April 30, 2023

Mains Article
30 Apr 2023

Safety concerns over e-pharma put Centre in a spot

Why in news?

  • The Central Health Ministry is not willing to allow e-pharmacy platforms to operate without regulation and oversight.
  • It believes that such a move would be too risky and could pose a significant threat to public health and safety.

What’s in today’s article?

  • E-pharmacy in India
  • News Summary

What is E-pharmacy?

  • E-pharmacy, also known as online pharmacy or internet pharmacy, is a digital platform that allows customers to purchase medicines and other health-related products over the internet.
  • E-pharmacies are a form of e-commerce, where customers can browse through a wide range of medicines, medical devices, and health supplements and order them from the comfort of their own home.

What is the size of e-pharmacy Market in India?

  • In 2021, the market for online pharmacies was worth ₹25.50 billion.
  • It is anticipated to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.20% from 2022 to 2027 when it is expected to reach ₹89.47 billion.

What is the Legislative Framework for e-Pharmacies in India?

  • As of now, no exact rules are in place for E-drug stores in India, and this is a significant inhibitor to the online drug store market in India.
  • At present, E-pharmacies in India follow the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, the Pharmacy Act 1948 and the Indian Medical Act 1956.
  • However, the electronic sale of physician-prescribed drugs from online drug store sites is expressed under the IT Act, 2000.
  • E-pharmacies are managed by state drug controllers and approvals for E-pharmacies should be given by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
  • The MoH&FW in 2018 came out with draft rules to control the online offer of medications and availability of genuine drugs from certifiable online sites.
  • But, after being sent to a group of ministers, the proposal was immediately put on hold.
  • Since then, multiple court orders and the 172nd Parliamentary Standing Committee report have called for regulating e-pharmacies.
  • An administrative structure to oversee/regulate the e-pharmacy sector is necessary when antimicrobial resistance (AMR), criminal and risky movement of drugs, is on the rise.

News Summary: Safety concerns over e-pharma put Centre in a spot

Why there is need for regulation and oversight of e-pharma in India?

  • Consumer safety
    • There are concerns over the distribution of illegal or unethical medicines, or outdated, substituted, or counterfeit medications.
  • Other issues
    • Unlimited accessibility to medicines through e-pharmacy, sale of sub-standard, habit-forming medicines [like sedatives, mood-altering drugs], profiling of patients and buyers, and illegal data collection are the main concerns.
    • Drug abuse, misuse, self-medication, access to children etc. are problems that the e-pharma industry is currently facing.
    • Besides, there is no place or system to evaluate adverse drug reactions.
    • Also, there is no clarity on drug storage conditions and no system of immediate recall in case of drugs.
  • There is a general notion that vigilance must win over the perceived convenience and economics of the e-pharma market.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
30 Apr 2023

Rogue Elephant ‘Arikomban’ Finally Captured in Kerala

Why in News?

  • After over a month since the forest department first mobilised its personnel in the state of Kerala, rogue elephant ‘Arikomban’ (literally, ‘rice tusker’ due to its known affinity to rice) has finally been captured.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Human-Elephant Conflict (Reasons, Data w.r.t. India, Suggestions, Steps Taken by Govt.)
  • News Summary

Human-Elephant Conflict:

  • Elephant, being a large herbivorous animal, needs vast areas to roam: browsing, foraging, moving from place to place in search of food and water with the changing seasons.
  • The ‘home range’ of an elephant herd can vary from an average of about 250 sq. km (in Rajaji National Park) to over 3500 sq. km (in the highly degraded, fragmented landscapes of West Bengal).
  • As elephants are forced to range farther and farther afield, this brings them into conflict with humans.
  • And as humans encroach on forest areas, planting nutritious crops near forest lands, building homes and roads and railways, this invites conflict with elephants.

Why Human-Elephant Conflict is a Serious Issue?

  • Environment ministry data tabled in Parliament showed that the number of deaths due to elephants was 535 in 2021-22, down from 585 in 2019-20.
  • Jharkhand (133) recorded the highest number of human deaths, followed by Odisha (112) and West Bengal (77) deaths in 2021-22.
  • Elephant deaths due to humans stood at 82 in 2021-22, compared to 99 in 2019-20.
  • Electrocution killed the maximum number of elephants, with Karnataka and Tamil Nadu recording the maximum deaths.

How to Avoid Human-Animal Conflict?

  • Strobe Lights –
    • To scare off destructive nocturnal wildlife, farmers increasingly rely on automatic light machines.
    • Half strobe light and half motion sensor, the machines flash beams of light randomly in all directions to mimic a farmer with a flashlight.
    • Wary nocturnal animals have been shown to avoid such light signals.
  • Natural Barriers –
    • To keep elephants at a safe distance from their farms and homes, some African villagers have turned to two unlikely, all-natural solutions: bees and hot peppers.
    • Elephants dislike the chemical capsaicin found in chili peppers, prompting farmers in Tanzania to smother their fences with a mixture of oil and chili peppers.
    • In addition to a spice aversion, elephants are also terrified of bees.
    • This realization has led to the construction of bee fences around farms to keep marauding pachyderms out.

Elephant Corridors:

  • One way to reduce conflicts with wild animals is by guiding their movements in developed areas through dedicated corridors.
  • Elephant corridors are linear, narrow, natural habitat linkages that allow elephants to move between secure habitats without being disturbed by humans.
  • Elephant corridors are also critical for other wildlife including India’s endangered National Animal, the Royal Bengal tiger (Panthera Tigris).
  • Elephant Corridors in India –
    • Number of elephant corridors in India have been changing over the years.
    • 88 corridors were identified jointly by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), and published in 2005.
      • Wildlife Trust of India is an Indian NGO committed to nature conservation.
    • In 2015, a second round of identification took place — and when published two years later, the number of corridors had gone up to 101.

Steps Taken by the Government:

  • Project Elephant:
    • Project Elephant was launched in 1992 by the Government of India for the protection of elephants, their habitats and corridors.
    • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change provides the financial and technical support to major elephant range states in the country through Project Elephant.
      • The Project is being mainly implemented in 16 States/UTs.
    • India had 29,964 elephants as per the last census in 2017, about 55% of the species’ global population.
  • Gaj Yatra:
    • Gaj Yatra was launched by the Government of India on the occasion of World Elephant Day in 2017.
    • It is an awareness campaign aimed to help secure Right of Passage for elephants through 101 vital migratory corridors mapped across India.

 News Summary:

  • After over a month since the forest department first mobilised its personnel in the state of Kerala, rogue elephant ‘Arikomban’ (literally, ‘rice tusker’ due to its known affinity to rice) has finally been captured.
  • The elephant wreaked havoc in the human settlements of Chinnakanal, Santhanpara and Bodimettu, raiding the ration shops for rice and other grains.
  • It has been responsible for trampling as many as 11 people to death over the years.
  • A team of 150 forest officials darted the rogue elephant with five tranquiliser shots after finally locating the elusive elephant.
  • It is currently being taken to an undisclosed location where it will be released in the wild.
Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
30 Apr 2023

Same-sex marriage: What is the Centre’s stance in the SC hearing?

Why in News?

  • The Supreme Court of India is currently hearing the case seeking legal recognition of same sex marriage.
  • While urging the Court to leave the issue to Parliament, the Centre argued that the law - the Special Marriage Act (SMA) 1954 - cannot be re-drafted again to allow same-sex marriage.

 What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is the Case of the Same-sex marriage?
  • What are the Arguments of Petitioners?
  • SC’s Previous Judgments on the Issue
  • Six Key Arguments of the Centre

 What is the Case of the Same-sex marriage?

  • Several petitioners have asked the court to recognise the same-sex marriages under the Special Marriage Act (SMA) 1954.
    • The Act provides for the conditions relating to solemnization of special marriages between any two persons.
  • As the case involved an interplay of constitutional rights (of transgender couples) and specific legislative enactments, the court had referred the pleas to a Constitution Bench.

 What are the Arguments of Petitioners?

  • Marriage is a social status which is bestowed by law and through which society accepts, respects and validates a couple.
  • Same-sex couples do not enjoy the rights of married couples including the right to adopt or have children by surrogacy, automatic rights to inheritance, pension, maintenance and tax benefits.
  • The SC has repeatedly said that all adults have the right to marry a person of their choice.
  • Non-recognition of same-sex marriage violates fundamental rights under -
    • Articles 14 (right to equality before law),
    • Article 15 (right against discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth),
    • Article 19 (freedom of speech and expression), and
    • Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.

 SC’s Previous Judgments on the Issue:

  • An adult person has the right to marry a person of their choice under Article 21 [Lata Singh vs State of UP (2006), Shafin Jahan vs Asokan KM (2018), and Laxmibai Chandaragi B vs The State of Karnataka (2021)].
  • LGBTQ persons rights are founded on sound constitutional doctrine - right to life, privacy, dignity, liberty and freedom [KS Puttaswamy vs Union of India (2017)].
  • The choice of whom to partner, the ability to find fulfilment in sexual intimacies and the right not to be subjected to discriminatory behaviour are intrinsic to the constitutional protection of sexual orientation [Navtej Singh Johar vs UOI (2018)].

 Six Key Arguments of the Centre:

  • Religious definitions of marriage: Various religions have always recognised marriage only between a man and a woman.
  • Legitimate interest of state: Responding to the argument of the petitioners that the state can have no role in regulating personal relationships, the Centre said that the right to marry is always subject to the statutory regime.
  • The right to privacy: The right to privacy cannot be extended to marriage. This is because consulting adults want societal acceptance of the relationship by way of marriage.
  • Parliament must decide: There exists a democratic right of people to regulate themselves through their representatives in the Parliament.
    • There are a total 72 categories of genders falling within the LGBTQIA+ This would mean several permutations and combinations of marriage and specific problems arising therefrom.
  • Interpreting the law: The entire architecture of the Special Marriage Act rather than examine a few words like husband, wife, etc., is required.
  • Effect on personal laws: The personal laws will inevitably be affected even if the Court only looks at the Special Marriage Act.
    • For example, under Section 19 of the Special Marriage Act, the parties married lose their right to family property.
    • Although, they will continue to be governed under their personal laws in all other aspects such as divorce, inheritance and adoption.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
30 Apr 2023

Nicobar project violates tribal rights

Why in news?

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has now flagged alleged discrepancies with respect to the forest clearance granted for the Great Nicobar Island (GNI) Project.

What’s in today’s article?

  • National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
  • Great Nicobar Island (GNI) Project
  • News Summary

What is National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)?

  • Background
    • NCST was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
    • By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely-
      • the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and
      • the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
  • About
    • NCST is a constitutional body in India that was established in 2004.
    • Its main objective is to safeguard and promote the rights and interests of the Scheduled Tribes.
    • The NCST is responsible for monitoring the implementation of various safeguards and welfare measures provided to the Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution of India and other laws.
  • Composition
    • NCST consists of one chairperson, one vice-chairperson and three full-time members.
    • The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member is three years from the date of assumption of charge.
    • The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister, and the Vice-Chairperson that of a Minister of State and other Members have the ranks of a Secretary to the Government of India.

Great Nicobar Island project

  • In November 2022, the Environment ministry has given environmental clearance for the Centre’s ambitious Rs 72,000 crore multi-development projects in Greater Nicobar Island.

What is the proposal?

  • The Great Nicobar Island (GNI) is a mega project to be implemented at the southern end of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • The project includes an international container trans-shipment terminal, an international airport, township development, and a 450 MVA gas and solar based power plant over an extent of 16,610 hectares in the island.
  • The port will be controlled by the Indian Navy, while the airport will have dual military-civilian functions and will cater to tourism as well.

News Summary: Nicobar project violates tribal rights

  • The NCST has cited alleged violations under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 with respect to the forest clearance granted for the Great Nicobar Island (GNI) Project.
    • The FRA provides for the recognition of wider community rights over forest land.
    • The legislation allows forest communities the right to control and manage the use of the forest land over which they hold titles and their consent is mandatory for diverting it.

What are the concerns raised by the NCST with respect to GNI Project?

  • Violations under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006
    • According to Rule of Forest Conservation Rules-2017 (FCR), any diversion of forest land would first require the District Collector to recognise and vest rights to locals under the FRA.
    • Only then do the rules permit authorities to seek consent of the now-rights-holding gram panchayats for the diversion of this land.
      • These provisions were envisioned to give primacy to rights of indigenous forest-dwelling communities.
    • However, the district administration did not receive or process a single claim over forest land under the FRA.
    • Instead, a special Gram Sabha meeting was called and a resolution was purportedly passed.
      • The resolution consented to diversion of the forest land adjacent to their villages for the purpose of the project.
  • NCST had also opposed the Forest (Conservation) Rules (FCR) 2022
    • FCR 2022 make a provision for private parties to cultivate plantations and sell them as land to companies who need to meet compensatory forestation targets.
      • The rules allow private developers to clear forests without first seeking the permission of the forest dwellers.
    • NCST opposed the FCR-2022, which had done away with the consent clause altogether.
  • Nil implementation of FRA
    • The Andaman and Nicobar administration had reported nil implementation of FRA.
      • The justification of the administration has been that the islands have the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Act, 1956 (PAT56).
      • This act already provides for the full protection of the interests of forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes.
      • So, there is no claim as such for settlement under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
    • NCST claimed that, under the PAT56, a significant portion of the forest land in Great Nicobar has been marked as a Tribal Reserve.
    • Over these reserves, local tribespeople have been given rights to use and collect resources as and when needed for their daily sustenance.
    • However, the power of notification and de-notification of the land as a Tribal Reserve is solely with the administrator of the islands under PAT56.
Polity & Governance

April 29, 2023

Mains Article
29 Apr 2023

The Women's reservation bill cannot wait any longer


  • Despite achievements in every sector, it is still challenging for women to find space in political landscape.
  • 75 years after Independence, Parliament lacks substantial representation from half the population, with women holding just 14% of the seats.
  • It is time to acknowledge the systematic exclusion of women from politics and demand action to create a more equitable political landscape.

Background of political reservation for women in India

  • Pre-Independence,
    • In 1931, leaders like Begum Shah Nawaz, Sarojini Naidu wrote to the British PM submitting the official memorandum jointly issued by 3 women bodies on the status of women in the new Constitution.
    • The issue of women’s reservation came up in Constituent Assembly debates as well, but it was rejected as being unnecessary.
  • Post-Independence,
    • In 1955, a government-appointed committee recommended that 10% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies should be reserved for women.
    • The National Perspective Plan for Women (1988) recommended that 30% of seats in all elected bodies should be reserved for women.
      • These recommendations paved the way for the historic enactment of the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution which mandate all State governments to reserve one-third of the seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions.
    • Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Kerala have made legal provisions to ensure 50% reservation for women in local bodies.

Representation of women in Politics

  • Pre-Independence: Women played a crucial role in India’s freedom struggle (Sarojni Naidu, Aruna Asaf Ali, Madam Bhikaji Cama). They were also present in the Constituent Assembly (Durgabai Deshmukh, Hansa Jivraj Mehta, Kamla Chaudhary).
  • Modern Era:
    • Just a decade ago, three of India’s largest States, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh, were in the spotlight for being led by women CMs.
    • While Sushma Swaraj led the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sonia Gandhi served as both President of the Congress Party and Chairperson of the UPA.
    • Also, India had its first woman President, Pratibha Patil around the same time.

What is Women's Reservation Bill?

  • The Women’s Reservation Bill proposes to reserve 33% of seats in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies for women.
    • Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the states or union territories.
    • Reservation shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act.
  • It was first introduced in the Lok Sabha as the 81st Amendment Bill in September 1996.
    • The Bill failed to get the approval of the House and was referred to a joint parliamentary committee which submitted its report to the Lok Sabha in December 1996.
    • But the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
  • In 1998, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government reintroduced the Bill in the 12th Lok Sabha.
    • The Bill failed to get support and lapsed again. The Bill was reintroduced in 1999, 2002 and 2003.
  • In 2008, the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government tabled the Bill in the Rajya Sabha and it was passed with 186-1 votes on March 9, 2010.
    • However, the Bill was never taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha and lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.

Arguments in Favour of the Bill

  • Despite the hopes of the leaders of the national movement, women are still under-represented in the Parliament.
    • Hence, affirmative action is imperative to improve the condition of women since political parties are inherently patriarchal.
  • Reservations will ensure that women form a strong lobby in Parliament to fight for gender-issues that are often ignored.
  • With more women in politics, gender-sensitive policies such as violence against women, gender-based discrimination, and women’s health can be addressed in a more sensitive and urgent manner.
  • Evidence from women as panchayat leaders –
    • Shattered social myths,
    • Been more accessible than men,
    • Controlled the stranglehold of liquor,
    • Invested substantially in public goods such as drinking water,
    • Helped other women express themselves better,
    • Reduced corruption,
    • Prioritized nutrition outcomes, and
    • Changed the development agenda at the grassroots level.

 Arguments Against the Bill

  • The idea runs counter to the principle of equality enshrined in the Constitution, as women will not be competing on merit if there is reservation, which could lower their status in society.
  • Women are not a homogenous community like a caste group. Therefore, the same arguments made for caste-based reservation cannot be made for women.
  • Women’s interests cannot be isolated from other social, economic and political strata.
  • Reservation of seats in Parliament would restrict the choice of voters to women candidates.

How reservation for women in India can help increase political participation?

  • Reservation of seats for women in politics can help address the issue of underrepresentation of women in politics.
  • Reservation can provide women with political opportunities.

Global examples

  • The Scandinavian countries have implemented policies and governance structures that support gender equality and women’s empowerment, which includes women’s representation in political and leadership positions.
  • Norway implemented a quota system in 2003 that required 40% of seats on corporate boards to be occupied by women.


  • Babasaheb Ambedkar was of the opinion that the progress of a community can be measured by the degree of progress which women have achieved, but we are still far away from that benchmark.
  • As India strives to become a Vishwa Guru, we must not overlook the pivotal role women can play in nation building and development. The women’s reservation Bill cannot wait any longer and must be passed.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
29 Apr 2023

SCO Defence Ministers’ Meet

Why in news?

  • SCO defence ministers' meet was hosted by India in its capacity as chair of the grouping.
  • It was attended by the defence ministers of six other members, China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as two observer countries Belarus and Iran in person.
    • Pakistan Defence Minister, who had been invited to SCO meeting, did not turn up.
    • Instead, special advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister on defence, attended it through video conference.
  • At the end of the deliberations, all the SCO member countries signed a protocol, expressing their collective will to make the region secure, peaceful and prosperous.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)
  • Key highlights of the speech delivered by Indian Defence Minister

Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):

  • It is a permanent intergovernmental international organisation, established in 2001.
  • It is built on the foundation laid by the Shanghai Five grouping of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
  • The five countries had come together to work on regional security, reduction of border troops, and terrorism in the post-Soviet era in
  • In 2001, the “Shanghai Five” inducted Uzbekistan into the group and named it the SCO, outlining its principles in a charter that promoted what was called the “Shanghai spirit” of cooperation.

Member Countries:

  • 8 member states: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan.
    • India and Pakistan became full members at the Heads of State Council meet in Astana in 2017.
    • Iran will be the newest member (9th) of the SCO, when it joins the forum in 2023 under the chairmanship of India.
  • 4 Observer members: Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, Mongolia
    • In 2021, the procedure of granting Iran the status of Member State was started at the SCO Summit in Dushanbe.
    • In 2022, a similar procedure was launched for Belarus at the SCO Summit in Samarkand
  • 9 Dialogue Partners —Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Cambodia, Qatar, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.
    • In 2022, the procedure for granting the status of Dialogue Partners to Bahrain, Kuwait, Maldives, Myanmar and the United Arab Emirates was initiated at the SCO Summit in Samarkand.

Organisational Structure:

  • The Heads of State Council (HSC) is the supreme decision-making body in the SCO, it meets once a year.
  • The Council of Heads of Government is the second-highest council in the organisation.
  • The Council of Foreign Ministers hold regular meetings, where they discuss the current international situation.
  • Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), based in Tashkent, is established to combat terrorism, separatism and extremism.
  • Official working languages: Chinese, Russian
  • SCO Secretariat: Beijing, China

 Key highlights of the speech delivered by Indian Defence Minister

  • Work towards eliminating terrorism in all forms
    • Indian Defence Minister told member states of the SCO to collectively work towards eliminating terrorism in all forms and fix accountability on those aiding or funding such activities.
    • He said that any kind of terrorist act or support to it in any form is a major crime against humanity.
    • The Defence Minister’s remarks on dealing with terror come days after 5 Army soldiers were killed in a terror attack in Poonch near the LoC.
  • Highlighted the issue of radicalisation of youth
    • Radicalisation of youth is a cause for concern not only from the security point of view, but is also a major obstacle in the path of socio-economic progress of society.
  • Highlighted the need of ensuring territorial integrity
    • India sees a robust framework of regional cooperation which mutually respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all msember states by taking care of their legitimate interests.
  • Highlighted issues like food security, climate change and energy security
    • Indian minister urged member countries to ensure food security under an integrated plan which will establish SCO as a role model for the whole world.
    • To deal with the issue of climate change, he called for working on a common strategy, giving priority to mitigation and adaptation.
    • He said that the energy security should be a part of the common strategy.
  • Highlighted the concept of ‘SECURE
    • The defence minister also highlighted the concept of ‘SECURE’ floated by PM Modi during the SCO summit in China in 2018.
      • S stands for security of citizens,
      • E for economic development for all,
      • C for connecting the region,
      • U for uniting the people,
      • R for respect for sovereignty and Integrity and
      • E stands for environmental protection.
International Relations

Mains Article
29 Apr 2023

Government mulls unified airport security

Why in news?

  • Indian government is considering the creation of a unified security force for all airports in the country which will also combine immigration and customs.
    • This will be created along the lines of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the U.S.
  • This issue was also raised at the recently held 37th Raising Day of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).

What’s in today’s article?

  • Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)
  • News Summary

What is Transportation Security Administration (TSA)?

  • TSA is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for ensuring the security of the country's transportation systems.
  • It was established in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, with the primary goal of enh ancing aviation security.

What are the functions of the TSA?

  • Security responsibilities
    • The TSA's responsibilities include the screening of passengers, baggage, and cargo at airports, as well as the implementation of security measures for other modes of transportation such as railroads, buses, and ships.
    • The agency also develops and implements security procedures and technologies, trains transportation security officers, and works with international partners to improve security measures.
  • Facilitation of travel
    • The agency works to ensure that passengers are able to move efficiently through security checkpoints, and provides information and assistance to travellers.

What is Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)?

  • About
    • BCAS is a regulatory body under the Ministry of Civil Aviation in India.
      • It was initially set up as a Cell in the DGCA in January 1978 on the recommendation of the Pande Committee.
      • Later, in 1987, It was reorganized into an independent department under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
    • The main responsibilities include laying down standards and measures with respect to security of civil flights at international and domestic airports in India.
  • Objective
    • To ensure the safety and security of passengers, crew, and airport personnel, as well as the security of aircraft and airport facilities.
    • It works in close collaboration with other aviation security agencies and international organizations to enhance the security standards in Indian aviation.

News Summary: Government mulls unified airport security

  • India is considering the creation of a unified security force for all airports in the country - along the lines of the TSA of the U.S.
  • The concept has received a green flag from PM Modi during the annual Director General of Police conference held in January 2023.

Why India wants to create security architecture for its airports along the lines of the TSA?

  • Increased Threats
    • India should have a seamless security system across all 148 airports, which will grow to 220 airports in the next three to four years.
    • While the Central Industrial Security Force is deployed at 66 out of the current 148 airports to carry out security functions, State police oversee security at the remaining airports.
  • Seamless coordination with a multitude of agencies
    • In a fast-growing aviation market, a robust system is needed in India.
      • India is pegged to be the third largest aviation market in the world by 2024.
      • It is already the third largest domestic aviation market after the U.S. and China.
      • It is also the world’s fastest growing market at 9%, though it accounts for only 2% of the global passenger traffic.
    • However, today, coordination with a multitude of agencies becomes difficult.
      • The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, which is the security watchdog for civil aviation, falls under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
      • The Central Industrial Security Force, which guards the airports, falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs, as does the Bureau of Immigration.
      • The Customs department falls under the Finance Ministry.
    • Once the proposed system becomes functional, all stakeholders would be on a common platform.
  • Integrating functions
    • The move would also help in integrating policy, regulations and implementation by bringing them under one body.
    • Today, for instance, if the BCAS frames regulations for aviation, the implementation body is either the CISF or the airports.
    • Airports, which have to procure security infrastructure, have often cited financial constraints and delayed upgradation.
    • The proposal for a unified agency means it will also be tasked to buy security infrastructure such as x-ray machines and full body scanners.


Defence & Security

Mains Article
29 Apr 2023

FM transmitters: Tech revolution has reshaped radio, FM

Why in News?

  • The PM of India inaugurated 91 FM transmitters spread across 18 states and two UTs and asserted that the government was working towards giving people in every nook and corner of the country affordable access to technology.

 What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is Frequency Modulation (FM)?
  • What is a FM Transmitter?
  • News Summary Related to FM transmitters Inauguration

 What is Frequency Modulation (FM)?

  • It is the encoding of information in a carrier wave by varying the instantaneous frequency of the wave.
  • The technology is used in telecommunications, radio broadcasting, signal processing, and computing.
  • In analog FM (radio broadcasting), the instantaneous frequency deviation - the difference between the frequency of the carrier and its center frequency - has a functional relation to the modulating signal amplitude.
  • Digital data can be encoded and transmitted with a type of FM known as frequency-shift keying (FSK), in which the instantaneous frequency of the carrier is shifted among a set of frequencies.

 What is a FM Transmitter?

  • It is a low-power FM radio transmitter that broadcasts a signal from a portable audio device (such as an MP3 player) to a standard FM radio.
  • Most of these transmitters plug into the device's headphone jack and then broadcast the signal over an FM broadcast band frequency, so that it can be picked up by any nearby radio.
  • This allows portable audio devices to make use of the louder or better sound quality of a home audio system or car stereo without requiring a wired connection.
  • Being low-powered, most transmitters typically have a short range of 100-300 feet (30–91 metres), depending on the quality of the receiver, obstructions and elevation.

 News Summary Related to FM transmitters Inauguration:

  • The tech revolution has led to the shaping of radio and FM in a new way. Through online FMs and podcasts, it has come in a new avatar.
  • The expansion of optical fibre networks into the villages has led to a reduction of costs of mobiles and data which have led to ease of access to information.
  • In this line, the PM inaugurated the 91 FM transmitters in border areas and aspirational districts.
  • With this, All India Radio was well on its way to expand its FM footprint nationally.
  • These FM transmitters will play a key role in a range of services be it timely dissemination of information, weather forecast for agriculture or connecting the women SHGs with new markets.
Science & Tech

Mains Article
29 Apr 2023

What the latest National Health Account figures say about India’s Healthcare Sector?

Why in News?

  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has released the National Health Account Estimates 2019-20.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About NHA (Origin, Purpose)
  • Major Findings of NHA 2019-20
  • Way Ahead

National Health Accounts (NHA):

  • Report on National Health Accounts Estimates is published by the National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHRSC) under the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
    • The NHA for 2019-20 is the seventh round of estimates since 2013-14.
  • It is based on the globally accepted framework of ‘System of Health Accounts, 2011’ for inter-country comparison and learning.
    • System of Health Accounts (SHA) was originally developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).
    • SHA is an internationally standardized framework that systematically tracks the flow of expenditures in the health system.
  • NHA provides detailed information on overall health expenditure both by the public and private sector in the country.

Major Findings of NHA Estimates 2019-20:

  • Government Expenditure on Health –
    • During this period, the share of Government Health Expenditure (GHE) in the overall GDP of the country has increased from 1.13% in 2014-15 to 1.35% in 2019-20.
    • In per capita terms, GHE has doubled from Rs. 1,108 to Rs. 2,014 between 2014-15 to 2019-20.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) –
    • The share of Out-of-Pocket Expenditure (OOPE) in total Health Expenditure (THE) declined from 62.6% to 47.1%.
    • The continuous decline in the OOPE in the overall health spending show progress towards ensuring financial protection and Universal Health Coverage for citizens.
    • The increase in government spending on health has an important implication for the reduction of financial hardship endured by households.
    • In the Total Health Expenditure (THE) of the country between 2014-15 and 2019-20, the share of GHE has increased from 29% to 41.4%.
  • Social Security Expenditure (SSE) –
    • Another positive trend in the country’s health financing space is the increase in Social Security Expenditure (SSE) on healthcare.
    • This increase in social security has a direct impact on reducing out-of-pocket payments.
    • A robust social security mechanism ensures that individuals will not face financial hardship and the risk of poverty as a consequence of accessing essential healthcare services.
    • The share of SSE on health, which includes government-funded health insurance, medical reimbursement to government employees, and social health insurance programs, in THE, has increased from 5.7% in 2014-15 to 9.3% in 2019-20.

Comparing India’s Government Health Expenditure with other Countries’:

  • As per the NHA estimates for 2019-20, India spends 1.35% of total GDP on public health expenditure.
  • Compare this with countries like the United Kingdom, Netherlands, New Zealand, Finland and Australia where all these countries spend over 9% of their total GDP in public healthcare system.
  • Neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have over 3% of their GDP going towards public healthcare system.

Way Ahead:

  • Increasing public spending on health
    • An efficient and equitable health system cannot be developed without adequate public financing.
    • The National Health Policy (2017) recommends government expenditure on health to be increased to 2.5% of GDP by 2025.
  • Improve Doctor-to-Patient ratio
    • As of February 2021, India’s doctor-to-population ratio stood at 1:1404, while the WHO recommends the doctor-to-population ratio to be 1:1000.
    • For people in the rural India who are completely dependent on government healthcare facilities, the doctor to patient ratio is abysmally low with 1:10,926 doctors.
  • Optimizing the use of technology
    • Technology-enabled community health workers, nurses and other frontline care providers can perform many functions in primary care.
Social Issues

April 28, 2023

Mains Article
28 Apr 2023

Virtual digital assets, India's stand and the way ahead


  • Rulemaking is an arduous task sometimes diverging from the intent. This can be particularly challenging in the case of emerging technologies, where change is rapid and constant.
  • Today, there are calls to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology. Amidst all this, India's measured approach to regulating Virtual Digital assets is commendable.

 What are VDAs (Virtual Digital Assets)?

  • According to the Income Tax Act, 'virtual digital asset' refers to any information, code, number, or token (not being Indian currency or foreign currency) generated through cryptographic means and blockchain technologies.
  • It can be transferred, stored, or traded electronically and its definition specifically includes a non-fungible token (NFT) or any other token of similar nature, by whatever name is called.

India's recent attempt to regulate VDAs

  • India has recently extended the anti-money laundering provisions to virtual digital assets businesses and service providers.
  • The Union Finance Ministry, in a gazette notification, extended the following activities under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Act 2002:
    • Exchange between virtual digital assets and fiat currencies.
    • Exchange between one or more forms of virtual digital assets, transfer of virtual digital assets.
    • Safekeeping or administration of virtual digital assets or instruments enabling control over virtual digital assets.
    • And participation in and provision of financial services related to an issuer’s offer and sale of a virtual digital asset.

Key-features of the above extension

  • Such rules are already applicable to banks, financial institutions and certain intermediaries in the securities and real estate markets.
  • The extension provides virtual digital assets platforms with a framework to diligently monitor and take actions against malpractices.
  • A standardisation of such norms will go a long way in making the Indian virtual digital assets sector transparent.
  • It will also build confidence and assurance in the ecosystem, and give the government more oversight on virtual digital asset transactions.
  • Such risk-mitigation measures are in line with global guidelines put forward by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
  • Such guidelines acknowledge the role Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) play in regulating and monitoring the virtual digital assets ecosystem.
    • VASPs are the most efficient bridges and eyes for regulators to effectively implement Anti-Money Laundering/Countering/Combating the Financing of Terror principles.

What it means for VASPs?

Compulsory Registration as a reporting entity

  • Virtual digital assets platforms carrying out the said activities will now have to register as a reporting entity with the Financial Intelligence Unit-India.
  • The unit is the national agency to strengthen India’s efforts against money laundering and terror financing.

Implementation of KYC Provision

Reporting entity platforms such as CoinSwitch are now mandated to implement know your customer, record, and monitor all transactions, and report to the Financial Intelligence Unit-India as and when any suspicious activity is detected.

Way forward - Reconsideration of Tax regime for VDAs:

  • There is an opportunity to bring virtual digital assets taxes on a par with other asset classes.
  • Building on the regulations, India should reconsider its tax treatment of virtual digital assets, which is an outlier, both domestically and internationally.
  • With the PMLA notification now, mitigating the most critical money laundering and terror financing risks, there is little reason for the tax rates to be as prohibitively high as they are (30% tax on income from VDAs).
  • Reducing the tax arbitrage vis-à-visother economies will also help stem the flight of capital, consumers, investments, and talent, as well as dent the grey economy for virtual digital assets.

How can India use the G20 presidency to its advantage?

  • India’s leadership and experience could help the finance track of the G-20 which is spearheading critical discussions on establishing a global regulatory framework for virtual digital assets.
  • There is also an opportunity to consider the steps taken by other G-20 nations. In Asia, Japan and South Korea have established a framework to licence VASPs while in Europe, the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation has been passed by the European Parliament.


  • Spearheading the global coordination and focusing greater oversight on domestic virtual digital assets ecosystem simultaneously could provide India with much needed assurance to everyday users and regulators.
  • Going forward, a progressive regulatory framework will instil the animal spirit in India’s innovation economy and establish India’s virtual digital assets leadership.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
28 Apr 2023

India-China Defence Ministers’ Meet

Why in news?

  • Recently, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held discussions with China’s Defence Minister General Li Shangfu.
    • China's Defence Minister is in New Delhi to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers conference.
    • This is the first visit by a Chinese defence minister to India after the eastern Ladakh border standoff began in May 2020.
  • Indian Defence Minister told his visiting Chinese counterpart that Beijing’s violation of existing agreements has eroded the entire basis of bilateral relations.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Border agreements with India that were violated by China
  • News Summary

Border agreements with India that were violated by China

  • About
    • China through its military action at Galwan in Ladakh violated three key bilateral agreements -- 1993, 1996 and 2013.
    • These agreements have been central to maintaining peace and tranquillity on the disputed Line of Actual Control.
    • Until the Galwan clash in 2020, not a single soldier had been killed on either side of the LAC for over four decades.
  • The 1993 agreement between India and China
    • It declared: Neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means. No activities of either side shall overstep the line of actual control.
    • It also stated, in case personnel of one side cross the line of actual control, upon being cautioned by the other side, they shall immediately pull back to their own side of the line of actual control.
      • China has not done that either in Galwan or Pangong Tso.
      • On the contrary, it has built structures and stationed its troops in a face-off like situation despite cautionary warnings.
  • 1996 agreement on border disputes and maintenance of peace
    • As per article VI of the Agreement, the two countries are not to open fire within two kilometers from the line of actual control.
    • This had been stipulated to prevent dangerous military activities and does not apply to routine firing activities in small arms firing ranges.
      • This is what led to a practice, where troops on both sides, never brandished weapons at each other and at most.
      • They often indulged in a physical jostle.
    • It was this agreement of 1996 which also set the rules on military exercises.
    • It makes clear that the strategic direction of the main force in an exercise shall not be towards the other side.
      • The Chinese PLA carried out its summer exercises opposite Ladakh which clearly were aimed at threatening India.
  • The 2013 India-China Border Defence Cooperation Agreement
    • Through this agreement, the two sides agree that they shall not follow or tail patrols of the other side in areas where there is no common understanding of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
    • Here again, the violence in Galwan raises doubts whether Chinese troops followed this protocol.
    • Chinese manoeuvres of the past two weeks have had the Indian side quite worried on this count.

News Summary: India-China Defence Ministers’ Meet

Indian stand during the meeting

  • All issues at the LAC need to be resolved in accordance with existing bilateral agreements and commitments.
  • Indian Minister conveyed that after disengagement at the LAC, there should be movement towards de-escalation.
  • India categorically conveyed that development of relations between India and China is premised on prevalence of peace and tranquillity at the borders.


International Relations

Mains Article
28 Apr 2023

Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA) 2010: What are the ambiguities in India’s nuclear liability law?

Why in News?

  • The issues regarding India’s nuclear liability law - the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLNDA) 2010 - are holding the six nuclear power reactors in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur.
  • The 9,900 MW project at Jaitapur is the world’s biggest nuclear power generation site which has been under consideration for more than a decade.

 What‘s in Today’s Article?

  • Why are Laws on Nuclear Liability Needed?
  • Laws Governing Nuclear Liability in India
  • Salient Provisions of the CLNDA
  • Supplier Liability and CLNDA’s position on it
  • Why did CLNDA Introduce the Concept of Supplier Liability?
  • Why is the Supplier Liability clause an Issue in Nuclear Deals?
  • Stalled Projects in India
  • What is the Indian Government’s stand?

 Why are Laws on Nuclear Liability Needed?

  • They ensure that compensation is available to the victims for nuclear damage caused by a nuclear incident/disaster and set out who will be liable for those damages.
  • The international nuclear liability regime consists of multiple treaties and was strengthened after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.
  • The umbrella Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) was adopted in 1997 with the aim of establishing a minimum national compensation amount.
  • The amount can further be increased through public funds (to be made available by the contracting parties), if the amount to compensate for the damage is insufficient.

 Laws Governing Nuclear Liability in India:

  • India was a signatory to the CSC, but ratified the convention only in 2016.
  • To keep in line with the international convention, India enacted the CLNDA in 2010, to put in place a speedy compensation mechanism for victims of a nuclear accident.
  • India currently has 22 nuclear reactors with over a dozen more projects planned.
    • All the existing reactors are operated by the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

Salient Provisions of the CLNDA:

  • The CLNDA provides for strict and no-fault liability on the operator of the nuclear plant, where it will be held liable for damage regardless of any fault on its part.
  • It also specifies the amount (₹1,500 crore) the operator will have to shell out in case of damage and requires the operator to cover liability through insurance.
  • In case the damage claims exceed ₹1,500 crore, the CLNDA expects the government to step in.
  • The Act has limited the government liability amount to the rupee equivalent of 300 million Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) or about ₹2,100 to ₹2,300 crore.

Supplier Liability and CLNDA’s position on it:

  • The international legal framework is based on the central principle of exclusive liability of the operator of a nuclear installation and no other person.
  • This is because excessive liability claims against suppliers of nuclear equipment would make their business unviable and hinder the growth of nuclear energy.
  • This is also to avoid legal complications in establishing separate liability in each case and to make just one entity in the chain to take out insurance.
  • However, the CSC lays down two conditions under which the national law of a country may provide the operator with the “right of recourse”, where they can extract liability from the supplier.
    • If it is expressly agreed upon in the contract
    • If the nuclear incident results from an act or omission done with intent to cause damage
  • However, India went beyond these two conditions and introduced the concept of supplier liability over and above that of the operator’s in the CLNDA.

 Why did CLNDA Introduce the Concept of Supplier Liability?

  • Section 17(b) of the CLNDA: The operator of the nuclear plant, after paying their share of compensation, shall have the right of recourse where the nuclear incident has resulted as a consequence of an act of the supplier or his employee.
    • This includes supply of equipment or material with patent or latent defects or sub-standard services.
  • Defective parts were partly responsible for historical incidents such as the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984.

Why is the Supplier Liability clause an Issue in Nuclear Deals?

  • Foreign suppliers of nuclear equipment as well as domestic suppliers have been wary of operationalising nuclear deals with India.
  • Concerns about potentially getting exposed to unlimited liability under the CLNDA and ambiguity over how much insurance to set aside have been sticking points for suppliers.
  • For example,
    • Section 46 of CLNDA allows victims of a nuclear catastrophe to seek claims for damages against the operator or the supplier under criminal law, even though such legal actions fall beyond the purview of the CLNDA.
    • Absence of a comprehensive definition on the types of ‘nuclear damage’.

 Stalled Projects in India:

  • The Jaitapur nuclear project has been stuck for more than a decade - the original MoU was signed in 2009 with France’s Areva.
  • Other nuclear projects, including the nuclear project proposed in Kovvada (Andhra Pradesh) have also been stalled.
  • Despite signing civil nuclear deals with a number of countries, including the U.S., France and Japan, the only foreign presence in India is that of Russia in Kudankulam - which predates the nuclear liability law.

 What is the Indian Government’s stand?

  • The Indian law is in consonance with the CSC. For example, Section 17(b) “permits” but “does not require” an operator to include in the contract or exercise the right to recourse.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
28 Apr 2023

Rising sea levels and associated threat

Why in news?

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has found in a new report that the world’s sea level is rising at an unprecedented rate.
    • The report, entitled ‘State of the Global Climate 2022’, was published recently.
  • Along with accelerating sea-level rise, the report focused on:
    • a consistent rise in global temperatures,
    • record-breaking increases in the concentration of greenhouse gases as well as glacier loss,
    • sustained drought-like conditions in East Africa,
    • record rainfall in Pakistan, and unprecedented heatwaves that struck Europe and China in 2022.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Rise in Sea Level

How much is the sea rising?

  • As per the report, released by the WMO, the rate of global mean sea-level [GSML] rise has doubled between the first decade of the satellite record and the last.
    • Since the 1990s, scientists have been measuring sea-level rise using satellite altimeters.
    • These instruments send radar pulses to the sea surface and measure the time they take to get back and the change in their intensity.
    • The higher the sea level, the faster and stronger the return signal.
  • While the rate of sea-level rise was 2.27 mm/year in 1993-2002, it shot up to 4.62 mm/year in 2013-2022.

What causes accelerated sea-level rise?

  • Primarily due to Global warming
    • Accelerated sea-level rise is primarily caused by global warming, which is driven by the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.
    • These gases trap heat from the sun and warm the Earth's surface.
    • This leads to a wide range of climate impacts, including:
      • melting glaciers and ice sheets,
      • thermal expansion of the ocean water, and
      • changes in ocean currents and circulation patterns.
    • According the report of WMO, Ocean warming – the phenomenon of rising mean ocean temperatures – contributed 55% in accelerated sea-level rise.
  • Melting of land-based ice
    • Melting of land-based ice, particularly the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, is a significant contributor to sea-level rise.
      • The report also says that the earth’s ice cover, known as the cryosphere, has thinned.
      • The cryosphere includes:
        • the Arctic and Antarctic regions (called “sea ice”), glaciers,
        • the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica (area of ice on land covering more than 50,000 km2),
        • seasonal snow cover, and
        • permafrost (mass of land that remains below 0º C for at least two straight years).
      • As these ice sheets melt, they discharge vast amounts of water into the ocean, leading to a rise in sea level.
      • According to the report, in 2005-2019, loss of glaciers and ice sheets contributed 36% to the GSML rise.
  • Earth's gravitational and rotational fields
    • Additionally, changes in the Earth's gravitational and rotational fields can also affect sea level regionally.
  • Human activities
    • Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, are the primary drivers of global warming, and thus the main cause of accelerated sea-level rise.

What problems will sea-level rise cause?

  • Pressure on land
    • As rising seas swallow more of the land cover, particularly in coastal areas, coastal communities will face an acute shortage of land for human use.
    • Sea-level rise may force millions of people living in low-lying coastal areas to relocate to safer areas.
  • Increased flooding and erosion
    • Low-lying coastal areas will become more vulnerable to flooding and erosion, leading to damage to buildings, infrastructure, and natural habitats.
  • Saltwater intrusion
    • Rising sea levels can also cause saltwater to infiltrate into freshwater aquifers and ecosystems, leading to a decline in water quality.
    • It will affect the availability of water for agriculture, drinking, and industrial use.
  • Increased frequency of cyclones
    • Weather formations like cyclones are known to typically originate in the open seas.
    • As the GSML continues to rise, along with a rise in ocean temperatures, the chances of cyclones could increase.
  • Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services
    • Sea-level rise can also cause the loss of valuable coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, salt marshes etc.

How will sea-level rise affect societies?

  • Increase in social disparities between people living in coastal areas
    • Rising sea level will cause changes in land cover. This land crunch will mean that those who are better off will be able to cope better than marginalised groups.
  • Affect the livelihoods of the coastal communities
    • Since the lives of coastal communities, including their economic activities, is tied intricately with the coastal ecosystem.
    • Hence, changes in the coastal ecosystem as a result of GSML rise will further endanger the socio-economic stability of these communities.


Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
28 Apr 2023

Dedicated Command Cyber Operations for the Indian Army

Why in News?

  • The Indian Army will now raise dedicated specialized agencies in each of its six operational or regional commands across the country to handle the cyberspace domain.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Background (Context, Army Commanders Conference)
  • About CCOSW (Meaning, Need, Significance, etc.)
  • Other Key Decisions Taken at the Conference

Background (Context):

  • Between April 17 and April 23, the Army Commanders Conference was held.
  • The conference saw deliberations over wide-ranging Strategic, Training, Human Resource Development, and Administrative aspects and took key decisions in shaping the Army for the future.
  • A number of welfare measures and initiatives were decided to be implemented for troops as well as veterans during the conference.
  • One of these measures is the Command Cyber Operations and Support Wings.

About Command Cyber Operations and Support Wings (CCOSW):

  • The Indian Army is rapidly migrating towards internet centricity, which entails an increased reliance on modern communication systems at all levels.
  • The CCOSWs will assist the Indian Army’s formations in taking up cyberspace security challenges posed by the growing warfare capabilities of adversaries.

Need & Significance of the CCOSW:

  • This is an urgent necessity in the backdrop of China developing a wide array of cyberweapons to degrade or destroy an adversary’s military assets and strategic networks even before the actual conventional war kicks off.
  • China also regularly engages in malicious cyber activities as well as exploits cyberspace for its “grey zone warfare”.
    • Grey zone warfare basically revolves around exploitation of the operational space between peace and war to change the status quo or coerce an adversary.
  • The Army believes the CCOSWs will help to safeguard its networks and increase the preparedness levels in this fifth dimension of warfare after land, sea, air and space.
  • This step will lead to an overall strengthening of the cyber-security posture of the force for both conventional operations as well as grey zone warfare.

Comparing India’s Cyberwarfare Capabilities with Other Countries:

  • India has so far lagged behind in developing cyberwarfare capabilities.
  • It was only in 2019 that the Union government approved the creation of a small tri-service Defence Cyber Agency (DCA) at the apex level.
  • China, in contrast, has a major strategic support force to oversee the People’s Liberation Army’s space, cyber and electronic warfare operations.
  • The US, too, has a huge Cyber Command, led by a four-star general, to launch a “full spectrum” war if required as well as protect over 15,000 American military networks from attacks round-the-clock.

Other Key Decisions Taken in the Army Commanders Conference:

  • TES Entry Scheme –
    • Training initiatives to optimize on infrastructure, time and resources to maintain an effective and lethal fighting force were widely deliberated upon.
    • In the TES entry scheme for entry of officers, it was decided to transit from the existing 1+3+1 years Technical Entry Scheme (TES) model for to 3 + 1 TES model from Jan 2024 onwards.
      • TES is a model for recruitment into the Indian Army for technical positions.
    • Four-year training model will ensure that young officers are available to serve the Army for one additional year.
  • Lead Directorates and Test-Bed Formations –
    • The 12-lakh strong Army has also earmarked lead directorates and test-bed formations to handle the ongoing induction as well as evolve operational philosophies for niche technologies.
  • Niche Tech-enabled Equipments –
    • The Army is inducting a large number and variety of niche tech-enabled equipment.
    • These include cross-section of tactical, mini, micro, and logistics drones, UAVs, drone swarms, loiter weapon systems, electronic warfare, and anti-drone apparatus.
    • These equipments are intended to enhance the fighting potential of the field formations.
  • Training for Paralympic Events –
    • It was decided to identify and train selected motivated soldiers for Paralympic Events by training them at Army Sports and Mission Olympic Nodes in nine sporting events.


Defence & Security

April 27, 2023

Mains Article
27 Apr 2023

The third-gen web is about public good


A 2021 report by the U.S.- India Strategic Partnership Forum states that the third-gen web will be crucial for India to realise its $1.1 trillion digital asset opportunity by 2032.

 What is the third-generation web?

  • The third-generation web is a work in progress towards the evolution of World Wide Web (WWW) - the user interface that provides access to documents, applications and multimedia on the internet.
  • There is no universally accepted definition of the third-generation web, some calling it "Web3", while others "Web 3.0."

 ‘Web 3.0’ vs ‘Web3’

 Web 3.0

  • Web 3.0 upholds the property of the ‘semantic web,’ which is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
    • Semantic Web is the ability to recombine information available on different websites to generate new content and knowledge resources that are more authentic and creative.
  • Web 3.0 has been powered with robust capability on the data analytics front. Hence, it will create far better search engines.


  • Web3 is decentralised, privacy-oriented, blockchain-driven and crypto-asset friendly.
  • Of the two variants, Web3 seeks to radically transform the way data is generated, monetised, shared and circulated.
  • It also advocates decentralising data storage systems from the single entity or an organisation.
  • It uses file-sharing systems such as the Inter-Planetary File System which are cryptographically protected, more secure and capable of functioning off internet and off blockchains.
  • Web3’s boldest element is the strategic role it assigns to non-custodial wallets that function as digital passports for users to access blockchain-enabled transaction platforms.
  • These wallets aid the creation of a ‘ownership economy,’ whereby creators themselves control their content. Fundamentally, they work as digital proof of identity.
  • Web3 seeks to replace micro-economic organisations with decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs).
    • At a more macro level, it seeks to create a distributed economic system, where special classes of native digital tokens and cryptocurrencies would form the media of monetary circulation.
    • In general, Web3 would raise the efficiency of peer-to-peer transactions.

 The Third-gen Web's Benefits for India

  • Protection of the Handcraft Industry by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
    • India's handcraft industry known for its design-related innovations is not protected by IPR.
    • The digital tokens minted by Web3 platforms would enable our handcraft enterprises to secure their innovations.
    • Web 3-based instruction tools enable the rapid dissemination of grassroots innovations from master artisans to fellow members.
    • This would improve the economic fortunes of craftsmen and artisan communities in north-east, western and peninsular India.
  • Rural Development Projects: India’s major digital public infrastructure push and the large-scale deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) in rural development projects offer major possibilities for deploying Web3 in rural areas.
  • Can help with data analytics constraints
    • Lack of data analytics capabilities at the community level, resulting in untapped data resources. For example, important data on groundwater utilisation practices and aquifer contamination under the Atal Bhujal Yojana largely remain untapped.
    • The inability of data analytics capabilities to catch up with the pace of data generation.
    • Web3’s (decentralized) analytics systems could help overcome the limitation of data analytics capabilities at the community level.
    • Web 3.0 can also yield insights from large volumes of community data generated by IoT-enabled development programs such as the Jal Jeevan Mission.
    • Web 3.0’s natural advantage of facilitating analytics at the edge provides considerable scope for mapping the water use habits of communities, providing data analytics facilities at the sub-basin level and improving early warning systems for.

 Challenges: From policy perspective, the third-web is complex because of different descriptions (Web3 and Web 3.0) and because its immense social relevance is hard to comprehend.

 What steps should be taken?

  • As envisaged in Web3, there should be a provision to provide incentives for decentralised analytics and tokenising them to draw upon the talent pool for the benefit of rural communities.
  • There should be a strategy that seeks to combine the welcome features of Web3 and Web 3.0.


  • There are ample opportunities arising from the third-gen web and India is set to benefit from them.
  • India’s National Blockchain Strategy 2021 proposes to explore tokenisation and apply blockchains solutions for development programmes.
  • It will be a natural progression for India to craft a third-gen web strategy that optimises public interest.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
27 Apr 2023

Eco-sensitive zone (ESZ): SC modifies order on ESZs around national parks, sanctuaries

Why in News?

  • The Supreme Court modified its 2022 order, which mandated a minimum 1-km eco-sensitive zone around national parks or wildlife sanctuaries.

 What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What are Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)?
  • News Summary Regarding Recent SC Order

 What are Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)?


  • Also known as Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs), these are areas in India notified and regulated by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is:
    • To create some kind of shock absorbers to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
    • To act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.

Statutory backing:

  • The Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986 does not mention the word "Eco-Sensitive Zones".
  • However, the following two clauses have been effectively used by the government to declare ESZs or EFAs (Ecologically Fragile Areas) -
    • According to the EPA, the Central Government has the authority to restrict areas in which any industries (or class of industries), operations or processes shall not be carried out or to be carried out with certain safeguards.
    • Furthermore, the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, declare that the Central Government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries on the basis of considerations like the biological diversity of an area, etc.

 Criteria for declaring ESZ:

  • The MoEFCC approves a comprehensive set of guidelines laying forth standards and criteria for declaring ESZs on a regular basis. These include -
    • Species Based (Endemism, Rarity etc)
    • Ecosystem Based (sacred groves, frontier forests etc)
    • Geo-morphologic feature based (uninhabited islands, origins of rivers etc)

 Extent of ESZ:

  • According to the Wildlife Conservation Strategy of 2002, an ESZ could extend up to 10 km around a protected area.
  • Furthermore, sensitive corridors, connectivity and biologically important patches that are critical for landscape linkage should be included in the Eco-Sensitive Zones if their width exceeds 10 km.
  • However, even within a Protected Area, the distribution of an ESZ and the extent of control may not be consistent throughout the Protected Area, and it may be of varying breadth and extent.

News Summary Regarding Recent SC Order:

  • MoEFCC provides financial assistance to the States under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme-Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats, which includes assistance for eco-development activities.
    • These activities often involve construction of small structures which are permanent in nature in areas including ESZs.
  • The SC’s 2022 order raised concerns about human habitations and eco-development projects falling within the proposed ESZs and the Centre had approached the court seeking modification of some of the directions.
    • In June 2022, the Supreme Court directed all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries falling under protected forests to earmark a minimum distance of one kilometre as ESZ.
    • As per this judgement, prohibited activities, including mining and establishment of any new permanent structure, was not permitted in this area.
  • Noting that the purpose of declaring ESZs is not to hamper the day to day activities of the locals/ to prevent the government from building strategic infrastructure in those areas, the apex court modified its previous judgement.
  • Henceforth, the 2022 order will not be applicable to ESZs in respect to which draft and final notifications have been issued by the MoEFCC, and where proposals for such notifications have been received by the ministry.
    • It will also not be applicable where the national parks and sanctuaries are located on inter-state borders or share common boundaries.
  • But, the SC underlined that no mining would be allowed, either within national parks and sanctuaries or in a 1-km radius.
Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
27 Apr 2023

National Medical Devices Policy 2023

Why in News?

  • The Union Cabinet approved the National Medical Devices Policy, 2023.
  • The policy is expected to facilitate an orderly growth of the medical device sector to meet the public health objectives of access, affordability, quality, and innovation.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Background (About Medical Devices Sector in India)
  • National Medical Devices Policy, 2023 (Salient Features)

Background on Medical Device Sector:

  • The medical devices sector in India is an essential and integral constituent of the Indian healthcare sector, particularly for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of medical conditions, diseases, illnesses, and disabilities.
  • The medical device is a multi-product sector, with the following broad classifications:
    • Electronics Equipment
    • Implants
    • Consumables and Disposables
    • IVD reagents
    • Surgical Instruments
  • The medical devices sector in India is a sunrise sector which is growing at a fast pace.
  • The current market size of the medical devices sector in India is estimated to be $11 bn and its share in the global medical device market is estimated to be 1.5%.

Need for a Holistic Framework for Medical Devices:

  • The Government of India has already initiated implementation of PLI Scheme for medical devices and support for setting up of 4 Medical devices Parks in the States of Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Under the PLI scheme for Medical Devices, till now, a total of 26 projects have been approved, with a committed investment of 1200 crore.
    • Production Linked Incentive, or PLI, scheme of the Government of India is a form of performance-linked incentive to give companies incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units.
  • Building upon these measures, a holistic policy framework to accelerate this growth and fulfil the potential of the sector is the need of the hour.
  • There is a need to bring together the range of interventions in a coherent manner that would facilitate focused and efficient support and facilitation for the sector by the respective agencies.

Salient Features of National Medical Devices Policy, 2023:

  • Vision –
    • Accelerated growth path with a patient-centric approach;
    • To emerge as the global leader in the manufacturing and innovation of medical devices by achieving 10-12% share in the expanding global market over the next 25 years;
    • To help the Medical Devices Sector grow from present $11 Bn to $50 Bn by 2030.
  • Medical devices sector will be facilitated and guided through a set of strategies that will be cover six broad areas of policy interventions –
  • Regulatory Streamlining –
    • In order to enhance ease of doing research and business and further to balance patient safety with product innovation measures.
  • Enabling Infrastructure –
    • The establishment and strengthening of large medical device parks, clusters equipped with world class common infrastructure facilities in proximity to economic zones with requisite logistics connectivity.
  • Facilitating R&D and Innovation –
    • The policy envisages to promote Research & Development in India and complement the Department’s proposed National Policy on R&D and Innovation in the Pharma- MedTech Sector in India.
    • It also aims at establishing Centres of Excellence in academic and research institutions, innovation hubs, ‘plug and play’ infrastructures and support to start-ups.
  • Attracting Investments –
    • Along with resent schemes and interventions like Make in India, Ayushman Bharat program, Heal-in-India, Start-up mission, the policy encourages private investments, series of funding from Venture Capitalists, and also Public-Private Partnership(PPP).
  • Human Resources Development –
    • For skilling, reskilling and upskilling of professionals in the medical device sector, we can leverage the available resources in Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
    • The policy will support dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices in existing institutions.
    • To develop partnerships with foreign academic/industry organizations to develop medical technologies in order to be in equal pace with the world market.
  • Brand Positioning & Awareness Creation –
    • Initiate studies and projects for learning from best global practices of manufacturing and skilling system so as to explore the feasibility of adapting such successful models in India.
    • Promote more forums to bring together various stakeholders for sharing knowledge and build strong networks across the sector.

The policy is expected to provide the required support and directions to strengthen the medical devices industry into a competitive, self-reliant, resilient and innovative industry that caters to the healthcare needs of not only India but also of the world.

Polity & Governance

Mains Article
27 Apr 2023

Chhattisgarh Maoist attack

Why in news?

  • Ten personnel of the Chhattisgarh Police’s District Reserve Guard (DRG) and the civilian driver of their vehicle were killed in an IED attack by Maoists in the state’s Dantewada district.
    • The special unit of the Chhattisgarh Police, the DRG, was raised from the local tribal population and trained to fight Maoists only a few years ago.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Left Wing Extremism (About, causes for spread, current situation)
  • News Summary

Left Wing Extremism (LWE)

  • It is the single internal security threat that affects the largest number of States in India.
  • LWE aims to overthrow the existing democratic state structure with violence as their primary weapon, and mass mobilization and strategic united fronts as complementary components.
    • They plan to usher in So-called ‘New Democratic Revolution’ in India.
  • Left-wing extremists are popularly known as Maoists worldwide and as Naxalites in India.

Causes for spread of LWE

  • Land Related Factors:
    • Encroachment and occupation of Government and Community lands (even the water-bodies) by powerful sections of society.
    • Lack of title to public land cultivated by the landless poor.
    • Poor implementation of laws prohibiting the transfer of tribal land to non-tribals in the Fifth Schedule areas.
    • Non-regularisation of traditional land rights.
  • Displacement and Forced Evictions:
    • Eviction from lands traditionally used by tribals.
    • Displacements caused by irrigation and power projects without adequate arrangements for rehabilitation.
    • Large scale land acquisition for ‘public purposes’ without appropriate compensation or rehabilitation.
  • Livelihood Related Causes:
    • Lack of food security – corruption in the Public Distribution System
    • Disruption of traditional occupations and lack of alternative work opportunities.
    • Deprivation of traditional rights in common property resources.
  • Social Exclusion:
    • Denial of dignity.
    • Continued practice, in some areas, of untouchability in various forms.
    • Poor implementation of special laws on prevention of atrocities, protection of civil rights and the abolition of bonded labour etc.
  • Governance Related Factors:
    • Corruption and inadequate provision/non-provision of essential public services including primary health care and education.
    • Misuse of powers by the police and violations of the norms of law.
    • Perversion of electoral politics and unsatisfactory working of local government institutions.

What is the current LWE situation in India?

  • Maoist violence came down
    • According to the Ministry of Home Affairs:
      • Maoist violence in the country has gone down by 77% since 2010;
      • The number of resultant deaths (security forces + civilians) has come down by 90 % from the all-time high of 1,005 in 2010 to 98 in 2022.
  • Number of districts declared to be Naxal-affected
    • The government has cut the number of districts declared to be Naxal-affected from over 200 in the early 2000s to just 90 now.
    • It claims that the geographical spread of violence is actually restricted to just 45 districts.
      • According to the MHA, the arc of violence has been considerably restricted with just 25 districts accounting for 90% of the LWE violence.
    • The presence of Naxals is said to be minimal to zero in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Bihar, which were at one time their strongholds.

News Summary: Chhattisgarh Maoist attack

Why does Chhattisgarh continue to remain troubled?

  • Late involvement of State Police in counter-Maoist operations
    • It is a widely accepted principle in counter-Maoist strategy that the war against Left Wing Extremism can only be won by the state police and not central forces.
      • This is because the state police have local knowledge and have local networks that are essential for the generation of intelligence.
    • It was through the active involvement of local police in the leading role that states such as Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand were able to end their Maoist problem.
    • This process, security establishment sources say, started late in Chhattisgarh.
    • By this time, police of neighbouring states had pushed Maoists from their states to Chhattisgarh, making it a concentrated zone of Maoist influence.
  • Absence of roads in the interiors of Bastar
    • The absence of roads in the interiors of Bastar has stymied the operations of security forces.
    • Minimal presence of the administration in the interiors of South Bastar has ensured that Maoists continue to have influence in the region.

How has the Centre responded?

  • Different schemes to support LWE states
    • Security Related Expenditure (SRE) - focuses on equipping security forces to fight Maoists;
    • The Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) - aims to strengthen local police and intelligence set ups;
    • Special Central Assistance for building infrastructure such as roads in LWE districts.
  • Massive presence of the CRPF
    • The Centre has maintained a massive presence of the CRPF in the affected states for almost two decades.
  • Erection of mobile towers
    • Centre is pushing for the erection of mobile towers in the interiors, which would help the local people connect with the mainstream, and also generate technical intelligence.
  • Maoists sympathisers on the radar of Centre
    • The Centre has also unleashed the counter-terrorism National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate on CPI(Maoist) cadres, leaders, and sympathisers with the aim to choke their funding.
  • SAMADHAN doctrine
    • It is the one-stop solution for the LWE problem. It encompasses the entire strategy of government from short-term policy to long-term policy formulated at different levels. SAMADHAN stands for-
      • S- Smart Leadership,
      • A- Aggressive Strategy,
      • M- Motivation and Training,
      • A- Actionable Intelligence,
      • D- Dashboard Based KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and KRAs (Key Result Areas),
      • H- Harnessing Technology,
      • A- Action plan for each Theatre,
      • N- No access to Financing.
    • It is a special initiative under, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (Formerly Ajeevika Skills), launched in June 2013 for training and placement of rural poor youth from 27 LWE-affected districts in 09 States



Defence & Security

Mains Article
27 Apr 2023

Digital Services Act (DSA)

Why in News?

  • The European Union (EU) has confirmed the names of 19 platforms that will be subject to its landmark online content rules.
    • Five subsidiaries of Google’s parent Alphabet, two Meta units, two Microsoft businesses, Apple’s AppStore, Twitter, and Alibaba’s AliExpress are among the entities that the EU has identified.
  • The rules notified under the Digital Services Act (DSA), aim at overhauling the EU’s social media and e-commerce rules.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Digital Services Act (DSA)

What is Digital Services Act (DSA)?

  • It is an EU regulation which came into force in EU law in November 2022 and will be directly applicable across the EU.
  • The act aims to address several issues related to digital services, including online safety, content moderation, and the responsibilities of online platforms.
  • The legislation includes new rules for large online platforms, such as social media networks and online marketplaces, to ensure greater accountability and transparency in their operations.
  • Goals
    • To create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected;
    • To establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness, both in the European Single Market and globally.

What are the key features of the Digital Services Act?

  • Faster removals and provisions to challenge
    • Social media companies will have to add new procedures for faster removal of content deemed illegal or harmful.
    • They will also have to explain to users how their content takedown policy works.
    • The DSA also allows for users to challenge takedown decisions taken by platforms and seek out-of-court settlements.
  • Bigger platforms have greater responsibility
    • Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines, those having more than 45 million users in the EU, will have more stringent requirements.
    • Hence, the law avoids a one-size fits all approach and places increased accountability on the Big Tech companies.
  • Direct supervision by European Commission
    • These requirements and their enforcement will be centrally supervised by the European Commission itself.
    • This is to ensure that companies do not sidestep the legislation at the member-state level.
  • More transparency on how algorithms work
    • Very Large Online Platforms and Very Large Online Search Engines will face transparency measures and scrutiny of how their algorithms work.
    • They will be required to conduct systemic risk analysis and reduction to drive accountability about the society impacts of their products.
  • Clearer identifiers for ads and who’s paying for them
    • Online platforms must ensure that users can easily identify advertisements and understand who presents or pays for the advertisement.
    • They must not display personalised advertising directed towards minors or based on sensitive personal data.

How does the EU’s DSA compare with India’s online laws?

  • Information Technology Rules, 2021
    • In February 2021, India had notified extensive changes to its social media regulations in the form of the Information Technology Rules, 2021 (IT Rules).
    • These rules placed significant due diligence requirements on large social media platforms such as Meta and Twitter. This included:
      • Appointing key personnel to handle law enforcement requests and user grievances,
      • Enabling identification of the first originator of the information on its platform under certain conditions,
      • Deploying technology-based measures on a best-effort basis to identify certain types of content.
  • Amendments to the IT Rules
    • In 2023, with a view to make the Internet open, safe and trusted, and accountable, the IT Ministry notified the creation of government-backed grievance appellate committees.
    • These committees would have the authority to review and revoke content moderation decisions taken by platforms.
  • Other laws
    • India is also working on a complete overhaul of its technology policies and is expected to soon come out with a replacement of its IT Act, 2000.
    • This law is expected to look at ensuring net neutrality and algorithmic accountability of social media platforms, among other things.


International Relations

April 26, 2023

Mains Article
26 Apr 2023

Quantum computers and India


  • Last week, India decided to join the global efforts of research on Quantum Computers by setting up a 6000 crore National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications.
  • Developing homegrown quantum computers is one of the major objectives of the mission.

Background to the Genesis of the Idea of Quantum Computers

  • Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, at a lecture (in 1982) at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory proposed the development of different, more powerful computers by utilising the quantum mechanical properties of matter.
  • This lecture is often considered the original idea behind quantum computers.

The concept of Quantum Computers

  • Quantum computers are not just the next generation of faster and more efficient computers, they exploit the very special properties of matter in the sub-atomic world for calculations beyond the capabilities of ordinary computers.
  • This technology uses the concepts of Superposition, Entanglement to solve calculations and complex problems in a matter of seconds.
  • Superposition
    • Small particles, the size of atoms or its constituents like protons or electrons exhibit strange properties that are against our everyday experiences.
    • These particles can exist at multiple locations at the same time and this phenomenon is called superposition.
  • Entanglement: The ability of a particle to instantaneously influence the behaviour of another with whom it had an earlier ‘interaction’, even when they are separated by arbitrarily great distances.

How quantum computers are different from conventional computers?

  • Conventional computers store and process information in bits (0 and 1).
    • A two-bit system in a conventional computer can have four states; (0,0), (0,1), (1,0), and (1,1), but only one at a time.
    • To go through each of these four states, the computer has to take four steps.
  • Whereas Quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits. The concept of superposition allows a supercomputer to process the ones and zeroes simultaneously.
    • Therefore, a quantum computer can process a lot more information than conventional computers.
    • With just a few qubits quantum computers can outpace traditional computers.
  • Quantum computers are fundamentally different in the way they handle and process information.
    • They are meant to be useful in some very specific situations where the traditional ways of computing are inadequate.
  • As more qubits are added, the processing capability of the quantum computer increases exponentially.
  • Tasks that conventional computers would take millions of years to finish can become a matter of seconds with a quantum computer
  • Such tasks are found in a variety of domains: Internet and data security, Health research, Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning, etc.

Challenges in Building a Quantum Computer

  • Requirements of very cold temperatures and extreme isolation without which there's a significant risk of errors.
  • Error correction, and the ability to guide the computer to produce the correct result as the most favoured option, is one of the ongoing areas of active research.
    • The parallel processing happening in superposition states all lead to different results, only one of which is correct or desirable.
    • The final outcome is randomly selected from the range of possibilities which would make quantum computer totally useless.

The Mission in India

  • Work on quantum technologies has been going on in India for the past 10 years, more vigorously in the last four-five years.
  • One objective of the mission is to build a 1,000-qubit computer in the next eight years.
  • A collaborative effort of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is developing a 7-qubit quantum computer.
  • Much more powerful quantum computers, having a few hundred qubits, have been developed in some other countries, though none of these have yet performed calculations beyond the capabilities of regular computers.


  • The excitement in the scientific community about the Quantum Mission is because it allows India to join a global technology development race when it is still in the nascent stages. 
  • To achieve the objective, India should partner and incentivise private sectors; many of them, are already working on developing Quantum computers.
  • By implementing right policies, investing heavily on R&D, India has the potential to achieve the objective of building a 1000 qubit computer.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
26 Apr 2023

Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings

Why in News?

  • Three years after the IITs boycotted the THE World University Rankings over issues of “transparency”, the ranking agency made specific changes in the performance parameters this year to address their concerns.
  • The Times Higher Education World University Rankings/THE Rankings are annually published by the UK-based Times Higher Education magazine.

 What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Why did IITs Boycott THE Rankings?
  • What are the Modifications in THE Rankins?
  • THE World University Rankings 2023

Why did IITs Boycott THE Rankings?

  • The seven old IITs (Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Kanpur, Roorkee, Kharagpur and Guwahati) had boycotted THE Rankings first in 2020, citing concerns over
  • None of them found a place among the world’s best 300 universities in 2019, when a relatively newer IIT (Indore) surprisingly beat its older and established counterparts by scoring high on the citation metric.
  • The citation metric measures the average number of times a university’s published work is cited by scholars globally, carrying a weightage of 30% earlier.
    • One of the reasons the IITs had raised concerns over the citation metric was the issue of collaborative research projects.
    • The IITs had alleged that participating institutions use collaborative research projects to bump up their score on the citation metric.
    • An institution that is part of such a project ends up having a disproportionate advantage over others because such projects get high citations due to multiple authors.

What are the Modifications in THE Rankings?

  • The weightage of citation metric has now been reduced by half, down to 15%.
  • Apart from this, THE has added three new indicators that collectively account for 15% - typical research strength (5%), excellence in research (5%) and the network effect of citations (5%) - collectively making up for the reduction in the citation metric.
    • While ‘typical research strength’ gauges how strong a university’s research is compared to others, ‘excellence in research’ is a measure that looks at whether a university has areas of outstanding research.
    • The ‘network effect of citations’ considers that a citation from a more important researcher carries more weight than a citation from a less important researcher.
  • THE argued that the above changes would address IITs’ concern over high ranking positions for very small, relatively unknown Indian Institutions, with high volatility of positions.
  • However, none of the 7 IITs have yet decided to resume their participation in THE Rankings.

THE World University Rankings 2023:

  • It includes 1,799 universities across 104 countries and regions, making them the largest and most diverse university rankings to date.
  • It is based on 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators that measure an institution’s performance across four areas: teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.



Polity & Governance

Mains Article
26 Apr 2023

Ongoing Protests Against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI)

Why in News?

  • Many of India's top wrestlers are sitting in protest in New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar, demanding action against Wrestling Federation of India chief Brij Bhushan Saran Singh.

What’s in today’s article?

  • About WFI (Objective, Contract System, etc.)
  • About Protests (Reasons, Demands, Action taken by Government, Way Ahead, etc.)

 About Wrestling Federation of India (WFI):

  • Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) is a governing body of wrestling.
  • It was founded in 1958 and is based in New Delhi.
  • It promotes wrestling players for the Olympics, Asian Games, National Wrestling Championships, and World Wrestling Championships.

WFI’s Contract System for Wrestlers:

  • In 2018, the WFI rolled out its revolutionary contracts system for the grapplers.
  • Under the system, the wrestlers have been placed in four grades –
    • Grade A offers financial assistance of 30 lakh rupees;
    • Grade B contract offers a financial assistance of 20 lakh rupees;
    • The C category offers support of 10 lakh rupees;
    • The D category offers support of 5 lakh rupees.
  • The contracts are reviewed after one year.

Why are India’s Top Wrestlers Protesting?

  • Veteran Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat had alleged that WFI President Brij Bhushan has been involved since many years in sexually exploiting women wrestlers.
  • She further claimed that several coaches at the national camp in Lucknow have also exploited women wrestlers.
  • The wrestlers have also alleged financial mismanagement and arbitrariness in the functioning of the WFI.

What are the Protesting Wrestlers Demanding?

  • The wrestlers are demanding that an FIR be registered against Brij Bhushan on the basis of their police complaint, and that he be arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as one of the complainants is a minor.
  • They have also demanded that he should be removed as the WFI president, and that the federation should be dissolved.

How has the WFI Responded to the Protests?

  • Brij Bhushan has rubbished the allegations of sexual harassment.
  • In January, he said he was “willing to be hanged” if proven guilty.
  • The WFI has denied claims of financial mismanagement and arbitrariness in its functioning.

What Measures has the Central Government Taken?

  • In January, the government persuaded the wrestlers to call off their protest by forming an Oversight Committee.
    • The committee was tasked with looking into the allegations against Brij Bhushan as well as managing the day-to-day affairs of the WFI.
  • The six-member committee, headed by boxing legend MC Mary Kom, was given four weeks to come up with its findings. However, it submitted its report only in the first week of April.
  • The committee has since been disbanded.
  • Following the fresh protests recently, the Government has declared the ongoing process for the WFI elections, which were scheduled for May 7th, null and void.

What are the Findings of the Oversight Committee?

  • The report is still being “examined”, and has not been made public.
  • However, the Sports Ministry has recently shared the “major findings” following preliminary scrutiny of the report.
  • The key points stated by the government were –
    • Absence of a duly constituted Internal Complaints Committee in WFI under the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013;
    • Lack of an adequate mechanism for awareness building among sportspersons, for grievance redressal, etc.;
    • Need for more transparency and consultation between the Federation and the stakeholders, including the sportspersons;
    • Need for effective communication between the Federation and sportspersons.

What Happens Next?

  • Seven women wrestlers filed separate police complaints against WFI President Brij Bhushan Singh on April 21, accusing him of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation over a 10-year period from 2012 to 2022.
  • The Supreme Court will hear the matter on April 28.
  • The wrestlers have said they will continue the protests until their demands are met.
  • The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has declared the upcoming elections for the WFI President post as “null and void”.
  • The Ministry has requested the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to form a transitory or ad-hoc committee to run the day-to-day affairs of the WFI and to conduct elections to its new executive committee within 45 days of the formation of such interim body.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
26 Apr 2023

Cheetah death at Kuno National Park

Why in news?

  • In Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh another Cheetah (a six-year-old male), translocated from South Africa in February, died recently.
  • This is the second cheetah death in Kuno after the translocation of the big cats from Namibia and South Africa to India that started in September 2022.
    • In March, a Namibian cheetah named Sasha had died of kidney complications.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Project Cheetah
  • News Summary

What is Project Cheetah?

  • It is the proposal to reintroduce cheetahs to its former habitat in India.
  • The aim of the project has been to reintroduce the feline species in India after they were declared extinct in 1952.
  • Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh has been selected as the most suitable site for Cheetah reintroduction under the project.
    • In September 2022, PM Modi released a coalition of cheetahs into the Kuno National Park.
      • Eight cheetahs, five of which are female, were flown from Windhoek, Namibia, to Gwalior.
      • It was the first intercontinental transfer of wild cats into India since independence.
    • Later, in February 2023, 12 South African cheetahs were released into enclosures inside Kuno National Park.
  • Discussions to bring the Cheetah back to India were initiated in 2009 by the Wildlife Trust of India.
    • Under the ‘Action Plan for Reintroduction of Cheetah in India’, 50 cheetahs will be brought from African countries to various national parks over 5 years.

News Summary: Cheetah death at Kuno National Park

Were these unfortunate cheetah deaths unexpected?

  • Cheetah Project anticipated high mortality
    • The Cheetah Project did anticipate high mortality.
    • The criteria for the project’s short-term success was only 50% survival of the introduced cheetah for the first year. That would be 10 out of 20.
  • Project overestimated Kuno’s carrying capacity for cheetahs
    • The project came under pressure after a number of experts pointed out that it had overestimated Kuno’s carrying capacity for cheetahs.
    • Hence, the Madhya Pradesh government set a six-month deadline for readying Gandhisagar — in the Chambal river valley in Mandsaur and Nimach districts — for the cheetahs.
    • There is also talk about moving a few animals from Kuno to the safety of an 80-sq-km fenced area in Rajasthan’s Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve.
  • Shifting goalposts
    • The project’s stated purpose was that of establishing the cheetah in an open landscape as a free-roaming and self-sustaining population occupying thousands of square miles.
    • However, it seems that the focus is shifting to managing the African imports as a few pocket populations in fenced-in or restricted areas.

Is shifting the goalpost a viable step?

  • In the absence of natural dispersal, managing a meta-population involves moving suitable individuals from one pocket population to another to maintain genetic viability.
  • In 2018, a study documented how meta-population management conserved a declining population of 217 cheetahs in 40 small populations in South Africa.

How do cheetahs die?

  • The South African study documented the causes of mortality, where it could be established, for 293 cheetah deaths.
  • Deaths attributed to handling and management
    • Almost 15%, one in every seven, cheetah deaths were attributed to handling and management.
    • It included deaths due to holding camps, immobilisation/ transit and due to tracking devices.
  • Predation - the biggest killer
    • Predation accounting for 53.2% of cheetah mortality.
    • Lions, leopards, hyenas, and jackals were primarily responsible.
    • It is well documented that cheetahs suffer very high cubs mortality — up to 90% in protected areas — mainly due to predation.

What options are available to the Cheetah project now?

  • The Cheetah Project can choose to cut the risk by settling for the South African model of retaining a few pocket populations in fenced-in reserves.
  • Also, the project has to find a way for people and cheetahs to share space in the central Indian landscape.
  • In the long run, the success of the cheetah project will be determined within the framework of India’s traditional conservation ethos.
    • India’s traditional conservation ethos envisages protecting naturally dispersing wildlife in viable non-fragmented habitats.
Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
26 Apr 2023

Genome sequencing and the Genome India Project

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) said that the exercise to sequence 10,000 Indian human genomes is about two-thirds complete.
    • About 7,000 Indian genomes have already been sequenced of which, 3,000 are available for public access by researchers.
  • This exercise is being conducted to create a database under the Centre-backed Genome India Project.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Genome sequencing
  • Genome India Project

What is genome sequencing?

  • Human genome
    • The human genome is the entire set of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) residing in the nucleus of every cell of each human body.
    • It carries the complete genetic information responsible for the development and functioning of the organism.
    • The DNA consists of a double-stranded molecule built up by four bases – adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T).
    • Every base on one strand pairs with a complementary base on the other strand (A with T and C with G).
    • In all, the genome is made up of approximately 3.05 billion such base pairs.
  • Genome sequencing
    • While the sequence or order of base pairs is identical in all humans, compared to another species, there are differences in the genome of every human being that makes them unique.
    • The process of deciphering the order of base pairs, to decode the genetic fingerprint of a human is called genome sequencing.
    • In other words, Genome sequencing is the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism's genome.
    • There are several methods of genome sequencing, but the most common is called next-generation sequencing (NGS).
    • NGS allows for rapid, accurate, and cost-effective sequencing of large amounts of DNA.
  • Human Genome Project (HGP)
    • In 1990, a group of scientists began to work on determining the whole sequence of the human genome under the Human Genome Project.
    • The project released the latest version of the complete human genome in 2023, with a 0.3% error margin.
    • The process of whole-genome sequencing, made possible by the Human Genome Project, now facilitates the reading of a person’s individual genome to identify differences from the average human genome.
    • These differences or mutations can tell us about each human’s susceptibility or future vulnerability to a disease, their reaction or sensitivity to a particular stimulus, and so on.

What are the applications of genome sequencing?

  • To evaluate rare disorder
    • Genome sequencing has been used to evaluate rare disorders, preconditions for disorders, even cancer from the viewpoint of genetics, rather than as diseases of certain organs.
    • Nearly 10,000 diseases — including cystic fibrosis and thalassemia — are known to be the result of a single gene malfunctioning.
  • Tool for prenatal screening
    • It has also been used as a tool for prenatal screening, to investigate whether the foetus has genetic disorders or anomalies.
    • Technology Crispr, which relies on sequencing, may potentially allow scientists to repair disease-causing mutations in human genomes.
  • In public health
    • Sequencing has been used to read the codes of viruses.
    • One of its first practical usages was in 2014, when a group of scientists sequenced samples of Ebola from infected African patients to show how genomic data of viruses could reveal hidden pathways of transmission.
    • In January 2020, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese scientist sequenced the genome of a novel pathogen.
      • Later, genome sequencing of the virus led to the development of vaccine and the creation of diagnostic PCR machines.
      • To enable an effective COVID-19 pandemic response, researchers kept track of emerging variants and conducting further studies about their transmissibility, immune escape and potential to cause severe disease.
      • Genomic sequencing became one of the first steps in this important process.
    • India also put in place a sequencing framework. The Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia (INSACOG) was tasked with scanning coronavirus samples from patients.
  • Uses at the population level
    • Advanced analytics and AI could be applied to essential datasets created by collecting genomic profiles across the population.
    • This would allow to develop greater understanding of causative factors and potential treatments of diseases.

What is Genome India project?

  • The Genome India Project is a gene mapping project sanctioned by the Department of Biotechnology.
  • It was launched with the goal of creating a comprehensive database of genetic variations among the Indian population.
  • The project aims to sequence the genomes of over 10,000 Indians from different regions of the country and establish a reference genome for the Indian population.

What is the significance of the Genome India project?

  • To learn about genetic variants unique to the Indian population
    • This project allows researchers to learn about genetic variants unique to India’s population groups and use that to customise drugs and therapies.
    • This will help unravel the genetic underpinnings of chronic diseases currently on the rise in India, for example, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer.
  • Database for 1.3 billion population
    • India’s 1.3 billion-strong population consists of over 4,600 population groups, many of which are endogamous.
    • Thus, the Indian population harbours distinct variations, with disease-causing mutations often amplified within some of these groups.
    • Findings from population-based or disease-based human genetics research from other populations of the world cannot be extrapolated to Indians.
Science & Tech
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