Current Affair



1. Context
With former Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra demitting office as chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission after a three-year stint, the Centre on Monday appointed Vijaya Bharathi Sayani as acting chairperson.
2. What is the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)?
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is a statutory body established in India in 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • It serves as an autonomous public institution tasked with the protection and promotion of human rights across the country.
  • The NHRC investigates complaints of human rights violations, conducts inquiries, and recommends remedial action to the government.
  • It also plays a role in promoting awareness of human rights and providing education on related issues.
  • The commission consists of a chairperson and several members appointed by the President of India, and it operates at both the central and state levels
3. History of NHRC
  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was established in India on October 12, 1993, under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • This Act was enacted to fulfill the obligations India undertook by becoming a signatory to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which called for the establishment of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights.
  • The NHRC was founded with the aim of addressing human rights violations and promoting awareness and respect for human rights across the country. It operates as an autonomous body, independent of the government, to ensure impartiality and effectiveness in its functioning.
  • Since its inception, the NHRC has played a crucial role in investigating complaints of human rights violations, conducting inquiries, and making recommendations to the government for remedial action. It also engages in advocacy, education, and awareness programs to promote a culture of human rights in India.
  • Over the years, the NHRC has evolved and expanded its scope to address various human rights issues, including those related to civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. It operates at both the central and state levels, with a chairperson and members appointed by the President of India.
  • The NHRC's history is marked by its efforts to uphold the principles of justice, equality, and dignity enshrined in the Indian Constitution and international human rights instruments
4. NHRC Composition 

The composition of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) includes a chairperson and several members appointed by the President of India. According to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the NHRC consists of:

  • Chairperson: The chairperson is appointed by the President of India and must be a retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a serving or retired Judge of the Supreme Court.

  • Members: The NHRC can have up to four members, including a member who is or has been a Judge of the Supreme Court, a member who is or has been the Chief Justice of a High Court, and two other members who have knowledge or practical experience in matters relating to human rights.

These appointments aim to ensure the independence, expertise, and credibility of the NHRC in addressing human rights issues effectively. The members serve fixed terms as specified by the Act, and they collectively contribute to the commission's efforts to protect and promote human rights across the country

5.Appointment of NHRC Members


The appointment of members to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) follows a process outlined in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Here's an overview of the appointment procedure:

  • Selection Committee: A Selection Committee is constituted to recommend candidates for appointment as Chairperson and members of the NHRC. The Selection Committee is chaired by the Prime Minister of India and includes the following members:

    • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) or the Deputy Speaker, in case the Speaker is unable to attend.
    • The Minister in charge of the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Government of India.
    • The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
    • The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) in the absence of the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha
6.Functions & Powers of NHRC
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India is empowered with various functions and powers to protect and promote human rights across the country.
Here are some of its key functions and powers:
  • The NHRC is authorized to inquire into complaints of human rights violations received from individuals or groups. It can investigate violations committed by public servants or by any authority or person acting under the government's authority
  • The Commission has the power to monitor human rights violations, including through suo moto action, where it can initiate an inquiry based on media reports, complaints, or its own knowledge
  • Following investigations or inquiries, the NHRC can make recommendations to the concerned authorities for remedial action, prosecution, or compensation to victims of human rights violations
  • The NHRC engages in activities to raise awareness about human rights issues through seminars, workshops, publications, and other educational programs
  • It advises the government on policies and measures to promote and protect human rights effectively
  • The NHRC can intervene in court proceedings related to human rights violations, either as a party or as amicus curiae (friend of the court)
  • The Commission conducts research and studies on human rights issues to better understand the challenges and formulate appropriate responses
  • Based on its findings and experiences, the NHRC can recommend legislative reforms to strengthen human rights protection in the country
  • The NHRC collaborates with international human rights organizations and participates in international forums to promote human rights globally
  • The NHRC has the authority to visit and monitor places of detention, such as prisons and juvenile homes, to ensure that inmates' human rights are respected
7. Limitations of NHRC 
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India plays a significant role in protecting and promoting human rights, it also faces several limitations, including:
  • The NHRC lacks direct enforcement authority. It can investigate human rights violations, make recommendations, and issue guidelines, but it cannot enforce its decisions or ensure their implementation. Its recommendations are non-binding, and compliance by government agencies or other authorities is voluntary.
  • The process of investigation and resolution of complaints by the NHRC can be lengthy and time-consuming, leading to delays in providing justice to victims of human rights violations. This delay can undermine the effectiveness of the NHRC in addressing urgent and serious violations
  • The NHRC operates with limited resources, including budgetary allocations and staffing. This constraint can affect its capacity to handle a large number of complaints effectively and conduct thorough investigations into human rights violations
  • The NHRC's jurisdiction is limited to investigating human rights violations committed by public servants or authorities acting under the government's authority. It may not have jurisdiction over violations by non-state actors or in certain areas like the armed forces, where separate mechanisms exist
  • There have been instances where political pressures or interference have affected the independence and impartiality of the NHRC. Political influence can hinder its ability to address human rights violations objectively and without bias
  • Many people, especially in rural areas and marginalized communities, may not be aware of the NHRC's existence or how to access its services. This lack of awareness and accessibility can prevent victims of human rights violations from seeking redress through the commission
  • Even when the NHRC makes recommendations for remedial action or compensation, there may be instances where these recommendations are not implemented fully or effectively by the concerned authorities
For Prelims: National Human Rights Commission
For Mains: Emerging Human Rights Challenges, Role and Functions of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)
Previous Year Questions

1.Other than the Fundamental Rights, which of the following parts of the Constitution of India reflect/reflects the principles and provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)? (UPSC CSE 2020)

  1. Preamble
  2. Directive Principles of State Policy
  3. Fundamental Duties

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only 
(b) 2 only 
(c) 1 and 3 only 
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (d)

2.Consider the following: (UPSC CSE 2011)

  1. Right to education
  2. Right to equal access to public service
  3. Right to food.

Which of the above is/are Human Right/Human Rights under “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”?

(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only 
(c) 3 only 
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (d)


1.Though the Human Rights Commissions have contributed immensely to the protection of human rights in India, yet they have failed to assert themselves against the mighty and powerful. Analysing theirstructural and practical limitations, suggest remedial measures. (UPSC CSE Mains GS 1 2021)

Source: The Hindu



1. Context

Urban plans do not factor in heat and changing climate adequately. The weakest link is lack of mandate to make policies work at ground level

2. What is a Heat Wave?

  • A heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, a common phenomenon in India during the months of May-June and in some rare cases even extends till July.
  • Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) classifies heat waves according to regions and temperature ranges. As per IMD, the number of heatwave days in India has increased from 413 over 1981-1990 to 600 over 2011-2020.
  • This sharp rise in the number of heatwave days has resulted due to the increasing impact of climate change.
  • The last three years have been La Niña years, which has served as a precursor to 2023 likely being an El Niño year. (The El Niño is a complementary phenomenon in which warmer water spreads west­east across the equatorial Pacific Ocean.)
  • As we eagerly await the likely birth of an El Niño this year, we have already had a heat wave occur over northwest India.
  • Heat waves tend to be confined to north and northwest India in El Niño years.
Image Source:News18

3. How do Heat waves Occur?

  • Heat waves are formed for one of two reasons warmer air is flowing in from elsewhere or it is being produced locally.
  • It is a local phenomenon when the air is warmed by higher land surface temperature or because the air sinking down from above is compressed along the way, producing hot air near the surface.
  • First of all, in spring, India typically has air flowing in from the west­northwest. This direction of air­flow is bad news for India for several reasons.
  • Likewise, air flowing in from the northwest rolls in over the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, so some of the compression also happens on the leeward side of these mountains, entering India with a bristling warmth.
  • While air flowing over the oceans is expected to bring cooler air, the Arabian Sea is warming faster than most other ocean regions.
  • Next, the strong upper atmospheric westerly winds, from the Atlantic Ocean to India during spring, control the near-surface winds.
  • Any time winds flow from the west to the east, we need to remember that the winds are blowing faster than the planet which also rotates from west to east.
  • The energy to run past the earth near the surface, against surface friction, can only come from above. This descending air compresses and warms up to generate some heat waves.

4. Impacts of heat waves in India

  • The frequent occurrence of heat waves also adversely affects different sectors of the economy.
  • For instance, the livelihood of poor and marginal farmers is negatively impacted due to the loss of working days.
  • Heatwaves also have an adverse impact on daily wage workers' productivity, impacting the economy.
  • Crop yields suffer when temperatures exceed the ideal range.
  • Farmers in Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh have reported losses in their wheat crop in the past rabi season. Across India, wheat production could be down 6-7% due to heat waves.
  • Mortality due to heat waves occurs because of rising temperatures, lack of public awareness programs, and inadequate long-term mitigation measures.
  • According to a 2019 report by the Tata Center for Development and the University of Chicago, by 2100 annually, more than 1.5 million people will be likely to die due to extreme heat caused by climate change.
  • The increased heat wave will lead to an increase in diseases like diabetes, circulatory and respiratory conditions, as well as mental health challenges.
  • The concurrence of heat and drought events is causing crop production losses and tree mortality. The risks to health and food production will be made more severe by the sudden food production losses exacerbated by heat-induced labor productivity losses.
    These interacting impacts will increase food prices, reduce household incomes, and lead to malnutrition and climate-related deaths, especially in tropical regions.

5. How does air mass contribute to heat waves?

  • The other factors that affect the formation of heat waves are the age of the air mass and how far it has traveled.
  • The north northwestern heatwaves are typically formed with air masses that come from 800-1600 km away and are around two days old.
  • Heat waves over peninsular India on the other hand, arrive from the oceans, which are closer (around 200-400km) and are barely a day old. As a result, they are on average less intense.

6. Way ahead for Heat waves

  • Identifying heat hot spots through appropriate tracking of meteorological data and promoting timely development and implementation of local Heat Action Plans with strategic inter-agency coordination, and a response that targets the most vulnerable groups.
  • Review existing occupational health standards, labor laws, and sectoral regulations for worker safety in relation to climatic conditions.
  • Policy intervention and coordination across three sectors health, water, and power are necessary.
  • Promotion of traditional adaptation practices, such as staying indoors and wearing comfortable clothes.
  • Popularisation of simple design features such as shaded windows, underground water storage tanks, and insulating house materials.
  • Advance implementation of local Heat Action Plans, plus effective inter-agency coordination is a vital response that the government can deploy in order to protect vulnerable groups.

For Prelims & Mains

For Prelims: Heat Wave, India Meteorological Department (IMD), El Nino, Equatorial Pacific Ocean, La Nina, Malnutrition, Heat Action Plans.
For Mains: 1. Examine the various adverse impacts caused by heat waves and how India should deal with them.
Previous Year Questions
1.What are the possible limitations of India in mitigating global warming at present and in the immediate future? (UPSC CSE 2010)

1. Appropriate alternate technologies are not sufficiently available.

2. India cannot invest huge funds in research and development.

3. Many developed countries have already set up their polluting industries in India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer (a)

India faces challenges in addressing Global Warming: Developing and underdeveloped nations lack access to advanced technologies, resulting in a scarcity of viable alternatives for combating climate change. Being a developing nation, India relies partially or entirely on developed countries for technology. Moreover, a significant portion of the annual budget in these nations is allocated to development and poverty alleviation programs, leaving limited funds for research and development of alternative technologies compared to developed nations. Analyzing the statements provided: Statements 1 and 2 hold true based on the aforementioned factors. However, Statement 3 is inaccurate as the establishment of polluting industries by developed countries within India is not feasible due to regulations governing industrial setup


1.Bring out the causes for the formation of heat islands in the urban habitat of the world. (UPSC CSE Mains GS 1 2013)


Source: The Hindu



1. Context

Amidst all the political activity around the elections, a private space company, Agnikul Cosmos, carried out the first successful launch of its indigenously-built rocket last week, opening up a new chapter in India’s space sector

2. What is 3D Printing?

  • 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is an innovative technology that has redefined traditional manufacturing processes.
  • It involves the creation of three-dimensional objects by adding material layer by layer, guided by a computer-generated design.
  • This method contrasts with subtractive manufacturing, where the material is removed from a solid block to achieve the desired shape.

3. Process Overview:

  • Design: The process begins with a digital 3D model created using computer-aided design (CAD) software. This virtual blueprint guides the printer on how to construct the physical object.
  • Layering: The 3D printer interprets the digital model and begins the additive process. It deposits material, often in the form of plastic, metal, or composite, layer by layer to form the final object.
  • Building Up: As each layer is added, the object gradually takes shape. The printer's precision ensures the accurate reproduction of intricate details, resulting in a three-dimensional physical replica of the digital model.

4. Key Advantages:

  • Complex Geometry: 3D printing enables the creation of highly complex and intricate geometries that might be challenging or impossible to achieve through traditional manufacturing methods.
  • Customization: It allows for personalized and customizable products, catering to the specific needs and preferences of users.
  • Rapid Prototyping: The technology is widely used for rapid prototyping, allowing designers and engineers to quickly iterate and test ideas before committing to full-scale production.
  • Reduced Material Waste: Unlike subtractive manufacturing, where excess material is often discarded, 3D printing adds material only where needed, minimizing waste.
  • On-Demand Production: 3D printing facilitates on-demand manufacturing, reducing the need for mass production and warehousing.

5. Applications and Challenges

  • Aerospace: Used to create lightweight, high-performance components for aircraft and spacecraft.
  • Healthcare: Utilized for producing patient-specific medical implants, prosthetics, and even human tissue.
  • Automotive: Enables rapid prototyping of vehicle components and customization.
  • Fashion: Designers employ 3D printing to create unique and avant-garde clothing and accessories.
  • Architecture: Used in creating detailed architectural models and prototypes.


  • Limited material options compared to traditional manufacturing.
  • Slower production speed for larger objects.
  • Post-processing may be required to achieve desired surface finishes.

6. Conclusion

3D printing has revolutionized the way objects are designed, manufactured, and customized. Its ability to create intricate and unique structures with precision has found applications across diverse industries, promising continued innovation and reshaping the manufacturing landscape.

For Prelims: 3D Printing, Architectural models, Prototypes, Computer-aided design (CAD) software.

For Mains: 1. Discuss the concept of 3D printing, its technological process, and its transformative impact on traditional manufacturing methods.  (250 words)

2. Highlight the advantages of additive manufacturing, including complex geometry, Customisation, rapid prototyping, and reduced material waste. (250 words)


Previous year Question

1. "3D printing" has applications in which of the following? (UPSC 2018)

1. Preparation of confectionery items

2. Manufacture of bionic ears

3. Automotive industry

4. Reconstructive surgeries

5. Data processing technologies

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

A. 1, 3, and 4 only

B. 2, 3, and 5 only

C. 1 and 4 only

D. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Answer: D

Source: The Indian Express


1. Context

World Environment Day 2024: Youths should be harbingers of change, not passive spectators in combating climate crisis

2.51st anniversary of World environment day

  • The World Environment Day, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has been held annually on June 5, since 1973
  • The date was chosen by the UN General Assembly during the historic 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment – considered to be the first world conference to make the environment a major issue.
  • Over the years, it has grown to become the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet

3. #BeatPlasticpollution

  • This year’s World Environment Day campaign is aimed towards discussing and implementing solutions to the problem of plastic pollution – one of the most prescient issues of our time
  • According to UN data, more than 400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, half of which is designed to be used only once
  • Of that, less than 10 per cent is recycled. Consequently, an estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas annually.
  • Studies have found that discarded or burnt single-use plastic harms human health and biodiversity, while polluting every ecosystem from mountain tops to the ocean floor
  • This year’s world environment day is a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matters  steps taken by governments and businesses to tackle plastic pollution are the consequence of this action

4. Plastic and Pollution

  • The word plastic is derived from the Greek word plastikos, meaning “capable of being shaped or moulded.”
  • It refers to a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic materials that use polymers as a main ingredient with their defining quality being their plasticity  the ability of a solid material to undergo permanent deformation in response to applied forces
  • This makes them extremely adaptable, capable of being shaped as per requirement
  • Most modern plastics are derived from fossil fuel-based chemicals like natural gas or petroleum
  • However, recently, variants made from renewable materials, such as corn or cotton derivatives have also emerged.
  • Around 70 per cent of global plastic production is concentrated in six major polymer types – referred collectively as commodity plastics

These include: Polyethylene terephthalate or PET, High-density polyethylene or HDPE, Polyvinyl chloride or PVC, Low-density polyethylene or LDPE, Polypropylene or PP, and Polystyrene or PS

  • Each of these have different properties and can be identified by their resin identification code (RIC) denoted by symbols found on plastic products


  • While plastics have revolutionised human civilisation – today, they are everywhere, from automobiles to toys, health devices to packaging  their adverse environmental impact has been alarming
  • This is primarily due to their slow decomposition rate in natural ecosystems
  • Decomposition rate refers to the rate at which a material breaks down into its constituent parts through chemical processes  plastics are remarkably durable in this sense
  • While they do crumble into smaller particles, these particles themselves do not break down into more simpler substances.

5. Microplastics

  • Microplastics – officially defined as plastics less than five millimetres in diameter
  • There are two categories of microplasticsPrimary microplastics are tiny particles designed for commercial use, such as in cosmetics or textiles
  • On the other hand, secondary microplastics are particles that are a product of the breakdown of larger plastic items due to exposure to environmental factors such as sun’s radiation or ocean’s waves
  • The problem with microplastics, like all plastics, is that they do not break down easily into more harmless particles
  • Instead, they find their way across the planet, from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to the heights of the Himalayas
  • According to the most recent global estimates, an average human consumes at least 50,000 microplastic particles annually due to contamination of the food chain, potable water, and air
  • Notably, microplastics contain a number of toxic chemicals which pose severe risks to human health
  • The biggest health risk associated is with the chemical BPA or Bisphenol A , which is used to harden the plastic
  • BPA contaminates food and drinks, causing alterations in liver function, insulin resistance, foetal development in pregnant women, the reproductive system and brain function
  • The largest collection of plastics and microplastics in the ocean is in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean
  • Every year, as plastics enter water bodies and find their way into the ocean, they show remarkable resiliency, floating around where the current takes them until they get stuck in a gyre or large circular ocean currents
  • The largest such gyre is in the Pacific and hence results in the collection of plastics in the region
  • As per estimates, the GPGP covers a surface area of 1.6 million sq km– roughly half the size of India! There are other, smaller such garbage patches in other oceans

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

6. Way forward

The GPGP comprises majorly of single-use plastics. Broadly speaking, single-use is a term which can refer to any plastic items which are either designed to be used for one time by the consumer before they are thrown away or recycled, or likely to be used in this way

Many countries, including India, have passed legislation to either ban or severely restrict their use.


For Prelims: Plastic, Single Plastic use, Microplastics, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

For Mains: 1. Discuss the need and impact of banning single-use plastic in India. What are the government initiatives towards curbing plastic pollution (250 Words)


 Source: indianexpress



1. Context
Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan lead the chart of 1.16 lakh farmers who have voluntarily given up the benefits of the annual Rs 6,000 Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme across the country from June 2023 to May 2024, according to data available with the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
2.What is PM Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) Yojana?
  • The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) is a Central Sector Scheme designed to offer financial support to all cultivable landholding farmer families across the nation, with certain exclusions. Under this scheme, ₹6,000 is distributed annually in three equal installments of ₹2,000 directly into the Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of farmers.
  • A farmer-focused digital infrastructure has been established to ensure the scheme's benefits reach all farmers nationwide without the involvement of intermediaries, maintaining complete transparency in beneficiary registration and verification. The Government of India has disbursed over ₹2.60 lakh crore to more than 11 crore farmers.
  • The PM-KISAN Scheme was launched in February 2019. West Bengal joined the scheme from the 8th installment (April-July 2021) after initially requesting that funds be transferred to the state government for distribution to farmers.
  • In the last financial year, 2022-23, a total of ₹58,201.85 crore was disbursed to eligible beneficiaries
3. What are the objectives of the PM-Kisan scheme?
The objectives of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme are:
  • Provide financial assistance to all landholding farmer families to help them meet agricultural and household needs
  • Alleviate the financial burden on farmers, reducing their dependence on loans and minimizing distress caused by inadequate income.
  • Enable farmers to invest in essential agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and equipment, thereby enhancing agricultural productivity
  • Contribute to poverty reduction in rural areas by boosting the income of small and marginal farmers
  • Ensure that financial benefits reach the most vulnerable farmers across the country without discrimination or exclusion, except for certain categories specified
  • Implement a transparent and efficient mechanism for transferring funds directly into the bank accounts of farmers, minimizing leakages and middlemen involvement.
  • Promote the overall welfare of farmers by providing them with stable financial support, contributing to their economic and social development.
  • Support sustainable agricultural practices by enabling farmers to afford better inputs and resources
4. Who is eligible for the PM-Kisan scheme?

Eligibility for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme is based on certain criteria. Here are the key points:

  • Eligible Farmers:

    • All landholding farmer families who own cultivable land are eligible for the scheme.
    • A "farmer family" is defined as a family unit comprising the husband, wife, and minor children.
  • Landholding Criteria:

    • There are no restrictions based on the size of landholding; all landholding farmers, irrespective of the size of their land, are eligible.
  • Exclusions:

    • Institutional landholders are not eligible.
    • Farmer families in which one or more members belong to the following categories are also excluded:
      • Holders of constitutional posts.
      • Serving or retired officers and employees of Central/State Government Ministries/Offices/Departments and their field units, Central or State PSEs and Attached offices /Autonomous Institutions under Government as well as regular employees of the Local Bodies (Excluding Multi-Tasking Staff/Class IV/Group D employees).
      • Professionals such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants, and architects registered with professional bodies and carrying out profession by undertaking practices.
      • Income Tax payees in the last assessment year.
      • Pensioners drawing a monthly pension of ₹10,000 or more (excluding Multi-Tasking Staff/Class IV/Group D employees).
  • Other Criteria:

    • The land should be under cultivation and the ownership details should be recorded in the official land records of the State/Union Territory.
    • Beneficiaries need to have a valid Aadhaar number for identification and verification purposes
For Prelims: Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
For Mains: GS-II, GS-III: GS-II, GS-III: Government Policies & Interventions, Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices.
Previous Year Questions
1.Explain various types of revolutions, took place in Agriculture after Independence in India. How these revolutions have helped in poverty alleviation and food security in India? (UPSC CSE 2017) 
Source: Indianexpress


1. Context
Around 373 million citizens across the 27 member states of the European Union are eligible to vote on June 6-9 in elections to the European Parliament, which is the only directly elected body of the EU
2. What is the European Union (EU)?
  • The European Parliament (EP) represents the citizens of EU member states. Its main roles include negotiating EU laws with member state governments, which are represented by the European Council.

  • The EP also has the authority to approve the EU budget, vote on international agreements, and decide on the enlargement of the bloc. Additionally, it can approve or reject the appointment of the European Commission president — currently Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen — and the commissioners.

  • Unlike national parliaments, the EP does not have the right to propose laws; it can only negotiate those proposed by the executive European Commission.

  • The EP consists of 720 Members (MEPs) who are elected every five years. These MEPs then elect their president for a term of two and a half years.

  • In 21 member states, individuals aged 18 and above can vote.

  • Citizens living in another EU country can choose to vote for candidates either from their home country or from their country of residence.

  • In some member states, voters can only choose closed lists where they cannot change the order of preferred candidates, while in others, they can select individual candidates in a preferential system.

  • All candidates must be EU citizens. Depending on the country, voters may choose from individual candidates or political parties’ delegates. Once elected, politicians from each nation join the European groups in the Parliament based on their political orientations. Elected individuals cannot hold positions in national governments or other political bodies such as the EU Commission

What are the member countries of the EU?
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden
3. History of EU

1945-1957: Post-War Integration Efforts

  • 1945: After the devastation of World War II, European countries seek to ensure lasting peace and economic stability.
  • 1951: The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) is established by the Treaty of Paris, signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany. This organization aims to integrate the coal and steel industries of member countries, making war between them "materially impossible."

1957: The Treaties of Rome

  • 1957: The Treaties of Rome are signed, establishing the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). The EEC aims to create a common market and a customs union among its members

960s-1980s: Growth and Challenges

  • 1973: The first enlargement of the EEC occurs, with Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom joining the Community.
  • 1981: Greece becomes a member, followed by Spain and Portugal in 1986.
  • 1986: The Single European Act is signed, aiming to create a single market by 1992, ensuring the free movement of goods, services, capital, and people.

1990s: Political and Economic Union

  • 1992: The Maastricht Treaty is signed, formally establishing the European Union. The treaty introduces new forms of cooperation between governments, such as a common foreign and security policy, and lays the foundation for economic and monetary union, including the creation of a single currency.
  • 1995: Austria, Finland, and Sweden join the EU.
  • 1999: The euro is introduced as the single currency for 11 EU countries, with physical currency (banknotes and coins) entering circulation in 2002.

2000s: Major Enlargement and Institutional Reforms

  • 2004: The EU undergoes its largest expansion, with ten new countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia) joining.
  • 2007: Bulgaria and Romania join the EU.
  • 2009: The Lisbon Treaty comes into force, reforming the EU's institutional structure and increasing its powers in areas such as justice, security, and foreign policy

2010s: Economic Crises and Brexit

  • 2010: The eurozone faces a significant debt crisis, prompting reforms and financial support mechanisms to stabilize the economies of member states.
  • 2013: Croatia becomes the EU's 28th member state.
  • 2016: The United Kingdom votes to leave the EU in a referendum, leading to Brexit.
  • 2020: The UK officially leaves the EU on January 31, 2020
4. What is the European Council?
The European Council is one of the principal institutions of the European Union (EU), playing a crucial role in shaping the EU's overall political direction and priorities.
Here are the key aspects of the European Council:
  • The European Council comprises the heads of state or government of the EU member states, along with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission. The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy also participates
  • The European Council meets at least four times a year, usually in Brussels, Belgium. Additionally, extraordinary meetings can be convened to address urgent issues
  • The European Council sets the EU's general political agenda and provides strategic leadership on key issues facing the EU. While it does not legislate or adopt laws, its decisions and recommendations guide the work of other EU institutions
  • The European Council operates on the basis of consensus, with decisions typically reached through discussions and negotiations among its members. However, unanimity is not always required for certain decisions, particularly in areas where EU treaties allow for qualified majority voting
5. What are the areas of cooperation between India and EU?

India and the European Union (EU) engage in cooperation across various sectors, reflecting their shared interests and objectives.

Some of the key areas of cooperation between India and the EU include:

  • Trade and Investment: Both India and the EU are major trading partners. Efforts are underway to enhance bilateral trade relations through negotiations for a comprehensive free trade agreement known as the EU-India Broad-Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA). Additionally, initiatives aim to promote investment flows between India and the EU.

  • Political Dialogue and Strategic Partnership: India and the EU engage in regular political dialogues to discuss regional and global issues of mutual concern, including security, counter-terrorism, climate change, and sustainable development. They have established a strategic partnership framework to deepen cooperation in these areas.

  • Research and Innovation: Collaboration in research and innovation is a growing area of cooperation between India and the EU. Joint research projects, technology partnerships, and academic exchanges are promoted to address common challenges and foster technological innovation.

  • Education and Culture: India and the EU cooperate in the fields of education, culture, and people-to-people exchanges. Programs such as Erasmus+ facilitate student and academic mobility between India and EU member states, while cultural events and initiatives promote mutual understanding and appreciation.

  • Energy and Climate Change: India and the EU collaborate on energy security, renewable energy, and climate change mitigation efforts. Dialogues and partnerships focus on promoting clean energy technologies, sustainable development, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

  • Security and Counter-Terrorism: Cooperation in security and counter-terrorism is a priority for India and the EU. They exchange information, share best practices, and coordinate efforts to combat terrorism, cyber threats, and other transnational security challenges.

  • Migration and Mobility: India and the EU engage in dialogue on migration and mobility issues, including legal migration, visa facilitation, and irregular migration management. Cooperation aims to promote safe, orderly, and regular migration flows while addressing challenges related to migration governance.

  • Healthcare and Public Health: Collaboration in healthcare and public health is increasingly important, especially in areas such as pandemic preparedness, disease surveillance, and healthcare infrastructure development. India and the EU work together to strengthen health systems and respond to global health challenges.

For Prelims:  Current events of national and international importance
For Mains: GS-II:GS-II: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Previous Year Questions
1.Consider the following statements: (UPSC CSE 2023)

The ‘Stability and Growth Pact’ of the European Union is a treaty that

1. limits the levels of the budgetary deficit of the countries of the European Union

2. makes the countries of the European Union to share their infrastructure facilitie

3. enables the countries of the European Union to share their technologie

How many of the above statements are correct

(a) Only one

(b) Only two

(c) All three

(d) None

 Answer (a)
Source: Indianexpress


The extraordinary result in Indore is the most votes that the “None Of The Above” (NOTA) option has ever received in any constituency to date. The previous NOTA record-holder was Gopalganj, Bihar, in 2019, when 51,660 voters chose this option
2.When and why was the NOTA option introduced?
  • In September 2013, the Supreme Court instructed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to implement the NOTA (None of the Above) option for voters, aiming to safeguard the confidentiality of voters’ decisions.
  • Previously, in 2004, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had petitioned the Supreme Court, urging the ECI to adopt measures preserving voters' right to secrecy when exercising their franchise.
  • They contested that the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, breached secrecy by recording the choices of voters who abstained from voting, including their signatures or thumb impressions.
  • Conversely, the central government argued that the right to vote was solely a statutory right and only applied to voters who participated, not those who abstained.
  • However, the three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Ranjan Gogoi, ruled that secrecy must be upheld regardless of whether a voter casts a ballot.
  • They emphasized the importance of secrecy in ensuring fair elections for Lok Sabha and state legislatures, stating that revealing a voter's choice or identity would serve no discernible public interest.
  • Additionally, considering the introduction of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the court observed that the absence of any indication from the machine upon abstaining from voting ensured privacy.
  • Notably, the court acknowledged the ECI's 2001 request to the Ministry of Law and Justice to incorporate a NOTA option in EVMs and ballot papers to protect voter secrecy and enable voters to express dissent against contesting candidates, thereby reducing fraudulent voting.
  • Consequently, the court endorsed this proposal, believing it would compel political parties to respect public opinion and nominate candidates known for their integrity. As a result, the Supreme Court directed the ECI to include a NOTA button in EVMs
3.What is rule 49-O? And the way is it different from NOTA?
  • Rule 49-O refers to a provision in the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, under the Representation of the People Act in India. It allows voters to go to the polling booth but abstain from voting for any candidate.
  • When a voter chooses the 49-O option, they inform the presiding officer at the polling booth of their decision not to vote for any candidate. This decision is recorded, but the vote is not counted in the final tally. Essentially, it serves as a method for expressing dissatisfaction with the available candidates without entirely boycotting the electoral process.
  • NOTA (None of the Above), on the other hand, is a more recent provision introduced in India following a Supreme Court directive in 2013. NOTA appears as an option on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) alongside the list of candidates in an election. It allows voters to officially register their dissatisfaction with all the candidates contesting in that particular election.
  • Unlike Rule 49-O, where the vote is simply not counted, NOTA votes are counted and recorded separately from the votes for individual candidates. However, if the NOTA option receives the highest number of votes in an election, the candidate with the highest number of votes among the contesting candidates is still declared the winner.
  • In summary, while both Rule 49-O and NOTA provide mechanisms for voters to express dissatisfaction with candidates, NOTA is a more formal and transparent option as it is directly integrated into the voting process and the votes are counted separately.
  4. Positive and Negative about NOTA
Positive Aspects Negative Aspects
Provides a voice for dissatisfied voters who do not support any of the contesting candidates. NOTA votes do not directly impact the outcome of the election; the candidate with the highest number of votes among the contesting candidates is still declared the winner, even if NOTA receives the highest number of votes.
Encourages political parties to field more credible candidates as NOTA votes reflect voter dissatisfaction with the available choices. Some argue that NOTA could lead to voter apathy by giving the impression that none of the candidates are worthy of support, potentially discouraging voter turnout.
Helps in improving the quality of democracy by fostering accountability among political parties and candidates. NOTA does not provide a mechanism for voters to suggest alternative candidates or solutions.
Strengthens the concept of voter empowerment by giving voters the option to register their discontent with the electoral process. Critics argue that NOTA is merely symbolic and does not address deeper issues such as electoral reform or the need for better candidate selection processes.
Increases transparency in the electoral process by publicly recording the number of NOTA votes cast in an election. Some political analysts argue that NOTA could fragment the vote and lead to the election of less popular candidates in multi-cornered contests.
For Prelims: NOTA, EVM, VVPAT
For Mains: GSII-Current events in national and state politics and elections
Source: Indian express

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