Ban on the two-finger Test

In Context

  • Recently, the Supreme Court declared that any person conducting the ‘two-finger test’ on rape or sexual assault survivors will be found guilty of misconduct. 

More about the News

  • Court’s Recent verdict:
    • The court said that the test is “regressive and invasive” and has “no scientific basis as it neither proves nor disapproves allegations of rape”
    • It instead “re-victimises and re-traumatises women who may have been sexually assaulted.” 
  • 2013 SC verdict:
    • In 2013 Lillu v. State of Haryana, the Supreme Court had held that the two-finger test violates the right of rape survivors.
  • Justice Verma Committee:
    • The Committee in 2013 has recommended the discontinuation of the two-finger test which is conducted to determine the laxity of the vaginal muscles. 
      • Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women. 

About the Two-finger Test 

  • About:
    • The two-finger test is an invasive, unscientific and regressive practice where two fingers are inserted in the vagina to assess the laxity of vaginal muscles and examine the hymen. 
    • The two-finger test or per vaginum examination is conducted on alleged victims of sexual assault and rape to determine whether they are habituated to sexual intercourse.
  • Issues:
    • Invalid for sexually active women:
      • The test is based on the incorrect assumption that a sexually active woman cannot be raped.
  • No evidential value in the investigation:
    • In the case of sexual assault, the doctor is required to mention marks of resistance and sign(s) of recent intercourse. 
    • Doctor does not give his/her opinion about rape, as rape is a legal term and not a medical diagnosis. 
    • It is for the investigating officer to conclude after their investigation whether or not rape was committed. 
    • Therefore, it is undesirable to conduct the two-finger test (on a victim of sexual assault), which has no evidential value in the investigation.
  • More victimisation: 
    • The test instead re-victimises and re-traumatises women who may have been sexually assaulted and is an affront to their dignity. 

Challenges in enforcing the Ban on the two-finger test 

  • Lack of training & adherence to guidelines:
    • In 2014, the Union Ministry of Health issued ‘guidelines and protocols’ prescribing the application of the two-finger test. 
      • These guidelines were circulated to hospitals, but the doctors handling medico-legal cases apparently did not take the instructions seriously.
    • Training still remains one of the most neglected branches in most departments. 
    • It is, therefore, quite likely that the two-finger test will continue to be conducted in some remote areas.
  • Lack of interconnection:
    • Interaction between the Health Ministry and the Home Ministry (or the police department) is limited
    • Further, the Health Department is not one of the pillars of the Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS)
      • ICJS is an extension of the Home Ministry’s mission mode project, the Crime and Criminal Tracking and Network Systems (CCTNS), and is operational at each police station of the country.


  • Improved investigation with efficient institutional mechanism:
    • All departments which have a bearing on the investigation of offences or are stakeholders in the criminal justice system must come together periodically so that they can exchange best practices, latest developments in law, and court rulings. 
    • An institutional mechanism needs to be developed to ensure continuity of this process. 
  • Congruence within ministries & departments:
    • The medico-legal section of the Health Department needs to be integrated with the Inter-Operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS). 
  • Training:
    • Training capacity must also be reviewed, and communication channels improved to avoid the status quo.
  • Strict implementation:
    • There must be a strict implementation of the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee about two-finger tests and regarding the collection of evidence. 

Initiatives by the Government & the judiciary 

  • Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013:
    • It amended the Evidence Act to insert Section 53A that the evidence of a victim’s character or of her previous sexual experience with any person shall not be relevant to the issue of consent or the quality of consent, in prosecutions of sexual offences.
  • Workshops: 
    • The SC also ordered workshops to be held to communicate the appropriate procedure to determine sexual assault and rape. 
  • Curriculum in medical schools: 
    • SC also directed the government to review the curriculum in medical schools so ensure the practice is no longer used.

Way Forward

  • Though much needs to be done for the sexual assault victims, some changes and amendments in the law in the past three decades have brought in hope for justice and fair treatment
  • With the help of various judicial and legislative actions there is a transformation in the process of investigation by the officers and doctors.
  • A test like the Two-Finger test is an inhuman and irrational process that attacks the right to privacy and is a serious blow to the mental, physical and ethical conditions of the victim. 
  • The test should be condemned and should be strictly prohibited by enacting amended laws that apply uniformly throughout the country

Broadcasting ‘socially relevant’ Content

In Context

  • Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the new guidelines for television channels in India.

More about the news

  • About:
    • The new guidelines are for uplinking and downlinking of television channels in India.
    • Under the guidelines, all the stations holding permission would have to broadcast content on issues of national importance and social relevance for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Exemptions:
    • The guidelines exclude foreign channels and cases where it may not be feasible.
    • The guidelines also exempt the channels including those related to sports, where it would not be feasible to broadcast such content. 
  • The provision has been introduced as “airwaves/frequencies are public property and need to be used in the best interest of the society”. 
    • The eight listed themes include: 
      • Education and spread of literacy; 
      • Agriculture and rural development; 
      • Health and family welfare; 
      • Science and technology; 
      • Welfare of women; 
      • Welfare of the weaker sections of society; 
      • Protection of environment and of cultural heritage; and 
      • National integration.
  • Cases of non-compliance:
    • Once implemented, the Ministry will monitor the channels for such content, and in case someone is found to be non-compliant, an explanation will be sought.

Making India a teleport hub

  • Uplinking foreign channels from Indian teleports:
    • While specific timelines have been proposed for the grant of permission, imited Liability Partnership (LLP)/companies would be allowed to uplink foreign channels from Indian teleports.
      • This would create employment opportunities and make India a teleport-hub for other countries.
    • Channel could be uplinked by using facilities of more than one teleport/satellite. 
    • The guidelines have broadened the possibility of allowing the transfer of TV channel/teleport to a company/LLP, as permissible under the Companies Act or the Limited Liability Act.
  • Extended permissions:
    • A news agency could now get permission for a five-year period as against one year at present.
  • Penalty:
    • The penalty clauses have also been rationalised and separate nature of penalties have been proposed for different types of contraventions as against uniform penalty at present. 

Regulation of media in India:

  • Media in India is mostly self-regulated.  
    • The existing bodies for regulation of media such as the Press Council of India which is a statutory body and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority, a self-regulatory organization, issue standards which are more in the nature of guidelines. 
  • Print Media:
    • Press Council of India (PCI): 
      • The PCI was established under the PCI Act of 1978 for the purpose of preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the standards of newspapers and news agencies in India.
      • Functions: 
        • Helping newspapers maintain their independence;
        • Build a code of conduct for journalists and news agencies; 
        • Help maintain “high standards of public taste” and foster responsibility among citizens; and
        • Review developments likely to restrict flow of news.
  • Electronic Media:
    • Today news channels are governed by mechanisms of self-regulation.  
    • One such mechanism has been created by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA).  
      • The NBA has devised a Code of Ethics to regulate television content.  
      • The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), of the NBA, is empowered to warn, admonish, censure, express disapproval and fine the broadcaster a sum upto Rs. 1 lakh for violation of the Code.  
    • Another such organization is the Broadcast Editors’ Association
      • The Advertising Standards Council of India has also drawn up guidelines on content of advertisements. 
    • These groups govern through agreements and do not have any statutory powers.
  • Social Media:
    • Certain standards have been prescribed for content accessible over the internet under the IT Rules 2011.  
      • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has published a fresh draft of amendments to the Information Technology Rules, 2021.
    • Government has also come up with Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
    • However, a regulatory body such as the PCI or the CBFC does not exist.  Complaints are addressed to the internet service provider or the host.
Broadcast Seva PortalAbout:It is a 360 degree digital solution that will facilitate stakeholders in seeking permissions, applying for registration, tracking applications, calculating fees and executing payments. This simple and user-friendly web portal provides a broadcaster with an end-to-end solution with just a click of a mouse.Ministry:It is an initiative of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.Significance:It will boost the business environment and empower the entire broadcast sector by directly benefiting more than 900 Satellite TV Channels, 70 Teleport operators, 1700 Multi-service operators, 350 Community Radio Stations (CRS), and 380 Private FM Channels and others.It would facilitate the stakeholders in seeking permissions, applying for registration, tracking applications, calculating fees and executing payments.It would bring transparency, accountability and responsiveness in the ecosystem and all information would be available on a single dashboard.The ease of doing business will get promoted with its launch.

Way Ahead

  • Freedom of press:
    • The freedom of press is a necessary element of the freedom of expression that involves a right to receive and impart information without which democracy becomes an empty slogan. 
    • But this right is not absolute and is subjected to the reasonable restrictions of defamation and contempt of court.
  • Regulation of media & Role of civil society:
    • The media should practice better self-regulation.
      • If the government starts regulating the media, the complete purpose would be defeated.
    • An informed, cultivated, and interested civil society can be the best watchdog over politics and the media.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna-Gramin (PMAY-G)

In News

  • Recently, the Union Ministry of Finance has approved an advance of Rs. 13,000 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna-Gramin (PMAY-G) scheme from the Contingency Fund of India.

Key Points

  • Total Outlay: 
    • The Rs 13,000-crore tranche is over and above the outlay of Rs 20,000 crore provided for PMAY-G in the Union Budget 2022-23.
  • Top spender in Rural Development
    • In the first seven months (April-October 2022), the MoRD has utilised Rs 16,785 crore – about 84 per cent – of the Rs 20,000 crore under the PMAY-G scheme. 
    • The PM Awas Yojana has been the top spender —better than even the job guarantee scheme, NREGS — in the rural development ministry in the first seven months this year. 
  • Demand for Additional Funds: 
    • With several states demanding extra funds for construction of rural houses, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) had approached the Ministry of Finance way back in June for additional allocation. 

Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G)

  • Background: Restructured the erstwhile rural housing scheme IAY (Indira Awaas Yojna) and launched the PMAY-G with effect from April 1, 2016
  • Launched by: the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD)
  • Aim: Providing “Housing for All” by 2022. 
  • Features:
    • It is a social welfare program through which the Government provides financial assistance to houseless beneficiaries identified using SECC 2011 data to help them construct a house of respectable quality for their personal living. 
    • Under the PMAY-G, a financial assistance of Rs 1.20 lakh in plain areas and Rs 1.30 lakh in hilly states is provided to a beneficiary. 
    • Provision of assistance for construction of toilets amounting to Rs. 12,000/- through SBM-G, MGNREGS or any other dedicated source of funding.
  • Targets: 
    • A target of construction of 2.95 crore PMAY-G houses by March 2024 has been set, of which 2.07 crore rural houses have been built.
    • To meet the March 2024 target, 52.78 lakh houses in 2022-23 and 57.34 lakh houses in financial year 2023-24 must be constructed.
  • Funding:
    • The financial burden of implementation of the scheme is shared by the Centre and state in a ratio of 60:40 in plain areas and 90:10 for hilly states (special category states which includes 8 North Eastern States, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and J&K). 
    • In the UTs, including Ladakh, the Centre bears 100 percent of the expenditure on the implementation of the rural housing scheme.


  • Covid-19 pandemic induced nationwide lockdown has retarded the pace of construction of rural houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin. 
  • The delays are also due to cases of the unwillingness of beneficiaries, migration, death of beneficiaries without a legal heir, delay in allotment of land to landless beneficiaries by the states/UTs .
  • Implementation was also “affected at the ground level due to unavailability of construction materials, labour, delay in the inspection of stages of house construction etc.

Government’s Initiatives

  • Regular review of progress at the level of the Ministry to ensure timely completion of targeted houses.
  • Daily monitoring on various parameters like Gaps in sanction of houses, cleaning of Permanent Wait List (PWL) of PMAY-G and release of Central Share/StateMatching Share from the treasury to Single Nodal Account (SNA).
  • Timely allocation of targets to the States/UTs and release of adequate funds at the level of the Ministry.
  • Regular follow-ups with the State to ensure the provision of land to landless beneficiaries in rural areas.
  • Promotion of eco-friendly & innovative technologies for house construction and monitoring 
    • AwaasSoft and AwaasApp
    • E-Ticketing system
    • Aadhaar Based Payment System –ABPS
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-UrbanLaunched on: June 25, 2015Aim: To provide pucca houses to all eligible beneficiaries by 2022. The PMAY-U is one of the two schemes envisioned under the PMAY-U. It is focused on the urban areas, while the other one—PMAY-G—is for rural areas. Four Verticals: “In-situ” Slum Redevelopment (ISSR); Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS); Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP) and Beneficiary-led individual house construction/enhancements (BLC),Achievements:1.21 crore houses have been sanctioned under the scheme till May 9 2022, of which 58.82 lakh houses have been completed/delivered.Mandatory Geotagging:Under the PMAY-U guidelines, it is mandatory for the state government to ensure that all houses built under the scheme are geotagged to the Bhuvan HFA (housing for all) application.Bhuvan HFA (housing for all) Bhuvan is an Indian Geo Platform developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). It is a web-based application which allows users to access various map related services. The application also provides facility of geotagging of images of houses built or being constructed under the PMAY-U.

Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC)

In News

  • Recently, the UAE and Indonesia launched the “Mangrove Alliance for Climate”on the sidelines of the UN climate summit COP27, being held in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

About the Alliance

  • As part of this alliance, an international mangrove research centre will be established in Indonesia which will conduct studies on mangrove ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and ecotourism.
  • Aim: 
    • To strengthen conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems worldwide. 
    • The alliance will raise awareness about the role of mangroves as a “nature-based solution to climate change”.
  • Partners: 
    • Spearheaded by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in partnership with Indonesia
    • India, Australia, Japan, Spain and Sri Lanka have joined it as partners.


  • About:
    • Mangroves are small trees and shrubs which grow along the coastlines. 
    • These trees thrive in salty water and form unique forests on the edge of land and the sea. 
    • They also grow in swamps. 
    • Mangrove forests can survive extreme weather conditions and require low oxygen levels to survive.
  • Features:
    • These forests have the ability to store up to 10 times more carbon per hectare than the terrestrial forests. 
    • They can store carbon up to 400 per cent faster than land-based tropical rainforests.
    • They cover less than 1 percent of earth’s surface and act as natural barriers against sea’s wrath.
    • They also provide breeding grounds for marine biodiversity and 80 percent of global fish populations depend on healthy mangrove ecosystems. 
  • Distribution:
    • Mangroves are distributed in the tropical and subtropical region of the world and are found in 123 countries.

India and the Mangroves

  • India contributes to nearly half of the total mangrove cover in South Asia. 
  • West Bengal has the highest percentage of mangrove cover in India. Sundarbans in West Bengal is the largest mangrove forest in the world.
  • It is followed by Gujarat and Andaman, and Nicobar islands. 
  • Maharashtra, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala too have mangrove.
  • Increase in Mangrove Cover: 
    • As per the  India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2021, mangroves cover in the country is 4,992 square km, which is 0.15 percent of the country’s total geographical area.
    • The mangrove cover in the country has increased by only 17 sq. km. in 2021 as compared to the mangrove cover assessed in 2019.

Significance of Mangrove

  • Natural Armed Forces: 
    • With notable adaptive features, mangroves are natural armed forces of tropical and subtropical nations. 
    • Mangrove thickets maintain water quality by filtering pollutants and trapping sediments originating from land.
  • Checking Global Temperature: Mangrove’s unique ability to capture and store carbon is increasingly catching the attention of the world, which is desperately looking for ways to keep global temperature in check.
  • Fighting against Climate Change: They are the best option to fight against consequences of climate change such as sea level rise and increasing frequency of natural calamities like cyclones and storm surges.


  • Coastal development, including the construction of shrimp farms, hotels, and other structures, is the primary threat to mangroves.
  • Mangrove forests are cleared to make room for agricultural land and human settlements.
  • Overfishing, pollution, and rising sea levels are the other threats to mangrove forests and their ecosystem.
  • Mangrove trees are used for firewood, construction wood, charcoal production, and animal fodder. In some parts of the world, there has been overharvesting which is no longer sustainable.

Government’s Efforts to Protect Mangroves

  • The promotional measures are being implemented through a Central Sector Scheme under National Coastal Mission Programme on ‘Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs’
    • Under this programme, annual Management Action Plan (MAP) for conservation and management of mangroves are formulated and implemented in all the coastal States and Union Territories.
  • Regulatory measures are implemented through Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification (2019) under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972; the Indian Forest Act, 1927; the Biological Diversity Act, 2002; and rules under these acts as amended from time to time.
  • Magical Mangroves campaign: 
    • As per information provided by the World Wide Fund for Nature, (WWF), India, the WWF India has enjoined citizens in nine states, which include Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal and Karnataka on mangrove conservation through the Magical Mangroves campaign. 
  • Scheme for Conservation & Management of Mangroves: 
    • The Government under Centrally sponsored scheme for conservation & Management of Mangroves, extends assistance to Coastal State/UTs for implementation of action plans including survey and demarcation, alternation and supplementary livelihood, protection measures and education and awareness activities.
  • Integrated Coastal Zone management Project
    • The Ministry piloted an Integrated Coastal Zone management Project in Coastal stretches of 3 states namely Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal, with the objective of Conservation and Protection of Coastal resources which included plantation of mangroves as one of the major activities.

Way Ahead

  • The integration of mangroves into the national programmes for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is the need of the hour. 
  • Creating a new carbon sink from mangrove afforestation and reducing emissions from mangrove deforestation are two possible ways for countries to meet their NDC targets and achieve carbon neutrality.
  • Mangroves are the economic foundations of many tropical coastal regions. To sustain the blue economy, it is imperative to ensure the sustainability of coastal habitats, particularly mangroves for tropical nations, at the local, regional, and international levels.

Groundwater Extraction in India – CGWB Report

In News

  • Groundwater extraction in India saw an 18-year decline according to an assessment by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
    • Such joint exercises between the CGWB and States/Union Territories were carried out earlier in 1980, 1995, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2017 and 2020. 

Major Highlights of the report by CGWB 

  • Over-exploitation: 
    • Overall decrease in the number of over-exploited units and decrease in the stage of groundwater extraction level have also been observed. 
    • Out of the total 7,089 assessment units in the country, 1,006 units have been categorised as over-exploited.
  • Extractable groundwater resources:
    • The groundwater recharge levels don’t reflect the water that can be actually extracted, called the extractable groundwater resources.
      • In 2020 the extractable groundwater resources amounted to 397.62 bcm which is less than the recharge that year.
  • How was the increase in ground water recharge possible?
    • Increase in recharge from canal seepage.
    • Return flow of irrigation water and recharges from water bodies/tanks & water conservation structures. 
Do you know?India has about 18 percent of the world’s population, but holds just 4 per cent of the freshwater resources. 

Causes of groundwater depletion in India

  • Green revolution
    • While the expansion in groundwater-based irrigation helped meet the rising food demands of a large population of India, it has resulted in several environmental implications.
  • Groundwater pumping for irrigation 
    • It remains the primary driver of groundwater depletion, which can further affect food and water security in India under climate change.
  • Pumping groundwater from aquifers
    • Water flows freely through the saturated rocks known as aquifers. There are large and small aquifers, and they are the underground water reserves that absorb water and hold it, enabling us to pump it for use.
  • Climate change 
    • The activities that lead to groundwater depletion come mostly from humans, but a portion of it also comes from changes in our climate and can speed up the process.

Effects of Groundwater Depletion

  • Groundwater depletion will force us to pump water from deeper within the Earth: The more we extract groundwater right below the Earth’s surface, the further down we have to go in order to get more.
  • Large bodies of water will become shallower from groundwater depletion: A groundwater shortage keeps additional water from flowing into lakes, rivers and seas. This means that over time, less water will enter as the existing surface water continues to evaporate.
  • Saltwater contamination can occur: Groundwater that is deep within the ground often intermingles with saltwater that we shouldn’t drink.
  • Food supply and people will suffer: strict orders are not in place to regulate how much water can be pumped from aquifers which could have a devastating effect on the crops and people who live there.
  • It limits biodiversity and dangerous sinkholes result from depleted aquifers: Wildlife, marine animals, and agriculture continue to suffer because the runoff from industrial farming materials finds its way into the water. 

Initiatives for groundwater conservation

  • Central Ground Water Board (CGWB): It is the apex organisation of the ministry of jal shakti in dealing with groundwater and related issues.
  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan: The government launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) in 2019 in 256 water stressed districts in the country in collaboration with states to improve water availability, including groundwater conditions in the country.
  • National Water Policy: It has been formulated which advocates rainwater harvesting and conservation of water and highlights the need for augmenting the availability of water through direct use of rainfall.
  • Atal Bhujal Yojana: It is for sustainable management of groundwater resources with community participation.
  • National Aquifer Mapping and Management programme (NAQUIM) is being implemented by CGWB as part of Ground Water Management and Regulation (GWM&R) scheme which is a Central Sector scheme.

Way Forward

  • Proper examination: The adequacy of groundwater monitoring network for shallow and deep aquifers needs to be examined.
  • Human interventions: Better representation of human interventions is needed in the land surface models.
  • Groundwater storage variability needs to be examined under changing climatic conditions.
  • Drip Irrigation: Drip irrigation systems deliver water directly to a plant’s roots, reducing the evaporation that happens with spray watering systems.
  • Drought-Tolerant Crops: Growing crops that are appropriate to the region’s climate is another way that farmers are getting more crop per drop.
  • Compost and Mulch: Compost, or decomposed organic matter used as fertilizer, has been found to improve soil structure, increasing its water-holding capacity. 
  • Going Organic: In addition to keeping many of the more toxic pesticides out of our waterways, organic methods could help retain soil moisture. 
  • Investment in R&D: More comprehensive research and additional funding can help with groundwater depletion.


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