2. What is Inflation?
- It is the rise in prices of goods and services within a particular economy wherein consumers' purchasing power decreases, and the value of the cash holdings erodes.
- In India, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) measures inflation.
- Some causes that lead to inflation are demand increases, reduction in supply, demand-supply gap, excess circulation of money, increase in input costs, devaluation of the currency, and rise in wages, among others.
3. Retail Inflation
4. How Inflation is measured?
- In India, inflation is primarily measured by two main indices- WPI (Wholesale Price Index) and CPI (Consumer Price Index), Which measures Wholesale and retail-level price changes, respectively.
- The CPI calculates the difference in the price of commodities and services such as food, medical care, education, electronics, etc, which Indian consumers buy for use.
- On the other hand, the goods or services sold by businesses to smaller businesses for selling further are captured by the WPI.
- Both WPI (Wholesale Price Index) and CPI (Consumer Price Index) are used to measure inflation in India.
5. What is the Inflation Target?
- Under Section 45ZA, in consultation with the RBI Act, the Central Government determines the inflation target in terms of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), once in five years and notifies it in the Official Gazette.
- Accordingly, on August 5, 2016, the Central Government notified in the Official Gazette 4 percent Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation as the target for the period from August 5, 2016, to March 31, 2021, with the upper tolerance limit of 6 percent and the lower tolerance limit of 2 percent.
- On March 31, 2021, the Central Government retained the inflation target and the tolerance band for the next 5-year period-April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026.
- Section 45ZB of the RBI Act provides for the constitution of a six-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to determine the policy rate required to achieve the inflation target.
6. Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)
- The MPC is a statutory and institutionalized framework under the RBI Act, of 1934, for maintaining price stability, keeping in mind the objective of growth. It was created in 2016.
- It was created to bring transparency and accountability in deciding monetary policy.
- MPC determines the policy interest rate required to achieve the inflation target.
- The committee comprises six members and Governor RBI acts as an ex-officio chairman. Three members are from RBI and three are selected by the government. The inflation target is to be set once every five years. It is set by the Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.
- The current inflation target is pegged at 4% with -2/+2 tolerance till March 31, 2021.
7. What Caused the drop in Inflation?
- Retail Inflation or price gains based on the Consumer Price Index, slowed to 6.77 % last month, from September's 7.41%, aided by an appreciable deceleration in food price inflation.
- The year-on-year inflation based on the Consumer Food Price Index eased by almost 160 basis points in October, to 7.01%, from the preceding month's 8.60%, helped by a 'decline in prices of vegetables, fruits, pulses and oils, and fats', the Government said.
- With the food and beverages sub-index representing almost 46% of the CPI's weight, the slowdown in food price gains understandably steered overall inflation lower even as price gains in three other essential categories, namely clothing, and footwear, housing, and health remained either little changed from September or quickened.
- Inflation at the Wholesale Prices Level also continued to decelerate, with the headline reading easing into single digits for the first time in 19 months. A favorable base effect along with a distinct cooling in international prices of commodities including crude oil and steel amid gathering uncertainty in advanced economies was largely instrumental in tempering wholesale price gains.
8. Recent Measures by the Government
For Prelims & Mains
For Prelims: Consumer Price Index (CPI), Wholesale Price Index (WPI), Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), Inflation, and RBI.
For Mains: 1. Government needs to remain watchful while fighting against Inflation.Comment?
RUPEE EXCHANGE RATE
Exchange rate for 1 Indian Rupee (INR) is as follows:
- United States Dollar (USD): 0.012011 INR
- Euro (EUR): 0.011223 INR
- British Pound (GBP): 0.009784 INR
- Australian Dollar (AUD): 0.018827 INR
- Singapore Dollar (SGD): 0.016343 INR
- Swiss Franc (CHF): 0.010845 INR
- Malaysian Ringgit (MYR): 0.056619 INR
- Japanese Yen (JPY): 1.824210 INR
- If the rupee experiences a faster depreciation rate than its long-term average, it surpasses the dotted line, and vice versa.
- Over the past couple of years, the rupee has demonstrated greater resilience than the long-term trend, but the current decline indicates a correction.
- When considering a diverse range of currencies, data indicates that the rupee has strengthened or appreciated against this basket.
- To clarify, while the US dollar has strengthened against various major currencies, including the rupee, the rupee, in contrast, has strengthened compared to many other currencies like the euro. For example, forex reserves have decreased by over $50 billion between September 2021 and now. Over these 10 months, the rupee's exchange rate with the dollar has declined by 8.7%, from 73.6 to 80.
- To provide context, historically, the rupee typically depreciates by around 3% to 3.5% in a year. Moreover, many experts anticipate further weakening of the rupee in the next 3-4 months, potentially falling to as low as 82 to a dollar.
When the rupee depreciates, it has several implications:
Import Costs: Imported goods and services become more expensive, as it takes more rupees to buy the same amount of foreign currency needed for these transactions. This can contribute to inflationary pressures in the economy.
Export Competitiveness: On the positive side, a depreciated rupee can make the country's exports more competitive in the global market. Foreign buyers find the country's products and services relatively cheaper, potentially boosting export volumes.
External Debt: Countries with significant external debt denominated in foreign currencies may face increased repayment burdens when their domestic currency depreciates. Servicing debt in stronger foreign currencies becomes more expensive.
Inflation: Depreciation can contribute to inflationary pressures by increasing the cost of imported goods and raw materials.
5. Effects on the Indian economy
- Due to a substantial portion of India's imports being priced in dollars, these imports will become more expensive.
- An illustrative example is the higher cost associated with the crude oil import bill. The increased expense of imports, in turn, will contribute to the expansion of the trade deficit and the current account deficit.
- This, in consequence, will exert pressure on the exchange rate. On the export side, the situation is more complex, as noted by Sen.
- In bilateral trade, the rupee has strengthened against many currencies. In exports conducted in dollars, the impact is contingent on factors such as how much other currencies have depreciated against the dollar.
- If the depreciation of other currencies against the dollar is greater than that of the rupee, the overall effect could be negative.
For Prelims: Inflation, Deflation, Depreciation, Appreciation
For Mains: General Studies III: How does Depreciation of rupee affect Indian economy
Previous Year Questions
1. Which one of the following groups of items is included in India's foreign exchange reserves? (UPSC CSE 2013)
A.Foreign-currency assets, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and loans from foreign countries B.Foreign-currency assets, gold holdings of the RBI and SDRs
C.Foreign-currency assets, loans from the World Bank and SDRs
D.Foreign-currency assets, gold holdings of the RBI and loans from the World Bank
2.Which one of the following is not the most likely measure the Government/RBI takes to stop the slide of Indian rupee? (UPSC CSE 2019)
A.Curbing imports of non-essential goods and promoting exports
B.Encouraging Indian borrowers to issue rupee-denominated Masala Bonds
C.Easing conditions relating to external commercial borrowing
D.Following an expansionary monetary policy
FOREST CONSERVATION (AMENDMENT) ACT 2023
The Forest Conservation Amendment Act of 2023 has received limited attention and little discussion about its impact on forests and its inhabitants. From the colonial forest law in 1865 to the Forest Conservation Amendment Act, 2023, more than fifteen laws, Acts, and policies have been formulated interlinking forests with legal and policy frameworks. However, there is little to no recognition of the rights of indigenous communities in these Acts, who are the rightful inhabitants of forest lands.
2. The Key Provisions of the New Amendment
- The amendment aims to tackle the critical issues of climate change and deforestation's adverse effects, focusing on effective management and afforestation.
- The law further aims to determine how forests can be utilised for economic gain, and how it seeks to achieve this goal is outlined in the legislation.
- The primary method used to achieve this objective involves removing forests from the law's jurisdiction, thereby facilitating various forms of economic exploitation.
- As per the amendment, the forest law will now apply exclusively to areas categorised under the 1927 Forest Act and those designated as such on or after October 25, 1980.
- The Act will not apply to forests that were converted for non-forest use on or after December 12, 1996 and land which falls under 100 kilometres from the China and Pakistan border where the central government can build linear projects.
- The central government is authorised to construct security measures in areas up to ten hectares to establish security infrastructure and facilities for surveillance.
- Initiatives like ecotourism, safari, environmental entertainment, and more may be implemented in these areas.
3. Reasons for the Amendment Brought In
- The Godavarman Thirumulkpad case led to an interpretation of forest land by its 'dictionary meaning'.
- Subsequently, all private forests were brought under the ambit of the 1980 law.
- This has been a subject of debate as it was argued that the legislation primarily aims to restrict forest land from being used for various non-forest purposes, including the conversion of land for large-scale industries.
- The law has faced significant opposition, especially from private landowners, individuals, and organisations involved in forest conservation, for its perceived adverse impact on the country's industrial progress.
4. Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) Recommendations
- Of the 31-member JPC addressing the issue, only six individuals were from the opposition.
- The JPC submitted its report to Parliament on July 20, within three months.
- The critical comments from the committee members and the public appear to have been largely disregarded; reduced to dissenting notes, holding a minority viewpoint on the Bill.
5. What Happened to the Stipulation of 'Prior Consent'?
- The Forest Conservation Act underwent important amendments in 2016 and 2017, which stipulated that prior consent from the tribal grama sabha was mandatory for any alterations to forests for non-forest purposes.
- However, the recent revisions to the legislation have removed the necessity for such consent.
- Nevertheless, in this situation, State governments can proactively engage in specific activities within this framework through the inclusion of grama sabhas, particularly in matters of land acquisition for various purposes, by establishing State-level steering committees.
6. About Compensatory Afforestation
- Compensatory afforestation, as outlined in the new legislation, encompasses various projects and schemes that can be undertaken by both private individuals and organisations (including large corporations) for afforestation or reforestation purposes.
- The law mandates that for every parcel of land that is lost due to afforestation efforts, an equivalent amount of land must be afforested elsewhere.
- It does not specify the type of trees that should be planted, leaving room for discretion.
7. Impact on the Forest Rights Act (FRA)
- The FRA has had notable impacts in various regions.
- Despite the initial enthusiasm, it appears that both the Central and State governments have become less enthusiastic about implementing the FRA in their States.
- Many consider the Act as an impediment to converting forest land for non-forest purposes.
- The amendment also fails to address the growing issue of human-animal conflicts in forest areas.
- When examined superficially, the law appears to address issues without complications.
- However, once the law is put into practice, it presents substantial challenges to forest-dwelling communities and government agencies.
- The concept of afforestation, which offers considerable financial incentives to private individuals and institutions for afforestation projects, fundamentally clashes with the idea of forest governance.
- Furthermore, it contradicts the concept of decentralised forest governance as forests in the country fall under the concurrent list.
- Defining strategic linear projects becomes exceptionally difficult and vague. Unlike external security threats like border disputes and cross-border skirmishes, internal environmental security should also be considered a significant concern, especially in States that consistently face natural disasters.
8. The Way Forward
The Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act 2023 is a varied and controversial piece of legislation that raises significant concerns about its potential impact on forests and their inhabitants. Careful consideration and analysis of the Act's provisions are essential to ensure that it does not harm the environment or the rights of indigenous communities.
For Prelims: Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act 2023, climate change, deforestation, afforestation, Forest Act 1927, Godavarman Thirumulkpad case, Forest Conservation Act, concurrent list,
1. Examine the key provisions of the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act 2023 and analyze its potential impact on the rights of indigenous communities. Discuss the historical context that led to the introduction of this amendment. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Which of the following statements about tropical rainforests are correct? (UPSC CAPF 2021)
1. The soils of tropical rainforests are quite infertile.
2. The vegetation is evergreen, enabling photosynthesis to take place year around.
3. They have been described as 'deserts covered by trees'.
4. They are the most productive land-based ecosystem.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
A. 2 and 4 only B. 1, 3, and 4 only C. 1, 2, and 3 only D. 1, 2, 3 and 4
2. "If rainforests and tropical forests are the lungs of the Earth, then surely wetlands function as its kidneys." Which one of the following functions of wetlands best reflects the above statement? (UPSC 2022)
A. The water cycle in wetlands involves surface runoff, subsoil percolation, and evaporation.
B. Algae form the nutrient base upon which fish, crustaceans, molluscs, birds, reptiles, and mammals thrive.
C. Wetlands play a vital role in maintaining sedimentation balance and soil stabilization.
D. Aquatic plants absorb heavy metals and excess nutrients.
3. If the tropical rainforest is removed, it does not regenerate quickly as compared to the tropical deciduous forest. This is because (UPSC 2011)
A. The soil of rain forest is deficient in nutrients.
B. propagules of the trees in the rainforest have poor viability.
C. The rainforest species are slow-growing.
D. exotic species invades the fertile soil of rain forest.
4. Consider the following States:
1. Arunachal Pradesh
2. Himachal Pradesh
In which of the above States do 'Tropical Wet Evergreen Forests' occur? (UPSC 2015)
A. 1 only B. 2 and 3 only C. 1 and 3 only D. 1, 2 and 3
5. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently published the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, in 2020. Which of the following statements is correct about EIA? (Punjab Civil Service 2020)
1. It predicts the effect of a proposed industrial/infrastructural project on the environment.
2. It prevents the proposed activity/project from being approved without proper oversight or taking adverse consequences into account.
3. It compares various alternatives for a project and seeks to identify the one which represents the best combination of economic and environmental costs and benefits.
4. As per the new notification, Coal and non-Coal mineral prospecting and solar photovoltaic projects do not need prior environmental clearance.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A. Only 1 and 2 B. Only 2, 3 and 4 C. Only 1, 2 and 3 D. Only 1, 2 and 4
6. With reference to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), consider the following statements: (UPSC 2014)
1. It is an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
2. It strives to conserve nature through action-based research, education, and public awareness.
3. It organizes and conducts nature trails and camps for the general public.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 3 only B. 2 only C. 2 and 3 only D. 1, 2 and 3
7. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)
1. As per law, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority exists at both National and State levels.
2. People's participation is mandatory in the compensatory afforestation programmes carried out under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only B. 2 only C. Both 1 and 2 D. Neither 1 nor 2
8. Consider the following States: (UPSC 2019)
2. Madhya Pradesh
With reference to the State mentioned above, in terms of the percentage of forest cover to the total area of the State, which one of the following is the correct ascending order?
A. 2-3-1-4 B. 2-3-4-1 C. 3-2-4-1 D. 3-2-1-4
9. At the national level, which ministry is the nodal agency to ensure effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006? (UPSC 2021)
(a) Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
10. A particular State in India has the following characteristics: (UPSC 2012)
Which one among the following States has all the above characteristics?
(a) Arunachal Pradesh (b) Assam (c) Himachal Pradesh (d) Uttarakhand
11. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2019)
1. As per recent amendment to the Indian Forest Act, 1927, forest dwellers have the right to fell the bamboos grown on forest areas.
2. As per the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, bamboo is a minor forest produce.
3. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 allows ownership of minor forest produce to forest dwellers.
Which of the statement given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2 only B. 2 and 3 only C. 3 only D. 1, 2 and 3
12. The Indian Forest Act 1927 was enacted after repealing which of the following Indian forest acts? (SSC CGL 2021)
A. Indian Forest Act, 1922
B. Indian Forest Act, 1878
C. Indian Forest Act, 1865
D. Indian Forest Act, 1882
13. In which year Forest Conservation Act was passed? (UPTET 2019)
A. 1986 B. 1990 C. 1980 D. 1988
1. What are the consequences of Illegal mining? Discuss the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ concept of GO AND NO GO zones for coal mining sector. (UPSC 2013)
2. Examine the status of forest resources of India and its resultant impact on climate change. (UPSC 2020)
2. About Tuberculosis
- Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
- It commonly affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body.
- It is a treatable and curable disease.
- TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze, or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air.
- Common symptoms of active lung TB are cough with sputum and blood at times, chest pains, weakness weight loss, fever, and night sweats.
- Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is a vaccine for TB disease.
3. How many TB cases are detected each year?
- Although India continues to be the largest contributor to global TB cases, there has been a decline in the number of cases in 2021.
- Reporting of TB cases also improved in 2021 although it didn’t reach the pre-pandemic levels, it bounced back from the lows seen during the first year of the pandemic, according to the Global TB Report 2022.
- The incidence of TB new cases detected throughout the year was reduced by 18% in 2021 over the 2015 baseline, dropping to 210 cases per lakh population as compared to 256 cases per lakh population.
- The incidence of drug-resistant TB also went down by 20% during the period from 1.49 lakh cases in 2015 to 1.19 lakh cases in 2021.
India accounts for 28% of all TB cases in the world, according to the Global TB Report 2022.
4. What is India’s elimination target?
- Although the elimination of Tuberculosis is one of the sustainable development targets to be achieved by 2030 by the world, India has set a target of 2025.
- The national strategic plan 2017-2025 sets the target of India reporting no more than 44 new TB cases or 65 total cases per lakh population by 2025.
- The estimated TB incidence for the year 2021 stood at 210 per lakh population.
- Achieving this target is a big task as the plan had envisaged an incidence of only 77 cases per lakh population by 2023.
- The programme also aims to reduce the mortality to 3 deaths per lakh population by 2025. The estimated TB mortality for the year 2020 stood at 37 per lakh population.
- The plan also aims to reduce catastrophic costs for the affected family to zero.
- However, the report states that 7 to 32 percent of those with drug-sensitive TB, and 68 percent with drug-resistant TB experienced catastrophic costs.
- The goals are in line with the World Health Organisation’s End TB strategy which calls for an 80% reduction in the number of new cases, a 90% reduction in mortality, and zero catastrophic cost by 2030.
5. What is being done to try to achieve this target?
- To achieve the TB elimination target of 2025, the government has taken several steps including looking for cases actively among vulnerable and co-morbid populations, screening for it at health and wellness centers, and calling on the private sector to notify all TB cases.
- An online Ni-kshay portal has been set up to track the notified TB cases.
- The pandemic has led to improved access to more accurate molecular diagnostic tests like CB-NAAT and TureNat which were also used to test for Covid-19.
- At present, there are 4,760 molecular diagnostic machines available, covering all districts of the country.
- In addition, 79 line probe assay laboratories and 96 liquid culture testing laboratories have been set up for the diagnosis of multi and extremely drug-resistant TB.
- The government has also implemented a universal drug susceptibility test, meaning that antibiotic susceptibility of the mycobacterium is determined for all newly diagnosed cases.
- Earlier, the patients were started on first-line treatment and were tested for drug resistance only if the therapy did not work. Conducting a drug susceptibility test at the outset ensures that the patients are given antibiotics that will work for them from the get-go.
- Last year, the government also launched a community engagement program where Ni-kshay Mitras can adopt TB patients and provide them with monthly nutritional support. So far 71,460 Ni-kshay Mitras have adopted about 10 lakh TB patients under the programme.
6. Improvements in Treatments Protocols
- Newer drugs such as Bedaquiline and Delamanid for the treatment of drug-resistant TB have been included in the government’s basket of drugs provided for free to TB patients.
- These oral drugs can replace the injectable kanamycin that was associated with serious side effects like kidney problems and deafness.
- These new drugs have also been included in the new National List of Essential Medicines that gives the government power to regulate their market price as well.
- Researchers have also been studying shorter three- and four-month courses of antitubercular drugs, instead of the existing six-month therapy.
- Anti-tubercular drugs have to be taken for six months to over two years depending on the susceptibility of the mycobacterium.
- Long duration of treatment results in people dropping out in between, increasing their likelihood of them developing drug-resistant infections later.
7. Newer Vaccines in the Pipeline
- Nearly 100 years after the existing BCG vaccine was developed, researchers are on the lookout for newer ways of preventing tuberculosis infection.
- The BCG vaccine uses a weakened form of TB bacteria to train the immune system.
Although it can protect against severe forms of TB like the ones in the brain, the protection is not very good against the most common form of TB in the lungs.
- It offers limited protection to adults, it doesn’t prevent people from getting the infection or re-activation of a latent infection.
- Trails are underway to test the effectiveness of a vaccine called Immuvac, which was initially developed to prevent leprosy, preventing TB.
- The vaccine developed using mycobacterium indicus pranii has antigens the portions of a pathogen against which antibodies are developed similar to those of leprosy and TB bacteria.
- Researchers are also testing the vaccine candidate called VPM1002, which is a recombinant form of the BCG vaccine modified to express the TB antigens better.
- This results in better training of the immune system and protection against TB.
Researchers are also studying whether the existing BCG vaccine booster shot should be given to household contacts of a person with active tuberculosis.
Previous year Question
1. Tuberculosis immunization was developed by (TNPSC 2011)
A. Albert Calmette
B. Paul Ehrlich
C. Robert Koch
D. Louis Pasteur
For Prelims & Mains
For Prelims: Tuberculosis (TB), Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), World Health Organisation, Ni-kshay portal, CB-NAAT, TureNat, Bedaquiline, Delamanid, Immuvac, and VPM1002.
For Mains: 1. What is Tuberculosis and discuss the global and Indian efforts to eliminate Tuberculosis.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will conduct an experiment in a crew module to ensure it remains upright after splashing down in the sea.
2. Gaganyaan Mission
- Gaganyaan, meaning "Sky Craft" in Sanskrit, is India's ambitious human spaceflight program aimed at sending Indian astronauts to space.
- It is a testament to India's growing prowess in the field of space exploration and a source of immense national pride.
- The program, spearheaded by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), envisions launching a crewed orbital spacecraft into low Earth orbit (LEO) for a period of up to seven days.
- The spacecraft will carry three astronauts, marking a historic first for India.
3. About The TV-D1 Mission
- The TV-D1 mission consists of two abort missions designed to test the safety mechanisms that will allow the Gaganyaan crew to escape the spacecraft during emergencies.
- In this mission, a rocket will ascend to an altitude of nearly 17 km before an abort signal triggers the separation of the crew module.
- The crew module will then descend using a parachute for a splashdown in the Bay of Bengal.
- The TV-D1 mission will have a total duration of 532 seconds, from liftoff at 8 a.m. to the crew module's splashdown about 10 km from the Sriharikota coast.
- The rocket used for this mission is ISRO's low-cost Test Vehicle, designed specifically for system testing.
- During the flight, the rocket will reach a peak relative velocity of 363 meters per second, approximately 1307 km per hour. It's important to note that the crew module will be empty for this test.
4. Key Objectives of the TV-D1 Mission
The TV-D1 mission serves two primary objectives.
- It aims to demonstrate the capabilities of the new Test Vehicle, hence its name Test Vehicle-Demonstration 1 (TV-D1).
- It will showcase a basic version of the crew module, testing the systems responsible for separating the crew module from the rocket during an abort mission and ensuring the safe escape of astronauts.
The TV-D1 mission simulates an abort condition during the ascent trajectory, corresponding to a Mach number of 1.2, as anticipated in the Gaganyaan mission.
5. The Low-Cost Test Vehicle
- Unlike the upcoming full-fledged test flight of the crew module into space and back, which will use the human-rated LVM3 rocket in 2024, the TV-D1 mission employs a low-cost basic rocket.
- This Test Vehicle utilizes existing liquid propulsion technology but introduces innovations such as the throttleable and restartable L110 Vikas engine, capable of controlling propellant use.
- ISRO developed this cost-effective solution as each GSLV Mk III launch, which was previously used for such missions, costs between Rs 300-400 crore.
6. Safety and Crew Escape System
- Safety remains a top priority for ISRO in the Gaganyaan project, especially in light of international incidents involving space missions.
- The TV-D1 mission aims to test the systems ensuring the crew module's safety, such as environmental control, life support systems, and an integrated vehicle health management system.
- This system can detect anomalies that may jeopardize astronauts' safety and initiate mission abort procedures.
7. Preparations and Timeline for Gaganyaan
- ISRO has set a target timeframe for the Gaganyaan mission in 2024, with flexibility based on the development stages and ensuring the mission's safety.
- The schedule includes an unmanned mission at the beginning of the next year, abort missions this year, and discussions of the manned mission for late 2024 or early 2025.
- ISRO has completed the human rating of the LVM 3 rocket and performed static tests for human-rated solid rocket boosters.
The TV-D1 mission represents a significant milestone in the Gaganyaan program, as it integrates a near-complete system for a flight test. The success of this mission paved the way for further qualification tests and unmanned missions, ultimately leading to the first Gaganyaan mission with Indian astronauts. ISRO's dedication to safety and rigorous testing is paramount as India advances its space exploration endeavours.
For Prelims: Gaganyaan programme, TV-D1 mission, Low Earth Orbit, Isro, LVM3, GSLV Mk III,
1. Discuss the key objectives of the TV-D1 mission within the Gaganyaan program. How does this mission contribute to astronaut safety and the overall success of Gaganyaan? (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. With reference to India's satellite launch vehicles, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2018)
1. PSLVs launch satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.
2. Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.
3. GSLV Mk III is a four-stage launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors; and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only
B. 2 and 3
C. 1 and 2
D. 3 only
2. India's first human space mission "Gaganyaan" will be launched in which year? (ESIC UDC 2022)
A. 2022 B. 2023 C. 2024 D. 2025 E. 2026
3. Find the incorrect statements, about the Gaganyaan Mission of India. (MPSC 2020)
1. Four pilots from Indian Air Force were shortlisted to be astronauts of Gaganyaan.
2. They will be trained at Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre in Russia.
3. This mission was announced by Prime Minister in 2014.
4. It is scheduled for 2022 with a team of 5 crew members and a month-long stay in space.
A. 1, 2, 3, 4 B. 2, 3, 4 C. 3, 4 D. 2, 3
4. ISRO is related to: (SSC JE EE 2020)
A. space research B. agricultural research C. seed research D. marine research Answer: A
5. Which of the following pairs is/are correctly matched? (UPSC 2014)
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 only (b) 2 and 3 only (c) 1 and 3 only (d) 1, 2 and 3
6. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2016)
The Mangalyaan launched by ISRO
1. is also called the Mars Orbiter Mission
2. made India the second country to have a spacecraft orbit the Mars after USA
3. made India the only country to be successful in making its spacecraft orbit the Mars in its very first attempt
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only (b) 2 and 3 only (c) 1 and 3 only (d) 1, 2 and 3
Source: The Indian Express
REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE ACT 1951
2. Back Ground
- The Constitution allows Parliament to make provisions in all matters relating to elections to the Parliament and State Legislatures.
- After independence, there was a need to hold general elections to elect a truly representative government based on universal adult suffrage.
- Article 325 of the constitution ensures universal suffrage and provides that no person be ineligible for inclusion in or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
- In the exercise of this power, the Parliament has enacted laws like Representation of the People Act 1950 (RPA Act 1950), and Representation of the People Act 1951 (RPA Act 1951).
3. The Representation of the People Act, 1951
- It is an act of Parliament of India to provide for the conduct of election of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each state, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.
- It was introduced in Parliament by Law Minister Dr B.R. Ambedkar. The Act was enacted by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of the Indian Constitution, before the first general election.
3.1. Key provisions of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951
- It regulates the actual conduct of elections and by-elections in the country.
- It provides administrative machinery for conducting elections.
- It deals with the registration of political parties.
- It specifies the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of the Houses.
- It provides Provisions to curb corrupt practices and other offences.
- It lays down the procedure for settling doubts and disputes arising out of elections.
3.2. Qualifications for Contesting Elections in India
- A person must be an elector in the constituency
- The Minimum age for becoming MLA/MP (Lok Sabha) is 25 years.
- The person must be a member of a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe in any State/UT if he/she wants to contest a seat reserved for them.
- The Minimum age limit for contesting elections at the Panchayat and Municipality levels is 21 years.
- A person shall not be qualified to be chosen as a representative of any state or Union territory in the Rajya Sabha unless he/she is an elector for a Parliamentary constituency.
3.3. Disqualification of MPs and MLAs
The RPA, 1951 lays down certain rules for the disqualification of MPs and MLAs.
3.4. Voting Rights
Article 326 of the Constitution guarantees the right to vote to every citizen above the age of 18 years unless disqualified by any law. Section 62 of the RPA, 1951 also ensures that every person who is in the electoral roll of that constituency is entitled to vote.
- One can vote in one constituency only and only for one time in a particular election.
- If a person is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation, then he is not eligible for voting, however, in the case of preventive custody he can vote.
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) had said that the person under preventive custody had the right to vote, but not under trials and convicts.
- The Act allows those serving sentences of less than 2 years to contest election from prison.
3.5. Provisions Related to Political Parties
- Every association or body to become a political party must be registered with the ECI whose registration decision will be final.
- Registered Political Parties, over time, can get recognition as “State Part” or National Party”.
- Change in name and address of a registered political party must be communicated to the ECI.
- The ECI cannot derecognise a party
- Voluntary Contributions by any person or company within India (other than a government company) can be accepted by the registered political party.
- A company can donate any amount of money to any political party.
- There is no obligation of the company to report such donations in its profit and loss account.
- It is mandatory for the political parties to submit to the ECI a list of donations they received above Rs. 2, 000.
- Political parties cannot receive more than Rs 2000 as cash donations.
- Now, Political parties are eligible to accept contributions from foreign companies defined under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.
- Individuals contesting elections have to file an affidavit, declaring their criminal records, assets and liabilities and educational qualification.
- After getting elected, MPs are required to file a declaration of assets and liabilities with the Speaker of Lok Sabha and the Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
- These declarations have to be made by MPs within 90 days of taking their seats in Parliament.
- Candidates need to furnish information on whether he/she is accused of any offence punishable with imprisonment of 2 years or more in a pending case or has been convicted of an offence.
- Any class of person can be notified by the ECI in consultation with the concerned government which can give their votes by postal ballot.
- At every election where a poll is taken, the votes are counted by or under the supervision of the Returning Officer and contesting candidate, his election agent and his counting agents.
- Destruction, loss, damage or tampering of ballot papers at the time of counting must be reported by the RO to the ECI.
- All government or non-government officials are included within the scope of corrupt practices.
- Any gift/offer/ promise or gratification to any person as motive or reward.
- Any direct or indirect interference attempt to interfere on the part of the candidate with the free exercise of any electoral right.
- The publication by a candidate of any statement of fact that is false about the personal character/ conduct of any candidate
- The hiring of any vehicle by a candidate of any elector to or from any polling station
- Any person who promotes or attempts to promote on grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years.
- Prohibition of public meetings during 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll.
3.6. Significance of the Acts
- The Provision of direct election for every constituency makes the process of election more democratic and participatory by encouraging and empowering people to play an active role in choosing appropriate candidates.
- The RPA, 1950 provides for delimitation which brings equality in the process of election by ensuring roughly an equal number of electors in each constituency.
- The acts strengthened the federal polity of the country by giving due representation to each state in the Parliament.
- The RPA, 1951 plays a significant role in breaking the politicians, police and criminal nexus by prohibiting the entry of persons with a criminal background into the electoral process.
- The RPA, 1951 provides for the expenditure monitoring mechanism which ensures the accountability and transparency of the candidate in the use of public funds or misuse of power for personal benefits.
- The RPA, 1951 prohibits corrupt practices like booth capturing, bribery or promoting enmity etc., and ensures the conduct of free and fair elections which in turn encourage political liberalization and democratization.
- The RPA, 1951 provides that only those political parties which are registered under section 29A of the RPA, 1951 are eligible to receive electoral bonds, thus providing a mechanism to track the source of political funding and ensuring transparency in electoral funding.
3.7. Amendments to the Act
None of the above was introduced in the ballot papers/Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the General Election to the State Assemblies in 2013.
- Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail is an independent system attached to the EVMs that allows voters to verify that their votes are cast as intended.
- It was introduced in 2013 after the Supreme Court allowed the ECI the requirement of free and fair elections in its verdict in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs. Union of India case (2013).
- The displaying of any election matter by television or similar apparatus in a constituency, 48 before the polling ends or concludes is prohibited.
- Section 126 does not apply to Print media, news portals and social media.
- Section 126A prohibits the conduct of exit polls and dissemination of their results during the period mentioned.
- A candidate contesting polls in large states can spend up to Rs 70 lakh in the Lok Sabha election and Rs. 28 lakh in an Assembly election.
- Section 8 (4) allowed convicted MPs, and MLAs to stand for elections by filing a complaint that was repealed. It is a step towards decriminalising politics.
- Insertion of Section 62 (2), which allowed a person post detention to contest elections as he no longer ceased to be an elector as his name is included in the electoral roll.
- The recent amendments included Section 20A of RPA, which now allows NRI to vote from their current residence via the postal ballot system.
3.8. Challenges to the Act
- Even after the provision of the declaration of assets and liabilities in the RPA Act, candidates do not disclose all the assets and provide wrong and incomplete information regarding their assets, liabilities income and educational qualifications.
- Despite the inclusion of several provisions aimed at making the ECI an independent body, it is still dependent on the Union for financial matters that pave the way for political parties to manage to get the officers in their favour through money and muscle power.
- The ECI does not have an independent staff of its own so whenever elections take place, it has to depend upon the staff of Central and State Governments hence the dual responsibility of the administrative staff, to the government for ordinary administration and to the ECI for electoral administration is not conducive to the impartial and efficient functioning of the Commission.
- The RPAs lack clear provisions and guidelines on matters related to the misuse of official machinery that gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party at the time of elections and leads to the misuse of public funds for furthering the prospects of candidates of a particular party.
4. The Way Forward
- By an amendment made to the RPA 1951, conducting and publishing results of exit polls have been prohibited. There should be a similar prohibition or restriction on opinion polls as several manipulated opinion polls could impact the voting pattern.
- The RPA, 1951 should be amended to include all the items related to the election disclosure in the affidavit and making false declarations in connection with the election to be an offence.
- TO curb the practice of bureaucratization of politics and to secure complete independence of the Election Commission, its expenditure should be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India.
- Parliament must pass a law dealing with the serious problem of delisting valid electors from electoral rolls because illiterate electorate residing in far villages cannot watch over the publication of electorate lists.
For Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
For Mains: General Studies II: Parliament and State legislatures structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
1. Discuss the significance of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, in ensuring the decriminalization of politics. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Act in preventing individuals with a criminal background from entering the electoral process. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. According to the Representation of the People Act, 1951, in the event of a person being elected to both houses of Parliament, he has to notify within ______ days in which house he intends to function. (Delhi Police Constable 2020)
A. 22 B. 10 C. 20 D. 15
2. The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 extends to (MPPSC 2018)
A. whole of India
B. whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir
C. Union Territories
D. only the- State of Jammu and Kashmir
3. Under the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955, all offences are (MPPSC 2013)
A. Cognizable B. Bailable C. Compoundable D.Punishment with imprisonment and fine both
4. The right to vote is in which article of the Indian Constitution? (Bihar Forest Guard 2019)
A. Article 322 B. Article 324 C. Article 326 D. Article 330
5. Right to vote and to be elected in India is a (UPSC 2017)
A. Fundamental Right B. Natural Right C. Constitutional Right D. Legal Right
6. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2017)
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only (b) 2 only (c) 2 and 3 only (d) 3 only
7. The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system was used for the first time by the Election Commission of India in (UPSC CAPF 2019)
A. North Paravur Assembly Constituency, Kerala
B. Noksen Assembly Constituency, Nagaland
C. Mapusa Assembly Constituency, Goa
D. Nambol Assembly Constituency, Manipur
8. In which of the following options, Electronic Voting Machines were used for the first time during general elections all over India? (Rajasthan Police Constable 2020)
A. 2014 B. 1999 C. 2004 D. 2009
9. Which one of the following statements about 'personal liberty' is not correct? (UPSC CAPF 2021)
A. State does not have the authority to deprive any person within the territory of India of his/her personal liberty without any rational basis.
B. Basis of depriving a person of his/her personal liberty must be in accordance with procedures established by law.
C. Personal liberty can be secured by the judicial writ of Habeas Corpus.
D. The majority view of the Supreme Court in A. K. Gopalan vs. State of Madras case invented 'due process of law'.
10. Consider the following statements about Electoral Bond Scheme 2018: (RPSC RAS 2018)
(A) The aim of this scheme is to bring about transparency in the funding process of political parties.
(B) Only the political parties recognized by the Election Commission which secured not less than one per cent of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of People or the Legislative Assembly of the State shall be eligible to receive the Electoral Bonds.
(C) Electoral Bonds shall be valid for fifteen calendar days from the date of issue.
(D) The Electoral Bond deposited by an eligible political party in its account shall be credited on the same day.
Which of the above statements are correct?
A. Only (A) and (B) B. (A), (B), (C) and (D)
C. Only (B), (C) and (D) D. Only (A), (C) and (D)
1. Discuss the role of the Election Commission of India in the light of the evolution of the Model Code of Conduct. (UPSC 2022)