Mahakal Lok Corridor

In News

  • Recently, the Prime Minister inaugurated the Mahakal Lok corridor built at the Mahakaleshwar temple.

More about the news

  • The Mahakaleshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas (representation of Lord Shiva) in India.
  • The Mahakal Lok corridor project:
    • The Mahakaleshwar Temple Corridor Development Project will provide better amenities for those visiting the temple. 
    • The corridor has around 108 aesthetically ornate pillars made of intricately carved sandstones that depict the Anand Tandav Swaroop (Lord Shiva’s dance form), 200 statues and murals of Lord Shiva and goddess Shakti.
    • It also has gushing fountains surrounded by artistic sculptures of the deity as well as 53 illuminated murals depicting stories from the  Shiv Puran.
    • First phase:
      • The first phase of the project is expected to significantly boost tourism in this city of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Mahakal Maharaj Mandir Parisar Vistar Yojna:
    • Mahakal Maharaj Mandir Parisar Vistar Yojna is a plan for the expansion, beautification, and decongestion of the Mahakaleshwar temple and its adjoining area in Ujjain district.
      • Under the plan, the Mahakaleshwar temple premise of around 2.82 hectares is being increased to 47 hectares.
      • This will be developed in two phases by the Ujjain district administration.
    • This will include the 17 hectares of Rudrasagar lake.
  • Major temple upliftment projects:
    • After Vishwanath temple in Varanasi and the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand, Mahakal temple is the third ‘jyotirlinga’ site to see a major upliftment exercise.
      • The Mahakal corridor is four times the size of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor, which was inaugurated late last year.

Significance of Mahakaleshwar temple in Hinduism

  • History:
    • Mahakaleshwar, which means the ‘Lord of time’, refers to Lord Shiva. 
    • As per Hindy mythology, the temple was constructed by Lord Brahma and is presently located alongside the holy river Kshipra.
  • Jyotirlingas:
    • Puranas say that Lord Shiva pierced the world as an endless pillar of light, called the jyotirlinga. 
    • There are 12 jyotirlinga sites in India, considered a manifestation of Shiva. 
      • Besides MahakalSomnath and Nageshwar in Gujarat, 
      • Mallikarjuna in Andhra Pradesh, 
      • Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, 
      • Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, 
      • BhimashankarTriyambakeshwar and Grishneshwar in Maharashtra, 
      • Viswanath at Varanasi, 
      • Baidyanath in Jharkhand, and 
      • Rameshwar in Tamil Nadu.
  • Characteristic features of the temple:
    • Mahakal is the only jyotirlinga facing the south, while all the other jyotirlingas face east. 
      • This is because the direction of death is believed to be the south. In fact, people worship Mahakaleshwar to prevent untimely death.
  • References of the temple:
    • The Mahakal temple finds a mention in several ancient Indian poetic texts
    • Meghadutam:
      • In the early part of the Meghadutam (Purva Megha) composed in the 4th century, Kalidasa gives a description of the Mahakal temple. 
        • It is described as one with a stone foundation, with the ceiling on wooden pillars. 
        • There would be no shikharas or spires on the temples prior to the Gupta period.

More about Ujjain City

  • History:
    • The city of Ujjain was also one of the primary centres of learning for Hindu scriptures, called Avantika in the 6th and 7th centuries BC
    • Later, astronomers and mathematicians such as Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya made Ujjain their home.
  • Significance of the city:
    • Geography:
      • Also, as per the Surya Siddhanta, one of the earliest available texts on Indian astronomy dating back to the 4th century, Ujjain is geographically situated at a spot where the zero meridian of longitude and the Tropic of Cancer intersect
      • In keeping with this theory, it is believed that many of Ujjain temples are in some way connected to time and space, and the main Shiva temple is dedicated to Mahakal, the lord of time. 
    • Observatory:
      • In the 18th century, an observatory was built here by Maharaja Jai Singh II, known as the Vedh Shala or Jantar Mantar, comprising 13 architectural instruments to measure astronomical phenomena.
Kashi Vishwanath Corridor About:It is a 400-metre long corridor that will facilitate the pilgrims and devotees of Baba Vishwanath, who had to encounter congested streets and surroundings with poor upkeep, when they practised the age-old custom of taking a dip in the holy river, collecting Gangajal and offering it at the temple. The architect of this project is Mr Bimal Patel who is also the architect for the Central Vista project.Significance: It will provide easy access for the disabled and old age people with the provision of ramps, escalators, and other modern facilities.Heritage Preservation Boost to Local Economy

RTI: Pendency of Cases


  • The transparency regime set up by the Right to Information (RTI) Act has nearly 3.15 lakh pending complaints or appeals with 26 information commissions across India.

RTI Pendency in India

  • Pendency and delays: 
  • As per the data obtained from several information commissions (ICs), the backlog of appeals or complaints with them is steadily increasing every year (reference period 2019-2022) resulting in a long waiting time for disposal.
  • States with the highest number of pending cases and appeals were Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar etc.
  • RTI cases filed till now-4.2 crore RTIs and 26 lakh second appeals with average waiting period of two years.
  • Functioning Issues: 
  • Completely defunct ICs: 2 ICs in Jharkhand and Tripura (out of total 29) are completely defunct for 29 and 15 months respectively
  • Lack of transparency in the functioning of ICs causes tardy disposal rates thereby violating the mandate of safeguarding and facilitating people’s fundamental right to information.
  • Personnel Management: ICs are becoming parking lots for retired bureaucrats.
  • Behavioral traits:  Casual attitude by PIO/First Appellate Authority while rejecting RTI applications.
  • Gender disparity: Only 5% of the positions of Information Commissioners are occupied by women.
  • Imposition of penalties: The commissions did not impose penalties in 95% of the cases where penalties were potentially imposable.
  • Vacancies: 
  • As per the report by the Transparency International, one-fourth (42 of the total 165) information commissioner posts are vacant.
  • Four ICs in Manipur, Telangana, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are without chiefs or heads. 

Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005

  • Mandate: The Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, was enacted by Parliament to empower citizens, promote accountability and transparency in the working of the government while containing corruption.
  • The Right to Information (Amendment) Act, 2019: This amendment changed the tenure of the CIC and ICs from five years and provided for the central government to notify the term of office for the CIC and the ICs. Accordingly, tenure of the commissioners has been cut to 3 years.
  • ‘Public Authorities’ are institutions of self-government established under the Constitution or under any law or government notification. 
  • They include Ministries, public sector undertakings and regulators. 
  • They also include any entities owned, controlled or substantially financed and non-government organizations substantially financed directly or indirectly by government funds.

Functioning of Right to Information Act

Under the RTI Act 2005, a three-tier structure has been set up for enforcing the right to information.

  • Public Information Officers: The first request for information goes to the Assistant Public Information Officer and Public Information Officer, designated by the Public Authorities.
  • They are required to provide information to an RTI applicant within 30 days of the request.
  • Appellate Authority: It caters to the appeals against decisions of the Public Information Officer.
  • State Information Commission or the Central Information Commission (CIC): They are mandated to hear appeals against the order of the Appellate Authority.
  • Information Commissions consist of a Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and up to 10 Information Commissioners (ICs).

Utility of RTI

  • RTI helps in addressing the matters of constitutional rights and empowers people to seek answers from the government establishment, which forms the very basis of democracy.
  • RTI has been instrumental in preventing policy paralysis and institutionalization of a more informed, equitable and robust decision-making process.

Way Forward

  • There is an urgent need for the transparency watchdogs to function in a more effective and transparent manner.
  • The entire system of RTI is in need of digitisation for better record management. e-filing facility for RTI applications or appeals should be made functional in every ICs.   
  • The digital RTI portal (website or mobile app) can deliver more efficient and citizen-friendly services and minimize the issues of pendency and delays substantially. 
  • PIOs can be trained by experts in-house mechanisms for efficient management and disposal of cases.

Indian Cough Syrup & Deaths in Gambia

In News

  • Recently, the Haryana state government decided to “completely stop” the production of medicines that caused deaths in Gambia.

More about the news

  • WHO Alert:
    • WHO has issued a medical product alert for four contaminated medicines identified in The Gambia. 
      • The four medicines are cough and cold syrups produced in India.
  • Issue:
    • These medicines have been potentially linked to 66 deaths among children in Gambia.
    • The drug has been identified as containing a significant amount of a toxin that damages kidneys irreversibly.
  • India’s probe:
    • The cough syrups manufactured by the pharmaceutical company was approved for export. 
      • It is not available for sale or marketing within the country.
    • India’s drug regulator – The Drugs Controller General of India had also initiated a probe.

Indian Pharmaceutical industry

  • The Pharmacy of the World:
    • The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is the third largest in the world by volume
      • The Indian Pharmaceutical Industry has been using its powers very responsibly. 
      • It has made a name for itself and India is being called “The Pharmacy of the World” in some circles.
  • Export:
    • India exported pharmaceuticals worth Rs 175,040 crore in the financial year 2021-22, including Bulk Drugs/Drug Intermediates. Also, India is one of the major producers of Active Pharma Ingredients (API) or bulk drugs in the world. 
    • India exported Bulk Drugs/Drug Intermediates worth Rs 33,320 crore in the financial year 2021-22.
  • Imports:
    • However, the country also imports various Bulk Drugs/ APIs for producing medicines from various countries. 
      • Most of the imports of the Bulk Drug/APIs being done in the country are because of economic considerations.
  • What is driving the growth?
  • Talent pool:
    • India has a huge talent pool with trained pharmaceutical professionals having degrees in B Pharmacy, D Pharmacy, M Pharmacy. 
  • Generic drugs:
    • The ability of the pharmaceutical industry to develop generic drugs at a much-reduced price is mainly due to trained professionals in the industry. 
  • Manufacturing:
    • India has a huge manufacturing base of pharmaceutical products giving it way more flexibility in producing generic drugs. 
    • India is home to 3000 drug companies and more than 10,000 manufacturing units.

Potential of the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry

  • According to the Indian Economic Survey 2021, the pharmaceutical industry in India is expected to reach USD 120-130 Billion by 2030. 
  • Industries related to the pharmaceutical sector:
    • The other industries related to the pharmaceutical sector like biopharmaceuticals, bio-services, bio-agriculture, bio-industry, and bioinformatics are likely to reach USD 150 Billion in 2025 as compared to USD 70 Billion in 2020.
  • According to EY and FICCI, Innovation and R&D, Healthcare Delivery, Manufacturing & Supply Chain, and Market Access are the opportunities that will drive growth in the years to come. 
Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940The Act regulates the import, manufacture, and distribution of drugs in India.The primary objective of the act is to ensure that the drugs and cosmetics sold in India are safe, effective and conform to state quality standards.New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill, 2022For the first time, regulations for conduct of clinical trials for new drugs and medical devices have been brought under the draft New Drugs, Medical Devices and Cosmetics Bill, 2022 The bill seeks to replace the existing Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940.New definitions:The draft bill introduces various new definitions or provisions like bioequivalence study, bioavailability study, clinical trial, clinical investigation, controlling authority, manufacturer, medical device, new drugs, over the-counter (OTC) drugs, adulterated cosmetics, etc. for more clarity and smooth functioning and implementation.Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) and Medical Devices Technical Advisory Board (MDTAB):It proposes the constitution of a separate Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) and Medical Devices Technical Advisory Board (MDTAB), comprising experts from various associations to advise the central government in technical matters.Central Licensing Authority:In the interest of public health or extreme urgency of drugs, the central government is empowered to make provisions for Central Licensing Authority to waive the requirement of conducting clinical trials for manufacture or import of new drugs or investigational new drugs in the country.Drugs Controller General of IndiaDrugs Controller General of India (DCGI) is the head of department of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization of the Government of India It is responsible for approval of licences of specified categories of drugs such as blood and blood products, IV fluids, vaccines, and sera in India. Drugs Controller General of India, comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.DCGI also sets standards for manufacturing, sales, import, and distribution of drugs in India.

Surrogacy in India

In News

  • The recent announcement by Tamil film director Vignesh and his wife, actor Nayanthara, that they had become parents to twin boys is building up into a controversy, with speculations that the couple opted for surrogacy.

What is Surrogacy?

  • Meaning
    • Surrogacy is defined as a practice wherein one woman bears and gives birth to a child with the intention to thereafter hand it over to the intending couple.
  • While commercial surrogacy is not allowed in India such procedures are allowed only for altruistic purposes with many restrictions on the person seeking to apply under the law.
    • No other monetary consideration will be permitted.

The Surrogacy Laws

  • The parliament in 2021 passed two laws: 
    • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act
      • It governs the practice and process of surrogacy in India.
      • It provided a gestation period of ten months from the date of coming into force to existing surrogate mothers’ to protect their well being.
    • The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act
      • It was enacted for regulation and supervision of the assisted reproductive technology clinics and banks.
      • Under the Act, the services can be made available to a woman above the age of 21 years and below the age of 50 years and to a man above the age of 21 years and below the age of 55 years.
      • ART procedures include gamete donation, intrauterine insemination, and in-vitro fertilisation or IVF. 

Major provisions of the Law 

  • Eligibility: According to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, only a married couple who has a medical condition necessitating gestational surrogacy can avail it. They have to first obtain a certificate of recommendation from a District Medical Board.
    • Gestational surrogacy’ means:
      • She has no uterus or missing uterus or abnormal uterus or if the uterus is surgically removed due to any medical conditions such as gynaecological cancer.
      • Intended parent or woman who has repeatedly failed to conceive after multiple In vitro fertilization or Intracytoplasmic sperm injection attempts.
      • Multiple pregnancy losses resulting from an unexplained medical reason, unexplained graft rejection due to exaggerated immune response;
      • Any illness that makes it impossible for a woman to carry a pregnancy to viability or pregnancy that is life threatening.
  • An intending woman who is a widow or divorcee between the age of 35 to 45 years- can also avail the surrogacy.
  • The intending couple where the woman is of the age of 23 to 50 years and a man between 26 to 55 years- is eligible under the law.
    • Only such intending couples can apply who have not had any surviving child biologically or through adoption or earlier surrogacy.
    • An exception has been provided for the couples whose child is “mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness with no permanent cure”.
    • The intending couple or intending woman is not allowed to abandon the child, born out of a surrogacy procedure, for any reason whatsoever.
      • A child born out of a surrogacy procedure is deemed to be a biological child of the intending couple or intending woman.
  • Eligibility to be a surrogate mother
    • A married woman of the age of 25 to 35 years on the day of implantation, with a child of her own, can be a surrogate mother.
    • She can act as a surrogate mother only once in her lifetime and with only three attempts of procedure is allowed.
    • The woman has to give a written informed consent for the purpose and also be medically and psychologically fit.
    • No charges other than medical expenses can be given to the surrogate mother or her dependents or her representative by the intending couple or woman.
  • Abortion
    • A surrogate mother can be allowed abortion during the process of surrogacy only in accordance with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.
    • She also cannot disclose the identity of the couple seeking the surrogacy.
  • Penalty
    • Offences under the Act include commercial surrogacy, selling of embryos, exploiting, abandoning a surrogate child etc. 
    • These may invite up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs. 10 lakh.
  • Regulation of Surrogacy Clinics
    • No Surrogacy Clinic can conduct or associate with or help in any manner in conducting the surrogacy procedure unless it is registered under the law.

Major Challenges

  • The two Acts have been described as discriminatory against the single man who may desire to become a father via surrogacy or the married woman who already has a child and is desirous of expanding her family through the procedure.
  • Disqualifying other persons on basis of nationality, marital status, sexual orientation or age does not pass the test of equality.
  • Reproductive autonomy: inclusive of the right to procreation and parenthood, is not within the domain of the State.
  • Infertility cannot be compulsory to undertake surrogacy: the certificate to prove infertility is a violation of privacy as part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • India as Surrogacy hub: India has emerged as a hub for infertility treatment, attracting people from the world over with its state-of-the-art technology and competitive prices to treat infertility.

Way forward

  • Surrogacy is legal in India. But, making it commercial is illegal. It is a humanitarian act and is recognized by law.
    • Surrogacy comes under the reproductive choices of women and it is included as a fundamental right under the purview of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • The law on surrogacy came into effect from January 25 and provides a gestation period of ten months to existing surrogate mothers’ to protect their well being. 
  • Prior to the coming into effect of the laws, the Indian Council of Medical Research had issued a ‘Code of Practice, Ethical Consideration and Legal Issues’ for clinics involved in such procedures.
  • The guidelines said surrogacy by assisted conception should normally be considered only for patients for whom it would be physically or “medically impossible” to carry a baby to term and that a surrogate mother should not be over 45 years of age.

World Economic Outlook : Countering the Cost-of-Living Crisis

In News 

  • Recently, the International Monetary Fund released World Economic Outlook, October 2022: Countering the Cost-of-Living Crisis.

Major Findings 

  • Globally
    • Global economic activity is experiencing a broad-based and sharper-than-expected slowdown, with inflation higher than seen in several decades. 
    • The cost-of-living crisis, tightening financial conditions in most regions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the lingering COVID-19 pandemic all weigh heavily on the outlook.
    •  Global growth is forecast to slow from 6.0 percent in 2021 to 3.2 percent in 2022 and 2.7 percent in 2023.
  • India : It trimmed its FY23 growth forecast for India by 60 basis points from its July projection of 7.4% to 6.8%
    • IMF expects India’s retail inflation to shoot up to 6.9% in FY23 before easing to 5.1% in the next fiscal, compared with 5.5% in FY22.


  • Monetary policy should stay the course to restore price stability, and fiscal policy should aim to alleviate the cost-of-living pressures while maintaining a sufficiently tight stance aligned with monetary policy. 
  • Structural reforms can further support the fight against inflation by improving productivity and easing supply constraints, while multilateral cooperation is necessary for fast-tracking the green energy transition and preventing fragmentation.

Principle of Seniority & Collegium System

In News 

Chief Justice of India (CJI) U U Lalit has written to the government recommending his successor in the post, and as per the convention of seniority, Justice D Y Chandrachud will take over as the next CJI on November 9.


  • The collegium  which Justice Chandrachud will head , will potentially make as many as 18 recommendations for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. 
    • It will be an unusual collegium: instead of five members, it will have six.

What is the Collegium?

  • The collegium system of appointing judges evolved through three significant verdicts of the Supreme Court, known as the First, Second, and Third Judges Cases. 
  • The Constitution of India does not mention the collegium system; however, these three cases established that the collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India will have primacy in the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
  • The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the CJI and comprises four other senior-most judges of the court. 
  • This collegium makes recommendations to the government for appointment of judges to the SC and of Chief Justices of High Courts, and the transfers of HC judges.
  • A separate three-member collegium, headed by the CJI and comprising the two senior-most judges of the SC makes recommendations for appointment of judges to HCs.

Who is in the collegium?

  • The ruling in the Third Judges Case, which gave legal backing to the current system of appointment of judges and created the collegium of the CJI and four senior-most judges, stated: “The principal objective of the collegium is to ensure that the best available talent is brought to the Supreme Court Bench. 
  • The Chief Justice of India and the senior-most puisne Judges, by reason of their long tenures on the Supreme Court, are best fitted to achieve this objective.”
  • Generally, one or more of the four senior judges in the collegium would be a potential CJI candidate. The next in line is considered important to ensure continuity of decision-making. 
    • For example, Justice Chandrachud, the senior-most judge after CJI Lalit, is part of the current collegium.
  • “Ordinarily, one of the four senior-most puisne Judges of the Supreme Court would succeed the Chief Justice of India, but if the situation should be such that the successor Chief Justice is not one of the four senior-most puisne Judges, he must invariably be made part of the collegium. 
    • The Judges to be appointed will function during his term and it is right that he should have a hand in their selection.
  • However, in the two-year tenure of Justice Chandrachud as CJI, a potential CJI candidate is unlikely to be in the collegium until May 2023.

What is a 5+1 collegium?

  • Given the order of seniority, a potential CJI will enter the Chandrachud collegium only in May 2023. However, Justice Khanna will be the sixth member of the collegium from November 9, 2022 itself.
  • This happened earlier in 2007 — when then CJI K G Balakrishnan took the top office, the collegium he headed did not have a potential CJI candidate. 
  • Justice S H Kapadia, who was next in line to be CJI, was invited to the collegium as the sixth member.


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