March 2021 : The Hindu Editorials Summary Compilation for Civil Services




GS-1 Mains

  1. QUESTION : State the advantages and disadvantages of using Coal bed methane as a fuel in India. What is the present scenario of CBM resources in India?
  2. QUESTION : Punishments must reinforce people’s faith in the rule of law, not undermine it.. Analyse in the sense of rape related issues in India.
  3. QUESTION : Frequent occurrences of the extreme weather events serve as the warning for more climate actions, yet there is a lack of policy actions. Critically analyse this statement by giving some appropriate steps to mitigate such incidents.

GS-2 Mains

  1. QUESTION : How a Biden presidency may affect India’s economic and political developments ? Discuss.
  2. QUESTION : What are the issues with the Master of the Roaster power of the Chief Justice of India? Suggest the ways to deal with the issue.”
  3. QUESTION : Discuss the impact of rising US-Iran conflict on India and its international relations and way forward.
  4. QUESTION : Discuss the current state of India Pakistan relations and comment on the way forward for relations between the two nations .
  5. QUESTION : Detail the relevance of YEMEN-SAUDI war for India and what are the consequences emerging out of this crisis ?
  6. QUESTION : Critically evaluate the electoral bonds in the context of introducing transparency in the electoral system.
  7. QUESTION: Is Work From Anywhere (WFA) next big thing as companies and individuals save resources like time and money during Pandemics like Covid-19?
  8. QUESTION : Critically evaluate the factors that India should consider as it seeks to deepen its engagement in the Quad
  9. QUESTION : Discuss India’s concerns against China’s move to build dams on Brahmaputra and measures taken by both countries to address mutual concerns
  10. QUESTION : How is West Asia important to India not just for oil imports, but also for many other factors like that of the presence of Indian Diaspora. Comment.
  11. QUESTION : Give your views on the idea of domicile-based reservation in private jobs for locals . Substantiate your views by analysing both of the i.e. positive and negative aspects.
  12. QUESTION : Analyse why and how the effective operation of the POCSO Act needs the support of all the stake holders ?
  13. QUESTION : The changing geopolitical equations has necessitated the formation of Indo-Pacific Concord by the democracies of the region.” In light of this, elaborate on India’s role in Quad and its challenges ahead
  14. QUESTION : Discuss the significance of the National Digital Health Mission and how is India tackling the health-related concerns in public sector ?
  15. QUESTION : There is a continuing underestimation of Delhi’s capacity to rework its great power relations with the Philippines to meet India’s changing interests and circumstances. Critically examine.
  16. QUESTION : Do privacy issues outweigh the important benefits of Aadhaar Card ? Justify your answer
  17. QUESTION : Examine how can Indian model and  IAEA play an important role in breaking the ice between Iran and the U.S. on JCPOA?”
  18. QUESTION : Critically evaluate the issues with Government of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.Is any possibility that the Bill will avoid the conflict between the LG and the Delhi government?”
  19. QUESTION : Discuss the ways in which the two countries India and Taiwan can deepen their bilateral relations and increase cooperation.
  20. QUESTION : How has the water crisis in India worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What are the measures taken to deal with India’s water crisis?
  21. QUESTION : Discuss how can electoral bonds ensure transparency and fairness in political funding and mention important concerns emerging out of these bonds .
  22. QUESTION : Examine the key concerns in Parliamentary democracy like India .Would you agree that the standards of Indian Parliament as the temple of democracy has declined in the recent years?

GS-3 Mains

  1. QUESTION : Discuss the concerns raised by Social Media intermediaries and give salient features of IT Act , 2021 by suggesting important steps to tackle such issues.
  2. QUESTION : Frequent occurrences of the extreme weather events serve as the warning for more climate actions, yet there is a lack of policy actions. Critically analyse this statement by giving some appropriate steps to mitigate such incidents.
  3. QUESTION : Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology and pharmaceutical industry. How has this technology helped India in its socio-economic development?
  4. QUESTION : Write a brief note on historic reforms initiated in the Space sector by the Government of India . 
  5. QUESTION : Why is having an LPG connection important for woman empowerment? Signify the achievement of the PMUY and challenges ahead.
  6. QUESTION : “It is said that Indian railways has been the lifeline of India’s growth story.” Analyse the challenges, advantages and disadvantages of its privatisation with respect to this statement.
  7. QUESTION : There is a pressing need for revamping the food subsidy system. In light of this, suggest the measures to reduce leakages and inefficiencies in current the system.
  8. QUESTION : It is  time for the military to change into a future force while taking note of the rapidly changing technological landscape because the nature of wars are changing. Comment
  9. QUESTION : Examine the ways in which Artificial Intelligence in helping humanity and concerns with the promotion and the governance of AI by giving effect ways to tackle the menace emerging out of this AI .
  10. QUESTION : Critically evaluate the privatisation of Public sector banks may be necessary but not a sufficient reform to address the issues pertaining to ailing Indian banking sector”.
  11. QUESTION : The automobile sector of the country is in the news as it is experiencing prolonged negative growth and challenges in this respect. Discuss some key initiatives brought by the Indian government.
  12. QUESTION : Why is it  very intriguing to see several amendments in news these days . Comment
  13. QUESTION : Discuss the challenges ahead in achieving the Government of India’s vision of Power for all by 2022 .
  14. QUESTION : To deal with the Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) or bad loans of the banks is the most challenging task in Indian Economy. Critically analyse




GS-1 Mains

QUESTION : State the advantages and disadvantages of using Coal bed methane as a fuel in India. What is the present scenario of CBM resources in India?



  • Coal Bed Methane


  • Policy-makers in India are focussing on migration from a predominantly fossil driven energy economy to the cleaner renewable sources.
  • This is a welcome move, especially with India being a signatory to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
  • Despite the increasing protest against coal, India’s energy needs would still be coal dependent to a large extent.
  • In this context, coal bed methane (CBM) assumes critical importance in this context.


  • CBM refers to methane that is found in coal seams or coal deposits.
    • A coal deposit is a geographical location containing mineable accumulations of coal while a coal seam is entrapment of coal in underlying rock.
  • It is formed during the process of coalification, the transformation of plant material into coal.
  • CBM is also known as virgin coal seam methane or coal seam gas.
  • It is widely considered an “unconventional” source of natural gas.
  • It is rich in methane content.
    • Methane can be used for power generation, running internal combustion engines and as domestic fuel on commercial lines.


  • Methane is 25 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and poses safety challenge in underground coal mines.
  • It needs to be ventilated for securing the workplace and carrying out mining operations. Hence, CBM is let out into atmosphere.
  • Being a major greenhouse gas, its release into the atmosphere is a matter of great concern and needs to be controlled to mitigate global warming.


  • In 1997, the Indian government had formulated a CBM policy that laid down the fiscal regime, contractual terms for the exploration and exploitation of CBM.
  • The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas became the administrative Ministry and the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) was made the nodal agency for development of CBM in the country.
  • Both Petroleum and Coal Ministries were jointly made responsible for developing the resource.
  • The Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Ltd (CMPDIL), a subsidiary of Coal India Ltd (CIL), was made the nodal agency for delineating CBM blocks.
    • During 2000-2008, a total of 33 CBM blocks were awarded to different national and private oil and gas companies.


 Lack of estimation of CBM resources

  • The coal resources of India increased from 246 billion tonnes to 326 billion tonnes during 2004 to 2019. CBM gas exploration should also increase with coal exploration, as CBM policy specifies simultaneous extraction of coal and gas through co-development agreements.
  • However, the CBM resources, estimated in 1997 at 91.80 trillion cubic feet (TCF), has not been yet updated/reviewed.
  • Suggestion: A sound exploration strategy is needed with systematic proving of reserves. Their validation has to be urgently established in sync with international standards and practices such as with United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) benchmark.

  Only focusing on Public Sector

 Two Major reforms in CBM policy between 2015 and 2018 were:

  1. Public sector coal companies were permitted to explore and extract CBM from the leasehold areas held by them without seeking separate lease for gas extraction.
  2. Freedom to fix the price and sale of gas was extended by the government to all operators of CBM.

 However, above two reforms were largely concentred toward public sector.

 Suggestion: Systematic exploration of the resource and international accreditation, as given in above reforms, should also be extended to private sector.  


  • Despite huge investments, only 1.87 mmscmd (million metric standard cubic meter per day) of CBM production could be achieved till March 2019 due to policy loopholes.
  • A demonstration project taken up in 1999 for exploitation CBM/CMM (Coal Mine Methane), could achieve only some of the envisaged objectives after a five-year delay.


  • There is need for enabling mechanism — in terms of policy initiative, administrative transparency, coupled with requisite data/information depository — need to be created.
  • This will require international collaboration. In this context, ‘Economic Empowerment Policy’ of South Africa can be referred.
  • As per this policy, International technology providers may select an Indian partner of their choice to implement CBM projects in India.
  • This will not only ensure introduction of contemporary technology to suit Indian conditions but also mitigate risk of investment.
  • However, Technology transfer should be mandatory as per a clearly-laid-out roadmap in sync with ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ objectives.


  • India can harness CBM as it transitions to clean energy, as it will also provide additional scope for increased employment and state revenues.
  • However, for truly realizing the potential of CBM, revisit the policy to invigorate methane extraction is unavoidable.


QUESTION : Punishments must reinforce people’s faith in the rule of law, not undermine it..  Analyse in the sense of rape related issues in India.



  • Laws related to rape in India


  • The Supreme Court’s latest query to a Maharashtra government employee asking whether he would marry a girl he was accused of raping repeatedly while she was a minor is insensitive to the core.
    • By offering marriage as a solution to a rape victim, the judiciary failed to protect the rights of a girl.
    • In another case, the Bench stayed the arrest of a man accused of rape after falsely promising marriage.
    • In both cases, these crimes attract severe penalties under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.


  • The definition of rape codified in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) includes all forms of sexual assault involving non-consensual intercourse with a woman.
  • Marital rape: As per current law, a wife is presumed to deliver perpetual consent to have sex with her husband after entering into marital relations. Thus it immunizes such acts from prosecution.


  • Rising violence against women: About 70 per cent of women in India are victims of domestic violence.
  • National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Crime in India’ 2019 report said that a woman is raped every 16 minutes, and every four minutes, she experiences cruelty at the hands of her in-laws.
  • An analysis of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 2015-16 data indicates that an estimated 99.1 per cent of sexual violence cases go unreported and that the average Indian woman is 17 times more likely to face sexual violence from her husband than from others.
  • Marital rape: The relationship between two individuals, including marriage, is built around love, respect, trust and consent.
    • Marital rape is the act of forcing your spouse into having sex without proper consent.
  • Violation of Article 21: According to creative interpretation by the Supreme Court, rights enshrined in Article 21 include the rights to health, privacy, dignity, safe living conditions, and safe environment, among others
    • In the State of Karnataka v. Krishnappa, the Supreme Court held that sexual violence apart from being a dehumanizing act is an unlawful intrusion of the right to privacy and sanctity of a female.
  • Citing the judgment of the European Commission of Human Rights in C.R. vs U.K., it endorsed the conclusion that “a rapist remains a rapist regardless of his relationship with the victim”.
  • Marriage is not compensation for rape: In Shimbhu & Anr vs State of Haryana (2013), the Supreme Court said the offer of a rapist to marry the victim cannot be used to reduce the sentence prescribed by law.


  • Sexual harassment is a problem of institutions rather than of individuals alone.
  • The world over, employers deploy sexual harassment as a means to discipline and control women workers.
  • In India and Bangladesh, at least 60 per cent of garment factory workers experience harassment at work.
  • In Guangzhou, China, a survey found that 70 per cent of female factory workers had been sexually harassed at work, and 15 per cent quit their jobs as a result.
  • For factory workers, domestic workers, street vendors, sanitation and waste workers, construction workers, sex workers, labour laws or laws against sexual harassment exist only on paper.


  • Madhav Menon Committee 2007: It favours the complete revamp of the entire criminal procedure system. It suggested setting up separate authority at the national level to deal with crimes threatening national security.
  • The classification of offences must be done in a manner conducive to the management of crimes in the future. The chapters of IPC on offences against public servants, contempt of authority, public tranquility, and trespass can be redefined and narrowed.
  • The construction of new offences and reworking of the existing classification of offences must be guided by the principles of criminal jurisprudence.
  • The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”
  • Make the criminal justice system tougher on an offender committing sexual crimes against women and children.


  • Forced sexual cohabitation is a violation of the fundamental right under article 21.The law should deliver justice, not blatantly tilt the scales against women’s rights.


QUESTION : Frequent occurrences of the extreme weather events serve as the warning for more climate actions, yet there is a lack of policy actions. Critically analyse this statement by giving some appropriate steps to mitigate such incidents.



  • Natural calamities and Disaster Management


  • Two recent events: floods in Uttarakhand and Texas cold snap serves as reminders of the devastation climate change could unleash. What we need is climate action. The article deals with this issue.


  • The melting of the Himalayan glaciers prompted the floods and landslides in Uttarakhand.
  • Increasing disasters: In 2013, glacial flooding caused over 6,000 deaths in Uttarakhand during the monsoon months.
    • The United States has already witnessed many deadly avalanches since the beginning of 2021.
  • Arctic-peninsula warming: The extreme cold weather in Texas, like the double-digit negative temperatures seen in Germany earlier this year, is connected to Arctic-peninsula warming, at a rate almost twice the global average.
    • Usually, there is a collection of winds around the Arctic keeping the cold locked far to the north.
    • But global warming has caused gaps in these protective winds, allowing intensely cold air to move south.
  • Urban heat island: As glacier cover is replaced by water or land, the amount of light reflected decreases, aggravating warming.
    • It is a contributor to the sweltering heat in cities like Delhi and Hyderabad, or the epic floods in Chennai or Kerala.


  • India is the third-largest carbon emitter after China and the United States. There is a need for switching from highly polluting coal and petroleum to cleaner and renewable power sources.
  • Climate vulnerability: While HSBC ranks India at the top among 67 nations in climate vulnerability (2018), German watch ranks India fifth among 181 nations in terms of climate risks (2020).
  • China has announced carbon neutrality by 2060, Japan and South Korea by 2050, but India is yet to announce a target.
  • Diluting environmental norms: The Uttarakhand government and the Centre have been diluting, instead of strengthening, climate safeguards for hydroelectric and road projects.
    • Studies had flagged ice loss across the Himalayas, and the dangers to densely populated catchments.
    • Similarly, Kerala ignored the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report calling for regulation of mining, quarrying and dam construction in ecologically sensitive places, which contributed to the massive floods and landslides in 2018 and 2019.


  • Disaster management: India’s Central and State governments must increase allocations for risk reduction, such as better defences against floods, or agricultural innovations to withstand droughts.
  • Public awareness: Events like Uttarakhand and Texas should be treated as lessons to change people’s minds and for the public to demand urgent action.
  • Climate adaptation: Even if major economies speed up climate mitigation, catastrophes like Uttarakhand will become more frequent due to the accumulated carbon emissions in the atmosphere. So, climate adaptation needs to be a priority.
    • A vital step should be explicitly including policies for climate mitigation in the government budget, along with energy, roads, health and education.
  • Cleaner energy: Specifically, growth targets should include timelines for switching to cleaner energy.
  • Climate funding: The government needs to launch a major campaign to mobilise climate finance.


  • Events like Uttarakhand and Texas should be treated as lessons to change people’s minds and for the public to demand urgent action.






















GS-2 Mains

QUESTION :  How a Biden presidency may affect India’s economic and political developments ? Discuss.



  • Effects on India and USA Relationship


  • India and US relations under the Biden administration may strengthen in certain areas. But there will be some challenges too.


  • India and the US are already engaging with each other on a majority of issues, including COVID-19, climate, health care, immigration and restoring America’s global standing. For example –  Like previous leaderships, the Biden government also want to build closer ties with India. A major focus is on the push for the Quadrilateral and Indo-Pacific policy.
  • Recently, the US praised India’s efforts towards renewable energy and controlling emissions.
  • Also, the US has revealed its plans to enhance health cooperation through a memorandum of understanding (MoU). It is likely to deal with COVID-19 testing, vaccination and critical drug supplies.
  • Biden’s decision to lift restrictions and caps on a number of visas and green cards has relieved India.


 Factoring China:

  • During the Trump presidency, China’s aggression at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in early 2020 brought India and the U.S. closer.
  • America provided “moral and material support” to India through greater military cooperation, intelligence sharing etc.,
  • Even, India gave up its hesitancy over holding the Quad. India participated in two Quad ministerial meetings in the past year.
  • However, at present, this cooperation is likely to change. It is because the Biden administration wants to take on China strategically.
  • The Biden administration sees China as a competitor in areas such as defence, trade and technology. However, it is also pushing for cooperation in certain areas such as climate change.
  • Thus, unlike Trump years, India won’t have greater support from the US on the China issue.


  • Biden wants to secure America’s supply chains. For Instance, he is insisting on localizing the production of pharmaceuticals. It will affect India, as it is a major exporter of pharma.
  • This move will also hit the India-Japan-Australia trilateral Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI) to counter their dependence on Chinese goods. Now with the US localizing, the benefits of this initiative will be lesser.


  • The US has stated that the “shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the U.S.-India relationship”.
  • Thus, the US has been vocal against crackdowns on freedom of speech in India. For example, the Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir, farmers’ protests and the government’s face-off with Twitter.
  • Also, India’s actions to shut down international agencies Amnesty, Greenpeace, Compassion International will be dealt with strictly, by the U.S.
  • Further, the U.S. will want India’s cooperation in ensuring human rights in South Asia. It is most likely given India’s current term in the UN Security Council. However, ensuring cooperation on Human Rights will affect India’s neighbourhood relation. For instance,
  • If India takes a hard stance against the coup in Myanmar it will affect India’s interests in the region.

 o Similarly, Sri Lanka faces a resolution at the Human Rights Council for alleged wartime excesses in 2009 operations against the LTTE.

  1. India’s support for its neighbour would place it closer to China than to the U.S.

 Impact on India’s ties with Russia

  • The Biden administration looks at CAATSA act as a powerful tool. It was made clear by him in countering Turkey’s S-400 purchase and the Nord Stream2 pipeline project from Russia.
  • The purchase of the S-400 missile systems will attract sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.


  • Under Biden, India is hoping that the US will reverse its decision to cancel its GSP status for Indian exports.
  • The mega Indian investment plan announced during the “Howdy Modi” visit has ended abruptly. (Petronet India’s $2.5 billion stake in U.S. company Tellurian’s Driftwood LNG project)


  • The US will not see India as part of the Afghan solution, and it will seek more support from Pakistan to facilitate its exit. This is because India firmly supports the Ashraf Ghani government and refusing to engage the Taliban.


  • Both countries should treat the economic and commercial dimension with as much priority as the strategic dimension. Both governments should embrace the prosperity-creating potential of such an approach.

QUESTION : What are the issues with the Master of the Roaster power of the Chief Justice of India? Suggest the ways to deal with the issue.” 




  • CJI as Master of Roster


  • Implications of the Chief Justice of India being the Master of Roster.


  • The Supreme Court recently closed the proceedings enquiring into a conspiracy to threaten the independence of the judiciary on the basis of sexual harassment allegations against the former CJI.
  • The singular power of the CJI as the Master of the Roster – i.e., the vests exclusive discretion in the Chief Justice to constitute benches and allocate cases.
  • While the CJI’s other powers such as recommending appointments to constitutional courts are shared with other senior judges, the power of Master of the Roster is enjoyed without scrutiny.
  • This power enabled Justice Gogoi to institute suo motu proceedings despite being an accused; label the case as a matter of judicial independence; and preside over it.
  • This power lay at the heart of the controversy surrounding the proceedings the Court has now closed.


  • The Master of the Roster refers to the privilege of the Chief Justice to constitute Benches to hear cases. This privilege was emphasised in November 2017, when a Constitution Bench, led by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, declared that the Chief Justice is the master of the roster and he alone has the prerogative to constitute the Benches of the Court and allocate cases to the Benches so constituted, no Judge can take up the matter on this own, unless allocated by the Chief Justice of India, as he is the master of the roster.



  • From the standpoint of judicial independence, the Master of the Roster power makes the CJI’s office a high stakes one.
  • It makes the CJI the sole point of defence of the Court against executive interference.
  • However, this has a flip side.
  • With the CJI as the sole Master of the Roster, any executive seeking to influence the Supreme Court needs only a pliant CJI.
  • Yet, the Supreme Court has been reluctant to dilute this power.
  • In Asok Pande v. Supreme Court of India (2018), a three-judge bench of the Court held that Master of the Roster is the CJI’s exclusive power.
  • Thereafter, a two-judge bench in Shanti Bhushan v. Supreme Court of India (2018) rejected the plea that the Master of the Roster should be interpreted as the collegium.


  • The collegium system has failed to keep executive interferences at bay from the Supreme Court.
  • This is for two reasons:
  • First, as Justice Gogoi’s case shows, there is an attractive lure of post-retirement jobs.
  • Second, as the privilege of Master of the Roster shows, the CJI’s allocation of cases is an unchecked power.
  • The continuing project of judicial reforms should then address these two issues.


  • A cooling-off period between retirement and a post-retirement appointment has often been suggested as a way to deal with the first problem.
  • For the second, the power of Master of the Roster needs to be diversified beyond the CJI’s exclusive and untrammelled discretion.
  • To make the system more transparent and declare the reasons for transfer of the judges. Merit and seniority should be given an upper hand while making transfers rather than personal interests.
  • Allocation of cases to benches should be free from bias- random computer allocation. Allocation based on subject expertise of the Judges. Recuse themselves from hearing of cases on account of perceived conflict of Interest.
  • Politically sensitive cases should be handled by larger bench. Cooling-off period for the Judges.


  • We need to carry out these reforms make the judiciary less prone to interference from the executive.


QUESTION :  Discuss the impact of rising US-Iran conflict on India and its international relations and way forward.



  • Iran-US Deal


  • The US administration under the President Biden has stated to participate in talks with Iran to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran nuclear deal. The deal has been unravelling since the U.S.’s departure from JCPOA in 2018.
  • Iran has reiterated its commitment to the JCPOA maintaining that the steps it took are reversible as long as the US lifts the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration since 2018.


  • The JCPOA was the result of prolonged negotiations from 2013 and 2015 between Iran and P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, or the EU).
  • The detailed agreement was signed on July 14, 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 countries.
  • The nuclear deal was endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted on July 20, 2015.
  • JCPOA obliged Iran to accept constraints on its nuclear enrichment programme verified by an intrusive inspection regime in return for a partial lifting of economic sanctions.
  • Iran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.

 o Leaders in Tehran repeatedly said that they do not seek to create such a weapon, and want to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

  • The JCPOA established the Joint Commission with all the negotiating parties represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement.
  • Iran signed JCPOA after being hit with devastating economic sanctions by the United Nations, US and the European Union that costed it tens of billions of pounds a year in lost oil export revenues, frozen assets and trade loss.


 U.S. policy reversal:

  • Donald Trump had walked away from the landmark nuclear treaty in May 2018 arguing that it emboldened Iran to act against American interests.
  • The U.S. decision was criticised by all other parties to the JCPOA (including the European allies) because Iran was in compliance with its obligations, as certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
  • However, the European Union, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China attempted to keep the international agreement alive.

 Withdrawal of Iran:

  • Iran remained committed to the pact until May 2019, despite the reimplementation of American sanctions hitting Iran’s oil exports, as it negotiated with international leaders to preserve the agreement.
  • Beginning in May 2019, Iran began to move away from JCPOA’s constraints incrementally:

 o Exceeding ceilings of 300kg on low-enriched uranium and 130 MT on heavy-water

o Raising enrichment levels from 3.67% to 4.5%

o Stepping up research and development on advanced centrifuges

o Resuming enrichment at Fordow

o Violating limits on number of centrifuges in use.

  • Iran announced its full withdrawal from JCPOA following the U.S. targeted strike that killed the country’s Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani in Iraq on 3rd Jan 2020.
  • Iran has ended its commitment to any limits on the level of uranium enrichment, stockpile of nuclear fuel and also nuclear research and development.
  • In November 2020, Iranian Parliament, dominated by the conservatives have passed a bill seeking enrichment to be raised to 20%, acceleration of deploying new cascades and suspending implementation of some of the special inspection provisions with the IAEA within two months if sanctions are not eased.



  • Shock in oil supplies: India imports 84% of its oil requirements. Conflict in the Middle East is bound to create shocks in oil supplies.
  • However, with surplus in oil supply (as forecasted by IAEA), boom in US Shale production, India diversifying its source, reducing dependency on Iranian crude oil can help India to manage continued flow of oil comfortably
  • Can further trigger inflation: In India, retail inflation has already crossed 5%, and increase in fuel prices can further increase inflation by increasing the transportation costs.
  • Can widen Current Account Deficit (CAD): With increasing oil price, it would lead to higher outflow of US dollars; and this higher outflow will lead to depreciation of rupee, thereby, further making import costlier, thus widening CAD.
  • Can lower India’s GDP growth rate: Any crisis in the Middle East region directly impacts India’s exports to this region (as predicted by Federation of Indian Export Organization). In addition to this, due to slowdown in the Middle East Region, remittances received from this region will also be impacted. Moreover, India’s economy being ‘coupled economy’; slowdown in global growth rate due to conflict can potentially lower India’s GDP growth rate as well.
  • Safety of Indian Diaspora: Around 11 million Indian diaspora is present in the Middle East region. Safety of Indian diaspora will be a major concern for India if this conflict escalates further.
  • Connectivity challenges: Iran’s Chabahar port is of huge significance for India because of its strategic location, accessibility to Afghanistan and Central Asia. The shadow of US-Iran conflicts jeopardizes India’s strategic connectivity interests.
  • Can spread radicalization among Shia population: India has the largest number of the world’s Shia population and this conflict can perhaps radicalize some of them.
  • Affect India’s internal security: Instability in Iran, in addition to the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, can derail Afghan peace process, thus, affecting the internal security of India by destabilizing Jammu and Kashmir region (as happened in 1990s.)


 The political aspect of managing relations with the US and Iran can be a formidable challenge.

  • India’s relation with US: If India continues to buy Iranian oil, refusing US sanctions, it is likely to impact the strategic relationship with the US and can create strains in Indo-US defence deals.
  • India’s relation with Iran: If India stops sourcing oil from Iran, it will affect bilateral relations. This can draw Iran closer to China.
  • Moreover, giving in completely to US pressure and cutting off Iranian oil imports affects India’s pursuit of strategic autonomy.



  • Positive steps along multiple tracks are necessary for creating a conducive atmosphere.

 o Clearing Iran’s applications to the International Monetary Fund for COVID-19 relief and for supply of vaccines under the international COVAX facility can be done.

 o Release of European and American nationals currently in custody in Iran would help.

  • Not all U.S. sanctions can be lifted instantly, but reversing Trump’s Executive Order of May 8, 2018 is possible and the sanctions on Iranian political leaders can be removed.
  • The IAEA and the E-3/EU (E-3 refers to France, Germany and Italy) should work on a parallel reversal of steps taken by Iran to ensure full compliance with the JCPOA.

 o The E-3/EU need to fast track deals worth several hundred million euros stuck in the INSTEX pipeline, with a visible nod from the U.S.

 o If not with Iran, the U.S. should share with the E-3/EU a 45–60-day time frame for progressive restoration of sanctions relief.

  • Iran should refrain from any further nuclear misadventure.




  • If the U.S. waits for Iran to return to full compliance before lifting sanctions or Iran waits for the U.S. to restore sanctions relief before returning to full compliance, it can only lead to the collapse of the JCPOA with Iran going nuclear like North Korea.
  • The deal is very significant for peace in the region and beyond and its implementation would be tougher than it is anticipated.


QUESTION : Discuss the current state of India Pakistan relations and comment on the way forward for relations between the two nations .




  • India-Pakistan on Ceasefire


  • This article highlights the importance of the recent ceasefire between India and Pakistan.


  • The February ceasefire has triggered widespread speculation about its durability, significance and implication for bilateral relations in general.
  • This agreement is different from the routine ceasefire assurances that the two sides made till January 2021.
  • What makes the February 2021 ceasefire different is its two distinct features:
  • First, this was a joint statement by the two DGsMO.
  • Second, unlike the previous declarations, the recent agreement mentions a specific date, i.e., the night of February 24-25, to begin the ceasefire.
  • The agreement is also path-breaking from a conflict management point of view.
  • The ceasefire is also significant because this helps India to defuse an ugly two-front situation and a feeling of being boxed in by an inimical Pakistan and an aggressive China.


  • The Karachi agreement of 1949, which ended the first war between newly formed India and Pakistan, was the first ceasefire agreement between the two countries that created the India Pakistan boundary in Kashmir called the Ceasefire Line or CFL.
  • The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was mandated to monitor the ceasefire along the CFL.
  • Following the India-Pakistan war of 1971, the Suchetgarh Agreement of 1972 delineated the ‘line of control’ in Jammu and Kashmir thereby renaming the CFL as the LoC.
  • The 2003 agreement between the DGsMO, communicated through a telephone call between them, was a reiteration of the December 1971 war termination ceasefire.


  • A ceasefire requires a clearly articulated and mutually-agreed-upon set of rules and norms for effective observance along with an intent to observe them.
  • The February ceasefire is an expression of such an intent, but without the rules and norms to enforce it.
  • The Simla Agreement or the Suchetgarh Agreement do not have those rules either.
  • The Karachi Agreement, on the other hand, has clearly laid down provisions on how to manage the CFL which, of course, was overtaken by the LoC.
  • Therefore, armed forces deployed on either side of the LoC in Kashmir often have to resort to Karachi Agreement to observe the ceasefire.
  • Now that the two DGsMO have declared a joint ceasefire, the next logical step is to arrive at a set of rules to govern that ceasefire.
  • An unwritten ceasefire, experiences from conflict zones around the world show, tend to break down easily and trigger tensions in other domains.



  • What is also significant to note about the ceasefire agreement between the two DGsMO is that this was preceded by weeks.
  • Interestingly, the 2003 ceasefire was also preceded by discreet parleys between the heads of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of India.
  • The 2003 CFA led to a sustained period of back channel talks on Kashmir which, by mid 2007, had almost finalised a deal to resolve the Kashmir conflict.
  • Ane key reason why the CFA held at least till 2008 was because there were parallel talks, along with holding fire on the LoC, on other outstanding bilateral issues, principally Kashmir.


  • So this moment can be a constructive one if everyone understands the one lesson in world politics: There are diminishing returns to belligerence.
  • With Pakistan, India should seize the moment and build on the de-escalation.
  • The pandemic offers an opportunity for greater economic cooperation.
  • Political establishments of both countries will have to think of what is a win-win political narrative they can legitimately offer their citizens.


  • While whether the 2021 CFA would prompt talks in other areas is unclear as of now, the possibility of piecemeal agreements to create durable stability bilaterally unless followed by progress in other domains remains to be seen.



QUESTION : Detail the relevance of YEMEN-SAUDI war for India and what are the consequences emerging out of this crisis ?



  • Yemen Crisis , US and India


  • Joe Biden declared that the US will no longer back the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. Yemen Civil war resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and a humanitarian crisis. A reconciliation is urgently required.


  • The civil war between the Yemeni government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels began in 2014. The Houthi rebels gradually took over the capital Sana’a.
  • In 2015, the war intensified. Saudi Arabia and 8 other Arab nations, supported by the US, the UK, and France, launched airstrikes against the Houthis. This attack was aimed to restore the Hadi government in Yemen.
  • The Saudi-led coalition imposed a blockade on Yemen, in the hope of weakening the Houthis.
  • Despite the blockade, the Houthis continued to amass weapons, including technologically sophisticated drones. They used these weapons to strike Saudi targets across the border.
  • The Saudi-led coalition failed to eject the Houthis as the rebel group still controls the city.



  • The war has produced a humanitarian crisis. At least 8.4 million people are at risk of starvation and 22.2 million people (75% of the population) are in need of humanitarian assistance.
  • The conflict has killed more than 100,000 Yemenis and displaced 8 million.
  • Towns and cities have been destroyed. Poverty has spread and diseases like cholera have proven difficult to combat because of poor medical infrastructure.
  • According to the UN, 50,000 Yemenis are starving to death and 16 million will go hungry this year.


  • Joe Biden has announced an end to US support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen.
  • The Biden administration had put a temporary halt on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Moreover, US-appointed a Special Envoy for Yemen.
  • Other than that, the US also Removed the Shia Houthi rebels from the terrorist list.
  • The US is planning to increase the number of refugees accepted by the US from 15000 to 125000 for the fiscal year.



  • The Bab-el-Mandeb is a strait located between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and Djibouti and Eritrea in the Horn of Africa.
  • It connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden
  • It is very significant as much of the world’s oil shipments pass through it.
  • It is strategically very important as without this strait there would be no efficacy of suez canal and time for transit between Europe and Asia would be considerably increased


  • For India, it is a challenge which cannot be washed away taking into consideration the oil security and 8 million expats living in the region with more than USD 80 billion of incoming remittance annually.
  • A considerable amount of Indian Diaspora works in the Gulf region whose security and livelihood depends on this conflict and a rise in violence might deprive them of jobs and induce them to migrate back to India.
  • The conflict is also significant for India who persistently tries to balance the 3 poles of the Middle east i.e Saudi, Iran and Israel in its foreign policy.

 Indian Initiatives:

  • Operation Rahat: India launched a massive air and sea operation to evacuate over 4000 Indian nationals from Yemen in April 2015.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: India has provided food and medical aid to Yemen in the past and thousands of Yemeni nationals have availed of medical treatment in India over the past few years.
  • India also continues to facilitate education of a large number of Yemeni nationals in various Indian institutions



  • The international community should focus on tackling the humanitarian situation in Yemen.
  • The Biden administration should use its leverage to pressure Saudi to lift the blockade on Yemen.
  • The Houthis and the Saudis must agree to a ceasefire. After that, the US and its regional allies can call a multilateral conference involving all stakeholders to consider Yemen’s future.



QUESTION : Critically evaluate the electoral bonds in the context of introducing transparency in the electoral system.



  • Electoral Bond and Transparency


  • It is a matter of grave concern that the petition challenging the electoral bonds scheme continues to languish in the Supreme Court. The scheme deals with the vexed issue of election funding.
  • The delay in adjudicating on the case filed in September 2017 is inexplicable as the court observed that the matter gives rise to “weighty issues which have a tremendous bearing on the sanctity of the electoral process in the country.”


  • The political system in India has traditionally been hostile to the idea of transparency in electoral financing.
  • Political parties have zealously opposed any examination of the linkages between their governments’ policies and decisions, and the interests of their major donors.
  • When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government announced the launch of a new instrument of political party funding to ostensibly ensure greater transparency and eliminate black money from the system, it was hoped that the issue of anonymous financing would be squarely dealt with.
  • However, using the money bill route to bypass the Rajya Sabha, the government introduced regressive amendments to laws, including the Income Tax Act of 1961, the Companies Act of 2013, and the Representation of the People Act of 1951, to introduce electoral bonds which allow donors to anonymously donate unlimited amounts of funds to political parties.



  • An electoral bond, issued in the nature of a promissory note, can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India.
  • Political parties can receive these bonds without the public, the Election Commission or even the Income Tax Department knowing the identity of the donors.
  • It has legitimised opacity and opened the floodgates for anonymous donations to parties, dealing a severe blow to voters’ right to know.
  • People’s ability to track donations by big businesses and expose quid pro quo has been undermined.
  • Expressing its opposition to electoral bonds in the Supreme Court, the Election Commission (EC) has contended that they will have an adverse impact on transparency in political party financing and would make it impossible for the constitutional body to ascertain whether donations received were in compliance with the statutory framework governing political parties.
  • Electoral bonds allow anonymous financing by foreign entities opening Indian elections to the influence of foreign interests.



  • One of the stated objectives of introducing electoral bonds was to address the problem of black money and large cash donations.
  • Since bonds can only be purchased via cheques, demand drafts, direct debit or electronic clearing, they will stem the flow of black money.
  • The problem with this assertion, is that it completely overlooks the crux of the problem: the provision of the Income Tax Act under which political parties were exempted from disclosing sources of donations of less than ₹20,000.
  • Most parties claimed that a majority of their income was received in denominations smaller than ₹20,000 thus doing away with the requirement to disclose the source of donation.

 o Most of the anonymous donations received by parties were large cash contributions, which were ‘broken down’ and shown as multiple small donations.

  • The government should have done away with the provision of non-disclosure of sources.
  • Instead, amendments to the Income Tax Act in 2017 only lowered the stipulated ceiling of anonymous contributions from ₹20,000 to ₹2,000.
  • Creative accountants can easily neutralise the impact of a lowered ceiling by multiplying the number of unattributed cash donations by a factor of 10, enabling donors to continue to anonymously pump cash into the system.
  • In fact, electoral bonds are likely to abet money laundering since the amendments to the Companies Act in 2017 removed the cap of 7.5% on political contributions by a company as a percentage of its average net profits of the preceding three years.
  • This allows for black money to be easily routed through shell companies to purchase electoral bonds as said by the EC.

 o The Reserve Bank of India too flagged serious concerns about the electoral bonds.



  • The rationale given by the government for providing anonymity to donors of electoral bonds is to allow donors to use legitimate funds to support political parties by protecting them against the wrath of rival parties.
  • But as bonds are issued only through the State Bank of India, it would not be difficult for the party in power to access information about the identity of purchasers and details of bonds sold to them, and match those to deposits in political party accounts.
  • It is no surprise, therefore, that the lion’s share of donations through bonds have been cornered by the BJP – it bagged 95% of bonds issued in the first tranche in March 2018 and approximately 60% of bonds sold till March 2019.
  • Bonds worth nearly ₹6,500 crore have been sold so far. They have consolidated the role of big money in electoral politics.
  • Information obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act shows that bonds with the highest denomination value of ₹1 crore are the most preferred by donors and constitute 92% of the total value of bonds sold till October 2020.


  • If bonds are to be retained as an instrument for contributing to political parties, donations must be made transparent and parties should be obligated to file reports with the Election Commission and other oversight bodies disclosing the names of donors and amounts received.
  • This information must also be placed in the public domain.
  • To ensure public trust in the electoral process, it is critical that the Supreme Court immediately adjudicates on the matter.
  • Like we expect the vegetable vendor and the auto driver to accept payments digitally the same should be followed by political parties. The corruption in political funding is against the moral and ethical principles
  • In order to make our whole election process more transparent, the next step could be that every rupee donated to political parties should be accounted through digital transactions. State funding of elections have been discussed several times and several committees have recommended and the most talked about committee is the Indrajit Gupta Committee of 1999.
  • There should be state funding of political parties based on their performance not state funding of elections.



  • Electoral bonds militate against every known principle of transparency and lend themselves to use by special interest groups, corporate lobbyists and foreign entities to acquire a stranglehold on the electoral process and governance at the expense of citizens.
  • These steps mentioned above are necessary to safeguard democracy and ensure that elections do not become a mere formality.



QUESTION: Is Work From Anywhere (WFA) next big thing as companies and individuals save resources like time and money during Pandemics like Covid-19?



  • Work From Anywhere Policy


  • The new policy of Work from anywhere gained momentum during the pandemic. It has multiple benefits for all stakeholders.


  • Lack of clarity and flexibility in the US H-1B visa Programme remains major concerns for high-skilled Indian migrants, seeking to relocate to the U.S.
  • This uncertainty was high during the Trump administration, with visa denial rates rising significantly.
  • With the new administration in the US, reforms of the immigration system became a priority.
  • However, bringing reforms will take more time owing to the lack of consensus among the political forces in the U.S.
  • In this scenario, the new Work from Anywhere policy is gaining acceptance among corporates. It has the potential to mitigate the dependence on H-1B visas.



  • First, for the high skilled population, he proposed the removal of country-specific quotas for employment-based visas. A green card for STEM Ph.D. students pursuing from a U.S. institution is also in the proposal.
  • Second, the current H-4 visa holders (spouses and children of H-1B visa holders) will be made eligible for work permits.
  • However, given the partisan divisions in the U.S. legislature, it is unlikely that the proposal in its current form will become a law.
  • But for those skilled workers hoping to access U.S.-based opportunities have an alternative option of Work from Anywhere.



  • Benefits for the workers: It grants individuals the choice to live in their preferred locations without the need of commuting to an office. Whereas the traditional work-from-home (WFH) model allows workers WFH a few days every week.

 o WFA allows workers to relocate to their hometown, be closer to family and friends, manage dual career situations.

 o Workers can also benefit by moving to (or continuing to live in) a lower cost-of-living location.

  • Benefits for the organisation: WFA allows new companies to access a global pool of talent with relatively low investment in office space.

 o It can also help to reduce real estate costs of the organization as the workforce shifts to remote work.

 o Also, it helps to increase the efficiency of workers. For example, According to research, worker productivity under a work-from-anywhere policy increased  4.4% compared to the traditional work-from-home environments.

  • Benefits for the society. Society, too, can benefit, as daily work commutes are a major source of carbon emissions.

 o According to research shifting to remote work cut emissions by their employees by more than 44,000 tons.


  • Recently, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) announced that its 400,000-plus employees will be 75% remote by 2025.
  • TCS has rolled out a ‘25-25 remote-work model’:

o 25% of the workforce will be in a physical office at any one time

 o Also, workers will  be expected to work from an office for  only 25% of their working hours,

  • The Harvard Business School explored the changes being implemented by TCS and identified the following advantages.

 o One, this model enables TCS clients to access the best talent within TCS, independent of the location of talent.

 o Two, the model also offers TCS employees an opportunity to simultaneously work on multiple projects around the globe. It doesn’t require relocation to the client site or worrying about immigration.



  • The TCS example shows how work-from-anywhere can help Indian companies and workers mitigate the challenges of immigration.


QUESTION : Critically evaluate the factors that India should consider as it seeks to deepen its engagement in the Quad



  • India and Quad


  • As India deepens its engagement with the Quad, it must consider several aspects related to such engagement.


  • China’s action: India’s engagement with the Quad goes back to China’s expanding footprint in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region over the last few years. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative was viewed as encroachments into India’s strategic space.
  • India’s reaction: India responded with an upgradation of its naval capabilities and enhancement of ties with the Indian Ocean Region littoral states and other major powers in the region.
  • Shared Concern with USA: Largely as a result of their shared concerns relating to the rise of China, India has been deepening its security ties with the U.S. . focused on interoperability of defence equipment and training based on defence purchases, frequent land and sea exercises.



  • Initial Reluctance: India’s involvement with the Quad was initially cautious due to its reluctance to join an overt anti-China coalition.
  • Expanded the scope: Since November 2017, the joint naval exercises of Quad members are being supplemented by extensive consultations on security issues.
  • Elevation to Ministerial level: In September 2019, India agreed to elevate the Quad platform to ministerial level.
  • Possibility of Summit level: It is reported Quad would soon meet at summit level in 2021 thus signalling the importance attached to this grouping by the US administration.



  • Pulled into ambit of Indo-Pacific: The U.S.’s focus on the west Pacific due to aggressive Chinese maritime activity gradually pulled India into the ambit of the Indo-Pacific that views the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean as an integrated geopolitical space.
  • India’s Security concerns ignored: By affiliating with the U.S.-led maritime coalition, India ignored the principal areas of its security concerns in northern borders. Recently with border clashes, China has given India a rude reminder that India’s security concerns lie in its northern borders, not the west Pacific.
  • Divergence with US: New Delhi and Washington see eye to eye on maritime strategy, but not on what to do on the Asian mainland.
  • Structural Issues due to QUAD’s pivot to US: The Quad has a core structural problem as well in that it pivots around the U.S. The U.S. is a super-power with global interests, but it is also self-centred in defining and pursuing its interests, even as its policies experience major shifts due to government change or domestic lobbies
  • Doesn’t have strategic vision: Despite rhetoric relating to the promotion of a ‘rules-based’ world order (the rules being most frequently violated by the U.S. itself), the Quad neither shares a strategic vision nor is it animated by a shared agenda.



  • India needs to dilute its focus on the Indo-Pacific and the Quad. It should prioritise spending of resources on issues concerning national security. (The border, the neighbours and the Indian Ocean.)
  • The rebuilding of ties with China will have to be a priority concern. Recent disengagement at LAC (Pangong Tso) is a step in the right direction.
  • The need to assure our commitment to democratic pluralism by building back our national ethos. Foreign policy should be made in line with domestic affairs.
  • We need to build a cohesive strategic vision to aid India’s interest in the long term.


QUESTION : What is the overall prevalence of gestational diabetes in India, and what socioeconomic, demographic, clinical, and geographic factors are associated with it?



  • Gestational Diabetes In India


  • India registers a high number of gestational diabetes cases, which are bound to increase in the future. This coupled with low awareness and poor testing potential calls for immediate action.


  • Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes high blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from the blood into your cells to be stored or used for energy.
  • If a person is having diabetes, the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t effectively use the insulin it makes.
  • India has 7 crore cases of diabetes and almost 3.5 crore prediabetes cases.
  • Further, Type 2 diabetes is most common, it is preventable with some lifestyle changes. However, very less focus is placed on Gestational diabetes.


  • It is a transitory form of diabetes occurring in pregnant women.
  • South Asian women are at higher risk of development as shown by data from the International Diabetes Federation. It estimates that 25% of south Asian women would develop it.
  • In India, it is assumed to be more prevalent in urban areas (30%) than rural areas (10%). Further, assuming a 10% rate of development, the figure for gestational diabetes comes around 27-30 lakh women every year.


  • It enhances complications during pregnancy. This includes preeclampsia (fits during pregnancy), prolonged and obstructed labor, need for assisted delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, etc.
  • The above complications can cause a spike in maternal and neonatal mortality rates.
  • If not death, then the probability of developing other problems is quite high.

 o Type 2 diabetes gets developed in almost 50% of women.

 o Children also are at high risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.   


  • There is a lack of awareness regarding gestational diabetes due to which, it gets noticed after the complication has occurred.
  • Our health system also lacks the capacity for providing robust and timely testing.
  • India has an estimated 62 million people with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM); this number is expected to go up to 79.4 million by 2025.
  • In parallel with the increase in diabetes prevalence, there seems to be an increasing prevalence of gestational DM (GDM), that is, diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy.
  • India has a very high prevalence of GDM by global standards. Conversion rates to Type 2 diabetes are also very high.
  • Healthcare resources are insufficient. There is inadequate awareness among public. This results in a large population being hesitant to access healthcare system for diseases with not so “obvious” implications like GDM.



  • There should be a prompt and adequate implementation of national guidelines on the diagnosis and management of gestational diabetes.
  • The single test procedure suggested by Dr. V. Seshiah (a pioneer in the field of diabetes and pregnancy) and subsequently approved by the World Health Organisation should be adopted for better diagnosis.
  • In order to spread awareness, the 10th march can be celebrated as National Gestational Diabetes Awareness Day.
    • The Diabetes Study Group of India recommended this step as it would be an act to recognize Dr. V. Seshiah’s contribution towards the field of diabetes and pregnancy for more than 40 years.
  • Interventions during and immediately after pregnancy provide important opportunities to improve the lives of mothers and children today and reducing diabetes in future generations.


  • Thus, it would be advised that a healthy lifestyle across the geographic regions with regard to any age groups with proper diet (rich in fibres) and an exercise (yoga or any other physical activities), lower the burden of disease and enhance the Indian social and economic conditions.


QUESTION : What do you mean by climate justice and examine and how the Paris Agreement on climate change seeks to deliver it.



  • Climate Change and India


  • New Delhi has to control its green commitment to guarantee carbon and policy space for its developmental goals. It will ensure Climate Justice.


  • Joe Biden in the U.S. Presidential elections promised to lead a major diplomatic push to increase global climate ambition.
  • The U.S. is moving back to Obama’s achievement of the Paris Accord and to the Bush days. It is evident by the presidential call to resume the Major Economies Forum (MEF).
  • The MEF was started in March 2009. It aimed to push for a way forward on climate change without attention to the differentiated responsibilities and historical responsibilities.


  • All the countries are being told to commit to net-zero (Green House Gas emissions) by 2050. China committed to reaching the target by 2060, but they have been strictly told to be there a decade earlier.
  • The UN Secretary-General asked the countries to build a coalition for a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Countries representing around 65% of global CO2 emissions have already agreed to this. The UN Secretary-General wants this figure to reach 90% within 2021.
  • The implementation of these plans will be subject to international reviews and verification. India can easily be the focus of this dialogue because of its huge population and one of the world’s largest economies.
  • The EU might impose carbon border taxes on those who do not take on high carbon cut-down targets. This could add to the challenges of this proposed global goal.
  • The U.S. Administration appears uncertain on these border taxes, but this possibility cannot be ruled out. In such a situation, World Trade Organization rules that currently exclude the use of charges on environmental grounds will surely get modified.


 The lack of money is a constant issue in the climate discourse. Raghuram Rajan has recently put forward a proposal for India to consider. It asks countries to pay into a global fund amounts based on their carbon emissions over and above the global per-capita average of five tons.

 This step disincentive coal and incentivises renewables. Countries above the global average would pay, while those below would receive the taxes. This method may be unacceptable to the developed countries.

 This proposal may appear attractive to India as today it has a per capita CO2 emission of only 2 tons. India is a global record-setter in pushing renewables. However, it is unlikely that real politics would allow a major economy to benefit from such fund flows.

 The long-term consequences of this proposal require examination in detail. Alternatives such as emission trading should also be considered.

 However, The proposal focuses on current and future emissions. Thus, it penalizes developing countries while giving developed countries a certain free pass. Because more than 75% of the carbon space available to keep global temperature rise to 1.5° C already been utilized by the developed world and China.


 #FridaysForFuture movement inspired by 16-year-old Swedish student and climate activist Greta Thunberg saw participation from youth and school children of more than 123 countries around the world. The basic demand being that governments should reduce carbon emissions before it’s too late. This has renewed the debate of development v/s environmental protection and the need for climate justice.

 Climate justice is a term used for framing global warming as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature.



  • Development vs. environment degradation: Measures taken for development largely have negative impact on the environment. Climate change negatively impacts rainfall patterns, increases food security risks in vulnerable countries, cities sinking due to rising sea levels, etc. IPCC reports have given strict warning about the devastating impacts of rising global temperature beyond 1.5 degree Celsius.
  • Prioritising investment: Developing countries particularly lack funds for investment for implementing climate change actions. Funds generated through Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) are inadequate to handle the current crisis. Climate justice provides for the possibilities to prioritise investment around the vulnerabilities of the communities worst affected by climate change.
  • Lobbying by businesses and industrial groups: Oil based companies and big industrialists in fossil fuel based businesses pressurize governments not to take decisions for quick transition to renewable based solutions. Climate justice shifts the debate to the perspective of the suffering communities in the policy framing.
  • Resistance shown by developed countries: With USA coming out of Paris deal, and Canadian parliament refusing increased investment in climate change actions, shows the neglect of developed nations and their refusal to accept their historical responsibilities. Climate justice focuses on inequitable nature of impact of climate change and brings into the picture accountability for actions done by some countries over the other countries.



  • Focused Mission: India should create an Environment and Health De-risking Mission 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.
  • Decentralization: Focus on democratising local climate-related and weather-related data along with integrating risk projections in national, sub-national and district disaster and climate plans.
  • Focus on Indigenous Communities: Restoration, revival, and recreation of traditional climate-resilient practices, with a special focus on indigenous communities, often on the front lines of ecosystem conservation.
  • Creation of Comprehensive Climate Risk Atlas: This Atlas should identify, assess and project chronic and acute risks at a granular level to better prepare against extreme climate events. The Atlas would also help in assessing the resilience and adaptation capabilities of communities & business and act as risk-informed decision-making toolkit for policymakers. It would help in climate-proofing critical infrastructure.
  • Financing Tools: To finance climate action at scale, risk financing instruments and risk retention and identification tools should be supplemented by contingency and adaptation funds such as the Green Climate Fund. 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.
  • International Collaboration: As the permanent chair of the recently formed Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, India should play a pivotal role in attracting private investments into climate-proofing of infrastructure. It should also promote adaptation-based infrastructure investment decision making in these countries.
  • Climate negotiations are also about global governance and will hereafter be pursued with a drive. It requires India to carefully regulate its approach including on the economic and political fronts.
  • Climate justice is very important for India. It needs to influence its green and pro-nature commitment to ensure carbon and policy space for its developmental and global aspirations. India’s diplomatic and negotiating efforts must be quickly geared to that end.



  • Therefore, climate justice demands to look beyond the environmental and ecological consequences of climate change and take strong political action to secure the future generations.
  • It humanises the effect of climate change and insists on a shift from a discourse on greenhouse gases and melting ice caps into a civil rights movement with the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts at its heart.
  • There is an urgent need for civil society groups to put pressure on governments to take the path of sustainable development and make climate change actions a top priority



QUESTION : Discuss India’s concerns against China’s move to build dams on Brahmaputra and measures taken by both countries to address mutual concerns



  • India- China on Brahmaputra development project


  • China is planning to harness the lower reaches of the Brahmaputra. Many of these planned water-related projects, under China’s new five-year plan (2021-2025), will be built close to India’s border.
  • China’s overdrive on transboundary rivers has strategic content, underpinned not only by its low-carbon energy economic growth, but also fashioned by the desire to use international rivers as instruments of politico-diplomatic leverage.



  • As an upstream country, China shares more than 50 major international watercourses with 14 downstream neighbours.
  • The volume of water flowing out of China to other countries is about 730 bcm (billion cubic meters), which is 30 times the volume flowing into China.
  • This, undoubtedly, is a strategic asset.
  • The Chinese leadership, while harnessing the rivers, has used them for coercion and compliance which can be termed as “a mix of force and consent”.
  • It is not uncommon to hear China as a “hydro-hegemon”.



  • China has a legacy of controlling rivers and a history of hydraulic engineering.
  • When Mao Tse-tung established the People’s Republic of China in 1949, he issued directives to harness rivers and viewed Tibet as a water-tower.
  • Mao wanted to transform China into a modern industrialised socialist State and he would often say, “Nature is an enemy that had to be beaten”.
  • He realised that rivers symbolised political supremacy.
  • Today, China has a powerful hydraulic bureaucracy, with large investments in the hydropower sector, mega dams, and water diversion projects.



  • Despite India being a lower riparian State on the Brahmaputra, it is not completely in a disadvantageous situation.
  • One can be easily mistaken into believing that China controls a large share of the water since 56% of the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra flows in Chinese territory,
  • However, the Brahmaputra’s volumetric is not proportional to its length inside China.
  • The Yarlung Tsangpo is a trans-Himalayan river where the annual precipitation averages about 300 mm. Once it crosses the Himalayan crestline, the annual rainfall is about 2,000-2,100 mm.
  • This means that when the Yarlung Tsangpo reaches India, it swells because of the monsoon rain and also the contribution of the tributaries such as the Lohit, Dibang and Siang/Dihang.
  • Data suggest that both during the lean and peak flow, the total annual outflow of the Yarlung Tsangpo from China is less than that from the Brahmaputra.
  • This means that India has ample water on its side to harness.


  • The Brahmaputra is called Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet, Siang/Dihang River in Arunachal Pradesh and Luit, Dilao in Assam.
  • It is a trans-boundary river which flows through Tibet, India and Bangladesh.
  • It is the 9th largest river in the world by discharge, and the 15th longest.
  • It has origin in the Manasarovar Lake region, near the Mount Kailash, located on the northern side of the Himalayas in Tibet.
  • It flows along southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas in great gorges (including the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon) and into Arunachal Pradesh (India).
  • It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as Brahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as the Jamuna (not to be mistaken with Yamuna of India).
  • In the vast Ganges Delta, it merges with the Padma, the popular name of the river Ganges in Bangladesh, and finally, after merging with Padma, it becomes the Meghna and from here, it flows as Meghna river before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
  • The river is prone to catastrophic flooding when the Himalayan snow melts.
  • It is a braided river and is highly susceptible to channel migration and avulsion.
  • Left tributaries – Lhasa River, Nyang River, Parlung Zangbo, Lohit River, Dhansiri River, Kolong River
  • Right Tributaries – Kameng River, Manas River, Beki River, Raidak River, Jaldhaka River, Teesta River, Subansiri River



  • India needs to have more water development footprints in the Northeast, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • To enhance economic growth in the region, it needs to build water storages and, thereby, exert prior downstream riparian appropriation rights.
  • India’s water storage capacity is less than 250 bcm – pitiable as compared to China. It must also not be forgotten that China’s claim to the Arunachal Pradesh territory (South Tibet) is also a claim to the vast amount of water flowing in the area.
  • However, hydro projects in Arunachal Pradesh have to be framed in a consultative manner with wider stakeholder and inter-provincial participation in the Northeast, particularly with Assam, which is downstream to Arunachal Pradesh to avoid inter-state water conflicts.
  • Equally significant are the potential waterways and navigation in the Northeast.
  • With the government’s investment in inland waterways, the Brahmaputra National Waterway 2 will act as a critical economic corridor with direct access to the Chittagong Port in Bangladesh and the Haldia Port in West Bengal and boost trade with Southeast Asian countries.



  • China’s upstream position is a reality, but its dominance on the Brahmaputra is overstated. It’s time to de-emphasise China’s hydro-hegemony. Pursuing a more meaningful water dialogue on hydrological data-sharing is essential, but India would require building a lower riparian coalition with Bhutan and Bangladesh on the Brahmaputra.


QUESTION : How is West Asia  important to India not just for oil imports, but also for many other factors like that of the presence of Indian Diaspora. Comment.



  • India And Asian Economies


  • India and South Korea participated in the sixth edition of the Desert Flag exercise. It is an indication of Increasing Asian security interest in West Asia.


  • The Indian Air Force for the first time is about to participate in the sixth edition of Desert Flag. It is a multi-nation exercise hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Other than India and the UAE, Bahrain, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United States are also participating.
  • Though the joint military exercise by Western countries and Arab countries is common, the involvement of India and South Korea showcases the growing interests of Asian economies.


  • Both India and South Korea faced negative impacts of Iran sanctions. The West forced economic sanctions on Iran due to the issue of nuclear weapons.
  • In 2013, an Indian oil tanker named MT Desh Shanti confiscated near the Strait of Hormuz by Iranian forces. It was seen as a pressure tactic by Tehran to make India pay for Oil Imports. India was unable to pay for oil imports owing to US sanctions.
  • Similarly, in January 2021, Iran confiscated a South Korean tanker, MT Hankuk Chemi, also from near the Strait of Hormuz. At that time, Tehran and Seoul were also in the conflict over billions of dollars worth of oil payments. It was frozen due to sanctions against Iran over its nuclear Programme.



 The US security support is eroding in the West Asian region. For example, January 2021 marked the first time since 1985 that the U.S. did not import oil from Riyadh.

 Hence, Regional states will become more responsible for their own security, and Asian economies such as India are strong stakeholders.



  • West Asia is home to some of the most complex security conundrums of modern times.
  • The sixth edition of Desert Flag takes place in the backdrop of tensions between Iran and the U.S. at their peak.
  • The signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
  • A more cordial and joint Arab-Israel dynamic predominantly designed to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region, as seen through the wars in Syria and Yemen.



  • The Iran nuclear deal (formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) was signed between Iran and the P5 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council) plus Germany and the European Union.
  • Under the deal, Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for relief from the US and other economic sanctions.
  • The P5+1 refers to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members (the P5); namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany.
  • The United States unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA objecting to the Iran’s ballistic missile program or its involvement in regional conflicts, sunset clauses of the deal which critics say provide Iran with a patient pathway to acquiring nuclear weapons.


  • The involvement of contingents from India and South Korea showcases the growing interests of Asian economies.
  • Saudi Arabia was India’s top supplier of oil followed by Iraq.
  • As net importers of crude oil, these Asian economies rely heavily on the West Asian states for their supplies.
  • They have increased stakes in the safety and security of the region from the perspective of political and economic stability.
  • India has stakes in the protection of vital sea lanes in areas such as the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea stretching out into the Arabian Sea and the wider Indian Ocean.
  • India’s security footprint in West Asia has seen a steady increase, and energy security and safe passage of sea routes are one of the main driving factors.
  • The Indian Navy has made multiple port calls from the UAE and Kuwait to Iran and Qatar in recent years.
  • In 2020, India had also planned its first bilateral naval exercise with Saudi Arabia.


  • This trend of an increasing Asian security interest and footprint is expected to only magnify in the years to come as the nature of security in West Asia changes itself. Regional states will become more responsible for their own security, and as Asian economies become stronger stakeholders, their geopolitics will become more visible across this geography.


QUESTION :  Give your views on the idea of domicile-based reservation in private jobs for locals . Substantiate your views by analysing both of the i.e. positive and negative aspects.



  • Reservation to locals in Private Jobs


  • Haryana already passed the proposal providing reservation to locals. Many other states are planning for the same. It is because the States in India are unable to create jobs for their local economy due to various issues.


  • Recently, the Haryana government has passed legislation for reservation of jobs to local Haryanvi’s first.
  • On similar lines, the cabinet of the government of Jharkhand approved legislation to reserve jobs for Jharkhand residents.
  • Also, The DMK in Tamil Nadu announced a proposal to reserve jobs for Tamils in its manifesto.
  • Many economists have criticised the above policies of the State as it is against the liberal idea of a free economy.


  • Increasing unemployment rate: As per the data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the unemployment rate in Haryana is very high among all States in India.
  • Fear of Demographic disaster: More than half of all graduates in Haryana are jobless. Increasing Unemployment of youths will inevitably lead to social revolutions and political disorder.
  • Interstate economic inequality is rising: For example, the ‘3-3-3’ effect. The three richest large States (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka) are three times richer than the three poorest large States (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
  • States have less autonomy to attract new jobs and investment. The lack of autonomy within states pushes them to resort to measures such as protecting jobs for locals through reservation etc.,


  1. Industries are willing to invest only in Economies which is growing steadily and at a faster pace. But the growth of Indian economy cannot be controlled by single states alone.
  2. The requirement of abundant high quality skilled and unskilled labour. However, the availability of skilled local labour is a result of many decades of social progress of the State. States that have a very high unemployment rate cannot skill their population within a short period of time.
  3. States have lost their fiscal autonomy after the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). They have no powers to provide any tax concessions to businesses. Whereas in America, States compete against each other vigorously using tax concessions.
  4. The agglomeration effect drives new investments and industries in states that already are well established For example, supply chain, talent, good living conditions etc., This leads to a cycle of the more prosperous States growing much faster at the expense of the lagging States.



  • The increasing interstate disparity among states will only encourage nativistic sub-nationalism ideas and policies in the future, which is a threat to national integration. Hence, the centre should work towards bridging the development gap between different states along with greater fiscal freedom.


QUESTION : Analyse why and how the effective operation of the POCSO Act needs the support of all the stake holders ?




  • POCSO And Child Protection


  • A single bench of the Madras High Court recently allowed a petition seeking to quash a case of kidnap, aggravated penetrative sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of a minor.


  • Aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 is the equivalent provision for aggravated rape. A person can be charged with this offence in certain aggravating circumstances, such as if the rape occurs within a relationship of trust or authority, or if it leads to pregnancy, among others.
  • Under POCSO, the consent of a person under the age of 18 is irrelevant, regardless of the nature and circumstance of the sexual interaction, or the particulars of the person with whom it takes place. This means that any sex with a minor is rape.


  • The judgment echoes the arguments that child rights activists have been making for years, by ignoring the natural sexual tendencies of adolescents, POCSO can and does become a tool for the persecution of young people in consenting sexual relations.
  • The court reasoned that adolescence and young adulthood form a continuum because of the physical, biological, neurological, and social changes that occur during this time.
  • The implication is that people within this age group may be clubbed together notwithstanding the legal line drawn at 18. This informed the court’s view of the relationship of the minor ‘victim’ with the accused respondent as being a loving, rather than an abusive, one.
  • The judgment concluded that the case could be quashed because it was purely individual in nature and doing so would not affect any overriding public interest.

 o However, it ignored the established precedent against quashing cases of rape, a heinous and serious offence, held by the Supreme Court to be a public concern, and not a private matter.

  • Perhaps the court was persuaded in taking this course because of its observation that POCSO could not have been intended to bring such cases within its scope.
  • In making this observation, the court relied on the Statement of Objects and Reasons of POCSO, which states that the law was enacted pursuant to Article 15 of the Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 o Article 15 allows the state to make special provisions for women and children to protect children from sexual assault, sexual harassment, and pornography.



  • Neither the founding documents nor the listed categories of offences give a sense of what the limits of POCSO were meant to be.
  • The Parliamentary Committee (Rajya Sabha) which considered the POCSO Bill, 2011 had criticised the clause providing for the possibility of consent in cases of sexual intercourse with minors between the ages of 16 and 18.

 o It believed that a uniform age of 18 would ensure that trials of child rape would focus on the conduct of the accused and the circumstances of the offence, instead of putting victims on trial as is often the case when the consent of the victim is in question.

  • This would indicate that adolescent sexuality was not meant to be an exception to POCSO’s bright-line approach.
  • The five State studies on the functioning of Special Courts under the POCSO Act have demonstrated that these de facto consensual cases are complicated.

 o It was conducted by the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, Bengaluru.

  • While adolescents can and do choose to have sex, it is a fact that they are still children, and their nascent sexual autonomy is susceptible to abuse.
  • This contradiction created by the very nature of adolescence has led to inconsistent and unprincipled adjudication.
  • The absolute age line of POCSO has not prevented the insensitive assessment of minors’ consent.
  • At the same time, it has forced courts to choose between applying the law and doing justice, especially in cases where the minor victim has willingly eloped with or married the accused or is carrying his child, for imprisoning him would only do her harm.




  • A clause to be inserted in the POCSO Act, 2012 under which advocating or counselling sexual activities with a person under the age of 18 years through any written material, visual representation or audio recording or any characterization is made an offence under the Act;
  • Another clause to be inserted in the POCSO Act, 2012 prescribing a Code of Conduct for intermediaries (online platforms) for maintaining child safety online, ensuring age-appropriate content and curbing use of children for pornographic purposes;
  • Under the POCSO Act, 2012, school management should be responsible for safety of children within schools, transportation services and any other programmes with which the school is associated;
  • National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal shall be designated as the national portal under reporting requirements in POCSO Act in case of electronic material;
  • A new section be included in the IT Act 2000, providing for punitive measures for those providing pornographic access to children and also those who access, produce or transmit Child Sexual Abuse Material(CSAM);
  • Union Government shall be empowered through its designated authority to block and/or prohibit all websites/intermediaries that carry child sexual abuse material;



  • Law enforcement agencies be permitted to brake end to end encryption to trace distributors of child pornography.
  • Ministry of Electronics and IT and Ministry of Home Affairs shall coordinate with Blockchain analysis companies to trace identities of users engaging in crypto currency transactions to purchase child pornography online.
  • ISPs shall be required to provide family friendly filters to parents at the point of sign up to regulate children’s access to internet content;
  • All social media platforms should be mandated with minimum essential technologies to detect Child Sexual Abuse Material besides regular reporting to law enforcement agencies in the country;
  • Social media shall have mechanism for age verification and restricting access to objectionable/obscene material;



  • An upgraded and technologically empowered National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to be designated as the nodal agency to deal with the issue of child pornography.
  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shall mandatorily record and report annually cases of child pornography of all kinds.


  • The government should launch campaigns for greater awareness among parents to recognize early signs of child abuse, online risks and improving online safety for their child.

State level implementation.

  • Each State and Union Territory shall have empowered State Commission for the Protection for Child Rights mirroring capabilities and capacities of the NCPCR.
  • E-safety Commissioners be appointed at state level to ensure implementation of social media and website guidelines.


  • Hence, the judgment was intuitively just, even though it was not in line with precedent. It highlighted the urgent need for a reconsideration of the absolutist approach of POCSO when it comes to the sexual interactions of adolescents with other young people
  • Courts need to be able to strike a balance between the limited but developing capacity of adolescents to consent to sexual interaction and their vulnerability to being groomed, abused, and exploited.
  • For this to be possible, the legislature must provide clarity on the core wrongs that POCSO is meant to address, so that valid conclusions may be drawn about what is the intent of the law, and what is clearly outside its purpose.



QUESTION : The changing geopolitical equations has necessitated the formation of Indo-Pacific Concord by the democracies of the region.” In light of this, elaborate on India’s role in Quad and its challenges ahead




 Topic- Quadrilateral Security Dialogue Summit


  • The first Quadrilateral Security Dialogue summit of the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. recently took place on March 12, 2021.
  • The quad members issued a statement defining the “spirit of the Quad” declaring that the battle is for a region that is free, open, inclusive, healthy anchored by democratic values and unconstrained by coercion.


  • The grouping of four democracies –India, Australia, US and Japan is known as the quadrilateral security dialogue or quad.
  • All four nations find a common ground of being the democratic nations and common interests of unhindered maritime trade and security.
  • Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan conceived the idea of Quad in 2007.
  • The ‘Quad’ has met biannual basis since 2017.



 Counter to China:

  • Quad is a direct result of China’s heavy-handed and aggressive territorial expansionist policy around the South China Sea (SCS), Ladakh and Hong Kong.
  • Strengthening quad will mean a counter to China in the region and strategic support to India after a tense year at the LAC with China.

 India can boost its manufacturing:

  • India is already supplying 60% of the world’s vaccines.

 o Quad initiative will further boost its vaccine manufacturing capacity.

  • It would bring opportunities for technology partnerships, regional cooperation on development projects and financing infrastructure.

 o This can make India the manufacturing destination for Quad countries, thus reducing dependence on China.

  • If Quad emerges as an economic powerhouse, it will be beneficial to the entire region.

 Deepening Alliances:

  • The establishment of three working groups on vaccine partnership; climate change; and critical and emerging technologies (such as telecom and biotechnology) and their new standards, innovation and supply chains is a welcome step.
  • This will set the path for Joint R&D projects and the four nations can have serious policy coordination and action mode, creating new capacities.


  • The Quad member countries have a huge challenge to balance economic linkages and limiting China’s expansionist agenda.

 o China remains the largest trading partner of India and other Quad members.

 o India stayed away from the RCEP, but Australia and Japan are members along with China.

  • Provoking China: China has always described Quad as the “Asian NATO” and an alliance against China.

 o The annual Malabar naval exercises consisting the members of Quad added to the image of the Quad as a military formation.

  • Militarisation of Indo-Pacific: This will lead to further militarisation of the region which already has many military bases.

 o The US has bases in Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa, Diego Garcia and Djibouti.

 o China has built extensive infrastructure in Indo-Pacific region from Djibouti to Kyaukpyu in Myanmar.

 o Japan has base in Djibouti and is seen patrolling in various Indo-Pacific sites.

 o Australia has its outposts at Cocos and Christmas islands.

 o France has its bases in Reunion and New Caledonia.

 o Britain has Diego Garcia.

 o India too is building ports in Chabahar, Chittagong, Colombo and Sittwe. It has an agreement with Japan for access to its facility in Djibouti. India is also building a military base at the North Agalega island in Mauritius.



  • China is paying close attention since it is aware of the constant developments in the group in relation to their approaches towards it. Given the recent geo-political situation, India needs to weigh to what extent it matches the Quad statement words with deeds.Quad nations must ensure the grouping’s political sustainability and enforce their commitment as per the requirements of the Indo-Pacific.


QUESTION : Discuss the significance of the National Digital Health Mission and how is India  tackling the health-related concerns in public sector ?



  • Public Health Status in India


  • The efforts of healthcare personnel, from ASHA workers to highly specialised intensive care physicians, have saved countless lives and made India proud.


  • Health care deals with individual patients, whereas Public health deals with the community at large.
  • The goal of public health is disease prevention and control. Whereas healthcare is focused on treatment and disease cure (Therapy).
  • Public health employs a deliberate, intervention-based mechanism to reduce the disease burden in a population.
  • Though India ranks among the world’s best in health-care capability, India’s success in providing public health is very poor.


 Ineffective public health surveillance leading to a lack of reliable data collection on all diseases

 o Reliable data is required for real-time monitoring of disease burden and to know the trend of declining infection prevalence in a population. This is one of the important tasks of public health which is done through diagnosis.

 o For example, diagnosis of polio in the under-five population through acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and laboratory tests were crucial for the elimination of polio in India.

 o Through diagnosis, we could know about the disease burden of polio. When it reaches zero, we will consider that polio has been eradicated.

 o Yet, India’s public health management does not have an effective plan for collecting data on all diseases and deaths through diagnosis.

 o Using alternatives such as the COVID-19 epidemic curve or sero-surveys on random samples does not provide the real no. of disease burden.

 o Further, Post-vaccination surveillance is not conducted. It is considered vital for assessing vaccine efficacy and safety. This points towards the lack of an effective public health surveillance system.

 Lack of authentic public health education

 o Timely public health education (Social Vaccine) is needed to nudge the population’s behaviour towards tackling any diseases. For example,

 o For preventing the spread of COVID-19, both non-pharmacological preventive interventions such as face masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, and pharmacological prevention by vaccination were strategized.

 o It has to be noted that, during the HIV/AIDS epidemic, India’s AIDS Task Force designed and successfully applied a ‘social vaccine’ to control the disease spread.

  Public health in India does not address both social and environmental determinants to control the disease. For example,

 o COVID-19 has strong social determinants of infection transmission. Such as overcrowding, urban-rural divide in health awareness and education.

 o Similarly, disease such as Typhoid, cholera, leptospirosis has environmental determinants.

 o Contrary to India,  in countries where public health is given equal status, addresses both social and environmental determinants.


  1. India’s National Health Mission is making striding efforts in ensuring the goal of good health and well-being of the sustainable development goal.
  2. We have strengthened the implementation of WHO framework convention on tobacco control
  3. To enhance the research and development of medicines for communicable and non-communicable diseases, provide access to essential medicines and vaccines in accordance with the Doha Declaration on TRIPS agreement and public health regarding flexibility to protect public health.
  4. We are aiming to increase our spending in this field and also strengthen institutions to target the achievement of the goal.



  1. Increase Life Expectancy at birth from 67.5 to 70 by 2025.
  2. Establish regular tracking of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) Index as a measure of the burden of disease and its trends by major categories by 2022.
  3. Reduction of TFR to 2.1 at national and sub-national level by 2025.
  4. Reduce under Five Mortality to 23 by 2025 and MMR from current levels to 100 by 2020.
  5. Reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019.
  6. Reduce neonatal mortality to 16 and stillbirth rate to “single digit” by 2025.
  7. Achieve global target of 2020 which is also termed as the target of 90:90:90, for HIV/AIDS i. e,- 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, – 90% of all people diagnosed with HIV infection receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
  8. Achieve and maintain elimination status of Leprosy by 2018, Kala-Azar by 2017 and Lymphatic Filariasis in endemic pockets by 2017.
  9. To achieve and maintain a cure rate of >85% in new sputum positive patients for TB and reduce the incidence of new cases, to reach elimination status by 2025.
  10. To reduce the prevalence of blindness to 0.25/ 1000 by 2025 and disease burden by one-third from current levels.
  11. To reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases by 25% by 2025.



  1. Increase utilization of public health facilities by 50% from current levels by 2025.
  2. More than 90% of the newborn are fully immunized by one year of age by 2025
  3. The relative reduction in the prevalence of current tobacco use by 15% by 2020 and 30% by 2025.
  4. Reduction of 40% in the prevalence of stunting of under-five children by 2025)
  5. Access to safe water and sanitation to all by 2020 (Swachh Bharat Mission)
  6. Reduction of occupational injury by half from current levels of 334 per lakh agricultural workers by 2020.


  • This mission is targeting universal health care, to achieve IMR, MMR, TFR targets, family welfare and infrastructure maintenance etc.
  • The major components of the program are:
  1. RMNCH+A services – which stands for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health care. Programs like Janani Suraksha Yojana, the program for adolescents like addressing the problem of anaemia among adolescent girls and boys etc.
  2. Communicable Diseases: The National Policy 2017 recognises the interrelationship between communicable disease control programs and public health system strengthening . Different programs like National Aids Control Program, National Leprosy Eradication Program, Revised Tuberculosis Control Program, National Vector Borne Disease Control Program.
  3. Non-Communicable Diseases: The National Health Policy 2017 recognizes the need to halt and reverse the growing incidence of chronic diseases. Different programs through the involvement of AYUSH are taking forth to address these situations, for instance, Mission Madhumeha through Ayurveda is an example of efforts to address the issue of diabetes among people.
  4. Health system improvement at rural and urban level.
  5. Universal Immunisation Programme– to provide life-saving vaccines to all children across the country free of cost to protect them against Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis B, Pneumonia and Meningitis, Measles, Rubella, Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Rotavirus diarrhoea. via Mission Indra Dhanush
  6. Mental Health: via new mental health policy.




  • Many infectious diseases in India can be controlled if we adequately invest in Public health. Investment in public health will result in health, wealth, and prosperity.


QUESTION : There is a continuing underestimation of Delhi’s capacity to rework its great power relations with the Philippines to meet India’s changing interests and circumstances. Critically examine.



  • India – Philippines Bilateral Relations


  • India and the Philippines have signed the “Implementing Arrangement” for “procurement of defence material and equipment procurement”. This agreement lays the groundwork for sales of defence systems such as the highly anticipated export of BrahMos cruise missile, through the government-to-government route.


  • Diplomatic relations between India and Philippines was established in 1949.
  • A treaty of friendship was signed between the Philippines and India on 11 July 1952.
  • The relationship with the Philippines was intensified after the Look East Policy


  • BrahMos cruise missile is the first supersonic cruise missile system of India.
  • Research and development of the missile systems began in the late 1990s.
  • It is manufactured by BrahMos Aerospace Limited, a joint venture between:

 o Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

 o Military Industrial Consortium NPO Mashinostroyenia.

  • It is capable of attaining a speed of Mach 2.8 (almost three times the speed of sound) and a range of at least 290 km (a new version can reach up to 400km).
  • Travelling with such velocity makes it difficult for air defence systems utilising surface-to-air missiles to intercept the BrahMos.

 o It makes it easier to target and neutralise advanced fighter jets such as the Chinese J-20 fighter aircraft moving at less than Mach 2.

  • The efforts to increase the speed and range of the missile in its next iterations are under way.

 o The goal is to achieve hypersonic speeds (at or above Mach 5) and a maximum range of 1,500 km.

  • Early naval and land variants of BrahMos were inducted by Indian Navy in 2005 and Indian Army in 2007.
  • An air-launched variant was successfully tested in November 2017 by the Indian Air Force from its Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet.


  • The advanced capabilities of BrahMos make it highly desirable product for other countries to procure.
  • Exporting the system has been the agenda of the government for more than a decade.
  • It would boost the credibility of India as a defence exporter and elevate its stature as a regional superpower.
  • It would help to meet the target of $5 billion in defence exports by 2025.
  • The countries which have shown an interest in acquiring the systems are: Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa



  • The implications of the Philippines becoming the first country to import the BrahMos would be wide-ranging and consequential in the Indo-Pacific.
  • It would caution China, with whom the Philippines has been engaged in a territorial conflict in the South China Sea.

 o China has been wary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries acquiring defence systems such as the BrahMos.

  • Further other nations threatened by China may come forward to induct the BrahMos into their arsenal.
  • This would boost India’s economic, soft, and hard power profile in the region and provide the Indo-Pacific with a strong and dependable anchor.


 Sanctions under CAATSA:

  • There are two major roadblocks still remain in the Manila deal.
  • The first is the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which aims to sanction individuals and entities who engage in a significant transaction with a listed entity.

 o Turkey and China have been penalised under CAATSA for purchasing the S-400 Triumf air defence systems from Russia.

  • NPO Mashinostroyenia is one of the listed Russian entities.

 o And since 65% of the components, including the ramjet engine and radar seeker used in the BrahMos are reportedly provided by NPO Mashinostroyenia, the export of the missile systems may attract sanctions.

  • However, there is an excellent case for India to receive a waiver from CAATSA, as BrahMos that can help contain a confrontational China.

 Financial issue:

  • A regiment of BrahMos, including a mobile command post, four missile-launcher vehicles, several missile carriers, and 90 missiles, reportedly costs around $275.77 million (₹2,000 crore).
  • Due to COVID-19 pandemic, many countries which are interested in the BrahMos would find it difficult to purchase it.
  • To remedy this, India has offered a $100 million line of credit, and the Philippines is thinking of purchasing just one battery of the BrahMos, consisting of three missile launchers with two to three missile tubes each.


  • India is determined to develop itself as a hub of defence manufacturing. Depending on how it handles the sale of the BrahMos would be an important factor in its potential emergence as a net provider of regional security in the Indo-Pacific.


QUESTION : Do privacy issues outweigh the important benefits of Aadhaar Card ? Justify your answer



  • Aadhar Card and its related issues


  • The Supreme Court has termed as serious the allegation by a petitioner that three crore ration cards were cancelled for not being linked with the Aadhaar database and this led to reported starvation deaths in some States.


  • Aadhar is a 12 digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on behalf of the Government of India.
  • This number serves as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.
  • Any individual who is a resident in India can enrol for Aadhar.
  • Each Aadhar number is unique to an individual and will remain valid for life.

 JAM trinity: 

 The JAM Number Trinity-Jan DhanYojana, Aadhaar and Mobile numbers-allows the state to offer this support to poor households in a targeted and less distortive way.

 Mandatory Aadhar linking

  • Linking certain documents with Aadhaar card has now been made compulsory by the government.
  • These measures are being put into place to ensure that benefits from all government schemes reach the people.
  • Documents that must be linked Aadhaar:

 o Bank account details

o PAN Card

o Voter ID Card

o LPG Connection Card

o Ration Card

o Mobile number

  • In 2018, the SC upheld the country’s biometric identity system and also cleared mandatory Aadhaar enrolment of recipients of government welfare benefits.
  • The court, in its verdict, had also approved the passage of Aadhaar law by the Parliament as a money bill, which did not require an approval of the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Supreme Court in 2018, upheld the Aadhaar programme as a reasonable restriction on individual privacy to fulfil welfare requirements and dignity.
  • Recent data has estimated that nearly 90% of India’s projected population has been assigned the Aadhaar number.




  • With benefits under the PDS, the NREGA and LPG subsidy, among other essentials, requiring individuals to have the Aadhaar number, inefficiencies and failures have led to inconvenience and suffering for the poor.
  • These include

o inefficiencies in biometric authentication and updating,

 o linking of Aadhaar with bank accounts, and

 o the use of the Aadhaar payment bridge.

 o Failures in authentication have led to delays in the disbursal of benefits and, in many cases, in their denial due to cancellation of legitimate beneficiary names.

 o In Jharkhand that there have been starvation deaths because of the denial of benefits and subsidies.

  • Biometric authentication failures: Despite being designed to store finger and iris scans of most users, doubts about the success rates of authentication and the generation of “false negatives” is more so for labourers and tribal people.

 o Those engaged in manual and hard labour are susceptible to fingerprint changes over time.



  • Alternative mechanism: The central and State governments would do well to allow alternative identification so that genuine beneficiaries are not denied due subsidies.
  • The question of fraud can still be addressed by the use of other verification cards and by decentralised disbursal of services at the panchayat level.
  • Exemptions: The government had promised that exemption mechanisms that would allow for overriding such failures will help beneficiaries still avail subsidies and benefits despite system failures.
  • residential information in the Aadhaar database can be efficiently structured, this would allow for geographic targeting.
  • Issue of violation of individual privacy can be addressed by providing that such social registries store only basic information such as location, instead of more sensitive identifiers.



  • Data sovereignty is important to us and it will not be compromised. The legislation on data protection is a “work in progress” and the government would bring in a comprehensive law after further consultations with the stakeholders.


QUESTION : Examine how  can Indian model and  IAEA play an important role in breaking the ice between Iran and the U.S. on JCPOA?”



  • Iran Deal And India


  • A new initiative by IAEA may help to find an alternative to JCPOA in the changed circumstances


  • There is uncertainty between the U.S. and Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as to whether Iranian compliance comes first or the lifting of sanctions by the U.S.
  • In this context, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is back on the stage to rescue the JCPOA.
  • The U.S. tried to pressurise Iran by proposing a resolution in the IAEA Board of Governors meeting criticising Iranian non-compliance with the JCPOA and its alleged IAEA safeguards violations.
  • This comes amidst rumours that Iran might withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).



  • Foreign Policy recently noted that Iranian society increasingly see the weapon not just as an ultimate deterrent but as a panacea for Iran’s chronic security problems and challenges to its sovereignty by foreign powers.
  • If the stalemate continues on JCPOA, because of the U.S. pressure, public opinion may shift towards the Indian model of creating a deterrent and then seeking a special dispensation to avoid severe sanctions.
  • But the risks involved in such a policy will be grave, including the possibility of military action by Israel.


  • The IAEA is neither the Secretariat of the NPT nor is it empowered to request States to adhere to it.
  • . It does, however, have formal responsibility in the context of implementing Article III of the Treaty.
  • At the broadest level, the IAEA provides two service functions under the NPT.

 1) It facilitates and provides a channel for endeavours aimed at further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

 2) It administer international nuclear safeguards, in accordance with Article III of the Treaty, to verify fulfilment of the non-proliferation commitment assumed by non-nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty.

  • The NPT assigns to the IAEA the responsibility for verifying, at the global level, through its safeguards system, that non-nuclear weapon States fulfil their obligations not to use their peaceful nuclear activities to develop any nuclear explosive devices of any kind.



  • Accordingly, the Iranian file could go back to the IAEA to start fresh negotiations to restrain Iran to remain within the permissible level of enrichment of uranium.
  • This may mean going back to the pre-six nation initiative, when the IAEA could not certify that Iran was not engaged in weapon activities.
  • With the experience of the JCPOA, any new arrangement has to ensure the following:

 1) Iran must have sanctions relief.

 2) The stockpile of enriched uranium should not exceed the limits established.

 3) There should be guarantees that Iran will not violate the safeguards agreement.

  • The test is whether these can be accomplished within the framework of the IAEA.



  • Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.
  • The 2015 nuclear deal gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.

 Under the deal:

  1. Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany.
  2. Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
  3. The Joint Commission was established, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement.



  • Since the IAEA is a technical body, its deliberations may be kept at the technical level.
  • At the same time, since it is open for the IAEA to report to the Security Council for necessary action, the IAEA will have the necessary clout to insist on the implementation of the NPT and its additional protocol.
  • A new avenue may open for Iran to continue its peaceful nuclear activities as permitted in the NPT.


  • Thus, IAEA can play an important role in ending the statement JCPOA finds itself in and ensure compliance from Iran on JCPOA and lifting sanctions by the U.S.


QUESTION : Critically evaluate  the issues with Government of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021.Is any possibility that the Bill will avoid the conflict between the LG and the Delhi government?”



  • Tussle Between LG-DELHI GOVT.


  • The Government of NCT of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 will reduce the elected government to a mere vestigial organ


  • When the Constitution came into force, there were four kinds of States, called Parts A,B, C and D States.
  • The last two were administered by centrally appointed Chief Commissioners and Lieutenant Governors, with no locally elected Assemblies to aid and advise them.
  • First, it was felt that if Delhi became a part of any constituent State of the Union, that State would sooner or later acquire a predominant position in relation to other States.
  • Second, the need for keeping the National Capital under the control of the Union Government was deemed to be vital in the national interest.
  • Third, it was felt that if Delhi became a full State, the administration of the National Capital would be divided into rigid compartments of the State field and Union field.
  • Conflicts would likely arise in vital matters, particularly if the two governments were run by different political parties.
  • Hence, Delhi was initially made a Part C State.
  • In 1951, a Legislative Assembly was created with an elected Chief Minister.
  • In 1956, when the Constitution of India was amended to implement the provisions of the States Reorganisation Act, only two categories, namely, States and Union Territories remained in the Indian Union.
  • Delhi then became a Union Territory to be administered by an Administrator appointed by the President.
  • Ten years later, the Delhi Administration Act, 1966 provided for a limited representative Government in Delhi through a Metropolitan Council comprising 56 elected Members and five nominated Members.


  • In 1989, the Balakrishnan Committee recommended that Delhi should continue to be a Union Territory but that there must be a Legislative Assembly and Council of Ministers responsible to the said Assembly with appropriate powers.
  • Based on this report, the Constitution (69th) Amendment Act and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCT) Act, 1991 were passed.
  • They roughly restored the kind of governance system that was offered to Delhi in 1952: a Union Territory with a Legislative Assembly, a Council of Ministers and an elected Chief Minister.
  • This limited reincarnation has continued to hold the field to date, despite several efforts to progress to full or near-statehood.


  • A Bench in 2018 ruled over the conflict and said that Parliament envisaged a representative form of Government for the NCT of Delhi.
  • The Bench also said that the Constitution has mandated a federal balance wherein independence of a certain required degree is assured to the State Governments.
  • The remaining issues of governance, especially in the matter of control over Delhi government servants, was remitted to two judges of the Court for further adjudication.
  • In 2019, there was a difference of opinion recorded in separate judgments by the two judges and the matter awaits hearing before a larger Bench.



  • The central government recently introduced a Bill, namely, the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks, inter alia, to clarify the expression ‘Government’ in 2018 Supreme Court judgement.
  • The Bill effectively reduces the elected government to a mere vestigial organ and elevates the centrally appointed LG, to the position of a Viceroy with plenipotentiary powers.
  • It further provides that before taking any executive action to exercise powers of Government, the opinion of Lieutenant Governor shall be obtained on all such matters as may be specified by Lieutenant Governor.
  • The population of Delhi which counts among the highest in the world, will have an unrepresentative administration.
  • It is quite likely that the amendment act will end up being challenged in the constitutional courts.
  • The Supreme Court has already cautioned — “Interpretation cannot ignore the conscience of the Constitution.“


  • The Amendment Bill should be reconsidered given its impact on the administration of the Delhi government.


QUESTION : Discuss the ways in which the two countries India and Taiwan can deepen their bilateral relations and increase cooperation.



  • Indo-Taiwan Relationship


  • India and Taiwan are celebrating 25 years of their partnership. However, the growing relationship has been a low-key affair as India has been hesitant to acknowledge the improving ties in public.
  • Though mutual efforts between Delhi and Taipei have enabled a range of bilateral agreements covering agriculture, investment, customs cooperation, civil aviation, industrial cooperation and other areas, the time has come to recalibrate India-Taiwan relations.


  • Creating a political framework is a prerequisite to doing this.
  • Both partners have increasingly deepened mutual respect underpinned by openness, with democracy and diversity as the key principles for collective growth.
  • The shared faith in freedom, human rights, justice, and rule of law continues to embolden their partnership.
  • To make this relationship more meaningful, both sides can create a group of empowered persons or a task force to chart out a road map in a given time frame. Political will is the key.



  • India’s has been in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Likewise, Taiwan’s handling of the pandemic and its support to many other countries underlines the need to deepen healthcare cooperation.
  • India and Taiwan already collaborate in the area of traditional medicine. The time is ripe to expand cooperation in the field of healthcare.

 Air Quality and Farming:

  • Maintaining air quality has become a mammoth challenge for the Indian government Taiwan could be a valuable partner in dealing with this challenge through its bio-friendly technologies like converting agricultural waste into value-added and environmentally beneficial renewable energy or biochemicals.
  • Further, both can also undertake joint research and development initiatives in the field of organic farming.


Cultural exchange and Tourism:

  • India and Taiwan need to deepen people-to-people connect.

 Cultural exchange not only helps one appreciate another culture but also helps in overcoming prejudices and cultural misunderstanding.

  • Tourism is the key tool in this exchange. However, Taiwanese tourists in India are a very small number.
  • The Buddhist pilgrimage tour needs better connectivity and visibility, in addition to showcasing incredible India’s diversity.
  • This will accelerate the flow of Taiwanese tourists. With the Taiwan Tourism Bureau partnering with Mumbai Metro, Taiwan is trying to raise awareness about the country and increase the inflow of Indian tourists.



  • Trade relations have grown between Indian and Taiwan.
  • India’s huge market provides Taiwan with investment opportunities. Taiwan’s reputation as the world leader in semiconductor and electronics complements India’s leadership in ITES (Information Technology-Enabled Services).
  • This convergence of interests will help create new opportunities.
  • India’s recent strides in the ease of business ranking not only provide Taiwan with lucrative business opportunities but also help it mitigate its over-dependence on one country for investment opportunities.
  • The signing of a bilateral trade agreement in 2018 was an important milestone.
  • There are around 200 Taiwanese companies in the field of electronics, construction, petrochemicals, machine, Information and Communications Technology and auto parts operating in India.


  • The principle affirms Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and is the cornerstone of bilateral diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing.
  • Any country that wants to establish political and diplomatic relations with China must agree to adhere to this principle and not recognise Taiwan as an independent country.
  • Currently, 21 states recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country.
  • In practice, the ‘One China’ principle is a stabilisation mechanism that preserves the status quo over Taiwan’s political status while allowing it to function as an independent economic, civic and administrative entity.
  • Since 1979, Taiwan has had to negotiate its ‘international living space’ but it has largely honoured the ‘One China’ principle.



  • India can engage more actively with Taiwan for reasons like,

First, Taiwan is a technological giant and India’s present challenges can be solved to a greater extent by engaging with Taiwan.

 o For example: India can achieve Make in India, ”“Digital India,” “Skill India,” and “Startup India” initiatives with active engagement with Taiwan.

  • Second, closer Economic and Political ties with Taiwan may be the counter China-Pakistan Nexus. India can better leverage China’s territorial claims on Aksai Chin and engagement in Gilgit Baltistan by maintaining closer relations with Taiwan.




  • Despite the huge potential, Taiwan investments have been paltry in India. Taiwanese firms find the regulatory and labour regime daunting with stray incidents such as the incident in the Wistron plant last year creating confusion and mistrust.
  • Policymakers need to coordinate better with the business community to help them navigate the regulatory and cultural landscape for better ties.

QUESTION : How has the water crisis in India worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What are the measures taken to deal with India’s water crisis?



  • Wastewater – a serious issue


  • NITI Aayog and Water Aid, amongst others, have found that over 70% of India’s surface and groundwater is contaminated by human and other waste and is likely to carry viruses.


  • According to the data provided by the Ministry of Water Resources (now Ministry of Jal Shakti) in 2017, average annual per capita water availability fell from more than 1800 cubic meters assessed in 2001 to just over 1500 cubic meters in 2011.
  • The data also highlighted the possibility of average annual water availability per person reducing further to 1341 and 1140 in the years 2025 and 2050 respectively.
  • The water availability of water stressed/water scarce regions of the country is much below the national average due to the high temporal and spatial variation of precipitation.
  • According to the Global Annual Report, 2018 by the WaterAid, the water and sanitation advocacy group, India ranked at the top of 10 countries with lowest access to clean water close to home, with more than 16 crore people not having such access.
  • According to a UNICEF Report in 2021, India has 4% of the world’s freshwater which has to cater to 17% of the world’s population.
  • The UNICEF report of 2021 says that nearly 40% of the population in India will have absolutely no access to drinking water by 2030 and 6% of India’s GDP will be lost by 2050 due to the water crisis.



  • Indiscriminate human activity is often the reason for environmental degradation and pandemics. The practice of keeping animals locked together for mass production of meat produces an artificial environment that can birth mutations in erstwhile dormant viruses.
  • Once the virus has found its way into the human population, it is bound to proliferate in wastewater.
  • Several wastewater samples were tested and were found to carry traces of SARS-CoV-2 in various countries, and research indicates that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can spread through sewage water.

 But such wastewater is often discharged into water bodies in India.



  • Discharge of untreated wastewater is an alarming prospect for India, as river water or lake water, which carries human waste, sewage, and toxic waste, can be a very generous host for viruses.
  • Some water-transmitted viral pathogens are astro-virus, hepatitis A and norovirus.
  • Unlike in the developed world, a huge section of the population in India uses polluted water from sources like rivers, lakes, or groundwater for drinking.



  • There are only two unpolluted fresh water sources left in the country. The first is the water lying below our forests; the second is the aquifers that lie below the floodplains of rivers.
  • Both these sources provide natural underground storage and are renewable – the rains provide natural recharge year after year and it is this recharge which can be used to water our cities and towns.
  • The aquifers underlying forests can provide healthy mineral water purely for drinking purposes. The river floodplains are a great source of water for cities.




Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) :

  • In the Budget 2021-22, Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) has been announced under the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry to provide universal coverage of water supply to all households through functional taps in all statutory towns in accordance with Sustainable Development Goal- 6.
  • It complements the Jal Jeevan Mission (Rural) which envisages supply of 55 litres of water per person per day to every rural household through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) by 2024.


Jal Shakti Abhiyan –

  • Under the National Jal Shakti Abhiyan, Centre has decided to utilize the upcoming monsoon season to expand its water conservation efforts.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs, as per the Centre, has allowed to take up MGNREGA works/drinking water and sanitation works at the time of lockdown with priority to be given to water conservation and irrigation works. Jal Shakti Abhiyan was launched in 2019 and it covered 256 water stressed districts across the country.
  • Rejuvenation of the traditional water bodies, desilting of ponds and lakes, Catchment area treatment etc., are the various activities under this initiative.

 MGNREGA for water conservation –

  • Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), one of the biggest government-funded employment schemes in the world, has enabled the government to introduce water conservation as a project under the Act with the help of the huge workforce employed under the MGNREGA.
  • The government aims to improve groundwater harvesting and build water conservation and storage mechanisms through MGNREGA.

 National Water Mission –

  • The Government of India has launched the National Water Mission with the objective of conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring more equitable distribution both across and within states through integrated water resources development and management.
  • One of the objectives of the Mission is to increase the water use efficiency by 20%.


NITI Aayog Composite Water Management Index

  • With the objective of achieving effective utilization of water, NITI Aayog has developed the Composite Water Management Index.
  • The index revolves around issues ranging from water scarcity and related issues like deaths due to lack of access to safe water, its projected increase in demand over the years and finding ways for its effective conservation.



  • It is important to remember that these water resources, once lost, will be lost forever. Therefore, forests and floodplains must be declared as water sanctuaries.


QUESTION : Discuss how can electoral bonds ensure transparency and fairness in political funding and mention important concerns emerging out of these bonds .



  • Electoral Bonds



  • The Supreme Court, after a brief hearing on March 24, reserved orders on the question of whether or not to stay the electoral bond scheme, ahead of the upcoming State elections.


  • Electoral bonds have been the dominant method of political party funding in India.
  • Electoral bonds allow for limitless and anonymous corporate donations to political parties. For this reason, they are deeply destructive of democracy, and violate core principles of the Indian Constitution.
  • The government has attempted to justify the electoral bonds scheme by arguing that its purpose is to prevent the flow of black money into elections.



  • An electoral bond is like a promissory note that can be bought by any Indian citizen or company incorporated in India from select branches of State Bank of India.
  • The citizen or corporate can then donate the same to any eligible political party of his/her choice.
  • The bonds are issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 100,000 and Rs 1 crore (the range of a bond is between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 crore).
  • These will be available at some branches of SBI.
  • A donor with a KYC-compliant account can purchase the bonds and can then donate them to the party or individual of their choice.
  • Now, the receiver can encash the bonds through the party’s verified account.
  • The electoral bond will be valid only for fifteen days.


  • Any party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent General elections or Assembly elections is eligible to receive electoral bonds.
  • The party will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the electoral bond transactions can be made only through this account.

 The electoral bonds will not bear the name of the donor. Thus, the political party might not be aware of the donor’s identity.



 Role of money: Money is the most effective way of buying policy, of engaging in regulatory capture, and of skewing the playing field in one’s own favour.

  • If a democracy is to thrive, the role of money in influencing politics ought to be limited.
  • The entire purpose of democracy, which as B.R. Ambedkar memorably pointed out, was not just to guarantee one person, one vote, but one vote one value.



  • The scheme conceals the identity of the donors and donees as well as the amount of donation.

  The scheme facilitates undisclosed quid pro quo arrangements between donors, who are likely to be corporates, and political parties.

  • The Election Commission argued the case for “declaration of donation received by political parties and also about the manner in which those funds are expended by them, for better transparency and accountability in the election process”.



  • A company is not required to name the political parties to which such contributions are made. The donors’ name is also not revealed to the public.
  • It will result in opaqueness, heighten the odds of conflict of interest and also drastically increase black money and corruption.
  • It will also lead to the creation of shell companies and rise of benami transactions to channelize the undocumented money into the political and electoral process in India.
  • Foreign donations: As the electoral bonds scheme allows even foreign donations to political parties (which can often be made through shell companies) the prospects of institutional corruption (including by foreign sources) increases with the electoral bonds scheme, instead of decreasing.

 Against right to freedom of speech: In People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India (2003), the Supreme Court held that the freedom of speech and expression also contained the fundamental right of a voter to secure information about the candidates who are contesting the election.

  • When the voter is permitted to know if an electoral candidate is facing any cases, she should be equally entitled to know who is financing the expenses of the party and its candidate.

 Privacy: Since the donations are routed through the State Bank of India, it is possible for the government to find out who is donating to which party, but not for the political opposition to know. 



  • One of the most critical functions of an independent judiciary in a functioning democracy is to referee the fundamentals of the democratic process.
  • The electoral legitimacy of the government is questionable if the electoral process has become questionable. The courts remain the only independent body that can adequately umpire and enforce the ground rules of democracy.
  • The petition challenging the constitutional validity of the electoral bonds scheme was filed in 2018. The case, which is absolutely vital to the future health of Indian democracy, has been left unheard for three years.
  • The Court must conclusively settle the questions around the constitutionality of electoral bonds.



  • The entire purpose of democracy, which as B.R. Ambedkar rightly pointed out, was not just to guarantee one person, one vote, but one vote one value as well.


QUESTION : Examine the key concerns in Parliamentary democracy like India .Would you agree that the standards of Indian Parliament as the temple of democracy has declined in the recent years?




  • Concerns Over Parliamentary Efficiency


 The Budget session of 2020 was curtailed ahead of the lockdown imposed following the novel coronavirus pandemic.

  • A short 18-day monsoon session ended after 10 days as several Members of Parliament and Parliament staff got affected by COVID-19, and the winter session was cancelled.
  • As a result, the fiscal year 2020-21 saw the Lok Sabha sitting for 34 days (and the Rajya Sabha for 33), the lowest ever.



  • The Constitution of India established a parliamentary form of government in which the Executive is held responsible to the Parliament for its acts.
  • Article 79 :There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses to be known respectively as the Council of States and the House of the People.
  • Articles 74 and 75 deal with the parliamentary system of government at the Union level.
  • Articles 163 and 164 contain provisions with regard to the States.


Parliamentary control over executive:

  • The council of ministers are responsible to the Lok Sabha.They continue in office so long as they enjoy the confidence of the majority members in the Lok Sabha.
  • Any withdrawal from the consolidated fund of India can not be done without the approval of the Parliament.
  • Motions: While no confidence motion can be moved in the Lok Sabha only, there are other motions to control the executives like censure motion, privilege motion.
  • Committees: Parliamentary committees are established to study and deal with various matters that cannot be directly handled by the legislature due to rexeir volume. They also monitor the functioning of the executive branch.

 o E.g. Public Accounts Committee is a standing committee of Parliament to make sure that the expenditures done out of public purse by the executives are well intentioned and appropriate as per the needs of the welfare of citizens of India.

  • Question hour and zero hour: to address the questions of MPs who are representatives of the people of India.



  • No legislative scrutiny: During the session, 13 Bills were introduced, and not even one of them was referred to a parliamentary committee for examination.

 o In all, 13 Bills were introduced in this session, and eight of them were passed within the session.

 o This development also highlights the decline in the efficacy of committees.

 o The percentage of Bills referred to committees declined from 60% and 71% in the 14th Lok Sabha (2004-09) and the 15th Lok Sabha, respectively, to 27% in the 16th Lok Sabha and just 11% in the current one.

  • Money Bill classification :

 o A money bill is defined by Article 110 of the Constitution, as a draft law that contains only provisions that deal with all or any of the matters listed therein.

 o The last few years have seen the dubious practice of marking Bills as ‘Money Bills’ and getting them past the Rajya Sabha.

 o In case of a Money Bill, the Rajya Sabha cannot make any amendments, and has only recommendatory powers.

 o Some of the earlier Acts, including the Aadhaar Act and Finance Act, have been referred to a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.

  • Lesser discussion on budget: During this session, the Union Budget was presented, discussed and passed.

 o The Constitution requires the Lok Sabha to approve the expenditure Budget (in the form of demand for grants) of each department and Ministry.

 o The Lok Sabha had listed the budget of just five Ministries for detailed discussion and discussed only three of these; 76% of the total Budget was approved without any discussion.


  • The missing Deputy Speaker

 o A striking feature of the current Lok Sabha is the absence of a Deputy Speaker.

 o Article 93 of the Constitution states that “… The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two members of the House to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker….”




  • Parliamentary committees have often done a stellar job. For example, the committee that examined the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code suggested many changes to make the Code work better, and which were all incorporated in the final law.
  • Similarly, amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act were based on the recommendations of the Committee.


  • Parliament has the central role in our democracy as the representative body that checks the work of the government.
  • It is also expected to examine all legislative proposals in detail, understand their nuances and implications of the provisions, and decide on the appropriate way forward.


  • System of research support to Members of Parliament should be created.
  • Sufficient time should be provided for MPs to examine issues.
  • All Bills and budgets should be examined by committees and public feedback is taken.
  • Parliament can adopt remote working and technological solutions, as several other countries did.
  • It would be useful if the Court can give a clear interpretation of the definition of Money Bills and provide guide rails within which Bills have to stay to be termed as such.
  • In order to fulfil its constitutional mandate, it is imperative that Parliament functions effectively.


  • In sum, Parliament needs to ensure sufficient scrutiny over the proposals and the actions of the government.



GS-3 Mains

QUESTION : Discuss the concerns raised by Social Media intermediaries and give salient features of IT Act , 2021 by suggesting  important steps to tackle such issues.



  • New Rules Under IT Act



  • The Union Government has recently issued a set of rules under the Information Technology Act, noting that it was superseding rules issued under Section 79 of that statute in 2011. The rules require the social media platforms to become more responsible and more accountable for the content they carry. The government is giving itself plenty of room to cut Big Tech down to size.



 This Code of Ethics prescribes the guidelines to be followed by OTT platforms and online news and digital media entities.

 (a) Self-Classification of Content

  • The OTT platforms, called the publishers of online curated content in the rules, would self-classify the content into five age-based categories– U (Universal), U/A 7+, U/A 13+, U/A 16+, and A (Adult).
  • Platforms would be required to implement parental locks for content classified as U/A 13+ or higher and reliable age verification mechanisms for content classified as “A”.
  • The publisher of online curated content shall prominently display the classification rating specific to each content or programme together with a content descriptor.


(b) Norms for news

  • Publishers of news on digital media would be required to observe Norms of Journalistic Conduct of the Press Council of India and the Programme Code under the Cable Television Networks Regulation Act.


(c) Self-regulation by the Publisher

  • Publisher shall appoint a Grievance Redressal Officer based in India who shall be responsible for the redressal of grievances received by it.
  • The officer shall take a decision on every grievance received it within 15 days.


(d) Self-Regulatory Body

  • There may be one or more self-regulatory bodies of publishers. Such a body shall be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court or independent eminent person and have not more than six members.
  • Such a body will have to register with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • This body will oversee the adherence by the publisher to the Code of Ethics and address grievances that have not to be been resolved by the publisher within 15 days.


(e) Oversight Mechanism

  • Ministry of Information and Broadcasting shall formulate an oversight mechanism.
  • It shall publish a charter for self-regulating bodies, including Codes of Practices.
  • It shall establish an Inter-Departmental Committee for hearing grievances



  • While the cinema industry has a film certification agency with oversight responsibilities, OTT platforms have none.

 o The rules balance the need for regulation to keep out obnoxious online content that promotes violence and vulgarity.

  • It has tried to bring online news portals within the ambit of the code of ethics that governs print media.

 o These include the norms of journalistic conduct drawn up by the Press Council Act and the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Rules, 1994.

  • Further, to ensure artistic freedom, the government has proposed self-regulation.
  • The OTT entities should get together, evolve a code and come up with content classification so that a mechanism is evolved to preclude non-adults from viewing adult content.
  • The policy proposed requires publishers to appoint grievance redressal officers and ensure a time-bound acknowledgement and disposal of grievances.

 o The grievance redressal mechanism thought of is three-tier, with the publishers and self-regulating bodies being the first two.

 o The third tier is the central government oversight committee.

  • Then, there can be a self-regulating body headed by a retired judge.



  • The Government of India already has significant legal powers, with practically no institutionalised oversight or true checks and balances, to force censorship and surveillance on Internet platforms and other web services in India.
  • The notification of these new rules represents a dramatic move by the Union Government towards increased censorship of Internet content and mandating compliance with government demands regarding user data collection and policing of online services in India.
  • This has happened in the absence of open and public discussion, without any parliamentary study and scrutiny.
  • It appears that the interest is more in advancing Big Government and trying to force technologists to fall in line, at the cost to fundamental rights in the Internet age.



  • The Indian digital and OTT players can draw lessons from the action taken by digital companies in Australia, which have come together and drawn up a code to deal with fake news and disinformation.
  • The digital platforms agreed to a self-regulatory code to provide safeguards against serious harms arising from the spread of dis-and misinformation.
  • The actions promised by the digital platforms include disabling accounts and removal of content.

 o India can learn from the UK; which is all set to bring in a law to make online companies responsible for harmful content and to punish companies that fail to remove such content.

 o The aim is to protect internet users and deal firmly with platforms that promote violence, terrorist material, child abuse, cyber bullying, etc.



  • India is a vibrant democracy and the most diverse society in the world with many social, political and economic complexities.
  • So, in order to protect the Freedom of expression, it is embedded in fundamental rights in our Constitution. However, it is circumscribed by reasonable restrictions (as in the case of social media laws), to curb malicious content and promote internal peace and harmony.

QUESTION : Frequent occurrences of the extreme weather events serve as the warning for more climate actions, yet there is a lack of policy actions. Critically analyse this statement by giving some appropriate steps to mitigate such incidents.





  • Natural calamities and Disaster Management


  • Two recent events: floods in Uttarakhand and Texas cold snap serves as reminders of the devastation climate change could unleash. What we need is climate action. The article deals with this issue.



 The melting of the Himalayan glaciers prompted the floods and landslides in Uttarakhand.

  Increasing disasters: In 2013, glacial flooding caused over 6,000 deaths in Uttarakhand during the monsoon months.

 o The United States has already witnessed many deadly avalanches since the beginning of 2021.

  • Arctic-peninsula warming: The extreme cold weather in Texas, like the double-digit negative temperatures seen in Germany earlier this year, is connected to Arctic-peninsula warming, at a rate almost twice the global average.

 o Usually, there is a collection of winds around the Arctic keeping the cold locked far to the north.

 o But global warming has caused gaps in these protective winds, allowing intensely cold air to move south.

  • Urban heat island: As glacier cover is replaced by water or land, the amount of light reflected decreases, aggravating warming.

 o It is a contributor to the sweltering heat in cities like Delhi and Hyderabad, or the epic floods in Chennai or Kerala.



 India is the third-largest carbon emitter after China and the United States. There is a need for switching from highly polluting coal and petroleum to cleaner and renewable power sources.

  • Climate vulnerability: While HSBC ranks India at the top among 67 nations in climate vulnerability (2018), Germanwatch ranks India fifth among 181 nations in terms of climate risks (2020).
  • China has announced carbon neutrality by 2060, Japan and South Korea by 2050, but India is yet to announce a target.
  • Diluting environmental norms: The Uttarakhand government and the Centre have been diluting, instead of strengthening, climate safeguards for hydroelectric and road projects.

 o Studies had flagged ice loss across the Himalayas, and the dangers to densely populated catchments.

 o Similarly, Kerala ignored the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report calling for regulation of mining, quarrying and dam construction in ecologically sensitive places, which contributed to the massive floods and landslides in 2018 and 2019.



  • Disaster management: India’s Central and State governments must increase allocations for risk reduction, such as better defences against floods, or agricultural innovations to withstand droughts.
  • Public awareness: Events like Uttarakhand and Texas should be treated as lessons to change people’s minds and for the public to demand urgent action.
  • Climate adaptation: Even if major economies speed up climate mitigation, catastrophes like Uttarakhand will become more frequent due to the accumulated carbon emissions in the atmosphere. So, climate adaptation needs to be a priority.

 o A vital step should be explicitly including policies for climate mitigation in the government budget, along with energy, roads, health and education.

  • Cleaner energy: Specifically, growth targets should include timelines for switching to cleaner energy.
  • Climate funding: The government needs to launch a major campaign to mobilise climate finance.



  • Events like Uttarakhand and Texas should be treated as lessons to change people’s minds and for the public to demand urgent action.




QUESTION : Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology and pharmaceutical industry. How has this technology helped India in its socio-economic development?



  • Space Research and its Growth in India


  • The recent launch of Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and India’s export of COVID-19 vaccine to Brazil (and the world) as part of its vaccine maitri diplomacy, are the examples of diplomatic potential of India’s knowledge economy.
  • The current global diplomacy in the fields of space and pharmaceuticals is the fruit of 50 years of sustained state support for Atma Nirbharta in both fields.



  • Space and pharma are at the apex of a narrow pyramid of the knowledge economy.
  • India’s space programme started in early 1960’s. The creation of ISRO is attributed to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who authorised it in 1972.
  • The enaction of Indian Patents Act, 1970, triggered the growth of the domestic pharmaceuticals sector.

 o Subsequent governments have all contributed to the development of both industries.

  • Today, India is able to place satellites of several countries into space at globally competitive rates and is able to supply drugs and vaccines at affordable prices to developing countries.
  • The credit for India’s competitive pricing of satellite launches and pharmaceuticals exports goes entirely to Indian engineering, scientific and technological talent that has pursued world-class standards at a fraction of the cost incurred in developed economies.
  • The willingness of high-quality Indian scientists, engineers, biotechnologists, pharmacologists to work in India at Indian rates of compensation, not tempted by better paying jobs abroad, has allowed organisations like ISRO and Serum Institute of India to be the lead.



  • India’s demonstrated potential to be a low-cost global provider of knowledge-based products had prompted the developed West, especially the US, to deploy policies aimed at curbing the development of Indian capabilities.
  • Unilateral sanctions were imposed to deny Indian industry access to technology and markets.
  • A multilateral regime for intellectual property rights (IPRs) protection was created, under the World Trade Organisation to thwart (stop) indigenous technology development.
  • Indian capabilities in space and pharma grew in the face of such constraints.
  • Indian science and technology offered the developing world, that the developed economies of the West were either unwilling to provide or did so at much higher cost.
  • Indian familiarity with the English language and the good quality of teaching in mathematics and statistics has enabled Indian firms to remain competitive in data processing, business process outsourcing and software services.



  • India’s broad-based capability for knowledge-based diplomacy has significantly decreased over the past quarter century rather than increased.
  • There are many fields in which Indian expertise was sought in the past and where India lags behind today.

 o In early 1950s, many developing countries looked to India to access development-oriented knowledge.

 o Students from across Asia and Africa sought admission to Indian universities for post-graduate courses.

 o Indian expertise was sought by global organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

 o The government of South Korea even sent its economists to the Indian Planning Commission till early 1960s to be trained in long-term planning.

 o Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) had acquired a global profile with business in Africa and Asia.

  • The biggest setback in the global appeal of India’s knowledge economy has been in higher education.

 o Overseas students were drawn to Indian universities and institutions because they offered good quality education at a fraction of the cost of developed country institutions.

 o The appeal of education in India for overseas students has waned.

 o Even South Asian students, from countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, who preferred to come to India in the 1960s and 1970s no longer do so.



  • India lost its leadership in the knowledge economy, barring sectors like space, pharma and information-technology.
  1. Migration of Indian Talent or Brain Drain:
  • The flight of Indian talent began in the 1970s and has since accelerated.
  1. Emergence of China:
  • China has emerged as a major competitor offering equally good S&T products and services at lower cost.
  • While India has maintained its lead in IT software, China has developed competitive capabilities in space, pharma, railways and several other knowledge-based industries.


  1. Quality of Education:
  • Indian institutions attract fewer foreign students due to below par quality of education offered in most institutions.
  • The creature comforts provided and social environment offered is no longer as cosmopolitan as it used to be.
  • India is witnessing the growing assertion of narrow-minded ideologies and politization of Education campuses, making Indian campuses even less attractive to overseas students and scholars.



  • ISRO’s global competitiveness is a tribute to public policy and government support and the global success of the pharma sector is a tribute to private enterprise and middle-class talent in pharmacology and biotechnology.
  • India’s knowledge base needs huge political and intellectual support and commitment to excellence for further development. The knowledge base of India has huge diplomatic potential, which needs to be nurtured to add more accolades to India’s soft power.



QUESTION : Write a brief note on  historic reforms initiated in the Space sector by the Government of India . 

 Topic- NEW SPACE 


  • India’s Space Sector


  • Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite was launched last week from Sriharikota. It was the first dedicated commercial mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL). NSIL is a two-year-old commercial arm of the Department of Space.



  • The institutionalization of space commerce. Regulatory agency the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) and an independent tribunal are formed. It will be helpful in resolving disputes among private space entities. It also signifies the recognition of potential in space commerce by the government.
  • The private sector plays an important role in developing launch and satellite infrastructure for ISRO. Many companies now offer numerous services. Many of these companies even aspire to launch their own satellites.
  • NSIL has a broad ambit of functions. It will collaborate on new launch programs and with overseas space industries. It is also expected to be a marketer of ISRO’s technologies. Likewise, it has to find new business opportunities and expand the sector.



  • The Commercialization experience of ISRO has not always been smooth. The Government still owes nearly $1.2 billion to devas multimedia due to the Devas-Antrix deal controversy.

 Antrix was a commercial arm of the Department of Space.

  • The motivation behind NSIL may not be purely commercial. NSIL is considered to be a move by India’s space establishment to protect the space industry in India from the consequences of the Devas-Antrix mess.
  • There is a scope of overlapping of roles between NSIL and ANTRIX. This is primarily because the difference in the responsibilities of NSIL and Antrix is quite confusing. It is yet to be properly delineated.



  • The successful launch of Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite by ISRO marks a new high point in space cooperation between the two countries that began nearly two decades ago.
  • The Indian Prime Minister called it a historic moment in India-Brazil space cooperation.
  • The unique relationship between both countries has ensured support for each other’s satellites and the use of each other’s ground stations, including tracking India’s Chandrayaan-1&2 missions and the 2013 Mangalyaan MOM using Brazilian earth stations Alcantara and Cuiaba.
  • Brazil and India first signed an MoU between the Department of Space and AEB in March 2002, followed by a Framework Agreement in 2004, that is reviewed by a Joint Working Group.
  • In 2007, they inked a special arrangement that allows Indian scientists access to Brazilian ground stations to remote sensing data from the Indian satellites.
  • Also, according to the ISRO Chairman, this particular mission is special because these five Indian satellites are coming under the new space reform .



  • NSIL must endeavour to be continuously in start-up mode. It must conceive of ways to aid space start-ups to reach out to rural India and facilitate more recruits from India’s young to facilitate careers in space applications and sciences.
  • It must see itself both as an Indian ambassador and disruptor in the space arena.
  • Allow ISRO to focus more on research and development activities, new technologies, exploration missions and human spaceflight programme.
  • Funding on Space Research and development must be enlarged and ISRO & private research institutions should work be encouraged to work in tandem.
  • For space defence to be effective, India must acquire a minimum, credible capacity across the various types of space weapons, physical, electronic and cyber.



  • In these ways, the space programme has given a push to every aspect of our national policies and programmes contributing widely towards socio-economic, development of India, besides economic and scientific progress. It is time to make the application of space technologies to everyday lives. There is lot of scope and potential in this regard.



QUESTION : Why is having an LPG connection important for woman empowerment? Signify the achievement of the PMUY  and challenges ahead.





  • Subsidy prices and PM Ujjawala Yojana


  • Subsidised LPG prices have increased by a massive 50% in this financial year alone, consistently capturing headlines. It has impacted the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).



  • It is a scheme of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for providing LPG connections to women from Below Poverty Line (BPL) households launched in 2016.


  • Under the scheme, an adult woman belonging to a poor FAMILY not having LPG connection in her household, is an eligible beneficiary under the expanded scheme. Release of LPG connection under this Scheme shall be in the name of the women belonging to the BPL family.
  • Initially, the Government covered the following categories under the Scheme :-
  1. Beneficiaries listed in the SECC 2011 list
  2. All SC/STs households beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana(PMAY) (Gramin)
  3. Antyoday Anna Yojana (AAY)
  4. Forest dwellers
  5. Most Backward Classes (MBC)
  6. Tea & Ex-Tea Garden Tribes
  7. People residing in Islands
  8. People residing in river islands.



  • Under the scheme, five crore LPG connections are to be provided to BPL households.
  • The Scheme provides a financial support of Rs 1600 for each LPG connection to the BPL households, interest free loan to purchase stove and refill by Oil Marketing Companies.
  • The administrative cost of Rs. 1600 per connection, which includes a cylinder, pressure regulator, booklet, safety hose, etc. would be borne by the Government.
  • Ujjwala has empowered women and protected them and their families through the use of clean burning fuel by helping prevent a significant number of acute respiratory illnesses and other ailments.
  • Women in many villages formed self-help groups to indulge in community economic activities in their free time.
  • Significantly helps in control of particulate matter and indoor air pollution, giving way to a clean energy cooking process.
  • Female Financial Empowerment : To get an LPG gas connection under Ujjwala scheme, it is compulsory to have a bank account in the name of a female member of a family. Many Jan Dhan accounts were opened for women.



  • Expanding LPG coverage: Since 2016, PMUY has provided LPG connections to 8 million poor households to reduce women’s drudgery and indoor air pollution.
  • Providing an upfront connection subsidy of ₹1,600, PMUY helped expand LPG coverage to more than 85% of households.

o In comparison, less than a third of Indian households used LPG as their main cooking fuel in 2011.



  • Lesser consumption: Large-scale primary surveys by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) suggest that, on average, recent PMUY beneficiaries consumed only about half the LPG compared to long-standing regular consumers.
  • Limited uptake of LPG among poor households has two main reasons.

 o Unaffordable prices: First, the effective price of LPG is not affordable for such households, despite the subsidy.

 o Access to biomass fuel: Second, many rural consumers have access to freely available biomass, making it difficult for LPG to displace it.

 o Beyond causing indoor air pollution, biomass use for cooking contributes up to 30% to the ambient PM2.5 at the national level, more than the contribution of transport, crop residue or coal burning.

  • Behavioural Limitations: It requires behavioural changes as it is difficult to give up on age old practices of using traditional chulhas with a lack of awareness among people regarding benefits of use of LPG gases.
  • Inactive and corrupt uses: Many inactive accounts were identified, with some accounts bearing false beneficiaries using LPG for commercial and profitable purposes.



  • Greater and dynamic subsidy: Provide households exhibiting low consumption or adecline in LPG consumption over time with greater subsidy per cylinder to sustain health gains.

o Further, the subsidy levels could be dynamic with different slabs reflecting the previous year’s consumption.

  • The deduplication efforts to weed out households with multiple LPG connections must continue to avoid subsidy leakages.
  • Additional incentives to encourage regular use of cooking gas are necessary for a complete transition to clean cooking fuel among poor rural households. Ujjwala was able to attract new consumers rapidly, but those consumers did not start using LPG on a regular basis.
  • In order to ensure 100% LPG coverage in India – not only by the number of households covered but also by the number of households actually using it – it is important to make it easier for the country’s poor to buy a refill. This will require spending more on LPG subsidies.



  • In the post-pandemic rebuilding, the continued support to the economically poor for sustaining LPG use is not merely a fiscal subsidy but also a social investment to free-up women’s productive time and reduce India’s public health burden. This social investment will yield rich dividends in the years ahead through a healthier and productive population.



QUESTION : “It is said that  Indian railways has been the lifeline of India’s growth story.” Analyse the challenges, advantages and disadvantages of its privatisation with respect to this statement.




  • Financial Distress in Indian Railways


  • Despite several reforms, Railways is facing financial distress. This article highlights the issues and suggests solutions for financial distress in Railways.


  • In 2016, the Railway Budget was merged with General Budget . Earlier, Railways had a separate Budget.
  • The Dedicated Freight Corridor will be operational by 2022. It includes
    • The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC), from Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai
    • The Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC), Ludhiana in Punjab to Dankuni in West Bengal.
  • Recently the union cabinet approved a proposal to create a single cadre for railways management. This was aimed to eliminate “departmentalism” in railways.



  • Freight earnings are not improving despite improvement in freight load.
    • According to the CEO and Chairman of the Railway Board, the freight loading in January 2021 was the highest ever.
    • However, the freight earnings, according to the Revised Estimates for 2020-21 is ₹1,24,184.00 crore. It is lower than what was achieved in 2018-19 (₹1,27,432.72 crore).
  • The financial performance index i.e., the Operating Ratio (OR) (the ratio of working expenses to revenues) is not effective. (If the ratio is less than 100%, then Revenues are more than working expenses)
    • Currently, the Operating Ratio is less than 100% due to the under-provisioning of the Pension Fund for 2020-21.
    • However, the actual Operating Ratio works out to 114.19% and 131.49%, respectively, if the required provision is made for pension payments.
    • More worryingly, this is the first time ever, the Indian Railways were unable to adequately provide for the Pension Fund.


  1. Traffic revenue is unable to keep pace with the increase in staff costs and pension payments. With the (Eighth) Pay Commission, to be scheduled in 2025-26 the working expenses of railways will further increase.

 o For example, the passenger and freight revenues increased by 84.8 % from 2010-11 to 2019-20. While the staff and pension costs almost doubled, by 157%, in the same period.

 o This is despite the fact that there is a reduction of about one lakh staff on the roll during this period.

 o The increase in the staff and pension costs is mainly due to the implementation of the Central Pay Commission recommendations.

  1. freight traffic is over-dependent on one commodity, coal. Almost 50% of freight earnings are contributed by the transport of coal.

 o With the increasing usage of renewable energy at competitive prices, dependence on coal will reduce. This will affect freight revenues.

  1. The other major challenge facing the Railways is the burgeoning staff costs including pension. In this scenario, the proposal to recruit an additional 1.5 lakh staff will further increase the financial distress.



  • Increasing the revenues, particularly on the freight front, and a drastic reduction in the number of employees. In this context, the operationalization of two DFCs is significant.
  • Railways need to think seriously about life after coal. Adoption of the roll-on roll-off model of transporting loaded trucks on the rail on the DFCs will reduce the overall carbon footprint.
  • Corporatisation of the Railways’ Production Units and outsourcing the medical services may reduce work expenses.
  • An annual report called ‘Indian Railways Report’ on the lines of the annual Economic Survey should be placed in Parliament every year. It should detail the physical and financial performance of the Railways. It will make railways more accountable and transparent.


  • It is important to modernize the railways, so measures must be taken to reimburse the social costs speedily so that the resources of the railways is better allocated and facilities are upgraded from time to time.
  • Some of the recommendations of Bibek Debroy committee like transitioning to commercial accounting, shifting to an independent regulator, and privatizing non-core functions of railways (catering, real estate development, including housing, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, etc) can be implemented


QUESTION : There is a pressing need for revamping the food subsidy system. In light of this, suggest the measures to reduce leakages and inefficiencies in current the system.




  • PDS in India


  • The centre needs to find pragmatic solutions to limit the growing food subsidy bill.


  • The Economic Survey, tabled in Parliament in January, rightly flagged the issue of a growing food subsidy bill.
  • During 2016-17 to 2019-20, the subsidy amount, clubbed with loans taken by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) under the National Small Savings Fund (NSSF) towards food subsidy, was in the range of ₹1.65-lakh crore to ₹2.2-lakh crore.
  • In future, the annual subsidy bill of the Centre is expected to be about ₹2.5-lakh crore.
  • During the three years, the quantity of food grains drawn by States (annually) hovered around 60 million tonnes to 66 million tonnes.
  • The National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013, covered two-thirds of the country’s population, this naturally pushed up the States’ drawal.
  • Based on an improved version of the targeted Public Distribution System (PDS), the law requires the authorities to provide to each beneficiary 5 kg of rice or wheat per month.



  • Economic Survey has hinted at an increase in the Central Issue Price (CIP).
  • Central Issue Price has remained at ₹2 per kg for wheat and ₹3 per kg for rice for years, though the NFSA, even in 2013, envisaged a price revision after three years.
  • What makes the subject more complex is the variation in the retail issue prices of rice and wheat, from nil in States such as Karnataka and West Bengal for Priority Households (PHH) and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) ration card holders.
  • In Tamil Nadu, rice is given free of cost for all categories; this includes non-PHH.
  • A mere increase in the CIPs of rice and wheat without a corresponding rise in the issue prices by the State governments would only increase the burden of States.
  • Political compulsions are perceived to be coming in the way of the Centre and the States increasing the prices.



  • An official committee in January 2015 called for decreasing the quantum of coverage under the law, from the present 67% to around 40%.
  • For all ration cardholders drawing food grains, a “give-up” option, as done in the case of cooking gas cylinders, can be made available.
  • Even though States have been allowed to frame criteria for the identification of PHH cardholders, the Centre can nudge states into pruning the number of such beneficiaries.
  • As for the prices, the existing arrangement of flat rates should be replaced with a slab system.
  • Barring the needy, other beneficiaries can be made to pay a little more for a higher quantum of food grains.



  • PDS was introduced around World War II as a war-time rationing measure. Before the 1960s, distribution through PDS was generally dependant on imports of food grains.
  • It was expanded in the 1960s as a response to the food shortages of the time; subsequently, the government set up the Agriculture Prices Commission and the FCI to improve domestic procurement and storage of food grains for PDS.
  • By the 1970s, PDS had evolved into a universal scheme for the distribution of subsidised food
  • Till 1992, PDS was a general entitlement scheme for all consumers without any specific target.
  • The Revamped Public Distribution System (RPDS) was launched in June, 1992 with a view to strengthen and streamline the PDS as well as to improve its reach in the far-flung, hilly, remote and inaccessible areas where a substantial section of the underprivileged classes lives.
  • In June, 1997, the Government of India launched the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) with a focus on the poor.
    • Under TPDS, beneficiaries were divided into two categories: Households below the poverty line or BPL; and Households above the poverty line or APL.
  • Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY): AAY was a step in the direction of making TPDS aim at reducing hunger among the poorest segments of the BPL population.
    • A National Sample Survey exercise pointed towards the fact that about 5% of the total population in the country sleeps without two square meals a day. In order to make TPDS more focused and targeted towards this category of population, the “Antyodaya Anna Yojana” (AAY) was launched in December, 2000 for one crore poorest of the poor families.
  • In September 2013, Parliament enacted the National Food Security Act, 2013. The Act relies largely on the existing TPDS to deliver food grains as legal entitlements to poor households. This marks a shift by making the right to food a justiciable right.



  • Identification of beneficiaries: Studies have shown that targeting mechanisms such as TPDS are prone to large inclusion and exclusion errors. This implies that entitled beneficiaries are not getting food grains while those that are ineligible are getting undue benefits.
  • Leakage of food grains: (Transportation leakages + Black Marketing by FPS owners) TPDS suffers from large leakages of food grains during transportation to and from ration shops into the open market. In an evaluation of TPDS, the erstwhile Planning Commission found 36% leakage of PDS rice and wheat at the all-India level.
  • Issue with procurement: Open-ended Procurement i.e., all incoming grains accepted even if buffer stock is filled, creates a shortage in the open market.
  • Issues with storage: A performance audit by the CAG has revealed a serious shortfall in the government’s storage capacity.
    • Given the increasing procurement and incidents of rotting food grains, the lack of adequate covered storage is bound to be a cause for concern.
  • The provision of minimum support price (MSP) has encouraged farmers to divert land from production of coarse grains that are consumed by the poor, to rice and wheat and thus, discourages crop diversification.
  • Environmental issues: The over-emphasis on attaining self-sufficiency and a surplus in food grains, which are water-intensive, has been found to be environmentally unsustainable.
    • Procuring states such as Punjab and Haryana are under environmental stress, including rapid groundwater depletion, deteriorating soil and water conditions from overuse of fertilisers.



  • One Nation One Ration Card (RC) will ensure all beneficiaries especially migrants can access PDS across the nation from any PDS shop of their own choice.
  • Benefits: no poor person is deprived of getting subsidised food-grains under the food security scheme when they shift from one place to another. It also aims to remove the chance of anyone holding more than one ration card to avail benefits from different states.
  • Significance: This will provide freedom to the beneficiaries as they will not be tied to any one PDS shop and reduce their dependence on shop owners and curtail instances of corruption.


Highlights of the scheme:

  • The poor migrant workers will be able to buy subsidised rice and wheat from any ration shop in the country but for that their ration cards must be linked to Aadhaar.
  • Migrants would only be eligible for the subsidies supported by the Centre, which include rice sold at Rs. 3/kg and wheat at Rs. 2/kg, It would not include subsidies given by their respective state government in some other state.


  • Ensuring accountability: As happened in Rajasthan, a beneficiary has no mechanism to question whether the shop owner is telling the truth or diverting rations. There is need to redesign fundamental processes related to the PDS to empower every individual.

 Lessons from Andhra Pradesh:

  • The state government collects feedback in real time through a mobile-based system.
  • The central government should use this opportunity to make PDS more user-centric.
  • It should track denial of service on a real-time basis through mobile-based surveys.
  • It should commission research on the experiences of particularly vulnerable groups such as the elderly, migrants, disabled and tribals to modify the process where needed.
  • It should enable beneficiaries to track the amount of food at nearby ration shops using their mobile phones.
  • Strengthening Operational Backbone: States should be brought together on a national platform that is based on the same technical standards and can therefore interoperate so that portability works seamlessly across states. The system should enable real time tracking of inventories and rapid response to low stock situations.
  • Tackling Authentication Failures: Studies by Indian School of Business (ISB) in multiple states point to a 1-3 per cent failure rate, potentially affecting 8-24 million people at a national scale. To prevent denial of service, the government should ensure availability of non-biometric means of authentication (such as OTP or PIN), as well as manual overrides.
  • Addressing privacy concerns: While leveraging the power of Aadhaar for PDS, the government should actively address privacy and exclusion risks that the use of Aadhaar and a centralised PDS platform can lead to.


  • These measures, if properly implemented, can have a salutary effect on retail prices in the open market. A revamped, need-based PDS is required not just for cutting down the subsidy bill but also for reducing the scope for leakages. Political will should not be found wanting.



QUESTION :  It is  time for the military to change into a future force while taking note of the rapidly changing technological landscape because the nature of wars are changing. Comment





  • Future force for India



  • Like the US, India also needs to build a future force for future wars.


 War, at its core, is organized violence, waged for political purposes. The real purpose is domination. But the definition of wars changed rapidly. To tackle it, countries need to build a future force. India also needs to build such a future force.



  • Earlier wars were easy to define. One could know whether a country is at war or at peace. Further, people and security forces knew with whom they are fighting and at which front.
  • However, war today is practically impossible to define, due to its unpredictability and contactless nature. Military theorist Carl von Clausewitz stated that war is practically limitless in variety(Military, cyber, etc).
  • So, making the armed forces of a state future-ready is important.


 It is a branch force equipped with new manned and unmanned vehicles. This force is linked by a fast and flexible battlefield network for yielding better results in warfare.

 Future Forces will radically use technologies such as nanotechnology powered armours etc.



 In 2014, the US announced a Third Offset Strategy. This strategy consists of a certain important vision towards the future force. This includes steps such as,

  • Developing cutting-edge technology in defence such as robotics, big data analytics etc. These technologies are aimed towards providing autonomous learning systems, collaborative decision-making between humans and machines, network-enabled autonomous weapons etc.
  • Exploration of new concepts for utilizing such technology.
  • Retaining the best human resources to achieve peace globally.



  • India at present recognize the war of older times and neglect the modern war. There are many anonymous threats bypassing Indian frontiers without challenging national sovereignty. For that India needs to build a future force.

 What is the force-on-force concept?

  • Force-on-force refers to the scenario-based training in which the participants work against live role-playing opponents. For example, If a battalion is going for force-on-force training, then the battalion is divided into 2 teams. One will operate as a protecting team. The other will operate as a terrorist team.
  • This training is most realistic to the actual scenario


 India also has to build a future force. To achieve that India needs to take important steps. Such as,

  • Master force-on-force concept: In India, the Chief of the Defence Staff is preparing the future force. He admits that ‘force on force’ concepts are difficult, but it is prerequisite for the future force.
  • India needs to master the ‘hybridised effect’ of warfare. It means the influence of mixing up security forces for getting better results in warfare. At present India is adopting the hybridised effect. This is evident by the establishment of the Chief of the Defence Staff.
  • India needs a confluence of all the technology and the government needs to drive new strategies and tactics.
  • India needs to break the civilian-military silos. This means building a more positive relationship between civilians and the military.



QUESTION : Examine the  ways in which Artificial Intelligence in helping humanity and concerns with the promotion and the governance of AI by giving effect ways to tackle the menace emerging out of this AI .




  • Opportunities and challenges of Artificial Intelligence


  • The article talks about the need for adequate safeguards while applying AI failing which, social and economic schisms could be widened, leading to discriminatory outcomes.


  • AI is embedded in the recommendations we get on our favourite streaming or shopping site; in GPS mapping technology; in the predictive text that completes our sentences when we try to send an email or complete a web search.
  • And the more we use AI, the more data we generate, the smarter it gets.
  • In just the last decade, AI has evolved with unprecedented velocity.



  • AI has helped increase crop yields, raised business productivity, improved access to credit and made cancer detection faster and more precise.
  • It could contribute more than $15 trillion to the world economy by 2030, adding 14% to global GDP.
  • Google has identified over 2,600 use cases of “AI for good” worldwide.
  • A study published in Nature reviewing the impact of AI on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) finds that AI may act as an enabler on 134 of all SDG targets.



  • Healthcare Sector: Machine learning is being used for faster, cheaper and more accurate diagnosis and thus improving patient outcomes and reducing costs. For Example, IBM Watson and chatbots are some of such tools.
  • Business Sector: To take care of highly repetitive tasks Robotic process automation is applied which perform faster and effortlessly than humans. Further, Machine learning algorithms are being integrated into analytics and CRM platforms to provide better customer service. Chatbots being used into the websites to provide immediate service to customers. Automation of job positions has also become a talking point among academics and IT consultancies such as Gartner and Forrester.
  • Education Sector: AI can make some of the educational processes automated such as grading, rewarding marks etc. therefore giving educators more time. Further, it can assess students and adapt to their needs, helping them work at their own pace. AI may change where and how students learn, perhaps even replacing some teachers.
  • Financial Sector: It can be applied to the personal finance applications and could collect personal data and provide financial advice. In fact, today software trades more than humans on the Wall Street.
  • Legal Sector: Automation can lead to faster resolution of already pending cases ny reducing the time taken while analyzing cases thus better use of time and more efficient processes.
  • Manufacturing sector: Robots are being used for manufacturing since a long time now, however, more advanced exponential technologies have emerged such as additive manufacturing (3D Printing) which with the help of AI can revolutionize the entire manufacturing supply chain ecosystem.
  • Intelligent Robots − Robots can perform the tasks given by a human because of sensors to detect physical data and huge memory, to exhibit intelligence. Further, they are capable of learning from their errors and therefore can adapt to the new environment.
  • Gaming – AI has a crucial role in strategic games such as chess, poker, tic-tac-toe, etc., where the machine can think of a large number of possible positions based on heuristic knowledge.
  • Speech Recognition – There are intelligent systems that are capable of hearing and grasping the language in terms of sentences and their meanings while human talks to it. It can handle different accents, slang words, noise in the background, change in human’s noise due to cold, etc.
  • Cyber Security: Cybersecurity – AI systems can help recognise and fight cyberattacks and other cyber threats based on the continuous input of data, recognising patterns and backtracking the attacks.



  • Yet, the study in Nature also finds that AI can actively hinder 59 or 35%  of SDG targets.
  • AI requires massive computational capacity, which means more power-hungry data centres — and a big carbon footprint.
  • AI could compound digital exclusion.
  • Many desk jobs will be edged out by AI, such as accountants, financial traders and middle managers.
  • Without clear policies on reskilling workers, the promise of new opportunities will in fact create serious new inequalities.
  • Investment is likely to shift to countries where AI-related work is already established widening gaps among and within countries.
  • AI also presents serious data privacy concerns.
  • We shape the algorithms and it is our data AI operate on.
  • In 2016, it took less than a day for Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot, “Tay”, to start spewing egregious racist content, based on the material it encountered.



  • Without ethical guard rails, AI will widen social and economic schisms, amplifying any innate biases.
  • Only a “whole of society” approach to AI governance will enable us to develop broad-based ethical principles, cultures and codes of conduct.
  • Given the global reach of AI, such a “whole of society” approach must rest on a “whole of world” approach.
  • The UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation is a good starting point.
  • This approach lays out the need for multi-stakeholder efforts on global cooperation.
  • UNESCO has developed a global, comprehensive standard-setting draft Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence to Member States for deliberation and adoption.
  • Many countries, including India, are cognisant of the opportunities and the risks, and are striving to strike the right balance between AI promotion and AI governance.
  • NITI Aayog’s Responsible AI for All strategy, the culmination of a year-long consultative process, is a case in point.


  • Despite these threats and challenges, it would be stupid to argue that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not the future and it’s only a matter of time that machines will replace most of the jobs. It does not mean the end of the road for humanity and we have a history of technological revolutions causing social and political changes in society.
  • Challenging part starts where principles meet reality that the ethical issues and conundrums arise in practice, and for which we must be prepared for deep, difficult, multi-stakeholder ethical reflection, analyses and resolve. Only then will AI provide humanity its full promise.


QUESTION : Critically evaluate the privatisation of Public sector banks may be necessary but not a sufficient reform to address the issues pertaining to ailing Indian banking sector”.



  • Privatisation of PSBs


  • The Union government has announced its intent to privatise Public Sector Banks (PSBs) in the recent Budget session.The article argues against the proposed move to privatise Public Sector Banks based on the following arguments.


  • The failure of innumerable private banks around the world, challenge the notion that only private banks are efficient. The large volumes of NPAs observed in private corporate entities also challenge the notion of private enterprises being the epitome of efficiency.



  • The nationalisation of 14 private banks in 1969, followed by six more in 1980, transformed the banking sector and ensured the following benefits.
  • Neglected areas like agriculture, poverty alleviation plans, rural development, health, education, exports, infrastructure, women’s empowerment, small scale and medium industry, and small and micro industries, have witnessed increased credit disbursal rates from the public sector banks.
  • The nationalization of banks helped in promoting more equitable regional growth. The increased number of bank branches in rural areas has reduced the poor people’s dependence on moneylenders and thus helped move out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
  • Bank nationalization helped create jobs. They also improved the working conditions of employees in the banking sector, as the state ensured higher wages, security of services, and other fringe benefits.
  • As an institution, PSBs have been vehicles of the Indian economy’s growth and development. They have also contributed significantly to infrastructural development.


  • Placing the huge network of bank branches and the infrastructure and assets in the hands of private enterprises or corporates may turn out to be detrimental given the risks of monopoly and cartelisation of the crucial financial sector and this could lead to denial of economical banking services to the common man.


  • It is unfair to blame PSBs alone for the alarming rise of NPAs.
  • Wilful default by large corporate borrowers and subsequent recovery haircuts and write-offs, have put a big dent on the balance sheets of PSBs.
  • The lack of strong recovery laws and lack of criminal action against wilful defaulters is a major lacuna in the system.


  • Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was also Finance Minister, decided to nationalise the 14 largest private banks on July 19, 1969. The idea was to align the banking sector with the socialistic approach of the then government. State Bank of India had been nationalised in 1955 itself, and the insurance sector in 1956.

 Many committees had proposed bringing down the government stake in public banks below 51%:

  1. The Narasimham Committee proposed 33% and the P J Nayak Committee suggested below 50%.



  • Stringent measures are required to recover large corporate stressed assets.
  • There is an urgent need to bring in a suitable statutory framework to consider wilful defaults on bank loans a “criminal offence”.
  • There should be a system to examine top executives of PSBs across the country which will help in improving accountability among the top executives of the bank.


  • In order to improve the governance and management of PSBs, there is a need to implement the recommendations of the PJ Nayak committee.
  • De-Risking Banks: There is a need to follow prudential norms for lending and NPAs can be tackled through the establishment of the bad bank and speedy resolution of NPAs through Insolvency Bankruptcy Code(IBC) .
  • Corporatisation of PSBs: Rather than blind privatisation, PSBs can be made into a corporation like Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). While maintaining government ownership, this will give more autonomy to PSBs


  • Privatisation of PSBs is not a definitive panacea for the problems of the banking sector in India.


QUESTION : The automobile sector of the country is in the news as it is experiencing prolonged negative growth and challenges in this respect. Discuss some key initiatives brought by the Indian government.



  • India’s New Vehicle Scrapping Policy


  • The vehicle scrappage policy announced by the Transport Ministry promises economic benefits, a cleaner environment and thousands of jobs.



  • Personal vehicles older than 20 years and commercial vehicles older than 15 years will have to undergo a fitness test at the government registered ‘Automated Fitness Centres’.
  • Private vehicles older than 20 years and commercial vehicles older than 15 years that fail to pass the fitness test will be de-registered.
  • Such vehicles that fail the fitness test or vehicles whose owners fail to renew the registration certificate would be declared “end-of-life vehicles”.
  • The said vehicles shall be scrapped at the authorized scrapping centres.



  • Scrapping an old vehicle through one of the registered scrapping centers, buyer will get approx. 4-6% of the ex-showroom price of the new vehicle as an incentive.
  • In addition, the state governments have been advised to offer a rebate of 25% in road tax for private vehicles and 15% for commercial vehicles.
  • In addition to this, the vehicle manufacturers will also be advised to offer a 5 percent discount on the purchase of a new vehicle after an individual presents a scrapping certificate.
  • The registration fee on the purchase of a new vehicle shall also be waived off.


  • India’s automobile ecosystem is complex, with dominant, legacy motors spanning fossil-fuel driven vehicles and a nascent EV segment.
  • The industry’s share pre-COVID-19 was about 7.5% of GDP with significant employment generation .But it also imposes a fuel import burden.
  • Vehicle scrappage and replacement is a route to rejuvenate COVID-19-affected economies by privileging green technologies, notably electric vehicles (EVs), and an initiative to achieve net zero emissions by mid-century under Paris Agreement commitments.
  • The scrappage policy will not only help in the reduction of air pollution by 25 to 30 percent but will also help in improving road safety.
  • The scrappage policy would eventually result in the recycling of numerous metals and the cost of raw materials for the automotive and electronics industry is likely to decrease.
  • The scrappage policy will result in the creation of 35,000 direct jobs.


  • There is a need for a credible system of automated fitness checking centres with help from States to assess whether commercial and private vehicles are roadworthy after 15 and 20 years, respectively, as the policy envisages.
  • Enforcement will be key to get vehicles scrapped once they are found unfit for use and to stop them from moving to smaller towns.
  • States must also come on board to provide road tax and registration concessions, while the automobile industry may provide genuine discounts on new vehicles.
  • The enforcement of the amended Motor Vehicles Act of 2019 was not a success because States are not entirely on board, The scrappage plan should get states’ support, and manufacturers who will benefit from a rise in demand.
  • Replacement of heavy commercial vehicles, which contribute disproportionately to pollution as 1.7 million vehicles lack fitness certificates, pose the biggest challenge. Many of these cannot be replaced quickly in the absence of financial arrangements for small operators.
  • Failure to prioritise fuel efficiency and enhance taxes on fuel guzzling vehicles will only repeat the mistakes of vehicle exchange programmes abroad, where full environmental benefits could not be realised, and taxpayers ended up subsidising inefficiency.



  • Go Electric Campaign
  • FAME India Scheme Phase 2nd
  • Electric Vehicles (EV) Policy 2020 for Delhi
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Based Bus and Car Project
  • National Electric Mobility Mission 2020


  • The Centre has to arrive at a balance and have incentives that reward manufacturers of vehicles that are the most fuel-efficient. Ecological scrapping, as a concept, must lead to high rates of materials recovery, reduce air pollution, mining and pressure on the environment.


QUESTION : Why  is it  very intriguing to see several amendments in news these days . Comment


  • Insurance in India is regulated by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).
  • This institution is a statutory body empowered under the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India Act-1999.
  • It consists of 1 chairman and 5 members (2 full-time members and 3 part-time members). They are appointed by the Government of India.
  • Its headquarter is located in Hyderabad


  • Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021


  • The Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 has few important concerns. But the move is a welcome step to the Insurance sector.


  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Bill had earlier been cleared by the Rajya Sabha also. Now it only requires the presidential assent to become a law.


  • The Bill amends the Insurance Act,1938. The Bill seeks to increase the maximum foreign investment allowed in an Indian insurance company from 49% to 74%.
  • However, such foreign investment may be subject to additional conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government. The conditions include,
    • The majority of directors on the Board and key management persons in health and general insurance companies has to be resident Indians.
    • At least 50% of directors of the Insurance companies have to be independent directors.
  • The bill also removes restrictions on ownership and control.



  • The present actual share of FDI in the insurance sector is less than the current limit of 49%. Further, the present target was aimed to achieve within 5 years. But that is not achieved so far. Hence, there is no justification for increasing the limit to 74%.
  • Infusion of market funds in the insurance sector is not viable. The critics mention the time when financial institutions like DHFL, Yes Bank have collapsed, infusing market funds might lead to the collapse of insurance institutions also.
  • The Bill does not have a provision to prevent financially weak foreign companies from entering into the Indian insurance sector.
  • Many Indian insurance companies are already in Joint Venture with foreign companies. Hence, the Government’s claim that foreign investment is needed for bringing newer technology to the country is not substantiated.


  • The bill is aimed at solving some long-term capital availability issues in the insurance sector.
  • The banking and insurance industry fall under the strategic sectors according to the government’s strategic disinvestment policy. The 74% cap is just a limit posed on the FDI. Hence, there should be no apprehension on privatization.
  • The bill will increase competition in the insurance sector. This will in turn facilitate affordable schemes for middle-class people.
  • Half of the market share of the Indian insurance sector is already held by private companies. The public sector insurance market share is merely 38.78%. On the other hand, the private sector enjoys 48.03% of the market share. So the increase in FDI is essential to improve the insurance penetration further.


  • More capital at dispense: The FDI limit increase is also expected to provide access to fresh capital to some of the insurance companies, which are struggling to raise capital from their existing promoters.
  • Better solvency: This would not only increase the solvency position for some insurers but would provide long-term growth capital for other companies to invest in newer technologies.
  • Insurance penetration: These technologies would not only help in managing losses but also in customer acquisition and thus insurance penetration.
  • Technological impetus: The additional funds could be used to invest in technology to adapt to the evolving customer needs like responsive service through digital platforms


  • The Insurance (Amendment) Bill might facilitate insurance penetration among middle-class Indians. But the adequate safety mechanisms have to put in place to check the insurance companies.


QUESTION : Discuss the challenges ahead in achieving the Government of India’s vision of Power for all by 2022 .



  • India’s New Trade rules in Energy



  • India has released new rules governing the trade of electricity across its borders. They define the profile of the South Asian electricity market, placing clear limits on who can buy from and sell into India.
  • This has effects for the electricity markets of Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, which have aligned their energy futures with the Indian market to varying degrees.


  • The rules strongly discourage the participation of plants owned by a company situated in a third country with whom India shares a land border and does not have a bilateral agreement on power sector cooperation with India.
  • Chinese companies hoping to establish plants in Nepal, Bhutan, or Bangladesh will have a hard time making their investments with the Indian market.
  • It attempts to balance China’s growing influence in the region with developmental aims of India and the region.
  • The rules place the same security restrictions on tripartite trade, say from Bhutan to Bangladesh through Indian territory.
  • The rules establish elaborate surveillance procedures to detect changes in the ownership patterns of entities trading with India.



 India-centric structure

  • The institutional structure that has emerged over the last decade is India-centric.
  • The Government of India, through ministries, regulators, planning bodies and utilities, determines the rules.
  • India’s geographic centrality gives it a natural advantage in determining the shape of the market.
  • The theorists have demanded an independent regional body governing trade, which is unlikely at the present.
  • India will enjoy pre-eminent rule-setting powers, but it will attract the criticism and mistrust of its smaller neighbours.



  • India aims to anchor a global super-grid called One Sun One World One Grid, or OSOWOG.
  • It aims to begin with connections to West Asia and Southeast Asia and then spread to Africa and beyond.
  • The present rules will constantly collide with and damage visions of borderless trade.
  • Impartial institutions for planning, investments and conflict resolution are crucial to multi-country power pools.
  • Managing the power pool of a dozen countries or more will be much harder.
  • An ad hoc design makes the Indian project less attractive to countries looking to sign up to a power trading project.
  • Hence, an attractive institutional model can lock countries into the energy pool of India by setting standards that investors and utilities plan towards and profit by.
  • The need of the hour is a stable institutional model that can surpass China.
  • The Government of India has set itself a target of 100 GW of solar power by 2022, of which 60 GW is to come from utilities and 40 GW from rooftop solar installations. While the 60 GW target seems achievable, the country is lagging behind on the target set for rooftop solar.
  • With a view to accelerating the deployment of rooftop solar power in the country, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has proposed the ‘Sustainable Rooftop Implementation for Solar Transfiguration of India (SRISTI)’ scheme.
  • The government has set a target of reaching 100 GW of solar power installed capacity in the country by 2022, of which 40 GW is targeted through the solar rooftop.
  • The Ministry is implementing Grid Connected Rooftop Solar (RTS) Power Programme in which subsidy/incentives are being provided for residential, institutional, social and Government sector. States/UTs have also taken conducive policy and regulatory measures for the promotion of solar rooftop.


  • Rooftop solar installations — as opposed to large-scale solar power generation plants — can be installed on the roofs of buildings. As such, they fall under two brackets: commercial and residential. This simply has to do with whether the solar panels are being installed on top of commercial buildings or residential complexes.


  • Rooftop solar provides companies and residential areas the option of an alternative source of electricity to that provided by the grid. While the main benefit of this is to the environment, since it reduces the dependence on fossil-fuel generated electricity, solar power can also augment the grid supply in places where it is erratic.
  • Rooftop solar also has the great benefit of being able to provide electricity to those areas that are not yet connected to the grid — remote locations and areas where the terrain makes it difficult to set up power stations and lay power lines.


  • With the surge in renewable energy, storage technologies, the electricity grid needs to be made smarter and more flexible. Rigid rules may hamper the progress and alienate the neighbours towards China.
  • The geopolitics of the region demands an energy leadership from India, that is acceptable and inclusive.


QUESTION : To deal with the Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) or bad loans of the banks is the most challenging task in Indian Economy. Critically analyse


  • NPAs and Indian Economy


  • Indian banks were written off in the early days of the pandemic when there were expectations of an exponential jump in non-performing assets. This worry continued well into the third quarter of the year.
  • It was only after the banks, in their forward guidance, consistently talked about the lower number of restructuring requests, and the higher provision coverage ratios that the markets began to get convinced. Finally, the budget announcements related to the financial sector were turned the corner.


  • The most important budget announcement is in line with global practices is the creation of a bad bank under an Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC)-Asset Management Company (AMC) structure

 o ARC will aggregate the debt, while the AMC will act as a resolution manager.

  • The proposed structure envisages setting up of a National Asset Reconstruction Company (NARC) to acquire stressed assets in an aggregated manner from lenders, which will be resolved by the National Asset Management Company (NAMC).
  • A skilled and professional set-up dedicated for Stressed Asset Resolution will be ably supported by attracting institutional funding in stressed assets through strategic investors, AIFs, special situation funds, stressed asset funds, etc for participation in the resolution process.
  • The net effect of this approach would be to build an open architecture and a vibrant market for stressed assets.



  • Banks in India and globally were much better capitalised prior to the pandemic.
  • Indian banks had built up a sizeable buffer to provide for bad assets negating any surprise on balance sheets during and even after the pandemic.
  • As the size of the middle class grows to about two-thirds of Asian households, on the back of a steady rise in disposable income, personal financial assets in Asia will reach about $69 trillion by 2025. Approximately three-quarters of the global total.

 o This trend will be the main driver of demand for financial services in Asia, specifically in India.

 o Banks in Asia, including in India, have begun to adjust for this steady growth in the size of pie by experimenting with new business models, rationalising costs and providing faster and superior customer digital experience, as was clear during pandemic.

  • Indian banks and the RBI brought about financial discipline much before the pandemic to make borrowers realise that timely payments of interest and instalments were necessary and that any breach would affect their ratings and the pricing of loans.

 o For example, units with high leverage were advised to reduce their debt levels in a time-bound manner.

  • All these factors thus corroborate the view that the current exuberance in the Indian financial sector is no flash in the pan.
  • This was also helped by exceptionally prudent monetary management by the RBI and the recent budget announcements.



  • Till date, there have been no quantifiable estimates in the public domain of the supposed benefits of setting up such a structure.
  • Banks may first transfer those assets to the proposed bad bank with a 100 per cent provision on its book and then based on the experience they will decide on transferring assets with less than 100 per cent provisioning at a later date.
  • It is also being speculated that of the total amounts recovered, a specified percentage say 85 per cent will be in the form of security receipts that will reside in the bank balance sheets.

 o But it will carry a zero-risk weight, with full government guarantees for a specified period of time.



  • The assets of the banks which don’t perform (that is – don’t bring any return) are called Non Performing Assets (NPA) or bad loans. Bank’s assets are the loans and advances given to customers. If customers don’t pay either interest or part of principal or both, the loan turns into bad loan.
  • According to RBI, terms loans on which interest or installment of principal remain overdue for a period of more than 90 days from the end of a particular quarter is called a Non-performing Asset.
  • However, in terms of Agriculture / Farm Loans; the NPA is defined as under-For short duration crop agriculture loans such as paddy, Jowar, Bajra etc. if the loan (installment / interest) is not paid for 2 crop seasons, it would be termed as a NPA. For Long Duration Crops, the above would be 1 Crop season from the due date.



  • There are several international success stories of a bad bank accomplishing its mission and there is no reason to believe why India cannot accomplish its objective.
  • The current Indian approach will drive consolidation of stressed assets under the AMC for better and faster decision making.
  • This will free up management bandwidth of banks enabling them to focus on credit growth, leading to an enhancement in their valuations.
  • Given that the governance of the AMC and its independence is central to its successful functioning.


 These include:

 o Keeping majority ownership in the private sector,

 o Putting together a strong and independent board,

 o A professional team, and

 o Linking AMC compensation to returns delivered to investors.



  • Markets are after all always useful in understanding the future discounted stream of corporate cash flows better than anyone. From that perspective, if the recent GDP upgrades are an indication, though notwithstanding the second wave of infections, the market has already factored in a large upside to the creation of a bad bank.




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