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2nd January 2023

Mapping India's military strength in 2022


India embarked on a major overdrive in 2022 to significantly bolster its overall military prowess and focused on its strategic goals.

So, let us assess the technological and strategic and other developments of military/forces in India.

About India’s military strength:

As per theGlobal Firepower (GFP) annual defense review’, India’s performance in 2022 is as follows:

  • With a strength of 45 lakhs of active military manpower, India is ranked fourth for the year 2022 as per the report.
  • A total of 140 countries were considered.
  • Each country is evaluated on a multitude of factors related to a prolonged offensive or defensive military campaign and the GFP list was compiled on the basis of the ‘PwrIndx rating’.
  • India holds a power index score of 0.0979.

The country’s total aircraft strength is 2,182, which includes both fixed-wing and rotorcraft platforms from all branches of services. India has 12,000 armoured vehicles and 4,614 tanks. 

The developments in 2022:

Strategic progress:

  • The military has maintained an assertive approach in sync with the broader national security doctrine and procured a variety of military platforms and weapons to enhance their combat capabilities.
  • In the 16th round of military talks, two sides (India and China) carried out disengagement from Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hot spring area of eastern Ladakh in September 2022, taking forward similar exercises in other friction points last year.
  • However, the Military forces lingered on in Demchok and Depsang regions.
  • India expanded military cooperation with almost all friendly countries in South Asia in the face of China's consistent attempts to increase its influence in the region.
  • The year also saw India ramping up overall defence cooperation with a number of leading countries including the US, France, the UK, Germany and Japan.

Technological Progress:

  • The armed forces started procurement of a significant number of military platforms and weapons including light tanks, anti-ship missiles, long-range guided bombs, futuristic infantry combat vehicles, mounted gun systems and different types of drones.
  • India tested a ballistic missile fired from its first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, INS Arihant which was seen as a major milestone to further boost the country's strategic strike capabilities.
  • India has become only the sixth country, alongside the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China and France, to have nuclear-powered submarines armed with ballistic missiles.
  • In December, India successfully test-fired the nuclear-capable ballistic missile Agni-5 which can strike targets at ranges up to 5,000 km.
    • The Agni-5 project is aimed at boosting India's nuclear deterrence against China which is known to have missiles like Dongfeng-41 having ranges between 12,000-15,000 km.
    • Agni-V can bring almost the entire Asia including the northernmost part of China as well as some regions in Europe under its striking range.
    • India also carried out a test firing of the extended-range version of the Brahmos missile, the Prithvi-II missile, the Agni-4, Agni-3 and Helina missiles.
  • In September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commissioned India's first indigenously-built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant (IAC I) that made the country part of an elite group of nations capable of manufacturing aircraft carriers above the 40,000 tonnes category.
  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted the first fleet of indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), 'Prachand', 23 years after the need for such a lethal platform for mountain warfare was felt following the Kargil conflict with Pakistan.

Infrastructural progress:

  • From the construction of roads, bridges and ammunition depots to bolstering its surveillance apparatus, the Army is ramping up military infrastructure at a rapid pace for quicker mobilisation of troops.
  • In 2022, the defence ministry also unveiled a slew of reform initiatives to make India a hub of manufacturing defence equipment and platforms.

Policy Interventions:

  • The defence ministry also rolled out the 'Agnipath' recruitment scheme with an aim to bring down the age profile of the armed forces and make them more agile.
  • Gen Anil Chauhan became India's new Chief of Defence Staff with a mandate to implement the ambitious catheterisation plan that aims to ensure tri-services synergy and prepare the armed forces for future security challenges facing the nation.
  • In a boost to India's focus on defence indigenisation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone in Vadodara for the production of European C-295 military transport aircraft on October 30.

Aymanam in Kottayam to showcase women’s talent


In line with the Kerala government’s plan to create a women-friendly tourism network in the State, authorities have embarked on a plan to redress the gender balance in the tourism enterprise of ‘Aymanam’ by showcasing women’s talent.

About the plan:
  • The plan envisages turning the village into a hub of women-friendly destinations in Kottayam, which extends across a vast area from Kumarakom to Maravanthuruthu.
  • A model Responsible Tourism (RT) village in Kottayam is set to include women across the state of Kerala to become part of it.
  • Objective: The establishment of women-friendly networks that give women an equal voice in tourism is one of the key benchmarks for achieving the status of a model RT destination.
  • Significance: The programme also helps empower women at the grassroots level.

The village has also been included in the Agri Street project in the State.

  • Other developments: Recently, the Aymanam Fest highlighted the tourism, agricultural and cultural potential of the village.                                                                       

Need of such initiative:

  • The contribution of women in economic development is quite large, one in four industrial employees and four out of ten workers in agriculture and services are women.
  • A woman contributes 66% of services b. work, but only gets 10% of his wages. Women are responsible for 50% of world food production, but only control 1% of existing material goods.
  • Women enjoy less than men as c. its contribution to national production; the average hourly wage is lower than that of men; legal protection for them is lacking, the role of women is limited to low-paid or unpaid work and access to production sources is very small.

Women and Tourism sector:

  • Tourism is a sector that has generated many job opportunities for both men and women. This makes tourism one of the largest industries in the world.
  • The involvement of women is an important component in tourism as;
  • The existence of women in tourism is regulated in Ministerial Regulation No. 50 of 2011 concerning the National Tourism Development Master Plan Article 28 (b) which states that one of the community empowerments in tourism includes optimizing gender mainstreaming through tourism development.
  • Optimizing the role of women in tourism is also regulated in the Regulation of the Minister of Culture and Tourism of 2011 which explains that the community is actively involved in activities starting from the planning, implementation, supervision, maintenance and utilization processes, by providing broad opportunities for active participation from women.
  • Women as part of society have the right and potential to participate in tourism activities. The involvement of women in tourism can reduce gender inequality in development.

The promotion of equality and women's empowerment became one of the agendas in the Third Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which was proclaimed by the United Nations in 2000 based on the results of a joint agreement with 189 heads of UN member states including Indonesia.

Potential benefits:

  • Increase women’s income
  • Promote gender equality
  • Increase GDP of state and country
  • Make a women-friendly environment for Tourists

India and the problem of bad loans


In December 2022, Finance Minister has informed the Parliament that banks had bad loans worth Rs 10, 09,511 crore during the last five financial years.

What are Bad Loans?

  • A bad loan is one that has not been ‘serviced’ for a certain period.
  • Servicing a loan is paying back the interest and a small part of the principal — depending on the agreement between bank and borrower; to begin with so that over time, you pay back the principal as well as the interest accrued in the duration.
  • In 2009, the RBI brought out norms that set out categories of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) and what banks must do as these bad loans age.
  • According to RBI, Bad loans are a problem, for, with time, there is less and less certainty that the loan would be paid back in full.

What is a Non-Performing Asset?

  • Non-Performing Asset (NPA) is those kinds of loans or advances that are in default or in arrears.
  • In other words, these are those kinds of loans wherein principal or interest amounts are late or have not been paid.
  • These are also the kinds of loans where the lender considers the loan agreement to be broken and the receiver of the loan is unable to pay back the loan amount.

Types of NPA:

  • Standard Assets: It is a kind of performing asset which creates continuous income and repayments as and when they become due. These assets carry a normal risk and are not NPA in the real sense of the word. Hence, no special provisions are required for standard assets.
  • Sub-Standard Assets: Loans and advances which are non-performing assets for a period of 12 months fall under the category of Sub-Standard Assets.
  • Doubtful Assets: The Assets considered as non-performing for a period of more than 12 months are known as Doubtful Assets.
  • Loss Assets: All those assets which cannot be recovered by the lending institutions are known as Loss Assets.

When a loan is classified as NPA?

  • Non-Performing Assets are basically Non-Performing Loans.
  • In India, the timeline given for classifying the asset as NPA is 180 days. As against 45 to 90 days of international norms.

Why is there a need to recognise NPAs?

  • In the banking system, the government and regulatory authorities need to have a good view of how healthy the financial system is.
  • India became more aggressive in recognising loans as ‘bad’ in the 2014 to 2015 period.
  • The periodic asset quality review was introduced. Further, the regulator stepped in to prevent evergreening of loans (i.e., lending more to an already stressed asset in the hope that it could be brought back to its feet).

What process does a bank undertake to recover NPA?

  • The banks employ the Lok Adalats for settling the NPA loans. The Lok Adalats help in settling the NPA between the banks and defaulters.

A National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. (NARCL) was announced in the Union Budget for 2021-2022 to resolve stressed loans amounting to about Rs 2 lakh crore in phases.

Impact of NPAs on Financial Operations

  • This reduces the profits of the banks.
  • This reduces a bank or financial institution’s capital adequacy.
  • The banks have become averse to giving loans and taking risks of zero per cent. Thus, the creation of fresh credit is debarred.
  • The banks start concentrating on the management of credit risk instead of the bank becoming profitable.
  • The funds happen to cost due to NPA.

The path to decarbonization in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict


India must pivot the needle of its energy compass towards short-term energy security and long-term decarbonization.

Factors driving Energy Conundrum:

The international energy market has been deeply affected by the Ukraine conflict. There are primarily four factors that mark its impact:

  • Fragmented Energy Market: The energy market has been fragmented and energy nationalism has taken the driver seat in policy making.
  • Outcomes of the Ukrainian conflict: Irrespective of how and when the Ukraine conflict ends, Russia will not be allowed access to the western markets for as long as President Putin is at the center.
  • “OPEC plus one”- “Saudi first” approach: Saudi Arabia is clear about pursuing a “Saudi first”, non-aligned approach to international relations including with the US.
  • New centers of energy power: The New energy centers are emerging around countries that have a large share of the metals, minerals, and components required for clean energy.
    • China is currently the dominant power.

India’s Energy-Security and long-term decarbonization plan:

  • Discounted Russian crude: It gives India an opportunistic panacea but not sustainability. To ensure the latter, India must increase the productivity of our existing producing fields.
  • Leveraging India’s market potential: India must secure a long-term supply relationship with Saudi Arabia and an equity partnership with Iran.
  • Strategic petroleum reserves: It should enhance the strategic petroleum reserves to cover at least 30 days of consumption.
  • Pan-India national gas pipeline grid: The construction of a pan-India national gas pipeline grid should be

Dependency on Coal:

  • Coal will remain the bulwark of India’s energy system for decades.
  • Hundreds of thousands depend on the coal ecosystem for their livelihood.
  • Phasing out coal whilst environmentally compelling is not yet a macroeconomic or social possibility.

What is the way out?

  • Finding the Balance: The government has to find an energy transition route that balances livelihoods and pushes forward the green agenda.
  • Focusing on R&D: An increased R&D expenditure for coal gasification and carbon capture and sequestration technologies.
  • Regulatory Mechanism: The establishment of regulatory and monitoring mechanisms for measuring carbon emissions from industry.
  • The closure of inefficient and old plants and a decision not to approve any new ones.
  • Niti- Ayog, economists, and energy experts must determine the competitiveness of coal versus solar on a full-cost basis.
  • Thinking beyond supply and distribution: India must focus on demand conservation and the efficiency side equally too.
    • Europe will save 10 bcm of gas annually by simply adjusting their thermostats downwards by 1-degree centigrade.
  • Setting up carbon taxes

Other Measures:

  • Allocation of Funds: To upgrade the transmission grid network
  • Addressing structural Issues: Scaling up of renewables must be addressed.
    • Repair of the balance sheets of state distribution companies (discoms).
    • Easing the procedures for the acquisition of land
    • Removal of regulatory and contract uncertainties.
  • Diplomatic Solution: It will take decades to harness our indigenous resources of the metals and minerals critical for clean energy.
    • Diplomats should secure diversified sources of supply to reduce the country’s vulnerability.
  • Creation of an enabling ecosystem: It is crucial for developing and commercializing third-generation clean energy technologies like hydrogen, biofuels, and modular nuclear reactors.
  • Nuclear Energy, also needs to be pushed ahead.

What approach is needed for the decarbonization of the economy?

  • Breaking up into shorter periods: The planning horizon will need to be broken up into shorter periods so that new knowledge about emerging technologies can be incorporated into plans.
  • Setting up an autonomous agency: A technically credible agency like the Climate Change Committee (CCC) in the UK should be set up.
  • Targeting the power sector: The power sector has to be focused on because it is the biggest source of GHG emissions and also the easiest one to decarbonize.

India and Austria to sign migration and mobility agreement


India is going to sign a “Comprehensive Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement” (MMPA) with Austria during External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s visit to Vienna. Along similar lines, India has also signed agreements with other European countries namely, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Finland.

About MMPA:


  • It aims at the facilitation of mobility of students, academics, and researchers, migration for professional and economic reasons, and abiding by equal treatment of nationals of both Parties in a similar situation.
  • The provisions of this Agreement will be without prejudice to the application of national laws on the stay of foreigners on all the points that are not dealt with in this Agreement.


  • To curb illegal migration: India is keen to finalise these agreements with European countries as a stepping stone to resolving issues over the long-pending India-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement and facilitating Indian professionals working in these countries, the European countries also see them as a way to curb illegal immigration from India.
  • Skill development: The agreement will regulate multiple entry visas for professionals and student exchange programmes, and will be reviewed regularly by a Joint Working Group (JWG).
  • Need:
  • In view of the sharp increase in illegal migration, Austria was confronted with last year, including over 15,000 illegal migrants from India with practically no chance of asylum.
  • The agreement is now a useful tool to combat illegal migration together, as it enables the swift return of illegal migrants.

Recent developments:

  • India-Germany mobility agreement: India-Germany agreement on Migration and Mobility partnership to foster the exchange of skills, and talents.

How will the free foodgrain scheme work out?


Recently, the Union Government has issued a notification to provide free foodgrains to all eligible households under the National Food Security Act, 2013, for one year, but has discontinued the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).

What is the impact of this measure on the food subsidy bill?

  • This move will relieve a major burden on the Union Budget.
  • The PMGKAY had effectively doubled the sum, of the food security bill for the past two years (post-pandemic).
    • With centre plans to give free foodgrains under the NFSA for a year and the ending of PMGKAY will save around Rs 2 lakh crores.

What does this mean for foodgrain stocks?

  • Relieve stressed foodgrain stocks: The annual foodgrain requirement for the NFSA is about 520 lakh tones, while the PMGKAY required an additional 480 lakh tones.
    • Continuing the PMGKAY would have been unsustainable without further increasing procurement levels.
  • Lower Rice and wheat harvests: This is on account of being hit by climatic events and fertilizer shortages in some areas.
  • High foodgrain inflation: Global stress due to the Russia-Ukraine war has also led to a situation of high foodgrain inflation.
  • Difficulty in maintaining wheat stock: India’s wheat stocks, have dipped dangerously close to the required buffer stock levels.
    • The centre had to ban wheat exports to ensure food security for the domestic market.
  • Reduce wheat allocations under PDS: It had to substitute wheat supply with rice in States such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

What are the political implications?

  • A purely economic decision here would have been to end the PMGKAY and return to a normal pre-COVID situation.
    • But this free foodgrain announcement is damage control, to combat any adverse fallout from ending PMGKAY.
  • It is expected that Tamilnadu is set to save more than Rs 1,300 crores through the Centre’s announcement.
    • The savings can provide ample rooms to states to shift their focus on nutrition security.
  • It is unclear what will happen at the end of 2023 when the free foodgrain measure is set to end.

How will it impact beneficiaries?

  • Impact on household budgets: The Right to Food Campaign estimates that poor families will be forced to spend Rs 750-Rs 900 a month to access the current level of ration entitlement.
  • Entitlement reduced to half: Ration card holders who have received 10 kg of grains a person every month for the past two years will see their entitlement abruptly halved.
  • Increased Expenditure: The beneficiary has to spend additional Rs 150-175 to buy the 5 kg previously provided free under the PMGKAY in the open market.
  • The increased expenditure will be even starker for those in States which anyway provide free NFSA rations, as from now on they will not receive any savings due to the Centre’s announcement.
  • Consumption of foodgrain: as part of a meal varies substantially by State, ranging from about 200 gm per person a day in Kerala to 400 gm in Bihar.
  • The move is thus likely to be the highest in the Hindi heartland States where grains make up a higher proportion of the diet.

Short News Article

International Relations

Croatia becomes a fully integrated member of the EU

Croatia has switched to the euro and entered Europe’s passport-free zone – two important milestones for the country after joining the European Union (EU) nearly a decade ago.


  • The Balkan nation bid farewell to its kuna currency and became the 20th member of the eurozone.
  • It is now the 27th nation in the Schengen zone, the world’s largest passport-free travel area, which enables more than 400 million people to move freely around its members.
  • Croatia, a former Yugoslav republic of 3.9 million people that fought a war of independence in the 1990s, joined the EU in 2013.

Polity & Governance

Government launches ‘Prahari’ app for BSF Jawans

The government launched the Border Security Force (BSF) mobile app 'Prahari'. This app is a great example of proactive governance.


  • With the app, BSF soldiers can get personal and service related information, housing, Ayushman-CAPF and leave related information on their mobiles.
  • Soldiers can also get information on various welfare schemes through this app.


TN Launches Project To Protect Nilgiri Tahr

In India's first-of-its-kind initiative, Tamil Nadu launched the 'Nilgiri Tahr project' to restore the state animal's original habitat and stabilising its population.

  • Duration: Five-year
  • The initiative was devised in line with Project Tiger and Project Elephant.

About the Species

  • Nilgiri Tahr is an endangered wild goat species.
  • Local name: Varaiaadu
  • Habitat: The species was earlier found along the entire stretch of the Western Ghats, but they now remain restricted to small fragmented pockets in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.- WWF data (2015) 
    • The Eravikulam National Park in Anamalai hills, Kerala, is home to the largest population of the Nilgiri Tahr.
  • Protection Status: They are protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972 and considered endangered by the IUCN.

Science & Technology

Ethylene glycol and the controversy behind it

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) initiated a probe into the claims of Uzbekistan that at least 18 children died after consuming cough syrup manufactured by an Indian firm.

What is Ethylene glycol?

  • Ethylene glycol is an organic compound with the formula (CH?OH)?.
  • It is an odourless, colourless, flammable, viscous liquid. It is mainly used for two purposes
    • as a raw material in the manufacture of polyester fibres
    • for antifreeze formulations
  • In addition to its use in antifreeze, ethylene glycol is used as an ingredient in hydraulic fluids, printing inks, and paint solvents.
  • It is also used as a reagent in making polyesters, explosives, alkyd resins, and synthetic waxes.


  • According to the WHO, diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are toxic to humans and can be fatal if consumed.


India’s dilemmas in an Asian century


There is some level of certainty about the emergence of an Asian-centric century but India must prepare itself for the harsh headwinds of the geo-political contestations.

Asian century and (multi)polarity

  • Multipolar Asia: There are two possibilities, one is a multipolar world with Russia, China, Japan, India and the other is a China-dominated Asia.
  • Multipolarity and India’s interest: It can serve India’s interest only if it is underpinned by international law, premised upon respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries.
  • Dollar-based trade: Although it is facing serious challenges from Russia and its Asian partners China, Iran, Turkey, India, etc. it will be a matter of concern if the arrangements shift to Yuan.
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QUIZ - 2nd January 2023

Mains Question:

Question: “In recent times bad loans have been one of the major issues in the Indian Economy”. In the light of this statement, discuss how Bad Banks had played a significant role in handling the bad loans and challenges faced by them with suitable examples.

Question Mapping

  • Subject: Economy (GS-III)
    • Sub-topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment
  • Introductionwith what are bad loans and what is its current status in the Indian Economy.
  • Explain the Bad banks and how they help in resolution of the bad loans in India.
  • Highlight the challenges faced by bad banks in the resolution of the bad loans with suitable examples.
  • Conclude with the impact of bad loans in the livelihoods and their resolution in maintaining a healthy economy.

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