Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- ESG Regulation
- Oscar Awards
- Constitution Bench
- Indian and International Law on Antiquities
- Collective Security Treaty Organization
- SIPRI Report
- Prime Minister’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PM-PVTG) Development Mission
- Landfill Fires
- Facts for Prelims
1 . ESG Regulation
Context: The evolution of ESG laws and regulations is, however, still at a nascent stage in India, where the focus is often on providing protections regarding the environment or workplace conditions without also incorporating the controls and disclosure that are a hallmark of contemporary ESG regulation.
About ESG regulations
- Over the last decade, regulators and corporations around the world have embraced the idea that businesses should be measured not just on traditional economic metrics such as shareholder return, but also by their environmental impact, commitment to social issues and the soundness of their corporate governance and protection of shareholder rights. While this development is partially due to the belief that companies have a distinct responsibility as corporate citizens, the main driver is the realisation that environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) considerations need to be included by investors in a company’s risk profile in order to accurately assess the enterprise.
How ESG differs from CSR?
- India has a robust corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy that mandates the corporations engage in initiatives that contribute to the welfare of society. This mandate was codified into law with the passage of the 2014 and 2021 amendments to the Companies Act of 2013. The amendments require companies with a net worth of ₹500 crore or a minimum turnover of ₹1,000 crore or a net profit of ₹5 crore in any given financial year spend at least 2% of their net profit over the preceding three years on CSR activities.
- ESG regulations, on the other hand, differ in process and impact. The U.K. Modern Slavery Act, for example, requires companies with business in the U.K. and with annual sales of more than £36 million to publish the efforts they have taken to identify and analyse the risks of human trafficking, child labour and debt bondage in their supply chain; establish internal accountability procedures; evaluate supplier compliance and to train supply chain managers regarding these issues.
Why is ESG relevant in India?
- India had a number of laws and bodies regarding environmental, social and governance issues, including the Environment Protection Act of 1986, quasi-judicial organisations such as the National Green Tribunal, a range of labour codes and laws governing employee engagement and corporate governance practices. The penalty for violations can be substantial. While these laws and bodies provide important environmental and social safeguards, new initiatives in India go further, establishing guidelines that emphasise monitoring, quantification and disclosure, akin to ESG requirements found in other parts of the world.
Evolution of ESG Disclosures in India
- The Companies Act, 2013 introduced one of the first ESG disclosure requirements for companies. Section 134(m) mandates companies to include a report by their Board of Directors on conservation of energy, along with annual financial statement. This requirement is further detailed under Rule 8(3)(A) of the Companies (Accounts) Rules, 2014, which mandates the board to provide information regarding conservation of energy.
- In addition to this, companies are mandated to include disclosures on opportunities, threats, risks and concerns as part of their annual reports under Regulation 34(3) of the SEBI (Listing Obligation and Disclosure Requirements) Regulation, 2015 (“LODR Regulations”). However, such disclosure requirements do not seek details about the metrics and processes adopted by companies to identify such opportunities or risks nor mandate the companies to chart their progress over the course of time.
- In 2017, SEBI issued a circular on ‘Disclosure Requirements for Issuance and Listing of Green Debt Securities’, to introduce the regulatory framework for issuance of green debt securities in India and enhance investor confidence. It supplements the SEBI (Issue and Listing of Debt Securities) Regulation, 2008 and envisages a list of disclosures that an issuer must make in its offer document before and after the commencement of a project financed by green debt. These additional disclosure requirements have been prescribed in order to attract the finance reserved for ESG-compliant projects, such as renewable and sustainable energy, clean transportation, sustainable water management, climate change adaption, energy efficiency, sustainable waste management, sustainable land use, and biodiversity conservation.
- In addition to this SEBI circular, the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has also released the National Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Financing, laying down broad and general principles towards ‘integrating ESG risk management into Financial Institution’s (FIs) business strategy, decision-making process and operations. However, these Guidelines do not envisage any framework for credible and transparent issuance of green debt instruments.
Introduction of the BRSR framework
- To further strengthen the ESG disclosure regime in India, SEBI amended Regulation 34(2)(f) of the LODR Regulations to introduce the BRSR framework in May 2021. This will replace the existing Business Responsibility Report (“BRR”). BRSR is aligned with nine principles of National Guidelines for Responsible Business Conduct (“NGBRC”) and it will be mandatory for the top 1,000 listed companies to annually disclose ESG-related information from financial year 2022-23.
- BRSR also includes the following aspects, with an aim to enhance ESG complaint business practices in India:
- Disclosure of adequate policies and mechanism that a company implements to remain ESG-compliant. BRSR lays considerable emphasis on quantifiable metrics for ensuring comparison across sectors, companies, and time periods;
- Enhanced disclosures on climate and social related issues;
- Segregation of disclosures into essential and leadership indicators, the former being the mandatory requirement. The leadership indicators, inter alia, also emphasizes disclosures related to the value chain of eligible entities;
- BRSR allows interplay for organisations that are already publishing sustainability reports under other internationally recognized frameworks.
- India is gradually moving towards developing regulations around ESG. With the introduction of the BRSR framework, SEBI has joined the group of countries and international organization to have released comprehensive sustainability reporting frameworks. Though the reporting mandate is presently restricted to the top 1,000 listed companies by market capitalization, the experience with BRR only indicates that a wider range of companies would soon be covered under the BRSR framework.
What are the significance of the ESG regulations?
ESG disclosures are highly relevant for all stakeholders involved in a business process:
- Investors – If a business is not conscious about sustainability, there are chances that either the business processes might become redundant in the future, due to legal and regulatory changes, which might forbid particular ways of doing business, or demand for its business products or services might go down. Therefore, ESG disclosures are highly consequential for investors for the following reasons: including climate-related considerations in asset valuation and finance allocation processes;
- determining the environmental and social impact of a company’s business processes; and
- assessing how climate change could affect a company’s financial stability in the future.
- Businesses – ESG disclosures allow companies to identify potential transition risks, self-assess its ability to sustain in the future, and undertake necessary steps to adapt to the likely future changes. ESG disclosures help companies in identifying certain opportunities for innovation that might yield high results in the future. They also help companies in reassuring their stakeholders about their values and respect towards responsible business.
- Consumers – ESG disclosures aid consumers in identifying responsible businesses, which not only concentrate on maximizing profits, but also on growing in a responsible manner. Businesses could also use their disclosures as a part of their marketing strategy to attract more consumers. This demonstrates that ESG disclosures are significant from the perspective of all stakeholders involved in the business processes.
2 . Oscar Awards
Context: Naatu Naatu, the irrepressible, fun number from the film RRR, and the documentary short The Elephant Whisperers made Oscar history for India with one Academy Award each, the two wins showcasing cinema beyond Bollywood and the growing might of the Indian non-feature segment.
About the awards
- Naatu Naatu composed by M.M. Keeravaani and penned by Chandrabose in S.S. Rajamouli’s blockbuster, is the fourth non-English song to win an Oscar in the category and the first song in a foreign language since Jai Ho in 2009 to bag the prize.
- The Elephant Whisperers, by Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga, which explores the bond between humans and an abandoned elephant calf in Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, is India’s first win in the Documentary Short category.
- This is the first time two India-made productions have bagged the cinema world’s biggest prize.
What is Oscar Award?
- The Academy Awards, or “Oscars”, is an annual American awards ceremony hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements in the United States film industry as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a statuette, officially called the Academy Award of Merit, which has become commonly known by its nickname “Oscar.”
INDIAN STARS WHO HAVE WON OSCARS SO FAR
- Late Bhanu Athaiya– Born in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, the late Bhanu Athaiya, who had a passion for designing, brought Oscars to India for the first time after she received the award for Best Costume Design for the film Gandhi (1982).
- Resul Pookutty- Resul Pookutty, along with Ian Tapp and Richard Pryke, was the joint awardee for their work in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire for Best Sound Mixing.
- Satyajit Ray – Honorary Award
- AR Rahman- The music composer and singerbecame the first Indian to win Academy Awards in two categories for his work in Slumdog Millionaire. He received trophies for Best Original Song (Jai Ho) and Best Original Score
- Gulzar– Veteran poet-lyricist Gulzar is also the recipient of an Academy Award. The lyricist shared the award with Rahman for Best Original Song in Slumdog Millionaire’s popular track Jai Ho.
- MM Keeravaani- After winning big at the Golden Globes 2023, the ace music composer won the Oscars for Naatu Naatu as the Best Original Song
- Chandrabose- Naatu Naatu lyricist also took the center stage along with MM Keeravaani during the Oscars 2023 ceremony to receive the honour for the fun entertainer track Naatu Naatu
- Guneet Monga- Guneet Monga’s The Elephant Whisperers emerged as the winner at the 95th Academy Awards in the Documentary Short Subject category.
- Kartiki Gonsalves- Critically acclaimed filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves, who was the brains behind the Tamil documentary The Elephant Whisperers, won the Oscar in the Best Documentary Short Film category.
3 . Constitution Bench
Context: A Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud refers petitions to legally recognise same-sex marriages to a Constitution Bench of five judges of the Supreme Court.
About the News
- Chief Justice Chandrachud said the case involves an “interplay” between constitutional rights of life, liberty, dignity, equal treatment of members of the LGBTQ+ community members and specific statutory enactments which considers only a married union between a biological man and woman. Hence the three-judge Bench, also comprising Justices P.S. Narasimha and J.B. Pardiwala, invokes Article 145(3) of the Constitution to refer the case to a Constitution Bench.
What is a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court?
- Article 145(3) mandates that cases involving substantial questions and interpretation of the Constitution should be heard by a Bench of at least five judges.
- The Supreme Court is at the apex of the Indian judicial system. As the guardian of the Constitution, it is the primary duty of the SC to uphold the fundamental rights of citizens and protect their liberties.
- Whenever a matter of law arises that requires a provision or provision of the Constitution to be interpreted, or there is a “significant legal question”, it is required to be decided by a Bench involving a minimum of five judges of the Supreme Court. Such a Bench is called Constitution Bench.
Who forms the Constitution bench and when?
- The Chief Justice of India has the power to set up a Constitution bench. And he is the one who refers cases to it. Currently, there are four situations when such a bench can be formed.
- First, if a case involves a “substantial question of law” related to the interpretation of the Constitution.
- Second, a bench can be formed if the President seeks SC’s opinion on law or fact. In this case, however, the apex court’s decision is not binding on the President, and they can take a different point of view.
- Third, a Constitution bench can be formed when a two-judge bench and later a three-judge bench deliver conflicting judgements on the same issue.
- Lastly, it can be formed if a three-judge bench delivers a judgement that is different from the judgement delivered by a previous three-judge bench on an issue.
- Largely, the Constitution bench gives an overarching view on a question of law and defines a path the law will take in the future.
- In India, DY Chandrachud has been a part of 21 constitution benches, the highest in the country. He is followed by Justices AM Khanwilkar and Ashok Bhushan with 15 and 10 benches, respectively.
- Constitution Benches have decided some of India’s most significant cases over the years:
- Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India: In 1977, the Centre impounded Maneka Gandhi’s passport in the “interest of general public”. When the government declined to give reasons for the order, Ms. Gandhi approached the SC. The seven-judge Bench expanded the scope of Article 21 and ruled that “personal liberty” is “of the widest amplitude” covering “a variety of rights which go to constitute the personal liberty of man”.
- Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (retd) v. Union of India: Justice K.S Puttaswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court, filed a writ petition in 2012 in the SC challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme. In 2017, a nine-judge bench recognised the right to privacy as one guaranteed under the Constitution. The Bench ruled that while the right to privacy is intrinsic to an individual’s ability to exercise bodily autonomy, it is still not an “absolute right”. Justice K.S Putraswamy, a retired judge of the Karnataka High Court filed a writ petition in the SC challenging the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar scheme
- The Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves (1960): The seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that the Parliament doesn’t have the power to cede a State’s territory to another country unless it chooses to give effect to the same through an amendment to Article 368.
- Kedar Nath Singh v. State of Bihar: In 1962, the five-judge bench upheld the constitutional validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code which penalises sedition. The top court, however, held that Section 124A must be construed to only penalise statements that incite public disorder.
- Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru & Ors. v. State of Kerala & Anr. also known as the Kesavananda Bharati judgement, was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India that outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution. The case is also known as the Fundamental Rights Case. The court in a 7-6 decision asserted its right to strike down amendments to the constitution that were in violation of the fundamental architecture of the constitution.
4 . Indian and International Law on Antiquities
Context: An investigation by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and Finance Uncovered, has found that the catalogue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, includes at least 77 items with links to Subhash Kapoor, who is serving a 10-year jail term in Tamil Nadu for smuggling antiquities.
What is an antiquity?
- The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, implemented on April 1, 1976, defined “antiquity” as “any coin, sculpture, painting, epigraph or other work of art or craftsmanship; any article, object or thing detached from a building or cave; any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages; any article, object or thing of historical interest” that “has been in existence for not less than one hundred years. For “manuscript, record or other document which is of scientific, historical, literary or aesthetic value”, this duration is “not less than seventy-five years.”
What do international conventions say?
- The UNESCO 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property defined “cultural property” as the property designated by countries having “importance for archaeology, prehistory, history, literature, art or science.”
- The Declaration further said that “the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property is one of the main causes of the impoverishment of the cultural heritage of the countries of origin of such property and that international co-operation constitutes one of the most efficient means of protecting each country’s cultural property.”
- After that, in 2000, the General Assembly of the UN and the UN Security Council in 2015 and 2016 also raised concerns on the issue. An INTERPOL report in 2019 said that almost 50 years after the UNESCO convention, “the illicit international traffic of cultural items and related offences is sadly increasingly prolific.”
What do Indian laws say?
- In India, Item-67 of the Union List, Item-12 of the State List, and Item-40 of the Concurrent List of the Constitution deal with the country’s heritage.
- Before Independence, an Antiquities (Export Control) Act had been passed in April 1947 to ensure that “no antiquity could be exported without license.” In 1958, The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act was enacted. Then in 1971, Parliament saw an uproar over the theft of a bronze idol from Chamba and some important sandstone idols from other places.
- This, along with the UNESCO convention, prompted the government to enact The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 (AATA), implemented from April 1, 1976.
- The AATA states, “it shall not be lawful for any person, other than the Central Government or any authority or agency authorised by the Central Government in this behalf, to export any antiquity or art treasure… No person shall, himself or by any other person on his behalf, carry on the business of selling or offering to sell any antiquity except under and in accordance with the terms and conditions of a licence.”
- This licence is granted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). After the AATA was implemented, the Centre asked traders in antiquities and art objects to declare their possessions of antiquities by June 5, 1976, and individual owners by July 5, 1976.
What is ‘provenance’ of an antiquity?
- Provenance includes the list of all owners from the time the object left its maker’s possession to the time it was acquired by the current owner.
How is ownership proved?
- The UNESCO 1970 declaration stated that, “The requesting Party shall furnish, at its expense, the documentation and other evidence necessary to establish its claim for recovery and return.” The first thing in order to prove the ownership is the complaint (FIR) filed with the police. In India, the problem with missing antiquities is that in many cases, there is no FIR. But other proof, like details mentioned by reputed scholars in research papers etc., also work.
How to check for fake antiquities?
- Under section 14(3) of the AATA, “Every person who owns, controls or is in possession of any antiquity” shall register such antiquity before the registering officer “and obtain a certificate in token of such registration.”
Can India bring back antiquities?
- There are three categories to take note of: antiquities taken out of India pre-independence; those which were taken out since independence until March 1976, i.e. before the implementation of AATA; and antiquities taken out of the country since April 1976.
- For items in the first two categories, requests have to be raised bilaterally or on international fora.
- Antiquities in the second and third categories can be retrieved easily by raising an issue bilaterally with proof of ownership and with the help of the UNESCO convention.
5. Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)
Context: Armenia’s Prime Minister accused a Moscow-dominated security alliance of leaving his country in the cold in the face of a threat of renewed hostilities with neighboring Azerbaijan.
What is Collective Security Treaty Organization?
- The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia consisting of six post-Soviet states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
- The Collective Security Treaty has its origins in the Soviet Armed Forces, which was replaced in 1992 by the United Armed Forces of the Commonwealth of Independent States and was then itself replaced by the successor armed forces of the respective independent states.
- Similar to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, Article 4 of the Collective Security Treaty (CST) establishes that an aggression against one signatory would be perceived as an aggression against all.
- The CSTO charter reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force. Signatories are prohibited from joining other military alliances.
History of CSTO
- The Collective Security Treaty Organization originates from the conclusion of the Collective Security Treaty, which was signed in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) on May 15, 1992 by the heads of Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
- Later, it was joined by Azerbaijan, Belarus and Georgia (1993). The treaty entered into force upon completion of the national ratification procedures on April 20, 1994.
- Key Article 4 of the Treaty states: “If one of the States Parties is subjected to aggression by any state or group of states, then this will be considered as aggression against all States Parties to this Treaty. In the event of an act of aggression against any of the participating States, all other participating States will provide him with the necessary assistance, including military, and will also provide support at their disposal in exercising the right to collective defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter.”
- The Collective Security Treaty was concluded for a period of five years with the possibility of further extension. In 1999, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan signed a Protocol on the extension of the Collective Security Treaty, on the basis of which a new composition of the participating countries was formed and an automatic procedure for extending the Treaty for five years was established (Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan ceased your membership in the Treaty).
- Until 2002, the Treaty was essentially a regional agreement, which played an important role in maintaining close cooperation and understanding in the military-political field.
- On May 14, 2002, in Moscow, the Collective Security Council made a decision to grant the status of an international regional organization to the Collective Security Treaty.
- On October 7, 2002, at the CIS summit in Chisinau, the Presidents of the Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan approved the CSTO Charter. In December 2003, the CSTO Charter was registered with the UN Secretariat. And in 2004, the Organization received an Observer status in the UN General Assembly.
- Thus, in 2002, the main organizational procedures were carried out related to the legal registration of the current status of the CSTO as an international regional Organization uniting independent democratic states with common interests in the field of collective security. The Organization today includes: the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tajikistan (in the summer of 2006, the CSTO resumed its membership, and in 2012 the Republic of Uzbekistan suspended it).
- Coordination of joint actions by the CSTO is ensured by statutory permanent working and subsidiary bodies established in accordance with the CSTO Charter.
- The Collective Security Council (CSC) is the highest body of the Organization and consists of heads of the member States. It considers the fundamental issues of the Organization’s activities and makes decisions aimed at the realization of its goals and objectives, as well as provides coordination and joint activities of the member States for the realization of these goals. Sessions of the CSC are held alternately in the member States as necessary, but at least once a year.
- The Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the Council of Ministers of Defense (CMD), and the Committee of Secretaries of Security Councils (CSSC) are responsible for coordinating the interaction of the member States in their competence.
- The Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) – is the advisory and executive body of the Organization for coordinating the interaction of the member States in the field of foreign policy.
- The Council of Ministers of Defense (CMD) is a consultative and executive body of the Organization for the coordination of interaction of the member States in the field of military policy, military construction and military-technical cooperation.
- The Committee of Secretaries of Security Councils (CSSC) is an advisory and executive body of the Organization for coordinating the interaction of the member States in the field of ensuring their national security.
Areas of Cooperation
- Political cooperation
- In accordance with Article 9 of the CSTO Charter, in the format of the Organization, a mechanism of regular political consultations functions, during which assessments of the situation in the CSTO area of responsibility are discussed, common positions are being developed and joint approaches are being sought to current issues on the international agenda, and collective statements are being coordinated.
- The most important and priority activity of the CSTO is cooperation with international organizations and third countries in the interest of joining efforts for the sake of maintaining stability and strengthening peace.
- An important area of activity for the CSTO is crisis response. In October 2016, in Yerevan, the CSTO CSC decided to establish the CSTO Crisis Response Center, which will be entrusted with the task of information and analytical and organizational and technical support for the relevant CSTO decisions to be taken by the authorized bodies of the CSTO for crisis response.
- Military Construction
- The goal of military cooperation is to ensure the collective and national security of the Organization’s member States by maintaining, within the framework of the necessary sufficiency and readiness, the defence potential of each member State, the forces and means of the CSTO collective security system to fulfil the missions in accordance with Articles 4 and 6 of the Collective Security Treaty May of 15, 1992 security and timely response to possible challenges and threats to the national and collective security of the CSTO member States.
- The basis of the CSTO military potential consists of the Collective Operational Reaction Forces, regional (combined) groups of troops (forces), Collective aviation and peacekeeping forces, combined (joint) military systems and military infrastructure objects.
- Collective Rapid Reaction Force- On 4 February 2009, an agreement to create the Collective Rapid Reaction Force (KSOR)was reached by five of the seven members, with plans finalized on 14 June. The force is intended to be used to repulse military aggression, conduct anti-terrorist operations, fight transnational crime and drug trafficking, and neutralize the effects of natural disasters.
- Countering terrorism and extremism
- Countering drug trafficking
- Countering illegal migration and human trafficking
6 . SIPRI Report on import of Arms
Context: India remained the world’s largest arms importer for the five-year period between 2018-22 even though its arms imports dropped by 11% between 2013–17 and 2018–22, according to the Swedish Think Tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
What is SIRPI Report?
- SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.
- Established in 1966, SIPRI provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and the interested public. Based in Stockholm, SIPRI is regularly ranked among the most respected think tanks worldwide.
SIPRI’s mission is to:
- undertake research and activities on security, conflict and peace;
- provide policy analysis and recommendations;
- facilitate dialogue and build capacities;
- promote transparency and accountability; and
- deliver authoritative information to global audience
Key Findings of SIRPI
- India remained the largest arms importer followed by Saudi Arabia. Russia accounted for 45% is India’s imports followed by France (29%) and the US (11%). At the same time, India was the third largest arms supplier to Myanmar after Russia and China accounting for 14% of its imports.
- Among the top 10 arms exporters for the period 2018-22, India was the biggest arms export market to three countries — Russia, France and Israel and the second largest export market to South Korea. India was also the third largest market for South Africa which was ranked 21 in the list of arms exporters.
- Overall, the U.S. share of global arms exports increased from 33% to 40% while Russia’s fell from 22% to 16%.
- India’s tensions with Pakistan and China largely drive its demand for arms imports. With an 11% share of total global arms imports, India was the world’s biggest importer of major arms in 2018–22, a position it has held for the period 1993–2022. It retained this position even though its arms imports dropped by 11% between 2013–17 and 2018–22.
- Russia’s position as India’s main arms supplier is under pressure due to strong competition from other supplier states, increased Indian arms production and Ukraine war.
- India’s arms imports from France, which included 62 combat aircraft and four submarines, increased by 489% between 2013–17 and 2018–22. France therefore displaced the USA to become the second largest supplier to India in 2018–22.
- Just under two thirds of Russian arms exports went to three states in 2018–22 — India (31%), China (23%) and Egypt (9.3%). India was also the largest recipient of Russian arms in 2013–17, but exports to India decreased by 37% between the two periods. In contrast, exports to China (+39%) and Egypt (+44%) increased within the same time frame.
- For the same period, arms imports by Pakistan increased by 14% between 2013–17 and 2018–22 and accounted for 3.7% of the global total with China supplying 77% of Pakistan’s arms imports in 2018–22.
7 . Prime Minister’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PM-PVTG) Development Mission
Context: Weeks after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a ₹15,000 crore expenditure layout for the Prime Minister’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PM-PVTG) Development Mission, the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment expressed disappointment that such a massive budgetary allocation had been planned when even the Ministry of Tribal Affairs does not have data on PVTG populations in several States and Union Territories.
What is Prime Minister’s Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PM-PVTG) Development Mission?
- In the Budget speech 2023- 2024, Union Finance Minister announced Pradhan Mantri PVTG (Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Group) programme for the development and upliftment of tribal groups with a budget outlay of ₹15,000 crore over the next three years.
- This scheme will saturate PVTG families and habitations with basic facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water, and sanitation. Improved access to education health, nutrition, road, and telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.
- An amount of ₹15,000 crore will be made available to implement the mission in the next 3 years under the development action plan for the scheduled tribes. This scheme will benefit 3.5 lakh tribals.
About Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
- In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, while in 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 17 states and one Union Territory (UT), in the country (2011 census).
- Currently there are 75 tribal groups have been categorized by the Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)s.
- PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands.
- For the identification of PVTGs the state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.
- Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha
How they are identified
- The criteria for identifying Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups are: –
- Pre-agricultural level of technology
- Low level of literacy
- Economic backwardness
- A declining or stagnant population
- According to the procedure, the state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.
- In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
- In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
- PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc
Population of PVTGs
- In India, tribal population makes up for 8.6% of the total population. Tribal people live in about 15% of the geographical area of the country. The places they live vary from plains,forests, hills, inaccessible areas etc. PVTGs are scattered in different geographical areas of the country. According to the 2001 census, the PVTGs population is approximately. 27,68,322. There are 12 PVTGs having a population above 50,000 and the remaining groups have a population of 1000 or less. The PVTG of Sahariyas has the highest population of 4,50,217, while the PVTGs of Sentinelets and Andamanese has a very small population of 39 and 43, respectively.
Schemes for PVTGs
- Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs): this scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs exclusively for PVTG. Under the scheme, Conservation-cum-Development (CCD)/Annual Plans are to be prepared by each State/UT for their PVTGs based on their need assessment, which are then appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee of the Ministry. Activities for development of PVTGs are undertaken in Sectors of Education, Health, Livelihood and Skill Development , Agricultural Development , Housing & Habitat, Conservation of Culture etc.
8 . Landfill fires
Context: The Kochi landfill site around Brahmapuram that caught fire earlier this month is a stark reminder that Indian cities need to be prepared for more such incidents as summer approaches. Preventing such fires require long-term measures, including thorough and sustained interventions from municipalities.
What are landfills?
- A landfill site, also known as a tip, dump, rubbish dump, garbage dump, or dumping ground, is a site for the disposal of waste materials. Landfill is the oldest and most common form of waste disposal.
How do landfills catch fire?
- India’s municipalities have been collecting more than 95% of the waste generated in cities but the efficiency of waste-processing is 30-40% at best.
- Municipal solid waste consists of about 60% biodegradable material, 25% non-biodegradable material and 15% inert materials, like silt and stone.
- Municipalities are expected to process the wet and dry waste separately and to have the recovered by-products recycled. Unfortunately, the rate of processing in India’s cities is far lower than the rate of waste generation, so unprocessed waste remains in open landfills for long periods of time.
- This openly disposed waste includes flammable material like low-quality plastics, which have a relatively higher calorific value of about 2,500-3,000 kcal/kg, and rags and clothes. In summer, the biodegradable fraction composts much faster, increasing the temperature of the heap to beyond 70-80°C. A higher temperature coupled with flammable materials is the perfect situation for a landfill to catch fire. Some fires go on for months.
Is there a permanent solution?
- There are two possible permanent solutions to manage landfill fires. The first solution is to completely cap the material using soil, and close landfills in a scientific manner. This solution is unsuitable in the Indian context, as the land can’t be used again for other purposes. Closed landfills have specific standard operating procedures, including managing the methane emissions.
- The second solution is to clear the piles of waste through bioremediation — excavate old waste and use automated sieving machines to segregate the flammable refuse-derived fuel (RDF) (plastics, rags, clothes, etc.) from biodegradable material. The recovered RDF can be sent to cement kilns as fuel, while the bio-soil can be distributed to farmers to enrich soil. The inert fraction will have to be landfilled.
What are some immediate measures?
- Covering with sand- Landfill sites span 20-30 acres and have different kinds of waste. The first immediate action is to divide a site into blocks depending on the nature of the waste. At each site, blocks with fresh waste should be separated from blocks with flammable material. Blocks that have been capped using soil are less likely to catch fire, so portions like these should also be separated out. The different blocks should ideally be separated using a drain or soil bund and a layer of soil should cap each block. This reduces the chance of fires spreading across blocks within the same landfill.
- Next, the most vulnerable part of the landfill — the portion with lots of plastics and cloth — should be capped with soil. The fresh-waste block shouldn’t be capped but enough moisture should be provided by sprinkling water and the material should be turned regularly for aeration, which helps cool the waste heap.
- Once a site has been divided into blocks, the landfill operator should classify incoming waste on arrival to the site and dispose them in designated blocks rather than dumping mixed fractions. Already segregated non-recyclable and non-biodegradable waste should be sent to cement kilns instead of being allowed to accumulate. Dry grass material and dry trees from the site should also be cleared immediately.
- While these measures can help reduce the fires’ damage, they’re far from ideal and not long-term solutions. The permanent and essential solution is to ensure cities have a systematic waste-processing system where wet and dry waste are processed separately and their by products treated accordingly.
9 . Facts for Prelims
Multi indicator Survey NSSO
- The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) carried out the Multiple Indicator Survey (MIS) covering the entire country in its 78th round. The objectives of the MIS were:
- To collect information for developing estimates of some important Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators
- To collect information Purchase/Construction of house(s)/ flat(s) by the household for residential purpose after 31.03.2014 and information on Migration.
- The whole of the Indian Union was surveyed except for some villages of Andaman and Nicobar Islands which were difficult to access.
- In this survey, Two Stage Stratified Sampling was used, where First Stage Unit (FSU) were villages/sub-units (SUs) in rural areas, Urban Frame Survey (UFS) blocks/SUs in urban areas.
- The FSUs were allocated to States and UTs in proportion to the population as per Census 2011.
- The Second Stage Units (SSUs) were households in both rural and urban areas. The selection of FSUs and SSUs were done by Simple Random Sampling without Replacement (SRSWOR).
- Multiple-indicator survey data shows how close or far India is from achieving select Sustainable Development Goals. Adopted by the UN in 2015, SDGs are a set of 17 interrelated goals on developmental issues.
- While this particular survey does not show progress over time, the level of achievement of different indicators that the NSSO survey shows is comparable to other surveys, which have shown progress.
Vultures found in India
- Vultures– A vulture is a bird of prey that scavenged on carrion. There are 23 extant species of vulture Old World vultures include 16 living species native to Europe, Africa, and Asia; New World vultures are restricted to North and South America and consist of seven identified species, all belonging to the Cathartidae family. A particular characteristic of many vultures is a bald, unfeathered head. This bare skin is thought to keep the head clean when feeding, and also plays an important role in thermoregulation
- Vultures in India- A total of nine species of vultures are found in India. Out of these six species are resident (white – rumped vulture, Indian vulture, slender-billed vulture, red-headed vulture, bearded vulture and Egyptian vulture) and three species are migratory (cinereous vulture, griffon vulture and Himalayan vulture).
- White- Rumped Vulture- The white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis) is an Old World vulture native to South and Southeast Asia. It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2000, as the population severely declined. White-rumped vultures die of kidney failure caused by diclofenac poisoning.
- The Indian vulture (Gyps indicus) is an Old World vulture native to India, Pakistan and Nepal. It has been listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2002, as the population severely declined. Indian vultures died of kidney failure caused by diclofenac poisoning. It breeds mainly on hilly crags in central and peninsular India.
- The slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) in the northern part of its range is considered a separate species. It is Critically Endangered since 2002 as the population on the Indian subcontinent has declined rapidly. It used to be the Indian vulture, under the name of “long-billed vulture”. The Indian vulture is found only to the south of the Ganges and breeds on cliffs while the slender-billed vulture is found along and nests in trees.
- The red-headed vulture (Sarcogyps calvus), also known as the Asian king vulture, Indian black vulture or Pondicherry vulture, is an Old World vulture mainly found in the Indian subcontinent, with small disjunct populations in some parts of Southeast Asia.
- Egyptian Vulture- The Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), also called the white scavenger vulture or pharaoh’s chicken, is a small Old World vulture and the only member of the genus Neophron. It is widely distributed from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa to India. Egyptian vultures feed mainly on carrion but are opportunistic and will prey on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. They also feed on the eggs of other birds, breaking larger ones by tossing a large pebble onto them.
Power of Election commission to review the registration of Political Party
- Registration of Political parties- In India, not every association requires to get itself registered by the Election Commission. Only an association or body of individual citizens of India referring to itself as a political party and intending to avail itself of the provisions of Part-IV-A which relates to registration of political parties of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, is required to get itself registered with the Election Commission of India.
- Part-IV-A of the Representation of the People Act contains three sections,
- Section 29A deals with registration of associations and bodies as political parties,
- Section 29B deals with political parties entitled to accept contributions and
- Sections 29C deals with declarations of donations received by the political parties.
- Section 29A was inserted through the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1988. It was inserted as it was deemed necessary that the election law should define political party and lay down the procedure for its registration. Before Section 29-A of the Act came into force, the political parties were registered under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968.
- However, Part-IV-A does not provide any section for de-registration of a political parties. The entire Representation of the People Act, 1951 does not provide any mechanism for de-registration of a political party. The Election Commission possesses the power to register a political party but it does not possess the power to de-register it.
- The Supreme Court has provided certain exemptions to the lack of power to de-register a political party. The Supreme Court has held that there are three exceptions where the Commission can review its order registering a political party.
- One is where a political party obtained its registration by playing fraud on the Commission,
- Secondly, it arises out of sub-section (9) of Section 29-A of the Act and
- Thirdly, any like ground where no enquiry is called for on the part of the Election Commission, for example, where the political party concerned is declared unlawful by the Central Government under the provision of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 or any other similar law.
- Therefore, if a party does not have faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India or to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy, or it would not uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India so as to comply with the provisions of Section 29-A(5). In such cases, the very substratum on which the party obtained registration is knocked off and the Commission in its ancillary power can undo the registration of a political party.
- In 2017, the Madras High Court had requested the Centre to take a call and take a decision as expeditiously as possible on the recommendation made by the Election Commission of India in 1998 to amend the Representation of People Act (RPA) to provide Election Commission power to deregister a political parties violating the Constitution of India.
- The recommendations made to grant the Election Commission with the power to de-register has still not led to legislative action. The question that arises is how much this lack of power result in lack of control over political parties does which engage in communal and decisive politics and also the political parties registered solely to derive tax benefits granted to political parties under the Income Tax Act, 1961.