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16th March 2023

Women’s Reservation Bill


Recently, K. Kavitha who is accused in the Delhi excise case has launched a six-hour hunger strike seeking early passage of the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill in New Delhi.

Women and Political reservation in India:

  • The issue of reservation for women in politics can be traced back to the Indian national movement. 
  • The National Perspective Plan for Women recommended in 1988 that reservation be provided to women's rights from the level of the Panchayat to that of Parliament. 
  • These recommendations paved the way for the historic enactment of the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution which mandates:
    • All State governments to reserve one-third of the seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions and 
    • One-third of the offices of the chairperson at all levels of the Panchayati Raj Institutions, and in urban local bodies.

Highlights of the Bill:

  • The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008 seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies.  
  • The allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament.
  • One-third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved for women of those groups in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies.
  • Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.
  • Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act.

Need for such legislation:

  • Only about 14% of the members in the Indian Parliament are women, the highest so far. 
  • According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, India has a fewer percentage of women in the lower House than its neighbours such as Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.


  • The report examining the 1996 women’s reservation Bill recommended that reservations be provided for women of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) once the Constitution was amended to allow for reservation for OBCs. 
  • It also recommended that reservation be extended to the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils. Neither of these recommendations has been incorporated into the Bill.
  • Opponents also contend that this policy diverts attention from the larger issues of electoral reform such as the criminalisation of politics and inner-party democracy.

Analysis of the bill:

  • There are divergent views on the reservation policy. Proponents stress the necessity of affirmative action to improve the condition of women. 
  • Some recent studies on Panchayats have shown the positive effect of reservation on the empowerment of women and on the allocation of resources.
  • Opponents argue that it would perpetuate the unequal status of women since they would not be perceived to be competing on merit. 
  • The reservation of seats in Parliament restricts the choice of voters to women candidates. 
    • Therefore, some experts have suggested alternate methods such as reservation in political parties and dual-member constituencies.
  • Rotation of reserved constituencies in every election may reduce the incentive for an MP to work for his constituency as he may be ineligible to seek re-election from that constituency.

What hinders the inclusion of women in politics?

There are several factors responsible for the poor representation of women in Indian politics such as:

  • gender stereotypes
  • lack of political network
  • financial strains
  • unavailability of resources
  • lack of political education among women in the country

ECI on women’s representation in Politics:

  • As per the report of the Election Commission of India, women represent 10.5 per cent of the total members of the Parliament.
  • The plight of women in the state assemblies is even worse, where they nearly account for 9 per cent of the leaders.
  • Women’s representation in the Lok Sabha has not even grown by 10 per cent in the last 75 years of independence.
  • Women workers abound in India’s main political parties, but they are often marginalised and refused a party ticket to run in elections. 

Task force for prevention of suicides by CAPF


The Union Home Ministry informed the Rajya Sabha that it has set up a task force to suggest remedial measures for the prevention of suicides and fratricides in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).

  • As many as 436 CAPF personnel died by suicide in the past three years.
  • A total of 135 personnel committed suicide in 2022, 157 in 2021 and 144 in 2020.
  • It was also found that currently there are 84,866 vacancies in the CAPFs.

Vacancies in CAPFs arise on account of retirements, resignations, promotions, death, the raising of Battalion, creation of new posts etc. 

  • Recruitment of 31,785 personnel in CAPFs has been done in the past five months.
  • Major Vacancies: There were 247 positions for doctors that were lying vacant and the number of unfilled posts for nurses and other medical professionals stood at 2,354.

The function of the Taskforce:

  • Analysing behavioural aspects: The task force will draw a plan to identify relevant risk factors and protective factors at the individual level; look at the existing and futuristic protective factors and study prevention strategies and also conduct research and interact with domain experts.
  • To identify the reasons for Suicide: Most times the issues that lead to stress and instances of suicide among the troops are related to problems they face back home while some are related to service conditions and leaves.
  • Suggestion asked for remedial measures: The task force has also been asked to find if any changes or modifications can be done in the deployment pattern of the troops and some way in which access to mobile phones can be limited during deployment phases to check instances where troops take the extreme step of ending their lives.
  • Spreading awareness of consequences: The task force also looks into the aspects of improving awareness about suicide prevention, policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and drugs, the importance of mental well-being etc.

Government Interventions:

Various steps have been taken by the Armed Forces to create a healthy/appropriate environment for their Officers and Other Ranks.  Some of these steps are as under:-

  • Provision of better quality facilities such as clothing, food, married accommodation, travel facilities, schooling, recreation etc. and periodic welfare meeting.
  • Conduct yoga and meditation as a tool for stress management.
  • Training and deployment of psychological counsellors.
  • Institutionalization of projects ‘MILAP’ and ‘SAHYOG’ by the Army in Northern & Eastern Command to reduce stress among troops.
  • A ‘MansikSahayata Helpline’ has been established by Army & Air Force to take professional counselling.
  • Mental Health Awareness is provided during pre-induction training.
  • Formation of Military Psychiatry Treatment Centre at INHSAsvini and establishment of Mental Health Centres in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Port Blair, Goa and Karwar.

Increasing Age of Marriage for girls


Under a recent development, the increase in minimum age of marriage for women to ‘21 years’ as provisioned in the Prohibition of Child Marriage Amendment Bill, 2021 would come into effect two years after the Bill is ‘notified’ following its passage in Parliament.

  • The Ministry for Women and Child Development set up a task force to look into the correlation between the age of marriage with issues of women’s nutrition, prevalence of anemia, IMR, MMR and other social indices.
  • The Bill, currently with the Parliamentary Standing Committee, envisions making the age of marriage of women at par with men.
  • After examining all aspects pertaining to child marriages, including the recommendations given by the task force, the government has proposed implementation of the amendments after two years from the date of notification, in order to provide ample time to citizens to prepare for this momentous reform.

Jaya Jaitly committee and its recommendations:

  • Aim: The committee was made to look at the feasibility of increasing the age of marriage and its implication on women and child health, as well as how to increase access to education for women.
  • Recommendations Made:
    • Age of marriage to be increased: The committee has recommended the age of marriage be increased to 21 years, on the basis of feedback they received from young adults from 16 universities across the country.
    • Increasing access to schools and colleges for girls: The committee also asked the government to look into increasing access to schools and colleges for girls, including their transportation to these institutes from far-flung areas.
    • Sex education: Skill and business training has also been recommended, as has sex education in schools.
    • An awareness campaign: Undertaken on a massive scale on the increase in age of marriage, and to encourage social acceptance of the new legislation, which they have said would be far more effective than coercive measures.

Need for raising legal age:

  • Gender-neutrality: The government decided to re-examine the age of marriage for women for a number of reasons which includes gender-neutrality.
  • Impacts on overall health and mental wellbeing: An early age of marriage, and consequent early pregnancies, also have impacts on nutritional levels of mothers and their children, and their overall health and mental wellbeing.
  • Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate: It also has an impact on Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate.
  • Empowerment of women: It affects the empowerment of women who are cut off from access to education and livelihood after an early marriage.


  • Based on religion: Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
    • For Hindus, The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom.
    • In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid.
  • Illegal marriages: Experts have not been in favour of increasing the age of marriage for women on the basis that such legislation would push a large portion of the population into illegal marriages.
  • Child marriages: Even with the legal age of marriage for women being kept at 18 years, child marriages continue in India and a decrease in such marriages has not been because of the existing law but because of increase in girl’s education and employment opportunities.
  • Negatively impact marginalized communities: Law would end up being coercive, and in particular negatively impact marginalized communities, such as the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, making them law-breakers.

Prohibition of Child Marriage Amendment Bill, 2021:

  • The Bill amends the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 to increase the minimum age of marriage of females to 21 years.  Further, the Bill will override any other law, custom, or practice. 
  • Under the 2006 Act, a person married below the minimum age may apply for annulment within two years of attaining majority (i.e., before 20 years of age).  
  • The Bill increases this to five years (i.e., 23 years of age).

Supreme Court’s stand:

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that marriage between adults is a fundamental right.   

The question is whether prohibiting marriage for persons between 18 and 21 years is a reasonable restriction on their ‘right to marry’.

Smart Cities Mission projects


As the June 2023 is set as the deadline for completing the Smart Cities Mission approaches, the government has asked 20 of the worst-performing cities — ones that have completed the fewest projects under the mission to make their participation  better.

About the proposals:
  • After the centre has given broad guidelines to the participating cities, the project proposals ranged from making certain stretches of roads more accessible and pedestrian-friendly to more capital-intensive ones like laying water pipelines and constructing sewage treatment plants.
  • All 100 cities have also constructed Integrated Command and Control Centres to monitor all security, emergency and civic services. 
  • During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, these centres were converted into emergency response units by many of the cities.

Till now, Shillong has completed just one of its 18 proposed projects.

Guidelines proposed by the Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs:

  • The purpose of the Smart Cities Mission is to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local area development and harnessing technology, especially technology that leads to Smart outcomes.
  • Area-based development will transform existing areas (retrofit and redevelop), including slums, into better planned ones, thereby improving liveability of the whole City. 
  • New areas (Greenfield) will be developed around cities 7 in order to accommodate the expanding population in urban areas. 
  • Application of Smart Solutions will enable cities to use technology, information and data to improve infrastructure and services. 
  • Comprehensive development in this way will improve quality of life, create employment and enhance incomes for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged, leading to inclusive Cities.

Smart Cities Mission:

  • MoHUA launched Smart Cities Mission in 2015 to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
  • The strategic components of the Smart Cities Mission are city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (Greenfield development) plus a Pan-city initiative in which Smart Solutions are applied covering larger parts of the city.
  • Since the start of the Mission in 2015, the 100 Smart Cities have been developing a total of 5,151 projects with an investment of Rs. 2, 05,018 crores.

About the Smart City ranking:

  • The ranking is released by the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs.
  • A new method of ranking was adopted for the assessment Work.
  • Work completed, tendering process and fund utilisation are among the new parameters.
  • The ranking takes into account various factors such as:
    • the smart city plan implementation
    • the on-going work and tendering process
    • the utilisation of funds
  • provision of the utility certificates to the Centre from time to time

McMohan Line and US Senate resolution


Two United States Senators, have introduced a bipartisan resolution in the upper chamber of Congress reiterating that they recognises the ‘McMahon Line’ as the international boundary between China and India in Arunachal Pradesh.

About the US Senate call:
  • The resolution reaffirms India’s well-known and established position that Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls ‘South Tibet’, is an integral part of India.
  • The Senate has shown support as unequivocally recognising the state of Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India, condemning China’s military aggression to change the status quo along the Line of Actual Control.
  • It is further seen as enhancing the US-India strategic partnership and the Quad in support of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

What is the McMahon Line?

    • The McMahon Line serves as the de facto boundary between China and India in the Eastern Sector
    • It specifically represents the boundary between Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet, from Bhutan in the west to Myanmar in the east.
  • China has historically disputed the boundary and claims the state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR).

How was McMohan line drawn?

  • The McMahon Line was drawn during the Simla Convention of 1914, officially described as the Convention between Great Britain, China, and Tibet
  • The McMahon Line delimited the respective spheres of influence of Tibet and British India in the eastern Himalayan region.
  • The border in this region was undefined prior to the signing of the convention.

Simla Convention of 1913-14:

  • The convention attempted to settle the question of Tibet’s sovereignty and avoid further territorial disputes in the region.
  • The treaty divided the Buddhist region into “Outer Tibet” and “Inner Tibet”.
    • The former would remain in the hands of the Tibetan Government at Lhasa under Chinese suzerainty, though China was not allowed to interfere in its affairs.
  • Later on, British government has signed the treaty with Lhasa government for Tibet Autonomous region.
  • China’s refusal to recognize the Simla Accord as a legally binding treaty primarily stems from this very reason. 
    • The fact that no Chinese Central Government ever ratified the treaty also features as one of the objections.

McMohan line vs. Line of Actual Control (LAC):

McMohan line

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

  • The 890-km McMahon Line separating British India and Tibet was drawn by Sir Henry McMahon at the China-Tibet-Britain Simla Convention (1914).
  • The line marked out previously unclaimed/undefined borders between Britain and Tibet. 
  • Also, the Line put Tawang (a region of the present Arunachal Pradesh) in the British Empire.
  • The line was forgotten until the British government published the documents in 1937. Subsequently, China refused to accept the line
  • The Line of Actual Control (LAC) is the effective border between India and China.
  • LAC was supposed to divide areas under Indian and Chinese control since the end of the Sino-Indian War of 1962.
  • Unlike the LoC (between India and Pakistan), the LAC was not mutually agreed upon. This was because the war ended with a unilateral ceasefire by China.

Current Areas of a dispute between India & China:

  • In the Western sector: Here India shares a 2152 km long border with China, and territorial disputes over the Aksai Chin region of Jammu and Kashmir, with both countries claiming the region as their own.
  • In the middle sector: Here India roughly shares about a 625 km long boundary with China with a few minor disputes regarding Tibet.
  • In the Eastern Sector: The major dispute here is around the region of Tawang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh, Chumbi Valley (Dokalam Tri-Junction) which India shares with Bhutan.

Short News Article

Science and Technology 

World’s largest chip centre

South Korea is going to build an enormous facility to make computer chips in the greater Seoul area, with about $230 billion in investment from memory chip giant Samsung Electronics.


  • The plan is part of the South Korean government's drive to invest heavily in six key technologies, including 
    • Chips, displays and batteries, all areas where the country's tech giants are well-established already.
  • South Korea aims to build the large scale system semiconductor cluster in the capital areas using massive private investments worth 300 trillion won.

Semiconductor industry:

  • The manufacturing of semiconductors is one of South Korea’s major economic industries. 
  • Initially introduced by the foreign direct investment of U.S. companies in the mid-1960s, South Korea was able to leverage its cheap workforce for the labor-intensive process of manufacturing semiconductors. 
  • Domestic companies began investing in their own semiconductor production in the 1980s. 
  • Since then, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix have survived through the years and have placed themselves among the leading semiconductor manufacturers worldwide. 


Eurasian otter

A trio of scientists from the University of Jammu’s Institute of Mountain Environment (IME) at Bhaderwah camera-trapped three Eurasian otters – two adults and one sub-adult – in the Neeru stream of the Chenab catchment.

About Eurasian Otters:

  • The Eurasian otter, also known as the European otter, Eurasian river otter, common otter, and Old World otter, is a semiaquatic mammal native to Eurasia. Wikipedia
  • Conservation status: Near Threatened (Population decreasing) Encyclopedia of Life
  • Scientific name: Lutra lutra
  • Gestation period: 60 – 64 days
  • Family: Mustelidae
  • The species was reported to occur in Jammu and Kashmir in 2020 and its presence in the Indus River and its tributaries in Ladakh were confirmed through two earlier studies. 


  • The species is persecuted as a pest in countries such as India, China and Nepal, and its populations in Europe and Asia have declined in recent years due to hunting for food and pelt, habitat loss, pollution and climate change.


Most polluted cities in India 

The fifth World Air Quality Report prepared by IQAir has been released.

Key highlights:

  • A total of 39 Indian cities, including the national capital ‘Delhi’ are on the list of 50 of the world’s most polluted cities based on the annual average level of pollutant PM2.5 in air.
  • Bhiwadi in Rajasthan with PM levels of 92.7 was found to be the most polluted city in India and third most polluted city in the world. 
  • Meanwhile, Delhi emerged to be the most polluted metropolitan city with PM levels of 92.6 which is almost 20 times the safe limit.
  •  The national capital was ranked fourth on a list of 50.
  • Other cities that dominated the list included Patna, Muzzaffarnagar, Dharbanga, Noida, Gurgaon, Bulandshahr, Meerut, Charkhi Dadri, Jind, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Dadri, Meerut, Hisar and Greater Noida.
  • Out of 131 countries, India ranked eighth with a population weighted average PM2.5 level of 53.3 μg/m3 in 2022. 
  • It was preceded by Chad, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso and Kuwait on this list. 

Science and Technology 

GPT-4 Vs. ChatGPT

GPT-4 is a large multimodal model created by OpenAI and announced on March 14, 2023.

What is GPT-4?

  • Multimodal models can encompass more than just text and also accepts images as input
  • Meanwhile, GPT-3 and GPT-3.5 only operated in one modality, text, meaning users could only ask questions by typing them out.
  • GPT-4 is also capable of handling over 25,000 words of text, opening up a greater number of use cases that now also include long-form content creation, document search and analysis, and extended conversations.


  • ChatGPT is a ‘conversational’ AI and will answer queries just like a human would.
  • It can answer follow-up questions.
  • It can also “admit its mistakes
  • It can challenge incorrect premises and reject inappropriate requests.
  • It is being seen as a replacement for much of the daily mundane writing, from an email to even college-style essays.
  • Developed by: OpenAI, a research, and development firm was founded as a non-profit in 2015.
  • Language Used: It has used the GPT 3.5 series of language learning models (LLM).
  • GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3.
  • It relies on deep learning techniques to produce human-like text based on inputs.’


  • ChatGPT’s GPT-3.5 was limited to textual input and output, meaning they could only read and write. 
  • ChatGPT could process 8,000 words at a time.
  • ChatGPT’s GPT-3.5 model could handle 4,096 tokens.


Sharp divides


  • The joint presence by the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, at the Naval Base Point Loma, U.S who came to reveal their “AUKUS” trilateral defence pact, is seen as significant for a New Indo-pacific and quest for global power rivalry.

Highlights of the pact:

  • Naval agreements: The U.S. and the U.K. navies will embed Australian personnel, and increase port visits to Australia to train together.
  • Building Cooperation and trust: In the second phase, U.S. and U.K. nuclear submarines will travel rotationally to Australia, and the U.S. will sell Australia up to five nuclear-powered Virginia-class submarines.
  • Focus on defence equipment: A new submarine called the SSN-AUKUS, will be built and used by all three navies, with interoperable workings.

AUKUS cooperation and objectives:

  • Against China, Russia and North Korea: U.K.’s Prime Minister has mentioned that the most recent challenges to the world have come from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, China’s growing assertiveness and the destabilising behaviour of Iran and North Korea.
  • Expanding reach into Indian Ocean: The alliance is seen as a counter to China exerting its claims on Taiwan, with the idea that a naval fleet including nuclear-powered submarines based in Australia would be able to reach the South China Sea quickly.
  • Preparing for future challenges: While U.S. President insisted the submarines would be nuclear-powered, but not nuclear-armed, as, Russia and China are expected to raise concerns over any violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty regime.
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