International Religious Freedom Report 2022


The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has recommended that India be designated a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC), i.e., the category of governments performing most poorly on religious freedom criteria. It has also called for “targeted sanctions” on individuals and entities responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ or entities’ assets and/or barring their entry” into the U.S.


GS II- International relations (Important religious institutions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Highlights of the Report:
  2. About USCIRF
  3. Why does USCIRF want India to be designated as a CPC?

Key Highlights of the Report:

  • The primary focus of the report is on two groups of countries:
    • Country of Particular Concern (CPC): CPCs are countries whose governments either engage in or tolerate “particularly severe violations” of religious freedom, which are defined as “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of the internationally recognized right to freedom of religion”.
    • Special Watch List: A country on the “Special Watch List” is one that does not meet all of the CPC criteria but participates in or tolerates grave religious freedom abuses.
  • The Report also includes USCIRF’s recommendations of violent nonstate actors for designation by the US State Department as Entities of Particular Concern (EPCs), under International Review of Financial Analysis (IRFA).
  • The report also highlights key global developments and trends in religious freedom for the year 2021, including in nations that do not fit the CPC or SWL standards. The Covid-19 pandemic and religious freedom, blasphemy and hate speech laws, transnational repression, religious intolerance in Europe, declining religious freedom conditions in South Asia, and political turmoil that raises religious freedom concerns are among them.


  • The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan body created by the International Religious Freedom Act, 1998 (IRFA) with a mandate to monitor religious freedom violations globally and make policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and the Congress.
  • It is a congressionally created entity and not an NGO or advocacy organisation.
  • It is led by nine part-time commissioners appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in the House and the Senate.
  • According to the IRFA, commissioners are “selected among distinguished individuals noted for their knowledge and experience in fields relevant to the issue of international religious freedom, including foreign affairs, direct experience abroad, human rights, and international law.”

Other countries designated as CPCs:

  • For 2022, based on religious freedom conditions in 2021, a total of 15 countries have been recommended for the CPC designation.
  • They include India, Pakistan, Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria and Vietnam.
  • Countries recommended for a SWL designation include Algeria, Cuba, Nicaragua, Azerbaijan, Central African Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.

Why does USCIRF want India to be designated as a CPC?

  • The USCIRF, in its annual report, states that in 2021, “religious freedom conditions in India significantly worsened.”
  • Noting that the “Indian government escalated its promotion and enforcement of policies —including those promoting a Hindu-nationalist agenda — that negatively affect Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, and other religious minorities,” the report observed that “the government continued to systemise its ideological vision of a Hindu state at both the national and State levels through the use of both existing and new laws and structural changes hostile to the country’s religious minorities.”
  • It highlighted the use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against those documenting religious persecution and violence, detailed the creation of “hurdles against the licensure and receipt of international funding” by religious and charitable NGOs, and observed that “numerous attacks were made on religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, and their neighborhoods, businesses, homes, and houses of worship”.
  • It also criticised the spate of fresh anti-conversion legislations, noting that “national, State and local governments demonised and attacked the conversion of Hindus to Christianity or Islam.”
  • This is the third year in a row that India has received a CPC recommendation. India has in the past pushed back against the grading, questioning the locus standi of USCIRF.

Europe’s Digital Services Act


Recently, The European Parliament and European Union (EU) Member States announced that they had reached a political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA), a landmark legislation to force big Internet companies to act against disinformation and illegal and harmful content, and to “provide better protection for Internet users and their fundamental rights”.


GS III- Cyber Security

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the DSA, and to whom will it apply?
  2. What do the new rules state?

What is the DSA, and to whom will it apply?

  • The DSA will tightly regulate the way intermediaries, especially large platforms such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube, function when it comes to moderating user content.
    • Instead of letting platforms decide how to deal with abusive or illegal content, the DSA will lay down specific rules and obligations for these companies to follow.
  • According to the EU, DSA will apply to a “large category of online services, from simple websites to Internet infrastructure services and online platforms.”
    • The obligations for each of these will differ according to their size and role.
  • The legislation brings in its ambit platforms that provide Internet access, domain name registrars, hosting services such as cloud computing and web-hosting services.
    • But more importantly, very large online platforms (VLOPs) and very large online search engines (VLOSEs) will face “more stringent requirements.”
  • Any service with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU will fall into this category.
    • Those with under 45 million monthly active users in the EU will be exempt from certain new obligations.
  • Once the DSA becomes law, each EU Member State will have the primary role in enforcing these, along with a new “European Board for Digital Services.”
  • The EU Commission will carry out “enhanced supervision and enforcement” for the VLOPs and VLOSEs.
    •  Penalties for breaching these rules could be huge — as high as 6% of the company’s global annual turnover.

What do the new rules state?

New procedures for faster removal:

  • Online platforms and intermediaries such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, etc will have to add “new procedures for faster removal” of content deemed illegal or harmful.
  • This can vary according to the laws of each EU Member State.
  • These platforms will have to clearly explain their policy on taking down content; users will be able to challenge these takedowns as well. Platforms will need to have a clear mechanism to help users flag content that is illegal. Platforms will have to cooperate with “trusted flaggers”.

Impose a duty of care:

  • Marketplaces such as Amazon will have to “impose a duty of care” on sellers who are using their platform to sell products online.
  • They will have to “collect and display information on the products and services sold in order to ensure that consumers are properly informed.”


  • The DSA adds “an obligation for very large digital platforms and services to analyse systemic risks they create and to carry out risk reduction analysis”.
  • This audit for platforms like Google and Facebook will need to take place every year.

Independent vetted researchers:

  • The Act proposes to allow independent vetted researchers to have access to public data from these platforms to carry out studies to understand these risks better.

Misleading interfaces:

  • The DSA proposes to ban ‘Dark Patterns’ or “misleading interfaces” that are designed to trick users into doing something that they would not agree to otherwise.
  • This includes forcible pop-up pages, giving greater prominence to a particular choice, etc.
  • The proposed law requires that customers be offered a choice of a system which does not “recommend content based on their profiling”.

 Russia-Ukraine conflict:

  • The DSA incorporates a new crisis mechanism clause — it refers to the Russia-Ukraine conflict — which will be “activated by the Commission on the recommendation of the board of national Digital Services Coordinators”.
  • However, these special measures will only be in place for three months.

Protection for minors:

  • The law proposes stronger protection for minors, and aims to ban targeted advertising for them based on their personal data.

Transparency measures:

  • It also proposes “transparency measures for online platforms on a variety of issues, including on the algorithms used for recommending content or products to users”.

Countries will have to ‘justify’ Veto Votes at UN


The 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution requiring the five permanent members of the Security Council to justify their use of the veto.


GS II- Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and agreements involving India

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Why such move?
  2. What is the Veto Power at the UN?
  3. United Nations Security Council

Why such move?

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fueled the reform movement.
  • The measure aims to make veto-wielding countries such as the United States, China, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom “face a larger political price” when using their veto to block a Security Council resolution.
  • For years, Russia (and the United States) have used its veto power to prevent UNSC resolutions, which are enforceable under international law unlike General Assembly resolutions.

What is the Veto Power at the UN?

  • The five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who also happen to be nuclear-weapon states (NWS) under the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), have the power to veto any “substantive” resolution.
  • However, a permanent member’s abstention or absence does not prevent a draft law from being adopted. This veto ability does not apply to “procedural” votes, which are decided by the permanent members.
  • A permanent member can also veto the appointment of a Secretary-General, though this isn’t necessary because the vote is held behind closed doors.

United Nations Security Council

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

  • The Permanent Residence of UNSC in the UN Headquarters New York City, USA.
  • Its primary responsibility is the maintenance of international peace and security.
  • While other organs of the United Nations make recommendations to member states, only the Security Council has the power to make decisions that member states are then obligated to implement under the Charter- Hence, it is the only body of the UN with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.
  • Resolutions of the Security Council are typically enforced by UN peacekeepers, military forces voluntarily provided by member states and funded independently of the main UN budget.


  • It has 15 Members (5 as Permanent Members and 10 as Non- Permanent Members), and each Member has one vote.
  • The Five permanent members are: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Each of the Permanent Members has Veto Power over every decision of UNSC.
  • The Ten non-permanent members are Elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
  • Each year, the General Assembly elects five non-permanent members (out of ten in total) for a two-year term. The ten non-permanent seats are distributed on a regional basis.
  • As per the rules of procedure, a retiring member is not eligible for immediate re-election and the election is held by secret ballot and there are no nominations.
  • The presidency of the Council rotates monthly, going alphabetically among member states.

Functions and Powers of UNSC

Under the United Nations Charter, the functions and powers of the Security Council are:

  • to maintain international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
  • to investigate any dispute or situation which might lead to international friction;
  • to recommend methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement;
  • to formulate plans for the establishment of a system to regulate armaments;
  • to determine the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression and to recommend what action should be taken;
  • to call on Members to apply economic sanctions and other measures not involving the use of force to prevent or stop aggression;
  • to take military action against an aggressor;
  • to recommend the admission of new Members;
  • to exercise the trusteeship functions of the United Nations in “strategic areas”;
  • to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General and, together with the Assembly, to elect the Judges of the International Court of Justice.

Direct Tax collections surge in FY22


India’s net direct tax collections amounted to ₹14,09,640.83 crore for FY22, which is the highest collection ever, signaling that the Indian economy has bounced back after two years of the pandemic.


GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. About Direct Tax in India
  3. About Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)


  • As against ₹14.09 lakh crore this year, our collection in 2020-21 was only ₹9.45 lakh crore.
  • In a single year, the economy has moved upward by nearly ₹4.5 lakh crore, registering a growth of 49%.
  • The collection is the best-ever as far as income tax and corporation tax are concerned.
  • The direct tax-to-GDP ratio is around 12%.
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) was working to raise the ratio to 15-20% in 5-10 years.

About Direct Tax in India

  • A direct tax can be defined as a tax that is paid directly by an individual or organization to the imposing entity (generally government).
  • A direct tax cannot be shifted to another individual or entity.
  • The individual or organization upon which the tax is levied is responsible for the fulfillment of the tax payment.
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes deals with matters related to levying and collecting Direct Taxes and formulation of various policies related to direct taxes.
  • A taxpayer pays a direct tax to a government for different purposes, including real property tax, personal property tax, income tax or taxes on assets, FBT, Gift Tax, Capital Gains Tax, etc.

About Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is a Statutory Body functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.
  • It is official Financial action task force unit.
  • CBDT is a part of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

Composition of CBDT

  • The CBDT Chairman and Members of CBDT are selected from Indian Revenue Service (IRS), a premier civil service of India, whose members constitute the top management of Income Tax Department.
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes consists of a Chairman, and six members that deal with the following:
    • Income Tax & Revenue
    • Administration
    • Legislation & Computerization
    • Audit and Judicial
    • Investigation
    • Transaction Processing System (TPS) & System

Functions of CBDT:

  • CBDT is responsible for administration of the direct tax laws through Income Tax Department.
  • The officials of the Board in their ex-officio capacity also function as a Division of the Ministry dealing with matters relating to levy and collection of direct taxes.
  • CBDT provides essential inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India as well.
It deals with matters related to levying and collecting Direct Taxes.
  • Formulation of various policies.
  • Supervision of the entire Income Tax Department
  • Suggests legislative changes in Direct Tax Enactments
  • Suggests changes in tax rates
  • Proposes changes in the taxation structure in line with the Government policies.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *