What's New :

25th February 2023

Policy for Menstrual pain Leave in India


A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India answered a petition to approach the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development Ministry to frame a policy for menstrual leave.


About the petition:

  • The Apex court was hearing a petition seeking a direction to States to frame rules for granting menstrual pain leave for students and working women in workplaces.
  • The Supreme Court mentioned that there are different “dimensions” to menstrual pain leave, which though being a biological process, may also act as a “disincentive” for employers from engaging women in their establishments.

Laws supporting menstrual pain leave:

  • Bihar and Kerala are the only States which allow menstrual pain leave to women.
  • Section 14 of the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961: It recognises and respect motherhood and maternity of working women.
    • Under Section 14, there is a provision for appointment of inspectors and says appropriate governments may appoint such officers and may define the local limits of jurisdiction within which they shall exercise their functions under this law.
    • However no government in India has created the post of inspectors; forget about the appointment of such inspectors.

Countries like the United Kingdom, China, Wales, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Spain and Zambia were already providing menstrual pain leave in one form or the other.

Women workforce (The Numbers):

  • According to the Labour force participation Survey 2019-20, the pan-India labour force participation rate of females in the productive age (15-59 years) was 26.5% in 2018-19 as compared to 3% for males.
  • While 7% of urban women were employed in the regular wage and salaried category, about 59.6% of rural females was not only self-employed but 37.9% among them were helpers in household enterprises.

The low female LFPR is attributed to high participation of women (15 years & above) in domestic duties that is 55.7% in rural areas and 59.1% in urban areas in 2018-19.

Incentives for working women in India:

  • Maternity Benefits:
    • The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha in the year August 2016, has now also been approved by the Lok Sabha in the same year, March 2017.
    • The paid maternity leave in India is increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for working women.
    • This law is eligible for only those who work in an organization with a minimum of 10 employees.
    • The prenatal leave is also increased from 6 to 8 weeks.
    • A woman who is already a mother of 2 children is eligible for 12 weeks of maternity leave from the 3rd child.
    • If a woman adopts a child under the age of 3 months, then she is eligible for a leave of 12 weeks.
  • Paternity leave: In September 2017, pursuant to the enactment of Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, the Paternity Benefit Bill, 2018 (“PB Bill”) was proposed in the Lok Sabha by Maharashtra MP, Rajeev Satav.
    • The PB Bill mandated that paternity leave of fifteen days (extendable up to three months) be granted to new fathers.
    • The idea behind the PB Bill is to recognize that the role of a father as a contributor to child-rearing is of paramount importance, and to give new fathers the opportunity to bond with their children without compromising on their need to provide for their family.
  • MahilaShram Yojana: a cash benefit scheme for rewarding working wom

Section 153A: Uses and Misuses


The Supreme Court granted interim bail to Pawan Khera, chairman of the media and publicity department of the All India Congress Committee, who had been arrested for alleged hate speech.

  • The invocation of these laws are often criticised for restricting free speech and misusing the legal processes for political purposes.

What does section 153A says?

  • Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) penalises “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony”.
  • This is punishable with imprisonment up to three years, or with fine, or with both.
  • The provision was enacted in 1898 and was not in the original penal code.
  • At the time of the amendment, promoting class hatred was a part of the English law of sedition, but was not included in the Indian law.

In the pre-Independence RangilaRasool case, the Punjab High Court had acquitted the Hindu publisher of a tract that had made disparaging remarks about the private life of the Prophet, and had been charged under Section 153A.

What is hate speech?

  • There is no international legal definition of hate speech, and the notion of what constitutes "hateful" speech is debatable.
  • Hate speech is defined as any form of communication, whether spoken, written, or physical, that criticizes or discriminates against a person or a group based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, descent, gender, or other identity factor.

In 2020, 1,804 cases were registered, six times higher than the 323 cases in 2014.

Legal Provisions of Hate Speech in India:

  • Responsible speech is the essence of the liberty granted under Article 21of the Constitution.
  • Article 19(2)of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all citizens of India.
  • Hate speech has not been defined in any law in India. However, legal provisions in certain legislations prohibit select forms of speech as an exception to freedom of speech.

Acts defining hate speech:

The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter IPC);

  • Section 153B(1) (Making imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration);
  • 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs);
  • 500 (Defamation); and
  • 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace).

What are the safeguards against laws for hate speech?

  • Sections 153A and 153B require prior sanction from the government for initiating prosecution. But this is required before the trial begins, and not at the stage of preliminary investigation.
  • To curb indiscriminate arrests, the Supreme Court laid down a set of guidelines in its 2014 ruling in Arnesh Kumar v State of Bihar.
    • As per the guidelines, for offences that carry a sentence of less than seven years, the police cannot automatically arrest an accused before investigation.
  • In a 2021 ruling, the SC said that the state will have to prove intent for securing a conviction under Section 153A.

Concerns associated

  • Misuse of Laws: Lower conviction rates for these provisions indicate that the process where a police officer can arrest without a warrant is often the punishment.
  • Violation of free speech: Critics have pointed out that these laws are intended for the state to step in and restore “public order” rather than protect free speech.
  • Vague terms in the law: The broad, vague terms in the laws are often invoked in its misuse.
  • Old-aged Laws: Section 295A lie in the communally charged atmosphere of North India in the 1920s.

Indus Water Treaty and Hydro projects in India


India’s plans to build a multipurpose project on the Ujh river in Jammu & Kashmir for irrigation and hydro power and the second Sutlej-Beas link project in Punjab, so as to better utilise Indus river waters currently flowing to Pakistan is suffering hindrance.

  • The finance ministry’s Public Investment Board (PIB) has not cleared the strategic Ujh project on the ground that it is not financially viable.
  • Also the Sutlej-Beas link project is facing land acquisition issues in Punjab as well as delay in finalisation of the location of its barrage.

Significance of on-going projects:

  • The dam at Ujh (a tributary of Ravi), the second Sutlej-Beas link project, along with a third ongoing dam project in Shahpur Kandi in Punjab, are all on the eastern rivers of the Indus basin and are key to India’s aim of utilising the water it is guaranteed under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan.
  • The three projects — Shahpur Kandi, Ujh and the second Sutlej-Beas link — will help India utilise the remaining 5 per cent of water that currently flows into Pakistan.

The Indus Water Treaty 1960:

  • The six-decade-old treaty governs the sharing of waters of six rivers in the Indus system between the two countries.
  • Main Rivers: Indus River, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej.
  • The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share of China and Afghanistan.
  • Under the treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of
  • Eastern rivers, namely Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas (Eastern Rivers) were allocated to India for exclusive use
  • Western rivers - Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab were allocated to Pakistan except for specified domestic, non-consumptive, and agricultural use permitted to India as provided in the Treaty.
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydro electricity through run-of-the-river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

River Indus: Geographic Location:

  • The Indus is a trans-boundary river of Asia and a trans-Himalayan river of South and Central Asia.  
  • The 3,120 km (1,940 mi) river rises in mountain springs northeast of Mount Kailash in Western Tibet, flows northwest through the disputed region of Kashmir, bends sharply to the left after the Nanga Parbat massif, and flows south-by-southwest through Pakistan, before emptying into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi.

  • Significance of river:
    • The river has historically been important to many cultures of the region.
    • The 3rd millennium BC saw the rise of the Indus Valley civilization, a major urban civilization of the Bronze Age.
    • During the 2nd millennium BC, the Punjab region was mentioned in the Rigveda hymns as Sapta Sindhu and in the Avesta religious texts as Saptha Hindu (both terms meaning "seven rivers"). 



FATF suspends Russia's membership


Global financial crime watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) suspended Russia's membership for Ukraine war and violation of the organisation's principles.

  • FATF mentioned that Russia has done a gross violation of the commitment to international cooperation and mutual respect.
  • The FATF added South Africa to its "grey list" of countries under special scrutiny to implement standards to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • It also took Morocco out of the grey list.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF):

  • FATF members include 39 countries, including the United States, India, China, Saudi Arabia as well as European countries such as Britain, Germany and France and the EU as such.
  • Ukraine is not a member.
  • It was established in July 1989 by a Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Paris, initially to examine and develop measures to combat money laundering.
  • In October 2001, the FATF expanded its mandate to incorporate efforts to combat terrorist financing, in addition to money laundering.
  • Since its inception, the FATF has operated under a fixed life span, requiring a specific decision by its Ministers to continue.
  • Its secretariat is housed administratively at the OECD.

Criteria for FATF membership:

  • The FATF-Style regional Bodies (FSRB)should be a regional group consisting of at minimum 5 – 6 member jurisdictions.
  • The FSRB should be able to consider membership and observership applications of FATF  members and observers, of other FSRBs, and of other FSRB members and observers that are active in its region and that otherwise meet the FSRBs membership or observership criteria.
  • The members of the body should agree to implement the FATF Recommendations within areasonable timeframe.

What are the Black List and Grey List?

Those are two types of lists that FATF maintains;

  • A blacklist is given to the countries that FATF considers uncooperative tax havens. These countries are known as Non-Cooperative Countries or Territories (NCCTs).
  • A Grey list is a warning given to the country that it might come on the Black list.
    • But even when a country comes under a grey list it faces many problems like problems in getting loans Economic sanctions Reduction in trade.


Short News Articles

Polity and Governance

Kalyana Karnataka Utsav

Kalaburagi city is all set to host a three-day Kalyana Karnataka Utsav.


  • Kalyana Karnataka Utsav, the first of its kind, began as a low-key affair in Kalaburagi with multiple cultural events.
  • Details of the event:
  • ·The utsav is being organised by the Kalyana Karnataka Region Development Board (KKRDB).
  • It is a three-day festival with more than 10,000 people is expected to visit.
  • Local artists from six districts of Kalyana Karnataka region and Bollywood and Sandalwood singers will perform in the cultural events.


India’s first Municipal Bond Index










The NSE Indices Limited has launched India’s first ever Municipal Bond Index.

  • Nifty India Municipal Bond Index was launched at a SEBI workshop on Municipal Debt Securities at Bengaluru.

About the Index:

  • The Nifty India Municipal Bond Index tracks the performance of municipal bonds issued by Indian municipal corporations across maturities and having investment grade credit rating.
  • The index includes municipal bonds issued as per the Securities Exchange Board of India Issue and Listing of Municipal Debt Securities Regulations, 2015.
  • The index is computed using the total return methodology including price return and coupon return.
  • The index has a base date of January 01, 2021, and a base value of 1000, which will be reviewed quarterly.
  • It is expected to act as a benchmark for asset managers and be a reference index tracked by passive funds in the form of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), index funds and structured products.
  • Presently, the index has 28 municipal bonds issued by 10 issuers all having credit rating in the AA rating category.


Great Backyard Bird Count 2023











The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2023 has been conducted across 35 States and Union Territories from February 17-20.

About the event:

  • India was among 190 countries that participated in GBBC 2023, an annual event that brings bird enthusiasts, students and nature enthusiasts together for counting birds they see around the places where they live, work or study.
  • Birdwatchers across 35 States and Union Territories uploaded more than 46,000 bird lists, making India take the second spot after the United States of America.

Key findings:

  • The preliminary report released more than 46,000 checklists and a total of 1,067 avian species were uploaded on e-Bird, an online platform to record bird observations.
  • West Bengal reported the highest number of species with 489 speciesfollowed by Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka followed with 426, 407, 397 and 371 species respectively.
  • Tamil Nadu and Kerala took the eighth and ninth spots with 349 and 325 species.
  • Bird Count India (BCI):
  • BCI is an informal partnership of organisations and groups working together to increase collective knowledge about bird distributions and populations.


Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)








Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is modern techniques used for water-sensitive urban designs for Bhutan’s Cities.

About the Design:

  • Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) is an emerging urban development paradigm aimed to minimise hydrological impacts of urban development on the environment.
  • In practice, the WSDU integrates stormwater, groundwater water supply and wastewater management to:
    • Protect existing natural features and ecological processes
    • Maintain natural hydrologic behaviour of catchments
    • Protect water quality of surface and ground waters
    • Minimise demand on the reticulated water supply system
    • Minimise wastewater discharges to the natural environment
    • Integrate water into the landscape to enhance visual, social, cultural and ecological values.


Not Neutral


  • The UN General Assembly’s vote on the latest resolution to criticise Russia resulted in 141 votes in favour, seven against (it includes Russia) and 32 abstentions including India and China.

Voting stance at UN:

  • Stand of US Allies: They did not agreed for peace talks as Ukraine also abstains for any talks with Russia now.
  • Stand by Russian allies: Belarus has suggested to replace the term “invasion” with what Russia calls “Special Military Operations”, and to call for dialogue immediately, were rejected.
  • Overall tilted voting: UN Assembly’s voting remained in favour of Ukraine with India did not vote in any favour.
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