Jan. 31, 2024

Mains Article
31 Jan 2024

A Blurred Mapping of Internal Female Migration


  • Internal migration in India is a critical aspect of physical and social dynamics, as highlighted by the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS).
  • While normative literature often portrays this narrative as male-dominated, a significant proportion comprises women, especially those of working age, demanding attention due to the alarming decline in the Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR).
  • It becomes imperative to investigate the challenges faced by female migrants, shedding light on the discrepancies in data collection, societal norms and policy gaps that contribute to their marginalized status.

Magnitude and Gender Dynamics of Internal Migration

  • Magnitude of Internal Migration
    • Internal migration in India accounts for 27% from June 2020 to 2021, according to data from the PLFS.
    • This statistic highlights the substantial movement of people within the country during the specified period.
  • Gendered Narrative of Migration
    • While traditional literature tends to portray migration as predominantly male-driven, the analysis challenges this perspective.
    • It asserts that women, particularly those of working age, comprise a significant share of the migrant population.
    • This concept challenges the commonly held notion that internal migration is primarily a male-centric phenomenon.
    • It challenges the stereotype that migration is predominantly driven by male economic pursuits and emphasises the importance of recognising the diverse reasons why women migrate.

Issues Associated with National Surveys

  • Issues with PLFS
    • National surveys such as the PLFS, primarily focus on the respondents' primary reason for migration.
    • In the case of women, the leading reason reported is marriage (81%), followed by migration of family members (10%), employment (2.42%), and migration for education opportunities (0.48%).
    • This approach oversimplifies the multifaceted nature of women's migration experiences, as it does not delve into secondary motivations or factors like climate shocks and food insecurity, which might be crucial drivers for female migration.
  • Misrepresentation of Labour Force Participation
    • The accuracy of data regarding migrant women's labour force participation obtained from these surveys is questionable.
    • According to PLFS data during the specified period (COVID-19 pandemic), approximately three-quarters of migrant women are reported as unemployed, around 14% are in self and wage-employed jobs, and about 12% are in casual labour.
    • However, these figures may be misleading due to potential underreporting of employment status, especially in informal or casual sectors such as agriculture, construction, and domestic help.
  • Underreporting of Employment Status
    • Definitional issues and women's beliefs contribute to the underreporting of employment among migrant women.
    • The surveys typically classify only those with formal contracts as part of the labour force, excluding those engaged in unpaid family work, household enterprises, or self-employment.
    • Women might not perceive these activities as formal employment, leading to a misrepresentation of their actual employment status.
  • Overlooking Informal Employment
    • Experts highlight that migrant women often engage in informal employment, which is not adequately captured by surveys.
    • This includes activities in sectors categorised as casual or informal, such as agriculture, construction, and domestic help.
    • The failure to account for such employment contributes to the invisibility of female migrants in various sectors.

Broader Concerns Related to Women Migrant Workers

  • Limited Political Representation
    • Often female migrants are not considered a considerable vote bank in political contexts.
    • As a result, their needs and concerns are often overlooked by political parties.
    • This lack of political representation contributes to the marginalisation of female migrants, as policymakers may not prioritise issues that specifically affect this demographic.
  • Lack of Campaigning for Migrant Women's Votes
    • Traditionally political partiesdo not actively campaign to gain the votes of migrant women.
    • The electoral strategies of political parties may not include addressing the concerns of this demographic, further perpetuating the lack of attention and policies tailored to their unique challenges.
  • Detrimental Outcomes for Policy Formulation
    • The political marginalisation of female migrants has detrimental outcomes for policy formulation.
    • Existing policies, such as One Nation One Ration Card, e-Shram, and affordable rental housing complexes, are cited as examples.
    • These policies are primarily targeted towards the male migrant population, neglecting the specific needs, motivations, and conditions of female migrants.
  • Uninformed Policy-Making
    • Due to the lack of political attention policy-making becomes poorly informed about the realities faced by female migrants.
    • The absence of targeted policies may result in overlooking the struggles and challenges unique to this demographic, hindering their socio-economic advancement and overall well-being.
  • Invisibility in Data and Policy Discourse
    • The political marginalisation of female migrants contributes to their invisibility in both data collection and policy discourse.
    • The lack of emphasis on their experiences may lead to a one-size-fits-all approach, where policies designed for the general migrant population may not adequately address the nuanced challenges faced by women.

Steps To Be Considered for Improvement

  • Comprehensive Socio-Economic Data Collection
    • National surveys should compile more information regarding the socio-economic conditions of female migrants’ post-migration.
    • This involves expanding data collection beyond primary reasons for migration to include secondary motivations, such as climate shocks and food insecurity.
    • A more comprehensive dataset would provide a nuanced understanding of the factors influencing female migration.
  • Change in Narrative with Female-Specific Data
    • There is a need for a change in the narrative around female migration, starting with an increased collection of female-specific data.
    • By highlighting the often-anecdotal nature of the problem and bringing awareness to the specific challenges faced by female migrants, a shift in narrative can occur.
    • This change is crucial for encouraging progressive policymaking that considers the unique circumstances of women.
  • Reformulation of Policies
    • To address the gender-specific challenges faced by female migrants, there is a need for reformulation of policies.
    • Existing policies, such as One Nation One Ration Card, e-Shram, and affordable rental housing complexes, are critiqued for not adequately addressing the needs of female migrants.
    • Reformulating policies to be more inclusive and gender-sensitive is proposed to ensure that the unique challenges faced by women are adequately addressed.
  • Targeted Interventions for Female Migrants
    • Recognising the marginalised status of female migrants, there is a need for targeted interventions.
    • This involves developing policies and programs specifically tailored to address the socio-economic, educational, and employment needs of women who migrate internally.
    • By focusing on the unique challenges faced by female migrants, these interventions aim to promote their well-being and inclusion in society.


  • The challenges faced by female migrants in India demand urgent attention and policy intervention.
  • The misrepresentation in national surveys, definitional issues, barriers in human and social capital, political neglect, and policy gaps contribute to the marginalisation of this demographic.
  • A comprehensive understanding of the unique struggles faced by female migrants is essential to formulate targeted policies and ensure their integration into the formal labour force.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
31 Jan 2024

Indian Stamp Bill 2023

Why in news?

  • The Centre has proposed repealing the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and bringing in a new law for the stamp duty regime in the country.
  • In this context, recently, the Ministry of Finance invited suggestions on the draft ‘Indian Stamp Bill, 2023’ from the public.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Stamp duty
  • Indian Stamp Bill 2023
  • Indian Stamp Act 1899

Stamp duty

  • About
    • A stamp duty is essentially a govt tax, which is levied to register documents, like an agreement or transaction paper between two or more parties, with the registrar.
  • Amount
    • Usually, the amount specified is fixed based on the document’s nature or is charged at a certain percentage of the agreement value stated in the document.
  • Levied on
    • Stamp duties can be levied on bills of exchange, cheques, promissory notes, bills of lading, letters of credit, policies of insurance, transfer of shares, debentures, proxies and receipts.
  • Valid evidence in a court of law
    • Stamp duties are accepted as valid evidence in a court of law.
  • Appropriation of stamp duties
    • Stamp duties are levied by the Centre but appropriated by the concerned states within their territories under Article 268 of the Constitution.

Indian Stamp Bill, 2023

  • About
    • The Indian Stamp Bill, 2023 is a draft bill prepared by the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance.
    • The bill aims to replace the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and align it with a modern stamp duty regime.
  • Need for new bill
    • Several provisions of the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 have now become redundant or inoperative.
      • For instance, there was a lack of provisions for digital e-stamping in the 1899 Act.
    • Also, in earlier act, there was lack of uniform legislation for all Indian states regarding stamp duties.
      • The 1899 Act extended to 30 states and Union Territories combined while six states followed their own stamp acts and rules.
  • Key features
    • In order to equip India for a seamless digital era, the bill includes provisions for digital e-stamping.
    • It defines an electronic stamp or e-stamp as an electronically generated impression denoting the payment of stamp duty by electronic means or otherwise.
    • There are also provisions for digital signatures.
      • Digital or electronic signature refers to the authentication of any electronic record by a subscriber through an electronic method or procedure.
    • The draft Bill also proposes to raise penalties.
      • It seeks to increase the maximum penalty amount from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 for contravening any provisions of the law and impose Rs 1,000 per day for repeated offences.

Indian Stamp Act, 1899

  • The Indian Stamp Act, 1899 is a fiscal or money-related statute that lays down the law relating to tax levied in the form of stamps on instruments recording transactions.
  • Section 2 of the Act says that an instrument refers to any document that creates, transfers, limits, extends, ends, or records a right or liability.
  • According to this Act, a "stamp" means any mark, seal, or endorsement made by a person authorized by the State Government.
  • This definition also covers adhesive or impressed stamps used to charge duty under this Act.
  • Section 3 of this Act prescribes that certain instruments or documents shall be chargeable with the amount indicated in Schedule 1 of the Act.
    • These include bills of exchange or promissory notes.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
31 Jan 2024

Budget Session begins and suspension of Opposition MPs revoked

Why in news?

  • On the eve of Parliament’s Budget Session, the suspension of 14 Opposition MPs — 11 from Rajya Sabha and three from Lok Sabha — was revoked.
  • This was done to enable them to attend the customary President’s address to both Houses of Parliament.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Parliamentary Sessions
  • Suspension of MPs
  • News Summary

Parliamentary Sessions

  • Constitutional provisions with respect to Parliamentary Sessions
    • Article 85 of the Indian Constitution states that the President can summon each House of Parliament to meet at a time and place of their choosing.
    • The President can also prorogue, or end, a parliamentary session, or dissolve the Lok Sabha.
  • Power to convene a session of Parliament
    • The Central government has the authority to call for a session.
    • The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA), which includes several Cabinet ministers, determines the date and number of sittings.
    • After finalising the session schedule, the President calls upon the Members of Parliament to convene for the upcoming session.
    • The MPs are informed about the number of sittings and other details about the tentative business of the House through the summons sent by the President.
  • Timetable
    • The Constitution doesn’t provide for a fixed number of sessions or days of sitting.
    • However, three sessions are typically held each calendar year — the Budget, Monsoon, and Winter sessions.
  • Current status
    • The longest, the Budget Session, starts towards the end of January, and concludes by the end of April or first week of May.
      • This session has a recess so that Parliamentary Committees can discuss the budgetary proposals.
    • The second session is the three-week Monsoon Session, which usually begins in July and finishes in August.
    • The parliamentary year ends with a three week-long Winter Session, which is held from November to December.

Suspension of MPs

  • It is the role and duty of the Presiding Officer — Speaker of Lok Sabha and Chairman of Rajya Sabha — to maintain order so that the House can function smoothly.
  • In order to ensure that proceedings are conducted in the proper manner, the Speaker/ Chairman is empowered to force a Member to withdraw from the House.

Rules under which the Presiding Officer/Chairman acts

  • For Lok Sabha
    • Rule Number 373 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business
      • It empowers presiding officers to direct an MP to withdraw from the House for any disorderly conduct.
      • This rule says that any Member so ordered to withdraw shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.
    • Rules 374 and 374A- To deal with more recalcitrant Members.
      • Rule 374 empowers the Presiding officers to name the legislators if the MP continues disrupting the House even after repeated warnings.
      • After that, the House can move a motion to suspend the MP for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session
      • Rule 374A was incorporated in the Rule Book in December 2001.The intention was to circumvent the necessity of adopting a motion for suspension.
        • Under this rule, the Speaker can name an MP, who shall then automatically stand suspended for five days or the remaining part of the session.
  • For Rajya Sabha
    • Rule 255 of the Rule Book of Rajya Sabha
      • It empowers the Chairman of Rajya Sabha to direct any Member to withdraw immediately from the House for any disorderly conduct.
    • Rule 256
      • This rule empowers the Chairman to name the members who persistently disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the Council.
      • After that, the House may adopt a motion suspending the Member for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.
    • It should be noted that, unlike Lok Sabha (under rule 374A), Rajya Sabha can not suspend its members without passing a motion for the same.

News Summary: Budget Session begins and suspension of Opposition MPs revoked

  • The Budget session of Parliament, the last of the 17th Lok Sabha (LS), will begin with the President’s address to a joint sitting of both Houses on January 31.
  • 14 Opposition MPs, suspended during the last session and their cases referred to the Privileges Committees, will return to attend the Budget session.
    • A record 146 Opposition MPs, from both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, were suspended during the Winter Session.
    • They were suspended for disrupting proceedings to press their demand for a statement from Home Minister on the Parliament security breach on December 13.
    • While the other MPs were suspended for the remainder of the Winter Session, the suspension of 14 MPs was referred to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha privileges committees.
  • The Chairs in the two Houses have agreed to the government’s request to revoke their suspensions.



Polity & Governance

Mains Article
31 Jan 2024

The Report on the Status of Snow Leopards in India

Why in News?

  • The Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change released the report on the Status of Snow Leopards in India during the National Board for Wildlife meeting held in New Delhi.
  • The report was released as part of the Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program, which is the first-ever scientific exercise that reports Snow leopard population of 718 individuals in India.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About the Snow Leopard
  • What is the Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program?
  • Findings of the SPAI Program
  • Significance of the SPAI Program
  • Recommendations of the SPAI Program 

About the Snow Leopard:

  • The snow leopard is a Felidae (mammals in the order Carnivora) in the genus Panthera.
  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List and is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.
  • Globally, snow leopards can be found in 12 countries covering a range of 18 lakh sq km with the largest share in the Tibetan plateau of China, followed by Mongolia and India.
    • Other countries include Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • In India, snow leopards can be largely found in the high altitude cold, arid and rugged terrains of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Snow leopards play a key role as a top predator, an indicator of the health of their high-altitude habitat, and an important indicator of the impacts of climate change on mountain environments.
  • If snow leopards thrive, so will countless other species and the largest freshwater reservoirs of the planet.
  • However, poaching, habitat loss, declines in natural prey species and retaliatory killings resulting from human-wildlife conflict are the main reasons this big cat is under threat.
  • According to the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Programme, the total snow leopard population in the world is roughly estimated at between 4,000 and 6,500

What is the Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program?

  • The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is the National Coordinator for this exercise that was carried out with the support of all snow leopard range states and two conservation partners, the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru and WWF-India.
  • The SPAI systematically covered over 70% of the potential snow leopard range in the country and the SPAI exercise was conducted from 2019 to 2023 using a meticulous two-step framework.
    • The first step involved evaluating Snow leopard spatial distribution, through an occupancy-based sampling approach in the potential distribution range.
    • In the second step, Snow leopard abundance was estimated using camera traps in each identified stratified region.

Findings of the SPAI Program:

  • India has an estimated 718 snow leopards in the wild, which are spread over two UTs and four states in the Himalayan Mountain range.
    • India may be home to one-sixth to one-ninth of the global population of these 'Ghosts of the Mountains' as these majestic animals are often called because of their incredible natural camouflage.
  • The estimated population in different states are as follows: Ladakh (477), Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), and Jammu and Kashmir (9).

Significance of the SPAI Program:

  • Consistent monitoring is essential to ensuring Snow leopards' long-term survival.
  • Until recent years, the snow leopard range in India was undefined due to a lack of extensive nationwide assessments for this vulnerable species.
  • Recent status surveys have significantly increased understanding, providing preliminary information for 80% of the range, compared to 56% in a previous estimate of 2016.
  • The data not only quantifies their numbers but unveils the narrative of coexistence between local communities and snow leopards.
  • These regular assessments will offer valuable insights for identifying challenges, addressing threats, and formulating effective conservation strategies.

Recommendations of the SPAI Program:

  • It mentions the need for establishing a dedicated Snow Leopard Cell at WII, with a primary focus on
    • Long-term population monitoring,
    • Supported by well-structured study designs and consistent field surveys.
  • States and UTs can consider adopting a periodic population estimation approach (every 4th year) in the Snow leopard range.


Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
31 Jan 2024

Corruption Index: India Ranks 93 among 180 Nations

Why in the News?

  • According to a Transparency International report, India ranked 93 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2023.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Corruption Perception Index (Objective, Scoring Method, Significance, etc.)
  • Corruption Perception Index 2023 (Rankings of the Countries)

Corruption Perception Index:

  • The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an index which ranks countries "by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys."
  • The CPI generally defines corruption as an "abuse of entrusted power for private gain".
  • It is the most widely used global corruption ranking in the world.
  • It measures how corrupt each country’s public sector is perceived to be, according to experts and business people.
  • The index is published annually by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International since 1995.

How are Country Scores Calculated?

  • Each country’s score is a combination of at least 3 data sources drawn from 13 different corruption surveys and assessments.
  • These data sources are collected by a variety of reputable institutions, including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.
  • The CPI measures perception of corruption due to the difficulty of measuring absolute levels of corruption.
  • A country’s score is the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0-100, where 0 means highly corrupt and 100 means very clean.

Significance of the CPI Rankings:

  • The CPI is the leading measurement for public sector corruption worldwide.
  • Because it combines many different manifestations of corruption into one globally comparable indicator, it provides a more comprehensive picture of the situation in a particular country than each source taken separately.
  • The process for calculating the CPI is regularly reviewed to make sure it is as robust and coherent as possible.

Corruption Perception Index 2023:

  • The 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index shows that corruption is thriving across the world.
  • Over two-thirds of countries score below 50 out of 100, which strongly indicates that they have serious corruption problems. 
  • The global average is stuck at only 43, while the vast majority of countries have made no progress or declined in the last decade. 23 countries fell to their lowest scores to date this year.
  • Denmark (90), Finland (87)&New Zealand (85) are ranked top 3 countries in the rankings, respectively.
  • Every region is either stagnant in its overall corruption efforts or showing signs of decline.
    • While Western Europe and the European Union remains the top-scoring region, its regional average score dropped to 65 this year.
    • Sub-Saharan Africa maintains the lowest average at 33, with democracy and the rule of law under pressure.
    • The rest of the world remains stagnant with all other regions having averages under 50.
  • In 2023, India's overall score was 39 which puts it at 93rd position out of 180 countries. India's rank in 2022 was 85.
    • As per the report, India’s score shows fluctuations small enough that no firm conclusions can be drawn on any significant change.
  • In South Asia, both Pakistan (133) and Sri Lanka (115) grapple with their respective debt burdens and ensuing political instability, it said.
  • China (76) has made headlines with its aggressive anti-corruption crackdown by punishing more than 3.7 million public officials for corruption over the last decade.
Polity & Governance

Jan. 30, 2024

Mains Article
30 Jan 2024

Populism Does Not Help Public Health


  • In the diverse picture of India, with busy cities and peaceful villages living side by side, there is a quiet battle happening for public health but this fight often gets less attention compared to the appeal of curing diseases.
  • Even though preventing these diseases is important, the focus in politics tends to be on immediate and tangible accomplishments like building new hospitals, providing cheaper treatments, and handling emergencies.
  • Therefore, it is important to delve into difficulties and shortcomings of the current democratic approach to public health, highlighting the need to change strategies based on evidence and focused on the long-term goals.

The Dichotomy of Democratic Process in Public Health in India

  • Focus on New Hospitals and Subsidised Treatments
    • The focus on constructing new hospitals and offering subsidised treatments in private healthcare institutions is a hallmark of democratic governance.
    • While these initiatives address immediate healthcare needs, their efficacy in promoting sustained population health is not seen much on the ground.
    • Political leaders often gravitate towards emergency response strategies, such as the immediate mobilisation of state machinery during health crises.
    • Many of these measures do not have much of an impact because of a lack of action beyond public announcements.
  • Placement of Emergency Response Over Critical Preventive Efforts
    • The emphasis on visible achievements is often constrained by budgetary limitations, leading to challenges in the effective implementation of announced initiatives.
    • This raises concerns about the sustainability and long-term impact of such endeavours.
    • The unintended consequence of this prioritisation is the neglect of critical areas such as sanitation, disease surveillance, and public health education.
    • These aspects are indispensable in maintaining population health and preventing disease outbreaks.
    • The significance of unsung victories achieved through preventive measures is often overlooked and shadowed by tangible achievements.
    • The success stories in eradicating diseases like smallpox, controlling polio, and preventing neonatal tetanus and measles are less dramatic but they contribute significantly to the overall well-being of the population.

A Case Study of Dengue Highlighting this Dichotomy

  • Short-Term Focused Response
    • In times of dengue outbreaks, political leaders tend to prioritise immediate relief measures, such as setting up relief camps and providing symptomatic treatments.
    • This reactive approach is often driven by the urgency of the situation and the need to address the immediate suffering of the affected population.
    • The lack of focus on preventive measures may lead to a recurring cycle of outbreaks, putting additional strain on the healthcare system and resources.
  • Neglect of Root Causes and Prevention
    • The mobilisation of state machinery for emergency relief may overshadow the importance of long-term strategies, including understanding vector bionomics, vaccine development, and improving public health infrastructure.
    • As a result, the current approach fails to prevent future outbreaks and strains the health-care system.
    • Research and development in these areas are crucial. For example, despite its limitations and restrictions, the existing dengue vaccine underscores the need for more research.
    • Climate change is also affecting mosquito breeding and movement patterns, and public health strategies need to adapt to these changes.

Challenges and Disparities in the Landscape of Public Health in India

  • Profit-Driven Nature of Pharmaceutical Industry
    • The instrumental role of the pharmaceutical industry in advancing curative medicine cannot be denied.
    • However, the industry's profit-driven nature tends to sideline public health concerns.
    • For instance, despite having the same medicines to fight tuberculosis (TB), India reported 21.4 lakh TB cases in 2021, an 18% increase from 2020, translating to an incidence of 210 cases per 1,00,000 population.
    • In contrast, the United States reported only 8,331 TB cases in 2022, about 2.5 cases per 1,00,000 persons.
  • The Socio-Economic Disparity
    • This disparity between the US and India is not merely a matter of the availability of medical treatment but is deeply linked to socio-economic factors.
    • Socio-economic factors such as poverty, sanitation, and overcrowding are prevalent in India and these factors contribute significantly to the higher incidence of diseases.
  • Policy Targets vs. Health Realities
    • POSHAN Abhiyan plans to reduce stunting by 2%, undernutrition by 2%, anaemia by 3%, and low birth weight by 2% every year.
    • But the fifth National Family Health Survey found 35.5% of children under five were stunted and 32.1% were underweight in 2019-21.
    • The prevalence of anaemic children aged 6-59 months increased from 58.6% to 67.1%, and 54.1% to 59.1% among women aged 15-19 years.
    • This disparity between prevalence and policy targets highlights a significant gap in public health efforts.
  • Absence of Specialised Courses in Education System
    • Behavioural change is key to managing public health challenges, yet, it can be challenging in political environments influenced by populist tendencies.
    • The absence of specialised courses such as public health engineering in India’s educational institutions points to a gap in the multidisciplinary approach required in public health management.
    • Public health is not just about treating diseases rather it is about preventing them, requiring expertise from various fields such as environmental science, sociology, urban planning, and economics.
    • The current physician-centric focus of India’s public health system often fails to capture this comprehensive nature.

Way Forward

  • More Focus on Preventive Management: Effective public health management should encompass preventive measures, policy formulation, community health, and environmental health, among others.
  • Need for a Degree of Autonomy in Healthcare
    • In public health, adopting a separation of powers approach is essential.
    • A fair and effective health system requires freedom from political influence, focusing on policymaking and implementation driven by scientific evidence and long-term objectives.
    • While prioritising health decisions based on scientific evidence and overarching public health goals are crucial, there is a risk of disconnecting from the immediate health concerns of the general populace.
    • To address this, an ideal solution would be to place Health Ministries directly under the leadership of elected officials, such as the Chief Minister or the Prime Minister, similar to the management of the space and the atomic energy departments.
    • This structure would not only provide a degree of autonomy but also ensure that health policies are aligned with the people’s immediate and practical needs, striking a balance between expert-driven decisions and public aspirations.
    • To borrow an idea from the architecture of India’s judicial setup and also the space programme, health care will benefit from being separated from political processes.
    • This separation will ensure that public health policies are driven by data and expertise, not electoral cycles.


  • While democracy is not inherently harmful to public health, the current approach within democratic systems often falls short.
  • There is an urgent need for a reimagining of public health governance, emphasising evidence-based, holistic, and long-term strategies that address both immediate and future health needs.


Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
30 Jan 2024

UGC’s Draft Guidelines Spark Outrage over ‘Dereservation’ in Faculty Recruitment

Why in the News?

  • The Union government and the University Grants Commission (UGC) have clarified that faculty positions in universities reserved for SC, ST, OBC, and EWS candidates will not be opened to the general category.
  • This was done after academicians criticised the UGC’s draft guidelines which suggested the possibility of opening unfilled vacancies for SC, ST, OBC candidates to general candidates in “rare and exceptional cases”.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About UGC (Objective, Mandate)
  • News Summary (Draft Proposal, Current Scenario, etc.)

University Grants Commission (UGC)

  • The University Grants Commission of India is a statutory body under the provisions of UGC Act, 1956.
  • It is responsible for coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.
  • It provides recognition to universities in India, and disburses funds to such recognized universities and college.
  • Nodal Ministry: Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education

Mandate of UGC

  • Promoting and coordinating university education.
  • Determining and maintaining standards of teaching, examination and research in universities.
  • Framing regulations on minimum standards of education.
  • Monitoring developments in the field of collegiate and university education; disbursing grants to the universities and colleges.
  • Serving as a vital link between the Union and State governments and institutions of higher learning.
  • Advising the Central and State governments on the measures necessary for the improvement of university education.

News Summary:

  • In December, 2023, the higher education regulator had shared draft guidelines on implementing the reservation policy in higher education institutions for public feedback by the end of January, 2024.
  • This draft is prepared by a four-member committee headed by the director of the Institute of Public Administration, Dr H S Rana.
  • Among the key recommendations of the committee, it proposed de-reservation of unfilled quota posts meant for teachers, officers, and employees of a university.
  • The committee suggested that there is a “general ban on de-reservation of reserved vacancies in case of direct recruitment”, in exceptional circumstances it can be done if the university can provide adequate justification for it.
  • The draft guidelines specify that proposals for de-reservation concerning job positions designated for Group A and Group B posts should be submitted to the Education Ministry.
    • Similarly, proposals for Group C and D posts should be forwarded to the Executive Council (the top decision-making body) of the university for special permission.
  • These proposals would have to provide information such as the designation, pay scale, name of the service, responsibilities, required qualifications, efforts made to fill the post, and why it cannot be allowed to remain vacant.
  • This led to criticism by sections of the academia.
  • The UGC chairman then clarified that is it just a draft and anything related to de-reservation will be taken out of it while making the final document.

What is the Current Position?

  • In the current scenario, reserved faculty positions are not converted to recruit general candidates.
  • While the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) permits de-reservation in exceptional circumstances exclusively for Group A posts, this provision has not been put into effect in universities.
  • Unfilled quota positions undergo re-advertisement, and universities organise special recruitment drives until suitable candidates are identified, without opening these positions to the general category.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
30 Jan 2024

NBS Fertilisers: Govt Brings Non-Urea Fertilisers Under Price Control

Why in News?

  • The Central government has brought di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), muriate of potash (MOP) and all other such fertilisers that receive nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) support under “reasonable pricing” controls.
  • NBS fertilisers - unlike urea, whose maximum retail price (MRP) is fixed by the government - are technically decontrolled.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is the NBS Scheme?
  • Decision Taken by the Central Govt w.r.t Non-Urea Fertilisers
  • How will Companies’ “Unreasonable Profit” be Assessed?
  • Significance of the New Guidelines of the DoF

What is the NBS Scheme?

  • Fertilisers are essentially food for crops, which need nutrients (Primary [N, P, K)], Secondary [S, calcium, magnesium] and Micro [iron, zinc, copper, manganese, boron, molybdenum]) for plant growth and grain yield.
  • Under the NBS scheme, introduced in April 2010, their MRPs are supposed to be market-determined and set by the individual companies selling them.
  • The government merely pays a fixed per-tonne subsidy on each of these fertilisers, linked to their nutrient content or specific percentage of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and sulphur (S).
  • Unlike the earlier product-specific subsidy regime, NBS was intended to promote balanced fertilisation by discouraging farmers from applying too much urea (46% N), DAP (46% P plus 18% N) and MOP (60% K).
    • These are fertilisers with high content of a single nutrient.
  • NBS was meant to encourage product innovation, as well as increased use of complex fertilisers (with lower amounts of N, P, K, and S) and single super phosphate - SSP (with just 16% P but 11% S).
  • However, urea consumption rose by over a third since 2009-10, worsening the nutrient imbalance and leading to the failure of NBS.

Decision Taken by the Central Govt w.r.t Non-Urea Fertilisers:

  • The Department of Fertilisers (DoF), Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilisers, has issued detailed guidelines for the evaluation of “reasonableness” of the MRPs for all non-urea fertilisers covered under NBS.
  • The guidelines, to be effective retrospectively from April 1, 2023, have prescribed maximum profit margins that will be allowed for fertiliser companies -
    • 8% for importers,
    • 10% for manufacturers and
    • 12% for integrated manufacturers (those producing finished fertilisers as well as intermediates such as phosphoric acid and ammonia).
  • Companies earning “unreasonable profit”, i.e. over and above the stipulated percentages, in a particular financial year (April-March) will have to refund the same to the DoF by October 10 of the following fiscal year.
  • If they don’t return the money within the said time limit, an interest @12% per annum on a pro-rata basis would be charged on the refund amount from the next day of the end of financial year.
  • The unreasonable profits would also get adjusted against subsequent fertiliser subsidy payments by the government.

How will Companies’ “Unreasonable Profit” be Assessed?

  • The guidelines have mandated fertiliser companies to “self-assess” unreasonable profits, based on the cost auditor’s report along with audited cost data approved by their board of directors.
  • This report and data have to be furnished to the DoF by October 10 of the following fiscal year.
  • The DoF will then scrutinise the “reasonability of MRPs”, as submitted by the companies, by 28th February for each completed previous financial year.
  • Following that, it will finalise a report on unreasonable profits earned (if any) and to be recovered from the companies.

Significance of the New Guidelines of the DoF:

  • Non-urea fertilisers are already under informal price control, which will definitely continue till the Lok Sabha elections are over.
  • The new guidelines impose indirect MRP controls on non-urea fertilisers by capping the profits that companies can earn from their sales.
    • These will be based on their “total cost of sales”, which would cover cost of production/ import, administrative overheads, selling and distribution overheads, and net interest and financing charges.
  • This means, the new guidelines basically extend the regime of detailed cost monitoring and price control currently applicable on urea to other fertilisers.

Mains Article
30 Jan 2024

Overhaul of cybersecurity framework

Why in news?

  • As per the media reports, the government has drawn up a guiding policy called the National Cybersecurity Reference Framework (NCRF) to help manage cybersecurity better.
  • The framework is based on existing legislations, policies and guidelines. It outlines implementable measure with clear articulation of roles and responsibilities for cybersecurity.

What’s in today’s article?

  • National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC)
  • National Cybersecurity Coordinator (NCSC)
  • News Summary

National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC)

  • NCIIPC is a government organization that protects critical information infrastructure (CII) for the public. It was established in 2014 and is based in New Delhi.
  • The NCIIPC's mission is to protect critical information infrastructure from unauthorized access, modification, use, disclosure, disruption, incapacitation, or destruction.
  • It also provides advice to reduce the vulnerabilities of critical information infrastructure from cyber terrorism, cyber warfare, and other threats.
  • The NCIIPC defines CII as computer resources whose incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating impact on national security, economy, public health, or safety.

National Cybersecurity Coordinator (NCSC)

  • The NCSC provides guidance and support to state governments and private industry to help formulate policies.
  • They also provide guidance on internet governance, network management, and response strategies for cyberattacks.
  • It works under National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and coordinates with different agencies at the national level for cyber security matters.

News Summary: Overhaul of cybersecurity framework

  • The government has drawn up the National Cybersecurity Reference Framework (NCRF), with clear articulation of roles and responsibilities for cybersecurity.

National Cybersecurity Reference Framework (NCRF)

  • Background
    • The NCRF was shared privately with companies and other government departments for consultation in May 2023, but is yet to be made public.
    • Apart from the main policy document, at least three supporting compendiums detailing global cybersecurity standards, products and solutions have also been formulated.
    • In June 2023, former National Cyber-Security Coordinator Lt. General Rajesh Pant had said that the NCRF will be released for the public soon.
  • About
    • NCRF is a framework that sets the standard for cybersecurity in India.
    • The NCRF can serve as a template for critical sector entities to develop their own governance and management systems for strong cyber-security systems.
      • The government has identified telecom, power, transportation, finance, strategic entities, government entities and health as critical sectors.
  • Institutions involved in framing the framework
    • The framework has been drawn up by the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) with support from the National Cybersecurity Coordinator (NCSC).
  • Key highlights
    • Non-binding in nature
      • The NCRF is a guideline, meaning that its recommendations will not be binding.
    • Separate budget allocation
      • It recommends that enterprises allocate at least 10 per cent of their total IT budget towards cybersecurity.
      • Such allocation is to be mentioned under a separate budget head for monitoring by the top-level management / board of directors.
    • Evolution of ways to use machines to analyse data from different sources
      • The framework might suggest that national nodal agencies evolve platforms and processes for machine-processing of data from different entities.
      • This would help check if audits are done properly and rate auditors based on their performance.
    • Greater powers to the regulators
      • The NCRF might suggest that regulators overseeing critical sectors can:
        • set rules for information security;
        • define information security requirements to ensure proper audit.
    • Effective Information Security Management System (ISMS)
      • The regulators may also need to access sensitive data and deficiencies related to the operations in the critical sector.
      • Hence, they also would need to have an effective Information Security Management System (ISMS) instance.
    • Common but Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR)
      • The policy is based on a CBDR approach, recognising that different organisations have varying levels of cybersecurity needs and responsibilities.

Need for National Cybersecurity Reference Framework (NCRF)

  • Growing cyberattacks and lack of an overarching framework on cybersecurity
    • India faces a barrage of cybersecurity-related incidents which pose a major challenge to New Delhi’s national security imperatives.
      • E.g., A high-profile attack on the systems of AIIMS Delhi in 2022.
    • Many ministries feel hamstrung by the lack of an overarching framework on cybersecurity when they are formulating sector-specific legislations.
  • Emergence of threat actors backed by nation-states and organised cyber-criminal groups
    • In recent years many threat actors backed by nation-states and organised cyber-criminal groups have attempted to target Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) of the government and enterprises.
    • In addition, availability of cyber-attacks-as-service has reduced the entry threshold for new cyber criminals, thus increasing the exposure to individuals and organisations.
  • National Cybersecurity Policy of 2013 is still guiding the cybersecurity of the nation
    • The current guiding framework on cybersecurity for critical infrastructure in India comes from the National Cybersecurity Policy of 2013.
    • From 2013 till 2023, the world has changed as new threats and new cyber organisations have emerged calling for new strategies.
Defence & Security

Mains Article
30 Jan 2024

United Nations' refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA)

Why in news?

  • UN officials have urged countries to reconsider their decision to suspend the funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
  • Recently, Israel accused some of the agency’s staff members of involvement in the October 7 attack.
  • After this, the US and eight other Western countries, which together provided more than half of UNRWA’s 2022 budget, cut the money.

What’s in today’s article?

  • United Nations' refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA)
  • News Summary

United Nations' refugee agency for Palestinians (UNRWA)

  • About
    • UNRWA stands for UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East.
    • It was founded in 1949 to provide aid to about 700,000 Palestinians who were forced to leave their homes in what is now Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
  • Working region
    • The UN agency operates in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as well as Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan — countries where the refugees took shelter after their expulsion.
  • Areas of work
    • The agency runs education, health, relief and social services, microfinance and emergency assistance programmes inside and outside refugee camps based in the aforementioned areas.
  • Funding
    • UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions by donor states like the US.
    • It also gets a limited subsidy from the UN, which is used only for administrative costs.
  • Performance
    • Currently, around 5.9 million Palestine refugees — most of them are descendants of original refugees — access the agency’s services.
    • In Gaza, over 1 million are sheltering in UNRWA schools and other facilities.

News Summary:

  • Recently, United Nations (UN) officials urged countries to reconsider their decision to pause funding for the UN agency for Palestinians.
  • It also said that any staff found involved in Hamas' attack on Israel would be punished and warned that aid for some two million people in Gaza was at stake.

What has Israel accused UNRWA of?

  • Israel has alleged that 12 staff members of UNRWA were involved in the October 7 attack. It has also claimed that Hamas siphons off funds given to UNRWA and fights from in and around the agency’s facilities.
  • Israel has alleged that Hamas tunnels are running next to or under UNRWA facilities and accuses the agency of teaching hatred of Israel in its schools.

How has UNRWA responded?

  • The UNRWA has denied all the allegations, saying it has no links to Hamas.
  • In the statement, UN officials said out of 12 staff members who were accused of being involved in the attack, nine have been terminated.
  • One is confirmed dead and the identity of the two others is being clarified.

What happens now?

  • UNRWA is crucial for the survival of people living in Gaza, which has plunged into a humanitarian crisis after the outbreak of the conflict.
  • The agency has been the main supplier of food, water and shelter to civilians of the enclave.
  • UNRWA, however, would run out of money needed for its aid work within weeks if the funding is not restored.


International Relations

Jan. 29, 2024

Mains Article
29 Jan 2024

In Today’s Tech-Savvy Times, the Importance of Combining Shaastra (Knowledge) with Shastra (Weapons)


  • India is in the process of formulating its inaugural National Security Strategy, with a focus on accelerating domestic defence production.
  • However, amidst the evolving dynamics of global conflicts, the intersection of knowledge (Shaastra) and weapons (Shastra) becomes increasingly evident.
  • The blurring lines between civilian and military technologies, as seen in the cases of drones, satellite internet, artificial intelligence (AI), etc., necessitate a strategic approach that adapts to these technological advancements.

An Overview of Geopolitical Shifts and Technological Fences

  • Reassessing Economic Integration
    • Previously, the United States played a pivotal role in accelerating China's global economic integration.
    • However, the recognition of the strategic implications of advanced technologies has led to a revaluation of this approach.
    • The idea of placing foundational technologies behind a high fence, as articulated by the U.S. National Security Advisor, indicates a shift towards safeguarding crucial technological advancements for national security reasons.
  • Friend Shoring Under Scrutiny
    • The concept of friend shoring, wherein economic partnerships between countries with conflicting interests are maintained, is facing heightened scrutiny.
    • Recent suggestions from the White House Economic Council Director that a Japanese company with Chinese operations acquiring a U.S. steel company may impact national security.
    • It exemplifies the growing concerns around economic ties with potential adversaries.
  • China's Response and Tech Restrictions
    • China, in response to perceived threats to its technological sovereignty, has implemented measures to restrict the use of certain foreign technologies.
    • Notably, Tesla cars and Apple phones have been banned from Chinese army bases due to concerns over sophisticated surveillance features such as cameras, microphones, and cloud backups.
  • Xi Jinping's Dual Circulation Strategy
    • The Chinese leadership, under Xi Jinping, has adopted a dual circulation strategy, emphasising the use of Chinese technologies whenever possible and relying on foreign technologies only when necessary.
    • This strategy reflects a conscious effort to reduce dependence on external sources, aligning with a broader goal of technological self-sufficiency.
  • Challenges in Indo-Pak Relations and China's Changing Approach
    • India faces persistent geopolitical challenges, notably from Pakistan, which refuses to abandon its decades-old conflict stance.
    • China's policy shift towards prioritising domestic technologies reflects a changing global landscape.

A Historical Context: Military-University Collaborations - Forging Technological Advancements

  • MIT's Contributions to World War II
    • During World War II, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) emerged as a focal point for cutting-edge research and technological contributions that significantly impacted the war effort.
    • Vannevar Bush, the first dean of MIT's School of Engineering, played a pivotal role by transitioning to chair the National Defence Research Committee and the Office of Scientific Research and Development in 1939.
    • This move facilitated a seamless collaboration between academia and the military.
    • MIT's contributions during World War II were extensive and varied, encompassing the development of radars for planes, ships, guns, airports, and the Long-Range Navigation (LORAN) system.
    • The collaboration between MIT and the military showcased the ability of academic institutions to rapidly respond to wartime needs, providing technological solutions that had far-reaching implications beyond the immediate conflict.
  • Silicon Valley's Genesis
    • The post-World War II era witnessed the continuation of military-university collaborations, notably seen in the birth of Silicon Valley.
    • Frank Terman, Vannevar Bush's first MIT doctoral student and the long-time dean of Stanford's engineering school, played a crucial role in fostering ties between academia and the military.
    • Terman's influence midwifed Silicon Valley, which became a global hub for technological innovation.
  • Symbiotic Relationship Between Academia and Defence
    • The collaboration between universities and the military during critical junctures in history exemplifies the symbiotic relationship between academic research and national defence.
    • These collaborations not only propelled technological advancements but also demonstrated the importance of knowledge exchange between academia and the military for strategic innovation.

Debates on the Merits of Global University Rankings

  • Popularity Contests and Unreliable Metrics
    • One of the primary criticisms directed at global university rankings is that they often function as popularity contests rather than accurate indicators of educational quality.
    • Peer surveys, a common component of these rankings, are susceptible to biases and may not necessarily reflect the actual academic standing of institutions.
    • Moreover, the reliability of certain metrics employed in the rankings is questioned, as variables may serve as poor proxies for overall educational quality.
  • Incomplete Assessment and Ideological Bias
    • Critics argue that global university rankings provide an incomplete assessment of educational institutions by focusing predominantly on research output and international reputation.
    • Teaching quality, a crucial aspect of academic excellence, is often neglected in these rankings.
    • Moreover, the one-size-fits-all approach is deemed ideological, as it fails to consider the diverse educational objectives and values across institutions.

Significance of Global Rankings

  • Despite the criticisms, global university rankings hold substantial importance in the academic landscape.
  • A majority of universities worldwide have ranking goals, utilising these benchmarks as tools for management and publicity.
  • Institutions often strategize and allocate resources based on their positioning in these rankings.

An Assessment of India's University Ranking Goals: A Strategic Imperative

  • Proposed Interventions for Improvement- The Government’s Efforts Include
    • Identifying and investing in 20 government universities to create research hubs with substantial resources, including large research offices and industry liaison offices.
    • Consolidation of Research Labs and merging independent research labs into the top 20 government institutions to streamline resources and foster collaborative research efforts.
    • Directing government research funding predominantly to universities, following the model of established institutions like the U.S. National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation.
    • Encouraging corporate research collaborations with local universities through financial incentives, such as tax deductions for companies engaging in research at Indian institutions.
  • Strategic Partnerships with Defence Initiatives
    • The government has plans on collaborating with defence initiatives, as exemplified by the proposed Defence Technology Council, further reinforces the synergy between academic excellence and national security.
    • Strategic partnerships with universities can enhance project management efficiency, addressing concerns raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) regarding timelines in defence projects.


  • India's National Security Strategy must adapt to the changing landscape of geopolitics and technology.
  • Integrating the goals of elevating universities to global prominence becomes imperative, given the intertwined nature of knowledge, weapons, and national security.
  • By strategically addressing the challenges and leveraging collaborative efforts between academia and government, India can position itself as a formidable player in the evolving global security paradigm.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
29 Jan 2024

Proposals of UGC for Govt aid to colleges

Why in news?

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has released new draft guidelines “UGC (Fitness of Colleges for Receiving Grants) Rules, 2024” for public comment.
  • If approved, the new guidelines will replace 1975 UGC guidelines that cover all institutions recognised by the commission.

What’s in today’s article?

  • University Grants Commission (UGC)
  • National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF)
  • News Summary

The University Grants Commission (UGC):

  • Genesis:
    • The Sargeant Report was the first attempt to formulate a national system of education in India in 1944.
    • It recommended the formation of a University Grants Committee, which was established in 1945 and was tasked with dealing with all of the then-existing Universities in 1947.
    • Soon after independence, the University Education Commission was established (in 1948) under the chairmanship of Dr. S Radhakrishnan to report on Indian university education and suggest improvements and extensions.
    • It proposed reorganizing the University Grants Committee along the lines of the University Grants Commission of the United Kingdom.
    • As a result, the UGC was formally inaugurated in 1953 by Maulana Abul Kalam, the then Minister of Education.
    • However, the UGC was established [by the Ministry of Education's Department of Higher Education] as a statutory body in November 1956 by the UGC Act 1956.
    • A proposal to replace UGC with another new regulatory body called the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) is under consideration by the Government of India.
  • Mandate:
    • The UGC has the unique distinction of being the only grant-giving agency in the country which has been vested with two responsibilities of:
      • Providing funds
      • Coordination, determination and maintenance of standards in institutions of higher education.

National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF):

  • The NIRF was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD now Ministry of Education) in 2015 (first edition came in 2016).
  • This framework, which is the first-ever effort by the Government of India, outlines a methodology to rank HEIs across the country.
  • While participation in the NIRF was initially voluntary, it became mandatory in 2018 for all government-run educational institutions.

News Summary: Proposals of UGC for Govt aid to colleges

  • UGC has released new draft guidelines “UGC (Fitness of Colleges for Receiving Grants) Rules, 2024”.
  • In this new draft, UGC has proposed several criteria to receive grants from the Centre.

Key highlights of the draft guidelines

  • Applicability
    • The new rules will be applicable to every college affiliated to universities that are established by a central or under a state act under Section 2(f) of the UGC Act, 1956.
      • The UGC has made it mandatory for colleges to be listed under Section 2(f).
      • This section allows implementation of statutory rules across all colleges and holds colleges accountable to the UGC.
      • This was brought to maintain quality standards across all institutions.
    • The draft policy paves way for these colleges to get 12(B)status.
      • The 12(B) status only makes colleges eligible for funding.
    • This makes the college eligible for receiving grants from the UGC, Centre, and other funding agencies for varied academic and research activities.
  • Eligibility criteria to receive grants
    • The UGC has proposed that universities should:
      • either have accreditation awarded by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC); or
        • NAAC is primary body for assessing and accrediting higher education institutions.
      • have at least 60% of the programmes, in case a college offers more than three programmes accredited by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA).
        • NBA is another statutory body that assess the qualitative competence of programmes.
    • In case a college offers less than three programmes, then each of the eligible programmes must have been accredited, the guidelines states.
    • If these institutes do not have both NAAC or NBA accreditation, then they should be ranked in the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).
      • They should be ranked in NIRF at least thrice after participating five times or at least twice after participating thrice.
    • The draft states that these colleges should charge a reasonable fee set by the government and should not ask for extra fees like capitation fees.
    • As per the draft, these colleges will be required to have at least 75% of the total sanctioned teaching posts filled and duly follow reservation policy.
      • Not just hired, but the teachers will have to be paid according to the UGC or Central or state government policy as well.
  • Application for recognition under Section 12B of the UGC Act, 1956
    • The colleges can apply online on the UGC portal to be considered for recognition under Section 12B of the UGC Act, 1956.
    • The affiliating university will be responsible for examining this application and recommend the UGC for approval within 60 days.
    • If at any point, the UGC finds a college in violation of its rule, their status can be withdrawn.
Polity & Governance

Mains Article
29 Jan 2024

European Union as an AI innovation advocate

Why in news?

  • To address worries that Europe might be putting too many regulations on artificial intelligence (AI), the European Commission has introduced a set of rules.
  • These rules aim to help start-ups and other businesses get access to hardware like supercomputers and computing power and allows them to create large-scale AI models.
  • This move comes after the political agreement reached in December 2023 on the EU AI Act, which is the first-ever comprehensive law on AI in the world.
  • The goal of this law is to encourage the development, deployment, and use of trustworthy AI in the European Union (EU).

What’s in today’s article?

  • Europe’s AI innovation plan
  • Comparison with India’s AI plan

Europe’s AI innovation plan

  • The European Commission has launched a package of measures to support European startups and small businesses in the development of trustworthy AI.
  • The plan includes:
    • Acquiring, upgrading and operating AI-dedicated supercomputers to enable fast machine learning and training of large general-purpose AI (GPAI) models.
      • GPAI models are AI systems that can perform a wide range of tasks.
      • They can be applied to many different tasks in various fields, often without substantial modification and fine-tuning.
    • Facilitating access to the AI dedicated supercomputers, contributing to the widening of the use of AI to a large number of public and private users, including start-ups and SMEs.
    • Supporting the AI startup and research ecosystem in algorithmic development, testing evaluation and validation of large-scale AI models.
    • Enabling the development of a variety of emerging AI applications based on GPAI models.

Why is the EU especially focusing on AI innovation?

  • Overregulating AI
    • The most visible innovation in AI so far has been led by American companies, especially OpenAI and Google.
    • Europe has so far regulated technologies from a human-rights-first approach.
    • However, it was being accused by the industry of yet again regulating AI even before it has spread across the continent in a meaningful way.
  • Criticism of AI Act of December 2023
    • Last year, the European Commission agreed to implement an AI Act, but it has faced criticism.
    • The law sets rules for using AI in the EU, including clear guidelines for law enforcement agencies. Consumers can complain about any misuse of AI.
    • The Act also limits facial recognition technology and the use of AI to control people's behaviour.
    • Companies that break the rules will face strict penalties.
    • Governments can only use real-time biometric surveillance in public areas only when there are serious threats involved, such as terrorist attacks.

How is the EU’s plan similar to India’s?

  • As part of the programme being developed by India, the government wants to:
    • develop its own sovereign AI,
    • build computational capacity in the country, and
    • offer compute-as-a-service to India’s startups.
  • The capacity building will be done both within the government and through a public-private partnership model.
    • This highlights New Delhi’s intention to reap dividends of the impending AI boom which it envisions will be a crucial economic driver.
  • In total, India is looking to build a compute capacity of:
    • anywhere between 10,000 GPUs (graphic processing units) and 30,000 GPUs under the PPP model, and
    • an additional 1,000-2,000 GPUs through the PSU Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
  • The government is exploring various incentive structures for private companies to set up computing centres in the country.
  • This includes:
    • a capital expenditure subsidy model which has been employed under the semiconductor scheme, a model where companies can be incentivised depending on their operational expenses; or
    • offering them a usage fee.
  • The government’s idea is to create a digital public infrastructure (DPI) out of the GPU assembly it sets up so that startups can utilise its computational capacity for a fraction of the cost.
    • The startups will not need to invest in GPUs which are often the biggest cost centre of such operations.
International Relations

Mains Article
29 Jan 2024

Black Tigers or Melanistic Tigers: Odisha to Establish a First of its Kind Safari in the World

Why in News?

  • The Odisha government announced plans to start a melanistic tiger safari near Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) and is likely to be ready for visitors by October this year.
  • The safari will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and it will give a chance to the tourists to see “the rare and majestic” melanistic tiger species “found only in Odisha”.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR)
  • What are Black Tigers or Melanistic Tigers?
  • What Makes Tigers (Pseudo) Melanistic?
  • What is Odisha’s Plan for the Melanistic Tiger Safari?
  • Why has Odisha Come up with this Plan?

Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR):

  • Similipal is a tiger reserve in the Mayurbhanj district (adjoining Jharkhand and West Bengal) in the Indian state of Odisha covering 2,750 km2 (1,060 sq mi).
  • It is part of the Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve, which includes three protected areas - Similipal Tiger Reserve, Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary and Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Simlipal National Park derives its name from the abundance of red silk cotton trees growing in the area.
  • The park is home to Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur and chausingha, and this protected area is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009.
  • The STR is Asia’s second largest biosphere (after the Gulf of Kachchh, Gujarat), and the country’s only wild habitat for melanistic royal Bengal tigers.

What are Black Tigers or Melanistic Tigers?

  • Melanism is a genetic condition in which an increased production of melanin, a substance in the skin that produces hair, eye and skin pigmentation, results in black (or nearly black) skin, feathers or hair in an animal.
  • Many royal Bengal tigers of Similipal belong to a unique lineage with higher-than-normal levels of melanin, which gives them black and yellow interspersed stripes on their coats.
  • These tigers are not entirely black, and are therefore more accurately described as being pseudo-melanistic.
  • As per the 2022 cycle of the All-India Tiger Estimation, 16 individuals were recorded at STR, out of which 10 were melanistic.
  • The state government’s ongoing tiger survey (which will be released soon), however, suggests that the number of royal Bengal tigers in STR is more than what has been mentioned in the NTCA report.

What Makes Tigers (Pseudo) Melanistic?

  • According to research of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NBCS, Bengaluru), a single mutation in the gene Transmembrane Aminopeptidase Q (Taqpep) causes black tigers' stripes to enlarge or spread into the yellow background.
  • Genetic analyses of other tiger populations in India and computer simulations suggest that the Similipal black tigers may have arisen from a very small founding population of tigers, and are inbred.
    • The STR cats live isolated from other tigers, because of which they breed among themselves.

What is Odisha’s Plan for the Melanistic Tiger Safari?

  • The state government’s plan has received in-principle approval from the technical committee of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the national body for the conservation of the big cat.
  • According to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Odisha, around 200 hectares of land along the Dhanbad-Balasore NH-18 has been identified for the proposed safari.
  • The site is about 15 km from the STR, and its landscape matches that of Similipal.
  • Initially, 3 melanistic tigers from the Nandankanan zoo (Bhubaneswar) and rescued/ orphaned tigers who are not fit for wild but fit for display, will be housed in the safari in an open enclosure.
  • An NTCA committee will visit the proposed site to carry out a feasibility study before final clearance is given to the project.
  • The state government will also have to obtain other statutory clearances, including approval from the Central Zoo Authority, a body under the Environment Ministry that has oversight over zoos in the country. 

Why has Odisha Come up with this Plan?

  • The safari aims to allow wildlife conservationists, researchers, and enthusiasts to see the rare big cats from up close, and to create awareness about the need for their conservation.
    • The sighting of tigers is difficult in STR because of its vast area, and the safari has been proposed as an added attraction for visitors to Similipal.
  • This pioneering attraction will highlight the State’s commitment to preservation and showcasing its unique biodiversity.



Environment & Ecology

Mains Article
29 Jan 2024

RBI’s Guidelines on State ‘Guarantees’ on Borrowings

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Background (Context, About the Working Group of RBI)
  • About Guarantee (Meaning, Components, Purpose, etc.)
  • Major Recommendations of the Working Group


  • On January 16, a working group constituted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made certain recommendations to address issues relating to guarantees extended by State governments.
  • The working group, constituted in July 2022, comprised of members from the Ministry of Finance, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, and some State governments.
  • The working group prescribed a uniform reporting framework for the guarantees extended (by State governments) and a uniform guarantee ceiling.
  • As per the RBI, the implementation is “expected to facilitate better fiscal management by State governments.”

What Constitutes a ‘Guarantee’?

  • A ‘guarantee’ is a legal obligation for a State to make payments and protect an investor/lender from the risk of default by a borrower.
  • As per the Indian Contracts Act, 1872, it is a contract to “perform the promise, or discharge the liability, of a third person in case of his default”.
  • The contract involves three parties: the principal debtor, creditor, and surety.
    • The entity to whom the guarantee is given is the ‘creditor’,
    • Defaulting entity on whose behalf the guarantee is given is called the ‘principal debtor’ and
    • The entity giving the guarantee (State governments in this context) is called the ‘surety’.
  • If A delivers certain goods or services to B and B does not make the agreed-upon payment, B is defaulting and at the risk of being sued for the debt.
  • C steps in and promises that s/he would pay for B. A agrees to the forbear request. This constitutes a guarantee.

What is the Purpose of a ‘Guarantee’?

  • Primarily, guarantees are resorted to in three scenarios at the State level:
    • First, where a sovereign guarantee is a precondition for concessional loans from bilateral or multilateral agencies (to public sector enterprises);
    • Second, to improve viability of projects or activities with the potential to provide significant social and economic benefits;
    • Third, to enable public sector enterprises to raise resources at lower interest charges or on more favorable terms.
  • State governments are often required to sanction, and issue guarantees, on behalf of State-owned enterprises, cooperative institutions, urban local bodies and/or other State-governed entities, to respective lenders.
  • The latter could be commercial banks or other financial institutions. In return, the entities are required to pay a guarantee commission or fee to the governments.
  • The RBI working group’s report notes that one of the reasons why the instrument has been widely used maybe that an upfront cash payment is usually not required in case of guarantees.

Major Recommendations Made by the RBI’s Working Group w.r.t. Guarantees:

  • Definition of Guarantee:
    • The Working Group has suggested that the term ‘guarantee’ should be used in a broader sense and include all instruments.
    • Further, it must make any distinction between conditional or unconditional, or financial or performance guarantees in order to assess the fiscal risk.
    • These are contingent liabilities that may crystallise later— in other words, present a potential risk in the future.
  • Guidelines for According Guarantees:
    • The Working Group has recommended that government guarantees should not be used to obtain finance through State-owned entities.
    • Additionally, they should not be allowed to create direct liability/de-facto liability on the State.
    • It further recommends adherence to Government of India guidelines stipulating that guarantee be given only for the principal amount and normal interest component of the underlying loan.
    • Furthermore, they must not be extended for external commercial borrowings, must not be extended for more than 80% of the project loan.
    • Also, they must not be provided to private sector companies and institutions.
    • Finally, appropriate preconditions such as period of guarantee must be specified.
  • Risk Determination, Fees, Ceiling:
    • The Group suggested that States assign appropriate risk weights before extending guarantees. The categorisation could be high, medium or low risk.
    • These must also consider past record of defaults. They must also disclose the methodology of assigning.
    • The report argues that should a guarantee be required to be invoked; it could lead to significant fiscal stress on the state government.
    • To manage the potential stress, it proposes a ceiling at 5% of Revenue Receipts or 0.5% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) — whichever is less.
  • Disclosures & Honoring Commitments:
    • The Working Group has recommended that the RBI may consider advising banks/NBFCs to disclose the credit extended to State-owned entities, backed by State-government guarantees.
    • It has also sought a proper database capturing all extended guarantees, suggesting that a unit may be set up at the State level to track the same – alongside its compilation and consolidation.
    • W.r.t. honoring commitments, the report recognises that delays may affect the sanctity of issued guarantees. Thus, it can result in reputational risk as well as legal risk for the State government.
    • The report seeks that States must be wary before extending any fresh finance to entities that have failed in honoring commitments before.

Jan. 28, 2024

Mains Article
28 Jan 2024

Lithium-Ion vs Solid-State Batteries

Why in News?

  • Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp, a late entrant into the battery electric vehicle race, is aiming to roll out next-generation solid-state batteries over the next three years.
  • This will mark a milestone in the global race to commercialise this breakthrough technology that promises to double vehicle range and drastically lower charging time.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • What is a Solid-State Battery?
  • Lithium-Ion Battery vs Solid-State Battery
  • Advantage of the Solid-State Batteries
  • Toyota’s Decision to Roll Out Next-Generation Solid-State Batteries
  • Other Companies Making Progress on Alternatives to Li-Ion Batteries
  • Issues with the Solid-State Batteries

What is a Solid-State Battery?

  • A solid-state battery is essentially battery technology that uses a solid electrolyte instead of liquid electrolytes which are instead behind lithium-ion technology.
  • It is therefore important to take a step back and understand how lithium-ion batteries work in detail and their main differences compared with this new technology.

Lithium-Ion Battery vs Solid-State Battery:


Advantage of the Solid-State Batteries:

  • An advantage of solid-state batteries is that the electrolyte is solid. This allows ions, which convey electricity, to move faster.
  • This enables shorter charging times, increased cruising ranges, and produces higher power output.
  • Solid-state batteries are also characterised by being highly stable because they are resistant to changes in temperature and can robustly endure high temperatures and high voltages.

Toyota’s Decision to Roll Out Next-Generation Solid-State Batteries:

  • Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker by vehicles sold, had announced a breakthrough in solid state battery materials late last year and had said it plans to mass-produce solid-state batteries by 2027 or 2028.
  • In the due course, the Japanese carmaker could potentially have two sets of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on offer across markets, including India –
    • Existing lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries and
    • New and pricier solid-state batteries.
  • Solid-state batteries are seen as a major improvement in battery tech, countering concerns such as -
    • Extended charging time and
    • The risk of catching fire associated with traditional Li-ion batteries that have a liquid electrolyte.
  • With its new solid-state batteries, Toyota expects its electric cars powered by them to have a range of 1,200km - well over twice that of the current range of EVs and a charging time of 10 minutes or less.
    • This is far lower than two-four hours that it takes to fast charge an EV with Li-ion batteries.

Other Companies Making Progress on Alternatives to Li-Ion Batteries:

  • Chinese battery maker CATL revealed in end-2023 that it was preparing to mass-produce its semi-solid batteries.
  • South Korea’s Samsung SDI has completed a fully automated pilot line for solid-state batteries. Germany’s Volkswagen was reported to have held talks with France’s Blue Solutions, which already produces solid-state batteries for Daimler electric buses.
  • Japan’s Toyota had announced a partnership with Tokyo-based petroleum company Idemitsu Kosan to jointly produce a solid-state battery material called sulphide solid electrolyte.
    • Sulphide solid electrolytes are characterised by softness and adhesiveness to other materials, which is suitable for battery mass production.
    • The collaboration is focussed on mass-production of new materials and establishing a supply chain for solid electrolytes, which hold the key to the commercialisation of solid-state batteries.

Issues with the Solid-State Batteries:

  • A longstanding technical issue in solid state battery development has been that repeatedly charging and discharging the battery causes cracks between the cathodes and anodes and the solid electrolytes.
    • This degrades battery performance.
  • Producing solid-state batteries in large volumes is costly and difficult.
  • Other problems include -
    • The extreme sensitivity of the batteries to moisture and oxygen, as well as
    • The mechanical pressure needed to hold them together to prevent the formation of dendrites, the metal filaments that can cause short circuits.


Science & Tech

Mains Article
28 Jan 2024

Overhaul of Accreditation System in India

Why in News?

  • The Central government plans to overhaul the accreditation system for higher educational institutes by the end of the year.
  • It aims to replace the current practice of assigning a score and corresponding grade with a binary system.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About NAAC (Vision, Objectives, Meaning of Assessment & Accreditation)
  • How Accreditation works (Process, Benefits)
  • News Summary (Recommendations of K. Radhakrishnan Committee, New System)

About National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC):

  • NAAC is an autonomous body established by the University Grants Commission (UGC).
  • It was established in 1994 on the basis of recommendations made under the National Education Policy (1986).
  • It is registered under the Karnataka Societies Registration Act of 1960, Karnataka Societies Registration Rules of 1961.
  • Vision:
    • To make quality the defining element of higher education in India through a combination of self and external quality evaluation, promotion and sustenance initiatives.
  • Headquarters: Bengaluru

Objectives of NAAC:

  • To arrange for periodic assessment and accreditation of institutions of higher education or units thereof, or specific academic programmes or projects;
  • To encourage self-evaluation, accountability, autonomy and innovations in higher education;
  • To undertake quality-related research studies, consultancy and training programmes, and

Meaning of Assessment & Accreditation:

  • Assessment is the performance evaluation of an institution or its units based on certain established criteria.
  • Accreditation is the certification of quality for a fixed period, which in the case of NAAC is five years.
  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) through a gazette notification in January 2013, has made it mandatory for Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) to undergo accreditation.

Benefits of Being NAAC-Accredited:

  • Through a multi-layered process steered by the NAAC, a higher education institution gets to know whether it meets certain standards of quality set by the evaluator in terms of curriculum, faculty, infrastructure, research and financial well-being among others.
  • Based on these parameters, the NAAC gives institutions grades ranging from A++ to C. If an institution is graded D, it means it is not accredited.
  • Apart from recognition, being accredited also helps institutions attract capital as funding agencies look for objective data for performance funding.
  • It helps an institution know its strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities through an informed review process.
  • NAAC accreditation helps students going for higher education abroad as many global higher education authorities insist on recognition and accreditation of the institution where the student has studied.
  • Moreover, employers also look for reliable information on the quality of prospective recruits’ education, and NAAC grading helps. 

News Summary:

  • The Central government plans to overhaul the accreditation system for higher educational institutes by the end of the year.
  • The plan is to replace the current practice of assigning a score and corresponding grade with a binary system, where institutions will be declared either accredited or unaccredited without specific scores or grades.
  • The NAAC announced that the proposed reforms in the current accreditation system, put forth by the committee headed by former ISRO chairman Dr. K Radhakrishnan, have been accepted by the Education Ministry.

Recommendations of the Dr. K. Radhakrishnan Committee:

  • The committee has recommended that the IITs should be brought under the ambit of NAAC.
    • Currently, IITs follow their internal systems for periodic peer evaluation and assessment of programmes.
  • Binary Accreditation System:
    • Currently, NAAC follows an eight-point grading system under which institutes are rated A++, A+, A, B++, B+, B, C and D based on data submitted by institutes and their verification by expert teams during campus visits.
    • The committee has suggested that under the new system, institutes be certified as “Accredited” or “Not Accredited (for those who are far below the standards for accreditation)”.
    • A separate category of “Awaiting Accreditation” will cover institutes which are “close to the threshold level” or accreditation.
  • The committee has also proposed that the entire accreditation process be made less dependent on inspections by teams of experts by adopting the mechanism of “crowdsourcing”.
    • The idea now is to get the inputs submitted by the institutes vetted by a “carefully chosen set of audience with diverse association with the concerned institutes”.
    • This set of audience may include students (including PhD and postdoctoral scholars), faculty, staff, alumni, official visitors such as selection committee members, employers of the students, etc.
  • National Accreditation Council (NAAC):
    • Lastly, the Radhakrishnan committee has proposed that instead of having separate bodies for accrediting institutes and courses, one overarching agency be set up.
    • The proposed National Accreditation Council (NAAC), envisaged by the NEP, should also subsume the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), which ranks higher education institutes.

How Will the New Accreditation System Work?

  • At present, the NAAC assesses institutions and awards grades based on scores.
    • If a higher education institution gets a score between 3.51 and 4, it gets an A++ grade.
    • A score between 3.26 and 3.50 gets an A+ grade, and a score between 3.01 and 3.25 gets an A grade.
    • There are eight grades in total, including C for scores between 1.51 and 2, which means basic accreditation, and D for scores below 1.51, indicating unaccredited status.
  • Under the proposed binary accreditation system, higher educational institutions will be given either:
    • Accredited” tag or
    • Not Accredited” tag
  • The “Not Accredited” will be further divided into two sub-categories:
    • Awaiting Accreditation” for those institutes that nearly meet the requirements but need improvement, and
    • Not Accredited” for the ones that are far below the standards for accreditation.
  • Another reform that NAAC announced was the implementation of the “Maturity-Based Graded Accreditation”, in addition to the binary system.
    • The former is for higher education institutions that have secured the “accredited” tag under the binary system and is for them to graduate “level one” to “level five”.
    • From level-one – an accredited institute – the plan is to incentivise improvement up to level-4 where an institution will become an “Institution of National Excellence”.
    • Further, the move to level-5 to get the tag of “Institution of Global Excellence for Multi-Disciplinary Research and Education”.
  • With reference to IITs, it’s not clear if they will be mandated to participate once NAAC rolls out the binary accreditation.
Social Issues

Mains Article
28 Jan 2024

Oil tanker with 22 Indians onboard hit by missile, Navy sends help

Why in news?

  • In a series of attacks on commercial vessels in the western Arabian Sea by the Houthi rebels, a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker Marlin Luanda came under a missile attack.
    • The vessel had 22 Indian and one Bangladeshi crew members on board.
    • While the ship was learnt to have caught fire and reported damage, no casualty or injury was reported at the time.
  • It prompted a quick response from the Indian Navy’s guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam, which was deployed in the Gulf of Aden.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Red Sea
  • Houthis
  • Trouble in Red Sea and impact on India

Red Sea

  • About
    • Red Sea is narrow strip of water extending southeastward from Suez, Egypt, to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.
    • Basically, it is a narrow inland sea between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.
      • The Red Sea separates the coasts of Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea from those of Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
    • The Gulf of Aqaba, a northeastern extension of the sea, reaches southern Israel and southwestern Jordan.
  • Significance
    • The Red Sea contains some of the world’s hottest and saltiest seawater.
    • It is one of the most heavily travelled waterways in the world, carrying maritime traffic between Europe and Asia.
  • Significance for India
    • Freight rates for Indian shipments headed to Europe and Africa could surge as much as 25-30 per cent if there is disruption along this route.
      • For India, the Red Sea trade route is the shortest trade route for ships moving from Asia to Europe.
      • India is heavily reliant on the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait for its crude oil, LNG imports and trade with parts of West Asia, Africa, and Europe.
    • This route is vital for 30 per cent of global container traffic.


  • About
    • The Houthis are a Shiite Muslim sect and political and military organization that emerged in Yemen (which is predominantly Sunni) in the 1990s.
      • Named after the Houthi tribe, they are Zaydi Shias.
      • Zayadism is a sub-sect of Shia Islam and it believes in following the lineage of the Prophet Muhammad’s family, as the political leader of the state.
    • The Houthis are also known as Ansar Allah, which translates to "Supporters of God".
  • Involvement in civil war of Yemen
    • The Houthis are one side of the Yemeni civil war that has raged for nearly a decade.
    • Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi insurgents took control of Yemen’s capital and largest city, Sanaa.
    • By early 2015, Saudi Arabia, along with other Gulf states and with U.S. support, was launching airstrikes against the Houthis, who are backed by Iran.
    • A ceasefire was finally signed in 2022. It lapsed after six months but the warring parties haven’t returned to full-scale conflict.
  • Houthis attacking Red Sea ships
    • The Iran-backed Houthi rebels of Yemen have been attacking ships in the Red Sea in response to Israel's military campaign in Gaza.
    • The Houthis support Hamas, and vowed to target vessels they believe are heading to and from Israel.

Trouble in Red Sea and Impact on India

  • Trouble in Red Sea
    • Attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea since November 2023 by the Houthi militia of Yemen have increased.
    • It has turned the quickest marine route linking Asia with Europe through the Suez Canal unsafe.
    • It has forced freighters to take a longer transit around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa’s southern tip, making shipments both dearer and longer to deliver.
  • Status
    • Almost 90% of western hemisphere cargo, both inbound or shipped from India, that used to go through the Red Sea is now getting re-routed through the Cape of Good Hope.
    • The remaining 10% of Indian import or export cargo is either not moving or using a transit facility.
    • Container Corporation of India said that about 25% of its containers are being held back by Indian exporters as everybody is hoping the situation will normalise shortly.
  • Impact on India
    • These developments could make imports costlier and call for better inventory management.
    • The Red Sea crisis could come in the way of any plans to reduce pump prices of petrol and diesel.
    • Freight rates for impacted routes have increased.
      • War risk premiums in the Red Sea have been partially contributing to the freight-rate increases for the relevant routes.
    • Commodities are the worst affected whether it be chemicals, plastic, petrochemicals, because margins are not there to absorb the hike in freight.



International Relations

Mains Article
28 Jan 2024

Union Home Ministry extends Z+ security to Kerala Governor

Why in news?

  • Union Home Ministry has extended Z+ Security cover of CRPF to Governor of Kerala.
  • MHA took a decision on this after the Kerala Governor held a sit-in in front of a roadside shop in Kollam district after Students’ Federation of India (SFI) activists allegedly tried to hit his vehicle.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Central Reserve Police Force (about, duties performed by CRPF)
  • Security Category in India (about, forces responsible, types)
  • News Summary

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

  • About
    • CRPF is one of the oldest Central para military forces (now termed as Central Armed Police Force) and it comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
    • CRPF came into existence as Crown Representative’s Police IN July 1939.
      • It became the Central Reserve Police Force on enactment of the CRPF Act in December 1949.
    • It is All India in character, both in deployment and in its composition.
    • CRPF has, over the years, acquired the distinction of being perhaps the most acceptable Force, by the people and the State administrations.
      • This is due to its unique capability to quickly adapt to various situations and also, to work in perfect harmony with the State Police.
  • Duties performed by the CRPF
    • Crowd &Riot control
    • Counter Militancy / Insurgency operations/Dealing with Left Wing Extremism
    • Overall co-ordination of large-scale security arrangement especially with regard to elections in disturbed areas.
    • Protection of VIPs and vital installations.
    • Checking environmental de-gradation and protection of local Flora and Fauna
    • Fighting aggression during War time
    • Participating in UN Peace Keeping Mission
    • Rescue and Relief operations at the time of Natural Calamities.

Security Category in India

  • In India, security is provided to high-risk individuals by the police and local government.
  • Ministers get Central Security cover due to their position in the government.
    • On the other hand, a call on such security to private individuals is taken by the Home Ministry based on inputs from intelligence agencies.
  • However, since these agencies do not report to any statutory body, VIP security has sometimes been alleged to be a political decision.

Security forces responsible for VIP protection

  • Typically, the agencies responsible for providing securities to VVIPs/VIPs /high-profile celebrities include:
    • Special Protection Group (SPG), National Security Guards (NSG), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

Different types of security cover

News Summary: Union Home Ministry extends Z+ security to Kerala Governor

  • Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has been given Z+ security by Centre after a faceoff with student activists.
  • Earlier, Governor Khan confronted members of the CPI(M)-linked SFI in Kollam district as they staged a black flag protest against him.
  • The Governor's actions led to a two-hour standoff, during which he sat on the roadside, expressing his dissatisfaction with the response of the authorities.
  • The Governor has accused Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan of "promoting lawlessness in the state" and demanded action against the protestors.
Defence & Security

Jan. 27, 2024

Mains Article
27 Jan 2024

Reflecting on Bilkis Bano’s Resilient Pursuit of Justice


  • On January 8, the Supreme Court of India delivered a landmark ruling in the case of Bilkis Bano, a survivor of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
  • The ruling quashed the remission granted to 11 convicts, highlighting the court's commitment to upholding the integrity of the legal process.
  • While the decision has garnered applause, it also prompts a reflection on the justice system's effectiveness, especially for individuals with multiple subordinating identities.

The Symbolism of Bilkis Bano Case

  • A Symbol of Resilience
    • For many years, her situation has been a symbol of strength and a representation of the larger fight for justice for those who have experienced sexual and communal violence.
    • This case also highlights the various aspects that make up Ms. Bano's identity; being a Muslim woman in a society with biases against religious minorities and women and how this influences her access to justice.
  • Common Populace’s Desire for a Strong Justice System
    • The SC's decision to reject the reduction of sentence of convicted not only supports the fairness of the legal process but also emphasises the importance of consistently and impartially applying the law, regardless of the social and political situation.
    • The positive response to the verdict shows that people collectively desire a justice system that stands firm against impunity.
    • Highlights the Shortcomings of Justice System: While the ruling brings hope to the justice system, it also leads to a deep consideration of its shortcomings for individuals with multiple marginalised identities, especially when the state supports such crimes.

The Interplay of Justice and Intersectionality in Ms Bano’s Case

  • Intersectionality in the Legal Context
    • The legal system often addresses cases based on singular characteristics, such as gender or crime type, potentially overlooking the intersectional dimensions of an individual's identity.
    • Bano's (being a survivor of sexual violence) case prompts an exploration of how her experiences intersect with other facets of her identity, such as religion, socio-economic status, and regional background.
  • Religious and Cultural Dynamics
    • Considering Ms. Bano's association with a particular religious community, the case may have been influenced by the intersection of religious dynamics and legal proceedings.
    • Therefore, understanding how religious and cultural factors intersect with the pursuit of justice becomes imperative in comprehending the nuances of her experience within the legal system.

Some Other Issues Highlighted During Bilkis Bano Case

  • The Failure of Indian Prison System
    • Lack of Remorse and Celebratory Release
      • Despite spending approximately 15 years behind bars, the released convicts in Ms. Bano's case displayed a shocking absence of remorse.
      • Their jubilant reception, marked by garlanding and sweets from supporters and relatives, presented a disconcerting spectacle akin to celebrating returning heroes rather than individuals who had served time for a heinous crime.
      • This celebratory release not only contradicts the intended purpose of incarceration, which is rehabilitation, but also highlights a profound disconnect between the legal system's ideals and the stark reality of the convicts' mindset upon release.
    • Systemic Failure to Instigate Genuine Rehabilitation
      • The SC's reliance on Plato's curative theory of punishment seems misplaced when the prison system falls short of providing an environment conducive to genuine rehabilitation.
      • The lack of essential resources and rehabilitation programs within Indian prisons undermines the prospects of personal evolution during incarceration.
      • Bano's case becomes emblematic of this failure, as the convicted individuals, upon release, are unlikely to exhibit any meaningful transformation, raising questions about the efficacy of imprisonment in fostering positive change.
    • Glaring Gap between Legal Theory and Prison Realities
      • While the court's judgement may have invoked the principles of preventive punishment and reformation, the prison system often functions as a mere holding cell, lacking the necessary infrastructure and initiatives for effective rehabilitation.
      • The discord between legal ideals and the operational shortcomings of the prison system brings into question the viability of imprisonment as a mechanism for societal betterment and individual reformation.
  • Lingering Trauma and Absence of Personal Evolution
    • Bano's experience exemplifies the flaw in the system; the convicted individuals, even after serving their sentence, remain unreformed, leaving the survivor to grapple with a lingering sense of trauma.
    • The brief impact of the judgment highlights the systemic failure to deliver permanent justice or sustainable relief for survivors, as the released convicts are ill-prepared to reintegrate into society as responsible citizens.

Broader Issues Associated with Indian Criminal Justice System for Rape Survivors

  • Patriarchy in the Criminal Justice System
    • The criminal legal system, starting from police encounters to interactions with medical officers and the judiciary, is deeply entrenched with patriarchy.
    • This patriarchal influence contributes to survivors' reluctance to report cases, as the system often dismisses complaints and survivors have to go through insensitive questioning, exacerbating their trauma.
  • Hostile Environment during Rape Trials
    • The rape trial in Indian criminal justice system has been termed as pornographic, emphasising the retraumatising nature of the questions survivors endure.
    • Questions like Why were you out so late? or Why were you alone? perpetuate victim-blaming, insinuating that the survivor's actions somehow warranted the heinous crime against them.
    • The questions survivors face during the legal process serve to gaslight them, implying that their choices or behaviour justified the crime committed against them.
    • This culture of victim-blaming further erodes trust in the criminal justice system, discouraging survivors from seeking legal remedies and perpetuating a cycle of silence.

The Concept of Carceral Feminism and Its Drawback

  • The Concept of Carceral Feminism
    • Coined by Elizabeth Bernstein, carceral feminism explores the complexities of feminist advocacy within a punitive state.
    • It raises questions about the potential alliance between feminism and the state, acknowledging the state's dual role as a potential ally of patriarchy and a depriver of liberties.
  • Drawback: Carceral Feminists’ Misplaced Demands
    • In the context of India, feminist movements often call for stricter penalties under the law as a means to combat sexual violence.
    • However, this approach overlooks the deep-rooted mistrust in the criminal justice system, which is entwined with pervasive patriarchy at every level.
    • Carceral feminism's reliance on legal reforms and stricter penalties as a primary solution overlooks the deeper structural issues within the criminal justice system.
    • Mere legal changes may not address the pervasive patriarchal attitudes that permeate every stage of the legal process.

Way Forward: Need for Holistic, Victim-Centred Approach

  • Recognising the limitations of carceral feminism, there is a growing need for a more victim-centred approach that goes beyond punitive measures.
  • Fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and genuine rehabilitation for survivors should be prioritised over a singular focus on legal remedies.
  • Striving for justice should involve hearing survivors' voices, acknowledging their pain, and validating their quest for justice in addition to relying on the legal system.


  • The inadequacy of prisons and the pitfalls of carceral feminism underscore the urgent need for a more nuanced approach to justice.
  • The celebration of Ms. Bano's triumph should serve as a catalyst for systemic changes, fostering a society where survivors are supported, and justice is comprehensive, dignified, and safeguarded against the limitations of punitive measures.
  • The quest for justice must extend beyond legal avenues, promoting a culture of understanding, empathy, and genuine rehabilitation for a more just and compassionate society.
Editorial Analysis

Mains Article
27 Jan 2024

ICJ orders Israel to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza

Why in news?

  • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered that Israel must take all measures within its power to prevent all acts within the scope of the Genocide Convention.
    • The court was ruling on the nine provisional measures requested by South Africa in its genocide claim against Israel.
  • The court did not agree to South Africa’s request for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
  • However, it directed Israel to allow the entry of basic services and humanitarian assistance into the Palestinian enclave.

What’s in today’s article?

  • International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  • Genocide Convention
  • News Summary

International Court of Justice (ICJ)?

  • About
    • The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations (UN).
    • It was established in June 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations and began work in April 1946.
    • The seat of the Court is at the Peace Palace in The Hague (Netherlands).
      • It is the only one of the six principal organs of the UN that is not located in New York City.
    • English and French are the ICJ’s official languages.
  • Role
    • The role of ICJ is:
      • to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted to it by States and
      • to give advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorizedUnited Nations organs and specialized agencies.
  • Judges
    • The ICJ has 15 judges who are elected to nine-year terms by the UN General Assembly and Security Council, which vote simultaneously but separately.
    • To be elected, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes in both bodies, a requirement that sometimes necessitates multiple rounds of voting.
      • A third of the court is elected every three years and elections are held at the UNHQ in New York during the annual UNGA meeting.
      • The judges elected at the triennial election commence their term of office on February 6 of the following year.
    • The president and vice-president of the court are elected for three-year terms by secret ballot. Judges are eligible for re-election.
  • Members and Jurisdiction
    • All members of the UN are automatically parties to the ICJ statute. However, this does not automatically give the ICJ jurisdiction over disputes involving them.
      • The ICJ gets jurisdiction only if both parties consent to it.
    • The judgment of the ICJ is final and technically binding on the parties to a case.
      • There is no provision of appeal. It can at the most, be subject to interpretation or, upon the discovery of a new fact, revision.
    • The ICJ has no way to ensure compliance of its orders, and its authority is derived from the willingness of countries to abide by them.

Genocide Convention

  • About
    • The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is an international human rights treaty that codified the crime of genocide for the first time.
    • This was the first human rights treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1948, and has been in effect since January 12, 1951.
  • Genocide acts as per this convention
    • The Convention defines genocide as five acts:
      • killing members of a group;
      • causing serious bodily or mental harm;
      • inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction;
      • imposing measures intended to prevent births within a group; and
      • forcibly transferring children of the group to another group — committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.
  • Claim of genocide
    • There are two elements: the physical acts (mentioned above); and mental act (specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part a specific group).
    • Committing these physical acts, however widespread, is not enough to make a claim of genocide.
    • The specific intent to destroy is what distinguishes genocide from war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.
    • Also, the commission of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity do not provide an avenue for States to approach the ICJ because the court does not have automatic jurisdiction over those crimes.

Background of the current verdict by ICJ

  • Earlier, South Africa brought a case to the ICJ accusing Israel of committing genocide in its military response to the 7 October Hamas attack.
  • The South African case included references to the Israeli use of blanket bombing and the cutting of food, water and medicine supplies to Gaza.
    • The ICJ was also asked to consider whether Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.
  • The present order came in response to this case.

News Summary: ICJ orders Israel to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza

  • ICJ said Israel must prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and facilitate urgently needed humanitarian aid into the besieged territory.
  • The court urged Israel to refrain from any possible genocidal acts as it presses its military operation in the Gaza Strip, but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire.
  • At this stage, the ICJ has not considered whether Israel is actually committing genocide in Gaza — that process will take several years.

Challenges ahead

  • The question now is whether the court’s rulings will be obeyed.
  • Although its rulings are legally binding, it has no mechanism to enforce them and they are sometimes completely ignored.
    • E.g., it has ordered Russia to stop its invasion of Ukraine.

Impact of the ruling on Israel

  • PM Benjamin Netanyahu has already hinted Israel would not abide by any ruling saying no one will stop us, not even a verdict in The Hague.
  • But experts believe that aside from the significant symbolic impact of the ruling, there could be tangible consequences on the ground.
    • It makes it much harder for other states to continue to support Israel in the face of a neutral third party finding there is a risk of genocide.


International Relations

Mains Article
27 Jan 2024

Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque Matter: ASI Report says Temple Existed at the Site of Gyanvapi Mosque

Why in News?

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in its scientific survey report on the Gyanvapi mosque complex has concluded that “there existed a Hindu temple prior to the construction of the existing structure” at the site.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Background of the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque Matter
  • Key Highlights of the ASI Report
  • Key Takeaways from the ASI Report

Background of the Kashi Vishwanath-Gyanvapi Mosque Matter:

  • How did it all begin?
    • The legal tussle dates back to a 1991 petition filed in Varanasi district court, seeking the restoration of Gyanvapi land to the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
    • The claim was that the mosque was constructed under the orders of Aurangzeb, who allegedly tore down a part of the temple in the 16th century.
  • Case revived:
    • In 2019, a petition was filed (in Varanasi district court) after the SC's Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute verdict.
    • The court directed the ASI to conduct a scientific survey, sparking a series of legal actions and reactions.
    • For example, in 2021, the Allahabad HC put a halt to proceedings in the Varanasi court, emphasising the Places of Worship Act 1991.
    • The Act prevents changes in the religious character of a place of worship as of August 15, 1947.
  • Recent update:
    • The ASI was tasked by the Varanasi district court in July 2023 to conduct a scientific survey of the mosque and ascertain if it was “constructed over a pre-existing structure of a Hindu temple”.
    • This faced a temporary pause from the SC and the ASI initiated the survey in August 2023.

Key Highlights of the ASI Report:

  • The pre-existing structure was probably destroyed in the 17th century, during the reign of Aurangzeb.
    • A loose stone with an inscription engraved on it recorded the construction of the mosque during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb between the years 1676 and 1677.
    • According to Maasir-i-Alamgiri (1947) by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, the pre-existing structure was destroyed after Aurangzeb issued orders to the governors of all provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels.
    • According to the Emperor’s command his officers had demolished the temple of Vishwanath at Kashi on September 2, 1669.
  • Inscriptions in Devanagari, Grantha, Telugu and Kannada scripts with names of deities found.
    • During the survey, a total of 34 inscriptions were recorded.
    • These are inscriptions on the stones of the pre-existing Hindu temples, which have been re-used during the construction/ repair of the existing structure.
    • The report added that names of deities like Janardhana (another name of Vishnu), Rudra (another name of Shiva), and “Umesvara” were found in the inscriptions.
    • Terms such as Maha-muktimandapa (while mukti means freedom, mandapa means platform) mentioned in three inscriptions are of great significance.
  • Parts of the pre-existing temple were mutilated for reuse.
    • Vyala(a Hindu mythological creature) figures carved on either side of the lotus medallion were mutilated for reuse, and the area between the corners decorated with floral design after the stone mass was removed.
  • The central chamber and main entrance of the pre-existing structure are part of the existing structure.
    • According to the report, the pre-existing temple had one big central chamber and at least one chamber to the north, south, east, and west respectively.
    • The central chamber now forms the central hall of the existing structure.
    • Meanwhile, the main entrance to the central chamber which was from the west is now blocked by stone masonry.
    • The entrance used to be decorated with carvings of animals and birds and an ornamental torana (a gateway).
  • Sculptural remains in cellars indicate that there existed a large Hindu temple.
    • The report noted that pillars from the pre-existing temple were reused to make cellars in the eastern part of the platform to accommodate a large number of people for prayers.
    • Moreover, sculptures of Hindu deities and carved architectural members were found under the dumped soil in one of the cellars.

Key Takeaways from the ASI Report:

  • The Gyanvapi Masjid case continues to unfold as a complicated legal battle with deep historical and religious implications.
  • The recent decision by the Varanasi court to disclose the ASI report is a significant step toward transparency in resolving this long-standing dispute.
  • While the Opposition maintained silence on the matter, the RSS and BJP indicated they were in no hurry to get into the issue and would wait for courts to take the lead on the matter.
  • According to an RSS functionary, the Sangh had to take up the Ayodhya Ram temple issue in the 1980s as a mobilisational issue so as to reach out to people and get our concerns into the mainstream debate.
    • At that time, society was not alive to these concerns, like it is today. Now, it is society that has taken up all these cultural concerns as collective concerns.


Polity & Governance

Mains Article
27 Jan 2024

In Past 8 Years, More Women Enrolled in Higher Studies Than Men

Why in News?

  • In the last eight years, more women have enrolled in higher education compared to men, according to the 2021-22 All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) released recently.

What’s in Today’s Article?

  • About AISHE Report (Objective, Need, etc.)
  • Key Highlights of the AISHE Report 2021-22 (Institutes, Students Enrolled, Teaching Staff)

About All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) Report:

  • The All-India Survey on Higher Education is the main source of comprehensive statistics on the Higher Education scenario in the country.
  • It is published by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry has been conducting All India Survey on Higher Education since 2011.
  • The survey covers all higher educational institutions located in Indian Territory and imparting higher education in the country.
  • The survey collects detailed information on different parameters such as student enrollment, teacher’s data, infrastructural information, financial information etc.
  • The report is based on voluntary uploading of data by institutions of Higher Education listed in aishe.gov.in portal.
    • The responsibility for the accuracy of the data rests with the Nodal Officers of concerned Institution.

Key Highlights of the AISHE Report 2021-22:

  • The AISHE report 2021-22 was conducted with reference period as academic session 2021-22.
  • A total of 1,168 Universities/University level Institutions, 45,473 Colleges and 12,002 Stand Alone Institutions were registered in AISHE 2021-22.
  • Of them, 1,162 Universities, 42,825 colleges and 10,576 Stand Alone Institutions have responded in the survey.
  • Number of Institutions:
    • In all, 341 Universities/University level institutions have been established since 2014-15.
    • Out of 1168 Universities registered, 685 are Government managed (Central Govt. 240, State Govt. 445), 10 are Private Deemed (Aided) and 473 are Private (Un-aided).
    • There are 17 Universities exclusively for Women. It was 11 in 2014-15.
    • In 2021-22, there are 18 Open universities (1 Central University, 16 State Universities and 1 State Private University).
  • Student Enrolment in Higher Education:
    • Total enrolment in higher education has increased to nearly 4.33 crore in 2021-22 from 3.42 crores in 2014-15.
    • Female enrolment in Higher Education increases to 2.07 crore (32% increase since 2014- 15).
    • The total number of pass-outs has increased to 1.07 Crore in 2021-22 as against 95.4 Lakh in 2020-21.
  • Caste-wise enrolment
    • Caste breakdown of the total enrolled students in 2021-22:
      • 15.3% belong to Scheduled Caste,
      • 6.3% belong to Scheduled Tribe,
      • 37.8% are from Other Backward Class and
      • remaining 40.6% students are from other communities.
    • Enrolment of Scheduled Caste students has increased to 66.23 lakh in 2021-22 from 58.95 lakh in 2020-21.
    • In case of Scheduled Tribe students, the enrolment has increased to 27.1 lakh in 2021-22 from 24.12 lakh in 2020-21.
    • The enrolment of Scheduled Tribe Female students has increased to 13.46 lakh in 2021- 22 from 12.21 lakh in 2020-21.
    • The Minority enrolment has increased to 30.1 lakh in 2021-22 from 21.8 lakh in 2014-15.
  • State-wise enrolment
    • The top 6 States in terms of Student Enrolment are Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan.
      • They constitute 53.3% of the total Student Enrolment.
    • Number of foreign students
      • Total number of foreign students enrolled in higher education is 46,878. In 2021-22, highest share of foreign students is from Nepal (28%), followed by Afghanistan (6.7%), United States (6.2%), Bangladesh (5.6%), UAE (4.9%), and Bhutan (3.3%).
    • Teaching Staff in Higher Education:
      • The total number of faculty/teachers in 2021-22 are 15.98 lakh, of which about 56.6% are male and 43.4% are female.
      • Number of teachers has increased by 46,618 in 2021-22 over 2020-21.
Social Issues

Mains Article
27 Jan 2024

India and France deepen ties

Why in news?

  • French President Emmanuel Macron visited India as the Chief Guest for the 75th Republic Day celebrations.
  • During this visit, India and France made significant decisions with the primary focus on enhancing collaboration in the defence sector.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Indo-France Bilateral Relation
  • News Summary

Indo-France Bilateral Relations:

  • Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1948, India and France have enjoyed 75 years of close and friendly relations.
  • In 1998, India and France elevated their diplomatic relationship to Strategic Partnership which completed 25 years in January, 2023.
  • This Strategic Partnership, first for France outside the EU, has been instrumental in the comprehensive growth of India-France relationship.

Key Pillars of India-France Cooperation:

  • Defence Cooperation: The Agreement on Defence Cooperation signed in 2006 and renewed for another 10 years in 2016 gives the framework for all defence cooperation activities between India and France.
    • A DRDO office was opened in the Embassy in 2023 for strengthening technology cooperation.
    • The procurement of Rafale jets as part of India’s air power is a testament to the deep defence ties.
  • Space Cooperation: ISRO and the French Space Agency, CNES have been carrying on various joint research programmes and collaborating in satellite launches.
    • For example, on 22 June 2022, GSAT-24 communication satellite of New Space India Ltd (NSIL) was successfully launched on-board Ariane-5 from Kourou, French Guiana.
  • Civil Nuclear Cooperation: An agreement on civil nuclear cooperation was signed between India and France in 2008.
    • France is involved in the construction of the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project. However, the progress here has been slow (the first pact was agreed in 2008).
    • The two sides have also agreed to establish a partnership on Small Modular Reactors (SMR) and Advanced Modular Reactors (AMR).
  • Economic Cooperation: They have important bilateral investments and trade and commercial cooperation, particularly in sectors involving IT corridors, smart-cities, railways, capital and trade exchanges, skill development, etc.
    • Bilateral trade reached an impressive $13.4 Bn in 2022-23, marking a significant 7.72% increase from the previous year.
    • France has emerged as the 11th largest investor in India, with FDI inflow of $10.5 Bn from April 2000 to March 2023.
  • Digital Cooperation: India-France Roadmap on Cyber security and Digital Technologies was one of the outcomes of the visit of the PM of India to France in 2019.
    • In July 2023, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) was launched from the Eiffel Tower, offering secure and convenient transactions for Indian visitors and NRIs.
  • Culture and Tourism Cooperation: There are many Indo-French cultural associations which organise various events across France.
    • For example, the Government of India organised ‘Namaste France’ cultural festival in several cities of France in 2016.
  • Marine and Maritime Cooperation: Indo-French Maritime Cooperation is based on the India-France Roadmap on Blue Economy and Ocean Governance adopted in 2022.
  • Community in France: The Indian community, including NRIs in mainland France number around 109,000, largely originating from French enclaves of Puducherry, Karaikal, Yanam, Mahe and Chandernagore. 

News Summary: India and France deepen ties

  • French President Emmanuel Macron was on a two-day State visit to India. He was also the Chief Guest for India's Republic Day.
    • The 2nd Infantry Regiment of the French Foreign Legion also participated in this year’s Republic Day Parade.
  • This year, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership.
    • PM Modi was the Guest of Honour at the Bastille Day Parade held on 14 July 2023 in Paris.

Key outcomes of the visit

  • Roadmap for India-France Defence Industrial Partnership
    • The main goal of this roadmap is to find areas to work together on making military equipment.
    • This includes designing, developing, and producing things together, as well as creating supply chains for defence goods between the two countries.
    • It aims to foster collaboration in cutting-edge technologies, including robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, platforms, and cyber defence.
    • The defence roadmap will cover both air and space technologies, maritime technology, including underwater domain awareness.
  • Defence-space partnership
    • The two sides also signed a new agreement for a defence-space partnership that will see them collaborate on space situational awareness.
  • Airbus-TATA chopper deal
    • Tata and Airbus Helicopters have entered into an industrial partnership for the production of H125 helicopters, fostering collaboration in the defence sector.
    • Two mega multi-billion-dollar defence deals in the pipeline between the two countries are currently in the cost negotiation phase. These are:
      • The 26 Rafale-M fighter jets for the Indian Navy’s aircraft carriers, and
      • Three additional Scorpene-class conventional submarines.
  • Cooperation in satellite launches
    • An MoU was sealed between New Space India Ltd and France's Arianespace, signifying cooperation in satellite launches and advancing space exploration initiatives.
  • Introduction of the Young Professional Scheme
    • The scheme facilitates:
      • the exchange of individuals between 18-35 years of age, and
      • extension of visa validity to five years for Schengen visas for Indian students pursuing master's degrees in France.
  • Other areas of cooperation
    • Both sides also agreed on cooperation in healthcare, which would include education, training and research, and the use of AI in healthcare.

Key announcements made during the visit

  • Year 2026 as the India France Year of Innovation.
  • Operationalization of UPI at Eiffel Tower.
  • Setting up of a Solar Academy in Senegal under the STAR-C program of International Solar Alliance (ISA).
    • STAR-C programme aims to boost solar power ecosystems in the poorest countries.
    • The initiative is run by ISA in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
  • Establishment of India’s Consulate in Marseille and French Bureau de France in Hyderabad


International Relations
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