What's New :

1st February 2023

NATO and increased tensions in Asia


A Four-day visit to South Korea and Japan by the head of NATO highlights the alliance’s strategic priority to push back against China and North Korea while addressing the global impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Europe and Asia connections:

  • NATO’s concerns about China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have led to this meeting with the Asian powers.
  • NATO also claimed that North Korea is helping Russia in its war against Ukraine.
  • South Korea has been supporting Ukraine with non-lethal aid.
  • It has also signed arms deals to provide tanks and fighter aircraft to NATO member Poland.
  • South Korean President together with Japan and Australia expressed the importance of improving security in the Indo-Pacific region together with NATO.
  • Both Japan and South Korea have expressed that security in Europe is linked to Asia, amid Russia’s close links with China and North Korea.

Threats in South Asia:

  • China interference: China has growing conflicts with both Japan and South Korea in the East Asia region. Hence, NATO’s security and military alliance can benefit both countries to plan against China.
  • North Korea’s inclination with Russia: Russia’s Ukrainian tactics were seen as a misdeed for European countries and affecting the world. So, in such a situation North Korea’s support to Russia will further ruin the relations.
  • Conflict in East Asia: The increasing conflict between East Asian countries regarding territorial disputes, fishing activities and ocean resources has worsened the situation for them.

Role of NATO:

  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949, sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in central and eastern Europe after World War II.
  • It was the US’s first peacetime military alliance outside the western hemisphere.
  • NATO’s essential and enduring purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means.
  • It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. There are currently 30 member states.
  • North Macedonia is the last country to join NATO in 2020. Recently, Finland and Sweden have shown interest to join NATO.

Objectives of NATO:

  • Political objectives: NATO promotes democratic values and enables members to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.
  • Military Objectives: NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations.
  • These are carried out under the collective defence clause of NATO's founding treaty - Article 5 of the Washington Treaty or under a United Nations mandate, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.

Perspective on Extending NATO’s Membership to India:


  • The newer perspective of Non-Alignment: India’s refusal to join any military bloc at the time of freedom was based on non-alignment, but after the end of the cold-war during 1989-91 the situation changed. NATO has also built partnerships with many neutral and non-aligned.
  • Creation of Deterrence: Although India is capable enough to secure its borders, an alliance with NATO would create deterrence for China and Pakistan to attack India under the provisions of collective defence, laid in article 5 as discussed above.
  • Military-Strategic Benefits: India would derive military-strategic benefits from a partnership with the world’s most powerful alliance.


  • Conflict within NATO: NATO members have often found divided on how to share the military burden. Further, NATO members have also been found to disagree on policies related to Russia, the Middle East, and China.
  • Endangering Relations with Russia: By becoming a NATO member, India’s long-standing and strong ties with Russia may get deteriorated.
  • Threat to Sovereignty: An alliance with NATO might ask for the establishment of NATO bases on India’s territory and it may even be considered an infringement of our sovereignty.


Education’s share in budgetary allocations dropped


The budgetary allocation for education as a percentage of total expenditure has dropped over the past seven years, from 10.4% to 9.5%, according to the Economic Survey 2022-23.

Estimates of the survey:

  • Based on Expenditure: While the expenditure on social services increased from ?9, 15,500 crore to ?21, 32,059 crore, the share of education within this umbrella category shrank from 42.8% to 35.5% between the financial years 2015-2016 and 2022-2023.
  • The Budgetary estimates: The share of education in total expenditure declined from 10.7% in 2019-2020 to 9.1% in the first COVID year and remained stagnant in the following year, before being raised to 9.5% in the budgetary estimates for 2022-2023.
  • As a share of total GDP: The budgetary allocation for education saw only a minimal gain of 0.1 percentage points, from 2.8% to 2.9% during the same seven year period.

Key highlights of Education sector:

  • In Primary classes: For the year 2019-2020, the total dropout rate in primary school was 1.5%, which fell to 0.8% in 2020-2021, but rose back to 1.5% in 2021-2022.
    • However, this is significantly better than the 4.7% dropout rate in 2013-2014.
  • In upper primary classes: The dropout rate fell from 2.6% in 2019-2020 to 2.3% the following year, but rose to 3% in 2021-2022, only marginally lower than the 3.1% level seen in 2013-2014.
  • In the secondary classes: The situation has steadily improved, with the dropout rate falling from 16.1% in 2019-2020 to 14% the following year and 12.6% last year.
  • Total number of schools: Between 2013-2014 and 2021-2022, the total number of schools declined from 15.2 lakh to 14.9 lakh, with primary and upper primary schools seeing a reduction of one lakh schools to 11.9 lakh, though the number of secondary and senior secondary schools rose by 60,000 to a total of 2.3 lakh.
  • For Higher education:
    • The number of medical colleges in the country increased from 387 in 2014 to 648 in 2022, and the number of MBBS seats have increased from 51,348 to 96,077, although the report did not provide data segregated for public and private medical colleges.
    • The number of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) rose from 16 to 23 between 2014 and 2022 and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) increased from 13 to 20.
    • In 2014, there were 723 Universities in the country, which have increased to 1,113.
    • The total enrolment in higher education has increased to nearly 4.1 crore in financial year 2020-21 from 3.9 crore in 2019-20.
    • In 2021-2022, distance education saw a 7% growth over the previous year, with 45.7 lakh students enrolling.

Constitutional provisions regarding ‘education’

Till 1976, education was sole responsibility of state but constitutional amendment made it ‘concurrent subject’.

Fundamental Rights

  • Article 21A: Right to Education
  • Article 28: Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions.
  • Article 29: Equality of opportunity in educational institutions.
  • Article 30: Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
  • Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)
  • Article 41: Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases
  • Article 45: Provision for free and compulsory education for children and Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years
  • Article 46: It provides for special care to the promotion of education and economic interests of the scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and the weaker sections of society.

Challenges in the Education sector

  • India has the third largest higher education system in the world, and is behind only the US and China.
  • Higher educational institutions churn out around 2.5 million graduates every year. However, this caters to just about 10 per cent of India’s youth and the quality of this output is considered below par.
  • Education reforms are focused mostly on inputs rather than learning outcomes as the performance of schools is assessed only by infrastructure and midday meals.
  • This has been one of scathing criticism of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
  • Also, teachers tasked with raising student standards are burdened with administrative tasks. Budgetary constraints and lack of manpower and technological resources are other barriers.
  • As a result, schools resort to rote-learning techniques to cope up with the mounting performance pressures.

The domicile Bill in Jharkhand


The Jharkhand Governor has returned the domicile Bill, which defines a ‘local’ in the state on the basis of 1932 land records to the state government to “seriously review” its legality.


  • The Jharkhand government has introduced the bill in its Assembly session and once it is passed by the state Assembly it will be sent to the Union Government with a proposal to place it in the 9th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • In Jharkhand; various tribal groups have been demanding 1932 as the cut-off year because that year the land survey and revenue register was done in large parts of the State.
About the Bill:
  • The domicile Bill defines a 'local' in Jharkhand on the basis of 1932 land records.
  • The Bill mentions that only local persons, as identified under it, would be eligible for appointment in class 3 and 4 positions of the state government.
  • According to the proposed domicile policy, people who have their names or their ancestor’s name in the land records of 1932 or before, will be considered local inhabitants of Jharkhand.
  • Those who have lost their land records or have land records which are illegible or are landless people can approach their respective Gram Sabhas for their inclusion.
  • This is not in accordance with Article 16 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality in employment.
  • The Governor mentioned that only Parliament has been empowered to impose any kind of conditions in matters of employment.

Governor’s argument against the Bill:

  • The Governor said that while various areas of Jharkhand are covered under the Fifth Schedule (dealing with provisions for Scheduled Tribes), in the case of Satyajit Kumar vs. the State of Jharkhand, the Supreme Court has again declared 100 per cent reservation given by the state in scheduled areas as unconstitutional.
  • Such a provision clearly appears to be inconsistent, having an adverse effect on fundamental rights when the State Legislature is not vested with the power to pass a Bill in such cases. 

State government’s argument:

  • The Jharkhand government had included a provision in the Bill that it would come into force only after the Centre carried out amendments to include it in the Ninth Schedule, putting it beyond judicial scrutiny.

The Ninth Schedule of the Constitution contains a list of central and state laws that cannot be challenged in court.

However, courts in the past have said that law can be reviewed if they violate fundamental rights or the basic structure of the Constitution.

Economic Survey 2022- 23


The government tabled the Economic Survey 2022-23 which laid out the outlook for India’s growth, inflation and unemployment in the coming years.

What is the Economic Survey?

  • The Survey provides a detailed report of the national economy for the year along with forecasts.
  • It touches upon everything from agriculture to unemployment to infrastructure.
  • It is prepared by the Economic Division of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA).

The comments or policy solutions contained in the Survey are not binding on the government.

Key takeaways of the survey:

  • GDP growth: India’s growth estimate for FY23 is higher than for almost all major economies.
    • Despite strong global headwinds and tighter domestic monetary policy, India is still expected to grow between 6.5 and 7.0 per cent.
    • India’s underlying economic resilience; of its ability to recoup, renew and re-energise the growth drivers of the economy.
  • Inflation:
    • The RBI has projected headline inflation at 6.8% in FY23, outside its comfort zone of 2% to 6%.
    • High inflation is seen as one big factor holding back demand among consumers.
    • However, there is an optimistic view about the inflation levels and trajectory, as a private investment can help to recoup.
  • Unemployment:
    • The employment levels have risen in the current financial year.
    • The job creation appears to have moved higher with the initial surge in exports, a strong release of the “pent-up” demand, and a swift rollout of the capex.

The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), showed that the urban unemployment rate for people aged 15 years and above declined from 9.8% in the quarter ending September 2021 to 7.2% one year later.

  • Outlook for 2023-24:
    • It projected a baseline GDP growth of 6.5% in real terms in FY24.
    • Poor global growth may widen India’s trade deficit and make the rupee depreciate.
    • Similarly, sustained monetary tightening (higher interest rates) may drag down economic activity in FY24.

What does it mean to India?

  • A decadal growth: India’s economy has recovered from the Covid disruption and, at long last, is poised to see sustained robust growth in the rest of the decade.
  • Reduction in Non-performing assets and banking activities:  Indian economy is thus well placed to grow at its potential in the coming decade, similar to the growth experience of the economy after 2003.


  • India’s potential growth rate without inflation became a problem which had fallen to just 6%.
  • The unemployment rates underestimate the alarming stress in the labour market because the labour force participation rate (or the proportion of people demanding jobs) is itself quite low.
  • India is the world’s most populous country with a growing youth bulge.
  • It has the world’s largest pool of poor people and the largest pool of malnourished children.


Nature-friendly development for Himalayan fragility


Projects such as the Tehri dam play a role in exacerbating the effects of disasters, as seen during the 2021 Chamoli flash floods, especially in the Himalayan ecosystem.

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

Formation of Himalayas:

  • The Himalayas formed 50 million years ago due to a continental drift wherein the Indian landmass crossed the prehistoric Tethys Sea and bumped into the Asian mainland, which is still quite fragile.
  • The mountain range, whose rocks are made of sediment from the bottom of the Tethys, is still rising slowly and is susceptible to earthquakes.
  • As the Himalayas evolved, the slopes were covered with vegetation of oak and rhododendron that firmly held the soil and water, preventing erosion or landslides.

Human habitation spread in this mountainous terrain and over centuries, tiny villages and small towns settled in the plateaus, leaving the forest cover intact.

These communities managed forest resources with care.

The development projects and disasters:

  • The Hindu Kush Himalayan region is prone to numerous types of disasters because of its;
    • Steep terrain
    • fragile geology
    • intense and variable precipitation
    • Common incidents of floods and landslides
    • Neo-tectonic mountain-building processes, like earthquakes, landslides, floods, etc.
  • Other factors:
    • Overexploitation of the ecosystem(tourism, increased consumerism)
    • Exploitative development projects: The indiscriminate exploitation of the fragile Himalayan region in the name of development projects has extracted a heavy price in terms of environmental damage.
    • Fragmentation of natural resources: A string of hydroelectric and road projects in the Himalayan States have already resulted in the fragmentation of natural systems.

Suggestive measures:

  • Regulated tourism practice: There is a need to establish regulated tourism practices with the promotion of sustainable agendas for the Indian Himalayan region (IHR).
  • Also, there is a need for the maintenance of proper tourist capacity in every tourist place.
  • Vigilance and patrolling: Protected areas require vigilance and regular patrolling to reduce unwanted wildlife-tourist interaction as well as habitat destruction due to off-road driving and encroachment.
  • Early Warning System: It is important to have early warning and better weather forecast systems in order to forecast the disaster and alert the local population and tourists.
  • Regional Cooperation: There is a need for a transboundary coalition of Himalayan countries to share and disseminate knowledge about the mountains and the preservation of the ecology there.
  • Area-Specific Sustainable Plan: What is most critical is to review the area’s present status and draw up a sustainable plan that respects the specific requirements of this fragile region and the impact of the climate crisis.
  • Promote Ecotourism: Initiating a dialogue on the adverse impacts of commercial tourism and promoting ecotourism.

Short News Article

Polity and Governance

Hubballi-Ankola railway project




The standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has directed the Union environment ministry to organise a workshop to discuss the Hubballi-Ankola railway line project proposal in Karnataka.

Suggestion of the Committee:

  • The committee has suggested that railways, which is the user agency, should make changes in the proposal to minimise the project’s impact on the environment.
  • There is a need for an integrated plan for this important tiger corridor area.
  • Further, the mitigation measures proposed in the project are not sufficient to conserve the wildlife.
  • They suggested that the railway line should be doubled.

In its original plan, the railways proposed a single-track, broad gauge line.

  •  The User Agency needs to submit the proposal in revised form and the committee does not recommend consideration of the proposal in the present form.
  • Concerns highlighted:
  • The project involves the diversion of an area of 595.64 ha of forest land for the construction of a new broad gauge railway line from Hubballi to Ankola.
  • The proposed 168 km railway line passes through forests between two major protected areas – Kali Tiger Reserve and Bedthi Conservation Reserve.
  • The project would also cost 2.34 lakh trees.

Art and Culture

Maru Mahotsav 2023

Maru Mahotsav or the Jaisalmer Desert Festival celebrated in Rajasthan during the month of February every year.

About the event:

  • This year the event will be organised from February 2 to 5.
  • It is a four-day long annual event.
  • Along the way, groups of artists performed folk dances like Kalbelia, Horse, Kachhi Ghodi, Gair etc.
  • In this culture festival, Celebrities Night, events on the sandy dunes of Pokhran Khudi.
  • A bevy of popular personalities, including Milind Gaba, Aastha Gill, Sawai Bhatt will perform at the event.


52 Avian species observed in Ladakh


Fifty-two avian species were observed in the 'Asian Waterbird Census-2023' conducted in the Union Territory of Ladakh.


  • Organised by:  The GoI-UNDP Himalaya project and department of wildlife protection had organised the census between January 17 and January 19 in collaboration with Ladakh biodiversity council.
  • The observations were recorded on the eBird app, which is an online database of bird observations providing scientists, researchers, and amateur naturalists with real-time data about bird distribution and abundance.
  • The total number of species recorded across all the birding sites was 35, out of which 13 species were waterbird.
  • The project was organised in and around two important hot springs of eastern Ladakh -- Chumathang, and Puga, along with other important birding sites such as Tso Kar, and Shey and Phey villages along the banks of Indus River.

The waterbird census:

  • The International Waterbird Census is a monitoring programme operating in 143 countries to collect information on the numbers of waterbirds at wetland sites.

India is also a part of this monitoring programme under the Asian water bird census.


Policy folly


  • In the recent Bomb blast in Pakistan’s mosque near the police line area took around 100 lives, and was considered as an act which the nation has to pay for its deeds.

Behind the attack:

  • Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP): TTP is a group belong to Pakistani version of the Sunni Islamist insurgency. The blast bears the hallmarks of a TTP attack which targeted at security personnel.
  • Result of misdeeds: Pakistan was largely seen as one of the victors of the Afghan civil war and supported Taliban’s capture of Kabul.
  • Historical support to terror groups: As Pakistan since its inception has supported terrorist groups and several times it backfired its own people and territory.
You must be logged in to get greater insights.


QUIZ - 1st February 2023

Verifying, please be patient.

Enquire Now