InstaLinks help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions in your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically.
Table of Contents
GS Paper 2:
1. Appointment of Supreme Court Judges
2. Two years since NRC draft, lakhs still in limbo
3. India envoy in Doha meets Taliban leader
4. Concerns over Afghanistan’s membership in SAARC arise
5. China opens first road-rail transport link to Indian Ocean
GS Paper 3:
1. National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP)
2. Sand and dust storms
3. T.N. announces parks for future mobility, apparels
4. Core sector logs 9.4% growth
5. Overseas settlement of G-sec deals on anvil: Das
Facts for Prelims:
1. Triple delight for India at Tokyo Paralympics
2. Vaccine pioneer wins Ramon Magsaysay award
3. Resolution 2593 of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
GS Paper 2
Topics Covered: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies.
Context: Swearing-in of the nine new judges of Supreme Court
- Nine new Supreme Court judges were administered their oaths of office by Chief Justice NV Ramana. It is for the first time in the history of Supreme Court that nine judges took oath of office at one go.
- With the swearing-in of the nine new judges, the strength of the Supreme Court has now increased to 33, including the CJI, out of the sanctioned strength of 34.
- Three of them were women judges. One of them, Justice B.V. Nagarathna, is slated to be Chief Justice of India in 2027. With this addition, the apex court will have four women judges for the first time.
- It was the first time the Supreme Court allowed a live telecast of the ceremony.
- It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges that has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court, and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.
- There is no mention of the Collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
- The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the CJI and comprises four other senior most judges of the court.
- A High Court collegium is led by its Chief Justice and four other senior most judges of that court.
Related Constitutional Provisions:
- Article 124(2)of the Indian Constitution provides that the Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President after consultation with such a number of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose.
- Article 217of the Indian Constitution states that the Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court.
Evolution of the Collegium System in Judiciary:
First Judges Case (1981): It declared that the “primacy” of the Chief Justice of India (CJI)s recommendation on judicial appointments and transfers can be refused for “cogent reasons.”
The ruling gave the Executive primacy over the Judiciary in judicial appointments for the next 12 years.
Second Judges Case (1993): Supreme Court introduced the Collegium system, holding that “consultation” really meant “concurrence”.
It added that it was not the CJI’s individual opinion, but an institutional opinion formed in consultation with the two senior-most judges in the SC.
Third Judges Case (1998): Supreme Court on President’s reference expanded the Collegium to a five-member body, comprising the CJI and four of his senior-most colleagues.
- What is collegium?
- How are Judges of Supreme Court and high courts appointed?
- Appointment of retired judges.
- Related constitutional provisions.
- Powers and functions.
Discuss the issues associated with collegium system for the appointment of judges.
GS Paper 2
Topics covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Context: Denial of benefits emanating from Aadhar to people who were eventually included in the draft NRC list after being initially excluded from the draft list published in 2018
- Lakhs of people were left out of the complete draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in 2018
- As per the Supreme Court mandated rules, those left out of the draft NRC list had to mandatorily submit their biometrics during the hearings of ‘claims’ (to include themselves in the NRC) and ‘objections’ (to object to someone else’s inclusion) process.
- 27 lakh people who were left out from the list published in 2018 submitted their biometric details and amongst these only 8 lakh people made it into the draft list published in 2019. However, these 8 lakh people are struggling to get Aadhaar, and concerned about benefits linked to it
- Lack of clarity and inability to enjoy the full benefits emanating from Aadhar has caused significant mental pressure on individuals.
- This situation has arisen primarily due to the lack of clarity over the NRC exercise since the government is withholding assigning Aadhar to these newly added individuals since the complete and final NRC list is yet to be published
- What needs to be done? Efforts must be taken by the stakeholders (NRS state coordinator, central government, state government of Assam and Supreme Court of India) involved to address the short-term concerns of these individuals and ensure no one is left behind in enjoying the benefits that the state owes (Ex: Food subsidies) to them; particularly during this pandemic times and a mechanism should be put in place to publish a final list of NRC in a time-bound and just manner
- The NRC is the list of Indian citizens and was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951.
- The process of NRC update was taken up in Assam as per a Supreme Court order in 2013.
- In order to wean out cases of illegal migration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updation was carried out under The Citizenship Act, 1955, and according to rules framed in the Assam Accord.
- UN experts had warned that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam could render millions of citizens stateless and create instability in India.
- Relation between Census and NPR.
- NPR vs NRC.
- How NRC is related to Assam accord.
- Constitutional provisions with respect to grant and revocation of citizenships.
- Who carries out Census?
Discuss why a nationwide NRC exercise may not be feasible.
GS Paper 2
Topics covered: International relations
Context: Official meeting between representatives of India and Taliban leaders in Qatar recently
More on the news
- Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met with the head of the Taliban’s political office, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai
- This is the first public engagement between India and the regime of Taliban
- Discussions between the two were centered on- safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan and travel of Afghan nationals who wished to come to India.
- India also raised the issue of ensuring that Afghanistan shall not be used as a front to wage terrorist activities against India
- Taliban regime at various times has expressed its interest to have ‘good relations’ with India since coming to power
- India remains wary of establishing full diplomatic relations with Afghanistan considering the closeness of Taliban to Pakistan and how the former could be used as a proxy to harm the strategic interests of India and also the presence of elements such as Haqqani network amongst the Taliban who were responsible for terrorist attack against Indian embassy
- India has adopted a ‘wait and watch’ approach in its future dealings with Taliban and any interaction of India with Afghanistan will be based on Afghanistan’s actions with regard to human rights, treatment of women and minorities, and attitude towards terror groups that could target India using the Afghan territory.
Afghanistan and its strategic location:
- Can have spill over to Neighboring central Asian countrieslike Tajikistan, Uzbekistan etc
- Taliban presence will revive extremism in the regionand the region can become a safe sanctuary for Let, ISIS etc.
- The possibility of a civil war in Afghanistan will lead to a refugee crisisin Central Asia and beyond.
- Afghanistan’s stability will help the Central Asian countries with the shortest access to the seaports of the Indian Ocean.
- Afghanistan has been an important link in the regional trade, cultural, playing the role of a connecting bridge for Central and the rest of the world.
- Taliban has now seized power in Afghanistan.
- India is already having huge investments in Afghanistan. To secure assets worth $3 billion, India should engage with all parties in Afghanistan.
- Taliban engaging with Pak deep state will not be in India’s best interest.
- If India does not engage now Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China will emerge as the shapers of Afghanistan’s political and geopolitical destiny, which for sure will be detrimental to Indian interests.
- The U.S. has announced a new, surprise formation of a “Quad” on regional connectivity — U.S.-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistanthat does not include India.
- India’s effort to trade with Afghanistan Via Chabahar port in order to increase the economy on scale.
Need of the hour:
- Urgent need to collectively act for the safety of Afghan civilians by allowing for evacuation where required
- Afghanistan should be given enough space in Central Asian architectures like SCO(Shanghai cooperation organisation)
- Unified action for the refugee crisis
- Indian engagement with Taliban to maintain peace with immediate neighbors.
Know about the US- Taliban peace deal: Click here
- About Taliban.
- Afghan Crisis.
- About NATO.
- India’s investments in Afghanistan Projects.
Discuss why India should engage with Afghanistan now.
GS Paper 2
Topics covered: Regional and multilateral institutions
Context: Uncertainty over the present administration in Afghanistan brought about by the Taliban takeover of power has given rise to the membership of the country in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
More on the news
- SAARC is scheduled to meet in the month of October this year
- Some experts believe that the fate of Afghanistan’s membership and even the future of SAARC to some extent depend on the Taliban creating an inclusive government.
- Though high-level meetings of SAARC have been hampered in recent times owing to the inability of Pakistan to act against the terrorist outfits in its country, it has not stopped active coordination amongst members in other areas. Ex: Pandemic response in the region
- The concern of granting a seat to Afghanistan under Taliban at UN or even SAARC stems from the violent activities and human rights violations that Taliban regime is known for. The regime since taking power in Afghanistan has been accused of extra-judicial killings of its detractors in the country
- Afghanistan was admitted into the SAARC as the eighth member in 2007 when the country was led by President Hamid Karzai
- Similar questions exist where Afghanistan is a member in other regional outfits. Ex: Kathmandu-based intergovernmental organisation ICIMOD that studies the Hindukush-Himalayan mountain system where Afghanistan has been a member along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, China, Myanmar, Nepal and Pakistan.
More on SAARC
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established with the signing of the SAARC Charter in Dhaka on 8 December 1985.
- Afghanistanbecame the newest member of SAARC at the 13th annual summit in 2005.
- The Headquarters and Secretariatof the Association are at Kathmandu, Nepal.
Importance of SAARC:
- SAARC comprises 3% of the world’s area, 21% of the world’s population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy.
- It is the world’s most densely populated regionand one of the most fertile areas.
- SAARC countries have common tradition, dress, food and culture and political aspects thereby synergizing their actions.
- All the SAARC countries have common problems and issues like poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, natural disasters, internal conflicts, industrial and technological backwardness, low GDP and poor socio-economic condition.
Why SAARC is relevant for India now?
India has to re-think about SAARC, which has been in the doldrums since 2014. This is especially necessary to counter China’s growing aggression and economic dominance in the region.
India started investing in other regional instruments, such as BIMSTEC, as an alternative to SAARC.
- However, BIMSTEC cannot replace SAARC for reasons such as lack of a common identity and history among all BIMSTEC members.
- Moreover, BIMSTEC’s focus is on the Bay of Bengal region, thus making it an inappropriate forum to engage all South Asian nations.
Know more about ICIMOD- Click here
- What is SAARC?
- Who are its members and observer states?
- Important treaties and agreements related to SAARC
- What is BIMSTEC?
- Reasons why growth of SAARC relations has diminished
- How can SAARC be revived?
- Finding a balance between SAARC and BIMSTEC
GS Paper 2
Topics covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
Context: The first shipments on a newly-launched railway line from the Myanmar border to the key commercial hub of Chengdu in western China was made recently
More on the news:
- This project provides China a new road-rail transportation channel to the Indian Ocean
- The transport corridor involves a sea-road-rail link.
- This passage connects the logistics lines of Singapore, Myanmar and China, and is currently the most convenient land and sea channel linking the Indian Ocean with southwest China
- China also has plans to develop another port in Kyaukphyu in the Rakhine state, including a proposed railway line from Yunnan directly to the port
- Chinese planners have also looked at the Gwadar port in Pakistan as another key outlet to the Indian Ocean that will bypass the Malacca Straits.
- Gwadar is being developed as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to the far western Xinjiang region, but has been slow to take off amid concerns over security. The costs and logistics through CPEC are also less favourable than the Myanmar route with the opening of the rail transport channel from the Myanmar border right to western China’s biggest commercial hub, Chengdu.
What is BRI?
The Belt and Road Initiative, reminiscent of the Silk Road, is a massive infrastructure project that would stretch from East Asia to Europe. It was launched in 2013.
- The plan is two-pronged: the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road-The two were collectively referred to first as the One Belt, One Road initiative but eventually became the Belt and Road Initiative.
- The project involves creating a vast network of railways, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossings.
Pakistan and BRI:
To date, more than sixty countries—accounting for two-thirds of the world’s population—have signed on to projects or indicated an interest in doing so.
- Analysts estimate the largest so far to be the estimated $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a collection of projects connecting China to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.
What was the original Silk Road?
The original Silk Road arose during the westward expansion of China’s Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), which forged trade networks throughout the Central Asian countries, as well as modern-day India and Pakistan to the south. Those routes extended more than four thousand miles to Europe.
How have other countries responded to BRI?
Some countries see the project as a disturbing expansion of Chinese power.
The United States shares the concern of some in Asia that the BRI could be a Trojan horse for China-led regional development and military expansion.
What does China hope to achieve?
China has both geopolitical and economic motivations behind the initiative.
- The country has promoted a vision of a more assertive China, while slowing growth and rocky trade relations with the United States have pressured the country’s leadership to open new markets for its goods.
- Experts see the BRI as one of the main planks of a bolder Chinese statecraft under Xi, alongside the Made in China 2025economic development strategy.
- The BRI also serves as pushback against the much-touted “pivot to Asia,”as well as a way for China to develop new investment opportunities, cultivate export markets, and boost Chinese incomes and domestic consumption.
India has tried to convince countries that the BRI is a plan to dominate Asia, warning of what some analysts have called a “String of Pearls” geo-economic strategy whereby China creates unsustainable debt burdens for its Indian Ocean neighbors in order to seize control of regional choke points.
- In particular, New Delhi has long been unsettled by China’s decades-long embrace of its traditional rival, Pakistan.
- What is BRI?
- Objective behind it
- Important locations related to this
- Malacca straits
Impact of this project on India’s interests
GS Paper 3
Context: NITI Ayog recommendations to achieve monetisation goal.
NITI Ayog recommendations: to improve retail participation
- To make the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) a success, the government should give Income tax breaks to attract retail investors into instruments like Infrastructure Investment Trusts (InvITs).
- Though this will entail a cost in the form of loss of revenue for exchequer, the long-term benefits may outweigh the cost as linking investments in specified bonds with the capital gains exemption had proved to be success in the past.
- Bringing InvITs under the ambit of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) to provide greater comfort to investors.
- Since the trusts are not considered as ‘legal person’, the IBC regulations are not applicable for InvIT loans. Hence, the lenders do not have existing process for recourse to project assets.
- While the lenders are protected under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) and the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act, 1993, the provision of recourse under IBC regulations will bring in added level of comfort for the investors.
- It would help lenders access a faster and more effective debt restructuring and resolution option.
Read about National Monetisation pipeline (NMP) Here:
- About NMP.
- Key features of NMP.
Discuss the significance of the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) project.
GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation;
Context: Sand and dust storms impact over 500 million in India, according to Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management (APDIM) report Sand and Dust Storms Risk Assessment in Asia and the Pacific.
APDIM is a regional institution of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
- More than 500 million people in India and more than 80 per cent of the populations of Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Iran are exposed to medium and high levels of poor air quality due to sand and dust storms.
- Sand and dust storms contribute significantly to poor air quality in Karachi, Lahore and Delhi in ‘southwest Asia’. Nearly 60 million people in these places experienced more than 170 dusty days a year in 2019.
- The risk of impacts from sand and dust storms is projected to increase in the 2030s due to more extreme drought conditions in parts of Western Australia, south-easternTurkey, Iran and Afghanistan.
What are Sand and dust storms?
- Sand and dust storms are common meteorological hazards in arid and semi-arid regions. They are usually caused by thunderstorms – or strong pressure gradients associated with cyclones – which increase wind speed over a wide area.
- These strong winds lift large amounts of sand and dust from bare, dry soils into the atmosphere, transporting them hundreds to thousands of kilometres away.
- Some 40% of aerosols in the troposphere (the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere) are dust particles from wind erosion. The main sources of these mineral dusts are the arid regions of Northern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia and China.
- Once released from the surface, dust particles are raised to higher levels of the troposphere by turbulent mixing and convective updrafts. They can then be transported by winds for lengths of time, before being pulled back down to the surface again.
- Sand and dust storms are a transboundary meteorological hazard. They affect agriculture, energy, environment, aviation, human health.
- In some places, much of this dust is characterised by high salt content, making it toxic for plants.
- Very high dust deposition also occurs in the Himalaya-Hindu Kush mountain range and the Tibetan Plateau, that are the sources for fresh water for more than 1.3 billion people in Asia.
- The deposition of dust on glaciers induces a warming effect, increasing the melting of ice, with direct and indirect impacts on society through numerous issues, including food security, energy production, agriculture, water stress and flood regimes.
Sand and dust storms directly affect 11 of the 17 United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals (SDG):
- Ending poverty in all forms
- Ending hunger
- Good health and well-being
- Safe water and sanitation
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry innovation and infrastructure
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
The impacts of dust storms are not all negative. They can increase the nutrient content in the areas of deposition and benefit vegetation.
Dust particles that carry iron can enrich parts of oceans, improving the phytoplankton balance and impacting marine food webs.
- Deeper understanding of the socio-economic impact of sand and dust storms.
- Establish a coordinated monitoring and early warning system.
- Coordinate actions in most at-risk and exposed geographical areas to mitigate the risks.
- Managing the risks associated with sand and dust storms would also become necessary in places not previously recognised as source areas for such phenomena.
Discuss how dust storms are formed? Examine the impact of climate change in formation of dust storms?
Source: Down to Earth
GS Paper 3
Topics covered: Indian economy- issues related to growth and planning
Context: An integrated apparel park and a future mobility park was announced to be setup in Tamil Nadu recently
More on the news:
- Both the initiatives would boost economic development in the state
- The future mobility park, first of its kind in the country followed the emergence and growing demand for e-vehicles
- Initiatives were also announced to attract investment for defence manufacturing in the state. Ex: A common testing facility for aiding research in the aerospace and defence sectors
- The government also announced a State integrated logistics plan which would be formulated to regulate freight movement to customers, and an exports cell would be set up to boost exports and a research and development policy would be released
What is a future mobility park?
The park would make use of the advances in data science, artificial intelligence and sensing technology to provide cleaner transport, automation, new business models and new modes of sustainable travel. Such mobility parks are established in UK, Detroit etc
Figure: Opportunities provided by a mobility park
Know more about future mobility parks: Click here
- What is a defence corridor?
- What is the future of mobility?
- Opportunities related to apparel sector
How can technology be used to provide for a more sustainable model of transportation?
GS Paper 3
Topics covered: Indian economy- issues related to growth and planning
Context: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is planning to enable international settlement of transactions in government securities (G-secs) through International Central Securities Depositories (ICSDs)
More on the news
- This proposal would expand the investor base for the G-secs market
- Once operationalised, this will enhance access of non-residents to the G-secs market, as will the inclusion of Indian G-secs in global bond indices
- An international CSD settles trades in international securities such as eurobonds although many also settle trades in various domestic securities, either directly or through local agents. International CSDs include Clearstream, Euroclear and SIX SIS.
What is a G-sec?
Government security applies to a range of investment products offered by a governmental body. Government securities come with a promise of the full repayment of invested principal at maturity of the security. Some government securities may also pay periodic coupon or interest payments. These securities are considered conservative investments with a low-risk since they have the backing of the government that issued them.
G- Sec prices fluctuate sharply in the secondary markets. Factors affecting their prices:
- Demand and supply of the securities.
- Changes in interest rates in the economy and other macro-economic factors, such as, liquidity and inflation.
- Developments in other markets like money, foreign exchange, credit and capital markets.
- Developments in international bond markets, specifically the US Treasuries.
- Policy actions by RBI like change in repo rates, cash-reserve ratio and open-market operations.
Insta curious links
Know more about ICSD- Click here
- What are G-Secs?
- Short and long term securities.
- Powers of the Centre and states to issue these instruments.
- Role of RBI.
- Factors which affect the prices of these securities.
What are G-Secs? Why are they significant? Discuss.
GS Paper 3
Topics covered: Indian economy- issues related to growth and planning
Context: Output from India’s eight core sectors grew by 9.4% in July.
- Crude oil was the sole sector to register a decline, with output shrinking 3.2%
- Cement production expanded the fastest in July, surging 21.8%, while fertilizers’ output clocked the slowest pace of growth at 0.5%. Production of natural gas grew by 18.9%, that of coal rose 18.7%, while steel and electricity saw output expand by 9.3% and 9%, respectively.
- Growth in core sector has been attributed to the base effect from last July, when output contracted 7.6%, and some affirmative action by the government on infrastructure spending.
- However, the overall Index of Eight Core industries in the first four months of 2021-22 remained below pre-pandemic levels, 1.5% lower than the April-July 2019 period.
What is a core sector?
The Eight Core Industries comprise 40.27 per cent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP). The eight core industries are: Coal, Crude oil, Natural Gas, Refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity.
- The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mining, electricity and manufacturing.
- The all India IIP is a composite indicator that measures the short-term changesin the volume of production of a basket of industrial products during a given period with respect to that in a chosen base period.
- It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation(CSO) six weeks after the reference month ends.
- What is a core sector?
- What is IIP?
- Reasons affecting core sector growth
Discuss the policies that is required to increase the core sector growth in the country
Facts for Prelims:
Triple delight for India at Tokyo Paralympics
- Mariyappan Thangavelu clinched silver in the men’s high jump T63 final. In the same event, Sharad Kumar secured bronze.
- Singhraj Adhana, won a bronze in the P1 men’s air pistol SH1 category. Singhraj finished with a score of 216.8, which proved adequate.
- The cumulative effort of Mariyappan, Sharad and Singhraj boosted India’s overall medals tally to 10 inclusive of two golds, five silvers and three bronzes.
Vaccine pioneer wins Ramon Magsaysay award
- Bangladeshi vaccine scientist and a microfinance pioneer from Pakistan were among the five recipients of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award — regarded as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize
- Apart from Firdausi Qadri from Bangladesh and Muhammad Amjad Saqib from Pakistan, the other winners are Filipino fisher and community environmentalist Roberto Ballon, American Steven Muncy for humanitarian work and refugee assistance and Indonesian torch bearer for investigative journalism, Watchdoc.
- The Ramon Magsaysay Awardis an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay‘s example of integrity in governance, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society
- Vinoba Bhavewas the 1st Magsaysay Award winner when the award was instituted in 1958
Resolution 2593 of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)
- The United Nations Security Council, under the current Presidency of India, on August 30, 2021, adopted a resolution on the situation in Afghanistan, demanding that the war-torn country not be used to threaten or attack any nation or shelter terrorists.
- The resolution was put forward by the US, the UK, France. It was adopted after 13 Council members voted in favour, while permanent members Russia and China abstained from the voting.