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22nd March 2023

Execution by Hanging and a possible alternative


The Supreme Court (SC) asked the Centre to provide data which may point to a more dignified, less painful and socially acceptable method of executing prisoners other than death by hanging.

About the case:
  • The Court was hearing a petition on the constitutionality of deathby hanging ‘as a mode of execution, Section 354 (5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure mandates that a person sentenced to death shall “be hanged by the neck till he is dead”.
  • The Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha have also asked for the setting up of an expert committee to relook at India's method of putting to death its criminals.
  • The Bench has also mentioned that the fields of science and technology must also be considered for any other method of execution consistent with human dignity.
  • The court had earlier clarified that it was not questioning the constitutionality of the death penalty, which was well-settled in the Deena versus Union of India judgment and the Bachan Singh case reported in 1980.

Death Penalty:

  • It is capital punishment, as the criminal hangs until death. This type of punishment is rare.
  • Death punishment can be provided for offences under sections 121, 132, etc. In the aforementioned sections, the court doesn’t need capital punishment.
  • The death penalty is not constitutional and is proven invalid as a punishment.
  • The Supreme Court recognised the death penalty as valid.

Different modes of Death Execution:

  • Lethal injection: Typically, three drugs are used in lethal injection.
    • Pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) is used to cause muscle paralysis and respiratory arrest, potassium chloride to stop the heart, and midazolam for sedation.
    • Lethal injection is the practice of injecting one or more drugs into a person for the express purpose of causing rapid death.
  • Lethal Gas:
    • During a lethal gas execution, the prisoner is sealed in an airtight chamber and either potassium cyanide or sodium cyanide is dropped into a pan of hydrochloric acid.
    • This produces hydrocyanic gas, which destroys the human body's ability to process blood haemoglobin.
  • Hanging:
    • Hanging, execution or murder by strangling or breaking the neck with a suspended noose.
    • The traditional method of execution involves suspending victims from gallows or crossbeams until they have died of asphyxiation.
  • Firing Squad:
    • Execution by firing squad is a method of capital punishment, particularly common in the military and in times of war.
    • Some reasons for its use are that firearms are usually readily available and a gunshot to a vital organ, such as the brain or heart, most often will kill relatively quickly.
  • Electrocution:
    • Electrocution produces visibly destructive effects on the body, as the internal organs are burned.
    • The prisoner usually leaps forward against the restraints when the switch is turned on.

Centre’s stand on hanging as a death penalty:

  • In 2018, the Centre filed an affidavit supporting death by hanging.
  • It had not found the method of execution "barbaric, inhuman and cruel” compared to firing squads and lethal injections.
  • The Centre had also said the mode of execution is a “matter of legislative policy”.
  • The government said the death penalty is awarded only in the rarest of rare cases.
  • There have been only three executions between 2012 and 2015.

Concerns of alternatives:

  • The government had traced statistics regarding the administration of lethal injections to condemned prisoners in the United States for 110 years to prove its point that this mode of State execution was only designed to create an appearance of serenity and painless death.
  • Besides, if known to the public, the lethal chemical would possibly be misused.

Rules and Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha


Amid the allegation of the Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, on the present central government members in Lok Sabha, against which the rule 357 and conduct of Business mentioned under parliamentary functioning gained traction.

  • The Constituent Assembly (Legislative) Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in force immediately before the commencement of the Constitution of India were modified and adopted by the Speaker of Lok Sabha in the exercise of the powers conferred on the Speaker by article 118(2) of the Constitution and published under the title "Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the House of the People" in the Gazette of India Extraordinary dated the 17th April 1952.
  • Those Rules were amended by the Speaker from time to time on the recommendations of the Rules Committee of the House until September 1954.
  • In September 1954, the Rules Committee decided that their recommendations should be approved by the House before amendments were given effect.
  • Consequently, the procedure for amendment of the rules as given in rule 306 of the Fourth Edition (rule 331 of the Present edition) came into force with effect from the 15th of October 1954.

What is Rule 357?

  • In the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, under the section ‘Rules to be observed by the members’, there is rule 357 for ‘personal explanation’.
  • It states that “a member may, with the permission of the Speaker, make a personal explanation although there is no question before the House, in this case, no debatable matter may be brought forward, and no debate shall arise.”

Powers of Speaker under the Rules for the Conduct of Business:

  • Rule 378 of the Rules for the Conduct of Business states: “The Speaker shall preserve order and shall have all powers necessary for the purpose of enforcing own decisions.”
  • Rule 373 says: “The Speaker, it is of the opinion that the conduct of any member is grossly disorderly, may direct such member to withdraw immediately from the House, and any member so ordered to withdraw shall do so forthwith and shall remain absent during the remainder of the day’s sitting.”

National Security Act 1980


The National Security Act has been invoked in the case of self-styled Sikh preacher and on-the-run ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh.

  • Orders have been passed to detain Amritpal Singh by the District Magistrate Amritsar issued under section 3(2) of the National Security Act, 1980.

National Security Act, 1980:

  • It is a preventive detention law that empowers the state and central government to detain a person the authorities are satisfied that he/she is a threat to national security or India's relations with foreign countries.
  • It is invoked to maintain public law and order.
  • NSA “empowers the state to detain a person without a formal charge and without trial”.
  • The provisions in the Act are is re-notified every quarter.
  • It came into existence under the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi.
  • It also empowers the government to detain foreigners and regulate his/her presence or expel him/her from India.

Under National Security Act, Article 22 (1) of the Indian Constitution and Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC) are not available to the person detained.

“Article 22 (1) of the Indian Constitution says an arrested person cannot be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice. “

“According to Section 50 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC), any person arrested has to be informed of the grounds of arrest and has the right to bail.”

What are the grounds for detention?

  • NSA can be invoked to prevent a person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the defence of India, relations of India with foreign powers or the security of India.
  • Among others, it can also be applied to prevent a person from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
  • An individual can be detained without a charge for a maximum period of 12 months.
  • The detained person can be held for 10 to 12 days in special circumstances without being told the charges against them.

What is the protection available under the Act?

  • The NSA is granted under Article 22(5), where all the detained persons have the right to make an ‘effective representation’ before an independent advisory board, which consists of three members; and the board is chaired by a member who is, or has been, a judge of a high court.

The Supreme Court in earlier cases had held that to prevent “misuse of this potentially dangerous power, the law of preventive detention has to be strictly construed”, and “meticulous compliance with the procedural safeguards” has to be ensured.

Hydropower potential in India


Recently, the Parliament informed that India has exploited 29 per cent of its hydropower potential against over 80 per and 70 per cent developed by the US and European Union respectively.

About the information:
  • As per the Reassessment, Study carried out by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) during 1978-1987, the assessed hydropower potential in the country is about 1,45,320 MW (for projects with capacity above 25 MW).
  • The main challenges in the development of hydroelectric potential in the country are remote location, unpredictable geology, natural calamities, environment and forest issues, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) issues, law & order issues and inter-state issues.
  • The coal stocking norms of the Central Electricity Authority mandate the power plants to maintain coal stock which varies from month to month basis.

    The stocking norms are 20 to 26 days in non-pithead plants and 12 to 17 days in pithead plants so as to ensure sufficient coal stock at power plants to meet demand.

Central Electricity Authority:

  • CEA is a Statutory Body constituted under the erstwhile Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, hereinafter replaced by the Electricity Act, 2003, where similar provisions exist, the office of the CEA is an “Attached Office” of the Ministry of Power.

Hydroelectric Potential in India:

  • Hydropower potential is located mainly in northern and northeastern regions.
  • Arunachal Pradesh has the largest unexploited hydropower potential of 47 GW, followed by Uttarakhand with 12 GW.
  • The unexploited potential is mainly along three river systems — the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra
  • India has several international issues across these river systems. Like electricity, hydropower should also be brought on the concurrent list to formulate uniform policies and processes for faster development.
  • India has over 90 GW of pumped storage potential, with 63 sites identified and recognised in national energy policies for their valuable grid services.

India has an estimated hydropower potential of 1,45,320 MW, excluding small hydro projects (SHPs) which have 20 GW potential.

  • The estimated potential of a Small Hydropower of 21135.37 MW from 7135 sites for power generation in the country from small/mini hydel projects is assessed by the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre (AHEC) of IIT Roorkee in its Small Hydro Database of July 2016
  • The hilly States of India mainly Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand, constitute around half of this potential.
  • Other potential States are Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Kerala.

India ranks as the fourth country in the world by undeveloped hydropower potential, after Russia, China and Canada, and fifth by total potential, surpassed also by Brazil.

Issues in Hydropower generation:

  • Development vs. Indigenous communities: In central India, the hydroelectric power potential from the Godavari, Mahanadi, Nagavali, Vamsadhara and Narmada river basins have not been developed on a major scale due to potential opposition from the tribal population.
  • Majority power from thermal source: Hydropower’s share in the electricity mix has, however, been decreasing over the years, accounting for around 10 per cent of generation, with the majority (80 per cent) coming from thermal generation.
  • Complex clearance norms: Many current hydropower projects have been slow going with delays due to complex planning procedures, prolonged land acquisition and resettlement, a lack of enabling infrastructure including transmission, insufficient market scope and long-term financing.
  • Environmental concerns: Several hydroelectric projects (HEPs) in India are languishing due to contractual conflicts, environmental litigations, local disturbances, financial stress and unwilling purchasers.
    • Only about 10,000 MW of hydropower could be added over the last 10 years.
  • Centre-state dispute: As water and water power are State subjects, the construction of HEPs is often delayed due to conflicts among riparian States — the Subansiri HEP is a prime example of this.

Major Hydropower projects in India:

  • Tehri Hydropower Project:
    • Topping the list of hydroelectric power plants in India is the Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand, the highest hydroelectric power project in the country. It is also the eighth-tallest dam in the world and the second-tallest in Asia.
    • Commissioned in 2006, the first construction began in 1978 helped by technical collaboration from the former USSR.
    • Located at the confluence of the Bhagirathi and the Bhilangana rivers.
  • Sardar Sarovar Dam:
    • This dam counts as the world’s second-largest concrete dam—after Grand Coulee which sits across River Columbia in the US—in terms of the volume of concrete used in its construction.

UN 2023 Water Conference


The United Nations (UN) 2023 Water Conference will take place in New York from March 22-24, 2023.

About the Conference:
  • This will be the second UN Conference dedicated to water after the one held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1977.
  • This year is celebrated as the 46th anniversary of the Mar del Plata conference.
  • Need of the initiative:
    • The world’s population has doubled to eight billion since the last UN Water Conference in 1977; consequently, the demand for water has soared. Access to clean water and sanitation remains a significant challenge in many parts of the world.
    • Today, over 2.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and 4.2 billion lack access to basic sanitation facilities and hygiene.

Mar del Plata Conference:

  • The first-ever global water conference resulted in the Mar del Plata Action Plan.
  • It outlined several recommendations for improving water management and access, including developing integrated water resources management frameworks, increased investments in water infrastructure and recognising water as a fundamental human right.
  • The conference highlighted water resource interdependence and called for more coordinated water management.

Other steps to conserve Water:

  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a specific goal on water and sanitation (Goal 6), and the UN-mandated Paris Agreement recognises the interlinkages between water and climate change.
  • The International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade from 1981 to 1990, the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (Agenda 21, Chapter 18) and International Conference on Water and the Environment in Dublin elevated water’s importance.

Under the Dublin Principles, a policy agenda was dictated, and water was established as an “economic good”.

Terms related to water:

  • Water scarcity is the lack of sufficient available water resources to meet the demands of water usage within a region. Water scarcity is being driven by two converging phenomena: growing freshwater use and depletion of usable freshwater resources. Water scarcity involves the following concepts:
  • Water stress: It is relatively a new concept; it is the difficulty of obtaining sources of fresh water for use during a period of time and may result in further depletion and deterioration of available water
  • Water shortage or deficits: Water shortages may be caused by climate change, such as altered weather patterns including droughts or floods, increased pollution, and increased human demand and overuse of water.
  • Water crisis: A water crisis is a situation where the available potable, unpolluted water within a region is less than that region's demand.

Causes for water scarcity:

  • Inefficient use of water for agriculture. India is among the top growers of agricultural produce in the world and therefore the consumption of water for irrigation is amongst the highest (80 % of the water). Traditional techniques of irrigation cause maximum water loss due to evaporation, drainage, percolation, water conveyance, and excess use of groundwater
  • Policies like several states giving free electricity to farmers or giving financial support for groundwater extraction -- borewells and tube wells -- results in uncontrolled exploitation and wastage of resource.
  • Reduction in traditional water recharging areas. Rapid construction is ignoring traditional water bodies that have also acted as groundwater recharging mechanisms.
  • Water is not valued in India. It is a very cheap commodity in India. People think that if they own the land, they own the water. India as a country extracts the highest amount of groundwater in the world.
  • Sewage and wastewater drainage into traditional water bodies.
  • Lack of on-time de-silting operations in large water bodies that can enhance water storage capacity during monsoon.
  • Lack of efficient water management and distribution of water between urban consumers, the agriculture sector and industry.
  • Non-existent pricing of water. State governments have control over water-related policies, and the lack of legislation for groundwater extraction and the inability to price water for every home due to political constraints has led to paralysis in the formation of a sustainable framework.


  • The burden on Women to fetch water and seen as a responsibility to bring water from far places in India.
  • Lack of sanitation and water requirement in the body.
  • Changes in animal profile and rearing pattern of a region
  • Affects plants and Agriculture
  • Eating habits get affected which can lead to an increased risk of Kidney and liver-related ailments.

Short News Article


Earthquake in Afghanistan


The US Geological Survey (USGS) measured the earthquake to be 6.5 in magnitude, and located its origin about 300 km northwest of Kabul, towards the border with Tajikistan, which has been felt in Northern India too.

About Hindu Kush region:

  • North-eastern Afghanistan, where the Hindu Kush ranges are located, is an earthquake-prone area, which routinely experiences quakes of magnitude more than 6.
  • The region is prone to Deep earthquakes originating mostly more than 100 km below the surface of earth.

Reason for fragility of the region:

  • The Hindu Kush region in Afghanistan experiences unique tectonic forces and is a site of frequent earthquakes.
  • On one side it feels the forces of the Indian tectonic plate getting under the Himalayas, a phenomenon that is occurring throughout the Himalayan ranges.
  • From the other side, the Eurasian plate is subducting into the Pamir mountain ranges.
  • In addition, there are local fault lines as well.

Polity and Governance

World Water Day

World Water Day is being observed on March 22 every year.


  • The resolution to observe World Water Day was first adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 22, 1992.
  • March 22 was declared as World Water Day and is celebrated around the world since then.
  • The first World Water Day was observed in the year 1993.


  • The main objective is to inspire people to sustainably manage the freshwater resources and learn more about water-related issues.
  • Objective: To highlight the importance of water and raise awareness about the global water crisis.
  • According to the United Nations website, the idea behind celebrating the day is to support the achievement of sustainable development goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.


Beijing experiences first population decline

The death rate in China’s capital Beijing surpassed its birth rate in 2022, official data showed, pushing its natural population growth into negative territory for the first time since 2003.


  • China’s population is falling last year for the first time in six decades, weighed down by rising living costs especially in big, sprawling cities like Beijing, weak economic growth, and changing attitudes towards raising a family.
  • Beijing’s natural population growth was minus 0.05 per 1,000 people last year.
  • China’s birth rate last year was 6.77 births per 1,000 people, the lowest on record, while the country’s death rate, the highest since 1974, was 7.37 deaths per 1,000 people.
  • The birth rates in Beijing and other cities and provinces are calculated based on the permanent residents not including migrant population.

Science and Technology

INS Androth

The INS Androth, second in a series of eight Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASW SWC), was launched in Kolkata.


The first ship of the series, the INS Arnala, was launched three months ago.


  • Built by: Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata
  • INS Androth is about 77.6 metres long and 10.5 metres wide, and requires a draught of only 2.7 metres.
  • These ships can attain a maximum speed of 25 knots.
  • Their primary role is to conduct anti-submarine operations in coastal waters, low intensity maritime operations and mine laying operations.
  • INS Androth draws its name from the largest and longest island from Andrott Island, also known as Androth Island, in the Lakshadweep archipelago.


Tightrope walk


  • Recently, Japan’s Prime minister visited New Delhi for coordinating the upcoming summit G7 and G20, in which India could play a significant role as a voice of Global South is a scene for India’s balance in geopolitics of world.

Details of the visit:

  • Points of discussion: Agendas on food and energy security issues arising mainly from the Ukraine conflict as well as unveiling Japan’s $75 billion plan for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), to work with countries in the region on avoiding debt traps, building infrastructure, and enhancing maritime and air security were discussed.
  • Consensus against Ukraine War: The need for India, as G-20 president, to come on board with the G-7’s plans to address the Ukraine issue and call out “Russian aggression”.
  • Japan’s partnership with India: Chinese actions in its neighbourhood have left Japan concerned, and his FOIP plan includes India as an “indispensable partner”.
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