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18th August 2023

Drones to monitor MGNREGA worksites


Recently, the Ministry of Rural development has released a standard operating procedure (SOP) to increase its surveillance of worksites under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme.

  • As, there are several complaints about corruption in MNREGS works that we receive regularly.
  • These vary from machines being used in place of the workers, many receiving wages without doing work, or works beyond the approved list being undertaken, and so on.
  • The idea to deploy drones will be especially helpful in such cases for real-time monitoring and for garnering evidence.
  • Last time on May 2022, the Union government made it mandatory to capture attendance at all worksites using a specially-developed mobile-based application.
  • These steps are taking MGNREAGA towards digitisation.

About the SOP:

    • According to the draft, now the drones will be used for four types of monitoring:
    • Surveying the on-going works,
    • Inspecting the completed works,
    • Impact assessment, and
    • Special inspection in case of complaints.
  • Administered by: The SOP stipulates that the drones will be used by the ombudsperson.
    • According to the MGNREG Act which governs the scheme, there should one ombudsperson per district that is responsible for registering suo moto complaints and disposing of them within 30 days.
  • Role of Ombudsperson:
    • For efficient monitoring and redressal of grievances, it is decided by the Ministry that the ombudsperson may use drone technology facilities for verification of the works virtually.
    • It has directed State governments to provide the facility to ombudspersons.
  • Fund allocation:
    • The States will not be provided with any extra funds to deploy these drones.
    • According to the guidelines, State governments are expected to draw the necessary funds from the administrative head, which is roughly 10% of a State’s MGNREGA budget.
  • Data management: The Ministry also proposes to form a centralized dashboard to store the videos and photos collected from the drones, for data analysis and reporting purposes.

What is e-governance?

  • e-Governance can be defined as the application of information and communication technology (ICT) for providing government services, exchange of information, transactions, integration of previously existing services and information portals.
  • Pillars of e-Governance:
    • People
    • Process
    • Technology
    • Resources
  • Types of Interaction in e-Governance
    • G2G i.e. Government to Government
    • G2C i.e. Government to Citizen
    • G2B i.e. Government to Business
    • G2E i.e. Government to Employees

Need of Technological interventions in Governance:

  • To promote Participative Democracy: Such Mechanism may help in strengthening Social audit. For example, citizens can directly give suggestions to the government on myGOV platform.
  • Implementing Good Governance: Information Technology has ensured that a policy decision taken by the government can be quickly executed and implemented at multiple locations, across the length and breadth of the country.
  • Achieving Sustainable Development Goals: Government has taken much of the e-governance initiatives for effective public service delivery. Also, when combined with emerging technologies, it can help in achieving sustainable development goals.

Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023


Recently, the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, has been passed by Parliament and has got the assent of the President of India.

  • It was introduced in Lok Sabha on July 26, 2023.
About the Bill:
  • Objective: To create a National and State level database of registered births and deaths which would help in updating other databases resulting in efficient and transparent delivery of public services and social benefits.
  • Need to record the birth and deaths at national level: The database at the central level is made available to authorities dealing with the maintenance and preparation of databases relating to the population register, electoral rolls, Aadhaar number, ration card, passport, driving licence, property registration and such other databases at the national level, as may be notified.

The registration hierarchy is the responsibility of State governments, with the Registrar General of India having only the role of coordination and unification of the registration system

Highlights of Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023:

  • Connecting database: The Bill makes it compulsory that the Registrar General of India maintains a national level database of births and deaths, and that the Chief Registrar of births and deaths in every State is required to maintain a State-level database of registered births and deaths ‘using the portal approved by the Registrar General of India.
  • In case of Birth:
    • In the case of birth, the amendments provide for collecting the Aadhaar number of the parents.
    • Nothing is mentioned about the Aadhaar number of the deceased.
  • In case of Death:
    • The State government could decide that a cause of death certificate should be issued by the medical practitioner who attended the deceased person so that the certificate can be sent along with the death report.
    • The amendments make it compulsory that for all deaths in medical institutions, a cause of death certificate be sent to the Registrar of Births and Deaths and a copy of the certificate is provided to the closest relative.
    • For deaths that occur outside hospitals, the medical practitioner who attended to the deceased during the person’s recent illness has to issue such a certificate.
  • Electronic certificates: The Act provides that any person may: (i) cause a search to be made by the Registrar for any entry in a register of births and deaths, and (ii) obtain an extract from the register related to any birth or death.  The Bill amends this to provide for obtaining a birth or death certificate (electronically or otherwise) instead of extracts.
  • Appeal process: Any person aggrieved by any action or order of the Registrar or District Registrar may appeal to the District Registrar or Chief Registrar, respectively. Such an appeal must be made within 30 days from receipt of such action or order.  The District Registrar or Chief Registrar must give their decision within 90 days from the date of appeal.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • The registration of births and deaths falls under the Concurrent List, giving powers to both Parliament and state legislatures to make laws on the subject.
  • As of 2019, the national level of registration of births was 93% and death registration was at 92%.

The Law Commission (2018) recommended the inclusion of marriage registration in the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969.

Concerns associated:

  • School admission: The Act also provides that no child should be denied admission on the grounds of lack of age proof. The Bill does not provide any such exemptions.  This implies that if a child’s birth has not been registered, they could be denied admission to educational institutions for their entire life
  • Aadhar linkage based issues:
    • Right to privacy: This provision may also violate the principles laid down in the Aadhaar judgement (Puttaswamy 2018).
    • The judgement said that the Aadhaar Act, 2016, was passed as a money Bill and read down provisions that permitted linking of Aadhaar for purposes other than government benefits and services.
  • Linking state and National data with other departments: However, such linkage across databases under the Bill does not require consent from the person whose data is being linked. This may violate an individual’s right to privacy.
  • Sole powers to certifying authority: A further consequence could be that this gives the authority issuing birth certificates significant powers to affect an individual’s life. This may lead to perverse incentives that could lead to corruption.  

Lokniti-CSDS’s survey


As per the report released by Lokniti-CSDS recently, suggest that the youth identify challenges relating to the economy as the most significant facing the nation.

  • The report offers insights into career aspirations, job preferences, and expectations of younger Indians.
About the survey:
  • The data is collected from survey conducted in 18 states with a sample of 9,316 respondents — show unemployment as a significant concern across all economic classes.
  • Conducted by: Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), it is an Indian research institute for the social sciences and humanities.
  • It was founded in 1963 by Rajni Kothari and is largely funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research Government of India.

The Lokniti programme for comparative democracy:

  • The Lokniti Programme for Comparative Democracy was established in 1997 as a research programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi.
  • CSDS is an autonomous social science research institute.
  • CSDS has argued in favour of a more humane holistic view of democracy that goes beyond democratic institutions and processes in their narrow sense and emphasizes the survival of dissent and cultural contents of the civil society as central concerns of democracy.

Key points of the Report:

  • For views on Biggest concern in country:
    • More than one in three (36%) Indians between the ages of 15 and 34 believe unemployment is biggest problem in the country.
    • Reasons considered for unemployment remains to be about one in six (16%) think it is poverty, and 13% think it is inflation.
    • About 6% of respondents identified corruption as the most significant challenge;
    • 4% each identified problems in education and high population.
    • Only 27% of non-literate individuals cited unemployment as their primary concern, likely due to their greater willingness to take on a range of jobs.
    • Forty-two per cent of men said unemployment was the most significant problem; among young women, this number was 31%.

  • Occupational status in the country:
    • Sixteen per cent were professionals such as doctors or engineers, 15% were involved in agriculture, and semi-unskilled and skilled workers made up 27% of the total.
    • Only 6% were in government job.
  • Job Aspirations :
    • The preference for setting up an own business has grown consistently over this period — from 16% in 2007 to 27% in 2023.


Traditional medicines in India


Recently, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends the Global Conference on Traditional Medicine as part of the G-20’s Health Ministers’ meeting in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

  • He urged countries around the world to work towards unlocking the power of traditional medicine and provide evidence and action-based suggestions that can be interpreted into a global strategy.
About the event:
  • It was WHO’s first global summit on traditional medicine.
  • As part of the meet, India’s Health minister launched the Advantage Healthcare India Portal, for an upcoming exhibition and conference on medical value travel.
  • India emphasized that medical value travel would enable greater knowledge-sharing, sustainable partnerships and increased synergies, contributing to building stronger global health architecture.
  • By leveraging medical value travel, countries could offer specialised resources and services that may not be available, affordable, or accessible in other parts of the world.

What is Traditional Medicine?

  • According to the WHO, traditional medicine is the total sum of the “knowledge, skills and practises indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose and treat physical and mental illness”.
  • Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines.

Role of India in Traditional Medicines:

  • In India, it is often defined as including practices and therapies — such as yoga, Ayurveda, Siddha.
  • These therapies and practices have been part of Indian tradition historically as well as others — such as homoeopathy — that became part of Indian tradition over the years.
  • Ayurveda and yoga are practised widely across the country.
  • The Siddha system is followed predominantly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala

The Sowa-Rigpa system is practised mainly in Leh-Ladakh and Himalayan regions such as Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, Lahaul & Spiti.

WHO’s strategy for Traditional medicines:

  • Integrating with Technological Advancements: The Centre aims to channel the potential of traditional medicine, by integrating it with technological advancements and evidence-based research.
  • Set Policies and Standards: It will seek to set policies and standards on traditional medicine products and help countries create a comprehensive, safe, and high-quality health system.
  • Support Efforts to Implement WHO Strategy:
    • It will support efforts to implement the WHO’s Traditional Medicine Strategy (2014-23).
    • It aims to support nations in developing policies & action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicine in pursuing the goal of universal health coverage.
    • According to WHO estimates, 80% of the world’s population uses traditional medicine.

Initiatives by India:

  • India has committed an estimated USD 250 million to support the GCTM’s establishment, infrastructure and operations.
  • Focus on four main strategic areas:
  • Evidence and learning
  • Data and analytics
  • Sustainability and equity and
  • Innovation and technology to optimise the contribution of traditional medicine to global health.

Short News Article

Polity and Governance

Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC)

Recently, the Republic of Suriname recognised Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IP).

  • The Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) is officially recognized by five (5) countries: Afghanistan, Ghana, Nepal, Mauritius and the Republic of Suriname.


  • Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) is an Autonomous Institution of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India.
  • IPC is created to set standards of drugs in the country.
  • Its basic function is to regularly update the standards of drugs commonly required for treatment of diseases prevailing in this region.
  • It publishes official documents for improving Quality of Medicines by way of adding new and updating existing monographs in the form of Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP).
  • It further promotes rational use of generic medicines by publishing National Formulary of India.
  • IP prescribes standards for identity, purity and strength of drugs essentially required from the health care perspective of human beings and animals.
  • IPC also provides IP Reference Substances (IPRS) which act as a fingerprint for identification of an article under test and its purity as prescribed in IP.

Species in News

Tachymenoides harrisonfordi

Researchers from Germany, the United States and Peru have named a recently discovered species of snake ‘Tachymenoides harrisonfordi’ after actor Harrison Ford.

  • Known for his portrayal of Indiana Jones, who famously fears snakes, Ford’s real-life commitment to conservation earned him this distinction.

About the species:

  • The snake was found in Peru’s Otishi National Park by researchers from Peru and the United States.
  • Measuring about 16 inches when fully grown, the non-harmful Tachymenoides harrisonfordi serves as a reminder of the importance of studying and preserving Earth’s diverse biosphere.
  • The discovery sheds light on the plight of reptiles, as over a fifth of all reptile species are currently threatened with extinction.

Science and Technology

INS Vindhyagiri

President Droupadi Murmu launched INS Vindhyagiri, an advanced stealth frigate, at the GRSE facility on the banks of the River Hooghly in Kolkata.

About INS Vindhyagiri:

  • INS Vindhyagiri is the sixth stealth frigate built under Project 17A at the GRSE.
  • After the launch, INS Vindhyagiri will join its two sister ships at the outfitting jetty at GRSE, to progress on remaining activities and equipment trials, in the run-up to their delivery and commissioning.
  • This is the third and last stealth frigate that the Kolkata-based warship maker was contracted to build for the Navy under the project.
  • The state-of-the-art ship will be fitted with the latest gadgets and undergo extensive trials before being handed over to the Indian Navy for commissioning into service.


  • The launch of INS Vindhyagiri will boost the defence industrial base in India, reducing India’s dependence on foreign suppliers, promoting self-reliance and fostering a robust defence industrial base.

Project 17A Frigates are the follow-on class of the Project 17 (Shivalik Class) Frigates, with improved stealth features, advanced weapons & sensors and platform management systems.

Science and Technology

Covid variant ‘EG.5’

WHO has classified the EG.5 as a Variant of Interest (VOI).


  • 5 is one of three variants on the WHO’s watchlist.
  • The other two are XBB.1.5, which is largely circulating in Europe and the Americas, and XBB.1.16, which is predominant in Asia.
  • The WHO classified EG.5 as a VOI due to rising infection rates attributed to the variant, the fact that it spreads fast and its ability of so-called “immune escape”.
  • 5 is a descendent lineage of XBB. 1.9.2.
  • It has an additional spike mutation that may explain why it can escape the human immune system’s response.
  • In its EG.5 Initial Risk Evaluation report (August 7, 2023), the WHO said the variant had been sequenced more than 7,350 times, with samples from 51 countries.

Location in News

Pong Dam

Amid torrential rain in the upstream territories of Himachal Pradesh, the Bhakra and Pong Dams are flowing above their capacity.

About Pong Dam:

  • It is a reservoir has been constructed on the river Beas in the wet land of Shivalik hills of Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, which has been named as Maharana Pratap Sagar.
  • It is also known as Pong reservoir or Pong Dam.
  • This dam was built in 1975 named in honor of Maharana Pratap, this reservoir or lake is a famous wildlife sanctuary and one of the 25 international wetland sites declared by Ramsar Sammel in India.
  • The reservoir stretches to an area of ??24,529 hectares (60,610 acres), and part of the lakes is 15,662 hectares (38,700 acres).
  • Pong reservoir is the most important fish reservoir in the foothills of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh.
  • In this reservoir, majestic fish is found in excess.


Fighting stereotypes: On the Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes


The Supreme Court (SC) of India has taken an important step by releasing guidelines to take on harmful gender stereotypes that perpetuate inequalities and laid down a set of dos and don’ts for judicial decision-making via writing, the Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes.

Changes introduced through ‘Handbook’:

  • To break gender-based norms: A host of derogatory and seemingly mild adjectives have been dropped too while referring to women.
  • Words changed: Instead of “affair”, it will be notified to say a “relationship outside of marriage”; similarly, for “adulteress”, the preferred usage is a “woman who has engaged in sexual relations outside of marriage”.
  • Significance: It will lead to exclusion and discrimination, it identifies common presumptions about the way sexual harassment, assault, rape and other violent crimes which are viewed skewed against women.

Breaking Stereotypes against Women:

  • Considering consent of women as ‘priority’: One of the stereotypes the Court shatters is women who do not wear traditional clothes and smoke or drink are asking for trouble, and drives home the important point of consent.
  • Giving equality in abilities: Courts should take social realities and other challenges facing women seriously. It is wrong to assume that women are “overly emotional, illogical, and cannot take decisions”.
  • Women’s bodily rights: It is also a stereotypical presumption that all women want to have children.

Need to address Issues for women in Indian society:

  • Making women financially independent: In a largely patriarchal society, girls are often forced to pick marriage as a way out to avoid social stigma, and not education and a career.
  • Burden of ‘Caregiving’: Fundamental changes need to be made to shun all stereotypes that women are more nurturing and better suited to care for others, and should do all household chores.
  • Way forward: The handbook could also be a catalyst for change right down to the societal level.
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Recently, Ahmedabad hosted the Urban 20 (U20) summit. In the history of G20 meetings, the Summit was the sixth of its kind.

What is U20?

  • Establishment- U20, established in 2018 to generate discussions among G20 members on urban issues, was first chaired and hosted by the city of Buenos Aires. For this year, the leadership was handed over to Ahmedabad as the 2023 Chair
  • City Diplomacy- Urban 20 or U20 is a city diplomacy initiative, comprising cities from G20 countries.
  • Role- U20 plays a vital role in contributing perspectives, concerns, and ideas from cities to inform and enrich the overall G20 negotiations.


Communiqué published by the U20 meet:

  • Six point message- It gives a promising six-point message like encouraging environmentally responsible behaviours, ensuring water security etc.
  • Climate justice and equality- While being heavy on the agenda of climate change and climate justice, the Communiqué also argues for equality and justice in urban development.
  • Efficient urban development- The Summit was attended by mayors from member countries such as Argentina and the USA, both of which are highly urbanised and have shown how urban development can be efficient and equitable.

Why was Ahmedabad chosen for this summit?

  • Development Goals- Ahmedabad is a very good example of how cities in the Global South can achieve infrastructural development goals.
  • Innovative policies- The city has been comparatively successful in its implementation of innovative and liberal urban planning policies.
  • Effective utilisation of public spaces- Ahmedabad has also shown what good quality public spaces can do for a city’s residents and its businesses.
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Former Service chiefs visit to Taiwan is proactive military diplomacy


The visit of the India’s three former Defence service Chiefs to Taiwan is going to be a path breaking event in an era in which more than physical standoffs will be in the grey zone & the cognitive domain and psychological targeting which will take the upper hand.

About the visit:

  • Surprising Seminar Participation: The presence of former Indian Service Chiefs at a seminar in Taiwan has caught attention, surprising both the public and military personnel in India.
  • Enhancing India's Efforts: Despite recent progress, there is substantial room for India to further develop its military diplomacy endeavors.
  • Key Aspects of Military Diplomacy: Military diplomacy encompasses a range of activities including joint training, technological partnerships, equipment procurement, maneuvers, and attending significant events. Port calls by naval ships play a pivotal role, contributing to trust-building and international cooperation.

Significance of Armed forces cooperation:

  • Mutual Trust and Diplomacy: Military diplomacy, building trust between armed forces of different countries, serves as bedrock for strong diplomatic relations.
  • Supporting political diplomacy: It is often said that political diplomacy relies on military diplomacy to establish goodwill and cooperation.
  • Symbolic Participation: Participation of military contingents in national events of friendly countries and hosting foreign units during significant occasions, like parades, adds to the ceremonial grandeur and reinforces bilateral ties.

India’s enhanced engagement and presence:

  • Partnering with multiple nations: India engaged in over 20 major joint exercises in 2022, fostering cooperation and interoperability with partner nations.
  • Expansion of Defence Attaches (DAs): presence in diplomatic missions and increased military presence in various regions reflects India's growing strategic stature on the global stage.
  • Aspirations: India's wants to grow global prominence via its economic expansion, political stability, technological advancements, and increased military capabilities.
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