Indian National Congress (INC) Foundation Day

In News

  • Recently, The Indian National Congress (INC) marked its 138th Foundation Day. 
    • Every year on December 28, the Indian National Congress (INC) celebrates its foundation day.

About INC

  • How was the Congress founded?
    • The English bureaucrat Allan Octavian Hume or AO Hume is credited as the founder of the organisation. Two additional British members William Wedderburn and Justice John Jardine were also members of the founding group.
      • Hume was accompanied by members of the Theosophical Society including Dadabhai Naoroji, Surendranath Banerjee, MG Ranade, Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, Dinshaw Wacha, Monomohun Ghose and William Wedderburn, established the Indian National Congress. 
    • Lord Dufferin was the Viceroy of British India at that time.
  • First session of the INC
    • It was held on December 28, 1885.
      • Here, 72 social reformers, journalists and lawyers congregated for the first session of the INC. 
    • It was held at Gokuldas Tejpal Sanskrit College, Bombay. 
    • Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee became the first president.
  • Aim of this group
    • The aim of this group was not to demand independence from the ongoing colonial rule but to influence the policies of the British government in favour of Indians.
    • Its objective is often described as providing a “safety valve” as the time through which Indians could air out their grievances and frustration.
    • Over the next few years, the party’s work continued, to shift the colonial administrators’ attitudes and policies on the rights and powers allowed to Indians.
  • Participation
    • The party largely consisted of educated, upper-class people who were likely to have studied abroad. 
    • With time, this grouping became more diverse, as the organisation began setting up provincial organisations.
  • Functions
    • The members frequently protested issues of British colonialism, such as the Bengal famine and the drain of wealth from India
    • However, these protests were at this point usually limited to prayers and petitions, including writing letters to the authorities.
  • Splits and reconvening
    • In Surat in 1906, the divisions between the ‘moderates’ led by Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Surendranath Banerjea, and the ‘extremists’ led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak came to the fore and there was a split.
      • While Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai wanted the Congress to boycott the visit of the Prince of Wales in protest against the Bengal Partition a year prior, the moderates opposed any such move.
    • But by 1915 in the Bombay session, we saw these two groups coming together again as one. 
  • The ‘two bullocks with plough’ symbol
    • The Election Symbol of the original Congress during elections held in 1952 and 1971 was an image of ‘two bullocks with a plough’. 
    • The symbol during the 1971-1977 period was a cow with a sucking calf.
    • The symbol was changed to ‘right hand’, with palm-side facing front by Indira Gandhi.
Other FactsMahatma Gandhi was the president of INC s Belgaum session in 1924. Gandhi spearheaded several movements like the non-violent civil disobedience, non-cooperation, swadeshi movement, etc.INC tasted political power for the first time in the provincial elections of 1937.Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru, who presided over at least eight INC sessions, was the front-runner in India’s struggle for independence and eventually became the first prime minister of independent India, a position that he held for 17 years.

Maharashtra Lokayukta Act, 2022

In News

  • Recently, The Maharashtra Assembly unanimously passed the Maharashtra Lokayukta Act, 2022. 
    • The Act will now be presented in the Legislative Council for approval.

About the Act

  • Anna Hazare Committee report:
    • The Maharashtra government has approved the Anna Hazare Committee report of introducing Lokayukta in the State along the lines of the Centre’s Lokpal law.
  • Key highlights:
    • The Act will give additional powers to the Lokayukta to direct state agencies to probe public servants, including the chief minister and state ministers.
      • The Act will give additional powers to not only recommend action but also direct state agencies to undertake the investigation.
    • Process of investigation: 
      • As per the Act, any present or former chief minister of Maharashtra can be investigated by the Lokayukta only if the motion for the same is passed by the Legislative Assembly by a two-thirds majority
      • Requirement of approvals:
        • For present or former ministers:
          • Approval of the governor and views of the group of ministers appointed by the governor is required to conduct an inquiry into present or former ministers
        • For Legislative member:
          • The approval of the Council chairperson or Assembly speaker is required to probe the Legislative member
        • For IAS officer:
          • The draft has even brought IAS officials under the scope of the probe but the Lokayukta will require the approval of the chief minister and the views of the chief secretary to initiate the probe. 
        • For municipal corporator or sarpanch:
          • The Lokayukta will require approval from the minister concerned to probe even the municipal corporator or sarpanch.
      • Significance of approvals:
        • The filters will ensure no false complaints are filed
    • The Anti-corruption Act:
      • The Anti-corruption Act will be made a part of this law.
    • Composition:
      • The Lokayukta will be a retired chief justice of the High Court or a Supreme Court (judge).
      • The Lokayukta will have a team of five people including retired judges.

More about Lokayukta

  • About:
    • The Lokayukta is an anti-corruption authority constituted at the state level.
    • It investigates allegations of corruption and maladministration against public servants and is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.
  • Origin: 
    • The origin of the Lokayukta can be traced to the Ombudsman in Scandinavian countries.
    • The Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Late Morarji Desai in 1966 recommended the creation of the Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta in the states.
    • The State of Maharashtra is the first and pioneer State in India to introduce the concept of Lokayukta by enacting the Maharashtra Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayuktas Act, 1971.
  • Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013:
    • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States.
    • The Act states that not less than 50% of the members of the Lokpal should be from among persons belonging to the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women.
    • The same rules apply to members of the search committee
    • Salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Lokpal chairperson will be the same as those for the Chief Justice of India; those for other members will be the same as those for a judge of the Supreme Court.
    • These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status. 
  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016:
    • The Bill amends the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 in relation to the declaration of assets and liabilities by public servants
    • It requires a public servant to declare his assets and liabilities, and that of his spouse and dependent children. 
    • Such declarations must be made to the competent authority within 30 days of entering the office.
  • Selection, Appointment and Removal of Lokayukta:
    • The Lokayukta is usually a former High Court Chief Justice or former Supreme Court judge and has a fixed tenure.
    • The Chief Minister selects a person as the Lokayukta after consultation with
      • The High Court Chief Justice, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, 
      • The Chairman of the Legislative Council, 
      • Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly and the 
      • Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council. 
      • The appointment is then made by the Governor.
    • Once appointed, Lokayukta cannot be dismissed nor transferred by the government, and can only be removed by passing an impeachment motion by the state assembly.
  • Work and Functions:
    • The Lokayukta (sometimes referred to as the institution itself) investigates allegations of corruption and maladministration against public servants and is tasked with speedy redressal of public grievances.

Way ahead

  • In order to tackle the problem of corruption, the institution of the ombudsman should be strengthened both in terms of functional autonomy and the availability of manpower. 
  • The appointment of Lokpal in itself is not enough. The government should also address the issues based on which people are demanding a Lokpal.
  • The slogan adopted by the government of “less government and more governance”, should be followed in letter and spirit.

Trade agreements with Australia and UAE

In News

  • Recently, Various export promotion councils (EPCs) praised the trade agreements signed by India with the UAE and Australia.
    • They said that these agreements will help India in boosting its exports by granting preferential access to those markets for Indian products. 

More about the news

  • The recent pacts:
    • India–UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which became effective from May 2022.
    • The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) will come into force from December 29.
      • India is the sixth largest trading partner of Australia.
      • India’s bilateral trade in goods and services with Australia rose 106.5% to $25.04 billion so far in 2022 compared to 2021.
  • FTA’s and PTA’s 
    • India has signed 13 free trade agreements (FTAs) and six preferential pacts so far with its trading partners for ensuring greater market access for domestic goods and promoting exports.
      • The country has recently signed three such agreements with Mauritius, the UAE and Australia.
      • India is also actively engaged in FTA negotiations with some of its trading partners including the UK, European Union and Canada.

Significance of the trade agreement with Australia 

  • Job creation: The trade agreement is expected to create 10 lakh jobs and raise Indian merchandise exports to Australia by $10 billion.
  • Cheap imports: the ECTA will also allow zero duty on 100% tariff lines and provide cheaper raw materials to steel and aluminium sectors. The trade pact will also raise the bilateral trade volume to $45-50 billion in five years.
  • Supply chain resilience: ECTA will help Australian manufacturers strengthen their supply chain resilience and enhance trade diversification while also connecting the two complementary and stable economies. 
  • Jewellery exports: ECTA would help double India’s gem and jewellery exports to Australia, from its current $350 million to $800 million in three years.
  • Export potential for plastics from India stands at $6 billion to Australia.
    • Import duty applicable in Australia had been reduced on all tariff lines for plastic products with immediate effect which would act as a great booster for outbound shipments. 
  • Zero duty access: India is providing zero-duty access to Australia for 70.3 per cent of its tariff lines.
    • India has offered zero duty access on coal, alumina calcined, manganese ore, copper concentrates, bauxite, sheep meat, rock lobster, macadamia nuts, cherries, and wool.
    • Australia is offering zero-duty access to India for about 96.4 per cent of exports. 

Significance of the trade agreement with UAE

  • Boost in exports: The country had benefited from preferential market access provided by the UAE on more than 97% of its tariff lines which account for 99% of Indian exports to the region in value terms.
  • Bilateral trade: The CEPA with the UAE is expected to increase the total value of bilateral trade in goods to over $100 billion and in services to more than $15 billion within five years.
  • Jewellery trade: Post the India-UAE CEPA, gems and jewellery exports to the region witnessed an overall export growth of 20% to the region.
  • Export potential for plastics from India stands at $5 billion to the UAE.
    • Import duty applicable in the UAE on 260 plastic products has been reduced from 5% to zero with immediate effect. 
Different Types of Economic Engagements:Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA): In a PTA, two or more partners agree to reduce tariffs on an agreed number of tariff lines. The list of products on which the partners agree to reduce duty is called a positive list. India MERCOSUR PTA is such an example. However, in general PTAs do not cover substantially all trade. Free Trade Agreement (FTA): In FTAs, tariffs on items covering substantial bilateral trade are eliminated between the partner countries but each country maintains an individual tariff structure for non-members. The key difference between an FTA and a PTA is that while in a PTA there is a positive list of products on which duty is to be reduced; in an FTA there is a negative list on which duty is not reduced or eliminated.Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA): These terms describe agreements which consist of an integrated package on goods, services and investment along with other areas including IPR, competition etc. Custom Union: In a Customs union, partner countries may decide to trade at zero duty among themselves, however they maintain common tariffs against the rest of the world. An example is Southern African Customs Union (SACU) amongst South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland. The European Union is also an outstanding example. Common Market: Integration provided by a Common market is one step deeper than that by a Customs Union. A common market is a Customs Union with provisions to facilitate free movements of labour and capital, harmonise technical standards across members etc. The European Common Market is an example. Economic Union: Economic Union is a Common Market extended through further harmonisation of fiscal/monetary policies and shared executive, judicial & legislative institutions.

CAG Report on Plastic Waste Management

In News

  • Recently, the CAG, in an audit report, has said that plastic waste management rules could not be implemented effectively.

Report highlights

  • No action plan with ministry:
    • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has no action plan for the implementation of Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, as a result, plastic waste management rules could not be implemented effectively and efficiently, stated the report.
  • Lack/ineffectiveness of data:
    • There were data gaps due to which the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) as well as the MoEF&CC did not have a complete and comprehensive picture of plastic waste generation in the entire country during the period 2015-20.
    • The CAG report also said that all three sampled ULBs (urban local bodies) of Delhi did not furnish the data of plastic waste generated to the DPCC every year during 2015-20.
    • Loss of expenditure:
      • The report also stated that the ineffective monitoring by MoEF&CC and delay in release of financial assistance resulted in non-achievement of environmental benefits from the demonstration project and unfruitful expenditure of Rs 73.35 lakh.


  • Effective data collection:
    • The CAG has recommended that the Ministry needs to put a system in place for effective data collection in relation to generation, collection and disposal of plastic waste, through its agencies (CPCB, SPCBs/PCCs) and monitor their performance.
  • Assessment of plastic waste being generation:
    • It also said that the CPCB and state PCBs/PCCs in coordination with local bodies need to carry out, periodically, a comprehensive assessment of the quantity of plastic waste being generated and collected data according to parameters like
      • population size,
        geographical size of the area, 
      • economic growth, i
      • increased demand for consumer goods and 
      • change in manufacturing methods etc.
  • Notification of rules:
    • It recommended that local bodies may expedite the process of notifying their bye-laws by incorporating plastic waste management rules.

Hazards of Plastic waste

  • Environmental pollution & Climate change:
    • Millions of tonnes of plastic waste are lost to the environment or sometimes shipped thousands of kilometers to destinations where it is mostly burned or dumped. 
    • Plastic, which is a petroleum product, also contributes to global warming.
      • If incinerated, its toxic compounds are spewed into the atmosphere to be accumulated in biotic forms throughout the surrounding ecosystems.
      • If incinerated, it also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions.
  • Soil, water & ocean pollution:
    • When buried in a landfill, plastic lies untreated for years. 
    • In the process, toxic chemicals from plastics drain and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers. 
    • The seeping of plastic also causes soil pollution due to the presence of microplastics in the soil.
    • Rivers and lakes also carry plastic waste from deep inland to the sea, making them major contributors to ocean pollution.
  • Tourism:
    • Plastic waste damages the aesthetic value of tourist destinations, leading to decreased tourism-related incomes and major economic costs related to the cleaning and maintenance of the sites.

The Plastic Waste Management Rules

  • The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016:
    • It clearly stipulates that urban local bodies (ULBs) should ban less than 50 micron thick plastic bags and not allow the usage of recycled plastics for packing food, beverage or any other eatables.
    • It introduced the concept of EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) to manage plastics in India.
      • EPR means the responsibility of a producer for environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life.
  • Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022:
    • The guidelines on EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) coupled with the prohibition of identified single-use plastic items.
    • It banned the manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than seventy-five microns
    • The items that will be banned are—Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons and knives, straw, trays, wrapping films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100-microns and stirrers.
      • The ban will not apply to commodities made of compostable plastic.
    • The Central Pollution Control Board, along with state pollution bodies, will monitor the ban, identify violations, and impose penalties already prescribed under the Environmental Protection Act.
Plastics PactIt is a network of initiatives that bring together all key stakeholders at the national or regional level to implement solutions for plastic eradication.First Plastics Pact was launched in the U.K. in 2018.Objectives: To eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through innovationTo increase the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packagingIndia Plastics Pact:A joint initiative between the World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF India) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).Aim & Objectives: Commitments for building a circular system for plastics by 2030:Complement India’s other bold initiatives in the renewables sector and efforts to limit single-use plastics.100 percent of plastic packaging to be reusable or recyclable.

Way Ahead

  • The MoEF&CC stated to have adopted a three-pronged strategy for effective implementation of the rules, which includes following:
    • Behavioural change; 
    • Strengthening of the institutional system for the collection, segregation and recycling of plastic waste; and 
    • Engagement with producers, importers and brand owners through Extended Producer’s Responsibility.
  • It is vital for the government, and for the rest of the industry, to stay the course, cut the amount of plastic it uses and rapidly transition to a circular economy. 

Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti

In News

  • Recently, The Prime Minister has paid tributes to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji on the sacred occasion of Parkash Purab.
    • It marks the 355th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh. 

About Guru Gobind Singh

  • Birth:
    • He was born on December 22 in Patna in the year 1666.
    • His birth anniversary is observed as Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti every year in accordance with the lunar calendar. 
    • He was a poet, spiritual leader, philosopher, warrior and writer.
  • 10th Guru:
    • He was the tenth Guru of the Sikhs.
  • Khalsa Panth:
    • He was the founder of the Khalsa Panth. 
      • He also founded the Sikh warrior community called Khalsa in 1699.
    • He became a Sikh guru at the age of nine, after the death of his father Guru Tegh Bahadur.
      • His father was executed by Aurangzeb.
  • Five K’s
    • He introduced the five K’s for the Sikhs including:
      • Kesh: uncut hair
      • Kangha: a wooden comb
      • Kara: an iron or steel bracelet worn on the wrist
      • Kirpan: a sword 
      • Kacchera: short breeches.
  • Contributions:
    • Guru Gobind Singh is also credited for the Dasam Granth.
      • It consists of hymns which are a sacred part of Sikh prayers
    • He finalized the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru.
      • Thus, the Guru Granth Sahib is also known as ‘Living Guru”.
    • He also played a major role in fighting against the Mughal invaders by standing alongside the Khalsa for protecting the people of his own.
  • Death:
    • He was assassinated in 1708, when he was 41.

National Archives of India (NAI)

In News

  • The National Archives of India (NAI) does not have records of 1962, 1965, and 1971 wars, or even of the Green Revolution.

National Archives of India (NAI) 

  • About:
    • Originally established as the Imperial Record Department in 1891 in Calcutta, the capital of British India.
    • The NAI is the repository of all non-current government records, holding them for the use of administrators and scholars. 
    • The NAI is now located in Delhi
  • Functions under: the Ministry of Culture.
  • Its Role & Significance:
    • It keeps and conserves records of the government and its organisations only.
    • It does not receive classified documents.
    • As per the Public Records Act, 1993, various central ministries and departments are supposed to transfer records more than 25 years old to the NAI, unless they pertain to classified information. 
    • However, it is up to the respective ministries and departments to ascertain what is classified information.
  • Abhilekh Patal portal:
    • NAI has also made efforts to make available all the records digitally — on the newly created portal. 
    • However, five years later, it’s a work in progress and the entire holdings haven’t been digitised so far, with 1,27,136 records available for online access.
  • Concerns:
    • There are in all 151 ministries and departments, and the NAI has only records of 64 agencies, including 36 ministries and departments. 
    • Several Union ministries and departments have not shared their records with NAI. The country is losing its history.
    • Various ministries and administrations come up with their own definitions of what is classified and what is non-current. 
    • Opacity and lack of accessibility are just a few of the issues regularly faced by researchers at the archives

Arecanut/Areca Palm


  • A Lok Sabha member urged the Union government to levy a hefty import duty on arecanut to check falling prices in the domestic market.

Areca Nut/Areca Palm

  • About: 
    • Usually referred to as Areca palm, but has also been called yellow palm, butterfly palm, yellow butterfly palm, cane palm and golden feather palm.
    • The arecanut palm is the source of a common chewing nut, popularly known as betel nut or Supari. 
    • India is the largest producer of arecanut and at the same time largest consumer also. 
    • Major states cultivating this crop are Karnataka (40%), Kerala (25%), Assam (20%), Tamil Nadu, Meghalaya and West Bengal.
    • Originated in Madagascar and is widely grown outdoors in the tropics.
  • Growing Condition:
    • The cultivation of arecanut is mostly confined to 28º north and south of the equator.  
    • It grows well within the temperature range of 14ºC and 36ºC and is adversely affected by temperatures below 10ºC and above 40ºC.  
    • Ideal rainfall – 750 mm to 4500 mm/ Irrigation
    • The largest area under the crop is found in gravelly laterite soils of red clay type.  It can also be grown on fertile clay loam soils.  Sticky clay, sandy, alluvial, brackish and calcareous soils are not suitable for arecanut cultivation


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