India-Netherlands Fast-Track Mechanism (FTM)


  • The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Invest India and the Embassy of the Netherlands formalized the India-Netherlands Fast-Track Mechanism (FTM).


  • Aims and Objectives
    • To strengthen bilateral efforts to increase mutual investment activities.
    • To support and develop business cooperation between companies in both the countries
    • To serve as a platform for faster resolution of investment cases of Dutch companies operating in India.
    • To ensure close collaboration between DPIIT (Ministry of Commerce & industry), departments, Invest India and the Embassy of The Netherlands.
  • Formalization: FTM was formalized between the DPIIT and the Netherlands Embassy by signing the  Joint Statement. 
  • Invest India: It is the national investment promotion and facilitation agency, and is the executing body of the bilateral FTM. 

Importance of FTM

  • Parameter of strong economic relation between India and the Netherlands. 
  • Close bilateral relationship: Some Dutch companies have been operating in India for over 100 years.
  • Growth stimulation in key areas of economics, science and innovation for Dutch companies in India.
  • Amrit Kal: FTM is signed during a period of the celebration of 75 years of not only India’s independence (Amrit Kal) but also of bilateral diplomatic relationship.
  • Ease of doing business: India resolved several issues of Dutch companies before FTM with the help of open FDI policy thereby boosting investor sentiments. 
  • Win-win scenario: With several areas of mutual interest, the India-Netherlands investment corridor will be more robust.

India-Netherlands Bilateral Relations

  • Genesis
    • India and the Netherlands established diplomatic relations in 1947. Since then, the two countries have developed strong political, economic, commercial relations and various sectoral co-operations. 
    • Strengthening of bilateral relationship is based on three pillars-WAH i.e. Water, Agriculture and Health.
  • Recent exchanges: 
    • PM Modi and PM Mark Rutte held a Virtual Summit in April 2021. They agreed on instituting a ‘Strategic Partnership on Water’ to further deepen the Indo-Dutch cooperation in the water related sector. 
  • Counter Terrorism and Cyber security
    • Both countries hold bilateral dialogues on security related issues. 
    • For example, the 1st bilateral cyber security dialogue and the 2nd India-Netherlands JWG on counter terrorism were held in December 2018 in the Hague. 
  • Indo-Pacific Vision
    • As per the 2020 Indo-Pacific guidelines of Netherland, India is considered as a key partner for engagement. Both countries share the close convergence in vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
  • Trade and Commercial Relations: According to official Indian statistics for Netherlands-
    • FDI in India: It was the 4th largest foreign direct investor in India. For e.g. Cumulative FDI of USD 42.3 billion (April 2000 to June 2022).
    • FDI from India: It was the third largest destination for overseas direct investment from India (USD 1.22 billion). 
    • Rank: It was India’s 3rd largest trading partner in Europe in FY 2020-2021. 
    • Bilateral trade: USD 17 billion in 2021-2022.  
    • India’s exports: Mainly mineral fuels and mineral-based products, organic chemicals, electrical machinery and equipment, aluminum, iron and steel and pharmaceutical products.
  • Water Management: 
    • Decision to institute ‘Strategic Partnership on Water’ was taken in 2021 and the JWG on water was upgraded to Ministerial-level. Dutch are the world leaders in water management. 
    • India is utilizing Dutch expertise in overcoming the water-related challenges and technological testing for solutions in delta management, flood control, desalination of soil etc. 
  • Ports/Shipping/Inland Waterways: 
    • Both countries extended the MoU in the fields of ports and maritime transport and logistics to focus on research and development, shipbuilding, innovation and sustainability. 
    • The 4th Indo-Dutch Forum on Smart & Sustainable Port-Led Development was held in September 2020. 
    • The Online Maritime India Summit held in March 2021 was attended by Dutch companies including Port of Rotterdam and Port of Amsterdam.
  • Agriculture and Food Processing
    • The 6th Indo-Dutch JWG on Agriculture Cooperation held digitally in June 2021 emphasized on Food as a core theme(solutions in food waste, horticulture, dairy and aquaculture).
    • The Dutch Government had organized the first ever digital innovation mission with CII India in 2020 to focus on Climate Smart Agriculture.
    • Under Indo-Dutch Joint Agro-Action Plan, two Centres of Excellence (CoE) were established at Baramati, Maharashtra and Wayanad, Kerala. 
  • Healthcare cooperation
    • Since 2014, JWGs have been held under the MoU for Cooperation in the Field of Healthcare and Public Health. 
    • It was to promote greater research collaboration in emerging health challenges associated with communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance. 
    • For e.g. MOU in healthcare innovation between the City of The Hague and the State of Karnataka.
  • Urban Development and Smart Cities: 
    • An MoU was signed in the field of Spatial Planning, Water Management and Mobility Management. It involved cooperation in various fields such as urban development, smart city, waste-to-value projects, geospatial planning and innovation.
  • Sports: 
    • One Million Hockey Legs Social Projects was initiated under the MoU signed in 2014, carried out extensive exercises and projects across several Indian States. For example, Dutch coaches train football players in West Bengal.
  • Renewable Energy: 
    • The Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) was signed by the Netherlands in May 2018. India is one of the convening countries of the Global Commission on Adaptation. 
    • The Netherlands joined the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) in 2021. India invited the Netherlands to support CDRI’s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF) for Small Island Developing States. 
    • The Virtual Dutch Trade Mission was held in February 2021 with solar energy, hydrogen, biofuels , energy transition and e-mobility as a core theme.
  • S&T and Space
    • 2018 marked the 10th anniversary of cooperation in science and innovation. 
    • The Netherlands was India’s partner country in the Technology Summit 2019 and the Global Bio India 2021 Virtual Summit in 2021. 
    • Two new calls on the WAH! Agenda is agreed upon to boost mutual investments in science, technology and innovation under the shared knowledge and Innovation agenda.
  • Indian Community and Diaspora: 
    • The Netherlands hosts the largest Indian Diaspora on mainland Europe, including 2,00,000 strong Surinami-Hindustani communities of Indian origin. 
    • The approximate 48,000 NRIs/PIOs are mainly businessmen, knowledge workers, professionals and students. 
    • Indian students are amongst the top 3 in terms of numbers amongst non-EU foreign students in the Netherlands.

Way Forward

  • India-Netherlands bilateral relationship presents good opportunities for cooperation between like minded countries in the post-COVID world.
  • Sustained dialogue, technology sharing, mutual investment opportunities and converging interests in the Indo-Pacific region marks the potential for ever growing partnership between the two countries.

The Malthusian Trap

In News

  • Thomas Malthus elaborated on a concept in his book – “An Essay on the Principle of Population”, which quite famously inspired Charles Darwin.

More about the Malthusian trap

  • About:
    • The Malthusian trap or Malthusian check refers to the theory that as the human population grows there is increasing pressure on earth’s resources, which in turn acts as a check on the further rise in population. 
      • It is named after English economist Thomas Malthus.
  • How?
    • Malthus argued that while a rise in food production in a country can lead to improved living standards for the general population, the benefit is likely to be temporary. 
    • This is because, increase in availability of food would encourage people to have more kids since they could afford to feed them now, thus leading to a rise in the total population and a drop in per capita income levels
      • Growth may also be stopped or reversed by disease, famine, war, or calamity.
        • [Increased food production > Improved living standards > Rise in population > drop in per capita income levels]
  • Inverse relationship:
    • Malthus, in other words, believed that there was an inverse relationship between human population and living standards with rising population leading to lower living standards.
  • Way out of the trap:
    • Malthus also offered a way out of this trap. 
      • Population control:
        • For his own time, he advocated population control through an inculcation of good, virtuous, Christian behavior.
      • Inclusive production:
        • He coupled this by pushing for workhouses to make sure the poor and unemployed could contribute to production while receiving welfare. 
    • In this way, population growth may be slowed even as the means for its subsistence is increased.
  • Criticisms:
    • No strict correlation:
      • According to critics, there may be no strict inverse correlation between population growth and the living standards of people. 
      • As long as human beings can find ways to use earth’s resources more efficiently, their population can grow without compromising their living standards even in the long-term. 
    • Innovations: 
      • In fact, some argue that as the human population rises, the chances of breakthrough innovations happening rise manifold as there would be more human minds working on solving humanity’s problems.
    • Examples from around the world:
      • India:
        • In India, which boasts the world’s second-biggest population, the Green Revolution in the state of Punjab helped feed its growing population. 
      • Germany:
        • In western economies like Germany, which was battered during World War II, population increases did not hamper development.

Relevance of the theory:

  • According to a theory, By 2045
    • There could be 49 million more malnourished people living on this planet, and 
    • 40 percent of the world’s population could be suffering from water shortages
    • The vast majority of these people will be, as they are now, in the poorer countries of the world.
  • The trends are clear for all to see. 
    • As populations expand and people continue to degrade the environment, agricultural yields will shrink while demand increases
    • A lack of access to food, water, or basic services, together with an increasing concentration of population, will create major humanitarian and security concerns as we push to the half-way point of the 21st century. 
  • Two very important factors will exacerbate these problems that affect some of the world’s poorest nations. 
  • The first is urbanization: 
    • Already, more than half the population of the planet lives in a city, with that proportion expected to increase to 70 percent by 2045
      • This influx will intensify existing problems present in these cities.
    • Without substantial and effective investment in infrastructure, these cities can neither employ those who come seeking work, nor adequately house them.
  • The second factor is climate change: 
    • Coastal population:
      • Asia-Pacific contains many of the countries, like Bangladesh, that risk being submerged by rising sea levels, the vast majority of its population live in low-lying coastal areas. 
    • Food security:
      • Not only do their homes risk being made uninhabitable, but climate change’s effects on agriculture threaten their food supplies. 
      • Human activity has already degraded 25 percent of available land for farming globally, while pollution and overfishing are severely damaging marine ecosystems.

Way ahead

  • Amid the COVID pandemic & Ukraine War, supply chain issues and soaring inflation, global food prices have been on the rise since mid-2020 and are now at an all-time high.
  • What is of the utmost importance is this: that governments realize the security challenges these Malthusian concerns do and will continue to pose.
World Population Prospects, 2022Global scenario:The global population will reach 8 billion on November 15, 2022, more than three times the population of 2.5 billion in 1950.The UN projections suggest that the global population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 20309.7 billion in 2050, and 10.4 billion in 2100.Comparing India and China:India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023.In 2022, China remains the most populous country in the world with 1,426 million, but India has caught up with a marginally less population of 1,412 million.More About the report:The Population Division of the UN has been publishing the WPP in a biennial cycle since 1951. Each revision of the WPP provides a historical time series of population indicators starting in 1950. It does so by taking into account newly released national data to revise estimates of past trends in fertility, mortality or international migration.

QUAD will increase India’s Trade

In News

  • Recently, Moody’s stated that India’s membership of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) would give it an opportunity to benefit from greater trade and investment flows.

Moody’s Forecast: Key Points

  • India is poised to become a growing destination market for goods from the other Quad countries, including commodities, machinery and chemicals.
  • The U.S. and Japan will continue to be major sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) to India in services, telecommunications and software, while Australia’s presence will grow as a result of a free-trade agreement with India.
  • The magnitude of the trade flow shifts would also depend on improvements in India’s business climate and the level of investment attractiveness.
    • It remains weak compared with that of other Asia Pacific economies and other Quad members – Japan, U.S. and Australia.
  • India also stands out as a relatively protectionist market for goods and capital, reflected in its high weighted average import tariff.
  • As economies diversified production of critical products and technologies, the Quad would continue to drive some long-term supply-chain shifts toward Southeast Asia and India
    • This may include greater Australian exports of commodities including copper, energy and agricultural goods to these economies. 


  • QUAD is an informal group of India, the US, Japan and Australia.
  • It is a strategic dialogue with the objective to ensure a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo Pacific.
  • Shared values between the nations are:
    • Political democracies
    • Market economies
    • Pluralistic societies
  • Timeline:
    • 2007: 
      • Japanese PM Shinzo Abe mooted the idea of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
      • It could not materialize due to the reluctance of Australia
    • December 2012: 
      • Shinzo Abe again initiated a concept of Asia’s Democratic Security Diamond, involving Australia, India, Japan and the US.
      • The aim was to safeguard the maritime commons from the Indian Ocean to the western Pacific.
    • November 2017: 
      • The QUAD Coalition was finally given a present-day form with the active participation of India, the US, Australia and Japan.
      • The aim was to keep critical sea routes open and free for navigation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Foreign ministers of the four countries held their first meeting under the ‘Quad’ framework in New York in September 2019. 

Importance of QUAD for India

  • Countering Chinese Influence: 
    • Recent stand-offs on the Indo-China Border and the reluctance of Russia to step in and build pressure is forcing India to look for alternatives.
  • Post-COVID Diplomacy: 
    • The disruption across the world and non-transparent systems of China pose an opportunity for India to take lead and become the World’s Manufacturing Hub.
    • India can leverage its expertise in the vaccine and pharma industry to increase its soft power.
    • Further, Japan and the US want to shift their manufacturing companies out of China in order to curb its imperialistic behavior.
  • India’s SAGAR initiative:
    • India under the SAGAR initiative wants to become a net security provider in the Indian Ocean.
    • QUAD cooperation may give India access to multiple strategic locations for creating Naval bases.
  • Multipolar World: 
    • India has supported a rule-based multipolar world and QUAD can help it in achieving its ambition of becoming a regional superpower.
  • Climate Change:
    • The climate crisis calls for urgency in action. 
    • Quad nations are already driving their efforts toward climate ambition, including working on the 2030 targets for national emissions and renewable energy, clean-energy innovation, and deployment. 
    • The most commendable commitment is their focus on increasing the Indo-Pacific region’s resilience to climate change by improving critical climate information-sharing and disaster-resilient infrastructure.


  • Decreasing Dependence on China: 
    • As economic ties are expected to deepen among members seeking to reduce their dependence on China.
    • As reflected in its reluctance to join the RCEP trade agreement, India is keen to reduce its dependence on imports from China while expanding its market access to Australia, Japan and the U.S. 
  • Financial & Industrial Support: 
    • Financial services companies in the US, Japan and Australia will benefit from the shifts, which will also support India’s industrial and capital market development.
    • A further increase in tensions between Quad members and China would accelerate companies’ plans to diversify their production centres in Asia.
  • Trade Benefits for India:
    • India will benefit from Quad-related supply chain shifts by increasing trade with member economies and diversifying its sources of imports from China. 
    • For India, the costs of pivoting from China toward Quad members as priority markets for trade growth will be relatively low, given that only a small share of its exports currently go to China. 

Solarization of Aviation sector

In News

  • Recently, The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) 

More about the news

  • About:
    • The conclusion of MoU between ISA and ICAO was Jointly hosted by India and France.
    • The MoU aims to check the growth of CO2 emissions in the sector.
  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA):
    • This MoU carries forward the legacy of the bold initiative [The International Solar Alliance (ISA)] laid down by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former President of France Francois Hollande in 2015 at COP 21 in Paris.
      • India, with the support of France, has invited nations to facilitate infrastructure for implementation of solar projects. 
      • The alliance has committed one trillion dollars as investment, and it is committed to making the costs of solar power more affordable for remote and inaccessible communities.
  • Significance of MoU:
    • The event marks a new dawn for solar energy use in the global civil aviation sector.
      • It will enable the solarization of the aviation sector across all Member States.
    • It will work towards providing information, providing advocacy, capacity building and demonstration projects. 
About International Solar Alliance (ISA)The ISA was conceived as a joint effort by India and France to mobilise efforts against climate change through the deployment of solar energy solutions. It was presented by the leaders of the two countries at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris in 2015.Headquarters: India The Assembly is the apex decision-making body of the ISA. It meets annually at the Ministerial level at the seat of the ISA.The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)It is a United Nations body. It develops policies and standards, among other activities, for the member states and stakeholders.

Significance of Solarization:

  • Using unlimited energy potential: 
    • In one hour, the earth’s atmosphere receives enough sunlight to power the electricity needed by every human being on earth for a year. 
    • This unlimited energy is completely clean and sustainable. 
  • Decarbonization: 
    • It will also help decarbonise energy production, which is today the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Carbon dioxide emission is one of the major factors responsible for global warming, and the combustion of fossil fuels for our energy needs is the major source of those dangerous emissions. 
      • In short, there is an urgent need for a greener and cleaner energy source.
  • New avenues: 
    • It will not only reduce carbon footprint and cost of energy but open up new avenues for cooperation between different regions and different countries.


  • Cost-effectiveness:
    • There are hidden environmental costs of setting up solar energy infrastructure. 
    • Solar energy technologies such as batteries and panels use energy-intensive raw materials and several chemicals and heavy metals that need to be handled and disposed of correctly. 
  • Failure of the developed countries: 
    • The continued failure of the developed countries to fulfill their long-standing commitments on finance and technology is expected to make even the current transitions a lot more difficult.
About Paris Agreement:It is a legally binding international treaty on climate change.It replaced the Kyoto Protocol, an earlier agreement to deal with climate change.It is a landmark agreement as it brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, for the first time.It was adopted by 196 Parties at COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015 and entered into force in November 2016.Conference of Parties(COP): It is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC.Aim:The agreement seeks to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industry levelsNationally Determined Contributions (NDCs): To achieve the targets under the agreement, the member countries have to submit the targets themselves, which they believe would lead to substantial progress towards reaching the Paris temperature goal. Initially, these targets are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). They are converted to NDCs when the country ratifies the agreement.Glasgow Climate Meet (Cop26)Glasgow meet strengthened the Paris Agreement mechanism of eliciting Pledges from countries and ratcheting them up over time.It requested countries to update and strengthen 2030 emission targets in their NDCs by the end of 2022.It explicitly revolved around keeping 1.5 degrees alive through such pledges.However, it came under criticism that it focused on target setting, without giving sufficient importance to the challenge of implementing those targets.At COP 26, PM Narendra Modi announced India’s Panchamrit strategy with targets for climate action that included initiatives like International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).Panchamrit strategy:India will increase its non-fossil fuel energy capacity to 500 gigawatt (GW) by 2030.It will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030.The total projected carbon emissions will be reduced by 1 billion tonnes from now through 2030.The carbon intensity of its economy will be brought down to less than 45 percent.India will achieve its target of net zero by 2070.Green Grids Initiative — One Sun, One World, One Grid (GGI-OSOWOG):The “Green Grids Initiative” was announced at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.More than 80 countries backed it.The announcement was accompanied by the “One Sun Declaration”, which stated that, “realising the vision of ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ through interconnected green grids can be transformational.

Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS)

In News

  • Recently, the government said that the Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS), launched under Startup India initiative in 2016 has committed Rs 7,385 crore to 88 Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs).
    • These AIFs in turn have invested Rs 11,206 crore in 720 startups.

About Fund of Funds for Startups 

  • Meaning
    • Fund of Funds is a mutual fund scheme that invests in other schemes of mutual funds.
    • The Fund of Funds invests in other mutual fund schemes.
    • It can be domestic as well as overseas. 
  • Mobilizing domestic capital 
    • FFS has been playing a monumental role in mobilizing domestic capital in the Indian startup ecosystem.
      • FFS was announced with a corpus of Rs. 10,000 crore.
    • Under FFS, support is extended to SEBI registered Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs), which in turn invest in startups.
  • Operationalising the Scheme
    • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is responsible for operationalising the Scheme.
  • Budgetary support 
    • The corpus is to be built up over 14th and 15th Finance Commission Cycles (FY 2016-2020 and FY 2021-2025) through budgetary support by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
  • Growth
    • The amount committed under FFS has seen a notable growth over the years recording a CAGR of over 21% since the launch of the Scheme. 

Advantages of Investing in Fund of Funds

  •  Tax-Friendly
    • When your fund of funds is rebalanced to maintain a said allocation between debt and equity, there will be no tax on capital gains.
  • Ease of Handling
    • There is just one folio. This makes it easy to handle the reduced number of funds that require managing.
  • Professional Fund Management Services
    •  Investing in a fund of funds allows you to try out investing in professionally managed funds before they can venture out on investing individually.
  • The Credibility of Portfolio Managers
    • As Fund of Funds requires the backgrounds of its managers to be checked and verified, you can be assured that a credible person handles your funds.
  • Opportunity for investors with limited capital
    • Fund of Funds allows investors who possess only limited wealth to partake in diversified underlying assets. These assets would otherwise be hard for such investors to access individually.   

Disadvantages of Investing in Fund of Funds

  • High Expense Ratio
    • Fund of Funds incurs expenses just like any other mutual fund schemes. But unlike mutual funds, there is an extra cost involved. 
    • Apart from the general management and administrative fees, there is an added expense about the underlying funds.
  • Tax implications
    • Short-term capital gain tax according to the income tax slab of the investor would be applicable if sold before 36 months. 
    • If the units are sold after 36 months, a long-term capital gain tax of 20% with indexation is levied.
  • Too much diversification
    • Fund of Funds invests in many funds which further invest in several securities. 
    • This gives rise to the possibility of the Fund of Funds, ending up owning the same stocks and securities through different funds. 
    • This reduces the potential for diversification.  

Alternative Investment Fund

  • It means any fund established or incorporated in India which is a privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from sophisticated investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing it in accordance with a defined investment policy for the benefit of its investors.
  • AIF is defined under regulation 2(1) (b) of the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012.

Followings are not considered as AIF

  •  Mutual funds 
  • Collective investment schemes 
  • Employee Stock Options Trusts 
  • Employee welfare trusts or gratuity trusts 
  • Family benefit trust 
  • Holding companies

Types of AIF

  • Venture Capital Fund (VCF): Venture Capital Funds invest in high-growth start-ups that are experiencing cash constraints in the early stages of their business and require capital to develop or expand their operations.
  • Infrastructure Fund (IF): The fund invests in public assets like road and rail infrastructure, airports, and communication assets, among other things.
  • Angel Fund: This is a sort of Venture Capital fund in which fund managers combine money from a number of “angel” investors to invest in early-stage firms.
  • Social Venture Fund: Socially responsible investment has spawned the Social Venture Fund (SVF), which invests in firms with a strong social consciousness and a desire to have a positive impact on society.
  • Private Equity (PE) Fund: PE funds invest in private firms that aren’t publicly traded with stakeholders. Because the unlisted and unauthorized private enterprises are unable to raise cash with PE funds for help.

Way forward

  • High investments
    • Investments into eligible startups are approximately 3.7 times of FFS disbursements which are well above the minimum stipulated 2 times under the Scheme.
  • Most of them have achieved unicorn status 
    • Performing startups supported through FFS are showing valuation increase by more than 10 times with a number of them even achieving unicorn status (valuation of over USD 1 billion).
      • Dunzo, CureFit, FreshToHome, Jumbotail, Unacademy, Uniphore, Vogo, Zostel,Zetwerk etc., are some of the notable startups funded through FFS.
  • Generation of employment and wealth
    • The returns generated from the success of these startups and innovation created will remain within the country and facilitate generation of employment and creation of wealth. 
Startup IndiaStartup India is a flagship initiative of the Government of India, intended to catalyse startup culture and build a strong and inclusive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship in India. Since the launch of the initiative in 2016, Startup India has rolled out several programs with the objective of supporting entrepreneurs, and transforming India into a country of job creators instead of job seekers.Functions: Enhanced infrastructure including incubation centresEasier IPR facilitation, including easier patent filingA better regulatory environment including tax benefits, easier compliance, improved of setting up a company, faster exit mechanisms and moreAn economic stimulus in the form of a INR 10,000 crore Fund of Funds managed by SIDBI, with the goal of increasing funding opportunities. 

Report on the Conservation Status of Migratory Waterbirds in the Agreement Area

In News

  • Recently, according to the report most of the waterbird populations protected under the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) are now facing serious threats.
    • The report was released at the Eighth Session of the Meeting of the Parties to AEWA opened in Budapest September 27, 2022. 

Major Highlights of the report 

  • Decline in population:
    • Some 41 percent of all waterbird populations protected under AEWA are now declining.
    • The decline in waterbird populations in the short and long term is 40 percent higher than the increase. This proportion has not changed substantially over the last 15 years. 
    • Some 29 per cent are stable and 30 per cent are increasing.
  • Major threats: 
    • The species are impacted by the 38 threats including shifting and alteration of habitat, invasive alien species, unsustainable harvest and poaching, dams and water management.
  • Region based assessment: 
    • The proportion of decrease in AEWA waterbird population is higher in central and southwest Asia and eastern and southern Africa.
  • IUCN Status:
    • Some 13 percent of the AEWA species are globally threatened
    • Four are critically endangered
    • Nine are endangered and 20 are vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

Major challenges faced by the Migratory Waterbirds

  • Changes in range and distribution: It is well known that temperature is one of the primary determinants of the location of biomes and habitats. It is therefore logical that species ranges also depend on temperature.
  • Changes in breeding range: The periods of the two BTO Breeding Bird Atlases, bird species (including some waterbird species) extended their breeding ranges northwards by an average of 18.9 km, a trend that they attributed to warming temperatures.
  • Habitat Loss: One of the main threats facing endangered migratory animals is habitat loss.
  • Turbines: The Bern Convention (the Council of Europe) commissioned a report from BirdLife International on how wind turbines affect birds and how to minimize the risks.
  • Oil Spills: Of all man-made disasters, oil spills are among the most common and can, over localized areas, be one of the most destructive to wildlife, killing the animals and poisoning their habitats.
  • Climate Change: The Earth‘s temperature and sea levels are rising, rain patterns are altering, and extreme weather is occurring more often.
  • Electrocution: Birds are threatened due to power poles that have yet to be fitted with the latest safety devices.
  • Unsustainable Hunting and Poaching: Poaching, illegal trade and unsustainable hunting are among the most serious threats to the survival of wild species (migratory and sedentary) alongside habitat loss and degradation.
  • Wildlife Crime: Wildlife crime ranks alongside drug smuggling, human trafficking and illegal arms trade as one of the most lucrative activities funding organized crime and terrorism.

Recommendations of the report

  • The development of schemes to monitor the breeding of migratory waterbirds in Africa, central and southwest Asia and Russia.
  • Recruitment of additional Parties to join the agreement
  • Intensifying the assistance to AEWA parties in Africa and central and southwest Asia
  • Filling the gaps in implementing the AEWA Strategic Plan 2019 – 2027.

Way forward

  • The report provides essential insight into the status of implementing the AEWA Strategic Plan for 2019-2027. 
AEWAAEWA protects 255 species of migratory waterbirds that cross international borders and are ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least a portion of their annual cycle.AEWA lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures and is implemented through strategic and targeted action plans for Africa. It includes valuable information on the six purpose-level indicators designed to improve the state of waterbird populations by 2027.The pan is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Global Biodiversity Targets.

Bhagat Singh

In News 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Chandigarh international airport would be named after freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.

About Bhagat Singh

  • He is regarded as one of the most powerful revolutionaries of the Indian Nationalist Movement.
  • Born on September 28, 1907 .
  • He attended Dayanand Anglo Vedic High School, which was operated by Arya Samaj and then National College.

Roles during Freedom struggle 

  •  He became involved in a variety of revolutionary organisations and was a key figure in the Indian National movement. 
    • He became a member of the Hindustan Republican Association.
    • He founded the Naujawan Bharat Sabha in Lahore in 1926,
  •  ‘Why I am an Atheist’ is an essay written by Bhagat Singh in 1930 while he was imprisoned in the Lahore Central Jail. 
  • Along with his fellow nationalist B.K. Dutt, he threw a bomb in the Central Legislative Assembly on 8 April 1929. The aim was not to kill but, “to make the deaf hear”, to remind the foreign government of its callous exploitation.
  • He was arrested and charged in the Saunders murder case, along with Rajguru, Sukhdev and others. 
    • Bhagat Singh was tried and executed at the age of 23.

Ajanta-era Buddhist Caves

In News

  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has reported 26 Buddhist caves in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve following an exploration exercise this year.


  • History: 
    • The caves date back to the time between 2nd century BC and 5th century BC, and pertain to the Mahayana sect of Buddhism
    • The exploration was held in the region for the first time since 1938.
    • These findings would approximately date back to the same time as the Ajanta caves in Maharashtra, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Other findings: 
    • Besides the caves, other remains of Mahayana sect, such as chaitya-shaped doors and cells containing stone beds, have also been reported. 
    • A Buddhist pillar fragment containing miniature stupa carvings, dating back to the 2nd-3rd century AD. 
  • Brahmi Inscriptions: 
    • In all, 24 Brahmi inscriptions, dating from 2nd-5th century AD, were found.
    • Places named as Kaushami, Mathura, Pavata (Parvata), Vejabharada and Sapatanaairikaa are mentioned in the inscriptions found.
    • Important kings of the era mentioned in the inscriptions include Shri Bhimsena, Maharaja Pothasiri and Bhattadeva.
  • Gupta period remains also found: 
    • The exploration exercise also reported door jambs, besides 26 ancient temples/remains of Kalachuri period (9th-11th century AD). 
    • Forty-six sculptures and 19 waterbodies have also been excavated, all built between the 2nd and 15th century.

Ajanta Caves

  • Ajanta is among the finest examples of some of the earliest Buddhist architecture, cave paintings and sculptures.
  • It is located near Ajanta village, north-central Maharashtra state.
  • Ajanta contains twenty-nine caves, the majority of which were Viharas (Buddhist monastery halls of residence) with some Chaitya-grihas (stupa halls)
  • The first Buddhist cave monuments at Ajanta date from the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. During the Gupta period (5th and 6th centuries A.D.).
  • It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983

Ellora Caves

  • Ellora also spelled Elura are the series of 34 magnificent rock-cut temples in the Charanandri hills of western India’s Maharashtra State 
  • Showcase a spirit of co-existence and religious tolerance through the outstanding architectural activities carried out by the followers of three prominent religions: Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Jainism.
  • Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna I built the magnificent rock-cut monolithic Kailasa temple also called Kailash Leni at Ellora.
  • The Ellora complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983.

Elephanta Caves

  • Located in Western India on Elephanta Island (otherwise known as the Island of Gharapuri)
  • The small island is dotted with numerous ancient archaeological remains that are the sole testimonies to its rich cultural past.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the main cave is spread out on Gun Hill, and contains incredible sculptures of Lord Shiva in various postures and in different forms.
  • The most imposing figure of Elephanta temple is Trimurti or Maheshmurti. It is said to represent the three aspects of Shiva as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.
Bandhavgarh Tiger ReserveHistory: In 1968 – notified as a national park In 1993 – declared a tiger reserveLocation: In the eastern Satpura hill range (Madhya Pradesh)Known for:  the healthy population of tigers and variety of herbivores. Unique biodiversity as it comprises hills, valleys, rivers, marshes and meadows to give rise to diverse vegetation. Flora:Bandhavgarh is best known for Evergreen Sal forest and Mixed forest About 515 species of Plant are found there Fauna:Home to 242 species of Birds and many species of Reptile and InsectMajor Mammals: Tiger, Leopard, Wild dog, Wild cat, Hyena, Wolf, Chital, Sambar, Black Buck, Rojda etc.Mythology:Bandhav = Brother and garh = FortThis fort was built and given to brother Lakshman by Lord RamaThe reference to this fort is also found in the Narad Panchratna and Shiva Sanhita Puran


In News

  • Recently, the DXC Technology India MD said that the Moonlighting is only one challenge and that is not reason enough for a company to put an end to work from home that had proved to be beneficial for a large chunk of employees.
    • Wipro has recently sacked around 300 employees for ‘moonlighting’. 

What is moonlighting?

  • The practice of working for one organisation while also taking up extra responsibilities and jobs, typically without the employer’s knowledge, is referred to as moonlighting.
    • It refers to the practice of taking up secondary jobs after regular work hours. 
    • It is called so the side employment is typically performed at night or on the weekends.
  • The phrase became well-known when Americans began looking for second jobs in addition to their regular 9-to-5 jobs to supplement their income. 

Arguments against moonlighting

  • Unethical: 
    • Some call it unethical and call it cheating. 
  • Short-term gains: 
    • Employers lose out in the long run when rampant decisions are made for short-term gains.
  • No work life balance:
    • Working two jobs can be hectic and does not provide a proper work life balance. This can be a big disadvantage for people with a family as they won’t be able to give time to family members.
  • Increase in Stress levels:
    • Working two jobs will increase stress and stress lead to many health problems.
  • Conflict of interest:
    • Working for a competitor may put you in a difficult position at your full-time job.
  • Problems with performance:
    • Due to extra hours, less sleep and divided attention, your performance at your full-time job may slip and have a negative effect on your career.

Arguments in favour of moonlighting 

  • Freedom of choice: 
    • Some argue that Employment is a contract between an employer who pays me for working for them for ‘n’ number of hours a day. Now what I do after that time is my freedom, I can do what I want.
  •  Financial stability:
    • Some people work two jobs to have financial stability in life. It can be used to pay off debt, or to cover unforeseen expenses like car or house repairs.
  • Acquire New Skill:
    • A second job can help one acquire new skills. In addition, the skills and experience will improve your resume.
  • New opportunities:
    • Working a second job means one will cross paths with more people, learn new skills and face new challenges. This can open up new opportunities for people.

Is moonlighting legal in India?

  • Factories Act:
    • Under the Factories Act, dual employment is prohibited. 
    • However, in some states, IT companies are exempt from that rule
      • Before looking for side jobs or starting a business, it is crucial for employees to carefully check their employment contract with their principal job to ensure compliance with any moonlighting policies.
  • A person may work more than one job in India without breaking the law.
    • However, a person with a similar set of jobs could give rise to concerns about a violation of confidentiality because many employers include such restrictions in their employment agreements in addition to prohibitions against holding down multiple jobs.
  • Moonlighting could be considered cheating if an employee’s contract calls for non-compete and single employment, which is the situation with the majority of conventional employment contracts.
    • However, it is not cheating if the employment contracts do not have such a clause or provide relaxations. 
  • UK and USA
    • Overemployment which is called dual employment in India is technically permissible in the US and the UK from a tax perspective.
    • A second employment in the UK could alter a worker’s tax status, but it wouldn’t be expressly noted as such to the payroll department of the first employer and would probably go unreported in larger organisations.
    • The US tax system is simpler since it is built on the idea of self-assessment and voluntary reporting.

Way Forward

  • Policy Formulation
    • Organisations should probably make a policy to allow workers to openly pursue multiple jobs at once.
  • Swiggy announced an “industry first” policy 
    • It allowed moonlighting for its employees.
    • It said any project or activity that is taken up outside office hours or on the weekend, without affecting productivity, and does not have a conflict of interest, can be picked up by the employees.

Climate Change Fuelling Hurricanes

In Context

  • Recently, Hurricane Fiona hit the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Correlation of Climate change & hurricanes 

  • About:
    • Although scientists have not yet concluded that Fiona’s behaviour or severity was influenced by climate change, there is compelling evidence that these catastrophic storms are getting worse.
  • Change in nature of hurricanes:
    • Hurricanes are becoming wetter, windier, and generally more powerful as a result of climate change. Additionally, there is proof that it is making storms move more slowly, allowing them to dump more water in one location. 
  • Creating grounds:
    • Temperature:
      • Climate change would have caused the earth to become much hotter if it weren’t for the oceans. 
      • However, over the past 40 years, the ocean has absorbed 90% of the warming brought on by emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. 
      • Near the water’s surface, the majority of this ocean heat is concentrated. 
      • Stronger winds and increased storm severity may result from this added heat. 
    • Moisture:
      • Additionally, a storm’s ability to produce more rainfall can increase due to climate change. 
      • A warmer environment can store more moisture, thus water vapour accumulates until clouds form and raindrops are released, sending down heavy rain.
  • Frequency of hurricanes:
    • The normal “season” for hurricanes is changing as a result of climate change since more months of the year are becoming storm-friendly. 
      • Additionally, hurricanes are making landfall in places that deviate greatly from the historical norm. 
    • However, it’s uncertain whether climate change is having an impact on the frequency of storms. 
How do hurricanes form?Warm ocean water and humid, moist air are the two key components needed for hurricanes. Warm seawater evaporates, releasing heat energy into the atmosphere. The storm’s winds become stronger as a result. Without it, hurricanes can’t become stronger and will eventually die.Cyclone, typhoon, hurricane – what’s the difference?These large storms have varied names based on where and how they formed, although theoretically being the same phenomenon. Hurricane: When storms that develop over the Atlantic Ocean or the central and eastern North Pacific attain wind speeds of at least 74 miles per hour, they are referred to be “hurricanes” (119 kilometres per hour). They are referred to be “tropical storms” up until that moment. Typhoons:Typhoons in East Asia are the name given to ferocious, spinning storms that develop over the Northwest Pacific.Cyclones:“cyclones” develop across the Indian Ocean and South Pacific.

Impact of Climate Change in India

  • Extreme Events:
    • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has sighted that 2022 has seen the second highest extreme events since 1902. 
      • Persistence of intense La Nina conditions, 
      • The abnormal warming of East Indian Ocean, 
      • Negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), 
      • Southward movement of most of the monsoon depressions and lows and 
      • Pre-monsoon heating over the Himalayan region are melting glaciers. 
      • This is a very complex mix.
    • Recent research indicates that monsoon rainfall became less frequent but more intense in India during the latter half of the 20th century. 
  • Triple-dip la Nina:
    • WMO recently predicted that La Niña conditions, which involve a large-scale cooling of ocean surface temperatures, have strengthened in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific with an increase in trade winds.
    • India is seeing an extended spell of the La Nina, called a ‘triple dip’ La Nina which is a phenomenon lasting across three winter seasons in the northern hemisphere. 
  • Shift of monsoon weather systems:
    • Usually, monsoon systems move across Northwest India giving rains over the region there. 
    • But this year most of the monsoon weather systems have been travelling across central parts of the country, changing the area of rainfall. 
      • As a result, States such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Maharashtra have been recording excess rainfall this season. 
      • West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are experiencing the worst monsoon season of the century.
      • Experts believe that these changes are here to stay, which would continue to propel extreme weather events over the entire South Asian region.
    • Worldwide implications:
      • During the last six months, entire South Asia has been reporting a series of extreme weather events. 
      • While Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have battled severe floods, China is reeling under massive drought conditions.

Way Ahead

  • Millions of crop producers and consumers are being affected negatively with these unprecedented changes which are also raising concerns over food security.
  • Limiting warming:
    • The current atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are higher than at any time in the last two million years. 
    • To align with a 1.5°C target of limiting warming, global CO2 emissions must reach net zero around 2050, with global GHG emissions reaching net-zero 15-20 years later. 
  • Slow onsets can still be taken care of through adaptation and resilience ideas but these kinds of big events are very difficult to cope with
    • That is where the main issue lies as the country would then have to divert development money to climate finance to combat climate change.

Appointment of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)


  • The Government of India has appointed Lt General Anil Chauhan (Retired) as the next Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)
    • He will also function as a Secretary to the Department of Military Affairs. 

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

  • Genesis: The CDS was created in 2019 for a dual role, as the most senior uniformed officer in rank (First among equals) and as a Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs.
  • Roles: To act as the primary military advisor to the government.
    • To create jointness among the armed forces.
    • To facilitate creation of integrated theater commands.
    • To help in prioritizing capital acquisition for the modernisation of the forces.

Work done by CDS since its inception

  • Last CDS had directed the commissioned officers at the level of General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in each of the services, to report on the possible structure of integrated theater commands.
  • Theater Commands: As per the submitted reports, four to five integrated theater commands have been envisioned:
  • One for air defense.
  • One maritime defense.
  • Two land-based theater commands for the western border (Pakistan) and northern border (China).
    • Or an additional integrated command including the area under the Northern Army Command presently at the borders with Pakistan and China in the UTs of J&K and Ladakh.
  • Collective strength: As per the requirement, the integrated commands will be able to utilize resources from all the three services available under them. 
    • The operational control of all resources will be with the Theatre Commander, which will report to the Chiefs of Staff Committee headed by the CDS.

Widened CDS Selection Pool

The government in a recent notification has amended the service rules of the armed forces, related to the eligibility for the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).

Amendments to service rules:

  • Vacancy: Since India’s first CDS General Bipin Rawat had died, the post has been vacant.  The government amended the service rules of the armed forces to fill the vacancy.
  • Intent of the amendment: To make all serving and recently retired three-star and four-star officers from the three services who are under the age of 62 eligible for the post of CDS.
  • Three-star officers: Lt General, Air Marshal and Vice Admiral.
  • Four-star officers: The CDS, the chiefs of the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.
  • Amended Rules & regulations: To enable the three star officer’s appointment to the post of CDS, the government has amended the Army Rules, 1954; the Naval Ceremonial, Conditions of Service and Miscellaneous Regulations, 1963; and the Air Force Regulations, 1964.
  • Service Extension: The government also has notified possible extension of the service of the CDS if deemed necessary subject to a maximum age of 65 years.

Critical Analysis of the amended rules

  • Benefits (Wider Pool): The amendments to the service rules for the Army, Navy and Air Force will make the potential candidates on a level playing field with the serving officers.
  • Issues (Seniority vs. Merit): As a convention, usually the most senior officer of the service is appointed as a service chief.  Thus, the appointment of a serving or a retired three-star officer over the serving four-star officers might create issues.

Way Forward

  • Last CDS General Rawat had planned the reorganization of the armed forces into integrated theater commands along with other measures to bring synergy and efficiency in operations.
  • It will be the responsibility of the new CDS to build consensus over the reorganization plan by catering to objections from the Air Force and addressing other grievances.
  • It will help in India’s defense preparedness and modernization, promote the image as a net security provider in the South Asian region and prevent aggression on borders (LAC and LOC).
  • .

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

In News

  • Under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), the MOEFCC has set a new target of a 40% reduction in particulate matter concentration in cities by 2026.


  • The target was updated due to an overall improvement in PM10 levels in 2021.
  • 20 cities have met the national standards for annual average PM10 concentration (60 microgram per cubic metre).
  • 95 of the 131 non-attainment cities (NACs) covered under the NCAP have witnessed an “overall improvement” in PM10 levels in 2021 as compared to 2017 levels.  
    • NACs are cities whose air quality did not meet the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) of 2011 to 2015.
  • PRANA (Portal for Regulation of Air-pollution in non-Attainment cities) portal monitors the implementation of NCAP.

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • About: 
    • It was launched by the MoEFCC in 2019 as a long-term, time-bound, national level strategy that features:
      • Making determined efforts to deal with the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.
      • Achieving 20%- 30% reduction target in Particulate Matter concentrations by 2024 where 2017 is kept as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
      • Identification of 122 non-attainment cities across the country based on the 2014-2018 Air Quality data.
      • Non- Attainment Cities are the cities which do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
      • Establishing a right mix with the existing policies and programmes which include the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and other government initiatives related to climate change.
      • Setting up of certification agencies for monitoring equipment, source apportionment studies, emphasis on enforcement, specific sectoral interventions etc.
  • Objective of NCAP: 
    • To augment and evolve effective and proficient ambient air quality monitoring networks across the country.
    • To have efficient data dissemination and public outreach mechanisms for timely measures for prevention and mitigation of air pollution.
    • To have a feasible management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.

Other Efforts to Prevent Air Pollution

  • Commission for Air Quality Management:
    • The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas, 2020 — with a provision for a fine of Rs 1 crore and/or jail for 5 years for those violating air pollution norms.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana 
    • A Household LPG program and other schemes have helped to dramatically expand access to clean energy, especially for rural households.

Steps Needed to Preserve Clean Air

  • Implement afforestation.
  • Say no to plastic use.
  • Turn off the lights when not in use. 
  • Use public transport.
  • Recycle and reuse.
  • Avoid burning crackers.

Way Ahead

  • For successful implementation of the action plan, there is an urgent need for cooperation and coordination among state agencies and technical supervision by expert Institutions.

Taj Mahal & Pollution Warning

In News

  • Recently, the Supreme Court directed to stop all commercial activities within a 500-metre radius of the Taj Mahal.

More about the news

  • The Supreme Court recently directed the Agra Development Authority to stop all commercial activities within a 500-metre radius of the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • The apex court has repeatedly called attention to the failures in protecting the Taj Mahal from various forms of pollution.
  • Concerns: 
    • Earlier the court had expressed concern over the changing colour of Taj Mahal’s marble — from white to yellowish, to brownish-green.
      • Illegal businesses are thriving near the western gate of the monument, which is a gross violation of orders issued by the court.
      • Industries, foundries, vehicles and the nearby Mathura petroleum refinery were releasing toxic gases like sulphur dioxide, which were harmful to both the monument and the people in its vicinity. 
  • Blaming ASI:
    • Blaming the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for its inability to protect the monument, the Supreme Court said that the ASI “will have to be thrown out of the picture” if the Taj Mahal was to be saved.
More about Taj MahalThe Taj Mahal was completed in 1653 as a mausoleum for the Emperor’s favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died in childbirth. Both the Emperor and his wife are buried there. “Taj Mahal is pinkish in the morning, milky white in the evening, and golden when the moon shines”, according to a legend.The Taj was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1983, and and attracts millions of visitors from India and overseas every year.

Timeline of Government & court orders issued to protect Taj Mahal

  • 1970s:
    • In order to protect the monument from pollution, the central government had demarcated an area of 10,400 sq km around the Taj, called the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).
  • 1996: 
    • The top court found that the nearby coke/coal-consuming industries were damaging the monument and the people living in the TTZ. 
    • It also directed the 292 industries operating in the zone to switch to natural gas as an industrial fuel or relocate from their area.

Various report citings

  • National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) Report:
    • In 2010, a report submitted by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) found that despite various government schemes to reduce pollution in the TTZ area, the iconic Taj Mahal continued to face a threat from water and air pollution.
    • Furthermore, the NEERI report found that the Yamuna water, contaminated with industrial discharge, sewage and solid waste, was also damaging the monument as well.
  • The Guardian Report:
    • While the creation of a bypass, improvements to the power supply and reduction of diesel generators had a positive impact, the study found that emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulates had reached higher levels than a decade prior.

Reasons of discoloration of Taj Mahal

  • Polluted gases:
    • High level of noxious gases, suspended dust particles, emissions from vehicles, denudation of green cover to construct roads and houses.
    • Sulphur dioxideNOx emissions, and primarily carbon-based particles have corroded and damaged the Taj’s beautiful white façade, leaving it with a yellow sheen.
  • Polluted Yamuna:
    • A dry and polluted Yamuna remains a constant threat to the safety of the Taj Mahal, according to the activists.
    • The National Green Tribunal has been struggling with its orders on clearing encroachments on Yamuna flood-plains
      • After years of dilly-dallying even the boundaries of the flood plains have not been clearly demarcated, the campaigners complain.
  • Insects attacks:
    • Insects from the drying Yamuna River, into which the city dumps its sewage, creep into the Taj Mahal, staining the marble with their excrement.
    • ASI research:
      • According to the Archaeological Survey of India’s research, these insects breed in the river’s contaminated debris before attacking the Taj Mahal in the evening. 
      • There used to be fish in the river that ate the insects and their larvae, but now there are no signs of any aquatic species in the river due to severe water pollution.
    • Other monuments:
      • Other monuments that stand on the banks of the river Yamuna, such as the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, the Mehtab Bagh, and portions of the Agra Fort, too, have been affected by these insect attacks.

Solutions & way ahead

  • Mud packs:
    • Mud packs have been one of the ASI’s favoured ways to remove the yellow stains that have appeared over the years on the Taj Mahal’s white marble facade. 
    • It is hoped that the treatment — traditionally employed to clean marble surfaces — will help restore the natural shine and colour of the monument.
    • How?
      • The clay is applied in the form of a thick paste that absorbs the grime, grease and bird droppings on the marble, before being washed off using distilled water. 
      • The process is slow and tortuous, but is believed to leave the marble cleaner and shinier.
  • Government Fund:
    • To help deal with Agra’s mounting plastic waste, Massive Fund proposed a project of $30 million under the Alliance to End Plastic, to eliminate more than 90 percent of plastic waste from Agra
  • The Agra Air Action Plan:
    • It is is a decisive step forward in systematically combatting air pollution. 
    • Preventive actions and local-scale compliance enforcement tools, uniquely designed as an agreement between local government and private sector, could contribute significantly to successful implementation of the plan and sustainability in the long term.
  • National Clean Air Programme: 
    • The Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change launched the National Clean Air Programme to meet the prescribed annual average ambient air quality standards for 102 non-attainment Indian cities by 2025, Agra city is one of them.

Global Methane Pledge

In News 

  • Methane emissions will likely increase by 13 per cent by 2030 without the Global Methane Pledge.

About Global Methane Pledge, 

  • It was launched in 2021, aims to keep alive the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal. 
  • Over a 100 countries have committed to reducing global methane emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030 from 2020 levels. 
    • This reduction could eliminate over 0.2?C warming by 2050
  • India, which is not a part of the Global Methane Pledge, is among the top five methane emitters globally, according to the International Energy Agency. 
    • Most emissions can be traced back to agriculture.
  • Aims and objectives
    • It aims to catalyse global action and strengthen support for existing international methane emission reduction initiatives to advance technical and policy work that will serve to underpin Participants’ domestic actions. 
    • It also recognizes the essential roles that private sector, development banks, financial institutions and philanthropy play to support implementation of the Pledge and welcomes their efforts and engagement.
About Methane Methane (CH4) is a hydrocarbon that is a primary component of natural gas.It is also a greenhouse gas (GHG), so its presence in the atmosphere affects the earth’s temperature and climate system. It is emitted from a variety of anthropogenic (human-influenced) and natural sources. Anthropogenic emission sources include landfills, oil and natural gas systems, agricultural activities, coal mining, stationary and mobile combustion, wastewater treatment, and certain industrial processes. 

UNICEF Report on child marriage

In News

  • Recently, a UNICEF report stated that the prevalence of child marriage is decreasing globally.

What is child marriage?

  • Child marriage refers to any formal marriage or informal union between children under the age of 18.

Major highlights of the report

  • Role of Secondary and higher education
    • Secondary education can reduce child marriage by 66%. Two of every three child marriages would be stopped in the world only if all girls could complete secondary school.
      • Secondary education is a much stronger and more consistent protection against child marriage than primary school education. 
    • The numbers would fall 80 percent if all girls continued on to higher education.
  • Region wise assessment
    • The most progress in the past decade was seen in South Asia, where a girl’s risk of marrying in childhood dropped by more than a third to below 30 per cent.  
      • Still, the total number of girls married in childhood stands at 12 million per year.
    • Incidences of child marriage were the highest in West and Central Africa, where nearly 4 in 10 young women were married off before 18 years of age. 
      • Lower levels of child marriage are found in Eastern and Southern Africa (32 per cent), South Asia (28 per cent) and Latin America and Caribbean (21 per cent). 
    • In the regions of Ethiopia worst affected by the drought, child marriage has on average more than doubled in a year. 
      • The number of children at risk of dropping out of school across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia due to the impact of the crisis tripled within three months. 


  • Human Rights violation
    • It is a violation of human rights that limits girls in reaching their full potential. 
  • Deprivations
    • This harmful practice is closely associated with deprivations in education, health, access to resources and empowerment.
  • More issues in future
    • More than 100 million additional adolescent girls will marry by 2030 if efforts to curb the menace are not ramped up. 
  • Incompatibility 
    • In many countries, marriage and schooling are viewed as incompatible and decisions about removing a girl from school and marrying her off at a young age are often made at the same time.
  • Lack of education and employment
    • These decisions are influenced by the perceived value of education and the availability of employment opportunities for educated girls.
  • Quality primary education
    • Girls from poor, rural, conflict- and crisis-hit areas and marginalised groups will not progress to secondary education unless they have quality primary education.
  • Barriers in the transition
    • Secondary education, such as school fees, distance to school, safety also need to be reduced.

Suggestions/ Way forward

  • SDG Goals
    • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals call for global action to end this human rights violation by 2030.
      • Progress on SDG 5.3 (eliminating child marriage) is dependent on progress in other areas, especially education, employment and poverty reduction. 
  • International conventions and agreements 
    • The issue of child marriage has been addressed in a number of international conventions and agreements.
  • Programme by UNICEF and United Nations Population Fund
    • In 2016, UNICEF, along with United Nations Population Fund, launched a global programme to tackle child marriage in 12 of the most high-prevalence or high-burden countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.
  • Global target
    • The global target is to eliminate child marriage practice by 2030. But reaching this goal would require coordinated action and additional investment.
      • To end child marriage by 2030, progress must be 17 times faster than the progress of the last decade. 
  • Other various measures: 
    • Support for development and participation of adolescent girls
    • Strengthening legal systems to protect the rights of adolescent girls and boys
    • Carrying out cutting-edge research to build a robust evidence base for advocacy, policies, programmes and tracking progress
    • Strengthening services to help adolescents at risk of, or affected by, child marriage, particularly girls, and
    • Raising awareness of the need to invest in and support girls, and shifting the social expectations that stifle their prospects.

India-Singapore strategic partnership

In News

  • Recently, Singapore Minister in PMO was on a 2-day visit to India 

More about the visit

  • The strategic partnership:
    • The strategic partnership between India and Singapore has shown its resilience and both sides look forward to further strengthening this important relationship in areas like trade, defence, science and innovation, education, governance and the digital economy.
  • The upcoming collaborations:
    • India and Singapore are closely collaborating in cutting-edge areas that will shape the future.
      • The two countries are collaborating in fintech, information technology, cyber security, skill development, smart city solutions, renewable energy and food security.
  • Other areas of association:
    • Both sides also discussed establishing the Exchange Program of Civil Services and the PM Excellence Award to Singaporean Institutes of Excellence
    • The Future of Work, Workforce and Workplace of Singapore has agreed to work closely with the Vision India-2047.

India and Singapore Relations

  • Cultural relations:
    • Relations between the two countries have traditionally been strong and friendly, with the two nations enjoying extensive cultural and commercial relations.
  • Economic partnership:
    • Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA):
      • India and Singapore have signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in order to increase trade, investments and economic cooperation, and expanded bilateral cooperation on maritime security, training forces, and joint naval exercises, developing military technology and fighting terrorism.
    • Strategic Partnership:
      • This robust relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership in 2015 during the visit of Prime Minister Modi and on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations
    • Investment partner:
      • Singapore is among India’s largest trade and investment partners in ASEAN and accounted for 22.13 % of our overall trade with ASEAN in 2014-15.
      • FDI:
        • Singapore has emerged as the top source nation in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) equity flows into India for the financial year 2021-22. 
        • The amount of FDI inflow from Singapore to India in fiscal year 2022 was estimated to be almost 16 billion U.S. dollars.
  • Diplomatic relations:
    • India and Singapore are part of numerous groupings like G20, Commonwealth, IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association), East Asia Summit, and IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.
      • Singapore supported India’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and expand its role and influence in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
    • Singapore also supported India in its war against Pakistan in 1965 and the Kashmir conflict.
  • Military cooperation:
    • SIMBEX:
      • India and Singapore began their annual naval combat exercise, now called “SIMBEX” Several warships from India and Singapore took part in this interoperable combat exercise.
    • Defence Cooperation Agreement:
      • India and Singapore signed a Defence Cooperation Agreement, allowing the Singapore army and air force to conduct training on Indian soil.
    • Naval Cooperation:
      • India-Singapore Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation was signed which gave Indian Navy ships access to Singapore’s Changi Naval Base near the disputed South China Sea, mutual logistical support and refuelling rights at the port.
    • India and Singapore signed the agreement for the “strategic relationship” across the board including defence and military, security and intelligence cooperation, political exchanges, enhancing trade and investment, improving financial linkages, improving air connectivity and cooperation in multilateral forums.
  • Smart cities:
    • Singaporean companies continue to participate in a number of smart city, urban planning, logistics and infrastructure projects. 
    • Singapore is working with Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra in preparing Master Plans for townships.
  • Skill development:
    • Singapore is working with the Central and State Governments as well as Government organisations to establish skill development centres in various sectors. 
India’s “Act East Asia” PolicyAnnounced in November 2014 is a diplomatic initiative to promote economic, strategic and cultural relations with the vast Asia-Pacific region at different levels.It involves intensive engagement with Southeast Asian countries in the fields of: Connectivity, trade, culture, defence and people-to-people-contact at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) It is a political and economic organization aimed primarily at promoting economic growth and regional stability among its members.It was founded in 1967 by the five South-East Asian nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.Brunei Darussalam joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999, making up to ten Member States of ASEAN.ASEAN Summit is the highest policy-making body in ASEAN comprising the Head of States or Government of ASEAN Member States.Summit is held twice annually.The First ASEAN Summit was held in Bali, Indonesia in 1976.

Supreme Court’s ruling on Abortion

In News

  • Recently, Supreme Court ruled that all women, irrespective of their marital status, are entitled to safe and legal abortion.

More about the ruling

  • Issue:
    • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act of 1971 and its Rules of 2003 prohibit unmarried women who are between 20 weeks to 24 weeks pregnant to abort with the help of registered medical practitioners.
  • SC’s Judgement:
    • In a landmark judgement, the country’s apex court said that the rights available to married women under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, to abort a foetus will also be available to unmarried women.
    • Court said that the “artificial distinction” between married and unmarried women cannot be sustained, and women must have the autonomy to have free exercise of these rights.
  • Marital rape:
    • The bench also noted that for the sole purpose of the MTP Act, the meaning of rape must include marital rape.

Significance of the ruling

  • On the same level:
    • The judgement would put unmarried women on par with anguished women with less than 20-week-old pregnancies.
  • Similar risks for both:
    • Unmarried women run the danger of suffering a mental breakdown because they had conceived due to the failure of “family planning devices or methods”.
      • Medical risk is the same for both married and unmarried women
    • Safe abortion practice has been a concern in our country, and with this judgement, we can expect a reduction in morbidity and mortality associated with unsafe abortion practice.
  • International significance:
    • The significant decision came months after the US Supreme Court overturned the historic 1973 Roe v Wade decision in a 6-3 decision that made abortion a constitutional right in the country.

Salient features of the “Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021”:

  • Abortions before 20 weeks of pregnancy:
    • Terminating a pregnancy up to 20 weeks will only require the medical advice of one doctor.
  • Abortions up to or beyond 24 of pregnancy:
    • Abortion is legal for women in certain circumstances up to 24 weeks.
    • It would include:
      •  survivors of rape, victims of incest and other vulnerable women (like differently-abled women, minors) etc.
    • Opinion of 2 providers is required for termination of pregnancy of 20-24 weeks of gestation.
    • A state-level medical board will be set up to decide: 
      • if pregnancy may be terminated beyond 20 months till 24 months.
      • Such a decision can be taken by the medical board only after 
        • due consideration and 
        • ensuring that the procedure would be safe for the woman.
        • The time frame available to the Medical Board is 3 days.
    • The upper gestation limit does not apply in cases of substantial foetal abnormalities diagnosed by the Medical Board
  • Anonymity: 
    • Name and other particulars of a woman whose pregnancy has been terminated shall not be revealed except to a person authorised in any law for the time being in force.
  • Marital and age criteria:
    • Unmarried women can also access abortion under the above-mentioned conditions because it does not mention the requirement of spousal consent. 
    • If the woman is a minor, however, the consent of a guardian is required.
  • Intentionally causing a miscarriage:
    • Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code holds intentionally causing a miscarriage as a criminal offence.

Significance of the MTP Act

  • Constitutional right:
    • The reproductive choice is personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian constitution.
  • Reproductive Rights of a Woman: 
    • The laws provide greater reproductive rights and dignity to women as abortion is considered an important aspect of the reproductive health of women.
  • Right to Privacy: 
    • The rape victims and vulnerable victims are also benefitted from Privacy Clause.
  • Encouragement to Safe Abortion: 
    • Deaths and injuries from unsafe abortions are largely preventable provided services are performed legally by trained practitioners.
    • The procedures are performed under proper medical and surgical supervision if done in the hospital setting. 
    • If termination pills are taken at home, it must be under medical supervision and follow up.


  • No Personal Choice: 
    • The boards are unnecessary and an invasion of privacy of the pregnant women which pushes the laborious process a woman had to undergo in order to get an abortion.
    • As the law does not permit abortion at will, critics say that it pushes women to access illicit abortions under unsafe conditions.
  • Increase in Gestational limit only in certain cases: 
    • It enhances the gestational limit for legal abortion from 20 to 24 weeks only for specific categories of women.
    • A woman who does not fall into these categories would not be able to seek an abortion beyond 20 weeks.
  • Shortage of medical staff:
    • According to a 2018 study in the Lancet, 15.6 million abortions were accessed every year in India as of 2015. 
    • The Act requires abortion to be performed only by doctors with specialisation in gynaecology or obstetrics. 
    • However, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s 2019-20 report on Rural Health Statistics indicates that there is a 70% shortage of obstetrician-gynaecologists in rural India.

Way ahead

  • Access to legal and safe abortion is an integral dimension of sexual and reproductive equality and must be a crucial element of conventional society.

Stress in workplaces

In News

  • Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have issued guidelines to address mental health issues among the global workforce.
What is Work-related stress?Some of the many causes of work-related stress include long hours, heavy workload, job insecurity and conflicts with co-workers or bosses.Symptoms include a drop in work performance, depression, anxiety and sleeping difficulties.

Major Highlights by WHO and ILO 

  • Loss in economy and workforce
    • Depression and anxiety are thought to account for 12 billion lost workdays annually, costing the world economy close to $1 trillion, according to the WHO.
  • Countries having national programmes 
    • Five per cent of the working-age population had mental illness and only 35 percent of countries had national programmes for work-related mental health promotion in place.  
  • Increase in anxiety and despair 
    • COVID-19 caused a 25 percent increase in anxiety and despair, demonstrating how poorly governments anticipated its effects on mental health. 
  • The pandemic highlighted a persistent lack of mental health resources globally. 
    • Governments globally allocated just 2 per cent of their health budgets to mental health in 2020, with lower-middle-income nations allocating less than 1 per cent.
Do you know?Quiet quitting Quiet quitters are workers who decide to remain in their positions while pledging to perform only those duties related to their jobs and nothing else.Quiet hustlers  Are those who experience a mismatch in expectations at their principal place of employment. They may quietly start a side business.


  • Loss of productivity
    • The individual’s well-being is a reason enough to act, but poor mental health can also affect a person’s performance and productivity.
  • Socio-economic problems 
    • An unhealthy work culture accentuates broader socio-economic problems, such as inequality and discrimination, which affect mental health. 
  • Mobbing
    • One of the most common workplace harassment is bullying or psychological assault, commonly known as mobbing.
  • Other major challenges:
    • Low salaries
    • Excessive workload
    • Few opportunities for growth or advancement
    • Work that isn’t engaging or challenging
    • Lack of social support
    • Not having enough control over job-related decisions
    • Conflicting demands or unclear performance expectations

Benefits of preventing stress in the workplace

  • Reduced symptoms of poor mental and physical health
  • Fewer injuries, less illness and lost time
  • Reduced sick leave usage, absences and staff turnover
  • Increased productivity
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Increased work engagement
  • Reduced costs to the employer
  • Improved employee health and community wellbeing.

Way forward

  • Training
    • WHO has suggested manager training to avoid stressful work settings and assist distressed employees.
  • Investments
    • We need to invest in reshaping the working environment to stop stigma and social exclusion and ensure employees with mental health conditions feel protected and supported.
  • Return to work
    • The guidelines also suggested improved approaches to meeting the requirements of workers with mental health disorders and prescribed interventions that promote their return to work. 
  • Paid employment mechanisms
    • It also offered paid employment mechanisms for people with severe mental health conditions. The guidelines emphasised the need for actions to protect medical, humanitarian and emergency personnel.
  • Work-related stress is a management issue:
    • Ensure a safe working environment.
    • Make sure that everyone is properly trained for their job.
    • De-stigmatise work-related stress by openly recognising it as a genuine problem.
    • Discuss issues and grievances with employees, and take appropriate action when possible.
    • Devise a stress management policy in consultation with the employees.
    • Encourage an environment where employees have more say over their duties, promotional prospects and safety.
    • Organise to have a human resources manager.
    • Cut down on the need for overtime by reorganising duties or employing extra staff.
    • Take into account the personal lives of employees and recognise that the demands of home will sometimes clash with the demands of work.
    • Seek advice from health professionals, if necessary.

Stockholm Convention


  • The 18th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) Review Committee (POPRC-18) to the Stockholm Convention  is being held in Rome.
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) POPs are chemicals that remain intact in the environment for long periods, become widely distributed geographically, accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms and are toxic to humans and wildlife. POPs circulate globally and can cause damage wherever they travel.

The Stockholm Convention

  • It  is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 
  • Over 152 countries ratified the Convention and it entered into force in  2004.
  • It focuses on eliminating or reducing releases of POPs. It sets up a system for tackling additional chemicals identified as unacceptably hazardous. 
  • Global Environmental Facility (GEF)  is the designated interim financial mechanism for the Stockholm Convention.
  • UNIDO is also responsible for supporting developing countries and countries with economies in transition to implement the Stockholm Convention
  • Aims 
    • Eliminate dangerous POPs, starting with the 12 worst
    • Support the transition to safer alternatives
    • Target additional POPs for action
    • Cleanup old stockpiles and equipment containing POPs
    • Work together for a POPs-free future

Ratification by India 

  • India had ratified the Stockholm Convention in  2006 as per Article 25(4), which enabled it to keep itself in a default “opt-out” position such that amendments in various Annexes of the convention cannot be enforced on it unless an instrument of ratification/ acceptance/ approval or accession is explicitly deposited with UN depositary.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) had notified the ‘Regulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants Rules in 2018 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
    •  The regulation inter alia prohibited the manufacture, trade, use, import and export seven chemicals namely 
      •  Chlordecone, Hexabromobiphenyl,  Hexabromodiphenyl ether and Heptabromodiphenylether (Commercial octa-BDE),Tetrabromodiphenyl ether and Pentabromodiphenyl ether (Commercial penta-BDE),  Pentachlorobenzene, Hexabromocyclododecane, and  Hexachlorobutadiene.

Key Highlights of the recent  meeting 

  •  It has included five more chemicals in its agenda.
  • The listed 5 chemicals include a pesticide, a flame retardant and some plastic stabilising substances.
  • 3 of the listed chemicals– chlorpyrifos, chlorinated paraffin (beyond prescribed standards) and long-chain perfluoro carboxylic acids had already been nominated by the 17th meeting (POPRC-17).
  • Other 2 chemicals, dechlorane plus (a flame retardant) and UV-328 (a stabiliser used in some personal care products) which were qualified for risk management evaluation at POPRC-17. 
  • It aims to list each of these chemicals in Annex A (elimination), B (restriction) and/or C (unintended release) of the Stockholm Convention.

India’s Stand

  • Resistance: The United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) proposal to list chlorpyrifos as POP was resisted by India. However, chlorpyrifos got nominated as Persistent organic pollutants.
    • Reasons :  Chlorpyrifos is not a carcinogen and its concentrations are low.
      • Some of the studies in the POPRC-17 proposal showing adverse effects of chlorpyrifos were not peer reviewed.
    • Anupam Verma Committee: Chlorpyrifos has been registered under the Insecticide Act of 1968  and Anupam Verma Committee had recommended its review since 1977 for continued use in 2015.

What’s Next?

  • India’s views against the listing of chlorpyrifos may not find much acceptance by the expert committee consisting of 31 experts — from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean
  • The Stockholm Convention has listed 31 chemicals as of December 2020. 
    • This list is likely to expand further amid evidence pointing towards the health burden of hazardous chemicals and pesticides.

Global Innovation Index 2022

In News

Recently, the annual report released by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) showed, India is among the top 40, making remarkable progress in the global innovation index ranking for the first time.

Key Findings

  • India is the innovation leader in the lower middle-income group. 
  • It continues to lead the world in ICT services exports and holds top rankings in other indicators, including:
    • Venture capital receipt value, 
    • Finance for startups and scaleups, 
    • Graduates in science and engineering, 
    • Labour productivity growth 
    • Domestic industry diversification.
  • Performance in 2020: 
    • Earlier in 2020, India entered into the top 50 in 2020 and found a place in the top 40 this year.
  • Impact of COVID 19: 
    • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the research and development (R&D) and other investments that drive worldwide innovative activity continued to boom in 2021, however challenges are emerging in translating innovation investments into impact.
  • Post pandemic: 
    • Innovation is at a crossroads as we emerge from the pandemic. 
    • While innovation investments surged in 2020 and 2021, the outlook for 2022 is clouded not just by global uncertainties but continued underperformance in innovation-driven productivity. 
    • So there is a need to pay more attention to not just investing in innovation, but how it translates into economic and social impact. 
    • Quality and value will become as critical to success as quantity and scale.
  • Global Trend:
    • World’s most-innovative economies: Switzerland, the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
    • Emerging economies are showing consistently strong performance, with India jumping to the 40th position while Turkey is placed at the 37th position.

Global Innovation Index (GII)

  • Origin: 
    • The Global Innovation Index (GII) project was launched by Professor Soumitra Dutta in 2007 during his tenure at INSEAD. 
  • Goal:
    • To find and determine metrics and methods that could capture a picture of innovation in society that is as complete as possible. 
  • Published by: 
    • It is published by WIPO, in partnership with the Portulans Institute and with the support of its corporate partners including the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the Brazilian National Confederation of Industry (CNI), Ecopetrol (Colombia), and the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM).
    • It was the 15th edition this year.
  • Criteria to measure innovation:
    • It covers institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, credit, investment, linkages, creation, absorption and diffusion of knowledge, and creative outputs.
  • Three measures are calculated:
    • Innovation Input Sub-Index: Five input pillars capture elements of the economy that enable and facilitate innovative activities.
    • Innovation Output Sub-Index: Innovation outputs are the result of innovative activities within the economy. Although the Output Sub-Index includes only two pillars, it carries the same weight as the Input Sub-Index in calculating the overall GII scores.
    • The overall GII score is the average of the Input and Output Sub-Indices, on which the GII economy rankings are then produced.

Challenges to innovation in India

  • Academia – Industry Gap:
    • Steps like the Atal Innovation Mission and collaboration with institutions in countries like Switzerland and the UK are proving helpful but still there is a long way to go before we completely bridge the gap.
    • The research done in universities is not linked with the industry or real-world problems.
  • Spending on R&D: 
    • Spending on Research and Development is another sector where India lags behind. 
  • Infrastructure:
    • This is an area in which India lacks the most. 
    • Good and efficient infrastructure can only be made available when the organizers know the needs of the innovators and scientists. 

Way Ahead

  • Taking all the stakeholders on board:
    • Whether creating an innovative solution for rural India or a solution to a city’s waste management crisis, every stakeholder needs to be represented appropriately. 
  • Interdisciplinary and international collaborations are the need of the hour, to ensure maximum impact and outcome.
  • Promoting Best Practices: The states that have consistently shown strong performance and the areas of strength for various states need to be critically analysed and the knowledge of the best practices needs to be disseminated to promote innovation.
  • Focus on Challenges: The critical challenges faced by the low performing states and the areas of weaknesses of various states need to be identified to promote economic well being, by fostering innovation in the region.

‘Operation Garuda’

In News 

The Central Bureau of Investigation has launched a multi-phase ‘Operation Garuda’ against illicit drug trafficking network, registering 127 new cases, arresting 175 people and seizing huge quantities of narcotic drugs.

About  ‘Operation Garuda’ 

  • It was initiated in close coordination with Interpol and Narcotics Control Bureau, for combating the smuggling of illicit drugs and psychotropic substances, with special focus on the Indian Ocean region
    • Drug trafficking networks with international linkages require law enforcement cooperation across international jurisdiction.
  • Objectives :It seeks to disrupt, degrade and dismantle drug networks with international linkages through rapid exchange of criminal intelligence on drug trafficking and coordinated law enforcement actions across international jurisdiction through Interpol.
What is Drug trafficking? It is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition lawsVulnerability of India India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking as it is located between two largest Opium producing regions of the world i.e.Golden Crescent in the west and Golden Triangle in the east.The Golden Crescent region of South Asia comprises Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. The Golden Triangle is the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers.These two areas are known as the major opium production regions of the world.According to The World Drug Report 2022: India has the most number of opiate users in the world and  The trend is expected to rise with an increase in trafficking.


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