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14th September 2023

Russia agreed to train‘Indian seafarers’in Arcticand Polar waters


Recently, Russia has agreed to train Indian seafarers in polar and arctic watersin far eastern Russian port,as to widen their maritime cooperation including possibility of usage of new transport corridors like the Northern Sea Route as well as the Eastern Maritime Corridor.


About the agreement:

  • During the meeting, both the countries discussed topic including maritime communication between India and Russia to widen maritime cooperation including possibility of usage of new transport corridors like the Northern Sea Route (NSR) as well as the Eastern Maritime Corridor (EMC) between Vladivostok and Chennai.
  • They also agreed to train Indian seafarers in Polar and Arctic waters at the Russian Maritime Training Institute, which is equipped with simulator training facilities, in Vladivostok.
  • The trading and transportation of potential commodities such as coking coal, oil, and liquefied natural gas was also proposed.

What is the North Sea Route (NSR)?

  • The NSR, the shortest shipping route for freight transportation between Europe and countries of the Asia-Pacific region, straddles the Four Seas (Barents, Kara, Laptev and East Siberian Sea) of the Arctic Ocean.
  • Running to 5,600 km, the Route begins at the boundary between the Barents and the Kara seas (Kara Strait) and ends in the Bering Strait (Provideniya Bay).
  • It offers potential distance savings of up to 50% compared to traditional routes through the Suez or Panama Canals.
  • The 2021 Suez Canal Blockage heightened interest in the NSR as an alternative trade route.

India’s Interests in Arctic region:

  • For Energy security: The region has rich deposits of coal, gypsum and diamonds and also substantial reserves of zinc, lead, placer gold and quartz.
    • The Arctic can therefore potentially address India’s energy security needs and deficiency of strategic and rare earth minerals.
  • India in ‘Arctic council’: Initiatives like the Himadri research station, multi-sensor moored observatory, and northernmost atmospheric laboratory showcase India's commitment to Arctic research.
    • Becoming an observer-state of the Arctic Council in 2013 strengthened India's Arctic presence.
  • Research and Development:The study of the Arctic is critical to Indian scientists. In line, India launched its first scientific expedition to the Arctic Ocean in 2007 and opened the Himadri research base in the Svalbard archipelago (Norway) and has been actively engaging in research there ever since.

Why India seeks for Russian support?

  • The Arctic's icebound nature necessitates icebreaking assistance for safe navigation along the NSR. Russia boasts the world's only nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet, ensuring year-round operation.

Rosatom, the NSR infrastructure operator, oversees this fleet.

  • With Russia's ambitious plans to enhance the NSR's cargo traffic, its nuclear icebreaker fleet remains central to the project.

India-Russia Engagements:

  • The increasing cargo traffic along the NSR, with a growth rate of approximately 73% during 2018-2022, aligns with India's expanding imports of Russian Crude Oil and coal.
  • The NSR's potential as a transit route also suits India's trade-heavy economy.
  • The Chennai-Vladivostok Maritime Corridor (CVMC) project offers a shorter and efficient trade route, further boosting India's interest in the NSR.
  • Additionally, India seeks to balance China and Russia's potential collective influence over the NSR.

U.N. Cyber Crime Convention


As United Nations member states negotiate a treaty to counter cybercrimes, India has made suggestions at the international forum that transfer of “personal data” under the convention will be done in accordance with the country’s domestic laws and no other applicable international laws.

  • Since May 2021, UN member states have been negotiating an international treaty on countering cybercrime.
  • If adopted by the UN General Assembly, it would be the first binding UN instrumenton a cyber-issue.
  • At the sixth session of the “Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes” held recently, India proposed a clause encouraging state parties to “establish bilateral or multilateral arrangements” to facilitate the transfer of personal data.

U.N. Cyber Crime Convention

  • This is a treaty that could become an important global legal framework for international cooperation on preventing and investigating cybercrime, and prosecuting cybercriminals.
  • It is yet not ratified and is in a draft stage.

What is cybercrime?

  • There is no universally accepted definition of cybercrime.
  • A common approach is to define it in two categories:
    • Cyber-dependent crimes are crimes that can only be committed by using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
    • Cyber-enabled crimes are so-called traditional crimes that have been transformed in speed, scale and scope through the use of ICTs, such as online banking scams, identity theft or fraud, and online child sexual exploitation.

India’s Suggestions to draft ‘UN Cybercrime convention’:

  • India also agreed to the clause that state parties may transfer personal data to a third country or an international organisation only with the prior written authorization of the original transferring state party, subject to effective and appropriate safeguards.
  • According to the draft, each state party shall designate a point of contact available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to ensure the provision of immediate assistance for the purpose of investigations, prosecutions or judicial proceedings concerning criminal offences established in accordance with the convention.


  • There are global asymmetries in state capacity (including funding and resources) and skills required to counter cybercrime.
  • Developing states are disproportionately vulnerable to the direct and indirect impacts of cybercrime, making capacity-building a particularly urgent priority.
  • The treaty’s chapter on technical assistance outlines state parties’ duties and expectations for addressing gaps in capacity.
  • Some developing states have requested commitments to technology transfer, which could include ‘dual-use’ technologies that have both civil/commercial and weapons/military applications.
  • Other states have refused these proposals, citing concerns about the potential scope for abuse.

‘Disability certificate’ for Sickle cell patients


The Government is planning for permanent disability certificates for Sickle-Cell Disease (SCD) patients for age 5+, now stalled for three years.

  • The Union government has been publicising its campaign to “eradicate” Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) in India by 2047.
  • SCD was included in the list of disabilities under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, patients could only avail disability certificates with one-year validity.
  • Later on, the DEPwD eventually increased the validity of disability certificates for SCD patients to three years, requiring a minimum of 25% disability.

What is Disability Certificate?

  • Disability certificates in India are official documents issued to individuals with disabilities to provide legal recognition of their disability status.
  • These certificates are essential for accessing various government benefits, reservations, and support services aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities.
  • Disability certificates are typically issued by medical boards or committees appointed by the state or central government.
  • These boards consist of medical professionals who assess and certify the extent and type of disability.
  • Disability certificates are typically valid for a specified period, after which individuals may need to undergo a reassessment to determine if there have been any changes in their disability status.
  • They are issued in compliance with the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, which provides a legal framework for safeguarding the rights and interests of people with disabilities in India.


  • Disability certificates play a crucial role in accessing various government schemes and benefits, including reservation in education and employment, financial assistance, transport concessions, and assistive devices.

What is Sickle Cell Disease (SCD)?

  • SCD is a chronic single gene disorder causing a debilitating systemic syndrome characterized by chronic anemia, acute painful episodes, organ infarction and chronic organ damage and by a significant reduction in life expectancy.
  • Symptoms:Symptoms of sickle cell disease can vary, but some common symptoms include:
    • Chronic Anaemia:leading to fatigue, weakness, and paleness.
    • Painful episodes (also known as sickle cell crisis): these can cause sudden and intense pain in the bones, chest, back, arms, and legs.
  • Treatment:
    • Blood Transfusions:These can help relieve anaemia and reduce the risk of pain crises.
    • Hydroxyurea:This is a medication that can help reduce the frequency of painful episodes and prevent some of the long-term complications of the disease.
    • It can also be treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.

Government Initiatives to Tackle SCD:

  • Government has released technical operational guidelinesfor prevention and control of hemoglobinopathies in 2016 including sickle cell.
  • Integrated centers have also been established in 22 tribal districts for treatment and diagnosis.
  • The State Haemoglobinopathy Missionhas been established in Madhya Pradesh to address the challenges in screening and management of the disease.
  • National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission:
    • The National Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission was announced in the Union Budget 2023-2024.
    • It will be implemented in 278 districts of 17 states in the country.

Global Stocktake Report


UN climate secretariat releasesthe Global Stocktake Report, a synthesis report on G-20 summit discussing countries' progress toward Paris Agreement goals before the event.


The Global Stocktake Report:

  • About: It is a45-page reportwhich lays out 17 ‘key findings’ that overall suggests that the world is not on track to achieve Paris Agreement targets, though there was still a “rapidly narrowing” window for countries to get their act together.
  • The 'global stocktake' is a periodic review conducted every five years to assess how well countries are doing in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius and ideally below 5 degrees Celsius.
  • The first global stocktake report this year will have a significant impact on discussions during the 28th UN climate Conference of Parties (COP) scheduled for November in Dubai.
  • The global stocktake not only reviews past efforts but also encourages countries to set more ambitious climate targets. This can lead to nations committing to stronger actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before they announce updated NDCs in 2025.

Key Highlights of the Report:

  • Paris Agreement Goals: The report highlights that the Paris Agreement has motivated countries to set climate goals and recognize the urgency of the climate crisis.
  • Ambitious Emissions Reduction: The report stresses that much more ambitious actions are required to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030 and achieve net-zero CO2 emissions globally by 2050. It calls for the rapid elimination of unabated fossil fuels.
  • Deforestation and Land Use: Halting deforestation and land degradation is crucial, along with promoting sustainable agricultural practices to reduce emissions and enhance carbon sinks.
  • Adaptation and Loss & Damage: Efforts to adapt to climate change impacts need to be more comprehensive and supported by transparent reporting. Urgent action is required to address loss and damage caused by climate change.
  • Climate Finance: The report emphasizes the need to enhance access to climate finance in developing countries and redirect financial flows toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development to meet global investment needs.


  • The Report will help countries evaluate progress and consider increasing their climate commitments.
  • Countries set their climate goals, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which they aim to achieve.
  • These NDCs are reviewed during the global stocktake, encouraging nations to enhance their targets to combat climate change.

Paris Agreement and Goals:

  • The primary objective of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to climate change and keep the global average temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Each participating country (known as a Party) submits a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) outlining its specific climate action plan.
  • These NDCs include targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to climate impacts, and enhancing resilience.
  • Developed countries commit to providing financial support to developing countries to assist them in both mitigating emissions and adapting to climate change.
  • The agreement aims to mobilize climate finance from various sources to help developing countries transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient economies.

Planetary boundaries


As per the recent study, six of 9 planetaryboundaries which arenecessary to maintain Earth’s stability and resilience have been breached because of human activities.

What are Planetary Boundaries?

  • Planetary boundaries are thresholds within which humanity can survive, develop and thrive for generations to come.
  • They are divided intonine boundaries, which are created a safe operating limit for survival.

The nine planetary boundaries are;

  • Stratospheric ozone depletion
  • Loss of biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and extinctions)
  • Chemical pollution and the release of novel entities.
  • Climate Change
  • Ocean acidification
  • Freshwater consumption and the global hydrological cycle
  • Land system change
  • Biogeochemical flows (nitrogen and phosphorus),
  • Ocean acidification,
  • Atmospheric aerosol pollution,
  • Release of novel chemicals
  • The planetary boundaries framework helps scientists to track and communicate how these rising pressures are destabilizing our planet.

About the study:

  • This is the third iteration of the framework carried out by 29 scientists from eight different countries.
  • As per the assessment six of 9 planetary boundaries have been exhausted.
  • It mentioned that the six boundaries include;
    • Climate change,
    • biosphere integrity (genetic diversity and energy available to ecosystems),
    • land system change,
    • freshwater change (changes across the entire water cycle over land),
    • biogeochemical flows (nutrient cycles), and
    • Novel entities (microplastics, endocrine disruptors, and organic pollutants).
  • The researchers set the planetary boundary for atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and radiative forcing (represents the size of the energy imbalance in the atmosphere) at 350 parts per million (ppm) and 1 Watts per square meter (Wm−2), respectively.
  • Currently, this has reached 417 ppm and is 2.91 W m−2.
  • The planetary boundary of novel entities was calculated to be zero. This means humans have transgressed this limit as well.

It is estimated around one million of the 8 million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, and over 10 per cent of the genetic diversity of plants and animals may have been wiped out over the last 150 years.

Short News Article

History (GS-I)

75th anniversary of Operation Polo

September 13 marks the anniversary of Operation Polo.


  • ‘Operation Polo’, the military action launched by the Indian Army on September 13, 1948, to integrate the princely state of ‘Hyderabad’.
  • Situated in the Deccan, Hyderabad was one of the most populous and richest states and had 17 districts including Aurangabad (now in Maharashtra) and Gulbarga (now in Karnataka).
  • The landlocked state had a majority Hindu population with the state administration almost entirely run by its Muslim rulers.
  • The Nizam was reluctant to accede to either India or Pakistan and sought to maintain his state's independence.
  • There was no common border with Pakistan but the Nizam had every intention to have fraternal relations with that country.

Outcome of the operation:

  • The Indian military quickly achieved control over Hyderabad, and the Nizam's forces surrendered on September 17, 1948.
  • Hyderabad was integrated into the Indian Union, becoming the new state of Hyderabad.
  • SardarVallabhbhai Patel, India's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, played a key role in the integration process.

Polity and Governance (GS-II)

Skill India Digital Platform

Union Minister for Education and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has launched Skill India Digital (SID) platform.


  • The platform embodies the aspirations and dreams of millions of Indians who seek better opportunities and a brighter future as it extends industry-relevant skill courses, job opportunities, and entrepreneurship support.
  • SID is the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) for skilling, education, employment, and entrepreneurship ecosystem of India. Driven by the vision to make skill development more innovative, accessible, and personalized in its embodiment, focusing on digital technology and Industry 4.0 skills, the state-of the- art platform will be a breakthrough in accelerating skilled talent hiring, facilitating lifelong learning and career advancement.
  • The platform aligns perfectly with the vision articulated in the G20 framework for building DPI and the digital economy to promote digital skills and digital literacy.
  • It is also a comprehensive information gateway for all government skilling and entrepreneurship initiatives – a go-to hub for citizens in pursuit of career advancement and lifelong learning.

Economy (GS-III)

63rd annual SIAM convention

In a speech at the 63rd annual SIAM convention, many schemes has being highlighted to bolster growth, taking the examples of PLI, FAME, etc.


  • The event was organized at New Delhi.
  • SIAM stands for “The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers”.
  • It is an apex national body representing all major vehicle and vehicular engine manufacturers in India.
  • The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) is an international community of over 14,000 individual members.
  • This year SIAM Annual Convention, will have four separate Special Plenary Sessions with the following themes:
    • Sustainable Mobility – The Way Ahead for the Indian Automobile Industry
    • Balancing Growth Aspirations with Sustainability
    • Sustainable Mobility – Global Benchmarks
    • 'Aatmanirbhar’ – The Roadmap to Increased Localization and Harnessing Export Potential of the Indian Auto Industry


Protecting floodplains is the need of the hour


After the recent Yamuna Floods in the capital, has revoked the concern of Illegal construction work in floodplains which reduces the capacity of rivers to contain a high level of water within their banks.

The Urgent Need for Flood Management

  • Frequency and Intensity of Floods: Increasing frequency and intensity of floods due to climate change pose a significant threat worldwide, as exemplified by recent disasters in Pakistan, Himachal Pradesh, and India's metropolitan areas.
  • Urban vulnerability: Over 40 million hectares of land in India, nearly 12% of the total land area, is prone to floods, with cities being particularly vulnerable due to haphazard urban expansion.
  • Disaster Management policy: India's current legal framework for disaster management does not adequately address the predictable risks associated with floods, highlighting the need for a change in strategy.

Shift from Flood Protection to Risk Management

  • International Shift in Strategy: Countries like Germany, the U.K., and the Netherlands have transitioned from flood protection to flood risk management, emphasizing water retention and floodplain restoration over technical measures like dikes and flood defense walls.
  • Limits to Rivers: Encroachments on floodplains in India, as seen in Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, exacerbate flooding by limiting river capacity during heavy rainfall.
  • Illegal construction:Despite regulatory measures and environmental impact assessments, illegal construction and mining activities persist in these regions.

The Role of Ecosystem Preservation and Political Will

  • Ecosystems as Natural Buffers: Ecosystem preservation, including wetlands, forests, lakes, and coastal areas, can serve as natural buffers against floods and other natural hazards, as demonstrated in Germany's Federal Water Act.
  • Need of an integrated framework: Climate change adaptation requires an integrated framework that encompasses land use, water body preservation, coastal regulations, and environmental impact assessment laws.
  • Support and Cooperation: Implementing such a framework necessitates strong political will, especially in the face of populist leaders who may resist "green" policies, putting lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure at risk.
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Unified approach


Kerala is facing the Nipah Virus outbreak in the State and needs an integrated approach to healthwhich can prevent zoonotic spillover.

The Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kozhikode

  • Repeated Outbreaks: Kozhikode in Kerala is facing its fourth Nipah virus outbreak in five years, a zoonotic disease transmitted from fruit bats to humans.
  • Deadly Nipah infection: The recent outbreak has already claimed two lives, with three more individuals testing positive, sparking fears reminiscent of the deadly 2018 outbreak when 21 out of 23 infected individuals succumbed to the virus.
  • Concerns: Nipah virus still lacks a cure, and supportive care remains the sole treatment option, even within hospital settings.

Response Measures

  • Immediate Response: Kerala's Health Minister has initiated extensive medical observation of hundreds of people who came into contact with the deceased and formed containment teams to manage the outbreak.
  • Cross-border health approach: A central team has been dispatched to assist the State government, while neighboring states have taken precautions to prevent cross-border infections.
  • Steps taken: State government has ensured the people for integrated approach.

Need for a One Health Approach

  • Learning from Global Outbreaks: The recurring Nipah outbreaks underscore the role of anthropogenic activity, such as rapid agricultural expansion in fruit bat habitat zones, in zoonotic spillovers.
  • Balancing approach: The One Health concept, gaining prominence through the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizes an integrated approach to balance the health of people, animals, and the environment, recognizing their interconnectedness.
  • Establishing Human-Animal Health linkage: Governments must adopt a One Health approach to prevent future outbreaks, acknowledging that human health is closely linked to the health of animals and the environment.
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The new sharing


The Sixteenth Finance commission constituted recently, has to take a stand and must re-examine revenue allocation among states in light of post-GST changes.

The Transformation of India's Taxation System

  • Introduction to GST: The 122nd Constitutional Amendment of 2016 brought about a significant change in India's fiscal landscape, introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in 2017.
  • Shifting Dynamics of federalism: GST shifted India from a production-based taxation system to a consumption-based one, reshaping the dynamics of federalism by allowing both the Union and states to collect indirect taxes.
  • Increasing tax burden on states: The destination principle for cross-border trade ensured that consuming states benefited, in contrast to the earlier system where rich manufacturing states exported tax burdens to consuming states.

Challenges and the Need for Reforms

  • Discrepancies in Fiscal Transfer System: Despite the shift to a consumption-based tax system, India's fiscal transfer system remains based on the principles of the previous origin-based tax era, leading to disconnects between operational tax regimes and sharing criteria.
  • Present re-examination: The upcoming 16th Finance Commission should be tasked with re-examining tax-sharing principles in light of the new fiscal federalism landscape.
  • Issue of IGST: Reforms should start with redefining the divisible pool, including unsettled IGST with input tax credit, and addressing cash flow issues for state governments.

Redesigning Tax Sharing and Fiscal Monitoring

  • Addressing Horizontal Distribution: Criteria for the distribution of the divisible pool among states, particularly for equalizing grants, need to be reimagined to align with the consumption-based tax system.
  • Compensation grants:The fiscal year after the GST compensation grants, which extend to March 31, 2026, will be the base year for the 16th Finance Commission's award from 2027 to 2032.
  • Approach based reforms: The need, viability, and desirability of the compensation scheme should be reviewed, considering the revenue performance of GST during the past six years.
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The complex path to biofuel sustainability


Recently, India has initiated the Global Biofuel alliance during G20 Summit 2023, which raises question on India’s potential for biofuel sustainability. Any strategy needs to be carefully examined in the context of the larger ecosystem to avoid negative consequences.

Biofuels vs. Electric Vehicles

  • Changing Dynamics: While electric vehicles (EVs) have gained popularity, it's clear that transitioning to EVs is not without challenges, such as the need to replace existing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and infrastructure, which is capital-intensive.
  • Burden of importing batteries for EVs: Additionally, the import of batteries and critical minerals for EVs raises environmental concerns related to mining and supply chain issues.
  • Focus on Indigenous: Biofuels offer an alternative with minimal modifications required for existing ICE engines and infrastructure, providing import independence.

Biofuel Challenges in India

  • India's Biofuel Scenario: India primarily focuses on first-generation (1G) ethanol sourced from food crops, targeting 20% ethanol blending with petrol by 2025-26.
  • Burdening Agriculture: However, this strategy relies on diverting surplus food crops to energy production, which may not be sustainable given stagnating crop yields, groundwater depletion, and the need for food security.
  • Increasing Greenhouse gas emission: The agriculture sector, responsible for motor fuel production, also contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, creating a complex balance between emissions reduction and food production.

Need for Sustainable Biofuels

  • Promoting Sustainable Biomass: Sustainable biofuels, produced from crop residues and waste with low water and greenhouse gas footprints, offer a viable solution.
  • Recent Intervention: The Global Biofuels Alliance formed at the G-20 Summit aims to strengthen sustainable biofuel development and ethanol adoption.
  • Way forward: Prioritizing biomass for sectors with limited low-carbon alternatives, such as long-haul aviation and road freight, can play a crucial role in achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
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