Current Affair



1. Context 
The Union Home Ministry is deliberating measures to simplify one of the provisions of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which requires applicants to furnish a document proving he or she is a citizen of Bangladesh, Pakistan, or Afghanistan
2. About the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 is a controversial piece of legislation enacted by the Government of India on December 12, 2019. The act amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 to provide a pathway to Indian citizenship for certain religious minorities from neighbouring countries.

Key features of the Citizenship Amendment Act include

  • Eligibility Criteria: The CAA grants eligibility for Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian migrants who arrived in India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan on or before December 31, 2014, and have faced religious persecution on their home countries.
  • Exclusion of Muslims: Notably, the CAA excludes Muslims from its purview, leading to criticisms of religious discrimination and accusations of violating the secular principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
  • Criticism and Protests: The Citizenship Amendment Act sparked widespread protests across India, with critics arguing that the act undermines the secular fabric of the nation and discriminates against Muslims. Protesters also raised concerns about the potential marginalisation of Muslim communities and the exclusionary nature of the legislation.
  • Support from Government: The government defended the Citizenship Amendment Act, asserting that it aims to provide refuge and protection to persecuted religious minorities from neighbouring countries. The government argued that the act does not infringe upon the rights of Indian Muslims and is in line with the country's secular ethos.
  • Legal Challenges: Several petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Citizenship Amendment Act were filed in the Supreme Court of India. The court has heard arguments from both sides and is expected to deliver its judgment on the matter.
3. The current status of the Citizenship Amendment Act, of 2019
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on March 11 notified the Citizenship Amendment Rules, 2024 that would enable the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the Parliament in 2019.
  • Though the legislation facilitates citizenship to undocumented people belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Christian and Jain communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the rules state that the applicants will have to provide six types of documents and specify “date of entry” in India.


4. The concerns associated with the Citizenship Amendment Act, of 2019

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 has sparked various concerns and criticisms, both domestically within India and internationally. 

  • One of the primary concerns regarding the CAA is its exclusion of Muslims from the list of religious minorities eligible for citizenship under the act. Critics argue that this selective approach based on religion goes against the secular principles enshrined in India's constitution and promotes religious discrimination.
  • The CAA's focus on granting citizenship based on religious identity raises concerns about the secular nature of India's democracy. Critics argue that the act undermines the inclusive and pluralistic ethos of the country by favouring specific religious communities.
  • Opponents of the CAA fear that the act, coupled with other proposed policies like the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), could have implications for the demographic composition of India. They raise concerns about the marginalisation and exclusion of certain communities, particularly Muslims, and the potential for statelessness among vulnerable populations.
  • The constitutionality of the Citizenship Amendment Act has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India. Critics argue that the act violates the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, including the right to equality and non-discrimination.
  • The implementation of the CAA has led to social and political polarization within India. The act has become a contentious issue, leading to protests, debates, and divisions along religious and ideological lines.
  • The CAA has also attracted international attention and scrutiny, with concerns raised by human rights organizations and foreign governments regarding religious freedom, minority rights, and the potential impact on vulnerable communities.

5. The Indian ideas and rules of citizenship in the Constitution before the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019

Before the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019, the principles and rules of citizenship in India were primarily governed by the Constitution of India, which came into effect on January 26, 1950. The Constitution lays down the framework for citizenship and enshrines certain fundamental rights and principles related to citizenship. 

  • Citizenship by Birth: According to Article 5 of the Indian Constitution, any person born in India on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987, was automatically considered a citizen of India by birth, regardless of the nationality of their parents.
  • Citizenship by Descent: Individuals born outside India on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987, were eligible for Indian citizenship if either of their parents was a citizen of India at the time of their birth.
  • Citizenship by Registration: The Constitution provides provisions for certain categories of persons to acquire Indian citizenship through registration. This includes persons of Indian origin who have resided in India for a specified period and meet other criteria prescribed by law.
  • Citizenship by Naturalization: Foreigners who have resided in India for a specified period and fulfilled other conditions prescribed by law were eligible to apply for Indian citizenship through naturalization.
  • Citizenship by Incorporation of Territory: Any territory that became part of India through accession or merger automatically conferred Indian citizenship on its inhabitants as per the provisions of the Constitution.
  • Fundamental Rights: The Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens of India, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or place of birth. These rights include the right to equality, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, and the right to life and personal liberty.
  • Citizenship Act, 1955: This act, enacted based on the Constitution's provisions, outlined ways to acquire Indian citizenship. Here are the main routes:

    • Birth: Being born in India (with some limitations) granted citizenship.
    • Descent: Children born to Indian parents abroad could become citizens.
    • Registration: People of Indian origin residing in India for seven years could register.
    • Naturalization: Foreigners meeting specific residency requirements could apply for naturalization.

The Indian Constitution before the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 outlined principles of citizenship that were based on inclusivity, equality, and non-discrimination, with provisions for acquiring citizenship through birth, descent, registration, naturalization, and territorial incorporation. The CAA introduced amendments to these principles, particularly regarding eligibility for citizenship based on religious identity.


6. Section 6A of the Citizenship Act

Section 6A is a special provision inserted into the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955, in 1985, as part of the Assam Accord. It deals with the citizenship of people who migrated to Assam from Bangladesh:

  • It applies to people who entered Assam on or after January 1, 1966, but before March 25, 1971.
  • It grants citizenship to these people if they can prove that they were "ordinarily resident" in Assam on March 24, 1971.
  • People who claim citizenship under Section 6A must apply to a Foreigners Tribunal. The Tribunal will then decide whether or not to grant them citizenship based on the evidence they provide.


7. What does NRC mean?

  • NRC stands for the National Register of Citizens. It is a register maintained by the Government of India containing names and certain relevant information for the identification of Indian citizens in the state of Assam.
  • The purpose of the NRC is to create a list of genuine Indian citizens residing in Assam and identify individuals who are not legal residents of the state.
  • The NRC process in Assam has its origins in the Assam Accord of 1985, which aimed to address the issue of illegal immigration from Bangladesh and determine the citizenship status of individuals living in Assam.
  • The NRC process requires individuals to provide documentary evidence to prove their citizenship based on criteria set by the government.
  • The NRC process involves extensive documentation and verification to establish citizenship status, and it has been a contentious issue due to its impact on individuals' rights and concerns about exclusion and discrimination.
  • The implementation of the NRC in Assam has led to debates, legal challenges, and social tensions regarding citizenship and immigration issues in India.

8. What is NPR?

  • NPR stands for the National Population Register. It is a register of usual residents of India, which includes both citizens and non-citizens who have resided in a local area for at least six months or intend to stay for the next six months or more.
  • The NPR is prepared at the local, sub-district, district, state, and national levels under the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955, and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • The main purpose of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of residents in India. It collects demographic and biometric information to establish the identity of individuals and households.
  • The data collected in the NPR includes details such as name, age, gender, marital status, occupation, educational qualification, address, and other relevant information.
  • The NPR process involves house-to-house enumeration and collection of data by government officials or designated enumerators. The data collected is used for various purposes, including government planning, policy formulation, and social welfare schemes.
  • It's important to note that the NPR is distinct from the National Register of Citizens (NRC). While the NPR focuses on creating a comprehensive database of residents, the NRC specifically deals with determining the citizenship status of individuals, particularly in the state of Assam, based on documentary evidence.
  • The NPR has been a topic of discussion and debate in India, with concerns raised about privacy, data security, and potential misuse of information.


9. The difference between the NRC, NPR and CAA 


Term Description Purpose Focus
NRC (National Register of Citizens) Register of Indian citizens in Assam Identify legal residents and non-citizens Citizenship status in Assam
NPR (National Population Register) Register of usual residents (citizens and non-citizens) Create a comprehensive identity database Residents of India for planning purposes
CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) Law providing path to citizenship for religious minorities Grant citizenship based on religion and persecution

Specific religious minorities facing persecution


10. Is NPR connected to NRC?

The NPR (National Population Register) is connected to the NRC (National Register of Citizens) in the sense that the data collected during the NPR exercise can be used as a basis for the NRC verification process, especially in the context of Assam.

  1. Data Collection: The NPR involves collecting demographic and biometric information about residents of India, including both citizens and non-citizens who have lived in a local area for at least six months or intend to stay for the next six months or more. This data includes details such as name, age, gender, address, marital status, educational qualification, occupation, etc.

  2. Verification: The data collected during the NPR process can be used as a basis for verifying citizenship during the NRC process, particularly in Assam. In Assam, the NRC process requires individuals to provide documentary evidence to prove their citizenship based on certain criteria. The data from NPR can be cross-referenced during this verification process.

  3. Identification: The NPR data can help identify individuals who are considered genuine Indian citizens and those who may be considered doubtful citizens or non-citizens. This identification is crucial for the NRC process, especially in states like Assam where illegal immigration has been a longstanding issue.

While the NPR data can be used as a tool for verification during the NRC process, it's important to note that the NPR itself is not the same as the NRC. The NPR focuses on creating a comprehensive population database for administrative and planning purposes, while the NRC specifically deals with determining citizenship status, particularly in Assam, based on documentary evidence and verification.


11. Who are ‘Citizens’?

In general terms, citizens are individuals who hold citizenship in a particular country. Citizenship is a legal status that grants individuals certain rights, privileges, and responsibilities within the nation-state to which they belong. The concept of citizenship varies across different countries, but some common characteristics of citizenship include.

  1. Legal Recognition: Citizens are legally recognized members of a country or state. They are entitled to the protection of the state and have access to its legal system.
  2. Rights and Privileges: Citizens typically enjoy certain rights and privileges that non-citizens may not have, such as the right to vote, the right to work and reside in the country, access to social services, and the right to participate in the political process.
  3. Responsibilities: Along with rights and privileges, citizenship also entails certain responsibilities, such as obeying the laws of the country, paying taxes, serving on juries if called upon, and sometimes participating in military service.
  4. National Identity: Citizenship often involves a sense of national identity and belonging to a particular community or nation. This can include shared cultural, historical, and linguistic ties that bind citizens together.
  5. Acquisition and Loss: Citizenship can be acquired through birth (jus soli or jus sanguinis), naturalization, or descent from a citizen parent. It can also be lost or renounced voluntarily or involuntarily, depending on the laws of the country.
12. The Way Forward
By adopting the strategies, stakeholders can work towards addressing concerns related to the Citizenship Amendment Act, promoting inclusivity, protecting minority rights, and upholding democratic values in India's citizenship policies and practices.
For Prelims: Citizenship Amendment Act, Minorities, Secularism, NPR, NRC, 
For Mains: 
1. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of 2019 has sparked significant controversy in India. Critically examine the Act's provisions, highlighting the key concerns and potential implications. In your opinion, does the CAA violate the secular principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution? (250 words)
2. Considering the debates surrounding the CAA, critically analyze the concept of citizenship in India. How has the concept evolved, and what are the challenges in defining and managing citizenship in a diverse democracy like India? (250 words)
Previous Year Questions

Consider the following statements: (2018)

1. Aadhaar card can be used as a proof of citizenship or domicile.
2. Once issued, the Aadhaar number cannot be deactivated or omitted by the Issuing Authority.

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


2. What is the position of the Right to Property in India? (UPSC  2021)

(a) Legal right available to citizens only
(b) Legal right available to any person
(c) Fundamental Rights available to citizens only
(d) Neither Fundamental Right nor legal right


3.  With reference to the Delimitation Commission, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2012)
1. The orders of the Delimitation Commission cannot be challenged in a Court of Law.
2. When the orders of the Delimitation Commission are laid before the Lok Sabha or State Legislative Assembly, they cannot effect any modifications in the orders.
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
4. Barak Valley in Assam is famous for which among the following? (MSTET 2019)
A.  Bamboo Industry
B. Petroleum Production
C. Cottage Industries
D. Tea Cultivation
5. Which one of the following is an important crop of the Barak Valley? (Karnataka Civil Police Constable 2019)
A. Sugarcane           B.  Jute            C. Tea                    D. Cotton
6. Under Assam Accord of 1985, foreigners who had entered Assam before March 25, _____ were to be given citizenship.  (DSSSB JE & Section Officer 2022)
A. 1954           B. 1971         C.  1981           D. 1966
Answers: 1-D, 2-B, 3-C, 4-D, 5-B, 6-B
Source: The Indian Express



1. Context

On June 29 2024, the Karnataka government published the draft of the Karnataka Platform-based Gig Workers (Social Security and Welfare) Bill, making it the second Indian State to initiate such a move, the first being Rajasthan.

2. Gig Workers

  • Gig workers, also known as freelancers, independent contractors, or contingent workers, are individuals who work on a temporary or project-based basis, often for multiple employers or clients.
  • Unlike traditional employees, gig workers are not tied to a specific company or employer and have the flexibility to choose when, where, and how they work.
  • This emerging workforce is redefining the way work is done and is becoming an integral part of the modern economy.

3. Characteristics of Gig Workers

  • Gig workers can be found across various industries, from rideshare drivers and food delivery couriers to freelance writers, designers, and consultants.
  • They are characterized by their flexibility and autonomy, enabling them to take on multiple projects simultaneously or focus on specific niches where their skills excel.
  • Gig workers often use digital platforms and online marketplaces to connect with clients and find work opportunities, making use of technology to enhance their employability and reach.

4. Advantages of Gig Work:

  • Flexibility: Gig work offers unparalleled flexibility, allowing individuals to create a work schedule that fits their lifestyle and personal commitments. This flexibility is particularly appealing to parents, students, or individuals pursuing other interests alongside their work.
  • Diverse Opportunities: Gig workers can explore diverse opportunities and gain experience in various industries and projects. This variety can lead to skill development, exposure to different working environments, and the chance to build a diverse professional portfolio.
  • Autonomy and Independence: Gig workers enjoy a higher degree of autonomy and control over their work. They can choose projects they are passionate about, negotiate terms with clients, and take charge of their career paths.
  • Location Independence: The nature of gig work often allows workers to perform their tasks remotely, providing the freedom to work from any location with an internet connection.

5. Challenges and Concerns

  • Income Stability: Gig work may lack the stability of a traditional job, as gig workers may experience fluctuations in income depending on the availability of projects or clients.
  • Lack of Benefits: Gig workers are typically not entitled to employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off, which can pose financial challenges and reduce social security.
  • Legal Protections: Some gig workers face legal uncertainties regarding their employment status, leading to concerns about worker rights, job security, and access to legal protections.
  • Work-life Balance: While gig work offers flexibility, it can also blur the boundaries between work and personal life, leading to potential challenges in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

6. What does the bill propose?

  • The Gig Worker Welfare Bill applies to aggregators and primary employers in the gig economy.
  • Aggregators are digital intermediaries connecting buyers and sellers, while primary employers engage platform-based workers.
  • The proposed Welfare Board will comprise State officials, representatives from gig workers and aggregators, and civil society members.
  • The Board's responsibilities include setting up a welfare fund, registering platform-based gig workers, aggregators, and primary employers, and ensuring social security for gig workers.
  • Each gig worker will receive a unique ID, which will be valid indefinitely, and the Board will maintain a database of companies and workers.
  • Labour unions raised concerns about vague terminologies in the Bill that may create loopholes for companies.

7. Social Security and Welfare Fund:

  • The Board will create a "Social Security and Welfare Fund" for gig workers.
  • The fund will comprise contributions from individual workers, State government aids, and a 'welfare cess' paid by aggregators.
  • The welfare cess will be up to 2% or not less than 1% of the value of each transaction.
  • Unions objected to worker contributions due to fluctuating and inadequate pay.

8. Recognition of Workers' Rights:

  • Existing labour laws often do not recognize gig workers as 'employees' since they do not have a fixed term of employment.
  • The Rajasthan Bill eliminates "restrictive criteria" about eligibility, allowing any person to be registered upon joining an app-based platform.
  • The Welfare Board will formulate schemes for social security, including accidental and health insurance.
  • Unions suggest clarifying the benefits available to gig workers in the Bill.

9. Grievance Redressal:

  • Gig workers can raise grievances related to entitlements, payments, and benefits provided under the Act.
  • Petitions can be filed physically or online through the web portal.
  • The employer can object to the order within 90 days before an 'Appellate Authority.'
  • Concerns were raised about the effectiveness of current redressal mechanisms, as evidenced by protests from Urban Company workers.

10. Aggregator's Duties under the Bill:

  • Aggregators must deposit the welfare cess on time, which is a percentage of each transaction's value.
  • Aggregators are responsible for updating the database of gig workers regularly.
  • Aggregators must document any changes in the number of gig workers within one month of such variations.
  • For first offences, primary employers will be fined up to ₹10,000, while aggregators will face fines up to ₹5 lahks.
  • Subsequent violations will incur higher penalties, with primary employers paying up to ₹2 lakh and aggregators facing fines up to ₹50 lahks.
For Prelims: Gig Workers, Gig Economy, Social Security and Welfare Fund, Aggregators, and  Rajasthan Platform Based Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Bill, 2023.
For Mains: 1. Examine the role of the 'Gig Economy' in the process of empowerment of women in India (UPSC 2021).

Previous year Question

1. With reference to casual workers employed in India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2021)
1. All casual workers are entitled to Employees Provident Fund coverage.
2. All casual workers are entitled to regular working hours and overtime payment.
3. The government can by a Notification specify that an establishment or industry shall pay wages only through its bank account.
Which of the above statements is correct?
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 and 3 only
C. 1 and 3 only
D. 1, 2 and 3
Answer: D
 Source: The Hindu


1. Context
Spurred on by Russia’s war in Ukraine and the spectre of Donald Trump’s potential return to the U.S. White House, more European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) are finally hitting the alliance’s defence spending target
2. Why was NATO established?

NATO, established on April 4, 1949, is a Western security alliance comprising 12 original members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The alliance was formed by signing the Washington Treaty, deriving its authority from Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which upholds the inherent right of independent states to individual or collective defense.

Central to NATO is the principle of "collective security," where an attack on any member nation is viewed as an attack on all, necessitating collective response. This principle emerged from the Cold War context of the late 1940s, amid the rivalry between the USSR and the US over ideological and economic dominance. Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, addressing collective security, was introduced to counter the perceived threat of Soviet expansionism beyond Eastern Europe. In response, the USSR formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955, uniting socialist countries as allies.

However, invoking Article 5 does not mandate uniform military action by all member states. The extent of intervention is determined by each country "as it deems necessary." To date, the only instance of Article 5 being activated was in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, leading to NATO's deployment in Afghanistan for nearly two decades


3. Who are NATO’s members today?

In addition to the initial 12 members, subsequent additions to NATO's membership include Greece and Turkey in 1952, West Germany in 1955 (later recognized as Germany), Spain in 1982, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in 1999, followed by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009, Montenegro in 2017, North Macedonia in 2020, Finland in 2023, and Sweden in 2024.

A surge of new members joined in 1999, a few years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, prompting concerns about the alliance's potential obsolescence due to the absence of its original purpose

4.What challenges does NATO face today?


  • During the 2019 commemoration of NATO's 70th anniversary, notable tensions arose among member nations.
  • President Donald Trump of the United States emphasized the necessity for countries to increase their military expenditures.
  • This call stemmed from a 2014 agreement among NATO members to allocate a minimum of 2 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to defense spending, a commitment made following Russia's annexation of Crimea.
  • However, only a handful of nations met this threshold, prompting criticism from President Trump who deemed it unfair, particularly to countries such as the US that were fulfilling their spending obligations. By 2023, among the 30 member countries at the time, only 11 exceeded the stipulated limit.
  • One significant catalyst for increased defense spending was the Russian invasion of Ukraine the preceding year. Even traditionally neutral countries in foreign policy, such as Finland and Sweden, found appeal in the concept of collective security in response to Russia's assertive actions.
  • Despite NATO's "open door" policy toward membership, the admission of new applicants requires unanimous approval from all member states. Turkey hesitated to support the applications of Sweden and Finland due to past criticisms from their politicians regarding Turkey's human rights record. Turkey also accused these nations of harboring "terrorists"
5. Way Forward
Although the Ukraine-Russia war seems to have given NATO a new focus area to converge at, funding the war has again become a source of disagreements among members, much to Ukraine’s displeasure. Just this year, Secretary-General Stoltenberg said a plan was being formulated so that 18 NATO would meet the 2 per cent limit by the end of 2024
Source: Indianexpress


1. Context 

Minister of Home Affairs and Cooperation Amit Shah urged stakeholders in cooperative societies — district registrars, heads of district cooperative banks and heads of milk unions — to support the establishment of primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) in all villages and blocks of the country

2. About Primary Agricultural Credit Societies 

  • PACS are village-level cooperative credit societies that serve as the last link in a three-tier cooperative credit structure headed by the State Cooperative Banks (SCB) at the state level.
  • Credit from the SCBs is transferred to the district central cooperative banks or DCCBs that operate at the district level.  The DCCBs work with PACS, which deals directly with farmers.
  • Since these are cooperative bodies, individual farmers are members of the PACS and office-bearers are elected from within them.
  • A village can have multiple PACS and be involved in short-term lending or what is known as crop loans.
  • At the start of the cropping cycle, farmers avail credit to finance their requirement of seeds, fertilisers etc.
  • Banks extend this credit at 7 per cent interest, of which 3 per cent is subsidised by the Centre and 2 per cent by the state government. Effectively, farmers avail the crop loans at 2 per cent interest only.

3. Implementation

  • An Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) will be constituted under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Cooperation with the Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Minister of Food Processing Industries and Secretaries concerned as members to modify guidelines and implementation methodologies of the schemes of the respective Ministries as and when the need arises, within the approved outlays and prescribed goals, for facilitation of the "World's Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector" by the creation of infrastructure such as godowns, etc, for Agriculture and Allied purpose, at selected "viable PACS".
  • The Plan would be implemented by utilizing the available outlays provided under the identified schemes of the respective Ministries.
The following schemes have been identified for convergence under the Plan:
3.1. Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
  1. Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF)
  2. Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure Scheme (AMI)
  3. The mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)
  4. Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)
3.2.  Ministry of Food Processing Industries
  1. Pradhan Mantri Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PMFME)
  2. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)
3.3. Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
  1. Allocation of food grains under the National Food Security Act
  2. Procurement operations at Minimum Support Price

4. Benefits of the Plan

  • The plan is multi-pronged and it aims to address not just the shortage of agricultural storage infrastructure in the country by facilitating the establishment of godowns at the level of PACS, but would also enable PACS to undertake various other activities, viz:
  1. Functioning as Procurement centres for State Agencies or Food Corporation of India (FCI).
  2. Serving as Fair Price Shops (FPS)
  3. Setting up custom hiring centres
  4. Setting up common processing units, including assaying, sorting and grading units for agricultural produce etc.
  • Further, the creation of decentralized storage capacity at the local level would reduce food grain wastage and strengthen the food security of the country.
  • By providing various options to the farmers, would prevent the distressed sale of crops, thus enabling the farmers to realise better prices for their produce.
  • It would hugely reduce the cost incurred in the transportation of food grains to procurement centres and again transporting the stocks back from warehouses to FPS.
  • Through a "whole of Government" approach, the Plan would strengthen PACS by enabling them to diversify their business activities, thus enhancing the incomes of the farmer members as well.

5. Time frame and manner of implementation

  • National Level Coordination Committee will be formed within one week of the Cabinet approval.
  • Implementation guidelines will be issued within 15 days of the Cabinet approval.
  • A portal for the linkage of PACS with Govt. of India and State Governments will be rolled out within 45 days of the Cabinet approval.
  • Implementation of the proposal will start within 45 days of the Cabinet approval.

For Prelims: PACS, Inter-Ministerial Committee, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Food Processing Industries, State Cooperative Banks, district central cooperative banks, National Level Coordination Committee,

For Mains:
1. What are Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS)? Discuss the various programmes implemented by the Government to strengthen the Primary Agricultural Credit Societies in the country. (250 Words)
Previous Year Questions
1. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2020)
1. In terms of short-term credit delivery to the agriculture sector, District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) deliver more credit in comparison to Scheduled Commercial Banks and Regional Rural Banks.
2. One of the most important functions of DCCBs is to provide funds to the Primary Agricultural Credit Societies.
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: B
2. With reference to organic farming in India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2018)
1. 'The National Programme for Organic Production' (NPOP) is operated under the guidelines and directions of the Union Ministry of Rural Development.
2. 'The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority' (APEDA) functions as the secretariat for the implementation of NPOP.
3. Sikkim has become India's first fully organic State.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2 only          B. 2 and 3 only             C. 3 only             D. 1,2 and 3
Answer: B
3. With what purpose is the Government of India promoting the concept of "Mega Food Parks"? (UPSC 2011) 
1. To provide good infrastructure facilities for the food processing industry.
2. To increase the processing of perishable items and reduce wastage.
3. To provide emerging and eco-friendly food processing technologies to entrepreneurs.
Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
A. 1 only        B. 1 and 2 only        C. 2 and 3 only        D.  1, 2 and 3
Answer: B
4. With reference to “Urban Cooperative Banks" in India, consider the following statements: (UPSC 2021)
1. They are supervised and regulated by local boards set up by the State Governments.
2. They can issue equity shares and preference shares.
3. They were brought under the purview of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 through an Amendment in 1966
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 only          B. 2 and 3 only         C. 1 and 3 only         D. 1. 2 and 3 only
Answer: B
5. With reference to 'Financial Stability and Development Council', consider the following statements: (UPSC 2016)
1. It is an organ of NITI Aayog.
2. It is headed by the Union Finance Minister.
3. It monitors macroprudential supervision of the economy.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A. 1 and 2 only       B. 3 only           C. 2 and 3 only         D.  1, 2 and 3
Answer: C
Source: PIB


1. Context
In order to reduce its reliance on state governments to translate Central legislation into Indian languages, the Union Law Ministry is working on developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to translate laws into the official languages, likely by December 2024
2. What is artificial intelligence (AI)? 
  • AGI refers to a machine or software capable of executing any intellectual task within the human capacity. AGI aims to replicate human cognitive functions, enabling it to tackle unfamiliar challenges, learn from novel experiences, and apply acquired knowledge innovatively.

  • The primary distinction between AGI and the more prevalent form of AI, termed narrow AI, lies in their breadth and capabilities. Narrow AI is engineered for specific tasks like image recognition, translation, or strategic games like chess, where it can surpass human performance, yet it remains constrained within predefined parameters. Conversely, AGI envisions a broader, more generalized intelligence akin to humans, not confined to singular tasks, which positions it as the pinnacle of AI advancements.

  • The concept of AGI first surfaced in the 20th century through a seminal paper by Alan Turing, renowned as the progenitor of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

  • Theoretically, AGI holds vast potential across diverse domains such as healthcare, education, finance, and commerce.

  • Despite the promising prospects of AGI, it elicits widespread concerns for various reasons. Notably, the immense computational resources required for AGI development raise apprehensions regarding its environmental impact, stemming from energy consumption and e-waste generation. Additionally, AGI adoption could precipitate significant job displacement and exacerbate socioeconomic disparities.

  • AGI deployment may introduce novel security vulnerabilities, and its rapid advancement might outpace regulatory frameworks established by governments and international bodies. Moreover, reliance on AGI could potentially erode fundamental human skills and capabilities. Yet, the most pressing concern surrounding AGI is the possibility of its capabilities surpassing human comprehension, rendering its actions unpredictable and challenging to decipher

3. What are the different categories of AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be categorized into various types based on their capabilities and functionalities.

Here are the main categories:

  • Narrow AI (Weak AI): Narrow AI is designed to perform specific tasks within a limited domain. These AI systems excel at performing one particular task or a set of closely related tasks, but they lack the ability to generalize or adapt to new situations outside their predefined scope. Examples of narrow AI include virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa, recommendation systems, spam filters, and autonomous vehicles.

  • General AI (Strong AI): General AI refers to AI systems with the ability to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across different domains, similar to human intelligence. These systems possess cognitive abilities that enable them to solve a wide range of problems and tasks, adapt to new environments, and learn from experience. True general AI, which is capable of performing any intellectual task that a human can do, remains a theoretical concept and has not yet been achieved.

  • Artificial Superintelligence (ASI): Artificial Superintelligence is an advanced form of AI that surpasses human intelligence in virtually every aspect. ASI would possess cognitive abilities far superior to the most intelligent human beings and could potentially solve complex problems and challenges beyond human comprehension. Achieving ASI remains a subject of speculation and debate in the field of AI research

4. What are the areas of AI application?

AI has a wide range of applications across various sectors and industries. Some of the key areas of AI application include:

  • Healthcare: AI is used for medical image analysis, disease diagnosis, personalized treatment recommendation, drug discovery, patient monitoring, and healthcare management systems.

  • Finance: In finance, AI is employed for algorithmic trading, fraud detection, risk assessment, credit scoring, customer service automation, and investment portfolio management.

  • Education: AI applications in education include personalized learning platforms, intelligent tutoring systems, automated grading systems, adaptive learning tools, and educational content creation.

  • Retail: In retail, AI is used for demand forecasting, inventory management, customer segmentation, recommendation systems, pricing optimization, and supply chain management.

  • Transportation: AI is utilized in autonomous vehicles, traffic management systems, route optimization, predictive maintenance of vehicles, ride-sharing platforms, and logistics optimization.

  • Manufacturing: AI applications in manufacturing include predictive maintenance, quality control, supply chain optimization, robotic automation, production scheduling, and process optimization.

  • Customer Service: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are used for customer support, helpdesk automation, natural language understanding, sentiment analysis, and personalized customer engagement.

  • Marketing and Advertising: AI is used for targeted advertising, content recommendation, customer segmentation, sentiment analysis, campaign optimization, and social media analytics.

  • Cybersecurity: AI is employed for threat detection, anomaly detection, malware analysis, behavior analysis, network security, and incident response in cybersecurity applications.

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP applications include language translation, sentiment analysis, chatbots, speech recognition, text summarization, and language generation.

What is the Turing test?

The Turing test, proposed by British mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior indistinguishable from that of a human. The test is based on the premise that if a machine can engage in natural language conversation with a human evaluator to the extent that the evaluator cannot reliably distinguish between the machine and a human, then the machine is considered to possess artificial general intelligence (AGI).

Here's how the Turing test typically works:

  • A human evaluator interacts with both a human and a machine (hidden from view) through text-based communication channels, such as a computer terminal.
  • The evaluator engages in a conversation with both the human and the machine, asking questions or engaging in dialogue on various topics.
  • If the evaluator cannot reliably determine which participant is the machine and which is the human based on their responses, then the machine is said to have passed the Turing test.
  • The test does not require the machine to demonstrate understanding or consciousness, only the ability to simulate human-like conversation convincingly.
5. What are the challenges associated with AGI?

Achieving Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) poses numerous challenges, both technical and ethical.

Some of the key challenges associated with AGI include:

  • Complexity of Human Intelligence: Human intelligence is multifaceted and encompasses various cognitive abilities, including perception, reasoning, problem-solving, creativity, and emotional intelligence. Replicating these diverse capabilities in an AI system presents a significant technical challenge.

  • Generalization and Adaptation: AGI systems must be able to generalize their knowledge and skills across different domains and adapt to new environments, tasks, and situations. Achieving robust generalization and adaptation capabilities remains a major research challenge in AI.

  • Ethical and Societal Implications: The development and deployment of AGI raise ethical concerns regarding its potential impact on society, including issues related to job displacement, socioeconomic inequality, privacy, autonomy, and existential risks. Ensuring the responsible and ethical use of AGI is crucial but challenging.

  • Safety and Control: AGI systems could potentially exhibit unpredictable behavior or unintended consequences, posing safety risks to humans and the environment. Ensuring the safety and controllability of AGI systems, including mechanisms for robust error handling and human oversight, is a critical challenge.

  • Explainability and Interpretability: AGI systems are expected to make decisions and take actions autonomously, raising concerns about their transparency and interpretability. Ensuring that AGI systems can provide explanations for their decisions and actions in a human-understandable manner is essential for trust and accountability.

  • Data Quality and Bias: AGI systems rely heavily on data for learning and decision-making, and the quality of the data can significantly impact their performance and behavior. Addressing issues such as data bias, fairness, and representativeness is crucial to prevent AI systems from perpetuating existing societal biases and inequalities.

  • Resource Constraints: Building and training AGI systems require significant computational resources, including high-performance computing infrastructure and large-scale datasets. Overcoming resource constraints while ensuring scalability and efficiency is a practical challenge in AGI research.

  • Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Achieving AGI requires collaboration across various disciplines, including computer science, cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and ethics. Bridging the gap between these disciplines and integrating diverse perspectives is essential for advancing AGI research effectively

For Prelims: Current events of national and international importance
For Mains: GS-III: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Previous Year Questions

1.With the present state of development, Artificial Intelligence can effectively do which of the following? (UPSC CSE 2020)

1. Bring down electricity consumption in industrial units

2. Create meaningful short stories and songs

3. Disease diagnosis

4. Text-to-Speech Conversion

5. Wireless transmission of electrical energy

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2, 3 and 5 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only 

(c) 2, 4 and 5 only 

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Answer (b)

(b) 1, 3, and 4 only


  1. Bring down electricity consumption in industrial units - AI can optimize energy usage and reduce consumption in industrial settings through predictive maintenance and optimization algorithms.
  2. Create meaningful short stories and songs - While AI can generate text and music, creating truly meaningful and original artistic content remains a challenge.
  3. Disease diagnosis - AI has demonstrated capabilities in disease diagnosis through medical imaging analysis, pattern recognition, and data-driven diagnostics.
  4. Text-to-Speech Conversion - AI can effectively convert text into speech with high accuracy and natural-sounding voice synthesis.
  5. Wireless transmission of electrical energy - While AI may be involved in optimizing energy transmission systems, the direct wireless transmission of electrical energy is primarily a technological and engineering challenge, not directly related to AI capabilities
Source: Indianexpress

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