What's New :

21st January 2023

Autonomy at the Panchayat level


The failure of the State governments to release funds in time has forced the local government heads to utilise either private resources or borrow large amounts to complete Panchayat activities and meet various targets.

Rural local self-governance in India:

  • Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) is a system of rural local self-government in India.
  • PRI was constitutionalized through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 to build democracy at the grass roots level and was entrusted with the task of rural development in the country.
  • This act has added a new Part-IX to the Constitution of India. This part is entitled as ‘The Panchayats’ and consists of provisions from Articles 243 to 243 O.
  • In addition, the act has also added a new Eleventh Schedule to the Constitution. This schedule contains 29 functional items of the Panchayats. It deals with Article 243-G.

In its present form and structure PRI has completed 30 years of existence. However, a lot remains to be done in order to further decentralization and strengthen democracy at the grass root level.

What is the basis of Local self-governance in India?

  • Local self-governance is linked to the idea of subsidiarity and is typically grounded on two broad arguments.
    • First, it provides for the efficient provision of public goodssince governments with smaller jurisdictions can provide services as per the preferences of their residents.
    • Second, it promotes deeper democracysince governments that are closer to the people allow citizens to engage with public affairs more easily.
  • The democratic decentralization through the 73rd and 74th CAA has entrusted the Local self-government with the main task of local governance, while the district administration plays an enabling and coordinating role.
  • However, in several cases bureaucratic inertia and lack of empowerment of LSG (local self-government) have hindered the objective of decentralized local governance (enshrined in Art.40 of the DPSP), needing immediate reform in this regard.
  • However, India is undergoing a centralising shift in its politics, economy, and culture.

What are the loopholes in the local governance structure?

  • Limited autonomy and authority: Despite the constitutional promise of local self-governance, local governments, especially municipalities, operate with limited autonomy and authority.
    • Limitations include the discretion given to the States regarding the devolution of powers and levying of local taxes.
    • State governments are reluctant to implement the 74th amendment as cities are economic powerhouses and controlling urban land is important for financing State governments and political parties.
  • Narrowing the scope of Municipalities: The courts have also mostly interpreted the 74th amendment narrowly, allowing State governmentsto retain their control over cities.
    • The 2021 amendment transferred the powers of appointment of Grade C and D employeesof municipalities from the Empowered Standing Committee of the municipality to the State government-controlled Directorate of Municipal Administration.


Guidelines to social media influencers for promotions


The Centre has released the endorsement guidelines for celebrities and social media influencers that mandate compulsory disclosure of monetary or material benefits of a product or a brand they are promoting through their social media platforms.


About the guidelines issues:

  • The regulation aims to ensure that individuals do not mislead their audiences when endorsing products or services and that they are in compliance with the Consumer Protection Act and any associated rules or guidelines.
  • Objective: The main underlining principle of the law is prevention of unfair trade practice.
  • Need:
    • Due to an increased risk of consumers being misled by advertisements.
    • The size of the social media influencer market in India in 2022 and it is likely to rise to ? 2,800 crore.
  • Key points:
    • The guidelines specify that disclosures must be prominently and clearly displayed in the endorsement, making them ‘extremely hard to miss’ by the audiences.
    • Benefits and incentives, and monetary or other compensation, trips or hotel stay, media barters, coverage and awards, free products with or without conditions, discounts, gifts and any family or personal or employment relationship come under material benefits according to the guidelines.
    • Endorsements must be made in simple, clear language and terms such as ‘advertisement,’ ‘sponsored,’ or ‘paid promotion’ can be used.
    • They should not endorse any product or service in which due diligence has been done by them or that they have not personally used or experienced.
  • Stakeholders’ involved:
    • Individuals/groups who have access to an audience and the power to affect their audiences' purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand or experience, because of the influencer's/celebrity's authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience will have to disclose.
    • The disclosure should happen when there is a material connection between an advertiser and celebrity/influencer that may affect the weight or credibility of the representation made by the celebrity/influence.
  • Rules for disclosures:
    • The disclosures should be placed in the endorsement message in such a manner that they are clear, prominent and extremely hard to miss.
    • Disclosures should not be mixed with a group of hashtags or links.
    • Disclosures should be superimposed over the image enough for viewers to notice.
    • In video, disclosures should be placed in the video and not just in the description and they should be made in both audio and video format.
    • In the case of live stream, disclosures should be displayed continuously and prominently during the entire stream.
  • Penalties and Punishments:
    • The penalty prescribed for misleading advertisements under the Consumer Protection Act 2019 will be applicable.
    • The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) can impose a penalty of up to ? 10 lakh on manufacturers, advertisers and endorsers and for repeated offences, a penalty of up to ? 50 lakh can be imposed. 
    • With this, the CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from making any endorsement for up to one year and for subsequent contravention, prohibition can extend up to three years.

On the shifting banks of the Ganga in West Bengal


The Continuous shifting plains of River Ganga in West Bengal is creating difficulties for locals to maintain their livelihood and is a cause of concern which needs a view to curb the menaces.


About the Ganga’s regime in West Bengal:

  • The mighty river enters the West Bengal plains from Rajmahal hills of Jharkhand’s Sahebganj district after a long journey of about 2,000 km from the Himalayas as it begins to break away into distributaries.
  • The Ganga divides into two major distributaries, Padma and Bhagirathi-Hooghly, at Mithipur in Murshidabad district.
  • The Padma carries the bulk of the discharge, flows about 65 km along the India-Bangladesh border, and finally leaves Indian Territory at Jalangi.

The River Ganga:

  • The National River of India Ganga flows through India and Bangladesh.
  • The river flows through the Himalayas, Gangetic plains and empties into the Bay of Bengal.
  • In Indian traditions and culture, river Ganga is personified as Goddess Ganga.
  • It is a revered belief that to remit sins, one has to take a dip in river Ganga. It further channelizes the salvation, so is believed in Indian culture.
  • A Siamese festival called ‘Loy Krathong’ of Thailand includes a tradition of floating candles into the waterways praying to Goddess Ganga.
  • Hindus consider the Ganga River the holiest of all the rivers.
  • Ganga is also mentioned in one of the four Vedas – Rigveda
  • Various reptiles and mammals find their habitat in the Ganga river:
    • Gharial
    • National Aquatic Animal of India – Gangetic River Dolphin
    • The river starts from the Gangotri Glacier in the name of Bhagirathi river
  • Ghagra River is the largest tributary of river Ganga
  • Mainly the Sediment-laden flows of Ganga with the Brahmaputra River form Ganges Delta which is the world’s largest delta.

The reasons for shifting plains:

  • Due to Erosion and Deposition in a Meandering River: As Ganga reaches in it Old Stage till reaching West Bengal, it shows features of a meandering river.
  • A meandering stream has a single channel those winds snakelike through its valley.
  • As water flows around these curves, the outer edge of water is moving faster than the inner.
  • This creates an erosional surface on the outer edge (a cut bank) and a depositional surface on the inner edge (a point bar). Where the bends of two meanders meet, they bypass the curve of river, creating an oxbow lake which may then be in filled with overwash sediment.
  • Due to high disposal of water: As the region is evident for many rivers and tributaries adding water to the Ganga, it changes its course frequently to left out the load of deposits it carried way long.


  • Loss of livelihood for locals dependent on the land and water.
  • Fear of floods during monsoon season.
  • Loss of biodiversity like insects, plants etc.


  • Development projects like barrages, Dams etc. can affect the River regime in the region and further deteriorate the condition.
  • Sand mining and Human activities is affecting the changing course of rivers and also effect biodiversity.

Women get command roles in the Indian Army


The Army has begun the process for selection of women officers for command postings in the rank of Colonel, which has so far been the domain of male officers.

Journey of Women’s inclusion in Indian Army:

  • Women were inducted in the Army as early as 1992.
  • Women officers who were inducted into the Army were inducted as Short Service Commission (SSC) officers in 1992, did not have the choice to opt for permanent commission.
  • JAG and Army Education Corps were exceptions, where a permanent commission was opened for them in 2008.
  • For other arms and services, women could not become permanent cadre, and had to retire much before they completed the service period that is mandatory to become a Colonel.
  • With the landmark Supreme Court judgment of February 2020, permanent commission was granted to women officers with retrospective effect.
  • This opened the doors for their further growth and promotions in the Army, which has been of late opening leadership and higher management courses for women.

In the recent move, Army has decided that Women officers in many streams of the Army, including the Army Air Defence, Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, and Intelligence Corps will be selected for command postings.

Supreme Court order on the issue:

Supreme Court judgment in 2021 upheld an earlier judgement granting permanent commission as well as command postings to women officers in all arms and services other than combat.

What is the present situation for women in Army?

  • Women are still not eligible in core combat arms such as Infantry, Mechanized Infantry and Armored Corps, as the Army is not open to women fighting wars at the borders as foot soldiers. Much of this resistance stems from past instances of male soldiers being taken as prisoners of war and tortured by the enemy.
  • However, the Army has recently decided to open the Corps of Artillery, a combat support arm, to women.

What exactly does commanding a unit mean?

  • Once promoted to a Colonel, an officer is eligible to command troops directly in the Army, which is an acknowledgment of the leadership qualities of the officer.
  • It is considered a coveted appointment because in no other rank, including higher ranks like Brigadier or Major General does an officer interact directly with troops on the ground.

Benefits of women being in combat role:

  • Ability vs Gender: As long as an applicant is qualified for a position, one’s gender is arbitrary.
  • Military Readiness. Allowing a mixed gender force keeps the military strong. Widening the applicant pool for all jobs guarantees more willing recruits. Women, who choose to become active combat soldiers, are unlikely to shirk their duty by becoming pregnant after a call-up as these women have willingly joined the army.
  • The blanket restriction for women limits the ability of commanders in threat to pick the most capable person for the job.
  • Training will be required to facilitate the integration of women into combat units. Cultures change over time and the masculine subculture can evolve too. Many previously masculine professions have been successfully opened to women over the past century
  • Modern warfare and public support. In the modern world of combat (Afghanistan, Iraq), all women serving in the military are exposed to “front-line risks”. Support for women serving in the armed forces has not wavered as warfare has changed a clear sign that the necessity of women serving in combat is recognized.
  • Cultural Differences & Demographics: Allowing women to serve doubles the talent pool for delicate and sensitive jobs that require interpersonal skills not every soldier has. Having a wider personnel base allows militaries to have the best and most diplomatic soldiers working to end conflict quickly.
  • Career advancement. As combat duty is usually regarded as necessary for promotion to senior officer positions, denying female personnel this experience ensures that very few will ever reach the highest reaches of the military and so further entrenches sexism.
  • Not allowing women in commanding roles violates the right to equality and lacks reasonable ground for discrimination.

Challenges for Women being in combat role:

  • Physical Ability: combat units engage in activities designed to suit more muscular capabilities. Women serving in integrated units will suffer higher injury rates as a result of this.
  • Efficiency: Some women will be able to meet the required standards, but most will not.
  • Morale & Cohesion: Having women serving in direct combat will hamper mission effectiveness by hurting unit morale and cohesion.
  • Military readiness: Pregnancy can affect the deployability of a unit when the unit has a disproportionate number of women or is understaffed.
  • Tradition: Men, especially those likely to enlist, maintain traditional gender roles.
    • Harassment and resentment of the presence of women in a hyper masculine military subculture would likely become a problem.
  • Abuse by Enemy: Both male and female prisoners are at risk of torture and rape, but misogynistic societies may be more willing to abuse woman prisoners.

Declining Indian Exports


December 2022 marked the steepest fall in two years for India’s goods exports, with products worth $34.5 billion shipped out at 12.2% lower than a year ago.

Causes of declining Indian Exports:

  • Clouds of recession blowing through Europe and the U.S.
  • The COVID-19 situation in China
  • A reversion towards protectionism in some markets.
  • The Ukraine-Russia conflict
  • In general, however, a weaker domestic currency stimulates exports and makes imports more expensive.
  • Conversely, a strong domestic currency hampers exports and makes imports cheaper.
  • A high base effect also played a role in exaggerating the year-on-year export dip in December.

December 2021 had clocked the second highest exports (worth $39.3 billion) in 2021-22, when India’s goods shipments crossed a record $422 billion. The world’s trade dynamics have been altered since then.

Effect of declining export on Indian economy:

  • When there are too many imports coming into a country in relation to its exports it can distort a nation’s balance of trade and devalue its currency.
  • When there are more exports, it means that there is a high level of output from a country's factories and industrial facilities, as well as a greater number of people that are being employed in order to keep these factories in operation.
  • When a company is exporting a high level of goods, this also equates to a flow of funds into the country, which stimulates consumer spending and contributes to economic growth.
  • The relationship between a nation’s imports and exports and its exchange rate as it acts as a constant feedback loop between international trade and the way a country's currency is valued.

Impact on Economy:

A healthy economy is one where both exports and imports are experiencing growth. If exports are growing, but imports have declined significantly, it may indicate that foreign economies are in better shape than the domestic economy.

Conversely, if exports fall sharply but imports surge, this may indicate that the domestic economy is faring better than overseas markets.

Efforts for reviving exports:

  • Improving access to credit and reducing cost of credit, especially for merchant exporters.
  • Interest equalization support to all agricultural exports.
  • Increasing budgetary support for marketing and exports related infrastructure.
  • Creating a single point interface for customs clearance of import and export goods.
  • Simplifying various export incentive schemes:
    • Advance Authorisation Scheme (AAS)
    • Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG)
    • Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS)
    • Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS)

Short News Article

Polity and Governance (GS-II)

Wayanad, the first district to provide basic documents tribals




Wayanad becomes the first district in the country to provide basic documents and facilities to all tribes’ people.


  • The district administration has attained this achievement by providing 1, 42,563 services to as many as 64,670 tribal beneficiaries as part of the Akshaya Big Campaign for Document Digitisation (ABCD) campaign. 
  • There are 26 campaigns across the district so far with the support of the Revenue and Tribal Development departments.
  • The basic documents include Aadhaar cards, ration cards, birth/death certificates, election ID cards, bank accounts and health insurance.
  • The campaign is aimed at ensuring basic documents to all citizens belonging to the Scheduled Tribes communities and these documents are digitalised and saved in DigiLocker accounts opened for them.
  • Other services such as income certificates, ownership certificates, age certificates, and applications for new pensions are also provided at the camps organised under the programme.

Environment (GS-III)

Alien plants threatening tiger habitats






Several alien invasive plants growing together can have a detrimental effect to the biodiversities in tiger habitats, a new study has found.

About the study:

  • It highlighted that there are many negative impacts of multiple co-occurring alien plants on biodiversity.
  • The study is the first of its kind in India and was published in journal Forest Ecology and Management by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). 
  • The plants can put pressure on native forage plants and drive away wild herbivores, the food source for the big cats. 
  • The invasive alien varieties include Lantana camara, Parthenium hysterophorous, Prosopis juliflora, etc, introduced during British colonisation. 
  • Lantana alone has pervasively invaded 44 per cent of India’s forests.
  • The study was conducted in Kanha Tiger Reserve, comparing un-invaded native forests with old-growth invasions of single and multiple alien plants.
  • The researchers evaluated the differences in soil parameters, native grasses, herbs, shrubs, tree regeneration, habitat use by mammals, herbivory, bird occurrence, etc. 

International Relations (GS-II)

India, Egypt to hold dialogue on defence ties

In the view of the visit of the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, as the chief guest of Republic day celebration, India and Egypt are likely to seal around half a dozen agreements and focus on strengthening ties.

Details of the event:

  • The expected dialogues can be on defence, security and new energy initiatives.
  • The Egypt has shown a pragmatic diplomacy in arenas such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation where Cairo has increasingly maintained a cautious position while responding to Pakistan’s aggressive campaign on Kashmir. 
  • As a symbol of closer military ties, the Republic Day parade is on track to have a contingent of 180 personnel from the Egyptian armed forces this year.
  • During the state visit of Mr. El Sisi, a postage stamp will be released, portraying the multifaceted partnership between the two countries over the last 75 years.


Aging factory


  • China’s population decline can have devastating effect on its growth and world must learn from its journey and consequences of population dynamics.

The story of China’s population decline:

  • Background: During the Mao’s era and communist policies, china faced a severe famine and its last population decline in 1961.
  • Efforts for social stability: As China saw a continuous growth in its population for several decades; it imposed restrictions on its citizens for family planning and methods.
  • The recent estimates: The shrinking of the world’s most populous country by as much as 8, 50,000 in 2022 marks a watershed moment with lasting consequences for China and the world.


Observed reasons:

  • China’s one-child policy of 1980: Births in China has dropped in 2022 by more than 10% to 9.56 million, with 10.41 million deaths as China has spent the greater part of two decades trying and failing, to get families to boost birth rates that have been declining.
  • Fewer children due to financial strain: A government survey found that 70% would not have more children citing financial reasons.
  • Falling fertility rate: China reached this inflection point faster, with its fertility rate falling from 2.74 to 1.28 in the preceding four-decade period.
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