Current Affair



1. Context
Members of the Satnami religious sect set fire to the office of the Superintendent of Police and pelted the office of the District Collector with stones in Baloda Bazar in central Chhattisgarh on 10/06/2024 after alleged inaction over the desecration of a religious site at Amar Cave in the district
2. Who are Satnamis?
The Satnamis are a religious group that originated in northern India, particularly in the regions of Punjab, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh. They follow a monotheistic faith and believe in the worship of one God, referred to as "Satnam," which means "True Name."
Members of the predominantly Scheduled Caste Satnami community, also known as the Satnam Panth, primarily reside in Chhattisgarh and adjacent regions of Madhya Pradesh. The desecrated shrine, called Jaitkham, is situated approximately 5 kilometers from Giraud village in the Baloda Bazar district. This site marks the birthplace of Guru Ghasidas, an 18th-century saint who is regarded as the spiritual ancestor of the Chhattisgarh Satnamis
3. Early Satnamis 
  • Guru Ghasidas was born in 1756, but the origins of the Satnami sect date back even further. The term "sat naam" (meaning "true name") was popularized by the 15th-century Bhakti poet Kabir, though it likely originated earlier.
  • Kabir, who opposed idolatry and the rigid practices of organized religion, was a prominent figure in the nirguna bhakti tradition, which worships a formless, all-pervading Absolute. He frequently referred to this Absolute as "sat naam" or "satya naam" in his poetry.
  • In 1657, inspired by Kabir's teachings, a mendicant named Birbhan established a Satnami community in Narnaul, located in present-day Haryana.
  • According to Mughal court historian Khafi Khan (1664-1732), the Satnamis comprised "some four or five thousand householders in the pargana of Narnaul and Mewat," primarily engaged in agriculture and small-scale trade, similar to Banyas (tradesmen) with limited capital (Irfan Habib: The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556-1707)
  • Ritual and superstition were condemned, and allegiance was explicitly rendered to Kabir… Caste distinctions within the community of believers were forbidden… An attitude of sympathy with the poor and hostility towards authority and wealth is apparent [in Satnami preachings]
  • Initially, most Satnamis belonged to an “untouchable” caste engaged in leatherwork. The community has, however, moved away from the profession over time
4.Revolt against Aurangzeb
  • If anyone attempts to impose tyranny and oppression upon the Satnamis, they will not tolerate it; most of them are armed," wrote Khafi Khan.
  • In 1672, the Satnamis in what is now Punjab and Haryana revolted against Aurangzeb’s increasing tax demands. Irfan Habib described the revolt as originating from a rural conflict.
  • A Satnami working in his fields had a heated exchange with a Mughal foot soldier guarding a corn heap.
  • The soldier struck the Satnami on the head with his stick, injuring him. In response, a group of Satnamis attacked the soldier, nearly killing him.
  • When the local Mughal police chief sent troops to arrest those responsible, an open rebellion ensued.
  • The rebels temporarily took control of Narnaul and Bairat, but the Mughals eventually suppressed the uprising, killing thousands of Satnamis.
  • Despite their lack of weapons and equipment, the Satnamis fought valiantly, reminiscent of the epic battles in the Mahabharata, as recorded by Mughal chronicler Saqi Mustad Khan in the Maasir-i-Alamgiri
5. Revival under Ghasidas
  • Aurangzeb nearly eradicated the community, which would later experience a revival starting in the mid-eighteenth century — led by Jagjivandas in present-day Uttar Pradesh and Ghasidas in present-day Chhattisgarh.
  • Various theories exist regarding the influences on Ghasidas’ spiritual development, ranging from Sant Ravidas (15th or 16th century) to Kabir. However, according to religious studies scholar Ramdas Lamb in "Rapt in the Name: The Ramnamis, Ramnam, and Untouchable Religion in India" (2002), "most present-day Satnamis either deny or are unaware of any connection between Ghasidas and earlier Satnami movements" in northern India.
  • Nevertheless, Guru Ghasidas’ religious philosophy echoed that of the earlier Satnamis. As Lamb wrote, "his primary directive was the worship of a single true God through the chanting of His name, 'Satnam', and the rejection of idol worship." This rejection of deity worship allowed the Satnamis, who were considered 'untouchable', to circumvent temple-entry restrictions.
  • Ghasidas also instructed his followers to abstain from consuming meat (including eggplant, which resembles flesh), as well as alcohol, tobacco, and smoking. He advocated the use of brass utensils instead of clay, discouraged working with leather and animal carcasses and promoted wearing tulsi bead necklaces similar to those worn by Vaishnavas and Kabirpanthis. Additionally, he urged his followers to discard their caste names and adopt the name ‘Satnami’
6. Present Scenario of Satnami
  • At the time of Ghasidas’ death, his followers numbered around a quarter million, predominantly from a specific Scheduled Caste. He established a succession of gurus to lead the sect after him, beginning with his son Balakdas.
  • According to Lamb, by the late 1800s, a hierarchical organizational structure had developed, with the guru at the apex and several village-level priests below. This framework largely remains in place today. "These priests conducted marriages, resolved disputes, administered penance, and served as intermediaries within the organization."
  • Over time, many Satnamis adopted practices, beliefs, and rituals from caste-Hindu traditions, integrating themselves into the Hindu religious mainstream. Some began worshipping Hindu idols and claimed lineage from Rajputs or even Brahmins.
  • Today, Satnamis wield increasing political influence. Satnami leaders not only influence their sect but also hold sway over Chhattisgarh's entire Scheduled Caste population, which comprises 13%.
  • Historically aligned with the Congress party, since 2013, some Satnami gurus have switched their political allegiances multiple times. Consequently, the Satnami vote is now divided among various political parties in Chhattisgarh
Source: Indianexpress


1. Context
The Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on Thursday granted 10 more days to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to submit its survey report of the Bhojshala-Kamal Maula mosque complex in the State’s Dhar district

2. What is a national monument?

A national monument is a protected area or site that has been designated by a government or other authority as having national significance. These monuments can be natural, cultural, or historical landmarks and are usually protected from development or other activities that could damage or destroy them. National monuments are often open to the public and may have visitor centers, trails, and other facilities to help people learn about and appreciate them. They are typically managed by government agencies or non-profit organizations that work to preserve and protect them for future generations.


3. About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

  • The ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham, when he realised the need for a permanent body to oversee archaeological excavations and conservation.
  • But while the body remained largely dysfunctional in the 19th century owing to fund crunch, in the decades preceding Independence, it became very active.
  • A bulk of the protected monuments were taken under the ASI’s wings during the 1920s and30s, up till the 50s.
  • But in the decades after independence, the focus of successive governments was on health, education and infrastructure, rather than protecting heritage.
  • Even within the scope of heritage, the aim was to uncover more monuments and sites, instead of conservation.


  • The ASI operates under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, which empowers it to protect and manage monuments and archaeological sites of national importance.
  •  The ASI formulates and enforces regulations related to archaeological activities, including excavations, conservation, and publication of findings.
  • The ASI issues licenses for excavations, export of antiquities, and trade in archaeological objects.


  • The ASI undertakes conservation and restoration of protected monuments and sites. This includes structural repairs, chemical preservation, and environmental management.
  • The ASI conducts archaeological excavations to uncover historical remains, understand past civilizations, and enrich our knowledge of history.
  • The ASI conducts research on various aspects of archaeology and publishes findings in reports, journals, and books.
  • The ASI studies ancient inscriptions and coins to understand language, history, and economic systems.
  • The ASI manages site museums at various monuments and archaeological sites to showcase artifacts and educate the public.
  • The ASI conducts educational programs and outreach activities to raise public awareness about India's cultural heritage.


  • The ASI plays a vital role in preserving India's rich cultural heritage for future generations. It safeguards monuments and sites that represent diverse periods and cultures, fostering national identity and pride.
  • By protecting and promoting historical sites, the ASI contributes significantly to India's tourism industry. Well-maintained monuments attract visitors, generating revenue and local economic benefits.
  • The ASI's research activities contribute to our understanding of India's history, culture, and society. This knowledge enriches academic fields and informs public discourse.


  • To protect and preserve monuments and archaeological sites of national importance.
  • To conduct research and excavations to understand India's past.
  • To educate the public about India's cultural heritage.
  • To promote tourism by developing and maintaining historical sites.



  • The ASI is responsible for protecting and preserving India's archaeological sites, monuments, and artifacts. This includes conducting conservation and restoration work to ensure that these cultural treasures are maintained for future generations.
  • India is home to numerous world-renowned archaeological sites and monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, and Ajanta and Ellora Caves. The ASI's efforts to preserve and promote these sites contribute to the country's tourism industry, attracting millions of visitors from around the world each year.
  • India's rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its identity. The ASI's work helps to preserve and promote this heritage, fostering a sense of pride and connection among the country's citizens.
  • The ASI conducts research and documentation on India's archaeological heritage, contributing to the understanding of the country's history and culture. It also plays a role in educating the public about India's archaeological sites and artifacts through exhibitions, publications, and educational programs.
  • The ASI enforces laws and regulations related to the protection and preservation of India's cultural heritage. This includes the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, which provides legal protection to ancient monuments and archaeological sites in India.


4. The Way Forward

The Archaeological Survey of India plays an indispensable role in safeguarding and interpreting India's rich cultural heritage. Their efforts not only preserve the past but also contribute to academic knowledge, national identity, and economic development. As India navigates the future, the ASI's work remains vital in ensuring that its cultural legacy continues to inspire and educate generations to come.


For Prelims: Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, ASI, 

For Mains: 
1. Critically evaluate the role of ASI in fostering national identity and pride in India. How does their work contribute to social cohesion and understanding of diverse historical periods and cultures? (250 Words)
2. Evaluate the potential conflicts between preservation of cultural heritage and development projects. Suggest strategies for achieving a sustainable balance between economic progress and protection of historical sites. (250 Words)


Previous year UPSC Mains Question Covering similar theme:

1.The rock-cut architecture represents one of the most important sources of our knowledge of early Indian art and history. Discuss. (GS 1, 2020)
2. Safeguarding the Indian Art Heritage is the need of the moment. Discuss. (GS 1, 2019)

 Source: The Indian Express


1. Context
Revenues from the seven-year old Goods and Services Tax (GST) had not lived up to expectations, having attained pre-GST levels only now, and the goal of a ‘Good and Simple Tax’ remained elusive, former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian averred, terming the lack of critical data such as refunds a challenge
2. What is the Goods and Services Tax (GST)?
  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a value-added tax levied on the supply of goods and services at each stage of the production and distribution chain. It is a comprehensive indirect tax that aims to replace multiple indirect taxes imposed by the central and state governments in India.
  • GST is designed to simplify the tax structure, eliminate the cascading effect of taxes, and create a unified national market. Under the GST system, both goods and services are taxed at multiple rates based on the nature of the product or service. The tax is collected at each stage of the supply chain, and businesses are allowed to claim a credit for the taxes paid on their inputs.
  • The GST system in India came into effect on July 1, 2017, replacing a complex tax structure that included central excise duty, service tax, and state-level taxes like VAT (Value Added Tax), among others. The GST Council, consisting of representatives from the central and state governments, is responsible for making decisions on various aspects of GST, including tax rates and rules.
  • GST is intended to create a more transparent and efficient tax system, reduce tax evasion, and promote economic growth by fostering a seamless flow of goods and services across the country. It has a significant impact on businesses, as they need to comply with the new tax regulations and maintain detailed records of their transactions for GST filing

3.Goods and Services Tax (GST) and 101st Amendment Act, 2016

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India was introduced through the 101st Amendment Act of 2016. This constitutional amendment was a crucial step in the implementation of GST, which aimed to create a unified and comprehensive indirect tax system across the country.

Here are some key points related to the 101st Amendment Act and GST:


  • The 101st Amendment Act was enacted to amend the Constitution of India to pave the way for the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax.
  • It added a new article, Article 246A, which confers concurrent powers to both the central and state governments to levy and collect GST
  • The amendment led to the creation of the GST Council, a constitutional body consisting of representatives from the central and state governments. The council is responsible for making recommendations on GST rates, exemptions, and other related issues
  • The amendment introduced a dual GST structure, where both the central government and the state governments have the power to levy and collect GST on the supply of goods and services
  • For inter-state transactions, the 101st Amendment Act provides that the central government would levy and collect the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST), which would be a sum total of the central and state GST
  • The amendment also included a provision for compensating states for any revenue loss they might incur due to the implementation of GST for a period of five years
The 101st Amendment Act was a critical legislative step that provided the constitutional framework for the implementation of GST in India. It addressed the need for a unified tax system, simplifying the tax structure and promoting a common market across the country. The subsequent establishment of the GST Council has played a pivotal role in the ongoing management and evolution of the GST system in India
4. What are the different types of Goods and Services Tax (GST)?

In India, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is structured into different tax rates based on the nature of the goods and services. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, the GST rates are divided into multiple slabs. It's important to note that tax rates may be subject to changes, and new amendments could have been introduced since then. As of my last update, the GST rates are as follows:

  • Nil Rate:

    • Some goods and services are categorized under the nil rate, meaning they attract a 0% GST. This implies that no tax is levied on the supply of these goods or services.
  • 5% Rate:

    • This is a lower rate, applicable to essential goods such as certain food items, medical supplies, and other basic necessities.
  • 12% Rate:

    • Goods and services falling in this category attract a 12% GST rate. Items such as mobile phones, processed foods, and certain services fall under this slab.
  • 18% Rate:

    • A higher rate of 18% is applicable to goods and services such as electronic items, capital goods, and various services.
  • 28% Rate:

    • The highest GST rate of 28% is applied to luxury items, automobiles, and certain goods and services that are considered non-essential or fall into the luxury category.
  • Compensation Cess:

    • In addition to the above rates, some specific goods attract a compensation cess, which is levied to compensate the states for any revenue loss during the transition to GST. This is often applied to items like tobacco and luxury cars.
  • Zero Rate:

    • Certain categories of goods and services may be specified as "zero-rated," which means they are effectively taxed at 0%. This is different from the nil rate, as it allows businesses to claim input tax credit on inputs, capital goods, and input services.
  • Exempt Supplies:

    • Some goods and services may be exempt from GST altogether. This means that they are not subject to any GST, and businesses cannot claim input tax credit on related inputs
5.Central GST (CGST), State GST (SGST), Union territory GST (UTGST) and Integrated GST (IGST)
Subject Central GST (CGST) State GST (SGST) Union Territory GST (UTGST) Integrated GST (IGST)
Levied by Central Government Respective State Governments Union Territory Administrations Central Government (on inter-state transactions)
Applicability On intra-state supplies (within the same state) On intra-state supplies (within the same state) On intra-union territory supplies (within the same union territory) On inter-state supplies (across states or union territories)
Rate Determination Determined by the Central Government Determined by the Respective State Government Determined by the Union Territory Administration IGST rate is a sum of CGST and SGST rates
Revenue Collection Collected by the Central Government Collected by the Respective State Government Collected by the Union Territory Administration Collected by the Central Government (on inter-state transactions)
Utilization of Revenue Shared between Central and State Governments Retained by the Respective State Government Retained by the Union Territory Administration Shared between Central and State Governments
Purpose Part of the dual GST structure, meant to cover central taxes Part of the dual GST structure, meant to cover state taxes Applicable in union territories for intra-territory supplies Applied to regulate and tax inter-state supplies
Input Tax Credit (ITC) ITC available for CGST paid on inputs and services ITC available for SGST paid on inputs and services ITC available for UTGST paid on inputs and services ITC available for both CGST and SGST paid on inputs
Tax Jurisdiction Applies within a particular state Applies within a particular state Applies within a particular union territory Applies to transactions across states and union territories
GSTN Portal for Filing Returns Central GSTN portal State-specific GSTN portals UTGSTN portal Integrated GSTN portal
6.What are the benefits of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India?
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India was implemented with the aim of bringing about significant reforms in the indirect tax structure. Several benefits have been associated with the introduction of GST.
Here are some key advantages:
  • GST replaced multiple indirect taxes levied by the central and state governments, simplifying the tax structure. This streamlined system reduces the complexity of compliance for businesses
  • GST eliminates the cascading effect of taxes, where taxes are levied on top of other taxes. With a seamless credit mechanism, businesses can claim input tax credit on the taxes paid on their purchases, leading to a more transparent and efficient system
  • GST has facilitated the creation of a common national market by harmonizing tax rates and regulations across states. This has reduced trade barriers and promoted the free flow of goods and services throughout the country
  • The GST system has incorporated technology-driven processes, including electronic filing and real-time reporting, making it harder for businesses to evade taxes. This has contributed to increased tax compliance
  • The input tax credit mechanism under GST benefits manufacturers, as they can claim credits for taxes paid on raw materials and input services. This has a positive impact on the cost of production and enhances the competitiveness of Indian goods in the international market
  • GST brings transparency to the taxation system. The online filing of returns and the availability of transaction-level data make it easier for tax authorities to monitor and track transactions, reducing the scope for corruption
  • GST has replaced a complex system of filing multiple tax returns with a more straightforward mechanism. Businesses now need to file fewer returns, reducing the compliance burden
  • The implementation of GST has contributed to an improvement in the ease of doing business in India. The unified tax system has made it simpler for businesses to operate across states and has reduced the paperwork and bureaucratic hurdles associated with tax compliance
  • GST has led to the harmonization of tax rates across states and union territories, minimizing the tax rate disparities that existed earlier. This creates a more predictable tax environment for businesses
7.Goods and Services Tax (GST)-Issues and Challenge
  • Despite the intention to simplify the tax structure, the multi-tiered rate system (0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%) and the inclusion of cess on certain goods have introduced complexity. The classification of goods and services under different tax slabs can be challenging, leading to disputes and confusion
  • The successful implementation of GST relies heavily on technology. Issues such as technical glitches on the GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network) portal, especially during the initial phases, have caused difficulties for businesses in filing returns and complying with regulations
  • The compliance requirements for businesses under GST, including multiple returns filing, have been perceived as burdensome. Smaller businesses, in particular, may find it challenging to adapt to the new system and comply with the various provisions
  • The transition from the previous tax regime to GST posed challenges, especially for businesses in terms of understanding the new tax structure, reconfiguring accounting systems, and ensuring a smooth transition of credits from the old tax system to the GST system
  • The classification of certain goods and services into specific tax slabs has been a source of contention. Ambiguities in classification have led to disputes and litigations, with businesses seeking clarity on the applicable tax rates
  • The implementation of GST has increased compliance costs for businesses due to the need for sophisticated IT infrastructure, the hiring of tax professionals, and efforts to ensure accurate reporting and filing
  • Challenges related to availing and matching input tax credits have been reported. Timely matching of credits and resolving discrepancies can be cumbersome, leading to concerns about the seamless flow of credit across the supply chain
  • The anti-profiteering provisions were introduced to ensure that businesses pass on the benefits of reduced tax rates to consumers. However, the implementation of anti-profiteering measures has been criticized for its complexity and potential for disputes
  • The periodic changes in the GST return filing system have created challenges for businesses in adapting their processes. Delays and complexities in return filing can affect working capital management
8.Goods and Services Tax Council (GST Council)
The Goods and Services Tax Council (GST Council) is a constitutional body in India that makes recommendations on the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It was established under the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Act, 2016, which introduced the GST in India

The GST Council consists of the following members:

  • The Union Finance Minister, who is the Chairperson of the Council.
  • The Union Minister of State in charge of revenue or any other Minister of State nominated by the Union Government.
  • One Minister from each state, nominated by the Governor of that state.
  • The Chief Secretary of each state, ex-officio.
  • If the President, on the recommendation of the Council, so directs, one representative of each Union territory which has a legislature, to be nominated by the Lieutenant Governor of that Union territory.
  • Three to seven members (other than Ministers) to be nominated by the Union Government, of whom at least one member shall be from the field of economics and another from the field of chartered accountancy, legal affairs or public finance
9. Way forward
It's important to note that the composition and structure of the GST Council may evolve over time, and there might have been changes since my last update in January 2022. To obtain the latest and most accurate information about the GST Council and its members, it is recommended to refer to official government sources or recent announcements by the relevant authorities


For Prelims: Economic and Social Development and Indian Polity and Governance
For Mains: General Studies II: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein

General Studies III: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it

Previous Year Questions
1.Which of the following are true of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) introduced in India in recent times? (UGC Paper II 2020)
A. It is a destination tax
B. It benefits producing states more
C. It benefits consuming states more
D. It is a progressive taxation
E. It is an umbrella tax to improve ease of doing business
Choose the most appropriate answer from the options given below:
A.B, D and E only
B.A, C and D only
C.A, D and E only
D.A, C and E only
Answer (D)
Source: Indianexpress


1. Context
The dust of elections has settled… The government should have a well-orchestrated plan for the next five years. On internal security, the following nine points should merit serious attention

2. About Left-wing Extremism


Left-wing extremism, often referred to simply as "left-wing extremism" or "left-wing terrorism," is a political ideology and movement characterised by radical leftist beliefs and methods that aim to bring about significant social, political, or economic change through violent or subversive means. Left-wing extremists typically advocate for the overthrow of existing societal structures, including capitalist systems, and the establishment of a more egalitarian or socialist society.

Some common characteristics of left-wing extremism include

  • Left-wing extremists often oppose capitalist economic systems, viewing them as inherently oppressive and exploitative. They may advocate for the abolition of private property and the redistribution of wealth.
  • Left-wing extremists frequently oppose imperialism, colonialism, and what they perceive as Western hegemony. They may support movements for national liberation and self-determination.
  • Many left-wing extremists embrace revolutionary socialist ideologies, seeking to establish socialist or communist states through revolutionary means, such as armed struggle or mass uprisings.
  • Left-wing extremists often engage in direct action tactics, such as bombings, assassinations, sabotage, and armed insurrections, to further their goals. These tactics are seen as necessary to challenge and disrupt existing power structures.
  • Left-wing extremists may align themselves with marginalised or oppressed groups, such as ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ communities, and workers, in their struggle against perceived oppression.


3. The difference between terrorism and Naxalism


Features Terrorism Naxalism
Political Ideology Varied ideologies including political, religious, nationalist, or separatist beliefs Rooted in Marxist-Leninist-Maoist ideology
Targets Varied, including civilians, religious institutions, businesses, infrastructure Primarily government institutions, security forces, symbols of state authority, and collaborators
Geographical Focus Occurs worldwide, not limited to specific regions Largely confined to certain regions of India, particularly rural areas with social and economic inequalities
Organizational Structure Wide range of organizations, from hierarchical militant groups to loosely organized networks or lone individuals

 Associated with specific Maoist-inspired rebel groups in India, such as the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and various Naxalite factions


4.  What is a Red corridor region?


  • The term "Red Corridor" refers to a vast area in India that is affected by left-wing extremism, particularly Naxalism or Maoist insurgency. This region is characterized by the presence of various insurgent groups, including the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and other Naxalite factions, which seek to overthrow the Indian government through armed struggle and establish a communist state.
  • The Red Corridor stretches across several states in central and eastern India, encompassing predominantly rural and forested areas. Some of the states included in the Red Corridor are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and West Bengal.
  • The term "Red" in "Red corridor" symbolizes the communist ideology embraced by these insurgent groups, while "corridor" refers to the interconnectedness of the affected regions, forming a corridor-like shape on the map. The presence of left-wing extremism in these areas has led to significant security challenges for the Indian government, including armed conflict, violence against civilians and security forces, and disruption of development initiatives.
  • Efforts to address the issue of left-wing extremism in the Red Corridor have involved a combination of military operations, development programs, socio-economic initiatives, and political dialogues aimed at addressing the root causes of the insurgency and promoting peace and development in the affected regions. However, the situation remains complex, and the Red Corridor continues to be a focal point of counterinsurgency efforts in India.


5. Role of the District Reserve Guards (DRG) and Border Security Force (BSF)


The District Reserve Guards (DRG) and the Border Security Force (BSF) play crucial roles in addressing security challenges in India, particularly in regions affected by left-wing extremism and border security concerns, respectively.

District Reserve Guards (DRG)

  • The DRG is a specialized force deployed in states affected by left-wing extremism, primarily in the Red Corridor regions of India.
  • Their primary role is to conduct anti-insurgency operations, counter Naxalite/Maoist activities, and maintain law and order in the affected districts.
  • DRG personnel are often recruited from local tribal communities and are trained in guerrilla warfare tactics, jungle warfare, and counterinsurgency operations to effectively combat left-wing extremist groups.
  • They work in close coordination with state police forces, central paramilitary forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and other specialized units to conduct targeted operations against insurgent groups and maintain security in the region.
  • Additionally, DRG units often engage in community policing efforts, intelligence gathering, and development activities aimed at winning the trust and support of local communities and isolating the insurgents.

Border Security Force (BSF)

  • The BSF is one of India's primary border guarding forces, tasked with safeguarding the country's borders with neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • The BSF plays a crucial role in maintaining border security, preventing illegal immigration, curbing cross-border smuggling, and countering various security threats, including terrorism and infiltration attempts.
  • Along with its primary responsibilities of border security, the BSF is often called upon to assist in internal security operations, including counterinsurgency efforts in regions affected by left-wing extremism or other security challenges.
  • The BSF conducts regular patrols, surveillance, and border fortification measures to deter and respond to any threats along India's borders.
  • In addition to its security duties, the BSF is also involved in various humanitarian and community development activities in border areas to foster goodwill among local populations and strengthen border management efforts.


6. Strategies of the government to curb the LWE


The Indian government has employed various strategies to curb Left-Wing Extremism (LWE), particularly in regions affected by Naxalism or Maoist insurgency. These strategies typically involve a multifaceted approach that integrates security measures with development initiatives, socio-economic reforms, and political dialogues. Some of the key strategies employed by the government include:

Security Operations

  • Conducting targeted anti-insurgency operations by deploying specialized forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), District Reserve Guards (DRG), and state police units to combat Naxalite/Maoist activities.
  • Enhancing intelligence gathering and sharing mechanisms to track and neutralize insurgent groups, disrupt their supply lines, and apprehend key leaders and operatives.
  • Improving coordination among various security agencies, including state police forces, central paramilitary forces, and intelligence agencies, to conduct joint operations and intelligence-driven counterinsurgency efforts.

Development Initiatives

  • Implementing development programs and infrastructure projects in Naxal-affected areas to address socio-economic grievances, reduce poverty, and improve living standards.
  • Focusing on rural development, including the provision of basic amenities such as healthcare, education, electricity, and roads, to bridge the development deficit in marginalized communities.
  • Promoting livelihood opportunities, skill development, and employment generation schemes to empower local populations and dissuade them from supporting or joining insurgent groups.

Socio-Economic Reforms

  • Undertaking land reforms and addressing issues related to land ownership, land distribution, and land rights to address underlying socio-economic inequalities and grievances.
  • Implementing social welfare schemes and affirmative action programs to uplift marginalized communities, including Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Scheduled Castes (SCs), who are often disproportionately affected by Naxalism.

Political Dialogues and Reconciliation

  • Engaging in dialogue with moderate Naxalite factions and offering amnesty and rehabilitation opportunities to surrendering insurgents.
  • Encouraging political participation and representation of marginalized communities in local governance structures to address their grievances through democratic means.
  • Facilitating peace talks and negotiations between the government and insurgent groups to explore avenues for conflict resolution and long-term peace-building.

Capacity Building and Training

  • Enhancing the capabilities of security forces through specialized training in counterinsurgency operations, jungle warfare, intelligence gathering, and community policing.
  • Strengthening the institutional capacity of local administration, law enforcement agencies, and judiciary to effectively address security challenges and deliver justice.


7. Why do Naxals continue to hold out in Chhattisgarh?


The persistence of Naxalism in Chhattisgarh, despite efforts by the government to address the issue, can be attributed to a combination of socio-economic, political, and strategic factors

  • Chhattisgarh, particularly its rural and tribal areas, continues to grapple with deep-rooted socio-economic inequalities, including landlessness, poverty, lack of access to basic amenities, and exploitation by landlords and local elites. These grievances provide fertile ground for Naxalite recruitment and support.
  • Many areas affected by Naxalism in Chhattisgarh suffer from underdevelopment, with inadequate infrastructure, limited healthcare and education facilities, and poor connectivity. The lack of government presence and development initiatives in these remote regions contributes to a sense of alienation and discontent among local communities.
  • Chhattisgarh is rich in natural resources, including minerals and forests, which have been subject to exploitation by government agencies and private corporations. Disputes over land acquisition, displacement of indigenous communities, and environmental degradation have fueled resentment and resistance, often exploited by Naxalite groups.
  • Weak governance, corruption, and ineffective law enforcement exacerbate the challenges of addressing Naxalism in Chhattisgarh. In some cases, local politicians, officials, and law enforcement agencies may collude with Naxalite groups or exploit the situation for personal gain, undermining counter-insurgency efforts.
  • The dense forests and rugged terrain of Chhattisgarh provide Naxalite groups with strategic advantages, including natural cover, logistical support, and sanctuary from security forces. These geographic features make it challenging for security forces to conduct operations and root out insurgents effectively.
  • Despite the decline of communism globally, Naxalite groups in Chhattisgarh remain ideologically committed to their cause of overthrowing the state and establishing a communist society. This ideological fervor motivates them to continue their armed struggle, despite setbacks and government efforts to engage in dialogue and reconciliation.
  • Naxalite groups in Chhattisgarh may receive external support, including ideological guidance, arms, and funding, from sympathetic entities or transnational networks sharing similar leftist ideologies. Such support can bolster their resilience and sustain their activities despite government crackdowns.


8. Who are the urban Naxals?


The term "urban Naxals" is often used in India to refer to individuals or groups who allegedly provide ideological, logistical, financial, or political support to Naxalite/Maoist insurgents operating in rural areas from urban centres. The concept of urban Naxals is controversial and has been the subject of intense debate in Indian society, politics, and media.

Some key points regarding urban Naxals

  • Urban Naxals are accused of various activities, including spreading Maoist ideology, recruiting and radicalizing youth, providing funding and material support, facilitating communication and coordination between urban and rural Naxalite groups, and organizing protests, rallies, or campaigns to advance Naxalite objectives.
  • Urban Naxals may have diverse backgrounds, including academics, intellectuals, activists, journalists, artists, students, and members of civil society organizations. Some individuals or groups associated with leftist or progressive ideologies have been labelled as urban Naxals by their critics.
  • While some individuals accused of being urban Naxals may have genuine concerns about social justice, human rights, or environmental issues, others may have ideological sympathies with Naxalism or engage in activities perceived as supporting or sympathizing with Naxalite groups.
  • The term "urban Naxals" has generated controversy, with critics arguing that it is used by authorities to stifle dissent, target activists, and suppress legitimate political opposition under the guise of combating extremism.
  • Critics of the concept argue that labelling dissenting voices or activists as urban Naxals undermines democratic principles, freedom of expression, and civil liberties. They contend that it is a politically motivated tactic to discredit and delegitimize progressive movements or critics of the government.
  • There have been instances in India where individuals or activists accused of being urban Naxals have been arrested, charged under anti-terrorism laws such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and prosecuted by authorities. These cases have sparked concerns about due process, judicial independence, and human rights violations.
  • The term "urban Naxals" has gained traction in public discourse and media narratives, with some sections of society viewing urban Naxals as a serious threat to national security and social stability. However, others criticize the concept as a tool to demonize dissent and suppress legitimate activism.


9. How does LWE impact the electoral process in India?


Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) in India can have significant impacts on the electoral process, particularly in regions affected by Naxalism or Maoist insurgency. Some of these impacts include:

Voter Intimidation and Violence

  • In areas where Naxalite groups hold sway, they may resort to voter intimidation, coercion, or violence to influence election outcomes. This can include threats against voters, attacks on polling stations, and targeting of political candidates or party workers who are perceived as opposing the Naxalite agenda.
  • Fear of reprisals from Naxalite groups can deter voters from exercising their franchise, leading to low voter turnout in affected areas. This undermines the democratic process and can affect the legitimacy of election results.

Disruption of Electoral Activities

  • Naxalite groups often target election-related activities, such as campaigning, voter registration drives, and polling operations, to disrupt the electoral process and undermine the authority of the state. They may use violence or sabotage to disrupt election rallies, destroy election materials, or block access to polling stations.
  • Security concerns in Naxal-affected areas may necessitate the deployment of large numbers of security forces to ensure the safety of voters, candidates, and election officials, which can disrupt normal life and create a tense atmosphere during elections.

Influence on Political Dynamics

  • Naxalite groups may seek to influence the electoral process by supporting sympathetic candidates or parties, either overtly or covertly. They may provide material support, including funding, manpower, or logistical assistance, to candidates who align with their ideology or interests.
  • The presence of Naxalite violence and intimidation can also affect political campaigning and party strategies, with political parties often adjusting their approaches and priorities in response to security concerns in Naxal-affected areas.

Challenges for Electoral Administration

  • Organizing elections in Naxal-affected regions poses logistical and security challenges for electoral authorities. Ensuring the safety and security of voters, candidates, and election officials is a major concern, requiring extensive coordination with security forces and local administration.
  • Election officials may face difficulties in conducting voter registration, voter education campaigns, and polling operations in remote or insecure areas, which can affect the overall conduct of elections and the accuracy of voter participation data.
10. The Way Forward
By addressing the issues comprehensively and holistically, India can mitigate the impact of Left-Wing Extremism on the electoral process and uphold the principles of democracy, inclusiveness, and rule of law in Naxal-affected regions.
For Prelims: Left-Wing Extremism, Naxals, Urban Naxals, Maiosits, CRPF, DRG, BSF, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act
For Mains: 
1. What are the root causes of Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) in India? Discuss the factors that contribute to the persistence of Naxalism in Chhattisgarh. (250 Words)
2. The concept of "urban Naxals" is highly contested in India. What are the arguments for and against it? How does it impact freedom of expression and dissent? (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions

1. The persisting drives of the government for development of large industries in backward areas have resulted in isolating the tribal population and the farmers who face multiple displacements. With Malkangiri and Naxalbari foci, discussthe corrective strategies needed to win the Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) doctrine affected citizens back into mainstream of social and economic growth. (UPSC 2015)

2. Article 244 of the Indian Constitution relates to administration of scheduled areas and tribal areas. Analyse the impact of non-implementation of the provisions of the Fifth schedule on the growth of Left-wing extremism. (UPSC 2018)

3. What are the determinants of left-wing extremism in Eastern part of India? What strategy should the Government of India, civil administration and security forces adopt to counter the threat in the affected areas? (UPSC 2020)

Source: The Indian Express


1. Context

New Delhi and London have been negotiating a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) for more than two years to boost trade between the two nations. The agreement could result in a mutual tariff relaxation on a range of goods such as cars, clothes, alcoholic beverages, and medical instruments

2. About the Free Trade Agreement

  • A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is an agreement between two or more countries to reduce or eliminate barriers to trade, such as tariffs, quotas, and subsidies.
  • FTAs can also include provisions on other issues, such as investment, intellectual property, and labour standards.
  • The goal of an FTA is to promote trade and economic growth between the signatory countries.
  • By reducing or eliminating trade barriers, FTAs can make it easier for businesses to export their goods and services to other countries, which can lead to increased production, employment, and innovation.

3. Types of Free Trade Agreement

  • Bilateral Free Trade Agreement (BFTA) involves two countries, aiming to promote trade and eliminate tariffs on goods and services between them.  It establishes a direct trade relationship, allowing for a more focused and tailored agreement between the two nations.
  • Multilateral Free Trade Agreement (MFTA) Involving three or more countries, an MFTA seeks to create a comprehensive trade bloc, promoting economic integration on a larger scale. It requires coordination among multiple parties, addressing diverse economic interests and fostering a broader regional economic landscape.
  • Regional Free Trade Agreement (RFTA) involves countries within a specific geographic region, aiming to enhance economic cooperation and integration within that particular area. It focuses on addressing regional economic challenges and fostering collaboration among neighbouring nations.
  • Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) involves a reciprocal reduction of tariffs and trade barriers between participating countries, granting preferential treatment to each other's goods and services. It allows countries to enjoy trading advantages with specific partners while maintaining autonomy in their trade policies with non-participating nations.
  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is a broad and advanced form of FTA that goes beyond traditional trade barriers, encompassing various economic aspects such as investment, intellectual property, and services. It aims for a more comprehensive economic partnership, encouraging deeper integration and collaboration between participating countries.
  • Customs Union While not strictly an FTA, a Customs Union involves the elimination of tariffs among member countries and the establishment of a common external tariff against non-member nations. It goes beyond standard FTAs by harmonizing external trade policies, creating a unified approach to trade with the rest of the world.
  • Free Trade Area (FTA) with Trade in Goods (TIG) and Trade in Services (TIS): Some FTAs specifically emphasize either trade in goods or trade in services, tailoring the agreement to the specific economic strengths and priorities of the participating countries. This approach allows nations to focus on areas where they have a comparative advantage, fostering specialization and efficiency.

4. India's Free Trade Agreements

India is a member of several free trade agreements (FTAs) and is currently negotiating others.  India's FTAs have helped to reduce trade barriers and promote trade and economic growth. They have also helped to attract foreign investment and create jobs. 

  • The South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) was signed in 1995 by the seven countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). SAFTA aims to reduce or eliminate tariffs on trade between the member countries.
  • The India-Bangladesh FTA was signed in 2010 and came into force in 2011. It is a comprehensive FTA that covers goods, services, and investments.
  • The India-Sri Lanka FTA was signed in 1999 and came into force in 2000. It is a comprehensive FTA that covers goods, services, and investments.
  • The India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2002 and came into force in 2010. It is a comprehensive FTA that covers goods, services, and investments.
  • The India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed in 2010 and came into force in 2011. It is a comprehensive FTA that covers goods, services, and investments.
  • The India-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement(CEPA) was signed in 2022 and came into effect in 2023. It is a comprehensive FTA that covers goods, services, and investments.
  • The India-UAE Comprehensive Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed in 2022 and came into effect in 2022. It is a comprehensive FTA that covers goods, services, and investments.
  • The India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) was signed in 2022 and came into effect in 2022. It is a comprehensive FTA that covers goods, services, and investments.
  • The India-Malaysia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) was signed in 2010 and aims to enhance economic ties by addressing trade in goods and services, as well as investment and other areas of economic cooperation.
  • The India-Thailand Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2003 and focuses on reducing tariffs and promoting trade in goods and services between India and Thailand.
  • The India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) has been operational since 2005, this agreement covers trade in goods and services, as well as investment and intellectual property.
  • The India-Nepal Trade Treaty While not a comprehensive FTA, India and Nepal have a trade treaty that facilitates the exchange of goods between the two countries.
  • The India-Chile Preferential Trade Agreement was signed in 2006 and aims to enhance economic cooperation and reduce tariffs on certain products traded between India and Chile.

5India - UK Free Trade Agreement

5.1. Background

  • Both countries have agreed to avoid sensitive issues in the negotiations.
  • The interim (early harvest agreement) aims to achieve up to 65 per cent coverage for goods and up to 40 per cent coverage for services.
  • By the time the final agreement is inked, the coverage for goods is expected to go up to "90 plus a percentage" of goods.
  • India is also negotiating a similar early harvest agreement with Australia, which is supposed to set the stage for a long-pending Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement that both countries have been pursuing for nearly a decade.
  • While the commencement of negotiations does mark a step forward in the otherwise rigid stance adopted and when it comes to trade liberalisation, experts point to impediments and the potential for legal challenges going ahead.

5.2. GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs)

  • The exception to the rule is full-scale FTAs, subject to some conditions.
  • One rider, incorporated in Article XXIV.8 (b) of GATT, stipulates that a deal should aim to eliminate customs duties and other trade barriers on "Substantially all the trade" between the WTO member countries that are signatories to an FTA.
  • For this Agreement, a free-trade area shall be understood to mean a group of two or more customs territories in which the duties and other restrictive regulations of commerce are eliminated on substantially all the trade between the constituent territories in products originating in such territories.
  • It is often beneficial to negotiate the entire deal together, as an early harvest deal may reduce the incentive for one side to work towards a full FTA.
  • These agreements are not just about goods and services but also issues like investment.
  • If you are trying to weigh the costs and benefits, it is always better to have the larger picture in front of you.
  • In the case of the early harvest agreement inked with Thailand, automobile industry associations had complained that relaxations extended to Bangkok in the early harvest had reduced the incentive for Thailand to work towards a full FTA.
  • Early harvest agreements may serve the function of keeping trading partners interested as they promise some benefits without long delays, as India becomes known for long-drawn negotiations for FTAs.
  • Government emphasis on interim agreements may be tactical so that a deal may be achieved with minimum commitments and would allow for contentious issues to be resolved later.
For Prelims: Free Trade Agreement, India-U.K, Bilateral Free Trade Agreement, G-20 Summit, Agenda 2030, Covid-19 Pandemic, SAARC, General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, Multilateral Free Trade Agreement, Regional Free Trade Agreement, Preferential Trade Agreement, Customs Union, 
For Mains: 
1. Evaluate the potential impact of the India-UK FTA on the Indian economy, considering both positive and negative aspects (250 Words)
2. Critically evaluate the significance of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in promoting trade and economic growth, considering their potential benefits and drawbacks. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Consider the following countries:
1. Australia
2. Canada
3. China
4. India
5. Japan
6. USA
Which of the above are among the free-trade partners' of ASEAN? (UPSC 2018)
A. 1, 2, 4 and 5          B.  3, 4, 5 and 6      C.  1, 3, 4 and 5       D.  2, 3, 4 and 6
Answer: C

2. Increase in absolute and per capita real GNP do not connote a higher level of economic development, if (UPSC 2018)

(a) Industrial output fails to keep pace with agricultural output.
(b) Agricultural output fails to keep pace with industrial output.
(c) Poverty and unemployment increase.
(d) Imports grow faster than exports.

Answer: C

3. The SEZ Act, 2005 which came into effect in February 2006 has certain objectives. In this context, consider the following: (2010)

  1. Development of infrastructure facilities.
  2. Promotion of investment from foreign sources.
  3. Promotion of exports of services only.

Which of the above are the objectives of this Act?

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

Answer: A

4. A “closed economy” is an economy in which (UPSC 2011)

(a) the money supply is fully controlled
(b) deficit financing takes place
(c) only exports take place
(d) neither exports nor imports take place

Answer: D

5. With reference to the “G20 Common Framework”, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2022)
1. It is an initiative endorsed by the G20 together with the Paris Club.
2. It is an initiative to support Low Income Countries with unsustainable debt.
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
Answer: C
 Source: The Hindu



1. Context

Having extended the Smart Cities Mission deadline for a third time, till March 31, 2025, the Centre last week told the states and UTs that it will disburse the remaining funds till September 30 on a “first come first serve basis
2. What is Smart City Mission?
  • The Smart Cities Mission aims at developing 100 cities, which were shortlisted, into self-sustainable urban settlements.
  • The mission was launched on June 25, 2015, and was projected as one aimed at transforming the process of urban development in the country.
  • Among its strategic components is ‘area-based development, which includes city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment), and city extension (greenfield development), plus a pan-city initiative in which ‘smart solutions’ are applied covering larger parts of the city.

3. Key Focus areas of the Smart City Mission

  • Key focus areas of the scheme include the construction of walkways, pedestrian crossings, cycling tracks, efficient waste-management systems, integrated traffic management, and assessment.
  • The scheme also assesses various indices to track urban development such as the Ease of Living Index, Municipal Performance Index, City GDP framework, Climate-smart Cities assessment framework, etc.

4. Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC)

  • The Smart Cities Mission includes setting up ICCCs for each such city as a vital step.
  • These ICCCs are designed to enable authorities to monitor the status of various amenities in real time.
  • Initially aimed at controlling and monitoring water and power supply, sanitation, traffic movement, integrated building management, city connectivity and Internet infrastructure, these centres have since evolved to monitor various other parameters.
  • The ICCCs are now also linked to the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems) network under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The ICCC acts of a smart city acts as a “nerve centre” for operations management.
  • It processes a complex and large pool of data sets at an aggregated level. For example, it is now the go-to source for integrated traffic management monitoring.
  • The ICCC is the nodal point of availability of all online data and information relating to smart services included in a smart city, such as LED street lighting, CCTV surveillance cameras, air quality sensors, smart parking system, WiFi, electricity and water supply and billing, GIS, e-hospitals, property tax management, estate management, engineering systems, asset management systems, and other services.
  • During the pandemic, they also served as war rooms for Covid-19 management.

5. How did the ICCCs help in the management of Covid-19?

  • During the pandemic, they also served as war rooms for Covid-19 management.
  • During the peak of the first wave, when countries were struggling to figure out ways of combating the virus, the government used the ICCCs as war rooms for managing the outbreak, with real-time surveillance and monitoring of districts across the country.
  • Converted into war rooms, the smart cities ICCCs used the central data dashboard and provided information about the status of Covid-positive cases in various administrative zones of these cities, officials aware of the exercise said.
  • The war rooms were also used for tracking people under quarantine and suspected Covid 19 cases.

6. Current Status of Smart Cities Mission

  • The ambitious project, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, had an initial deadline of 2021 for the first lot of 20 smart cities out of the 100 selected.
  • Although the project was announced in 2015, the cities were selected over a period of two years between 2016 and 2018, each with a deadline of completion within five years from the time of their selection.
  • On the recommendation of NITI Aayog, the timeline was extended last year until 2023 due to delays caused by the pandemic.
  • According to current Ministry data, the SCM has so far covered over 140 public-private partnerships, 340 smart roads, 78 vibrant public places, 118 smart water projects and over 63 solar projects.

7. What's next?

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has begun work to finalise its recommendation for providing ICCCs as a service to states and smaller cities.
  • The Ministry aims to finalise an ICCC model and implement a pilot project across Six major states- Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

Previous year Question

1. Which of the following statements is/are correct regarding Smart India Hackathon 2017? (UPSC 2017)
1. It is a centrally sponsored scheme for developing every city of our country into Smart Cities in a decade.
2. It is an initiative to identify new digital technology innovations for solving the many problems faced by our country.
3. It is a programme aimed at making all the financial transactions in our country completely digital in a decade.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
A. 1 and 3 only
B. 2 only
C. 3 only
D. 2 and 3 only
Answer: B
For Prelims & Mains
For Prelims: Smart Cities Mission, Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs), Greenfield development, Ease of Living Index, Municipal Performance Index, City GDP framework, Climate-smart Cities assessment framework, CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems), and NITI Aayog.
For Mains: 1. What are Smart Cities? Examine their relevance in the urban development of India.(250 Words)
 Source: The Indian Express


1. Context
The Union government Wednesday constituted eight Cabinet committees, with the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) getting three new faces and the two most powerful panels — the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) and Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) — remaining unchanged.
2. What are the various Cabinet committees?
  • After the Union Cabinet is sworn in and ministerial portfolios are assigned, the next step involves establishing the high-profile Cabinet committees.
  • These committees are formed by the Prime Minister and comprise selected Cabinet members who are delegated specific roles. The Prime Minister has the authority to adjust the number of committees and modify their assigned functions as needed.
  • Each committee typically consists of three to eight members, predominantly Cabinet ministers. Occasionally, non-Cabinet ministers may also participate as members or special invitees. When the Prime Minister serves on a committee, he assumes the role of its chairperson.
  • These committees deliberate on issues, develop proposals for Cabinet consideration, and make decisions on matters within their purview. The Cabinet retains the authority to review these decisions.
  • During the Manmohan Singh government, there were up to 12 Cabinet committees in addition to numerous Groups of Ministers (GoMs) and Empowered Groups of Ministers (EGoMs)
How Many Committees are Present right now?
Currently, there are eight Cabinet committees: the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Investment and Growth, Cabinet Committee on Security, Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, Cabinet Committee on Employment & Skill Development, and Cabinet Committee on Accommodation.
The committees focusing on investment and employment were introduced by the Modi government in 2019. Except for the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation and Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, all committees are chaired by the Prime Minister
3. Significance of Cabinet Committees
  • Led by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) includes the Ministers of Finance, Defence, Home Affairs, and External Affairs as its members.
  • It oversees discussions, appointments within national security bodies, and major decisions concerning national security, defence spending, and related policy matters. In addition to defence issues, the CCS also addresses law and order, internal security, and foreign policy matters related to security, including considerations involving atomic energy.
  • Given its crucial role, there is an expectation that the BJP will resist pressure from allies such as the TDP and JDU to relinquish any of these significant portfolios.
  • With all current CCS members—Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman, and S Jaishankar—regularly attending informal meetings at the Prime Minister's residence, there is widespread anticipation of continuity within the CCS in Modi's second term
4. Coalition Government and Cabinet Committees (CCs)
  • In a coalition government, where multiple political parties come together to form a government, the composition and functioning of Cabinet Committees (CCs) can be influenced by the dynamics of coalition politics
  • One notable instance occurred during the transition from Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure as Prime Minister to the H D Deve Gowda government in 1996.
  • Deve Gowda, then Chief Minister of Karnataka, assumed office as Prime Minister on June 1. Mulayam Singh Yadav from the Samajwadi Party was appointed Defence Minister, P Chidambaram, who had established the Tamil Maanila Congress earlier that year, took on the role of Finance Minister, and Indrajit Gupta of the CPI became Home Minister.
  • In 2001, during Vajpayee's leadership of the NDA government, George Fernandes, founder of the Samata Party, was appointed Defence Minister and held the position for three years.
  • As Defence Minister during the BJP-led governments of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's second and third terms (1998–2004), Fernandes oversaw significant events such as the Kargil War and the nuclear tests conducted at Pokhra
5. Way Forward
Overall, in a coalition government, Cabinet Committees play a crucial role in managing and balancing the interests of coalition partners while addressing national priorities. Effective coordination and communication among coalition members are essential for the smooth functioning of CCs and the government as a whole
For Prelims: Cabinet Committees, Ethics Committes
For Mains: GSII- Cabinet Committees and thier Significance
Previous Year Questions
1.Read the following statements related to Cabinet Committees and choose the correct option : (CGPSC Civil Service 2020 Official Paper 1)
Statement I : Cabinet Committees are not mentioned in the Constitution
Statement II : Cabinet Committees are set up by the Prime Minister according to the exigencies of the time and requirements of the situation
Statement III : If Prime Minister is the member of Committee, he may not necessarily be the Chairman of Committee
Statement IV : Parliamentary Affairs Committee is chaired by the Prime Minister
A.All statements are true
B.Statements I, II and III are true, but Statement IV is false
C.Statements II, III and IV are true, but Statement I is false
D.Statements I and II are true, but Statements III and IV are false
Source: Indianexpress

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