Immunity of legislators from bribery charges

Why in news: The Supreme Court recently referred to a seven-judge bench the question of whether the legal immunity of legislators under Articles 105(2) and 194(2) of the Constitution protects them from being prosecuted in a criminal court for the offence of offering or accepting a bribe.

Provisions that grant legislators immunity from prosecution

  • Article 105 of the Constitution deals with the powers, privileges, etc. of the Houses of Parliament and of the members and committees thereof.
    • This provision exempts MPs from any legal action for any statement made or act done in the course of their duties.
    • For example, a defamation suit cannot be filed for a statement made in the House.
    • This immunity extends to certain non-members, like the Attorney General of India or a Minister who may not be a member but speaks in the House.
    • In cases where a member oversteps or exceeds the contours of admissible free speech, the Speaker of the House will deal with it, as opposed to the court.
  • Article 194(2) extends this immunity to MLAs and states.
  • In the present case, the court has to decide if the legal immunity enjoyed by parliamentarians extends to prosecution for demanding or taking a bribe.

What was the 1998 ruling?

  • Out of the five judges on the Bench in this case, two opined that protection under Article 105(2) or 194(2) and the immunity granted could not extend to cases concerning bribery for making a speech or vote in a particular manner in the House.
  • However, the majority view was that the Bench’s sense of indignation should not lead to a narrow construction of the constitutional provisions, as this may result in hampering the guarantee of parliamentary participation and debate.
  • Thus, the top court in 1998 quashed the case against the MPs, citing immunity under Article 105(2).

Topic 2: Socialist and secular in Preamble

 Why in news: Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha has claimed that the words “socialist” and “secular” were missing in the Preamble of the Constitution of India, the copies of which were given to MPs.

Key details:

  • These two words were originally not a part of the Preamble.
  • They were added by The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 during the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

What is the Preamble of the Constitution?

  • Every Constitution has a philosophy.
  • The philosophy underlying the Constitution of India was summed up in the Objectives Resolution, which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947.
  • The Preamble of the Constitution puts in words the ideal contained in the Objectives Resolution.
  • It serves as an introduction to the Constitution, and contains its basic principles and goals.

How did the words “socialist” and “secular” come in the Preamble?

  • Socialist:
    • The government at that time inserted the word in the Preamble to underline that socialism was a goal and philosophy of the Indian state.
    • However, the socialism envisaged by the Indian state was not the socialism of the USSR or China of the time.
    • It did not envisage the nationalisation of all of India’s means of production.
  • Secular
    • The people of India profess numerous faiths, and their unity and fraternity, notwithstanding the difference in religious beliefs, was sought to be achieved by enshrining the ideal of secularism in the Preamble.
    • In essence, this means that:
      • the state protects all religions equally,
      • maintains neutrality and impartiality towards all religions, and
      • does not uphold any one religion as a “state religion”.
    • A secular Indian state was founded on the idea that it is concerned with the relationship between human being and human being, and not between human being and God, which is a matter of individual choice and individual conscience.
    • Secularism in the Indian Constitution, therefore, is not a question of religious sentiment, but a question of law.
    • The secular nature of the Indian state is secured by Articles 25-28 of the Constitution.

Secularism before the 42nd Amendment

  • In essence, it was always a part of the philosophy of the Constitution.
  • The founders of the Indian Republic adopted Articles 25, 26, and 27 with the explicit intention of furthering and promoting the philosophy of secularism in the Constitution.
  • The 42nd Amendment only formally inserted the word into the Constitution and made explicit what was already implicit in various provisions and overall philosophy of the founding document of the Republic.

Topic 3: Tharosaurus indicus

Why in news: In a paper published recently, scientists have characterised dinosaur fossils from the Middle Jurassic period, found in the Thar desert near the Jaisalmer Basin by the Geological Survey of India.

Key details:

  • They discovered that they had uncovered remains of a sauropod dinosaur – the oldest known fossils of this particular kind of sauropod.
  • Belonging to the family Dicraeosauridae and from the superfamily Diplodocoidea, these fossils are the first dicraeosaurid sauropods to have been found in India.
  • At 167 million years old, they are the oldest known diplodocoid fossils in the world.
  • The scientists named the dinosaur Tharosaurus indicus, with:
    • Tharo deriving from the Thar desert,
    • saurus from the Greek ‘sauros’, or lizard, and
    • indicus from its Indian origin.

About Saurpods:

  • Sauropods first appeared on the earth during the Jurassic period, about 200 million years ago.
  • They were one of the most dominant clades of dinosaurs, surviving until the late Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs went extinct.
  • In India, while sauropod fossils from the Early Jurassic and the Late Cretaceous period have been found, very few have from the Middle or Late Jurassic period, which would be about 160-180 million years ago.
  • India has also been home to a few early, more primitive sauropods, like Kotasaurus and Barapasaurus

Importance of Indian landmass

  • Some 167 million years ago when Tharosaurus lived, India was not where it is now; it was part of a group of continents in the southern hemisphere with AfricaSouth America, Madagascar, and Antarctica, together called Gondwanaland.
  • The scientists reasoned that these diplodocoid sauropods could have originated in India during the Middle Jurassic period and used the land connections at the time to migrate to MadagascarAfrica, and South America.
  • Diplodocoid fossils in other continents like Africa, the Americas, and Asia come from a younger geological interval.
  • This increases the possibility that the Indian landmass was the site for the Tharosaurus’ early radiation.
  • That along with the fact that archaic sauropod fossils from during the start of the Jurassic period –like of Kotasaurus and Barapasaurus – were also found in India suggests that this diplodocoid group of sauropods could have evolved and originated in India.

Topic 4: India-Canada Relations

Why in news: The bilateral ties between India and Canada have hit a new low ever since the G20 Summit and recently the two countries announced cancelling negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement. Also, Canada has accused India of being involved in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Key details:

  • The recent cause behind the soured relations is the pro-Khalistan groups operating in Canada and organising crimes in the country and in India.
  • Pro-Khalistani groups including banned organisation Sikh for Justice have been involved in attack on India missions, anti-India activities and desecrating temples in Canada.
  • Canada’s unwillingness to rein in separatist Khalistani elements and inaction on the attacks on temples and Indian mission has shown the country is not serious in entertaining India’s concerns.
  • Despite India’s repeated reminders, Canada has said that the country will always defend freedom of peaceful protest and freedom of expression despite India’s concerns over the increasing Khalistani activities in Canada.
Who was Hardeep Singh Nijjar?Nijjar was an outspoken supporter of the creation of a separate Sikh homeland known as Khalistan, which would include parts of India’s Punjab state.The Khalistan movement is outlawed in India and considered a national security threat by the government.A number of groups associated with the movement are listed as “terrorist organizations” under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).Nijjar’s name appears on the Home Ministry’s list of UAPA terrorists and in 2020.

Bilateral relations

  • Canada and India have longstanding bilateral relations built upon shared traditions of democracy, pluralism and strong interpersonal connections.
  • Canada is home to one of the largest communities of Indian origin, with approximately 4% of Canadians being of Indian heritage (1.3 million people).
  • At the Ministerial level, Canada and India enjoy a strategic partnership underpinned by Ministerial Dialogues on:
    • foreign policy
    • trade and investment
    • finance
    • energy
  • At the officials level, there are regular working groups that focus on:
    • counter-terrorism
    • security
    • agriculture
    • education
    • science and technology

Trade relations

  • In 2022, India was Canada’s 10th largest trading partner.
  • India’s total trade with Canada in the last (2022-23) financial year was $8 billion — that’s 0.7% of India’s total trade ($1.1 trillion) with the world.
  • Bilateral trade has also been fairly evenly balanced – in 2022-23, for instance, roughly $4 bn of imports were matched by $4 billion of exports even though India enjoyed a tiny trade surplus of $58 million.
  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement:
    • Canada and India were working toward a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA).
    • Canada announced recently that it had paused talks on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India.
    • In such agreements, two countries significantly reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them.
    • They also liberalise norms for promoting trade in services and attract investments.
    • Indian industry was looking at duty-free access for products like textiles and leather besides easy visa norms for the movement of professionals.
    • Canada has interests in areas like dairy and agricultural products.
    • Industry estimates show the CEPA between Canada and India could boost two-way trade by as much as $6.5 billion.
    • India-Canada talks on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement are expected to resume only after the resolution of the issues between the two countries.
  • Bilateral Trade
    • There has been a steady growth in the goods trade reaching $8 billion in 2022, with Indian exports to Canada touching $4 billion, while imports from Canada also worth $4 billion.
    • India’s growing demand for imported lentils has benefited Canadian farmers, while Indian pharmaceutical and software companies have expanded their presence in the Canadian market.
    • Major imports from Canada:
      • energy products such as coal, coke and briquettes,
      • fertilizers,
      • lentils
    • Major exports from India:
      • consumer goods,
      • garments,
      • engineering products such as auto parts, aircraft equipment, and
      • electronic items.

How this will affect trade relations:

  • Among what India imports from Canada, three categories of goods dominate and account for 46% (that is, almost half) of the total import by value. These are:
    • Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; bituminous substances; mineral waxes.
    • Pulp of wood or of other fibrous cellulosic material; waste and scrap of paper or paperboard
    • Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers
  • The top three exports, on the other hand, accounted for only 30% of the total exports. These were:
    • Pharmaceutical products
    • Articles of iron or steel
    • Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; parts thereof
  • The major agri imports from Canada:  
    • Canada is important to India as a supplier of two major agri-related commodities.
      • The first is muriate of potash (MOP), the third most consumed fertiliser in India after urea and di-ammonium phosphate.
        • Canada was India’s largest MOP supplier last year, followed by Israel, Jordan, Belarus, Turkmenistan and Russia.
      • The second major item is masur or red lentil.
        • India is a significant importer of pulses, with masur being the biggest after arhar/tur or pigeon-pea.
        • Canada is India’s largest masur supplier, followed by Australia.
Significance of masur dal:Masur at present is the second cheapest pulse after chana.Red lentil is the second most commonly grown rabi crop, with Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh reporting around 70 per cent of the domestic production.The annual consumption of masur is estimated to be around 18-20 lakh tonnes.This year, India has imported around 11 lakh tonnes of masur already.Australia and Canada are the two major sources India meets its requirements from.There are also concerns over the size of the masur crop in Canada.The 2023 crop now being harvested is pegged at around 15.4 lt, down from last year’s 23 lt.It has already led to landed prices of imported masur climbing to $760-770 per tonne, a jump of $100.

Canadian Investments in India

  • Canada is India’s 17th largest foreign investor, pouring in more than $3.6 billion since 2000.
  • Canadian portfolio investors have invested billions of dollars in Indian stock and debt markets.
  • Canadian Pension Funds have cumulatively invested over 55 billion US dollars in India.
  • Canada’s Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has invested over $3 billion in India and India is expected to become one of the key markets where the fund was to reach $300 billion in net assets.

Human Ties

  • Indian-origin population accounts for 4 percent of Canada’s population.
  • The Sikh population in the country is the highest outside of Punjab.
  • Since 2018, India has been the largest source country for international students in Canada.
    • In 2022, their number rose 47% to nearly 320,000, accounting for about 40% of total overseas students.


  • After 55 years of bilateral programming in India totaling $2.39 billion, Canada’s bilateral development assistance program came to an end in 2006 following a change in Indian government policy regarding aid.
  • However, Global Affairs Canada continues to provide development assistance to India through Indian and Canadian Non-Governmental Organizations, and through multilateral mechanisms such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
  • In FY 2021-2022 Canada invested nearly $76 million to support 52 international assistance projects in India.
  • Key multilateral organizations supported by Canada that are active in India include:
    • the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,
    • the World Bank,
    • the United Nations Population Fund,
    • UNICEF,
    • the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria,
    • the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, and
    • Nutrition International.

Partnerships and organizations

  • To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and India work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
    • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
    • Pacific Alliance
    • United Nations (UN)
    • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
    • World Trade Organization (WTO)

Implications For Sikhs

  • The worsening ties could affect the economic interests of thousands of Sikh families in India’s Sikh-majority state of Punjab, since they have relatives in Canada, who remit millions of dollars back home.
  • The share of Canada’s Sikh population has more than doubled in 20 years, as large number of Sikhs migrated from India in search of higher education and jobs.

Way forward:

  • Relations are at a low point, but long-term strategic interests will likely force an improvement in time.
  • India is critical to the West’s geopolitical goal of containing China.
  • Canada’s top allies, including the United States and Britain, are unlikely to disrupt their own relationships with India, even as they pay lip service to Canada’s outrage over the alleged assassination.
  • In the meantime, though, as the Nijjar murder investigation proceeds, Indo-Canadian relations might further deteriorate.

Topic 5: Tracking India’s growth trajectory

Why in news: In the quarterly release of GDP figures by the NSO (National Statistical Office), the country’s performance is likened to reviewing a report card of its economic performance.

Key details:

  • The Q1 data covering the GDP growth rate from April to June of FY24 boasts a nominal growth rate of 8% and a real growth rate of 7.8%.
  • The growth story currently posits that the numbers reflect an uptick in the agriculture sector growing at 3.5%, unlikely to be sustained due to pressure from the El Niño phenomenon.
  • The services industry, with financial, real estate and professional services growing at 12.2%.
  • There is also talk of sustaining a close to 6.5% growth rate for the current financial year.

Various factors affecting India’s growth trajectory:

  • Calculating GDP
    • The first factor to consider is that calculating the GDP growth rate involves many complex statistical choices and sophisticated statistical operations.
    • One such decision the NSO made while conducting their research was to use theincome approach of calculating GDP rather than the expenditure approach.
      • The income approach involves summing up all national incomes from the factors of production and accounting for other elements such as taxesdepreciation, and net foreign factor income.
      • The assumption generally is that both methods lead to similar results.
      • However, the expenditure approach dictates headline growth to be 4.5% rather than 7.8% which is a large discrepancy.
  • Price deflator:
    • Another essential statistical operation is the adjusting for inflation using the price deflator.
    • Typically, the deflator is meant to adjust growth figures when they are overstated by inflation.
    • In this case, deflation due to falling commodity prices, reflected in the wholesale price index, has worked to overstate the real growth.
    • Furthermore, there is a base effect from the COVID-19 degrowth period, which continues to plague India’s growth figures.
    • Although less pronounced in FY24, the base effect has a role in comparative statistics due to sporadic growth in the years following FY20-21.
  • Inflation rate and CPI:
    • One must consider whether the proposed, supposedly cooled, inflation rate calculated through the consumer price index can be sustained at current levels.
    • And that too with the impending depreciation of the Indian rupee against the dollar due to capital outflow pressures resulting from the RBI’s reluctance to raise interest rates.
    • India is a net importer, and its most significant import consists of crude petroleum, whose price seems to be rising due to Saudi’s $100 per barrel push and rupee depreciation.
  • Revenue from taxes
    • The government’s tax revenue from direct taxes has weakened over the previous quarter while the indirect tax revenue remained strong, indicating a K-shaped pattern.
    • The income streams from progressive taxation (more significant tax burden on those higher on the income ladder) seem to be slow compared to its regressive counterpart.
    • muted growth of direct tax collected in an economy boosted by the services industry is a statistical discrepancy which remains unexplained in the proposed GDP growth story.
    • Direct and personal taxes should have grown closer to the nominal growth rate than it has currently.
    • Narrowing revenue streams indicate forced austerity measures, as the government intends to control the budget deficit, and hence the interest rate.


  • In conclusion, it becomes palpable that the reported growth narrative might be somewhat overembellished.
  • The divergence in growth figures brought forth by the income and expenditure approaches manifest a significant disparity, raising fundamental questions about the veracity of the promulgated optimistic narrative.
  • The underpinnings of this growth story, nuanced by inflationary adjustments and conspicuous fluctuations in tax revenue streams, signal a cautious trajectory.
  • The apprehensive outlook on the agriculture sector and potential fiscal constraints paint an arguably more restrained picture than initially portrayed.
  • Therefore, it seems prudent to assert that India’s economic performance does not quite emerge as the unequivocal success story depicted in initial observations, urging a more nuanced and critical approach in assessing the trajectory ahead.

Topic 6: Adi Shankaracharya

Why in news: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister recently unveiled a gigantic statue of Adi Guru Shankaracharya.

Key details:

  • Called the Ekatmata ki Murti (Statue of Oneness), the 108-feet-tall statue portrays the 8th-century Indian philosopher and theologian, who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.
  • The unveiling is part of the ambitious Ekatma Dham project of the State government and marks the initiation of its first phase.
  • The government wants to develop it along the lines of the Mahakal Lok corridor as a major destination for spiritual-religious tourism.

About Adi Shankara:

  • Adi Shankara was an Indian philosopher and theologian who expounded the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.
  • He advocated the oldest concept of Hinduism which explains the unification of the soul (atman) with the Supreme Soul (Nirguna Brahman).
  • One of Shankaracharya’s most important works is his efforts to synthesize the six sub-sects, known as ‘Shanmata.’
    • ‘Shanmata’, which literally translates to ‘six religions,’ is the worship of six supreme deities.
  • He also founded ‘Dashanami Sampradaya,’ which talks about leading a monastic life.
  • While Shankaracharya was a firm believer in ancient Hinduism, he condemned the ‘Mimamsa school of Hinduism’ which was purely based on ritual practices.


  • Adi Shankaracharya is renowned for his spectacular commentaries on ancient texts.
  • His review of ‘Brahma Sutra’ is known as ‘Brahmasutrabhasya’, and it is the oldest surviving commentary on ‘Brahma Sutra’.
  • He also wrote commentaries on Bhagavad Gita, and the ten principal Upanishads.
  • Adi Shankaracharya is also well-known for his ‘stotras’ (poems).
  • He also composed the famous ‘Upadesasahasri’ which literally translates to ‘a thousand teachings.’


  • He advocated the existence of the soul and the Supreme Soul.
  • He believed that the Supreme Soul alone is real and unchanging while the soul is a changing entity and that it does not have absolute existence


  • Adi Shankaracharya founded four monasteries (mathas) – one each at the four cardinal points in India:
    • Sringeri Sharada Peetham:
      • This was the first monastery founded by Adi Shankaracharya.
      • It is located at the southern part of India, along the banks of Tunga.
      • Sureshvara was made the head of this matha
      • Sringeri Sharada Peetham advocates ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am Brahman) and was formed on the basis of Yajur Veda.   
    • Dvaraka Pitha:
      • Dvaraka Pitha is located in the western part of India.
      • Dvaraka Pitha advocates ‘Tattvamasi’ (That thou art) and was formed on the basis of Sama Veda.
      • Hasta Malaka, who came to be known as Hastamalakacharya, was made the head of this matha.
    • Jyotirmatha Peetham:
      • This monastery is located in the northern part of India.
      • Totakacharya was made the head of this matha which advocates ‘Ayamatma Brahma’ (This Atman is Brahman).
      • Jyotirmatha Peetham was formed on the basis of Atharva Veda.
    • Govardhana matha:
      • Govardhana matha is located at the eastern part of India.
      • The matha is a part of the famous Jagannath temple.
      • Padmapada was made the head of this monastery which advocates ‘Prajnanam Brahma’ (Consciousness is Brahman).
      • It was formed on the basis of Rig Veda.  

Topic 7: Climate Ambition Summit

Why in news: The Climate Ambition Summit (CAS) in New York, as part of the United Nations General Assembly was marked by the absence of major economies whose actions significantly influence the future of global emissions.

Key details:

  • China, the U.S. and India — which collectively account for about 42% of global greenhouse gas emissions and are the top three emitters in that order — were all absent from the summit .
  • The summit was designed to showcase leaders who are movers and doers and have credible actions, policies and plans to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal of the Paris Agreement alive and deliver climate justice to those on the front lines of the climate crisis.
  • Only representatives from 34 states and seven institutions were given the floor on the day of the summit.
  • India’s neighbours Sri LankaNepal and Pakistan were among the listed speakers and emerging economies such as South Africa and Brazil were also on the list.
  • The European UnionGermanyFrance and Canada were also on the podium.
  • The criteriafor countries to be considered for a speaking slot at the summit were that they would be expected to:
    • present updated pre-2030 Nationally Determined Contributions (as agreed in Glasgow);
    • updated net-zero targets;
    • energy transition plans with commitments to no new coal, oil and gas;
    • fossil fuel phase-out plans;
    • more ambitious renewable energy targets;
    • Green Climate Fund pledges; and
    • economy-wide plans on adaptation and resilience.
  • All the main emitters and all G-20 governments would be asked to commit to presenting, by 2025, more ambitious economy-wide Nationally Determined Contributions featuring absolute emissions cuts and covering all gases.

Indian scenario:

  • India last updated its climate pledges in 2022 of reducing emissions intensity (the volume of emissions per unit of gross domestic product (GDP)) by 45% from 2005 levels by 2030, a 10% increase from what it agreed to in 2015.
  • The government committed to meet 50% of its electric power needs from renewable, non-fossil fuel energy sources — up from 40% committed at the Paris agreement.
  • It promised to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of Co2-equivalent [GtCO2e] through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.