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26th August 2023

India, Greece upgrade ties to ‘strategic partnership’


During the visit of Indian Prime Minster (PM) to Greece, both the countries has upgraded their relations to a ‘strategic partnership’ and pledged to double trade by 2030. 

Highlights of the visit:

  • According to the statement came from PM, India will expand cooperation in defence, security, infrastructure, agriculture, education and emerging technologies.
  • From now, India and Greece will have an institutional platform for dialogue between their national security advisers.
  • The two sides further decided to speedily finalize a mobility and migration partnership agreement to facilitate skilled migration.
  • Also both countries had decided to upgrade bilateral ties to a strategic partnership and agreed to expand bilateral cooperation in the political, security and economic spheres.
  • They also directed that both sides will work to double bilateral trade by 2030.

What does upgrading ‘strategic ties’ mean?

  • A 'strategic relationship', as the term suggests, involves a shared understanding between the two or more states involved on the nature of threats in the environment and the place of their collective power in helping mitigate the threats.
  • This does not amount to an ‘alliance’, meaning a deeper relationship in which the states are treaty bound to come to each other’s assistance in case of materialisation of a threat against any member state.

About Greece:

  • Greece has the longest coastline in Europe and is the southernmost country in Europe.
  • Geography: The country is divided into three geographical regions: the mainland, the islands, and Peloponnese, the peninsula south of the mainland.
  • History: Greece was ruled by foreigners for over 2,000 years beginning with the Romans conquering the Greeks in the 2nd century.
  • Then, after almost 400 years under Turkish rule, Greece won independence in 1832.
  • Other Facts:
    • Official Name: Hellenic Republic
    • Form of Government: Parliamentary republic
    • Capital: Athens
    • Language: Greek
    • Currency: Euro

India-Greece Relations:

  • Background:
    • India and Greece established diplomatic relations in May 1950. India opened its resident Embassy in Athens in March 1978.
  • On International lines:
    • In modern times, the two countries have developed a warm relationship based on a common commitment to democracy, peace and development in the world and to a social system imbued with principles of justice and equality.
    • India and Greece also share common approaches to many international issues, such as UN reforms and Cyprus.
    • Greece has consistently supported India’s core foreign policy objectives.
    • Greece participated with India in the Six-National Delhi Declaration on Nuclear Disarmament in 1985.
  • Bilateral Trade relations:
    • Bilateral trade will go up in 2017-18 due to projects, joint ventures and increasing trade.
    • The main items of Greece’s exports to India are cotton, scrap (mostly aluminium, ferrous, copper and lead), marble and granite, aluminium foils, calcium carbonate, kiwi fruits and greasywool.
  • Indian Diaspora:
    • There are about 10,000 Indian nationals living in Greece. Most of them are farm, factory or construction workers or small entrepreneurs.
    • A few Indian professionals work in multinational organizations in banking, insurance and software sectors.
    • Indians are a law-abiding community and enjoy cordial relations and goodwill of the native Greek community.

Why Relations with Greece is significant for India?

  • Geopolitical Balance: Both countries are strategically positioned at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Strengthening ties allows them to contribute to regional stability and balance in these regions.
  • Maritime Cooperation: India's 'Act East' policy aligns with Greece's focus on maritime connectivity through its Blue Growth strategy. Enhanced cooperation can boost trade, investment, and connectivity along sea routes.
  • Energy Security: Greece's role in the EastMed Gas Forum aligns with India's energy security interests. Collaborating in the energy sector can provide India with reliable sources of hydrocarbons.
  • Cultural and Historical Ties: Ancient civilizations and shared cultural heritage foster cultural exchanges, tourism, and people-to-people connections, strengthening diplomatic bonds.
  • Counterterrorism and Security: Collaboration in counterterrorism and security matters is crucial to combat transnational threats and ensure regional stability.
  • Diplomatic Support: Both countries often align in international forums, amplifying each other's voices on global issues like climate change, multilateralism, and global governance.
  • Trade and Investment: Exploring trade diversification and investment opportunities can stimulate economic growth in both countries.
  • Defence Cooperation: Military cooperation can enhance defence capabilities and exchange of expertise in areas like naval technology and cybersecurity.

India Smart Cities Awards 2022


Recently, India Smart Cities Awards (ISAC) has been announced for the year 2022.

About the Award:
  • Smart Cities Awards India is an initiative that highlights and honours the cities with the finest practices and city models.
  • Objective: The motto of the award is to encourage cities to practise approaches to making cities habitable, ecological, and financially feasible.
  • Organised by: The Smart Cities Mission, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • This is the fourth edition of the ISAC awards.
  • In the past, the ISAC witnessed three editions in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
  • The 2022 edition was launched in April last year during the ‘Smart Cities-Smart Urbanization’ event in Surat.

India Smart Cities Award Contest (ISAC), 2022:

  • For Cities:
    • Indore has adjudged the best Smart City for exemplary performance in the Smart Cities Mission.
  • Surat and Agra are the second and third-place winners among cities,
  • States-wise:
    • Madhya Pradesh has been chosen as the top State.
    • Tamil Nadu is the second in the State category
    • Followed by Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • For UTs: The award for the best Union Territory has gone to

A total of 845 nominations were received for ISAC 2022 out of which 66 final winners have been identified in various categories.

Criteria for selection of cities:

  • The ISAC recognises and rewards cities, projects and innovative ideas that are promoting sustainable development across the 100 smart cities, as well as stimulating inclusive, equitable, safe, healthy and collaborative cities leading to a better quality of life for all.
  • The ISAC 2022 award had a two-stage submission process consisting of;
  • Qualifying Stage’, which involved overall assessment of the city’s performance, and
  • The ‘Proposal Stage’ which required the smart cities to submit their nominations for six award categories.
  • The Smart Cities Award India takes this platform as an opportunity to honour recognise and encourage people, legislators, businesses, townships, government organisations, and associations for their efforts in both the urban and rural sectors.

Smart Cities Mission:

  • The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry.
  • It was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 25, 2015.
  • Cities across the country were asked to submit proposals for projects to improve municipal services and to make their jurisdictions more liveable.
  • Between January 2016 and June 2018 (when the last city, Shillong, was chosen), the Ministry selected 100 cities for the Mission over five rounds.
  • The projects were supposed to be completed within five years of the selection of the city, but in 2021 the Ministry changed the deadline for all cities to June 2023.
  • Objective:
    • The main objective of the Mission is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure, clean and sustainable environment and give a decent quality of life to their citizens through the application of ‘smart solutions’.
    • The Mission aims to drive economic growth and improve quality of life through comprehensive work on social, economic, physical and institutional pillars of the city.

State of India’s Birds’ Report 2023


The State of India’s Birds (SoIB) 2023, released recently finds that while a few bird species like the Indian peafowl are thriving in India, many are in decline.

About the Report:
  • The report, based on 30 million observations contributed by 30,000 birdwatchers across the country, also highlights major threats – including pollution – to bird populations across the country.
  • It lists 178 bird species in the country as being of “High Priority” for immediate conservation action.
  • Developed by: There are about 13 institutions in India (six government institutions including the Wildlife Institute of India and seven conservation NGOs) and independent professionals came together to analyse data on bird distribution and population trends of 942 bird species in the country.
  • The data is taken as updated on eBird, an online database of bird observations.


Highlights of the Report:

  • SoIB 2023 Report Overview: Survey categorizes 942 bird species; 178 High Priority, 323 Moderate Priority, and 441 Low Priority.
  • Data Enrichment: SoIB 2023 widens scope with more data, expanded species coverage, providing comprehensive insights into bird population shifts.
  • Long-Term Decline: 60% of 338 species analyzed showed long-term declines, with 204 species declining, 98 rapidly.
  • Current Annual Trends: 40% of 359 species declining; 142 species, including raptors and vultures, in rapid decline.
  • Habitat Specialists: Grassland, wetland birds in decline; some generalists like Indian peafowl thriving; Ashy Prinia, Rock pigeon, Asian koel increasing.
  • Biodiversity Hotspots: Western Ghats, Sri Lanka hotspot rapidly declining for which reasons remain unclear, impacting overall bird populations.
  • High Priority Species: Includes Ruddy shelduck, Indian courser, Narcondam hornbill, and Nicobar megapode; some globally Least Concern.
  • Recommendations for Change: Report suggests 17 species qualify for different IUCN threat status nationally, like Indian Roller and Northern shoveler.
  • Continued Decline: Trends align with 2020 report as around 74 of 101 High Concern birds persist, 104 new High Priority listings.

Status of Bird in India:

  • India is home to more than 1,350 bird species.
  • Some are endemic: they’re restricted to specific areas such as biodiversity hotspots, and are found nowhere else in the world.
  • Such as the White-bellied blue flycatcher, a small songbird that you can spot only in the Western Ghats of south India.
  • Some are habitat specialists: they are found only in some habitats in the country.

Great Indian bustards, for instance, are ground-dwellers and are restricted to open habitats such as grasslands that are broadly known as open natural ecosystems or ONEs.

Cleantech, for an inclusive green future in India


In his address to the nation on Independence Day 2023, Prime Minister has talked about India showing the world how to combat climate change. For this, Cleantech can deliver on development and climate action in the country’s rural areas.

What is Cleantech?

  • Cleantech or clean tech is generally defined as knowledge-based products or services that improve operational performance, productivity or efficiency while reducing costs, inputs, energy consumption, waste or pollution.
  • Cleantech is differentiated from green technology since it generally refers to the emerging financial industry (as opposed to the actual technology in which the industry invests).
  • Cleantech spans many industry verticals and is defined by the following eleven segments:
  • Energy Generation, Energy Storage, Energy Infrastructure, Energy Efficiency, Transportation, Water & Wastewater, Air & Environment, Materials, Manufacturing/Industrial, Agriculture, Recycling & Waste.

Need for Cleantech:

  • The critical need for sustainable technologies that preserve our resources and environment cannot be overstated, in the drive to support a greener planet.
  • Cleantech also extends to process improvement. For example, in manufacturing, logistics, agriculture, and large-scale industrial operations, as these enterprises seek the benefits of process automation.

What are the objectives of Cleantech?

  • Clean water: Water is essential to human life, but clean water is not universally available.
    • As the global population grows, industries are looking for ways to clean and reuse water so that new sources are not needed.
    • An example of new technology is the portable filters from Innovative Water Technologies that use solar and wind power to clean water from any location.
  • Air quality and pollution: The quality of air directly affects health, wildlife and nature.
    • Tracking air quality and pollution can help determine areas people should avoid at times and determine what will affect the air quality.
  • Recycling and waste: Dumping waste into the ocean or on the ground presents a problem because space will run out.
    • Recycling programs are working to address the problem, but plastics can be hard to recycle when mixed with other chemicals and materials during production.
    • Companies are looking at ways to reduce the use of plastic for more recyclable materials, such as bio-based plastics.
  • Clean energy: This technology creates energy from renewable energy sources and zero-emission sources.
    • Examples of popular clean energy include solar panels, wind farms and floating solar panels.
    • There are several green energy sources offering competitive rates and growth, including renewable hydrogen and hydropower.


  • In agriculture, clean tech solutions enable farmers to optimize water usage and maximize crop yields by monitoring soil moisture, wells, valves and weather stations, and precisely targeting irrigation as needed.
  • Fish and livestock farms can improve feeding processes and production yield with automation, and reduce driving time and fossil fuel consumption.
  • Water districts can identify and correct water waste with real-time water monitoring across their infrastructure.
  • Innovative companies today are deploying drones to perform inspections at industrial sites, utilities and water towers to quickly identify issues, while reducing environmental impact and cost.

New Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBF-Fund) ratified


The Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBFF) was ratified and launched at the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Vancouver, Canada.

The Global Environment Facility:

  • The GEF is a family of funds dedicated to confronting biodiversity loss, climate change, pollution, and strains on land and ocean health.
  • Its grants, blended financing, and policy support helps developing countries address their biggest environmental priorities and adhere to international environmental conventions.
  • Over the past three decades, the GEF has provided more than 23 billion dollars.
  • The Seventh Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly established a Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBF-Fund).
  • GBF-Fund is a special trust fund under the GEF, to support the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at COP15 last year.

About the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund (GBF-Fund):

  • As part of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreement, the GEF was requested to establish the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund, a special trust fund to support the implementation of the Agreement.
  • Significance: The creation of this fund and its commitment to supporting Indigenous Peoples and local communities is an important and clear recognition of the fundamental role they have had for generations protecting biodiversity.

Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework:

  • The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted during the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) following a four year consultation and negotiation process.
  • This historic Framework, which supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and builds on the Convention’s previous Strategic Plans, sets out an ambitious pathway to reach the global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050.
  • Among the Framework’s key elements are 4 goals for 2050 and 23 targets for 2030.
  • The implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework will be guided and supported through a comprehensive package of decisions also adopted at COP 15.
  • This package includes a monitoring framework for the GBF, an enhanced mechanism for planning, monitoring, reporting and reviewing implementation, the necessary financial resources for implementation, strategic frameworks for capacity development and technical and scientific cooperation, as well as an agreement on digital sequence information on genetic resources.

Short News

International Relations (GS-II)
India and Iran drop foreign arbitration clause in Chabahar port issue

Under the new move to pursue arbitration India and Iran has drafted a foreign arbitration clause under rules framed by the UN Commission on International Trade Law which will help firm up longer-term agreement on Chabahar.

About the arbitration clause:

  • Both India and Iran has agreed that disputes at Chabahar will not go for commercial arbitration in foreign courts but take investment arbitration or any other mode of dispute settlement.
  • Both sides have agreed to pursue arbitration under rules framed by the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) which is favoured by India over other international trade arbitration mechanisms.
  • India in the recent past had described UNCITRAL as the “core legal body under the U.N. system in the field of international trade law”.
  • The move is being interpreted as a step by India to stay ahead of China which has been showing interest in Iranian ports and infrastructure projects.

Why this was important for India?

  • The resolution of the contentious issue will also help sanctions-hit Russia which has been eager to reach the Indian Ocean region through the 13-nation International North South Transport Corridor which passes through Chabahar.

UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL):

  • It is the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law, with a mandate to further the progressive harmonization and unification of the law of international trade.

Polity and Governance (GS-II)
Central Tribal University

Union Minister for Education Dharmendra Pradhan along with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister laid the foundation for the Central Tribal University in Vizianagaram district, Andhra Pradesh.


  • The University will provide better educational facilities to the tribal youth, help them in getting jobs which will in turn improve their living standards and help them shine on national and international platforms.
  • The Central Tribal University will offer 14 academic courses in English, Sociology, Tribal studies, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Journalism, MBA, MSW at post-graduate level, Artificial Inelligency, Botany, Geology, Tourism and Travel Management, B.Com vocational course at degree level, and short term courses in skill development, vocational and job-oriented courses.

Science and Technology (GS-III)
Defence Ministry inks deal with Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam

The Defence Ministry has signed a contract with Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam, to acquire five Fleet Support Ships (FSS) at an overall cost of Rs 19,000 crore.

About the deal:

  • The FSS — employed for replenishing ships at sea with fuel, water, ammunition and stores — will enable the Indian naval fleet on missions to operate for prolonged periods without returning to harbour.
  • The FSS of 44,000 tonnes will be the first-of-its kind to be built in India by an Indian shipyard.
  • A tanker of the proposed class can support multiple fleets, from aircraft carrier to other warships, since it has the capacity to onboard 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes of fuel, and water, according to Navy officials.
  • Over the years, HSL has constructed 200 vessels, refitted five submarines and repaired 2,000 vessels of various types.

Science and Technology (GS-III)
National Space Day

Recently, the Prime Minister mentioned that India will celebrate August 23 as ‘National Space Day’ from now on to mark the successful touchdown of Chandrayaan-3 mission’s lander on the lunar surface.


  • Further celebrated the success of India's moon mission and named the landing spot of the Vikram lander as ‘Shiv Shakti’.
  • He also christened the location where Chandrayaan-2 had left its mark in 2019 as ‘Tiranga Point’.
  • PM also continued by suggesting that this ‘Shivkshakti’ point will motivate future generations to utilise science to improve the well-being of humanity.


Concrete alliance


With the recent step of BRICS to include six more countries to its alliance, the organisation found a new purpose with its expansion, but also more contradictions.

The Recent Expansion

  • BRICS Summit's 15th edition: It showcased global interest with 22 applications from 40 countries, emphasizing its growing relevance.
  • Countries being included: BRICS expands ambitiously, adding Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ethiopia, and Argentina, increasing membership from 5 to 11.
  • Significance: Inclusion of major Middle Eastern and African-South American players underscores BRICS' evolving geopolitical and economic influence.

BRICS: Origin & growth

  • Origin: BRICS emerges as counter-narrative to G-7, addressing issues from climate to sanctions, backed by practical initiatives like New Development Bank (NDB) and CRA.
  • Importance of Organisation: With 30% global GDP each, BRICS gains parity with G-7; diverse representation spans 40% of world population.
  • BRICS' expansion adds major oil suppliers, bolstering its energy influence and consolidating its significant global impact.

Contradictions around BRICS

  • China’s global image: BRICS' success marred by internal discord, India-China rivalry, and potential conflicts arising from diverse inductions like Iran-Saudi Arabia.
  • Russia’s war with Ukraine: Political caution needed to avoid discomfort among members with differing global power alignments; Russia's actions raised concerns.
  • Way forward: BRICS' potential lies in shared prosperity and democratic global governance model, counteracting challenges for a cohesive and impactful future.
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Europe moving east, new alignments and priorities possible


Recently, the Poland has reported that Russia is transferring tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, altering regional security and NATO dynamics. European strategic dialogues highlights geography's profound impact on nations' behaviour, shaped by location, resources, history, and culture.

Poland’s Geo-strategy

  • Poland's history: The background of dominance, partition, and Cold War shaped its pursuit of EU and NATO membership for security and integration.
  • Post-Cold War alignment with EU expansion: It matched US aim to bolster NATO's influence in Central Europe.
  • Part of both NATO & EU: Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004, driven by historical experiences and geopolitical considerations.

Poland’s rivalry for Russia

  • Poland's Strategic Diplomacy: Poland's historical experiences drove its push for EU and NATO expansion, particularly advocating for Ukraine.
  • Emergence as NATO Force: Poland's strong support for US interests solidified its role in NATO, hosting troops and infrastructure.
  • Military Build-up and Energy Diversification: Poland's rising defense spending, military acquisitions, and support for reducing EU dependence on Russian energy showcase its growing influence.

Growth and global stance

  • Energy and Economic Dynamics: Poland's "Three Seas Initiative" bolsters energy diversification, aids economic growth, aligning with US interests.
  • Economic Resilience: Amid Ukraine conflict aftermath, Poland's economy thrives, projected to outpace growth of major European economies.
  • Geopolitical Impact: Poland's assertive stance faces EU concerns, reflects shift eastward in military, energy, and economic influence, shaping continental alignments.
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Barriers for India’s Legal Technology awakening


There is an estimation of increase in LegalTech's growth to 69.7 billion dollars by 2032, led by US and Europe, while Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries faces challenges and declining growth in terms of Technology inclusion.

LegalTech industry in India

  • Challenge for Legal Industry and Technological Shift: LegalTech's growth in India faces resistance due to traditional methods, hindering innovation adoption.
  • Dual Perception among Professionals: Survey reveals acknowledgment of LegalTech's significance but reluctance to embrace due to time constraints.
  • Innovation vs. Billable Hours: Balancing learning new methods with chargeable work hours poses a barrier to LegalTech integration in practice.

Challenges of Technology

  • Technical Constraints in LegalTech: Simon Chester (a pioneer in applying LegalTech in the practice of law) highlights legal complexity and data access issues as key hurdles to effective LegalTech implementation.
  • Data Access and Privacy Concerns: Limited data access hampers machine learning's potential; cybersecurity threats demand a security-aware legal culture.
  • Data Breach Challenges: Legal ecosystem grapples with uncertain breaches, hindering swift response; identifying breach sources requires resources and expertise.

Way forward

  • Customization vs. Standardization: Lack of industry standard poses challenge for law firms to choose suitable LegalTech tools. There is a need for standardization.
  • Strategic Selection over One-Size-Fits-All: Law firms should identify specific needs, avoiding complicated tools; industry tailored solutions needed.
  • Overcoming Barriers for Progress: Despite obstacles, legal tech integration depends on innovation, awareness, and education fostering tech-friendly legal practices.
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Rethink the emerging dynamics of India’s fiscal federalism

This following brief delves into India's evolving fiscal federalism, necessitating reconsideration amidst shifting dynamics.

Evolution and Key Challenges

  • Adaptability issue:The Indian Constitution, molded to manage centrifugal forces, has exhibited adaptability over time, encompassing economic shifts, multi-tier governance structures, and fiscal adjustments.
  • Changed fiscal landscape:The transformation from a planned to market-driven economy, coupled with Constitutional Amendments and fiscal regulations, has reshaped the nation's fiscal landscape.
  • Need for re-valuation:Amidst these changes, there arises a pressing need for a comprehensive reevaluation of India's fiscal federalism to align it with the evolving realities.

Key Focus Areas for Reform

  • Equity in intergovernmental transfersis a central concern. Economic growth often disproportionately benefits the affluent, leading to rising income inequality.
  • Introducing factorssuch as the Human Development Index (HDI) in tax distribution can help create a more equitable approach.
  • Ensuring clarity:The evolving landscape, including a shift to a multi-party system and changing demographics, necessitates a fresh examination of the division of powers and responsibilities among various tiers of government.

Enhancing Fiscal Transparency and Balance

  • Strengthening fiscal federalismalso entails bolstering local governance and addressing off-budget borrowing practices.
  • Uniform system:Neglecting panchayat raj institutions and municipalities hampers the third tier's potential. A uniform financial reporting system for all tiers can enhance transparency, accountability, and efficiency.
  • Reviewing off-budget borrowing:Additionally, reviewing off-budget borrowing practices by both Union and State governments is vital. Ensuring that all income and expenditure transactions fall under budgetary heads promotes transparency and financial discipline.
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