Issues with the Aadhaar-Voter ID card Linkage

In Context

  • Recently, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Union government on a plea challenging the power of the Election Commission (EC) to link the Aadhaar database with voter ID cards.

More about the news

  • Issue:
    • Electoral reforms:
      • In December 2021, the Central government passed The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
        • The bill amended the Representation of the People Act, 1950 and the Representation Act, 1951 to implement certain electoral reforms.
    • The amendment:
      • The amendment stated that an electoral registration officer may require a person to furnish their Aadhaar number for the purposes of “establishing the identity of a person” or for the “authentication of entries in electoral roll and to identify registration of name of the same person in the electoral roll of more than one constituency or more than once in the same constituency.”
    • Not voluntary in action: 
      • The updated Act also stated that no individual will be denied inclusion in the electoral roll, nor have their names deleted from the roll if they are unable to furnish their Aadhaar number due to “sufficient cause as may be prescribed”. 
      • Such individuals may be allowed to provide alternative documents prescribed by the government.
  • The petition:
    • Right to Vote & secrecy of the votes:
      • The petitioner, argued that the right to vote is one of the “most sacred rights” and cannot be denied if a person lacks an Aadhaar card.
      • It also stated that the linkage would compromise the secrecy of the votes.
    • K. S Puttaswamy v Union of India & Ors:
      • The petitioner argued that the Aadhar card can only be made mandatory if some benefit of subsidy is sought and not if there is an intrinsic right, such as the right to vote.
        • This is the stated judgment in Justice K. S Puttaswamy v Union of India & Ors, which dealt with the validity of the Aadhar card.
    • Questioning the independence of the EC:
      • The petition argued that the linkage poses a major threat to the independence of the Election Commission (EC).
      • The preparation of the electoral rolls is made dependent on the processes of Aadhaar, a process EC has no control over. 

Other Challenges & criticisms

  • Infringing Fundamental right:
    • The linking of voter IDs and Aadhaar violates the fundamental right to privacy as defined by the Supreme Court in the judgment.
  • Influencing the voting process:
    • Many have also flagged concerns that the linkage would help in creating voter profiles that may be used to influence the voting process.
  • Data breach:
    • The linkage would open the ecosystem to a possibility of a data breach by any agency or non-state actors.
  • No legislative competence:
    • It is beyond the legislative competence of the Aadhaar Act to be linked with the electoral laws.
  • Voting rights of non-citizens:
    • Aadhaar is meant for the residents of India and all residents are not Indians. 
    • By linking Aadhaar with the electoral process, we are potentially giving voting rights to non-citizens.

Significance of linking link electoral rolls to Aadhaar

  • Issue of multiple enrollments:
    • The government claims the linkage will solve the problem of multiple enrollments of the same person at different places. 
  • How will this linkage help?
    • Once the Aadhaar linkage is achieved, the electoral roll data system will instantly alert the existence of previous registration(s) whenever a person applies for new registration. 
    • This will help in cleaning the electoral roll to a great extent and facilitate elector registration in the location at which they are ‘ordinarily resident’, a government official had said earlier.

Way Ahead

  • The Election Commission should list the safeguards built into the electoral roll data platform for “protecting the privacy of individuals”.
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) & AadharAadhaar Act & Establishment of UIDAI:The UIDAI is a statutory authority established under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016 (“Aadhaar Act 2016”) on 12 July 2016 by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY). Need of UIDAI:UIDAI was created to issue Unique Identification numbers (UID), named as “Aadhaar”, to all residents of India. The UID had to be -Robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and Verifiable and authenticable in an easy, cost-effective way. As on 31st October 2021, the Authority has issued 131.68 crore Aadhaar numbers to the residents of India.Under the Aadhaar Act 2016, UIDAI is responsible for:Aadhaar enrolment and authentication, including operation and management of all stages of Aadhaar life cycle,Developing the policy, procedure, and system for issuing Aadhaar numbers to individuals and Perform authentication and the security of identity information and authentication records of individuals.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

In News

  • In a reference to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), at a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), India’s External Affairs Minister recently reiterated that connectivity projects (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)) should respect sovereignty and territorial integrity.


  • The External Affairs Minister also pitched for more trade through Iran’s Chabahar port and the International North South Transport Corridors (INSTC) that India is a part of, aiming to improve bilateral trade with Central Asian countries. 

About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

  • Launched in 2015, the CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
  • The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consists of highways, railways, and pipelines.
  • CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.
  • The proposed project will be financed by heavily-subsidised loans that will be disbursed to the Government of Pakistan by Chinese banks.


  • The agreement is aimed at boosting Chinese investment in Pakistan as well as transferring Chinese industrial capacity.
  • The framework will promote industrialisation and development of economic zones, and initiate, plan, execute, and monitor projects, both in the public as well as the private sectors.
  • The corridor links Xinjiang with Gwadar and also passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) where China is investing in a number of projects.
  • CPEC’s early-harvest projects had transformed Pakistan’s economic landscape, thus laying a solid foundation for sustainable economic growth.

Challenges associated with the plan 

  • Delays in execution: The CPEC projects were also facing delays because of the change in taxation policies by the last government in violation of commitments given to China.
  • Pakistan’s failure: The Chinese authorities were irritated because of Pakistan’s failure to honour its contractual obligations under the CPEC framework.
  • Financial crisis: China is also concerned over the acute financial crisis faced by Pakistan, prompting it to step in periodically to bail it out with induction of foreign exchange loans.
  • Pakistan was a critic of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) earlier for its secrecy and uneven investments neglecting certain provinces of the country.
  • India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • A report by US-based international development research lab AidData said that a substantial chunk of Chinese development financing under the CPEC consists of loans that are at or near commercial rates as opposed to grants.
  • Lack of transparency: As much as 40 percent of China’s lending to Pakistan does not appear on the government’s books.
  • Laxity: The project is behind schedule and only three of the total 15 projects announced have been completed so far.
  • China’s debt trap policy: Critics also foresee that the weak economic indicators of Pakistan might lead to a possibility of the country defaulting on debt repayments, as Chinese loans have high interest rates.

India’s Concerns

  • Violation of Indian Sovereignty: 
    • The project violates the sovereignty of India as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. 
    • As per well-established international conventions, no construction is allowed in any disputed territory, without taking the other country into confidence.
  • Exploitation of Natural Resources: 
    • Under CPEC, China plans to build two mega-dams on the Indus, named Bunji Dam and Bhasha Dam. 
    • This will put a heavy strain on the Indus Water Basin.
  • Security Concerns for India: 
    • Increase in China’s Activities in IOR: 
      • With Gwadar being a part of CPEC, India fears an escalation of PLA Navy activities in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). 
    • Threat to Indian Trade and Connectivity: 
      • Majority of Indian tangible imports pass through the Strait of Hormuz. 
      • China can easily create impediments to its access to the Middle-east in case of a conflict, jeopardizing India’s energy security.
    • Enhanced threat from Pakistan: 
      • With the overhauling of the Karakoram Highway, Pakistan will enjoy an advantage in mobilizing troops as well as heavy military equipment to PoK. 
      • At the same time, an increase in financial returns to Pakistan through CPEC may expand its ability to fund military infrastructure as well as state-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir, thus destabilizing the region.

Way ahead

  • Maintain Communication: 
    • Experts have advocated that India maintain communication and cordial relations with its neighbours. 
    • In such a context, India has done well to keep participating in forums like Shanghai Cooperation Organization to maintain communication with both Pakistan and China.
  • International Collaboration: 
    • It is well settled that India cannot compete with China in the matter of financing developmental projects like CPEC in other developing countries. 
    • Therefore, it needs to collaborate with agencies like Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to offer soft loans to save them from falling into the Chinese debt trap.
  • Security Concerns: 
    • Developing countries, especially the countries of Southeast Asia have pinned their hopes on India to counter China’s hegemony in the region. 
    • Here, India needs to build on alliances like Quad to maintain the balance of power in the Indo-pacific region.

Expanding Biosphere Footprint

In News

  • November 3 is the first ‘The International Day for Biosphere Reserves’, to be celebrated beginning 2022. 

More about The World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR)

  • About:
    • The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) was formed in 1971.
    • WNBR covers internationally designated protected areas, known as biosphere reserves, which are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature (e.g. encourage sustainable development).
      • They are created under the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB).
  • About the biosphere reserves:
    • All biosphere reserves are internationally recognised sites on land, at the coast, or in the oceans. 
    • There are 738 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 22 transboundary sites. They are distributed as follows:
      • 90 sites in 33 countries in Africa
      • 36 sites in 14 countries in the Arab States
      • 172 sites in 24 countries in Asia and the Pacific
      • 308 sites in 41 countries in Europe and North America
      • 132 sites in 22 countries Latin America and the Caribbean.
    • India has 12 internationally recognised BRs. They are as follows:
      • Nilgiri
      • Gulf of Mannar
      • Sunderban
      • Nanda Devi
      • Nokrek
      • Pachmarhi
      • Similipal
      • Achanakmar-Amarkantak
      • Great Nicobar
      • Agasthyamala
      • Khangchendzonga
      • Panna
  • Nomination & approval of biosphere reserves:
    • Governments alone decide which areas to nominate. 
    • Before approval by UNESCO, the sites are externally examined. 
    • If approved, they will be managed based on a plan, reinforced by credibility checks while remaining under the sovereignty of their national government.
  • Functions of Biosphere Reserves:
    • Biosphere Reserves involve local communities and all interested stakeholders in planning and management. They integrate three main “functions”:
    • Conservation of biodiversity and cultural diversity
    • Economic development that is socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable
    • Logistic support, underpinning development through research, monitoring, education and training.

Structure of Biosphere Reserve

  • They are demarcated into the following 3 interrelated zones:
  • Core Zone: 
    • Includes protected areas, as they act as reference points on the natural state of the ecosystems represented by the biosphere reserves. Have endemic species of plants & animals. 
    • A core zone is a protected region, like a National Park or Sanctuary/protected/regulated mostly under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. 
    • It is kept free from human interference.
  • Buffer Zone: 
    • The buffer zone surrounds the core zone and its activities are managed in this area in ways that help in the protection of the core zone in its natural condition.
    • It includes restoration, limited tourism, fishing, grazing, etc; which are permitted to reduce its effect on the core zone.
    • Research and educational activities are to be encouraged.
  • Transition Zone: 
    • It is the outermost part of the biosphere reserve. It is the zone of cooperation where human ventures and conservation are done in harmony.
    • It includes settlements, croplands, managed forests and areas for intensive recreation and other economic uses characteristics of the region.

Expansion of biosphere reserves

  • Biosphere reserves in Asia:
    • There are 12 BRs in India, four in Sri Lanka, and three in the Maldives.
    • Some of the countries in South Asia do not yet have any or enough biosphere reserves. 
      • Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal do not have biospheres as yet.
    • In most, if not all cases, the political will is certainly there, but there is a lack of know-how and financial resources. 
  • Need for expansion:
    • According to the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released in 2019 by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the main global drivers of biodiversity loss are:
      • Climate change, 
      • Invasive species, 
      • Over-exploitation of natural resources, 
      • Pollution and 
      • Urbanisation.
    • The ecological carrying capacity of planet earth has largely been exceeded because of our collective excesses.
    • Therefore, the need was felt to address this trend with cleaner air, high-quality drinking water, and enough food and healthy habitats to ensure that ecosystem services continue to benefit humanity without critically affecting nature’s balance. 
Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) MAB is an intergovernmental scientific program, launched in 1971 by UNESCO.Aim:It aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments.The MAB program provides a unique platform for cooperation on research and development, capacity-building and networking to share information, knowledge and experience on three interlinked issues: Biodiversity loss, Climate change and Sustainable development.The programme addresses challenges linked to scientific, environmental, societal and development issues in diverse ecosystems; from mountain regions to marine, coastal and island areas; from tropical forests to dry lands and urban areas

Way Ahead

  • The ‘South and Central Asia MAB Reserve’ Networking Meeting (where MAB stands Man and the Biosphere) is planned for 2023, to advance biosphere reserve establishment and management. 
  • In addition, an expert mission has been planned for spring 2023 — to Bhutan, India’s north-east and the Sundarbans in Bangladesh.
  • With at least one biosphere reserve per country in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal until 2025 (with additional biosphere reserves in India’s North-East and along the coasts) it will give realisation to millions of people that a better future is truly possible — one where we will truly live in harmony with nature

Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme

In News

  • Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by the Prime Minister approved a 51,875 crore subsidy for phosphatic & potassic fertilisers for the rabi season. 

About Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme 

  • The nutrient based subsidy scheme has been implemented since 2010 by the Department of Fertilizers. 
  • Under the NBS policy, a fixed rate of subsidy is announced on nutrients namely Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P), Potash (K) and Sulphur (S) by the government on an annual basis.
  • Government is making available fertilizers, namely Urea and 25 grades for P&K fertilizers to farmers at subsidized prices through fertilizer manufacturers/importers. 
PM PRANAM (PM Promotion of Alternate Nutrients for Agriculture Management Yojana)C:\Users\WELCOME\Desktop\data-7.jpgIt aims to bring down the subsidy burden on chemical fertilisers.The scheme will have no separate budget and will be financed through the “savings of existing fertiliser subsidy” under schemes run by the Department of Fertilizers.50 per cent of subsidy savings will be passed on as a grant to the state that saves the money.70 percent of the grant provided under the scheme can be used for asset creation related to technological adoption of alternate fertilisers and alternate fertiliser production units at village, block and district levels.The remaining 30 per cent grant money can be used for rewarding and encouraging farmers, panchayats, farmer producer organisations and self-help groups that are involved in the reduction of fertiliser use and awareness generation. 

Rationale behind Nutrient Based Subsidy Scheme

  • Availability: This will enable smooth availability of all P&K fertilizers to the farmers during Rabi season at the subsidized prices of fertilizers and support the agriculture sector.
  • Absorbing the volatility: the volatility in the international prices of fertilizers and raw materials has been primarily absorbed by the Union Government.
  • Ensuring supply: The P&K fertilizers are made available to farmers in adequate quantities.
  • Wider choice: More grades of P&K fertilizers have been brought under the purview of the NBS Scheme giving the farmers wider choice to use complex fertilizer grades. 
The Soil Health Card SchemeIt was launched in 2015 at Suratgarh, Rajasthan.The scheme has been introduced to assist State Governments to issue soil health cards to all farmers in the country. Soil health card provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.Objectives:To issue soil health cards every two years to all farmers, so as to provide a basis to address nutrient deficiencies in fertilization practices.To strengthen functioning of Soil Testing Laboratories (STLs) through capacity building, involvement of agriculture students and effective linkage with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).To diagnose soil fertility related constraints with standardized procedures for sampling uniformly across states and analysis and design taluka / block level fertilizer recommendations in targeted districts.To develop and promote soil test based nutrient management in the districts for enhancing nutrient use efficiency.To provide financial assistance to farmers to apply corrective measures for deficiencies and popularizing balance and integrated nutrient management practices for their cropping systems.To build capacities of district and state level staff and of progressive farmers for promotion of nutrient management practices.

Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) interceptor AD-1 missile

In News 

  • Recently ,Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a successful maiden flight-test of Phase-II Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) interceptor 

About AD-1 missile

  • It is a long-range interceptor missile designed for both low exo-atmospheric and endo-atmospheric interception of long-range ballistic missiles as well as aircraft. 
  • It is propelled by a two-stage solid motor and equipped with an indigenously-developed advanced control system, navigation and guidance algorithm to precisely guide the vehicle to the target.
  • Relevance  : it is a unique type of interceptor with advanced technologies available with a very few nations in the world and it will further strengthen the country’s BMD capability to the next level.

J&K’s ‘Back to Village’ Programme

In News 

Jammu and Kashmir administration  holds the fourth phase of the week-long programme .

About ‘Back to Village’ Programme

  • In 2018 ,the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has embarked on an ambitious and extensive programme of reaching out to the people at the grassroots level to create in the rural masses an earnest desire for a decent standard of living. 
  • As part of this programme, civil servants will have to reach out to each Panchayat of the State, where they will stay for a specific period to interact and obtain feedback from the grassroots so as to tailor government efforts in improving delivery of village-specific services.
  • Objectives 
    • It is aimed to involve the people of the state and government officials in a joint effort to deliver the mission of equitable development.
    •  It is aimed at energising Panchayats and directing development efforts in rural areas through community participation.

Shrinking of Rhinoceros Horn


  • As per the Study by British Ecological Society, the horns of rhinoceroses may have become smaller over time.

Reasons for shrinking Horns

  • Rhinos have long been hunted for their horns, which are highly valued in some cultures.
  • The declining horn length over time across species, perhaps related to selective pressure of hunting and evolution.

Key Fact:

  • Rhino horns are made of keratin, which is also the key component of human hair and fingernails. 

More about the Study

  • The study found that the rate of decline in horn length was highest in the critically-endangered Sumatran rhino and lowest in the white rhino of Africa, which is the most commonly found species both in the wild and in captivity. 
  • This observation follows patterns seen in other animals, such as tusk size in elephants and horn length in wild sheep, which have been driven down by directional selection due to trophy hunting.


  • About:
    • Rhinoceroses are large, herbivorous mammals identified by their characteristic horned snouts. 
    • The word “rhinoceros” comes from the Greek “rhino” (nose) and “ceros” (horn)
    • There are five species and 11 subspecies of rhino; some have two horns, while others have one.
  • Geographical Location:
    • White rhinos and black rhinos live in the grasslands and floodplains of eastern and southern Africa. 
    • Greater one-horned rhinos can be found in the swamps and rain forests of northern India and southern Nepal. 
    • Sumatran and Javan rhinos are found only in small areas of Malaysian and Indonesian swamps and rainforests.
  • Threats:
    • Habitat loss and fragmentation
    • Poaching (especially for their horns and hide)
    • Reducing population density
    • Decreasing genetic diversity
  • Conservation status of the five species are:
    • Javan Rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus): Critically Endangered 
    • Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis): Critically Endangered 
    • Black rhinos (Diceros bicornis): Critically Endangered 
    • White rhinos (Ceratotherium simum): Near Threatened 
    • Greater One-Horned Rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis): Vulnerable

Rhinos in India

  • About:
    • Only the Greater One-Horned Rhino is found in India which is also known as the Indian rhino and is the largest of the rhino species.
    • Assam accounts for its largest population in India and had at least five rhino-bearing areas till the 1980s.
  • Features:
    • It is identified by a single black horn and a grey-brown hide with skin folds.
    • They primarily graze, with a diet consisting almost entirely of grasses as well as leaves, branches of shrubs and trees, fruit, and aquatic plants.
  • Conservation Efforts by India
    • New Delhi Declaration on Asian Rhinos 2019: Signed by India, Bhutan, Nepal, Indonesia and Malaysia.
    • National Rhino Conservation Strategy 2019
    • Project to create DNA profiles of all rhinos by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
    • Indian Rhino Vision 2020.
  • World Rhino Day is celebrated on September 22 every year.


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