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18th January 2023

Centre seeks to collect States’ views on minority identification


The Central government has sought more time in the Supreme Court to gather the views of six States and Union Territories for identifying minorities against its 1993 notification identifying Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as minority communities needing reconsideration.


  • Till now, 24 State governments and Union Territories have given a mixed response;
  • Some leave the task of identifying minorities to the Centre or preferring the status quo,
  • While states like Assam and Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu had maintained that minorities should be identified at the State-level.
  • The responses are still awaited from states including Jammu & Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Telangana.
  • While presenting the government’s argument, the Attorney General mentioned that the remaining states’ response is essential.
  • With this the Supreme Court has given a deadline to the central government in its order, listing the case on March 21, 2023.
About the case:
  • The National Commission for Minorities has said that those religious and linguistic minority communities ought to be ‘identified State-wise’
  • The Commission had referred the same to the court's 11-judge Bench judgment in the T.M.A. Pai Foundation case of 2002 and Bal Patil verdict of 2005, in which the apex court had clarified that henceforth the unit for determining the status of both linguistic and religious minorities would be 'State'.

Who are considered minorities in India?

  • As per the Section 2(c) of the National Commission of Minorities Act 1993, the central government arbitrarily notified five communities namely;
    • Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis as ‘minority’ communities, without defining ‘minority’ and framing guidelines for identification at the State level.
  • In 2014, Jainas’ was added to the list as the sixth minority.

The three judges Bench of the Supreme Court in the Bal Patil case had categorically refused to grant minority status to Jains.

The National Commission on Minorities Act 1992:

  • The NCM Act defines a minority as “a community notified as such by the Central government.''
  • National Commission on Minorities:
    • Unlike the National Commission for SCs and for STs, it is not a constitutional body.
    • It was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1992.
    • The Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Bill, 2004, proposed to establish a new Commission, with constitutional status. But due to debate over who is a ‘minority’, the Bill lapsed.
  • What is the composition of the commission?
    • The Commission shall consist of a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson and five Members to be nominated by the Central Government.
    • All members shall be from amongst the minority communities.
  • What are its functions?
    The NCM Act lists 9 functions of the Commission:
    • To evaluate the progress of the development of minorities under the Union and states;
    • To monitor the working of safeguards provided in the Constitution and in union and state laws;
    • To make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of minority interests;
    • To look into, and take up, specific complaints regarding the deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities;
    • to get problems of discrimination against minorities studied, and recommend ways to remove them;
    • To conduct studies, research, and analysis on the socioeconomic and educational development of minorities;
    • To suggest appropriate measures in respect of any minority to be undertaken by central or state governments;
    • To make periodic or special reports to the Centre on any matter concerning minorities; especially their difficulties;
    • To take up any other matter this may be referred to it by the central government.

Constitutional and Legal Provisions related to Minorities: 

  • National Commission for Minority Education Institution (NCMEI) Act, 2004:

    • It gives minority status to educational institutions on the basis of six religious communities notified by the government.
    • The term "minority" is not defined in the Indian Constitution. However, the Constitution recognises religious and linguistic minorities.
  • Articles 15 and 16:
    • Prohibition of discrimination against citizens on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
    • Citizens’ right to ‘equality of opportunity’ in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State, and prohibition in this regard of any discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
  • Article 25 (1), 26 and 28:
    • People’s freedom of conscience and right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion.
    • Right of every religious denomination or any section to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes, manage its own religious affairs, and own and acquire property and administer it.
    • People’s freedom to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in educational institutions is wholly maintained, recognized, or aided by the State.
  • Article 29:
    • It provides that any section of the citizens residing in any part of India having a distinct language, script or culture, shall have the right to conserve the same.
    • It grants protection to both religious minorities as well as linguistic minorities.
    • However, the Supreme Court held that the scope of this article is not necessarily restricted to minorities only, as the use of the word ‘section of citizen's in the Article includes minorities as well as the majority.
  • Article 30:
    • All minorities shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
    • The protection under Article 30 is confined only to minorities (religious or linguistic) and does not extend to any section of citizens (as under Article 29).
  • Article 350-B:
    • The 7th Constitutional (Amendment) Act 1956 inserted this article which provides for a Special Officer for Linguistic Minorities appointed by the President of India.
    • It would be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities under the Constitution.

India’s new proposal for migrant voting


The Election Commission of India (ECI) proposed its new Remote Electronic Voting Machine (RVM), which would allow domestic migrants to vote in national and regional elections but has seen concerns about the logistical and administrative challenges to remote voting. 

About the Remote voting Machine (RVM):
  • Remote voting may take place in person somewhere other than an assigned polling station or at another time, or votes may be sent by post or cast by an appointed proxy.
  • The ECI in its concept notes that the Multi-Constituency RVM for migrant voting will have the same security system and voting experience as the EVM.

There have been demands from various political parties that the EC should ensure that migrant workers, NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) who miss out on voting, as they cannot afford to go home during elections to exercise their franchise, should be allowed to vote for their constituency from the city they are working in.

Why is there a Need for Remote Voting?

  • Due to Unfavourable Conditions: Voters migrate from the place of their registration to cities and other places for education, employment and other purposes. It becomes difficult for them to return to their registered polling stations to cast their vote.
  • Decrease in Voting Turnout: During the 2019 General elections, nearly 300 million citizens out of a total of 910 million electors didn’t cast their votes.
  • Precisely it is about 30 crore voters who hadn’t voted for various and obvious reasons.
  • Concerns Regarding Metropolitan Areas: The ECI also noted the concern about low voter turnout in some of the metropolitan/city areas despite the fact that polling stations are set up within 2 km for any voter in urban areas. The need to address voting apathy in urban areas was felt.
  • Increasing Registrations of Unorganised Workers: There are nearly 10 million migrant workers, which is for the unorganised sector, registered with the government’s e-SHRAM portal. If the remote voting project is implemented, it will have far-reaching ramifications.
  • Health Concerns: The health concerns of mainly the senior citizens also need to be discussed as they’re also becoming the main deliberation. In this context, the remote voting facility will result in increasing the voting percentage in urban areas as well as in rural areas.

Features of Remote voting machines:

  • The RVM can handle multiple constituencies (up to 72) from a single remote polling booth.
  • For this, instead of a fixed ballot paper sheet, the machine has been modified to have an ‘electronic dynamic ballot display’ which will present different candidate lists corresponding to the constituency number of the voter read by a constituency card reader.
  • The ECI has added a digital public display unit or a monitor to act as an interface between the constituency card reader and the BU display.
  • As for the commissioning process of the machine, the electronic ballot will be prepared by the Returning Officers (ROs) of home constituencies of voters, and forwarded to the remote RO for uploading in the SLU.

How does the current system of Electronic voting take place?

EVMs started being used on a larger scale in 1992 and since 2000, have been used in all Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections.

  • The current EVM setup has a Balloting Unit (BU) which is connected to the VVPAT printer, both of which are inside the voting compartment.
  • The VVPAT is connected to the Control Unit (CU), which sits with the Presiding Officer (PO) and totals the number of votes cast, on its display board.
  • Only once the Polling Officer (PO) presses the ballot button on the CU, does the BU get enabled for the voter to cast her vote by pressing the key corresponding to the candidate on the ballot paper sheet pasted on the BU.
  • The VVPAT, which is essentially a printing machine, prints a slip with the poll symbol and candidate name, once the voter presses the key on the BU.
  • This slip is visible to the voter on the VVPAT’s glass screen for seven seconds after which it gets dropped off in a box inside the VVPAT.
  • Once a vote is cast, the BU becomes inactive till the PO schedules the next vote by enabling it again from the CU.

What are the concerns over Electronic Voting Machines (EVM)?

  • The current EVM setup has a Balloting Unit (BU) which is connected to the VVPAT printer, both of which are inside the voting compartment.
  • EVMs are liable for insider fraud, and trojan attacks.
    • The ECI sends the EVM software to two foreign chipmakers (in the U.S. and Japan) to burn into the CPU and the manufactured chips are then sent to India for assembly into machines by the two PSUs (BEL and ECIL). 
  • This means that the manufacturers cannot read back the contents of the software to ensure its integrity is intact.
    • Functionality tests done by manufacturers can only reveal if the machine is working properly.

What are the existing technical safeguards for EVMs?

  • The ECI has claimed that EVMs and their systems are robust, secure, and tamper-proof.
  • The ECI claims that the safeguards, such as;
    • The sealing of machines with signatures of polling agents,
    • first-level checks,
    • randomisation of machines, and
    • A series of mock polls before the actual voting, cannot be circumvented.
  • However, domain experts and former observers have shown that vulnerabilities can arise.

India plans ‘buffers’ in proposed Arunachal hydropower project to counter ‘China threat’


According to the National Hydropower Corporation (NHPC) report, China’s proposed 60,000 MW hydropower project in Tibet is influencing the design of a proposed hydropower project in Arunachal Pradesh’s Upper Siang district which is still in its planning stage.

About China’s Hydropower project in Tibet:
  • China is continuously harnessing the hydro-potential of the Brahmaputra River, which is affecting its flow, especially for India’s proposed project.
  • The design of the proposed project incorporates ‘buffer storage’ of 9 billion cubic metres (or about 9 billion tonnes of water) during monsoonal flow.
  • This could act as a store of water worth a year’s flow that would normally be available from the Brahmaputra or buffer against sudden releases.

The Brahmaputra River:

  • The Brahmaputra, known as Yarlung Tsangpo in China, is a 2,880 km long trans-border river.
  • It originates in the Mansarovar Lake and flows 1,700 km within Tibet, 920 km in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam and 260 km in Bangladesh.
  • It accounts for nearly 30% of freshwater resources and 40% of India’s hydropower potential.
  • Diverting its flow could mean agricultural impacts downstream in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Proposed projects of India:
  • The NHPC is expected to commission the 2,000 MW Subansiri Lower Hydro         Electric Project –the largest of its kind in terms of installed capacity in India – capable of producing 2,000 MW of power for at least four hours every day annually.
  • This would involve constructing a 160-metre-high dam with a gross storage of 1,365 million cubic metres. There are other hydropower projects worth 2,880 MW under approval and 6,500 MW in the pipeline.

Geographical Aspects:

  • The Yarlung Tsangpo enters India after passing the Great Bend, through Arunachal Pradesh where it is known as Siang/Dihang, then onto Assam where it is called Brahmaputra, and thereafter to Bangladesh where it is named Jamuna. 
  • Data suggests that the annual outflow of Yarlung Tsangpo from China is less than that from India’s Brahmaputra.
  • As the river crosses the Himalayan Crestline, it receives an annual rainfall of about 2,000-2,100 mm, which results in swelling of the river line while entering India. 
  • The Brahmaputra gets mightier as it flows downstream because of the flow contribution of tributaries such as Dibang, Lohit and Subansiri. 
  • In terms of sediment flow, the flow volume and discharge are not sufficient to generate and transport the large sediment load that is characteristic of Brahmaputra downstream.
  • China completed the Zangmu Dam (510 MW capacity) built on the upper reaches of Brahmaputra in 2010. Three more dams at Dagu (640 MW), Jiacha (320 MW) and Jeixu are currently under construction. 
  • The work on Zam hydropower station, which will be the largest dam on the Brahmaputra, too commenced in 2015.

What are the concerns?

The Chinese decision to build more and more dams on Yarlung/Brahmaputra has been an issue of major concern for India. 

  • Type of Projects: China, on its part, insists that the dams are and will continue to be run-of-river projects, wherein water will be returned to the river after use. As such there ought to be no fears of diversion, hoarding, and release of water later. This claim was taken with a pinch of salt by the Indian Government.
  • Water Hegemony: These dams are large enough to be converted and used as storage dams, especially if the purpose is flood control and irrigation (as is the case with Zangmu Dam). In the absence of a water treaty, China depriving India of water during lean seasons becomes a possibility.
  • Flooding: Another risk is the release of flood waters during the monsoon season, which could inundate the already flooded Brahmaputra river basin in Assam. There is much apprehension that the Brahmaputra may lose the silt, which makes the plains in its basin fertile, because of sediment trapping in the dams.
  • Seismic Instability: all hydropower projects, particularly around Great Bend, are located in a highly volatile tectonic zone. Their proximity to known geological fault lines, where Indian Plate collides with the Eurasian Plate, makes them extremely earthquake-prone.

In 2008, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River gave way under the stress of an earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) in the eastern rim of Tibet, resulting in the loss of many lives. This raises serious concerns about the risks posed by big dams built in such seismically sensitive areas.

RBI proposed a forward-looking approach for loan losses


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has published a discussion paper on ‘loan loss provision’, proposing a framework for adopting an expected loss (EL)-based approach for provisioning by banks in case of loan defaults.


About the loan loss provisions:

  • It is based on the premise that the present incurred loss-based approach for the provision by banks is inadequate, and there is a need to shift to the “expected credit loss” regime in order to avoid any systemic issues.

The incurred loss approach requires banks to provide for losses that have already occurred or have been incurred.

  • The RBI defines a loan loss provision as “an expense that banks set aside for defaulted loans”.
  • Banks set aside a portion of the expected loan repayments from all loans in their portfolio to cover the losses either completely or partially.
  • In the event of a loss, instead of taking a loss in its cash flows, the bank can use its loan loss reserves to cover the loss.
  • An increase in the balance of reserves is called a loan loss provision.
  • The level of loan loss provision is determined based on the level expected to protect the safety and soundness of the bank.

The delay in recognising expected losses under an “incurred loss” approach was found to exacerbate the downswing during the financial crisis of 2007-09.

How the loan loss provision will work?

  • Shifting policy framework: A bank is required to estimate expected credit losses based on forward-looking estimations, rather than wait for credit losses to be actually incurred before making corresponding loss provisions.
  • Classification of loan assets: The banks will need to classify financial assets (primarily loans, including irrevocable loan commitments, and investments classified as held-to-maturity or available-for-sale) into one of three categories — Stage 1, Stage 2, or Stage 3.
  • Stage 1 assets: are financial assets that have not had a significant increase in credit risk since initial recognition or that have low credit risk at the reporting date. For these assets, 12-month expected credit losses are recognised and interest revenue is calculated on the gross carrying amount of the asset.
  • Stage 2 assets are financial instruments that have had a significant increase in credit risk since initial recognition, but there is no objective evidence of impairment. For these assets, lifetime expected credit losses are recognised, but interest revenue is still calculated on the gross carrying amount of the asset.
  • Stage 3 assets include financial assets that have objective evidence of impairment at the reporting date. For these assets, lifetime expected credit loss is recognised, and interest revenue is calculated on the net carrying amount.
  • The classification of loans will depend upon the assessed credit losses on them, at the time of initial recognition as well as on each subsequent reporting date, and make necessary provisions.



  • It will enhance the resilience of the banking system in line with globally accepted norms.
  • It is likely to result in excess provisions as compared to a shortfall in provisions as seen in the incurred loss approach.
  • Faced with a systemic increase in defaults, the delay in recognising loan losses resulted in banks having to make higher levels of provisions when banks needed to shore up their capital.  This affected banks’ resilience and posed systemic risks.

Short News Article

Polity and Governance (GS-II)

Pankaj Kumar Singh appointed Deputy NSA

Retired director general of the Border Security Force (BSF) Pankaj Kumar Singh was appointed as the Deputy National Security Adviser (NSA).


  • He was appointed in National Security Council Secretariat for a period of two years.
  • He was a 1988-batch IPS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, has been appointed on a re-employment contract.
  • He got retired as the BSF chief on December 31, 2022.

His field Experience:

  • He has served with the Union government as Inspector General of the CRPF in Chhattisgarh and IG (Operations) at CRPF headquarters in Delhi.
  • Before becoming BSF DG, he also served in the BSF.


  • He was also the chief of the Eastern Frontier, he played an instrumental role in bringing down cattle smuggling through West Bengal and Assam borders.
    • Between 2015 and 2021, cattle smuggling on the Indo-Bangla border dropped by 87%.

Economy (GS-III)

 ‘B20’ programmes to provide platform for business opportunities









The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has organised a series of ‘B20’ programmes in Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim in partnership with the ministry of external affairs and North-eastern state governments.

About B20:

  • The Business 20 (B20) is a group that represents the private sector within the Group of 20 (G20) Forum.
  • Objective: The B20 was established to provide a platform for the business community to engage with the G20 and to offer recommendations on policies that can support global economic growth and development.
  • Significance: It will showcase the potential that the Northeast region offers for investment for global and local investors and highlight opportunities for multilateral business partnerships in industry sectors where Northeast states have core strength.

Event organised:

  • The B20 programme is scheduled from February 17-19 in Imphal which would focus on information and communications technology (ICT), medical tourism, health care and handlooms.
  • In Aizawl, it would be organised from March 1-3 and it would focus on urban planning, infrastructure and skill development.
  • From March 16-19, Gangtok would host a B20 programme focusing on tourism, hospitality, pharmaceutical and organic farming.
  • From April 4-6, the programme would be organised in Kohima focusing on agriculture and food processing.

Environment (GS-III)

India registers 10 new livestock breeds

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has registered 10 new breeds of livestock species, including cattle, buffalo, goat and pig in last one year.


  • The registration was done by ICAR-National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR).
  • The process involves identification and surveying of these breeds through visits to the native areas. 
  • This has taken the total number of indigenous breeds to 212.
  • The 10 new breeds included:
    • Three new cattle breeds (Kathani, Sanchori, Masilum),
    • One buffalo breed (Purnathadi),
    • Three goat breeds (Sojat, Karauli, Gujari) and
    • Three pig breeds (Banda, Manipuri Black, Wak Chambil). 
  • Since 2010, this is the third highest increase in registration of indigenous breeds, after 15 new breeds in 2018-19 and 13 new breeds in 2019-20 were recorded.
  • In 2010, there were only 129 indigenous breeds registered, called ‘extant breeds’. 


A fortuitous trend


  • The year 2022 has observed high inflation throughout but the recent data released has shown the downward trends for wholesale inflation which is a good sign for consumers in the year end.

The statistics showing positive trends:

  • Average price rise remained minimal: The average price rise faced by consumers during December slipped to its lowest since November 2021 at 5.7%. 
  • Wholesale inflation dropped: Wholesale inflation has fallen to a 22-month-low of 4.95% from 5.88% in November as compared to 2021.
  • Hopes with pre-election budget:  Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has projected inflation to average 5.9% in the current quarter from 6.1% in October-December 2022, and consumers are hoping to get lower rates of inflation in the coming quarter.
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