March 31, 2023

Mains Article
31 Mar 2023

GPT-4 — a shift from ‘what it can do’ to ‘what it augurs


  • Recently, Microsoft-backed OpenAI launched its artificial intelligence (AI) model GPT-4, an upgrade from GPT-3.5.
  • The article highlights the new features embedded in GPT-4 model, the challenges associated with it and what is augurs for the future.

What is the Meaning of Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT)?

  • GPTs are machine learning algorithms that respond to input with human-like text. They have the following characteristics:
    • Generative: They generate new information.
    • Pre-trained: They first go through an unsupervised pre-training period using a large corpus of data. Then they go through a supervised fine-tuning (to specific tasks) period to guide the model.
    • Transformers: They use a deep learning model (transformers) that learns context by tracking relationships in sequential data. Specifically, GPTs track words or tokens in a sentence and predict the next word or token.

About GPT-4

  • It is OpenAI's large multimodal language model that generates text from textual and visual input.
  • It can understand and produce language that is creative and meaningful, and will power an advanced version of the company’s sensational chatbot, ChatGPT.

Significance of GPT-4

  • It is more conversational and creative and is a remarkable improvement over its predecessor, GPT-3.5, which first powered ChatGPT.
    • While GPT-3.5 could not deal with large prompts well, GPT-4 can take into context up to 25,000 words, an improvement of more than 8x.
  • Its biggest innovation is that it can accept text and image input simultaneously, and consider both while drafting a reply.
    • For example, if given an image of ingredients and asked the question, “What can we make from these?”, GPT-4 gives a list of dish suggestions and recipes.
  • GPT-4 was also tested in several tests that were designed for humans and performed much better than average.
    • For instance, in a simulated bar examination, it had the 90 percentiles, whereas its predecessor scored in the bottom 10%.
    • GPT-4 also sailed through advanced courses in environmental science, statistics, art history, biology, and economics.
  • Its performance in language comprehension (in English and 25 other languages, including Punjabi, Marathi, etc) also surpasses other high-performing language models.
  • It can also purportedly understand human emotions, such as humorous pictures.
  • It has the ability to describe images that is beneficial for the visually impaired.
  • It can also do a lot of white-collar work, especially programming and writing jobs.
  • Wider use of language models like these will have effects on economies and public policy.

Limitations of GPT-4

  • It has failed to do well in advanced English language and literature, scoring 40% in both.
  • As ChatGPT-generated text infiltrated school essays and college assignments almost instantly after its release; its prowess now threatens examination systems as well.
  • It leaves manufacturing or scientific jobs relatively untouched.
  • GPT-4 is still prone to a lot of flaws similar to its predecessor as its output may not always be factually correct.
    • This trait is referred to by OpenAI as “hallucination”.
    • While much better at cognising facts than GPT-3.5, GPT-4 may still introduce fictitious information subtly.
  • OpenAI has also not been transparent about the inner workings of GPT-4 owing to reasons associated with both the competitive landscape and the safety implications of large-scale models like GPT-4.
    • Thus, the GPT-4 technical report contains no further details about its architecture (including model size), hardware, training compute, dataset construction, training method, or similar.
  • Both ethical concerns and the environmental costs have been cited as the harm of large language models.
    • There is also an opportunity cost imposed by a race for bigger models trained on larger datasets, that distracts from smarter approaches which look for meaning and train on curated datasets.

New Avenues Ahead

  • The advent of GPT-4 upgrades the question from what it can do, to what it augurs.
  • Microsoft Research mentioned observing “sparks” of artificial general intelligence in GPT-4.
    • This implies a system that excels at several task types and can comprehend and combine concepts such as writing code to create a painting or expressing a mathematical proof in the form of a Shakespearean play.
  • Moreover, if intelligence is defined based on mental capability that involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience, GPT-4 already succeeds at four out of these seven criteria.
    • It is yet to triumph master planning and learning.

Making an All-Inclusive GPT-4

  • GPT-4 has been trained on data scraped from the internet that contains several harmful biases and stereotypes.
    • The internet has people from economically developed countries, of young ages and with male voices overrepresented, which Chat GPT intends to fix.
    • OpenAI’s policy to patch up these biases thus far has been to create another model to moderate the responses, since it finds curating the training set to be infeasible.
  • However, potential holes in this approach include the possibility that the moderator model is trained to detect only the biases we are aware of, and mostly in the English language.
    • This model may be ignorant of stereotypes prevalent in non-western cultures, such as those rooted in caste.
    • As such, there is vast potential for GPT-4 to be misused as a propaganda and disinformation engine.
  • OpenAI has though assured that it has worked extensively to make it safer to use, such as refusing to print results that are obviously objectionable.

Other Language-models Underway

  • Apart from OpenAI’s models, AI company Anthropic has introduced a ChatGPT competitor named Claude.
  • Google recently announced PaLM, a model trained to work with more degrees of freedom than GPT-3.


  • There are global attempts being made to create a model with a trillion degrees of freedom.
  • However, these will be truly enormous language-models that arouse concerns about what they cannot do.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
31 Mar 2023

40 more women officers set to get Colonel rank

Why in news?

  • Around 40 more women Army officers are set to be cleared for the rank of colonel (selection grade) in phases over the next two to three years.
    • A total of 108 women officers, out of 244, were cleared for the rank of colonels by a special selection board in January 2023.
    • They have already assumed command roles in various Army units across the country.
  • This move will make them eligible to command units in their respective arms and services in the future.
    • The SC order to grant permanent commission to women Army officers in Feb 2020 opened the doors for their promotion across all streams of the Army, except pure combat arms.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Participation of Women in Defence Sector

Participation of Women in Defence Sector

  • Navy
    • The induction of women as officers in the Indian Navy commenced in the year 1991.
    • Since then, the Indian Navy has gradually opened all branches to women officers including induction through NDA.
      • In Navy, women are engaged in activities such as firing torpedoes and missiles at enemy warships.
      • Women officers also serve on board naval warships in combat, albeit discharging non-combat roles.
    • In 2020, the Indian Navy started deploying its first batch of women pilots on the Dornier maritime aircraft.
    • Further, for the first time, women are also being recruited for sailors’ entries under the Agnipath Scheme w.e.f. 2022.
      • 20% vacancies are reserved for women.
  • Air Force
    • Officers recruitment in the IAF is gender neutral. Women officers are inducted in all the branches and streams of IAF.
    • In 2015, Indian Air Force had opened new combat roles for women as fighter pilots.
    • This experimental scheme to induct women officers in all combat roles has now been regularised into a permanent scheme.
  • Army
    • Initially, woman officers were permitted PC in only two services – the Judge Advocate General’s Branch and the Army Education Corps.
    • In February 2020, the defence ministry permitted SSC women officers in another eight arms/services to be granted PC.
      • This happened after the Supreme Court, in February 2020, granted women the right to permanent commission (PC), and the right to command.
    • Hence, at present, the women are being commissioned in Indian Army in ten Streams.
    • Now the prestigious National Defence Academy (NDA) has started accepting women cadets.
      • In 2021, the Supreme Court allowed women to appear for the upcoming entrance exam of the National Defence Academy (NDA).
    • So far, no combat role has been given to women in Army.
      • The ‘no women in combat’ rule was not challenged in the SC and the apex court did not rule on this.
  • Recent developments in Army
    • For the first time, five women officers have cleared the prestigious Defence Services Staff Course (DSSC) and Defence Services Technical Staff Course (DSTSC) Exam.
    • Recently, a women officer has been deployed, for the first time, to a post in the Saichen Glacier.
    • The Army has so far recruited six meritorious sportswomen into the Corps of Military Police under its Mission Olympic Programme.
      • The Indian Army was the first among the three Services to open its soldier ranks to women in the Corps of Military Police.
    • In January 2023, Indian Army deployed its largest-ever contingent of women soldiers for UN peacekeeping operations in the volatile oil-rich Abyei region of Africa.
      • This is India’s largest single unit of women peacekeepers in a UN Mission.
Defence & Security

Mains Article
31 Mar 2023

Govt. Concedes Disinvestment Stalled by Multiple Challenges

Why in news?

  • The Finance Ministry has publicly acknowledged the numerous challenges it is facing in its efforts to privatise public sector enterprises (PSEs) and raise funds through minority stake sales.
  • Last month, the ministry had reduced the government’s disinvestment target for 2023-24 to a nine-year low of ₹51,000 crore.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Disinvestment
  • News Summary

What is Disinvestment?

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

Evolution of Disinvestment in India

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

What are the benefits of Disinvestment?

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

Why disinvestment is often criticised?

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

How has disinvestment fared in recent years?

  • Disinvestment receipts so far this year amount to just ₹35,282 crore, as opposed to a Budget target of ₹65,000 crore and revised estimates of ₹50,000 crore.
  • According to the recently release Economic Survey report, about ₹4.07 lakh crore has been realised as disinvestment proceeds in the past nine years.
    • Post-2014 the government is engaging with the private sector as a co-partner in the development.
  • So far, different central governments over the last three decades have been able to meet annual disinvestment targets only six times.

News Summary: Govt. Concedes Disinvestment Stalled by Multiple Challenges

What are the key obstacles to the disinvestment process?

  • Global challenges
    • The Finance Ministry has noted that the COVID-19 pandemic seriously impacted transactions in 2020 and 2021.
    • It was followed by the Ukraine conflict last year.
    • These events hurt minority stake sales as well as strategic sales as financial capacity and risk-reward options of potential bidders turned worse.
  • Internal challenges
    • Strategic disinvestment transactions have to deal with matters such as:
      • resolving land title, lease, and land use issues with State government authorities;
      • disposal of non-core assets, excess manpower and labour unions, protection of process and functionaries etc.
  • Challenges posed by employees’ unions
    • Multiple court cases filed by employees’ unions and other interest groups against the disinvestment policy as well as specific transactions were also hindering deals.
  • Challenges to disinvestment through minority stake sale
    • These include:
      • Reduced availability of government stake over 51% for large listed central PSEs;
      • Relatively muted perception of investors in these stocks as compared to private sector peers;
      • Price overhang in the market due to high disinvestment target and frequent use of exchange traded funds (ETF) route for stake sale till 2019-20.
        • ETF is a type of investment fund that is traded on stock exchanges like individual stocks.

Mains Article
31 Mar 2023

Photovoltaic waste: India’s solar push augurs a looming waste management challenge

Why in News?

  • Even though there has been a concerted push from policymakers in India to transition to a circular economy, waste management in the solar photovoltaic sector still lacks clear directives.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is Photovoltaic Waste?
  • What are the Challenges India faces in Photovoltaic waste Management?
  • How have other Countries Responded?
  • What are the Recent Initiatives of the Indian Government to Reduce Photovoltaic wastes?
  • What is the Way ahead in India’s Photovoltaic waste management?

What is Photovoltaic Waste?

  • Globally, India stands fourth in solar photovoltaic deployment, with a solar power installed capacity of nearly 62 GW by 2022.
    • India’s solar photovoltaic installations are dominated by crystalline silicon (c-Si) technology.
    • A typical photovoltaic panel is made up of 93% of c-Si modules and 7% of cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film modules.
    • The metals used to manufacture c-Si modules are silver, tin, and lead. The CdTe thin film module is made of glass, encapsulant, and compound semiconductor.
  • While this is certainly encouraging, it indicates a serious issue of solar photovoltaic waste in future.
  • According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, India could generate 50,000-3,25,000 tonnes of cumulative photovoltaic waste by 2030 and more than 4 million tonnes by 2050.
    • India is expected to become one of the top five leading photovoltaic waste producers globally by 2045-2050.
  • According to a 2021 report, approximately 50% of total materials can be recovered through such waste management and recycling processes.

 What are the Challenges India faces in Photovoltaic waste Management?

  • The growing informal handling: Only about 20% of the waste is recovered in general, the rest is treated informally.
  • Waste accumulation at landfills: This in turn causes acidification, leaching of toxic metals (such as lead and cadmium) into the soil, and contaminates the local water.
  • Leading to pollution: Gradual incineration of the panel encapsulant also releases sulphur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride, and hydrogen cyanide into the atmosphere.
  • Ignorance of appropriate disposal practices: Among multiple actors and institutions across the supply chain, including producers, owners, consumers, and waste disposal facilities.
  • Small market to repurpose or reuse recycled photovoltaic waste: This is because of a lack of suitable incentives and schemes in which businesses can invest.
  • The absence of a regulatory body: To measure, monitor, and report solar photovoltaic waste.

 How have other Countries Responded?

  • The European Union’s ‘Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive’ makes producers responsible for safely and responsibly disposing of end-of-life photovoltaic panels.
  • In the U.S., states have the freedom to establish their own solar photovoltaic regulatory standards.
  • Manufacturers in Japan are responsible for developing environment-friendly recycling technologies through public-private partnerships and launching awareness campaigns about their benefits.
  • China has introduced an implementation plan for life-cycle management and to improve the resource efficiency of solar photovoltaic panels.
    • Chinese researchers are also developing recycling processes to recover silicon from end-of-life panels and process them back into solar wafers.

 What are the Recent Initiatives of the Indian Government to Reduce Photovoltaic wastes?

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change’s revised electronic waste (e-waste) management Rules in 2022 brought solar photovoltaic cells, panels, and modules under its ambit.
  • The Green Credit Programme under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, announced in the 2022-2023 Union Budget, aimed to promote green growth and sustainable practices.
  • The latest production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme promotes the domestic manufacturing of high-efficiency solar photovoltaic modules.

 Way ahead in India’s Photovoltaic waste management

  • Avoiding clubbing of photovoltaic waste with other e-waste: India should formulate and implement provisions specific to photovoltaic waste treatment within the ambit of the e-waste guidelines.
  • A legislative framework to enforce the Extended Producer Responsibility Rules.
  • A Central insurance or a regulatory body should be set up to protect against financial losses incurred in waste collection and treatment.
  • To give away the practice of classifying waste generated from photovoltaic modules as hazardous.
  • Pan-India sensitisation drives and awareness programmes on photovoltaic waste management and clear recycling targets in the photovoltaic waste management policy directive are needed.
  • Paying more attention to domestic R&D efforts. Depending on a single module type will deplete certain natural resources and stunt the local capacity for recycling and recovery of critical materials.
  • The methods/best practices of other countries could be a good reference point for India to develop ‘Made in India’ manufacturing capabilities, recycling technologies, and waste management strategies in this field.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
31 Mar 2023

Scientists spot Piezoelectric Effect in liquids for the first time

Why in News?

  • A pair of chemists at Michigan State University has observed the piezoelectric effect in liquids for the first time.
  • In their paper published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Iqbal Hossain and G. J. Blanchard, describe accidently observing the property while studying ionic liquids.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About Piezoelectric Effect (Concept, History, Materials, Applications, etc.)
  • Discovery of Piezoelectric Effect in Liquids (About the Research, Significance)

What is the Piezoelectric Effect?

  • The piezoelectric effect is a phenomenon where specific types of material (e.g., quartz, topaz, etc.) produce an electric charge proportional to the mechanical stress applied to them.
  • It occurs when there is a conversion of kinetic or mechanical energy due to crystal deformation, into electrical energy.
  • Piezoelectric materials are materials that can produce electricity due to mechanical stress.
  • When a piezoelectric material is placed under mechanical stress, there is a shift of the positive and negative charge centres in the material, which then results in an external electric field.

What is the History behind the Piezoelectric Effect?

  • In 1880, Jacques and Pierre Curie discovered that pressure generates electrical charges in certain types of crystals such as quartz and tourmaline.
  • They called this phenomenon the "piezoelectric effect". The word "piezo" is derived from the Greek word piezein, which means to squeeze or press.
  • Later they noticed that electric fields can deform piezoelectric materials. This effect is called the "inverse piezoelectric effect".
  • After these first demonstrations, more work was undertaken to explore the great potential of the piezoelectric effect.

About Piezoelectric Materials:

  • A crystal is any solid with atoms or molecules that are arranged in a very orderly way based on repetitions of the same basic atomic building block (the unit cell).
  • In most crystals (such as in metals), the unit cell is symmetrical; in piezoelectric crystals, it is not.
  • Normally, piezoelectric crystals are electrically neutral.
  • The atom arrangement may not be symmetrical, but the electrical charges are perfectly balanced: a positive charge in one place cancels out a negative charge nearby.
  • However, stretching or squeezing a piezoelectric crystal deforms the structure, pushing some of the atoms closer together or further apart.
  • This upsets the balance of positive and negative, and causes net electrical charges to appear.

Examples of Piezoelectric Materials:

  • There are a variety of piezoelectric materials, both man-made and natural, that can produce electricity.
  • Natural –
    • The most well-known, and the first commercially available piezoelectric material used in electronic devices is the quartz crystal.
    • Other naturally-occurring piezoelectric materials include topaz, tourmaline, and even bone.
  • Man-made –
    • A breakthrough came when scientists developed a new class of man-made materials, called ferroelectrics, which exhibited piezoelectric characteristics many times more powerful than piezoelectric crystals.
    • Scientists kept searching for higher performance materials and this resulted in the development of barium titanate and lead zirconate titanate.

Applications of Piezoelectric Effect:

  • Developed in the 1900s to detect icebergs, the sonar device is the first practical application for piezoelectric devices.
  • Sensors, high voltage generators, electronic frequency generators, microbalances, inkjet printers, and ultra-fine focusing and alignment of optical assemblies among others all exploit piezoelectric technology.
  • It is also the basis of a number of scientific instrumental techniques with atomic resolution, such as scanning tunnelling microscopes.

 Discovery of Piezoelectric Effect in Liquids:

  • The researchers at Michigan State University were studying properties of ionic liquids.
    • Ionic liquids are made from salts with unsymmetrical, flexible organic cations and symmetrical weakly coordinating anions.
  • The liquid piezoelectric material was discovered as the researchers applied pressure with a piston to a sample of an ionic liquid in a cylinder.
  • To their surprise, they found that this led to the release of electricity.
  • They also found that the amount of electricity released was proportional to the amount of pressure applied.

What is the Significance of this Discovery?

  • The reason the piezoelectric effect has only been expected in solids thus far is that the body being squeezed needs to have an organised structure, like the pyramids of quartz.
  • Liquids do not have such structure; instead, they take the shape of their container.
  • The researchers suggest that liquid piezoelectric materials could prove to be useful, especially ones made using ionic liquids, because they would be more environmentally friendly than solid materials.
  • They also note that liquid piezoelectric materials could allow more variety in device shape, opening up wider design opportunities.
Science & Tech

March 30, 2023

Mains Article
30 Mar 2023

India’s DPIs, catching the next wave


  • The article put emphasis upon tapping the potential of India’s digital public infrastructure (DPI) fully, that could pave the way for greater economic freedom for citizens.

What is Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI)

  • It is an open-source identity platform that can be used to access a wide variety of government and private services by building applications and products on a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) like India Stack.
    • It includes digital forms of ID and verification, civil registration, payment (digital transactions and money transfers), data exchange, and information systems.
    • It is customisable, localisable, interoperable and leverage public data for open innovation models.
  • India is seen as a global trendsetter with multiple large-scale DPIs like JAM trinity which links Aadhaar, mobiles and bank accounts, Digi Locker, Bharat Bill Pay, UPI, Aadhaar Enabled Payment Systems (AePS) and Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), CoWin (for vaccination), etc.

What is India Stack?

  • India Stack is a set of APIs that allows governments, businesses, startups and developers to utilise a unique digital infrastructure to solve India’s hard problems towards presence-less, paperless, and cashless service delivery.
  • The following APIs are considered to be a core part of the India Stack:
    • Aadhaar Authentication and e-KYC
    • eSign, Digital Locker
    • Unified Payment Interface (UPI)
    • Digital User Consent
  • It brings a paradigm shift in the way government services are delivered, i.e., in a transparent, accountable and leakage free model.

Aadhar as Bedrock of India’s DPI

  • India’s DPI began as a foundation with Aadhaar in 2009.
  • Its rebirth happened in 2014 when PM Modi envisaged a far wider and bigger canvas than what was originally envisioned, to become the rocket ship to launch good governance on.
    • Today, over 1,700 Union and States government schemes ride atop it.
  • Thus, Aadhar was made a superstructure which delivers consistent, affordable, and across-the-board value to citizens, government and the corporate sector.

Aadhaar and its Extended Usage in the Private Sector

  • The SC’s privacy judgment (in the 2017 Puttaswamy judgement) had affirmed privacy to be sacrosanct.
    • As a result, the process of making Aadhaar available to the private sector was slowed down.
  • However, the rapid adoption and ease of doing business in day-to-day transactions for citizens, has now led to a gradual opening of Aadhaar, beginning with voluntary usage, for various private sector applications.  
  • The Aadhaar holders can voluntarily use their Aadhaar for private sector purposes, and private sector entities also need not seek special permission for such usage.
    • However, the Aadhaar Act was amended in 2019 to bar private entities from storing individuals' data and that Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) could give directions to any entity in the Aadhaar ecosystem.
  • Between government departments (intra and inter-State) too, Aadhaar data can be shared, but with the prior informed consent (PIC) of the citizen.
  • Banks and other regulated entities can store Aadhaar numbers as long as they protect it using vault and other similar means, as in UIDAI security regulations.
  • All the above changes could lead to the next leap frogging of the India Stack as a whole.
    • It is evident as the work in progress with Aadhaar authentications being shot up to 2.2 billion per month, and cumulative number over the past 12 years has crossed 100 bn.
  • Also, the Goods and Service Tax Network (GSTN) could not have happened without an existing Aadhaar number and Permanent Account Number (PAN) database.

The Success of DigiYatra

  • DigiYatra is a Biometric Enabled Seamless Travel (BEST) experience based on a facial recognition system (FRS).
    • It is a partnership between industry and government ensuring seamless identification of passengers at key check points such as airport entry, security check and boarding gate.
  • The United States CLEAR programme (an expedited airport security/airport identity verification process) is active at 51 airports with about 15 million members at a cost of $369 per annum for a family of four.
  • In contrast, a slightly different variant - the DigiYatra, which is totally free of cost for the Indian traveller.
    • Its success lies in the fact that about two lakh passengers have utilized this biometric boarding system successfully.
    • Air passenger traffic in India was estimated to be over 188 million in airports across India in the financial year 2022, out of whom over 22 million were international passengers.
    • When Digi Yatra reaches a third of them, it will lead to further innovation.

DigiLocker: One of the Least Known DPIs

  • About DigiLocker: It is a secure public cloud-based platform for storage, sharing and verification of documents & certificates
    • It has 150 million users, six billion stored documents, done with a tiny budget of ₹50 crore over seven years.
    • Plans are afoot to expand it to many countries around the world with this microscopic budget.
  • Significance: Targeted at the idea of paperless governance, DigiLocker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents & certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents.
    • It is also aimed at transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • Application: While applying for a passport nowadays, one need not even upload any portable document format (PDF) any more or submit some notarised papers.
    • A simple consent on the passport application form allowing it to fetch the relevant data from DigiLocker can do the meaningful task.
    • Without the DigiLocker APIs (that enable instant KYC), many insurance and fintech companies like Zerodha, Upstox, RazorPay, Equal, would not be around today.
    • Also recently, when DigiLocker was used in a Karnataka Police recruitment drive to verify the academic credentials of candidates, it led to the process being cut down by about six months.

UPI’s Groundbreaking Impact

  • The UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank).
  • The UPI is breaking records under the visionary leadership at the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) as evident by the following:
    • It has now crossed eight billion transactions per month and transacts a value of $180 billion a month, or about a staggering 65% of India’s GDP per annum.

Way Forward

  • Despite India’s leapfrogging DPI, there is no single portal where industry can see all the necessary (and many unnecessary) compliances, whether at the Union or the State level.
    • Thus, an Enterprise DigiLocker can be created, which could lead to as many downloads of PAN, GSTN and the other documents as needed by multiple departments across many States.
    • This will lead to saving huge costs and headaches for businesses.
  • Also, while prioritizing investments in DPI, effort should be made for inclusivity focusing on equity, good governance, and regulatory frameworks to ensure that no one is left behind.


  • India's DPI represents our second battle for independence, or economic liberation from the everyday duties and commerce.
  • As a result, it has evolved into our new economic engine that will propel India to a $25 trillion GDP by the 100th anniversary of our political independence.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
30 Mar 2023

The Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022: Lok Sabha approves competition law tweaks

Why in News?

  • The Lok Sabha recently cleared the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
  • The Bill aims at bringing in greater regulation - particularly for Big Tech firms - by introducing deal value threshold for approvals by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and enabling cartels to avail of the CCI’s settlement mechanism.

 What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022?
  • What are the Key Features of the 2022 Bill?
  • News Summary Regarding the Bill Cleared by the Lok Sabha

 What is the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022?

  • It was introduced by the Ministry of Finance to amend the Competition Act, 2002 to bring it in line with modern development of new technology, digital market.
    • The 2002 Act establishes the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for regulating market competition.
  • Later, the Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance for further scrutiny.

 What are the Key Features of the 2022 Bill?

  • Expansion of scope of the combinations (mergers, acquisitions, or amalgamation of enterprises) to include transactions with a value above Rs. 2000 crores (from Rs. 2000 crores earlier).
  • Reduction in the time period for approval of combinations from 210 days to 150 days.
  • Modification in the definition of control for the purpose of classification of combinations.
    • The Bill modifies the definition of control as the ability to exercise material influence over the management, affairs or strategic commercial decisions.
  • Expansion of the scope of Anti-competitive agreements.
    • Under the Act, anti-competitive agreements include any agreement related to production, supply, storage or control of goods/services, which can cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India.
    • The Bill adds that enterprises or persons not engaged in identical or similar businesses shall be presumed to be part of such agreements.
  • Settlement and Commitment in anti-competitive proceedings.
    • The Bill permits CCI to close inquiry proceedings if the enterprise offers - settlement (may involve payment), commitments (may be structural or behavioural in nature).
    • The manner and implementation of settlement and commitment may be specified by CCI through regulations.
  • More scrutiny on Big Tech giants:
    • As per the Bill, CCI members have to be qualified in the field of technology to add investigative strength and professional knowledge of the regulator.
    • The Bill also seeks to introduce knowledge and experience in the field of technology as additional criteria for the members of the selection committee.

 News Summary Regarding the Bill Cleared by the Lok Sabha:

  • A major change in the Bill (that awaits the Rajya Sabha’s nod) is the provision relating to penalties that the competition watchdog (CCI) can levy.
  • Presently, the CCI can impose a penalty of up to 10% of a company’s average turnover in the “relevant market.”
    • Now, the phrase “turnover” will refer to the “global turnover derived from all the products and services by a person or an enterprise”.
    • According to the experts, this is a highly contentious provision that will result in higher penalties for global multi-product companies.
  • The introduction of deal value thresholds will bring transactions involving ‘asset lite’ and ‘low revenue’ companies (which were previously not notifiable) under the CCI’s scrutiny.
  • Moreover, the settlements and commitments mechanism will
    • Ensure swift correction of anti-competitive behaviour and practices in the market and
    • Spare willing and legally compliant companies to face the rigours of an extensive investigation.
  • The actual implementation of these changes will hinge on the regulations that the CCI will issue, following the Bill’s enactment.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
30 Mar 2023

Why 2020-2030 has the makings of a Lost Decade for the Global Economy

Why in News?

  • The World Bank, recently, published a report titled “Falling Long-Term Growth Prospects: Trends, Expectations, and Policies”.
  • The report offers the first comprehensive assessment of long-term potential output growth rates in the aftermath of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About the Report (Key Highlights, Reasons for Slowdown, About India, Suggestions, etc.)

Key Highlights of the Report:

  • The report “Falling Long-Term Growth Prospects: Trends, Expectations, and Policies” is published by the World Bank.
  • The report uses a comprehensive database of multiple measures of potential growth.
  • It examines trends in potential growth and its drivers, global and regional prospects for potential growth and investment over the 2020s, and a range of policy options to lift potential growth.
  • It documents three major findings –
    • First, there has been a protracted, broad-based decline in potential growth and its underlying drivers.
      • Major adverse shocks also reduce potential growth by leaving a lasting impact on these drivers.
    • Second, the slowdown in potential growth is expected to persist for the rest of this decade.
    • Third, while they are significant challenges confronting emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs), they are not insurmountable.
      • It is possible to reverse the slowdown in potential growth and chart a sustained, sustainable, and inclusive growth path by implementing ambitious, broad-based and forceful policies at the national and global levels.

Reasons for the Slowdown:

  • The biggest reason for the slowdown is that the EMDEs are in the midst of a prolonged period of weakness.
  • The following table shows a broad-based decline over the past two decades whether a country belongs to EMDEs or the middle-income countries (MICs) or the low-income countries (LICs).
  • The World Bank has looked at a whole set of fundamental drivers that determine economic growth and found that all of them have been losing power.
  • These fundamental drivers include things like –
    • Capital accumulation (through investment growth),
    • Labour force growth, and
    • Growth of total factor productivity (which is the part of economic growth that results from more efficient use of inputs and which is often the result of technological changes) etc.
  • Not surprisingly then, the potential growth rate is expected to decelerate further.

Observations about India:

  • Even though India has also lost its growth momentum over the past two decades, it is and will likely remain a global leader when it comes to growth rates.
  • India falls under the South Asia Region (SAR), which is expected to be fastest growing among emerging market and developing economies for the remainder of this decade.
  • To be sure, India accounts for three-fourths of the SAR output.
    • SAR includes countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh etc.
  • Economic activity in the SAR rebounded strongly from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding by 7.9 percent in 2021.
  • Output in the region is on track to grow by about 6.0 percent a year between 2022 and 2030, faster than the 2010s annual average of 5.5 percent.

What can be done to boost potential Global Growth?

  • The report highlights specific policy actions at the national level that can make an important difference in promoting long-term growth prospects.
    • Align monetary, fiscal, and financial frameworks –
      • Robust macroeconomic and financial policy frameworks can moderate the ups and downs of business cycles.
      • Policymakers should prioritize taming inflation, ensuring financial-sector stability, reducing debt, and restoring fiscal prudence.
    • Ramp up investments –
      • Transportation and energy, climate-smart agriculture and manufacturing, and land and water systems.
      • In the above mentioned areas, sound investments aligned with key climate goals could enhance potential growth by up to 0.3 percentage point per year.
    • Cut trade costs –
      • Trade costs—mostly associated with shipping, logistics, and regulations—effectively double the cost of internationally traded goods today.
      • Countries with the highest shipping and logistics costs could cut their trade costs in half by adopting the trade-facilitation and other practices of countries with the lowest shipping and logistics costs.
    • Capitalize on services –
      • The services sector could become the new engine of economic growth.
      • Exports of digitally delivered professional services related to information and communications technology climbed to more than 50% of total services exports in 2021, up from 40%in 2019.
    • Increase labor force participation –
      • About half of the expected slowdown in potential GDP growth through 2030 will be attributable to changing demographics.
      • This change includes a shrinking working-age population and declining labor force participation as societies age.
      • Boosting overall labor force participation rates by the best ten-year increase on record could increase global potential growth rates by as much as 0.2 percentage point a year by 2030.
    • The report also underscores the need to strengthen global cooperation.
    • International economic integration has helped to drive global prosperity for more than two decades since 1990, but it has faltered.
    • Restoring it is essential to –
      • Catalyse trade,
      • Accelerate climate action, and
      • Mobilize the investments needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mains Article
30 Mar 2023

NCLAT upholds CCI’s order against Google in Android antitrust case

Why in news?

  • The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) partially upheld Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) Android dominance order against Google.
    • CCI is a statutory body established in March 2009 under the Competition Act, 2002 with an aim to eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition.

What’s in today’s article?

  • National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)
  • Background of the present case
  • News Summary

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)

What is National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)?

  • About
    • NCLAT is a quasi-judicial body in India that was established under the Companies Act, 2013 to hear appeals against the orders passed by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
    • Established in 2016, it is headquartered in New Delhi.
    • It is an appellate authority that hears appeals against the orders passed by the NCLT.
    • It is the second-highest forum for company law cases in India after the Supreme Court.
    • The decisions of the NCLAT are final and binding on the parties involved, and the orders passed by the NCLAT can be challenged only in the Supreme Court of India.
  • Functions
    • The NCLAT is empowered to hear appeals against orders passed by the NCLT related to insolvency and bankruptcy, merger and acquisition, and company law matters.
    • It is also the Appellate Tribunal for order passed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) as well for orders of the National Financial Reporting Authority.
  • Composition
    • The NCLAT is headed by a Chairperson and consists of judicial and technical members who are appointed by the Central Government.

Background of the case

What is the background of the present case?

  • In 2018, Android users moved the competition watchdog (CCI) alleging that Google was abusing its dominant position in the mobile operating system-related market.
  • The CCI subsequently ordered an investigation by the director general (DG) of its investigative arm into this matter.
  • In 2019, the CCI expressed a prima facie opinion that current practices followed by Google amounted to the imposition of unfair conditions on device manufacturers.
  • In October 2022, based on the report of DG, the commission imposed a penalty of Rs 1,337.76 crore on Google.
    • This was the second time that the tech giant has been fined by the CCI.
    • In 2018, it had imposed a fine of Rs 136 crore on Google for unfair business practices in the Indian market for online search.
  • This ruling was challenged before the NCLAT.

Why CCI had fined Google?

  • CCI said that Google used its dominant position to make it mandatory that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) pre-install its entire Google Mobile Suite on their phones and place them prominently.
    • The Mobile Suite includes Search, Chrome, YouTube, Google Play store, Maps, and Photos, among others.
  • The CCI found that this mandate amounts to imposition of unfair conditions on the device manufacturers.
    • Hence, it was in contravention of the provisions of the Competition Act, 2002.
    • As per the provisions of this act, there shall be an abuse of dominant position if an enterprise directly or indirectly, imposes unfair or discriminatory condition in purchase or sale of goods or services.

How CCI wanted Google to change?

  • Apart from imposing monetary penalty, the commission has issued cease and desist orders against Google from indulging in the found anti-competitive practices.
  • It also says that OEMs should not be mandated to choose Google’s proprietary applications and services to be pre-installed and placed as Google says.
  • It is also told to not restrict uninstalling of its pre-installed apps by the users.
  • The Commission also said that Google will have to allow users to choose their default search engine during the initial device setup.

News Summary: NCLAT upholds CCI’s order against Google in Android antitrust case

  • The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal upheld the penalty of ₹1,337 crore imposed on Google by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for its anti-competitive conduct in the Android ecosystem.

Key highlights of the order passed by NCLAT

  • No confirmation bias in CCI’s order
    • NCLAT held that the CCI's order does not suffer from any confirmation bias.
  • Anti-competitive practices by google
    • Furthermore, NCLAT has held that Google asking the OEMs to pre-install the entire Google Suite of 11 applications amounts to imposition of unfair conditions.
    • Google reduces the incentive of the OEMs to develop their own version of Android (Android forks).
  • Directions in Google's favour
    • Google was fair in sending warnings (Sideloading) to users when they download applications directly from the website or from an unknown source.
    • Google need not share its proprietary Application Program Interface (API) with third parties.
    • Google was right in not permitting third party application stores on its play stores to avoid malware.
    • Google can restrict uninstallation of Google suite apps on Android phones.

Mains Article
30 Mar 2023

Second Summit for Democracy

Why in news?

  • US President Biden co-hosted the second Summit for Democracy with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Korea, and Zambia.
  • India was also an invitee to the summit. PM Modi virtually addressed the Summit.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Summit for Democracy
  • News Summary

Summit for Democracy


  • On December 9-10, 2021, US President Biden hosted the first Summit for Democracy.
  • This summit brought together leaders all over the world to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.


  • The summit aims to show how open, rights-respecting societies can work together to effectively tackle the challenges of our time such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and inequality.

Principal themes

  • The Summit is centered around three principal themes:
    • Defending against authoritarianism
    • Addressing and fighting corruption
    • Advancing respect for human rights

Criticism of this summit

  • Questions over some invitees' democratic credentials
    • The first summit extended invitation to those countries whose leaders are accused by human rights groups of harboring authoritarian tendencies.
      • Eg., The Philippines, Poland and Brazil.
  • Invitation of Taiwan angered China
    • The first summit included Taiwan, stoking anger from China, which considers the democratically governed island part of its territory.
  • W- eaponsing democracy
    • Russia and China accused Washington if “w- eaponsing democracy”.
      • They accused the Biden administration of exhibiting a Cold-War mentality.
      • This will stoke up ideological confrontation and a rift in the world.
    • They said that US is lecturing the world when its own democracy, particularly the conduct of elections at home, is ragged and inconsistent.
  • Summit was ill-advised
    • Many analysts believe that the summit was ill-advised as:
      • US needs non-democracies to work with on regional & global challenges;
      • invite list filled with inconsistencies;
      • US is not in a position to preach or provide model.

News Summary: Second Summit for Democracy

  • The second Summit for Democracy was co-hosted by the U.S., Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia.
  • 121 leaders across the world were invited to the three-day Summit.
    • India, Nepal and Maldives were invited while Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka did not get the invitation.
    • Pakistan, which was invited, declined to attend for the second time, ostensibly due to the exclusion of China.
  • The text for Summit for Democracy Declaration was finalised and is left open to be endorsed by the participating leaders.

Summit for Democracy Declaration

  • The Declaration affirms the endorsing parties’ political commitments to:
    • Protect human rights, media freedom, and rule of law;
    • Ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses;
    • Support people, including in Ukraine, who stand for freedom and reject aggression;
    • Combat all forms of discrimination and exclusion, including by strengthening women’s rights;
    • Prevent and combat corruption;
    • Advance technology that works for, and not against democracy;
    • Defend against transnational threats, including foreign malign influence and foreign information manipulation;
    • Support free and fair elections; and
    • Address global challenges, including sustainable development, climate change, global health, and food security.

Key highlights of the speech delivered by PM Modi at the Second Summit for Democracy

  • India - mother of democracy
    • Asserting that India is indeed the mother of democracy, PM Modi said that democracy refers not just to a structure but also the spirit of equality.
    • He said that the Mahabharata, the Vedas and all historical references prove that non-hereditary rulers first existed in India.
  • Democracy Can Deliver
    • India, despite the many global challenges, is the fastest growing major economy today.
    • This itself is the best advertisement for democracy in the world. This itself says that Democracy Can Deliver.
  • India’s commitment on climate change
    • Initiatives such as fighting the climate crisis through lifestyle changes, conserving water through distributed storage and providing clean cooking fuel to everyone are powered by the collective efforts of Indian citizens.
  • India’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic
    • India’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic was people-driven and they made it possible to administer more than two billion doses of indigenously made vaccines.
    • ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative shared millions of vaccines with the world.
    • This was also guided by the democratic spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ — One Earth, One Family, One Future.
International Relations

March 29, 2023

Mains Article
29 Mar 2023

Putting citizen engagement at the heart of governance


  • The article highlights the significance of citizen-centric and citizen-enabled governance to respect the voice of the citizenry and to ensure that all development reaches the person standing at last mile, thus enriching democracy.

Meaning of Citizen Engagement

  • It refers to how citizens participate in the decision-making processes such as voting, attending public meetings and town halls, volunteering, etc.
  • It leads to a range of outcomes, including more effective services and more responsive and accountable states and enlightened citizenry.
  • Moreover, citizen engagement is not about confrontation or merely about expressing restlessness and dissatisfaction.
    • It is more about collaborative partnerships and dialogue intended towards inclusion, empowerment and is a political process.
  • It is a core component of any governance system and is highly embedded in the nature of the political and governance context and existing power relations.
    • In democracies, citizen engagement is a basic principle because it is understood that governments derive their authority and power from the people.
    • Also, citizen engagement should neither be viewed as the “citizen against the state” nor as the “state against the citizen”, but as two complementary forces working together to ensure the overall development of a community or a nation.
  • The Indian democracy is mature in the sense that there is an intentional attempt by the state to make development citizen-centric.
    • The PM’s call for citizen centricity should be seen as a part of the social compact that the government is now creating between the citizens and the public service delivery systems.
    • He has repeatedly referred to “Jan Bhagidari” and that all development must keep the person at the last mile in mind (Antyodaya).

Relevance of Discourse in Citizen Engagement

  • Citizen engagement towards democratizing the process of development necessarily involves a constructive dialogue between and amongst all stakeholders - state, citizenry, private sector, media, civil society and academia.
    • This needs to be accompanied by redrawing boundaries of engagement and roles that stakeholders have traditionally assumed for themselves.
  • Also, this meaningful dialogue among multiple stakeholders can sustain only when there is mutual trust.
    • It also requires an appreciation of interdependence and reciprocity, hence giving equal and dignified spaces in the decision making and execution process.
  • However, multi-stakeholder engagement would involve challenges as the adoption of the partnership approach by all parties involved will require shedding biases about each other.
    • The citizenry or community is not necessarily a homogenous mass of people and caution must be taken of elite capture within citizen groups as well and respecting the last citizen’s voice.

Reinvigorating Citizen Oriented Governance

  • Traditionally, governance structures hold the power to make decisions that affect the lives of citizens.
  • But citizen-centric governance focuses on providing citizens with access to information, services and resources and on engaging them in the policy-making process.
    • However, the concept of citizen-centric governance is constantly evolving.
    • Hence putting into action citizen’s sustained engagement requires clarity in the actions that civil servants perform and how citizens engage with the state.
  • This engagement is a two-way interaction between citizens and governments that give citizens a stake in decision-making to improve development outcomes.
  • It necessarily demands a shift in the mindset of civil servants through an exemplary programme which looks at the complete ecosystem of capacities of civil servants in delivering on this mandate.

India’s Citizen-centric Platform for Good Governance

  • MyGov launched in 2014 has been established as Government of India’s Citizen Engagement Platform.
    • It collaborates with multiple Government bodies/Ministries to engage with citizens for policy formulation and seeks the opinion of people on issues/topics of public interest and welfare.
    • It has had significant success in terms of engaging with citizens. For example, logos and taglines of key National Projects like Swachh Bharat, National Education Policy, Digital India Campaign, etc. have been crowdsourced through MyGov.
  • Meghalaya has also in 2022 has launched “Citizen Engagement and Communication Programme” to spread awareness amongst the masses to avail benefits of the schemes being launched by the Government and improve governance in all aspects.

Mission Karmayogi - National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building

  • It has been carefully designed for capacity building of the civil servants so that they are entrenched in Indian Culture and sensibilities and remain connected, with their roots, while they learn from the best institutions and practices across the world.
  • It aims at building a future-ready civil service with the right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of New India.
  • The Mission envisages a comprehensive reform of the capacity building apparatus at the individual, institutional and process levels for efficient public service delivery.
  • Hence, it has been strategically working to build the capacities of civil servants through various innovative interventions to sensitise and reframe the fabric of citizen participation.


Demonstration of Capacity Enhancement of the Service Personnel

  • The railway employees, Gramin Dak Sevaks, police personnel in the UTs and employees of BSNL recently went through an outcome-based capacity-building programme.
    • This was aimed at shifting them from thinking like a “karmachari” to acting like a “karmayogi”.
  • Several personnel from the ministries of civil aviation, mines, ports and shipping, and steel have also immersed themselves in private sector ecosystems.
    • This is aimed to better appreciate the challenges faced by the latter and how these personnel can enhance the ease of living and doing business from a citizen’s perspective.


  • The PM’s emphasis to make a paradigm-shift towards citizen-centric governance and that citizen should be at the centre of everything that the government did provides the catalytic first step to ensure strengthening of grassroot democracy in the nation.
  • This could be furthered by proper channels of information dissemination, gathering valuable inputs and indigenous knowledge of the citizenry and putting appropriate grievance redressal mechanisms in place.


Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
29 Mar 2023

Institutions of Eminence (IoE): Accelerate granting of IoE status

Why in News?

  • A Parliamentary panel has sought status notes on the 2 public and 5 private higher education institutions which await the final IoE status, recommending that the process for granting the IoE status be “accelerated”.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, has also recommended that the IoE scheme be realigned with the National Education Policy 2020.

 What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is the Institutes of Eminence (IoE) Scheme?
  • What are the Benefits of the IoE Scheme?
  • What is the Criteria to get the IoE Status?
  • News Summary Regarding the Parliamentary Panel’s Report on IoE Status

 What is the Institutes of Eminence (IoE) Scheme?

  • The Union Budget 2016-17 announced the Government of India’s commitment to empower the Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs).
    • For this, 10 public and 10 private institutions are to be identified to emerge as world-class Teaching and Research Institutions.
  • Accordingly, the University Grant Commission (UGC) - a statutory body under the Ministry of Education launched the IoE scheme in 2017.
  • The scheme aims:
    • To provide for higher education leading to excellence and innovations.
    • To engage in areas of specialisation to make distinctive contributions to the objectives of the university education system.
    • To provide for high quality teaching and research in unique and emerging areas of knowledge, including interdisciplinary areas.
    • To enable HEIs to be rated as top 100 institutions in the world over time.

 What are the Benefits of the IoE Scheme?

  • Greater administrative and academic autonomy: For example, these HEIs are -
    • Free to decide their fee for domestic and foreign students.
    • They will have a flexible course duration and structure.
    • They will be exempt from approvals of the government or UGC for academic collaborations with foreign institutions. However, institutions based on a list of negative countries prepared by the External Affairs and Home ministries will be exceptions.
  • More financial support:
    • The 10 selected public institutions will get Rs 1,000 crore each from the Ministry of Education to achieve world-class status (no financial assistance to the private institutions).

 What are the Criteria to get the IoE Status?

  • The Institutions should be among:
    • Top 50 in the National lnstitute Ranking Framework (NIRF) in their category
    • Top 500 in internationally recognised rankings like the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, etc.
    • The Public Institutes that are eligible to apply under IoE are as follows:
      • Central Universities,
      • Government-owned and controlled Deemed to be Universities,
      • lnstitutions of National lmportance such as IITs, NITs, etc.
      • State Universities set up under a law made by the Legislative Assembly of a State.
  • Procedure to be followed:
    • These institutes need to submit a proposal providing their action plan along with milestones (they plan to achieve over the next 5 to 15 years) and timelines to the Empowered Expert Committee (EEC constituted by UGC).
    • The Ministry of Education will assign the IoE status tag on the basis of the appraisal report (sent by the EEC).
  • Revocation of the IoE status:
    • All such facilities shall however be subject to the objective of becoming a university of international repute at the end of the fifth and subsequent years.
    • In case they fail, the EEC could penalise them to the extent of revoking their eminence tag and reverting them back to their original status (final action on revocation to be taken by the Ministry of Education).

News Summary Regarding the Parliamentary Panel’s Report on IoE Status:

  • The recommendations are a part of the report on the Demand for Grants for 2023-24 of the committee.
  • The government informed the committee that so far eight public and four private institutes (total - 12) have been granted the IoE status.
    • The 8 public institutes have been sanctioned Rs 3,428 crore so far since the launch of the scheme in 2017, with IISc Bangalore accounting for the highest share with Rs 620.59 crore.
  • The committee said that the absence of an EEC (yet to be notified by the Centre) is holding up the process of granting IoE status.


Social Issues

Mains Article
29 Mar 2023

Database helping in Preventing, Solving Sexual Offences: Amit Shah

Why in News?

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently reviewed cyber security infrastructure and functioning of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C).
  • He appealed to spread awareness to curb the menace of cybercrime.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About I4C (Objectives, Functions)
  • About NDSO (Purpose)
  • Cyber Security (Laws related to cyber-security, Institutions Involved)
  • News Summary

About Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C):

  • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre is an initiative of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to combat cyber-crime in the country, in a coordinated and effective manner.
  • It acts as a nodal point in the fight against cybercrime.
  • The centre is located in New Delhi.

Functions of I4C:

  • To prevent misuse of cyber space for furthering the cause of extremist and terrorist groups
  • Suggest amendments, if required, in cyber laws to keep pace with fast changing technologies and International cooperation
  • To coordinate all activities related to implementation of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLAT) with other countries related to cybercrimes in consultation with the concerned nodal authority in MHA.

What is the National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO)?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs launched the National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO) in 2018.
  • NDSO is a central database of sexual offenders in the country which is being maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
  • Currently, the database has a registry of over 13 lakh individuals involved in sexual offences, like rape, molestation, stalking, child abuse, etc.
  • The database allows investigation officers to track habitual sex offenders, besides initiating preventive measures against sexual offences.

Laws related to Cyber Security in India:

  • Information Technology Act, 2000 –
    • As of now, the only law applicable to such a mechanism is the Information Technology Act, 2000.
    • The Act provides legal recognition and protection for transactions carried out through electronic data and other means of electronic communication.
    • It also focuses on information security, defines reasonable security practices to be followed by corporates and redefines the role of intermediaries, recognizes the role of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In).
    • The IT Act not only extends to the whole of India, but it is also applicable to any offence or contravention committed outside India by any person.
  • National Cyber Security Policy (2013) –
    • National Cyber Security Policy is a policy framework by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
    • It aims at protecting the public and private infrastructure from cyber-attacks.
    • The policy also intends to safeguard “information, such as personal information (of web users), financial and banking information and sovereign data”.

Institutions Involved in Ensuring Cyber Security:

  • Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) –
    • CERT-In has been operational since 2004.
    • It is an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
    • It is the nodal agency to deal with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing.
    • It strengthens security-related defence of the Indian Internet domain.
    • In the Information Technology Amendment Act, 2008, CERT-In has been designated to serve as the national nodal agency to perform various functions in the area of cyber security.
  • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal –
    • This portal is an initiative of Government of India to facilitate victims/ complainants to report cyber-crime complaints online.
    • This portal caters all types of cyber-crime complaints.
    • The portal also provides an option of reporting an anonymous complaint for reporting online Child Pornography (CP) or sexually explicit content such as Rape/Gang Rape (RGR) content.

 News Summary:

  • Recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed cyber security infrastructure and functioning of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)
  • He said that I4C is organizing “Cyber Jagarukta Diwas” on the first Wednesday of every month.
  • The I4C is reaching out to all the states in the country to play an active and pivotal role in this initiative and help promote cyber hygiene.
  • More than 20 lakh cyber-crime complaints have been registered on the cybercrime portal so far.
  • He also said that 99.99 per cent of police stations (16,597) in the country have been connected with CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems).
    • CCTNS, launched in 2009, aims to integrate all the data and records of crime into a single database.
    • Police stations are now registering 100 per cent of First Information Reports directly on CCTNS.
    • The database so far contains 28.98 crore police records.
  • Under the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform ‘CyTrain’, the Minister further stated more than 31,000 police officers have been registered and more than 8,000 certificates have been issued.
    • CyTrain portal has been developed by National Cybercrime Training Centre of I4C, MHA.
    • It aims to build capacities at all levels such as investigators, public prosecutors, police officers etc., by providing online courses and certificates.
  • He also mentioned that more than 500 apps have been blocked on I4C’s recommendation due to security reasons.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
29 Mar 2023

Rajasthan Right to Health Bill

Why in news?

  • Thousands of doctors took to the streets in Rajasthan to protest against the Right to Health Bill, hitting healthcare services across the state.
  • The Indian Medical Association (IMA), the country’s largest physician association, has announced its support to the Rajasthan doctors.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • News Summary

News Summary: Rajasthan Right to Health Bill

What is the Rajasthan Right to Health (RTH) Bill?

  • Right to avail free treatment
    • RTH gives every resident of the state the right to avail free Out Patient Department (OPD) services and In Patient Department (IPD) services at all public health facilities and select private facilities.
    • The Bill extends a total of 20 Rights to the residents of the
  • Emergency treatment
    • Also, all residents will be entitled to emergency treatment and care without prepayment of any fee or charges.
    • The hospital can’t delay treatment on grounds of police clearance if it is a medico-legal case.
    • After emergency care, stabilisation and transfer of patient, if patient does not pay requisite charges, the healthcare provider shall be entitled to receive requisite fee and charges or proper reimbursement from the state government.
  • Punishment
    • As per the Bill, anyone found in contravention of the Act will be punishable with a fine of up to:
      • Rs 10,000 for the first contravention, and
      • up to Rs 25,000 for the subsequent contraventions.

Why are the doctors protesting?

  • Bill penalises doctors and hospitals
    • The protesters claim that the Bill doesn’t help patients much, but penalises doctors and hospitals.
  • Contentious emergency provision
    • One of the most contentious issues of the RTH was emergency care, leading to protests by doctors.
    • As per the bill, emergency treatment can be availed without prepayment of requisite fee or charges.
    • The Act does mention that the government will reimburse the hospitals, but the protesters say there is no clarity on how or when these funds will come.
    • Also, the bill has not defined what an emergency is. It could range from a heart attack to a delivery of a child coming in with stomach ache in the middle of the night.
    • The bill does not say who should treat what. If one runs an eye clinic, he/she cannot treat a heart attack case.
    • The government has said that more clarification will be provided when the rules for the Bill are framed.
  • Redressal mechanisms
    • Protestors claimed that the redressal mechanisms mentioned in the Bill will not let doctors work in peace.
    • As per the bill, local politicians and government-nominated members would be a part of the district authority to look into patients’ complaints.
    • Protestors claim that if a doctor has a tiff with someone, they can lodge a complaint to impede the functioning of private hospitals.
    • In such cases, it will just become another machine of corruption.

What do public health experts say?

  • Many public health experts have said that the Bill is a step in the right direction.95% of the bill talks about making the government healthcare systems accountable.
    • The Bill will also ensure that those who aren’t able to get healthcare— such as people with rare diseases for which treatments are extremely costly — become the responsibility of the state.
    • The state then cannot deny them treatment because it will be their right.
  • Just like MGNREGA made work a right, when health becomes a right, people will be empowered to demand it from the government. This will draw the government’s focus on the gaps in the system.
  • These experts also claim that private hospitals too have some responsibility towards people.
    • Doctors’ education has been subsidised by taxpayers, sometimes the land for hospitals is subsidised by the government, there are many other subsidies for them.
  • Also, there is a 1996 Supreme Court judgement that makes it mandatory for all medical practitioners to provide emergency care, without worrying about payments.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
29 Mar 2023

NPCI recommends additional charges for merchant transactions via UPI

Why in news?

  • The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has advised Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) fees be applied to merchant transactions on Unified Payments Interface (UPI) beginning on April 1.

What’s in Today’s article?

  • National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)
  • News Summary

What is National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)?

  • NPCI is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
  • It is an initiative of RBI and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • The objective of NPCI is to create a robust Payment & Settlement Infrastructure in India.
    • For this, NPCI was incorporated as a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions of Section 25 of Companies Act 1956 (now Section 8 of Companies Act 2013).

Journey of NPCI

  • NPCI, during its journey, has made a significant impact on the retail payment systems in the country. Few widely used products include:
    • RuPay card - an Indigenously developed Payment System which supports the issuance of debit, credit and prepaid cards by banks in India
    • IMPS - With Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), India has become the leading country in the world in real time payments in retail sector.
    • NACH - National Automated Clearing House (NACH) provides electronic mandate platform to register mandates facilitating paper less collection process for the corporates and banks.
    • UPI – Unified Payment System (UPI) has been termed as the revolutionary product in the payment system.
    • Bharat Bill Payment System – It offers one-stop bill payment solution for all recurring payments with 200+ Billers in the categories Viz. Electricity, Gas, Water, etc.
    • NETC - National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) program meets the electronic tolling requirements of the Indian market.
      • It provides an electronic payment facility to customer to make the payments at national, state and city toll plazas by identifying the vehicle uniquely through a FASTag.

What is UPI?

  • UPI is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
  • It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.

News Summary: NPCI recommends additional charges for merchant transactions via UPI

  • Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) charges is to be applied from April 1 for merchant transactions made using the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
    • PPI is a type of payment card/ gift cards or digital wallet that is loaded with a specific amount of money in advance by the user.
    • The money loaded onto the PPI can then be used to make purchases or payments at participating merchants, either online or offline.
  • This was suggested by a recent circular issued by the NPCI.

What has been advised by the NPCI?

  • For amounts over Rs 2,000, using PPIs on UPI will result in interchange at 1.1 per cent of the transaction value.
    • The interchange fee is the fee to be paid to wallet issuers like banks, payment banks, etc by payment service providers like Paytm, Phonepe, Google Pay, etc. to cover the costs of accepting, processing, and authorising transactions.
    • The fee will not be applicable for person-to-person transactions or person-to-merchant transactions between a bank and the prepaid wallet. This means you don't have to pay any additional fees for using UPI yet.
    • For UPI transactions of over Rs 2,000 made via PPI, there would be an interchange fee of 1.1 percent and then there will be wallet loading charges.
      • So, the issuer of pre-paid instruments like Paytm or Ola Financial Services etc will have to pay 15 basis points as wallet loading charges to the remitter bank, i.e. the account holder's bank if more than Rs 2,000 is loaded.
    • NPCI has specified that interchange rates will vary depending on the profile of the merchants. For specific industries, charges range from 50 percent of the transaction value to 1.10 percent.
    • For example, UPI payments made to fuel service stations using a prepaid instrument will carry an interchange of 0.5 percent, for education fees paid using UPI, the charge will be 0.70 percent capped at Rs 15 per transaction…and so on. NPCI however has said that this pricing will be reviewed on or before September 30 this year.
    • To illustrate: If I have an ICICI Bank account and use a Paytm wallet. Now if I load Rs 5,000 to my wallet from my bank, Paytm will have to pay 15 basis points as wallet loading fee to ICICI Bank.
    • Let's say I now go to a retailer to buy a laptop using UPI via my Paytm wallet. So, the bank or payment provider who acquired the retailer as a merchant on their platform- like Axis Bank or Google Pay or whoever- will have to pay 1.1 percent as an interchange fee to Paytm wallet for facilitating the transaction.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) and peer-to-peer-merchant (P2PM) transactions between a bank account and a PPI wallet do not require an interchange.
    • In P2PM transactions, a merchant is able to accept payments from customers without going through a third-party payment processor.
  • The pricing will come into effect starting April 1, 2023.



March 28, 2023

Mains Article
28 Mar 2023

In the name of security


  • A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled recently that mere membership of a banned association is sufficient to constitute an offence under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.
  • The bench has overruled its 2011 verdict which held that "mere membership " cannot attract imprisonment, and had struck down section 10(a)(i) of the UAPA, thus restoring the doctrine of “guilt by association” in criminal jurisprudence in India.
  • The article denounces this SC verdict as a severe blow to principles of fundamental justice by doing away with the distinction between active and passive membership of proscribed organizations, which has been the basis of court rulings since 2011.

What is the UAPA?

  • This Anti-terror law enacted in 1967 lays down the definitions and rules for designating an organisation as an "unlawful association" if it is engaged in certain types of activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • It applies to citizens of India who are abroad, persons in service of the Indian government, and persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.
  • Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it commits or participates in acts of terrorism, prepares for terrorism, promotes terrorism and is otherwise involved in terrorism.
  • The 2019 Amendment gave the Home Ministry the power to designate individuals as terrorists.

The SC’s Verdict on UAPA

  • The Court held (in the recent case) that a person can be “guilty of membership” even without any further overt act or mens rea (criminal intent) on one’s part.
    • Thus, it has now held that a person continuing to hold ‘mere (not active) membership’ of an organisation declared "unlawful" would be liable for punishment.
  • In doing so, the Court has overruled three older cases (Arup Bhuyan vs State of Assam, Sri Indra Das vs State of Assam and State of Kerala vs Raneef) which read the section with a view to distinguish between active and passive/mere members (based on US SC judgements).
    • These judgements had put a narrow construction on Section 10(a)(i) of UAPA, which punishes membership of unlawful organisations with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.
    • In case of a terrorist organisation, mere membership is not sufficient but there has to be an act with intention to further the activities of the terrorist organisations.
  • Contrary to the earlier verdict, the SC bench now held that the provision under section 10(a)(i) is "absolutely in consonance" with the objective of the UAPA itself and the reasonable restrictions under Article 19 (4) of the Constitution.
    • Article 19(4) mandates that the citizens’ right to form unions or associations are subject to reasonable restrictions (imposed by state by law) in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality.

Arguments in Favour of the Recent SC Verdict

  • The government argued that the declaration of an organisation as unlawful is a product of a robust adversarial process.
  • Also, an ample opportunity is given to the organisation to appeal to judiciary in order to justify its aims, objectives and activities being legal and not unlawful within the constitutional setup.
  • It also gave justification that the court ought not to have relied upon the US SC judgments since the US law is in contradistinction to the scenario in question in India.
    • The Indian constitutional law does not accept Freedom of Speech and expression as an absolute right, but allows for "reasonable restrictions."
    • Thus, the decisions of American courts can only be guiding lights and not a reference.

Arguments Against the SC UAPA Verdict

  • The SC has set aside the reading down of both Section 10(a)(i) of the UAPA, and Section 3(5) of the the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) 1987, which are two different things, as UAPA penalises ‘terrorist acts’ and ‘unlawful acts’ differently.
  • The judgment is fraught with the risk of making it legal for agencies to act lawlessly while claiming to fight terrorism and preserve the State’s security.
  • Unless there is a specific intent to enhance the material abilities of a terrorist or unlawful organisation, permitting the conviction of a person as a member is abhorrent to the rule of law.
  • By abolishing the distinction between active and passive membership, the Court has obliterated the requirement of mens rea (criminal intent) – making the ruling legally incoherent, undermining liberal democracy.
  • There is a mismatch between the verdict’s reasoning (which focuses on the membership of unlawful association) and its conclusions.
    • There is uncertainty regarding how any agency or court will determine who is and continues to be a member of such an association even after the entity was banned.
    • Thus, in most circumstances, membership must be inferred.
  • The Bombay HC, in a case, ruled that Section 20 of the UAPA, making membership of a terrorist organisation punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to imprisonment for life, is widely worded.
    • In a case, as many as 15 people, all young tribal women and men, were charged as members of the CPI (Maoist) - a terrorist organisation, for possessing Maoist propaganda literature like books, articles and pamphlets.


  • The states worldwide are grappling with defining terrorism/terrorist acts/terrorist groups with some precision to protect against the improper stigmatisation of those inappropriately labelled as “terrorists”, and to curtail the abuse of counterterrorism powers.
  • Mislabelling dilutes efforts to combat actual terrorism. It undermines democratic values and institutions and the gravitas of the security threat terror groups pose.
  • Thus, a balance should be sought to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the nation and upholding the rights and the securing the freedom of individuals.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
28 Mar 2023

Daylight Saving Time

Why in news?

  • Lebanon was thrown into mass confusion after its government at the last minute delayed the start of daylight saving time by a month.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Daylight Saving Time
  • News Summary

What is daylight saving time (DST)?

  • According to Norway-based Time and Date, DST is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from the standard time during the summer and back again in the autumn.
  • This is done to make better use of natural daylight as it extends daylight into the evening.
  • India does not follow daylight saving time as countries near the Equator do not experience high variations in daytime hours between seasons.

Why Daylight Saving Time practiced by countries?

  • To save energy
    • DST involves resetting clocks ahead by an hour in spring, and behind by an hour in autumn.
    • Hence, those in favour of DST argue that it means a longer evening daytime.
    • Individuals will complete their daily work routines an hour earlier, and that extra hour of daylight means — or is supposed to mean — a lower consumption of energy.
      • In April 1916, during World War I, Germany and Austria introduced DST to minimise the use of artificial lighting.
  • Economic benefits
    • Longer daylight hours may encourage people to spend more time outside, which can have positive effects on local economies, such as increased sales for retailers and restaurants.
  • Improved public safety
    • With more daylight hours in the evening, there may be fewer accidents and crimes committed in the dark.

What is the problem with Daylight Saving Time?

  • Disruption of sleep patterns
    • The time change associated with DST can disrupt people's sleep patterns and circadian rhythms, leading to negative health effects.
  • Increased energy consumption
    • Some studies suggest that the energy savings associated with DST are minimal or non-existent, and that the time change can actually increase energy consumption in certain regions.
  • Inconsistencies across time zones
    • DST is not universally adopted, which can lead to confusion and inconsistencies across different time zones.
    • This can cause problems for businesses, travel, and communication.
  • Other negatives
    • Different studies found a higher rate of workplace injuries after the switch, leading to lost days of work; a slight drop in stock market performance etc.

News Summary: Daylight Saving Time

What happened in Lebanon?

  • Lebanon usually sets its clocks forward an hour on the last Sunday in March.
  • However, this year, its caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that the clocks would be reset on April 21.
  • The confusion was created as some institutions, including Christian churches, reset their clocks despite Mikati’s decision.
  • Thus, airlines, cell phone operators, schools, workplaces, etc., are no longer following the same time.



Mains Article
28 Mar 2023

Heatwaves: Without action plans, India’s poorest will continue to bear brunt of heatwaves

Why in News?

  • According to a new report titled “How is India Adapting to Heatwaves?” by the think-tank Centre for Policy Research, the country is ill-prepared to face the heat.
  • The report analysed all the 37 heat action plans (HAPs) across 18 States, to evaluate how policy action is keeping up with the warming weather in India. 

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is the phenomenon of Heatwaves?
  • What are HAPs?
  • What are the Findings of the CPR Report?
  • What are the CPR’s Report Recommendations?
  • What are the Indian Government’s Initiatives to Deal with Impact of Heatwaves? 

What is the phenomenon of Heatwaves?

  • Qualitatively, a heat wave is a condition of air temperature which becomes fatal to the 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.
  • Heat wave is considered if the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40 degree Celsius or more for Plains and at least 30 degree Celsius or more for Hilly regions (37 degree Celsius or more for coastal stations).
    • Based on Departure from Normal:
      • Heat Wave: Departure from normal is 4.5 - 6.4 degree Celsius.
      • Severe Heat Wave: Departure from normal is > 6.4 degree Celsius.
    • Based on Actual Maximum Temperature:
      • Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥ 45 degree Celsius.
      • Severe Heat Wave: When actual maximum temperature ≥ 47 degree Celsius.

 What are HAPs?

  • Landmark heatwaves (1998, 2002, 2010, 2015, 2022) have each led to large death tolls and extensive economic damage by reducing labour productivity and affecting water availability, agriculture, and energy systems.
  • Governments across India at the State, district, and municipal levels have responded by creating heat action plans (HAPs).
  • HAPs prescribe a variety of preparatory activities and post-heatwave response measures across government departments to decrease the impact of heatwaves.

 What are the Findings of the CPR Report?

  • HAPs are not built for local contexts and nearly all HAPs fail to identify and target vulnerable groups and are underfunded with weak legal foundations and are insufficiently transparent.
  • Only two HAPs carry out and present vulnerability assessments (systematic studies to locate where the people most likely to be affected are in a city, district, or State).
  • Only three of 37 HAPs identify funding sources and eight HAPs ask implementing departments to self-allocate resources, indicating a serious funding constraint.
  • None of the HAPs indicate the legal sources of their authority - reducing bureaucratic incentives to prioritise and comply with HAPs instructions.
  • There is no national repository of HAPs and very few HAPs are listed online.

 What are the CPR’s Report Recommendations?

  • The HAPs must identify sources of financing either from new funds or by combining actions with existing national and State policies.
  • The HAPs must set up rigorous independent evaluations as a basis for constant improvement.
  • Implementation-oriented HAPs so that India’s poorest will no longer continue to suffer from extreme heat, paying with both their health and incomes.

 What are the Indian Government’s Initiatives to Deal with Impact of Heatwaves?

  • India Meteorological Department (IMD) issues colour coded impact based heat wave warning for public benefit through mass media.
  • Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) seeks to promote sustainable lifestyles and practices that conserve the environment and have climate co-benefits.
  • Environment Education Programme (EEP) sensitises children/youth on issues related to the environment and to motivate them to adopt sustainable lifestyles.
  • Water Technology Initiative (WTI) aims to develop research based solutions to deal with challenges in the areas of water quality, quantity, water reuse and recycling.
  • The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and IMD are working with 23 States prone to high temperatures leading to heat-wave conditions for supporting HAPs.
Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
28 Mar 2023

Sarus: The Special Bond between Crane & Indian Farmer

Why in News?

  • In February 2023, Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district’s Mohammad Arif brought home an injured sarus crane he found in his village.
  • Last week, Arif was booked under a number of wildlife laws for keeping the sarus in his possession without informing the concerned authorities.
  • The bird has been shifted to a zoo in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About Animal Rescue (Problems with rescuing, Legal Provisions, etc.)
  • About Sarus (Habitat, Nature, etc.)

What is the Problem with rescuing Animals?

  • Across the globe, rescuing wildlife at will is not permitted. This is because many such animals are not in need of rescuing.
  • For example, wild cats leave their cubs to go hunting only to find them missing (rescued) on return.
  • Also, many rescuers may not be equipped to either help the animals or ensure they do not become a threat to public health.
  • In 2021, for example, a woman was charged for rescuing wildlife without a permit in Michigan, USA.
    • The Department of Natural Resources arrested her after euthanising six of her animals, including a two-week-old deer.

Laws w.r.t. rescuing Animals in India:

  • Under Section 39 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, no person is allowed to acquire or keep in his possession, custody or control any wildlife which is state property.
  • If anyone does so — for example, to treat an injured bird as in the present case — she must report it to the nearest police station or the authorised officer within forty-eight hours of obtaining such possession.
  • Further, under Section 57 of the Act, if a person is found in possession, custody or control of any wildlife, the burden of proof for establishing that the possession, custody or control is not illegal is on the person.
  • Clearly, the Wildlife (Protection) Act does not allow anyone to take home an injured wild bird and keep it for months without written permission from the state’s chief wildlife warden.

About Sarus Crane:

  • The sarus crane is a large nonmigratory crane found in parts of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
  • In 1861, British ornithologist LH Irby wrote about Sarus cranes he observed in Oudh (Awadh, UP) – “The young birds are easily reared by hand, and become very tame and attached to the person who feeds them, following him like a dog.”
  • Called imprinting, the process starts with hatching so that the chicks follow the appropriate adult for safety.
  • Given the biological inclination of the species to bond easily, individual sarus cranes have moved with people on many occasions.
  • The species is neither a novelty nor under threat in the Northern Indian landscape.
  • Therefore, following the letter of the Wildlife (Protection) Act blindly may set damaging precedence.
Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
28 Mar 2023

IMF Bailouts

Why in news?

  • Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) confirmed a $3 billion bailout plan for Sri Lanka’s struggling economy.
  • IMF officials are also in negotiations with Pakistan for a $1.1 billion bailout plan as the country faces a severe economic crisis marked by a falling currency and price rise.

What’s in today’s article?

  • News Summary

News Summary: IMF Bailouts

Why do nations face currency crisis?

  • Generally, results from Gross mismanagement of nation’s currency by its central bank
    • Usually, this happens under the covert influence of the ruling government.
      • Central banks may be forced by governments to create fresh money to fund populist spending.
      • Such spending eventually results in a rapid rise of the overall money supply, which in turn causes prices to rise across the economy and the exchange value of the currency to drop.
      • A rapid, unpredictable fall in the value of a currency can destroy confidence in said currency and affect economic activity.
    • A country’s domestic economic policies
      • Economic policy that imperils productivity can affect a country’s ability to attract the necessary foreign exchange for its survival.
    • Other factors
      • In the case of Sri Lanka, various factors contributed to a decrease in foreign tourists visiting the country.
      • This led to a steep fall in the flow of U.S. dollars into the nation.

Why do nations seek an IMF bailout?

  • When a country faces a major macroeconomic risk
    • Countries seek help from the IMF usually when their economies face a major macroeconomic risk, mostly in the form of a currency crisis.
    • For instance, in the case of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, both countries have witnessed domestic prices rise rapidly and the exchange value of their currencies drop steeply against the U.S. dollar.
  • To meet external debt requirements and other obligations
    • Generally, foreigners do not invest in an economy where the value of its currency gyrates in an unpredictable manner.
    • In such a scenario, many countries are forced to seek help from the IMF to meet their external debt and other obligations, to purchase essential imports, and also to prop up the exchange value of their currencies.

How does the IMF help countries?

  • Lends money
    • The IMF basically lends money, often in the form of special drawing rights (SDRs), to troubled economies that seek the lender’s assistance.
      • The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries’ official reserves.
      • SDRs simply represent a basket of five currencies, namely the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Chinese yuan, the Japanese yen, and the British pound.
    • Countries receiving the bailout can use the SDRs for various purposes depending on their individual circumstances.
      • Currently, both Sri Lanka and Pakistan are in urgent need for U.S. dollars to import essential items and also to pay their foreign debt.
      • So, any money that they receive from the IMF is likely to go towards addressing these urgent issues.
  • Lends through several lending programs
    • The IMF carries out its lending to troubled economies through a number of lending programs such as the extended credit facility, the flexible credit line, the stand-by agreement, etc.

Are there any strings attached to an IMF bailout?

  • The IMF usually imposes conditions on countries before it lends any money to them.
  • For example, a country may have to agree to implement certain structural reforms as a condition to receive IMF loans.

Why IMF attaches conditions on its bailout programme?

  • Essential for the success of IMF lending
    • Countries that seek an IMF bailout are usually in a crisis due to certain policies adopted by their governments.
    • It may thus not make sense for the IMF to throw money at a country when the policies that caused its crisis remain untouched.
      • Eg., the IMF may demand a country affected by high price inflation to ensure the independence of its central bank.
    • Promotes institutional reforms and brings check on corruption
      • The IMF lending to troubled economies, may turn out to be a wasted effort because these economies have poor institutions and suffer from high corruption.

Why has IMF’s conditional lending been controversial?

  • Too tough on the public
    • The IMF’s conditional lending has been controversial as many believe that these reforms are too tough on the public.
  • Influenced by international politics
    • Critics have also accused the IMF’s lending decisions to be influenced by international politics.
    • These decisions are taken by officials appointed by the governments of various countries.
International Relations

March 27, 2023

Mains Article
27 Mar 2023

Making sense of the disqualification of a Lok Sabha MP


  • The article highlights certain constitutional and legal issues regarding the disqualification of Congress leader and Member of Parliament from Wayanad constituency, Kerala, Rahul Gandhi.


  • A Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court in Surat, Gujarat, recently convicted former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi in a criminal defamation case and awarded him a two-year jail term.
  • The sentence was awarded over his remark during campaign for the 2019 parliamentary polls in Karnataka, which stated, “why all thieves have Modi surname” comment.
  • This was followed by a notice issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat disqualifying Rahul Gandhi mentioning Article 102 of the Constitution and the Representation of People Act, 1951.

Plea in Supreme Court [Aabha Muralidharan vs Union of India]

  • Consequent upon Rahul Gandhi’s conviction, a plea has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RPA).
    • Section 8(3) lays down automatic disqualification of a legislator from the Parliament or State assembly upon conviction in a criminal case.
    • It states that a person who has been found guilty of a crime and given a sentence of at least two years shall be disqualified starting on the day of their conviction and for an additional six years after their release.
  • The plea mentions that Section 8(3) is ultra vires of the Constitution since it curtails free speech of an elected MP or MLA and restrains law makers from freely discharging their duties.
  • The petitioner has stated that factors such as nature, gravity, moral turpitude and the role of the accused, ought to be examined while considering disqualification under RPA 1951.

Constitutional/Legal Provisions Regarding Disqualification of a Member of the Legislature

  • Article 102(1) of the Constitution of India prescribes for disqualification for being, a member of either House of Parliament upon following conditions:
    • if he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder;
    • if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;
    • if he is an undischarged insolvent;
    • if he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;
    • if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament
  • Article 102(2) also states that a person shall be disqualified for being a member of either House of Parliament if s/he is so disqualified under the 10th Schedule.
  • The Parliament has also prescribed several additional disqualifications of a member of the legislature in the RPA, 1951.

What are the Provisions that Deal with Disqualification under the RPA, 1951?

  • The disqualification is triggered for conviction under certain offences listed in Section 8(1) of RPA, 1951.
    • This includes specific offences such as promoting enmity between two groups, bribery, and undue influence or personation at an election.
  • Section 8(2) of RPA, 1951 also lists offences that deal with hoarding or profiteering, adulteration of food or drugs and for conviction and sentence of at least six months for an offence under any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
  • Section 8(3) of RPA, 1951 is the provision under which Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified.
  • Section 8(4) of RPA, 1951 stated that the disqualification takes effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of conviction.
    • Within that period, lawmakers could file an appeal against the sentence before the High Court.
    • However, in the landmark 2013 ruling in ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India’, the SC struck down Section 8(4) of the RPA as unconstitutional.
    • This is what has allowed the Lok Sabha Secretariat to immediately disqualify Rahul Gandhi.
  • However, the Court in Lily Thomas case clearly spelt out that when an appellate Court stays the conviction and sentence, the disqualification will be lifted and the membership will be restored to the disqualified MP.

Examining Section 8(3) of the RPA

  • A surface view of Section 8(3) of the RPA highlights that the moment conviction and sentence of member of the legislature are announced by the trial court, his seat in the legislature shall fall vacant under Article 101(3)(a).
  • However, a closer reading of Section 8(3) of the RP Act will reveal that the words “shall be disqualified” used therein cannot mean instant disqualification.
  • But Section 8 (3) does not specify which authority shall disqualify the sitting member of legislature.
    • S/he however, cannot be the Secretary General of a House of Parliament or Secretary of a state legislature, but the President.
    • Article 103 states that the President of India is the authority who decides that a sitting member has become subject to disqualification in all cases which come under Article 102(1).
    • Therefore, the Lok Sabha Secretariat cannot perhaps declare a sitting MP disqualified without referring the case to the President under Article 103 for a declaration.

Examining Scope of Article 103

  • There are differences of opinion on the scope of Article 103, with some arguing that this Article can be invoked only when a dispute arises on the fact of disqualification and not otherwise.
    • But this Article covers disqualification arising on conviction for different offences under Section 8 of the RPA 1951.
  • Hence, it could be inferred that reference to the President on the question of disqualification of a sitting Member who has been convicted for an offence covered by Section 8 is a constitutional requirement.
    • The SC, in Consumer Education and Research Society vs Union of India (2009), upheld this while stating that the President performs adjudicatory and declaratory functions.
  • Hence, in cases where adjudication is not required, the President can simply declare that the sitting Member has become subject to disqualification.
  • But the intervention of the President is essential under Article 103 even in cases where a sitting member has been convicted and the disqualification is supposed to take effect from the date of conviction.

Limitations of Lily Thomas Judgement

  • This judgment held that that Parliament cannot enact a temporary exemption in favour of sitting members of the Legislature.
  • But Article 103 itself provides an exception in the case of sitting Members by stating that the disqualification of sitting Members shall be decided by the President, thereby the Constitution itself making a distinction between the candidates and sitting Members.
    • This was ignored by the Lily Thomas judgment while the Court struck down the three months window given to the sitting members to enable them to appeal against their conviction.
  • Further, such a temporary exemption in favour of sitting members of the legislature is a reasonable requirement as they are not placed in the same situation as a candidate.
    • A sudden disqualification will cause a lot of dislocation apart from the fact that the constituency will lose its representative.

Reflecting upon the Criminal Defamation Law

  • The criminal defamation law needs an urgent review as many countries like UK, U.S and India’s neighbour Sri Lanka have scrapped it.
  • The SC also highlighted the need for a liberal approach to rhetorical, hyperbolic or metaphoric words used by politicians in election speeches (Kultar Singh vs Mukhtiar Singh case, 1965).


  • In our multi-party democracy, every political party is a potential ruling party. So, every political leader is exposed to the danger of being hauled up for defamation and put out of the electoral process for long years.
  • Thus, a revisit is needed upon various debated provisions of the constitution and legislation related to disqualifying the member of a legislature.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
27 Mar 2023

Biotransformation technology

Why in news?

  • A UK-based startup, based at Imperial College in London, claims to have developed a technology that could alter the state of plastics and make them biodegradable.
  • It claims the technology would digest the plastic packaging waste naturally with the help of microbes and biodegrade the waste without leaving behind any microplastics.
  • The company calls the process “biotransformation”.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Biotransformation technology

What is Biotransformation technology?

  • It is a process by which organic compounds are transformed from one form to another to reduce the persistence and toxicity of the chemical compounds.
  • Biotransformation technology is a novel approach to ensure plastics that escape refuse streams are processed efficiently and broken down.
    • The term refuse stream refers to the flow of solid waste materials that are generated from various sources.
    • The term is often used in the context of waste management and recycling.
  • Plastics made using this technology are given a pre-programmed time during which the manufactured material looks and feels like conventional plastics without compromising on quality.
  • Once the product expires and is exposed to the external environment, it self-destructs and biotransforms into bioavailable wax.
  • This wax is then consumed by microorganisms, converting waste into water, CO2, and biomass.

Why do we need this?

  • As per the government, India is generating 3.5 billion kgs of plastic waste annually.
  • The per capita plastic waste generation in India has also doubled in the past five years. Of this, a third comes from packaging waste.
  • Also, as per one estimate, E-commerce giant Amazon generated an estimated 321 million kilograms (709 million pounds) of plastic from packaging waste in 2021 alone.
  • These plastic packaging often ends up in the world’s freshwater and marine ecosystems as pollution.

Where can this technology be used?

  • Food packaging and health care industries are the two prime sectors that could use this technology to reduce waste.
  • The increase in cost is relatively small compared to conventional plastic that does not contain this technology.

What are the steps taken by the Indian government to address the issue of plastic waste?

  • The Indian government has launched multiple initiatives to move the country towards sustainability.
  • They introduced a plastic waste management gazette to help tackle the ever-growing plastic pollution caused by single-use plastics.
  • It imposed a ban on single-use plastics in the country.
  • The National Dashboard on Elimination of Single Use Plastic and Plastic Waste Management brings all stakeholders together to track the progress made in eliminating single-use plastic and effectively managing such waste.
  • An Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) portal helps in improving accountability traceability, and facilitating ease of compliance reporting in relation to EPR obligations of the producers, importers and brand-owners.
    • EPR policies typically require producers to take responsibility for the entire life cycle of their products, from design and production to end-of-life disposal or recycling.
  • India has also developed a mobile app to report single use plastics grievances to check sale, usage or manufacturing of single use plastics in their area.

What are the alternatives to reducing plastic waste?

  • A switch to jute or paper-based packaging could potentially cut down plastic waste.
    • This could also build sustainability within the paper industry, and save on the import bill on ethylene solutions.
  • The wooden packaging is yet another alternative, but that will make the packaging bulkier and increase cost.
  • The Government of Tamil Nadu, in Chennai, organised National Expo and Conference of Startups to raise awareness on alternatives to single-use plastics.
  • The alternatives showcased were made using coir, bagasse, rice and wheat bran, plant and agricultural residue, banana and areca leaves, jute and cloth.
Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
27 Mar 2023

Marburg Virus Disease

Why in news?

  • Tanzania has announced its first outbreak of the deadly Marburg virus disease (MVD).
  • This was after five people died and three others were infected with the virus in Tanzania’s north-west Kagera region.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Marburg virus disease

What is the Marburg virus disease?

  • According to WHO, Marburg virus disease (MVD), earlier known as Marburg hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal hemorrhagic fever.
    • It is a zoonotic virus that is initially transmitted from animals to humans.
  • Marburg, like Ebola, is a filovirus; and both diseases are clinically similar.
  • Rousettus fruit bats are considered the natural hosts for the Marburg virus.
    • However, as per WHO, African green monkeys imported from Uganda were the source of the first human infection.
  • The disease has an average fatality rate of around 50%. However, it can be as low as 24% or as high as 88% depending on virus strain and case management.

What are the symptoms of Marburg virus disease?

  • After the onset of symptoms, which can begin anytime between two to 21 days, MVD can manifest itself in the form of high fever, muscle aches and severe headache.
  • Around the third day, patients report abdominal pain, vomiting, severe watery diarrhoea and cramping.
    • In this phase, the appearance of patients has been often described as “ghost-like” with deep-set eyes, expressionless faces, and extreme lethargy.
  • Between days five and seven, patients report bleeding from the nose, and gums and blood appearing in vomit and faeces.
  • Severe blood loss leads to death, often between eight to nine days after symptoms begin.

How does it spread?

  • Marburg spreads through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with infected people’s blood, secretions, organs, or other body fluids.
  • It also spreads through surfaces and objects (e.g., bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.

How can Marburg virus disease be diagnosed and treated?

  • It is difficult to clinically distinguish MVD from diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and other viral haemorrhagic fevers.
  • However, it is confirmed by lab testing of samples, which like Coronavirus and Ebola are extreme biohazard risks.
  • There is no approved antiviral treatment or vaccine for MVD as of now. It can be managed with supportive care.
  • According to the WHO, rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids, and treatment of specific symptoms can help prevent death.


Science & Tech

Mains Article
27 Mar 2023

GSLV-Mk3/LVM3: ISRO successfully launches 36 satellites, completing OneWeb constellation

Why in News?

  • Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) GSLV-Mk3/LVM3 successfully put into space 36 satellites of Bharti-backed OneWeb enabling the completion of the UK firm’s first generation (Gen-1) Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation.
  • The mission was the second (1st - GSAT-24) dedicated commercial satellite mission undertaken by Space PSU NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) for Network Access Associates Ltd (OneWeb). 

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)?
  • What is the GSLV MKIII?
  • What Exactly is the LVM3 Mission?
  • What are ISRO's Future Endeavours?

What is the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)?

  • It is a (49 meters tall) is a 3-stage space launch vehicle designed, developed and operated by the ISRO to launch satellites and other space objects into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits (GTO ~37,000 km).
    • The 1st stage (S139) generates maximum thrust.
    • The 2nd stage uses a liquid rocket engine which is known as Vikas engine.
    • The 3rd stage uses a Cryogenic engine, which uses liquefied oxygen and hydrogen as fuel.
  • GSLV has the capability to put a heavier payload (up to 5,000 kg up to 37,000 km) in orbit than the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV can carry up to 2000 kg into space up to 600-900 km).
    • PSLV is designed mainly to deliver earth observation or remote sensing satellites, whereas GSLV has been designed for launching communication satellites.
    • GSLV delivers satellites into a higher elliptical orbit - GTO.
  • GSLV-D5 - launched in 2014 - was the first successful flight of the GSLV using the indigenous cryogenic engine (CE-7.5).
  • The current configuration of GSLV with a CE-7.5 cryogenic engine, can put a payload of up to -
    • 2500 kg in the GTO
    • 5000 kg in Low Earth Orbits (LEO - altitude 2000 km or less)

 What is the GSLV MKIII?

  • GSLV MKIII Project was approved in 2002, with a mandate of achieving the capability to launch a 4-ton (4000 kg) class satellite to Geo-Synchronous orbit, by realizing an indigenously developed launch vehicle.
  • GSLV MKIII (43.5 m height and a gross lift-off weight of 640 tonnes) is configured as a three-stage vehicle with two solid strap-on motors (S200), one liquid core stage (L110) and a high thrust CUS (configured with the fully indigenous cryogenic engine - CE20).
  • Characteristics of GSLV MkIII:
    • Performance capability of 4.3 ton to GTO
    • Payload capability to support 10 ton to LEO missions
    • Cost effective
    • Improved reliability, operability and redundancy management
    • Future growth potential of payload with minimal design changes
    • To support manned missions (like Gaganyaan mission) of Indian Space Programme
  • The maiden operational flight of GSLV MKIII has successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the Super Geo-Synchronous Transfer Orbit in 2019.

 What Exactly is the LVM3 Mission?

  • NSIL - a central public sector enterprise (CPSE) under the Department of Space and the commercial arm of the ISRO, has signed two launch service contracts with M/s OneWeb, United Kingdom.
    • OneWeb is a (Bharti group-backed) global communications network, powered from space, enabling connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities.
  • As part of this contract, 36 communication satellites were placed into orbit by LVM3 - ISRO’s heaviest launcher, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, under the OneWeb India-1 Mission.
  • This is the second LVM3 dedicated commercial launch (earning the agency upwards of Rs 1,000 crore) and through this launch LVM3 is making its entry into the Global commercial launch service market.
  • This is the third (operational) flight of the GSLV MKIII, since it carried India’s second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2.
  • The OneWeb has set a significant benchmark for the Indian space industry in downstream application of satellite communication in India.
  • It will pave the way for India to move towards benefiting from remarkable capabilities of LEO connectivity and the spread of space-based internet, bridging the digital divide in the country's most remote areas.

 What are ISRO's Future Endeavours?

  • The space agency is looking at a PSLV commercial mission, GSLV-Mk3 (for Chandrayaan-3) mission and a GSLV-Mk2 mission (for Nisar) in the coming months.
  • The LVM3 mission has also given ISRO more confidence about the rocket which will be used for Gaganyaan mission (Human Spaceflight Programme).



Science & Tech

Mains Article
27 Mar 2023

Death Penalty in India

Why in News?

  • A Supreme Court Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI), recently asked the Central government to defend the law that allows hanging by the neck as a mode of execution for death penalty.
  • This has reopened a decades-old debate over whether there can be a more humane and dignified way of executing the death penalty.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Death Penalty (Execution style in India, Legal Remedies, Arguments, Other Countries, etc.)
  • News Summary

Death Penalty in India:

  • The purpose of the death penalty is to deter people from doing something by instilling fear in them about the consequences.
  • This punishment applies to heinous and traumatising offences to society as a whole, such as murder, rape, rape with murder, etc.
  • According to Death Penalty in India (2022) report, the trial courts across the country imposed 165 death sentences in 2022, which is the highest in a single year in the last two decades.
    • Death Penalty in India Report is published by Project 39A, a criminal law reforms advocacy group based in New Delhi.
    • It is inspired by Article 39A of the Indian Constitution which provides for free legal aid to the poor and weaker sections of the society and ensures justice for all.
  • In India, death penalty is carried out by hanging as the primary method of execution as given under Section 354(5) of the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973 is "Hanging by the neck until dead".

Legal Remedies Available to Death Sentenced Individuals:

  • The award of the death sentence by a trial court must be reaffirmed by a High Court to make it final.
  • Article 137 of the Indian Constitution provides the power to the Supreme Court to review the orders and judgments passed by it.
    • The Review Petition can be filed under Section 114 and Order 47 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • After the dismissal of the review petition, the person can file Curative Petition.
    • Petitioners can file curative petitions in case of gross violation of principles of natural justice.
    • The curative petition will be sent to the three senior most judges and the bench of judges who passed the judgment.
    • If the majority of them find substance in the petition, then the matter would be sent to the same bench of judges.
  • Mercy Petition can be filed by the convicts. It is to be filed within a period of seven days from the date when the Superintendent of jail informs the convicted person of the dismissal of the petition.
  • Article 72 and Article 161 of the Constitution provides the power to pardon the petitioner to the President and the Governor, respectively.

Arguments in Favour/Against of Death Penalty:

  • Moral arguments –
    • Supporters of the death penalty believe that those who commit murder, because they have taken the life of another, have forfeited their own right to life.
    • Furthermore, they believe, capital punishment is a just form of retribution, expressing and reinforcing the moral indignation not only of the victim’s relatives but of law-abiding citizens in general.
    • Counter argument –
      • Opponents of death penalty argue that, by legitimizing the very behaviour that the law seeks to repress—killing—capital punishment is counterproductive in the moral message it conveys.
      • They also claim that r
  • Utilitarian arguments
    • Supporters of capital punishment also claim that it has a uniquely potent deterrent effect on potentially violent offenders for whom the threat of imprisonment is not a sufficient restraint.
    • Counter argument
      • Opponents, however, point to research that generally has demonstrated that the death penalty is not a more effective deterrent than the alternative sanction of life or long-term imprisonment.
  • Practical arguments –
    • There also are disputes about whether capital punishment can be administered in a manner consistent with justice.
    • Those who support capital punishment believe that it is possible to fashion laws and procedures that ensure that only those who are really deserving of death are executed.
    • Counter argument –
      • By contrast, opponents maintain that the historical application of capital punishment shows that any attempt to single out certain kinds of crime as deserving of death will inevitably be arbitrary and discriminatory.

Important Judgements on Death Penalty:

  • Ediga Anamma v/s State of Andhra Pradesh (1974) –
    • The Supreme Court laid down the principle that life imprisonment for the offence of murder is the rule and capital sentence is the exception in certain cases.
    • The Court also stated that a special reason should be given if the court decides to impose a death sentence.
  • Bachan Singh v/s State of Punjab (1980) –
    • The Supreme Court held that only in rarest of rare cases that are brutal, the death penalty should be imposed.

How are Executions Carried Out in Other Countries?

  • According to Amnesty International, 55 countries still have the death sentence in their statute books.
  • Death by hanging is the most prevalent mode of execution, especially in the former British colonies.
  • Execution by firing squad is employed in China.
  • Saudi Arabia uses beheading, apart from other methods.
  • In the US, an intravenous lethal injection is given in every state (27 states and American Samoa) that allows the death penalty.

 News Summary:

  • In 2017, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court seeking a more dignified way to execute the death penalty.
  • The petitioner argued that a convict whose life has to end because of the sentence should not be compelled to suffer the pain of hanging.
  • In reference to this PIL, the Supreme Court, last week, asked the Central government to defend the law that allows hanging by the neck as a mode of execution.
  • Central Government’s argument –
    • In its affidavit filed in January 2018, the government had submitted that death by hanging was the only “viable” option to execute a death warrant, but had also sought time to examine methods followed in other countries.
    • In its 187th report in 2003, the Law Commission had recommended that Section 354(5) CrPC should be amended to provide for “lethal injection until the accused is dead”.
Polity & Governance
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