Smuggling of Gold

  • In News
  • Recently, there is a surge in gold smuggling amidst the soaring prices of gold over the past year.
  • How much Gold is Smuggled into India?
  • According to the Department of Revenue Intelligence and customs, nearly 4,000 kg of smuggled gold was found in the first 11 months of 2022-23, the highest in four years.
  • Over 63% of this smuggled gold was detected at airports.
  • Recently, the Department of Revenue Intelligence seizes 101.7 kg smuggled gold worth ?51 crore in Golden Dawn Operation across India
  • Though India witnesses legal import of around 800-1,000 tonnes of gold annually, the size of the grey market is estimated to be around 4,000 tonnes annually. 
  • According to the data available with the Union Finance Ministry, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Kerala accounted for the bulk of the gold smuggling cases registered in the country in the past 10 years.

How much Gold India imports?

  • In fiscal year 2022, India was estimated to import more than 3.4 trillion Indian rupees worth of gold.
  • India, fulfills more than 90% of its demand through imports. In 2021, India ranked as the second largest gold importing country worldwide based on value.
  • According to a recent World Gold Council report, India was the largest consumer of gold before being overtaken by China in 2009. In 2021 India bought 611t of gold jewellery, second only to China (673t) but comfortably ahead of all other gold-consuming markets.

What is Smuggling?

  • Smuggling is the illegal transporting of goods. These goods can be legal, such as alcohol and tobacco, or illegal, such as drugs and arms. Illegal trafficking of immigrants is also a form of smuggling.
  • Smuggling is a multidimensional issue that has a detrimental impact on the economy and national security. It can further destabilise countries by instigating crime, funding terrorism, and generating and circulating black money globally.

What are the problems associated with Smuggling? 

  • Loss of Revenue: Smuggling is an act of tax evasion which deprives the government of revenue for public expenditure.
  • Distortion of Market Prices: Goods which are smuggled into the country are often sold a lot cheaper than goods brought into market through the right procedures. Smuggling therefore deprives traders of free competition by creating undue competition with those who have paid taxes. 
  • Rise in Unemployment: When there is unfair competition in the market, compounded by the collapsing of industries, the labour market (employment base) is eroded. Manyprofessionals, skilled and unskilled personnel remain jobless.
  • Health Concerns: Most smuggled goods like drugs are substandard and are harmful to the lives of those who consume them. It could expose the consumers to various diseases.
  • Against National Security: Smuggling can cause insecurity especially when restricted goods like guns are smuggled. Such goods end up in the hands of a few people who can use them to destabilize the security of the citizens of the country.
    • This illicit trade can contribute to a rise in organized crime.
  • Funding Terrorism: This could be a source of funding for terrorist organizations.
  • Threat to Atmanirbhar Bharat: A growing threat to Atmanirbhar Bharat today is the deadly combination of smuggling and massive amounts of misdeclaration that leverage existing treaties and Free Trade Agreements. 

Way Ahead

  • Public policy and strong enforcement are needed to address counterfeiting and smuggling. 
  • There is a need for law enforcement and tax authorities to up their game with better cross-border coordination and trade-data reconciliations, apart from in-country crackdown on grey markets.
  • There is a need to declare an Anti-Smuggling Day and work with other countries to make this a global effort.
  • There is a need to rely on analytics and artificial intelligence to track and trace consignments, patterns, and modules to prevent smuggling.
Related Key FactsThe gems and jewellery sector in India is one of the largest in the world and contributes to about 29 per cent of global consumption. India is one of the largest exporters of gems and jewellery.UAE, the US, Russia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Latin America, and China are the biggest importers of Indian jewellery.Gold was used as the world reserve currency up through most of the 20th century. The United States used the gold standard until 1971.India’s gold imports contribute to the second largest part of the import bill after oil.Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI)It was constituted in 1957 as the apex anti-smuggling intelligence and investigation agency functioning under the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) to counter the menace of smuggling in India. DRI works to secure India’s national and economic security by preventing the outright smuggling of firearms, gold, narcotics, fake Indian Currency notes, antiques, wildlife and environmental products.DRI enforces the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 and over fifty other allied Acts including the Arms Act, NDPS Act, COFEPOSA (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities), Wildlife Act, Antiquities Act, etc. It is headquartered in New Delhi.It maintains contact with the CBI and INTERPOL.Know about World Gold Council (WGC)It is a nonprofit association of the world’s leading gold producers.The WGC covers the markets which comprise about three-quarters of the world’s annual gold consumption.Headquartered in London,  they have offices in India, China, Singapore, Japan and the United States.It is a market development organization for the gold industry which includes 25members and many gold mining companies as well.The WGC was established to promote the use of and demand for gold throughmarketing, research and lobbying.

World Bank’s Logistic Performance Index (LPI) 2023

In News

  • According to World Bank’s Logistic Performance Index (LPI) 2023, India has climbed six places, now ranking 38th in the 139 countries index, as a result of significant investments in both soft and hard infrastructure as well as technology.
    • India’s performance has drastically improved from 2014 when it was ranked 54th on the LPI.
About Logistics Performance Index (LPI)  It is an interactive benchmarking tool created to help countries identify the challenges and opportunities they face in their performance on trade logistics and what they can do to improve their performance. It analyzes countries through six components:The efficiency of customs and border management clearance.The quality of trade- and transport-related infrastructure.The ease of arranging competitively priced international shipments.The competence and quality of logistics services.The ability to track and trace consignments. The frequency with which shipments reach consignees within the scheduled or expected delivery time.The International LPI 2023 allows for comparisons across 139 countries.This year’s  Top Performers are Singapore and Finland 

Logistics Sector

  • The logistics industry comprises all supply chain activities, mainly transportation, inventory management, the flow of information, and customer service. 
  • Logistics is essential for the economy of a country. It pertains to the general method of controlling how resources are obtained, housed, and delivered to their ultimate location. 
  • It is a differentiating sector that can largely affect any country’s exports, thereby adding a significant competitive edge, with the underlying assumption of a robust logistics sector. 
  • It determines the success of not only the country’s supply chain but also influences it on a global scale.

India’s Potential 

  • The logistics industry in India is witnessing rapid growth owing to infrastructure, technology, and the emergence of new types of service providers that are reshaping the sector by reducing logistics costs and providing effective services.
    •  Moreover, government policies on taxation and regulation play a huge role in the improvisation of the sector.
  • The government is going by certain estimates which suggest that logistics cost in India stands at about 13-14 percent of the country’s GDP
  • The Economic Survey 2022-23 pointed out that logistics costs in India have been in the range of 14-18 percent of GDP against the global benchmark of 8 percent.


  •  Inadequate infrastructure and weak fiscal policies in developing countries such as India result in high transport costs.
  • During the lockdown’s most rigid stages, road transportation for large movements of goods was fraught with challenges and difficult to manage.

Government Initiatives 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government announced the PM Gati Shakti’s initiative, a National Master Plan for multimodal connectivity, in October 2021 to reduce logistics costs and boost the economy by 2024-25.
  • In 2022, the Prime Minister launched the National Logistics Policy (NLP) to ensure quick last-mile delivery, end transport-related challenges, save time and money for the manufacturing sector and ensure desired speed in the logistics sector.
  • Logistics Master Plan: This initiative takes a geographical strategy as opposed to an industry approach. Several projects and activities will be integrated into the plan to expand the mix of intermodal and/or multimodal transportation. Coordinated construction of relevant infrastructure (gas and utility pipelines, optical fiber cable networks) is accordingly planned.
  • National Logistics Law: A national logistics law has been drafted and is under consultation. Through a unified legal framework for the paradigm of One Nation, One Contract, it would support the One Nation, One Market objective and provide a flexible regulatory environment (single bill of lading across modes).
    • The law’s provisions will make it possible to assign a distinct logistics account number in place of cumbersome registration processes.
  • National Multimodal Facilities and Warehousing: In order to promote intermodal and Multimodal Logistics Parks (MMLPs) as a separate class of infrastructure, the National Grid of Logistics Parks and Terminals is being planned.
  • National Logistics Workforce Strategy: For the integrated skill development of professionals in the logistics sector, the government is developing a national logistics workforce strategy.

Suggestions  and Way Forward 

  • The initiatives taken by the government will lead to the progress of the logistics sector. 
  • The integration in the form of a multi-modal network of transport and warehousing will lead to increased efficiency in the transportation and storage of goods throughout the country. 
  • There is also a need for better warehousing, cold storage infrastructure and enhanced first and last-mile connectivity to reduce wastage and promote quicker transport of goods from port to port, city to city, and from state to state.
  • There is also an opportunity to promote sustainability within this space, by incentivizing players to adopt electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure for commercial purposes to improve last-mile delivery services, while reducing the carbon footprint of the industry.

EU’s Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA)

In News

  • The European Parliament recently approved the cryptocurrency regulation “Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA)”.

More about the new rules

  • MiCA will impose compliance on the issuers of crypto assets, who are defined as the “legal person who offers to the public any type of crypto-assets”. 
  • It will apply to crypto-asset service providers (CASPs) providing one or more of these services.
    • The operation of a trading platform like CoinBase, custody, and administration of crypto assets on behalf of third parties (customers), 
    • The exchange of crypto assets for funds/other crypto-assets, 
    • The execution of orders for crypto assets, 
    • The placing of crypto assets, providing transfer services for crypto assets to third parties, providing advice on cryptoassets and crypto-portfolio management.
  • Authorisation & CASPs:
    • The base regime will require every CASP to get incorporated as a legal entity in the EU. 
    • They can get authorised in any one member country and will be allowed to conduct their services across the 27 countries. 
  • Supervision of CASPs:
    • They will then be supervised by regulators like the European Banking Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority, who will ensure that the companies have the required risk management and corporate governance practices in place. 
  • Responsibility of CASPs:
    • CASPs will have to demonstrate their stability and soundness, ability to keep the funds users safe, implementation of controls to ensure they are not engaging in proprietary trading; avoidance of conflicts of interest, and their ability to defend against market abuse and manipulation.

MiCA regulations

  • Cryptoassets:
    • The MiCA legislation will apply to ‘cryptoassets’, which are broadly defined in the text as follows:
      • “A digital representation of a value or a right that uses cryptography for security and is in the form of a coin or a token or any other digital medium which may be transferred and stored electronically, using distributed ledger technology or similar technology”. 
    • This definition implies that it will apply not only to traditional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum but also to newer ones like stablecoins.
  • Stablecoins:
    • Stablecoins are digital tokens that aim to stay pegged in value with a more stable asset – a fiat currency like the U.S. dollar or other stable cryptocurrencies. 
    • MiCA will establish new rules for three types of stablecoins — asset-referenced tokens, which are linked to multiple currencies, commodities, or cryptocurrencies, e-money Tokens, which are linked to a single currency and utility tokens, which are intended to provide access to a good or service that will be supplied by the issuer of that token.


  • Transferable securities:
    • As for the assets that will be out of MiCA’s scope, it will not regulate digital assets that would qualify as transferable securities and function like shares or their equivalent and other crypto assets that already qualify as financial instruments under existing regulation. 
  • Non Fungible tokens (NFTs):
    • It will also, for the most part, exclude non fungible tokens (NFTs). 
  • Central bank digital currencies & digital assets:
    • MiCA will also not regulate central bank digital currencies issued by the European Central Bank and digital assets issued by national central banks of EU member countries when acting in their capacity as monetary authorities, along with cryptoassets-related services offered by them.

Significance of MiCA

  • Harmonising crypto industry:
    • According to Chainalysis, about 22% of the global crypto industry was concentrated in central, northern, and western Europe, which received $1.3 trillion worth of crypto assets. 
    • Having a comprehensive framework like MiCA for 27 countries in Europe not only harmonises the crypto industry but also gives the EU a competitive edge in its growth compared to the U.S. or the U.K. which lack regulatory clarity. 
  • Protection against deception and fraud:
    • 2022 saw some of the biggest failures and wipeouts in the crypto industry involving bankruptcies and fraud scandals, be it the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX and its spat with Binance or the failure of Terra LUNA cryptocurrency and its associated stablecoin. 
    • The liquidity shortage caused by these shocks led other crypto-lending platforms to halt customer transfers and withdrawals before filing for bankruptcy.
    • As investments and the size of the crypto industry grow, European and other regulators have felt the need to bring governance practices in crypto firms to ensure stability and financial sector-like rout and contagion. 


  • Some experts feel that the regulation is already laggard in covering newer vulnerabilities in the crypto industry.
    • For instance, it does not cover practices like crypto staking and lending, which led to some of the industry’s biggest failures last year. 
  • A Bloomberg analysis notes that MiCA also does not cover NFTs or decentralised finance, which is prone to hacks and fraud because it’s managed by code rather than humans.

Indian Government’s stand on Cryptocurrency & way ahead

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has long recommended a complete ban on all crypto, warning that it has the potential to destabilize the country’s monetary and fiscal stability.
  • Despite having no regulatory framework for crypto, the Indian government had introduced a new tax regime last year, taxing crypto income at 30% and a 1% tax deducted at source (TDS) on crypto transactions.
  • The government has recently placed all transactions involving virtual digital assets under the purview of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
  • India is now calling for consensus in the G20 grouping, where it currently holds the presidency, to have a globally coordinated policy response on crypto assets that takes into consideration the full range of risks, including those specific to emerging markets and developing economies.

Network of Groundwater Sensors

In News

  • The Jal Shakti Ministry is working on an ambitious plan to deploy a vast network of groundwater sensors.

More about News

  • It will continuously relay information on groundwater levels as well as the degree of contamination down to the taluk level.
  • Currently, such data is only measured a few times each year and communicated through Central Groundwater Board publications.

67,000 recordable units in the future

  • Under the new initiative, around 16,000-17,000 digital water level recorders will be connected to piezometers in the wells (Piezometers measure groundwater levels, the recorders will transmit the information digitally)
  • In the next three years India will have about 67,000 digitally recordable units to monitor groundwater dynamics.

Benefits of Network

  • It will provide farmers with groundwater forecasts that would be useful for sowing
  • Updated advisories that could influence groundwater extraction policies by states.
  • Except for information on water flow governed by international treaties, most of this information will be publicly accessible.
National Aquifer Mapping Program (NAQUIM)It is being implemented by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).It has mapped the country’s aquifers at a resolution of 1:50000Under the second phase of the programme – expects to improve the resolution by five times in the country. So far, an area of 25.15 lakh square km has been covered under the NAQUIM studies.What is an Aquifer?An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing, permeable rock, rock fractures, or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt). Groundwater from aquifers can be extracted using a water well.About Central groundwater Water-Board It is a subordinate office of the Ministry of Jal Shakti and is the National Apex Agency entrusted with the responsibilities of providing scientific inputs for management, exploration, monitoring, assessment, augmentation and regulation of ground water resources of the country.Major activities being taken up by CGWB include macro/micro-level ground water management studies, exploratory drilling programme, monitoring of groundwater levels and water quality through a network of groundwater observation wells comprising both large diameter open wells and purpose-built bore/tube wells (piezometers).Do you Know?India has about 18 percent of the world’s population, but holds just 4 per cent of the freshwater resources.90% of groundwater depletion in India is due to the agriculture sector. 8-9% of Groundwater is utilized by households and is followed by the Industrial sector (2%). India was declared as the highest groundwater user in the world in 2018.Around 85% of rural water requirements and 50% of urban areas’ water requirements are fulfilled by groundwater.  

LockBit Ransomware

In News

  • Cybercriminals have developed new ransomware encryptors designed to target macOS devices, making this the first major ransomware operation to specifically target Apple computers.

What is LockBit ransomware?

  • Ransomware is a form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption. 
  • Lockbit ransomware was named “abcd” virus and was first reported in 2019, the virus is categorised as a “crypto virus” due to its requests for payment in cryptocurrency to decrypt the files on the victim’s device.

PSLV-C55/TeLEOS-2 Mission

In News

  • PSLV-C55/TeLEOS-2 was launched successfully from SDSC-SHAR, Sriharikota.

About the Mission 

  • The PSLV-C55 mission is a dedicated commercial mission through NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), with TeLEOS-2 as the primary satellite and Lumelite-4 as a co-passenger satellite.
    • Both belong to Singapore. 
    • They are intended to be launched into an Eastward low inclination orbit.
    • PSLV-C55 mission will carry out in-orbit scientific experiments by using the spent PS4 stage as an orbital platform. 
  • TeLEOS-2satellite: It is developed under a partnership between DSTA (representing the Government of Singapore) and ST Engineering.
    • It will be used to support the satellite imagery requirements of various agencies within the Government of Singapore. 
    • It carries a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload. 
    • It will be able to provide all-weather day and night coverage.

Juvenile in case of heinous crimes: NCPCR issues new guidelines

In News

  • The National Commission for Protection of Children (NCPCR) has recently issued guidelines for conducting a preliminary assessment by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) under Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 (JJ Act, 2015).

What is Preliminary Assessment?

  • The preliminary assessment is to ascertain whether a juvenile can be tried as an adult. Replacing the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, the 2015 Act, for the first time, provided for trying juveniles in the age group of 16-18 as adults in cases of heinous offences.

Procedure of Preliminary Assessment:

  • The Act has categorised the offences committed by children into three categories — petty offences, serious offences, and heinous offences. 
  • Section 15 of the JJ Act provides that in case of a heinous offence alleged to have been committed by a child, who has completed or is above the age of sixteen years, the Board shall conduct a preliminary assessment regarding his mental and physical capacity to commit such offence, ability to understand the consequences of the offence and the circumstances in which he allegedly committed the offence. 
  • Section 18 (3) of the Act further suggests that, if the Board, after preliminary assessment under section 15 passes an order that there is a need for trial of the said child as an adult, then the Board may order the transfer of the case to the Children’s Court having jurisdiction to try such offences. 
  • Thus, the sole objective of having such a preliminary assessment is to determine whether a child within the age group of 16-18 years should be tried as an adult in case of heinous offences.

New Guidelines

  • Who will conduct preliminary assessment? JJB shall be responsible for the preliminary assessment and provide the child, the child’s family, and their counsel a copy of the order. 
  • Assistance of experts: In case the JJB does not have at least one member who is a practising professional with a degree in child psychology or child psychiatry, the Board shall take the assistance of psychologists or experts who have the experience of working with children in difficult times. 
  • Legal aid: The child should also be provided with a legal aid counsel through the District Legal Services Authority who shall be present during the preliminary assessment. 
  • Training to experts: It mandates experts, who have the required qualification to assist the JJB, to undergo training concerning Section 15 of the JJ Act, 2015.
  • Social Investigation Report: During the preliminary assessment, the Board and experts shall also analyse and take into consideration the Social Investigation Report (SIR), to be prepared by the Probation officer or Child Welfare Officer or any social worker, or a Social Background Report (SBR) to be prepared after interaction with the child or child’s family.

Significance of the guidelines

  • The NCPCR is under a statutory obligation under Section 109 of the JJ Act, 2015 to monitor the proper implementation of the provisions of the Act. 
  • The guidelines have been made to remove any ambiguity and to clarify the steps that need to be followed while conducting the preliminary assessment. 
About NCPCRIt was established in March 2007 under an Act of Parliament (December 2005) under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005. The commission’s mandate is to ensure that all laws, policies, programs and administrative systems conform to the vision of the rights of the child as enunciated in the Constitution of India as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. A child is defined as a person falling in the age group of 0 to 18 years.The commission consist of the following members:A chairperson who, is a person of eminence and has done a outstanding work for promoting the welfare of children; andSix members, out of which at least two are woman, from the following fields, is appointed by the Central Government from – Education; Child health, care, welfare or child development; Juvenile justice or care of neglected or marginalized children or children with disabilities; Elimination of child labour or children in distress; Child psychology or sociology; and Laws relating to children.

Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP)

In News

  • Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) committee has taken up measures to establish close to 2500 theme-based polling stations across Karnataka.

Major themes:

  • Yakshagana
  • Kambala
  • Mysuru Mallige


  • Yakshagana is a theatrical form of presenting mythological, historical stories and narratives drawn from the great Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata and performance includes music, dance and dialogues.
  • It traces its origin to the coastal districts of Karnataka and with roots in Sanskrit literature.


  • Kambala is an annual festival celebrated in the Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka.
  • The festival involves the traditional buffalo race, a popular and unique sport among the farming community of the state.

Mysuru Mallige

  • Mysore Mallige refers to the Jasmine flower grown in the region of Mysore and also in some part of Srirangapatna of Mandya district which is called the ‘queen of flowers’ because of its powerful fragrance than any other jasmine flower.
  • This flower was honored and used by Wadeyar of Mysore Kingdom and also use to decorate the Mysore Palace in time of Dasara festival.

Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP)

  • It is the flagship program of the Election Commission of India (ECI). 
  • It is a programme of multi-interventions through different modes and media designed to educate citizens, electors and voters about the electoral process in order to increase their awareness and participation in the electoral processes. 
  • It is designed according to the socio-economic, cultural and demographic profile of the state as well as the history of electoral participation in previous rounds of elections and learning thereof.   
Other Initiatives by ECIe-VIGIL App to make complaints against violation of election conduct.SUVIDHA Portal for filing nomination, permission etc.Radio series – ‘Matdata Junction’ in collaboration with All India Radio for voter awareness.


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

Leave a Reply

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