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21st April 2023

Assam-Arunachal Pradesh end border dispute


Assam and Arunachal Pradesh chief ministers signed an agreement to settle the decades-old inter-state boundary dispute between the two states. 

What was the dispute about?

  • Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, which was earlier a part of undivided Assam, share an 804 km long boundary.
  • While there were no tensions reported initially, frequent issues eventually came up.
  • During British rule, there was a law which involved setting boundaries between plains and hills. This was later known as North East Frontier Tracts (NEFT).
  • However, after independence, the Assam government was in control of the NEFT. This, in 1954, became the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and in 1972 became Arunachal Pradesh.
  • It is essential to note that Arunachal Pradesh was a Union Territory in 1972 and gained statehood only in 1987.
  • However, a 1951 report claimed that over 3,000 sq km of the area from Arunachal Pradesh had been transferred to Assam.
  • While Arunachal Pradesh has constantly held that this area was transferred without the consent of its people, Assam has maintained that the transfer was legally carried out.

What is in the pact?

  • The pact will bring settlement to 123 villages located along areas the two northeastern states share.
  • Under the pact, both the state governments have agreed that it will be final with regard to these 123 disputed villages and neither of the states will make any new claim related to any area or village in future.
  • Removal AFSPA: The government has withdrawn the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from most the places in Assam, 15 police stations in 6 districts in Manipur, all but 3 districts in Arunachal Pradesh, 7 districts in Nagaland, and the entire Tripura and Meghalaya.

Who has the power to resolve Inter-state disputes?

  • Article 131 is the main provision in the constitution regarding centre-state / inter-state disputes
  • The Parliament has the sole responsibility to take decisions for altering any region of any state.
  • However, the consultation of states is to be taken, which is not binding on the Parliament.
  • The decision of parliament is also not binding on the states.
  • To solve inter-state disputes, the Supreme Court has the sole power to make decisions.

List of major Inter-state border disputes in India:

  • Karnataka- Maharashtra: The Belgaum district (which came under Karnataka in 1956) is arguably part of one of the biggest inter-state border disputes in India.
  • Assam-Mizoram: The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram is a legacy of two British-era notifications of 1875 and 1933 when Mizoram was called Lushai Hills, a district in Assam.
    • The 1875 notification differentiated Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar and the other demarcated boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.
    • While Mizoram became a state only in 1987 following years of insurgency, it still insists on the boundary decided in 1875.
    • Assam, on the other hand, wants the boundary demarcated in 1986 (based on the 1933 notification).
    • Mizoram says the 1986 agreement is not acceptable as the Mizo civil society was not consulted at that time.
  • Assam-Nagaland: The Nagaland State Act of 1962 defined the state’s borders according to a 1925 notification when Naga Hills and Tuensang Area (NHTA) were integrated into a new administrative unit. Nagaland, however, does not accept the boundary delineation and has demanded that the new state should also have all Naga-dominated areas in North Cachar and Nagaon districts.
  • Haryana-Himachal Pradesh: The Parwanoo region (next to the Panchkula district of Haryana) has had the spotlight over the border dispute between the two states.
  • Himachal Pradesh-Ladakh: Himachal and Ladakh lay claim to Sarchu, an area on the route between Leh and Manali.
  • Meghalaya-Assam: The problem between Assam and Meghalaya started when the latter challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act of 1971, which gave Blocks I and II of the Mikir Hills or present-day Karbi Anglong district to Assam.

Indian Space Policy – 2023


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) formally published Indian Space Policy, 2023.

Key Highlights of the Policy

The Indian Space Policy 2023 is a comprehensive set of guidelines that outlines the roles and responsibilities of different entities in the Indian space sector.

  • Research & Development: The policy aims to keep India at the cutting edge of space research and development. ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation, has been tasked with focusing on applied research, technology development, and human spaceflight capabilities.
  • Efficient collaboration between public and private sector: The policy outlines a strong emphasis on sharing technologies, products, processes, and best practices with New Generation Entities (NGEs) and Government companies.
  • Privatising: The policy permits non-government entities to undertake end-to-end activities in the space sector through the establishment and operation of space objects, ground-based assets and related services such as communication, remote sensing and navigation.
  • Democratizing Data for All: Data with a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) of 5 meters and higher will be made freely accessible on a timely basis.
    • This initiative promises to empower researchers, industries, and the general public with valuable information for various applications. In contrast, data with a GSD of less than 5 meters will be available for free to Government entities and at fair pricing for NGEs.
  • Focus on human spaceflight capabilities: ISRO will work on developing the necessary technologies, infrastructure, and ecosystem for sustained human presence in space. This ambitious goal promises to propel India into the ranks of spacefaring nations. Additionally, the policy emphasizes the development of a collaborative framework for scientific research in multidisciplinary domains related to human space activities.
  • Celestial Prospecting and In-situ Resource Utilization: ISRO is set to undertake studies and missions focused on in-situ resource utilization, celestial prospecting, and other aspects of extra-terrestrial habitability. This forward-looking approach will help India pave the way for future space exploration and utilization of resources beyond Earth.

Roles and responsibilities of organisations 

  • NewSpace India Limited: The Public Sector Undertaking, NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), has been assigned responsibilities for commercializing space technologies and platforms, as well as servicing space-based needs of users, whether Government entities or NGEs.
    • By manufacturing, leasing, or procuring space components and assets, NSIL will operate on sound commercial principles, furthering the growth of India's space industry.
  • Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe): IN-SPACe will serve as the interface between ISRO and non-governmental entities. 
  • Department of Space: The Department of Space (DOS) will oversee the implementation of the Indian Space Policy-2023, ensuring that stakeholders are suitably empowered to carry out their respective functions.
    • From international cooperation to sustainable space operations, DOS will play a pivotal role in the successful execution of the policy.

India’s space sector (in-brief)

  • India's space sector is globally recognized for cost-effective satellite building, and it advocates for peaceful and civilian use of outer space.
  • ISRO has an exceptional success rate and is the 6th largest space agency globally. 
  • India has over 400 private space companies and ranks fifth globally in terms of the number of space companies. 
  • Recent developments include
    • setting up the Defence Space Agency (DSA)
    • expanding satellite manufacturing capabilities, which are expected to reach USD 3.2 billion by 2025
    • ISRO launched SAMVAD, a student outreach program to encourage space research among young minds
  • Challenges: However, the space sector faces major challenges as well including
    •  lack of regulations on commercialisation which could lead to monopolisation
    • rising space debris from increasing expeditions
    • China's rapid growth in the space industry and potential weaponization
    • increasing global trust deficit creating an environment of suspicion and potential conflict

Global space industry: The global space industry is currently valued at more than $400 billion and has the potential to become a $1 trillion industry by 2040.

What are the expected benefits of the new policy?

  • Enhancing the Indian space economy: The Policy is expected to have a significant impact on the Indian space economy. It aims to increase India's share in the global space economy from less than 2% to 10%. 
  • Making India a global space leader: Through a combination of research and development, collaboration, and innovation, the nation is poised to reach for the stars and solidify its position as a global space leader.

SpaceX's Starship explodes during test flight


SpaceX's Starship, the most powerful rocket ever built, exploded during the first test flight of the spacecraft designed to send astronauts to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The explosion

  • The Starship capsule had been scheduled to separate from the first-stage rocket booster three minutes into the uncrewed flight but separation failed to occur and the rocket blew up.
  • Starship Super Heavy has experienced an anomaly before stage separation.
  • Despite the failure to complete the full flight test, SpaceX declared it a success.
  • Together, the Starship spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket are collectively referred to as Starship.
  • Starship is a super-heavy-lift rocket and spacecraft that could ferry more than 100 people at a time to the Red Planet.
  • Starship, a rocket and spacecraft combination, consists of a 50-metre tall spacecraft designed to carry crew and cargo that sits atop a 70-metre first-stage Super Heavy booster rocket.
  • Reusable transport system: The system is designed to be fully and rapidly reusable.
  • Being fully reusable means the principal hardware elements are not discarded in the sea or allowed to burn up, as happens with some other launch systems, but return to the ground so they can be flown again.
  • Rapid reusability means that after coming back from space, Starship can be re-filled with propellant and be ready to launch again in a short period of time - like an aircraft. This reduces the cost of the whole enterprise.
  • Collectively referred to as Starship, the spacecraft and the Super Heavy rocket have never flown in combination together, although there have been several sub-orbital test flights of the spacecraft alone.
  • The US space agency NASA has picked the Starship spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the Moon in late 2025 -- a mission known as Artemis III -- for the first time since the Apollo program ended in 1972.

Protests in Hasdeo Aranya


For more than a year now, locals, largely from the Gond tribe, in Hariharpur, Ghatbarra, and Fattepur villages, have been holding a sit-in at the entrance to Hariharpur against mining.

  • Protests against mining in the Hasdeo Aranya region have been going on since the area was first granted clearance for this purpose by the Chhattisgarh government in 2010. However, there are no positive results.
  • In March 2022, the Chhattisgarh government granted expansion approval for the project to open the Parsa Coal Block, which would dig under Hariharpur.
  • Here, about 2 lakh trees have been marked for felling. The mines will expand into Fattepur and Ghatbarra.
  • Mining will lead to the loss of about 8 lakh trees of the Sal forests in Hasdeo Aranya, which will end up affecting the catchment of the Hasdeo River.

Issues faced by the local people (with no voice)

  • When the mining began, the blasting was a few acres away. Slowly, from 2018 onwards, it started coming closer. Today, the mine is less than 100 metres away from their backyard.
  • Cattle have less to graze on, groundwater level has gone down
  • The blasting has loosened the earth around borewells and tube wells people had been using for minor farming.
  • The nearby stream which used to have water and fish throughout the year has turned into a muddy rivulet since the digging has affected the catchment area.

About the Hasdeo Aranya forests region

  • The Hasdeo Aranya forests are called the lungs of Chhattisgarh.
  • The Hasdeo Aranya (Aranya means forest) lies in the catchment area of the Hasdeo River and is spread across 1,878 sq km in North-Central Chhattisgarh.
  • The Hasdeo River is a tributary of the Mahanadi River which originates in Chhattisgarh and flows through Odisha into the Bay of Bengal.
  • Home to vulnerable population: Hasdeo Arand region is home to a large and vulnerable population, most of them being Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers. Over 90% of the residents are dependent on agriculture cultivation and forest produce for their livelihoods.
    • The implementation of the Forest Rights Act has remained extremely poor to date leaving the population extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.


  • Underneath the Hasdeo Aranya is a coalfield that comprises 22 coal blocks. In 2010, the Centre categorised Hasdeo Aranya to be a “no-go” zone for mining. It ruled out mining in any of these blocks.
  • However, only a year later, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) granted clearance for the mining of one coal block.
  • At present, of the 22 blocks, seven blocks have been allotted to different companies, says the resolution.

How significant is this region?

  • Forest land: Around 80% of this is covered by good quality forest(approximately 1176 sq km has a canopy cover of over 40% while an additional 116 sq km has a canopy cover of over 70%).
  • Biodiversity: Besides, the forests are ecologically sensitive due to the rich biodiversity. It is also part of a large elephant corridor stretching from supporting the migration of wild elephants from the Gumla district in Jharkhand to the Korba district of Chhattisgarh.
  • Hasdeo Bango reservoir: It is also the watershed of the Hasdeo Bango reservoir on the Hasdeo River, which is a tributary of the Mahanadi River and one of the most important rivers of Chhattisgarh. The Hasdeo Bango Dam built across the Hasdeo River irrigates six lakh acres of land, crucial to a State with paddy as its main crop.

First-ever waterbody census


The Ministry of Jal Shakti has released the report of the first census of water bodies.

Key highlights of the Census

  • India has 24.24 lakh water bodies like ponds, tanks and lakes, with West Bengal accounting for the most (7.47 lakh) and Sikkim the least (134).
  • The report states, “24,24,540 waterbodies have been enumerated in the country, out of which 97.1% (23,55,055) are in rural areas and only 2.9% (69,485) in urban areas.”
  • As per the report,
    • 5 per cent (14,42,993) of waterbodies are ponds
    • tanks (15.7 per cent i.e. 3,81,805)
    • reservoirs (12.1 per cent i.e. 2,92,280)
    • water conservation schemes/percolation tanks/check dams (9.3% i.e. 2,26,217)
    • lakes (0.9% i.e. 22,361)
    • others (2.5% i.e. 58,884)

What is a water body?

  • The census defines a waterbody as “all-natural or man-made units bounded on all sides with some or no masonry work used for storing water for irrigation or other purposes (for example industrial, pisciculture, domestic/drinking, recreation, religious, groundwater recharge etc)”.
  • Waterbodies are usually of various types known by different names like tanks, reservoirs, ponds and buddies etc.
  • A structure where water from ice melt, streams, springs, rain or drainage of water from residential or other areas is accumulated or water is stored by diversion from a stream, Nala or river will also be treated as a waterbody.


Short News Article

Art & Culture

Kamakhya Temple corridor

Assam is planning to construct a corridor at the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati on the lines of the Kashi-Vishwanath Temple Corridor in Varanasi.

  • Located on Nilachal Hill in Guwahati, Kamakhya Temple is considered most sacred and oldest of the 51 Shakti Peethas on earth.
  • It is the centrepiece of widely practiced, powerful Tantrik Shaktism cult in India.
  • The presiding deity in the temple is Goddess Kamakhya and her other forms as the Tripura Sundari, Kamala and Matangi.
  • The mighty Brahmaputra river flows through the northern banks of the temple.
  • The Kamakhya temple dates back to the first millennium during the time of Kamarupa. The Allahabad rock inscriptions of Samudragupta mention the existence of the temple.
  • Ambubachi Mela: The annual festival of Ambubachi Mela celebrates the menstruation of the Goddess. The three-day mela is when the temple is closed off, as a period of rest for the Goddess.

International Relations

Exercise INIOCHOS-23

Exercise INIOCHOS-23 is a multi-national air exercise hosted by the Hellenic Air Force (Greece).

About 2023 Exercise

  • The exercise will be conducted at the Andravida Air Base in Greece from April 24, 2023, until May 4, 2023.
  • The aim of the exercise is to enhance international cooperation, synergy and interoperability among the participating Air Forces.

India’s participation

  • The Indian Air Force will participate with four Su-30 MKI and two C-17 aircraft.
    • The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a twinjet multirole air superiority fighter developed by Russia's Sukhoi and built under license by India's Hindustan Aeronautics.
    • C-17 Globemaster III is a strategic transport aircraft, able to airlift cargo close to a battle area.
  • Other nations are also expected to take part. It will include
    • Cyprus with an AW139 Helicopter
    • France with Rafales
    • Italy with Tornados
    • Jordan with F-16s
    • Saudi Arabia with F-15s
    • Slovenia with PC-9s
    • Spain with EF-18s
    • The USA with F-16s and MQ-9s

Polity & Governance

The State of the World’s Children 2023

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef), India released a global flagship report titled 'The State of the World’s Children 2023: For Every Child, Vaccination', highlighting the significance of immunisation in children.

Key-highlights of the data

  • Vaccine Confidence: The popular perception of the importance of vaccines for children has held firm or improved only in three countries, namely, China, India, and Mexico, out of 55 countries studied.
  • Decline: Vaccination confidence has declined in more than a third of the nations studied, including the Republic of Korea, Papua New Guinea, Ghana, Senegal, and Japan.
  • Drop in child immunisation: The global drop in vaccine confidence coincides with the highest persistent drop in child immunisation in 30 years, fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic halted vaccinations in children practically everywhere. This was due to the high demand on health systems, the shift of immunisation resources to Covid-19 vaccines, shortages in health workers, and stay-at-home measures.
  • The state of the world’s children 2023 report highlights India as one of the countries with the highest vaccine confidence in the world.
  • This achievement can be attributed to the government's campaigns, including the:
    • Intensified Mission Indradhanush (IMI)
    • continued provision of comprehensive primary healthcare services
    • a strong routine immunisation programme


A new edge to the fight against tuberculosis


At the recent One World TB Summit, Prime Minister instilled fresh energy into the global tuberculosis (TB) elimination response and reiterated India’s commitment to spearhead this effort. 

Role of India in fighting against TB

  • National TB Elimination Programme-India’s National TB Elimination Programme (NTEP) has introduced several measures to and, notify and treat TB cases.
  • Engagement with the private sector- The novel approaches including engagement with the private sector, the launch of social support provisions, and the introduction of diagnostic tools and new drug regimens, have improved TB management.
  • Investing in health research- India has long recognized the importance of investing in health research and development, especially in recent years to find new ways to curb TB.

Challenges Faced

  • Poor assessment- There is a lack of an honest assessment of the TB situation in India.
  • The problem of awareness- There is a lack of widespread awareness about the disease and about the medical care
  • Lack of vaccine-India does have the Bacille Calmette­Gue?rin (BCG) vaccine for TB, but it does not adequately protect adolescents and adults who are at the highest risk for developing and spreading TB.
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