January  2021 Editorial Summary Compilation for Civil Services



GS-1 Mains

  1. QUESTION : Discuss why has the renewable energy sources been given a lot of importance now days and efforts of the government in achieving the targets set in this sector.
  2. QUESTION : How the removal of gender related issues and bringing women empowerment can reduce the economic inequalities in India? Discuss.
  3. QUESTION : India’s caste system is perhaps the world’s longest surviving social hierarchy. Critically examine by giving major challenges that may come and suggestive measures at the same time.
  4. QUESTION : “ Increasing methane emissions are a major contributor to the rising concentration of green house gases in earth’s atmosphere, and are responsible for up to one-third of near-term climate warming.” Discuss Critically with solutions to control methane emissions.


GS-2 Mains

  1. QUESTION : Exemplify the term Vaccine hesitancy and analyse the reasons for Vaccine hesitancy in India .
  2. QUESTIONS : Discuss the issue of permanent membership to UNSC highlighting its importance for India and what are the major challenges that are coming before India to get permanent seat in UNSC ?
  3. QUESTION : Discuss the opportunities and the challenges in the India-UK relationships and list the prospectus of India-UK relations after Brexit and Coronavirus pandemic.
  4. QUESTION : According to a recent UN Report, India is Ranked at 131 on Human Development Index .Discuss some reasons for India’s low rank and give some important ways to improve the overall human development in India.
  5. QUESTION : Discuss the Central Vista Project of India and its significance. What are the benefits and issues associated to it?
  6. QUESTION : 6TH Schedule of the Indian Constitution is often referred to as a charter for autonomy of a wide magnitude, but it has failed to decrease the tension between different stakeholders at the ground level. Critically analyse
  7. QUESTION : How digitization is strengthening Indian Democracy? Examine the effect of increasing digitization and e-governance on the aged population in India.
  8. QUESTION : Project `Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationship with its neighbours. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss.
  9. QUESTION : Discuss how is SAARC important for India as far as the security is concerned and brief about its potential and issues of as an organisation to emerge as a successful model of cooperation among nations in a region ?
  10. QUESTION : Discuss with reasons despite several measures by the GoI to reduce the vulnerability of farmers in India, the farm sector and farmers continue to suffer losses. Suggest some important steps to be taken to improve their conditions. 
  11. QUESTION : Discuss the issues involved in interfaith marriages and what are the constitutional rights involved in these marriages ? Suggest key steps to be taken by the GoI to tackle such issues.
  12. QUESTION : Deliberation and debate are the way you stir the soul of our democracy.” Justify this statement by giving concerns in promulgation of laws and appropriate solutions to tackle the issues are coming in democratic nation like India.
  13. QUESTION : “The unchanging scenario of each other in both nations calls for the recalibration of India-Nepal bilateral relations. Suggest the factors that India should consider while having a relook at its ties with Nepal”
  14. QUESTION : Exemplify the problems faced by the electricity consumers in India giving best steps to overcome these problems and how will the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 help consumers to deal with the existing issues?”
  15. QUESTION : “Despite being depicted as angles and goddesses women are denied with equal rights to the men in India” . Justify the above statement by giving way forward.
  16. QUESTION : Discuss the significance and the need for checks and balances, concerns over delay in execution in India what are the available solutions to overcome these delays ?
  17. QUESTION : Discuss how can electronic voting ensure efficiency and transparency in electoral system in India and list out probable concerns with appropriate solution .
  18. QUESTION : What agenda should India pursue at the UNSC in its two year non-permanent stint? What are the challenges in pursuing such agenda?”
  19. QUESTION : Significance of the Horizontal and Vertical reservation in India and explain why some sections of the society see reservation as a caste-based discrimination?


GS-3 Mains

  1. QUESTION : India being the country the most vulnerable to climate change, must prioritise Disaster management plans.” and give some effective measures to mitigate these calamities. Evaluate
  2. QUESTION : What do you mean by feminisation of agriculture and the role of women in farming in India. Also, discuss the problems faced by women farmers in India with effective solution .
  3. QUESTION: It is said that the energy efficiency is the foundation of a strong, self-sufficient, and sustainable economy. Critically analyse this statement by giving measures to make India more efficient in this sector.
  4. QUESTION : How financial inclusion may be one of the most important cornerstones of an economy like India by discussing  its implications and challenges faced by India in the path of financial inclusion
  5. QUESTION : Strong data protection is the need of the hour when everyone talks about data privacy policy hence it is pertinent that a law has to be enacted at the earliest to safeguard the fundamental right to Privacy of the citizens. Comment
  6. QUESTION : Critically analyse the challenges faced by the RBI in planning expansionary policy during covid-19 pandemic and suggest key steps to counter such challenges in forthcoming time.
  7. QUESTION : How would the recent phenomena of protectionism and currency manipulations in world trade affect macroeconomic stability of India? Discuss
  8. QUESTION : How can India make its efforts significant to accelerate energy technology innovation as a means to achieve national policy goals and give suggestive measures to complete this task ?
  9. QUESTION : What are the serious threats and challenges posed by deepfakes and what can be the possible strategy to counter it? Suggest.
  10. QUESTION : “Growth in the agriculture sector in India has not been commensurate with the growth in the agriculture credit. What are the reasons for this disparity? Suggest the measures to deal with the challenges in agri-credit delivery.”
  11. QUESTION : How shipping sector contributes to the economic prosperity of a country? Suggest the steps need to be taken to develop its shipping sector especially India
  12. QUESTION : “The path to the self-reliance of any country goes through robust capabilities in the Research and Development . Comment”
  13. QUESTION : Discuss the status of Indian economy before and after the covid-19 pandemic and increasing income inequality in India giving suggestive measures to ensure income equality.
  14. QUESTION : Services provided by the Internet firms have become indispensable part of our life, this leads to the problem of checking their monopoly power while encouraging their positive externalities and consumer surplus. Discuss the challenges posed by the Big Techs and suggest the effective steps to deal with these .”

GS-1 Mains

QUESTION : Discuss why has the renewable energy sources been given a lot of importance now days and  efforts of the government in achieving the targets set in this sector.




India’s Push towards Renewable Energy




The Government of India has made impressive progress in recent years in increasing citizens’ access to electricity and clean cooking. Around 750 million people in India gained access to electricity between 2000 and 2019, reflecting strong and effective policy implementation. The government of India has also made significant progress in reducing the use of traditional biomass in cooking.





  • India has made significant progress in achieving goal 7 (providing energy access) of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).


  • Both the energy and emission intensities of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) have decreased by more than 20% over the past decade.


  • India’s per capita emissions today are 1.6 tonnes of CO2, well below the global average of 4.4 tonnes, while its share of global total CO2 emissions is some 6.4%.


  • India has significantly improved energy efficiency, which have avoided an additional 15% of annual energy demand and 300 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over the period 2000-18, according to IEA (International Energy Agency) analysis.


Projected primary energy consumption of India:


  • India consumed around 17 Mtoe (Millions of tonnes of oil equivalent) of renewable energy in 2016, and this will be 256 Mtoe in 2040. It is probable that India’s energy consumption will grow fastest among all major economies by 2040.






  • The Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) program:


  • It seeks to develop engineering and technology (prototype/process development) on a national scale.


  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) finances up to 50% of the total cost of the project.




  • Between 2012 and 2017, 4467.8 million INR support was granted by the MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy).


  • Exceptional consideration was given to projects that worked under extreme and hazardous conditions.


  • Financial support was applied to organizing awareness programs, demonstrations, training, workshops, surveys, assessment studies, etc.


  • Innovative projects will be financed via start-up support mechanisms, which will include an investment contract with investors.


  • Technology validation and demonstration projects and other innovative projects with regard to renewables received a financial assistance of 50% of the project cost.




Repowering policy—2016:


  • According to the policy 27GW of turnaround can be achieved.
  • This policy supports the replacing of aging wind turbines with more modern and powerful units (fewer, larger, taller) to raise the level of electricity generation.


  • It seeks to create a simplified framework and to promote an optimized use of wind power resources.


  • The policy provided an exception from the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for wind farms/turbines undergoing repowering because they could not fulfil the requirements according to the PPA during repowering.


The wind-solar hybrid policy—2018:


  • This policy supported new projects (large grid-connected wind-solar photovoltaic hybrid systems) and the hybridization of the already available projects.


  • The tariff-based transparent bidding process was included in the policy.


The national offshore wind energy policy—2015:


  • The timeline for initiatives was to firstly add offshore wind energy of 500 MW by 2022, 2 to 2.5 GW by 2027, and eventually reaching 5 GW between 2028 and 2032.


Training and educational initiatives:


  • The National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) develops course modules, and a Modular Employable Skilling program (MES) in its regular 2-year syllabus to include SPV lighting systems, solar thermal systems, SHP, and provides the certificate for seven trades after the completion of a 2-year course.


National skill development policy:


  • To provide regular training programs to create various job roles in renewable energy along with the MNRE support through a skill council for green jobs (SCGJ), the National Occupational Standards (NOS), and the Qualification Pack (QP).




Policy and regulatory obstacles:


  • A comprehensive policy statement (regulatory framework) is not available in the renewable sector.


  • The regulatory framework and procedures are different for every state.


  • The policy framework does not require the maintenance of the wind projects after the tax advantages have been claimed.


  • There is no control over the equipment suppliers because they undertake all wind power plant development activities such as commissioning, operation, and maintenance.


  • Third Party Sale (TPS) is not allowed because renewable generators are not allowed to sell power to commercial consumers. They have to sell only to industrial consumers. The industrial consumers have a low tariff and commercial consumers have a high tariff. This stops the profit for the developers and investors.


Institutional obstacles:


  • Poor institutional coordination between agencies and institutes working under MNRE.


  • The single window project approval and clearance system is not very useful and not stable because it delays the receiving of clearances for the projects ends in the levy of a penalty on the project developer.


  • No sufficient workforce in institutes, agencies, and ministries.


  • No proper or well established research centres for renewable infrastructure development.


Financial and fiscal obstacles:


  • Insufficient fund allocation and delay in budget release for renewables sector projects.


  • High Capital Investment in renewable energy projects in renewable energy projects, it leads to financing challenges and initial burden.


  • There are uncertainties related to the assessment of resources, lack of technology awareness, and high-risk perceptions which lead to financial barriers for the developers.


  • Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) signed between the power purchaser and power generators on pre-determined fixed tariffs are higher than the current bids (Economic survey 2017–2018 and union budget on the 01.02.2019).


  • Money lenders consider the renewable energy investment as risky.


  • Financial institutions such as government banks or private banks do not have much understanding or expertise in renewable energy projects.


Market obstacles:


  • Subsidies are adequately provided to conventional fossil fuels, sending the wrong impression that power from conventional fuels is of a higher priority than that from renewable.


  • There is an inadequacy in promoting the loan market (taking loan to finance renewable based applications) and cash market (buying renewable-based applications to meet personal energy needs by individuals) in India.


  • The biomass market is facing a demand-supply gap leading to increase in biomass prices because the biomass supply is unreliable.


  • There is an inadequate evacuation infrastructure and insufficient integration of the grid, which affects the renewable projects.


  • There is no adequate supply of land, for wind, solar, and solar thermal power plants, which lead to poor capacity addition in many states.


Technological obstacles:


  • Every installation of a renewable project contributes to complex risk challenges from environmental uncertainties, natural disasters, planning, equipment failure, and profit loss.


  • Quality assurance processes are still under starting conditions.


  • There is no clear document related to testing laboratories, referral institutes, review mechanism, inspection, and monitoring.


  • There are not many R&D centers for renewables.


Awareness, education, and training obstacles:


  • There is an unavailability of appropriately skilled human resources in the renewable energy sector.


  • There is no proper follow-up or assistance for the workers in the project to perform maintenance after installation of renewable project/applications by the suppliers.


  • People don’t have adequate knowledge in renewable and no awareness programmes are available for general public.


  • People consider that cost of the renewable might be high and they might not be able to use renewable energy.


Environmental obstacles:


  • In the field of offshore wind, the turbines and blades are bigger than onshore wind turbines, and they require a substantial amount of space.


  • Offshore installations affect ocean activities (fishing, sand extraction, gravel extraction, oil extraction, gas extraction, aquaculture, and navigation).


  • Wind turbines influence wildlife (birds and bats) because of the collisions with them and due to air pressure changes caused by wind turbines and habitat disruption.


  • Sound (aerodynamic, mechanical) and visual impacts are associated with wind turbines.


  • Large utility-scale solar plants require vast lands that increase the risk of land degradation and loss of habitat.


  • The PV cell manufacturing process includes hazardous chemicals such as 1-1-1 Trichloroethene, HCL, H2SO4, N2, NF, and acetone.




1) Policy and regulation advancements :


  • The MNRE should provide a comprehensive action plan or policy for the promotion of the renewable sector.


  • The central and state government should include a “Must run status” in their policy to renewable power plants.


  • A national merit order list for renewable electricity generation will reduce power cost for the consumers.


  • It will help in ranking sources of renewable energy in an ascending order of price and will provide power at a lower cost to each distribution company (DISCOM).


  • Structural Engineering Research Centre might be allowed to identify the thrust areas of their renewable energy development.


  • MNRE should guide minimum performance standards, which incorporate reliability, durability, and performance.


2) Transmission requirements:


  • Solar Corporation of India is holding auctions for both wind and solar projects without making sure that enough evacuation facilities are available.


  • Develop numerous substations and transmission lines.


  • The budget allocation of INR 6 billion for 2018–2019 should be increased to higher values.


3) Financing the renewable sector :


  • China’s annual budget for renewables is 128 times higher than India’s. So there is a need to provide higher budget to renewable energy sector.


  • The government should concentrate on R&D and provide a surplus fund for R&D.


o In 2017, the budget allotted was an INR 445 crore, which was reduced to an INR 272.85 crore in 2016.


o Initial allocation of INR 144 crore was reduced to INR 81 crore in 2017-18.


  • GST (Goods and Service Tax)issues regarding renewable energy needs to be addressed.


  • Renewable energy sector should be included as the priority sector, it would increase the available credit to the sector.


4) Improvement in manufacturing/technology:


  • India should move to domestic manufacturing. It imports 90% of its solar cell and module requirements from Malaysia, China, and Taiwan.


  • The government should reconsider the safeguard duty.


  • To make use of the vast estimated renewable potential in India, the R&D capability should be upgraded.


  • The country should initiate an industry-academia partnership, which might promote innovative R&D.


5) Awareness about renewable:


  • Awareness is the crucial factor for the uniform and broad use of renewable energy.


  • People should regularly be trained with regard to new techniques that would be beneficial for the community.


  • Sufficient agencies should be available to sell renewable products and serve for technical support during installation and maintenance.


6) Hybrid utilization of renewable:


  • The country should focus on hybrid power projects for an effective use of transmission infrastructure and land.


  • Formulate mandatory standards and regulations for hybrid systems, which are lagging in the newly announced policies.


  • Fiscal and financial incentives available for hybrid projects should be increased.




The renewable sector suffers notable obstacles. Some of them are inherent in every renewable technology; others are the outcome of a skewed regulative structure and marketplace. To accomplish reliable system renewables must be used in a hybrid configuration of two or more resources along with conventional source and storage device. Making investments economically possible with effective policies and tax incentives will result in social benefits above and beyond the economic advantages.



QUESTION : How the removal of gender related issues and bringing women empowerment can reduce the economic inequalities in India? Discuss.






Gender equality in India




Paying women for domestic and care work will not reduce or redistribute their burden. It will only lead to mere recognition of their efforts.




  • Women bear a disproportionately high burden of unpaid domestic work and care work in India.


  • According to the all-India Time Use Survey (2019) data, females bear more than 83% of the burden of domestic and care work both in Tamil Nadu and India.


  • To end this disparity, recently, Kamal Haasan’s political party, Makkal Needhi Maiam, proposed that homemakers should get due recognition through payment for their work at home.
  • This proposal has generated curiosity and reopened the unsettled academic debate of Paying women for domestic and care work.


Can the proposed policy address the huge gender disparity in unpaid care work?


  • Evaluation of Makkal Needhi Maiam party’s proposal reveals that though it will be a progressive step, it has the risk of furthering the gender disparity in unpaid work within homes.


  • According to economist Diane Elson (2017), the public policy should aim at closing the huge gender gap in unpaid domestic and care work through ‘recognition, reduction and redistribution’ (Triple-R).


  • The Makkal Needhi Maiam party’s proposal only satisfies the first component of Triple-R, that is ‘recognition’.


  • Since it is women who predominantly carry out unpaid domestic and care activities, often at the expense of their employment prospects and health, the monetary reward is a recognition of their contribution to the well-being of the household and the opportunities forgone by women. The proposal appears progressive, for this reason.


  • However, the proposal also has the potential to increase women’s burden. This is because


  • Firstly, paying monetary benefits will endorse the social norm that domestic and care work are ‘women’s work’, for which they are being paid.


  • Secondly, paying monetary benefits for women makes redistribution’ of the burden of unpaid work impossible. This is because, paying women for domestic and care work will give Rights to men that women are bound to do these unpaid activities as they are being compensated.


  • Instead of incentivising men to participate more in household work and reducing women’s burden by redistributing the responsibility, the current proposal might do the opposite.




  • Workforce participation:


o India’s female employment trends do not resonate with its high economic growth, low fertility, and rise in female schooling.


o Between 2004 and 2018 unlike the shrinking gender gap in educational attainment, the gender gap in workforce participation increased. It demonstrates one of the lowest labour participation rates for women, which have been consistently declining since 1950.


  • Dramatic fall in absolute employment:


o The recently released Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2018-19 indicates a dramatic fall in absolute employment for men and more so for women.


o Women faced a decline in labour participation rates (from 2011 to 2019) in rural areas from 35.8% to 26.4%, and stagnation in urban areas at around 20.4%.


  • Poor worldwide Rankings:


o The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report ranks India at 149 among 153 countries in terms of women’s economic participation and opportunity.


o The gender wage gap is the highest in Asia, with women 34% below men (for equal qualification and work), according to a 2019 Oxfam report.


  • Women in agriculture:


o The agriculture employs nearly 60% of women, who form the bulk of landless labourers in an almost completely informal sector, with no credit access, subsidies, little equipment, and abysmal asset ownership.


o According to IndiaSpend, only about 13% of women tillers owned their land in 2019.


  • Status of women in other sectors of the economy:


o Manufacturing employs (almost completely informally) only around 14% of the female labour force.


o The service sector sees women disproportionately involved in care-work. According to the National Sample Survey (NSS) 2005, over 60% of the 4.75 million domestic workers are women.


o Women disproportionately populate India’s informal economy and are concentrated in low-paid, highly precarious jobs.

  • COVID-19 fallout


o The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) showed that 39% of women lost their jobs in April and May compared to 29% of men.


o India’s strikingly unequal gender division of household work has also worsened during the pandemic.




  1. Need to create avenues and opportunity with conscious effort for empowering women rather than giving freebies.


  1. Gender Neutral laws.


  1. Implementation to full potential of laws is the key.


  1. Infrastructure to be put in place and proper efforts to go ahead.


  1. Favouring women gives rise to inequality in society so even men should be given avenues.


  1. Article 15 should be considered and positive discrimination should be there wherever needed.




The electoral promise of Paying women for domestic and care work cannot possibly address the ‘strategic’ gender needs of reducing and redistributing women’s burden. What is needed is to Incentivise men, to participate more and spend longer hours in sharing unpaid work.




QUESTION : India’s caste system is perhaps the world’s longest surviving social hierarchy. Critically examine by giving major challenges that may come and suggestive measures at the same time.






Need for Caste Census in India




The idea of a caste census is back in the realm of public debate, following the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to establish a commission to collect caste-wise data.


  • Since Independence, aggregated Census data on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on certain parameters such as education have been collected.


  • The Centre conducted a ‘socio-economic caste census’ in 2011, in an attempt to link the collection of caste data along with socio-economic data so that there could be a comprehensive assessment of levels of deprivation and backwardness in society.


  • However, presumably because of the lack of reliability of the data collected, or its political and electoral sensitivity, the caste portion of the SECC has not been disclosed so far.




  • Social and legal necessity:


o Broader caste information is a necessity to capture contemporary Indian society and to understand and remedy inequalities.


o There is a need of understanding of castes from the local, to the regional and to the national scale.


o There is a need to understand the nuances that shape caste and simultaneously the ways in which caste shapes everyday life in India.


  • Affirmative actions: The Supreme Court has been asking States to produce quantifiable data to justify their levels of caste based reservation.


  • The Census of India has not collected caste-wise data since 1931, with the exception of details about SCs and STs.




  • A large administrative exercise of capturing caste and its complexities is not only difficult, but also socially untenable.


  • Political and social repercussions of a caste census: There have been concerns that counting caste may help solidify caste divisions in the Indian society.


  • Difficult to measure: Caste may be context-specific, and thus difficult to measure. The other concern is whether an institution such as caste can even be captured completely by the Census.




  • Lack of depth: Census is both a data collection effort and a technique of governance, but is not quite useful enough for a detailed and comprehensive understanding of a complex society. There is a lack of depth where some issues are concerned.


  • There are questions over the ability of SECC to cover the effects of caste as an aspect of Indian social structure in everyday life.


  • Different purposes: Since the Census falls under the Census Act of 1948, all data are considered confidential, whereas according to the SECC website, “all the personal information given in the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) is open for use by Government departments to grant and/or restrict benefits to households”.


o The Census thus provides a portrait of the Indian population, while the SECC is a tool to identify beneficiaries of state support.


o This difference is significant since it influences not only the methods of collection but also the use and potential for misuse of data.


The SECC, which collected the first figures on caste in Census operations since 1931, is the largest exercise of the enumeration of caste. It has the potential to allow for a mapping of inequalities at a broader level.




  • Census is the basis for reviewing the country’s progress in the past decade, monitoring the ongoing schemes of the government and plan for the future.


  • It is used by the government, policy makers, academics, and others to capture the Indian population, its access to resources, and to map social change.


  • Census provides detailed and authentic information on demography, economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, language, religion, migration, disability and many other socio-cultural and demographic data.


  • The first Census was conducted in India in 1872 (although non-synchronously in different parts) during the reign of Governor-General Lord Mayo. The first complete synchronous Census was conducted in 1881.


  • The decennial Census of India has been conducted 15 times, as of 2011.




  • The primary tool of census operations is the questionnaire that is developed over the years, taking into account the changing needs of the country.


  • It is a list of questions that helps the government collect all the necessary details required about citizens.


  • The name of person, relationship to head, sex, date of birth and age, current marital status, religion, mother tongue, literacy status are some of the fundamental questions one can find in almost all census questionnaires.


The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.


CENSUS ACT, 1948 :


  • The Census Act was enacted in 1948 to provide for the scheme of conducting population census with duties and responsibilities of census officers.


  • The Act makes it obligatory on the part of every citizen to answer the Census question truthfully and also penalises for giving false information.




  • SECC-2011 is a study of socio economic status of rural and urban households and assigns ranking of households based on predefined parameters.


  • SECC 2011 has three census components which were conducted by three separate authorities but under the overall coordination of the Department of Rural Development in the Government of India.


  • Census in Rural Area has been conducted by the Department of Rural Development (DoRD).


  • Census in Urban areas is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA).


  • Caste Census is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs: Registrar General of India (RGI) and Census Commissioner of India.


  • Parameters of SECC: The rural development ministry outlined 20 parameters including availability of a house, an electricity connection, a toilet,, a gas connection, and education level as well as asset position and land holding to assess household status.


  • The updated SECC will be based on the list of households in the country in 2020 being compiled by the National Population Register, and will form the basis of the social registry, which has been in the works for a long time.




  • Need for better collaboration: While the Census authorities present documents on methodology as part of a policy of transparency, there needs to be a closer and continuous engagement between functionaries of the Census and SECC, along with academics and other stakeholders concerned.


  • Learning from Past Census: Before another SECC is conducted, a stocktaking of the previous exercise, of what has been learnt from it, and what changes are necessary, beyond changing exclusionary criteria for beneficiaries of state support, are crucial to enable the Census to facilitate effective policy work and academic reflection.




QUESTION : “ Increasing methane emissions are a major contributor to the rising concentration of green house gases in earth’s atmosphere, and are responsible for up to one-third of near-term climate warming.” Discuss Critically with solutions to control methane emissions.




Methane Emissions




Methane emissions are the second largest cause of global warming. While methane tends to receive less attention than carbon dioxide (CO2), reducing methane emissions will be critical for avoiding the worst effects of climate change.




  • Methane (CH4) is a hydrocarbon that is a primary component of natural gas.


  • Methane is a greenhouse gas (GHG), so its presence in the atmosphere affects the earth’s temperature and climate system.




  • The energy sector including oil, natural gas, coal and bioenergy is one of the largest sources of methane emissions.


  • During year 2019, about 360 million tons (60 percent) of methane were released globally through human activities, while natural sources contributed about 230 million tons (40 percent).


  • About 33% of anthropogenic emissions are from gas released during the extraction and delivery of fossil fuels.


  • The world’s wetlands contribute about three-quarters (75%) of the enduring natural sources of methane.


  • Seepages from near-surface fossil-fuel and clathrate hydrate deposits (unrelated to direct human action), volcanic releases, wildfires, and termite emissions account for much of the remainder.




  • Indian methane emissions have grown from 18.85 Tg in 1985 to 20.56 Tg in 2008.


  • Enteric fermentation contributes 50–60% over the years.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are the hotspot methane emitting states of India.


  • The mean and variability of methane emissions per district per year have increased over 1990–2008.




  • Methane is the second most abundant anthropogenic GHG after carbon dioxide (CO2), accounting for about 20 percent of global emissions.


  • Methane is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.




  • The International Energy Agency (IEA) launched its Methane Tracker in 2019 in an effort to reconcile the various and often conflicting sources of data into a coherent set of estimates.


o It includes detailed estimates that incorporate new data for oil and gas supply as well as the latest evidence from the scientific literature and measurement campaigns.


o It incorporates data on large-scale methane leaks detected by satellite, through an earth observation firm.


  • The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) agriculture initiative is reducing methane emissions by improving manure and livestock management in mixed dairy farming systems, beef production, goats and sheep, commercial pig production, and improved mixed dairy systems.


o The CCAC Oil and Gas Methane Partnership works with oil and gas to identify and prevent leaks from nine core sources in their operations.


  • The Global Methane Initiative (GMI) is an international public-private partnership focused on reducing barriers to the recovery and use of methane as a clean energy source.


o GMI provides technical support to deploy methane-to-energy projects around the world that enable Partner Countries to launch methane recovery and use projects.




  • Oil and gas operations worldwide emitted just over 70 million tonnes of methane into the atmosphere in 2020.


  • The methane emissions figure for 2020 is around 10% lower than our estimate for 2019.


  • Oil production is responsible for around 40% of methane emissions, with leaks across the natural gas value chain accounting for the remaining 60%.


  • Upstream oil and gas operations lead to more than three-quarters of total emissions.


  • The 7.5 Mt drop in methane emissions in 2020 is equivalent to reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by around 230 Mt CO2-eq.


  • The emissions intensity among the worst performing countries is more than 100 times higher than among the better ones.


  • This underlines that many countries should rapidly be able to achieve huge improvements in performance.




  • Efforts to reduce emissions have often been held back by a lack of reliable data.


o This discrepancy may point to errors that does not instil confidence in using bottom‐up emissions estimates to identify the optimum targets for reduction efforts.


  • No combustion process is perfectly efficient, so when fossil fuels are used to generate electricity, heat, or power vehicles they all contribute as sources of methane emissions.


  • Reducing emissions from ongoing anthropogenic activities such as fossil fuel production and intensive ruminant farming is essentially a painkiller: it helps but does not cure.


  • Those responsible for the emissions may not be familiar with the technologies available for methane recovery or the potential for profitable recovery projects.


  • Poorly functioning energy markets and financially insolvent utilities and municipalities within many countries fail to provide the private sector with a climate that will attract their investment in projects to capture and utilize methane.




  • Reducing methane emissions by capturing and utilizing the gas can produce simultaneous environmental and economic benefits.


  • The need is to cut emissions from fossil fuels and from biomass and biofuel burning and reduce the methane footprint of agriculture and waste.


  • For many companies, better aerial and ground identification of leaks should now become a priority as a source of profit and improved safety, in addition to greenhouse gas reduction.


  • For regulatory bodies, the costs of leak detection are declining and leak surveys are becoming more affordable as instruments improve. Leak detection is thus now becoming more affordable, especially when there is potential income from penalties and fines.


  • Methane surveys are likely also to detect sources of emissions that are not being captured in national inventories.




  • According to the International Energy Agency, the global oil and gas industry could reduce methane emissions by 75 percent using existing technologies.


  • Application of digital technologies, could unlock huge potential benefits through large-scale methane emissions reduction efforts along the oil and gas supply chain.


  • Satellite remote-sensing technologies like MethaneSAT and the GOSAT offer exciting additional tools to identify, measure and verify methane emissions.


  • In 2019, researchers proposed a technique for removing methane from the atmosphere using zeolite.


  • Replacing all atmospheric methane with CO

 would reduce total greenhouse gas warming by approximately one-sixth.


  • Measures to reduce emissions from “intractable” (harder to mitigate) anthropogenic sources such as agriculture and biomass burning have received less attention and are also becoming more feasible, including removal from elevated‐methane ambient air near to sources.




On a national or regional scale, various methodologies are available to quantify emissions, but many of these need access to prior inventories. Such methodologies are useful in developed nations, but in many tropical nations may not be accessible. There is much need for better quantification methodologies that are more accessible to scientists and regulators in less‐developed nations.



















GS-2 Mains

QUESTION : Exemplify the term Vaccine hesitancy and analyse the reasons for Vaccine hesitancy in India .






Vaccine dry run 




Two vaccine candidates Covishield from Pune-based Serum Institute of India and Covaxin of Bharat Biotech are at final stages of emergency use authorisation (EUA) in India. India conducted COVID-19 vaccination programme dry run in all States and UTs at 285 session sites spread across 125 districts.




  • Under India’s ‘Expanded Programme on Immunization’, initiated in 1978, the country has gathered experience in administering essential vaccines to children and pregnant women.


  • In 1985, the programme was renamed ‘Universal Immunisation Programme’, under which about 12 different vaccines are provided through the government health system.


  • According to the UNICEF roughly 9 million immunisation sessions are conducted annually in India, despite that, only about 60% of eligible children are fully immunized, with wide variations among States.




  • Just like army drills, dry run is a dummy process that helped the government assess how ready we are for the COVID-19 immunization at the national level.


  • It also highlighted any shortcomings in the mechanism laid out for the coronavirus vaccine drive which can be addressed before time to avoid any difficulty or problems during the actual immunization process.


Purpose of the Dry Run:


  • To assess operational feasibility of using the Co-WIN application in a field environment.


  • To test the linkages between planning, implementation.


  • To identify the challenges and guide the way forward prior to actual implementation.


  • To give confidence to programme managers at various levels.


Need for Dry Run:


  • COVID-19 vaccine involves two shots spaced at least four weeks apart, and will need to be administered to potentially over a billion Indians.


  • India’s priority list of beneficiaries includes healthcare workers, municipal workers, police personnel, those over 50 years of age, and younger people with identified co-morbidities.


o This stands around 300 million people, and given the pace of vaccine production and administration, it will be August 2021 till all on the priority list are vaccinated.


  • So, it requires more planning, personnel, logistical arrangements and unprecedented level of digitisation.




  • The dry run was carried out in one or two districts of the States and sessions were organised at district hospitals or medical colleges, community or primary healthcare centres, private health facilities, and at outreach sites in urban and rural areas.


  • It tested all the key steps in the COVID-19 vaccination process in a field environment.


  • It involved State administrators generating a ‘user ID’ which were sent as a phone message to 25 volunteers at each session site.


  • Each site is manned by a medical officer, who is entrusted with ensuring that these groups of 25 people are vaccinated.


  • Though no actual shots were administered, details of every person to be given shot are being punched into the Co-WIN application.


o Co-WIN is an online platform for monitoring the delivery of COVID-19 vaccine.


  • The dummy boxes of vaccines were brought to the centre; cold storage points were also checked to ensure coordination with the actual points of vaccine delivery.


  • Once the session was completed, all data and feedback were relayed to district, State, and Central centres for feedback and analysis.




  • So far, only two vaccine candidates — Covishield and Covaxin have been cleared by an expert panel of the Drug Controller General of India.


  • A formal approval by the DCGI will then allow the companies to supply doses to the government for distribution.


  • The Serum Institute of India has already stockpiled 50 million doses and will have another 50 million ready by next week.


  • The first vaccines are expected to be administered within the coming weeks.




  • The dummy runs are useful as a warm-up exercise, but they will reveal little about the toughest parts of the vaccination process, namely the actual vaccination, severe adverse reactions and potential hospitalisation.


  • The real challenge lies in rural settings where necessary healthcare infrastructure is absent.


  • Successful implementation of the drive requires coordination between Central & state governments, district officials, municipal commissioners, ground staff, logistics and IT systems in place to cover 300 million ‘priority population’ by July.




QUESTIONS : Discuss the issue of permanent membership to UNSC  highlighting its importance for India and what are the major challenges that are coming before India to get permanent seat in UNSC ?




UNSC and opportunities for India





 India started its eighth term as one of the 10 non-permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) from January 1, 2021. India is hoping to play a positive global role and bolster its long-time candidature for a permanent seat in a revamped UNSC.





  • The United Nations Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations.


  • It is charged with ensuring international peace and security, recommending the admission of new UN members to the General Assembly, and approving any changes to the UN Charter.


  • It is the only body of the United Nations with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.


  • Headquarters: New York, United States.



  • The Council is composed of 15 Members.


  • Five permanent members: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States, and ten non-permanent members.


  • The non permanent members are elected on a regional basis for a two year term by the General Assembly.


  • The 10 non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis as: five for African and Asian States; one for Eastern European States; two for Latin American and Caribbean States; and two for Western European and other States.




Making UNSC effective:


  • The UNSC system was designed to function as a concert of five powers.


  • But it is becoming less effective today due to the deep divisions among the major powers.


o Differences between the US, China and Russia have become intractable.


o China has risen to be a great power and is making expansive claims.


o US and Russia have drifted apart and Russia has moved closer to China.


  • The UNSC offers room for sustained diplomatic interaction between the major powers, who could minimise tensions and create new opportunities for cooperation.


  • It will present India opportunity to carve out a larger role for itself amid renewed great power rivalry.


Making UNSC representative:


  • Making the UNSC more representative has been one of India’s demands since the end of the Cold War.


  • China has no interest in letting two other Asian powers — India and Japan to join the UNSC as permanent members.


  • India must continue its campaign in partnership with Brazil, Germany and Japan, to expand the UNSC.


Deal with China:


  • India was eager to build a multipolar world with Beijing after cold war, but now finds itself in a unipolar Asia centered around China.


  • China has repeatedly tried to get the UNSC to focus on:

o India’s constitutional changes in Kashmir.


o Protects Pakistan from international pressures over cross-border terrorism.


o Block India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.


  • India has no choice but to deal with China’s growing hostility to India.


Expand engagements:


  • The engagement with peace and security issues at UNSC will allow India to:


o Strengthen coalitions such as the Quad — which brings together Australia, India, Japan and the US.


o Deepen collaboration with its European partners like France and Germany in the security arena.


o Find common ground with “Global Britain”.


o Sustain an intensive dialogue with Russia notwithstanding Russia’s worsening problems with the West and closer ties to China.


Revitalize engagements with global south:


  • India needs to revitalize its engagement with its traditional partners in the “global south” by articulating their peace and security concerns in the UNSC.


  • The numerous small island states face existential challenges from global warming and rising sea levels and struggle to exercise control over their large maritime estates.


  • Supporting the sovereignty and survivability of the island states is a crucial political task for India.


  • Africa is the other priority. Nearly half of UNSC meetings, 60% of its documents, and 70% of its resolutions are about peace and security in Africa.


  • UNSC tenure is a good moment for India to intensify its engagement on peace and security issues in Africa at bilateral, regional and global levels.




 It is argued by critics that India has still not signed the NPT and also refused to sign the CTBT in 1996.


 China, which has veto power in the UNSC being one of its five permanent members, has been stonewalling India’s efforts to become a permanent member.


 Though India is a bright spot in the global economy and its macroeconomic fundamentals are stable, yet it shows poor performance in many socio-economic indicators like the Human Development Index.


 India is competing with other countries of G4 grouping (Japan, Brazil and Germany) for a spot for permanent membership in UNSC.


 India’s capacity to project its military power beyond the Indian Ocean region is still to be tested. Further, India heavily relies on weaponry imports from US and Russia for its military requirements.




  • India’s previous stints at the UNSC were marked by its strong voice against colonialism, apartheid and terrorism and by its leadership of the developing world.


  • India’s attitude has changed over the last decade from the reactive to the proactive. The range of Indian interests has expanded and so has the circle of India’s international partners.


  • In 2021-22 India is hoping its credentials as a provider of global public goods backed by a strong economy, a billion plus people and a reliable regional power status will be noticed, further bolstering its claims to a permanent seat.




QUESTION : Discuss the opportunities and the challenges in the India-UK relationships and list the prospectus of India-UK relations after Brexit and Coronavirus pandemic. 






India-UK Bilateral Relations




India and the U.K. has shard past, now the present offers an opportunity to strengthen the ties between the two countries




  • India has invited the British Prime Minister as chief guest for the Republic Day parade.


  • India has a shared past with Britain and needs to chart a different shared future, now that Britain has left the European Union (EU).


  • One joint enterprise will be as members of the UN Security Council where Britain has permanent status and India holds a non-permanent seat this year and next.


  • Also, this year, the U.K. will be hosting India as an invitee to the G-7, and the UN Climate Change Conference.




  • For the U.K., Brexit necessitates that every effort be made to seek commercial advantage in Asian countries with high growth rates.


  • India has been fruitlessly negotiating a trade agreement with the EU since 2007, during which Britain was considered the main deal-breaker.


  • The EU wanted duty reductions on autos, wines and spirits and wanted India to open financial sectors.


  • India sought free movement for service professionals.


  • The same obstacles with post-Brexit Britain will arise, because the export profile of both countries is predominantly services-oriented.


  • In response to free movement for professionals, Britain will refer to its new points-based system for immigrants.


  • After withdrawing from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and will place greater stress on aspects related to country of origin and percentage of value addition in exports.


  • Therefore, while signing agreement two countries will coverge on pharmaceuticals, financial technology, chemicals, defence production, petroleum and food products.




  • One and a half million persons of Indian origin reside in Britain.


  • Before COVID-19, there were half a million tourists from India to Britain annually and twice that figure in the reverse direction.


  • Around 30,000 Indians study in Britain despite restrictive opportunities for post-graduation employment.


  • Britain is among the top investors in India and India is the second-biggest investor and a major job creator in Britain.


  • India has a credit balance in total trade of $16 billion, but the level is below India’s trade with Switzerland, Germany or Belgium.




  • Upgrading the ties – Both countries up for upgrading of the 2004 India-U.K. Strategic Partnership to a “Comprehensive” Strategic Partnership.


  • This will help to envision closer military ties, cooperation in Indo-Pacific strategies, counter-terrorism and fighting climate change.


  • Hoping for FTA – Britain is on a mission to secure free trade partners after Brexit. It has wrapped up nearly 20 trade deals, including most recently with the U.S., Japan, and Vietnam and is hoping for India to sign the same.


  • Corona pandemic and cooperation for vaccine manufacturing – The highlight of India’s relations will be closer cooperation on the coronavirus vaccine.


  • India’s Serum Institute set to produce and distribute the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in India, and then as part of the COVAX project to other developing countries.




  • Stagnancy in the relations – India-UK relations are stagnant for the past five years due to Britain’s Brexit preoccupation.


  • The relationship has failed to progress in this time, despite visits by Mr Modi and former British Prime Minister Theresa May.


  • Other less important issues gained the narrative – Issues such as visas and the fate of fugitive Indian businessmen in the U.K. have been allowed to dominate the narrative.


  • The MEA had responded sharply to protests at the Indian High Commission in London over the Article 370 move in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.


  • Britain’s concerns about the farmers’ protests that sparked responses in New Delhi about interference in India’s internal matters.


  • Sometimes, intense interest from the British Indian diaspora makes Indian politics a factor in British politics is a reminder of how closely linked the two countries remain.


  • A new chapter in India-UK relationship would necessarily entail the K. to be more sensitive to India’s concerns, and for India to be less sensitive when Britain expresses its concerns.




Two countries should strive towards strengthening ties against the backdrop of changing geopolitical circumstances and the Brexit.



QUESTION :  According to a recent UN Report, India is Ranked at 131 on Human Development Index .Discuss some reasons for India’s low rank and give some important ways to improve the overall human development in India.







  • Human Development Index and India




  • India ranked 131 among 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) for 2019, slipping two places from the previous year, according to the Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).




  • The Human Development Index (HDI), which combines indicators of life expectancy, education or access to knowledge and income or standard of living, captures the level and changes to the quality of life.


  • The index was initially launched as an alternative measure to the gross domestic product.


  • It is the making of two acclaimed economists from Pakistan and India, namely Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen.


  • It stresses the centrality of human deve¬lop¬ment in the growth process and was first rolled out by the United Nations Development Programme in 1990.


 HDI 2020 :


  • The most recent HDI for 2019 in the Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 ranks as many as 189 countries.


  • The Norway, Ireland and Switzerland are in the top three rungs.


  • While the adjusted per capita income of the top 10 nations in the index is in the $55,000–$70,000 range.


  • Many nations with similar or more incomes like the United States (US), United Arab Emirates and Qatar are ranked far below in the 17th, 31st and 45th positions.


  • Thus it shows that while the size of economic resources is a key factor affecting human development, the distribution and allocation of these resources also play a major role in determining the level of human development.


 INDIA’S HDI 2019 :


  • India has been put under medium human development category.


  • The 2019 HDI ranks India in the 131st position with a per capita income of $6,681, a notch lower than its 130th rank in 2018.


  • India’s HDI ranking was five rungs lower than its ranking on the income front, again indicating its lagging quality of life.


 India’s neighbor performances:


o Bangladesh’s HDI ranking of 133 was seven rungs higher than its ranking in terms of income, indicating its success in boosting the quality of life far beyond its material constraints.


o India’s gains still lag behind many other Asian nations like China (1.47%), Bangladesh (1.64%), Cambodia (1.66%) and Myanmar (1.86%).


  • India falters badly in many areas, especially on the gender and income distribution fronts.


  • The gender bias in India far exceeds that of its peers and most neighbours.


o The HDI score of females for India was only 82% of the male score, whereas it was 91.9% in developing countries and a higher 97.8% in advanced economies.


o The female to male HDI ratio was much higher among BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) peers, with Russia leading with 100.7%, followed by Brazil with 99.3% and China with 95.8%.


o Among neighbours, the female to male HDI ratio was 90.3% in Bangladesh, and only Pakistan fared worse than India with its ratio at 74.5%.


  • Gender inequality in India was even worse in the case of per capita incomes.


o Female per capita income in India was only 21.8% of that of males, while it was more than double at 49% in developing countries and a still higher 62.1% in rich countries.


o The ratio of the female per capita income to that of males ranged between half and two-thirds in countries like China, Russia, Brazil, US and Japan.


o In Bangladesh – 40.9%, almost twice that of India.


o Pakistan – fared worse with the ratio dipping to 16.6%.


  • The meagre per capita income of females in India is mainly because of their exclusion from the labour force.


o Only 20.5% of the women in the working age group were in the labour force, pointing to its dismal female labour force participation rate (LFPR). This is less than half the female LFPR in developing countries.


o Pakistan and Bangladesh – 21.9% and 36.3%, respectively.


o In BRIC countries – 54.2% in Brazil, to 54.8% in Russia and further to 60.5% in China.


  • Huge income inequality is another factor affecting India’s human development scores.


o The richest 1% of India’s population held 21.3% of its total income, while their share was only 17.7% in developing countries and a lower 15.1% in advanced economies.


o Among BRICS, the share of the top 1% was only 13.9% in China, while that of Russia was similar to India.


o Only Brazil topped India with its share touching 28.3%.


  • All this clearly shows that India’s HDI score has been badly pulled down by gender and income inequalities, which makes it an outlier among both its peers and neighbours.




  • Studies show that high growth accompanied by more effective income distribution and female empowerment strategies can help enhance human development, even with moderate social expenditures.


  • Examples of the former are South Korea and Taiwan, which improved income distribution through early land reforms. In contrast, Singapore has focused more on efforts to end gender bias.


  • Women’s empowerment through education and employment also enhances human development in many countries in South America.


  • Expanding human development – more education of women and girls, more economic empowerment of women, more bargaining power of young girls in households, reduced poverty, etc.


  • Evidence from Colombia to India indicates that financial security and ownership of land improve women’s security and reduce the risk of gender-based violence, clearly indicating that owning land can empower women.





Clearly, India’s HDI scores can also be substantially enhanced if a politically committed government rolls out inclusive policies that strengthen public health, education and nutrition, and end gender discrimination to usher in a more egalitarian order.




QUESTION : Discuss the Central Vista Project of India and its significance.  What are the benefits and issues associated to it?







Central Vista Project




The Supreme Court gave permission to the Central Vista redevelopment project in a 2:1 verdict.


  • A batch of petitions had challenged the plan for demolition of old structures and new construction, including a brand new Parliament, on approximately 86 acres of land in the national capital.




  • The existing buildings for Parliament, various offices of the central government, the residence of the prime minister and also the vice-president’s house, in the view of the government, have been found to be inadequate.


  • New buildings will be constructed along the Rashtrapati Bhavan-India Gate stretch of the Rajpath in New Delhi.


  • The new Parliament Building Complex, triangular in shape spread over 64,500 square metre, is described as the pivot of the Central Vista project design.


  • It is to be much bigger than the existing Parliament building and will be able to house 1,224 Members of Parliament.


o The increased capacity of the chambers has been provisioned for keeping in mind future increase in the number of MPs.


o Currently, the Lok Sabha has 545 MPs and the Rajya Sabha 245.


  • The new Parliament building will be equipped with the latest digital interfaces as a step towards creating ‘paperless offices’.


  • The new Parliament building complex is expected to be complete by 2022.


  • The Central Vista project has a work completion deadline of 2024.



  • Change in land use: The central government and the Delhi Development Authority are given the power to modify the Master Plan of Delhi.


o Sections of land are assigned for specific purposes such as recreation, government, public and semi-public, which were modified to accommodate the Central Vista project.


o The petitioners argued that change in land use was not really a “modification”.


  • Procedure adopted for making the changes:


o No objection by cvc: The petitioners had challenged the composition of the Central Vista Committee and therefore all the approvals granted by the body.


o Approval By Duac: The petitioners had argued that the consultation with Delhi Urban Commission (DUAC) had to be completed at the plan conception stage itself. They argued that in the absence of a comprehensive consultation, the approvals were granted without proper application of mind.


o Heritage Approval: The petitioners had argued that the government failed to consult the Heritage Conservation Committee, which is an expert body in matters involving heritage structures.


o Environmental Clearance: The petitioners had argued that the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) had no mandate to grant clearances because the Central Vista project was multi-sectoral and that the body had no expertise to deal with such a project since the sectoral impact was not presented to the EAC.




In its 2:1 verdict, the court has held that there are no infirmities in the approvals granted.


  • It held that the central government’s change of land use for the project in the Master Plan of Delhi 2021 is also a lawful exercise of its powers.


  • The court said the change is a “a case of minor modification”. The change in land use will not have any actual reduction of area available for public use.


  • Due procedures followed: The court held that “taking legitimate steps/actions swiftly and as per the timelines because of the nature of the proposal cannot be termed as having been done in haste”.




  • The dissenting Justice Khanna was of the view that the change in land use must be struck down on both procedural and substantial grounds.


  • On procedure, the judge noted that it was initiated without a consultation process.


  • He held that the central government did not give adequate thought to the concerns of the public and not enough time for those who raised objections to make their case.




  • Government’s power: Governments are free to plan policies and programmes on behalf of the people, with no prior restraint, but subject to judicial review to ensure accountability.


  • As Justice Khanna has pointed out, public consultation in a democracy requires citizens to be able to assess the project’s rationale, armed with information on the official reasoning, and with sufficient time at their disposal. The essence of their view should inform the final decision.


  • It would be appropriate, therefore, for the Centre to attempt consensus-building on Central Vista, without showing undue anxiety and haste in taking up all planned structures together



QUESTION : 6TH  Schedule of the Indian Constitution is often referred to as a charter for autonomy of a wide magnitude, but it has failed to decrease the tension between different stakeholders at the ground level. Critically analyse




Demand for Autonomy in Assam 




Recently , there has been a widespread demand for implementation of Article 244A for the creation of an autonomous State within state of Assam.




  • The appeal to the Centre has been for the creation of an autonomous State for the Karbi Anglong region.


  • This has been a demand since 1986.


  • The districts are currently governed by two autonomous councils Karbi Anglong and North Cachar hills.


Definition of Scheduled and Tribal Areas:


  • The areas inhabited by the socially and educationally backward ‘Aboriginals’ are called Scheduled Areas.


Administration of Scheduled and Tribal Areas:


  • There are two schedules (5th and 6th) of the Indian Constitution which entail the details about the control and management of the Scheduled and Tribal Areas.




  • The provisions regarding the administration and control of Scheduled and Tribal Areas of any state except the four states (Assam, Meghalaya,Tripura, Mizoram) are mentioned under this schedule.


  • At present, 10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana have Fifth Schedule Areas.




  • This schedule deals with the administration and control of the scheduled and tribal areas of the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram.




  • While both the areas under 5th schedule and 6th schedule have dominance of the tribal people, constitution calls them with different names viz. Scheduled Area under 5th schedule while Tribal areas under 6th schedule.


  • While executive powers of the union extend in Scheduled areas with respect to their administration in 5th schedule; the 6th schedule areas remain within executive authority of the state.


  • While 5th schedule envisages creation of Tribal Advisory Council , 6th schedule provides for District Councils and Regional Councils with certain legislative and judicial powers.




Article 244:


  • This article deals with the administration of the Scheduled and Tribal Areas.


  • It defines Scheduled Areas as the areas defined so by the President of India and are mentioned in the fifth schedule of the Constitution.


Article 244A:


  • Formation of an autonomous state comprising certain tribal areas in Assam and creation of local legislature or Council of Ministers or both therefore.




As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas.


Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers.


  1. Each district is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification.


The Governor may, by public notification:


(a) Include any area.

(b) exclude any area.

(c) create a new autonomous district.

(d) increase the area of any autonomous district.

(e) diminish the area of any autonomous district.

(f) alter the name of any autonomous district.

(g) define the boundaries of any autonomous district.


Constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils:


(1) There shall be a District Council for each autonomous district consisting of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.


(2) There shall be a separate Regional Council for each area constituted an autonomous region.


(3) Each District Council and each Regional Council shall be a body corporate by the name respectively of the District Council of (name of district) and the Regional Council of (name of region), shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall by the said name sue and be sued.




o It was a tripartite accord signed between the Government of India, State Government of Assam and the leaders of the Assam Movement in 1985.


o The signing of the Accord led to the conclusion of a six-year agitation that was launched by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in 1979, demanding the identification and deportation of illegal immigrants from Assam.


o It sets a cut-off of midnight of 24th March 1971, for the detection of illegal foreigners in Assam.


 However, the demand was for detection and deportation of migrants who had illegally entered Assam after 1951.




o It says that constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.


o The committee chaired by Biplab Kumar Sarma was constituted to define ‘Assamese People’ and institute safeguards for them.




While the Bodo Accord has promised legislative, executive and administrative autonomy under the Sixth Schedule to Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), but it has some loopholes which can be exploited to create unrest in the state. Peace will continue to be fragile in Assam’s Bodo heartland until an all-inclusive power sharing and governance model is evolved under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule




QUESTION : How digitization is strengthening Indian Democracy? Examine the effect of increasing digitization and e-governance on the aged population in India.




Digitization can help streamline govt. audits




Digitisation has been tremendously useful in improving the delivery of development schemes and streamlining internal government processes. The government should further push for greater adoption of technology in governance. Auditing of government processes is one such aspect of governance which can be further optimized through digitization.




  • India has demonstrated well how digitisation can improve key governance functions.


  • The Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) has made money transfers worth Rs 8,200 billion to an estimated 900 million people since its inception in 2013.


  • During Covid-19, it has been especially helpful to transfer welfare payments to sustain the livelihood of 160 million beneficiaries.


  • The Government e-marketplace (GEM) platform has improved public procurement by instituting efficient tenders and ensuring delivery of quality goods.


  • Problems such as corruption, delay in payments and bureaucratic indiscretion have been redressed to some effect.

o This has resulted in saving an estimated Rs. 700 billion of taxpayers’ money.




  • Government transactions are difficult to track as the budget line items have different meanings across different states.


o For example, NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) funds allocated under different categories across states make such funds hard to track and create problems in audit.


  • Spending decisions tend to be made on paper, which are often misplaced or lost.


  • The CAG’s current auditing system lacks the ability to assess government transactions, auditing only about 3% of all country reports.


o Its primary method for assessment is sampling, leaving 97% of all reports unaudited and unaccounted for.


o These limited audits, compounded with limited oversight from Public Accounts Committees (PAC), further weakens the integrity of the CAG.


  • The scope for corruption increases affecting the delivery of goods and their quality.


  • It is estimated that Rs. 1 trillion has been stuck in accounts because such funds are hard to trace.


  • Auditing government budgets in India is a challenging task and it also impacts policy outcomes directly.




  • Countries around the world have addressed these problems to a great extent through digitization.


  • The European Court of Auditors’ designed a platform for virtual exchange of documents securely onto a centralised platform.


o This allows the ECA to share its findings instantaneously with colleagues to quicken the audits.


  • In the UK, the National Audit Office (NAO) has increased investments in audit technology, such automation software, IT systems and data analytics, 600,000 pounds/year.


o This move shall increase the efficiency of its audits and is estimated to save 145 million pounds.


  • The digitisation of audits in a manner similar to GEM can make data readily available to oversight agencies.


o It can remove variations in accounting practices across levels of governments and between states and the Union.


  • Since all transactions will be digitised, tracking and tracing funds will be far easier, avoiding wastage of funds stuck in accounts that are untraceable.


  • Entities overseeing government spending will not be bound to government departments for larger proportion of transactions and departments since data will be easily accessible.




  • Digitisation of audits is certainly not a silver bullet to solve all the problems in auditing government processes.


  • Experience with the GEM shows that government departments still invite tenders or even circumvent using it because of fear of corruption charges.


o It was projected that annually 7 lakh crore transactions would occur on GEM, instead a mere 32,000 crore transactions have taken place so far.


  • Technology alone can’t lead to change. Thus, reforms in institutions and structures will have to be brought about to improve the audit processes as well.


  • Digital audits can help improve access to spending reports, but other institutions such as PAC need to follow up and fulfil their accountability functions to improve audits and public policy outcomes in India.


  • The quality of the CAG’s audits is dependent on information sharing between the government ministries and the CAG.


o If the concerned ministry does not make the data public or hides its expenditures on digitised platform, the quantity and quality of the CAG’s audits will continue to be inadequate.


  • Also, there would be concerns of security lapse and privacy issues with digitization.


o National security guidelines and privacy details could be leaked as the system could be hacked.


o In case of any welfare beneficiaries, it is possible that inadvertent linking of data can lead to privacy violations.




  • Relevant clauses regarding security and privacy concerns need to be sharpened in the policy document to fill the loopholes.


  • The UK’s NAO has demonstrated this by developing stringent protocols to ensure that personal data is protected and adheres to standards set out in the General Data Protection Regulation.


  • Data minimisation and time-limited collection lie at the crux of these policies.


  • The Income Tax Department’s faceless scrutiny of tax returns can ensure anonymity and privacy in audits.




To achieve the goal of digitization in auditing, a former Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has called for a Data Accountability and Transparency Act to ensure the digitisation of government spending.


CAG is one of India’s foremost institutions at promoting accountability and transparency, which must be supported in its efforts, across the political and bureaucratic spectrum.



QUESTION : Project `Mausam’ is considered a unique foreign policy initiative of the Indian Government to improve relationship with its neighbours. Does the project have a strategic dimension? Discuss.






  • India’s Foreign Policy and Challenges Ahead




  • Challenges facing the India’s foreign policy and factors responsible for these challenging circumstances.




  • China is about the only major country which had a positive rate of growth at the end of 2020, and its economy is poised to grow even faster in 2021.


  • Europe has recently revived its China links by ‘concluding in principle the negotiations for an EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment’.


  • The China-EU Investment Treaty which is an indication that Europe values its economy more than its politics.


  • In one swift move, Europe has thus shattered all hope that China would remain ostracised in 2021.


  • India which has greatly curtailed its relations with China in the wake of Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh, will find itself in difficult position.




  • In West Asia, the Abraham Accords have sharpened the division between the Saudi Bloc and Iran-Turkey.


  • Despite the hype surrounding the Abraham Accords the risk of a confrontation between Iran and Israel remains high.


  • This does pose problems for India, since both have relations with it.


  • Meanwhile, China demonstrates a willingness to play a much larger role in the region, including contemplating a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement with Iran.




  • No breakthrough in Sino-Indian relations has, or is likely to occur.


  • India-Iran relations today lack warmth.


  • In Afghanistan, India has been marginalised as far as the peace process is concerned.


  • While India’s charges against Pakistan of sponsoring terror have had some impact globally, it has further aggravated tensions between the two neighbours and pushed Pakistan closer to China.


  • Hostility between India and Nepal appears to have reduced lately, relations continue to be strained.


  • Through a series of diplomatic visits, India has made efforts to improve relations with some of its neighbours such as Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, but as of now worthwhile results are not evident.


  • One key takeaway is that as India-China relations deteriorate, India’s neighbours are not averse to taking sides, increasing India’s isolation.


  • India will serve as the president of the powerful UN Security Council for the month of August, 2021, but if it is to make a real impact, it must be seen to possess substantial weight to shape policies, more so in its traditional areas of influence.




  • There is a perception that India’s closeness to the U.S. has resulted in the weakening of its links with traditional friends such as Russia and Iran.


  • Perhaps the most relevant explanation could be the shifting balance of power in the region in which India is situated, notably the rise of China.


  • The enlarging conflict between the two biggest powers in Asia is compelling many nations to pick sides in the conflict.


  • Othe important factor is that India’s foreign policy suffers from an ideational vacuum.


  • India remains isolated from two important supranational bodies of which it used to be a founding member, viz., the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).




As part of the ideational restructuring of India’s foreign policy, what is urgently required, apart from competent statecraft, is the adoption of prudent policies, pursuit of realistically achievable objectives, and, above all, a demonstration of continuity of policy, irrespective of changes in the nature of the Administration.




QUESTION : Discuss how is SAARC important for India as far as the security is concerned and brief about its potential and issues of as an organisation to emerge as a successful model of cooperation among nations in a region ?






SAARC and its Emerging Challenges




The year 2020 marked the sixth year since the leaders of the eight nations that make up SAARC were able to meet. The grouping, which cannot convene unless all leaders agree to meet, is unlikely to do so in the near future.






  • Most countries recently agreed that it is not the “opportune time” to convene the summit as proposed by Pakistan, given the COVID-19 situation.


o However Nepal said that the delay in convening the 19th SAARC Summit and the absence of formal meetings of the SAARC Charter bodies since 2016, has greatly impacted the functioning of SAARC.


o Recently, India had also refused to attend the 19th edition of the SAARC summit, due to be held in Islamabad in 2016, over the issue of Pakistan’s continued support to terror groups.


o India’s problems with Pakistan on terrorism, territorial claims and on its role in blocking SAARC initiatives on connectivity and trade are well known.


o India’s refusal to allow Pakistan to host the SAARC summit is like giving Pakistan a ‘veto’ over the entire SAARC process. 

  • India’s steps, more bilateral


o India stepped up its health and economic diplomacy in the region, but apart from one SAARC meeting convened by India in March, these have been bilateral initiatives, not a combined effort for South Asia.


o These are some of the reasons that led all SAARC leaders other than Mr. Modi to urgently call for the revival of SAARC during their charter day messages.




  • SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy.


  • It is the world’s most densely populated region and one of the most fertile areas.


  • SAARC countries have common tradition, dress, food and culture and political aspects thereby synergizing their actions.


  • All the SAARC countries have common problems and issues like poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, natural disasters, internal conflicts, industrial and technological backwardness, low GDP and poor socio-economic condition.




India has to re-think about SAARC, which has been in the doldrums since 2014. This is especially necessary to counter China’s growing aggression and economic dominance in the region.


India started investing in other regional instruments, such as BIMSTEC, as an alternative to SAARC.


  • However, BIMSTEC cannot replace SAARC for reasons such as lack of a common identity and history among all BIMSTEC members.


  • Moreover, BIMSTEC’s focus is on the Bay of Bengal region, thus making it an inappropriate forum to engage all South Asian nations.




o Reviving SAARC is crucial to countering the common challenges brought about by the pandemic.


o To begin with, studies have shown that South Asia’s experience of the pandemic has been unique from other regions of the world, and this needs to be studied further in a comprehensive manner in order to counter future pandemics.


o Vaccine distribution: Such an approach is also necessary for the distribution and further trials needed for vaccines, as well as developing cold storage chains for the vast market that South Asia represents.


  • A time for regional initiatives


o In the longer term, there will be a shift in priorities towards health security, food security, and job security, that will also benefit from an “all-of” South Asia approach.


o India’s only regional trading agreement at present is the South Asian Free Trade Area, or SAFTA (with SAARC countries).


  • China’s aggression


o In dealing with the challenge from China too, both at India’s borders and in its neighbourhood, a unified South Asian platform remains India’s most potent counter measure.


  • Fragmented group


o Over the past year, India-Pakistan issues have impacted other meetings of SAARC as well, making it easier for member countries, as well as international agencies to deal with South Asia as a fragmented group rather than a collective.


Despite the despondency, the rationale for SAARC’s existence remains intact: while history and political grievances may be perceived differently, geography is reality. 




  • The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia founded in 1985 with 7 member nations.


  • The SAARC Secretariat was established in Kathmandu in 1987.


  • The SAARC Secretariat is supported by following Regional Centres established in the Member States to promote regional cooperation.




Member Nations


  • Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


  • Observer Nations


o States with observer status include Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.


South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA).


  • Although the agreement was reached at the 12th SAARC summit in 2004, it came into force on 1st January 2006.


  • The agreement not only created a free trade area of 1.8 billion people in SAARC nations (except Afghanistan), but also removed trade barriers to increase the level of economic cooperation.


Aim of SAFTA


  • The main objective of the agreement is to promote competition in the area and to provide equitable benefits to the countries involved.


  • It aims to benefit the people of the countries by bringing transparency and integrity among the nations.


  • SAFTA encourages and elevates common contracts among the countries such as medium and long term contracts.


  • It involves agreement on tariff concessions like national duties concession and non tariff concession.




New Delhi must find its own prism with which to view its South Asian neighbourhood as it should be: a unit that has a common future, and as a force-multiplier for India’s ambitions on the global stage.



QUESTION :  Discuss with reasons despite several measures by the GoI to reduce the vulnerability of farmers in India, the farm sector and farmers continue to suffer losses. Suggest some important steps  to be taken to improve their conditions. 






Farm Laws current status 




The Supreme Court of India staying the operation of new farm laws  and setting up a committee of experts to negotiate with the government and the farmers.




  • The farmers’ unions have not reacted favourably to the formation of the experts’ committee.


  • They allege that the committee does not comprise entirely impartial experts. Most of them are well known and strong defenders of the farm laws, and are critical of the agitation.


  • Thus, the agitation being carried on by the farmers is entering a new phase.




  • Challenge for the Committee to gain confidence of parties: For conducting negotiations with both the government and the farmers, the members of the committee ought to and should be known to have an open mind on the core issues, which alone will create a necessary confidence in the parties concerned.


  • Maximalist Position by farmers: The farmers have made it clear that they will not agree to anything less than the repeal of these laws. This would mean that the present agitation is likely to continue indefinitely.


  • SC’s decision Lacks Clarity: It is not yet clear what impact the report of this committee will have on the final decision of the Supreme Court on the question of the constitutional validity of the farm laws. So whatever the experts’ committee recommends, the question of the constitutional validity of the farm laws can be decided only after a proper hearing of the matter before the Court.


  • Political Investment by ruling party: While the repeal of a law is a simple legislative act, having to repeal a law in which the government has invested a lot of its prestige is not so easy.




  1. Violation of Federalism


  • The constitutional validity of the farm laws has been challenged in the Supreme Court mainly on the ground that Parliament has no legislative competence to enact these laws, the subject matter of which is essentially in the State list.


  1. Violation of rules of the House


  • It is a universally acknowledged fact that the voting on the Farm Bills in the Rajya Sabha was not done in accordance with the rules of the House.


  • These rules require the Chair to order the recording of votes (division) by members even when one member demands it.


  • The Deputy Chairman of the House, who was conducting the proceedings at that time, did not order division although a few members openly and loudly demanded it.


  • Thus, there was a violation of the rules of the House in passing the Bills by voice vote when there was a demand for division.


  1. Violation of Constitution with regard to procedures adopted for passage of bills


  • Article 100 says that all questions at any sitting of either House shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting.


  • Majority can be determined only in terms of number, and therefore what this Article requires is that all questions in the House should be determined by recording the votes of the members present and voting.


  • Majority cannot be determined through voice vote. In fact, the Constitution does not recognise voice vote to determine majority in a legislature.


  • However, deciding a question by voice vote is a practice prevailing in all legislatures. This was devised for the sake of convenience and there is always an assumption that since the government of the day has a majority, any proposal before the House has the support of the majority.


  • But that assumption goes when a member demands voting in the House and the Chair has, then, no option but to order the actual voting. Since this was not done and the Bills we re all passed by voice vote, there is a violation of the rules as well as the Constitution (Article 100)




  1. Strike down laws on violation of Article 100 & 107


  • The Court can strike down the whole laws as the requirement of Article 107 has not been fulfilled. This Article says that a Bill shall not be deemed to have been passed unless it has been agreed to by both Houses.


  • As has been explained above, the Bills have not in fact been passed by the Rajya Sabha because the majority had not been determined in accordance with Article 100.


  1. Invalidate the proceedings of Rajya Sabha


  • The Court may also invalidate the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha and send the three ‘Acts’ back to that House for further proceedings in accordance with the constitutional provisions.


  • If this happens, it may provide a good opportunity to the government to revisit these laws.


  • These can then be referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha which can invite the farmers and all other stakeholders and finally produce better Bills.





The issue that needs to be settled by the top court is the constitutional validity of the laws and adherence to the Procedures established by law & Constitution.




QUESTION : Discuss the issues involved in interfaith marriages and what are the constitutional rights involved in these marriages ?  Suggest key steps to be taken by the GoI to tackle such issues.






  • Inter-faith Marriages and Special Marriages Act in India




  • The Allahabad High Court ruled that people marrying under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, can choose not to publicise their union with a notice 30 days in advance.




  • The HC ruling came on the plea of a Muslim woman who converted to Hinduism for marriage as the couple saw the notice period under the Special Marriage Act as an invasion of their privacy.


  • Under Section 5 of the Act, which enables inter-faith marriages, the couple has to give notice to the Marriage Officer; and under Sections 6 and 7, the officer has to publicise the notice and call for objections.


  • Vigilantism: The public notice ended up giving vigilante groups, families hostile to interfaith and inter-caste unions, and the social prejudice of legal bureaucracy disproportionate powers to police young couples.


  • As a result, many preferred to convert and marry under personal laws, rather than expose themselves to harassment.




  • Right to privacy: The court said that mandatorily publishing a notice of the intended marriage and calling for objections violates the right to privacy.


  • No need for notice: If a couple gives it in writing that they do not want the notice publicised, the Marriage Officer can solemnise the marriage.


  • Freedom to choose partner: Laws should not invade liberty and privacy.


o The freedom to choose for marriage without interference from state and non-state actors should be guaranteed.


o The Law Commission of India report in 2012 had made a similar recommendation to “keep a check on the high-handed and unwarranted interference by caste assemblies in sagotra, inter-caste or inter-religious marriages”.




  • The HC ruling can now be cited across India to prevent public notices under the Special Marriage Act.


  • The ruling may have bearing on Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 particularly targets inter-faith marriages.


  • This new law declares conversion of religion by marriage to be unlawful, mandates a 60-day notice to the District Magistrate and also requires the Magistrate to conduct a police inquiry to find out the explicit reason for the conversion.


Relevant Supreme Court judgments: SC rulings recognise the right to privacy as a fundamental right (Puttaswamy v Union of India), the right to choose one’s partner (Hadiya case), Aadhaar ruling, 2017 and the ruling that decriminalised homosexuality.


  • They form “a long chain of decisions growing stronger with time and firmly establishing personal liberty and privacy to be fundamental”.




  • It is the legislation that is used to register inter-religious and inter-caste marriages in India.


  • This Act includes Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists marriages.


  • It allows two individuals to solemnise their marriage through a civil contract.


  • There are no religious formalities that need to be carried out under the Act.


  • The fundamental requirement under this Act for a valid marriage is the consent of both parties to the marriage.


  • If both parties to the marriage are willing to marry each other, that’s enough.


  • No barrier: Caste, religion, race, etc. can’t act as a barrier to their union here.


  • Process of marriage:


  • Prior notice: For marriage under this Act, the parties must file with the district’s Marriage Registrar a notice stating their intention to marry each other in which at least one of the parties to the marriage has lived for at least 30 days prior to the date on which such notice is filed.


  • After the expiry of 30 days from the date that such notice was published, the marriage is then said to be solemnized.


  • Objections: But if any person related to the parties objects to this marriage and the registrar finds that it is a reasonable cause of objection, on such grounds he can cancel the marriage.


o For a valid marriage, the parties must also give their consent to the marriage before the marriage officer and three witnesses.


o These are the basic requirements for a valid marriage under the Special Marriage Act that every Indian must know about.




  • Effective implementation and amendment: India has a strong set of laws but they are needed to be implemented strictly.


o In the purview of interfaith marriages, the Idea should be to eradicate the core issue; coerced conversion.


o Moreover, the Special Marriage Act, 1954 is now a 66 years old law and it definitely needs to undergo certain changes now.


  • Separating religion and personal matters: Religion and personal matters are something to be dealt with separately, moreover, marriage and conversion of religion are two things and should definitely not be interconnected.


  • UCC as the silver bullet: A uniform civil code for all personal matters; marriage, succession, divorce etc of all the communities including all the citizens shall be there leaving aside the religion.


  • Issues such as marriages are secular in nature, therefore, a uniform law can regulate them.


  • Articles 44, 25 and 26: Article 44 mentioning the Uniform Civil Code and articles 25 and 26 are often believed to be contradictory. The balance with these articles is something that is rarely discussed and needs more attention now.




Marriage being a personal matter has to be sparingly regulated, unless it leads to social evils. Freedom of choice should be given primacy in a liberal Democratic country like India.



QUESTION : Deliberation and debate are the way you stir the soul of our democracy.” Justify this statement by giving  concerns in promulgation of laws  and appropriate solutions to tackle the issues are coming in democratic nation like India.








Apart from the merits and demerits of the Farm laws, many are aggrieved about the process of promulgation of the laws as it lacked any consultation with those that the laws are purportedly meant to serve. 




  • Policy makers ignore the need for dialogue and deliberation with beneficiaries.


  • Even when policies are anchored in good principles, their implementation is often messy and requires iterations based on people’s concerns.




  • Consultations are needed during the initial stages of law making of a government programme as much as a continuous dialogic exercise must be the norm for effective programme implementation.


  • In particular, redistributive, people-facing welfare policies need constant feedback.




  • Rajasthan has a healthy tradition of consulting with worker groups and civil society organisations not only in the initial stage of policy formulation but also to take continuous feedback from the field and carry out periodic midway course corrections.


  • In the case of MGNREGA, engagement with civil society organisations had been institutionalised in the MGNREGA Samvads.


  • MGNREGA wages are directly credited from the central government to a worker’s bank account.


  • An overreliance on the technical architecture of MGNREGA has subverted workers’ rights and the troubles are compounded when workers run from pillar to post knocking on the doors of various government officials, banks, payment disbursement agencies, panchayat officials, etc.




Technical Issues:


  • Payment rejections occur when the government initiates the payment, but money does not get credited due to technical issues.


  • Workers are deprived of their own money unless the core underlying problems are successfully addressed.


  • For example,


o The block level data entry operators make errors in entering the account or Aadhaar details of workers. OR


o Banks consider accounts as ‘dormant’ when the accounts are not used for some time.


Software flaws:


  • A very common rejection reason called ‘Inactive Aadhaar’ is more complex to resolve.


  • This happens when the linkage of the worker’s Aadhaar and their bank account is broken in the software maintained by the NPCI.


  • From the perspective of the administration, it is difficult to look into each payment, understand the reasons for rejection and help the worker take action on an individual basis.


Problem resolved:


  • A workshop involving worker groups and civil society organisations who interacted directly with the aggrieved workers, administrative officers from the village level to the State level, and bankers was held to resolve the payment problem.


  • Detailed guidelines were issued with well-defined responsibility, clear timelines, and monitoring and protocols to be followed by officials.


  • This has resulted in a significant reduction in payment rejections in Rajasthan.


  • In a period of one year from the workshop, the Rajasthan government was able to clear ₹380 crore worth of payments to workers that were earlier stuck due to rejections.


  • Currently, only 2.7% payments are pending regeneration from the State government.




  • Open communication channels, an eagerness to work with worker groups and a keen ear to the ground will be beneficial.


  • If a government is committed to constitutional principles, then paying attention to multiple points of view and listening to the voices of the marginalised is a prerequisite.


  • Deliberation and debate are intrinsic parts of a democratic country, policies will have to be debated and deliberated on the floors of the parliament. It not only leads to refinement of the policy but also derives legitimacy in the eyes of the people for having gone through the rigours of the legislative process.


  • Attempts at passing legislation without adequate consultation with respective stakeholders is a path to failure.


  • Federalism and good governance require constant constructive engagement between people and officials, efforts have to be expended to narrow down the gap in communication between the two.


  • The farm laws agitation may have been avoided had the government held rounds of discussions with the farmers before passing it.




While there is still a long way to go, the ongoing consultative experiences in Rajasthan do offer hope. Federalism and good governance require constant constructive engagement between people and officials.




QUESTION : “The unchanging scenario of each other in both nations calls for the recalibration of India-Nepal bilateral relations. Suggest the factors that India should consider while having a relook at its ties with Nepal”






  • Indo-Nepal Bilateral Relations




The year 2020 marked China’s unprecedented aggression, with an aim to counter India’s conventional edge in Nepal and South Asia at large. 




  • Nepal’s Prime Minister dissolved the House of Representatives recently.


  • His China connection has been artificial. He has finally made China’s hyper-interventionism a wasted effort which is encouraging signs for India.




 The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal visited New Delhi for the sixth meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Commission.


  • The timing of the high-profile visit was strategically important as Nepal is giving signs engaging with India at the top decision-making level.




  • Development partnership front: Following projects were discussed:


o The expansion of the Motihari-Amlekhganj petroleum products pipeline to Chitwan and the establishment of a new pipeline on the eastern side connecting Siliguri to Jhapa in Nepal The upgraded first passenger railway line between India and Nepal from Jaynagar to Kurtha via Janakpur.


o Other “cross-border rail connectivity projects, including a possible Raxaul-Kathmandu broad gauge railway line”.


o The construction of a third integrated check post at Nepalgunj has already commenced, while the new integrated check post at Bhairahwa would begin shortly.


o The joint hydropower projects, including the proposed Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project.


o Cultural heritage projects in Nepal- the Pashupatinath Riverfront Development and the Bhandarkhal Garden Restoration in Patan Durbar


  • International cooperation: Nepal expressed support for India’s permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council (UNSC).


  • Covid-19 fight: Nepal’s requirement for vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic was discussed as it has approved Serum Institute of India’s (SII) Covishield vaccine.


  • Boundary issues: Nepal raised the Kalapani boundary dispute with India. Nepal demanded to include the boundary in the Joint Commission Meeting but India distanced itself from discussing the matter at the Joint Commission level as there is a dedicated Foreign Secretary-level mechanism to discuss boundary disputes.




  • The recently inaugurated Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) at Birgunj and Biratnagar have helped in the seamless movement of people and trade between the two countries.


  • Since Nepal relies on India’s seaports in a big way for trading, and goods are transported by road, the integrated check posts are expected to ease trade and transit.




  1. Trade and Economic: India is Nepal’s largest trade partner and the largest source of foreign investments, besides providing transit for almost the entire trade which Nepal has with other countries. Trade must increase more to make relations better.


  1. Water Resources and energy cooperation: A three–tier mechanism established in 2008, to discuss all bilateral issues relating to cooperation in water resources and hydropower.Nepal has many fast flowing rivers and its terrain makes it ideal for hydroelectric power generation. A 900 megawatts hydropower project Arun III has been launched recently.


  1. Defence Cooperation: The Gorkha Regiments of the Indian Army are raised partly by recruitment from hill districts of Nepal.Since 1950, India and Nepal have been awarding Army Chiefs of each other with the honorary rank of General.India must work with Nepal for cooperation in defence area.


  1. Infrastructure and connectivity: India provides development assistance to Nepal, focusing on creation of infrastructure at the grass-root level.Recently a MoU was signed on Raxaul-Kathmandu railway line. Both the countries are also focused on inland waterways connectivity. India should continue such efforts.




  • Following factors are pointing to resetting of democracy in Nepal:


o The increased centralisation of power.


o Failure of the Provincial System in addressing the developmental issues.


o Misuse of Presidential authority by Nepal’s President.

o Unprecedented corruption .


o Demands for bringing back the ‘cultural Monarchy’ to substitute the Presidential system .


o Like many other democracies across the world, Nepal’s democracy has been affected with an extreme rise in majoritarian sentiments. Nepal cannot afford to enter in another round of political instability. India-Nepal bilateral relations must improve to give a humane consideration to it.




  • It forms the bedrock of the special relations that exist between India and Nepal.


  • Nepalese citizens avail facilities and opportunities on par with Indian citizens in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty.


  • Treaty obliged Nepal to inform India and seek its consent for the purchase of military hardware from third countries. Nepal wants to change this provision.


  • The Nepal-India Eminent Persons’ Group (EPG) is revisiting all bilateral agreements to submit a comprehensive report to both governments on how to reset bilateral relations.




  • Project delivery: India has to focus on implementation and delivery on the three key three of rail connectivity, developing inland waterways, and agriculture to address growing competition from China in its neighbourhood in general and Nepal.


  • India can build on the natural geographic and cultural interdependence between the two nations which must be based on sovereign equality and mutual benefit.


  • Promoting the Transnational Buddhist Circuit and Ramayana Circuit: India should leverage its soft power from a shared culture that has been nurtured over the course of more than two millennia.


  • India should also try to convey to Nepal’s leadership about the congenial and friendly environment that 6 to 8 million Nepali citizens living in India enjoy.




Therefore, stable and friendly relations with Nepal is one of prerequisites which India can’t afford to overlook.



QUESTION : Exemplify the  problems faced by the electricity consumers in India giving best steps to overcome these problems and how will the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 help consumers to deal with the existing issues?”






Empowering Electricity Consumers in India




  • The article examines the various provisions of the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 and analyses whether or not these Rules will empower the consumers.




  • The Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 was promulgated in December to deal with the problems faced by the consumers.


  • The enactment of consumer-centric rules does spark public debate that brings the rights of consumers to the fore.


  • the Rules lay an emphasis on national minimum standards for the performance parameters of DISCOMs. without urban-rural distinction.


  • They also reiterate the need for automatically compensating consumers.




  • Many States have not been able to provide quality supply, especially to rural and small electricity consumers.


  • Provisions similar to made in the new Rule already exist in the Standards of Performance (SoP) regulations of various State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs).


  • It is not because of a lack of rules or regulations that quality supply is not provided; rather, it is on account of a lack of accountability systems to enforce them.


  • Unfortunately, neither these rules nor past efforts address these accountability concerns.


  • Guarantee of round the clock supply is a provision that the Rules emphasise, which might be missing in State regulations.


  • It is difficult to enforce since the availability of power supply is inadequately monitored even at 11 kV feeders, let alone at the consumer location.


  • This highlights not only the need for implementation of existing provisions in letter and spirit but also amending them with strong accountability provisions.




  • The Rules, in few cases, dilute progressive mechanisms that exist in State regulations.


  • For example, the Rules say that faulty meters should be tested within 30 days of receipt of a complaint.


  • Compared to this, regulations t in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh, respectively, say that such testing needs to be conducted within seven days.


  • A similar observation can be drawn from the suggested composition of the Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum.


  • The Rules say that the forum — constituted to remedy complaints against DISCOMs should be headed by a senior officer of the company.


  • This is a regressive provision that would reduce the number of cases that are decided in favour of consumers.




  • The Rules guarantee net metering for a solar rooftop unit less than 10 kW.


  • However, there is no clarity if those above 10 kW can also avail net metering.


  • This could lead to a change in regulations in many States based on their own interpretations.


  • The possible litigation that follows would be detrimental to investments in rooftop solar units, and would discourage medium and large consumers to opt for an environment-friendly, cost-effective option.




  • SERCs should assess the SoP reports of DISCOMs and revise their regulations more frequently.


  • SERCs should organise public processes to help consumers raise their concerns.


  • DISCOMs could be directed to ensure automatic metering at least at the 11 kV feeder level, making this data available online.


  • The Forum of Regulators — a central collective of SERCs — could come up with updated model SoP regulations.


  • Central agencies have taken proactive efforts to ensure regular tariff revision.


  • They could also support independent surveys and nudge State agencies to enforce existing SoP regulations.


  • The central government could disburse funds for financial assistance programmes based on audited SoP reports.




They should demonstrate the commitment  and the will power to implement existing regulations. It is not yet late to recognise this and initiate concerted efforts to truly empower consumers.




QUESTION : “Despite being depicted as angles and goddesses women are denied with equal rights to the men in India” . Justify the above statement by giving way forward.






  • Women and household work in india




Despite women being depicted as angles and goddesses, they are even denied with equal rights to the men. The wife owes service and labor to her husband as much and as absolutely as the slave does to his master. No salaries have been paid to housewives as the domestic work is not being recognized as work.




  • The common law of marital status was hierarchical which forgot to recognize a homemaker’s work as work and given no right even in respect of her work outside home.


  • The Islamic law of 7th century mandates husbands to pay wives if they decide to suckle their children and entitle them to spend certain portions of husband’s money without his consent.


  • Even though, till 1851, no country had recognized a wife’s right in earning of any sort and it was her husband’s propagative to collect her wages if she paid for work in or out of the home.


  • In 19th century, the common law of marital status was reformed by enacting the Married Women’s Property Acts in some American states, which exempted the wife’s real property from their husband’s debt.


  • By 1850, the era of earning statutes started which granted wives property rights in earnings from their separate or personal labour.


  • Aftermath the American civil war (1861-65), the Census measures of economy characterized household work as unproductive and excluded women engaged in domestic house work from salaried class.




  • For the centuries, the market was a male sphere of and the home was celebrated as a female sphere.


  • The market is seen as a place for selfish competitiveness whereas home is seen as a site of spiritual uplift.


  • This categorization deepens the dissatisfaction among women and subsequently, they demanded a right to own themselves, their earnings, and their genius.




  • As per 2011 Census, while 159.85 million women stated household work as their main occupation, only a mere 5.79 men referred to it as their main occupation.


  • As per Time Use in India Report, Indian women spend on an average 299 minutes a day on unpaid domestic services for household members, while men spend just 97 minutes.


  • Women spend 134 minutes in a day on unpaid caregiving services for household members.


  • It is estimated that the economic value of services by women is around $612.8 billion annually but the household work by wives is not taken into consideration in calculating national income.




  • Consideration as invaluable but unpaid services:


o The Supreme Court in Arun Kumar Agrawal v. National Insurance Company (2010) case has acknowledged the contribution of the housewives as invaluable and observed that it cannot be computed in terms of money.


o Her gratuitous services rendered with true love and affection cannot be equated with services rendered by others.


  • In Census 2001, 36 crore housewives had been categorized as non-workers and clubbed them together with those who are not engaged in economically unproductive work.


  • Compensation under the Motor Vehicles Act:


o No salary for housewives makes difficult to calculate the compensation for the death of homemakers.


  • Joint Property rights in India:


o India do not have joint matrimonial property law as the Married Women (Protection of Rights) Bill, 1994 (a private member bill) was also not taken in to consideration.


  • Housewives trade unions:


o In 2010, the registration of the National Housewives Association as a trade union was denied as domestic work was treated as neither trade nor industry.




  • In 1991, The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women had recommended measurement and quantification of unremunerated domestic activities of women and their recognition in GDP.


  • In 2012, the government had proposed to make it mandatory for husbands to pay a monthly ‘salary’ to their wives.


o Concern: Salary indicates an employer-employee relationship but wives do not deserve a master-servant relationship.




The work performed by women for the family should be valued equally with men’s work during the continuance of marriage. Matrimonial property laws give women their share only when the marital tie comes to an end. For that purpose, the marriage agreements should be provided with the insertion of the clause on wives’ right in husband’s earnings and properties.




QUESTION : Discuss the  significance and the need for checks and balances, concerns over delay in execution in India what are the available solutions to overcome these delays ?






  • Mercy Petition in India




  • The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to take a decision before January 26 on Balwant Singh Rajoana’s plea seeking commutation of death penalty in former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassination case.




  • Balwant Singh Rajoana, former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassin, was sentenced to death in 2007 by a special CBI court.


  • Rajoana has been incarcerated for over 25 years.


  • His mercy petition was filed in 2014.




  • In 2019, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a letter to the Punjab government to commute Rajoana’s death sentence.


  • But its decision could not be implemented because the Cabinet did not send the file to the President.




  • Psychological trauma for prisoners: The delay in the execution of death row convicts coupled with long years of solitary confinement leads to immense psychological trauma for them.


o In India, 102 convicts were awarded the death sentence in 2019, raising the total number of death row prisoners to 378.


o Death row convicts have suffered imprisonment up to 25 years.


  • The lack of accountability of various officials in the government and the courts have adversely affected our criminal justice system.




In the Shatrughan case judgment the SC laid down certain procedural guidelines for mercy petition. They are :


  1. As soon as a mercy petition is received, the Ministry of Home Affairs should place it along with court records and files before the President without delay.


  1. The condemned prisoner’s death sentence can be commuted to life imprisonment under Article 32 and Article 21 if there is inordinate delay in deciding the mercy plea.


  1. Rejection of mercy petition must be forthwith communicated to the prisoner and his family in writing.


  1. Death row convicts are entitled to a copy of the rejection of the mercy plea.


  1. Minimum 14 days interval should be there between the receipt of communication of rejection and the date of execution. This time gap will enable the prisoner to prepare mentally.


The prolonged detention of death row convicts in prison is inhuman and against the canons of justice. Delays in investigations, court hearings and administrative steps to be taken after the final verdict need to be inquired into, and responsibility fixed.




  • As per the Constitutional framework in India, mercy petition to the President is the last constitutional resort a convict can take when he is sentenced by the court of law.


  • Article 72 of the Indian Constitution deals with the power of the President to grant pardons, to suspend, remit or commute sentences in certain cases.


  • Under this article, President alone has the sole authority to grant mercy petition in criminal cases on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.


  • Also, Article 161 of the Indian Constitution grants power to the Governor to grant pardons, to suspend or remit or commute sentences of any person convicted of any offense against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the State extends.




A convict under a death sentence is eligible to make the mercy petition. But it should be filed within seven days, after the dismissal of her/his appeal by the Supreme Court and intimation of the same to the convict by the Superintendent of the Police (SP).


1)  A written petition is filed before the President/Governor either by the convict or his/her relative on his/her behalf. The petition can be filed on the following grounds:


  • The convicted person is the sole bread earner of their family.


  • The physical/mental fitness of the convict or his/her age.


  • Law for the crime committed was quite harsh.


  • The court committed an error or mistake unknowingly


2)  Petition will be forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs for comments and recommendations.


3)  Home Ministry analyses the merits of the Mercy petition. During this phase, the Ministry also discusses the matter with the concerned State government.


After this, the Home Minister makes the recommendation on Mercy petition to the President.


4) As per the advice of the Council of Ministers (CoM), the President can either accept or reject the mercy plea. There is no time limit prescribed for the President to exercise this power.

The Governor is also empowered with pardoning powers, but the Governor cannot pardon the Death sentence. However, he can commute, remit, reprieve the death sentence for the offences against the law, which is under executive power of the State.




  • India figures among the 56 nations in the world that have retained the death penalty, while 142 have abolished it either by practice or by law.


  • Abolition of death penalty: Through its report in 2015, the Law Commission of India proposed abolishing the death penalty and sought the comments of States and Union Territories on the subject. Despite reminders, just 14 States responded by 2018.


o Of these, 12 States rejected the proposal, while Karnataka and Tripura concurred.


Pardon: The president can totally absolve/acquit the person for the offence and let him go free like a normal citizen.


Commute: To reduce the type of punishment into a less harsh one. For example Rigorous imprisonment to simple imprisonment.


Remission: To reduce the punishment without changing the nature of the punishment. For example 20 years rigorous imprisonment to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.


Reprieve: A delay is allowed in the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence for a guilty person to prove his innocence.


Respite: Reduce the degree of punishment looking at specific grounds like pregnancy, old age etc.


Note: A Court-martial is a trial in a military court of a member of the armed forces who are charged with breaking military law.




Pardoning power of the executive is very significant as it corrects the errors in the judicial process. Timely disposal of mercy petition is a boon. To ensure that the government have to fix the time frame and create certain binding conditions to exercise the Mercy petition. This will facilitate smooth functioning of Indian democracy.




QUESTION : Discuss how can electronic voting  ensure efficiency and transparency in electoral system in India and list out probable concerns with appropriate solution .






E-Voting in India 





Mock trials for remote voting facilities for electors would begin soon, Chief Election Commissioner has said.


  • The Election Commission has collaborated with IIT-Madras to work on a new technology which will allow electors to vote from faraway cities without going to designated polling station of their constituencies.


  • Remote voting has gained some priority during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to address social distancing.


  • In the U.S., the mail-in ballot system, where registered voters received ballots and returned it via post or dropped it off at secure “drop boxes” or voting centers, was widely used, but this was entirely paper based.




  • The concept is a “two-way electronic voting system in a controlled environment on white-listed IP devices on dedicated Internet lines enabled with biometric devices and a web camera”.


  • Voters will have to reach a designated venue during a pre-decided period of time to be able to use this facility. It does not mean voting from home.


  • After a voter’s identity is established by the system, a blockchain-enabled personalised e-ballot paper will be generated.


  • When the vote is cast, the ballot will be securely encrypted and a blockchain hashtag generated. This hashtag notification will be sent to various stakeholders, in this case the candidates and political parties.


  • The encrypted remote votes so cast will once again be validated at the pre-counting stage to ensure that they have neither been decrypted nor tampered with or replaced.




 Environmentally friendly –


  • Less use of paper


  • No printing


  • Easier to store and transport


  • Higher shelf life




  • Faster counting of votes


  • No bogus votes


  • No invalid votes


  • Easy to install and use


  • Can be used by the State Legislative Assembly as well as Parliament.


  • Ease of voting: Suppose there is a Lok Sabha election and a Chennai voter is in Delhi. Instead of returning to vote in his or her constituency or missing out on voting, the voter can reach a pre-designated spot set up by the EC.


  • This system offers cryptographic features, promises data security and verifiability.




  • The system will depend upon a network and devices could introduce vulnerabilities that are present in any Internet-based system.


  • Blockchains also introduce issues related to complexity and their management.


Each remote voting option has its benefits and drawbacks. Remote voting provides more accessibility but it also entails some vulnerabilities. The ECI would do well to exercise caution before deploying this method in elections, besides subjecting it to a rigorous public appraisal.




  • It is a structure that stores transactional records, also known as the block, of the public in several databases, known as the “chain,” in a network connected through peer-to-peer nodes.


  • Typically, this storage is referred to as a ‘digital ledger.’


  • Every transaction in this ledger is authorized by the digital signature of the owner, which authenticates the transaction and safeguards it from tampering.


  • Hence, the information the digital ledger contains is highly secure.




  • VVPAT is an independent verification printer machine and is attached to electronic voting machines. It allows voters to verify if their vote has gone to the intended candidate.


  • When a voter presses a button in the EVM, a paper slip is printed through the VVPAT. The slip contains the poll symbol and name of the candidate. It allows the voter to verify his/her choice.


  • After being visible to the voter from a glass case in the VVPAT for seven seconds, the ballot slip will be cut and dropped into the drop box in the VVPAT machine and a beep will be heard.


  • VVPAT machines can be accessed by polling officers only




In a democracy, there is perhaps nothing more important than the credibility of the electoral process therefore in a democracy, elections should not only be fair but should be seen to be fair. By shoring up its image and bringing in some more transparent reforms, the EC can restore faith in elections.



QUESTION : What agenda should India pursue at the UNSC in its two year non-permanent stint? What are the challenges in pursuing such agenda?”






India’s Challenges at UN





  • India’s two-year non-permanent stint at the UNSC should be viewed as a once-in-a-decade opportunity to clearly identify and pursue its as interests regionally and globally.


  • India’s entry into the UNSC coincides with the emergence of a new world order.


  • Under new world order, there is systemic uncertainty, little care for global commons, absence of global leadership, the steady division of the world into rival blocs, pursuit of narrow national interests.


  • Efforts by Biden administration in the United States may go on to ameliorate some of the harsh impact of this global order.
  • The UNSC has also reached a point wherein its very relevance is in serious doubt.


  • India too is no longer an ardent believer in the fantastical claims about a perfect world at harmony with itself, nor is it a timid observer in global geopolitics.


  • India’s pursuit of its interests at the UNSC should, therefore, reflect its material and geopolitical limitations, and its energies should be focused on a clearly identified agenda.




1) Rivalry with China


  • India’s tenure at the UNSC comes in the wake of its growing military rivalry with China.


  • China’s opposition to having India chair the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) in 2022 was a precursor to the things to come ahead.


  • The next two years will be key to ensure checking further Chinese incursions along the Line of Actual Control and building up enough infrastructure and mobilising sufficient forces in the forward areas.


2) Relations with Russia


  • Greater Indian alignment with the West at the UNSC, an unavoidable outcome, could, however, widen the growing gulf between Russia and India.


  • It might not be possible for India to sit on the fence anymore.


  • Fence sitting would bring more harm than goodwill in an international system where battlelines are sharpening by the day.


3) Terrorism issue


  • Terror is likely to be a major focus for India at the UNSC.


  • External Affairs Minister’s statement at the UNSC Ministerial Meeting on the 20th Anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1373 and the establishment of the Counter Terrorism Committee has set the stage for New Delhi’s approach on the issue.


  • India recently assumed the chair of the Taliban sanctions committee which assumes significance given the fast-moving developments in Afghanistan.


  • India must formulate its policy towards terrorism with far more diplomatic finesse and political nuance especially given that it is chairing the Taliban sanctions committee while courting the very same Taliban.


4) Coalition of like-minded states and setting the agenda for next decade


  • India should use the forum and its engagement there to build coalitions among like-minded states and set out its priorities for the next decade — from climate change to non-proliferation.


  • India should use its bargaining power at the UNSC to pursue its national interests in other forums and domains as well.


  • India’s UNSC strategy should involve shaping the narrative and global policy engagement vis-à-vis — the Indo-Pacific.


  • Given India’s centrality in the Indo-Pacific region and the growing global interest in the concept, New Delhi would do well to take it upon itself to shape the narrative around it.


  • In doing so, it should, through the UNSC and other means, court Moscow once again and assuage its concerns about the Indo-Pacific.




  • India, if accepted as a new permanent member, must enjoy the same powers and prerogatives as the existing members.


  • A permanent seat at UN will give India a due recognition strategically and politically. India will have a greater say in various geo-political events that are tackled keeping in mind threat posed to West and Europe only.


  • Until now, no country has tried to not take any concrete action against the State-sponsored terrorism of Pakistan. Though US has realigned its approach in the recent times, China continues to take undue political advantage and resorts to creating hurdles in measures aimed at countering State-sponsored terrorism of Pakistan.


  • Policies and measures adopted that are hostile to developed countries are often vetoed. Thus only those policies and measures materialize that have little bearing on them. Responsibility is often transferred to developing nations like India.


  • A permanent seat at UN is not only important from safeguarding India’s security interests point of view, many countries awe a permanent membership. So that, their voice does not go unheard in UNSC.


  • This will encourage more strategic and economics ties with India. An example of this is that China and Pakistan have no historical ties but yet Pakistan has befriended China just to counter India in global geo-political sphere.


  • The challenges faced by the Indian subcontinent are not duly represented in UNSC. It has become a hegemony of West and Europe. China uses it just as a tool to muster more political and strategic support and hardly works in serving the purpose of UNSC.


  • The membership will help India to reduce the dominance of China in subcontinent regions like Indian Ocean and South China Sea.


  • It will have a huge positive impact on issue of Kashmir regarding the Pok and Baluchistan. The continuous conflicts that goes on border with China and Pakistan will see a downfall.


  • The membership to the UNSC will help India in becoming a member of NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group).




  • Among the five permanent member, China is the only one, who uses veto power against India’s efforts to become a permanent member.


  • It is argued by critics that India has still not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), also had rejected the CTBT in 1996.


  • And in fact, was the target of unanimous Security Council Resolution 1172 after it conducted nuclear tests in 1998. But, India’s nuclear diplomacy after the May 1998 tests successfully turned India from a pariah state to being increasingly a part of the non-proliferation regime.





  • India’s pursuit of its national interest at UNSC must also be tempered by the sobering fact that the UNSC is unlikely to admit new members any time soon, if ever at all.


  • A glance at the recent debates on UNSC reforms and the state of the international system today should tell us that bending over backwards to please the big five to gain entry into the UNSC will not make a difference.




India must focus its energies on what it can achieve during the short period that it would be in the UNSC rather than what it wishes happened.




QUESTION : Significance of the Horizontal and Vertical reservation in India and explain why  some sections of the society  see reservation as a caste-based discrimination?




Horizontal and Vertical Reservations




Recently, the Supreme Court (SC), in a case, has clarified the position of law on the interplay of vertical and horizontal reservations.




 Horizontal Reservation:


  • It refers to the equal opportunity provided to categories of beneficiaries such as women, veterans, the transgender community, and individuals with disabilities, cutting through the vertical categories. Example: Article 15 (3) of the Constitution contemplates horizontal reservation.


 Vertical Reservation :


  • Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes is referred to as vertical reservation.


  • It applies separately for each of the groups specified under the law. Example: Article 16(4) of the Constitution contemplates vertical reservation.




The horizontal quota is applied separately to each vertical category, and not across the board.


For example, if women have 50% horizontal quota, then half of the selected candidates will have to necessarily be women in each vertical quota category i.e., half of all selected Scheduled Caste candidates will have to be women, half of the unreserved or general category will have to be women, and so on.




  • Saurav Yadav versus State of Uttar Pradesh 2020 dealt with issues arising from the way different classes of reservation were to be applied in the selection process to fill posts of constables in the state.


  • The Uttar Pradesh government’s policy was to restrict and contain reserved category candidates to their categories, even when they had secured higher grades.




  • The court ruled against the Uttar Pradesh government, holding that if a person belonging to an intersection of vertical-horizontal reserved category had secured scores high enough to qualify without the vertical reservation, the person would be counted as qualifying without the vertical reservation, and cannot be excluded from the horizontal quota in the general category.


  • The court said Uttar Pradesh Government’s argument meant that it was ensuring that the general category was ‘reserved’ for upper castes.




  • The ruling will give clarity on reservation and make it easier for governments to implement and apply reservation.


  • More needy scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and other backward class candidates will be benefited if high scoring candidates are recruited under general category.




  • Reservation is a form of positive discrimination, created to promote equality among marginalised sections, so as to protect them from social and historical injustice.


  • Generally, it means giving preferential treatment to marginalised sections of society in employment and access to education.


  • It was also originally developed to correct years of discrimination and to give a boost to disadvantaged groups.


  • In India, people have been historically discriminated against on the basis of caste.




  • Article 15(3) allows protective discrimination in favour of women.


  • Article 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution enabled the State and Central Governments to reserve seats in government services for the members of the SC and ST.


  • The Constitution was amended by the Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, 1995 and a new clause (4A) was inserted in Article 16 to enable the government to provide reservation in promotion.


  • Recently, the Supreme Court of India has said that reservation of seats provided to certain communities is not a fundamental right.


  • Later, clause (4A) was modified by the Constitution (85th Amendment) Act, 2001 to provide consequential seniority to SC and ST candidates promoted by giving reservation.


  • Constitutional 81st Amendment Act, 2000 inserted Article 16 (4 B) which enables the state to fill the unfilled vacancies of a year which are reserved for SCs/STs in the succeeding year, thereby nullifying the ceiling of fifty percent reservation on total number of vacancies of that year.


  • Article 330 and 332 provides for specific representation through reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Parliament and in the State Legislative Assemblies respectively.


  • Article 243D provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Panchayat.


  • It also provides for the reservation of not less than one-third of the total number of seats for women (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the SCs and STs).


  • Article 233T provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in every Municipality.


  • Article 335 of the Constitution says that the claims of SCs and STs shall be taken into consideration constituently with the maintenance of efficacy of the administration.




Vertical and horizontal reservations are methods of ensuring representation in public services. It should not be used as a tool to close the doors to open general category, even for the meritorious candidates, for which she would have been eligible without reservation.
















GS-3 Mains

QUESTION : India being the country the most vulnerable to climate change, must prioritise Disaster management plans.” and give some effective measures to mitigate these calamities. Evaluate 






India and Climate Risk



 While winter may be longer and harsher in some regions due to La Niña, forecasters suggest that 2021 would still be among the Earth’s hottest years recorded. Rising temperatures have led to a sharp increase in climate extreme events in recent years.

Need to protect infrastructure: The economic costs of a disaster remain huge, mainly due to the damage caused to big infrastructure.


  • Increasing climate risks:

 o A recent report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water found that 75% of districts in India, home to over half the population, were vulnerable to extreme climate risks.

 o India witnessed 250 extreme climate events between 1970 and 2005. But it recorded 310 extreme climate events after 2005 alone.

 o The intensity of floods increased eightfold and that of associated events such as landslides and heavy rainfall increased by over 20 times since 1970.


o Drought-affected districts have increased by an yearly average of 13 times over the last two decades.

 o The frequency of cyclones has also doubled.

 o Climate change: Over 40% of Indian districts flood-prone areas are becoming drought-prone, and vice-versa.

  • Monetary loss: Between 1990 and 2019, India incurred losses exceeding $100 billion.




  1. The yearly monsoon season, lasting from June to September, severely affected India in 2018.
  2. India is the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change.
  3. In 2020, India’s rank has worsened from the 14th spot in 2017 to 5th in 2018 in the global vulnerability
  4. The state of Kerala was especially impacted – 324 people died because of drowning or being buried in the landslides set off by the flooding,30 the worst in one hundred years.
  5. Over 220 000 people had to leave their homes, 20 000 houses and 80 dams were destroyed.
  6. The damage amounted to EUR 2.4 billion (US$ 2.8 billion).
  7. Furthermore, India’s east coast was hit by the cyclones Titli and Gaja in October and November 2018. With wind speeds of up to 150 kilometres per hour, cyclone Titli killed at least eight people and left around 450 000 without electricity



  1. The occurrence of heatwaves is a global problem, both for countries in the global South and in the global North.
  2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that it is likely that [due to climate change] the frequency of heatwaves has increased in large parts of Europe, Asia and Australia.
  3. According to the IPCC’s special report on 1.5 degrees “the number of highly unusual hot days is projected to increase the most in the tropics”.
  4. Indian Heatwaves :
  • India suffered from one of the longest ever recorded heatwaves in 2018, with hundreds of deaths, when temperatures climbed to up to 48°C.


  • Prolonged drought and resultant widespread crop failures, compounded by a water shortage, brought about violent riots and increased migration.
  • India is among those countries that were particularly affected by extreme heat in both 2018 and 2019.
  • Since 2004, India has experienced 11 of its 15 warmest recorded years. Since 1992, an estimated 25 000 Indians have died as a result of heatwaves.
  • Contributing factors include increasing temperatures, an irregular El Nino in which the Central Pacific Ocean is warmer than the East Pacific, and the loss of tree cover, reducing shade as well as the moisture in the soil.
  • India is particularly vulnerable to extreme heat due to low per capita income, social inequality and a heavy reliance on agriculture.
  • The worst hit regions have also been among India’s poorest. Additionally, a high number of people are working in areas such as agriculture and construction. A study by the International Labour Organization concludes that by 2030, India would lose 5.8% of its working hours due to heat stress, which is equivalent to 34 million full-time jobs out of a total of 80 million worldwide.



 Environment and Health De-risking Mission: This mission should aim

  • to increase emergency preparedness,
  • secure critical resources and
  • build resilient infrastructure and governance systems to counter the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme climate events
  • Democratising local climate-related and weather-related data along with integrating risk projections in national, sub-national and district disaster and climate plans.
  • restoration, revival, and recreation of traditional climate-resilient practices, with a special focus on indigenous communities. These communities are very helpful in ecosystem conservation.

 Comprehensive Climate Risk Atlas: It should aim to

  • present a risk-informed decision-making toolkit for policymakers at the national, State, and district level.


  • identify, assess and project chronic and acute risks at a granular level to better prepare against extreme climate events, urban heat stress, water stress, crop loss, vector-borne diseases, and biodiversity collapse
  • assessing the resilience and adaptation capabilities of communities and business.
  • climate-proofing critical infrastructure.


Financing climate action:

  • The government should attract private investments into climate-proofing of infrastructure.
  • Risk financing instruments and risk retention and identification tools should be supplemented by contingency and adaptation funds such as the Green Climate Fund.
  • Benefits: This will enhance the public finance pool and gear up efficient allocation across sectors at risk by mobilising investments on critical infrastructures and resilient community actions.
  • The Climate Ambition Summit also called for enhancing adaptation financing by 50% versus its current share of 20% of the total pool of climate financing.
  • It should also promote adaptation-based infrastructure investment decision making in these countries.
  • Global South: India should inculcate a culture of localised risk assessments among members from the Global South.



QUESTION : What do you mean by feminisation of agriculture and  the role of women in farming in India. Also, discuss the problems faced by women farmers in India with effective solution .






Feminisation of Agriculture




According to the agricultural census, 73.2% of rural women are engaged in farming activities but only 12.8% own landholdings.




1) Land ownership:


  • According to Oxfam (2013), around 80 per cent of farm work is undertaken by women in India. However, they own only 13 per cent of the land.
  • Recent statistics released by the University of Maryland and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER, 2018) state that women constitute over 42 per cent of the agricultural labour force in India, but own less than two per cent of farmland.
  • Due to cultural, social and religious forces, women have been denied ownership of land.

 o The India Human Development Survey reports that 83% of agricultural land in the country is inherited by male members of the family and less than 2% by their female counterparts.


2) Definition of farmer: Women are mostly left without any title of land in their names and are excluded from the definition of farmers.

  1. The government labels them as ‘cultivators’ or ‘agricultural labourers’ but not ‘farmers’.
  2. Without any recognition, women are systematically excluded from all the benefits of government schemes.


3) Marginalised communities: Besides, 81% of women agricultural labourers belong to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes, so they also contribute to the largest share of casual and landless labourers.


4) Farm widows: Since the advent of liberalisation, more than 300,000 farmers have committed suicide to escape vicious poverty, debt, and humiliation over the past twenty years.


  1. In Maharashtra alone, according to reported statistics (BBC, 2014), there are more than 53,000 farm widows. Out of these, around 10,600 live in Vidarbha, the farmer suicide capital of the country.


5) Denied rights: Women in agriculture are affected by issues of recognition and in the absence of land rights, female agricultural labourers, farm widows, and tenant farmers are left bereft of recognition as farmers, and the consequent entitlements.


  1. They are not guaranteed the rights which they would otherwise be given if they were recognised as farmers, such as loans for cultivation, loan waivers, crop insurance, subsidies or even compensation to their families in cases where they commit suicide.


6) Gender divide:

  1. They have unequal access to rights over land, water and forests.
  2. There is gendered access to support systems such as storage facilities, transportation costs, and cash for new investments or for paying off old dues or for other services related to agricultural credit.
  3. There is also gendered access to inputs and markets.


7) Concerns with the farm laws: Women are barely in a position as empowered agents who can either understand or negotiate (written) agreements with traders and corporate entities who are seeking to enter into agreements with the farmers to purchase their produce or for other services.


Thus, despite their large contribution to the sector, women farmers have been reduced to a marginal section, vulnerable to exploitation.



  • patrilocal post-marital residence,
  • village exogamy,
  • opposition to mobility from men,
  • traditionally institutionalised gender roles,
  • low female literacy and awareness,
  • male dominance in administrative, judicial, and other public decision-making bodies at all levels.




  • According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO, 2011), empowering women through land and ownership rights has the potential of raising total agricultural output in developing countries by 2.5 to 4 per cent and can reduce hunger across the world by 12-17 per cent.
  • The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG #5. a.1), seeks to grant property rights and tenure security of agricultural land to women.



  • It is conducted at an interval of every five years by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare.
  • Data on structural aspects of operational holdings in the country is collected through the census.
  • The first census was conducted with reference year 1970-71.




 All land which is used wholly or partly for agricultural production and is operated as one technical unit by one person alone or with others without regard to the title, legal form, size or location




The term ‘Feminization of agriculture’ refers to increasing participation of women in agricultural activities. It can be interpreted in the following ways:


  • An increase in the percentage of women who are economically active in agricultural sector either as self-employed or as agriculture wage workers or unremunerated family workers


  • An increase in the percentage of women in agricultural labour force relative to men, either because of more women are working or because of fewer men are working in agriculture.


  • The extent to which women define, control and enact the processes of agriculture




  • Minimise the gulf between ownership versus control of land by addressing patriarchal conventions and bottlenecks in interpersonal legislations, to achieve economic equality in gender, as also guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, under the aegis of Article 14.


  • Women centric laws: In 2011, M S Swaminathan, Rajya Sabha member (2007-13) proposed the ‘Women Farmers Entitlement Bill’, which lapsed in 2013.


o With increasing recognition being given to the contribution of women in agriculture such as by commemorating the ‘Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Divas’, it is time that such legislations and institutional reform in agriculture are addressed.


  • Policy paralysis in granting entitlements to women in agriculture and farm widows needs to be addressed to empower rural women economically, politically, socially, and psychologically.




An ‘inclusive transformative agricultural policy’ should aim at gender-specific intervention to raise productivity of small farm holdings, integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise.


QUESTION: It is said that the  energy efficiency is the foundation of a strong, self-sufficient, and sustainable economy. Critically analyse this statement by giving measures to make India more efficient in this sector.






  • Energy Efficiency in India




The Power Minister recently announced the Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020.


  • The rules lay down uniform performance standards for power distribution companies (discoms) and make them liable to compensate consumers in case of violations.




  • Rising demand: India’s residential electricity consumption is expected to at least double by 2030.


  • Discoms stress: Indian discoms are struggling to manage their finances.


  • This is partly linked to drop in payment rates, as consumers are struggling to pay their bills amid rising consumption and tight finances.


  • The Indian government has sanctioned liquidity relief to help discoms tide over this crisis, but these are just short-term fixes.


  • Embracing energy efficiency can be a win-win solution as this can bring down household energy bills and reduce discoms’ financial stress.




  • The government’s UJALA scheme transformed the market for LED bulbs, while also helping India reduce its annual carbon emissions by nearly 82 million tonnes.


  • The Star Labeling Programme has been formulated by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.


  • The energy efficiency labeling programs under BEE are intended to reduce the energy consumption of appliance without diminishing the services it provides to consumers. The following products have been notified under mandatory labeling.


o Frost Free (No-Frost) Refrigerator

o Tubular Fluorescent Lamps

o Room Air Conditioners

o Distribution Transformers

o Room Air Conditioners (Cassette, Floor Standing Tower, Ceiling, Corner AC)

o Direct Cool Refrigerator

o Electric Geysers

o Color TV

o Room Air Conditioners (Inverter type)

o LED lamps




  • In recent years, India has seen significant adoption of energy-efficient appliances, especially those covered under the mandatory labelling programme, according to the India Residential Energy Survey conducted by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water and the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy.


  • More than 75% of air-conditioners and 60% of refrigerators used in Indian homes were star-labelled.


  • Nearly 90% of Indian homes used LED lamps or tubes.


  • There has been limited uptake of energy-efficient ceiling fans and televisions.


  • While 90% of homes use fans, only 3% have efficient fans.


  • Similarly, 60% of our television stock comprises the big old energy-guzzling CRT (cathode ray tube) models.


  • Desert coolers, used by 15% homes, are not even covered under the labelling programme.


  • Significant efficiency gains are also possible for other appliances like water pumps and induction cook stoves.




  • Growing energy needs: As households buy more electric appliances to satisfy their domestic needs, concerns about the ability of discoms to provide reliable supply at affordable rates will also rise.


  • Lack of awareness: Only a fourth of Indian households are currently aware of BEE’s star labels.


o While awareness levels are high among residents of metros and tier-1 cities, the majority in small towns and rural areas remain unaware.


o Despite a voluntary labelling scheme since 2009, less than 5% of ceiling fans produced in India are star-rated.


  • Costly fans: While the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) plans to bring ceiling fans under mandatory labelling from 2022, the high upfront cost will be another barrier.


o At present, the most efficient fans cost more than double the price of conventional models. 




  • The Energy Conservation Act empowers the government to specify norms and standards of energy efficiency to be followed by different industries (who are specified in a schedule to the Act) in their use of power.


  • The Act empowers state governments to enforce its various provisions.


  • The Act also establishes the Bureau of Energy Efficiency under the central government to specify qualifications and certification procedures for energy auditors and managers who shall audit the use of energy by industries.




  • The Act expands the scope of energy conservation norms for buildings and tightens the applicability of energy efficiency norms for appliances and equipment.


  • It provides a framework within which savings on energy use can be traded between those industries who are energy efficient and those whose consumption of energy is more than the maximum set by the government.


  • It increases penalties for offences and provides for appeals to be heard by the Electricity Appellate Tribunal set up under the Electricity Act, 2003.




  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Power.


  • It assists in developing policies and strategies with the primary objective of reducing the energy intensity of the Indian economy.




  • Improving the availability and affordability of energy-efficient appliances:


o We need innovative business models that can attract manufacturers to produce efficient technology at scale and bring it within purchasing capacity.


  • Consumer awareness campaign on energy efficiency:


o To bridge the rural-urban divide, we need a decentralised and consumer-centric engagement strategy.


o State governments, discoms and retailers need to be at the forefront of our renewed efforts to create mass awareness about energy efficiency.


  • Monitoring supply quality and changing consumption pattern on a real-time basis is needed.


o As discoms in India deploy smart meters, these must be used to measure actual savings and demonstrate the benefits of energy-efficient devices to build consumer confidence.


o The smart metering network would also be crucial to enforce consumer rights rules.


  • A dedicated focus towards other energy-efficient appliances would allow India to ensure 24×7 power for all.



QUESTION : How financial inclusion may be  one of the most important cornerstones of an economy like India by discussing  its implications and challenges faced by India in the path of financial inclusion.








Massive strides in digital technologies and improvements in internet banking offers a range of services at the fingertips of consumers. But a vast majority of the rural populace still travel miles and wait for several hours to make one banking transaction. In rural India, an over-reliance on digital technology alone has widened the distance between the rights holder and their entitlements.




Financial inclusion may be defined as the process of ensuring access to financial services and timely and adequate credit where needed by vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low income groups at an affordable cost.


In a diverse country like India, financial inclusion is a critical part of the development process. Since independence, the combined efforts of successive governments, regulatory institutions, and the civil society have helped in increasing the financial-inclusion net in the country.




  • The Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) initiative is a technology induced step in improving financial inclusion among other stated goals.


  • Although DBT has been operational since 2011, it has become synonymous with the Aadhaar Payments Bridge Systems (APBS) since 2015.


o APBS, implemented by National Payment Corporation of India is used by the government departments and agencies for electronic transfer of benefits and subsidiaries under DBT scheme.


  • Various government programmes such as maternity entitlements, student scholarships, wages for MGNREGA workers fall under the DBT initiative where money is transferred to the bank accounts of the respective beneficiaries.


  • But the beneficiaries face many hurdles in accessing their money. To deal with these, banking kiosks known as Customer Service Points (CSP) and Banking Correspondents (BC) were promoted.


o These are private individuals who offer banking services through the Aadhaar Enabled Payment Systems (AePS).


o Subject to network connectivity and electricity, beneficiaries can perform basic banking transactions such as small deposits and withdrawals at these kiosks.




Fewer number of branches:


  • There are just 14.6 bank branches per 1 lakh adults in India, which is sparser in rural India.


  • Rural banks are short-staffed and tend to get overcrowded.


  • As per a research report based on a survey of nearly 2,000 MGNREGA workers across Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan.


o 42% of people in Jharkhand and 38% in Rajasthan took more than four hours to access wages from banks.


Relative wage loss:


  • CSP/BCs appeared to be a convenient alternative to banks due to their proximity.


o However, an estimated 40% had to make multiple visits to withdraw from CSPs/BCs due to biometric failures.


  • For MGNREGA workers, a visit to the disbursement agency implies that they don’t get to do that day’s work and therefore lose that day’s wages.


o The workers have to spend more than one-thirds of their weekly wages just to withdraw their weekly wages.




  • The only way for rural bank users to keep track of their finances is through their bank passbooks.


o However, more than two-thirds of time workers were denied the facility to update their passbooks at banks.


  • The workers get charged for transacting at CSPs/BCs which is meant to be free.


Lack of accountability and grievance redressal:


  • Workers have little clue about where their wages have been credited and what to do when their payments for MGNREGA get rejected, often due to technical reasons such as incorrect account numbers and incorrect Aadhaar mapping with bank accounts.


  • Lack of adequate checks and balances, absence of any accountability framework for payment intermediaries & absence of grievance redressal have put the already vulnerable at higher risk of being duped.




  • Despite hardships of access, most workers preferred to transact at the banks.


  • Using bank branch data, it was demonstrated that branch expansion into rural unbanked locations significantly reduced poverty.


o The banking facilities must be expanded to remote areas to provide last mile connectivity.


o With technological advances the costs of running rural banks will also be lower.


  • The barriers to the digital financial inclusion i.e. non-availability of suitable financial products, lack of skills among the stakeholders to use digital services, infrastructural issues must be bridged.


o There must be campaigns to boost digital and banking literacy among the workers at the banking institutions.


o Efforts should be done to make banking experience user-friendly, with checks and balances for corrupt practices.


  • There must be standard rules and code of conduct to develop effective monitoring and supervision of banking correspondents.


  • Banking rights must be protected through strengthening grievance redressal processes and setting accountability norms for all payment intermediaries.




For the success of financial inclusion in India, there has to be a multidimensional approach through which existing digital platforms, infrastructure, human resources, and policy frameworks are strengthened and new technological innovations should be promoted.




QUESTION : Critically analyse the challenges faced by the RBI in planning expansionary policy  during covid-19 pandemic and suggest key steps to counter such challenges in forthcoming time.






Challenges before RBI




 RBI adopted the extraordinary expansionary policy after Covid-19. 


 It reduced policy interest rates aggressively to increase the liquidity in the market. It also provided targeted assistance to especially distressed sectors.


 But, now RBI should consider an exit plan out of expansionary policy to avoid any loss in the macroeconomic terms.


 In this process RBI might face the challenge of managing ‘the impossible trinity’, i.e.  Keeping doors open for capital flows while simultaneously maintaining a stable exchange rate and restraining inflation. 




We have already seen that monetary policy refers to the actions undertaken by a nation’s central bank to control the money supply. Control of money supply helps to manage inflation or deflation.


The monetary policy can be expansionary or contractionary.

An expansionary monetary policy is focused on expanding (increasing) the money supply in an economy. An expansionary monetary policy is implemented by lowering key interest rates thus increasing market liquidity.


A contractionary monetary policy is focused on contracting (decreasing) the money supply in an economy. A contractionary monetary policy is implemented by increasing key interest rates thus reducing market liquidity.




1) RBI need might face a dilemma of managing Inflation and support to economic recovery. 


 Inflation is above the RBI’s target band for the past several months and is expected to remain above target for the next several months.


 Whereas, MPC is not able to decide against expansionary monetary policy, out of concerns for growth and financial stability. 


 MPC expects inflation to soften by itself due to bumper winter crop and normalisation of supply chain post-lockdown. 


2)  RBI need to think about the savers, offered low interest rates at a time of high inflation. Thus, value of their saving is getting reduced.


3)  RBI require to withdraw the ‘excess’ liquidity from the market.  


 Banks are routinely depositing trillions of rupees with the RBI is the evidence that the liquidity increase by RBI is not giving the intended results.  


 Mispricing of risk of too much liquidity for too long can lead to financial crisis. 


4) RBI might face the challenge of ‘taper tantrums’ at the later stage, which triggers the panic sell-off by the investors in the market. 


 Taper tantrum: In May 2013, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairmen announced that they were considering gradually tapering/reducing ‘quantitative easing’. 


 Although the announcement should have been taken as signs of a robust recovery in the economy, instead panic sell-off started in the financial market. 


 Thus, RBI also need to frame their communication strategy in a way that it doesn’t trigger the panic sell-off. 


5) RBI will have to stop the rupee from appreciating, in the face of policy change. 


 Current Account Surplus this year together with massive capital flows has caused increase in flow of dollar in the system. 


 It is putting the upward pressure on the Rupee, which is already overvalued in the real terms. 


 RBI has already absorbed this year, nearly $90 billion to prevent exchange rate appreciation and to maintain the competitiveness of the rupee. 


 Thus, RBI’s ability to keep the Rupee value in control will be constrained by increasing inflation. 




In the upcoming days, managing the impossible trinity will be a tricky challenge for RBI given the condition of the economy after COVID-19.


QUESTION : Strong data protection is the need of the hour when everyone talks about data privacy policy hence it is pertinent that a law has to be enacted at the earliest to safeguard the fundamental right to Privacy of the citizens. Comment






WhatsApp Privacy Policy




Recently, WhatsApp has updated its policy, which states that it may share information of any of its users with its family of companies (Facebook). This new update has caused a lot of concern over the privacy of the people that use this application.




 Whatsapp As the Owner of Data: The information that WhatsApp automatically collects and will be sharing with Facebook includes the mobile phone number, user activity, and other basic information of the WhatsApp account.


o WhatsApp’s recent privacy policy to share commercial user data with Facebook establishes that it is the owner of the data rather than an intermediary.


o The policy essentially takes away the choice users had until now to not share their data with other Facebook-owned and third-party apps.


 Against the Recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee Report: The new Whatsapp policy contradicts the recommendations of the Srikrishna Committee report, which forms the basis of the Data Protection Bill 2019. For Example:


o The principle of Data Localisation, which aims to put curbs on the transfer of personal data outside the country, may come in conflict with WhatsApp’s new privacy policy.


o The report stated that using the information for purposes that are reasonably linked to the purpose for which the information was given. However, the updated privacy policy of WhatsApp can be seen as a move to ensure subtle forms of commercial exploitation and micro-targeting by political campaigns for instance (Cambridge Analytica Scandal)


 Sharing of Metadata: WhatsApp held that the end-to-end encryption clause remains intact, which will ensure that it can’t see your messages or share them with anyone.


o However, with the updated privacy policy, WhatsApp can now share one’s metadata, essentially everything beyond the conversation’s actual text.




 End-to-End Encrypted: The messages on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted which means nobody can see your messages or share it with anyone.


 Information Sharing with Third Party Services: When users rely on third-party services or other Facebook Company Products that are integrated with our Services, those third-party services may receive information about what you or others share with them.


 Hardware Information: WhatsApp collects information from devices such as battery level, signal strength, app version, browser information, mobile network, connection information (including phone number, mobile operator or ISP) among others.


 Deleting the Account: If someone only deletes the WhatsApp app from their device without using the in-app delete my account feature, then that user’s information will remain stored with the platform.


 Data Storage: WhatsApp mentions that it uses Facebook’s global infrastructure and data centers including those in the United States to store user data. It also states that the data in some cases will be transferred to the United States or other parts where Facebook’s affiliate companies are based.


 Location: Even if a user does not use their location-relation features, Whatsapp collects IP addresses and other information like phone number area codes to estimate your general location (city, country).


 Businesses interacting with users: WhatsApp says that any businesses that users interact with may provide the platform with information as well. The content shared with a business on WhatsApp will be visible to several people in that business.


 Payment Services: WhatsApp says that if anyone uses their payments services they will process additional information about you, including payment account and transaction information.




 The basic definition of intermediaries is that they do not own content and are mere platforms where third-party entities place content.


 This particular status prevents them from liability in case anything unlawful is noticed on their platforms.


o In such instances, the government directs the intermediary concerned to remove the unlawful content within a specified period.


 If Whatsapp automatically shares the data, it can not be considered as an intermediary.


 In such a scenario it may lose the immunity it has with regard to any objectionable content found on its platform at any given point in time.




 It virtually gives a 360-degree profile into a person’s online activity.


 This level of insight into a person’s private and personal activities is done without any government oversight at present or regulatory supervision.




In Puttaswamy v India (2017) case, privacy was established as a fundamental right. In other cases, MP Sharma v. Satish Chandra (1954) and Kharak Singh v. Uttar Pradesh (1962), as well, Privacy rights were upheld by SC.


As India has not implemented the Personal Data Protection Bill, there is no control over how user data will be processed by tech companies.


Apart from this IT Act 2000, and its amendment in 2008 deal with data protection to some extent.


 Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011 issued under the Information Technology Act, 2000, provides a measure of legal protection of personal information


 Breach of data privacy is punishable under Section 72-A of the IT Act. The Act Penalises the offender for three year imprisonment or a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh.


 But this provision is only applicable to corporate entities not to individuals.


 Rules are restricted to sensitive personal data — medical history, biometric information, and sexual history, among other things.




 Expediting Data Protection Law: India’s data protection law has been languishing for two years now. If India had a data protection law in place, WhatsApp would not have been able to go ahead with this update in the first place.


o For instance, WhatsApp’s updated privacy policy guidelines won’t be applicable if you live in the European Region thanks to the data protection law (GDPR) in place there.


o Therefore, India must expedite the process of finalizing the data protection law.


o Further, India should use the current Whatsapp issue to update the already under process intermediary guidelines.


 Public Awareness: According to many experts, WhatsApp users in India will not care too much about this issue, what with privacy policies being generally difficult to be understood by the public.


 The solution lies in the faster enactment of the Personal Data Protection Bill and the successful implementation of the Act. It is high time the government should enact the same.




The privacy of a billion citizens is too important a thing to be left just to the practices of a commercial enterprise. It will be reassuring if a strong law guarantees it.



QUESTION : How would the recent phenomena of protectionism and currency manipulations in world trade affect macroeconomic stability of India? Discuss






Crisis in Globalised Capitalism




Donald Trump has been defeated, but not Trumpism and the anti-globalist politics it has unleashed and he took the U.S. back to pre-war isolationism and its effect on geo-politics of worlds.




  • Globalisation as a concept fundamentally deals with flows. These flows could be of various kinds – ideas moving from one part of the world to another, capital shunted between two or more places, commodities being traded across borders, and people moving in search of better livelihoods to different parts of the world.


  • The crucial element is the ‘worldwide interconnectedness’ that is created and sustained as a consequence of these constant flows. It is true that nationalism and protectionism are on the rise; however, Globalization isn’t ending, it’s changing.




As the new wave of globalization is spreading out, many of the world’s people are becoming resistant to it. In the West particularly, many middle-class workers are fed up with a political and economic system that resulted in economic inequality, social instability, and – in some countries – mass immigration, even if it also led to economic growth and cheaper products.


There have been five major geopolitical shifts creating suspicion of ending globalisation.


  • First, protectionism is growing. A number of trade barriers have been introduced since mid-2018, the most significant of which have been higher tariffs on bilateral trade between the US and China.


  • As a percentage of GDP, global exports have stalled and even started to go in reverse slightly. This increase in protectionism has contributed to the slowdown in global growth, both via the direct effects on trade flows, supply chains and import costs, and via the wider indirect effects on business sentiment, uncertainty, and investment around the world.


  • Second, the ability of multilateral institutions to establish and enforce shared rules seems to be weakening. As a political ideology, “globalism”, or the idea that one should take a global perspective, is on the wane. Bilateral agreements based on national interests are taking precedence over multilateralism. This is especially evident in current ongoing COVID pandemic which is causing the demand to reform various multilateral organisations such as WTO, WHO etc.


  • Third, the dominant role of Western countries in the multilateral financial institutions that have provided global capital appears to be receding as new financial institutions emerge, such as the China- backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank.


  • Fourth, state capitalism is on the rise: Examples include the growing economic role of state-owned enterprises & sovereign wealth funds (e.g. India’s NIIF) and the increased direct government support of domestic industries.


  • Fifth, with the current COVID pandemic, global value chains got disrupted as a result of lockdown. In the response, various countries such as India are now focussing on self-reliance and curbing their imports.




  • If we measure economic integration and interdependence among countries—the main features of globalization— against trade flows of goods and services and against financial and investment flows, we may be witnessing an interruption. However, if we use metrics that are more in line with the economic dynamics of the 21st century, then there would be signs that globalization is accelerating rather than subsiding.


  • Following are the indicators of 21st century economic integration and interdependence among countries that transcend trade and financial flows:


  • Technical and regulatory standards: In recent decades we have seen true globalization of standards, protocols, certifications, processes and monitoring in areas such as communications and phytosanitary, safety and quality issues, among others.


  • An unprecedented massification of access to digital services and e-commerce platforms is being observed. This connection is possible through standardized operating systems and internet protocols that allow billions of users to communicate at near-zero cost, have simultaneous access to digital content, and do business from virtually anywhere in the world.


  • Financial and capital markets are increasingly united by products & services due to standardizing of routines, processes and standards of financial, risk management and payment systems policies.




Global value chains are undergoing five structural shifts –

  • Goods-producing value chains have grown less trade-intensive: Trade is still growing in absolute terms, but the trade intensity (that is, the ratio of gross exports to gross output) has fallen from 28.1 percent in 2007 to 22.5 percent in 2017 due to rising domestic consumption in China and other emerging economies.


  • Trade in services has grown more than 60 percent faster than goods trade over the past decade with some type of services such as telecom and IT services growing two to three times faster. But they often go unpriced and untracked due to their intangible nature.


  • Share of trade based on labor-cost arbitrage (i.e. companies searching for low cost labour) has been declining (forming only 18 percent of goods trade) especially in labour-intensive goods manufacturing. Other factors such as access to skilled labor or natural resources, proximity to consumers, and the quality of infrastructure are increasingly becoming more important.


  • Global value chains are growing more knowledge-intensive as companies are spending more on R&D and intangible assets such as brand, operational processes and other intellectual property.


  • Value chains are becoming more regional and less global. The intraregional share of global goods trade has increased by 2.7 percentage points since 2013, most noticeable for Asia and the EU countries as companies prioritize proximity to customers and speedy deliveries.




  • Global value chains are growing more knowledge-intensive as companies are spending more on R&D and intangible assets such as brand, operational processes and other intellectual property. Value chains are becoming more regional and less global. The intraregional share of global goods trade has increased by 2.7 percentage points since 2013, most noticeable for Asia and the EU countries as companies prioritize proximity to customers and speedy deliveries. Digital platforms, logistics technologies, and data-processing advances will continue to reduce cross-border transaction costs, bring together far-flung participants, make Delivery of services more efficient, reduce transit times & speed payments. These technologies together could potentially boost overall trade by 6 to 11 percent by 2030.


  • On the other hand, automation, AI, and additive manufacturing (3D printing) could reduce global goods trade by up to 10 percent by 2030. However, this reflects only the direct impact of these technologies on enabling production closer to end consumers in advanced economies. It is also possible that these technologies could lead to nearshoring and regionalization of trade instead of reshoring in advanced economies.


  • The advent of ultra-fast 5G wireless networks opens new possibilities for delivering services. Remote surgery, for example, may become more viable as networks transmit sharp images without any delays and robots respond more precisely to remote manipulation.




Globalization has been a powerful force in shaping modern human history. The world economy has become increasingly connected and interdependent over recent decades, and conventional wisdom suggests that this will only continue in the years ahead. But while it’s tempting to extrapolate the past effects of globalization into the future, such a leap may also be a mistake. That’s because there is growing evidence that globalization itself is quietly transforming – and how it ultimately evolves may be markedly different from what might be expected.




QUESTION : How can India make its efforts significant to accelerate energy technology innovation as a means to achieve national policy goals and give suggestive measures to complete this task ?






Research, Development and Demonstration 




India is making significant efforts to accelerate energy technology innovation as a means to achieve national policy goals such as enhancing country-wide energy access, fostering economic growth, containing air pollution and meeting climate targets.


What is research, development and demonstration (RD&D)?

  • RD&D refers to the first steps of the technology development cycle, when new technologies are conceptualized, prototypes built and tested in lab and field conditions.




  • Currently, it is dominated by the public sector.


  • However, the role of private sector actors in technology innovation is expected to become increasingly important looking ahead.


  • The public–private collaboration is promoted by “Make in India” project which focus to tap into the RD&D capabilities of private actors and scale up domestic technology development and deployment.


  • In 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated India’s total government spending on energy RD&D at $652.8 million across government.




  • The RD&D landscape in India has historically been largely occupied by the public sector.


o Funding for energy RD&D mostly comes from the central government, and is governed by over ten ministries and affiliated departments.


o They fund research either with annual public outlays or through their administrative control of public sector undertakings (PSUs) which perform research.


  • At present, individual ministries are generally responsible for setting RD&D priorities, as they fund fuel- or resource-specific RD&D.


o A certain amount of RD&D co-ordination occurs within ministries.


o Efforts to achieve greater co-ordination among ministries are also emerging.


 In 2018, the Prime Minister established a Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PMSTIAC) to better co-ordinate efforts among ministries and establish common innovation priorities and frameworks.


 At the Ministry of Power, a statutory body called the Central Electrical Authority chairs a Standing Committee on Research and Development, which reviews and approves power sector RD&D.




  • India offers certain advantageous market fundamentals to the private sector, whether domestic or foreign, in the field of energy RD&D.


  • Early-stage venture capital investments, as well as other corporate investments in RD&D activities, indicate the technology areas in which the private sector has decided to invest most when it comes to start-up companies.


How to increase private sector engagement:


  • RD&D programming could be optimised to better spur private-sector investment and leadership.


  • Engaging with private stakeholders is key to:


o Leverage greater overall investment in technology innovation despite increasingly limited government resources.


o Facilitate lab-to-market paths for key emerging technologies and accelerate deployment.


o Optimise the allocation of public funds in those specific innovation areas suffering from financing gaps due to higher risks and capital costs or longer-term returns on investment that are less appealing to private-sector actors.




  • India’s gross expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP is flat since last two decades.


o For example, over the period 2015 to 2017, it is at approximately 0.69%.


  • This spending level ranks below that of other emerging economies such as the China (2.1%) and Brazil (1.3%).


  • In absolute terms, however, public RD&D spending tripled from 2007 to 2017.


  • The need is to further support RD&D activities, for the country to progress “from net consumer to net producer of knowledge”, including in the energy sector in accordance with Mission Innovation commitments.




  • India’s draft National Energy Policy:


o It focuses on acknowledging the central role that energy technology can play in “enhancing supply of energy at affordable prices, and deliver it efficiently and sustainably”.


o In the last decade, India has been conducting RD&D in a wide range of technology areas related to:


 Energy supply (e.g. advanced biofuels, wind, solar, hydrogen and coal)

 Demand (e.g. electric mobility and sustainable buildings).

o The National policy plans are embedded in the:

 National Offshore Wind Energy Policy (MNRE, 2015)

 The National Policy on Biofuels (MoPNG, 2018)

 The India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) (MoEFCC, 2019)


  • Under National Science & Technology Programme cooling is considered as a thrust area of research with robust R&D on alternative cooling technologies to provide push to innovation.


  • Global Cooling Prize was launched in collaboration with MI and the Rocky Mountain Institute for offering solutions that have at least five times less climate impact than current room air conditioners.


  • The government has initiated energy-related national missions, through National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008). These include the following:


o National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (2009)

o National Solar Mission (2010)

o National Electric Mobility Mission (2012)

o National Smart Grid Mission (2015

o National Mission on Advanced Ultra Super Critical Technology (2017)


o National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage (2019)




  • A key element of India’s energy RD&D approach is to maximise international collaboration to:


o To stimulate domestic innovation


o Adapt best available technologies to Indian needs.


  • India strengthened its engagement in key multi-lateral mechanisms and partnerships to accelerate energy innovation under the Technology Collaboration Programme (TCP) led by the IEA and Mission Innovation.


o India has mostly focused on TCPs relating to energy supply technologies, including coal, bioenergy, ocean energy and fusion power, as well as on the TCPs relating to system integration technologies such as smart grids, demand-side management and hydrogen.


o There is also interest and potential for further engagement in other TCPs, such as photovoltaic power systems, and solar heating and cooling.


  • India has established extensive bilateral collaborations with other governments to foster energy RD&D co-operation and attract foreign investment and human capital, including:


o United States:


 Indo-US Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centre in smart grids and energy storage Bhaskara Advanced Solar Energy Programme.


 BHAVAN Fellowships in energy efficiency.


 Bioenergy Awards for Cutting Edge Research capacity-building programme.


o United Kingdom:


 Joint UK-India Clean Energy Centre.


 DST–Research Councils UK collaborative projects on energy efficiency, storage and energy systems.

o Sweden and Japan:

 Public–private co-operation and technology transfer scheme in iron and steel production.




  • Further improving inter-ministerial co-ordination to align innovation priorities.


  • Outlining a long-term energy RD&D roadmap to embed RD&D programmes in broader energy policies and steer innovation towards national goals.


  • Strengthening institutional and legal frameworks, including intellectual property regimes. Such an endeavour.


  • Develop a holistic strategy on renewable energy, encompassing both supply and use, for electricity, heating and cooling as well as transport to fully harness India’s large untapped potential.


  • Adapt the design of competitive auctions by SECI to ensure India can meet the 2022 renewable electricity targets by:

 setting out annual procurement trajectories , strengthening pre-qualification criteria ,adjusting the price caps to ensure commercial viability of high-quality projects and mitigating all project-related risks.


  • Adopt a medium to long-term target for renewable electricity for the period beyond 2022 to give investors certainty.


  • Support further growth of distributed renewable energy.


  • Ensure compliance with Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPOs) imposed by state regulators.


  • Strengthen the financial viability of DISCOMs by ensuring the full implementation of the UDAY scheme.


  • Maximise India’s significant potential for sustainable bioenergy comprising:

  Implementation of the policy on transport biofuels to scale up conventional and advanced biofuel production while ensuring sustainability criteria are met.



QUESTION : What are the serious threats and challenges posed by deepfakes and what can be the possible strategy to counter it? Suggest. 






Threats of Deepfakes in India




Deepfakes are becoming a huge threat. This AI-based technology has been used to incite violence and disrepute people. Recently, it was used allegedly used to incite violence in the US.




 Deepfakes are modified images, text, audio, and video or synthetic media, created with the help of Artificial Intelligence.


 It generates a fake version from an original or real audio-visual content by superimposing new audio or image on an existing media file.


For example; with the use of AI, the face of a person in an original video can be replaced with the face of another person (Morphing). Now the modified face will mimic the head movements, vocal patterns, and facial expressions of the original one.


 Media is manipulated with such sharpness that it becomes almost impossible to identify the difference between fake and real media. It can only be identified by using AI tools.




 Deep fakes can be used to disrupt the democratic processes like elections in any country.


 It is believed that Capitol Hill violence was incited by using deep fake media which caused misinformation and disinformation.


 Deep Fakes are used to stain the reputations of individuals and spread propaganda against them.


 According to a deepfake tracking research organization, in the month of October alone, over 100,000 fake nude images of women were circulating online.


 Real images for that purpose were acquired through social media accounts.


 The existence of deep fakes causes that much distrust among the public that any true evidence of a crime can easily be dismissed as fake.


 These technologies can be used by terrorist organizations and insurgents to further their agenda of destabilizing state governments. They can spread false information about institutions, public policy, and politicians for this purpose.


 The existing legal framework of many countries including India does not criminalize deep fakes.




In US: As per US law, Social Media Companies cannot be held responsible for the posts on their platforms.


In India: Some provisions in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Information Technology Act, 2000 criminalize a few related cybercrimes. But there is no specific law as of now to deal with deep fakes.




 Sections 66E, 67, 67A, and 72 of the IT act deal with the violation of privacy and publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form.


 But these provisions can also result in penal consequences for the victim, for voluntarily producing such material.


 The Information Technology Intermediary Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018 are insufficient to tackle content manipulation on digital platforms.


 Guidelines require that intermediate companies take necessary steps for the removal of illegal content.


 During the 2019 general election of India, the election commission gave out instructions on the use of social media for election campaigns. Social media companies also agreed to take action to prevent any violations.


 However, it has been reported that social media platforms like WhatsApp were used for spreading misinformation and propaganda during the election.




  • GANs can be used to synthesize fake medical images to train disease detection algorithms for rare diseases and to minimize patient privacy concerns.


  • Voice-cloning deepfakes can restore people’s voices when they lose them to disease.


  • Deepfake videos can enliven galleries and museums.


  • For the entertainment industry, technology can be used to improve the dubbing on foreign language films and resurrect dead actors.




Existing laws are not enough to protect individuals against deep fakes. Only AI-generated tools can be effective in detection.


 AI-based detection tools with the capability to detect deep fakes must be invented as soon as possible.


 In 2020, the University of Washington and Microsoft arranged a workshop with experts to discuss how to avoid deep fake technology from harmfully affecting the 2020 U.S. presidential election. The workshop concluded with the following suggestions:


 Deep Fakes must be included under hateful manipulated media, propaganda, and disinformation campaigns.


 Journalists should be provided with tools to examine the authenticity of images, video, and audio recordings. For that, they require proper training and resources.


 Policymakers need to understand how deep fakes can threaten polity, society, economy, culture, individuals, and communities.




The Government needs to enforce efforts to ensure technology has enough positive use cases to outweigh the negatives and educate people about deepfakes. Thus, the government should carefully craft laws so as not to erode free speech rights or undermine legitimate uses of the technology while also tackling the malicious use of this technology.


QUESTION : “Growth in the agriculture sector in India has not been commensurate with the growth in the agriculture credit. What are the reasons for this disparity? Suggest the measures to deal with the challenges in agri-credit delivery.”






Agricultural Reforms in India




To enable small farmers to diversify their crops or improve their income they must have access to credit at reasonable rates of interest. This has been an agenda of the Centre, the States and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for decades.




  • Every year, the central government announces an increase in the target of subsidised agriculture credit limit and banks surpass the target.


  • Unfortunately, while the volume of credit has improved over the decades, its quality and impact on agriculture has only deteriorated. Agricultural credit has become less efficient in delivering agricultural growth.




  • The Government of India fixes agriculture credit disbursement targets for the banking sector every year.


  • About 52 percent of the agricultural households in the country were estimated to be indebted.


  • At all India level, about 60 percent of the outstanding loans were taken from institutional sources which included Government (2.1 percent), Co-operative society (14.8 percent) and Banks (42.9 percent).


  • As the RBI had set a cap that out of a bank’s overall adjusted net bank credit, 18% must go to the agriculture sector, and within this, 8% must go to small and marginal farmers and 4.5% for indirect loans, bank advances routinely breach the limit.


  • Government/Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has taken several measures to increase institutional credit flow and bringing more and more farmers including small and marginal farmers within the fold of institutional credit.




  1. As in the Agriculture Census, 2015-16, the total number of small and marginal farmers’ households in the country stood at 12.56 crore.


o These small and marginal holdings make up 86.1% of the total holdings.


  1. In the years 2011-20, agriculture credit increased by 500% but has not reached even 20% of the 12.56 crore small and marginal farmers.


  1. Despite an increase in agri-credit, 95% of tractors and other agri-implements sold in the country are being financed by non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), at 18% rate of interest.

o The banks’ long-term loans rate of interest for purchasing of the same is 11%.


  1. The RBI has questioned agricultural households with the lowest land holding (up to two hectares) getting only about 15% of the subsidised outstanding loan from institutional sources.


  1. The share is 79% for households belonging to the highest size class of land possessed (above two hectares), beneficiaries of subsidised institutional credit at 4% to 7% rate of interest.


  1. The share of institutional loans rises with an increase in land possessed which shows that the bulk of subsidised agri-credit is grabbed by big farmers and agri-business companies.


  1. A loose definition of agri-credit has led to the leakage of loans at subsidised rates to large companies in agri-business.


Maharashtra’s Case Study:


 In 2017, 53% of the agriculture credit that the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) provided to, only agri-business.


 It made indirect loans to dealers and sellers of fertilizers, pesticides, seeds and agricultural implements undertaking work for farmers.




   RBI’s internal working group found various inconsistencies.


 Some States, credit disbursal to the farm sector was higher than their agriculture Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the ratio of crop loans disbursed to input requirement was very unevenly distributed.


 Examples are in Kerala (326%), Andhra Pradesh (254%), Tamil Nadu (245%), Punjab (231%) and Telangana (210%).

 This shows the diversion of credit for non-agriculture purposes.


 Subsidised credit disbursed at a 4%-7% rate of interest is being refinanced to small farmers, and in the open market at a rate of interest of up to 36%.


 Subsidised credit should be the ‘cause for viable agriculture but, unfortunately, the agriculture sector’s performance has not been commensurate with the subsidised credit that it has received’.




 With mobile phone penetration among agricultural households in India (89.1%), the prospects of aggressive effort to improve institutional credit delivery through technology-driven solutions can reduce the extent of the financial exclusion of agricultural households.


 Farmers are able to avail themselves of loans through mobile phone apps.


 These apps use satellite imagery reports which capture the extent of land owned by farmers in States where land records are digitised and they grow the crop to extend the Kisan Credit Card loans digitally.


 Apart from these, reforming the land leasing framework and creating a national-level agency to build consensus among States and the Centre concerning agriculture credit reforms to fill the gap and reach out to the greatest number of small and marginal farmers.




 To empower small and marginal farmers by ‘giving them direct income support on a per hectare basis rather than hugely subsidising credit.


 Streamlining the agri-credit system to facilitate higher crop loans to farmer producer organisations (FPOs) of small farmers against commodity stocks can be a win-win model to spur agriculture growth.




Subsidised credit should be the ‘cause for viable agriculture but, unfortunately, the agriculture sector’s performance has not been commensurate with the subsidised credit that it has received’. Even new farm laws have not addressed the reform in the agriculture credit system.




QUESTION : How shipping sector contributes to the economic prosperity of a country? Suggest the steps need to be taken to develop its shipping sector especially India 






Indian Shipping Sector




The major economies of the world have always realised the potential of shipping as a contributor to economic growth. Historical records prove that India had maritime supremacy in the world. But over the past 70 years, India has lost its global eminence in shipping due to poor legislation and politics.




  • India is the 16th largest maritime country in the world with a coastline of about 7,517 kms.


  • India has 12 major and 205 notified minor and intermediate ports.


  • Around 95% of India’s trading by volume and 70% by value is done through maritime transport.


  • Thus, the Indian ports and shipping industry play a vital role in sustaining growth in the country’s trade and commerce.




  • Visionless Administration in developing new ports.


  • Lack of shipping infrastructure onshore and at sea.


  • Poor connectivity from the ports to hinterlands area.


  • Emphasised only short-term solutions.


  • Unoptimized cargo carrying capacity.


  • Lacking in creation of regional cargo-specific ports and allowed similar infrastructural developments in multiple cargo-handling ports resulting Indian ports compete for the same cargo.


  • Relaxing Cabotage regulation for coastal shipping will benefit only the foreign container-carrying companies.


o Cabotage rights are the rights of a company from one country to trade in another country.


  • Under-utilisation of youth population in shipping industries.




  • Plundering of EXIM trade with enormous hidden charges in the logistic cycle.


  • Drain of foreign currency as transhipment and handling cost.
  • Wide gap between carrying capacity and multi-folded cargo growth.


  • Preference of business community to be agents for foreign ship owners or container liners rather than becoming ship owners or container liners themselves.


  • The small ship-owning community prefers foreign registry for their ships instead of domestic registration.




  • National waterways:


o National Waterways (NWs) Act 2016 to promote inland waterways for trade came into effect which envisages for development of existing & 106 notified waterways.


  • Sagarmala initiative:


o Sagarmala is a government program aiming to port-led industrialisation, development of world-class logistics institutions, and coastal community development.


o Under this progamme, 173 projects are identified under the National Perspective Plan (NPP).


o 6 new mega ports will be developed in the country under NPP.


  • The Major Ports Bill, 2016:


o The Major Ports Bill, 2016 advocates for greater autonomy to port boards.


  • Up to 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is allowed under the automatic route for port and harbour construction and maintenance projects.


  • Fiscal incentives:


o Income tax exemption for infrastructure development including ports.


o A 10-year tax holiday to enterprises engaged in the business of developing, maintaining and operating ports, inland waterways, and inland ports.


o Central Excise duty on capital goods, raw materials and spares used for repair of ocean-going vessels exempted.


  • The Centralized Web-based Port Community System (PCS) has been strengthened as a single window system to facilitate seamless exchange of data and messages between all the stakeholders of the port community.


  • The Shipping Ministry has launched a dispute redressal portal SAROD-Ports (Society for Affordable Redressal of Disputes –

 Ports) to help develop confidence in the private sector.


  • Establishment of Green channel for coastal cargo at major ports.


  • Providing training opportunities to officers from ports through JNPT-APEC Port Training Centre.




  • Need to make major ports cargo specific to make it transhipment hubs.


  • Need to develop infrastructure on shore and at sea on a par with global standards.


  • Need to improve connectivity of ports with the hinterlands and international sea routes.


  • Need to develop the contributing ports to serve the regional transhipment hubs for which improving small ship coastal operations is mandatory.


  • Need to create awareness and change in the mindset of authorities and the maritime business community by encouraging-


o Shipbuilding, repair, and ownership business in India.


o Short sea and river voyages.


o Old sailing vessel owners to become small ship owners.




The Potential of the Shipping sector needs to be harnessed if India needs to be competent and cost-effective in international supply chain logistics. The Sagarmala project provides hope for improving carrying capacity and developing infrastructure and ports but it needs to consolidate the strength of the coastal youth and make them contribute to the nation’s economy.



QUESTION : “The path to the self-reliance of any country goes through robust capabilities in the Research and Development . Comment”






STI Policy,2020




 The recently released Draft Science, Technology, and Innovation policy has many issues and challenges that need to be addressed to Atma-Nirbhara science.




 Recently, the Department of Science and Technology has released the 5th draft of the Science, Technology, and Innovation policy for Public scrutiny.


 It contains the objectives and goals of our new science policy.


 But it has many issues and challenges that are highlighted below, along with the required actions that need to be taken.





  • It proposes technological self-reliance. Which will position India among the top three scientific superpowers. (US, China, India)


  • To achieve this, it proposes developing a “people-centric” science, technology, and innovation “ecosystem”. This will help us to retain our best minds in India.


  • It proposes to double the private sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development. This is similar to the 2013 policy.


  • It has proposed the vision for a decentralized institutional mechanism for a robust STI Governance.


  • It also acknowledges the disconnect between science and society in the chapter ‘Science Communication and Public Engagement’.


  • It aims to impart an inclusive culture in academia. For that, the document promises to tackle discrimination based on gender, caste, religion, geography, language, disability, and other exclusions and inequalities.


  • The policy abides by our constitutional obligation to “develop a scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.




The author has cited the following issues in the draft science policy that has been released for Public Feedback.


  1. Issues in Readability of the draft: The draft report is written with complex language. It makes the task difficult for the Public to provide meaningful feedback. This destroys the very purpose of Public Scrutiny.


  1. No data on the progress of previous policies: for example, the 2013 science policy had the similar objective of doubling the private sector’s contribution in Research and Development. However, what has been achieved till now in this regard has not been stated.


  1. Policy objectives signify neglect of government responsibility: R&D investment in science is stagnant for several years (0.5% GDP). It is despite strong recommendations by scientific bodies to raise it to 2% GDP.


 The proposal to increase private sector investment in R&D shows that the government is shifting the responsibility of financing R&D to different agencies such as the States, private enterprises, and foreign multinational companies.


  1. Mechanism followed to institutionalise robust STI Governance is faulty: it proposes for several new authorities, observatories, and centres to instituionalise decentralization. This may end up increasing bureaucratic control which is already high in science administration.


  1. Lack of planned solutions to achieve the stated objectives: for example, the policy mentions more representation of women and the LGBTQ community in academia. But it is silent on how it will be achieved.


  1. It does not provide solutions to address issues in society that hampers scientific research: for example, our belief systems, values, and attitudes have an impact on the quality of research. This explains why Indians who have chosen to pursue research abroad are able to make path-breaking discoveries.




  • The private sector cannot be expected to pay for basic research because the return on investment in basic research takes too long. Hence, the government should finance research.


  • Decentralization of an administrative structure is essential, but it would be a better option to provide more autonomy to research and academic centres for financial management.


  • We need to control the propagation of pseudoscience in the name of traditional science. It is needed to develop a rational scientific ecosystem for young minds.




With the advent of new disruptive technologies, global competitiveness will be increasingly determined by the quality of science and technology. Hence, the government should priorities raising the standard of Indian research/education centres and R&D spending.




QUESTION : Discuss the status of Indian economy before and after the covid-19 pandemic and increasing income inequality in India giving suggestive measures to ensure income equality.






Status of Indian Economy ahead of Budget 2021-22




Ahead of the Budget, the article discusses the status of Indian economy and suggests the measures to be adopted in the budget to speed up the recovery.




  • The first advance estimates of national income published on January 7 project a contraction of 7.7% for real GDP.


  • The Q2 GDP estimates published by the National Statistical Office had suggested an economic recovery in India.


  • An improvement in the rate of contraction from 23.9% in Q1 to 7.5% in Q2 was seen as the beginning of a sustained recovery.


  • The Ministry of Finance, in its Monthly Economic Review highlighted it as signifying a ‘V’ shaped recovery and as a reflection of the resilience and robustness of the Indian economy.


  • The Monetary Policy Statement of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released on December 4, 2020 also projects positive growth in the remaining quarters of the financial year.




  • Growth rate of the economy had collapsed from 8.2% in Q4 of 2017-18 to a mere 3.1% in Q4 of 2019-20, sliding continuously for eight quarters.


  • The policy stance against this backdrop was premised on the hope that private corporate investment will pick up momentum sooner than later.


  • The RBI did the heavy lifting through five consecutive lowering of repo rate along with liquidity infusion programmes.


  • However, monetary-fiscal linkages are crucial to catalyse the demand.




  • While being cautious of inflation, the RBI has decided to continue the accommodative stance in its latest monetary policy to support growth.


  • The CPI inflation after crossing 7% has cooled off to 4.6% in December.


  • Still, the real interest rates remain very low.


  • The efficacy of the new monetary framework (NMF) — the agreement between the RBI and Government of India in February 2016 to adopt inflation targeting in India — will be reviewed in March 2021, and we flag the need for revising the framework.


  • The RBI is continuing its liquidity infusion programmes including the on-tap Targeted Long Term Repo Operations (TLTRO).


  • This programme announced on October 9, 2020 for five stressed sectors has been extended to 26 stressed sectors notified under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS 2.0).


  • The RBI is also continuing its ‘operation twist’ with Open Market Operations (OMO) of ₹10,000 crore scheduled for December 17, 2020.


  • Nevertheless, the RBI Governor has rightly pointed out that the signs of recovery are far from being broad-based.




  • According to the International Monetary Fund’s Fiscal Monitor Database of Country Fiscal Measures, the fiscal stimulus for India is 1.8% of GDP.


  • The IMF, in its Fiscal Monitor, highlights the need to scale up public investment to ensure successful reopening, boost growth and prepare economies for the future.


  • What we need is stimulus not based on “business cycle” but from the perspective of much needed targeted state interventions in public health, education, agriculture and physical infrastructure, and to redress widening inequalities.


  • As private final consumption expenditure is sluggish, contracting 26.7% and 11% in Q1 and Q2, respectively, a “fiscal dominance” is expected in India for sustained economic recovery.


  • However, India cannot afford fiscal stimulus at the rates of advanced economies, due to a lack of fiscal space.




  • Plummeting private corporate investment in India is a matter of concern.


  • The fear of financial crowding out emanating from high fiscal deficit is misplaced in the context of India.


  • Economic recovery will be determined by the degree of containment of the pandemic and the sustained macroeconomic policies.


  • Any abrupt withdrawal of ongoing economic policy support, both by the monetary and fiscal authorities, will be detrimental to growth in times of the pandemic.


  • The fiscal rules at the national and subnational government levels need to be made flexible.




The fiscal stimulus needs to continue in FY 2021-22 to speed up India’s recovery along with the measures suggested above.




QUESTION : Services provided by the Internet firms have become indispensable part of our life, this leads to the problem of checking their monopoly power while encouraging their positive externalities and consumer surplus. Discuss the challenges posed by the Big Techs and suggest the effective steps to deal with these .”






Monopolistic Tendencies of Internet Giants




The lawmakers are facing the confusion between managing the misuse of monopoly power by major Internet corporations and the economic income generated by them.




In the US and Europe, governments are using antitrust regulations against Internet giants such as Facebook and Google. This is to stop the alleged abuse of the dominant position.


Some are comparing this case to the prior U.S. antitrust inquiries. At the conclusion of this inquiry in 1982, the break-up of the AT&T was dictated by the Department of Justice.




There are three major variations relative to the earlier investigation-


  1. Information non-competition– These big industries are based on information or data. There is no competition between 2 similar companies. While earlier telecom companies faced competition due to limited network capacity.


  1. Jurisdictional issues– Telecom is jurisdictional and regulators have the authority to create guidelines for orderly actions. In contrast, Internet firms operate globally. Thus, it is often difficult for the various country regulators to set international laws of obligation and compliance.


  1. Non-excludable– The nature of goods and services provided by the Internet is non-excludable, unlike telecom. It means it is not exclusive for anyone or anyone can access or enter into it.




  Personalize Advertisement and third-party sharing– Internet businesses are earning through targeted ads by sharing personal information and data to third-party for monetization purposes.


 Monopoly- Tech giants are involved in the wrong means such as takeover or suppression of competition, resulting in an uneven playing ground for other organizations.




  1. Limited network capacity for consumer.
  2. Private clues in laws and deferent country different laws.
  3. Outside the jurisdictional boundaries of regulation.
  4. The orderly behaviour of the licensed telecom operators.
  5. Lack of international rules and UN resolution.
  6. The Internet firms are excludable in service.
  7. Extra free services by big tech farms.
  8. Commercialization of Internet.
  9. Strong network effects of big company.




 Google Maps API [application Program Interface] use by all logistics and transport companies and Facebook API for advertisement.


 Recently, Google announced to provide accurate and timely information about vaccine distribution.




  1. In 2020, India had nearly 700 million internet users across the country. This figure was projected to grow to over 974 million users by 2025, indicating a big market potential in internet services for the south Asian country.


  1. Mobile internet has been such a positive development in the country’s digital progress, that in 2019, over 73 percent of India’s total web traffic coming from mobile phones.


  1. India also saw the biggest jump in video consumption, of 40%, to over 2.9 billion hours during the week starting March 22 as compared to the last week of December 2019, when it was 2.1 billion hours.




  • Need to subsidize the good– Tax subsidies should be granted for tech giant’s orderly behaviour.


  • There should be controlled expansion of products and services. This needs to be done without damaging the interests of customers and smaller rival companies.


  • As pointed out by the Australian government, the tech giants such as Google and Facebook must negotiate a fair payment for services such as news by the media industry.


  • To use the power of public voice. For example- WhatsApp has delayed the rollout of its updated privacy policy after facing a huge backlash of tens of millions of its customers.


  • Why not the Internet firms adhere to core ethical principles in conducting their businesses. and put self regulation principal.


  • Other ways like Anti Trust Legislation, Organised Consumer’s Associations, and Creating Fair Competitions.




The balance between controlling the monopolistic tendencies of internet giants and establishing an environment of positive externalities must be created.


 A secure digital space needs to be established where the human rights of all consumers of digital resources are secured.


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