Daily Current Affairs : 9th December 2021

Topics covered

  1. Ken-Betwa river interlinking project
  2. Chief of Defence Staff
  3. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020
  4. World Inequality Report (WIR) 
  5. Facts for Prelims
  6. Places in News

1. Ken-Betwa river interlinking project

Context: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the funding and implementation of the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project at a cost of ₹44,605 crore at the 2020-21 price level.

About the Project

  • It is the first major centrally-driven river interlinking project in the country.
  • It is the first project under the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers.
  • It envisages transferring water from the Ken river to the Betwa river, both tributaries of the Yamuna.
  • The project involves transferring surplus water from the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh and irrigating 3.64 lakh hectares in the Bundelkhand region of both States.
  • The project involves transferring of water from the Ken river to the Betwa river through the construction of 77-metre tall and a 2-km wide Daudhan dam and a 230-km canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr Project, Kotha Barrage and the Bina Complex Multipurpose Project.
  • It has been declared as National Project by the Government of India.


  • Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called Ken-Betwa Link Project Authority (KBLPA) will be set up to implement the project.
  • In fact, the Centre has set in motion the process of creation of National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA), an independent autonomous body for planning, investigation, financing and implementation of the interlinking of river (ILR) projects in the country.
  • The NIRA will have powers to set up SPV for individual link projects.


  • The project is slated to irrigate 10.62 lakh hectares annually, provide drinking water supply to 62 lakh people and generate 103 MW of hydropower and 27 MW of solar power.
  • The project is proposed to be completed in eight years.
  • “The project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved Bundelkhand region, spread across Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
  • It will provide enormous benefits to the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh, and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh,.
  • It is expected to boost socio-economic prosperity in the backward Bundelkhand region on account of increased agricultural activities and employment generation.
  • It would also help in arresting distress migration from this region.


  • Several obstacles have dogged the project.
  • For one, the project will partly submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and affect the habitat of vultures and jackals. After years of protests, it was finally cleared by the apex wildlife regulator, the National Board for Wildlife, in 2016.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh reached an agreement on how water would be shared in March.

Interlinking of Rivers in India

  • Interlinking of rivers will help the country fulfill its dream of ensuring equitable distribution of water and, thereby, prosperity for all.
  • There have been several such steps in this direction, and in 1980 a National Perspective Plan was formalised. This involved transfer of water from water surplus basins to water-deficit basins/regions in which 30 links were identified.
  • The National Perspective Plan comprises of two components, namely i) Peninsular Rivers Development and ii) Himalayan Rivers Development.
  • The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) was set up on 17th July 1982 by Government of India as a Society under Societies registration act 1860 under the Ministry of Water Resources to study the feasibility of the links under Peninsular Component of National Perspective Plan. The NWDA is fully funded by Government of India. Subsequently in 1990-91, NWDA Society resolved to take up the studies of Himalayan Component also.
  • Four priority links for preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) have been identified viz;
    • Ken-Betwa link (Phase –I & II),
    • Damanganga-Pinjal Link,
    • Par-Tapi-Narmada link
    • Mahanadi-Godavari link

Why do we need to link rivers?

  • Though India receives about 4,000 BCM (billion cubic meters) of precipitation annually, utilisable resources are only 1,123 BCM. Even these are not distributed evenly in space or time.
  • Most of the precipitation occurs in about 90 days in a year and the distribution of annual average availability ranges from 510 BCM for Ganga, 527 BCM from Brahmaputra and 11.02 BCM for Pennar and 12.06 BCM for Sabarmati.
  • This shows the skew between potential demands and availability.
  • It has, therefore, been recognised that the inter-basin transfer of water is the only recourse for making an equitable distribution of water across the country and thereby ensuring equal opportunities of development.
  • Inter-basin water transfer is not a new concept and there have been many such successful examples in the country.
  • It has been practised in our country since 1887 when the Mulla Periyar dam was built and waters of the west-flowing river basin were transferred to east flowing Vaigai basin transforming agricultural development in and around Madurai for about 68,000 hectares.
  • Similarly, we have already made trans- basin transfers in case of the Beas Satluj link, Sardar Sahayak pariyojana, Sardar Sarovar project, Kurnool Cudddapah canal etc which are functioning well.

2. Chief of Defence Staff

Context: Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, his wife Madhulika Rawat, an Army Brigadier, and 10 others were killed when an Indian Air Force helicopter carrying them crashed into a heavily wooded area of the Coonoor ghat in the Nilgiris in western Tamil Nadu on Wednesday afternoon.

About CDS

  • The Cabinet Committee on Security on 24th December 2019 took the historic decision to create the post of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to enhance the quality of Military Advice to Political Leadership through integration of Service inputs.
  • The Chief of Defence Staff is the Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and acts as the Principal Military Adviser to Raksha Mantri on all tri-services matters so as to provide impartial advice to the political leadership.
  • Former Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the country’s first Chief of Defence Staff on 31st December 2019.

Role of CDS

  • CDS acts as the permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee which will also have three service chiefs as members.
  • He is also the head of the newly created Department of Military Affairs (DoMA) in the Ministry of Defence.
    • The Department of Military Affairs was assigned specific tasks by notification of the Cabinet Secretariat issued on 30th December 2019.
    • The overarching principle of this arrangement is that work related to Military Affairs is to be done only by the ‘Department of Military Affairs’, while the Department of Defence will deal with issues related to the defence of the Country, including defence policy.
  • He is also the member of National Security Council, Defence Acquisition Council, Defence Planning Committee, Nuclear Command Authority, Defence Cyber Agency, Defence Space Agency.

3. Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020

Context: Amid sloganeering by the Opposition members who are protesting against the suspension of 12 members, the House also passed the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 with amendments. The proposed Bill was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha but the Rajya Sabha had referred it to a Select Committee. 

About the Bill

  • The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019 was introduced by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan in Lok Sabha on July 15, 2019.
  • The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.

Regulation of surrogacy

  • The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy. 
  • Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy.  
  • Commercial surrogacy includes surrogacy or its related procedures undertaken for a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) exceeding the basic medical expenses and insurance coverage.

Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted

  • Surrogacy is permitted when it is:
    • for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility
    • altruistic
    • not for commercial purposes
    • not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation
    • for any condition or disease specified through regulations.

Eligibility criteria for intending couple

  • The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.
  • A certificate of essentiality will be issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
    • a certificate of proven infertility of one or both members of the intending couple from a District Medical Board;
    • an order of parentage and custody of the surrogate child passed by a Magistrate’s court; and )
    • insurance coverage for a period of 16 months covering postpartum delivery complications for the surrogate.
  •  The certificate of eligibility to the intending couple is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions:
    • the couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years;
    • between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband);
    • they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); this would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness;
    • other conditions that may be specified by regulations.

Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother

  • To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be:
    • a close relative of the intending couple;
    • a married woman having a child of her own;
    • 25 to 35 years old;
    • a surrogate only once in her lifetime; and
    • possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for surrogacy. 
    • Further, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.

Appropriate authority

  • The central and state governments shall appoint one or more appropriate authorities within 90 days of the Bill becoming an Act. 
  • The functions of the appropriate authority include;
    • granting, suspending or cancelling registration of surrogacy clinics;
    • enforcing standards for surrogacy clinics;
    • investigating and taking action against breach of the provisions of the Bill;
    • recommending modifications to the rules and regulations.

Registration of surrogacy clinics

  • Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority. 
  • Clinics must apply for registration within a period of 60 days from the date of appointment of the appropriate authority.

National and State Surrogacy Boards

  • The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively. 
  • Functions of the NSB include,
    • advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy;
    • laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and
    • supervising the functioning of SSBs.

Parentage and abortion of surrogate child

  • A child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple.  
  • An abortion of the surrogate child requires the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorisation of the appropriate authority. 
  • This authorisation must be compliant with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971.  
  • Further, the surrogate mother will have an option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.

Offences and penalties

  • The offences under the Bill include:
    • undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy
    • exploiting the surrogate mother
    • abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child
    • selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy. 
  • The penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees. 
  • The Bill specifies a range of offences and penalties for other contraventions of the provisions of the Bill.

4. World Inequality Report (WIR) 

About WIR

  • The World Inequality Lab, a research centre at the Paris School of Economics, released the 2022 World Inequality Report (WIR) on December 7, 2021.
  • The report authored by a team of top economists led by Lucas Chancel, and co-ordinated by Nobel-winning economist Thomas Piketty, among others, synthesises data and analyses generated by more than 100 researchers over four years.
  • It’s main finding is that the gap between the rich and the poor in terms of share of national income is quite large, and growing rapidly as a result of government policies that favour the affluent elite.

Why do we need a report of this kind?

  • While all governments regularly release economic numbers, such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and growth rate, these do not tell us how growth is distributed across the population – which sections are gaining, and which ones losing.
  • The WIR studies different kinds of financial data to find out how a country’s (and the world’s) income and wealth are distributed.
  • This is vital information because in most democracies, the wealthy can, and do, transform their economic power into political power, and therefore, the higher the inequality, the greater the likelihood that an affluent minority could end up determining the fate of the majority.
  • Availability of accurate data about levels of inequality can help generate public opinion in favour of policy measures that can mitigate them.

What are the global trends in inequality?

  • The report finds that global inequality today is back to where it was in the early 20th century.
  • The richest 10% of the global population takes home 52% of the global income, whereas the poorest 50% got only 8.5% of it.
  • Global wealth inequities are worse than income inequalities. While the poorest 50% own just 2% of the global wealth, the richest 10% own 76% of all the wealth.
  • While Europe was the region with the least amount of inequality (the income share of the top 10% was 36%), inequality was highest in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where the share of the top 10% was 58%.
  • One major trend highlighted by the report is that inequality between countries was narrowing while inequality within countries was increasing.
  • It points out that while the gap between the average incomes of the richest 10% of countries and the average incomes of the poorest 50% of countries has dropped from 50x to less than 40x, the gap between the average incomes of the top 10% and the bottom 50% of individuals within countries has almost doubled, from 8.5x to 15x.
  • The report also found that the share of privately owned wealth in national wealth was rising, while that of public wealth (buildings, universities, roads, hospitals etc) was shrinking. In other words, while countries are growing richer, governments are becoming poorer.

What about income inequality in India?

  • The report has found India to be one of the world’s most unequal countries, with the top 1% getting 21.7% of the national income.
  • Top 10% of Indians capture 57% of the national income, while the share of the bottom 50% is only 13%.
  • While the average national income of the bottom 50% stood at ₹53,610, the top 10% earned more than 20 times more, ₹11,66,520.
  • For comparison, this ratio in the case of France and Germany was 7 and 10 respectively.
  • The report reveals that income inequality in India today is worse than it was under British rule.
  • Under the British (1858-1947), the top 10% got about 50% of the national income (lower than today’s 57%).
  • In the decades after India got independence, socialistic economic policies reduced income inequality, bringing the share of the top 10% to 35-40%.
  • But starting from the 1980s, the report states, “deregulation and liberalisation policies have led to one of the most extreme increases in income and wealth inequality observed in the world.”

How does India fare on wealth inequality and gender?

  • Wealth inequality in India is even worse than income inequality.
  • The bottom 50% own “almost nothing”, with an average wealth of ₹66,280, while the middle class was also “relatively poor”, with an average wealth of ₹7,23,930.
  • However, the top 10% and 1% owned on average ₹63,54,070 and ₹3,24,49,360 respectively. The top 1% owned 33% of national wealth in India.
  • The report also notes that the female labour income share in India is 18%, one of the lowest in the world.
  • This is lower than both the Asian average (21%) and barely above the average in the Middle East (15%), pointing to high gender inequality in India.
  • It also finds that over the past three years, the quality of inequality data released by India has deteriorated.

What next?

  • The report notes that the share of income of the poorest 50% of the world’s population today is lower than what it was in 1820 – before colonialism upended their lives.
  • In other words, half of humanity is worse off today than it was 200 years ago.
  • The report, however, points out that inequality and poverty are not inevitable but mainly the effect of policy choices.
  • It tracks how inequalities burgeoned around the globe from the 1980s onward – in contrast to the previous three decades – following the liberalisation programmes that were implemented in different countries.
  • It recommends wealth taxes on the super-rich and a robust redistribution regime as policy measures that could arrest, if not reverse, the current trend of rising inequality.

5. Facts for Prelims


  • The Mi-17V5 is a Russian military helicopter designed to carry personnel, cargo and equipment, drop tactical air assault forces, reconnaissance, and destroy ground targets.
  • It is preferred by several armed forces due to its operability in any geographical and climatic conditions, versatility, and capability to land at unprepared sites.
  • The helicopter reportedly has high target approach accuracy through the use of a satellite navigation system, high safety and landing capabilities.
  • It is also fitted with a self-defence system against heat seeker missiles, and has a heavily  armoured cockpit, besides other systems.

6. Places in News

Coonoor ghat

  • Coonoor Ghat is also known as the Kallar Ghat, as it follows the valley of the Kallar and Coonoor rivers.
  • The Coonoor ghat rises steeply from Mettupalayam and the Coonoor river flows through the deep gorge with sheer cliff faces on both sides.
  • The National Highway 67 passes through the Coonoor rivers and known as landslides prone region caused by heavy rains.

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