Appointment of Election commissioners

In News

  • Recently, the Supreme Court mooted the idea of including the Chief Justice of India in the appointment committee of CEC to ensure “neutrality”.

More about the news

  • The petition:
    • On appointment:
      • The Bench is examining a series of petitions seeking functional independence for Election Commissioners
      • They have sought an “independent, neutral mechanism” for their appointment, outside the control of the government.
    • Protection from removal:
      • The Election Commissioners should have the same level of protection from removal as the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). 
      • The CEC, like an apex court judge, can be removed from office only through a special majority of the Parliament whereas the Election Commissioners depend on the “pleasure” of the President to stay in office.
  • Supreme Court’s opinion on appointment procedure:
    • The SC suggested that the least intrusive will be a system where there is a presence of the Chief Justice in the appointment committee.
  • Issues:
    • No law for the appointment of election commissioners:
      • The court said Article 324 of the Constitution, dealing with the appointment of election commissioners, had envisaged the enactment of a law to provide for the procedure for such appointments, but the government had not done this yet. 
      • In the absence of a law, the “silence of the Constitution is being exploited by all”, said the court.
    • Issue of incompletion of tenure:
      • The SC said that although the CEC’s tenure is six years under ‘The Chief Election Commissioner And Other Election Commissioners (Conditions Of Service) Act, 1991’, no CEC has completed his tenure since 2004.

Composition of Election Commission of India

  • About:
    • The Election Commission of India consists of the chief election commissioner and a number of other election commissioners, as fixed by the President.
    • Originally the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner.
    • It currently consists of the Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
  • Constitutional Provisions (Article 324 to Article 329 (Part XV)) 
    • Article 324: Entails the provisions related to the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners.
      • The President of India appoints the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners.
      • President also determines the conditions of service and tenure of office of the election commissioners and the regional commissioners.
      • The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
  • Tenure and Removal: 
    • The chief election commissioner and other election commissioners hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. 
    • They can resign at any time or can also be removed before the expiry of their term. 
    • The process and the grounds for removal of the chief election commissioner are the same as that of a judge of the Supreme Court.
    • He can be removed by the president on the basis of a resolution passed to that effect by both the Houses of Parliament with the special majority, either on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. Thus, he does not hold his office till the pleasure of the president, though he is appointed by him.
  • Independence: 
    • The chief election commissioner is provided with the security of tenure.
    • The service conditions of the chief election commissioner cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
    • Any other election commissioner or a regional commissioner cannot be removed from office except on the recommendation of the chief election commissioner.
    • Some flaws in safeguarding the independence and impartiality of the election commission are also noted, viz.,
      • The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission.
      • The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.
Election Commission of IndiaEstablishment:The Election Commission of India was established in accordance with the Constitution on 25th January 1950.Functions & Powers:It is a permanent and independent body responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.Power of superintendence, direction and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, the office of president of India and the office of vice president of India is vested with the election commission.It is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities in the states.For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission.Other Constitutional provisions:Article 325: No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special electoral roll on the ground of religion, race, caste or sex.Article 326: Elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.Article 327: Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to legislature.Article 328: Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.Article 329: Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.

India-ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting

In News

  • The maiden India-ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting was recently held at Siem Reap in Cambodia to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of India-ASEAN relations.

More about the meet

  • India’s proposals:
    • The Defence Minister of India made two proposals for expanding the scope and the depth of the India-ASEAN (Association of SouthEast Asian Nations) defence relations. These include:
      • An initiative for women in United Nations Peacekeeping (UNPK) operations and, 
      • Initiative on marine plastic pollution.
    • India-ASEAN Initiative for women in UNPK operations:
      • It includes the conduct of tailor-made courses for women peacekeepers of ASEAN member states at the Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping in India. 
      • It also includes the conduct of a ‘Table top Exercise’ in India for women officers from ASEAN incorporating facets of UNPK challenges.
    • Initiative on marine plastic pollution:
      • About:
        • It includes channelising of the energy of the youth towards addressing the critical issue of marine pollution
      • Role of India’s National Cadet Corps (NCC):
        • Minister informed the ASEAN members of the significant work done by the NCC in the cleaning of Indian beaches and raising awareness about plastic pollution in the coastal community. 
        • Coordination with NCC:
          • He suggested coordination between the NCC and the equivalent youth organisations of ASEAN countries for a collective effort in this direction in the region.
      • India-ASEAN marine pollution response centre:
        • The minister proposed the establishment of an India-ASEAN marine pollution response centre at Chennai by the Indian Coast Guard to address and supplement regional efforts to deal with marine pollution incidents
  • India’s Act East Policy:
    • The minister also emphasised that the centrality of ASEAN in the Indo-Pacific region is the cornerstone of India’s Act East Policy.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN):About:It is a political and economic organization aimed primarily at promoting economic growth and regional stability among its members.Foundation: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 ten Member States of ASEAN.Current members:Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.ASEAN Plus Three:It is a forum that functions as a coordinator of co-operation between the ASEAN and the three East Asian nations of China, South Korea, and Japan.ASEAN Plus Six:The group includes ASEAN Plus Three as well as India, Australia, and New ZealandASEAN Summit:It 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.

Significance of ASEAN for India

  • India-ASEAN strategic partnership:
    • The India-ASEAN strategic partnership has been strengthened by virtue of flourishing cultural and civilisational links and enhanced people-to-people cooperation
  • ASEAN led Mechanisms:
    • India shares a deep connection with ASEAN and has continued its active engagement in many areas contributing to regional peace and stability, particularly through ASEAN led mechanisms, such as:
      • East Asia Summit.
      • ASEAN Regional Forum.
      • ADMM-Plus. 
        • The ADMM Plus is an annual meeting of Defence Ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries and eight dialogue partner countries – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.
  • Maritime Connectivity & Security:
    • India is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and ASEAN Countries have borders with Indo-Pacific waters.
      • This opens up plenty of opportunities for India and other countries to work on maritime security, trade, and better supply chain networks.
    • India is consciously working with ASEAN towards a vision of an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific in tandem with initiatives such as
      • The Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI)
      • To ensure Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)
    • India and some of the ASEAN countries are also members of the recently launched Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF).
  • Checks Chinese Dominance: 
    • Maritime cooperation in terms of connectivity, safety and security has gained high attention in the backdrop of China’s advancements in the South China Sea
    • India will gain better positioning against China’s increasing dominating presence in the area.
  • Act East Policy & Indo-Pacific:
    • Indo-Pacific is an interconnected geography where ASEAN is at its core. 
    • Both ASEAN and India believe that openness, inclusiveness, rules-based order, freedom of navigation and peaceful settlement of disputes lie at the very core of the Indo-Pacific.
More about the United Nations Peacekeeping missionAbout:The U.N. Peacekeeping mission is a joint effort between the Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support, and aims to assist host countries to transition from situations of conflict to peace.Aim: U.N. Peacekeepers provide security as well as political and peace building support to conflict-ridden countries.The three basic principles that guide U.N.’s Peacekeeping missions are:Consent of the partiesImpartialityNon-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandateWomen peacekeepers:According to the UN, of around 95,000 peacekeepers in 2020, women comprised 4.8% of military contingents and 10.9% of formed police units.From India:For the first time in the history of UN peacekeeping, India sent an all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) to be deployed in Liberia in 2007 after a civil war ravaged the African nation.

India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (AI-ECTA)

In News

  • The Australian Parliament recently approved the free trade agreement inked with India paving the way for the rollout of the pact from January 2023.
    • The agreement is likely to push the bilateral trade to USD 45-50 billion in the next five-six years from the present USD 31 billion

More in news

  • This was the third such agreement signed by this government, after the Mauritius and UAE trade pacts.
  • The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) needed ratification by the Australian Parliament before its implementation.
    • In India, such pacts are approved by the Union Cabinet.
      • This is the first agreement with a developed country after a decade

Major highlights on AI-ECTA

C:\Users\visha\Desktop\Screenshot 2022-11-23 150520.png
  • Data on trade:
    • India’s goods exports to Australia stood at USD 8.3 billion and imports from the country aggregated to USD 16.75 billion in 2021-22. 
  • Duty-free access: 
    • It would provide duty-free access to Indian exporters of over 6,000 broad sectors including textiles, leather, furniture, jewellery and machinery in the Australian market.
    • Australia will open 100 per cent of their lines (products) with no restriction on even quota. This is the first time Australia has done this for any country.
    • Australia is offering zero-duty access to India for about 96.4 per cent of exports (by value) from day one. This covers many products that currently attract 4-5 per cent customs duty in Australia.
  • Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA):
    • The Australian Parliament has also approved an amendment to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA), a move which would help the Indian IT sector in operating in that market.  
    • It would stop the taxation on the offshore income of Indian firms providing technical support in Australia.

Significance of the pact

  • Labour-intensive sectors:
    • They would gain immensely from textiles and apparel, few agricultural and fish products, leather, footwear, furniture, sports goods, jewellery, machinery, and electrical goods.
  • Job opportunities: 
    • It will be a great job opportunity for Indians when Australian investment comes here. 
  • More visas:
    • India has got visas for Indian chefs and yoga instructors and also got a commitment that every child going to study in Australia will get an opportunity to work there depending on the level of education.
  • Beneficial for farmers:
    • The pact will help farmers growing grapes for making wine to explore more business opportunities in Australia.
    • There are 6,000 grape farmers in India who grow grapes for wine purposes. It will help attract investments, and new farmers can also come into the sector.
  • Increased Exports:
    • The agreement has opened vistas of opportunities for domestic exports as over 98 per cent of the tariff lines will have tariff advantage from day one.
  • Duty-free imports: 
    • We will also get duty-free imports of critical raw materials like coal, alumina, manganese, copper, nickel, wool, hides and skin. It will impart further competitiveness to our manufacturing and exports. 
  • Indian IT sector is the biggest gainer of that amendment:
    • The move may lead to savings of about USD 200 million each year for over 100 Indian IT firms operating in Australia.

Way Forward

  • The FTA is a win-win for both. On one hand it would open up the Indian market for quality Australian wines, and on the other it would help the Indian wine industry evolve further benefiting from the expertise and investment from their Australian counterparts.  
What is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?C:\Users\visha\Desktop\Screenshot 2022-11-23 151715.pngA free trade agreement is a pact between two or more nations to reduce barriers to imports and exports among them.  Under a free trade policy, goods and services can be bought and sold across international borders with little or no government tariffs, quotas, subsidies, or prohibitions to inhibit their exchange.The concept of free trade is the opposite of trade protectionism or economic isolationism.Key Benefits of Free Trade Agreements      Reduction or elimination of tariffs. Intellectual Property Protection.Development of product standards.Supplying services in the FTA partner country.Fair treatment for investors.  

India- UAE Relations

In News

  • Recently, the External Affairs Minister of India met with his UAE counterpart and noted that bilateral trade has shown appreciable growth under the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Key Highlights

  • Minutes: 
    • Cooperation in the areas of energy, food security, trade and defence.
    • Reviewed the continuous progress in bilateral relations across different domains, since the 14th Joint Commission meeting held by them in September 2022. 
    • Appreciated the progress in bilateral relationship, especially in trade, investment, consular matters, education and food security.
      • Trade has shown appreciable growth under the CEPA.
    • Exchanged views on the global situation and various regional hotspots. 
  • Exports and Imports:
    • India’s exports to the UAE between April and September this year were about $16 billion, an increase of 24 per cent year-on-year, while India’s imports increased 38 per cent to reach $28.4 billion in the same period.

India- UAE Relations

  • Diplomatic:
    • India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) established diplomatic relations in 1972. 
    • UAE opened its Embassy in Delhi in 1972 & India opened its Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 1973.
    • The traditionally strong bilateral relations enjoyed by India & UAE received impetus with the visit of PM Modi to UAE on 16-17 August 2015 that marked the beginning of a new strategic partnership between the two countries.
    • Modi’s last visit to the UAE was in August 2019, when he received the UAE’s highest award, ‘Order of Zayed’.
  • Economic & Commercial Relations:
    • India and UAE have shared trade links through the centuries.
    • Trade, which was dominated by traditional items such as dates, pearls and fishes, underwent a sharp change after the discovery of oil in the UAE (oil exports began from Abu Dhabi in 1962).
    • The real impetus, however, started after Dubai positioned itself as a regional trading hub by the early 1990s and about the same time, the economic liberalisation process started in India.
    • Bilateral trade in FY 2021-22 was about US$ 72 billion. UAE is India’s third largest trade partner and second largest export destination.
    • UAE’s FDI in India has increased over the past few years and currently stands at over $12 billion.
  • Cultural Relations:
    • The importance given to Indian culture by the UAE was further highlighted in April, 2019 when India participated as the Guest of Honour Country in Abu Dhabi International Book Fair 2019. 
    • Indian cinema/ TV / radio channels are easily available and have good viewership; major theatres/cinema halls in the UAE screen commercial Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil films. 
    • The Emirati community also participates in our annual International Day of Yoga events and various schools of yoga & meditation centres are running successfully in the UAE. 
  • Technology partnerships:
    • India and the UAE have signed a number of digital innovation, technology partnerships, and also plans for ISRO and UAESA to cooperate on missions like the Red Moon mission. 
    • The Emirates has offered “golden visa” residency permits for doctors, engineers, PhD scholars and specialists in high-end technology fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, virology and epidemiology, and brought over the former ISRO chief K. Radhakrishnan to their space agency.
  • Defence and Security Cooperation:
    • Bilateral Defence Interaction between India and UAE has been steadily growing in accordance with other aspects of the bilateral relationship. 
    • There have been regular high level & functional level exchanges between the two countries. 
    • The ships of the Navies of both countries have regularly made port calls enhancing bilateral defence co-operation. 
    • India and UAE signed a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2017, and hold annual defence dialogues. 
    • More recently, UAE is a key part of the Indian Ocean Region dialogue.
    • Both sides take part in military exercises with each other and there have been several Military chiefs visits.
  • Mediation: 
    • An interesting aside is the role the UAE says it has played in mediation between India and Pakistan, and over the past 3 years, Dubai has facilitated meetings between interlocutors including NSA Doval and Pakistan military officials.
  • Indian Community:
    • The Indian expatriate community of approximately 3.4 million is the largest ethnic community in UAE constituting roughly about 35% of the country’s population.

Issues /Challenges in the Ties

  • Recent Turbulence in relations: 
    • It is caused by the comments on Prophet Mohammed by Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal
  • Balancing geopolitics:
    • India with Iran (also played out over Yemen) and UAE with China.
  • Energy pricing:
    • As an OPEC country UAE is on the side of the debate, where India as a major oil consumer is arguing for a cap on prices- this has seen some heated words between oil ministers in the past
  • India and UAE are yet to renegotiate their air services agreement, which has become a thorn in ties, because the UAE wants to increase the number of flights to India and the number of destinations, but India continues to cap these to protect Indian airlines.
  • Treatment of Indian labour:
    • This frequently flares up as Indians aren’t granted citizenship in the UAE, and conditions at Indian labour camps become a matter of concern. 
    • During the pandemic much of the labour to the gulf has had to return, and remittances are likely to be slashed in the next few years
  • Treatment of minorities in India is becoming a big issue:
    • After the CAA protests, social media controversies, now the Hijab Ban has raised concerns in Gulf countries, and the OIC issued a very strong statement. And conversely, although very few, less than 100 Indians based in the Gulf joined ISIS, or earlier Al Qaeda, the export of radicalisation is always a concern
  • Legal Issues:
    • Legal problems have in the past dampened foreign investments from coming to India. 
    • Checks and regulations are needed, better streamlining of the procedures and processes help in avoiding such problems.

India-UAE CEPA trade deal

  • The new strategic economic agreement will increase bilateral trade in goods to $100 billion in five years (2022-27) of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to $15 billion.
  • CEPA is a kind of free trade pact that covers negotiation on the trade in services and investment, and other areas of economic partnership.
  • The Agreement is a comprehensive agreement which will cover:
    • Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin,
    • Trade in Services,
    • Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT),
    • Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures,
    • Dispute Settlement,
    • Movement of Natural Persons,
    • Telecom,
    • Customs Procedures,
    • Pharmaceutical products,
    • Government Procurement,
    • IPR, Investment,
    • Digital Trade and Cooperation in other Areas.
  • It will include a digital trade element, which is a first of its kind for both countries.
  • The United Arab Emirates is India’s third largest trading partner and second largest export destination.
    •   The UAE is also the eight largest investor in India with an estimated investment of US$ 18 billion.

Significance of the deal

  • Enhanced market access: The agreement will provide significant benefits to Indian and UAE businesses, including enhanced market access and reduced tariffs.
  • The CEPA will boost bilateral trade from the current $60 billion to $100 billion in the next 5 years.
  • India welcomed investment from the Gulf country into Jammu and Kashmir that would open new routes for regional trade and connectivity and advance the collective interests of India, Israel, the UAE and the United States.
  • The deepening of the relationship with the UAE would also help Indian exporters gain access to other West Asian countries, Africa and some parts of Europe.
  • Digital trade: Early harvest agreement would likely include a chapter on digital trade which would be aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two countries on digital trade in the future.
    • Digital trade is likely to include frameworks on paperless trading, digital payments and online consumer protection, as well as address issues such as intellectual property rights in digital trade, and challenges to small and medium enterprises.
  • The UAE hopes to get enhanced market access in India for its petrochemicals, metals and dates.
  • Indian goods will flow to the other GCC countries as the UAE has no customs barriers.
  • Energy ties: UAE is India’s third largest supplier of crude oil and second largest supplier of LPG and LNG. Renewable energy is the next stop for bilateral energy ties.
  • It may also give a boost to India’s jewellery exports.  
  • It is expected to create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in both nations.

Issues/ Challenges of Trade Deal

  • Lack of negotiations:
    • A free trade agreement with the GCC comprising Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain as its members was first envisaged in 2007, but got stuck after a couple of rounds of negotiations.
  • Lacking Global Giant Experience: 
    • Despite being a US $2.5 trillion economy, Indian businesses are small in size. In fact, none of the Indian business giants come close to the big global conglomerates that have the capacity, infrastructure and experience to handle huge investments. 
  • Procedural Issues: 
    • Including lack of planning, lack of complete information, bureaucratic bottlenecks continue to remain a challenge for foreign investors despite significant efforts by the government in this direction to make investments easy and convenient. 
  • Legal Issues:
    • Legal problems have in the past dampened foreign investments from coming to India. For example, the investments from UAE’s Etisalat and Etihad had got stuck in legal problems, thus dampening investor enthusiasm. While checks and regulations are needed, better streamlining of the procedures and processes help in avoiding such problems.
  • Political Will: 
    • There are challenges pertaining to political diversions, especially when an election year is approaching. 
    • India has a tendency to become focused inward and in the process, ignore foreign policy. 
    • The UAE with an appetite for large-scale investments needs to be continuously engaged. 


  • The UAE today is India’s closest partner in the Arab world and fortunately, there is enough resilience in bilateral ties to withstand the recent convulsions.
  • India and UAE continue to forge closer partnership in these areas, building on their close and friendly relations and historical people-to-people connect. India-UAE has a strong energy partnership which is now acquiring a new focus on renewable energy.
  • It will take a sustained public diplomacy effort to further improve the relations

Nagoya Protocol

In Context

  • Mexican indigenous groups are yet to benefit under Nagoya Protocol.

About Nagoya Protocol

  • The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) is a supplementary agreement to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
  • It provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
  • The Nagoya Protocol on ABS was adopted on 29 October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan and entered into force on 12 October 2014, 90 days after the deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification. 
  • It is supplementary to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD).


  • The Nagoya Protocol applies to genetic resources that are covered by the CBD, and to the benefits arising from their utilization. 
  • The Nagoya Protocol also covers traditional knowledge (TK) associated with genetic resources that are covered by the CBD and the benefits arising from its utilization.


  • The Nagoya Protocol will create greater legal certainty and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources by:
    • Establishing more predictable conditions for access to genetic resources.
    • Helping to ensure benefit-sharing when genetic resources leave the country providing the genetic resources
    • By helping to ensure benefit-sharing, the Nagoya Protocol creates incentives to conserve and sustainably use genetic resources, and therefore enhances the contribution of biodiversity to development and human well-being.

India Signatory to Protocol

  • India signed the Nagoya Protocol in 2011 and ratified it in October 2012. 
  • The ratification by India was done at the 11th Conference of Parties (COP) to the CBD, which was conducted in Hyderabad.

UN’s Champions of the Earth Award

In News

  • Indian wildlife biologist Dr. Purnima Devi Barman is among the honourees of this year’s Champions of the Earth award.
    • Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with United Nation’s Champions of the Earth Award 2018
    • PM Modi is the third Indian to receive this award after Tulsi Tanti, Chairman of the Suzlon Group, and Afroz Alam, a lawyer who led the clean-up at Mumbai’s Versova beach.

About Champions of the Earth award 

  • UNEP’s Champions of the Earth honours individuals, groups, and organizations whose actions have a transformative impact on the environment. 
  • The annual Champions of the Earth award is the UN’s highest environmental honour. 
  • It recognizes outstanding leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector.
  • Since its inception in 2005, the annual Champions of the Earth award has been awarded to trailblazers at the forefront of efforts to protect our natural world.
  • The Champions of the Earth award will celebrate visionaries in three categories:
  • Inspiration and action
  • Entrepreneurial vision
  • Science and innovation


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

Leave a Reply

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