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12th January 2023

U.K., Japan sign defence pact allowing reciprocal troop deployment


The U.K and Japan signed a defence pact, which will permit the deployment of troops in each other’s countries and increase security cooperation.


About the Reciprocal Access Agreement:

  • The agreement would allow both forces to plan and deliver larger scale, more complex military exercises and deployments.
  • It is one the most significant treaty between the countries since 1902, when the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Alliance was signed.
  • The move comes as Britain is undertaking a ‘tilt’ towards the Indo-Pacific in its foreign and security policy.

Other recent developments:

  • In December, Japan’s F-X fighter jet program was merged with the UK and Italy’s ‘Tempest’ program to create the Global Combat Air Programme.
  • The U.K. and Japan had also launched a digital partnership in December 2022, to increase cooperation in semiconductors, cyber resilience and online safety.
  • UK will focus on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
  • Later on, UK and Japan will also hold talks on Japan’s G7 presidency, support for Ukraine and the supply chain resilience.

India’s Reciprocal Exchange of Troops Agreements:

  • India is fast inking reciprocal military logistics pacts with like-minded countries to extend its strategic and naval operational reach in the entire Indian Ocean region (IOR) and beyond.
  • The mutual logistics support arrangement (MLSA) with Australia will help us to extend the reach of the reach of our warships in southern IOR as well as the Western pacific region for India.
  • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) inked with US in 2016, with France in 2018 and later on with Japan in 2020.

Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA):

  • LEMOA stands for Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), a tweaked India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), which the U.S. has with several countries it has, close military to military cooperation. It is also one of the three foundational agreements — as referred to by the U.S.
  • LEMOA gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment. India and the U.S. already hold large number of joint exercises during which payments are done each time, which is a long and tedious process.

Vice-President says court can’t dilute Parliament’s sovereignty


Addressing the 83rd All India Presiding Officers Conference in Jaipur, the Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar has mentioned that Parliamentary sovereignty cannot be permitted to be diluted or compromised by the Executive or the Judiciary and public posturing or ‘one-upmanship’ that is being frequently witnessed in this matter is not wholesome.


About the Parliamentary sovereignty:

  • The doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty is associated with the British Parliament, whereas the principle of judicial supremacy is associated with the American Supreme Court.
  • Basic Features of Parliamentary Supremacy:
    • Parliament can change or modify any law,
    • There is no distinction between constitutional law and ordinary law, and
    • There is no superior authority which can declare the law passed by the parliament illegal or unconstitutional.
  • The Constitution makers of India adopted the middle course between the American system of Judicial Supremacy and the British principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty, by empowering the Judiciary with the power of Judicial Review and the Parliament with the Sovereign power of amending the Constitution with certain restrictions.
  • Parliamentary sovereignty means the supremacy of the legislative body parliament over all other government institutions including executive and judicial bodies.
  • The sovereign legislature may change or repeal any previous legislation and is not bound by any written law like the constitution. In India there is no parliament sovereignty rather there is constitutional sovereignty.
  • Parliamentary supremacy in India is governed by the Indian Constitution, which requires judicial review. In practice, this means that although the parliament has the authority to amend the constitution, the changes must be valid within the scope of the constitution.
  • However, in India, Parliament sovereignty is not there rather there is constitutional sovereignty.

Evolution of Parliamentary Sovereignty and Judicial Supremacy - India's Context:

As a mixed political system, India has backed a completely unique politico-constitutional arrangement known as parliamentary federalism, which has no precedent in the history of constitution development.

  • The Supreme Court, on one hand, has the power of judicial review to declare parliamentary laws unconstitutional.
  • The Parliament, on the other hand, can amend the major portion of the Constitution through its constituent power under Article 368.
  • Our constitution vests legislative sovereignty in the legislature and the Supreme Court with judicial review authority.
  • The 42ndAmendment Act of 1976 tainted this delicate balance by inserting Articles 31(D), 32(A), 131(A), 144(A), 226(A), 228(A), 323(A-B), and 329. (A).

Checks to parliamentary sovereignty by various provisions of the constitution:

  • Written Constitution:In India Constitution is written which put limitations on all organs of the state. Although Parliament can amend the constitution but it cannot supersede the written document. In the UK, as there is no written constitution, the Parliament possesses legislative sovereignty. So, any law passed by it cannot be questioned before any court on such grounds.
  • Independent judiciary and judicial review: Judiciary is independent and the guardian of the Constitution. It can declare any law or ordinance passed by the legislature void if any of its provisions violate one or more of the constitutional provisions.
  • Federal structure: Although the constitution says India as a union of states, India is a federal polity. Various federal provisions especially some special powers for schedule areas limit parliament powers where many parliamentary laws are applicable only on presidential and governor consent.
  • Limited amendment power: Parliament can amend most of the parts of the constitution but it cannot amend the ‘basic features of the constitution. Further, some amendments need a special majority and states’ legislature resolution.
  • Division of powers: Schedule 7 divides law-making power between centre and state. Parliament cannot make laws on the state list. Any law in state subject would require state’s consent through majority.
  • Limit by Presidential vetoes:A bill cannot become law without presidential assent. President can practice various veto powers like pocket veto that act as a limitation on parliament sovereignty.

The Indian Perspective:

  • The most basic and important feature of Indian Sovereignty is the Supremacy of the Constitution. The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India.
  • It frames fundamental principles, procedures, and practices and confers rights, powers, and duties to the government and other organs of the state. It imparts constitutional supremacy and not parliamentary supremacy, as it is not created by the parliament but by a constituent assembly, and adopted by its people, with a declaration in its preamble.
  • The parliament cannot override it. Supremacy of the constitution is a well-settled principle and cannot be challenged in a court of law.
  • In addition to the Minerva Mills Case, the Basic Structure Doctrine, reiterated by the Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharti Case also strengthened constitutional Supremacy.
  • It was held that the parliament cannot amend the constitution to destroy or change the basic structure of the constitution such as specific fundamental rights.

Provisions of Indian Constitution Supporting Supremacy of Constitution:

  • Article 14 of the Indian Constitution provides for equality before the law and the equal protection of laws. The term “Equality before the Law” is adopted from English common law, which means everyone is equal in the eyes of law and no one is above the law.
  • Article 124(1) of the Indian Constitution provides the establishment for the establishment of a Supreme Court of India.

Centre to give incentive for banks to promote digital payments


The Union Cabinet approved an outlay of ?2,600 crore to promote payments using RuPay cards and the Unified Payments Interface (UPI).


  • The total digital payments transactions have registered a year-on-year growth of 59%, rising from Rs.5, 554 crore in FY2020-21 to Rs.8, 840 crore in FY2021-22.
  • The Government of India is taking various initiatives for promotion of digital payments across the country.
  • Over past years, digital payment transactions have witnessed tremendous growth.
  • During the Covid-19 crisis, digital payments facilitated functioning of businesses, including small merchants, and helped in maintaining social distancing.
  • UPI has achieved a record of 782.9 crore digital payment transactions with a value of ? 12.82 lakh crore in the month of December 2022.


About the initiative:

  • Banks will be provided this incentive money to promote such digital payments, the Cabinet said in a press release.
  • The fund will be paid to banks in view of the lack of a Merchant Discount Rate (MDR), a commission on digital transactions — for UPI and RuPay
  • This regime has led to complaints from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and banks, which have been worried about the sustainability of building digital payments infrastructure in the absence of payments needed to scale and maintain them.
  • The scheme will also promote UPI Lite and UPI 123PAY as economical and user-friendly digital payments solutions and enable further deepening of digital payments in the country.
  • This incentive scheme will facilitate building of a robust digital payment ecosystem and promoting RuPay Debit Card and BHIM-UPI digital transactions.

The National Payments Corporation of India was recently introduced to reduce the load on banking networks for small transactions, and to allow payments over older feature phones, respectively.

What is digital payment system?

  • Digital payment system is a way of payment which is made through digital modes- completely online. No hard cash is involved in digital payments.
  • In this system, payer and payee both use digital modes to send and receive money.
  • It is also called electronic payment.
  • Example- Internet Banking, Debit Cards, Credit Cards, e-Wallets.

Different digital payment modes in India:

  • Cards:
    • Banking cards offer consumers more security, convenience, and control than any other payment method.
    • There is wide variety of cards available – including credit, debit and prepaid.
  • Internet Banking
    • It is an electronic payment system that enables customers of a bank or other financial institution to conduct a range of financial transactions through the financial institution's website.
    • Different types of online financial transactions are: National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT), Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), and Immediate Payment Service (IMPS).
  • Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD):
    • This service allows mobile banking transactions using basic feature mobile phone (dialling *99#), there is no need to have mobile internet data facility for using USSD based mobile banking.
    • Key services offered under *99# service include, interbank account to account fund transfer, balance enquiry, mini statement besides host of other services.
  • Mobile Banking
    • Mobile banking is a service provided by a bank that allows its customers to conduct different types of financial transactions remotely using a mobile device.
    • It uses software, usually called an app, provided by the banks or financial institution for the purpose. Each Bank provides its own mobile banking App.
  • Unified Payments Interface (UPI)
    • It is a system that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any participating bank), merging several banking features, seamless fund routing & merchant payments into one hood.
    • Each Bank provides its own UPI App.
  • Mobile Wallets
    • It is a way to carry cash in digital format. Instead of using physical plastic card to make purchases, we can pay with our smartphone, tablet, or smart watch.
    • An individual's account is required to be linked to the digital wallet to load money in it.
  • Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS)
    • AEPS is a bank led model which allows online interoperable financial transaction at PoS (Point of Sale / Micro ATM) through the Business Correspondent or Bank Mitra of any bank using the Aadhaar authentication.


Union Cabinet approves formation of 3 new cooperative societies


As per the decision taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) headed by Prime Minister, the Union Cabinet has approved the formation of three new cooperative societies to focus on seed availability to farmers, organic farming and exports, benefiting farmers.

  • Need of the initiative: Cooperatives that are associated with farmers, farmers’ income and agriculture production are an important part of rural India. 
  • The Cabinet approved the establishment of the;
  • National Export Society,
  • National Cooperative Society for Organic Products and
  • National Level Multi-state Seed Cooperative Society
  • Significance: These cooperative societies will help realise the vision of “Sahakar Se Samriddhi” (prosperity through cooperatives), and boost rural growth and farmers’ income.

What are Multi-state Cooperative societies?

  • They are societies that have operations in more than one State, for instance, a farmer producers Organisation that procures grains from farmers from multiple states.
  • At present, India has more than 1,500 multi-State cooperative societies, with the highest number being in Maharashtra.
  • The MSCS Act 2002 was passed tgovern such cooperatives whose members and areas of operation are spread across more than one state.

The Cooperative societies Act, 1950:

  • It states that the state government is entitled tappoint a registrar tlook after a cooperative society’s workings and appoint people tassist the registrar.
  • Any society that decides twork for its members with a common vested interest must be registered under this act.
  • A society will be registered under this act only if it has a member count of more than ten persons whhas attained the age of 18 years.
  • The objective of the society is tcreate funds for its members. The word limited must be in use with the name of such cooperative societies.
  • Any questions regarding the membership, such as whether the society has been created for agriculture or non-agricultural purposes, whether the residence of a member will be a town or village etc., will be taken by the registrar and deemed as final.

Related Constitutional Provisions:

  • The 97thConstitutional Amendment Act 2011
  • The right tform cooperative societies is a fundamental right (Article 19).
  • New Directive Principle of State Policy on the Promotion of Cooperative Societies (Article 43-B).
  • A new Part IX-B tthe Constitution is titled “The Co-operative Societies” (Articles 243-ZH t243-ZT).
  • Creation of a new Ministry of Cooperation– which gave more acknowledgment tcooperative societies.

Ministry of Cooperation:

  • The Union Ministry of Cooperation was formed in 2021; its mandate was looked after by the Ministry of Agriculture before.
  • Objectives of creation of the new ministry:
    • Trealize the vision of "Sahakar se Samriddhi" (prosperity through cooperation).
    • Tstreamline processes for ‘'Ease of doing business’' for co-operatives and enable the development of Multi-State Co-operatives (MSCS)
    • Tprovide a separate administrative, legal, and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movements in the country.
    • Tdeepen the cooperative as a true people-based movement reaching up tthe grassroots level.

Advantages of a cooperative society:

  • These societies are directly associated with the producers themselves. It excludes the chance of people working in the middle and thus provides maximum profit tthe producers and consumers; hence goods are sold at cheap rates here.
  • Instant and easy loans are provided tthe members of these cooperative societies.

Disadvantages of a Cooperative Society:

  • As these organisations work with the economically weaker and backward sections of society, the chances of raising monetary capital are quite low.
  • Due tmembership of such associations being essentially voluntary, there are scopes and instances of mismanagement and chaos in such groups.

Why is the land sinking in Joshimath?


Joshimath, the ancient Uttarakhand town has become a cause of concern. Though the town of Joshimath has been witnessing cracks emerging for the past two decades, things have escalated over the past few days.

Journey of Joshimath Town’s development:

  • Joshimath is a busy town in Chamoli district.
  • Despite a population of only about 23,000, it has been heavily built-on, with hotels, resorts, and a bustling market that caters mainly to tourists, pilgrims, trekkers and personnel of the army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
  • After the 1962 India-China war, Joshimath emerged as a place of strategic importance.
  • It leads to villages along the India-China border and is also en route to Barahoti, a disputed territory along the border.
  • The town is also a gateway to noted sites such as;
    • The pilgrimage – Badrinath for Hindus and Hemkund Sahib for Sikhs;
    • The international skiing site of Auli; and
    • The Valley of Flowers, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Today, Joshimath is overly burdened with structures built without any regard for the land’s load-bearing capacity.
  • The signs of sinking first appeared in October 2021, when cracks continued to appear around town and residents resorted to repairs.
  • The situation became particularly alarming towards the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, when large parts of the town experienced sudden land-sinking and several houses developed major cracks as well.

Reasons for Vulnerability of region:

  • Joshimath is built on the deposits of an old landslide, which means the slopes can be destabilised even by slight triggers.
  • The town is also in Zone V, denoting highest risk, in India’s seismic zonation scheme.
  • It lies between two thrusts, the Main Central Thrust (MCT) and the Vaikrita Thrust (VT), and thus occupies a seismically active terrain.

Main Central Thrust (MCT) line:

  • In simplest terms, the MCT is a crack or geological fault in Himalayas.
  • It is formed due to the collusion of Indo-Australian plate and Eurasian plate.
  • The area underneath the MCT is particularly very fragile due to frequent tectonic activities.
  • And, therefore, seismic activities are very common in MCT areas.
  • The MCT extends for over 2200 km across the Himalayas in northwest-southeast direction. Joshimath is located above the MCT.

The M.C. Mishra committee’s report of 1976 warned against heavy and unscientific construction in the town mentioning that, “Joshimath is a deposit of sand and stone, hence was not a suitable place for the coming up of a township. Vibrations produced by blasting and heavy traffic will also lead disequilibrium in natural factors.”

Contributing factors for disasters in the region:

  • Role of NTPC: Locals have blamed the NTPC’s 520-MW Tapovan Vishnugad hydropower project, under construction in the area, for exacerbating the Joshimath land subsidence.
    • Recently, NTPC has punctured a tunnel to connect Auli, near Joshimath for supply of water.
  • Char Dham project: The 6-km Helang-Marwari bypass, being built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), is also under scrutiny for weakening slopes and further destabilising the local topography.
    • The bypass is part of the 825-km Char Dham highway expansion project in Uttarakhand, which experts have already questioned for unscientific slope-cutting, which resulted in several landslides.
  • Inadequate drainage and wastewater disposal: The 2022 USDMA report pointed to a lack of drainage and wastewater disposal systems as being part of the subsidence problem.
    • About 85% of buildings in the town, including those owned by the army aren’t connected to a sewerage system and have soak pits instead.

The Himalayan ecosystem:

  • The Himalayas are ecologically fragile and economically underdeveloped, with geo-environmental constraints imposing severe limitations on the level of resource productivity.
  • Consequently, subsistence agriculture constitutes the main source of livelihood in the region.
  • The rapid growth of tourists in the region has brought about extensive land-use changes in the region, mainly through the extension of cultivation and large-scale deforestation.
  • This irrational land transformation process has not only disrupted the ecological balance of the Himalayan watersheds through reduced groundwater recharge, increased run-off and soil erosion, but has also adversely affected the ecology and economy of the adjoining Indo-Gangetic plains by recurrent floods and decreased irrigation potential.

Recent disasters in the region:

  • In last ten years, two major earthquakes have occurred in Uttaranchal namely the Uttarkashi earthquake (1991) and the Chamoli earthquake (1999).
  • 380 people were killed when massive landslides washed away the whole village Malpa, Uttaranchal (then Uttar Pradesh) in 1998.
  • In 1999, forest-fires in the hills of Uttaranchal destroyed more than 3, 75,000 hectares of forest. The same year, more than 450 cases of forest fire were reported in Himachal Pradesh and by May 1999, more than 80,000 hectares of forests were turned to ashes.
  • The kedarnath floods in 2013, had took lives of several innocent people and disaster in the region.

Short News Article

Economy (GS-III)

Three multi-State societies to procure and distribute seeds

The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of three national-level multi-State cooperative societies to act as an apex body for procurement, processing, marketing and distribution of seeds.


  • The societies are formed under the multi-State cooperative societies (MSCS) Act, 2002.
  • It would develop a system for preservation and promotion of indigenous natural seeds.
  • The primary societies, district-, State- and national-level federations and multi-State cooperative societies could become members of these societies.
  • The elected representatives would be included on the Board of the societies under their bylaws.
  • Significance:
  • Production of quality seeds will reduce dependence on imports and provide a boost to the rural economy.
  • To increase the seed and varietal replacement rates, ensuring the role of farmers in quality seed cultivation and seed variety trials and production and distribution of certified seeds with a single brand name, by utilising the network of all levels of cooperatives.

Need to prosper Agriculture and farmers:

  • The availability of quality seeds will help in increasing agricultural productivity in strengthening food security and also increasing the income of the farmers.

Environment (GS-III)

Godavari estuary in Andhra Pradesh has become prime habitat for Indian Skimmer

As per the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), the Godavari estuary in Andhra Pradesh has become a prime and safe habitat for the Indian Skimmer (Rynchops albicollis).


About Indian Skimmers:

  • The Indian skimmer grows to a length of 40-43 cm.
  • Features:
    • It has black upper parts, white forehead, collar and lower parts, long, thick, deep orange bill with a yellow tip and longer lower mandible.
    • In flight, it has a white trailing-edge to wing and a short forked tail with blackish central feathers.
  • It breeds colonially on large, exposed sand-bars and islands.
  • Colonies of mating pairs can be observed nesting on sandy islands or open sand banks.
  • Major Threats:
  • Habitat degradation: Due to Exploitation and degradation of rivers and lakes through fishing, transportation, domestic use, irrigation schemes and pollution from agricultural and industrial chemicals.
  • Excessive and widespread increases in disturbance: The damming of the Chambal River, in upstream Rajasthan, has adversely affected its population.

The Godavari Estuary:

  • The Godavari estuary has become a prime habitat for Indian Skimmer.
  • The Godavari estuary is situated at the place where the 1330 km long Godavari meets the Bay of Bengal on the east coast of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
  • River Godavari divides at Dowlaiswaram into two prinicipal distributaries viz., the Vasishta and the Gautami which enclose a wide delta between them.

Environment (GS-III)

Rare White Tufted Royal Butterfly found in Kannur

A team of butterfly observers and researchers have found White Tufted Royal Butterfly, a rare butterfly species at Kalliyad in Kannur.

About the species:

  • They are rare species having a wingspan of just 32-40 mm.
  • Its larvae feed on Scurrula parasitica, a plant belonging to the Loranthaceae family.
    • Scurrula parasitica, is a parasitic shrub, 0.5-1 m tall, with branches erect, woolly.
  • There exists eight species of the butterfly. 

Protection status:

  • The butterfly is protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • The species had been spotted in Agasthyakoodam in 2017 and the Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary in 2018.


A Push for Glory


  • Odhisha government is going to organise Men’s World Cup in its two cities namely Sundargarh and Rourkela in 2023. India will now become the first country to hold the World Cup in consecutive editions and for the fourth time.

The State government’s approach:

The State government had to adopt a three-pronged approach to tackle logistical issues.

  • Fund allocation: It spent ?260 crore to build a new stadium which has the capacity to hold 20,000 spectators; constructed a 225-room five-star facility to accommodate players and officials.
  • Building Infrastructure: Readied an airport for commercial flights in Rourkela within a limited time frame.
  • Passion for sports: Steel City Rourkela will be the fourth Indian city to organise the event.

State’s Hockey Links:

  • Historically introduced: Sundargarh was exposed to hockey by the Christian missionaries in the 1860s.
  • Produced top players from the state: Odhisha has produced top stars including former India captain and current Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, Subhadra Pradhan and Deep Grace Ekka.
  • In the present Indian Team: The vice-captain Amit Rohidas and Nilam Sanjeep Xess, are part of the current Indian hockey team representing India, and continuing the legacy of state’s passion for the sport.
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