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23rd February 2023

India, China hold in-person border talks


In the first visit by a top Indian official to China, the two countries discussed proposals for disengaging in the two remaining friction areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to create conditions to “restore normalcy” in relations.

  • The discussion was held as part of the 26th meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).
  • It remained the first such talk held in person since July 2019.
  • Objective:
    • The discussed proposals for disengagement were for remaining areas in an open and constructive manner, which would help in the restoration of peace and tranquillity along the LAC in the Western Sector and create conditions for the restoration of normalcy in bilateral relations.
  • Key points of discussion:
    • Both sides agreed to move forward on the basis of the consensus previously reached, accelerate the resolution of issues related to the western section of the Sino-Indian border, and reach a mutually acceptable solution at an early date.
    • Focus on other measures to ease the situation in border areas and to return the border to normalised control.
    • Both sides agreed to hold military talks.

The disputed location:

  • China claims about 90,000 sq. km of India’s territory in the northeast, including Arunachal, while India says 38,000 sq km of land in China-occupied Aksai Chin should be part of Ladakh.
  • There are several disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), including in Himachal, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
  • Patrolling Point 15 (PP15) in Hot Springs and PP17A near Gogra Post were among the four friction points between India and China.
  • The other two are PP14 in Galwan Valley and the north bank of Pangong Tso.

  • In Ladakh, the disputed areas include:
    • Pangong Tso lake
    • Galwan Valley, where Shyok and Galwan rivers meet
    • Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO), is a key northern region close to the Karakoram Pass.
    • The Hot Springs-Gogra area of the LAC
    • Demchok is close to the southernmost part of the LAC in Ladakh.
    • Chushul, located on the southern bank of Pangong Tso Lake, has an airstrip and is near Rezang La pass on the LAC.
    • Spanggur Gap along the LAC has roads leading to it from either side. India’s Chushul-Demchok road in area is a critical communication link.
    • Samar Lungpa
    • Trig Heights
    • Chumar
    • Dumchele
    • Kongka La

‘Corrupt act’ under RPA 1951


The Supreme Court held its decision on “corrupt practice” under the Representation of People’s Act, (RPA) 1951 by any candidate during or after the election process.


About the case:

  • In Anugrah Narayan Singh v. Harsh VardhanBajpayee, the Apex Court dismissed the ruling which declared the election of an MLA as “null and void”.
  • The court has mentioned that under the corrupt act of RPA 1951, publishing a false statement of fact about his character and conduct to influence the outcome of his election, knowingly is a crime.
  • The candidate should disclose his/her educational qualification for free and fair conduct of elections.
  • However, now the Apex Court reversed its own decision in view that, no one in India votes for a candidate based on their educational qualifications and, thus providing false information about an electoral candidate’s qualifications cannot be considered a “corrupt practice”.

What are ‘corrupt practices’ under the RPA, 1951?

  • Section 123 of the Representation of People Act defines ‘corrupt practices’ to include bribery, undue influence, false information, and promotion or attempted promotion of “feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language” by a candidate for the furtherance of his prospects in the election.
  • Section 123 (2) deals with ‘undue influence’ which it defines as any direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere on the part of the candidate or his agent, or of any other person, with the consent of the candidate or his election agent, with the free exercise of any electoral right.
  • Section 123 (4) extends the ambit of “corrupt practices” to the intentional publication of false statements which can prejudice the outcome of the candidate’s election.

Under the provisions of the Act, an elected representative can be disqualified if convicted of certain offences; on grounds of corrupt practices; for failing to declare election expenses; and for interests in government contracts or works.

Related judgements:

  • In 1994, the Supreme Court’s ruling in ‘SR Bommai v. Union of India’, which otherwise held secularism to be a part of the ‘basic structure’, mentioned that, “whatever the attitude of the State towards the religions, religious sects, and denominations, religion cannot be mixed with any secular activity of the State.”
  • The encroachment of religion into secular activities is strictly prohibited, the court stated while adding that the same is clear from sub-section (3) of Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • The top court in its 2013 judgment in ‘ SubramaniamBalajivs State of Tamil Nadu’ held that promises of freebies cannot be termed a corrupt practice.

India-UAE ‘Transfer for Technology’


In its first-ever Transfer of Technology (ToT) in defence articles, Indian firm ICOMM, a group company of Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Ltd (MEIL), signed an agreement with UAE-based small arms company CARACAL.

The pact was inked at the ongoing IDEX 2023 in Abu Dhabi, UAE, one of the largest tri-service defence exhibitions in the world.

  • UAE’s EDGE Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with BAE Systems, a global leader in advanced technology solutions, to explore potential collaboration and co-creation opportunities to enhance technologies and capabilities across the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Under the MoU announced at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), the new strategic partnership will see both companies bring their collective expertise in cyber, maritime, air, and defence technologies in support of the UAE’s industrialisation ambitions to become a leading global hub for future defence and security solutions.

Key points:

  • It marks the first-ever transfer of technology for defence articles from the UAE to India.
  • As per the agreement, ICOMM will locally manufacture the Abu Dhabi-headquartered CARACAL’s complete line of small arms for the Indian market under the ‘Make in India’ and ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’ initiatives.

Small arms, often referred to as firearms or guns, are man-portable lethal weapons for individual use that can expel or launch a shot, bullet, or projectile by the action of an explosive.

  • ICOMM will manufacture the full range of CARACAL small arms, including;
    • The versatile CARACAL EF pistol, modern CMP 9 submachine gun, CAR 814, CAR 816 and CAR 817 tactical rifles, CAR 817 DMR tactical sniper rifle, CSR 50 anti-material sniper rifle, CSR 338 and CSR 308 bolt action sniper rifles and the CSA 338 semi-automatic sniper rifle.
  • CARACAL’s complete line of small arms will be produced at the ICOMM’s design, development and manufacturing centre in Hyderabad.

ICOMM is one of the largest companies manufacturing missiles and sub-systems, communications and EW systems, radars, electro-optics, composites, loitering munitions, shelters, drone and counter-drone systems.

Significance of the pact:

  • ICOMM for collaboration in the Indian market is a key objective for CARACAL, as India continues to realise its sovereign defence ambitions.


India-UAE defence ties:

  • Under the 11th India-UAE Joint Defence Cooperation Committee meeting that took place in New Delhi, the two sides focus on further expansion of the scope and complexities of the existing joint exercises between the armed forces of both sides.
  • UAE also helped in the overflight of Rafales fighter jets from France to India. It had provided support by sending its own Airbus MRTT refuelling aircraft to support new Rafale fighters on their journey over a 7,000-km flight from France to India.
  • In 2020 and 2021, former Army Chief Gen MM Naravane and the former Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria visited that country respectively.
  • In IDEX and NAVDEX 2021, India had significant participation in both exhibitions based in Abu Dhabi.
  • Also, IAF participated in the Dubai Air show in 2021, and for the fourth time in five years participated in a major multinational air combat exercise in the UAE “Desert Flag’’

Reviving Adi Ganga


Plans to revive the dying Adi Ganga — the original channel of River Ganga passing through the city of Kolkata has allotted around Rs.650 crore to revive the ancient river and combat pollution under National Mission for Clean Ganga.

  • Adi Ganga was chosen from India as a part of a project to address pollution in South Asian Rivers.

Where Adi Ganga lies?

  • The Adi Ganga is a palaeodistributary of the Bhagirathi, which was described as an important navigational channel in the mediaeval Bengali literature (Mangalk Vyas).
  • Its degenerated course is still traceable for 36 km downstream of Calcutta up to Surjyapurin the South 24-Parganas district, West Bengal.
  • Beyond Surjyapur, at least eight different possibilities of its path and/or outfall positions (at Diamond Harbour, Kulpi, Gangasagar, Saptamukhi estuary and Hariyabhanga estuary) have been suggested by different authors.
  • After critical evaluation of each of them, it can be fairly ascertained on the basis of the Mangalk vyas, satellite images and aerial photos that the Adi Ganga continued for another 40 km up to the Gajmuri-Dighirpara region.

Historical significance:

  • Adi Ganga was the river’s main channel till the 17th century.
  • Around 1750, a canal was dug to connect the main course of the river with the lower part of River Saraswati adjacent to Howrah.
  • The resultant Hooghly became the main river stretch and Adi Ganga turned into a secondary tributary

Why it needs conservation?

  • Adi Ganga continued to thrive till the 1970s and since then, its water quality gradually deteriorated until it turned into a sewer and got rapidly encroached, even fully filled up just beyond the boundary of the city’s municipal corporation.
  • The river is now practically dead and has turned into a sewer with a load of faecal bacteria crossing 17 million in 100 millilitres of river water, according to the state pollution control board data.

The National Green Tribunal had directed the West Bengal government to complete its rejuvenation positively by September 30, 2025.

About the mission:

  • The panellists at an international water conference organised in Sylhet decided to explore the possibility of a pan-south Asian project to address the pollution of one key river each in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, China and Malaysia. Adi Ganga was selected from India.
  • The West Bengal government accepted in a report filed in the Calcutta High Court that 7,851 illegal structures with about 40,000 residents, 90 temples, 69 godowns, 12 cattle sheds and others existed in the 15.5 km stretch of the river passing through Kolkata and its southern fringes.
  • Subsequently, the Calcutta High Court directed the removal of all encroachments within a month. But another report, close to two decades after the first order, showed that the encroachments still existed.

Nord stream and hazardous methane release


The leaking of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea is the biggest single event that led to the massive release of climate-damaging methane. But the incident is a “drop in the ocean compared to the amount of methane released globally,” found the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


About methane:

  • Methane is a rapidly accelerating part of the climate problem.
  • It is the primary component of natural gas, and it warms the planet more than 80 times as quickly as a comparable volume of atmospheric CO2 over a comparable amount of time.
  • Sources of Methane:
  • Biological Sources
  • Agriculture
  • Paddy rice cultivation
  • Emissions from Fuel and Industries

Methane stays in the atmosphere for only ten years, unlike CO2, which persists for hundreds or thousands of years.

What is Nord stream project?

  • Owned by the Russian energy giant, Gazprom, Nord Stream Pipeline is the longest subsea pipeline.
  • It is an export gas pipeline that runs under the Baltic Sea carrying gas from Russia to Europe.
  • The gas for Nord Steam comes mainly from the Bovanenkovo oil and gas condensate deposit in Western Siberia.
  • Nord Stream consists of two pipelines, which have two lines each.
  • Nord Stream 1 that runs from Vyborg in Russia to Lubmin in Germany was completed in 2011.
  • Nord Stream 2 that runs from Ust-Luga in Russia to Lubmin in Germany was completed in 2021.
  • Both the pipelines together can transport a combined total of 110 billion cubic metres of gas a year to Europe for at least 50 years.
  • The Nord Stream crosses the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of several countries including Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, and the territorial waters of Russia, Denmark, and Germany.
  • While both pipelines are not currently running commercially, they had millions of cubic metres of gas stored in them.

 The leak event:

  • Two leaks were detected on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, both in an area northeast of the Danish island of Bornholm.
  • Sweden had reported two separate underwater explosions, very close to where the leaks occurred.
  • Possible causes of the leak- The investigations have not yet revealed the cause behind the leaks.
  • Possible causes range from technical malfunctions to a lack of maintenance, to even possibly sabotage (deliberate damage or destruction of equipment or property which belongs to the enemy).
  • The European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) called the leaks acts of sabotage.
  • Russia, which controls the pipeline, has not ruled out sabotage either.
  • Ukraine said the leaks were likely the result of a terrorist attack carried out by Russia.
  • Various European countries, such as Sweden and Denmark, have launched separate investigations into the matter.


  • Economic impact- European gas prices immediately spiked after the reports of the leaks emerged.
    • As a result of the leak, all the stored gas is escaping.
    • The pipelines are unlikely to provide any gas to Europe through the forthcoming winter months.
    • Depending on the intensity of the damage caused by these ruptures, permanent closure of the Nord Stream lines was also a possibility.
  • Environmental impact- Methane is a large component of natural gas and is also a potent greenhouse gas.
  • It is the second-largest contributor to climate change after CO2.
  • Other impacts- Vessels could lose buoyancy if they enter the area, and there might be a risk of leaked gas igniting over the water and in the air.

The significance of the findings in Keeladi site


Thekeeladi site is found near Madurai at banks of River Vaigai, where the excavations from 2015 prove that an urban civilisation existed in Tamil Nadu in the Sangam age.


Link between Sangam Age and Keeladi site:

  • The Sangam age is a period of history in ancient Tamil Nadu which was believed to be from the third century BCE to the third century CE.
  • Excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department (TNSDA) have pushed the Sangam age further back.
  • In 2019, a TNSDA report dated the unearthed artefacts from Keeladi to a period between sixth century BCE and first century BCE.
  • The findings in the TNSDA report placed Keeladi artefacts about 300 years earlier than the previously believed third century BCE.
  • A recent ASI report discovered that Sangam age waspresent in 800 BCE based according to archaeological findings.

Significance of the site:

  • Keeladi could also provide crucial evidence for understanding the missing links of the Iron Age (12th century BCE to sixth century BCE) to the Early Historic Period (sixth century BCE to fourth century BCE) and subsequent cultural developments.

Links with Indus valley civilisation:

  • The unearthed Keeladi artefacts have led academics to describe the site as part of the Vaigai Valley Civilisation.
  • The findings have also invited comparisons with the Indus Valley Civilisation while acknowledging the cultural gap of 1,000 years between the two places.
  • Till now, the gap is filled with Iron Age material in south India, which serves as residual links.
  • However, some of the symbols found in pot sherds of Keeladi bear a close resemblance to Indus Valley signs.
  • A lot of digging and study has to be done to establish the links between these two civilisations.

Key findings from the site:

  • Keeladi has all the characteristics of an urban civilisation, with brick structures, luxury items and proof of internal and external trade.
  • It comes across as an industrious and advanced civilisation and has given evidence of urban life and settlements in Tamil Nadu during the Early Historic Period.
  • Keeladi has also added to the credibility of Sangam Literature.

In the eight rounds of excavations, including the first three by the ASI, over 18,000 artefacts have been unearthed from the site and the unique artefacts will be on display at the museum.

  • Gold ornaments, copper articles, semi-precious stones, shell bangles, ivory bangles and ivory combs reflect the artistic, culturally rich and prosperous lifestyle of the Keeladi people.
  • Agate and carnelian beads suggest import through commercial networks while terracotta and ivory dice, gamesmen and evidence of hopscotch have been unearthed revealing their pastime hobbies.

Short News Articles

Short News Articles

Polity and Governance

Sansad Ratna Awards








Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated fellow Members of Parliament who will be conferred the Sansad Ratna Awards 2023.

  • The 13th edition of the award ceremony is set to be held this year on March 25 in New Delhi.
  • About:
  • The Sansad Ratna Awards were instituted in 2010, inspired by the teachings of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who launched the first edition of the Award function in Chennai.
  • They seek to recognise and felicitate the top-performing MPs on the basis of their work in the apex legislative body.
  • So far, 90 Parliamentarians have been given this award.
  • The winners in 2023:
  • The Jury Committee has chosen a total of 13 MPs and two parliamentary committees for the award.
  • A lifetime award being presented for the first time this year.
  • The jury committee comprises eminent Parliamentarians and (members of) civil society.
  • It was chaired by Arjun Ram Meghwal (MoS, Parliamentary Affairs) and co-chaired by T S Krishnamurthy (Former Chief Election Commissioner of India).

Art and Culture



Classical dance legend KanakRele, the Mohiniyattam exponent, died at the age of 85 in Mumbai.

About Mohiniyattam:

  • Mohiniyattam is based on NatyaShastra’slasya style.
  • It has delicate movements and more feminine facial expressions.
  • The movements are gentle and glide-like. They do not have terse rhythmic steps.
  • More emphasis is on the facial expressions and hand gestures.
  • There are features borrowed from other dance forms of Kerala like the NangyarKoothu and the Thiruvathirakkali.
  • It is traditionally performed only by women.
  • Kathakali, on the other hand, was confined to men, although, in the modern times, women also take it up.
  • According to some experts, the dance form is 700 years old.
  • One of the earliest references of Mohiniyattam is available in Vyavaharamala, which is a 16th century text on Indian jurisprudence authored by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri.

Her Achievements:

  • Dr.Rele created a record for herself by earning her Ph.D in dance, the first in India, in 1977. Her doctoral thesis was titled, ‘MohiniAttam: All aspects and Spheres of Influence’.
  • Later in 2013, she was conferred the Padma Bhushan.
  • She was awarded the first Guru Gopinath National Puraskaramby the Government of Kerala.
  • She was one of the finest exponents of Mohiniyattam and Kathakali.
  • Dr Rele made fundamental work in the field of dance through her Nalanda Dance Research Centre and the NalandaNritya Kala Mahavidyalaya.


Dickinsonia fossil 


Fossils of an extinct species of animal that scientists reported in a sensational discovery from India’s Bhimbetka Rock Shelters in 2021 have been found to be a false alarm.

About the study:

  • Dickinsonia, an animal that lived at least 538 million years ago, in a cave was found.
  • Dickinsonia fossils in other parts of the world have indicated it was circular or oval in shape, somewhat flat, with rib-like structures radiating from a central column.
  • Eventually, scientists conclude that “the impression resulted from decay of a modern beehive which was attached to a fractured rock surface.

The Bhimbetka caves:

  • The Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are famous for their cave paintings, some of which have been dated to 8,000 B.C., while archaeological evidence at the site has indicated human settlements up to 100 millennia ago.


A Clean gamble


  • An amendment to the Energy Conservation Act passed in 2022 for trading Carbon credits and approved by the UN is significant but needs clarity in Indian context.

Shift in carbon market:

  • Initial mechanism: A decade or more ago, they meant stock-market-like exchanges that traded in ‘carbon offsets’ made legitimate under the Clean Development Mechanism.
  • Accessibility in India: Industrial projects in developing countries that avoided greenhouse gas emissions were eligible for credits that, after verification, could be sold to European companies that could buy them in lieu of cutting emissions themselves.
  • The EU-Emissions Trading Systems (ETS): Except India, the government-mandates emission limit on industrial sectors such as aluminium or steel plants require industries to either cut emissions or buy government-certified permits.
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