Delimitation Exercise of Assam

In News

  • Recently, the Election Commission of India has begun the process of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in Assam.

More about the news

  • About delimitation exercise in Assam:
    • About:
      • The last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was done on the basis of census figures of 1971 by the then Delimitation Commission in 1976.
      • In March 2020, the Centre notified a Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
    • Mandate:
      • Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act allows for the delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur or Nagaland.
    • Status of Population:
      • In 1971, Assam’s population was 1.46 crore. 
      • In 2001, it increased to 2.66 crore and to 3.12 crore in 2011.
    • Status of current representation:
      • The State has 14 Lok Sabha, 126 Assembly and seven Rajya Sabha seats.
      • The term of the current Assam Legislative Assembly will end on May 20, 2026. 
  • EC’s process & directives:
    • The process will be based on Census data from 2001.
    • During the delimitation exercise, the Commission will consider the following things:
      • The physical features, 
      • Existing boundaries of administrative units, 
      • Facility of communication, 
      • Public convenience and 
      • As far as practicable, the constituencies will be kept as geographically compact areas.
    • The EC also issued a directive banning the creation of new administrative units in the state with effect from January 1 next year until completion of the delimitation exercise in the state.
  • Issues & criticisms:
    • The state Opposition is questioning why the delimitation exercise is being done on the basis of the 2001 Census, and not the 2011 Census.
      • According to critics, the 2011 Census figures are available and the 2021 Census process must also be accounted for to conduct the delimitation process.
    • Concerned Pressure Groups opined to stop the delimitation till the NRC is final. 
  • EC’s response:
    • As mandated under Article 170 of the Constitution, census figures (2001) shall be used for the purpose of readjustment of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies in the State. 
    • Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will be provided as per Articles 330 & 332 of the Constitution of India.

More about the Delimitation Commission: 

  • About:
    • The Delimitation Commission in India is a high-power body whose orders have the force of law.
    • Its orders cannot be called in question before any court.
    • These orders come into force on a date to be specified by the President of India on this behalf.
    • The copies of its orders are laid before the House of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no modifications are permissible therein by them.
  • Constitutional Provisions:
    • Article 82: This provides the Parliament with the authority to enact a Delimitation Act after every Census.
    • Article 170: This provides for the  States to get divided into territorial constituencies as per the Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Functions:
    • To determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same.
    • Identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes wherever their population is relatively large.
    • In case of difference of opinion among members of the Commission, the will of majority prevails.
  • Composition:
    • The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India includes following members:
    • Retired Supreme Court judge
    • Chief Election Commissioner
    • Respective State Election Commissioners.
  • Frequency:
    • In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 times:
    • In 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952
    • In 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962
    • In 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972
    • In 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
National Register of Citizens (NRC)A register: National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein. Census of 1951: These registers covered each and every person enumerated during the Census of 1951 and were kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951.Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s.Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA): This NRC was prepared under a directive from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).NRC in Assam At present, only Assam has such a register and the exercise may be extended to other states as well. List of Indian citizens living in the state: The NRC in Assam is basically a list of Indian citizens living in the state. The citizens’ register sets out to identify foreign nationals in the state that borders Bangladesh.The reason behind the move was to identify Indian citizens in Assam amid “unabated” migration from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The Centre has been pushing for NRCs in every state: Nagaland has already started an exercise to create a similar database of citizens known as the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants.

CAG Report on the National Register of Citizens (NRC)

In News

  • A recent Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) report on the update exercise of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam has flagged serious irregularities.


  • The irregularities include: 
    • haphazard development” of software for the exercise, 
    • Making it prone to data tampering,  
    • Flagged undue profits worth crores amassed by the system integrator (SI) by violating the Minimum Wages Act. 
  • National Register of Citizens (NRC): 
    • It was first created in 1951 in Assam.
    • The objective was to identify those born in India and migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. 
  • What was the need of NRC?
    • Identify infiltrators:
      • It effectively suggests bringing legislation that will enable the government to identify infiltrators who have been living in India illegally, detain them and finally deport them where they came from.
    • It will target illegal immigrants in India:
      • But Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh won’t be affected, if they claim they have arrived in India after fleeing religious persecution. 
    • 3 countries:
      • It essentially means, if a nationwide NRC is implemented as proposed, any illegal immigrant from other than Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, will be affected.
      • And as for those three nations, people coming from there who belong to the Muslim community will also be affected as they are not included in the Citizenship Amendment Act.
  • Supreme Court Directive (2013):
    • It was issued to the Centre and State to initiate an exercise in Assam to update the 1951 register. 
    • The order was based on a petition filed by an NGO named Assam Public Works. 
  • Final List of NRC:
    • It was published in 2019 which included the names of those who could establish their Indian citizenship by being residents or descendants of people living in Assam before March 25, 1971.
      • It was the cut-off date for deportation of foreigners as per the Assam Accord of August 1985. 
  • Exclusion: 
    • As many as 19.06 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants were excluded due to a lack of adequate documents to prove their citizenship. 
    • At present, the process is on pause as the Registrar General of India (RGI) is yet to notify the final list.


  • Cost in implementation:
    • The deadline for completion of this Project was in February 2015 and the project cost was pegged at ?288.18 crore. 
    • A fivefold increase in the cost is seen till March 2022 due to additional time to complete it and changes in the update software.
  • Fund utilisation: 
    • A test check of records revealed irregularities in the utilisation of funds including excess and inadmissible payment to vendors.
  • Wages cut: 
    • The amount of wages paid to the outsourced staff was 45.59%-64.27% less than what was approved by the NRC coordination committee. 
  • Not following Due process:
    • Secure and reliable software was required for the SC-directed exercise, but as many as 215 software utilities were added to the core software. This was done without following the due process of software development and vendor selection via tendering. 

Way Ahead

  • Penal measures should be taken against Wipro Limited for violating the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act and for paying data operators less than minimum wages. 
  • There should be action against the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR) for “excess, irregular and inadmissible payments”. 
  • Fixing accountability of the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR) as the principal employer for “not ensuring compliance with the Minimum Wage Act”.

Have there been changes in India’s foreign policy

In News

  • Recently, India celebrated 75 years of autonomous foreign policy and its role in global architecture.


  • Important Treaties: 
    • The Panchsheel Agreement of 1954, the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty of 1971, the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, and India’s nuclear tests in 1998 all influenced India’s foreign policy. 
  • Heroic roles:
    • The world praised India’s moment during the economic liberalisation under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao (1991-96).
    • The bolder foreign policy of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004).
    • The country’s near double-digit growth during the early years of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2004-14).
  • Drawbacks of previous policies:
    • Weak economic reforms: 
      • It has been the weakest link of India’s external engagement.
      • While India escaped the shackles of the “Hindu rate of growth” in the post-Cold War period, it continued to face an equally cumbersome “Indian rate of policymaking” rooted in problems of bureaucratic inertia and poor inter-ministerial coordination.
    • Nehruvian age:
      • The Nehruvian age was occupied with idealistic ideals and was unconcerned with the development of military forces capable of dealing with problematic neighbours like Pakistan and China.
  • Current scenario:
    • In 2022, India became the fifth largest economy in the world by overtaking the United Kingdom according to the International Monetary Fund.

Highlights in foreign policy this year along with its challenges 

  • Russia-Ukraine war:
    • It was a difficult year on the geopolitical and diplomatic stage for India as the choices grew more difficult given its strategic ties with the U.S. and Europe and traditional ties with Russia.
      • Oil: India also lashed out on western powers for their “hypocrisy” on Russian oil flows to India.
      • Food and fuel shortages: a slew of sanctions by the West meant to target the Russian economy led to food and fuel shortages and price increases, which worried India. 
      • India was against the war: But India chose to abstain in more than a dozen resolutions at the UNSC, UNGA, IAEA, Human Rights Commission, and other multilateral platforms seeking to censure Russia for the invasion and humanitarian crisis.
  • India-EU
    • The recent establishment of the EU-India Trade and Technology Council which is the second country after the United States with which the EU has established such a forum.
    • India’s participation in the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative that seeks to diversify supply chains away from China is of great significance here. 
  • India-China:
    • The Indian government continues to take criticism over its China policy and the stand-off at the Line of Actual Control.
    • Despite a visit to India by China’s Foreign Minister and disengagement at some stand-off points, India-China tensions at the Line of Actual Control remained high, and the year ended with an unsuccessful Chinese PLA attempt to take Indian posts at Yangtse in Arunachal Pradesh. 
    • India also maintains a demographic dividend with a population that will overtake China as the world’s most populous country in 2023, according to the United Nations. 
  • G20:
    • India is in the global limelight as it takes on the presidency of the G-20.
    • The G-20 presidency helped advance India’s multipolar worldview and create a credible partnership between nations that above all furthers the Indo-Pacific’s peace and prosperity.
    • India is expected to highlight climate change transitions, “women-led” development and multilateral reform, among other key issues.
  • United Nations Security Council:
    • India completed a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council.
  • SCO:
    • India also took over the presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization recently. 
    • The Shanghai Five comprising China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan evolved into the SCO. 
    • With the addition of India and Pakistan in 2017, the SCO grew to become one of the biggest international organisations, representing almost 30 percent of the global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population.
  • Act East Policy:
    • The policy was launched in the early 1990s as part of an effort to elevate the importance of Southeast Asia (and later East Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region) in India’s foreign policy priorities. 
    • India’s regional integration has always been contingent on the pace of the country’s domestic reform agenda. 
  • Revival of FTA’s:
    • In recent times, the Indian government has been actively pursuing free trade agreements (FTAs) with a wide range of countries.
    • India signed trade agreements with the UAE and Australia, and hopes to progress on talks with the EU, Gulf Cooperation Council and Canada for others
  • Ties with neighbours: 
    • India’s foreign policy was marked by economic assistance to Sri Lanka during its collapse.
    • Regional trade and energy agreements with Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal could see an emergence of the South Asian energy grid
    • India has also strengthened ties with Central Asian countries on connectivity. 
    • The government kept channels open with repressive regimes like Afghanistan’s Taliban and the Myanmar Junta.
    • In Iran where protests against the killing of activist Mahsa Amini have brought thousands onto the streets, India has steered clear of any criticism. 
    • With Pakistan ties remain flat-lined with a big showdown at the UN recently between India’s Foreign Minister and Pakistan Foreign Minister. 

Way forward

  • Leading Global South:
    • India is very ambitious to lead the ‘Global South’ that comprises the developing world in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
  • Evaluation:
    • Recently in his book, India’s foreign minister believes that his nation is increasingly being compared to Krishna because it evaluates all choices before settling on the best one.
  • Soft power diplomacy:
    • The foreign policies of India have always been based on the objectives of dialogue, peace, and building national and global agreement.
    • It opts to predict better synergies with nations that have mutual goals such as safeguarding civil treaties, regulations, promoting global peace, combating terrorism and political violence, and developing the fundamental foundations of a peaceful and prosperous world. 
  • Government Initiatives:
    • Government campaigns: These developments have been supported by Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat campaigns which aim to strengthen the resilience and competitiveness of Indian industries.
    • Infrastructure push: This has been facilitated by government support schemes, such as production-linked incentives which support the development of national champions in strategically important sectors and the Gati Shakti National Masterplan for multi-modal connectivity which aims to improve last-mile infrastructure connectivity.

India’s G20 Presidency & Challenges & opportunities

In News

  • As India hosts the G20 summit this year, Delhi looks to shape conversations on issues confronting the world.

Challenges to Indian Presidency

  • China’s aggression:
    • Indo-Pacific:
      • Closer home, India is facing that aggression on its border, with a skirmish in Arunachal Pradesh after the 2020 Galwan clashes that killed 20 Indian soldiers.
    • South China Sea:
      • Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, where it has been observed to carry out construction on an island.
  • COVID return:
    • With a highly infectious COVID-19 variant spreading across China, a level of uncertainty has again gripped the world. And an economic downturn looms large on the horizon.
  • Russian invasion of Ukraine & outcomes:
    • The Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has upended the global order in place since World War II, impacted the world’s food and energy security, and is pushing the global economy towards a recession
    • The nuclear rhetoric from Russian leaders has also caused anxiety to the world.
    • The strategic embrace of Russia and China is another worry.
  • Stressful ties with West:
    • India’s ties with the West are going through a stress test as India refrains to vote against Russia in UNSC.
    • India in this context is seen as following its interests and not being guided by “shared values”.
    • European partners, which import more energy than India, have scoffed at India’s buying of cheap oil from sanctions-hit Russia.
  • Taliban engagement:
    • Less than a year after Taliban’s recapturing of Afghanistan, India reopened its operations in the Indian embassy in Kabul.
    • While India has also made its red lines clear on the menace of extremism and rights of minorities and women.
  • Sri Lankan Crisis:
    • The Sri Lankan economic and political crisis was a major challenge in the neighbourhood. 
    • India opened its purse strings and gave humanitarian aid, fuel, medicines, more than any other country in such a short period of time. 
    • India is also helping the island country negotiate an economic debt relief package from the International Monetary Fund.
Know about G20Origin:The G20 was formed in 1999 in the backdrop of the financial crisis of the late 1990s that hit East Asia and Southeast Asia in particular. Its aim was to secure global financial stability by involving middle-income countries. As stated by the official G20 Website: “On the advice of the G7 Finance Ministers, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors began holding meetings to discuss the response to the global financial crisis that occurred,” Objectives:Policy coordination between its members in order to achieve global economic stability, sustainable growth;To promote financial regulations that reduce risks and prevent future financial crises; andTo create a new international financial architecture.Members & guests: Members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. Spain is also invited as a permanent guest.Others: Each year, the Presidency invites guest countries, which take full part in the G20 exercise. Several international and regional organizations also participate, granting the forum an even broader representation. Together, the G20 countries include: 60 percent of the world’s population, 80 percent of global GDP, and 75 percent of global trade.Presidency of G20 & Troika:The presidency of the G20 rotates every year among members.The country holding the presidency, together with the previous and next presidency-holder, forms the ‘Troika’ to ensure continuity of the G20 agenda. 

Opportunities & way ahead

  • G20 as a global stage:
    • The hosting of the G20 summit will be one of the biggest portrayals of India’s rise at the global stage months ahead of the General Elections in 2024.
  • India as the voice of the Global South:
    • India has already positioned itself as the “voice of the Global South” — a reference to the developing and the less-developed countries — and will seek to put its priorities on the global forum.
  • Russian and Western interlocutors:
    • India should also seek to bring Russian and Western interlocutors and leaders together and end the conflict in Europe, so that all the leaders, including Putin, Biden, and Xi attend the September summit in Delhi. If it manages to do so, it will claim a diplomatic win.
  • Dealing with China:
    • As China sees itself as a superpower and whose time has come, more clashes and competing interests with India are likely, which will have to be resolved through negotiations.
    • Importance of China: 
      • The border standoff with China has shown Russia’s importance in India’s strategic calculus.
  • Limited focus areas:
    • India should seek collaboration on limited focus areas around science and technology, building on resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and other multilateral bodies.
  • Employment and environment:
    • G20 can act as a forum to exchange experiences on societal benefits and growth as complementary goals would lead to fresh thinking on employment and environment.
    • India has its own initiatives like “LiFE Movement” & “The One Sun One World One Grid” to offer to the world.

GEOGLYPHS: Ratnagiri’s Prehistoric Rock Art

In News

  • Experts have raised concerns that the construction of a petrochemical refinery in Barsu village of Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district might damage around 250 prehistoric geoglyphs found in the area.

What are Geoglyphs?

  • Geoglyphs are a form of prehistoric rock art, created on the surface of laterite plateaus by removing a part of the rock surface through an incision, picking,carving or abrading. 
  • They can be in the form of rock paintings, etchings, cup marks and ring marks.

Ratnagiri’s prehistoric rock art

  • Clusters of geoglyphs are spread across the Konkan coastline in Maharashtra and Goa, spanning around 900 km. 
  • Ratnagiri district has more than 1,500 pieces of such art, also called “Katal shilpa,” spread across 70 sites. 
  • Age: According to carbon dating, these sites are believed to be over 12,000 –20,000 years old.
  • The sites are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Figures depicted in the geoglyphs

  • The figures depicted in the geoglyphs include humans and animals such as deer, elephant, tiger, monkey, wild boar, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, cattle, pig, rabbit, and monkey. 
  • They also include a high number of reptilian and amphibian creatures such as tortoises and alligators, aquatic animals such as sharks and stingrays, and birds like peacocks.

Significance of Ratnagiri’s rock art

  • Ratnagiri’s rock art is evidence of the continued existence of human settlements from the Mesolithic (middle stone age) to the early historic era. 
  • The geoglyphs also show the existence of certain types of fauna that are no longer present in the region today.
  • Imagery from these sites shows how people “adapted to ephemeral wetlands in a dry-arid plateau having shallow rock pools, streams and watercourses”.

Inclusion in UNESCO’s Tentative List

  • In April 2022, these sites in the Konkan region were added to a tentative list of UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
  • The UNESCO listing mentions “Konkan geoglyphs.” However, elsewhere, the term petroglyph (literally, “rock symbol/character”) is also used. 
  • UNESCO’s tentative world heritage list mentions seven sites with petroglyphs in Ratnagiri district — Ukshi, Jambharun, Kasheli, Rundhe Tali, Devihsol, Barsu and Devache Gothane, one in Sindhudurg district –Kudopi village, and nine sites at Phansamal in Goa.

Veer Bal Diwas

In News

  • Veer Bal Diwas was recently commemorated in India on December 26th for the first time.

More about the news

  • About:
    • The day was observed to mark the martyrdom of Sri Guru Gobind Singh’s sons Sahibzadas Baba Zorawar Singh Ji and Baba Fateh Singh Ji.
  • Programs held:
    • Programme marking ‘Veer Bal Diwas’ was celebrated at Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi where three hundred Baal Kirtanis performed ‘Shabad Kirtan’
    • On the historic occasion, the government of India organised interactive and participative programmes all over the country to inform and educate the citizens, especially the young children, about the story of exemplary courage of the Sahibzades.

About the history of martyrdom 

  • Army of Guru Gobind Singh:
    • Guru Gobind Singh was raising an army, which the neighbouring hill kings were not comfortable with. 
    • Khalsa:
      • In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa, which the hill kings and the Mughal empire saw as a threat. 
    • The kings had several battles with the Sikhs in the last decade of the 17th century, but had been unable to dislodge them from Anandpur Sahib.
      • The kings were also supported by the Mughal empire.
  • Imprisonment:
    • The three – the 81-year-old Mata Gujari ji, and the two Sahibzade aged 7 and 9 – were imprisoned treacherously by the Mughal governor in the Thanda Burj (cold tower).
    • Allurment for conversion:
      • When the children were presented in court, they were offered riches and gifts and told to convert to Islam. 
      • They were told their father and elder brothers had been killed in the war. The Sahibzade refused to convert or to bow to Wazir Khan.
    • Killing:
      • After efforts to make them give up their religion failed, Wazir Khan decided that the boys would be bricked alive in 1704.
      • It is said that even as a wall was being erected around them, the Sahibzada stood unflinching. 
      • Two executioners then slit their throats, killing the younger, Sahibzada Fateh Singh, first. 
      • The same day, Mata Gujari ji died of shock.
    • Guru Gobind Singh’s mother Mata Gujari Ji, and two other sons, Sahibzaada Ajit Singh Ji (18) and Sahibzaada Jujhar Singh Ji (14), were also martyred within a week.
  • The revenge:
    • A few years later, Baba Banda Singh Bhadur avenged the execution of the Sahibzade, by attacking and capturing Sarhand.

National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS)

In News

  • The Union government has made digitally capturing MGNREGA attendance universal from January 1, 2023 through (NMMS).
    • From May 16, 2022, capturing attendance via the app was made compulsory for all worksites with 20 or more workers. This required uploading two time-stamped and geotagged photographs of the workers. 

National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS)

  • About:
    • The National Mobile Monitoring Software (NMMS) App was launched by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2021.
    • It aimed at bringing more transparency and ensuring proper monitoring of the schemes.
  • Significance:
    • The NMMS App permits taking real time attendance of workers at Mahatma Gandhi NREGA worksites along with geo-tagged photographs. 
    • The app helps in increasing citizen oversight of the programme.
  • Issues:
    • Poor internet connectivity, little access to smartphones and glitches in the app have created a problem in the daily activities of the workers.
    • The workers are forced to buy a smartphone which is pushing them to leave the job. 
    • Many workers have complained that the process is very difficult, and they are illiterate. 


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