect the formation of heat waves are the age of the air mass and how far it has travelled.
    • The north-northwestern heatwaves are typically formed with air masses that come from 800-1,600 km away and are around two days old.
    • Heat waves over peninsular India on the other hand arrive from the oceans and are barely a day old. As a result, they are on average less intense.

Why heat waves phenomena have started to occur more frequently?

  • Due to the processes that contribute to the formation of a heat wave, and the ways in which global warming affects them, these events have started to occur once every few years, and are also more intense.
    • Earlier, it used to be a once-in-decade phenomenon.
  • The area covered by these heat waves is also influenced by the background pressure patterns set up by El Niño and La Niña events, and of late it has been expanding.
    • The El Niño is a complementary phenomenon in which warmer water spreads west-east across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.


  • Although, the mortality over India due to heat waves are substantially lower than those in other mid-latitude regions.
  • However, we should also not become complacent, and further improve forecast warnings, issue them as soon as possible.
  • Also, these forecasts should be coupled with city-wide graded heat action plans to protect the vulnerable.

Feb. 26, 2023

Mains Article
26 Feb 2023

Visit of Chancellor of Germany to India

Why in news?

  • The Chancellor of Germany, Mr. Olaf Scholz, is on a two-day State visit to India.
  • This is the Chancellor Scholz’s first visit to India in his current role.
    • This is also the first standalone visit of a German Chancellor to India since the biennial Inter-Governmental Consultation (IGC) mechanism commenced in 2011.
    • IGC is a whole-of-government framework under which Ministers from both countries hold discussions in their respective areas of responsibility and report on the outcome of discussions to the Prime Minister and Chancellor.

What’s in today’s article?

  • India – Germany Bilateral Relation
  • News Summary

India-Germany Bilateral Relations: Background

  • Germany is one of India’s most important partners in Europe, owing to the strength of bilateral relations, as also Germany’s key role in the EU.
  • India and Germany have a 'Strategic Partnership' since May 2000.
  • This has been further strengthened with the launch of Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC) in 2011 at the level of Heads of Government.
  • On March 7, 2021, India and Germany marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
    • As part of the celebrations, commemorative stamps were issued by both countries.

Economic & Commercial Relations:

  • Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe and has consistently been among India’s top (10-12) global partners.
    • Germany was the 11th largest trading partner in FY 2021-22 (12th during FY 2022-23 up to August 2022).
  • Bilateral trade in 2021-22 was USD 24.85 billion registering an increase of 14.2% over FY 2020-21.
    • Indian exports during this period increased by 21.6% reaching USD 9.88 billion and Indian imports increased by 9.7% to USD 14.97 billion.
  • Germany is the 9th largest FDI source for India. The total FDI from Germany to India from April 2000-June 2022 is over USD 13 billion.
    • Indian investments in Germany continue to grow, having surpassed the figure of USD 7 billion.

Development Cooperation

  • Germany has committed a total volume of new funding of USD 1,368.02 million for 2021 for Financial & Technical Cooperation.
  • Energy, sustainable economic and urban development, environment & management of natural resources are priority areas.

Security & Defence

  • The MoU on Security Cooperation signed at the 3rd IGC held in Delhi in 2015 defines collaboration in this field.
  • There are dialogue mechanisms on various aspects of security, including:
    • Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism;
    • Cyber Consultations;
    • Joint Steering Group on Disaster Management in Berlin (2016).

Science & Technology

  • Bilateral Science and Technology cooperation is implemented under an Inter-Governmental Agreement on ‘Cooperation in Scientific Research and Technological Development’.
  • The jointly funded Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC) was set up in Gurgaon in September 2008.

Sister State/City Arrangements:

  • The States of Karnataka and Bavaria, Maharashtra and Baden Wuerttemberg, and the cities of Mumbai and Stuttgart have twinning arrangements.
    • Twin city relations between Coimbatore and Esslingen were established in 2016.


  • There are approximately 29,000 (2020) Indian students who are studying in Germany, a number which is rising each year.
    • Around 800 German students are studying or doing internships in India.
  • Instruments of faculty exchange and student mobility between India and Germany are:
    • Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA) from DST and Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) from MoE
    • New Passage to India (from the German side).

News Summary

  • The visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Key outcomes of the bilateral meeting between PM Modi and Chancellor Olaf Scholz

  • India-Germany agreed on a vision statement to Enhance Cooperation in Innovation & Technology
    • Under the framework of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on ‘Cooperation in Scientific Research and Technological Development’, the two countries share a long history of cooperation in science and technology, research and innovation.
      • This agreement was signed in May 1974.
  • Green and Sustainable Development Partnership (GSDP)
    • The leaders discussed progress on GSDP - an umbrella partnership that provides political guidance and steer to robust ties in climate action and SDGs.
    • Under this, Germany will also place €10 billion in new and additional commitments under their development cooperation portfolio in India.
  • Cooperation in Green Hydrogen
    • The Indo-German Green Hydrogen Task Force was constituted in September 2022 and an Action Plan is close to finalisation.
  • Triangular Development Cooperation
    • India and Germany agreed to work on development projects in third countries.
    • The four projects, announced in May 2022, are now in different stages of implementation:
      • Cameroon: Potato Seed Production through Rooted Apical Cuttings (RAC) Technology.
      • Malawi: Agri Business Incubator Models for Women in Agriculture & Food Systems
      • Ghana: Developing Bamboo-Based Enterprises for Sustainable Livelihood and Income Generation
      • Peru: Development of a geospatial portal prototype for planning, monitoring, and evaluation of the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion of Peru (MIDIS) interventions and social programs.
  • Other agreements
    • Both sides concluded agreements on “Digital Transformation, FinTech, IT, Telecom and Supply chains’ diversification”.
  • The issue of Khalistani separatism and extremism also figured during discussions.
    • India has earlier pointed to the presence of pro-Khalistan groups and elements in Germany.
    • And New Delhi is concerned at the recent turn of events in Punjab as well.


International Relations

Mains Article
26 Feb 2023

Will the Seattle move shield against caste bias?

Why in News?

  • On February 21, the Seattle City Council became the first city in the United States of America (USA) to ban caste-based discrimination.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About the Ordinance (Provisions, Data, Criticism)
  • Situation in India (Legal Provisions, Data, etc.)

About the Ordinance:

  • Amending the City Municipal Code, an ordinance was issued, which includes caste as a class to be protected against discrimination, alongside race, gender, and religion.
  • The Seattle City Council defined caste as a “rigid social stratification characterised by hereditary status, endogamy and social barriers sanctioned by custom, law or religion”.
  • The council said discrimination based on caste was occurring in Seattle and that the legislation would prohibit “such caste-based discrimination against individuals.”
  • The fight to address caste discrimination was led by Dalit rights activists and organisations like Equality Labs and other local groups, many of whom originally hailed from India.

Have cases of Caste Discrimination been Documented?

  • The Equality Labs 2016 Caste in the United States survey found that one in four Dalits in the U.S. had faced verbal or physical assault.
    • Also, two out of every three said they had faced discrimination at work.
  • The data are corroborated by hundreds of testimonies of caste-oppressed people who spoke up against discrimination at workplaces, places of worship, and in community relationships.

Criticism of this Ordinance:

  • The ordinance can be seen as something that could lead to further “anti-Hindu discrimination”.
  • The lone dissenter, Council Member Sara Nelson, echoed some of these concerns.
    • She said, “this could generate more anti-Hindu discrimination and could dissuade employers from hiring South Asians”.
  • When Seattle should be protecting the civil rights of all its residents, it is actually violating them by running roughshod over the most basic and fundamental rights in US law, all people being treated equally.
  • Another criticism of the move has been regarding the research done before the law was passed.
  • Critics also point out towards the fact that “Due diligence wasn’t done”.

What is the status in India?

  • According to the Census 2011 data, there are an estimated 20 crore Dalits in India.
  • To address the social discrimination that arose out of the practice of untouchability, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order of 1950 was enacted, recognising Hindu Dalits as Scheduled Castes.
    • This was later amended to include Dalits who had converted to Sikhism and Buddhism.
  • Article 15 of the Constitution lays down that no citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
  • The Supreme Court is hearing a bunch of petitions seeking inclusion of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims as Scheduled Castes.

Data on Caste-based Discrimination in India:

  • Despite stringent laws and reservation policies providing benefits to the marginalised, caste violence and discrimination continue.
  • In 2021, 50,900 cases of crimes against Scheduled Castes (SCs) were registered, an increase of 1.2% over 2020 (50,291 cases), according to National Crime Records Bureau data.
  • The rate of crime was particularly high in Madhya Pradesh (63.6 per lakh in a SC population of 113.4 lakh) and Rajasthan (61.6 per lakh in a SC population of 112.2 lakh).
Social Issues

Mains Article
26 Feb 2023

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission: 5 lakh patients used QR code in 365 hospitals for faster registration without queuing up

Why in News?

  • The National Health Authority (NHA) under Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) introduced the ‘Scan and Share’ service for faster outpatient department (OPD) registrations in 2022.
  • According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), up to five lakh patients have benefited since last year due to QR code-enabled registration at hospital counters, which has helped reduce long queues. 

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM)?
  • What is the Background in which the ABDM was Launched and its Significance?
  • How has ABDM Performed?
  • News Summary Regarding ‘Scan and Share’ Service under the ABDM 

What is Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM)?

  • Launched in 2021 during the third anniversary of the Ayushman Bharat PM Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY), ABDM will connect the digital health solutions of hospitals across the country with each other.
  • The Mission will not only make the processes of hospitals simplified but also will increase ease of living.
  • The Digital Ecosystem will also enable a host of other facilities like Digital Consultation, Consent of patients in letting medical practitioners access their records, etc.
  • With the implementation of this scheme, old medical records cannot get lost as every record will be stored digitally.
  • In order to create a National Digital Health Ecosystem, the NHA acts as the implementing agency of the mission.
    • An attached office of the MoHFW with full functional autonomy, NHA is constituted for implementing AB PM-JAY.
  • The Health Facility Registry (HFR) is the core building block of ABDM that aims to serve as a single source for verified information on health facilities across the country.

What is the Background in which the ABDM was Launched and its Significance?

  • In a follow-up of the National Health Policy's (NHP) 2017 specific goals for adopting digital technologies, the MoHFW constituted a committee headed by Shri J. Satyanarayana.
  • This committee produced the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB), laying out the building blocks and an action plan to comprehensively and holistically implement digital health.
  • Taking forward the NDHB, a digital ecosystem for healthcare services across the country (ABDM) was launched.

 How has ABDM Performed?

  • Since nationwide launch, ABDM has achieved significant growth with over -
    • 23 crore ABHA numbers (earlier known as Health ID),
    • 14 Lakh health facilities registered in the HFR,
    • 33 thousand healthcare professionals under the Healthcare Professionals Registry (HPR),
  • With more individuals, healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc.) joining ABDM, digitisation of health records at their point of creation is now possible.

 News Summary Regarding ‘Scan and Share’ Service under the ABDM:

  • The service is currently provided in 125 districts across 25 States and UTs and it is a typical example of how technology can be leveraged to provide better services to patients and to improve the system efficiency.
  • The participating hospitals (365), both government and private, display their unique QR codes in patient-registration areas.
  • The patients can scan the QR code using any health application such as ABHA app, Aarogya Setu app, EkaCare, DRiefcase, Bajaj Health or PayTM.
  • The patients then share information like name, age, gender, and unique health ID [ABHA number] to the Health Management Information system [HMIS] of the hospital.
  • This enables paperless registration, instant token generation, saves patients’ time and the health facility is able to optimise resources deployed for registration.
  • This process also leads to the patient’s health records getting digitally linked to their Ayushman Bharat Health Account. Patients can manage and access this from their phone anytime anywhere.
Social Issues

Mains Article
26 Feb 2023

G20 finance meet

Why in news?

  • The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) meeting, being held in Bengaluru, ended on without a joint communique.
  • A joint communique could not be issued as differences prevailed among member nations over how to describe Russia`s invasion of Ukraine.
    • Russia and China opposed the paragraphs condemning Russia’s war on Ukraine.
    • These countries took the position that finance ministers and central bank governors should not get into geopolitical issues and that the mandate of FMCBG nations was to discuss economic issues.

What’s in today’s article?

  • News Summary

News Summary: G20 Finance Meet

  • The first meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) in Bengaluru under India’s presidency stopped short of issuing a Communique of its resolutions.
  • In place of a joint communique, a G20 Chair`s Summary and Outcome Document was released after the meeting.

Key highlights of the Chair’s Summary and Outcome Document

  • Retained the words of the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration
    • The document retained the words of the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration (November 15-16, 2022) regarding the Russia-Ukraine war.
      • Bali declaration proclaimed “today’s era must not be of war”, echoing PM Modi’s remarks before President Putin on the sidelines of the SCO summit in September 2022.
      • The declaration had also endorsed PM Modi’s emphasis on three key points: threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible, diplomacy and dialogue and today’s era must not be of war.
  • Enhancing international policy cooperation
    • The summary noted that global economic outlook had “modestly improved” since the last meeting in October 2022.
    • However, it pointed out that global growth remained slow, and downside risks to the outlook persisted, including elevated inflation.
    • A resurgence of the pandemic and tighter financing conditions could worsen debt vulnerabilities in many Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs).
    • Hence, the summary document agreed to continue to enhance macro policy cooperation.
    • It reiterated the need for well-calibrated monetary, fiscal, financial, and structural policies to promote growth.
  • Urgency to address debt vulnerabilities in low and middle-income countries
    • The Chair’s summary stated that it recognises the urgency to address debt vulnerabilities in low and middle-income countries.
    • Strengthening multilateral coordination by official bilateral and private creditors is needed to address the deteriorating debt situation and facilitate coordinated debt treatment for debt-distressed countries.
    • The document tasked the International Financial Architecture Working Group to develop a G20 Note on the Global Debt Landscape in a fair and comprehensive manner.
    • Vulnerable nations are looking at G20 nations to relieve the debt stress. The four countries – Ghana, Sri Lanka, Zambia and Ethiopia, would benefit from the current discussions on debt restructuring.
  • IMF governance reform
    • The Summary said the leaders will continue the process of IMF governance reform under the 16th General Review of Quotas, including a new quota formula as a guide, to be completed by 15 December 2023.
  • On the issue of the international coordination on tax policies
    • The G20 ministers said they remained committed to swift implementation of the OECD/G20 two-pillar international tax package.
      • Two-pillar international tax package was finalised by OECD countries in October 2021. The deal proposes two main elements –
      • Pillar One calls for the redistribution of profits generated by the largest companies to the domicile markets where they actually make their sales instead of simply where they are headquartered.
        • Under this pillar, a quarter of any profits they make above the 10% threshold will be reallocated to the countries where they were earned and taxed there.
      • Pillar Two establishes a global minimum effective tax rate of 15 percent determined on a country-by-country basis.
        • The 15% floor under the corporate tax will come in from 2023, provided all countries move such legislation.
  • Joint technical paper on crypto-assets
    • The document also decided to ask the IMF and the Financial Stability Board (FSB) to bring out a joint technical paper on crypto-assets.
      • Originally, this was proposed by India in order to synthesise the macroeconomic and regulatory perspectives of crypto-assets.
    • These organisations are expected to present their joint paper during the 4th G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meet, scheduled in October 2023.
    • This would help in the formulation of a coordinated and comprehensive policy approach to crypto assets.
      • This is relevant as many countries, including India, do not have a regulatory framework for crypto assets.
International Relations

Feb. 25, 2023

Mains Article
25 Feb 2023

Slow path to peace in J&K


  • As per recent reports, the Union government is considering a phased withdrawal of Indian Army from the hinterland of the Kashmir Valley and replace it with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.
  • The report says the plan has been in the making for around two years and is at an “advanced stage” now with the involvement of the Ministry of Defence and Home Affairs along with the military and J&K Police.
  • However, the final call is yet to be taken and the plan is still in the deliberative phase for now.

Official Estimates of Army Deployment in Kashmir

  • According to officials, the Army maintains a strength of around 1.3 lakh personnel in the entire J&K of which around 80,000 are deployed on the border.
  • About 40,000-45,000 personnel from the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) have the mantle of conducting counter-terror operations in Kashmir’s hinterland.
  • The CRPF is said to have a strength of close to 60,000 personnel in J&K, of which more than 45,000 are deployed in Kashmir Valley. The J&K Police has a strength of 83,000.
  • Apart from this, a few companies from other Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) remain deployed in the Valley. The figures for CAPFs fluctuate depending on the security situation in the Valley.
  • Several thousand additional security personnel were deployed in Kashmir region when J&K's special status was scrapped. Over 10,000 of those personnel have since been withdrawn.

Why Removal of Army from J&K is Being Mooted?

  • Decreased violence: The government claims that terrorist violence incidents and killing of security personnel in J&K have reduced by almost 50 per cent since August 5, 2019 (when the J&K's special status was scrapped), compared with the same period before it.
    • Stone pelting has almost vanished and the law-and-order situation is largely under control.
    • The government thus wishes to “make these developments visible” by reducing the presence of the Army in the hinterland.
  • Manpower pressure in the Army: The two-year freeze on recruitment during Covid-19 has led to a shortage of around 1,20,000 soldiers, and there are no plans to bridge the gap through additional recruitment.
    • The manpower problem is exacerbated by the enhanced deployment of troops along the LAC to handle the crisis that erupted in 2020 in Eastern Ladakh.
    • Any reduction in internal security duties thus gives the Army an opportunity to right-size its force structure.
    • This would also come as a relief to the Army as its operational commitments have increased.
  • Weakened external factors: Pakistan had been providing immense support to terror activities in J&K in the past, but its ability to influence the situation today stands diminished.
    • This is a result of India’s strong response to terrorist acts backed by Pakistan and the disturbed political, economic, and internal security in Pakistan today.

Not the First Withdrawal from Kashmir

  • Personnel have been withdrawn from Kashmir multiple times in the past and calls for withdrawals have also been made repeatedly, both from the political as well as strategic quarters.
  • In 1997, the Indian Army personnel were withdrawn from Kashmir Valley in consultation with the then-Farooq Abdullah's government of J&K from five towns including Anantnag, Baramullah, and Srinagar.
  • Over the years, with the improving situation in the hinterland, some Rashtriya Rifles (RR) units have also been shifted from the hinterland to the LoC in the counter-infiltration role.
  • There is also proposal to reduce the RR companies in a unit from six to four and disband some of the sector and force headquarters.
  • In addition, some RR units have already been sent to Eastern Ladakh and deployed along the LAC.
  • Taken together, this would lead to a significant reduction of the Army from the hinterland.

What Could be the Best Plan of Action to Remove Army Deployment in J&K?

  • The Army could be withdrawn in a phased manner, starting with a few districts in Kashmir, with responsibility for counter-terror operations and law and order being handed over to the CRPF and the J&K police.
  • Handing over areas to the CRPF should be done in a phased The start could be made in the Jammu region, where the CRPF takes over the complete responsibility for counter-terror operations.
    • A few RR units could be also kept as a reserve for any contingency that may arise.
  • After the stabilisation of the CRPF deployment in the Jammu region, the second phase could be the handover of the Kashmir hinterland to the CRPF, with the bulk of RR units being disbanded, except for a few that could act as reserves.

Significance of Phased Withdrawal in J&K

Phased withdrawal is being suggested for two primary reasons as follows:

  • The Army, CRPF, and J&K police work in synergy, with each force bringing its unique capabilities to the operations.
    • The Army includes not only the highly trained soldiers but also the logistics, communication, engineering, and medical support that is integral to the organisation.
    • In the absence of the Army, this capability void could be filled up by initial deployment of CRPF in the Jammu region.
    • This could also provide valuable lessons before they take up responsibility in the Kashmir valley.
  • The phased deployment would also ensure that India’s most experienced counter-terrorism force for J&K i.e., RR is not quickly disbanded.
    • It would also ensure that that the situation is stabilized before we lose this capability.

What Other Issues Need to be Tackled?

  • It remains unclear how the army can begin a pull-out from the Kashmir Valley without initiating any de-escalatory measures.
    • For instance, selective removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) or the draconian Public Safety Act, which allows the detention of any individual for up to two years.
    • AFSPA gives sweeping powers to search premises and arrest individuals without warrants, on the basis of “reasonable suspicion”.
  • Moreover, assembly elections have not been held in the state since 2014. Local politicians are arguing that J&K cannot be regarded as peaceful enough for army withdrawal when normal political activity and full statehood for J&K remains suspended.

Way Forward

  • The internal factors need to be addressed, for example, bringing the security situation under control, tackling radicalisation, meeting the aspirations of the people, bringing economic development, and resumption of political activity.
  • However, handing over some districts in Kashmir on an experimental basis is not recommended.
  • This is because it may create problems of operational integrity, intelligence collection, and command and control issues with neighbouring forces operating under different ministries.


  • The gains in J&K have come at great cost, and hence it would be sensible to conduct the pull out of the Army in a graduated and phased manner.
  • Lessons from the past also indicate that violence levels alone are not an indicator of normalcy.
  • While the security situation today is stable, it would be prudent to take some more time to tackle the other issues comprehensively. This would ensure that J&K remains stable, even without the presence of the Army.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
25 Feb 2023

Open Network for Digital Commerce: Amazon joins ONDC, the e-commerce network that plans to challenge the giant itself

Why in News?

  • Amazon has announced that it will join the Indian government’s ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce) platform.
  • The development is particularly interesting given that ONDC’s very purpose is to “democratise” e-commerce in India which is largely captured by Amazon and Flipkart.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is ONDC?
  • What Led to the Creation of ONDC?
  • How will the ONDC Work?
  • News Summary Regarding Amazon Joining ONDC

What is ONDC?

  • It is a private non-profit company established by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to develop open e-commerce.
  • It was incorporated in 2021 with initial investment from Quality Council of India (QCI) and Protean eGov Technologies Limited (formerly NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited).
  • ONDC is not an application, an intermediary, or software, but a set of specifications designed to foster open interchange and connections between shoppers, technology platforms, and retailers.
  • It is designed to -
    • Keep check on Big Tech companies from violating Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) (Amendment) Rules, 2021, due to concentration of market power.
    • By integrating them into an open-source decentralised network where data portability will break data silos while data interoperability will allow innovation. 

What Led to the Creation of ONDC?

  • Technological self-reliance
  • Demand for level playing field mainly from small retailers
  • Lower the barrier of entry and discovery online
  • Adoption of open digital ecosystem across key sectors
  • Fixing the non-competitive behaviour of big e-commerce firms like Amazon and Flipkart
  • To capture the US$810 billion domestic retail market

How will the ONDC Work?


News Summary Regarding Amazon Joining ONDC:

  • ONDC is a government-backed project aimed at enabling small merchants and kirana stores in parts of the country to access processes and technologies typically deployed by large e-commerce platforms.
  • It is being developed as a counter to the current duopoly (2 players domination) in the Indian e-commerce market which is largely dictated by Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart.
  • In 2022, Microsoft became the first big technology company to join the network with an intention to introduce social e-commerce - group buying experience - in the Indian market.
  • Amazon said that it will integrate its logistics network and its software suite called SmartCommerce with ONDC.
  • This will enable MSMEs in India to build and scale their business across digital mediums and will have enablers for onboarding to the ONDC network.
  • A number of other participants (like Paytm, Reliance-backed Dunzo) are also currently live on the ONDC network, offering a number of services in the e-commerce supply chain such as buying, selling and offering logistics services.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
25 Feb 2023

Pawan Khera Arrest | Section 153A: its use and misuse

Why in News?

  • The Supreme Court granted interim bail to Pawan Khera, chairman of the media and publicity department of the All-India Congress Committee, who had been arrested for alleged hate speech by Assam Police earlier.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Hate Speech (Meaning, Legal Provisions, Court’s Judgements, Guidelines, Suggestions, etc.)

About Hate Speech:

  • Hate speech covers many forms of expressions which advocate, incite, promote or justify hatred, violence and discrimination against a person or group of persons for a variety of reasons.
  • It poses grave dangers for the cohesion of a democratic society, the protection of human rights and the rule of law.
  • If left unaddressed, it can lead to acts of violence and conflict on a wider scale.
  • In this sense hate speech is an extreme form of intolerance which contributes to hate crime.

Article 19 and Hate Speech:

  • Article 19(2) of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all citizens of India.
  • This article is subjected to certain restrictions, namely, sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
  • Provisions in clauses (2) to (6) of Article 19 authorizes the State to restrict the exercise of the freedom guaranteed under the article.

Legal Provisions of Hate Speech:

  • Hate speech has not been defined in any law in India.
  • However, legal provisions in certain legislations prohibit select forms of speech as an exception to freedom of speech.
  • Indian Penal Code (IPC) Provisions –
    • Under Section 153A of IPC, ‘promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony’, is an offence punishable with three years’ imprisonment.
    • Section 505 of IPC makes it an offence to making “statements conducing to public mischief”.
  • Representation of the People Act, 1951 –
    • Section 8 disqualifies a person from contesting election if he is convicted for indulging in acts amounting to illegitimate use of freedom of speech and expression.
  • Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 –
    • Section 7 penalizes incitement to, and encouragement of untouchability through words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise.
  • Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988 –
    • Section 3(g) prohibits religious institution to allow the use of any premises belonging to the institution for promoting or attempting to promote disharmony, feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities.

Important Judgements:

  • In Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan v. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that the implementation of existing laws would solve the problem of hate speech to a great extent.
  • In Jafar Imam Naqvi v. Election Commission of India, the petitioners filed a writ petition challenging the vitriolic speeches made by the candidates in the election.
  • It prayed for issue of writ of mandamus (an order from a court to government official ordering them to properly fulfill their official duties) to the Election Commission for taking appropriate steps against such speeches.
    • However, the Court dismissed the petition on the ground that the petition under Article 32 of the Constitution regarding speeches delivered during election campaign does not qualify as public interest litigation.
    • It also said that the Court cannot legislate on matters where the legislative intent is visible.

Guidelines Issued by Supreme Court to curb Misuse of Legal Provisions w.r.t. Hate Speech:

  • In Tahseen Poonawalla vs Union of India (2018), the Supreme Court had issued comprehensive guidelines to the Union and State Governments regarding prevention of mob violence, lynching.
  • Again, in Kodungallur Film Society case (2018), directions were issued to control vandalism by protesting mobs.
  • Major guidelines include –
    • Fast-tracked trials,
    • Victim compensation,
    • Deterrent punishment,
    • Disciplinary action against lax law-enforcing officials,
    • Nodal officers to be appointed to take note of hate crimes and register FIRs across the nation.


  • The Law Commission has proposed that separate offences be added to the IPC to criminalize hate speech more specifically instead of being subsumed in the existing sections concerning inflammatory acts and speeches.
  • Similar proposals to add sections to the IPC to punish acts and statements that promote racial discrimination or amount to hate speech have been made by the M.P. Bezbaruah Committee and the T.K. Viswanathan Committee.
  • At present, the Committee for Reforms in Criminal Laws, which is considering more comprehensive changes to criminal law, is examining the issue of having specific provisions to tackle hate speech.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
25 Feb 2023

G20 finance meet

Why in news?

  • First G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors under India's G20 Presidency meeting began in Bengaluru.
  • PM Modi addressed the meeting via video message.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Issue of unsustainable debt levels
  • News Summary

How big is the issue of unsustainable debt levels in many countries?

  • According to a new policy brief published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 52 low and middle-income developing economies are either in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress.
    • This accounts for more than 40 percent of the world’s poorest people.
  • 25 developing economy governments have external debt service payments higher than 20 percent of total revenue – the highest number of countries in more than 20 years.
    • External debt is the portion of a country's debt that is borrowed from foreign lenders, including commercial banks, governments, or international financial institutions.
    • Debt service refers to the money required to pay the principal and interest on an outstanding debt for a particular period of time.
  • The UNDP report added that a 30 percent haircut on their public external debt stock in 2021 could help save up to $148 billion in debt service payments over eight years.
    • Specific to debt restructuring, a haircut is the reduction of outstanding interest payments or a portion of a bond payable that will not be repaid.
    • In other words, a debt haircut refers to part of the debt being "written off".
    • e.g. When a bank takes a 'haircut', it means it accepts less than what was due in a particular loan account
  • In December 2022, World Bank had said that the world’s poorest countries owe $62 billion in annual debt service, a year-on-year increase of 35%, warning of a rising risk of defaults.
  • India’s neighbours Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan have sought a bailout from the IMF over the past year due to a sharp economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.

What are the steps taken by the world leaders to address the issue?

  • Debt restructuring along with inflation control and harnessing digital progress were also listed as crucial policy priorities by IMF.
  • Under the G20 Presidency, India has been pressing for ways to tackle the aggravated debt vulnerabilities facing developing nations mainly on account of the continuing geopolitical tensions and the pandemic.
  • In order to help vulnerable countries, creditors are preferring to have a haircut (debt forgiveness).
  • On the other hand, there are group of countries, led by China, who are using rescheduling with lower interest rates as to tool to help these vulnerable countries.

News Summary: G20 finance meet

Key highlights of the speech delivered by PM Modi

  • Raised the issue of unsustainable debt levels in many countries
    • PM Modi flagged the threat to financial viability of many countries from unsustainable debt levels.
  • Reform in multilateral institutions
    • PM Modi said trust in international financial institutions has eroded “partly because they have been slow to reform themselves”.
    • In this context, he called upon the custodians of the leading economies and monetary systems of the world to bring back stability, confidence and growth to the global economy.
  • Highlighted after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic
    • The Prime Minister said many countries, especially developing economies, are still coping with the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which delivered a once-in-a-century blow to the global economy.
  • Made a reference to the rising geopolitical tensions
    • He also made a reference to the rising geopolitical tensions in different parts of the world, without naming the Russia-Ukraine war directly.
    • There are disruptions in global supply chains. Many societies are suffering due to rising prices. And, food and energy security have become major concerns across the world.
  • Attention must be given to the most vulnerable citizens
    • Only by creating an inclusive agenda, will the global economic leadership win back the confidence of the world.
  • Highlighted role of technology in the world of Finance
    • In the world of finance, technology is increasingly dominant. During the pandemic, digital payments enabled contactless and seamless transactions.
    • PM cited India’s experience of creating a highly secure, highly trusted, and highly efficient public digital infrastructure.
    • He said that India’s digital payments ecosystem has been developed as a free public good.
    • This has radically transformed governance, financial inclusion, and ease-of-living in the country.

Mains Article
25 Feb 2023

Punjab Turmoil: Pro-Khalistan preacher’s aide released from jail

Why in news?

  • Accused in a kidnapping and assault case, Lovepreet Singh alias Toofan Singh was released from jail in Punjab’s Ajnala.
    • Lovepreet Singh is a close aide of self-styled Sikh preacher and Khalistani sympathiser Amritpal Singh.
  • He was released a day after hundreds of protesters stormed a police station demanding his release.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Khalistan movement in Punjab
  • News Summary

What is the Khalistan movement?

  • The Khalistan movement is a fight for a separate, sovereign Sikh state in present day Punjab (both India and Pakistan).
  • The movement was crushed in India following Operation Blue Star (1984) and Operation Black Thunder (1986 and 1988).
    • Operation Blue Star began on June 1, 1984 to flush out militants from the Golden Temple and neutralise Bhindranwale.
  • However, it continues to evoke sympathy and support among sections of the Sikh population, especially in the Sikh diaspora in countries such as Canada, UK, and Australia.

When did the movement start and why?

  • Origin lies in India’s independence and subsequent Partition along religious lines
    • The Punjab province, which was divided between India and Pakistan, saw some of the worst communal violence and generated millions of refugees.
    • Lahore, the capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s great Sikh Empire, went to Pakistan, as did holy Sikh sites including Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
    • While most Sikhs found themselves in India, they were a small minority in the country, making up around 2 per cent of the population.
  • Struggle for greater autonomy & States Reorganisation Commission
    • The political struggle for greater autonomy began around the time of Independence, with the Punjabi Suba Movement for the creation of a Punjabi-speaking state.
    • The States Reorganisation Commission, in its 1955 report, rejected this demand, but in 1966, after years of protest, the state of Punjab was reorganised to reflect the Punjabi Suba demand.
    • The erstwhile Punjab state was trifurcated into the Hindi-speaking, Hindu-majority states of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, and the Punjabi-speaking, Sikh-majority Punjab.
  • Anandpur Sahib Resolution
    • In 1973, leaders of the Akali Dal met at the sacred town of Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of the Khalsa.
    • They released a list of demands that would guide the political path of the Akali Dal.
    • Among other things, the Anandpur Sahib Resolution demanded autonomy for the state of Punjab, identified regions that would be part of a separate state, and sought the right to frame its own internal constitution.
    • The Akali Dal was trying to cash in on the growing demand for an autonomous state which had emerged alongside the Punjabi Suba movement.
      • This demand had gone global by 1971 — when an advertisement appeared on The New York Times proclaiming the birth of Khalistan.
  • Rise of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
    • Many in Punjab sought to go beyond just a demand for greater autonomy. One such man was Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
    • Bhindranwale was a charismatic preacher who soon positioned himself as the authentic voice of the Sikhs.
    • He found a captive audience in the state’s youth, especially those in the lower rungs of the social ladder, and massed a massive following.
    • By 1982, he took up residence inside the Golden Temple, directing demonstrations and clashes with the police.
    • The movement was geared towards the demands first articulated in the Anandpur Sahib Resolution.
    • However, amidst growing religious polarisation, sectarian violence, and Bhindranwale’s own harsh rhetoric against Hindus, the then government declared the movement tantamount to secession.
  • The aftermath of Operation Blue Star
    • This operation gravely wounded the Sikh community around the world. It also galvanised the demand for Khalistan.
    • Punjab saw the worst violence, becoming the hub of a long drawn-out insurgency that lasted till 1995.

News Summary

  • Hundreds of followers of radical leader Amritpal Singh clashed with the police outside Ajnala police station near Amritsar, Punjab.
  • Waving swords and even guns, they demanded the release of one of their members from police custody in an alleged kidnapping case.
  • Later, this individual, an aide of Amritpal Singh named Lovepreet Singh ‘Toofan’, was released from Amritsar Central Jail.

Who is Amritpal Singh?

  • Amritpal Singh, 29, is a follower of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale (pro-Khalistan).
  • In fact, he is being dubbed ‘Bhindranwale 2.0’ in Punjab these days.
  • Recently, he took the reins of the ‘Waris Punjab De’ organisation following the death of its founder, actor-activist Deep Sidhu.

What is ‘Waris Punjab De’?

  • ‘Waris Punjab De’, translating to their ‘heirs of Punjab’, was floated by lawyer-actor-turned-activist Sandeep Singh alias Deep Sidhu in September 2021, ahead of the Punjab Assembly elections.
  • The social organisation was originally floated as a pressure group to protect and fight for rights of Punjab and raise social issues.
  • It works to help the youth of the state follow the tenets of Sikhism and establish Khalsa Raj.
  • Its founder had described it as an organisation that would fight for the rights of Punjab against the Centre and raise voice whenever there will be any attack on the culture, language, social fabric and rights of Punjab.
Defence & Security

Feb. 24, 2023

Mains Article
24 Feb 2023

A case that scans the working of the anti-defection law


  • The article highlights that the ‘Maharashtra political controversy cases’ is an opportunity with the Supreme Court of India to plug all the loopholes in the anti-defection law and in its earlier judgements on the issue.

The Story So Far

  • These “Maharashtra political controversy cases” arose out of the events in 2022, when the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition (the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress) lost power after an internal splintering of the Shiv Sena party.
  • A rebel faction led by Eknath Shinde then joined hands with the BJP to form the new ruling coalition.
  • The Deputy Speaker (there was no Speaker at the time) disqualified the “rebels”, who then appealed in SC, arguing that there was a pending no-confidence motion against the Deputy Speaker.
  • The rebel MLAs thus emphasized that as per SC’s judgment in Nabam Rebia case (2016), the Deputy Speaker cannot decide on the disqualifications while his own removal was pending.
  • The SC’s vacation Bench in an “interim” order stayed the Deputy Speaker’s action but also directed a floor test.
    • The upshot of this was that the “rebel MLAs” participated in that floor test, and voted to bring the government down.
    • The new government was swiftly sworn in (by the Governor), and appointed its own Speaker.
  • The dispute has been continuing since then, with the most recent development being an Election Commission of India’s (ECI) order declaring that Eknath Shinde’s faction is entitled to the party name and symbol of the Shiv Sena.

What are the Submissions in SC by Two Rival Groups of the Shiv Sena?

  • The Uddhav Thackeray faction had sought a re-examination of the principle laid down in the Nabam Rebia judgment.
    • They submitted that the Constitution does not envisage any restraint on the functional autonomy of the speaker from deciding disqualification petitions, even at a time when a notice for motion for his removal is pending.
    • They thus argued that the Nabam Rebia judgment left the anti-defection law redundant.
    • They further held that SC’s 2022 decision granted an extension of time to the rebel Shiv Sena legislators who were facing disqualification notice to file their replies before the then deputy speaker.
  • The rival Eknath Shinde-led faction however urged the bench not to review the judgment.
    • They argued that the absence of a restraint on speaker, could change the composition in the assembly by disqualifying members, allowing a leader without majority to continue as the CM of the state.
    • They also submitted that a reference to extension of time is unnecessary and purely “academic” as the rebel MLAs never got to vote and Uddhav Thackeray resigned as CM a day before a proposed floor test.

Obstructive Outcomes Likely by the Nabam Rebia Case

  • The SC’s 2016 judgment in Nabam Rebia vs Deputy Speaker case held that a speaker cannot initiate disqualification proceedings when a resolution seeking his removal is pending.
    • It also held that a floor test can be ordered in the interim (by the Governor or the court) in that case.
    • Under Article 179 of the Constitution, a speaker (or Deputy Speaker) can be removed by a resolution of the Assembly passed by a majority of “all the then members of the Assembly”. The process begins with a notice of at least 14 days.
  • The SC’s decision aimed to ensure that the Speaker who disqualifies legislators must enjoy the confidence of the Assembly.
  • However, this ruling could have unintended consequences as follows:
    • A “rebel MLA” can move a notice for removal, incapacitate the Speaker from acting, and hence leave rebel MLAs free to bring down the government without consequence.

The Tenth Schedule

  • Background: The Tenth Schedule, popularly known as anti-defection law was introduced by the 52nd Amendment Act 1985 to prevent legislators from regularly switching party affiliations in the house and bringing down governments with them.
    • Its purpose was to check increasingly frequent floor-crossing; lured by money, ministerial berths, threats, or a combination of the three.
    • Hence, Tenth Schedule sought to put a stop to this by stipulating that if any legislator voted against the party whip, he or she would be disqualified from the house.
    • This empowered party leadership, weakened the prospect of intra-party dissent, but checking unprincipled floor-crossing.
  • Working of Tenth Schedule: In the last few years, there have been innumerable instances of governments being “toppled” mid-term after a set of the ruling party or coalition’s own members turn against it.
    • This is a demonstration of power-politics and not an expression of intra-party dissent as evident from the well-documented rise of “resort-politics”.
    • In this, party leaders hold their “flock” more or less captive within expensive holiday resorts, so as to prevent the other side from getting at them.
  • Ways to circumvent Tenth Schedule: The Tenth Schedule has been reduced to a nullity owing to the following tactics of the legislators:
    • Mass resignations instead of defections to force a fresh election
    • Partisan actions by State Governors (who are nominees of the central government) with respect to swearing-in ceremonies and the timing of floor tests
    • Partisan actions by Speakers in refusing to decide disqualification petitions, or acting in undue haste to do so.

Challenge Before the Court

  • The role of the SC is crucial as disputes over government formation and government toppling invariably end up before the highest court.
  • It is an equally challenging task due to the following reasons:
    • The Court has to adjudicate the actions of a number of constitutional functionaries like Governors, Speakers, legislative party leaders, elected representatives, many of whom, may have acted dubiously.
    • The Court also must maintain an institutional arm’s-length from the political actors, and adjudicate according to legalities, even as political actors in anti-defection cases do their best to undermine legality.


  • Despite the fact that the Court’s intervention has been sought in almost all anti-defection cases, and SC delivering multiple substantive judgments on anti-defection in recent years, the toppling of governments has remained as frequent as ever.
  • It also reflects how judicial interventions (if not carefully thought), can hasten the toppling of a government and contribute to turning the Tenth Schedule into a dead letter.
  • The Maharashtra political controversy presents an interesting case study and the judgment will have consequences not merely for State politics in Maharashtra but far beyond as well as it raises certain fundamental issues about the working of India’s “anti-defection law”.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
24 Feb 2023

Evolution of India’s position on the Russia-Ukraine War

Why in news?

  • As the Russia-Ukraine war completes a year, the United Nations General Assembly is discussing a resolution calling for the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
  • Various countries, including Ukraine, have urged India to support a UNGA resolution timed for the first anniversary of the war.

What’s in today’s article?

  • News Summary

News Summary: Evolution of India’s position on the Russia-Ukraine War

  • Strategic autonomy
    • For India, the Ukraine war has been an opportunity to practice strategic autonomy.
    • Adopting a nuanced neutrality, Delhi has maintained its relationship with Moscow and worked around Western sanctions to buy oil from Russia.
    • As much as 25% of India’s oil purchase is now from Russia, from less than 2% before the war.
  • India’s voting at UN and its bodies
    • In the last year, the UN and its bodies have voted on resolutions pertaining to the Russia-Ukraine war at least 39 times: 38 times since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and once in January 2023.
    • India, which has maintained a diplomatic balancing act and has walked the tightrope between US-led West and Russia, has abstained on most occasions.
  • More calibrated stance adopted by Delhi in the past one year
    • So far, India has taken a calibrated stance based on its own national interests.
      • It had said it was deeply disturbed, but did not name Russia at all.
      • It called for cessation of violence and hostilities, which is permanent in nature.
      • It had flagged its core concern about Indian nationals. About 22,000 Indian nationals, mostly students, had to be evacuated by special planes.
      • It called for respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, and respect for UN charter and international law.
      • It maintained that dialogue and diplomacy is the path forward.
    • During the early phase of the war, India relied on balancing act since it needed cooperation from both Russian and Ukrainian sides to evacuate its citizens from the conflict zone.
      • After its last batch of students were airlifted by the second week of March 2022, the Indian position focused on the other elements: respect for UN charter, territorial sovereignty and integrity.
    • Although, after the Bucha massacre - in which innocent civilians were killed - India joined the western chorus in condemning the incident.
      • It even asked for an international probe.
  • Nukes must be off the table
    • As Russian President Putin and other Russian leaders made nuclear threats, India expressed concern.
    • India categorically said that no side should resort to the nuclear option.
      • Later, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief said PM Modi’s concerns about the use of nuclear weapons have had an impact on the Russians amid Ukraine war.
  • India and the issue of food grains
    • New Delhi was approached by Ukraine and other partners to intercede when the issue of food grains being blocked by Russia was raised.
    • India stepped in to convey its message to Moscow.
  • India: SCO & G-20 declaration
    • PM Modi’s said to Russian President in Samarkand in September 2022 on the sidelines of the SCO: that “this is not an era of war”.
    • This became India’s mantra, which even found its way into the G-20 declaration in Bali.
  • First virtual summit of the Voice of the Global South
    • New Delhi’s position also evolved as it felt the impact of the rising energy prices and prices of commodities.
    • In January 2023, India hosted the first virtual summit of the Voice of the Global South, where it raised the issue of rising prices of food, fuel and fertiliser.
    • It also flagged the concerns of the developing and the less-developed world on energy and food security. This will now be the consistent theme till the G-20 summit.
  • India and the upcoming G-20 summit
    • With a year of geopolitical turmoil due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, India — as the chair of G-20 — will face the challenge of negotiating a declaration while balancing between Russia and the West.


  • So far, India has walked on a diplomatic tightrope while maintain strategic autonomy in its decision making and promoting its national interests.
  • But the longer the war continues, the more pressure on India from the Western alliance to choose the right side.
    • Eg., this week, Ukraine asked India to support a UNGA resolution timed for the first anniversary of the war, asking Russia to withdraw from its territory.
  • In this context, serious diplomatic efforts needs to be made to end the war and the upcoming G-20 presidency can be used as a platform towards this direction.
International Relations

Mains Article
24 Feb 2023

World Bank Group: Biden picks Ajay Banga for president of World Bank

Why in News?

  • Recently, the US President (Joe Biden) announced that the US is nominating Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank (WB).
    • He said that the Indian-American business leader is uniquely equipped to lead the global institution at this critical moment in history.
  • If confirmed by the WB board of directors, Banga would be the first Indian-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions - International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the WB. 

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What Exactly Constitutes the World Bank Group?
  • What is the Leadership of the WB?
  • News Summary Regarding the Nominee of the WB President 

What Exactly Constitutes the World Bank Group?

  • The WB is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of low and middle-income/developing countries for the purpose of pursuing capital projects.
    • It was established along with the IMF at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference.
  • The WB is the collective name for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA), two of five international organisations owned by the WB Group.
  • The WB Group, which is the parent organisation of the WB, includes -
    • IBRD: It provides loans, credits and grants.
    • IDA: It provides low or no-interest loans to low-income countries.
    • International Finance Corporation (IFC): It provides investment, advice and asset management to private companies and governments.
    • Multilateral Guarantee Agency (MIGA): It insures lenders and investors against political risk such as war.
    • International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID): It settles investment-disputes between investors and countries.
  • These all serve the dual objectives of the WB Group, which are to end extreme poverty by 2030 and increase shared prosperity for the bottom 40% of the population worldwide.
  • As of 2022, the WB is run by a President and 25 executive directors. IBRD and IDA have 189 and 174 member countries, respectively, and the S., Japan, China, Germany and the U.K. have the largest voting power.

What is the Leadership of the WB?

  • The President of the WB, who is the President of the entire WB Group, is responsible for chairing meetings of the boards of directors and for overall management of the Bank.
  • Traditionally, the President of the Bank has always been a U.S. citizen nominated by the US, the largest shareholder in the bank.
  • The nominee is subject to confirmation by the board of executive directors to serve a five-year, renewable term.
  • The boards of directors consist of the WB Group President and 25 executive directors. The President is the presiding officer and ordinarily has no vote except to break a tie.
  • The executive directors as individuals cannot exercise any power or commit or represent the Bank unless the boards specifically authorised them to do so. 

News Summary Regarding the Nominee of the WB President:

  • Banga (63) currently serves as vice chairman at General Atlantic and was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016.
  • Banga is honorary chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as chairman from 2020-2022.
  • He is a member of the Trilateral Commission, a founding trustee of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, etc.
  • Previously, he was president and CEO of Mastercard, leading the company through a strategic, technological and cultural transformation.

Mains Article
24 Feb 2023

Term of Law Commission extended till August 2024

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet approved extension of the term of 22nd Law Commission up to August 31, 2024.
  • The Commission is currently looking into several significant issues, including implementation of a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
  • The Commission is also looking into the issue of holding simultaneous elections.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About Law Commission (History, Role/Functions, How it is created, Reports, etc.)

About Law Commission of India:

  • The Law Commission of India is a non-statutory body constituted by the Union government.
  • It is a commission established to ensure that the laws formed are just and fair which work towards its proper implementation.
  • It can be referred to as an ad hoc body, which is constituted for the fulfilment of a particular purpose.
  • Basically, it works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • However, it is not defined under the Indian Constitution. It is constituted as part of Article 39A.

History of Law Commission in India:

  • The first pre-independence law commission was established in 1834 by the British Government in India.
    • It was established by the Charter Act of 1833 and was chaired by Lord Macaulay.
  • The first Law Commission of independent India was established in the year 1955 which was headed by C. Setalvad.
  • Since the independence of India, there have been 22 Law Commissions. The current Law Commission (22nd) is chaired by Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi.

How is the Law Commission Created?

  • A law commission is created when the Union government passes a resolution for the formation a new commission after the expiry of the last one.
  • After the resolution is passed, and the President gives assent to it, the government has the liberty to choose the chairperson for the new commission.

Important Recommendations of the Commission:

  • The Law Commission has taken up various subjects on references made by Department of Legal Affairs, Supreme Court and High Courts and submitted 277 reports.
  • The Commission provides thought provoking and vital review of the laws in India.
  • Important Recommendations include –
    • The 170th report of the Law commission on Electoral reforms, 1999 had suggested simultaneous Lok Sabha and State Assembly Elections. It recommended that this is for the improvement of governance and stability of the states.
    • The Law Commission in its 262nd report recommended the abolition of death penalty for all crimes except terror-related offences and waging war against the state.

Article 39A of the Constitution:

  • Ensure that the legal system functions to promote justice based on equal opportunity for all;
  • Shall offer free legal assistance through appropriate legislation or programs;
  • To guarantee that no citizen is deprived of the opportunity to get justice due to a lack of resources or other impediments.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
24 Feb 2023

One year of war in Ukraine

Why in news?

  • Russia’s war against Ukraine is exactly a year old today. Calculations on both sides that this would be a short, swift war have proved wrong.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Russia-Ukraine War
  • News Summary

What is the Background of Russia-Ukraine conflict?

  • Tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalated in late 2013 over a landmark political and trade deal with the European Union.
    • After the pro-Russian then-President, Viktor Yanukovych, suspended the talks weeks of protests in Kyiv erupted into violence. Soon, the then pro-Russian President was ousted.
  • Russia responded by invading Crimea, which was a part of Ukraine, and annexing it in March 2014.
    • Russia invaded Crimea on the pretext that it was defending its interests and those of Russian-speaking citizens.
  • Shortly afterwards, pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared their independence from Kyiv (capital of Ukraine).
    • They established their own autonomous state called Donetsk People's Republic in 2014.
  • Kyiv and Moscow signed a peace deal in Minsk in 2015. It was brokered by France and Germany. But it could not bring peace in the region.
  • Russia, in February 2022, recognised the independence of these two regions (Donetsk and Luhansk).
  • Later, in February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine in a televised address.
    • He said the military action announced by Russia will seek to demilitarize Ukraine and came in response to threats from Ukraine.

Why Russia invaded Ukraine?

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

News Summary: One year of war in Ukraine

  • A year after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, there are signs of escalation everywhere.
  • The West has recently announced the supply of more advanced weapons to Ukraine, deepening its involvement in the conflict.
  • In response, Russian President announced the suspension of his country’s participation in the New Start treaty, which could trigger a nuclear arms race.

What’s the current status of the war?

  • Russia is expected to launch a new offensive in the coming days. Right now, focused fighting has been going on in some flashpoints along the frontline.

How has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reshaped the geopolitics of the world?

  • European countries started to focus on its security and defence
    • In this respect, the German turnaround from its post-World War pacifism was the most significant.
  • Re-energised the Europe-US security alliance
    • NATO has opened its door to the proposed inclusion of Sweden and Finland.
    • For this inclusion, Turkey’s approval is awaited. If this inclusion takes place, it will form the new military frontiers of the alliance against Russia.
  • Europe at the centre of new arms race between Russia and the US
    • Recently, Russia suspended its participation in the New START Treaty, negotiated with the US in 2011 to cap their nuclear weapons.
    • The trust deficit between Russia and the West is at an-all time high. The US-led alliance is pouring weapons into Ukraine.
  • Russia- China axis
    • Recently, former Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi met President Putin in Moscow in an affirmation of the friendship formalised last year as “limitless”.
    • However, keeping its economic interests in mind, Beijing does not wish to jeopardise its Europe ties.
    • Hence, over the last year, China has remained at arm’s distance from Russia’s war – no Chinese weapons for Moscow, and even a warning by President Xi Jinping against nuclear weapons.
  • Growing interest in the Indo-Pacific and the Quad
    • Earlier, the security experts had predicted that the Russia-Ukraine war would distract US interest from the Indo-Pacific, which proved to be wrong.
    • Now, even European countries are showing more interest in the Indo-Pacific and the Quad than before, and want in.
  • Concerns of developing nations
    • The war has disrupted the supply chain and the prices of energy, fertilisers and other essential commodities have increased.
    • As a result, various developing countries have started to feel the heat of this war.
International Relations
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